Hey, did I mention I got into Drake?

I’m entering Drake University’s Education Leadership doctoral program!  I start in August.


Here was my essay:

My name is Christine Sturgeon.  I am a teacher librarian and serve as the current president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians.  In that position, I have become aware of the great shortage of teacher librarians that exists in our state and nation.  I have also learned of the even greater shortage of professors of school librarianship.  This shortage, if not corrected, is a travesty for our children because teacher librarians create programs that engage entire school communities which elevate the learning experience of all (from the “Vision for Iowa’s School Libraries,” available online here).  I want to be a professor of school librarianship, and Drake’s Leadership program will open the door to that possibility.

I am a lifelong learner.  It took me some time for that to  be the case on paper:  21 years to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with another 18 months to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Library Science.  Even before that, though, I was continually learning and challenging myself.  Since my graduation, I remain an example of lifelong learning to my family, my colleagues, and my wide personal learning network that I have nurtured by attending conferences, serving on boards, and networking on Twitter.

I believe my references have attested to my abilities and vision for education.  At Manson Northwest Webster Schools, where I am in my fourth year as a teacher librarian, I have transformed the school library from a staid place of tradition to a vibrant community of learning inside and outside the school walls.  I have successfully led the change of the physical space at both the elementary and secondary levels.  But more than that, I have shown by example how the library can change lives.  Some examples include creating the first “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program in a school in the state [that I know of!] leading the international student program at the high school, teaching Genius Hour and Genre Reading, facilitating VREP, introducing computer coding at the elementary level, winning grants, doing video production weekly with sixth grade students, and soon, creating and overseeing makerspaces at both the elementary and secondary buildings.

I love being a teacher librarian.  No day is identical, and in so many ways, I am able to write my own job description.  Yet I know I can reach more Iowa students by teaching other teacher librarians.  I already do that in some capacity as IASL president, but I know I can have a greater impact as a college professor.  It is your program that will make that possible.

Thank you very much.


Meet the Teacher: Me!

Look!  I was featured on CodeMonkey’s Meet the Teacher!


“I always knew I wanted to be a librarian, and being a K-12 teacher librarian means I reach nearly all the students in a community. I love inspiring kids to try something new, for example we recently started a Makerspace at the elementary school, and had a 3-day “Makerspace Kickoff.” Kids went to stations and experimented in Electronics (Snap Circuits, Makey Makeys, Squishy Circuits), Marble Run (designing a roller coaster of sorts with cardboard tubes) and of course, Coding.

Being the only Teacher Librarian in my district, it’s easy to feel isolated with what I do. But through Twitter, I have an amazing Personal Learning Network, and it’s been so much fun to meet some of those people in real life.

Being connected helps because when your network is expanded, so is your knowledge and abilities, and that helps me to be a better Teacher Librarian to my students.

I believe that in the future education will be more connected, more hands-on and more personalized. Hopefully words like “Genius Hour”, “Makerspace”, and “Student Voice” will all become household words.”

Christine Sturgeon
K-12 Teacher Librarian, Manson Northwest Webster Schools
Manson, Iowa

Follow Christine on Twitter ->

Makerspace Kickoff!

Months of work and planning culminated last week in the MAKERSPACE KICKOFF at the elementary school.  It went off without a hitch.  Here are some pictures:

6th graders enjoying the Flextruck Virtual Reality station

6th graders enjoying the Flextruck Virtual Reality station

Scott from the AEA helping first graders make music with the Makey Makey kits

Scott from the AEA helping kindergarteners make music with the Makey Makey kits

I don't like roller coasters, so I left it to the kids to try it out with the Oculus Rift!

I don’t like roller coasters, so I left it to the kids to try it out with the Oculus Rift!

Fourth graders tinkering with Squishy Circuits

Fourth graders tinkering with Squishy Circuits

Our Thai foreign exchange student helping with straws and connectors in the 3D building station

Our Thai foreign exchange student, Thiti, helping with straws and connectors in the 3D building station

5 picture writing, using 30 Hands app

5 picture writing, using 30 Hands app

A second grader using CodeMonkey

A second grader using CodeMonkey

Skallops and cards fun

Skallops and cards fun

Sixth graders building with cardboard

Sixth graders building with cardboard

Our art teacher tries out Paper Circuitry on our pre-Kickoff PD day

Our art teacher tries out Paper Circuitry on our pre-Kickoff PD day

I will say, the word “Kickoff” might be a wee bit of an exaggeration, if it implies that the Makerspace is completely ready to go.  The room is getting painted today, I need to add some more shelves and some locking storage, and the Makedos and Skallops are out of stock.  There is a lot more to do, but the Kickoff event was a huge success and a great starting point.  Want to do a Kickoff of your own?  Here are my tips.

  • Get help planning –  Julie Graber was my great partner-in-crime from the AEA.  I couldn’t have done it without her.  If possible, get some on-campus help, too.  My principal was a full partner, but he’s a busy guy and I couldn’t exactly spent fifteen minutes a day debating whether Squishy Circuits or Snap Circuits were the way to go, or if the room should be painted in canary yellow or lemon yellow.  It would have been nice to have someone here every day – a teaching partner or para (mine was having a baby!) – to bounce ideas.
Me with Julie Graber, Instructional Tech Consultant with Prairie Lakes AEA

Me with Julie Graber, Instructional Tech Consultant with Prairie Lakes AEA

  • Plan early – Those of you who know me know that this isn’t exactly a strength of mine, but it is what it is.  In the fall, I did go to see Iowa State’s “Flextruck” (a portable setup taken around to schools by some folks at ISU’s College of Design with virtual reality and other tech tools) with the elementary and high school principals, and we got on their calendar early, then built the Kickoff around that.  I also applied for and received the ITEC/Mediacom Grant, so that kept me honest as far as planning goes.
  • Be flexible – We had eight stations total, but after Thursday with grades 3-6, I realized that some of the stations were just too difficult for the K-2 kids coming the next day.  We switched out Paper Circuitry for 3D building, with Skallops and cards (borrowed from another school), straws and connectors, and tanagrams (the last two borrowed from the preschool teacher). We got rid of Cardboard Challenge (not that young kids can’t build with cardboard, of course, but our quantity of “clean” cardboard was diminishing and getting students to build for a purpose – making a game – wasn’t really working in such large groups).  The coding station went fine for grades 3-6, with students using CodeMonkey, but it was a stretch on Friday.  Kindergarten classes were the last two session of the day, and the high school helpers begged me to change it up.  To what? I wondered.  They knew –> Minecraft.  We got that set up and it went perfectly.
A high school helper helping a kindergartener with Minecraft

A high school helper helping a kindergartener with Minecraft

  • Enlist lots of volunteers – We had over 40 high school students who came over on Thursday or Friday to help out all day.  We seriously couldn’t have done this without them.  I told them that they may have noticed that I never sent out an all-call email asking for help – I asked for them specifically, because I knew them and I knew they were people I could count on.  Only 2 students who I asked said no, and seriously, they were starring in the musical that night.  We also had some parent volunteers, old friends of mine, specials teachers when they were without classes, our tech guy, and more help from the AEA.  Then there are the people who weren’t there but helped immensely, like my library assistant at the high school.  I definitely couldn’t have done this without her!  (I say that a lot, I know.  But it’s true.)
  • Here is our schedule, so you get an idea of what our days looked like.  I know of some schools that let students decide which stations to go to, so there were a variety of grade levels together.  We didn’t do that, instead, classes stayed together all day, going to different stations.  All classes saw the ISU Flextruck but the 3-6 classes each missed a couple of stations through the rotation.  We’ll hit those up in Library/Tech class.
  • You may be like I was, wondering how we could possibly get people on board with giving up a whole day for this event.  We met with teachers early this year to discuss the idea of Makerspace, and we kept the idea front and center.  I wrote about it in the school newsletter to get parents interested, and I just kept my focus this year on Makerspace.  I’ve been a bit like a broken record – “A Makerspace is a community center with tools . . . “

We’re certainly not done.  As I said, everything needs to get in place, and we need to start presenting challenges to be fixed.  We’re also building a Makerspace at the high school.  I know what I’m doing this summer!

Maker List

We’re putting together a Makerspace at the elementary school!  I put a teaser in the school newsletter (page 8), and I’m using Kristin Fontichiaro’s list, “What’s in your school’s dream Makerspace?” as a starting place. I’m applying for two grants (cross my fingers) and making a project proposal for school administration. We already have 2 Makey Makeys and a Kano computer, and kids are having fun exploring those.

My definition for a Makerspace is, “A community center with tools,” with the community in this case being the students and staff at the elementary school, and tools being age-appropriate.  So soon, we hope to have high-tech tools like Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi, but it also includes mid-tech tools like a digital camera as well as low-tech tools like origami paper.  Makerspaces are for makers of all stripes!

Parents are coming in for Christmas concerts and book fair starting this week, so I decided to make a Christmas tree of sorts with ornaments that have low- to medium-cost items that people could donate to the cause.  Want to donate?  Great!  Find the Amazon wish list here.  (Obviously, if you have other items that would work, especially on the crafty side of things, donate away. Items don’t have to be brand new, either – if you have a half-used bag of pom poms at home in your craft supplies, we’d take it!)



I haven’t blogged in forever, but I want to talk about one of my great joys in life – preschool storytime!

On a listserv I’m on, there was a discussion about whether preschoolers come in to the library to check out books or not.  I suggested going to them and doing storytime.  I used to work for a public library in the children’s department, and just loved doing it.  I was quite good at it too, if I do say so myself!

So I put my money where my mouth is and started doing it again, after a two-year hiatus.  Yikes!  (I did it at school my first year, but then it pushed aside.)  Honestly, how can I not do this?  It’s not difficult, it’s super fun, and it just makes my day when I see one of the preschoolers out and about and I hear, “There’s my librarian!”

So I’ve already forgotten the books and finger plays I did last week, but here is what’s on tap for today:

Theme:  Puppies

Books:  Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar



Be My Friend, Floppy Puppy by Ann Tobias, illustrations by Dubravka Kolanovic



A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka


(I told the preschoolers about wordless books last week and promised I’d bring one soon.)



“The More We Get Together” – I use the Cedarmont Kids version and play it on my phone



“If I Were a Dog”

After my bath I try, try, try
To rub myself till I’m dry, dry, dry (rub arms)
Just think how much less time it would take
If I were a dog,
And could shake, shake shake! (shake body)



There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
And Bingo was his name-o!


“This Old Man”

This old man,he played one, (hold up one finger)
He played knick-knack on my thumb. (tap fists together)
With a knick-knack, paddy whack, (roll hands)
Give a dog a bone (hold hand out front, palm up)
This old man came rolling home. (roll hands)
… he played two, on my shoe. (tap shoe)
… he played three, on my knee. (tap knee)
…he played four, on the floor. (tap on floor)


My first stop when preparing for storytime always is Perry (Ohio) Public Library and their storytime resources.  I hope to visit their library someday and tell them as much.

And to close, here are some great puppy GIFs.  How can I use these in storytime . . . ?