Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Library Centers

Trying something new in the library can go one of two ways, ALL wrong or ALL right! I'm thinking adding library centers to the library is an all right! I recently went to a Library Expo in Plano and attended a session that discussed library centers. I left with loads of ideas and a new enthusiasm for the idea that I have been playing around in my head for a long time.

I decided to trial run it with one grade level. In this case, 1st grade! I chose First Grade because they have mastered the art of centers in Kinder and they are still doing them in 1st. Basically they know what's going on when I say the word "centers" and they LOVE them! In fact, when I said "Library Centers" their faces lit up and I got cheers! Yep...cheers! From that moment on I knew it was going to be great!

I started small and only with resources I had on hand.

Reading Buddies Center - The kids read books to a stuffed animal (buddy)

Listening Center - students listen to a playaway along with it's matching picture book (they love the playaways since they aren't able to check them out until they are in 3rd grade)

Magazine Center - this is another center is excited to primary kids since they aren't able to check out magazines until they are in 3rd grade

Bookmark Center - students create a book mark using stickers, markers, stencils, etc... (biggest hit) and they can take it with them

Seasonal Center - this time it was Thanksgiving Books with a Thanksgiving coloring sheet

Big Book Center - students read big books to one another (lots of teacher role playing)

All of these supplies were easy and free. Plus, I had them all. The only thing I had to do was gather it all, organize it in tubs, and put it in a central location.

The 2nd week I decided to add two more after spending just a little bit of money.

Felt Board Center - yep..you know like the felt board from when we were kids.

Puzzle Center - Floor Puzzle

I hope to switch some of the tubs out with new and fresh centers as time goes by or as they tend to become less popular.

The next question you may be asking is...when on earth do you have time to do centers, check out books, AND do a lesson? Well, quite honestly I was concerned too. But, I always read and do a lesson first. Then, the students checkout books. They checkout books remarkably fast now, knowing that the last thing they will do is have centers. Occasionally we go about 5 minutes over. I close by playing a song that indicates clean up time.

I am still a little shocked at how smoothly it has gone. I hope to start some other grade levels after the Christmas break. I'll leave you with some pictures of the centers in action!



Monday, September 29, 2014


Staff Development days can be long for teachers! A lot of meetings! But, the flip side is I learn a lot of cool new things that can be used in the classroom. I thought I would share my new favorite thing I learned today...and I hope our students and teachers will jump on board!
Kidsblog is a free safe site for students and teachers to create a blog to interact within the classroom (and across the world). The best part about it is that students can share their thinking on what they are learning! This is basically an online reflection journal! Students can improve their writing skills, have educational discussions, learn about digital citizenship, and see their growth throughout the year. I think it's important for students to know that they can publish information for others all over the world to see! This is a great classroom tool! Let me know if you will be using it!

Check it out!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Back to School....5 weeks ago!

Man, the beginning of the year has flown by! It is already the 5th week of school! Holy Cow! Time flies when you're having fun! There is a lot of great things in store for the library this year! It's not all about the Book Fair and New Books in this library! Our 4-th, 5th, and 6th graders are already on their ipads downloading books from the digital library! Getting logged into their adobe accounts was REAL fun! Not! There has GOT to be a better way! But, hey...we conquer, we read! Done! 3rd and 4th grade have begun their S.O.L.E. research lessons! I'm super excited about that this year. I piloted it with 5th grade last year (and they loved it...I mean doesn't everyone want to know if fish feel pain?) and now it is embedded into our curriculum. Students are exploring and learning! And bi-golly they are excited about it! Yep...I said bi-golly.

Here's some pics of kiddos doing SOLE!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Counting by 7's

Counting by 7's is on the 2014 Bluebonnet Book list. I really enjoyed this one and can see it as a read aloud for 5th & 6th grade classrooms. Students tend to relate to books with kids seen as an outsider. In this case, Willow Chance is basically a genius, yet misunderstood by those around her. Willow finds unlikely friendships through a tragic experience. I enjoyed this book and if I had a classroom of my own, I would definitely be reading this one aloud! Several different scenarios are relatable for kids today. Loss of a parent(s), not fitting in, lack of friends, and adoption. This is another book in which I loved how the author made the library a place of refuge. If I ever fulfill my dream of writing a book, you can guarantee it will have a library in it. ;) Loved this book with lots of discussion possibilities! 
What were your thoughts on this book? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

I read this Bluebonnet book over the summer and admit I wasn't super excited about it.  But, when I got done reading it, I had no regrets. This book is a great chapter book for 3rd graders, but also a good fit for 4th graders. I also think it will be great for ESL students. Anna Wang is a 4th grade girl who is Chinese. Her mother speaks Chinese but as for her she doesn't know much. She goes to Chinese School on Saturdays to learn. 
My favorite part of this book is that Anna LOVES to read and the author actually goes into a little bit of detail about each book she reads. The cool part about it is that they are REAL books and they are REAL GOOD books like A Wrinkle in Time and My Side of the Mountain. If I were reading this book aloud to a class I would have all of the books in this book on hand for my students to look at and read. That is such a great feature to the book. I love it when authors have characters in their stories that love to read! 
Anna struggles with trusting her English School friends. She has been let down a lot. By the end of the book she has a true friend that pulls through for her. 
What did you think of The Year of the Book?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Old News...New School

It's hard to believe we have spent almost a whole school year in our new school(10 whole and 2 half days left…but who's counting anyway). It has been an AMAZING experience thus far being in a brand new building as a brand new librarian! I'm one lucky local librarian, just sayin.
Moving into a new school has been a fabulous experience. I mean, our old building was OLD! Like 1953 old! Yeah, it had some renovations over the years, but we were due for new…like ALL new! And we got it!
The new Black Elementary is b-e-a-utiful! I remember walking through the new building before there were cabinets, tile, walls…and thinking THIS is gonna be AMAZING! I was super stoked to come over before most of the teachers and check out the library! I snapped a few pics to take back to my friends and students.

Oh the empty shelves!
 Here is a picture of the collaboration/computer lab.

This is a picture of my future desk and the circulation area.

I have to say I have the best view in the library! Endless walls of windows to the outside and the inside of the school. I spent many days the summer before we opened unpacking boxes, organizing the workroom and dreaming of my future days as librarian of Black Elementary! It truly is a dream come true! I love my job, the staff, and all the kiddos!
Here's an after shot with books, tub, and chart stand in place…all essentials to library learning!

Monday, April 28, 2014

ipads, please?!

Ten, maybe Twenty years ago students and teachers would never have dreamed of the technology schools have on their campuses today. Last year, several of our teachers applied for a grant allowing our 4th-6th grade classes to have ipads 1:1, like EVERY student in EVERY class! The most amazing part about it is we got it! Last November the ipads were "rolled out" to every student in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.
You may be thinking, I didn't need all this technology when I was a kid in school or these kids are just going to be distracted by basic reading, writing, and arithmetics. They need all these things and are still learning them (with pencil and paper). But, we live in a different day and age here folks. You can put a tablet in front of a 1 year old and they will learn how to swipe it to unlock it. All the while talking to their new friend named Siri! You don't believe me? I've seen it! My 18 month nephew loves taking selfies! If you are reading this and don't know what a selfie is, you've got some catching up to do! Do you see my point? Not putting tablets and technology into the hands of the next generation would be doing a disservice to them and us!

Walking into the classroom I see more creativity being used on the ipads than I have seen in years. It is an open door for teachers to allow students to choose their skilled abilities to create and publish their work.

This is why I am so excited to present our 1:1 ipad roll out video!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Storybook Pumpkin Patch

Way back in October while I was in class at UNT (so glad that's done) I was talking to one of my librarian classmates. My friend had found the cutest little pumpkins decorated like book characters on...you guessed it...Pinterest! The pin came from Cari over at librarylearners.com. Here's the link to our inspiration. Storybook Pumpkin Patch Thanks Cari!
Being a new librarian, these events tend to scare me a little. Don't ask me why, but you just never know how it's going to go down with the students and staff. It turned out to be a huge success!
Cari had some rules that applied to the pumpkins and so we followed suit since she had done it before and knew the many things that could go wrong. She even had a link to a flyer we could send home with all the directions for the kiddos to follow while creating their pumpkins.
The kids had a few weeks to bring in their pumpkins and they went home on the 31st of October. The event was wonderful with a few things I will do differently next year. Man, my phrase this year has been... "you live and you learn". I've been doing A LOT of that this year! Hopefully, I can continue saying that for the mistakes I make next year, and the next year, and the next year... For instance, while the acrylic paint looks amazing, pesky children like to scratch it off. So I think I can solve the problem next year by putting them up on a higher shelf. Also, I think I need to stress a little more that they must be a storybook character. I had a few t.v. characters (adorable btw) roll through. I accepted them and made a mental note for next year. All in all this will most likely be an annual event at Black Elementary!

Sadly, I lost a lot of my pictures on my old phone. I managed to salvage a few thanks to our Facebook Page!
I'll leave you with the few pics we managed to keep!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Fair, Book Fair!

In October I held my very first Scholastic Book Fair!(I know I'm a little...well...a lot late in posting) I am also proud to say that out of all the years Black Elementary had a Book Fair this one was in the top 2 for bringing in sales! I am proud! I think the students are really enjoying the new library and all the bells and whistles that come along with it!

I am probably not the first to put it out there, but the Book Fair is A LOT of work! I learned a few things the hard way, while also having some great advice and help given to me by some of my fellow librarians and friends. (Thanks to Tracy, Blaise, Linda, Bob, & Amanda) There is no way I could have accomplished it without them!

For all you newbie librarians like me, take note to start setting up the Friday before (maybe at noon?). I did NOT do this and will next time. I pulled a late Friday nighter setting up! Not my idea of a hot date!
Also, keep the books with legos, pens, jewelry, and other toys close to the register and maybe just one  copy out and the rest behind the register. These little trinkets are likely to find their way in to the pockets of children and with out the cash to go with them... and sadly, the book is left behind.

My mentor, Tracy, had the brilliant idea of having a second register sent! First thing Monday morning I called Scholastic and they sent me another the very next day. If you can order it before your Book Fair arrives that will save you the trouble. (I have one or two volunteers that I trust to run the register in case I am unavailable.) Having the second register helped tremendously! It was especially helpful on the day we had "Muffins with Mom" like event, only we called it Breakfast with the Bobcat (our school mascot). Lot's of moms stopped by to grab a few books and it alowed for shorter lines and wait time to check out.

If I haven't told you before, Pinterest is one of my best friends. Using the search terms, "book fair" brought in a exceedingly abundant amount of ideas! The first place prize for "Book Fair Pinterest Project" would have to go to the junk boards! You know all the junk Scholastic sends? The pens, pencils, erasers, bookmarks, etc... Well, having a tri-fold foam board display or corkboard of some sort to pin up an example of all the junk is a great idea for displaying it and it's price. These little items also tend to find their way into the pockets of the kiddos...less the cash, of course. So find a way to display each item and hide away the others until the kids are set to buy it.

Here's a shot of one of our 5th Grade teachers selecting books for her Teacher Wish List. The wish list is an opportunity for students and parents to buy a book for a teacher's classroom library. I had a basket for each grade level which included the books from each teacher's wish list. In the end I used scholastic dollars to buy a book from every teacher's wish list if there were any left. I think it's important to keep teacher's classrooms library fresh and this is a great way to do so. 

I wish I would have taken more pictures of the book fair but, I think my head was spinning too fast for me to remember. Maybe next time...I learned a lot during this Book Fair. But, I know there is so much more I can do be a pro. BOGO Book Fair is coming up in March. Eek! (you can determine whether or not that "eek!" is an "eek!" of excitement or fear) I'll never tell...