I Speak, You Speak, We all squeak for Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”

Some incredible speakers on Gaiman’s audio tape of “The Graveyard Book.” You could use this with students to inspire them or teach speaking skills.

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Blogging about Books

compressWhen I took the Coetail course 3 years ago I started a book blog and became active in Goodreads. You would think after 500 reviews I would be feeling pretty confident about book reviewing, but if anything I realize how much there is to learn. My dad always said, “The more I learn, the dumber I get.” As I keep exploring the world of literature, I keep discovering gaps in my knowledge. The exercise of reviewing books is one way to stay intellectually curious about the world and is the reason I keep at it. (And to keep track of all the books I’ve read.)

I came across an article by Jonathan Hunt on the influx of books written in present tense. He argues that present tense is bad writing and boy-oh-boy did he press a hot button. The comments have snippets of thoughts on the topic from writers Patrick Ness, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon Creech, Matthew Kirby, Shannon Hale, Maggie Stiefvater, and Linda Sue Park (to name a few) commenting on his topic. So does Roger Sutton, Editor-in-Chief of Horn Book. While the comments get heated at times, I thought… I never even knew that present tense was considered a poor writing choice because it is difficult to pull off. I thought it would be easier. They say that it is claustrophobic. Many of the books mentioned in the comments I didn’t like and it might have been the tense.

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Want to be on the Newbery or Caldecott committee?

9780763660406_p0_v6_s260x420Coming fresh off the ALA conference I wondered how people got on the Newbery or Caldecott committees that vote for winners. Shelly Diaz wrote an interesting and informative article on the process in School Library Journal. I would not be able to swing it living overseas, but maybe you can. Check it out here.


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ALA conference

10449530_10203267804928965_7471263833094562529_nThe ALA conference in Las Vegas had 30,000 participants! What an author bonanza. Here is me with Mo Willems getting his newest book. I ended up collecting 70 books! Most were free. I met more authors than I could count… at least 30. I went to some independent schools, workshops, and speaker sessions for an inspiring professional development opportunity. If you ever get the chance to go, do!

My notes are in the USA and I am in Taiwan so I will wing some highlights that stuck with me. Jane McGonigal was the opening speaker and gave some intriguing facts about the benefits of gaming. She argues that game-playing can use critical thinking skills and promote meaningful creativity and problem solving. I am not a gamer, but she piqued my interest. I have her book in my stack of books-to-read.

Jeff Bridges and Lois Lowry spoke about their upcoming movie, “The Giver.” Bridges was hard to understand. He sorta mumbles. Or I’m in the early stages of presbyacusis. They mainly talked about the importance of memories. I just went to the movie and it was worth seeing

The workshops on 3D printing and Makerspaces helped get me up to speed on this new feature in public libraries. Although I didn’t really understand the pedagogy until hearing David Loetcsher and Blanche Woolls speak at the IFLA conference in Lyon, France, I did find the 3D printer talk and all its challenges enlightening. It breaks down an awful lot when used heavily. The speakers gave quite a few good tips to prevent this.

Donalyn Miller gave a great talk on literacy and I really need my notes to delve into that. She was one of my favorite speakers and I have her newest book on my book-pile. I read “The Book Whisperer” and came up with library lessons as a result.

The Newbery/Caldecott banquet was my favorite. The dinner and reception afterwards was so inspiring. Kate Dicamillo’s speech was extremely moving. She said “Flora & Ulysses” was her mothers story. I recommend reading the speech here or using it as a supplement to the10463888_10203267864250448_6695655484572348551_n book if you are doing a read aloud. I did learn that if you go to the conference you don’t have to buy the expensive dinner tickets but can just come for the speeches. There is a receiving line after and it was so fun shaking hands and meeting all the authors. I had used their books in lessons and I bobbed my way down the line feeling like I was meeting celebrities. I was giddy and loved every minute of it. Kate DiCamillo was giddy too. She’d tip her nose to the air and guffaw like a “baby bird waiting to be fed” (from her speech.)

I met some wonderful librarians around the world and we came up with a plan to have a conference at our school this year. I went to ALA with our high school librarian who wrote a proposal for a weekend workshop on digital changes in the library. We will see if anything comes of it.

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Holey Cow!

Here’s a fun book for the kiddos  The Book with a Hole by Tullet, Herve.

croppedCan you tell school is almost out?!

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Mapping library with iPad apps

index.phpSpice up your library locating skill lessons by using the iPad. I read the book, Henry’s Map by David Elliot, and then grade 1 students used the iPads to map where the book was in the library.

I let them choose either “Show Me,” “Doodle Buddy,” or “Educreations.”

They liked the glitter pen on Doodle Buddy but some struggled with erasing. They’d accidentally clear the page. Most of the classroom teachers use “Educreations” so the bulk of students used that app. The few that saw their friends glitter-marked Doodle Buddy, “oohed and ahhed,” quickly switching apps. If glitter motivates them then I’m all for it! Good times.2014-05-08_9-48-38

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How to videos using eBooks

9425998789_ea9b4d6c02_mI taught grade 5 students how to use Follettshelf and Overdrive, but know that many students didn’t have enough practice to comprehend all the steps. I had students get in groups of 3 and they could choose any iPad App they wanted and make a “how to video” choosing either Follettshelf or Overdrive. I’ll use the best videos as tutorials for others in the library. The objective is for students to practice and hone skills. Most used a laptop while the other person videotaped using the iPad Camera feature and the third pointed on the screen. One group used two iPads and showed how to get eBooks on the iPad using the Overdrive App. The results showed that many students didn’t understand how to return books on both programs. This scaffolded lesson allowed me to give one-on-one with them, while the students that understood getting eBooks tried to be creative with their videos. One group tried using the iMovie App but it took too long taking the pictures. Another group tried Videoliscious but didn’t like it and just switched to the video feature that comes standard on the iPad. I did this lesson with grade 5 students and it worked well for reviewing. Plus students had fun. Not everyone finished their videos and that was okay. My goal was to review the process and if they came up with a product great. If not, at least they should know how to get ebooks at home.

On the side… is it eBooks? ebooks? Ebooks? or e-Books?


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Wordless Book Lesson

Grade 4 students worked in pairs and made-up a story for a wordless book. I pulled about 40 wordless books and tried to find 20 of my favorites. I did up an example using “Chalk” by Bill Thompson to show students. Students chose from the stack of 20 and took pictures of each page using the Camera on the iPad. Next they used the Shadow Puppet App and created the picture. The first time I did this, the room was too noisy so I borrowed 12 iRig microphones for better audio. I compiled the stories using a video editing program and played them on an LCD screen. I finished the lesson in a 45 minute time period.

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Follettshelf eBooks

eBook image for catalogGadzooks! How do you spell ebooks? …Ebook? …eBook? ….ebook? or …e-book? No matter how you spell it there are many different ways to get them. We have Overdrive at our school and now just added Follettshelf that works with Destiny Quest. I like that I can use Follettshelf on the Kindle Fire browser and it works okay. Overdrive still does not work with the Kindle reader internationally. Sigh…

I showed grade 5 students how to use Follettshelf on the iPads. Now matter what program I use it is confusing for them. Follettshelf is easy to use when reading on the browser but when I use the Enlight App we had problems with students logging on. The URL they have to type in confused them and we had to reset passwords. That had more to do with Batch file updates than the program and I am not going to go into that.

A few problems students had was figuring out how to return a book. You have to click on the books at the top left to get back to the Follettshelf page after downloading a book. The Enlight App allows the book to be read without a Wi-Fi whereas reading in the browser on Follettshelf requires a connection. Many of the books have U.S. restrictions like Overdrive so don’t expect to have the same selection as you can if you live or lived in the U.S.

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The High School Librarian and I hosted a Webinar on Kindle Management. The HS Librarian is on a Silcasia listserv and people were asking about how Kindles were managed. Our elementary library has 20 Kindles, middles school has 50, and high school has 100. There are quite a few details on management of them. It was a great conversation with others from Singapore, Japan, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. We paid to use a dedicated line using Cisco Webex. While most could hear us, some said the audio cut in and out. We used the chat feature to fill in the blanks or were asked to repeat answers. The feature that allows everyone to talk didn’t work as well as the chat so we shut it off and just had our side be audio. We used the phone and set it on the table. The camera feature allowed us to show the Kindles to people so they could see the barcode, cover, and carrying cases. It was really fun and has me thinking about what it would be like to host a library conference at our school. Hmmm…

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