Thursday, December 19, 2013

FAME Conference 2013

In November, I attended the annual conference of the Florida Association for Media in Education in Orlando.  As always, the FAME Conference was jam-packed with innovative ideas, trends, and best practices.  And as always, three days wasn't enough time to spend with my fellow school librarians sharing ideas, connecting with old friends and new, and celebrating awesome children's authors.

I was fortunate to present sessions with several friends this year.  For the fourth time, I was able to present ideas for promoting the Sunshine State Young Reader's Award program in our schools with fellow members of the SSYRA Committee.  These women have become such good friends, and I'm grateful to work with them on this awesome book award committee.

I also presented with my friend Raylee Fleisch, and elementary librarian from Pinellas County, and Michelle Jarrett, a middle school librarian from Osceola County.  Raylee and I went to the same middle school, and she had my dad as a math teacher!  We reconnected a few years ago at FAME, and both serve on SSYRA. We presented a session entitled Outwit-Outplay-Outlast: Surviving your first year (or two!) as a school librarian. We addressed topics that new librarians are often concerned with. Hopefully we were able to help the new librarians who attended our session.  After getting some feedback and doing some reflection, we have ideas for an even better Survivor session for next year's FAME Conference!

Michelle and I also did a session about how librarians use Twitter to build Professional Learning Networks (PLNs).  We "met" on Twitter months ago and planned our presentation electronically, but had never met in person until the day before our session at FAME.  We're a great example of how Twitter connects educators with similar interests across distance!

Monday, December 9, 2013

That's a fact, Jack!

Who doesn't love Uncle Si Robertson and his many Si-isms?  If you're not familiar with Duck Dynasty, you need to know that Uncle Si often says, "that's a fact, Jack!"  I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to display non-fiction books in the library, so I recently put these pictures of Si with his famous words of wisdom out on display with some non-fiction books.  Some of the books were about Duck Dynasty-related topics such as hunting, fishing, and animals.  Others were just non-fiction books that I thought would interest the kids but may not be titles that are highly circulated.

The books FLEW off this display.  We had to restock the display at least once a day while we had it up.  It sparked a lot of discussion among the students, and got a lot of attention.  Just what I wanted!

Fans of the show may catch my little joke in the pictures below: I put a book about beavers next to one of the signs. (The Robertsons have a severe dislike for beavers, who cause problems in the rivers where they like to fish.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

National Picture Book Month 2014

We celebrated National Picture Book Month in November.  Last year for Picture Book Month, we ran a special on picture books - check out at least one and students could get an extra book.  This year, we ran the same special, but added a challenge.  Elementary students in grades 1-5 were given bookmarks to track the picture books they read during the month.  (Kindergarteners got a pencil without having to fill in the bookmark.) Once they finished 10 picture books, they had to choose their favorite and explain why.  Once their bookmark was completed, they earned a special pencil that says, "I read picture books at FSUS!" 

I ordered the pencils in bulk from Oriental Trading Company.  For just over 600 pencils, it cost around $100.  Well worth it to encourage the kiddos to read picture books.

 I know some educators reading this post will be disappointed (or even angry!) that I required the students to earn an 80% or 100% on the Accelerated Reader quizzes for the books on the bookmark. Here's the thing: our students participate in the AR program. We're an AR school. For better or worse, that's the situation.  I decided to require an 80% or higher on each quiz so that students would take their time and really read (and enjoy!) the picture books.  If I hadn't done that, I worried that some students would race through 10 books (or not even read them) because they wanted the prize.  That's not okay with me.  Because our school uses AR as a supplemental reading comprehension program, I try to work within the system while still encouraging the children to read a wide variety of books at a variety of levels, and to read for pleasure.  You'll notice that for each book on the bookmark, the students also circled a thumbs up/side/down to indicate how much they enjoyed each book.

Many students read far more than just the 10 books to get the pencil.  That tells me they were reading for pleasure and enjoying the picture books.  That's really all that matters to me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

We Are Thankful

My friend's family always has a "Thankful Tree" at their house for Thanksgiving.  Each member of the family -- and friends who stop by -- writes down what they're thankful for on a leaf that is then added to the tree.  She offered to come to school and put up a Thankful Tree for us this year as well.  However, our high school art student (aka the Library Artist in Residence) really wanted to make the tree, so she and two friends created this beautiful work of art.  We put it up right at the beginning of November and left it up for the month. (In fact, it's still up. It's going to be hard to take it down!)

Students, teachers, staff, and parents all contributed leaves of thanks to the tree. It was really fun to read everyone's leaves. Some were heart-warming, some were funny, and all were truly sincere.  I lost a few Sharpies to the cause, but I'll take that any day when it means the students are digging deep and giving thanks.  By the end of the month, the tree was completely covered - and then some!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

I'm a little late posting this, but I wanted to share how we used our Ellison Die Cut skeleton dies to decorate the entrance to the library for Halloween.  Some white cardstock, a few brads, and voila!  Friendly, book-reading skeletons!

How-To October

I posted before about how we run "Specials" in the library.  In October, we ran a special called "How-To October."  It was a big hit!  Students could check out an extra book as long as it was a book that taught them "how to" do something - cook, fold origami, draw, make crafts. The kids loved it, and it taught them where to find these cool books in the non-fiction section.