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100 Word Challenge

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on a one-hundred word challenge using this image:

100WordChallenge

There is a beauty and a magic in the outdoors. Growing up in the country allows you to appreciate the magic of nature be it stars, trees, thunderstorms, or high winds whipping against the house. There is something equally as beautiful about winter mornings with newly fallen snow or the hot sun beaming on your nose in summer. Whether you’re five or ninety-five, there is no greater awesomeness than Earth and its wonders. Have you experienced the Serengeti in Africa? Mount Everest? The rain forests of South America? It’s just as well to sit outside pointing to a rainbow smiling.

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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

Reminding everyone about Remind

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on favorite tools and resources for the classroom.

Remind

I keep lists. Lots of lists. I have an agenda. I have a notebook. I love Post-its. I also use Evernote and Google Keep. Then there’s emailing myself to remind myself of something. So let’s face it- everyone needs reminders so what’s an educator to use? The Remind tool that’s almost more easy to use as an app than on a desktop, but both work for a buffer between the student and teacher in terms of communication. It can be individual messages or a class announcement and the best part is that the reminders can be scheduled and students who don’t have cell phones can attach it to their email.

The planner in all of us wants to not be last-minute and give kids ample time to prepare whether it’s an assignment, upcoming assessment, or an activity in the school community. In the library, I run several different “classes”- one for the blood drives that I coordinate, one for the club that I advise, and one for our library groupies when there are upcoming activities.

It’s the perfect solution to send out information, but get it in a centralized place too. And what’s more important for our sanity than a little organization?

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Four before you go any further

As the school year peaks around the corner (staff go back tomorrow), I want to round up a few of my favorite reads in the past few weeks. Of course this excludes graphic novels since I sit on a selection committee and must keep my lips zipped on those. So, without further delay…

  • Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
    • I’m obsessed with fairy tales that are atmospheric and Martin is seamless in her storytelling about two sisters, Snow and Rose whose father has gone missing in the woods which forces their mother and them to move into a tiny cabin in the woods. As they wander the forest and meet the people of the woods who are hellbent on finding out what beast is making their loved ones disappear, they soon discover that the mystery wasn’t so far away the entire time. It’s a mesmerizing tale.
  • Patina by Jason Reynolds
    • The second in his middle grade Track series, I couldn’t help but write the word yes over and over in my Goodreads review. It is every reason Reynolds is seated at the helm of YA and middle grade powerhouse writers. I look forward to my retirement many decades from now and still reading and sharing his books. He has become timely and timeless.
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
    • I had my husband bring home flowers specifically to photograph alongside the cover for a bookstagram shot. While only a small amount of the book takes place in the flower shop, I couldn’t help myself. But I did also pose it with a compendium of Shakespeare in acknowledgement of our bookish co- main character, Lionel aka Lion. This book is full of heart, featuring a wide array of primary and secondary characters including some fabulous adults. I want more fabulous adults featured in YA books! But topics including sexuality, attraction, mental health, religion, and self-discovery are prevalent in an honest and heartwarming combination.
  • If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer Armentrout
    • This was my first Armentrout and it was a recommendation from a local bookstore especially when she found out I was a high school librarian. Ever make a decision you wholeheartedly regret? Lena was upset and got into a car (sober) with friends who were drunk. The car crashed and she was the lone survivor. As much as the book focuses on the darkness of these deaths and the months of recuperation, there’s also a more positive message about how waiting until tomorrow whether it be about finding a way to move on, saying yes to a love interest, or staying positive even if you’re going through hell. Certainly food for thought and a unique blend of a lighter romance coupled with a serious disaster.

If these weren’t on your radar or you were putting them off, put them at the top of the pile. And once you’ve read and adored them, give them a hug from me.

 
 

Find your people

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on recommendations for first-year educators.

In addition to blogging, obviously I follow plenty of blogs myself and sometimes they’re not always education-based though provide just as much insight. Seth Godin is one of those people for me. I have four of his posts cut out and placed on my work computer. So if I was going to share a thought, it would be in relation to Godin’s post Who are you playing tennis with? I’ll wait here while you read it.

My suggestion is to find your tribe of colleagues that inspire and engage you, challenge you, and most importantly keep you happy and sane. Over ten years, I have had the colleagues who slog through each day and I have the colleagues who come to work ready to do the work and stay positive even when it’s hard.

And the best part is that these colleagues don’t have to be in your content area. Maybe they share the same lunch and would rather walk the school than sit and complain, maybe it’s the Spanish teacher that bakes and you have a sweet tooth. Of course, it could be the maintenance worker (Ah, those were the days: my FIRST first year teaching ELA and I would arrive with the first maintenance staff member. I would be walking down the hallway literally as the lights warmed up while we talked about life at 6AM).

HelloMyNameIs

Therefore, talk to everyone. You’ll be able to determine pretty quickly who your people will be. When you’re down, they’re the ones offering chocolate. When you’re angry, they’re the ones telling you to wait twenty-four hours before sending that email. When you’re happy, they’re the ones share in your excitement. And when you need a good book to read, they’re the ones pulling one off their own bookshelf to lend. You get the point. Find those people.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

“So, professional development should…”

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic was around wishes, dreams, and hopes for professional development. 

This topic has tentacles professionally for me: I am a deliverer of professional development within and outside of my district and to receivers other than my actual profession, I am co-chair of my high school’s professional development committee, and I strongly believe in the continual building of professional knowledge (but also knowledge in general!) I will likely revisit this topic in other posts but want to stop to appreciate the iterations that professional development has and those that can take hold as true professional development when others would like to frown upon it.

The most memorable professional development for me seems to be at a point of need. Sessions that I attend or webinars that I watch and find myself repeating to others or integrating into my own practice years later are the ones that I needed at that moment and changed something in the way I did or thought about things. So, professional development should be needs-based. 

Who wants to always have to look presentable all the time? Recently, a colleague, my guest post wrote a follow up post on her blog Librarian Leaps in which she said that I “love cute dresses and always looks adorably professional in them”. That is the case- my wardrobe usually consists of a dress and heels- it’s totally my uniform, but I also usually change the minute I get home. And professional development is delivered conveniently via technology through webinars and Twitter where we are not physically present but engaged (sometimes more so!). So, professional development should be flexible with the ability to do it from home, from work, or anywhere for that matter and in your pajamas!

Last year I attended a group think session for our larger district that consisted of underrepresented professionals or simply small categories of professionals whose professional development needs might not always be met with the larger-scale sessions that are designed. One comment I made is that professional development days don’t always fit neatly into the assigned three or five days set aside per year for them. My recent attendance at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago is my professional development, but it was not on X day on our school’s calendar. Then on X day I can do something else. So, professional development should not always have to fit in one box or on one day. Don’t try to make it fit like a square peg in a round hole.  

As I have begun running professional development, I have learned about what I like or dislike in learning I receive, likewise I value the feedback I get from participants in mine so that I can deliver what people want. I spend as much time on my presentations (discussed here) as I do learning about delivering it. And if you want tips about the secret of a great talk, I suggest this TED talk by Nancy Duarte. So, professional development should be something you give as much as you receive. 

 

I began by saying I could talk a lot about professional development, but in a nutshell, I’ve offered a few of my thoughts on the topic. What other suggestions or comments do you have?

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2017 in edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

Stepping back in time

After a short long weekend away from home where we were able to travel back in time and breath in the history of a long ago time while enjoying what it is in 2017, it got me thinking about the books that make me want to travel to a specific time or place.

  1. Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck uses the Fitzgerald’s specifically Zelda and her private nurse, Anna to bring readers to the 1930s using a main character whose husband is MIA from the war, a young daughter who died, and her new charge, the unstable Zelda Fitzgerald to bring the Jazz Age to life.
  2. Mary Coin by Silver is a haunting, heartbreaking, and lyrically romantic interpretation of the subject of Migrant Mother, the photographer, and a possible relative focusing on the Great Depressions far-reaching effects.
  3. Garden of Stones by Littlefield uses the same concept as Silver with the comparison of different generations in one story and how they all persevered. In this story it focuses on a woman’s survival at all costs during the Japanese internment.
  4. Into the Wild by Krakauer takes us to the wilds of Alaska and leaves us to wonder, what was Chris really thinking?
  5. Mudbound by Jordan shows us the dead-end life that Laura is feeling she’s living after relocating to the Mississippi Delta in 1946. The intricacy of relationships romantic and otherwise bring this story to life.

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All of these are adult titles whose authors have a particular penchant for historical fiction or in Krakauer’s case, writing nonfiction with a bevy of research and purpose, that provide readers with an experience. The kind of experience I had sitting for brunch with a pomegranate mimosa and eggs benedict  in the oldest tavern in the United States that opened its doors in 1697 and where the Colonial Legislature would meet. All you need to do is close your eyes and listen to the creaking of the wood floors and feel the bustle of life that long ago. I’m guessing it would be far noisier and smokier and sans white linens.

 

Cover Love

Covers are integral for selling a book without having to say a word (as well as titles, but that is a blog post for another day). If put on the spot, the kind of covers I drool over are Sarah Cross’ Beau Rivage series, Ellen Hopkins hardcovers, George O’Connor’s Olympains graphic novels, and standalones that capture the mood of the book like Out of Darkness and And We Stay.

So I took the opportunity to capture the beauty of a new book to be released in October that I had an advanced copy for, E.K. Johnston’s (Exit, Pursued by a Bear) That Inevitable Victorian Thing. Not only is the cover art gorgeous, when you really look at it, the artist understood the book as well. Plus, the content is an intriguing alternate history with GLBTQ characters, picturesque settings, and lovable secondary characters.

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Teens will keep interested in the content, but likely what will draw them in if a librarian isn’t there to recommend it is the cover. What other covers do you adore? I can say for certainty that I would poster-print Cross’ covers and hang as wall art if I had the wall space. Well… we are remodeling our house, so maybe this is a real possibility.

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Then, what’s really underneath it all, too? Anne Blankman shared her love for the hardcover where publishers put thought into what’s underneath. Understandably I now strip all my hardcovers to see what’s underneath. Ever done it? You should, you might be a winner! Pun intended– because the last book that I fell in love with was You May Already Be a Winner for it’s navy hardcover with a complimenting golden ribbon along the spine.

Your mission next time you’re holding a book in your hands is to take a few minutes to appreciate the design of the cover. And if it’s a hardcover, see what’s underneath it all *wink wink*.