Monday, November 30, 2009

Yeah! Staff Sargent Corey Nawrocki is Home!

For the past year my teacher prayer group has been praying for the friend of one of our teacher's daughters. Don't blame me for being a little bit happy that Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Corey Nawrocki has returned home from Afghanistan. This was his sixth tour overseas in the battle spray. And rightly Fox Philly did a story on his homecoming.

Next stop for Staff Sergeant Corey Nawrocki, the White House! His next tour of duty is the Presidential Detail in Washington, DC. Yeah, his mom is so proud!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Powerlibrarian has always been about moving elementary readers to the next level. Something happened to me on Friday night that I won’t long forget. I met author Kate DiCamillo. The picture on the left is of Kate and myself. I dragged my daughter away from her husband and my 15 month old grandson on a Friday night to go and meet Kate at a book signing for her new book, “The Magician’s Elephant” at Children’s Book World on Haverford Station Road in Haverford, PA. It turns out that Children’s Book World is less than 6 miles from where Kate was born at Lakenau Hospital, which is in the neighborhood where I grew up and is where my brother was born too.

My daughter was speaking to some of the other moms who had shoved their kids to the front of the line, she was saying, “yes, she is 12.” And I realized she was talking about me. And she was right. I was 12 because there was magic at Children’s Book World that night and it transformed me into a 12 year old. The magic was books, Kate DiCamillo’s books. When Kate read from the first chapter of “The Magician’s Elephant” something happened. Something more than the hush that fell over the room. It was as if the elephant were really there in the room, or it soon would be tumbling out of the ceiling like the elephant in the book. When I took my first library class some 8 or 10 years ago I thought elementary libraries were going out of style. I wanted to make sure that technology played a big role in whatever Library Skills I was teaching kids. Well, listening to Kate DiCamillo reading from the first chapter of her new book “The Magician’s Elephant” made me realize that elementary libraries are not all about technology; they are all about magic. And the magic is different for each student. The trick is to discover where the magic spark lies in each student and make it happen for him or her in the short 40 minutes I see them each week. I have decided this week to let Kate’s words stand for themselves. I am showing two short videos I took of Kate reading from her book “The Magician’s Elephant” to my students this week. For me her reading was magic. Meeting Kate on Friday night was magic, I want my students to feel that excitement. I want to share my enthusiasm about Kate’s books. Let's hear it for the magic in children’s books, especially Kate DiCamillo’s books. The magic that can transform a children’s world in ways that no other reading in their later life can!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kate DiCamillo reads from "The Magician's Elephant"

I had a blast tonight (actually last night now that I look at the clock) at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA. Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors and after 10 years of loving her books and insisting that children read her books I finally got to meet her and hear her read from her new book, "The Magician's Elephant" from Candlewick Press.

More pictures to follow.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The genius of Apple

Why come out with an iPod nano with video? Sounds like such a trivial addition to the product but with that single move Apple could be re-positioning itself in the world of education in a monumental way. I didn’t think of it at first, I thought was “what a waste of an announcement, that it was just a ploy to get Steve Jobs out there in front of people again.” But then I started talking to teachers, librarians, and instructional technology integrators in my school district and I began to see a totally different picture of the iPod nano. First, teachers have long seen the benefits of video in the classroom and on field trips. Traditionally that meant lugging the district or school video camera and let’s face it, even the little school video cameras are big. If your district is more forward thinking you may have one of the new smaller video cameras such as a Flip Video, the RCA Small Wonder or similar small video cameras. However, my district will not allow such video devices because of the proprietary software they require. The videos will not download properly without the software embedded in the camera, which our district blocks teachers from downloading and renders the device useless. Now enter the librarians (and music teachers) who already have convinced the tech gods to allow them to have iTunes. The precedent has been set, iTunes is allowed on district computers for music teachers to download songs and for librarians to borrow and download public library audio books. The interface used by the iPod nano is iTunes. Problem solved. And, will librarians have a use for video? As Sarah Palin has said more than once, “you bettcha”! The library catalogs in our district allow for students to create their own video and audio reviews of books and embed them right into the record of the book so others can see and hear it when they search the catalog. What a great way for students to leave their mark on their school by recommending books to their friends. What a great way to get other kids to read, with recommendations from their peers. Can you tell I am excited? Lastly, instructional technology integrators in our districts are very down in the mouth these days since there is little money in the technology budget. Think of the cost savings this little iPod nano with video will give school districts. They will need to buy only one device instead of the two they traditionally buy. One device that is similar in price to either of the other two devices they now buy… a two for one deal sounds good in my mind. One device that now does the work of two, brilliant. Apple had their thinking caps on for this one folks, it just may be a way for them to break back into the education market which at least in the case of my district has gone to the PC side exclusively. What about your district? PC or Apple? Can you see uses for this new iPod nano? Please comment below. I am looking forward to your thoughts and the dialogue.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

21st Century Learning

I think maybe these guys got it right. We need to start thinking outside the box in education.

Love the idea of teaching with Primary Sources but Primary Sources are not just Library of Congress archives. A bus ticket or subway token can be a primary source. Show and tell is an example of teaching with a primary source, and helps students use 21St Century Skills when planning their presentations. As educators we must get on the rocket that is 21st Century Learning or we will get left behind. And if we are left behind so are our students and that can't happen!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Build a Squid

Not sure what the point of this is, besides fun, but I just built my own squid and played with it for a while until it went off to find new adventures. I think it could be educational if students were doing research on what can happen to squid. My squid swam through a cloud of plankton already and it's not even an hour old. Now Squiky, my squid, had a fight with a leopard seal. Poor guy. It is a pretty cool interactive game for those science minded elementary teachers. Check it out, it is from the Government of New Zealand. It is called Build a Squid. Again, my squid's name is Squiky. You can visit him by searching on his name. If you look at the picture on the right, it looks like Squiky is waveing to you! I did the screen captures using Jing and then edited the pictures in PhotoShop.

Yearbook yourself

I was having a lot of fun with this web applet called Yearbook yourself. Here is how I would look in a yearbook in 1964:

Hope you are laughing with me.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Wordle of Obama's Speech to School Children

President Obama is speaking to school children on what is the first day of school for many tomorrow. His remarks have been posted and while they seem quite genuine, he will not be speaking to the children in my school district. Not live anyway. Our assistant superintendent sent an e-mail to staff last week insisting that the speech be previewed before it is shared with students. My principal went one step further and said it should not be shared with elementary students in our building. Why is this so controversial? I offered to have the speech on in the library for whoever wanted to watch it but that is not going to happen now. Some high school students in the mid west are quietly protesting their school district’s decision to keep them from watching the president. They are simply taking their laptops outside at noon and will return to class when the speech is over. I am proud of them for exercising their rights. This is America and with Constitution Day coming up next week we should be celebrating Free Speech, not squelching it. Of course this is a militant radical librarian talking and not a classroom teacher. Maybe it would be considered political posturing if a teacher forced his/her class to listen to a speech. But in the library it is free speech for all and all opinions are welcome. Here is a Wordle of the president’s speech that someone in my PLN on Plurk created. Enjoy!

Wordle: ObamaEdSpeech2009

Arrowhead Library Orientation Video 2009

It is finally finished. I have been working on this video for more than three days and yesterday I spent most of the day on it. Three days for such a short video seems like a lot of time. Not only that but it is not professional in any way and husband says it is boring. But I ask you when was the Dewey Decimal System not boring? It is only exciting to us librarians. This is my second attempt using iMovie. The first attempt was a baby shower video and I never uploaded that anywhere. Just gave a copy to the mom to be. We use Movie Maker at school and let me tell you the two are not alike at all. I actually uploaded this library orientation video to so I could embed it here. I had forgotten that I even had an account and seems to take larger videos than YouTube (which is blocked in my district). Hopefully it will embed easily and I will be able to show it to my students as we begin school this week. I sure hope they appreciate all my hard work! Hope everyone has a good school year!

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Save POWER Library

One of the worst things that could happen to school librarians and school students in Pennsylvania is becoming more of a possibility every day. Right at the beginning of the school year we are in real danger of loosing POWER Library. And let me tell you, even affluent school districts can’t afford to loose it let alone low-income districts. POWER Library puts the world at my student’s fingertips in the way of trusted databases; databases that my library budget can’t touch. I am not saying my school district is cheap either. I am saying in these tight budget times school districts cannot pay for luxuries such as databases. I am not saying databases are luxuries either. Databases are essential to students. Databases provide more reliable and citable information. My students can go to POWER Library any time, day or night, and get dependable sources of information with most citations included within the documents. My students use POWER Library for research projects and to satisfy their own interests. But now it looks like it may be gone. The state budget is still not passed and POWER Library is just one of the things on the chopping block. If you would like to help, please go to the Pennsylvania Library Association website and click on take action down at the bottom. It will take you to a new page where you can send an e-mail to people in Harrisburg, right from the webpage. Please do it and help save POWER Library.

Wordle Fun

I love Wordle. So, this morning I decided to check out what my Plurk posts look like in Wordle. The results are here to the right. Plurk is so much fun and so is Wordle. There are so many applications in the classroom. Some teachers use it for vocabulary words. I had a great idea for using it when I have to teach the Dewey Decimal System. I am going to have the students browse and list the names of books and types of catagories in each section and then create their own wordle of that Dewey Class. I may even pass out a kids guide to Dewey for those that need more help. It is all about differentiated instruction!

By the way, there was a new post on the Wordle Blog on how to make Wordle safer for students. Check out what Jonathan Feinberg who made Wordle has to say about blocking only specific parts of the Wordle site. Personally I feel the threat is not as great when I just make the Wordle create page a favorite and have the students go directly there, by-passing the front page gallery all together.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Visual Blooms

I stumbled upon this Web2.0 App digital-visual representation of Blooms Taxonomy through a twitter tweet but it took a while to find the actual wiki it came from. This represents the levels of blooms that are hit with different web apps. If I want my students to work create, evaluate, analyze, and apply their learning. I must offer them some higher-level web apps. Some of these very web apps may be blocked by filters or considered unsafe or unreliable as sources. It is time for those of us in the library to step up and teach Internet Safety, find ways to get student accounts without the need for student e-mail addresses, teach website evaluation, teach how to properly use social networking with proper netiquette so that our students can use these web apps responsibly. Can I get a “woot” from school librarians? I don’t know about you but I want my students using Google Docs and collaborating on wikis. I want my student to blog about their research projects, to make voki books reviews, and put their digital photographs (notice I did not say pictures of themselves) up on web services like Flickr and Picassa. Come join me school librarians and let’s make digital blooms a library initiative in this new school year!


So I was on twitter today and someone posted a link for twitterMosaic. I of course had to check it out. My twitterMosaic is below. You can get your own and can get a snapshot of your friends and followers on twitter!

Get your twitter mosaic here.