Saturday, April 25, 2009

Picturing America

My school library was one of the lucky 26,300 schools and public libraries that were selected to receive the first round of “Picturing America” awards presented in cooperation with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, as an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In late September I received 20 double-sided, laminated posters of great and I do mean great American artwork, which I displayed in the library throughout the year. In February we did a picture study and read books about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington for their birthdays. Using the posters of Washington and Lincoln made the lessons come alive. The photo of Lincoln (left) constantly amazed students; they could not believe how many wrinkles he had. One student said to me, “Wow, he must be really old, is he still alive?” I am quite used to the “is he still alive” question from my kinders, but in this case the student added, “because my grandfather has wrinkles and he’s really old.” I am sure grandpa would blush if he heard that but Lincoln’s wrinkles were more from the worry of war than from age alone. This Alexander Gardner photo does capture Lincoln’s deep worry when the burden of the presidency had taken its toll. Glad my student picked up on that.

There has not been enough time to use all 20 of the illustrations but this month, in honor of Paul Revere’s April 18th ride, we studied about Paul revere in depth. We used the pictures and studied details of Grant Wood’s whimsical painting. We discussed the lights being on even in some of the darker parts of the picture because Paul Revere had already been there and people in the houses were awake. But, the lights were still out where he hadn’t been yet. We looked deep into Paul Revere’s eyes in the portrait painted by John Singleton Copley. The students decided Paul Revere looked like Jack Black and that began a very lively discussion of Paul Revere’s character. What if Paul Revere had Jack Black’s personality? We turned the picture around and looked at the teapot Paul Revere made that is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We watched some videos from United Streaming. We read several books we already had in the library and then last week a box of books arrived in the mail. My school library was awarded the We the People Bookshelf, a collection of classic books for young readers. The books are beautiful, some have reproductions of original documents. The bookshelf is also a project of NEH in cooperation with ALA Public Programs Office. In the collection was a wonderful book with the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” with beautifully illustrated and engraved pictures by Christopher Bing. There were two reproductions in the book, one being the sworn deposition of Paul Revere about his now famous ride. The students had a wonderful time comparing the real events with the Longfellow poem. I realize I may seem a little over enthused about these wonderful books and illustrations but I am only half as inspired as the art teacher in my building. We are now trying to come up with a building theme for next year wrapped around the theme of “Picturing America.”

Simple Machines in the Library

Why is a librarian worrying about teaching 2nd graders about simple machines? It is a challenge. I wanted to see what was out there and connect students to different media they can use when faced with something new. Teacher tube had a couple of offerings and I wanted to show my students this blog so I am embedding some simple machine videos here.
This first one is a little corney but it was made by middle school students.

This was created by elementary students and it is the kind of final project I think this group of second graders I am teaching can create. I am going to have to watch this with them and see if my students will be excited about doing a video as a final project... media literacy and science all in one...

This is a mash up of a song created and performed by Science Explosion, a group of science educators. It was mashed up by a student who found simple machines in anime.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Check out tinypaste...

I just had to blog about my latest find. Someone either Plurked or Twittered about this website and I had to go and find out more for myself. I am so excited about this new discovery called tinypaste. Tinypaste is like tinyurl which lets you share a large URL in a small format. Except tinypaste is for sharing text, any kind of text. You could type a paper and paste it into tinypaste and send only the URL to someone to help you edit the document. I used tinypaste for the Gettsyburg Address.

When you go to the tinypaste website you get a blank window that says, “Click here to paste your text.” Paste a bunch of text into it and click on the green “Submit” button. When you do, the website turns your text into a URL that you can copy and paste into any document or onto Twitter and Plurk. This especially works well when you have more to share than the micro-blogging sites allow you to. Twitter or Plurk only give you 140 characters or so to share your message and sometimes that is just not enough! Plurk is better at getting more than 140 characters at a time because you can reply to your own message and explain further but I am going to give this tinypaste a try even on Plurk. I am also thinking this is a good way to share information for students working on a joint project when a district will not allow the use of Google Docs.

Oh… check out Wanderlust too if you are a social studies teacher and are teaching those famous explorers. Look out for the route Henry Hudson use and the one Lewis and Clark forged through the wilderness.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Steve Jobs is a doll...

What can get a techy-librarian’s heart racing more than a plush Cat-in-the-Hat doll, or a Mo Willems plush pigeon or Knuffle Bunny? The answer is a Steve Jobs plush. I am in love with my new plush toy that my son bought for me. It is a 15ish inch Steve Jobs doll. I thought it was a limited edition of just 500 but after reading the website it looks like they will make more if the first 500 sell out (and of course it will... it's Steve Jobs afterall!). Take a look at PodBrix’s initial offering of the Jobs doll on April 1st. My son thought it was an April Fools joke until he took a better look and realized he knew the PodBrix company well. He placed his order the first day they came out. He knew it was something his geeky Apple Fanboy of a mother could not live without! Now I can't wait to share it with my students along with the new Steve Jobs Biography I just bought for the library.
Oh, by the way, the photo on the right was taken using my iPhone.


I have been trying out Plurk again. I signed up when it first came out but I didn't get it. Then I was told that the whole idea is to get a network of people (thanks to Ginger for connecting me with like Plurkers) and it is much more fun and ideas can really be shared. I have now in the past three or four days networked with a bunch of Instructional Technology Specialists and I like it a lot. Plurk is now yet another cog in the wheel that is my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I also like that I was able to sign up on Plurk and post not only to Plurk but to Twitter and Facebook. Look for me on Plurk: