Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quality Blog Comments

The general music teacher in my building and I are collaborating on a 21st Century project as part of our teacher evaluation this year. Our strand is Peer Collaboration and since music and library are not normal collaboration partners we decided to see if we could make it happen. The first part of the project involved students composing music for their recorders. This happened in December and the students uploaded their handwritten compositions to a music composition program and printed out the compositions. I scanned each one and put them into a blog. In January the students will listen to at least 4 different composers and comment on the recorder compositions. The comments will be posted under the composition being evaluated. That's my job. The compositions in the form of a PDF are already on the blog waiting for student responses but we will not be making comments until we learn how to write quality blog comments. The music teacher and I've brainstormed vocabulary words we'd like to see included and what a good comment should contain and now it's my job to teach my young charges just what makes a quality comment. One of the best resources I found is Mrs. Yollis' Class blog and video on quality blog comments. Quality blog commenting is just good digital citizenship! After the project is completed it is my hope to continue blogging and commenting with the chosen group of students. Out of our 34 classes we chose 3 fifth grade classes to start with, if it goes well I will be asking for your help to comment on my student's own blog posts. If there is one thing I learned via my Keystone Technology Innovator's training this summer is it's time to be brave and make things happen for my students. Blogging quality comments is the first step!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Student Quick-Sheet Guide for Google Classroom

If you and your students are as new to Google Classroom as we are, here is a wonderful Quick-Sheet Guide that was created by Alice Keeler. I am going to put it on my Google Drive and share it with students via a classroom announcement. Hope it will be useful for my students.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dash and Dot- We're getting Robots for Christmas... Mommy and Daddy Don't Know!

Dash and Dot showed up on my doorstep yesterday. I was so excited after school when I saw the box was from Wonder Workshop. I had almost forgot about these robots, I ordered them about a year ago when I fist saw them on Kickstarter just after the campaign was over. I could not help it and am I glad I ordered it after seeing this video!  I already downloaded the apps on my iPad and I think I may have to open the package and play a little before I wrap it up for Christmas! BTW- my daughter and Son-in-Law don't know about these robots. If they did they would say no, so Santa is bringing them to Mema and the grandkids for Christmas and we'll do great things together!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas in Germany

At this time of year I especially miss living in Germany. Sometime I wonder if living there was just a dream but the German traditions made me love Christmas even more. Take a look at this, "Herstellung eines Spanbaumes in der Seiffener Volkskunst eG - traditionelles Kunsthandwerk in Seiffen -" I miss the Christmas markets, the smell of the straw and wood decorations, and of the gluh wine. I could watch the craftsmen for hours. Holzkunst Gahlenz auf dem Chemnitzer Weihnachtsmarkt 2010- Hope you have some warm Christmas memories this holiday season.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Creating a Green Screen on a Budget

I have been trying different ways to create green screens on a limited budget. I found some pretty inexpensive shower curtains that I put over my classroom and library white boards but these leave gaps at the bottom and I can't have people's feet in the videos. I found this video on YouTube and am heading to Wal-Mart this afternoon! I am also going to check and see if the art teacher in my building has any plain green paper which might work just as well and the video below.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

KTIChat September

The second edition of the Keystone Technology Innovator's Chat (KTIChat) took place on September 3rd and it was AWSOME! I think we have a great group of educators who really care about their students and the future. Here is how the chat went. Thanks Brad Steigerwalt for putting the chat together for us!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

First of Octember

I have been toying with the idea of having students read picture books on camera for use at the lower elementary levels, sort-of virtual book buddies. We can't do real book buddies because that would involve busses and aome buildings on letter day schedules while others are on week-day schedules. It does not have to be fancy but it may help my students with fluency while helping a struggling reader at the lower level. My issue is copyright. Is something like this a violation? I see them all the time on YouTube and they are not getting pulled down. So what is the copyright friendly thing to do?

Monday, September 01, 2014

Free Technology for Teachers: 12 Good Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback from Students

I am very excited about this Post from Richard Byrne called Free Technology for Teachers: 12 Good Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback from Students. I have heard of many of the resources in this article but I like how Richard breaks them down and explains how they work. For example I had some reservations about the app Plickers until I read Richard's review and checked it out for myself.  Now I have another tool in my bag of formative assessments. Thanks Richard Byrne!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I just got a post about a Dr. Seuss Read-Thon and was led to this YouTube Video. I am wondering about copyright. Is it a copright violation to post such videos? I am wondering because I am thinking of having my 5th and 6th grade students record themselves read some popular picture books for our ESL/ELL population and for younger struggling readers. Is this a violation? What do you think? Please comment below.

Friday, August 22, 2014

#KTI Chat

The new Keystone Technology Innovators (2014 edition) held our first online Twitter Chat in August. We have decided we are going to hold these chats once a month so we can maintain our KTI connection that were forged at the KTI Summit in July. I attended the chat from my public library where my grandsons and I were enjoying The Wizard of Oz. I love that the first KTIChat heading picture on storify is of the performers in that play! How fun is that! Of couse you can't see the picture in this post but you can if you go to:

Moving iPhoto Library

I have an old MacBook Pro that I am trying to clense before I take it to school for my students to use to edit movies and create videos. In the old days I used to be able to right click on photos and see the actual file of the photo so I could just copy the .jpg images to a hard drive or burn them on a disk or upload them to Flikr or even my Dropbox. With the new OS not so much. Can I mention that this is frustrating me to no end and now I don't erase my SD cards with old pictures after I upload them to iPhoto. Apple, please make this easier for those of us that do not want to copy and re-name our iPhoto libraries. Here is a video I found on YouTube, not my ideal solution! If you would rather have a southern accent watch here: I have successfully put my old pictures on an external hard drive now I can free up space on my old MacBook Pro so we can create some videos at school! Wishing you all a great school year!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snapshot on Edmodo

Edmodo has a new feature called Snapshot. It allows teachers to create common core formative assessments. These assessments should then drive teacher instruction so that when the assessments are given again their students will have mastered the tested skills. I am excited about this new feature and I plan to show it to teachers in my district in early September so they can start creating their own formative assessments. Fellow Snapshot trailblazer, Mrs. Elyse Mattiaccio created this video to make us smile and share some tips with our Snapshot group. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of the technology integrators in our district put together this video on PowToons about our district's acceptable use policy. I am wondering if my 5th and 6th graders may need to see this the first week of school during library orientation! I just signed up for a free education PowToons account. I wonder if I can make some videos and have my students create some on library usage and where to find things in our library. I think they will like this new to me tool!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lisa's Lingo: Keystones Technology Innovators STARS Summit

One of the people that transformed the way I think about differentiated instruction, Lisa Parisi, was one of the presenters at the Keystone Technology Innovation Summit this year.  I have know Lisa for a long time. We first met at an Educon at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, and again at ISTE 2011, the last time it was in Philadelphia. I attended her session and was blown away by some of things I heard. It changed the way I think of my classroom and lessons. I don't have to expect less from a child because they have an IEP, it just means that they think differently and if I give them a way to express themself differently they can learn and do amazing things. After that encounter I stopped using so many worksheets... but I digress. Lisa came to the Keystone Summit and we had lunch together one day and boom... she changed my life again. She said I was embarassing her with all the flattery I was giving her on Facebook and Twitter. But I myself was twitterpated... THE Lisa Parisi was having lunch with me! And you know what, she changed my life again! She told me that she is just a teacher like I tell everyone, I am just a librarian. And I realized that when we do our jobs well, no matter who we are... our kids are the stars. And I was humbled again by what Lisa wrote on her blog... how much she learned and took away from the summit too. Lisa's Lingo: Keystones Technology Innovators STARS Summit. I am so grateful to the Summit organizers and sponsors that gave us this opportunity. And Lisa, it was so good to see you again!

Keystone Technology Innovators Summit Part 1

I spent an incredible week at the Keystone Technology Innovators Summit. Like the others I was nominated by my school principal to be a Keystone. This year it was held at Kutztown University. And it really was a celebration of teaching and learning. Almost if not every morning when we showed up for our morning keynote sessions we walked into thunderous applause celebrating us, the newest Keystones… and who was celebrating us? The alumni-Keystones… the very people we want to be… they were celebrating us!!! One morning one of the newest member of my PLN, Zee Poerio, the PAECT Teacher of the Year, captured it!
 Stay tuned for more reflections on this transforming learning experience.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to resize multiple images in Photoshop in the matter of seconds

Did you know that you can now use PhotoShop to re-size a batch of photos at the same time? Last week my daughter had to re-size all of the pictures for her company's newsletter and I had no idea how to help her except to re-size each image one by one. Then today someone in my PLN posted this very helpful video which I will now be sharing with her. And it is so easy! Enjoy. This will come in very handy when I have to re-size photos for the web!

Monday, June 30, 2014

More MemaCation! Five Fun and Free iPad Apps That Help Students Learn to Write

I have been following Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teacher's Blog for quite awhile now. I am excited about his latest post and these five free apps for helping students to learn about sentence structure. I am going to use these apps with my grandson this summer to help him keep his skills strong for first grade. Check out his post and don't forget to download the free apps. Five Fun and Free iPad Apps That Help Students Learn to Write!


MemaCation is a word I just coined and what I am now calling the time of year when my grandson's day care is provided by me, their Mema. I can not tell you how excited I am, almost as excited as I was every summer when school got out and I got to claim my own children back for the summer. Yes, I am a teacher, a librarian but summer is special not just to kids. Teacher/librarians need the time too and I beleive my grandsons are as excited as I am to have our time together! Every Year the time they get to stay with me dwindles because of professional development. This year was the worst because of all the snow days that we needed to make up as teachers at the end of school. Still, the day has arrived and first on the agenda this morning is going to the library for story time. I joke with the public children's librarian that just as my library is ramping down hers is ramping up and indeed I see many of my students at the public library in the summer. It makes my librarian heart jump for joy and I will be honest I am a little jealous of the fun things that public librarians can do to draw my students into the library in the summer. While they come to me for lessons each cycle during the school year they go to the public library for fun. Here's the proof. Last week my local public library had a magic show in the evening. My grandsons and I were one of the first people in line! Who doesn't love magic in the library? My grandson was chosen to be the first magic helper of the evening.

Of course this stint as a magician lead to checking out a book about how to do magic tricks! And now, as if summer was not magic enough, one of the things on our list for this summer is learning a little magic! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Project Roundtable: Summer PD

I totally enjoyed watching the Project Roundtable video archive summer PD Roundtable. I also attended EdCampUSA and it was very interesting to hear Brendon’s take on the experience! My thoughts on EdCampUSA are here.

I was invited to be a part of Project Roundtable’s Google Hangout but was still in school teaching when it was being recorded.  Thanks Ben Wilkoff for inviting me and changing my summer PD mindset. I especially liked CrystalMidlik’s summer PD in Germany. Having lived in Germany for many years I can’t wait to hear her take on the German schools.

My district requires 3 PD days (called MIACs) that are usually done either at the end of June or end of August. I usually do more than the 3 days because I love to learn, connect, and collaborate with other teachers in my district at this time. However, I like the idea of having fun and the thought that Summer PD should be fun is something new! To me EdCamps are fun because they are conversations, learning via conversation and connection is a lot more fun than sit and get! But my most favorite learning experience this year was when I attended Engadget Expand inNew York City in November. It was the first time I felt validated in what I am doing in the library. It was like a mini maker-faire with big name roundtable discussions. It was a geeky-librarian’s dream come true.

This roundtable helped me think differently about watching my grandchildren over the summer too. I always think of it as my joy but now I am also thinking of it as my opportunity. I have already ordered the air stomp rocket and we are going to make SLIME! Yes, learning can be fun. We are also going to the zoo and to the Franklin Institute and Please Touch Museum this summer. This is my summer PD as well as cool learning for the grandkids!

I really liked the question about what are we missing out on in our online PD, by only having our PD online. I totally loved Debby Jacoby’s answer because my online PD is important to me. The connections I make online are valuable and when I do get to meet people at an ISTE experience it is very cool to meet my virtual friends face to face and realize these people are not strangers! We already have a relationship and we are now taking that experience to the next level.

Ben, love that you mentioned Paul’s blogpost about EdampUSA and the imperative for teachers to be the ones that share to other teachers. Meeting Paul and having him join the session I did with Carolyn Foote at EdCampUSA was amazing. Paul showed me it is OK to bring my own equipment into the library, not to be afraid, to take a risk. If I took one thing away from this Roundtable discussion and EdCampUSA it is not to be afraid, just do it, and tell about it- success or failure. I also want to tell the stories of the other teachers in my school.  Loved ScottMacClintic’s final thought too, we do need to model life-long learning to our students so my summer PD will be a story worth sharing with my students in September!

Skyview Library Annual Report 2013-2014

I have always thought that Annual Reports were a good idea, I just never took the time to do one before. I have always done student surveys so I could imporove my teaching the following year but I never used those surveys for anything other than my own learning. However, the student survey I conducted at the end of this year was presented to me in Google Docs with pie charts and bar graphs. I could not ignore the results so I decided to use the data from the survey and from our Follet Destiny Circulation System and put together this little Annual Report. I think it came out OK for a first attempt. Please leave a comment and let me know what I could do better next time!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guest Blogger #1 Beth Lang- Grade 5 Counselor

I took a lot away from EdCampUSA including a call to action. As part of my promise to highlight teachers from my own school that are doing amazing things, I invited out school counselor to do a guest blog post about her wonderful activites this year. WAY TO GO BETH LANG. Please enjoy her post below and be sure to check out her website.

As a school counselor at Skyview Upper Elementary School, I am embracing technology as much as I can, and I love it!

I work with 5th grade students here at Skyview.

During this school year, I have created a fabulous website using, and have offered a parent book club done via blog. The blog was created as a way of enabling parents who could not come to school for book club meetings during the day a chance to participate in the discussions about the readings.

I have utilized google surveys to create and disseminate needs assessments to my parents, students, and teachers so that I can create and deliver a counseling program based upon current needs.  I enjoy the charts and graphs that google automatically creates for me based upon my results. I am very visually oriented, so this is wonderful!

In addition, I had created and posted a video tour of my office for incoming 5th graders and their families so that they could become familiar with the space that they would be visiting throughout the year and get to know me a little bit early on in the year. This was a big hit as a part of the transition for our incoming 5th graders!

Just last week, I held my first ever skype party! My lunch bunch group of 8 girls engaged in pen pal activities with students from Ms. Demir’s class at Rutherford Middle School in Rutherford, NJ. At the end of this school year Mrs. Demir and I surprised our students with a skype session so they could see each other and talk to each other in real time. This was amazing! Through the use of technology, students from 2 different states were able to practice their social skills, conversation skills, eye contact, and use of appropriate questions! They had so much fun! The students and teachers enjoyed hearing about the differences between urban Rutherford and suburban Eagleville. They found that there were many similarities between groups of students in terms of interests, favorite music, favorite pastimes, pets, and family life. All the students are looking forward to continuing to develop their relationships with one another next year through letter writing and through skype sessions. The teachers are looking forward to it as well. For an hour, all the students were “kids” having fun with one another, regardless of boundaries, and physical or educational challenges.

This counselor is totally jazzed about using technology to deliver a comprehensive school counseling curriculum to my students and looks forward to incorporating more elements each year!

Bethany R. Lang, MS  LPC  NCSC  NCC
PA School Counselor, PSCA Past President
Skyview Upper Elementary School
5th Grade Counselor


Monday, June 09, 2014

Tagul going HTML5!

I must admit that using an iPad the past few years on Flash websites has been frustrating. But since I have not used iPads in my library until this year it has not become a school issue. Correction, I have on occasion brought my own iPad to school for various student uses but using Flash websites was not one of those uses.
I have spent most of this school year which ends next week signing out the iPad cart only for creation projects, not for research but some very important things have happened in the past year that will significantly change my use of iPads next school year.

First of all, I will have an iPad cart dedicated for library use. And second is the switch of many of my favorite resources to HTML5.

The number one shift has come from the PebbleGo Databases that our elementary schools use. PebbleGo is migrating to HTML5.  As you can see from the photo below the mobile friendly version is now in beta and it works wonderfully on iPads. The shift started happening around March or April but I found out about it during my annual state library conference the first week in May. PebbleGo was already awesome, now it is super awesome! No more breakdowns from students because the website won't open on their iPads! Thanks PebbleGo. I have touted the merits of PebbleGo to every librarian I have talked to over the past few years I have been using it and I have no affiliation with Capstone. It is just an excellent research database for emergent readers! It also ranked as a Stellar Database in School Library Journal's review of databases. Oh, and now Capstone is introducing their first database module (with more to come I am sure) for upper elementary students. It is called PebbleGo NEXT and right now it only has one social studies module which includes all 50 states and 11 American Indian tribes but the promise is there for so much more.

The next bit of excitement was Tagul's announcement in May that they too are joining the HTML5 ranks. That means that next year when I get my allocation of iPads for upper elementary library students that they will be able to research the 50 states and create a Tagul in the shape of the state they find information about. Little things like this make a difference with 800 students!

EdCampUSA- The US Department of Education meets EdCamp!

One of my tweets from the day read something like, "What if you had an EdCamp and the US Secretary of Education was there... Wait, that happened today."

I am still a little amazed that I was able to be at the Department of Education for EdCampUSA on Friday. The energy in the room as the educators and DOE officials gathered was electric and the day ended the same way with a charged call to action and promises not to let the conversation end. Special thanks to Emily Davis for helping the EdCamp faithful in the door. After only 5 years, well less than 5 actually, EdCamp has become a sort of movement, personal professional development for teachers rooted in conversations not sit and get! The first EdCamp was held in 2010 in Philadelphia, that was my first experience of learning via conversation.

I am staggered to think I was in the same room (and not a very large room) with Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education. As I was adding the session that I was presenting with Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary), Mr. Duncan walked in to look over the board. There is not set agenda for an EdCamp, the participants put together the board by being willing to lead the conversation for one of the sessions. Carolyn and I have been following each other on Twitter for years but this was the first time that we actually met in person. Carolyn is the district librarian and the high school librarian at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. I was invigorated by our conversations about digital and physical library workspaces. And we both were impressed by Paul Bogush’s “Doesn’t Feel Like School”classroom

I felt awed to be in the presence of the people who were in attendance. I at times feel like an imposter when I am in the presence of these bulwarks of education.  I definitely was not even close to being as smart as anyone in the room. Yet, many of the best and brightest (even those in attendance) have left education. One of the deep conversations revolved around their departure and the departure of a majority of teachers after just 5 years of service.  Teacher burnout is a real problem. It takes thick skin to be a teacher these days and it was remarkable that we were having these conversations with the Department of Education as well as with at least one representative from the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (where my own children attended from Kindergarten through 8th grade when we were living in Germany).

My most significant takeaway from EdCampUSA on Friday at the Department of Education was a call to action and validation. It’s not enough to go to EdCamps and conferences and change things within just my own classroom or library. The term “long tail” was heard over and over in conversations, “let this be the beginning and not the end”.  So, in the light of that I am going to sit down with my principal and suggest one of the very things I mentioned during EdCampUSA, that we highlight one teacher’s work each week at our faculty meetings. Give teachers recognition for the great work they are doing. It seemed like a normal suggestion to me, a no-brainer. I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed that principal (or as he calls himself, “Chief Learner in Charge”) Joe Mazza from the North Penn School District in Lansdale, PA tweeted out my suggestion in his Twitter feed. What validation. Every teacher needs to feel that validation and maybe the Department of Education heard that message too and the conversation won’t end here.

If you would like to see notes from each session of EdCampUSA click here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Philadelphia Zoo 2014

It is was such a nice day to go to the zoo and I think everyone in Philadelphia had the same idea. But despite the traffic it was a wonderful day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

POWER Library Gets a Boost from PSEA!

It may not seem like much but over the past weekend the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA- i.e. the State Teacher's Association) passed a motion to help their students who use the library. PSEA’s House of Delegates passed a motion to support the ACCESS PA /POWER Library program and its funding. I know, big deal. But it is a big deal! Every year for the past 9 years that I have been a school librarian funding has been cut for POWER Library and every year librarians across the state sounded the alarm. Trouble is, the number of school librarians across the state has been greatly diminished. In the past few years Pennsylvania has been bleeding school librarians! Even in my own school district we lost a librarian this year and our elementary school libraries are dark one day a week. School librarians in force are just not a big enough force any more to combat these kind of assaults on the resources our students need. The motion put forth at PSEA was made by Ila Verdirame, a program administrator in the Mechanicsburg School District. It was seconded by Stephanie Andrejack, a librarian in the East Pennsboro Area School District.  Mike Crossey is president of PSEA and PSLA President, Eileen Kern sent him a big thank you. In fact, thank you from all of us school librarians. I for one am excited that PSEA is recognizing the importance of school libraries and library resources. It is especially nice to know that the next time funding for POWER Library and ACCESSPA is on the line that it will not only be librarians spitting into the wind, but teachers across the state sounding the alarm!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Digital Curation

What tools do you use for digital curation? Several librarians were asked that question at a session during our annual state library conference. I was so impressed by their skills that I decided I needed to keep their list for myself... so I am using this Padlet on my blog as a digital curation for myself. Padlet is one great way to digitally curate but look at the responses and find so many more! How many of these have you tried?

Reading Olympics Again... but Happy!

I needed a longer song for my Reading Olympics Video and decided to use another song and post the video to YouTube so that it could be seen by more teachers in my building. Hope you like this version too. I am going to show this version to the students the last week of school before I hand out next year's list of books for the competition! You can check out the books on next year's list here. I have to say a special thank you to MCIU 23 for putting this together each year. This year was the 15th year for Reading Olympics and I want to thank my super partner who kept Reading Olympics going even when I was out of the building. Kelli Durling you are the best!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reading Olympics at Skyview May 15, 2014

Skyview was so proud to host the 15th annual Reading Olympics on Thursday evening May 15th.
Check out this Awsome Event!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

School Library and Poetry Month

Besides being School Library Month, April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate School Library Month we have been creating green screen book reviews in the library. Then during one class a funny thing happened on our way to recording our book reviews. A fire drill. We did not have time to record our reviews but thanks to my friends at EdTech Chat 'n Chew my students had another option. I told them about a global poetry project they could take part in and they decided they were going to take part in the 60 Second Poet Project. My students used their book reviews and created and recorded short list poems found from the words within their book reviews (Found List Poems- a plan B that worked for my students and they enjoyed). Can't wait to see how those videos are weaved into those from around the world tomorrow in honor of Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In Library Flip... can it work?

My mind is officially blown! A member of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) posted this link from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning the other day but I have not had time to read it until this morning. It is about flipped learning. I have taken many trainings and read the authorative book (even got it signed by Aaron Sams) on the flipped learning concept and I am all for it. I have to deliver the same lecture 32-36 times in a cycle. I see 800 or more students in a 6 day cycle (give or take the ones going to music lessons, absent, leaving early, etc.) so I am all for recorded lectures or book readings for those that can't be in class. I have even recorded a few "how to use" videos so my students can go to them on our wiki whenever they are using the resources in question. But until today I did not see the full potential of the flipped concept in my library. I knew I wanted to introduce the idea of a maker space, make room for students to create (videos, podcasts, poetry, etc.) without driving myself crazy,  but in my mind there was no time to do this and still allow for book selection. But today my eyes were opened and I think I am going to try one or more of my units this way for next year. I just need the summer to figure it out and get excited about teaching again. Right now, like many other teachers I am burned out! Watch the video below from Cult of Pedagogy and please leave a comment to give me some ideas on how you use the flip and what you think about this idea!

This would also give me more time to help those struggling readers! I have been thinking of getting some Wilson training and indeed this library class configuration may help. I could even have one station where students come just to read when they are finished with everything else because they are given so little time to read anywhere else in the school day. I really think I am onto something here! Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dyslexia & Rewiring the Brain

I have Dyslexia. According to the Reading Rockets webpage I am like up to 15% (some 43 million) of Americans who suffer from this reading disorder. That is one of the big reasons I became a librarian. I want to help others like me know there is hope. Sometimes I need to listen to books rather than read them, other librarians have pointed out to me that listening to books is cheating. Some people have even called me lazy. It got so bad at one point that I stopped reading all together. Don't get me wrong, I can read but I read very slowly so that I can understand, and I re-read things several times for total comprehension. When I read, I actually hear the words in my head. Now Neurologists are using MRI's to watch people's brains as they read and are learning a lot about the brain and the sound centers of the brain.  For example one study showed that there are slow sound processing centers and fast sound processing centers in the brain and which part of the brain we use can determine if we have reading problems or not. Other studies are just starting showing that the brain can actually be re-wired and dyslexic children can improve their reading comprehension. Take a look at this video called Rewiring the brain and if you are dyslexic like me, have hope and don't let anyone put you down for listening to audio books! And, if you are a librarian, don't hesitate to offer an audio book to a student who just may need one to re-wire their brain and instill in them a love of reading!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Green Screen App by DoInk is Divergent!

This week and maybe next week too my students will be creating video book reviews of one of the books they read this school year. I found this wonderful new video creation app for the iPad called Green Screen by DoInk. It just the app I have been looking for for my library. I have several green shower curtains hung on my magnetic white boards with bulldog clips and have been waiting to use the screens all year. Now, thanks to DoInk we will be making green screen videos in the library. Since I was not sure how to use the app, I had to practice. This is my first feeble attempt but now when the kids ask questions I may have an answer!

Here is the video that comes with the app and I will have students play with this to get a feel for the app but not for too long because I only have the iPad cart signed out for 2 cycles and since I only see my students once a cycle this may be cutting it close! Enjoy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chicago River Being Turned Green for St. Patrick's Day

I am sitting here wearing my Divergent T-Shirt (the Divergent series takes place in the city of Chicago) when my friend posts the video below on YouTube. She and her son went down to the Chicago River this morning to watch it being turned green for St. Patrick's Day! Some day I will get there to see it but for those of you who like me want to see it now, live vicariously through my Plurk buddy Kim...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Teacher's Life for Me: A Few More PAEMST Pictures

Check out these pictures from the White House! And check out the link to the White House Press release. I am so proud of PA teacher Michael Soskil and I am proud to say he is part of my (as he describes us) tribe. This is a link to one of his blog posts about his recent experience in Washington, DC, getting to meet the president as part of his being selected as one of the winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).   A Teacher's Life for Me: A Few More PAEMST Pictures.

Sunday, March 02, 2014


I spent the last week nursing the last book in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, Allegiant.  I kept going back and re-reading not because I could not understand the book but because I didn't want the series to end. I have not been this invested in a series since I read Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin series or Suzanne Collins' Underland Chronicles.  Most people would include Collins' Hunger Games series but in my opinion the Divergent series is hands down better than the Hunger Games. Better moral dilemmas, more plausable futuristic society, and a more realistic and stronger female heroine. And, I am so looking forward to March 27's Divergent movie release! Every time I think of Tess and Tobias (the main characters) I think of this song by Sarah Bareille... Brave.
 And I can't wait to see the movie! Now the question is how many of my students can I get to read the book before they see the movie!

3D Printing ABS vs PLA... which is better to use?
I know it may be a very long time before I can afford an actual 3D printer in my library. However, ever since I attended Engadget Expand I have been excited about a product I saw there called the 3Doodler which extrudes a single strand of plastic and we can actually draw with it. I have been following the progress of the 3Doodler which is expected to ship in April and may be a good low cost option to get 3D Printing off the ground in the library. But I have not order one because I am so confused as to which type of plastic I should be using. I may only get one chance to make a choice and this video goes a long way to help in my decision.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yes we Do Know Dewey and we Create on iPads

The Dewey Decimal System is part of my curriculum. Every year I try to find a new, fun, innovative ways to help students find books in the non-fiction section of the library. Don’t tell them but I am also getting them to look at books they normally would not seek out for themselves. It is my sneaky way of exposing them to a broader selection of non-fiction that may spark their interest. But if they ask me if that’s what I’m doing I deny, deny, deny! Yet one of the outcomes of this lesson is an increase in non-fiction checkouts. I do believe in the Dewey Decimal System as a way of categorizing books and I have talked about Library of Congress subject headings in the past as being good for tagging on the Internet. I believe in order so that information is easy to find. But to most people the Dewey Decimal System is boring, and I can almost see the eyes of my students glaze over when I start the lesson each year. The major outcome of this lesson is students becoming independent library users, meaning they are able to locate the information they need on their own, the first step to becoming lifelong learners. When students can find information on their own, they become more confident library users. But worksheets and even library scavenger hunts are boring. I needed something new, something fun. The something new came as a burst of inspiration during an iPad introduction class I took through Eduspire. I was introduced to an app called Book Creator. What makes Book Creator interesting is that students can take pictures for their book pages right through the app, they don’t have to take the pictures first and then import them into the app (a step that sometimes is difficult for younger students to grasp). I wrote a lesson plan that was a combination of a scavenger hunt while creating an ePub document through the Book Creator App. It was an ambitious undertaking and it almost did not happen because of snow days. I signed out the iPad lab and it sat in the library for almost a week before students got to use it. Not everyone used the iPads to create a Dewey Decimal ePub. Students were given a choice between a traditional worksheet and the Book Creator project. It amazed me that some students chose a worksheet but when asked their reasons were valid. Most said they learned better when they wrote someting down, I was impressed by their knowledge of their learning styles. Those that created a book with the iPad also had nothing but good comments. I heard things like, "can I do another one?" And, "this is fun, can we do it again next week?" Some actually came back during their free 8th period time slot to do more work on their project. Enjoy this Anamoto of some of their great hard work. I am very proud of what they accomplished in such a short amount of time!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

My PLN is AWSOME!!!!

4 members of my PLN have begun a poscast that they record on their luck breaks each week. I am learning so much from people that are AWSOME Educators. All 4 are ed-tech specialists in their school districts and the program is called EdTech Chat 'n Chew.
Watch as they share some apps, technologies, tools, and passions they are going to incorporate with their students in the new year! Way to go Mike, Diane, Karen, and Andrea. This is so cool!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Fun School Closing Announcement

As I sit here for yet another snow day and watch June vacation getting further and further away I am buoyed by the rock star teachers in my Personal Learning Network that post fun stuff as well as educational gems. Wouldn't it be fun to work for a school district who's administration enjoys snow days as much as their students... check this out:

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What is a Scientist?

Our school has purchased multiple copies of the book What is a Scientist for every student in grade 2. Problem is every student in grade 2 can not read the book on their own so to help out the teachers I recorded the book so those students who can't read it on their own can have the book in front of them and hear the book being read to them at the same. In this librarian's opinion this is one way to improve student fluency.  I also love that this books makes science fun and gives students a foundation for following the scientific method.

Ground Hog Day and Dr. Seuss's Birthday!

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. In Pennsylvania it is a big deal as Punxsutawney Phil is awoken from his winter-slumber to three taps of the predisent of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's cane, ceremonously pulled out of his hollowed out stump, and paraded around Gobbler's Knob to the glare of television cameras. Who wouldn't see their shadow under those conditions (ha, ha). For the first time ever Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday are on the same day. Time will tell which will get the bigger play in the media tomorrow.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is already in Punxsutawney to report the big day! And while I get very excited about Groundhog Day it means we are just a month out from National Read Across America Day, Sunday March 2nd, also know as Dr. Seuss's Birthday! Which leads to the video I found this morning. Neil Gaiman reading Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham! Can't wait to share this favorite author with my upper elementary elementary students reading a clearly lower elementary book- Green Eggs and Ham!

It will be a fun Seuss's Birthday- too bad it's on a Sunday this year but my student's won't mind because it is also time for our Scholastic Bookfair! Nothing gets their hearts beating like a book fair for Dr. Seuss's birthday!