10 Things You May Not Know About Your School Library (for parents)

I wrote this! Happy School Library Month!

10 Things You May Not Know About Your School Library!


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April Learning Commons Newsletter and Spring Break Ideas!

Here is the April Newsletter for my Learning Commons…so much happening this month! https://www.smore.com/cuw2n

Also, I am now a contributor for the Columbia SC Mom’s Blog and I wrote a thing for Spring Break…it was heavy on book stuff, of course 😉 Enjoy!


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#SCASL17 – Inspired!

Last week was the South Carolina Association of School Librarians Annual Conference. I have always enjoyed attending this conference. I think the only one I’ve missed in the past 15 years was the one where I was literally giving birth! It is so refreshing to spend time with those who do what you do and who “get it.” I went to excellent sessions by John Schu (how can you go wrong with Mr. Schu?!), Colby Sharp, and Kitty Tripp. Kitty was actually kind of new to me…I have been following her on Twitter, but was not really aware of who she was. I LOVED her sessions. Schu, Sharp, and Tripp are the sort of folks that you just need to be in the same room with sometimes. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

I have been in Mr. Schu’s sessions before. He reminds me of Judy Freeman, in that he talks about new books and shares with you what he is reading. Some of the things I picked up from him this go around were:

-GIVE BOOKS AWAY! I do this, but not as often as I should. Beginning in July, I plan to start hosting some sort of book giveaway. On this blog, on FB, on Twitter….I haven’t figured out the specifics, but I need to start walking my talk!

-GIVE BOOKS AWAY! I just said that, right? BUT, what I mean this time is, give books away purposefully. For example, to my USC students – they are pre-service teachers and Mr. Schu said that Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de Le Pena is one book he feels every pre-service teacher needs and he’s RIGHT. Just like I make them purchase The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller for this reason (I feel that every teacher needs copies of these books), I should have them leave my class with a picture book and/or novel that I feel should be in their classroom. Brilliant. I will start doing that will this semester’s class.

-SKYPE/HANGOUT! I have had authors “visit” my students via Skype or Google Hangout. BUT, what John does is HE is the one doing the visiting! He is no longer in a school library of his own, so he gets his read aloud “fix” by Skyping classrooms and libraries and reading to them and sharing great books with them from his living room (or where ever). Here’s a secret…I am staying home with my kiddo beginning next school year and will not be able to share great books and read aloud with students of my own anymore…this could be a way I can continue to do this. So, if you are ever in need of a reader for a special event or just want to talk about good books, I’m your gal 😉

Colby Sharp was, of course, awesome. What I took from his session was that his school has a true love and devotion for what they do. All of them. One smart thing they do is have “lock ins,” where teachers man rooms set up with fun stuff – board games, karaoke, LEGO, movies, etc. and parents drop off their kids to have fun at school. They pay to drop them off and then they have 3 kid-free hours where they know their kid is being well loved and cared for and the school apparently makes lots of money doing this. I also learned that Sharp has a book coming out that sounds SO AWESOME, I cannot wait to read it!

Kitty Tripp was fantastic. She is a 3rd grade teacher from South Carolina who now lives in Texas. She shared resources about coding and robotics. I went to her pre-conference session on Wednesday where we played with Sphero, Ollie, Ozobots, and other robots. I also went to her session on Thursday about PLAY (something I am all about!). I loved her energy and that she wasn’t a librarian. So many times, I think, classroom teachers don’t think that things like coding, makerspaces, robotics are for them…they feel (I think) that they don’t have time and that those sort of things are more for folks like me, the school librarian, who might want to include it into a program instead of into lessons. She proves that you can use these tools in a classroom. LOVE IT!

What inspired you this week?


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Digital Learning Day #DLD2017

Flashback to February!

Digital Learning Day was February 23. I have hosted some sort of celebration for this day at my school for the past 5 years or so and it has looked different each year. We have brought in high school students to show off what they are doing in Computer Programming classes (with the hopes of encouraging our students to explore programming in the future); we have created a Technology Museum in which students looked at old technology to see how it has developed over time; we’ve had centers set up with various apps and devices for teachers and students to explore; we’ve invited the folks from the public library to show off how to access digital resources on their personal devices; and we’ve typically encouraged students to “BYOD” on this day. All of these activities have been fairly well received and a lot of fun…however, it was always kind of crazy and chaotic in terms of  logistics and what it looked like (picture kids running wild in the Learning Commons for 20 minutes), plus we kind of encourage them to BYOD everyday now. So, this year, I decided to structure the day a little differently and I think it was a success!

I invited classes (2 at a time) to come and listen to a guest speaker. Both of the speakers I invited were engaging and interesting and both had new information to share with my students and teachers. They weren’t quiet “sit and get” sessions. They were interactive and students seemed to enjoy them. The first speaker was Mr. Nao. Mr. Nao is a robot from our technology center who teaches students about careers in technology. He was so fun and even did a little dance. He spoke to 1st graders, 4th graders, and 5th graders.

Next up was Jay Robinson from EdVenture. He taught students about circuits and electricity using Makey Makey. He presented to 2nd and 3rd graders and did an awesome job including them in the presentation.

Kindergarten students got to explore coding apps with our Digital Learning Coach in their classroom. They did not get a chance to participate in our Hour of Code lessons in December, so that is what we did with them for Digital Learning Day.

This year was much more organized and I think that the students and teachers both were able to get more out of it. Teachers weren’t stressed trying to figure out where all of their students were and the noise level was productive and not crazy. I think everyone was happy!

How did you celebrate Digital Learning Day?


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March Newsletter

Check out my school library’s March newsletter!



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World Read Aloud Day! #WRAD17

Thursday, February 16 was World Read Aloud Day. I love to celebrate World Read Aloud Day because I feel that reading aloud is SO IMPORTANT at ALL grade levels/ages. I am in an elementary school and I’m certain all of my teachers read aloud to students in their classroom. HOWEVER, I think as kids get into upper elementary grades, classroom teachers start reading aloud more from novels instead of picture books. That’s AWESOME because some students understand more when they listen to books than when they read on their own, BUT I feel like it gives our students the impression that reading picture books is not important or for them (they think they are “too old” and picture books are for “little kids.” Granted, many times this is coming from parents…) SO, World Read Aloud Day gives me the chance to share great picture books with others and to pull folks in who may not typically be a part of a student’s read aloud life.

Over the years, I have asked local celebrities to read (news anchors, local government officials, etc.), but this year I kept it very simple and pretty much left it as an “in school” sort of thing. My guest readers were folks like our Literacy Coach, my intern, and my library other half (I am part time and kids who see me don’t typically see her, so it was like a real “guest”). I also encouraged teachers to pair up – so, maybe a 3rd grade class read to a Kindergarten class or a 1st grade class read with a 4th grade class. It was wonderful seeing students read together.


I kicked off the day by reading a book over our live morning news show feed. To schedule the read alouds, I sent out a Google Doc about a week prior that teachers used to sign themselves up during times I posted. The day before, I pulled a big stack of books that I know are great read alouds. We had readers all day and it was simple and wonderful! Some students and readers brought their own books to share, others used mine. What a great way to celebrate and very easy to do for other reading events, as well! I can totally see this working for Read Across America, Global Read Aloud, etc.!

How did YOU celebrate World Read Aloud Day?


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Mock Caldecott

So, just about every year, I think to myself, “I want to do a Mock Caldecott!” Then….I don’t. This year, however, the stars aligned and two of my librarian friends happened to start talking about how THEY wanted to do a Mock Caldecott on Facebook, so we all decided to do it together! Here’s what we did and what I might change next time –

  1. First, we selected a grade level to work with. 2nd grade seemed like a good choice. They are always up for a good read aloud and they have a little more flex time in their schedule.
  2. Next, we picked our books. We used this list from KidLit experts, Colby Sharpe and John Schu (my heroes!). We did switch A Poem for Peter with Before Morning, but other than that, those were the books we used. We got the books from our school library shelves, the public library, and in a couple of cases…Amazon.
  3. Time to visit classes. I taught an intro lesson to my 2nd graders about what we were doing. We talked about the Caldecott Medal. They learned about the criteria that the committee uses to evaluate the books and then came the fun part…to introduce the list and to tell them they were going to see if they could predict this year’s winner! I read Ideas Are All Around and talked about how they were going to rate the books. They each got a reading log with the book titles and a rating scale for story and pictures. We kicked it off in November and I told them we would wrap everything up by announcement day in January. My other librarian friends were doing the same thing (basically) at their schools.
  4. I divided the books up by our 2nd grade classes (we have 4) and then left it up to them to read and rate the books. Sometimes I would do the read aloud, but for the most part, they read the books and rotated them around the grade level on their own. I sent emails and checked on them throughout so that they would remember to read the books and not wait until January.
  5. At the beginning of January, I sent out a form I made for students to use to input their ratings. This was a simple Google Form. You can take a look at it here.
  6. We added up the totals and then selected one winner and three honor books per class. We shared our winners on our Mock Caldecott Flipgrid so that the other schools doing this could see our results and we could see their results. We protected the Flipgrid with a password.
  7. On the morning of the actual announcement, I recorded the Caldecott announcement using Screencastify. That afternoon, I showed it to each class. Kids were so excited to watch the announcement and even though we did not predict the winner, we did read Radiant Child as one of our choices and we did predict some of the honor books.

I LOVED this Mock Caldecott lesson! There are some things I would do differently next time. For example, I would do a percentage on the book ratings. I know my math was not perfect or totally fair this time around. There were some kids who did not hear some of the read alouds (they were absent or whatever) and so they did not rate the books they did not read, but yet they rated other books, so naturally, some books got more points than others just because more kids rated them, if that makes sense.

One class got so into it, that the teacher used it to jump start a writing lesson where they wrote and illustrated an original story; read them to the class; rated them and then selected a classroom “Caldecott.” Love that idea and might encourage the others to do it too! Then, you could have a little author event where you do book signings and such…so fun!

Great lesson!


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