Friday, July 8, 2016

Fine Motor Skills Summer!

Leader Board Superb

My son is headed into the third grade but his handwriting isn't.  At the beginning of the summer, he and I agreed that we would work on his handwriting.  But it has been hard to motivate him to work on it.  I've been trying to help him by creating motivating activities for him to complete including a writing journal, cutting exercises and even tracing.  I'm making my efforts available on my Teachers Pay Teachers web store.

Here's what we've been working on so far!


I wanted to create a summer writing journal that was handwriting ruled but also had prompts that I felt would engage my son as we moved through the summer.  This 33 page collection has opportunities for him to talk about his pets, his neighborhood and his favorite movies and music of the summer.   We both agreed that personalizing the look of each journal for different users would make kids more likely to want to write in them  So we came up with four different themes:  Galaxy, Grass, Wood and DISCO!

There are additional pages in the back for both different prompts and also REVISING some entries along the way.

CUTTING WORK - Cut and Fold : Paris

From Cut and Fold : Paris 
Cut and Fold : Paris
My son's grandparents and cousins are visiting Paris this summer and he wanted to know more about the city where they were visiting.  So we created this fun way to learn more about the Parisian attractions in this activity which is mainly about cutting, a little bit about folding, and a tiny bit about how to use the key of a map.  As you can see from the picture above, I've used some photographs of tourist destinations in Paris and have added cutting lines to it.  My son has been cutting them out and then folding them so that they pop-up from the map that we've downloaded.

I had a fun time creating "Cut and Fold : Paris" because it gave me a chance to research the ten locations that I featured in his pop-up map so that we could talk about them as he was cutting.  I've added a brief explanation of why each location is so important!

I had so much fun, I might just have to complete another one on another major city.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Genre fiction for LGBT-Q young adults -- Not just reading from the Rainbow list

I'm returning to a high school library this year and one of the things that I wanted to do was to increase the number of LGBT-Q titles available for students.  So I wrote a small grant and won it and then went to my student LGBT-Q affinity group and asked for help.  I thought that we'd just wind up pulling from the ALA's Rainbow List. 

The president is a big reader and her biggest frustration was that so much of what is available is geared towards the "coming out" stories.  She's a reader of fantasy and mystery and sci-fi and just wanted to be able to read books with diverse characters in them.

So the public librarian, local bookstore buyer and I made it our mission to find more good genre fiction.  Malinda Lo, author and blogger (and many other things) was particularly useful.  Here is part 5 of her five part series on avoiding the LGBT-Q stereotypes in YA fiction. 

And here are two books (one is Lo's Cinderella variant!) that I bought and enjoyed recently!

AshAsh by Malinda Lo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Cinderella tale with a sweet and different ending. Any YA who is into fairy tale variants will love this one. Ash is our unhappy Cinderella who is not chasing after the prince but her step sister definitely is. He will choose to marry someone before the year is out and Ana is determined that it should be her.

Ash's own life is complicated by the fact that a fairy named Sidhean may have claimed her for his own. Meanwhile she finds the King's lead huntress, Kaisa, to be fascinating. In this Kingdom, the lead hunter is always a woman but that seems to be the only way in which the kingdom departs from the regular fairy tale stereotypes.

I'm going to make sure that I read more Malinda Lo. Very satisfying.

UnbecomingUnbecoming by Jenny Downham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It all begins when Katie's mum is called to the hospital to pick up a grandmother that Katie has never met. There's a reason why grandmother Mary and mother Caroline are estranged and it has a lot to do with family secrets that are starting to unravel.

But Mary is suffering from dementia and her secrets are locked away in a mind that is beginning to fail her. Mom and Katie have secrets of their own. Katie has just tried to kiss her best friend and the girl is no longer talking to her because of it. Does Katie like girls? She's not so sure.

All three storylines weave together in a complicated way. All three women are sympathetic even though they aren't always kind to one another. The secrets kept me guessing and that made the reading move fast.

View all my reviews

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Studying for the National Board - Component 1 for Library Media - 2016 edition

I will be spending this year and next year attempting to become National Board certified as a Library Media Specialist.  I've just finished submitting Component 2 and piloting Component 4 and now it is on to studying for the Component 1.  The content test.

How does one study for a content test on being a school librarian?

The following links are my attempt to study for it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

At the NCCE "Teacher Librarian" Summit

Today I'm in Seattle enjoying the amazing Teacher-Librarian Summit at NCCE, which is our regional technology in education conference.  Richard Snyder is presenting on Digital Citizenship, which he defines as how we "access, use, and share information" and I'm spending some time reflecting on how I use social media in my library and also attempt to model good digital citizenship with my students.

Here is the conference WIKI

Anyone else at the Teacher-Librarian Summit blogging about the day?''

Great ideas from the presenters: 

I completely agree that you should definitely plan for your formal Web presence. And it is an excellent point to label your social media channel as an "unofficial channel" unless you are using an official channel and that you should be mindful about whether or not you actually plan on updating your social media channel.

How interesting to create a knowledge rating chart with words like "full text" and Boolean and have them rate their knowledge level (1 to 3) as well as the definition from their own words.  This is from Barbara Soltzenburg from Jackson High School.  Great idea for student self assessment!  Pre and post tests.

And now we are on to INFOGRAPHICS!  I want to find an easy way to have my students create easy infographics.  Will be looking at tools about this next. Here's one link that I'm experiencing:  and Kathy Schrock's Infographics page. ''

This is an infographic that I tried to make on the fly using the tool called  I was trying to see how easy it would be for a student to create an infographic on their Common Core writing prompt persuasive essays.

On to "Library of Congress" resources about Kathy Dorr -- "How do we help students be ethical users of resources when everything has been blocked?"  Always a great point to make.

Beth Clothier is doing a great job talking about Digital Navigators.  Great ideas and an excellent use of PowToons.

So what have I done in terms of connecting with students on social media in my TWEENER (5th-6th grade) school and teaching them about digital citizenship?

  • Edmodo:  Last year I began an experiment hosting a book chat for interested readers on this sheltered social networking site.  We had teachers help identify students and did about 20 minutes of face-to-face instruction on Edmodo and then most other interactions online.  I had about a core of 20 students who stuck with me throughout the year and they didn't just talk about books but also about what they were doing on their weekends and after school.  They really loved it when they were able to "meet up" while talking, which I should have anticipated.  For my part, I created different "theme" weeks and created "assignments" that highlighted new books (heavy use of book trailers and author Web sites). There were survey questions that I put together to allow them to share their interests (Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson?) and other discussion questions.  Through it all, when kids said the wrong thing, I tried to help them out both online ("I'm deleting your post when you called that other kid "weird," -- Do you agree?) and then I followed up with them face-to-face.   IT WAS WONDERFUL.  IT WAS EXHAUSTING.  I pulled back from it this year because I wasn't sure if I could sustain it for this whole year and also I had hoped that more teachers would have started using Edmodo by now so that this would just seem to be an additional channel that students had access to. 
  • Common Sense Media's "Digital Passport." I have a "once every three weeks" class with a group of students and we have used this digital citizenship collection of lessons to shape the first half of our school year together.  The videos and game modules usually take about 15 minutes to run through and usually sparks some questions for students.  Since our class is only 30 minutes long, it seemed like the perfect amount of content. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Unshelfish Librarians : A new blog

Tara Phethean, librarian in Upstate New York, has hit upon a great concept with her new blog, which is called "Unshelfish Librarians."  She's featuring librarians doing good stuff and put me up on her blog this month.

Great idea, Tara!  Looking forward to reading more from you.

Winning the "I Love My Librarian -- 2013" award!!!


On November 19th, I was enjoying my fifth year leading my annual all school reading program called "Sakai Reads" when I received an interesting message on my voice mail.  Would I please return the call of Maureen Sullivan, Past President of the American Library Association???

Uhhhh... sure!!!

I found a free moment and, since our building has cellular dead spots, I ran out into the parking lot in front of our building.  From her I found out that I was one of ten winners of the New York Times / Carnegie Corporation's "I Love My Librarian" award.

I burst into tears.

While I knew that one of my fabulous para-educator colleagues had been nominating me for the last three years, I never ever thought that I would win.  It was humbling enough to know that she thought well of me and found enough other kids and teachers that thought the same.

After finishing my call with Maureen Sullivan, I ran back inside because the next thing on the schedule for that busy day was to host a pizza party for a group of 6th graders who had all read Edward Bloor's Tangerine.  We had a great time talking about that book and others and the news started to sink in:

It is unheard of to love what you're doing, feel good about your contribution... and then get recognized for the work that you do.  It is like being struck by lightning. 

The weeks that followed were a blur of quietly planning to go to New York with so many people helping me financially to buy plane tickets for myself and my son.  My husband used his frequent flier miles to get there and someone else gifted me with two nights at a hotel.  I was asked to keep the news quiet, which was hard to do!  I eventually told all the teachers at my school.

The trip to NYC was amazing.  Having once been a New Yorker, I had a great time sharing my love of the city with my son and husband and visiting old friends.

Meeting the other honorees was very humbling as well.   There are so many ways to define what it means to be a librarian and I think that there was an amazing mix of innovative ideas paired with the very traditional notion of library service: who is it that is benefiting from your work?  Is it the college undergrad who gets to touch a 500 year-old book for the first time and finds himself turned on to history?  Harold M. Forbes is responsible for this.

Is it the high school kids who lost their rural bus service to their homes and spend their time every afternoon in the public library in their small community where they are loved and valued to the point where one in their midst wrote a very eloquent letter for their public librarian -- Holly Camino?

Those are only two of the amazing librarians that I was able to talk to.

But what has happened since returning to the Island has been even more exciting.  There was a big banner in the front of my library and my students had taken turns signing it.  There was an even bigger banner in a central location of our island, which is called the "Roundabout."   There was an article in the Bainbridge Review in the Kitsap Sun and on the front of my school district's Web site.

For the two days before we went on winter break, I would walk into a classroom and the kids would break into spontaneous applause.   I went on our morning broadcast system on the first day back and I hope that they heard what I said to them.   I don't always get it right ALL the time, especially in terms of finding just the right book for them.  BUT I always want to get it right.  And I won't give up on my efforts to help them.

For the last month and a half I've had a little bit of celebrity on my small island, with parents who's kids have passed through my school coming up to me in the store to congratulate me and to tell me that it is well deserved.  I was at our Foundation Auction last night and someone came up to say how proud they were of me.  While I'm still having trouble knowing what to say (I'm a very private person, actually!), I am exceptionally grateful that I've made people on my island proud.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sakai Reads 2012 -- My book talk on Prezi

So much has been going on since the start of school.  My annual all-school read is starting.  We are featuring books on courage.  I made a pretty good Prezi on it in an effort to get the word out about the choices.