Monday, October 31, 2011

The Busy Librarian: Souls.

My friend Matthew had a great post on his blog today, so I have to share it with you. For those of you reading The Book Whisperer- this compliments chapter 2 so well!

The Busy Librarian: Souls.: Happy Halloween, everybody! Our giraffe is only 15 months old, so he hit the hay long before it was time to trick-or-treat. Instead, I t...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cider Social

With Common Core on the horizon, there is a big push for more nonfiction in our school libraries and classrooms. Unfortunately, nonfiction is not in every teacher or reader's comfort zone. Many people don't even think of nonfiction as "real reading", but actually, most of the reading we do as adults is of nonfiction text-- magazines, newspapers, Facebook postings, etc... I recently purchased lots of new nonfiction books and professional resources using Scholastic Dollars earned during last year's book fairs. Through Scholastic's School Resource Catalog, I found lots a great library bound choices including some from one of my favorite publishers-- CAPSTONE!  Woot! Woot!

Once the box arrived, I had to quickly figure out how to make sure these precious gems didn't get lost in the shelves with the other books. So... working off an idea I picked up in a Common Core webinar I attended a few weeks ago, I decided I had to plan a low key, no pressure way to get  my colleagues to interact with these new resources and want to use and promote them in their classrooms. A happy hour was out of the question, since most bars don't appreciate you setting up a book display in the middle of their serving area. Food and drink work magic on teachers so I moved on to an idea of having a "not wine and cheese" party. But, I didn't want people to hear "not wine" over the announcements and think I was telling them to stop whining. I was walking through Safeway and discovered that cider was on sale. Cider, I thought... warm cider... pumpkin cookies.... candy corn... cheap and tasty!!! Sold! The Cider Social was born. : )

I sent out an invite encouraging any interested staff to visit the library on our early dismissal day anytime from 12:30-2:00. There was already a silent auction being hosted in the library at the same time, so I encouraged people to come for the auction and then while they were waiting around to watch their bids... why not enjoy a cup of warm yummy cider and look at a few books.  I laid all the books out on a two big tables- one table had professional resources and the other had nonfiction books that both students and staff could check out. When each teacher came, I greeted them, offered them a few treats and some cider, and then invited them to join me at the tables to check out the new books.

Individually and in a few small groups, I took them on a "tour" of the new items. I focused in on books and resources that were a good fit for their personal curriculum. I highlighted items that might support what they were researching in their profession learning communities. Basically, I book talked my arse off! They were allowed to claim "first dibs" on a book by writing their name on a post it and sticking it on the book. After the Cider Social was over, I checked out the books to the teacher's who marked them, placed holds for the people on the wait list, and delivered the resources right to their mailboxes.  The staff really seemed to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and were really open to talking about the materials. All in all, I had about 20 staff members stop by- mostly teachers, but even the Principal and some building service workers stopped in for a while. I think the unusual nature of the event had them at least curious enough to come check it out. I ended up with post-it notes on several of the professional resources; some of the books even had multiple post-its! Overall, I'd say it was a success.

So, in case you are curious as to what I had on display... here is a snapshot:

When purchasing nonfiction, I really made an effort to find girl friendly choices. Boys seem so much more willing to give nonfiction a try. So, I purchased two series that I think my girls will go wild for:
  • Kick, Jump, Cheer! - a set of 6 books covering topics such as tryouts, going to cheer camp, competing, etc... Each book is 24 pages of colorful goodness that will make you want to stand up and give a cheer for nonfiction! Bonus- they are AR books ranging in level from a 4.1-5.1.
  • The Girls' Guide to Everything Unexplained- a set of 6 books covering everything from zombies to werewolves to fairies- oh my! The format of these 32 page gems is what really won me over.  These books are hysterical. There is a great table of contents, cool artwork, fun quizzes (What type of zombie are you?), excellent glossary, and even a website to go to if you want to extend the fun. I think even the boys may be clamoring to get at these titles. And once again, they also count for  AR.
I also purchased several books that really hit on some of those aspects of Common Core that a regular classroom teacher might not feel as comfortable addressing-- like research skills and all things having to do information literacy. The books I purchased are totally kid friendly, but I made sure during the Cider Social to point out to teachers how they could put these books to work for themselves.
  • Information Literacy Skills - I ended up purchasing all four titles in this series. The four books cover: Accessing Information, Evaluating Information , Organizing and Using Information, and Understanding the Importance of Information.   Each book is written in a style that is very reader friendly. The text features are awesome! You could do a lesson just on that aspect of these books alone. There are well placed sidebars, easy to read charts and graphs, etc... plus the information is top-notch!
  • Information Explorer - I rarely purchase whole series of nonfiction books, but like the series I mentioned earlier in this post, I just had to get this whole set. Boy, am I glad I did! Even the teachers were giddy looking at them today. The format is soo kid friendly. Bright colors, conversational writing, doodles, ideas to try out, and just plain fun! The topics in these 16 titles cover everything from netiquette to analyzing a source to researching family history. Throughout each book there are ideas for kids to try out their newly learned skills. These could be adapted into fantastic tech-friendly lessons by the teacher.
The professional resources I purchased really fell into three categories.
  1. Interactive whiteboard activities- Each of these resources focused on teaching specific skills (fractions, expository writing, editing, etc.) and contained a CD.  I also purchased one book on how to create your own SMART lessons that included a training DVD.
  2. Differentiation- many of our teachers are in a PLC (professional learning community) that focuses on different aspects of differentiation. There were a mix of resources covering management, tiered lessons, and even assessments.
  3. Nonfiction- I purchased materials on teaching students how to write quality nonfiction, using nonfiction for read-alouds, and ideas for teaching with primary sources.
Whew! This was one long post. I'm guessing that you can tell I'm excited that everything went so well. Already, several teachers asked if I would do something like this again  the next time I do a big nonfiction or professional resource order and the answer is wholeheartedly YES!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Defining terms

    I went to the handy dandy Urban Dictionary to see what they had to say about nerdy librarians... here are some of my favorite results:
    • An individual persecuted for his superior skills or intellect, most often by people who fear and envy him.
    • Term used for people or persons who are into books, computers, ect. and are unbeleivably attractive.
    • The new sexy

    • Information Master
    • One to be worshiped
    Librarians wield unfathomable power, bring order to chaos, wisdom and culture to the masses, preserve every aspect of human knowledge and rule the information universe.

    Yeah... that's me... a nerdy librarian and proud of it.