Sunday, November 26, 2017

It's a Cyber Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their last sale of the year and my store will be participating.

Use promo code CYBER17 to get up to 25% off all paid products on November 27-28.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Frantic Day That Reminded Me That I Really Do Love My Job

Today as I was trying to shelve some of the hundreds of books returned today in the little time I have between classes, a teacher was passing through the Media Center to use the laminator in the back room.  After collecting her laminating that a teacher assistant kindly laminated for her, she came back through the Media Center and commented that I looked frantic.  I had to chuckle.  If she only knew what my day had been like she'd understand why I looked so frantic. And this wasn't even halfway through the day yet.  So I decided that it might be time to again write out what happens in a day in the Media Center and to remind myself, once again, that I really do love my job- even on days like today.

My Frantic Day
Receive an email from a teacher who waited until the day of to ask if she could use the conference room off of the media center for parent teacher conferences today- Answer her that the conference room is reserved on Thursdays for the physical therapist because there are no other rooms available in the school-as stated multiple times in faculty meetings as well as posted on every faculty meeting agenda.

Leave for work.

Arrive at school and put lunch in refrigerator.

Log into circulation computer and open email.

Set up Google Classroom for 4th grade lessons today which involved creating an announcement in Google Classroom with links to Nearpod and any websites I would like the students to have access to after the Nearpod lesson.

Set up table for classes by arranging them to closer to front of room.  (I love that our new tables are on wheels and take advantage of that when I have large classes coming for lessons.  I like to rearrange the tables so that students are as close the Promethean Board as possible without crowding them.)  Think about the fabulous Digital Safety and Citizenship lessons that are going to take place today and think to myself how much I sincerely love my job.

Begin Open Checkout.  Direct Wildcat Assistants (5th grade helpers) in their morning duties for the Media Center. Talk to the Assistant Principal about Read for the Record and discover that she cannot be a guest reader because an AP meeting was scheduled for today.  (Luckily our principal stepped in to take her place.)  Find out from the AP that the physical therapist is not coming until 1:00 so the teacher can use the conference room until then.  Let the teacher, who has already begun her conferences in the "kitchen" room behind the circulation desk, know that she can use the conference room, but she decides to stay where she's at which means I do not have access to my bathroom or the refrigerator where my lunch is kept.  Take a deep breath and try to remember that I love my job.

Begin checking in about 300 books for the classes that are scheduled for lessons today as well as books returned from students coming for the morning open checkout and books returned from teachers.  After checking in books, go through them to look for damage, stray marks, anything that needs to be repaired and make note of that, adding fines if necessary.

Discover two books that are wet and upon further inspection feel that it is due to some type of urine. Put books in a ziplock bag and head to that student's homeroom to ask the student about the books only to discover the student has a dog at home that sometimes goes in her room.  Yep-dog urine!  Stop in the lounge on the way back to the Media Center to wash my hands.  Sigh- remind myself, again, that I love my job.

Continue checking in books and running overdue reports for students who will be coming for a lesson today.  Greet guest readers for Read for the Record.  Give them a copy of the book and their schedule for the day.  Spend a few minutes talking to them to welcome them to the school and thank them for their time.

Turn on projector and get ready for the first class of the day to arrive

Assign students to tables as they arrive and begin the lesson.  Tell parents as they come in during the lesson where their conference is taking place because not only am I a teacher and a librarian, but apparently I am also the conference secretary today.  Direct support teachers who have come to join the parent-teacher conferences to the correct room, interrupting my lesson to do so.  A second conference begins in the conference room usually reserved for PT on Thursdays since no one else is using it, distracting the students during the lesson. Wonder to myself, and not for the first time, what would happen if teachers were asked to have conferences in their rooms while they were teaching. Sigh and quickly remind myself that I love my job and redirect the students' attention back to the lesson.

Assist students in finding books to checkout. Thank the teacher who is helping with checkout as this is a very rare occurrence.

Rearrange tables for the next class.  Begin the next open checkout time of the day.

Finish checking in books that weren't already checked in and continue inspecting them for damage.  Upon finishing checkout, run the rest of the overdue notices for the other classes coming to the media center for lessons.  Continue to let parents and teachers who are coming in for conferences know where the conferences are being held.

Planning Time- or rather shelving books time  After shelving about half of the books, stop to make copies of more bookmarks after noticing that my first class wiped out the Halloween bookmarks that I had put out at the beginning of the week.  Run to the front office to use the closest bathroom.  Then hurriedly check my email and answer one from the secretary asking about a kindergarten student's library book.  Check the shelves for the book making sure it didn't get skipped when checking in books and do not find the book. Email that to the secretary.  Continue to let parents and teachers who are coming in for conferences know where the conferences are being held.

Lesson time with a first grade class teaching them the parts of a book; During the story time part of the lesson, one student scratches her leg so much that she has to go to the nurse for some medicine.  After storytime, the students head to their table where one student vomits all over the table he is at, covering a library book in vomit in the process.  Hurry and grab a barf bag and then rush the student to the nurse, leaving the class by themselves because I have no other choice in this instance.  Head back to the Media Center to finish helping students choose a book and check them out.

Surprise! The physical therapist is here...early.  Luckily the conference that was in that room earlier has finished.

Continue shelving books while a custodian cleans the vomit off the carpet and sprays the table with hospital grade disinfectant.  Have conversation with a teacher who is walking to the laminator about why I am rushing around and why I look so frantic. Am told for the 3rd time today that the laminator is about to run out because apparently I am the only one who knows how to change the film on the laminator.  Take another deep breath and remind myself, yet again, that I love my job...maybe.

Get ready for a third grade class to come for a quick 15 minute checkout

Decide since that third grade class hasn't shown up that they are not coming-continue to shelve books

Sneak into the "kitchen" area off of the Media Center to wash my hands, get my lunch and warm it up while the teacher who is using that area for a conference room has a break between conferences.

Eat lunch at the circulation desk because the "kitchen" area is being used. Check and answer email again while I am near the computer and do a quick Google search for jobs that I could get with a Masters in Media besides being a Media Specialist.  Decide that Information Resource Specialist and Technical Information Specialist are worth looking into further.

Reset tables for the next class that is coming and set up Google Classroom with the Nearpod link and other links students will use for the lesson.

Teach lesson about Digital Safety and Citizenship during which one student tells me that he was a victim of bullying at his previous school. Try not to tear up while telling the students in that class #youmatter and to not let anyone tell them otherwise.  Have students put their hand over their heart to remind themselves that the are alive and are worthy.  Let them know they have people who care about them and who they can talk to if they feel upset or unsafe. Feel honored that a student felt comfortable enough to let me know of his past experiences and make sure to tell that student that I am glad he is here at our school.  Remind myself that lessons like this are why I love my job.

Help students select books for checkout and check students out with the help of the same teacher who helped out in the morning class

Check and answer email- one which is again about that missing library book that the parent has called about several times today insisting that the book is not at home and must be at school. Double check the shelves once more to be sure that the book hasn't been misshelved.

Last class of the day arrives with a substitute.  Pass out name tags and settle the students down for story time when a student grabs another student's arm and proceeds to chomp down.  Quickly escort the biter to my office where I call the front office for help because I don't have a walkie talkie or an intercom button to press because apparently my job doesn't warrant me having either. (Can you tell by this point I am kind of over it all?)  Have the counselor and another teacher escort the student who was injured to the nurse and the biter to the office; resettle the students and continue lesson ending with checkout.  Try not to faint with shock because the substitute came back 10 minutes before class was over to help monitor students at the tables while I helped students with selecting books-unlike this class' actual teacher who usually shows up 2 minutes before class is over even though I ask her every week to come back 10 minutes before to help with monitoring students during checkout. Remind myself that I love my job and try not to cry.

Open for the last open checkout of the day; sit down to do some much needed reflection on the day- reminding myself once again that I really do love my job.  Think about the positive things that happened today and think how I was able to complete the day successfully-even with all the craziness that happened.  109 books were checked out. Students got books they want to read.  A student who was bullied at his previous school felt safe enough to share that he was bullied at his last school.  Our school has an awesome community that pitched in to be guest readers for Read for the Record.  We have new furniture because of the generosity of PTO that allows me to create a better space for learning.  I am able to deliver lessons digitally and provide links to resources that students can have access to outside of class because our county provides Chromebooks to 3rd-13th graders.  I am very blessed to work in the county and at the school I am- even on frantic days.

Greet son as he comes in from dismissal only to find out that he had an accident in his pants; quickly run to the clothes closet that we luckily have in our school which also happens to be in a room off of the media center and grab a  pair of underwear. Because the "kitchen" area which also has the bathroom is still being used for conferencing, rush my son to the bathroom in the teachers' lounge and get him cleaned up.  Use that bathroom while I am there.  But it's all good.  At least I have other options for bathrooms when needed.

Return to the Media Center to change the laminator that has finally run out of lamination.  Email the bookkeeper to let her know we are down to our last 2 boxes of laminating film.

Check and answer email once more.

Walk son over to his classroom to get his library books and return with him and his friend who build forts with fabric that I use for book displays and the tables and chairs in the Media Center.  Sigh.  To be a kid again.  Decide to write this blog post to remind myself that what I do is hard, but it's also rewarding.  Delete the bookmarked websites about Information Resource Specialists and Technical Information Specialists I had bookmarked earlier.

It's not an easy job being both a teacher and a librarian, especially when not everyone gets what all is involved day to day in this job.  #needforadvocacy On days like today I try to remember that there is a reason why I was chosen seven years ago, out of all the interviewees, to be the Media Specialist at Moreland. Yes, it was a crazy day.  Most days in the Media Center are.  But when I get up in the morning and am still happy to go to work ready and eager to make a difference, I know that, even on days when I look frantic or days when I want to find another career or days when I want to cry several times during the day...I really do love my job.  And I am where I need to be.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School-A Book Review and Giveaway

A few weeks back I was contacted by a young author, Melissa Shang, who asked if I would be interested in reviewing her book Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School.  Her email was very compelling and as I love a good book, especially middle grade fiction, I said yes. She had her publisher send me a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.  Here are my thoughts...

Mia Lee is nervous about starting middle school.  Luckily she has her best friend, Caroline, to help her get through her first day of sixth grade and beyond.  Mia is a typical sixth grader in many ways.  Her worries are worries that most sixth grade girls entering middle school have, with one exception.  Mia has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of muscular dystrophy, and gets around with the use of a wheelchair and with the help of an aide, Ms. Jackson. While she doesn't let her mobility issues keep her from having a full middle school experience, other students in her class see her disability as something to make fun of.  She will need all the grit she can muster in order to face mean girl Angela Vanover who seems determined to ruin Mia's chances for becoming Video Production Club President.  But Mia doesn't let a mean girl stop her from pursuing her passion of making videos and even makes a few friends in the process.  Will Mia survive middle school and the mean girl that comes with it?

This story is definitely relate-able.  Middle school can be hard.  And middle school girls can be mean-like, really mean.  Just because Mia is in a wheelchair does not mean that she escapes the clutches of her middle school's mean girl, but she handles her bully with grace and dignity.  I love that Mia keeps her positive attitude even when others want to keep knocking her down.  I also appreciated that the storyline showed how friendships can go through tough times, especially in middle school when you are making new friends with students that may have attended different elementary schools, while still wanting to keep your old friends close.

I enjoyed this middle grade realistic fiction book and was especially impressed that it was written by a middle schooler.  Had Ms. Shang not told me her age, I would have never guessed that a middle schooler authored this book.  It is as well written as any middle grades book I have read.  I would recommend Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School to any of my patrons who like a good story about what it's like to be in middle school and how to face adversity with a little help from your friends-both new and old.  If you would like to read more about why and how Ms. Shang decided to write Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School, click HERE.

Would you like to win your own copy of Mia Lee is Wheeling Through Middle School?  Just leave me a comment on this post about your favorite book genre and you will be entered into the giveaway. This giveaway ends Saturday, September 23rd at 11:59 p.m.


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

One More Day

I am extending my TpT store's sale one more day.

Save 15% off any of my paid products- no code needed.

If you are having a Scholastic Book Fair this fall, you might want to check out my Western Themed Library Media Center pack while it is on sale.

There are tons of signs in the pack that you can use to decorate for the Book Fair:

Also on sale are these companion packs:

Western Themed Dewey Signs Pack

Western Themed Book Return Reward Bulletin Board Set

Click HERE to visit my store and check out all of my fun themed items for your Library/Media Center.

Happy Back to School!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back to School Bonus Sale

TpT is having a Back to School Bonus Sale today and my store is participating!

Use the promo code BTSBONUS and save up to 25% off paid products-today only.  This is a great time to snag anything you might have missed during the earlier Back to School Sale.

I have some new product themes in my store that you might want to check out.

(Note: This set is included in the Hollywood Themed Library/Media Center Pack)

These new sets as well as all of my previous sets are included in the sale.

Don't forget to leave feedback on previous purchases so you can use your TpT credits in addition to the sale savings. Click HERE to visit my store.

Happy Back to School!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Breaking Out of the Old Library Orientation

We've been back to school for a couple of weeks now, and I got through most of the 2nd-5th grade class orientations last week.  I have been wanting to try something a little different with my 4th and 5th grade classes for the last couple of years.

Last year I did a Library Ninja scavenger hunt which you can download for free HERE.  

This year, I decided to take it a step further and go digital, making it a kind of break out scavenger hunt.  I had been hearing a lot about Breakout EDU at conferences and I really wanted to try something similar to that for orientation.  So I was brave and jumped in with both feet.  Here are the deets...

First, using a Nearpod lesson that I shared with my students in Google Classroom, I went over policies, like how many books can be checked out and for how long, and briefly talked about making sure they take care of what they check out.

Then I share about some of the cool books they can find in our Media Center, including Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. And I showed this student-made book trailer I found on YouTube:

This set the scene for the next part of our Orientation...the breakout scavenger hunt.

Within the Nearpod lesson I shared a Google Form which has the first clue of the breakout scavenger hunt.  This breakout scavenger hunt covers all of the sections of our media center including checkout and the return desk.

To get to the next clue, they had to type in the correct code found in the section of the Media Center that the clue refers to.

I hid code numbers within each section which students could easily find if they carefully read each clue.  Each code had an emoji on it, to go with our new theme for the year.

They had so much fun looking for the codes so that they could breakout before the time was up.

I gave them around 10 minutes to breakout.

They worked in groups of 2-3 at first and then I realized it was better if they worked in their table groups with just one of them carrying around their Chromebook...less of a chance of dropping the Chromebooks.

Now all of this sounds fun and exciting, but I am sure you are asking,  "But how do you make the Google forms clues?"

Ahhh!  Here is where the REAL fun begins.  <insert evil laughter>  J/K

This part is a little involved and I had to do some research to find a way to "password lock" a Google form, but it is totally doable.  I mean, I did it. Right?

I will do my best to explain the steps I took to get to the final product, but I will say that this YouTube video was a huge help in figuring it all out.

First, I planned out how many questions I wanted to ask and wrote out those questions. Then I opened a Google form and started from question 12 and worked my way backward to question one, making a new Google form for each question.   I worked backward so I would have the link needed for students to get to the next question on the next Google form.  A colleague pointed out that you could go ahead and make all the questions and insert the links later, but I guess I just wanted to do it in one go.

The picture above is what the Google Form looks like when you are writing the question.  After you write the question, you have to choose what kind of answer it will require.  In this case, it will be a short answer.

Next, you can choose that the short answer be a number and that the number be a specific number by choosing "equal to."  You type the number that it should be in the next box to the right.  In this case, the answer is 80.

Next, be sure to mark that the question is required.

The three little circles next to the "Required" option gives an option for a "Response validation."   If you want to let your students know to try again if they get it wrong, you can choose this option and put that response in the box next to your correct code answer.

Next, you will need the link to the next question.  This is where working backward from the last question to the first comes in handy, but you can always create all of your questions and then come back to this step.  To find the link, first be sure that you are in the next question's Google Form and click the Send button.  Choose the link option and a link to that question will be given to you.  I also chose to shorten the URL just to make it cleaner.  To make it even shorter, you could use a URL shortner like or tinyurl.

Now go back to the previous question's Google Form and click the Settings gear up at the top.  In the box that pops up, choose the center option, Presentation.  The box at the bottom is where you type in that the students typed in the correct code and need to click on the link to go to the next clue. This is what I wrote "Yes!  That is correct. Click on this link to go to your next clue: (the link you copied from the next question will come here)." 

Do this for all of your clues and for the last clue, link to a jpeg saved in your Google Drive to let students know they have broken out.  The picture above is the jpeg my students see when they breakout.

So that is how you do a digital breakout scavenger hunt for orientation.  If you'd like to go through my questions, you can click HERE for the first Google Form. Keep in mind that these questions are based on the sections in my Media Center and wouldn't work for everyone's Media Center. But you are welcome to create your own based on these questions.  

The answers are
1) 80
2) 65
3) 31
4) 73
5) 35
6) 24
7) 98
8) 18
9) 53
10) 64
11) 47
12) 12

I hope you can understand my wacky directions if you try this out yourself.  The YouTube video is probably much more helpful, but maybe my picture notes will help guide you, too.

Although I've blogged twice in a short period of time, I don't tend to blog as much as I used to. However, I do post a lot on Instagram and on my Facebook page, if you'd like to follow me there.

Happy Back to School!