Posted in Freedom to read, perserverance, Reading and Library Advocacy

All I want for Christmas is a library..and I get it! Sort of…

On the last day of school before winter break, the second and third grade teachers will move from their rooms in the south wing and portables into the brand new East wing! The shifting out of rooms will leave one portable empty, to filled by as complete a library as I can make in a 30 x 25 (ish) rectangle! Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. (Click on  “Santa Claus” to read the famous story I’m referencing.)

So while my para, Mrs. Pratt and I have gotten great exercise walking from room to room throughout the school, we look forward to having our own space to simulate a library from January 2nd to the end of the year.

We will be in what is currently serving as Mrs. Corry’s second grade classroom and I have begun creating it in my head, and now we will just need to figure out how to prune my library collection by two thirds. Or maybe three-fourths.

And I will tell you more about the epic library media center that will exist at the beginning of next year as I get the details.


Posted in Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship Begins Now!

This week we will be venturing into Chromebook sign-in. This is a very grown-up concept for first graders, because signing in with their usernames and passwords is number and letter-focused task that isn’t correlated AT ALL with ABC order. Further complicating the process is that first graders are so proud to type the letters of their first name, not the first four of their last name with some random digits. What’s WONDERFUL this year is that we now have the “” is already auto-filled. So I don’t have to teach “SHIFT 2” for @. It is a fantastic development, trust me. Once they get the hang of it, the students are so excited to have access to their own Gmail account, even though we won’t be using it for a few years. 🙂 We will begin, with K and 1st graders, with lessons on going on using the internet safely.

for K-2, I use the Commonsense Media Digital Citizenship lessons, which begin with the basics of treating people well in person and online and not answering questions about personal information. I will also touch on whether or not websites are reliable in second grade, but not much beyond that. I will also send home a few family activities which I will encourage you to complete with your students. Here is an introduction about WHY we teach the Digital Citizenship curriclum, from the website, Consider it MY pitch! (But appreciate that I am citing my source which is a vital part of being a good digital citizen!)

The digital world that our kids are learning and growing up in is incredibly exciting. Through technology, kids have access to new tools, to an incredible range of resources, and to stimulating opportunities to participate in novel ways. At the same time, parenting kids who are immersed in so many different technologies and apps can be daunting. I know our school is already working to make sure students cultivate the 21st-century skills they need. I’m writing to communicate my interest in and enthusiasm for bringing parents into the conversation about kids’ digital lives. I believe that a joint effort between parents and teachers is a valuable way to more fully supporting the students and families in our community. I encourage you to take a look at a free new program from Common Sense Education. Common Sense is a nationally recognized, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. It is a trustworthy, leading resource for both schools and families. Their new program, Connecting Families, is a free program with a collection of resources that are designed to help schools engage families in the important challenges and choices kids face online. The resources include guides for different types of community events, as well as field-tested content to use in those events. The program provides a direct way for schools to respond to parents’ appetite for high-quality resources about kids’ digital lives. It also offers an opportunity to bring parents and caretakers together at school and strengthen the home-school connection. In this way, the program would amplify and build on our school’s existing efforts. One aspect of the program is a series of parent discussions with “Conversation Cases” on hot topics, including

• body image • cyberbullying • digital footprints • privacy • distraction, multitasking, and time management 

Each includes a case study for the group to review together, a set of discussion questions, and take-home resources. The content promotes communication and empowers parents to guide their kids to be safe, responsible, and respectful participants in a digital world. I think Connecting Families is a valuable program for our community.”

While this creates a context for why I’m teaching, I won’t be using every aspect of the curriculum; there are several great resources


I’ll be drawing from.

Here’s some of my favorites! 

Digital Safety website: educational games

My favorite Digital Citizenship handout: THINK source:

Student Interactive writing tools

Fabulous short films


Posted in Grit, perserverance, traditional topics, non-traditional teaching

Midway Demo Days

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 4.25.54 PMMidway is being remodeled, so I’d estimate 1/3 of the building will be torn out and under construction (rotating through end of year) which means no A/C. We aren’t the only school dealing with old buildings and no A/C. My daughters have come home each day flushed and sweaty after a day in their stiflingly hot middle school on Spokane’s South Hill.

Our construction crew (yes, they are OURS. A long term gig, an open invite to coffee in their trailer. For real) is working with creative air flow recirculation strategies but because of horrid air, we can’t use cool air from outside. There has been no outdoor recess or PE, and will be no gym, (until January) and no library (I run around to different classrooms to teach.) The teachers and students, (with the exception of the temporary portable classrooms which are new and have A/C) are wilting. 

They manage to stay engaged and do what they are told and when it’s my turn to teach them I’ve been telling them:  “Look. You’ll hear of other students across the city with their ‘cool learning spaces’ and their ‘gymnasiums’ and ‘librarians who let them check out books,’ their *dry clothes* but you will have SO MUCH MORE CHARACTER. When life doesn’t work out and you are slapped with broken promises and plans it will all just ROLL OFF YOU because you will have had THIS YEAR. You are learning to have GRIT!” 

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 12.28.56 PM

That many of us were actually covered in physical grit is beside the point.
I sincerely hope our air will calm down, for o many reasons, but I remain dazzled by the workability we’ve created. 

Also, in library news, I’ve taught students to place holds, but given the circumstances of the library/music room, it could take a while to dig out your books from crowded, covered shelves, or the storage unit outside. You’ll need to be patient about that too!

Our teaching crew on the last morning of the first day of school. We aren’t sweating yet!!! Look how fresh we are!


Tale As Old As Time…Beauty and the BEAK



Found the next school science assembly! A stunning presentation at a science/literacy workshop! Jane Veltcamp, The author of the forthcoming book, “Beauty and the Beak” told her story and brought her birds of prey. Beauty is an American Bald Eagle shot by a poacher. She didn’t die but her beak, which enables her to hunt, was damaged beyond use. The book is a chronicle of all the allies who worked to try and get her back to 100 percent. Did it work?! FIND OUT and also find out about a regional program we have to rebuild and relocate birds of prey who are hurt by humans. It sounds like a bummer but it’s inspiring too! And these BIRDS. WOW

Posted in Makerspace, STEM

STEM: They are learning TOOLS. Don’t say TOYS

IMG_4972We just unpackaged (and threw into bins) four different types of construction tools into our STEM area of the library. I had to be VERY specific about he expectations, because this “Maker Space” concept is new; it’s just so tricky to demand level one voices on checkout days and allow for the volume level appropriate to mirth on the other days. When I was very clear before-hand it went better. After a particularly raucous session, I told the fourth graders who came in next “this is not a birthday party. This is not a play date ion your friend’s basement. This is us, learning how to problem solve together, and I need a level two voice for this to happen.”

They were great and I held an impromptu challenge of creating a known structure. Quick as lightning we had the White House and two versions of the downtown Clock Tower. And something else very tall. My other favorites, as well as students’ favorites, are the KEVA PLANKS (click to investigate) and good old-fashioned Lego. On the right, do you recognize the POTUS built by a second grader?


Posted in Award Winning Books, Best Books

Washington Children’s Choice Vote!

They may not have any impact on the selection of Newbery or Caldecott Awards, or presidential elections, but the first through third graders in Mead School District (and across and have had their say about which children’s book wins the Children’s Choice Picture Book Award! We have been reading (actually the students have been listening and discussing, Mrs. Henning and myself have been reading) the nominees for the past six weeks. We voted for our favorites on Friday, April 14, 2017

At Midway, our overwhelming choice was I’m Trying To Love Spiders by Bethany Barton. We followed the charming story about TRYING to get used to and appreciate spiders (awesome gross fact: one spider eats 75 pounds of insects every year!!) with further research about spiders on Pebble Go, our favorite database for primary grades.

At Colbert, our top choice was Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert. I think it’s because I talked about it being a meaningful and clever example of prose, which is long form poetry, AND it’s National Poetry Month. Also, it was the last book I read and fresh in their minds. I’m pretty sure that if I’d re-read the “Spiders” book, more students would have voted at Colbert, as well. Both schools loved Nerdy Birdy, too!(by Aaron Reynolds) We will see in the next few months who the statewide winner was!

Posted in Coding, Hour of Code, programming, Trending technology

Coding: A Global Movement

For the second year, my library classes–yes, even the first graders, are learning computer programming by using WHY? Because kids of all ages and languages can speak it (like math, coding is a universal language) and “Computer science drives innovation throughout the US economy, but it remains marginalized throughout K-12 education.” According to the website, “Only 33 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation. There are currently 517,393 open computing jobs nationwide. Last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.”

coding1That’s a big gap!! Washington state is one of only FIVE states which dedicates funding to computer science. Right now, there are 26,000 computer science jobs in our state, and 1100 graduates to fill them. As I told my students, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t avoid classes and activities that weren’t “right brain” activities, which I was comfortable learning–those which dealt with drawing and painting and writing. I’d learn to love and find my place in math and science, because I’ve always felt that so much of the world was closed to me by not having skills in these vast and important fields.

An actual second grader having an actual blast coding

Hour of Code is a global movement. Find out why in this darling and motivating video below.

Why kids should code



Posted in Awesome Apps, graphic design, programming

World Clouds: Our favorite Infographics

Initially an exercise to honor World Kindness Week, students used the application to generate “Kindness Word Clouds” to express and spread their own perceptions of what kindness means to them. Then, students liked the customization of their lists so much they began creating gifts for loved ones. My daughter used it to make a Christmas Wish List. And I used it to create a picture summary for staff about what we’ve been working on in Library for the past month. I love Tagul because it doesn’t require additional software (some require Microsoft Silverlight) and can be used on any device. We recommend writing a list of words on a separate document rather than typing them straight into the available text box.screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-33-19-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-34-13-pmAnyway, here’s the cool images that emerge! Two are from the Tagul website shapes menu and two are downloaded from custom images. Use and have fun!


Posted in Banned and challenged books, Freedom to read, Reading and Library Advocacy, Uncategorized

Get your hands off our books!

Spent this week’s lessons talking about banned and challenged books, as it was National Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2). After discussing this photograph of a wonderful library display which I right-clicked from a Pinterest page (I’d love to know who created it so I could give this person due credit!) I discussed more contemporary banned books, such as the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Divergent series. screenshot-2016-10-02-16-09-10

I also set up this display:

banned-booksto illustrate what would be missing if the books on this cart were actually eliminated from the library. I believed that the students were clear I was the ADVOCATE for open and free information and access. I had them take their (sometimes vocal) sense of indignation, and write me a response to the idea of either censorship in general, or the removal of THEIR favorite children’s book on the banned and challenged lists.  Not everyone made this connection, so I got a few threatening messages about “taking away their Junie B. Jones.” (I did not, nor would I)

By the time I’d taught this lesson to the fifth class or so (I teach these lessons to 25  4th-6th grade classes in a week) I realized I needed to physically remove the CAUTION tape. They needed this sense of closure.

Here is the article I had them read for further information: (“Fact Monster” is a great elementary level online database.)

And here are some of the most insightful responses from 5th and 6th graders.

“Books are banned to protect others, frequently children, from difficult information. Adults don’t want their children to be scared. I think that children should be able to read those books. These books boost up their imagination.”

“The witchcraft (in Harry Potter) seems reasonable because they are all witches!”

“The reason given why Harry Potter books were banned is because, ‘It promotes witchcraft.’ Just because there is witchcraft, does not mean people will take it seriously. Also, it said that Harry Potter sets a bad example. I disagree. He only does things for the good of the school and his friends.”

“If you banned Harry Potter, you might as well ban all the other books.  If you WERE to ban Harry Potter, I would come and find you and do something quite unpleasant.  Your Harry Potter loving student…”

“I don’t understand why The Wizard of Oz is banned because women play the main roles! That is criticizing all woman and also, I mean seriously, banning the book because it had a witch in it because of the fake witch burnings! Women who were healers got burned for no reason!”

“I think…some of the boys I know act just like the Lion, Tinman, and the Scarecrow. I do understand that in earlier days women were not treated well.. but that is stupid.

“I think ‘The Hunger Games’ shouldn’t be banned. ‘The Hunger Games’ may be about some type of murder but it isn’t real and I don’t think people understand that! This isn’t ever gonna happen and parents should tell their kids if they read it that they won’t do what happens in this book, and that it is fake!”

P.S. If your children end up being advocates for first amendment and open access to information , it wasn’t me. They came ready to fight 🙂 It was quite glorious. 




Posted in Library of Congress, Reading and Library Advocacy

First Female Library of Congress Librarian all about advocacy

Already totally in love with the new head of the world’s largest library, Carla Hayden. Here are two of her quotes from the interview that I posted below:

“…a library’s place is even more important (now). There is a hunger in this digital age to hear authors together, to participate in programs, to just be in a place; a community space.”

And, in talking about librarians’ reputations when she was head of the American Library Association (ALA) back in 2003 …

“Librarians were called during that time ‘feisty fighters for freedom’, and we were very proud of that label.”      America’s Historic New Head of Library of Congress


Carla Hayden, the first female and African American leader of the Library of Congress sworn in September 14, 2016