Feed on

Our latest round of weeding has provided us with plenty of books. Many have been donated or given away to students. My art department has adopted some, but I am most impressed with what an English teacher in my school did with her class. I shared with her over the summer some really cool “blackout” poems after seeing some at SCASL Conference in March 2015, and told her/showed her the many pages available! She is having fun with our discarded books. Here is a sampling of the blackout poetry a few from her classes did this week. She tells me there are more to come–the kids keep raising the bar on one another.

Tomorrow (October 12, 2015) I spend the day in Rock Hill, SC at Sullivan Middle for the Old English Consortium’s Librarians Staff Development. I was invited to lead a session that I led at SCASL last March. It is worthy of updating here because I have revised some of the presentation as tools and materials have changed.  This post is also to serve as a link to this presentation as well, as attendees may not remember urls, but they may remember that I said I posted it here.

Not seeing the embedded presentation? Click here.

Looking for the e-handout? Click here.


Booklove Links











Cathy Jo Nelson – Book Love Links


Silhouette Cameo



Xyron Creative Machine



Staples Double Sided Foam Mounting Tape












Teen Librarian Toolbox






Hoping some of my friends will join us!


Image: Created by Tiffany Whitehead


  • Google (GAfE)
  • ItsLearning (LMS)
  • Dropbox
  • Edmodo

Image Created with Google Drawings

In recognition of Banned Books Week which just around the corner, our #CavaliersRead Book Club is reading a highly volatile book, Ellen Hopkins Crank. I would like to set up a Google Hangout for my group, which meets during first lunch at Dorman from 11:33-12:03 ET, just to connect my teens to teens outside our school, perhaps to give them ideas and understanding beyond our own group. I figure we’d try to connect at 11:40 AM. It will be short and brief, being less than 20 minutes. Anyone interested in connecting with us?
Why Crank?
This post over on the YA Love Blog sort of inspired us to choose this book for our September book club, and despite it being roughly 5 years old, it is still a quite popular book that really speaks to the consequences of bad choices by teens, best, from a user’s perspective. I look forward to hearing the thoughts of my teens…and hopefully yours too.
Promoting it at school
Checkout a poster one of our book club members created for placement in the halls at school!

Created by DHS student Marybeth M.

Librarian Twitter Chats | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

With the beginning of school and our own administrative staff now endorsing the use of Remind by communicating to our faculty and staff using it, I’ve been sharing its potential use in the classroom as well. We all know (and even lament) how today’s students rely on their devices. So why not capitalize on that reliance by capitalizing on it for educational use. Our high school bookclub has been using Remind for around 2 years, and we have found it as the best way to communicate meeting dates/times, when the book club books are in and available, and more. It is available through a website or an app for most mobile devices. The following are Google Drawings I made for use as helpful resources for my teachers. (Download larger image here.)

But some of my students and/or parents can’t join for a variety of reasons, such as limited data plans on their phone, no way to receive texts, dislike of texts, etc. No worries, let your intended audience know they can subscribe via email. (Download larger image here.)

After creating an account, the user will have to find ways to communicate the necessary information for users to subscribe. Remind provides a handy printable PDF that can be used, but one can also verbally share as it’s almost always simple enough to just say it or write it on a simple sign. Here is how I made our library book club “handout,” which I’ve printed and maintained ready to give to students at the circulation desk. (Download larger image here.)

In this “showcasing” of why Remind is a good classroom tool, I also share the ability to schedule messages, which is a nice feature in Remind that often wins over even the most reluctant. (Download larger image here.)

In some kind of follow-up training, I will share the now available chat features. I will also help my teachers use the widgets offered in Remind to add to their online spaces. Finally, since all our classes are semester long classes I will share how to remove users closer to the end of the semester.

The summer learning opportunities I’ve had have my brain just a whirling. SCASL’s Summer Institute (which I missed due to family travel), ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, and DENSI2015 last week in Washington, DC have given me much to think about and how I can apply it to my own teaching and learning context.
From SCASL’s Summer Institute (JUue 16, 2015) – Maker Spaces

From the SCASL Summer Institute, I saw some terrific short video clips of the tremendous learning via the SCASL Facebook page, specifically here and here. Seeing these made me regret missing our SCASL Summer Institute, as I heard nothing but good things. Kudos to SCASL President Diana Carr for pulling this together, (Note I tried to embed, but I’m not optimistic they will show up; also those seeing this from a reader may have to pop out to see them anyway, but well worth the time to do so.)


Summer institute Rube Goldberg

Posted by South Carolina Association of School Librarians on Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Summer institute magnet theater

Posted by South Carolina Association of School Librarians on Tuesday, June 16, 2015


From ISTE and DENSI, Maker Space Ideas Galore

Before we headed up to DC for the Discovery Education Network Summer Institute, we were asked to consider bringing a maker space idea or project, complete with resources needed to showcase it in what was dubbed a DENovator Faire. We were featured on one of the DENSI pages–have a look at the sessions listed. This is not all of them, as we had some just show up with a maker project. This room was jam packed that evening with GREAT ideas for any maker space. Our Australian DEN Friends made a Day 4 Recap Video that shows a lot of the maker spaces set up and also really shows how energized everyone was.

This is another video that is actually the DENSI 2015 Podcast show, and it features more of the DENovator Fair.

From ISTE, there were maker space playgrounds, and the ISTE Librarians Network featured for their ISTE Librarian Forum an entire session led by a panel of school librarians to talk about Maker Spaces. Luckily, the entire presentation was recorded via Google Hangout and broadcast live from ISTE for sharing afterwards. It’s long, and the audio is slightly off, but it is well worth watching.

And let’s not forget the DENSI Costume Party

Since I shared the Flickr Pool set of pictures tagged DENSI2015, I won’t embed them again, but you can find some of the “History Themed” Costume Party photos in that set. It was tremendous fun and something I won’t forget soon.  You can look at the set again here, however, I will share mine from our “photobooth” moments at that party. Such fun I had with DEN friends.

This one features SCASL peep Jessica Felker and myself at the History themed costume party. Jessica is representing an “inaugural ball guest” and I am representing “Dr. Jane Goodall.”

Look! I had a twin Jane Goodall at our DENSI2015 Costume Party!


So How will I apply this to my own teaching and learning context?

Of course I now want to try and set up some of the maker space activities I have seen at ISTE2015 and DENSI 2015. I think we will plan some of these for Fridays at lunch, and advertise them in advance. Maybe at first we’ll sponsor all the tables, but eventually expand it to let students have a table too. I think four activities a session might be enough to start with. We’ll have to see how it goes. And if I can square it away, I’ll also get some guests to come and showcase things I saw at my conferences (i.e. 3Doodler?) Watch a captivating video here.

Screenshot of this video: https://youtu.be/hUOZTckQPWw


And even beyond my own school…

The more I thought about this, I decided both the Maker Space session and the costume party featured in my summer professional development not only might impact my teaching context, but also might fly at my own state organizations’ annual conferences. I have floated the ideas to them as well, though only time will tell if “the powers that be” decide to look into it. It’s still very early in the planning stages. I have my fingers crossed. I have offered to take on that project–yes, I’m crazy.

It’s summertime and at that time I get to pursue interests and hobbies. My husband swears my only interest is “school,” and my only hobby is attending conferences and workshops. That may be sort of true–I’m guilty as charged, but I do enjoy my flowers each summer too. I thought just to break up my posts I’d talk about something more in line with summertime and not pedagogical. I’ll share my flowers and their story. (But I can go the pedagogical route if someone really pushes me, even about flowers.)

It all begins around school’s spring break

Each spring I itch to get my fingers in the dirt. I love to have plants, greenery, flowers and more outside. I probably get that from my maternal grandmother who I have heard had prize winning lilies and gladiolus growing in her yard. She loved to experiment with growing flowers, and her flowers were always breath taking. She was the “serious” gardener. My plan for this summer was to have begonias, multicolored impatiens, potato vines, and of course ferns around both porches. Here is the progression of each, and I have to say I’m thrilled with how they are turning out, even if the begonias have not done as well as years past.
The lower bushes and flower beds

(Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson using Canva.com) In early April we severely cut back some the front bushes. I don’t even know their name, but I took a limb cutting to the local nursery to ask about cutting them back. Actually I think that bush whacking happened in late March. I was so worried I had killed them. The begonias suffered from too much water through mid June, but since we cut back the watering, they are looking much healthier. I do love the dark leafed red begonias.

The backyard deck baskets and ground planters beds

(Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson using Canva.com) In the back I made 4 sets of hanging baskets with multi colored dark leaf begonias and streaming vinca vines. On the ground below I planted in planters Lantana (which supposedly discourages mosquitos); in the center of each planter I put purple ornamental grass. As of today I have only three of the purple grass showing the funky purple stems with seeds. But all four are tall, full, and healthy. The back porch also has a lone fern not pictured. I may have to rethink streaming vines next summer if I am going to keep the planters beneath them.

The porch’s box planters and ferns

(Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson using Canva.com) The boxes hanging on my porch are strapped down “MacGyver-style” with zip-ties. In these I planted mixed colored impatiens and streaming potato vines. I had the boxes ready to go in the garage for about ten days before I finally put them out, and it took two more weeks before the ferns went up. My husband rigged me a watering system made of PVC pipe that wraps around the inside of the porch above the ferns, and so twice a day water comes down in a micro-tube to the ferns, and then drips directly into the three boxes strapped to the porch. This year for the first time, I had to go buy plastic snakes for the ferns to keep birds from nesting there. Worked like a charm. The ferns are HUMONGOUS and have broken chains twice this summer. Today I raised them up four chain links because the fronds were resting on the impatiens in the flower boxes. The ferns and flower boxes very much like that twice-a-day watering.


What’s comes after summer?

Are you kidding? School. I’ve never had much luck with plants that grow in the colder weather. I am not sure I will even try when it turns cooler this year. So I’ll just enjoy these all the way through late October when we’ll finally have a frost that will kill all the ground flowers. Then I’ll take it all down and wait for next spring to do it again. I’m thinking next spring/summer about Lantana mixed with something else in the front boxes with maybe green AND purple potato vine, along with some vinca vine spilling down the front. Time will tell. I do love my summer hobby.

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