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Im nominated for  a Bammy Award 2014So this afternoon I casually open my email and almost dismissed it as spam. You see, I was nominated for a 2014 Bammy Award. As a blogger, I get plenty of emails asking me to share content, consider guest posts, or blog this or that topic. So my habitual skimming almost made me overlook this email. How about that!!  I’ve been reading where members of my PLN are celebrating their nominations, and I’ve been celebrating with them, sending in congratulatory comments, and bookmarking so when time presents itself, I can go back and vote/endorse their nomination. I even scoffed, wishing I could get in on it with a nomination. That’s how much I thought this could happen. Wishful thinking.


So it was a pleasant surprise to really process this email and realize well, gosh, I’ve been nominated! I’m super excited, humble to realize it, and I must say in GREAT company with some really awesome school librarians for my category.

Screenshot 2014-04-15 22.07.38


Just happy to have my passion acknowledged
But I am most excited to be acknowledged for being a passionate educator, one who strives to collaborate! This is reflected in my position as a school librarian at Dorman High School, as Regional Network Director for SCASL, and even as a member of the Leadership Team (Executive Board) working for SCASL. I am often asked where I find the time to do everything I do and make such an impact. Many are amazed at the depth of my involvement. To me, it is just the way I roll. When one is passionate about the work they are contributing (with students, teachers, colleagues, fellow librarians, community, more) it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a rewarding accomplishment. No project is done and settled without a new one well on its way.  And I like it this way.


If you would, please take a moment to vote for me.


‘On the phone.’ Found on flickrcc.net

How can my students be productive using BYOD?
This is a question frequently asked by teachers in a BYOD environment. Yes it’s a challenge to really integrate the variety of devices students bring with them. But this article featuring Google Apps really made me stop and think.


Teachers must opt in
I work in a Google Apps for Education district. But ours is designed to be an “opt in” set up for our teachers. Our teachers must request the brief training, provide students with an initial overview, give out and take up permission forms, and then implement usage in their classroom or teaching context. And this is true class by class, so even if a student IS using it in one class already, a different class still requires forms, etc.


We have room to grow
Using Google Apps for Education means students who are bringing ipads, tablets, laptops, and even smartphones can USE these devices to be productive for a content area. At least that is the intent with the policy. So it is not unusual to see students in the library, the labs, the cafeteria, and the classrooms openly using their devices. I’d love to see our students using them for more than passing virtual notes (texting) or tuning in to their favorite music (and tuning the classroom instruction out.) BYOD is not permission to have the device out for texting and music. BYOD is about allowing students to use their preferred tool for a learning purpose. Is this a problem in anyone else’s school?


Can’t stop some things…
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed the devices that are widely visible now throughout school being used for some texting and even listening to music. I hear daily how teachers are glad their students have music to keep them focused, and that without it students seem to be more easily distracted by what is going on around them (i.e. talking with neighbors, not working on the work at hand.)  This is all fine and dandy, but the BYOD policy was not adopted to be a classroom management tool. I’m just sayin’. Yes, we have a lot of room to grow.


Final Thoughts
I don’t think we have as much of a BYOD problem as we have an engagement problem. We are happy to have the devices. I’m just not sure they are being applied more towards usage for learning than usage for entertainment, to the detriment of learning. And I’m feeling a bit guilty over that.



In ’91 or so when I was finishing my first Master’s Degree in elementary Education (University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC), I was scrambling for hours that could satisfy the last course requirements. I wound up taking an elementary education math methods course of all things, and driving all the way from the lower part of Orangeburg, SC some 60 miles southwest to Aiken, SC so I could wrap it up in a three week Maymester course and get the degree (and the much coveted step up in pay due to a higher degree.) My goal at the time was to just FINISH. This was pre distance-ed days, and even pre distance-ed via video tape. I know, that is hard to fathom. Every class had to be physically attended. I was teaching 7th grade ELA at time.


Teaching License Renewal
South Carolina at this time required teachers to maintain/renew teaching licensure every five years with graduate level courses. One could take 2 course (6 hours), submit them to the state department of ed, and be deemed renewed with teaching licensure for an additional five years. As a member of a family of educators, I understood well what having additional degrees could do for my pay. When it became time to renew, I applied to graduate school and initially declared my major as unknown. I explored administration first. I hated the two classes I took. I then looked at a Reading Specialist degree. It was okay but I was bored. I hated the thought that I would limit what I taught to just reading. I then explored guidance and counseling. I liked the classes, but the theory I was studying, and the actual practice I saw day in and day out in my teaching did not match. Even way back then (early 90s) I saw the heavy emphasis that testing played in the role of guidance. Finally I just opted for the same major, elementary education.


Because I had Dr. Whiten
The class met at USC Aiken and we had plenty of school visits to the Aiken schools. The instructor was Dr. David Whiten, a professor I’ve lost track of now, but he believed in authentic engagement, project based learning, and that the librarian could be a classroom teacher’s best friend. He made me realize I could touch every student, teacher, and curriculum area if I were in the library. Even better, we spent a day in USC’s education building exploring computer games that could impact student learning. This was a day of true revelation for me. I realized the LIBRARY was where I could have have major impact and really enjoy my contribution in a k12 environment. And Dr. Whiten opened my eyes to how I could become an integral part of the paradigm shift coming to education with technology and digital resources, through the hub of every school known as the library.


Finished and already wanting to start over!
I finished that degree, and I had just had my second son who wasn’t even a year old yet. With the completion of that class (and the degree) I came home raving to my husband that I knew I couldn’t do it right away (financially nor with a young second child in the mix), but even if I had to wait five years because I needed to renew my teaching license, I fully planned to enroll in library school somewhere, some how.


Fast forward, 1995
I enrolled in USC-Columbia’s College of Library and Information Science’s program for media specialist certification. The only way I could obtain it was to enroll in the Master’s Degree program. I think I misunderstood somewhere along the way, because I already had a Master’s Degree, and the next logical step was a Specialist Degree. But USC either didn’t have a specialist program at the time, or I just did not understand that to get my certification I had to take the same course work as the Master’s Degree seeking library school candidates. It did not matter then, as my goal was to become a certified school librarian, and that 2nd Master’s Degree was going to be the fastest route. So I applied.
“I just looooove reading!”

Dr. Dan Barron at a SCASL Conference. Picture from SCASL Flickr stream.

I had to sit through an interview with a professor from the (formally known as) USC CLIS Program, and I can remember being asked why I wanted to be in the program. Thankfully I never uttered the words, “Because I love books and I love to read.” I simply shared my story–same as above. Later in my library school classes with (now retired) Dr. Dan Barron, I heard him NUMEROUS times talk about the number of prospective students in their interviews declare their love of reading, and how loving reading was NOT enough! In my earliest courses I had Barron several times, and I must say he lit a fire in me for the profession like no other. I joined our state organization, as well as AASL and ALA due to him, joined LM_Net and our own SCASL listserv due to him, and discovered the power of a PLN and connected learning EARLY, way before it became the cool thing for educators to do, all thanks to him. I learned so much in my two year program, becoming instantly a tech savvy teacher and having a much better understanding of the school and community, which I can attribute to my days as a student of USC’s School of Library and Information Science.


USC-SLIS – still impacting me

Librarian friends (L-R) Elizabeth Graham, myself, Wendy Rollins, and Karen Meharg

Heather Loy, me, Fran Bullington at a DEN Event a few years ago!

It is now called USC’s School of Library and Information Science, housed under Mass Communications, and is still generating some of the most dynamic school librarians there are. I reflect at some of those professors and graduates who have impacted me as a working school librarian, including professors like Dr. Dan Barron, Dr. Donna Shannon, Elizabeth Miller (and by spring the last one I had classes under will retire–Dr. Shannon). I also am friends with USC graduates such as past SCASL Presidents and/or leadership members like Heather Loy, Valerie Byrd-Fort, and Martha Taylor. I’ve had previous USC library interns who have helped shape me and make me a better librarian as well, like Kim Isiminger, and recent interns Lori Willis-Richards and Elizabeth Graham. I have interacted with plenty of librarians in my state too, who amaze me with their stellar representation of school librarianship, including folks like Tamara Cox, Karen Meharg, Wendy Rollins, Liz Hood, Kelly Knight, Fran Bullington, Susan Myers, and so many more. Even my own co-librarian Melanie Dillard, a USC library school alumni, amazes me pretty regularly. (I tell her all the time how she “completes” me in the library!)


Still a long way to go
My path to becoming a librarian took me along many different paths along the way to certification and to where I am as a librarian today.  I just saw this video shared by my friend Sara Kelly Johns, and it seems like a fitting close. You see Ive had wonderful principals along the way too, all who have supported each and every turn I took along my career path. After 28 years behind me in education (yikes I sound OLD) I’m still not done.  And I can’t wait to make more of an impact at my local level, as well as county, state, and even beyond to national and international levels. THAT is why I’m a librarian. And I love it as much today as I did day one.


So I kick off my spring break this evening, reflecting over our library’s plans to celebrate Poetry Month and School Library Month.

Dorman’s Planned April Poetry Month Activities:

  • Spine Poetry – Students may use library books to create spine poems. We will take a picture and display them in the library.
  • Chalk Poems – Students may get chalk and write original poems; these will be displayed outside the library doors.
  • Blackout Poetry – Students may get a page of text (from torn, old, or discarded books), and using a sharpie, blacken out lines of text, leaving some words clear, which when read together make poems. These will displayed in the library, along with a photo of the student author.
  • Poem in Your Pocket Day – students will be encouraged to collect poems to have available for Poem in Your Pocket Day. The library staff will be in the cafeteria Thursday, April 24 to ask for poems during all three lunches. Those who produce poems will receive coupons with QR Codes. QR Codes will reveal a prize they can redeem in the library (pencil, bookmark, free book, Cavalatte Coupon, fine forgiveness, etc.)
  • Poetry Picnic Book Club during lunches Wednesday, April 23. For this lunchtime book club, students will be asked to bring their own lunches, but meet on the patio outside the cafeteria. We have asked that students be allowed to leave class five minutes before their lunch to allow them early access to lunch before lines form. We are meeting on the cafeteria’s patio, a popular lunchtime hangout, where we will have reserved tables for the lunch book club. We are thinking other students seeing us enjoy books at lunch might draw them in too. I suppose it’s a marketing ploy.

Waiting to hear…
All we need (and have asked for, though certainly not a deal breaker if denied) is administrative permission for a five-minute early dismissal for book club members that are in DHS 2nd block classes.


April is School Library Month too!  We want to celebrate this by using each of the remaining TUESDAYs during lunches to spin a wheel for library related prizes. This will be the ONLY opportunity for the rest of the school year for students to get fine forgiveness.  The prizes are as follows:

  • Free book
  • Pencil
  • Bookmark
  • Fine forgiveness
  • Treat (penny candy)
  • Mystery Prize (coupon with a QR code and students have to figure out what they won, but these prizes will be an assortment of double prizes (i.e. bookmark & free book or items we’ve accumulated from freebies at conferences etc.)


Silver lining:
Our silver lining and best selling point for permissions: NOTHING has a cost to Dorman or the library.

Because I invested some time in smalltalk with a neighboring school’s advisor, I received the biggest surprise today! You see, in that polite conversation, I planted the seed for a collaboration. Well, maybe it was more of a collaborative idea hatched and carried through! I wish I had a photo to share of our student Cesar, but he is apparently absent today. He came by Tuesday afternoon to tell me he had made something for the library over in his Applied Technology (Carpentry) class over at neighboring R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center, but it would need to be delivered or picked up. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement! You see, during the week of our high school’s course registration for 14-15 school year–when RD Anderson reps (teachers/advisors) came to Dorman’s lunch block to sign off on students taking RDA courses, we had ELDA Testing in the library. The testing caused us to be closed for a day or two, and this coincided with the RDA lunch visit. Since the library was closed we moved a cart over to the lunchroom to get returned books, renew books, and take special book orders for our library regulars or anyone else wanting library books and materials. And this is where I engaged in polite smalltalk with the RDA staff.


We met – we chatted! 
We were positioned right next to the RDA staff in our cafeteria that day. I struck up a conversation with Elizabeth Abel, the Academic Assistance Teacher working RDA registration during one of those days, telling her how we had some library regulars getting cards signed for RDA classes.  I then told her how an after school group (that includes Cesar) all ride a late bus, and join us to play checkers, chess, or scrabble daily after school. I told her about an idea I had for maybe a carpentry class to build us a small table top checker board, and that we would be happy to help out with the cost of materials and resources.  I also said I thought that maybe Dorman students would be happy to build it for us, and we would put it to immediate use. (You see, RDA is a shared applied technology facility between 3 neighboring districts.) It was an enjoyable conversation though I never followed up to make it happen. Shame on me for that!


SURPRISE! Our chat had mega results, no?
Unbeknownst to me until Tuesday after school, the project was taken on by Cesar, an 11th grader at Dorman, through his Carpentry class taught by RDA Instructor Tom Webb. When Cesar told me he had something for us that needed to be delivered, I was even a little dismissive, not expecting much, even if his class had made something. Shame on me times two! The final product demonstrates high quality craftsmanship and I’m sure was a true labor of love. You see, Cesar is one of the guys who comes in most afternoons to play board games. It delights me immensely that one who is invested in our library program, even if it is after school to kill time waiting for his bus, truly took on and embraced the challenge to create something he and his friends can enjoy everyday at Dorman. I can’t wait to take a picture of the board in use to share!

Yesterday I shared our April 2014 Poetry Month plans, so today I want to share how we will celebrate National School Library Month.  Half of our month is or will be gone due to our statewide standardized testing for high schools going on this month (actually this entire week.) Next week is stolen earned for our annual spring break. So that leaves thirteen days of school to celebrate.


Spin the Wheel for a library prize!

So we are borrowing a game spinner (and the CD to create the slide in tiles) from our very gracious Career Development Facilitator staff, two of whom are housed in one of the libraries’ conference rooms. We are going to make it all about prizes: free books, fine forgiveness, bookmarks, Cavalatte (cafeteria) Coupons, sweet treats, and a “mystery QR code card,” where students will have to discover their prize. The mystery prizes will include tote bags and other novelty items picked up at conference not too long ago, or combinations of the spinner prizes (i.e. pick two other prizes from the wheel.) We hope to interest many students, especially seniors, as this will be the last opportunity to garner any fine forgiveness. The spinner will be out for three consecutive Tuesdays after spring break.

Look what the CDF staff has loaned me! It will be put to good use for School Library Month! Created at Fotor.com

Keep in mind we have some plans in place for Poetry Month too, and April is generally research project time for many classes, so our schedule is full.  It makes for a jam-packed month.


A Poetry Celebration for School Library Month

I left out one of our Poetry Month plans yesterday. But I can lump it into our celebration of School Library Month as well. Our Book Club for April will feature a Poetry Picnic. We plan to commandeer our cafeteria’s outdoor patio that overlooks some of the school athletic facilities behind the school, and meet up for a lunchtime get together to talk about what else? Poetry. We’ll probably talk about plans for next year’s book clubs as well. Hopefully I’ll remember to snap some photos of this event too, and return to share them.

Our Poetry Picnic will happen here during each lunch. Photos by Ed Overstreet. Created at Fotor.com.

As you can see we are keeping the plans a little low key. SO, what are your plans? I’d love to know.


Picture attributions:

Collages were created using fotor.com.
All the images of our school facilities are compliments of Ed Overstreet of e & M Photography.

April brings us true spring weather, National Poetry Month, National School Library Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day, and yeah, standardized testing. We are in our week of high schoolers in SC taking (hopefully) their last school wide standardized* tests.

A little time to think it over
While I’m serving as test administrator for a morning group and then an afternoon group, and also assisting as test monitor in the middle of the day (yes, do the math–it is the whole day) I have plenty of time to think about some upcoming events for library advocacy in our school, all while walking around during testing. Of course I do this when I’m not reading instructions, answering questions about specific directions, taking up testing materials, alphabetizing sets of documents to turn in, etc, etc….yes it’s work to be a test administrator.

Plans taking shape!
Here are how the plans are shaping up for National Poetry Month at Dorman, and we’ll begin after Spring Break since this week’s focus is totally on standardized testing.

  • Invite students to create Spine Poems using library books and phone cameras. (Here’s an older set.)
  • Invite student to take a discarded book’s page and create some “Black Out” poetry by using sharpies to strategically strike all but the words when read together make poems. (Samples)
  • “Chalking it up Poems” is an activity my colibrarian came up with; using black bulletin board paper, provide chalk, and let library visitors add poems to our paper. When it’s full we’ll hang it up and put down another blank piece to be “chalked up.”
  • Poem in Your Pocket Day! April 24 is that special day, and we are going to give coupons out to kids who have poems. They must scan the QR Code on the coupon to learn their prize, and prizes will range from school supplies to penny candy to cafeteria and Cavalatte  discounts. (The Cavalatte is a student ran coffee shop, but here’s the kicker–it’s totally run by one of our Exceptional Child teacher’s classes.) Yes, I work in an awesome school with terrific colleagues.

Fliers that will be displayed around the halls promoting our event! Special thanks to Liz West who provided the denim background via Flickr.


…and School Library Month thoughts too!
More plans will be made tomorrow as I ruminate while administering and monitor testing. Hey, I may not be able to “work” on it then, but I can think over ideas, right? In the coming days I’ll share pictures of the results of our plans.



*Of course let’s not mention “end of course” testing for certain classes that for all intents and purposes FEELS the same–just not all take EOCs, only those enrolled in those classes. Oh and yes, these “close” the library too. Another post for another day.


Picture Attributions:

The Flier is created by me.

Jean Watch Pocket. Liz West.
The Denim background is from Flickr and was tagged with a Creative Commons License. It was lightened a shade as well.

I haven’t seen the Divergent flick yet, but Kimberly over at Stacked does an awesome job here helping me brace myself for the movie. I may not have noticed book discrepancies as much since it has really been a LONG time since I read the first and even the second installment. That’s another beauty of book adaptations. But many who were the early adopters and worked diligently promoting it are the ones who will expertly pick the movie apart.  Enjoy this take, as well as the link to others shared in this post.  Great post–great series of posts Stacked author Kimberly!!

two screenshots on my phone form the app Fandango

Created at FOTOR.com; two screenshots on my phone from the app Fandango


Confession, yawn, I am so OVER this book!

DHS Library March Madness winner 2014To say that I am a little less than pleased that Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy just yesterday was named our DHS 2014 Library March Madness Tournament Winner and thus our book of the year at my school is really an understatement. I have made it no secret to my students that I am not pleased, and when asked, I tell them I do not believe the vast majority of week four’s voters have ever laid a finger on a page in any of the book trilogy, of either of the two final books in our tournament, since both are WIDELY popular as movies, and even movies with 2nd installments in theaters.



And now I have more ammo for my criticism. The producer, who I understand has creative license to do so, has adjusted a scene in the book to be a rape scene, because the film could not really express the thinking of the main character’s fear of intimacy in any other way. GAH!!


Which camp are you in?

Read other’s takes on the scene from the book. Judge for yourself. Yes eventually I will go see the movie, though now I feel inclined to await a showing via pay-per-view, Netflix, or Redbox. And I’m really glad I didn’t push for a field trip for our teen book club that read it, even though they really begged.  Of course I could have played it as not only a learning experience of comparing a book to a movie, but also delve into the topic of Rape Culture in our country and through our teen YA books.

If time permits, read these takes. Also read the comments, equally inspiring or infuriating:



Photo Attributions:

  • Book Covers of Divergent Trilogy came from GoodReads and tweaked with a little of my own editing.
  • Fotor.com was used to stitch together two screenshots from my phone app Fandango.

It’s championship week in the library.  Our kids are really buzzing over the finale of our 2014 Library Book March Madness Tournament.  There was a close election (between Hunger Games Trilogy and The Fault in our Stars) for one of our finalists, and I SO wanted The fault in Our Stars to win. Alas, it was not to be. Our finalists for the 2014 DHS Library March Madness are two trilogies as follows:



This year’s Library March Madness Book Tournament was tweaked so that we wouldn’t once again  have two books from the same series in our finals like last year.  (Last year we had Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games up against Catching Fire, with Hunger games winning.)  To alleviate that problem we decided to group series together as an entry if two or more were in our top sixteen. We actually wound up with five series in this year’s tournament.  


So why am I still not happy?

I am not happy this year with the finalists due to MOVIES!  Yes, I said it. Movies.  They tend to ruin the book as a whole in general. I always have students share their disappointment with book movies and what they changed, focused on, left out, etc.  It bugs me too, though I have to confess, I still want to see the movie.  So yes, I will probably tweak the guidelines for a book making it into our tournament again next year. My plan is to LEAVE OUT books that have already made it to a theater production, or are slated for a production release before school is out next spring. I am tired of feeling like that movie release is impacting the voting results. Bahh! One of my students suggested we sponsor a Books 2 Movie Tournament to go with our February library contest theme. Hmmmm, that student my be on to something.  Maybe we’ll even add a genre theme too….



Friday, March 14, 2014 SCASL kicked off the last day of conference with our 2nd General Session at 8:30AM. Senator Vincent Sheheen, representing Chesterfield, Kershaw, and Lancaster County, welcomed us to our last day of conference.

Jennifer Tazzerouti, SCASL President Elect

The Election Results are IN!

Next up we had a special announcement from Immediate Past President and Elections Committee Chair Heather Loy who shared the results of the election from the day before. Jennifer Tazzerouti, school librarian from Sims Middle School (Union County Schools) has been elected by membership for the position of SCASL President-Elect for the 2014-2015 SCASL fiscal year.  The opponent, Samantha McManus, we all predict, will be our next SCASL President Elect, immediately following Jennifer’s tenure. Congratulations Jennifer!

Keynote Speaker, Toni Buzzeo

Next up we had Toni Buzzeo inspire us with her Keynote Address, “Common Core State Standards: An Unparalleled Opportunity for School Librarians to Lead the Way.” Buzzeo reminded us of the many ways we already naturally support the transition to the Common Core, and how all we need to do is keep doing what we do, but also share that with teachers, parents, administrators, and all stakeholders.  In her words, we’ve got this! It is always quite motivational to hear a speaker who is in the trenches as a working school librarian just like us, facing the same issues and expectations we see day in and day out.

Concurrent Session Five, Friday, March 14, 9:45-10:45AM

Slide01I chose to attend my friends’ session, Michael Giller of the Governor’s School and Jen Chesney of Powdersville High School (Anderson 1), for their session titled “Reaching Generation YOLO – Teen Programming That Works.” It was nice to get shout outs from both Jen and Michael when they discussed the Library March Madness Tournament that I inspired, as well as virtual book clubs that I participate in with my own Dorman High teens. Of course I interrupted and immediately gave credit for the Library March Madness idea to my Cainhoy Elem/Middle (Berkeley County) LMS friend Karen Meharg. But I was truly flabbergasted with the many ideas these two shared in this session, tactics to reach these kids where they are at. I am going to take a more serious look at Tumblr and Instagram, as well as a few more tools they shared that are ways to reach these kids.

Friday Concurrent Session Six – Mine!
“Don’t Worry, Be ‘Appy”
Friday, march 14, 11:00-12:00PM

So the day and time arrived for my crowd-sourced session. It was rather stressful, as I tried to have whatever my volunteers needed to get their tool, app, site, or idea on the screen. I had my own MacBook Pro, which I used to run the Google Presentation above, my school Dell PC, just in case volunteers needed a PC experience, the Apple TV ( a classic #fail by the way, as there was way too much competition for wifi) and my friend Heather Loy‘s iPad dongle to connect to a projector. Luckily every volunteer had what they needed to project something….that is until the projector went out. Yep, our projector went out with about ten minutes to spare. By the time we could have gotten technical assistance or even another projector set up, our time would have been gone. We just winged it until the very end. I really thought by limiting volunteers to three minutes, we might have had time for members of the audience to step up. Fran Bullington, my roomie for the conference, strictly manned a three minute timer, and everyone who presented was respectful of the time allotted. But sadly we still ran out. Our last pre-arranged volunteer, Russ Conrath from Chester High (one who stepped up to volunteer well before the conference, while this session was still in planning stage) wanted to share three tools, but really only had time for one, and without any visuals! Grrr, darn that projector!

Friends always help out!!

Ah well, I suppose these things happen. Anyway I owe a huge thank you to the following presenters from my session:

Image from Wikipedia


It’s finally over
At this point it was time for me to go home. I opted out of the Book Awards Luncheon, the lone remaining event at conference. Mistake? Probably. But yet again, our SCASL Conference was a winner!  There were so many sessions I didn’t get to attend–I’m glad I have the Edmodo codes from conference so I can go panning for gold in their Edmodo groups to learn from them too! So glad we used Edmodo once again!

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