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My biography weeding project continues. In phase one, I pulled 600+ or – books from the 1584 book section. We did return some based on curriculum relevancy and circ data. Phase two deals with analyzing copyright dates, and my guess is we are going to locate and pull to a cart roughly 400 more books for further evaluation, and these are books with copyright dates between 1982 and 2005. Most of them have a date above 1998. The older titles have 1s or 2s in number. Pesky books get HIDDEN in an overcrowded section. I have four student helpers who will address this scavenger hunt tomorrow, and it will likely take through Tuesday to find them all. Then we begin evaluating them on a more professional level (curriculum relevancy and circ data.) This is work–truly manual labor. Boring at times; interesting at others. 

What it looked like yesterday…

Since there was a lot of open shelving now and significantly fewer books in this space, we decided to switch the graphic novels with the biographies. We began relocating the books, and I quickly remember OMG, move one shelf and you move them ALL!!

After checking the circ data and relevancy to curriculum, we returned maybe 50 books to the shelves. The rest we worked to discard. To help teachers with selection/adoption, I created resource lists named by the cart the books were on. I sent emails saying please adopt, and listed them by call number/title in the body of the message, and attached a complete bibliography that showed notes, date, etc.  By listing the call number and title in the body of the message, teachers could quickly skim and know who the biographies featured, especially since we use 92 and the last name, first name of the featured person (example, 92 Lincoln, Abraham    Lincoln: A Photobiography).  PS-Didnt toss this one since it was a Newbery Honor book and one I like. We had a number of teachers come to browse these carts, and quite a few to ask us to pull a few books by cart number to put in their boxes.  (Not near enough though.)

By the Numbers – first wave:

Before Biography Weeding Project After Phase one of Weeding Project
1584 Biographies 942 Bioraphies
Average Copright date 2000 Average Copyright date 2004

We then decided to run a Follett Titlewave Analysis, and dig a little deeper. Running the repert and then looking closely at what remained on the shelves, this time we looked specifically at copyright dates.  I took a highlighter and highlighted titles that were suspect and potentially a book to remove. The highlighted dates were anything UNDER the copyright date of 2004.

This page actually shows a Malcolm X biography near the bottom (next to last) from 1965! I had to put my highlighter down and take a pic to send to a friend. We went to look immediately for that book, but we did not find it. Upon further investigation (looking it up in the catalog) I really thought we’d find it as a “missing” or “lost” book.  Nope. It’s actually checked out.

Where is that book? What!!? It’s checked out!!?
When I realized it was checked out, I decided to check its circ stats. This 1965 book has been checked out 9 times since 2001, 2001 probably being the the first time it was checked out since our conversion to Destiny), and actually six times in the last two years. Stranger than that, it was checked out five times during these last two years by the same student, and that is who has it right now. Since this student must be quite attached to the book, we may very well make it a gift to him. Sigh.


Maybe 350-400 more to go
Using this list, we are going to pull roughly 350-400 more titles off the self for further evaluation. My back, shoulders and arms are sore today, mainly from shifting books. Tomorrow I will have my helpers create a resource list of these books, and I will take time to physically look over them all. The helpers will scan for circ data, making a pile of books with 8, which I will further inspect.  I expect to return maybe 50 of these back to the shelf.


I see light at the end of the tunnel!
Its definitely a slow process. But it’s coming along nicely. And we are switching the biography space for the graphic novel space. They look much neater and now the graphic novels have more room to grow, which is good. Our next book order coming in has a large number of graphic novels and we really didn’t have the shelf space for any more.


Until next time…I hope its my last update on this year’s Biography weeding project. My muscles (neck, back, arms) could use the coming break.

We have decided to seriously weed our Biography section. We got a new paint job this summer, so all of our wall labels came down. Due to circumstances beyond my control (moving the styrofoam letters a couple of times by assorted summer maintenance crew) our letters were unusable to replace on the wall. But the area above this section used to read BIOGRAPHY.  Since we have the opportunity to consider relocating the section, we’ve decided to first weed, then look at all our options.

View of the “before” look; the beginning of the weeding

Some facts and a few observations:

  • 1584 books in the biography section
  • This is makes up 6.73% of our collection
  • Very little circulates from this section.
  • The little circulated books take up a huge section of shelves, and the shelves are too full.
  • Average copyright date for this section is 2000.

The plan of attack:
Our collection was converted to Destiny in 1999. Books purchased after that show a correct acquisition date. My Follett Titlewave Analysis shows me the copyright dates. But showing me the 1500 titles across four pages in my analysis online doesn’t really help me find the ones I need to weed easily.

First wave – Copy Status
Since most of our older books have an acquisition date of 1999 due to the conversion to Destiny, I brought over a laptop and barcode scanner, ands et a student to scan for copy status. Anything that had an acquisition date of 1999 was suspect for me, and so the student scanned and pulled all that said 1999.  We sort of treated it like an inventory.  After scanning half the books (roughly 800), we had two full book trucks full pulled off the shelves.

Judging not by copyright date, but rather acquisition date–horrors
Now I know I shouldn’t go just by my unprofessional judgement of the copy status/acquisition date.  The books on the cart will be brought to the desk (or probably into the office) where we can check circulation stats (that only go back to 1999) and determine relevance to the curriculum. I will also go back to the shelf and check the number of bios for each person. I was astonished at how many George w. Bush Biographies I saw. I pulled almost all of them no matter there date. For this issue, I will measure stats and reviews. It may be that this many years later after his presidency, we need a totally new one. They all may be going.
Only Just begun
Once we finish removing the books we suspect may turn into weeds, we will have to do a lot of evaluation, and this will take  a while. Our students are just not capable of helping with all of that, though they can tell me how many circs books have had, etc.




I love this video created by the California Association of School Librarians.  I hope my own state organization, the South Carolina Association of School Librarian can take our recent School Library Impact Study done with Keith Curry Lance can create some kind of advocacy tool like this.  I love the work the California groups has done.  Y’all ROCK!! Thanks, Jane Lofton, for sharing it with our AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee  during our meeting last night and through your blog. I am so inspired!

Just sharing that I did successfully renew my National Board certification. Mine is in Library Media.

What is the key?

The key in my opinion is reflective practice. I think often that blogging gives me a lot of practice in reflection. Since I’ve been blogging here going on eight years, I reckon I had enough practice to successfully renew. Reflection is not only the most effective way to improve your teaching practice, it is one of the KEY ELEMENTS in a successful journey to becoming a National Board Teacher.

Advice for others

Back in 2008 I wrote a post about the scoring date and advice for those who did not certify. First timers are awaiting scores now, and they will be released very soon. Revisit my former post while you wait. Send the link to those who did not successfully achieve the NBCT goal.

NBPTS endorsement or not–you are ACCOMPLISHED

I still feel that way. The same advice applies. Keep trying if you don’t make it.



Our school is in training to use a learning management system, ItsLearning. The training is being “delivered” flipped right through the platform. The pros of delivering the training this way are numerous. Two standouts for me are:

  • Teachers can essentially work at their own pace
  • Teachers experience what their students might experience, which gives them an insight that can be enlightening, and ultimately will impact how they design course content, assignments, projects, and assessments through the platform


What elements make up a “good” course?

This was the leading question for one of our staff development “assignments” through our PD course centered on using itslearning. It has been interesting to read the reflective thoughts of our teachers as they process using the platform and how it can compliment their classroom instruction.

Seeing the shift in thinking

Juliana S. Follow. Turn Around. Flickr. 3 February 2008. goo.gl/odFexD

As a tech trainer for my school, I have been in some conversations with our teachers as they move through this PD course, interacting with content, designing instructional material, and engaging students in an online environment for the purpose of learning. I am seeing the paradigm shift in thinking for some, and they always impress me with their thoughts. This is an example of just that. The gist of the question teachers had to respond to after completing “Lesson 5” in the PD course was What elements make up a “good” course? I have permission to share one of my colleague’s responses here. Lori Moore is our English Department Chair and most definitely a leader in our school community of professional teachers..


Lori Moore: What elements make up a “good” course

I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time, and I know I don’t have all the answers. My first thought is that the course needs to be accessible to all students. We discovered when one person took my test, that her tablet would not allow her to do the drag and drop and some of the other test items I created, so that certainly would be an issue if I put a test on ItsLearning for my students.

I think the students need to be able to find the information on the course dashboard, and I’ve really tried to pay attention to the colors of my content blocks and assignments and such. When I’ve added something new, or something important, I’ve tried to choose a color that will–I hope–stand out so my students will see it.

One thing I do know, I don’t think we should use ItsLearning just for the sake of saying we used technology. We really need to have a purpose for what we are doing. Just like my Silent Graffiti activity. We decided that it probably did work best the old fashioned way–an overhead and the board. However, one of my students, after we had finished the Silent Graffiti, wondered about putting a picture of one of our graffitis on ItsLearning. We’ll probably go back and do one and add it to our course dashboard.

I think a course needs to take into account the different interests and learning styles of our students. I do see ways that we can differentiate instruction and add both remedial and enrichment activities. I think the course needs to provide opportunities for students to work in groups and provide students the opportunity to receive pretty immediate feedback from the instructor. I really like the fact that I can send audio and video messages to students. I think this will allow me to conference with students about their essays without the student having to come before or after school. Not that I mind students coming in for conferences, but it’s difficult for some students to do so. I can write my comments on their papers, but many students won’t read those, and many times students just need to hear what I have to say about the essay.

I really think that as I work more with ItsLearning I will discover what makes a good course. I know that I’ve created assignments and activities and then gone back and changed them because I begin to think a different format would work better. I think some of this will be trial and error. Also, as the ELA teachers are building, basically online curriculum guides, I think we’ll also discover some things that work and some that don’t.

I think my HCR students have liked having the Destiny resources on our dashboard and under the resources section, especially as they are working on their research papers. ItsLearning has provided them with a pretty simple way to navigate to the information they need, and I think this has been most helpful to them. I usually receive e-mails with questions about DISCUS logins and passwords, but the chart has taken those e-mails away.

Lori Moore
English Department Chair


The Graffiti

I asked Lori to share a picture of the Silent Graffiti with me. When I get that, I will revisit and post here in my blog.


Definitely “not final” thoughts

Lori sums up one of my own feelings well. The more the platform is used, the more insights students and teachers will gain. I, too, think it is too soon for a new user to be able to say what makes a good course.  Her reference to using the platform to “say” we are using technology when we are using ItsLearning is spot on as a misconception. The teachers I know who are using it definitely do not think of it as “using technology.” Along with that, a lot of what is shared here is true for any course when determining what makes a good course. True?


Teen Read Week concluded and we had a great number of students participating. One of our most popular activities was the book “strip” tease, where students read a “strip” from a popular book and then identified the title. Voting for YALSA’s Teens Top Ten culminates at the end of Teen Read Week, and the ten winners were recently announced. For the first time in years, we had all 24 nominees. I went to update my Teens Top Ten display, and decided to pull the titles to set up around the display. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of them were checked out! Many of the winning titles were my favorites this year, and this coming week we are having our lunch time book club meet to discuss Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. Just last week Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave) was in our area visiting and signing at a local book store. This set has been so easy to share with students. It is an impressive list!


I love that Capstone has created such a rich and wonderful advocacy tool for us!


Daily Activities:

  • Guess how many books are in the library?  There is a jar at the circulation desk where students and teachers may guess!
  • Get Caught Reading – Follow @CavaliersRead on both Twitter and Instagram, and see who we feature as “Caught Reading at DHS.”  Tag your own Instagrams or Tweets with #TRW@DHS or tag us using @CavaliersRead so we can see and share your photos.

Featured Activities and Contests for each day:

  • Monday:
    “Strip” Tease Book Contest
    – Read a “strip” from a book and accurately name the title.
  • Tuesday:
    Dream Vacation photo-op – For 25 cents, students  and friends can pose in front of a variety of vacation backdrops and walk away with a picture.  All proceeds go to Relay for Life. We are using the app DO INK for this!
  • Wednesday:
    Dreamy Book Contest – Students are challenged to identify a strategically disguised books.
  • Thursday:
    “In your Dewey Dreams” Contest – Students are challenged to locate a mystery book, and the only clue given will be a dewey number.
  • Friday:
    Turn Dreams into Reality Breakfast Drop-in – The students who have circulated the most books since the beginning of school, and who have no overdues are invited to a drop-in breakfast in the library’s work room. Each student will have breakfast finger foods and get to select a free book of their choice.

Spam from Prezi?

After getting an email BOTH at school and at home, I put that tweet out hoping maybe someone who monitors Prezi PR via Twitter will see it and understand I don’t appreciate spammy emails.  If you have an account, I’m sure you’ve gotten this email:

Screenshot 2014-10-12 10.17.57


Am I the only who feels this tactic is a little spammy?  Is Prezi trying to guilt me into a Pro account? I’ve suggested Prezi to numerous students and teachers as a possibility for presentations over the years, and I’ve been fairly pleased to see my school community try many of the presentation tools I have showcased, including Prezi.

I guess this email just rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry Prezi, but you just got pushed way down the list as a suggestion I will make to students and teachers for presentation programs. No, I won’t eliminate you completely, but I didn’t like this email.

Anyone else have similar feelings??


Just about three years ago, Joyce Valenza shared in her Neverending Search blog the idea that she and Shannon Miller came up with to connect their school library book clubs into a “somewhat virtual book club” for joint discussions. And, she generously invited other TLs to participate. I was one of the readers who responded asking to join in. And, in October 2011, we had our first virtual event. You can read my reflection on our early meetings in my December 2011 blog posting.


We’ve experienced a variety of bumps in the road keeping this going, but I am so proud of my students and of all the students who have participated and shared their insights on reading with other students across the country. It was also especially exciting for all of us to have authors accept our invitations to talk with us. Many thanks to Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, and Ellen Hopkins for joining us! Regular TL and student participants over the last three years have included Joyce Valenza’s Springfield Township High School in Springfield Township, PA;  Shannon Miller’s Van Meter Community Schools in Van Meter, IA; Michelle Luhtala’s New Canaan HS in New Canaan, CT; Colette Cassinelli’s La Salle Catholic College Prep in Milwaukee, OR; Cathy Jo Nelson’s Dorman HS in Roebuck, SC; and Debbie Bobolin’s James Caldwell HS in West Caldwell, NJ.


And, this year, the “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” (#SWVBC) is ready to expand, and we invite everyone interested to join us.


Here’s the plan so far:


  • Each monthly meeting will be hosted by a different school, and the students at that school will take ownership of both running the technology and serving as moderators. We TLs all love running things, but we want to empower our students with those skills.
  • The books selected will be for a high school audience, but middle schools are welcome to join discussions for any of the books that interest them.
  • As with regularly scheduled webinars like TLCafe, you and your students are welcome to be regular, occasional, or even just one-time participants.
  • We plan to use Google+ Hangouts as our meeting platform. For the last couple of years, we have been on Blackboard Collaborate, and have really appreciated the stability of that platform, but we want to try software that we know students will have access to on their own. That, way they can leverage what they learn about using the software during our meetings to lead virtual meetings in other contexts. We are aware that Google+ Hangouts is limited to 10 participants. Should we exceed that number at meeting, those unable to join the Hangout can still participate by viewing the live stream and contributing to the chat. And, we are, of course, flexible, and can modify our plans if circumstances call for doing so.
  • The tentative schedule for the year thus far includes:
    • September 17, 3:30 PM PT/6:30 PM ET: The Fault in Our Stars, hosted by New Canaan HS, New Canaan, CT
    • October 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: All Our Yesterdays, hosted by Mira Costa HS, Manhattan Beach, CA.
    • November 5, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: We Were Liarsby E. Lockhart, hosted by Cambridge HS, Cambridge , MA
    • December 3, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: considering Butter by Erin Jade Lange or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy, hosted by Dorman High School, Roebuck, SC
    • January 7, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • February 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book TBA & hosted by La Salle Prep, Milwaukie, OR
    • March 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • April 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • May 6, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • June 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
  • If you are another librarian or club member out there reading this, please contact me if your school would like to grab one of the open sessions. Also, feel free to invite the author to join us if you can.
  • Also contact me if you simply want to join in; we’ll set you up with the links for the sessions.
  • In addition to this monthly schedule of book discussions, we have several social media platforms we hope to “grow” this year for “any time book” discussions, news, and announcements:
  • And, please don’t worry if your club, or “club trying to happen” is small. That’s the benefit of connecting virtually; it gives our students the opportunity to connect with other readers even when you only have a small group at their own school.

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