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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!

We enter the third week of our Library March Madness Tournament with expected results (at least expected for me.) Here is what was posted for our students.  I am pleased with the number of students “voting” online.  Im sure smart phones have something to do with that. Our first week we drew sixteen names from entries, and last week since we were down to the “elite eight” we drew eight names. These students come by to pick out either a “Cavalatte $1.00 Coupon” or a free book.  I’m pleased to report most of them are opting for the free book.  I checked bracket challenges today (the prediction brackets for the whole tournament) and found not one “perfect” bracket.  But I have many in it with at least one team alive.  I need to decide how to reward those students. It will probably be a gift card to Barnes and Noble (which we bought at the beginning of school for assorted contest prizes.) Since so many are still alive in the bracket challenge, I guess I’ll do a drawing if they are equal in teams (books) still in the tourney. Time will tell. Had a steady stream of voters today.


Vote at http://bit.ly/dhsmarchmadness, or in the library using a paper ballot, or  just scanning the displayed QR code here!



SCASL Concurrent Session 2, 9:00 AM, Thursday, March 13, 2014

This time slot was reserved for the SCASL Regional Network Meeting. Regional Network Members (coordinators and contacts) are invited to this meeting, though it really is open to any attendee in hopes of having others step up and take a leadership role in SCASL. I used the meeting to share our latest activities and initiatives, and then go though an in depth look at how the Regional Network is going to utilize a “Regional Network Circle” from our SCASL.net website for our future communication in the coming months. We spent time working out kinks and making sure the 20+ members in attendance (out of our 92 member strong regional network) understood the importance of the profile, sharing this information with their region and districts, and generally touring the new site.

SCASL First General Session, 10:30-12:00PM, featuring:

  • Keynote – Ann Martin and Gail Dickinson
  • SCASL Annual Business Meeting

Ann Martin and Gail Dickinson brought us several memorable messages in line with our conference theme, “Leadership at Your Library” this year.

The keynote given by AASL Leaders Ann Martin and Gail Dickinson challenged us to step up in leadership. I LOVED one of the activities they had us do, and I captured it n a video. I plan to use this in my own next speaking engagement, of course with their endorsement!

The Annual SCASL Business Meeting

Voting at SCASL14Next up was our Annual Business Meeting, and it was truly a historic meeting. You see, each year at this meeting, the immediate past president presents the slate of officers for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Usually the nominations are so that all that has to be presented is a list of names to be approved by membership. Not so this year. Two highly qualified candidates were nominated for president-elect for the slate, and both Samantha McManus and Jennifer Tazzerouti accepted their nominations. This year became historical for SCASL, as the annual business meeting was tasked with holding an election for the first time ever. We used the half hour before the meeting through the meeting’s hour and a half to securely disseminate ballots. Each candidate spoke during the meeting, and after reading through budget item information and approving the remaining slate of officers (Gloria Coleman for Treasurer, and then Mica Brakefield, Liz Hood, and Kelly Knight as SCASL Members-at-Large), SCASL conducted a good old fashioned election for president elect.

I was a bean counter
Immediately after the business meeting, SCASL held its Awards Luncheon, where “Media Specialist of the Year,” “Administrator of the Year,” “Paraprofessional of the Year,” and Scholarship Awards were presented. The elections committee though (which included myself) was tasked with counting and tallying the ballots. Upon securing the winner’s name, we abandoned the convention center in search of lunch. We drove over to Carolina Ale House four or five blocks away in hopes of getting lunch faster (thinking it was too far to walk for most conference attendees.) I enjoyed that lunch with Heather Loy and my roommate Fran Bullington.

SCASL Concurrent Session Three, 2:00 – 3:00PM
Back at the convention center, we slipped into the SCYABA 14-15 session. The committee had set up iPads with the newly named SCYABA nominees, and after introducing the titles, charged the group to rotate around, watching book trailers for each title using the set up iPads as we perused the book accompaniment. Speed dating book talks. What a great ideas!! Kudos to Chair Melanie Dillard and Vice Chair Pam Williams. It was a great session, despite wonky slow Internet at times.

Melanie Dillard explains the book speed dating set up.


USC SLIS Alumni Tea, 3:15 – 4:15
It is always nice to reconnect with former classmate alumni, new and old, as well as faculty and staff from the University of South Carolina. Cocky was in rare form! It was a bit sad to learn from an announcement that my SLIS advisor Dr. Donna Shannon will be retiring this summer. That makes two of my favorites retiring (Dr. Virginia Wallace last summer, and now Dr. Shannon in the near future.)

SCASL Concurrent Session Four, 4:00-5:00
I attended this session at the encouragement of friends. I’d had another in mind, but opted for this one on their suggestion. While the content was good, it really felt like my SC Edtech session on Google from this past October. While my emphasis back then was learning how Google worked, understanding ranking, algorithms, and their code known as “search engine optimization” my real focus was on web evaluation and why we need to not only understand Google, but also have a deeper understanding of searching online, which essentially boils down to evaluation websites. In this session the presenter, SCASL Member Paul Barron of the George C. Marshall Foundation focused on the search engine and how it works. New tricks were shared for slipping around a filter by using the Google portal for English-speaking countries, and I got that from a friend in the session since I bailed about fifteen minutes earlier than the session’s ending time frame.

Evening Festivities
After a quick rest back in the hotel room, my roomie Fran Bullington and I picked up Heather Loy and ventured over to the Harbison area to have a late dinner at Carraba’s. We had a terrific dinner, and I even stayed within my Weight Watchers points allowance. Back in the room late that night, I worked to finalize my own session’s content planned for the next day. I secured assistance from my roomie who would run a timer for the session. More on that later.

Above in the slideshow you will find many SCASL14 pictures. There will be more added to the set in the coming days as attendees send in or add their own photos to our SCASL Flickr Set.  Some of the early ones are those that were from the conference app Guidebook. As always upon return, I am filled to the brim with learning. Knowing how wordy and long I can get when reflecting, I am going to break this up into three separate posts!

12:30 Board Meeting, Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Anne Lemieux, SCASL President, presents her board with a memento for service to SCASL.

The day began with the trip to Columbia, SC. Our general conference day to day outline has us beginning with a couple of pre-conference sessions that go through 4PM. After scooting out for a lunch with friend (and SCASL Immediate Past President) Heather Loy, the SCASL board had a working lunch and board meeting on this annual day, and as the Regional Network Director, I attended.  (I know, I know, but I didn’t eat a second lunch, okay?) We use the time to share reports and hash out last minute needs (head table assignments, changes, etc.) to make for a smooth conference. This is also the time where we as a board give our president a gift for service, and the president in return showers the board with a gift for service. This year SCASL president Ann Lemieux was presented with a gift bag of goodies that included knitting yarn and other hobby materials as well as a huge ceramic travel mug from Starbucks (a mug we all signed with a sharpie pen!) We received colorful SCASL plastic cups (an orange one pictured above), which I for one will use over and over! It is my preferred method for hydrating all day at work, so it will come in handy.


First Concurrent, 4:15 Wednesday

IT Chair Jennifer Tazerouti presents the newly revamped SCASL.net

After the board meeting, my roommate Fran Bullington and I decided to scoot over to the hotel and get checked in. By the time we returned to the convention center, it was time for the very first concurrent session, slated for 4:15.  SCASL Information Technology Chair Jennifer Tazerouti was presenting a session featuring our newly unveiled SCASL.net site recently revamped using MemberClicks, titled appropriately “Meet Memberclicks.” We are truly enjoying the new website which comes complete with a membership management system and some social networking perks. Great job, IT Chair and committee!! I liked the presentation so much, I used it in my own session for the Regional Network Meeting slated for Thursday morning.


Exhibit Hall Grand Opening & Idea Exchange, 5:30-7:30

A large crowd had assembled outside the Exhibit Hall. Our Grand Opening is one of the best events of the first day. We always schedule some kind of entertainment, and the Grand Opening includes a Wine and Cheese Reception (offering soft drinks or water to those who prefer non alcoholic beverages). Our 45 or so vendors have set out their wares to woo us in, and with the reception, the array of vendor goodies, the conference store, and the Committee Exploratorium and the row reserved for Idea Exchange (formerly known as Poster Sessions), there was two hours of solid networking and reconnecting to be had! It is a favorite conference perk for me!

Some of my own candids from the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening


Here’s a taste of the Logan Elementary Choir!



Night Cap!
To cap off a terrific first day, a small group of us walked down to Liberty Tavern there on Lincoln to have supper.  The entourage included myself, Fran Bullington, Heather Loy, Jennifer Tazzerouti, and newbie librarian friend Karen Meharg.  Karen is the library friend who clued me in to the Library March Madness Book Tournament we are doing right now. She shared it a year or so ago while she was interning at neighboring Spartanburg High.  We had a terrific evening.  Upon returning to the hotel, I went straight to bed so I would be ready for day two. I slept like a rock. This is very unusual because a lot of times I can stay up talking my roommate(s) to death!

Tomorrow I will recap Day 2 of my conference experience.

My rough notes for matching books to students.

Wow has it been a crazy week! I’ve been working with another class on the Destiny Quest Book Review Project (a Destiny Quest review, an MLA Style paper (review) that includes the students’ written reviews and citations for books and pictures, and finally either a book poster or a book video trailer.)  This class is wrapping up theirs and the next one is just beginning. One of these classes first had to select from a personalized set of books that were especially matched to a profile they gave. Here’s a picture of my crazy notes I made as I scoured for titles that matched student interests from their profile cards. If you click on it, it will open to a humongous picture with almost legible scrawl. I was tired when I scratched it out.


Along with the Book Review Project…
I’ve also been working with another class charged with creating as a group a presentation, and they’ve been challenged to use something other than PowerPoint and to model after TED style presentations. I’m excited to return Monday and maybe see some of the final products for that class. My vehicle for introducing them to different presentation tools was BlendSpace, and I blogged about it some last week here and here. BlendSpace is growing on me as a tool to present with in itself.


It’s Conference Week for SCASL

My SCASL Facebook cover photo made to promote the conference in our Facebook Space. Made it with Canva.

And to top it all off, it is officially SCASL Conference week, where I have several responsibilities and two sessions I’m facilitating (the Regional Network Meeting Thursday morning and then my crowd-sourced session for sharing favorite tools, apps, and ideas for a thriving library program, affectionately titled “Don’t Worry, Be ‘Appy” planned for Friday midday. Helping with two more sessions, and hopefully I’ll learn something too.


March Madness – It really is!!
Top it all off with our Library Book Tournament pitting our top sixteen titles against each other using tournament brackets and seeds, and yes, it does make for a lot going on. But I’m not done yet.  Monday, March 17, I’m leading an after school professional development on the topic of Outlook, our district email of all things, and then March 25, we embark on a skyped author visit that we are treating somewhat like an in-school field trip, so we have to plan for student make up work, lunches, disseminating and reading the book (the visit is with Paul Volponi, author of SCYABA nominee The Final Four) and still manage to teach classes, work with students, and all our normal day to day activities. I almost cant wait for HSAP week in April, which will give me a little breathing room (horrors, did I just say I look forward to testing?)

Our 16 brackets based on top 16 circulating titles over the last year

Our Elite Eight after Friday, March 7

And my BlendSpaces for another class

Hoping this week does not wear me out too!! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

Have you ever wanted to breathe new life into boring, traditional assignments? Animoto and Wordle, both 2009 recipients of the BWTL, are favorite go-to ideas when I’m brainstorming with teachers for new projects. Often they are unaware of the programs, or worse, aware but don’t see the tie-in to their curriculum content. As teacher librarians we are always on the look out for activities, ideas, or projects that allow students an interesting way to demonstrate concept mastery. Tried and true paper-writing becomes mundane and boring, both for the student and the teacher. Providing teachers a tool for their teacher toolbox and giving students a unique avenue to show they have researched, read, or learned a required standard can be a catalyst for re-engaging students in the learning process.

One of my teachers each semester assigns one written book report. Often times the type of required book changes by either genre or type. In a collaborative session with her, I introduced her to Wordle and Animoto. The library has a digital frame on the circulation desk, and often we create visuals to promote ongoing initiatives, including things like contests, upcoming events, new books, what’s popular, really almost anything. Having the digital frame made me realize it was the perfect avenue to showcase student work as well. I approached my collaborating teacher with an idea that her students books reports could be improved by adding a “visual” route, and a digital project was born. Over the years it has taken many twists and turns, and in its current state, it has grown to students creating a book review for our Destiny Quest, a digital product for the digital frame, and that same digital product added to the Destiny Record. Because our Destiny program is open to the public via the world wide web, anyone who looks for books through our catalog may come across Animoto videos, book posters that have included wordles, and student reviews. My collaborating teacher has maintained a written portion to the project, requiring the students to write the review and citations.  Citations are for pictures used in their projects and for their print book reviewed in a strict MLA format, and this is a part of the rubric we use, where students are assessed. The rubric assesses the following:  MLA Review, MLA Citations, minimum of five pictures related to the story or the book’s content in a visual, minimum of five uses of text in visual, and an oral presentation to class using the student created visual.


The students are much more engaged in all facets of the project knowing their end product potentially has a global audience. They are also excited at the prospect of our using their work in our digital frame for promoting a print resource they used from the library. My collaborating teacher frequently tells her students the skill set they develop from these projects can be used in other classes. I know our students have done this, particularly with our Animoto Accounts because the “Educator” accounts we use with the students have many works finished and/or in progress in there. I used to “download” them and then delete them until recently a student came in the library hysterical because her project (one from some time ago) was missing. I had deleted it thinking it was so old we didn’t need to keep it. This student had actually used the embed feature, and my deleting it caused her work to be missing in another digital avenue. Lesson learned–leave the students’ previous or other work in my accounts.


Here are a few samples of students’ past projects from the class I described above. They are embedded in our Destiny catalog and used to advertise or highlight books in the library as well.

Sample Student Visual Book Reports using a mashup of pictures and an overlay of a Wordle.




Sample Animoto Student Projects


I revisit my World Lit class tomorrow, bringing them yet another list of possibilities to use as their vehicle for a presentation in World Lit. These are the remaining programs, apps, or websites I plan to feature, hoping to whet their appetite for something beside PowerPoint. The class has been immersed in TedTalks for tips in style, technique, and approach for presenting information, and so my assignment with my collaborating teacher  (outside of the standard “how to research” or “where to begin researching”) has been to provide insight on what makes a good presentation and  then this, offering alternatives to Powerpoint.


This “BlendSpace” features a few more. I like that not only can BlendSpace be a parking lot or warehouse to hold my images, web links, and videos, I can also “play” it like a presentation itself. The videos will play in the presentation mode, and the websites are interactive, allowing me to login, click on links, build content, and more, while under the framework of a BlendSpace.

Featured in this BlendSpace:

  • Projeqt
  • Popplet
  • Powtoon
  • HaikuDeck
  • Buncee
  • Emaze


Free…or using in a free trial

Note that most have some form of a free version, though most call for the creation of an account. My target audience is high schoolers, mostly juniors and seniors. Some are more limiting than others in their free state, which is for the most part what our kids will be looking at. They begin creating content Monday.


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