Monday, December 26, 2011

PIE--An amazing book!

I just finished reading PIE by Sarah Weeks.  I first heard about this book at a Peggy Sharp workshop in November.  As a first-year librarian, I didn't know anything about Peggy before attending her workshop, but quickly figured out when she blesses a book, it's a really GOOD book!  PIE just happened to be one of those books, so I bought it at our book fair.

This is the point where it makes sense for me to give you a summary of the book and then tell you why I liked it so much.  But, others have already done that, and I agree with the hype surrounding the book.  So, I decided to include some links for you to explore.

Click here to read Chapter One of PIE.

If you want to read a plot synopsis and reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and more, click here.

Sarah Weeks has a fun blog.  Click here for the blog's home page.  Click here for a fun blog posting by Weeks about PIE.

Scholastic has a great interview of Sarah Weeks.  Click here to read it.  Thanks to John Schu for posting this.  By the way, if you don't follow him on Twitter, you really should.  He's @MrSchuReads

Here's a review from the YA Librarian Tales blog.  Follow Sarah, the author of this blog on Twitter @whtabtpineapple

If you haven't read PIE, you should definitely head to your local library and check it out!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Letter to Teachers From Santa

I found this on Twitter and had to share it (thanks for posting, @mrandrewlindsay).  This is Santa's letter to teachers called "10 Reasons Why Teachers Must Be Magic."  Click here to read the article.  Definitely a must-read.  It's witty, fun, and is a great reminder of why I love life as an educator!

Monday, December 5, 2011

more Twitter info

Twitter programs
Computer-Tweet Deck
(you CAN download this on school computers)
Smart Phone-Tweet Deck, Hoot Suite

My # recommendations

Blogs and Twitter

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lady Gaga & Leadership

I raised a few eyebrows when I ordered Lady Gaga: Singing Sensation by Sarah Tieck for our library a couple months ago.  I didn't order the book to stir up drama, but wanted a book that would hook students.    Actually the book is well written, and provides insight into how Gaga started her career.  It's a hot ticket item in the library, and we can't keep our Lady Gaga book on the shelf!

I recently read an article called 12 Most Overlooked Leadership Nuggets from the Artistry of Lady Gaga by Shawn Murphy.  He actually nails these leadership lessons, which include:
  1. Have a cause
  2. Passion
  3. Know when to ease up
  4. Know your craft
  5. Befriend competition
  6. Surround yourself with talent
  7. Encourage
  8. Fame is a monster not worth chasing
  9. Stay relevant
  10. Controversy is exhausting
  11. Costumes leave us suspicious
  12. Reinvention
Make sure to check out Murphy's explanation for each leadership nugget.  You may be surprised by what you learn!  I also found another short article worth reading called "Lady Gaga and Leadership."  If Gaga's quote in that article doesn't define humility, I don't know what does.

I was pumped when I heard Gaga was going to have a Thanksgiving special on television.  While I loved her interview with Katie Couric, my favorite part of the special had to be her performance of "Hair."  I love how Gaga discusses bullying in the introduction. 

Actually I'm starting to learn just how much Gaga is working to stop bullying.  Here's one article in the Washington Post about Gaga sending an anti-bullying video to a student (via @markbrumley).  Another
Washington Post article discusses Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.  When I went to the foundation's website, I smiled when I read the following:
The Born This Way Foundation’s goal is simple, to foster a world where youth are empowered, humanity is embraced, and individuality is encouraged.

This global effort starts with today’s youth. By empowering and inspiring our young people to promote bravery, tolerance, and acceptance, we can change the way people view those who are different from them.
Not only am I a fan of Gaga's music, but I'm also a fan of the leadership lessons we could all learn from her!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes!

This week was full of cute moments that were too good not to share!! 

Monday the library divas hung some holiday decorations.  One was a fireplace made out of bulletin board paper. Later that afternoon it was pretty wild with lots of students coming and going.  I looked over and saw two first grade students sitting in front of the fireplace flipping through books and discussing their findings.  I just had to smile.  The fireplace is so warm and inviting--who wouldn't want to sit in front of it and read?!?  I only wish I would have taken a picture of the two students as they were reading!  It definitely has to be one of my top 5 favorite moments in the library this year!  This week it has been fun to watch students' reactions to the decorations when they came in.

Glitter on the decorations seems to attract lots of attention.  This week it looks like a glitter ball exploded all over the library.  Beside the fireplace is a Christmas tree filled with sparkly ornaments.  One Kindergarten student has been fascinated with the decorations.  Tuesday I was walking into the library as she was leaving.  Here's the conversation that occurred:
"Miss Stuck, you have glitter on the floor."  -student
"Yep, but it's ok.  It just came from the decorations on the tree.  The glitter falls off of them sometimes."  -me
"I know, because I rubbed them ALL OVER!!!"  -student
As the student told me this, she proudly held up her hand to show me all the glitter on her hand.  I can't decide which was more precious--seeing all of that glitter or seeing the smile on her face because she was so proud of herself!  I tried not to burst out laughing as I reminded her that our hands need to stay off the decorations--otherwise all the glitter will fall off and they'll be plain and boring.  Love this kiddo!

Monday I wore a shirt that says "Santa's Little Helper."  It was a Black Friday deal from Old Navy.  We had a fire drill and I was holding one of the doors open for students.  A 2nd grade class walked by and saw my shirt.  When they came back in the building, one student asked if I'm really Santa's helper, and I said yes.  Then students started saying things like, "Hi, elf" and "Miss Stuck is an elf!"  Finally I told them I was a princess elf.  Now they think I'm watching their behavior and reporting back to Santa.  It's good to be an elf!

My reading babies have made a lot of progress this quarter, and continue to crack me up. This week I got a couple of creative answers on their tests.  The first student had to use the word hatch in a sentence.  He wrote, "The egg had a crack on day one.  On day two it hatched.  Cool!"  Gotta love his voice in this sentence!

Another test question asked students to explain how they figured out the meaning of the word bask.  One girl wrote, "I know what bask means because I used my schema.  I thought when my mom lays in the sun."  What a great answer for a first grader!  By the way, I changed the spelling of the two students' answers, but didn't change any of their words.  Can you tell we like using the word schema instead of background knowledge in class?

Stories like the ones above remind me why I love my job so much!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

great book!

I've started a new book that has me blown away, and I've only read the Table of Contents, Foreward, Introduction, About the Editors, and About the Contributors sections.  It's called What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media.  I follow both editors (Scott McLeod and Chris Lehmann) and several of the contributors on Twitter.  It's like I know these people already.

I found a couple statements in the Foreward and Introduction that left me shaking my head and saying, "Yah!  You're right!"  You know you're reading a good book when you respond out loud to something you've just read!!  Here are those statements:
  • "We are rethinking the classroom and the definition of teacher, making transparent the boundaries that defined traditional education.  We are preparing for a new generation of learners within a new information environment for a future that we cannot clearly describe."  -David Warlick (p.vii)
  • "Whether it is the expansion of social networking technologies, the power of digital media creation tools, or the ability to publish to the world instantly, our students and teachers have access to more information than ever before.  We all possess the ability to interact with learning networks much wider than at any other time in history.  We all now have the unprecedented ability to create powerful artifacts of learning.  It is an exciting time to be a teacher and a learner."  -Scott McLeod and Chris Lehmann (p.2)
After browsing through this book, I like that it has short chapters that are packed full of information.  It addresses a plethora of social media topics, and I can't wait to start reading.  Check out the book's Table of Contents and Author Information.  If your school doesn't have a copy of this book already, you definitely need to get it.  It appears to be a great starting point for those reluctant to use digital technology and social media.

I wish I could say I'm getting paid to give a shout-out to the following educators, but I'm really not.  Whether you're new to Twitter or an old pro, here are the editors and a few of the contributors in this book that you should really be following if you're not already:
Scott McLeod: @mcleod
Chris Lehmann: @chrislehmann
Richard Byrne: @rmbyrne
Vicki Davis: @coolcatteacher
Karl Fisch: @karlfisch
Will Richardson: @willrich45
Joyce Valenza: @joycevalenza
David Warlick: @dwarlick

And, if you're an educator without a Twitter account...well, that's a whole new lecture that I'll save for another post!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Symbaloo--do you?

We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed with 14 new websites and not a clue how to remember them.  I've tried adding them to my favorites, but somehow my favorites keep disappearing into cyber space.  When I find something I like on Twitter, I just click and add it to my Twitter favorites, or will email the link to myself.  I also have a Microsoft Word document with 8 pages of websites.  It's an organizational NIGHTMARE!

That's all changing, thanks to a new website I learned about recently--Symbaloo.  This is the ultimate way to organize websites, and the best part is that it's visually appealing!  Perfect for me!!  I can organize the resources in different folders by adding new tabs at the top of the page.  If you really want to be OCD about organizing, you can even color-code your resources!!

I love the idea of adding student websites to a Symbaloo account and adding it as your student's homepage.  Brilliant!

Apparently I'm a little behind the ball game, because here's a 2010 article I found about SymbalooEdu--a definite must-read!  I have a feeling I've only scratched the surface on this amazing educational (and personal) resource!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

AdDiCtEd to QR codes!

This week QR codes hit the school when a 4th grade class embarked on a QR Code scavenger hunt.  Setting up this activity didn't take tons of time, and the students loved it.  They even want to create their own QR codes now!

Not sure about QR codes?  Check out the document I created for students before we began the hunt.  By the way, I couldn't figure out how to imbed video into issuu, so I just had to make hyperlinks to videos on pages 2 and 12 (by clicking on the words).

Creating the scavenger hunt was fairly easy thanks the time spent collaborating with the classroom teacher.  Bouncing ideas off each other definitely helped us work out all the kinks.  Then her student intern created 5 story problems for us to use.  Once we had these, I typed the problems in PowerPoint, added fun backgrounds, and saved them as JPEG images.  My biggest challenge was figuring out where to post each problem.  I finally created a new blog and uploaded each Math problem as a photo.  I used Kaywa to generate the codes.  This was the easy!!!  I then copied and pasted each code into a publisher document so I could print them and cut them out.

The logistics for the scavenger hunt were the hardest to figure out.  We decided that each station would have 2 codes for students to scan.  The first code was the problem they had to solve, and the second code told them where to find their new problem.  We also downloaded a PC QR code reader from QuickMark.  Each team had a laptop computer they carried from station to station to use when scanning the QR codes.  Here are examples of each:
Story problem
QR code location

On Monday when we had the scavenger hunt, we were fortunate to have our principal and district leaders come help us.  This allowed us two adults for each group of students.  The only issue some groups had was QuickMark kept freezing on us.

Now that we're addicted to QR codes, we have big plans for bringing more into the school by adding them to the inside of library books with links to book trailers and/or other student book reviews.  The 4th grade teacher I worked with also has other thoughts about implementing them in the classroom, and I can't wait to keep brainstorming ideas with her!

By the way, I found lots of good ideas and information about QR codes online.  Here are some of my favorites:
Steven Anderson's LiveBinder: QR Codes in Education
Gwyneth Jones has a couple great links on her blog, including QR Code At-a-Glance Comic Tutorial and QR Code Scanning for Parents.

Scan the QR code below for a link to a video about EDIBLE QR codes!

Did you know you can create QR codes in color?!?  I used QR Stuff's website.  Too cool!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cool Tools for School

Here's my first great website find.  It's on (which in itself is a FUN website for uploading presentations).  This is Cool Tools A-Z, and is an alphabetical listing of great resources for the classroom.  Click here for the Cool Tools.  This came from Jeremy Renner's website.  It's chalk full of great resources.  Check it out!

If you're like me, you like posters but don't have a drawing bone in your body.  Never fear, The Poster Maker website will help you create a poster in about 10 minutes.  You do have to sign up for this website, but it's free.  Go forth and create!  Click here for The Poster Maker.

This blog post was short and sweet tonight, but gives you plenty to explore.  Have a great week!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A new chapter...

In an attempt to share my knowledge about technology and books, I decided to start a new blog dedicated to ideas, standards connections, and more.  But, you'll still find my random thoughts weaved into each post.  I'm excited to start this new chapter in my blogging adventures!  Stay tuned in the next couple days for my first topic: QR Codes.

Here's what I learned to do this weekend--embed something in my blog!  The glitter text came from a flash glitter text generator website.  Too much fun!  By the way, if you stumbled upon my blog by scanning a QR code from a mobile device, you might not be able to see the flashing glitter text below.  It says "Read."