Snapshot of My Reading Life

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 3 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to “post a photo that gives readers a glimpse into your reading life.”  I decided to go with this screenshot of my NetGalley bookshelf, since this is a relatively new addition to my reading life.

NetGalley Shelf

Click photo to enlarge.

 

NetGalley is an online service that “delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles.”  Members look through the available titles and request approval to download the ones that look interesting.  There is no cost to join or to preview books.

I haven’t been a member for very long, but it’s a lot of fun to get a sneak peek at upcoming books, and it gives me a little edge when I’m preparing book orders.  Perhaps it’s something that you’d like to try!

 

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And Now a Word From Our Students

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 2 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to answer the following questions individually and with a child or children:

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

I decided to open up two of these questions to the students at my school, and I created Padlet walls where they could post their answers.  Here are our results!


Click here to view our 3rd Grade Wall

 

 

 

 



Click here to view our 4th Grade Wall

 

 

 

 

 

Our students were excited about the opportunity to share their opinions with the world, and I think some of our teachers will begin using Padlet as a class brain-storming tool.   Win-win!

 

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Netvibes to the Rescue!

I know lots of folks are upset about losing Google Reader as a resource for managing their RSS feeds.  If you’re looking for a replacement, you might want to consider using Netvibes.  This free service has been described as a personalized start page, and it helps you organize all your web content in one place.

I’ve been using it for about four years, mainly to manage my blog feeds, but it can do so much more.  Because Netvibes allows you to add widgets and html coding to your pages, you can embed text, photos, videos, live websites and/or thumbnail links, Flickr streams, etc.  I can check the weather, check things off my To-Do list, and check my blog stats using a Google Analytics module.  I can even read and send Tweets via my Twitter widget at school, where Twitter is blocked.  (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)

Take a look at my public page (Keeping An Eye On…) to get an idea of how it works.  If your district blocks shortened links like mine does, you can click here instead.

I also use Netvibes to archive the websites I’ve shared as part of my WWW program, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.  WWW stands for Weekly Wednesday Website, and I used it in the past to share a new site each week with my faculty.  (Now that I have a flexible schedule, I can work more closely with teachers to recommend sites and tools one on one, so I no longer send out those blanket weekly emails.  I do still add sites to the Netvibes archive, though, for the convenience of my teachers.)

If you think you’d like to make the switch from Google Reader to Netvibes, they’re making it easy for you.  From the Netvibes blog:

As you may have heard, Google has decided to shut down its Reader service on July the 1st. Good news: you don’t need to look for an alternative, Netvibes is the perfect home for all your RSS feeds, and more. Judging by the increase in traffic since the announcement, it’s safe to say that most of you have already make the move, and we’re grateful for that. And if you haven’t done it yet, here’s how you can easily join our community.

It goes on to provide step-by-step instructions for importing your feeds from other services so that you won’t have to start over from scratch.  Apparently a lot of people are making the switch, because there’s a banner across the top of the site today that reads: If you’re experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users. Thank you for your patience.

Whether you choose to use Netvibes or another service, I wish you all good luck on finding a new RSS manager!

 

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Celebrating Picture Book Month!

November is Picture Book Month, a time to Read*Share*Celebrate!  I’m featuring some of my favorite picture books this month on my Book Buzz blog for kids, but it’s not easy choosing from so many outstanding titles!  But hey, too many great books is actually kind of a nice problem to have!

Leave a comment and tell us how you’re celebrating Picture Book Month!

Updated 11/3: Okay, I just realized yesterday that there is an official Picture Book Month Calendar with a suggested theme for each day.  For those who are blogging or tweeting — (use #PictureBookMonth or @PictureBkMonth) — you may want to use the theme as a guide for choosing books to feature. 

Unfortunately I have already selected most of the books I will be highlighting this month; the only additions will be recommendations and/or guest posts from teachers at my school or other librarians in my district.  But it may not be too late for the rest of you to do it properly!

 

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Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Library Books

I always like to share something fun on Saturdays, so today I encourage you to take a look at the Awful Library Books blog. 

This site is a collection of library holdings that we find amusing and maybe questionable for libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection.  Contained in this site are actual library holdings.

Be sure to read the comments; often they are just as much fun as the entries! 

 

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SCASL Blog – Are You Reading It?

 

Just thought I’d give a shout-out to one of the blogs on my blogroll this morning.  If you’re not following the S.C. Association of School Librarians (SCASL) blog, you’re missing out on some interesting news and announcements! 

The Favorite Tweets of the Week feature is particularly nice for those who aren’t using Twitter, although they do seem rather more heavily weighted toward middle and high school librarians.  The annual Call-to-Conference is there, too – I hope to see many of you in Greenville this spring!

If you do stop by, leave a comment on one of the posts.  Tell them Lori sent you!

 

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This Is How I Roll

I’ve been working on cleaning up my blog roll, weeding out some blogs that aren’t being kept up anymore, adding some new ones I’ve found, and categorizing everything for ease of use. 

This blog started out as an education technology blog, but I’m finding lately that I want to write more about what’s going on in my library.  I think my links to other blogs should reflect my connection to the library world, so I’ve added a “Librarian Blogs” category.  But really, if I listed all the blogs I actually follow, the page would never stop scrolling!

I use Netvibes as my reader, because not only can I add feeds, I can also add webpages, bookmarks, photos, videos, text, and all manner of widgets to it, each in its own tab on its own page.  Everything is private to logged in users, but I do have a public page where I can share my best finds with the world.  If you really want to know who I’m reading, visit Keeping An Eye On… to find out.

Where do you draw the line at adding links to your blog roll?

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Writing About Books

book buzzI’ve started a new feature on my Book Buzz blog this year.  (Book Buzz is the children’s book blog I write for students; I post information about books, authors and illustrators, and about special book-related events.)  Each week I post the Thursday Theme, where I present three or four books related to a common topic.  Themes so far have included Bats, Johnny Appleseed, Little Red Hen stories, and a couple more.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to begin a project that requires regular input, and how burdensome it becomes to follow through consistently with it?

By the time I think of a theme, search my library catalog for books that fit (all the books I write about are from my collection), save a copy of the covers to use, write the description for each book, and type it all up, I’ve got well over an hour invested each of these posts!  (And of course that doesn’t include the time it takes to actually read the books!)  Is it really worthwhile to keep doing it week after week?

Yes, I think it is.  For one thing, it’s helping me to really discover what’s in my collection.  Usually when we receive a shipment of new books, my assistant unpacks them and handles any processing that’s needed, and then they go out to the shelves for students and teachers to check out.  Occasionally I have time to sit down and read them first, but not always, particularly with chapter books.  In researching these themes, I’m re-discovering titles I’ve ordered for our library, and I’m seeing which books on a given topic are the most current and useful, which ones may need to be weeded, and where the gaps are for future ordering.

I’m also honing a different type of reading and writing skill.  I’ve always thought I’d like to do some book reviewing, but it’s hard for me to keep a critical eye on a book that I’m reading for enjoyment, and nearly all the books I read are for enjoyment.  (Hmmm, I may have just put into words why so many kids don’t like book reports – it spoils the fun of reading!)  So this is an opportunity to take the time to read for the specific purpose of summarizing and sharing what’s special about each of the books I include in a theme post. 

I’m still finding my voice with this.  I’m trying to aim this blog at kids, but sometimes my summaries sound more like book reviews for adults or book annotations for teachers and librarians, who I hope are also reading Book Buzz, rather than persuasive booktalks for students.  But I plan to stick with it, and hopefully it will keep getting better!

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Stages of Personal Learning

This past summer when I started the 12 Things program through the School Library Journal website, I came across a blog entry from The Thinking Stick by Jeff Utecht that intrigued me.  The post is entitled Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption, and it outlines the path most educators take when they begin changing the way they teach, learn, and interact:

Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.

Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”

Stage 3 Know It All: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minute trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.

Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.

Well, I realized last weekend that in exploring the SCASL 23 Things this fall, I had definitely followed this path up right up to Stage 3, and it wasn’t good.  I was feeling totally overwhelmed by how many tools were out there just waiting to be discovered, and I was despairing of ever mastering them all.  Suddenly it seemed appropriate to revisit that blog entry in search of some perspective and balance.  As I scrolled down and began to read the comments on Jeff’s post, certain sentences began to jump out at me.  The first commenter said, “I find that a number of people will reach Stage 3 and then decide that it is all too much and drop their PLN altogether.”  Hmmm, others must experience that feeling of “so many tools; so little time,” too. 

The second comment was even more to the point:  “Somewhere between Stage 3 & 4, if we hope to make it to Stage 5, we must first admit we have a problem. That’s what it feels like–an addiction that can consume us. I’m glad to hear someone else’s spouse is fussing, reminding him that life does exist beyond the keyboard and glowing screen. ”  Wow, I’m not the only one experiencing this determination to learn everything about 2.0 or fall asleep over my computer at midnight trying! 

Obviously it was time for some Stage 4 Perspective!  According to Jeff, this usually occurs when a user is forced to leave the network for some reason.  Well, with no vacation, computer theft, or extended power outages in sight, I just had to give myself a time out.  I took last week off and, except for whatever e-mailing, etc. had to be done at work, I stayed completely away from the computer.  I read no blogs, listened to no technology podcasts, played with no new flickr toys, and created no new web accounts. 

It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  In fact, as much as I have been enjoying these learning exercises, it was actually a bit of a relief to devote my evenings to something other than the computer for awhile, which is probably a sign of impending burnout. 

Remember earlier in this post, when I said I was despairing of mastering all of these tools?  Well, I’ve realized I don’t have to master everything, and certainly not immediately.  My attitude should be that I’m surveying the web, sampling from the 2.0 buffet, not loading up my plate and stoically eating my way byte by byte through it all. 

My goal now is to be a more thoughtful user of Web 2.0, putting more time into the activities that are meaningful to me, rather than spreading myself too thin over a larger number of applications.  After all, by beginning with the end in mind (remember the 7 1/2 Habits?) I can always go back and learn what I need to learn, when I need to learn it, for any project I might care to undertake.  And that’s surely the path that will lead to Balance.

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