Reflecting on 2014-2015

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I often use this blog as a place to “think on paper” and reflect on different aspects of my job.  As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I’m scratching my head and wondering where the year went!  Robert Browning tells us that our reach should exceed our grasp, so I suppose it’s okay that I had more plans than I was able to implement this year.  But in looking back over the ideas that did come to fruition, here are some of my favorites:

  • Our annual Comic Book Read-In is always a hit with students, and this year I was able to help teachers connect it to the curriculum with my companion workshop Comics in the Classroom.  I went on to share those resources at the S.C. Association of School Librarians conference in March of this year.
    Boys on Beanbags
  • This year I celebrated International Dot Day: Make Your Mark with all of our 5th graders.  I shared the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds on the Promethean board via Tumblebooks, and we discussed the importance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to experiment with new things.  We then used Microsoft Paint to create digital dot art, which I displayed in the library and online.
    Dot Art
  • Our 2nd graders practiced their research skills and their technology skills with our African American Biography Timelines.  They learned how to use Encyclopedia Britannica Elementary (part of the SC DISCUS suite of databases) to gather facts and photos, then synthesized their information into an online timeline using the ReadWriteThink timeline tool.
  • We discovered some budding poets through our Found Poetry project with 4th grade.  We examined various nonfiction print sources to create word banks of important facts, then used the elements of poetry to communicate the information in more lyrical ways.
    Down Deep in the Ocean
  • The Quest teacher asked me to lead an Hour of Code with the gifted and talented students at my school and the other elementary school she serves.  We used a Scratch project, and the kids astounded themselves with their results!  “Wow, I’m really good at this!”  (Those types of comments are music to my ears!)
    scratch animate your name
  • My LOOK! NEW BOOKS! new book preview for teachers this year included a QR Code twist!  Many of the new books on display in the library contained bookmarks with QR codes that teachers could scan to access additional teaching resources for using the books in the classroom.  I created the codes with QR Code Monkey, which I really like because it allows you to upload a logo or photo as part of your code.
    How to Write an Ad QR Code
  • I created several technology tutorials for teachers using the free screencasting tool ScreencastOMatic.  When I can’t provide assistance in person, a screencast video is the next best thing!
    Promethean Timer

What did you try this year that was a hit with students or teachers?  Tell us about it in the comments!


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My Edible Book Festival Entry

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The winners have been announced for the Edible Book Festival, sponsored by Zoe at Playing by the Book, so I am now free to share my entry.  (Participants were sworn to anonymity until the judging was complete.)  Presenting……..


I was inspired by one of my favorite picture books, Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Lee Harper.  He created Woolbur with paint, but my version had to be entirely edible, so I used marshmallows (jumbo for the body, regular for the head, mini peppermint for the muzzle), white frosting, coconut flakes, thin pretzel sticks, dried black beans for the eyes and hooves, and a little red food coloring on the ears.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken some process photos, but my hands were SO sticky from beginning to end that it’s probably best I didn’t!  I’m wondering if there would be any interest from students if I sponsored an Edible Book Contest at my school as part of Children’s Book Week?  I’d love to see what they might come up with!

You can go here to see all the other entries.  So much creativity – I’m glad I didn’t have to judge!

Edited 4/9/13:  Just had to share a follow-up to my Edible Book Festival entry.  On Easter Sunday the kids in the family used my leftover Woolbur ingredients to create their own lamb faces!  They had a ball smearing frosting, sprinkling coconut, and placing M&Ms just so.  Many thanks to Zoe for inspiring this new family tradition!

Using Leftover Ingredients to Create…

Little Woolburs!

…Little Woolburs!



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The Long Winter: a Book Spine Poem

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I’ve long enjoyed the book spine poems invented by Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes, and this year I finally decided to try my hand at creating one.


book spine poem

The Long Winter


Here’s a close-up, or you can click on the photo to see an enlarged view that’s easier to read:


Book Spine Poem Closeup

The Long Winter


And here it is in typed text:

The Long Winter

Cold, Colder, Coldest
It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing!
Snowy Flowy Blowy
One Leaf Rides the Wind

Rain, Snow, and Ice
Rosy Noses, Freezing Toes
Clouds, Rain, and Snow
Waiting for Spring


This was actually a lot of fun to create, and not as hard as I thought it would be!  Have you created a book spine poem?   Please leave a comment and tell us where to find it!


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Schoolwide Goal – Math Improvement!

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In the spirit of using this blog to focus on my little successes (in the face of so many big changes) our faculty has decided to make improved math performance our goal for the year. 

Why is this a success for me?  After all, I was hoping that Reading would be the big thing this year.  It’s because my first WWW of the year just happened to be a math site!  Yay me! 

And by continuing to showcase different math tools throughout the year (in addition to the math materials in our collection) I can demonstrate that I’m a valuable curriculum resource for teachers and students in areas other than ELA.  Yay me again!

So if you have any tried-and-true, can’t-live-without-it math suggestions (books, websites, blogs, DVDs, etc) for elementary students, please leave a comment and tell me about them!

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