Sunday, September 13, 2020

Dot Day- Virtual Programming

One of my favorite days of the year is coming up (wait I lied.. I have LOTS of favorite days.. okay wait.. almost every day is my favorite day..I digress)

International Dot Day is coming up! Dot Day is based off the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds and it is all about making your mark and seeing where it takes you.  We are in a time period where it is even more important for us to think about the mark and stories that we are making.

I of course have lots of favorite days, but my favorite thing about being a librarian is the programming that I am able to do (of course I love reading too) but giving students, staff and community a chance to participate in activities is my FAVORITE thing!  

Being virtual just has made me think differently how I am going to reach the people that would usually be inside the library.

Mrs. Fitz posted a great idea on her Instagram page, and I took that idea and ran with it!  For the month of September I have created Try It Tuesdays.  Now, when we go back to face to face, this might change.. honestly I usually have activities going on in the library in the mornings and the afternoon.. so just doing one day a week is making me a little sad (I am human.. I might be positive almost all the time, but that doesn't mean that I have done my own bit of grieving.. and I grieve a little bit every day)

Our First Try It Tuesday is going to be create Circle Paper Planes. Of course I am going to read the Dot (and be wearing dots) and then we are going to make Circle Paper Planes over a Zoom meeting at 3:45pm.  I have promoted this Try It Tuesday through our Canvas Course and school social media outlets. Although I hope that hundreds of my students show up to this virtual event, I will be happy with 2. That means there were at least 2 students that needed this type of activity (or knew that I needed someone to show up)

I also posted this in the Canvas course so they can have materials ready.  I did not ask for RSVP's because I thought that might turn some of my middle schoolers off.  The zoom link is listed in our Canvas course and a waiting room has been enabled.  I will also have my amazing clerk checking names of students before we let them in. You can find the Circle Plane directions here

For all the Try It Tuesdays I tried to keep materials SUPER easy and what students probably have at home.  For the origami one at the end of the month, I will probably have a supply pick up.  I am also taking advantage of our public library YouTube videos for both the Kawaii Coloring and Origami.  I have done the Kawaii coloring with my Girl Scout troop- and they LOVED it! Thanks Irving Public Library for great videos

One of my pet projects have been my Cub Club. Many of our students have younger siblings that are not kinder age.  Cub Club is a story time for 2-5 year olds.  During Cub Club we sing songs, read books, and do activities.  SO, on Friday we are having our first virtual Cub Club!  This event parents had to RSVP so I could have activity packs ready.

This Cub Club will be focused on Being Yourself (also- I had 10 families RSVP.. and of course I realize that not all families will show up) After they RSVPed, I sent an email thanking them for participating, a list of materials they would be getting, and a reminder- that this is a great time to work with your child and there might be some bumps along the way (so thank you for your patience!)

Cub Club (it might not go completely in this order.. and there are links for each one
-Hello Song- Rose Oyamot Rodriguez is AMAZING!
-Friend Sign Language
- Dot Headband (sentence strip with dot stickers
-The Dot Song by Emily Arrow
-The Dot Bookmark (we used some sequins, cut a square in a notecard, and contact paper)
-I will change the world- coloring page and hand cut outs

I know that we are all trying to figure out the best way to reach our library users and that it is tough.  I also know that programming makes my heart SUPER happy.  How are you reaching your readers? I have also tried to start posting on Book Talk Tuesday and What are you Reading not only on social media (TikTok/Instagram/Twitter) but also the Flip Grid that I created.

These could totally be a flop, but I also know that if I don't offer these types of programming- I won't ever know!

Stay safe.. and BE YOU!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bitmoji for the Library

With many of our homes becoming our office, there is a rise of Bitmoji use! I LOVE using Bitmoji's and I use them for so many items! I have loved seeing how educators of all type are now creating their own scenes for their digital classrooms and headers.

Being a librarian, my "classroom" looks a little different! I decided that I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and create my own Bitmoji scene, but do it for a Virtual Reader Advisory activity (Thanks Skye for the great idea!)  I watched several videos, and chose to do my first header in google draw (which is something that I am not as familiar with.)
I have added templates to all that I am sharing in this blog.  
*One thing I did realize- when choosing a background image, it seems to work better when you actually inert a background, and not just an image as the background)
I watched this YouTube video here (he uses Google Draw) and here (she uses Google Slides... and also offers templates!)

Once I created my header, I create a Google Form for students to fill out.  (REALLY.. I also realized I needed to do this, because I was in my own reader funk and the Irving Public Library now has one of these forms.. and recommended some books for me! You can find my whole TikTok about it here)

After creating the readers advisory form, I realized I needed to take a step back and figure out how I was going to get book recommendations to the students.  Although I would love to say that ALL my students know how to access our digital resources and eBooks, I have to also be realistic.  Using Google Slides I created both a template for a "Virtual" help desk.  This virtual setting has a video to share with students on how to access our resources, a link to our current virtual help desk that we have as virtual librarians and also the form from above.  I love that once I make it in Google Slides, I can publish it to the web or download it as a PDF.  Both of these versions allow for easy sharing to staff and through Google Classroom.  Both publish to the web and PDF also allow for the hyperlinks embedded into the document to still work.

Once students had filled out the form, I then took their information and am creating a Virtual book shelf.  What I love about this virtual book shelf is that I can recommend so many different items from our digital resources and not just regular style books.  After I make the recommendations, I am emailing the student their link to the published individualized Google Slide and also the PDF of the links.

Sample email:
Thank you so much for filling out the form for some book recommendations.
Based on your survey it looks like you enjoy both non-fiction and fiction.  I found several books that I think you might like! I recommended 2 Capstone books and one book that you can find on Destiny. 
If you need any help with logging in or other information, please let me know!
If these books were not what you are expecting- please let me try again! You can fill out the form as often as you like.

Sample Virtual eBook Recommendation shelf that students/staff get as a link and a interactive PDF

I know that there is SO much more that you can do with the virtual classrooms and Bitmoji, but I am loving that I can connect with my students even more!

I did create a YouTube video for a full walk through

Saturday, May 9, 2020

There's No Place Like Lamar- Teacher Appreciation During a Pandemic

I LOVE helping plan teacher appreciation week.  It makes my heart so happy to help celebrate such amazing people!  I mean- these are the same people that gave me a WHOLE parade for Librarian day! You can find my TikTok here of it and a video of the whole parade here.  I think it is SO important to celebrate people and what they are doing!
Before Spring Break- we had already set down and planned teacher appreciation.  Then March 14th we knew we weren't coming back.. so April Richmond and I were on the case and got it planned!

Also- I LOVED watching what all the schools were doing! There were so many amazing things happening to remind educators that they are so important!

We created most of our items in Canva- April made them look AMAZING!
We started our planning through Zoom and collaborating on our Google Doc and I do believe planned out a fantastic week!

Monday we sent out a link to staff to invite them for myself and Richmond to take photos or family "porchtraits" The week before we had also asked staff to send us pictures of when they were little! Richmond created our own Munchkin Land game in Kahoot and we had a staff get together on Monday afternoon. We will be working on Porchtraits through the end of the year.

Tuesday- Was a little of a flop.  We invited people to add words of encouragement to a Google doc.  I think if we had sent it out earlier- it would have worked better.  
Wednesday- We invited staff to take it outside!  On Monday we told staff they might need some side walk chalk.  Our amazing art teacher did some sidewalk chalk art for us to share so people could get an idea.  We started a zoom call and people chatted as they created.   Just having the chance to chat without the expectations of meetings is always nice!  Staff had their own kids helping on the call! April put all the artwork into a slide show to share with staff.

Thursday- Thursday was my FAVORITE day! We aren't Lion, it takes Courage to Teach Virtually!  If you know me.. I am a question asker.. and I usually have people tell me questions to ask!
So, when we first started planning this all we had the toughest time thinking of what we could do for this.  Our mascot is the Lions, so this saying fit perfectly.  SO, we decided to go on an email, Instagram, Twitter campaign! I emailed some of my friends and LOTS of celebrities.  My Instagram DM box has SO many messages of people that I emailed.  Our email campaign included the information that we are working on Teacher Appreciation and our mascots are the Lions.  We talked about our theme is Wizard of Oz and could you send us a few words of encouragement that we could share with staff.  Oh My Goodness!! When people opened up the video, they say it was over 8 minutes long.  I know that is super long.. and I even had staff tell me- I was not ready to watch an 8 minute long video.. but they did :) I am SO thankful that all of these awesome people responded with words of encouragement.  This is the one that made my heart the happiest! My personal love language is words of affirmation.. and this video filled all those boxes!!

Friday- With the help of Irving Schools Foundation and Lamar PTA we invited staff to Ease on Down the Road to Lamar to enjoy Kona Ice! April and I got to school early along with Officer Todd to make sure that we had cones set out.  We followed all the Physical Distancing Rules. This has been hard on everyone.. but one of the things I have missed the most is actual physical humans.  We are doing a great job as a staff doing the things we can virtually... but actual interaction is what we all need!
We also had staff submit their favorite motivational/upbeat songs for the end of the year to Ease on Down The Road to. I pay extra for Spotify, so I LOVE making playlists! You can find our Lamar is Oz Mazing List here

Irving ISD teachers were also treated to lunch from the Irving Muslim community on Friday! I had the BEST lunch, and I am so thankful to this group that has done so much for our community in so many ways!

We also picked up our Spring Creek certificates too!

What a different teacher appreciation week this was, but I am SO thankful that we figured out how to still do some fun things!  I LOVE the school I work for!

Next blog- all the things that I have been doing as a distance librarian! Although I prefer to be a librarian in an actual building.. I am thankful to be a librarian that can work anywhere and share all the resources that we have in this new online world!

Here are some of my past teacher appreciation ideas:
-80's Theme
-Best in the World
-Camp Lion
I have also done a Seuss theme, Super Hero, and 50s theme :)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

First Week of Distance Learning

Spring Break was 13th-23rd, but as you know... spring break was strange.  I packed up the book fair on Thursday the 12th, made the library look as put together as possible, unplugged everything for the break, and then turned off the lights. I was smart and grabbed about 10 books that I had been wanting to read and headed home.  Our district got the phone call and notification Saturday March 14th.  It was like that snow day phone call.. that you don't really want.. because you like being at school.

I have been practicing the Shelter at Home since spring break started.  Guys.. it is HARD! I know whenever I have a break, I always tell myself I am going to take the downtime to catch up on me.  I am a busy person, but being busy and active makes me super happy. I might be busy, but in all of my busy, I am also very scheduled and have routines.  This COVID-19 has changed all of my routines!

Last Tuesday our district began Distance Learning.  I am super lucky to work in a district that values all of its staff members.  The campus that I am on is a VILS (Verizon Innovative Learning School) That means our school is 1 to 1 devices along with data.  Our teachers are already very versed on using technology in the classroom, but it is completely different to go from in the classroom to all virtual. Our whole district along with so many other districts automatically took on the challenge knowing that we need to continue to ensure that learning is happening.  

Although, as a librarian, I do not have any classes- I have a TON of resources to offer! I am super excited about these resources.. but I am also very realistic at how much I am sending teachers- because you know that they are overwhelmed too!  

Tuesday the 24th- I got my letter board ready to document my 2nd First Day of School in one year! Hopefully this will not be a normal thing.  I then jumped on our zoom faculty meeting and then zoom leadership team meeting.  If I didn't say I was overwhelmed and had no idea how I was going to be useful.. I would be lying! I am a librarian.. and I am supposed to share our resources.. and our BOOKS!

But.. then the second day of  Distance Learning- I had a chance to actually jump into some PLC's for different content areas!

Here is what I have done:
-Recorded a Presentation with Mrs. Long for Virtual TLA (did I mention that our huge conference in Texas was cancelled as well)
-Created a Librarian Tik Tok Group! This is with librarian all over the United States! We will have our first video posted soon.  Check out @Tokstarlibrarians 
-Zoomed with our Middle School and High School librarians to create a plan
-Participated in Virtual Spirit Week
-Created a Lamar Distance Learning BINGO- we didn't use it, but I plan to have it ready to go with summer again
-Collaborated with Social Studies! I can't wait to collaborate on some of their lessons!!
-Collaborated with ELAR
-Worked a virtual library help desk
-Set routines and hours for myself.  Okay- I admit it.. even though I work in the same place I live.. I still am sometimes like 5 minutes late :)

Here is what I plan to do:
-Continue attending PLCs for ALL content areas. During the regular school day it is hard to sometimes get to these! I am appreciating the fact that I actually have a chance to do that now!
-I am going to continue to run my clubs (will be doing this virtually of course)
-I hope to have a Virtual Cub Club soon

As a librarian, I am always trying to change how librarians are viewed. Most libraries are not the places that you hear "shhhhh".  Most libraries check out more than just books.  Librarians are changing the ways we see and access information (not only digital resources- but have you seen the importance of teaching how to check information that is shared!).  I of course prefer to be in the library and popping into meetings and classrooms.  But, right now, I have the opportunity to be even more beneficial as I share the resources that teachers are going to need to ensure their instruction is useful while it being virtual. Is it hard right now.. of course it is.. but it is also giving me a chance to work with all of the content areas! As a librarian, I think our job is even more than important than ever!  No matter how stressed we are, know that we are all in this together! If you need someone to chat with- please feel free to reach out! I hope that all my readers stay safe and well! Take care of yourself not only health wise... but mentally as well! I know that for me to do that I have had to make sure I am staying in a routine.. and setting up a space to work. I am even having a virtual Girl Scout meeting soon! I am having to rethink how I do all the things that make me happy.. but I am doing it! 

Sunday, March 8, 2020


5 Years! North Texas Teen Book Festival has been going on for 5 Years!
I remember going to the very first one.  You can find the whole blog here.  #NTTBF15 was where I really decided that becoming a librarian was what I wanted to do next. Who knew that 5 years later I would be on my second year of taking a bus full of kids!

This year I got to attend the Educator Day the day before the festival... and OMG.. it was the BEST DAY EVER!
3 years before I turned 40, I made a #40by40 list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40. I turned 40 and I knew that I wanted to make another list of  #50by50 things I wanted to do.  #36 on that list was to meet my most favorite author! I LOVE Pam Munoz Ryan  I remember during one of my classes to become a teacher I had to work with a small group of students during reading class.  I used Riding Freedom and have loved using her books ever since. Working in a Title 1 school where our population is mostly Hispanic, her books resonate with my students.  Another of my favorites was Echo where 3 stories intertwined with each other.  In other words... I LOVE all of her books.   One of the amazing creators of NTTBF (and used to be the librarian where I am now!) Rose Brock made it possible for me to check off #36 from my list!  I almost cried when I met her. I know that in my first picture I look crazy, because I am in total giddy fangirl mode! Thank you Pam Munoz-Ryan for your kind words and wonderful presentation.

The rest of this blog is going to be chock full of pictures (selfies) and twitter handles to all the amazing authors and people that I met on both Educator Day and the actual festival day.  It is one thing to read books by these authors, but another to listen to them speak.  I love that every one of these authors were so open about about their own background and it made it such a safe place for teens and adults to ask questions.  Our teens have very diverse backgrounds with different beliefs in and understandings of who they should be and how they should act.  They don't know who they are yet and they don't want to be wrong...and all of these authors took time to really listen to the questions that were asked about the books, but also the underlying questions that kids were really asking of how to be a person.  Kids these days have hard roads of trying to figure out who they are but also to be safe.  I LOVE that books and libraries offer spaces for students to be and love whoever they want to be.  I hope as a librarian they know that I am on their side and here for them... that I can help them find that safe space when they are not for sure of anything else in their life. Each author continually said that I hope these books help students realize they can be whoever they want to be and can see themselves in the pages when sometimes they don't even see themselves in the mirror.

The Line for Ed Day- okay- I might have gotten there at 6:45am and the line didn't open until 7:30.. and I might have been the first person to sign in for Region 10
Loved listening to Ally Carter about writing
Listening to The Angie Thomas

First Panel- Laughter is the Best Medicine with Jessica Kim, Lance Rubin and Mike Johnston

Swoony Reads with Aminah Mae Safi, Mackenzi Lee and Leah Johnson

Telling our stories with Robin Ha, George Johnson, Gabby Rivera and moderator Raina Telgemeir

So... I sort of nabbed this selfie with Raina.. and then with an awesome photobomb of Pam Munoz-Ryan!

Rick's Picks with Carlos Hernandez, Kwame Mbalia, and Roshani Chokshi

Ended the day listening to Neal Shusterman

Thriller Nights- with Mintie Das, Tiffany Jackson, Maureen Johnson, Karen McManus, Rory Power, and Neal Shusterman with Irving ISD Librarian moderator 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Read them with Stuart Gibbs, Gordon Korman, Jenny Lee, Andy Runton, and Mackenzi Lee

Once upon a Retelling with Jen Calonita, Roshani Chokshi, Jenny Lee, Marissa Meyer, Rory Power, and Kiersten White 

Favorite part of each panel- the kids that look up to these authors who are true heroes.. and they have a chance to get their questions answered!

Free books I picked up! I have added SO many books to my Goodreads account and book order!

You know I love a photo opportunity!

#36 checked!
What an amazing two days!  I always strive to be a better librarian (I mean.. if I am not always learning and trying new things.. am I in the right position?)  The educator day gave me so many more ideas on how to inspire and connect with my students.  I might not understand what they are going through.. but with having diverse books with diverse characters (from color, gender, love, to life) I know that I can connect with them on some level.  I can't WAIT to share some of these books with students and continue to make the library a space where ALL students know they are welcome and belong!

Had to share my favorite story and picture of the day
-Found one of my students who was in the hallway.. and I asked her why she hadn't been checking in (we were checking in through Google Classroom)  This is also a kiddo that is an avid Tik Tok user. Her reason.. Mrs. Keller- We haven't been on our phone because we are having so much fun!!!

Favorite picture of the day:
-I have a friend that asked for recommendations of books for her son to read.  I recommended Stuart Gibbs and he ate them up.  The kiddo even made it to the festival! I ran into him at one the panels and he was sitting behind me.  I took a selfie and sent to mom because said kiddo is deep into the book.  at the end of the session I turn around to check on said kiddo and I fangirled again as I found I had more people that had snuck in behind me! If You see the arrow.. kiddo is still reading while I am listening to a panel and fangirling.  Thanks Robin Ha, Raina and Maia Kobabe for indulging me in a picture.
I already have Publish a Book on my #50by50... but I think I am going to add to it that I want to be on a NTTBF panel.. might have to start with just moderating a panel!

Thank you again organizers for the absolutely AMAZING 2 days and authors for all of your work and stories that you shared! This librarian heart is so happy and full! Want to see other conversation check out Twitter and Instagram #NTTBF20 or #NTTBF

Friday, December 27, 2019

Mid Year Recap-Programming

As a librarian I talk books.. but there is SO much more to being a librarian!  One of my favorite things about being a librarian is having the space to have programming of all different kinds! I know that many libraries have maker space opportunities..and that is AWESOME! I do mine a little differently.  Whenever I have an idea for programming the first thing I do is go to for inspiration. This blog will be FULL of pictures!
I also begin the year with goals that I set for myself.  For advocacy I think it is important to set goals and then also continually update those goals.  At the end of each six weeks I also have a newsletter that I share with my school admin and library admin.  I can also share that information with our community through social media.  To make these newsletters I use Piktochart. I do pay for this service as I use it a TON!

I am extremely lucky to have an admin that understands the need for various programming, a district that values librarians, a clerk that is AMAZING and does so much behind the scenes items, and an amazing team of interventionist/specialist that is always willing to go above and beyond! All the things I am going to share I have done some form or fashion without a clerk.  

We are all very busy people, but we also make time for things that are important.  For me it is important to be involved. I try to make at least one sporting event per grade level per girls/boys.  I also try to make it to at least one choir concert, band concert, orchestra concert.. and this year I finally made it to a Kickstart program!  It is amazing what the kids think when they see me in the stands.  Programming also happens with staff as well.  

Sports team schedule posted in the library

We have a bulletin board in the workroom that I have taken over.  During the month of October it was a BINGO board, November was a thankful board (December I failed) January is going to be what brings you JOY

This year our school had a Homecoming Week.  The library hosted a station before school for 8th graders to be able to create either a garter or mum ring. We had over 100 students take part in this.  Directions are made using Canva (my other favorite program)

In October I also attempted the Pumpkin Book Character contest. We had 5 entries and although low, I still like offering programs that might interest just that one student!

I have had a total of 4 Cub Clubs now.  We start our Cub Clubs with a fun headband, then kiddos and parents head over for a story time full of songs, books, movements and more.  Then participants head over to complete a couple of crafts.  I create the flyer in Library Aware.  You can find all my materials in this Google Drive folder. For each station we have all the materials prepared and also a sample made.

November headband

Fingerprint tree

December headband

Reindeer ornament

Dreidel  sun catcher 

November 6th, the library was transformed into Camp Know Where for Stranger Things Day that Kara Noah set up.   The library hosted some fun 80's style maker space activities to get ready. We had a friendship bracelet making station, a scrunchie making station (we used hot glue.. although I would love to sew next year!) and fortune teller station. The actual day of Stranger Things Day staff and students were invited to dress up in their best 80s outfits. Students that had pre-registered were able to do a fun Stranger Things breakout after school.  The library was packed with over 100 students in groups of 4 or 5 completing the themed Breakouts.

One of my favorite programs I have started this year is a Dance Club.  I had a K-Pop club last year (which was great) but I wanted to be more structured (and let's be real.. I like K-Pop as much as the next person.. but I couldn't handle an afternoon a week watching videos with screaming girls.. I love them though!)  Our feeder High School has dance programs, so I contacted the main dance crew director at Nimitz shared my crazy idea..and went with it.  This year each six weeks the library will host a dance club that sort of shadows the high school. I have NO moves.. so I am thankful for the mini "workshops" Flipgrid and youtube.  During the 3rd six weeks we focused on Ballet Folklorico, the 4th Six Weeks will be the Kings, and the 5th six weeks will be the Vikas.  My hope was that each six weeks whoever was interested would come for an hour on Mondays after school.  It turned into something SO much more amazing.  The Ballet Folklorico group came over one time and taught some steps, and came back a second time! Not only that they then gave our students a chance to learn a whole dance to be used in the Nimitz Dance Showcase.  It was amazing, and now our students have a chance to see what other programs will be available when they get to high school.  I have NO dance experience.. and can't move gracefully at all- but the library has the space! We have also been invited to be in the next couple of dance showcases that are coming up.  There were only 4 that participated, but I can not even begin to tell you the JOY I saw on their faces after they had performed.  It was worth every bit of extra time!

Our ukulele group is still up and running.  The Uke Can Do it Club meets weekly on Thursday mornings- we even performed a couple of songs for the Christmas on Crandall event.

I love programming, but I also love working with teachers and increasing instruction in the library.  I also make it my goal to leave every day by 5:15pm (I also manager 4 Destination ImagiNation teams and am a Girl Scout leader.. and I am married to a very understanding and supportive husband)  I leave school satisfied that even though I might not be the best librarian, I am providing opportunities, mentorship, and a space for middle schools to thrive (middle school is hard!)

There are so many things I want to do in the new year, but one of the first ones I am doing is participating in Celebrate Your Story! Are you in the Texas area, if so.. you should check out this 2 day conference being put on by Todd Nesloney.  I am talking Bringing the Sunshine

 I end this overfull blog with a couple of more pictures!

My ugly sweater- a book snowman

Did you know that my parents are Texas Santa and Mrs. Claus? I was able to spend time with them walking around the Stockyards last weekend (and- Texas Santa has donated 2 of his BEAUTIFUL handmade pens as door prizes for Celebrate Your Story)
The most wonderful team to work with! These guys inspire me daily!