Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Summer of...

-New Perspectives
-New Adventures

In April, I attended the Texas Librarian Association conference and my word of the year came to me several times in several ways. Perspective.
Perspective- a mental view or prospect.
Let me back up.. my word this year was Seek. You can check out my blog here about that.  I sought after a ton of things... and I think that I grew.

At the beginning of May I made myself a summer bucket list.  I am a planner. I like to know what is coming. I like to be prepared. I created a summer bucket list of all the things that I wanted to do, but I wanted to really focus on ME.  This is the first summer in 3 years that I have not had grad work, a summer job.. or anything really. SO I THOUGHT.

In the middle of May, my husband and I ended up having an opportunity to move to a bigger house.. with a POOL! This was NOT on my summer bucket list! We had lived at 1025 for 13 years. We officially moved last week.  It also proved that I am a Terrible packer! Oh the boxes.. oh the dust.. oh the amount of stuff we had accumulated over the 13 years.  My husband reminded me that it only took him 2 days to put together our house when we first moved in 13 years ago.. but I reminded him that we came from a one bedroom apartment.
My perspective changed for several reasons.. the new view that we have.. and the new home that we are making with new traditions.

My perspective is about to change again.

For the past 16 years I have been in elementary education.
-When I first started teaching I taught at Rolling Hills Elementary School.  My first year I was almost on an internship.. as I didn't do my student teaching (I had all of my education college credit, but went through a different program) Although I chose Rolling Hills.. they were the only one who would give me an interview. I loved it.. and taught there for 3 years as a PPCD teacher.
-William and I moved to Irving and I began at Farine Elementary as a PDD teacher It was the first one that gave me a job.  There was a reorganization of the special education department so I was displaced and was moved to Stipes Elementary.
-I LOVED Stipes.  I did not choose it.. but I am glad that I spent a large portion of my career there. While at Stipes I taught first grade and then opened the LIFE unit.
-3 days before school started in 2011.. I moved to Elliott Elementary.  Elliott has been my home for the last 7 years and I am so forever grateful for the family that I have grown there.  I moved to Elliott because at the time it was what was best for some students of mine. (side note- growing up in Canyon, Texas our mascot was the Eagles.. Elliott Elementary is also the Eagles) At Elliott I was the LIFE teacher, the Instructional Technology Specialist and the Librarian.

Each one of these schools helped grow me into the educator that I am today.   Each teacher that I have come in contact with and each administrator that I have worked under has taught me something.

2 weeks ago, I did something for myself.  I applied for a middle school librarian position. When going through my MLS, I knew that I was interested in being a middle school or high school librarian because of the programming and books that are available.  This is the biggest leap I have ever  made in my career.

"There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself."
-Lemony Snicket

My summer bucket list has changed.. my perspective has changed.. but I did something for ME.
I am now a middle school librarian!
There is so much for me to learn.. and so much for me to do.. and so much more packing and moving.  I can't wait to see where this new adventure leads.

One of the last questions that I was asked in my interview was a philosophical one. I was asked how do you see yourself in a life of a student.  You know I am about words.. and although I have a word of the year each year.. Believe is ALWAYS my word.
My answer: I want a student to know that I believe in them.  I don't know what kind of journey each student is taking. Each student and person has a story, and I want them to know that I believe in them.

"Wherever we are, it is but a stage on the way to somewhere else, and whatever we do, however well we do it, it is only preparation to do something else that shall be different."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

I shed a few tears as I packed my office.. and said my goodbyes. But I am forever grateful that each person that has been put in my path to help me grow as a person, an educator and as a librarian.  I hope that every person knows how important they are to me from friendship to mentorship.. I wouldn't be where I am today without their love and support. I also hope that I never stop growing, wondering, and trying to be better.

Remember how I said that growing up our mascot was the Eagles... our colors were purple and white.  I am now a PROUD Lamar Lion.. whose colors are Purple and White!

So excited about new PERSPECTIVES!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Uke Can Do It!

This year I decided that I wanted to bring music into my kindergarten lessons. I love to sing already (I am not the best) and my husband has been asking me for years to learn to play guitar (I have 2 guitars and a mandolin) I picked it up again.. and then somehow fell down the ukulele rabbit hole.
In September I got my first ukulele- Stella

I taught myself basic chords by using several YouTube tutorials and began using Stella during kindergarten story time.  I LOVE Ukulele Storytime and her videos!  I also love The Martins he also has a great blog with tons of resources at Tales of an Elementary School Librarian I also joined the Librarians with Uke facebook page (do you see why this has been an awesome rabbit hole?)

In October I got Pete

I then had students ask about the ukulele... and I realized what I wanted to do next.  I wanted to create an ukulele club! During my last class for my masters I had to work on a grant, so this was a perfect time to do the research and get a grant going.
I got a ton of ideas from this article.

Our school district has a foundation where teachers can apply for grants. They have a special one called Irving Schools Foundation Spark Tank where you can take your idea to a panel and have 7 minutes to present. I collaborated with my music teacher... and we were slotted a time.
What we asked for and how we presented it:
-We asked for 20 ukuleles, 20 beginner ukulele books, 20 tuners, 20 chord charts, 20 ukulele bags.
-We asked for 20 books- each book had a musical connotation to it. I worked with my Perma-Bound reps to help me find great books with this theme in mind.
- I pulled in the music teacher and 2 students and we learned how to play 2 simple chords on the ukulele.  The students actually played during the presentation. (Murphy's Music did a great job of making sure that we had materials to present with!)
The Idea:
-Students would join in a 6 week program.  During that time students would meet weekly after school and learn basic chords. They would each get a ukulele to take care of for the 6 weeks.  Each ukulele would be named after the main character in the book with the musical connotation. At the end of each six weeks we would end with a small performance.

We did not get all the ukuleles the first time around, and after working with the first bunch of students, I was okay with no more than 10 ukuleles going at once... BUT.. we got the grant!
After we got the grant we started working on getting the materials and the first Uke Can Do It 6 weeks program began.  The Irving Schools Foundation also asked us to perform at their meeting on March 8th.

During the Program:
-Students learned how to tune their ukulele and take care of it.
-Students learned how to play simple chords (but were encouraged to work on their own as well)
-Students learned how to play several songs
-Students learned about the people in their books.

This last Friday this first round of students finished with the program.  We had a great small performance that both parents, family members and teachers attended.  They did FANTASTIC!  The students also talked about how they wanted to continue to play. 

Rather than them starting the program over again we are talking about having a "jam session" day where students can come and just play.  I have also had teachers and parents show interest in the program as well.  We are only in the beginning stages, but I can't wait to see where it goes.
During Texas Librarian Association Conference I was able to have a poster session where I shared how I have worked with my music and art teacher in the library.

Some of my resources
-Application Form
-Ukulele Club for Tweens and Teens
-Howard County libraries to launch lending ukulele kits
-I also LOVE learning from Cynthia Lin Music

I have lots to still learn and have lots to still organize, but I already love seeing how excited and motivated the students have been with the ukulele.  We start our next round this Thursday...and yes. there are boys joining in too.  I am thankful to my husband that got me started on the musical instrument kick, a music teacher that doesn't mind trying something new, and a principal that lets me try new things in the library!

Next up.. storage for the ukes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Burrowing Owl Books

Yay for spring break! Yay for getting back to Canyon, Texas for a bit to visit with the best parents around.. and I even got to meet up with one of my amazing friends Mary!  I will blog more about my overall trip over at Ideas from a Busy Bee.. but I had to share these fun pictures here. Now, of course I wasn't able to see everyone.. or do everything (it was only a 2 day trip)

BUT.. guys.. I found this AWESOME bookstore in Canyon (don't get me wrong.. you know I was partial to Buffalo Bookstore..but now that my parents have retired, I can put my love at this new place)! The Burrowing Owl Bookstore has been open for little over a year.   You can also find their Facebook page here 

Now, being a librarian.. I love looking at bookstores and other libraries.. I mean.. I am a librarian.  To share my love of all things books, I am going to start sharing the places that I find!

I was making my way around the Canyon, Texas square and was excited to see this:
Burrowing Owl Bookstore
I couldn't wait until it opened!  The Burrowing Owl Books is a small new and used book store. Walking into the store I was greeted by the owner Dallas (who was SO sweet and helpful!)  When we were talking, she described the store as a boutique bookstore, and that was a very appropriate description. You can read the full story here. I loved that one of the first displays were local authors.  I loved seeing one of Natalie Cline Bright books (that my dad took the pictures for!) and of course Jodi Thomas books.
So inviting and these are all local authors.  
Being a an elementary librarian, I am always interested in how bookstores and other libraries set up their section.  The Burrowing Owl was awesome! You could walk through a wardrobe.. A WARDROBE to get to the children section!

How can you not love a store that you walk through a wardrobe to get to the children's section?  The section was so inviting.  What I loved even more was the actual book selection.  The owners had really taken into consideration what children would be interested in, and what was appropriate.  The new books were GREAT ones (loved that I saw The Dot and Ish right off)  The books that were marked as used were still in great shape and displayed so well.  

The rest of the store was filled with a plethora of great books. Of course I loved the books.. picked myself up a couple today, but I also had to pick up a few bookish trinkets!  The store also offers book clubs, story times, and so much more.  I can not wait to return on my next trip.  If you are in the Canyon, Texas (Amarillo) area, I would HIGHLY encourage you stopping in!

Thank you Burrowing Owl Books for sharing the love of reading in such a cozy location!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Fix/Flex Schedule

Happy New Year!
Today is the last day of my break, so I am scrambling to get all of my to dos in, as I have been EXTREMELY slackful this break! The month of December was so busy, so it was nice to actually take some time for myself and family.  I wrote about my personal year in review over at Bee in the Bookends.
In December:
-I got a grant to bring a ukulele program into the library (another blog about that coming soon!)
-I finished up my practicum and my last class at TWU
-I graduated!!!! I am officially a librarian!

I LOVED decorating my cap, there were some great ones in the crowd.  I wanted to get more pics on the TWU campus, but the rain said otherwise.
I love library land, and I love that I am growing and learning each day (and of courses through lots of mistakes!)  This year, after talking with my principal, I changed up how I do library a little bit.  In order for it to be successful, it does take some help on those amazing teachers part (and I could NOT have even attempted a fixed/flex schedule without them!)

A little bit of background.
-This is a kindergarten-5th grade school (about 650 students)
-I do not have an assistant.  I do have the most wonderful paraprofessional that comes in for about 30 minutes a day to help.
-I am not on a fixed schedule.

Is this a perfect system.. NOPE.. but it is working for me :) (and of course I have room to grow and change with other ideas and as I learn)

The first six weeks of school, was teaching students/teachers and staff how to check in and check out books, how to sort books once they have been checked in, how to use the computers and all of those little odds and ends to make the library run smooth.
This is my fixed day card.  Kindergarten is all on Wednesday and they have 45 minute slots.  This is for a lesson along with check in and check out.  Ever class, however, has a 30 minute time slot to check in and check out books.  I encourage all my teachers to come at least every other week, but of course I really like to see students weekly. Although there might be free blocks of time on the fixed check in/check out schedule... it might not look that way on the flex schedule!  During those first six weeks I also taught teachers how to run the circulation desk if I was working with another class during flex schedule.

The librarian has such an important role as an extra academic support on campus. I mean, we have the opportunity to work with every grade level, administration, and community members!
Last year, I did only the day card and every class had a 45 minute weekly slot.  On A week they would get a lesson and B week they would not, but would always have that 45 minute class.  Say it was a 4th grade class.  I would do the same lesson for 2 weeks for 4 different classes.  I spent lots of time on my lessons, I talked with the teachers, and I looked at curriculum.  They were good lessons.. but they could have been so much better and more appropriate for what the students needed at that time to be successful. I wanted to be more intentional in my lessons and working with classes this year, so I have a modified flex schedule.
EDIT- Update 1/2/18-
I did A/B week rotations last year.  I no longer do A/B week rotations.  The weekly schedule of fixed times for check out stays the same. I hope to see each class every week, but I really stress that they at least come every other week during their designated check in/out time.  I send out another weekly schedule for for all teachers to use for the flex lesson schedule.  The flex schedule looks different every week based on the needs of the staff and students.
Hopefully that makes more sense.

Each week I send out a link to a Google Doc that has times for teachers to sign up for 45 minute slots. Of course this is still a work in progress.  When I first started doing it, I only had a few takers for extra lessons. The library is still flowing with students for their fixed check in/check out time. But I have a TON of space for teachers to be able to use!
The blue is time that I am automatically scheduled with another class. The yellow is my kindergarten day, but other than that the slots can be filled up by anyone. Because of this modified flex schedule I have been able to work with other curriculum areas.

Now, it is an organized chaos (or at least I think it is organized) because there are times that I might have over 50 students in the library.  30 for a lesson in the flex schedule and 20 for a fixed check in/out schedule.

I continually look at the Google Doc and converse with teachers about what supports they need.  By doing the flex schedule my lessons are much more on target for what is going to be useful for a teacher and students.  Are my lessons always great.. OF COURSE NOT! We all have flops!

I also write all my lesson plans in Google so I can easily update and change as needed.  When working with teachers and students I want to be intentional in what I am doing. I am a planner.. so I need to have everything written out and prepared

One of my favorite days of this new system was.. I had one group of 30 students working on research with their teacher in my large work area, I had a group of 20 first graders working on a different project that I was teaching in my story time area, and then I had 2 different classes come in to check in/out their books.  Was it loud... of course.  Did everyone find what they needed.. probably not.  Was it showing that the library is a large classroom and the heart of the school.. it sure did make my heart happy.

So, even though there are spots in the fixed check out schedule and also spots in the flex schedule that are not filled.. I use those times to quickly organize books, shelf books, work on lesson plans, talk to teachers... and continually work on that list that I have.  I have lots to learn, but I am so thankful to work in a school that has such supportive teachers helping me grow as a librarian and instructional leader.

How do you make your schedule work?  What are your go to idea places?

Upcoming blogs- The Uke Can Do It Program, Extra activities that I do, and so much more!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

September and October in the Library

Well, here it is November.. and I realize I hadn't taken the time to catch up what is going on in Libraryland! There are LOTS of pictures in this post.. but I wanted to share! I have had some awesome volunteers that come in once a week, Dot Day, bulletin boards, pumpkin contests, book fair, book fairies and MORE!
Good news... I PASSED my certification test! I find out tomorrow if  I passed my portfolio.. after that it is just to finish up my practicum and one more large assignment for my public library class!

I first wanted to share what my awesome 18+3C kiddos have been doing! I have a group of 3 young adults that come in once a week.  They are students in a work based type program that have high functioning abilities. I LOVE THEM! They have taken over this cubby.  During the month of September they made an I spy board by cutting out pieces of magazines for students to find the different items.  During October they made this awesome word search.. and right now it is a bubble map of Thanksgiving items (I will try to post pictures later)

 These kiddos made the decorations for the specials trunk or treat car! It was There is a Frog in my Throat.  They made the teeth and tongue.. and my awesome art teacher made the frog!
 I try to have very organized tasks to be done.  This is a GREAT one!  I printed off letters and lay them out.  I then have the students sort the books by alphabetical order.  This is my green dot (easy reader books) but I also got super overwhelmed with my fiction books.. so they sorted those too!  They are so good at shelving these easy readers too!

I LOVE having this group of students come in and help me out!  They also help me set up for Destination ImagiNation and help me pull books for seasons.  They just pulled almost all of my Thanksgiving books.

We celebrated Dot Day during meet the teacher this year.  I am so thankful for my art teacher... because she is always up for an adventure!  For our sign in, we had students and parents make their own dot on a paper.  We only had 2 stations this year, but we had over 150 people come through!
One station we used a compass and a paint brush and the other used a different type of compass and pencils.  We had cardstock set out.. and the pieces of artwork turned out awesome!

We had new books come in, but I wanted to make sure to have a teacher preview first! This year the theme was Reading Takes Us Places. Last year I did a New Bookstache party.  I had a check in station where teachers wrote their name down and I did a drawing for Scholastic Book Fair gift certificates.  I also had In Flight Snacks-it had drinks, cookies and pretzels. I then put all the new books out for staff to peruse.  I really try to get all the staff in because I want them to be invested as well.

Had to share my October bulletin boards. We also had book character pumpkin contest.  I divide it by k/1/2, 3/4/5 and a family group.  It was hard for the judges to choose the winners, so we had several ties.  In October we also had Camp Read A Lot and book fair. This is a HUGE event!  During Camp Read A Lot the school sets up tents in the gym that are different genres.  We also have the book fair.  This year we added Trunk or Treat.. so the Instructional Leadership Team became book fairies!

The Instructional Leadership Team Book Fairies.. minus one.

OMG! I also got a ukulele!! I LOVE using it in kindergarten library time.. and I am currently working on a grant to get some ukes in the library! More info to come after I finish the grant process.

One more picture for good measure! Last year my husband came and read to the 1st graders for Halloween.  This year, however, it just wasn't going to work out.  However.. he DID make it to my Girl Scout meeting! I do believe the girls loved it!