Monday, June 7, 2021

Summer Reading

We have made it to the summer!! Well- I am doing summer school.. but I consider it's summertime! Summer means more time for reading books, hanging by the pool, and catching up on life.

I love all the programming that our public library does (You can check out Irving Public Library Here) and this year the theme is Tails and Tales.  Since I am doing k-2 early enrichment I chose to go along with the same theme.

I used Canva to create this image

I had a chance to plan with the 3 other librarians (Christine, Ericka, and Wendy) and we came up with several ideas. 

Our first week of summer enrichment was short:
*We chose to have all classes come into the library to check out books (1 class at a time in increments of 20 minutes)
*We put up a Tall Wall- this was an area where we invited students to compare their height to those of different animals. For each animal was a picture of the animal (from one of our digital databases) and a QR code that led the students to a Pebble Go article.

*We had a pawprint Scavenger Hunt. We put pawprints up at the nurse's office, cafeteria, art room, PE room, and library. These sheets had a pawprint picture, QR code that led to Pebble Go and a Picture of the animal. In hindsight- I wish I had clues and the picture rather than the name and picture of the animal. 

    --both Tall Wall and Pawprints were created in Google Slides
*We invited staff to dress up as if they were going on an adventure the first day. I found some cute binoculars from Wal-Mart for $5, a hat from Party City and threw on a pair of khakis and dark green shirt (I of course also created a TikTok

Lesson Ideas:
To go along with the Tails and Tales I chose a book for each week.
The Three Billy Goats Buenos by Susan Middleton Elya and Miguel Ordonez- a fairy tale
What Do you Do if You Work for the Zoo by Steve Jenkins- non-fiction
See the Cat- Three Stories about a Dog by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka- tails
Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph by Lucy Margaret Rozier and Leo Espinosa- tall tail

I will see each class for about 25 minutes every week where I do a lesson and check out books. Teachers also have the option to sign up for another time during the week to check out books. 

This week we looked at the words Tails and Tales and talked about the differences and what they meant.  We then shared different animals that had tails.

After some collaboration, we also created a Summer Reading Bingo. This Bingo board was created in Google Docs and invites students to use our Summer Reading Website, go on virtual field trips, check out all the things that our local library has to offer, and more. Click this link to make a copy of your own.

My personal goal is to read 10 books this summer. I had a chance to read 2 over this last weekend while I was on the road to visit family.

What are you doing to promote summer reading? I hope to also do some things with my middle school students- more to come!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Read Across America

Read Across America is coming up, and like many librarians, I am working on programming.

If you are new to my blog- a little background about my school.

I am a middle school librarian for a campus that is a hybrid model.  We have grades 6th-8th, about 900 students, one-to-one devices, and about 400 on-campus face to face.  

Next week is not only Read Across America- but it is also North Texas Teen Book Festival which is a FREE event that is virtual.  So, what better way to celebrate Read Across America than adding in North Texas Teen Book Festival.

Each day we have a different hashtag and prompt. I will be posting this on our Library Canvas page with a link for students to fill out a Google Form.  Do you want your own copy-click this link and this will force copy

Currently, on Mondays and Fridays, I already have time on Zoom from 8am-8:15am where I read.  Mondays-we are reading a book and Fridays I do #FirstChapterFridays My First Chapter Fridays are currently books that are on the North Texas Teen Book Festival Link.  This has been a plus of being hybrid and using Zoom.  Often times I would only see ELAR classes, but with Zoom- ALL classes are able to hop on.  I am working with my amazing DEAN April Richmond who always helps me with my ideas. 

Next week we will be sharing a book each morning via Zoom from 8:00am-8:15am.  I send calendar invites to teachers, but students also have the ability to login on their own (we have 2 people monitoring students as they come in)  The book and information also get posted into the Library Canvas classroom daily. Despite what middle schoolers think- they do love a picture book (and picture books are AMAZING!)

The thing I am MOST excited about sharing is- Read Across America-North Texas Teen Book Festival. Jillian Heise posted this AMAZING blog about actually Reading Across America.   Although this is amazing, I needed something more middle school.  With the help of Donald Cummings and Hope Krum we created a Read Across America with the stories from the places that happen in the books from authors with the North Texas Teen Book Festival. 

Each book that is shared is linked to information from  We also linked to the panel that that author will be presenting.  This will be a changing document (thank goodness for Google!)

You can find the presentation here (know that we are still adding to it) Thank you Jillian for the GREAT idea!

What are you doing for Read Across America? Are you marking your calendar for North Texas Teen Book Festival? 

Want a copy of my March calendar- click this link and it will force a copy

Thursday, February 18, 2021

CANVAS and the Library

During the summer our district moved from Google Classroom to CANVAS for our course management system.
Background on my district
-3 early childhood schools
-20 elementary schools (k-5)
-8 middle schools (6-8)
-5 high schools (9-12)
We have over 33000 students. 
Lower-grade levels use Seesaw with CANVAS usage beginning in 2nd or 3rd grade. 
I am a middle school librarian and our school is in a hybrid model right now as students have the opportunity to be in person or virtual and can change that every six weeks. 

My Top 3 Favorite things about using CANVAS:

1- It keeps all of my information in one place (and I love that I can pull data from that- I love having data to share with my admin and also my patrons) I do still update our website as well

2- I can post passwords because it is protected

3- I feel like I am reaching more students, and I think some students feel more comfortable asking questions through email than face to face (middle schoolers) I also love that I can set up announcements- more information on that below.

There are so many ways to use CANVAS- how I do it is just one.  I have one CANVAS course for the school and added all of our students to the class.

Landing Page- I used my Bitmoji/Canva/Picmonkey to make the buttons- but there are so many free ones that are available. Each button either leads to our Lamar Library Website, a different website, or a Google Slide with interactive links.

First Row

Each of these buttons leads to a specific Google slide that gives more information on our different resources.  The Lamar Library button leads to our library page.
For the Google Slides- I published them to the web so students can click on the different links (much like Google classroom)
-although I get data information on how much students are interacting with CANVAS, I did change all my links to so I can see how often they were actually clicked.
This is what one of the Google slides looks like- what you can't see is at the bottom of each of these I have the passwords listed or how to login to them. Although.. many of our items are now in Classlink which I LOVE! One less step for signing in!

Second Row

This row has links to my different activities that I do. 
Literary Lions
Every Monday I have Literary Lions- where I am reading a book that students chose- I think that I am going to change this up a bit. It is from 8am-8:15am every Monday morning.  Remote students can log in, but I also send calendar invites to teachers so they can join as a class while students are eating breakfast.
Monthly Calendar
I started creating these in October using Canva, but I realized it was so much easier through Google Slides (and easier to copy and paste) I get the ideas for dates from BrownieLocks and link back to our databases for students to access. 
-Another reason I love CANVAS- is I can schedule announcements. So, although this is a button for students to click on, I also make it a daily announcement and set it for 8:15am when school begins (and encourage my teachers to have students interact with my page.  
-Want a copy of the March calendar? Click on this link and it will copy the Google Slide (there are no links- you will have to add your own.
First Chapter Friday
Every Friday from 8am-8:15am I have a First Chapter Friday. Much like Literary Lions on Monday I invite students and classrooms to join in (and I love that I have Band and Science joining me too!)

I cam currently doing a First Chapter from authors that will be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival (which is FREE and VIRTUAL this year!!) Each book is also linked back to our system so a student can place it on hold.

Third Row
This is just a spot where students can learn more about me and check out our Library social media.
I also a FlipGrid where I post a #BookTalkTuesday every Tuesday (I do this through TikTok as well) and a #WAYRWednesday (What are you Reading Wednesday) every week.  This way students can go back and look at book talks.  The Events button leads to a Google Slide that has all the monthly challenges and events that are happening or I am hosting.

In reality- database usage, book check out, and digital book usage has declined.  Not everyone participates in my different activities.. but I feel successful if even one person does because that student probably needed it.  Students, teachers, and librarians are learning how to navigate during this crazy time.  
BUT-I have also noticed an increase in databases since I started posting the daily announcements and engagement with the page has also increased.
I am always looking for ways to grow and reach ALL of my students, teachers, and community. I like having the CANVAS data and the data to show what students are interacting with. I also like that I can still have a "safe" space in CANVAS. One of my favorite things about being a librarian is being able to have a space and different opportunities for students.  

How do you use CANVAS for your library?

Each Six Weeks
I take a look at my data every six weeks and create a Piktochart to share with admin and patrons as to what has been going on in the library.  Much like everyone- we are shifting/growing/changing.. and not everything works.



Thursday, December 24, 2020

Reading Habits

This blog has been milling around my head for awhile... as in several months.  I was not for sure how to put it into words. I love reading.. I am a librarian. But, I was always reading the same kinds of things by the same kind of authors.  This is also a little bit more vulnerable blog in that I didn't realize how much I was stuck in certain reading ways.. and didn't realize how much I needed to GROW (my word of the year!) to be a better person and librarian.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that.. at all.. I tell kids ALL the time that reading is reading (I tell teachers that too!) I also work REALLY hard to make sure that students, staff, and community know that they belong, the library is for everyone, and that I believe in them. 

When the pandemic hit back in March- I got SUPER hooked on Crime Junkies as I have now listened to every episode.. and hopefully will soon be able to become a member of the fan club.  Then the Black Lives Matter movement really started.. and this changed my WHOLE reading habits. I know that sounds super strange.. but it did.. and here is why.  

I grew up in a small town, my parents are still married, I have a bachelors and I have 2 masters.  In other words- my upbringing and life don't always mirror the students that I work with. I needed to read outside my comfort zone (which is really weird that I even had a comfort zone and didn't realize it) Thanks to April Richmond I finally read All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.  This book was an eye opener and an amazing read... and what I needed to read to become a better librarian and a better person.

My goal this year was to read 30 books... I know that sounds small because I am a librarian.. but.. I also run clubs, have 2 jobs, and do various programming.. and I do enjoy sleeping!  But thanks to SORA audiobooks, our amazing Irving Public Library, and having my friend April that would answer questions for me.. and also be my sounding board for different things.. I am now working on my 34th book for the year.  30 of those books were listened to or read since May 31st.

You can find my Goodreads account here

When I do any lesson, I try to be very transparent in my own reading styles- as in I LOVE having books read to me- reading magazines are great-a good graphic novel is AMAZING- and it is okay to read any type of book.  This year, my intro lessons also included the fact that I too was stuck in a reading rut, but because I read out of what I thought was a comfort zone I became a more avid reader.  I began to read more books that were windows rather than mirrors.  I also remind students that it is okay to put a book down.. now.. read more than 3 pages.. try 3-5 chapters.. but it happens. Sometimes a book just doesn't hit how we need it to at that moment. Just like any librarian- I also work really hard on finding those books for every type of reader.

Every lesson this year I end with this:
The more the read the more you know. The more you know and the better human being you become.  Guys we need as many good human beings as we can get! 

I am so thankful to have such a diverse reading community around me. I also appreciate that I can have conversations with people about different topics that I might not understand and not be judged because I am na├»ve or I don't have the same background knowledge.  

The world is a really hard place right now, for SO many reasons, but reading a good book can help transport you to a different location and time, help you better understand your surroundings, or just be a mirror into your own life.

Thank you April Richmond for helping me become a better librarian and inspiring me to read even more... and thank you for being such a great sounding board.

I can't always change the world, but what I can do is continue to try to "see" other people/customs/thoughts, continue to make sure that I have books for all types of readers and people, and continue to work on not judging a book by its cover.

Other things that helped me and my reading habits:
-Irving Public Library and their North Texas Teen Book Festival Present virtual panels- Go check out their website and their AMAZING virtual author panels- you won't be disappointed! 
-Recording Booktalks for my students- This year I began creating a TikTok a week for #booktalktuesday along with a Flipgrid for #booktalktuesday and #WAYRWednesday
-Having someone to talk to about what I was reading-at first it was mainly adults- but now I am able to chat even more with students!!
-Audiobooks (I also listen to my audiobooks a little faster)
-getting a better reading light for next to my bed
-following great people on Instagram/Twitter/TikTok and Facebook

Here's to new reading goals in 2021 and discovering even more amazing authors and illustrators.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

My Top 5!

Friday (12/18/20) I finished my first official semester of being a librarian during a pandemic.  Wow what a semester it has been! There have been many downs, but also many ups. I have a reflection blog coming up, but I wanted to share my 5 Top Favorite Things of this first semester.

School background: We are a middle school hybrid model.  We have virtual and in-person students and our student enrollment is about 850.


Nearpod is my absolute FAVORITE app to use for lesson planning and creating!

Our school is a Nearpod school, but it is a platform I would be happy to pay for because of how amazing it is.  It is a platform that allows for interactive lessons, games, and ways to embed items. Students can access Nearpod through a web browser or an app on various devices.

How I use it:
-I create slides directly in Nearpod or use one of the many thousands of lessons already created and tailor it for myself
-I embed activities to keep students engaged such as Time To Climb, Matching, and videos
-Sometimes I just use it as slides while teaching
-I can give the teachers the embed code so they can embed into their Canvas course or give them the student link so the asynchronous learners can have access to the lesson as well

Being mostly virtual I love that I can use Canva for social media posts, flyers, and my monthly calendars. There is an option to embed and also share through links.  Back in October I created my first calendar, and have loved making them ever since. I also currently use the free version, but have put in an application for the educator account.

How I use it:
-social media posts (there is even animation available)
-the phone app is pretty good for ideas on the go
-monthly calendars that have hyperlinked ideas
-embed items into my Canvas course

January Calendar by akbusybee


I will be honest, there are not many things I pay for when it comes to apps (I do pay extra for Google storage), but I do pay for Piktochart- and it is the BEST money I spend a year.  Piktochart is fantastic for creating infographics, flyers, and other digital content.  There is an educator discount that I use. There are plenty of templates, but it is also easy to start from scratch.

How I use it:
-Each six weeks I create an infographic of all that happened in the library
-Each month I create an "Installment" which is a newsletter that goes in all the staff bathrooms
-I share the links to the different infographics through social media outlets along with downloading PDF (which has clickable links)
-I also love how interactive it is when looking at the PDF and website (and I can keep track of how many times it was viewed)
My second six weeks infographic for the library

Flipgrid is a platform that offers video discussions. Once a topic is created students/staff can add videos to enrich the conversation, share their own information, or record a response

How I use it:
-I have a Book Talk Tuesday topic and a What are you Reading Wednesday Topic where I post weekly book talks (it is also open to students to respond)
-I have a Staff Recommendation Topic for teachers to share their reads
-I have topics for Try It Tuesdays where students can share what they have tried
I like that I can see how many views these have and how I can easily share it to Twitter.  I also like that I can control who posts and who sees videos


I want to get books in kids hands, but that has been a little tougher than usual lately.  Our district (and our public library) use Sora (which is under the Overdrive app) Because of Sora I have read and listened to SO many more books (but that too is for another blog on how my reading habits changed because of the pandemic)

How I use it:
-I use it personally- audiobooks for my walks and in the car and eBooks for my Kindle (I don't have the self control to read on my phone)
-promoting to our students- all of our students have iPads- although it works in the browser- the app is amazing!

I know that 2021 is probably not going to be much easier, but I am jumping for joy that I can check 2020 off my list!

What are your top 5? I know that there are several other items that I use on a regular basis, but these have gotten me through this semester.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Programming During a Pandemic

 Most of my blogs I share about the different programming I do in my school.  Programming is one of my most FAVORITE things about being a librarian (I mean.. I love to read..but the library is such a special space for so much more)

This blog is FULL of pictures, links, ideas that I did last month and will be doing next month.  Things of course will change, but if we don't have a starting point, plan and idea.. what do we have?

If programming fills my bucket.. and we are virtual.. I had to figure out how to still fill my bucket.
I want to preface this blog with:
-our school is a hybrid of about half kids on campus and half kids off
-I am in a middle school
-our library program in my district is amazing!!
-our school is also a VILS Campus (Verizon Innovative Learning School) where each student has an iPad along with data
-our school is using Canvas- I have my own library Canvas Page (also I LOVE the announcements feature.. and that I can see how long students are interacting with my page :)
-I Co-Teach lessons daily

October is #TeenTober and thanks to the AMAZING librarian Ms. Walton over at Sam Houston Middle School- I took her idea of the TeenTober Calendar. I took her idea and created one for Lamar. I used Canva to edit the calendar (and create the one for November as well)

I also tried to remember what I did before Covid! Because although we live in this crazy world doesn't mean that I can't still offer meaningful activities. Before Covid- the library was open for students for games and activities from 7:45ish-8:10ish.  I also had at least one after school activity each month (I also manage Destination ImagiNation teams.. and am a Girl Scout leader.. so my afternoons are busy!) So, I took that idea and made it somewhat virtual

These links lead to our resources and databases

October Activities
-Pumpkin Hunt (I also made it virtual for those that remote)
-Ghost Character Contest (this will force copy what I gave to students)- I got this idea from Library Bulletin Boards FB page from Megan Carroll Lawell! (would tag her in a tweet.. but can't find her)
-Weekly Try it Tuesdays after school
-Started First Chapter Friday

TeenTober2020-Lamar by akbusybee

On the library Canvas page I have one area for Events. This Events link went to a published Google Slide with links to all of the activities

It is important for me to look at data.
Ghost Character Contest- 9 entries
Try It Tuesday- usually have 2-3 Students
First Chapter Friday- about 9-10 students
Pumpkin Hunt- Over 40 entries

Although some of these are low numbers.. I continue on with them.. because those 2-3 students showed up because I feel like they needed it.  These things are also not taking anything away from what I am already doing.  I am already at school in the mornings.. and I usually stay after school until 5pm (I also work a second job on Tuesdays/Thursdays and Saturdays)

I loved the calendar idea, so I have started on the November calendar.

Lamar Calendar by akbusybee

November Activities:
-Thankful Photo Contest
-1 Try it Tuesday- I am having one official after school event where we will be making thankful pumpkins.  Students will need to fill out a form in order to get materials to do the activity (YouTube video idea)
-I also want to up my database and eBook usage, so I am working on a Trivia that students will need to use our resources to complete
-Literacy Lions- This will start Monday Mornings where the students chose a book for me to read
-First Chapter Fridays- in the morning

With so much being virtual a few other things I have done:
-Really worked on social media- right now it is really just me telling our story, but I am working on getting out there and having other people share
-I do a BookTalk Tuesday every Tuesday on TikTok- and also one on our library FlipGrid
-I do a What are you Reading Wednesday and add to the library FlipGrid
-We are offering for students to place books on hold- those that are in person learners get books delivered during ELAR time, and remote learners can sign up for a pick up time through Calendly (thanks to the Amazing Singley Librarian Ms. Basoco for sharing that resource!)
-I tried my Cub Club- when we were all virtual.. it worked.. but as soon as we went into hybrid.. it was a dud.  It is hard for me to put that one on the backburner.
-Promoted our Local Library!! Our Irving Public Library has had so many amazing virtual programs that they are offering.. between the author panels, free books, and activities.. there is always something to do! Check out their YouTube Page (we personally love the Kawaii coloring)
-Create a monthly Installment that has all sorts of information that I put in all the staff bathrooms
-Keep up with data!! I know times are tough right now.. and the data is not the greatest.  But even data that is not the greatest gives me a chance to grow.. and rethink what I am doing.
Every Six weeks we get data and I use to share what happened in the library
-Realize that not everything I do is working, but it is important to try!!



The world is a weird space right now.  I am trying to support educators and students as much as I can.  Every time I get in front of the class...  one of the first things I do is remind students that it is important to read, because when we read we grow our brains.. and when we grow our brains we become better human beings.  I don't know about you, but we need as many amazing human beings we can get!!  It is not easy right now.. there are lots of times I feel defeated.. but I have to keep reminding myself.. if I get to 2 or 3 students.. then someone is needing my programming as much as I am.

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!