What to do about Dewey?

Yesterday’s post by Van Meter super-librarian Shannon Miller has me thinking.  She’s not the first to blog about making the switch from the DDC system to more of a bookstore model of organization.  But what I appreciate about Shannon’s post is that she not only made a case for the why, but actually walked us through the how.  She made it seem….well….do-able.  There’s no question that it’s a lot of work (much of it  happened in the summer) but now I think I can be more open to the possibility because Shannon laid out what it entails.

I’m in a pre-K to 3 building and I can definitely see the positives;  naturally this would have to be a district librarian decision.  We would want all the kiddos that feed into the 4-5 building and middle school to have a similar experience.  Food for thought, maybe for some of this year’s meetings!

In the meantime, if (like me) you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and want to support your students within the Dewey system, Sonya over at the Library Patch has recently done six great posts  called “Deweying it My Way.”  She has found ways to tweak the system and make improvements which help kids find books more independently . Sonya also shares the how-tos for more attractive and effective signage, etc.  (Everything Sonya does is top-notch quality and she generously shares her templates and sources.)

Wherever you are in this debate, both of these ladies can help.  I highly recommend you check out their posts!

To-do List: Part 2

Whew!  Buchlady’s been very busy;  too busy to post much recently! What I have been doing is steadily chip away on my summer to-do list.  (I have actively worked on or completed all but Instagram at this point.  Blogging keeps me accountable!)   I added a few other PD opportunities as well.  Google’s MOOC on Power Searching techniques was great.   I don’t know if the course will be archived and available again, but in the meantime here’s a helpful slideshow with many of the same tips.  Thanks for the tweet about this, @Aunty Tech!  I also attended Michelle Luhtala’s edWeb webinar about Google Apps in the library.  EdWeb archives their webinars.  Michele’s was part of their Emerging Technologies PLC and you can join the community and then search for it here.  Others are forthcoming.

My Summer To-Do List

The school year here in Vermont is winding down, inventory is almost done, and I’m looking ahead to summer and what school-related things I want to do.  Here is my list at the moment, in no particular order:

1. Get comfortable with my new ipad and explore some great apps for next year.

2. Beef up my Twitter activity.  Use Hootsuite more effectively to keep things organized.

3. Finally do something with my pinterest account.

4. Learn about Instagram.

5. Go back through all the starred items in my gmail and Google Reader.  I starred them for some reason, right?

6. Get cozy with the Common Core standards.  Figure out how to use them to boost collaboration with teachers.

7. Clean out my computer files.  Upload lots to dropbox.

8. Re-read Charlotte’s Web in preparation for the 60th anniversary of its publication this fall.  Brainstorm schoolwide activities around this classic.

9. Get back to the Newbery Challenge.  I’ve been neglecting this lately.

10.Catch up with SLJ.  (For the first time ever I have FOUR unread issues!)

What’s on your list?

All Stars Block Party!

Inspired by Sonya over at The Library Patch and Mr. Schu, I decided to run reports about my top titles (in terms of circulations) this year.  Here are my top ten overall:

#1:  Guinness Book of World Record Records 2012  (31 circulations)

#2:  I Spy Christmas (30 circulations)

#3:  Geronimo Stilton: The Coliseum Con (27 circulations)

#4:  Inside the Titanic (27 circulations)

#5:  Ripley’s Believe it or not! (27 circulations)

#6:  Guinness Book of World Records, 2011 (25 circulations)

#7:  Bone #3: Eyes of the Storm (24 circulations)

#8:  Star Wars:  Death Star Battles (24 circulations)

#9:  Geronimo Stilton #2:  The Secret of the Sphinx (23 circulations)

#10:Soldiers of the U.S. Army  ( 23 circulations)

…Hmmm…all are classified as non-fiction, including 3 graphic novels,  and most are part of a series.

How did our chapter book fiction, picture books, and early readers stack up?

Fiction:  (with 5 titles tied for the #4 spot)

Summer of the Sea Serpent

The World according to Humphrey

Mummy  (Time Soldiers)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 and #3

Rex (Time Soldiers)

Summer according to Humphrey

Geronimo Stilton:  The Temple of the Ruby of Fire

The Lightning Thief

Ivy and Bean

(Another testament to the power of series fiction;  all of these are part of a series.  AND, the Humphrey books were read-alouds by the teachers in second grade, which gave them a huge boost.  I really need to do a better job of getting my teachers to read some new titles.  They don’t realize the influence they have with book choice!)

Picture Books

This one is very telling and speaks to ease-of-access.  All but 3 of the top ten are in wooden browsing bins with covers facing out– at the end of my picture book shelving.  I’ve long suspected these go out more often but now I have proof!

The deep Blue Sea:  a book of colors

Belinda, the Ballerina

The Lorax

Where’s Waldo?

Alphabet Rescue

Don’t Let the Pigeon drive the Bus!

Not all Princesses Dress in Pink

Piggie Pie!

We are in a Book!

I Will Surprise my Friend!

Early Readers  (Tedd Arnold and Mo Willems have almost no competition here.  Their popularity holds up in both sections in which they appear.)

Hooray for Fly Guy

Buzz Boy and Fly Guy

I am Going!

Baker, Baker, Cookie Maker

Today I will Fly!

I love my new Toy!

Pigs make me Sneeze

Shoo, Fly Guy

Super Fly Guy

There is a Bird on your Head

Lots to ponder here.  I’m glad I ran those reports;  they’ll definitely help to inform my purchases for next year.  How about you?  Run your numbers and become a part of the Block Party.  I’d love to see what your students love to read!

Working with Student Writers


Last week I had the honor and privilege to serve as a judge of student writing at our local PBS affiliate.  Each year PBS sponsors a contest for writers in grades K-3.  (It used to be the Reading Rainbow Writing contest.)  Kids create illustrated stories either at school or at home and a winner and runners-up are chosen for each grade level.  Every other year there is a national contest and local winners are sent to the national competition.

I was part of the team that judged the second grade entries.  We were the busiest by far, with probably close to 100 submissions.  I worked with a couple of veteran judges and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  It made me realize how much I miss working with student writers on a consistent basis.

Add to that experience a website someone shared with me a few days ago and my wheels are turning for next year. Studentpublishing.com allows teachers to manage and monitor student writing projects which eventually get published and bound (softcover) for free.  (You must agree to send home order forms for parents who might want to purchase an additional copy, but there is no obligation.)

Here’s a blurb from their site:

Make every student feel like a published author with FREE books! Each student will receive a free paperback of their own story and illustrations. Books include 12, 16, 24 or 32 story pages, plus title, dedication and “About the Author” biography pages featuring the author’s photo.

Use StudentPublishing®.com’s fun and easy web based book-making tool which is specially designed for schools (No software download or installation required) or use our new PDF upload tool to easily import work students may have already completed. The advanced administrative features generate unique usernames and passwords for each one of your students who log-in directly to their stories while you can edit and monitor progress from your Teacher account. The online illustration tool includes hundreds of paintable backgrounds and stickers which can be used with free-hand drawing tools, or uploaded photographs and scanned in hand drawings. If your students already have written work, use our new “PDF Upload” function to bring their text directly into his or her book.

A testimonial by the colleague who shared it with me convinced me to take a look.  I’m sold on giving it a go with some students– maybe in a recess writing club?

Another thing…turns out this site is a sponsor of the PBS writing contest.  Proceeds from books that do get purchased help support that program.  Serendipity at work!

If you have used this site with kids, please share your experience in the comments!

It All Started with Ranger Rick…

It’s been a rare experience for me to feel like I’ve helped  make something BIG happen in my school.  Lots of little things, sure, but nothing BIG.  Until recently, that is.  And it’s SO COOL!  Last spring I read an article in the May issue of Ranger Rick magazine called Cool Caps about the work of Michelle Stitzlein, a sculptor who works in schools to create murals using recycled/re-used plastic caps.  These come from laundry detergent, bottles of water, peanut butter jars, you name it.  Michelle and her students turn them into beautiful works of art!

I got excited about the possibilities for our school and asked my principal what he thought. He loved the idea and so did our art teacher.  Judy is part-time and is retiring at the end of this year, so she agreed to take this on as an artist-in-residence project on the days that she typically isn’t with us.

I put out a call in June for families to save caps all summer and by golly they rolled in by the thousands (in a tub outside the library door) from September through January!  I saw to it that the caps were sanitized (by our fabulous kitchen staff and their deluxe dishwasher) and then organized many a group during rainy day recesses to come and sort by color.  Soon a rainbow of  caps began to grow in see-through bins on top of the library shelves.

Judy wanted to choose an artist and technique to focus on and Georges Seurat and  pointillism  were logical choices.  Judy worked closely with Jen, a fabulous intern, to get the panels ready.   Students did lots of problem-solving for the composition, they painted, and many glued on caps.  Parent volunteers and staff members screwed the caps in place and the results are amazing!  I present to you some highlights from our version of Cool Caps!  (There are 27 slides–don’t miss the ending.  You won’t believe what our kids did!  Gives me goosebumps every time I walk by now.)

Looking to the future: a “common(s)” vision

If (as I did) you missed last week’s live session on Classroom 2.0 with David Loertscher on Libraries as Learning Commons, the session is archived here.  You can choose the Blackboard/Elluminate option or the mp3 format.  This is actually part 2 and will focus on helping students and adults create personal learning environments.

I’m going to try to access this soon;  librarians in my district and others in our region have formed a professional learning community to discern how we move forward in our work and what our vision should/could look like for the future.  Sounds like this could help!

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