Nuts about a Sqworl

Today I thought I’d share a bit about a web 2.0 tool I’ve been using lately that’s been quite useful.  It’s called sqworl and it allows you to organize multiple webpage URL’s on  a topic in one handy place.

It’s quick and easy to create a free account, name your “group” and then cut and paste the urls you want to feature.  Sqworl displays a thumbnail view of all of your selected pages with any note or description you might have added.

The site saves each group (or sqworl) that  you create and you can go back and edit at any time.  One link is created for your entire group which you can then share with others.

How have I been using this?  In just the past two weeks I’ve created sqworls for my first grade teachers for animal research, for my third graders on mythology, for a presentation I’m preparing for a conference, and for a Mem Fox author study.  When students come into the library, I have the sqworl already loaded on computers for their use.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think or how you’re using it.

Gear up for Poetry Month: Part 2

I added Bob Raczka’s Lemonade and other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word to our collection this year and I am loving it!  Kids who love word play love it, too.  Billed as “part anagram, part rebus, part riddle” it consists of making poems using only the letters in a single word.  (The poem is about the word, of course, and you can use a letter more than once.)

Raczka explains that he was inspired by the online poems of Andrew Russ.  Russ adds visual interest by lining up the letters in the words with the letters in the original word.  Like so:



ra  n

in                                (Rain:   I ran in!)        Cool, yes?

I tried my hand at it, and come up with these.  (I’m taking the easy way out for this post, though, and not lining them up the way Raczka and Russ do.)


Look for fool




No coat on

I can tan

Nova on tv


Brass rails

“Real” bears




Sir Basil


Gear up for Poetry Month: part 1

April is Poetry Month!  If you’re like me, you have good intentions, and then April just creeps up on you and you don’t give poetry the time it deserves in the spotlight.  Maybe I can help over the next few posts with some ideas.

One kind of poem you might like to try is called the “Fib.” I learned about it last year at about this time from Greg Pincus over at Gotta Book.  Though he didn’t create it as a poetic form he coined the term “Fib” poem because it’s based on the Fibonacci sequence of numbers.

The poem is six lines long, with a total of 20 syllables, in this order:  1,  1,  2,  3,  5,  8.  Like haiku, it’s short and sweet!  I tried it with third graders and it worked well.

You can read what the Poetry Foundation has to say about it and how its popularity exploded due to Pincus here.

Below are two I wrote rather quickly. The first is about my after-school beverage of choice, and the second is about my cat.  Enjoy, and give these a try with your kiddos!




Calms my nerves

With steaming goodness.

Black, white, green, herbal—take your pick!




Mellow now

Chase a mouse? Not him!

He’d rather snooze and snooze and snooze.

Getting more out of Google

Kristin Fontichiaro shared these excellent Google Tips and Tricks for online research over at the School Library Monthly blog.  Share with your faculty and especially your upper elementary, middle, and high school students.

There’s Nothing like a Puffin!

This book arrived from Junior Library Guild recently and I think it will make a great read followed by practice with some flexible thinking.  The premise is that nothing else is quite like a puffin.  On each page, though, something else is introduced (a newspaper, a pair of blue jeans, a shovel) and lo and behold, some similarities emerge!  (A newspaper is black and white, jeans have two legs, a shovel is used for digging and a puffin digs with its feet, etc.  You get the idea.)

For a follow-up, why not assemble a set of seemingly unrelated objects and challenge your students to choose two and tell how they’re alike?  Have volunteers orally fill in the same sentence:  “The _____ and the ____ are similar/alike because ________.”    or  

To stimulate this kind of thinking, create a bulletin board with real objects (if possible) or clip art.  Display the cover of the book and a brief explanation.  Cut- out letters for a title like: “How are these objects alike?  Put your brain to work!”  As students pass your bulletin board in the hallway it just might give them something else to think about on their way to their destination!

Be sure, too, to have other books about puffins and penguins handy as companions.

A new venture for Buchlady!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am excited to tell you about a new project I’ve taken on.  I’ll be writing a regular feature for the folks at Teachers First.  (I have blogged about their site and their free webinars before.  A great resource for teachers!)

The idea is to provide information and resources to teachers who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being without a teacher librarian/library media specialist because of budget cuts.

I am planning to alternate between suggested read-alouds for various grade level clusters, and articles or lesson plans around information literacy.  The current article is called “Gifts of Character” and centers around suggested read-alouds for this season of giving–not holiday books, but books that bring to light the traits of generosity, benevolence, philanthropy, and kindness. Check it out!

I would welcome any suggestions you might have for future topics, and PLEASE pass along this resource for any teacher friends you might have around the U.S. who could use this kind of help.

Fresh out of ideas? Check this out!

'288/365: Winners' photo (c) 2009, PlayfulLibrarian - license: am very grateful to have found a site recently called  Centered School Libraries.  It’s an amazing resource–lesson plan ideas, bulletin boards, printable bookmarks, suggestions for centers and stations, management techniques, you name it!  It’s all so beautifully done and professional looking.  (I’m jealous!) Cari Young is the librarian behind the site and her new book is apparently available from Upstart.

Just yesterday I was panicking about what to do for a new bulletin board. This site came to the rescue with some excellent  ideas.  Check it out here.

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