Thursday, October 29, 2009

_Letter_from_Death_ Illustrations on YouTube

Click on this link: to see a YouTube video made by Dave Moats made. It shows many of the illustrations from Letter from Death, a book he illustrated and I did the research for (well, some of it.) Oh yeah, and someone named Lillian Moats actually wrote the book. ( - :

I ordered a copy from and it arrived in the mail last week. How cool is that? The copy that Lillian gave me is currently on loan to a friend at work. I told my Silverstone friends about it during Ladies' Night on Monday, but my news was overshadowed by Kim's cute belly (she's 5 months pregnant) and Melissa's astonishing news that she's pregnant! (Her son, Dylan, is 15 and learning to drive!) The ladies that looked at the book really liked the look and feel of it, but with all the baby talk, no one got a chance to really delve into it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Looking for Books about Illinois Mound Builders

Third graders are studying Illinois history this year. Right now they're talking about the Cahokia Mounds. I've found only one book on this topic that seems appropriate for this age: Journey to Cahokia : a boy's visit to the great mound city. I'd really like to find more titles on this topic for my library. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Read for the Record!

Yesterday I read The Hungry Caterpillar to 100 students in my library. It was part of an effort sponsored by jumpstart to make a world's record by reading the same book to over one million children worldwide. (Jumpstart is an organization working to increase preschool literacy through the efforts of college students and other community volunteers.)

I was excited to get other teachers in my building participating! Our music teacher, Mrs. Blake, read to six classes (124 students) and our art teacher, Mr. Gonka, read to two classes (49 students.) If we add in our three kindergarten classes (52 students) and a fourth grade class (26 students), our school total is 351 students!

We still don't know if we helped set a new world's record, but there sure were a lot of people reading the book yesterday.

The kids really enjoyed the book, even the older kids. One of our kindergarten teachers lent me a puppet caterpillar that "ate" felt food throughout the story. My valiant assistant tried to take pictures, but I kept moving around!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have such a beautiful drive to get to work. I'm so lucky. A good bit of my commute is through a forest preserve. Unfortunately, most of my drives to school have been quite long lately, as it seems like every east-west route between C-ville and South Barrington are under construction all at the same time!

This morning, as I was sitting on Penny Road and being passed by the guy on the bike for the second time, I turned off NPR (yet another story about attacks in Afghanistan coming from Pakistan,) rolled down my windows, and enjoyed the gorgeous view and fall smells.

I need to get outside more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Third Week - Going Great!

I'm in my third week now. I had a fun and relaxing weekend and didn't come to school even once! I went in to school yesterday carrying only ONE bag and it wasn't even heavy. Does this mean my dad can't call me the "Bagley Lady" any more??? My shoulders are sure loving it!

The last two weeks have been incredibly busy. I've been giving the MAP test to all third, fourth, and fifth graders during their library time. Reading last week and this week, math this week and next week. Unfortunately, this means that the kids didn't get their regular library time and so didn't get to check out any books. Also, since we had Monday off for Labor Day and Friday off for a teachers' institute day, 13 classes were unable to check out books last week! I offered all classroom teachers an opportunity to come to the library to check out, and we were swamped. I think 11 out of the 13 teachers asked for a time to come down. This week, I had more teachers ask for time to come to the library than I had openings! We had classes back to back to back. My clerk asked if I was trying to kill her!

(NO WAY! She's half the reason I love this job so much! Marilyn makes everything so easy for me. She told me this summer, joking of course, that she wouldn't retire until all the bookmarks were gone. We found hundreds and hundreds of them. So now I'm only letting kids take one bookmark at a time and I told her I'd cut the bookmarks in half if I had to, just to keep her here!)

This week was a bit more manageable, since it's a five day week. However, we are now adding second grade to the testing schedule. However, since their normal library time is in the afternoons, and we test in the mornings, their check out times won't be affected. It makes me feel so great when I hear the kids want to come to the library to check out!

I went over to the high school this afternoon to meet with some of the ladies who work there. I wanted, particularly, to learn how to order books. I also got a list of our magazine subscriptions ($260.10 out of $275 budgeted) and advice on running reports (don't do it until we get a new circulation system next year.)

I'm starting to recognize kids in the hall and even remember some of their names. Now, all I have to do it figure out how to get my full 40 min lunch!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Week Went Well!

My first week lasted eleven days, but I made it. Here's how it went:
Day One: Fri, Aug 21 All day librarian's meeting at the high schoold, then back to Rose
Day Two: Sat, Aug 22 Dad and I spent a few hours at Rose working on SMARTboards, awesome graduation party that night at Kim and Frank's house
Day Three: Sun, Aug 23 I ache head to toe from jumping for hours in the bouncy with the kids. Dad and I spent many hours at Rose working on SMARTboards, go to another graduation party with my mom and brother's family in McHenry, then Dad and I come back to Rose to finish up the SMART boards. Thanks, Dad!
Day Four: Mon, Aug 24 District wide meeting at BHS, staff meeting at Rose, many hours spent troubleshooting SMARTboards, setting up visual presenters, a short time spent preparing for my first day. I use an idea from School Library Monthly to create a I have... Who has... game. Sample Cards: I have the first card. Who has how many books we can check out? I have three books. Who has the name of the Rose School librarian?
Day Five: Tues, Aug 25 Kids finally arrive! My first class is Ms. Solymossy's fifth grade. Also had third, fourth, and first grade, all checking out. My game was successful! Took pictures.
Day Six: Wed, Aug 26 Weird day - only two classes in the afternoon, as kindergartners hadn't arrived yet, but my awesome aide Marilyn and I got lots done. We put up a bulletin board for the book fair, go through book bags from the public library, and frame and hang up some posters.
Day Seven: Thurs, Aug 27 Third grade comes in the morning, the afternoon was NUTS! I have four classes in a row, back to back, all checking out. Marilyn's lunch takes place during two of those classes. I forgot to click on CLEAR while checking books out and accidentally check out a book about Jane Austen from the high school to a first grader! Marilyn helps me correct my mistake. Conference call with my principal and the book fair chairperson after school.
Day Eight: Fri, Aug 28 Fridays consist of non stop classes all day. It was nice to see many familiar faces, as two of the first grade classes had come earlier in the week and I knew most of the fourth and fifth graders. I am starting to get tired of reading Goldie Socks and the Three Libearans. I read it to all the first and second grade classes. Two big crates of brand new, just process books arrive in the afternoon!
(SHOCKING - I did not come in to school at all this weekend, though I did take some new books home to read. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping may be even funnier than the first Alvin Ho book!)
Day Nine: Mon, Aug 31 More familiar faces as fourth and fifth grade arrive, plus all the afternoon classes had come once before. Went out to dinner with the music teacher. Back to School Night - got introduced as librarian - weird to see the third grade team stand up without me, but it's ok. TEN parents stop by the library. Granted, five were parents of former students, but five were not! My library must have looked inviting in some way. They all said they'd never even been in the library before!
Day Ten: Tues, Sept 1 New set of plans for this week - show the book fair video to classes and let the kids preview the new books. So hard not to let them check out the new books, but I have to save them for a week so all the classes can see them. Meet with principal for my first monthly (at my request) meeting - end up creating a testing schedule to get second graders into the computer lab instead of sharing all the great things happening in the library. Next month! Marilyn and I go a little crazy rearranging furniture and actually end up taking apart part of the circulation desk and putting it in storage. We were laughing so hard we almost "peed in our pants" as my friend Tanya would say. I am so busy all day I don't even have time to check my email!
Day Eleven: Wed Sept 2 The day I've been worried about since I got the job back in March... kindergartners arrive in the library. They are so little! They color on their library cards. No one colored on their bar codes. I was so proud! We got books picked out and checked out in 25 minutes. I am totally impressed by how well it goes. Superintendent stops by during my second kindergarten class. Eeek! After school staff meeting held in the library. I asked staff if they could figure out what major piece of furniture was missing from the library.... only one person figured out that we had removed a third of the circulation desk and put a computer cart in its place! Finished filling out a spread sheet about SMARTboards to send to my boss.

I guess an eleven day week explains why I'm so tired! My TO DO list is still growing...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lillian's book to be reviewed on WBEZ this Thursday!

I just got an email from Lillian - her book, which was released just last Friday, is going to be reviewed on Eight Forty-Eight this Thursday! The show is broadcast on 91.5FM WBEZ from 9 to 10 am and again at night, I think between 9 and 10 pm. (I might be wrong on that - I can't get to the WBEZ website or the Eight Forty-Eight web site here at school. Yep, they're blocked!)

If you can't listen at either of those times, you can also download a free podcast of the program. That's what I'll have to do because this Thursday is also the book launch party at Anderson's Bookshop in Downers Grove. Lillian will read from her book and sign copies. I'll sign books, too!!!! Ha, just kidding. I'd have to sign the bibliography, because that's the part I contributed.

Want to see something cool? Go to and type Pam Meiser in the search bar. MY NAME COMES UP! Wow! The 21st century is so cool.

I hope you take a minute to check out The Letter from Death on, Barnes and Noble, or Borders and find out more at the Three Arts Press web site.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It begins.... Random thoughts about the start of the school year

I'm guessing no one is reading this blog anymore, since it's no longer a class assignment for anyone. I'm going to post, anyway. Someone said a blog is for one's own reflection, so I guess that's what mine will be. ( - ;

Today was the official start to the school year for teachers and staff. The kids (1st through 5th) start tomorrow. The kindergartners start next week.

For the last few days, I've been thinking that I should be feeling sad about not having a classroom, but I don't. I was ready to leave the classroom and am so happy to be here in the library. There are so many little things that I don't have to worry about! No lunch menus to pass out, no lunch cards to keep track of, pick up notes, bus numbers, who goes to Kids Klub and on what days, where should I hang the birthday chart, writing kids' names over and over and and over and over.... Nope - don't miss it one bit.

Considering the fact that I had no classes today, I ran my @$$ off! We got 12 new SMART boards installed in our building this summer. My dad and I came in this weekend and spent many hours making sure all the wires were hooked up properly, bluetooth connections were synced, document cameras were operational, and so on. This morning, I tried to check in with everyone who had gotten a new SMART board to make sure they were comfortable with the set up. Then, I got email messages from people who had SMART boards last year that couldn't remember how to hook them up! I feel like an expert now. They're not all hooked up 100% ideally, but they all work AND the document cameras are working as well.

I had to laugh at myself because I was so worried that I'd get less exercise by being on the first floor and not doing the stairs all the time... I bet I ran up and down the stairs twice as much as I would have on a normal day teaching third grade. I'm sure things will settle down once the kids get here, but I didn't sit down today for hardly a minute. I didn't even get my computer turned until after 2:30!

I met with HR this afternoon, and it may turn out that I don't have to student teach after all. Our HR director doesn't think a Type 10 certificate is necessary to teach in the library at the elementary level. This would relieve a big worry - mainly, how does one pay bills with no paychecks for five weeks!?!? Yes, five weeks. I had to add another week because apparently, I also have to do 40 hours of observation even before I can student teach. Honestly, that I wouldn't mind so much. In fact, if I decide not to go for my Type 10, I may still take some time to observe in other elementary libraries. The best would be to spend a whole day hanging out in each of the school libraries here in Barrington. We'll see!

At our staff meeting today, I asked Scott for 10 minutes to talk about the library. I was going to talk about "procedures," but that seemed so boring. Instead, I gave a quick Top Ten Things in the Library list! I don't know if I said this all in less than ten minutes, but I tried! Here's my list

10 Batteries - come to the library to get replacement batteries for school equipment such as wireless headphones, digital cameras, and remote controls. We will also take batteries for recycling. Do NOT send your student to the library for batteries in their own camera because they filmed their friends on the bus ride to school and used up the batteries!
9 Magazines - the library has magazines available for check out for both kids and teachers. We have a subscription to Mailbox so come check out current as well as older copies to aid in your planning. Remember, any Rose School staff member can check items out of the library - this includes aides and other classified staff!
8 AV - The library is home to all audio/visual equipment including DVD/VCR players, televisions, headphones, cassette players, CD players, and LCD projectors. If you need one of these items or some AV equipment needs maintenance or repair, let Marilyn and I know. Apparently SMART boards fall into the AV category, so please see me with your SMART issues.
7 Computer Lab - With the TSA schedule being flexible this year, the lab will have more opportunities for use. We're going to have a sign-up so that classes can come and use the computer lab if needed. Of course, my library classes will be using the computers as well.
6 Videos - Many more videos are available for check out. In the Picture Book section, you can see that there are many literature based videos on the top shelf. The non-fiction videos are now housed on the shelf directly above the books on that topic. So, if you're looking at plant books, for instance, you can just go above the books to see the videos we have on plants.
5 Books - of course, we have lots of great books in the library for checkout. Bonus - Marilyn will be happy to fix any of your classroom books that need repair!
4 Databases - The Barrington school district has spent a lot of money on some really great databases for both students and teachers. Throughout the year, I will have opportunities for you to learn about some of the great resources that are available online.
3 Science Materials - I moved the science materials to the other side of the bookcases so they are more visible. We have microscopes, balance scales, electronic scales, digital microscopes that can be displayed on your SMART boards, weights, and even science lesson books available for checkout.
2 Professional Development Collection - Our library has a professional development collection available to you. If you're looking for a book on a particular topic, check here - we may have it. Our collection includes back issues of Mailbox magazine.
1 Marilyn and I - We're your best resource here in the library. Please come to us with your questions and requests! We can get book bags from the Barrington Area Library, inter library loans, pull books on a certain subject, or find just the right video. Please email requests to both Marilyn and I at the same time so we don't duplicate requests.

So, tomorrow I start with fifth grade, third grade, fourth grade, then first grade. I am so excited! My goals for the first month in the library are: get to know the kids, make sure we're all clear on policy and procedures, and learn how to order a book! (I still don't know how to do that....)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Official - I'm a Librarian!

No, I didn't get a new certificate, actually check out a book, or even have a student call me librarian. I KNOW I'm a librarian because I literally JUMPED UP AND DOWN with excitement today when my clerk taught me how to get records for my library catalog from OCLC! I have a REAL login and Rose School has a REAL OCLC location code! (I can't remember it right now though.) I got to edit a record FOR REAL!

It was so neat to do something I only got to practice in class before. Marilyn even let me do a bunch of records all by myself! I was so proud.

Only a REAL librarian could get so darn excited about OCLC. Too bad no one else around here gets it. Marilyn did, though, and I think she was "tickled" (as my Grandma C would have said.) Hmmm... I hope she was laughing with me and not at me!

Monday, August 17, 2009


I know we're supposed to blog about a topic we're studying in LIS 725, but I can't help but reflect on my years leading up to this day - my last GSLIS class. I've been so looking forward to graduating, and now, of course, I'm feeling a little sad! I will not miss assigned readings, writing papers, creating citations, or driving to Oak Park/River Forest, taking the train to Chicago, or sitting in traffic trying to get to Oswego.
I will miss my classmates and instructors. It's only been since January that I have had classmates that I knew! Previous to the spring semester, every time I started a new class, most everyone was new to me. While I appreciate meeting new people, there's something to be said for knowing someone's name, a bit of their back ground, and feeling comfortable sharing in class. My instructors have been great, but I've also learned a lot from my classmates. Hopefully, with blogs, web pages, twitter, and email, I'll be able to keep in touch with my friends.
Most of all, I just can't wait to start my job! The kids will be here in eight days. Next Tuesday will be the beginning of a new(ish) career for me, even though I am in the same school. My new teammates, the other librarians in the district, will have lots of advice for me and will help me out as well.
So, I won't be sad about finishing graduate school, but excited about all the possibilities ahead!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Twitter Info from SLJ Blog

For those of you in LIS 724 with C. Balsano this summer, you may be interested in this blog post: The author is Joyce Valenza, Ph.D, whom Chris has mentioned in class a few times. In this post, she talks about ways to search Twitter. I talked about a few in my presentation (using the @ symbol, the # symbol, and near: ) but she goes much further!

If you want to see the source of her post, see this post:

Have fun searching Twitter!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Letter from Death

Lillian Moats' latest book, The Letter from Death, will be published on August 28th. You all are invited to the book launch party on September 3rd at 7:00 pm, at Anderson's Bookshop in Downers Grove (5112 Main Street - 630-963-2665) Lillian will give a brief talk and sign books. Snacks will be provided!
You can order The Letter from Death on, through Anderson's web site, and from

Monday, August 10, 2009

Copyright for Schools

I am reading the book Copyright for Schools by Carol Simpson. (Simpson, Carol. Copyright for Schools. Linworth, 2005.)

This book is scaring me! First of all, the information contained in the book is pretty confusing. There are many copyright laws, which all seem to have updates and exceptions.

As a classroom teacher, I didn't consider copyright much. My main concern was that students cite their resources for research. I didn't think about the movies I showed in class or making copies from teacher resources.

For the most part, I think I was usually within fair use, but a lot of things in my school may not be. What is my role in this situation?

Now that I know this information, I think I am obligated to share it with my staff. Do I then become a member of the "copyright police?" I can't control what everyone does, and I don't think I'd be too popular if I did. I am going to ask my principal for time to give an inservice on this topic to my staff and see where we go from there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Assessment for Learning

When I signed up to do the class presentation on assessment for LIS 725, I was a bit disappointed. I absolutely wanted to work with Valerie and Sydney, but assessment? Ugh. I though I wouldn't have to do that anymore, now that I'm out of the classroom. Boy, was I wrong, but in a good way!
Reading the book Assessing Learning, written by lucky Hawaiian librarians Violet Harada and Joan Yoshina, has changed my stuck-in-the-mud ideas about assessment.
You see, I have been thinking of assessment as GRADING PAPERS and GIVING GRADES, and FILLING OUT REPORT CARDS. I was focused on summative assessment, or more accurately, evaluation. Assessment is so much more than a final score or grade on an assignment!
I don't want to give away the great information you'll get from our presentation coming up next Monday, but I certainly can share a few insights.
I think the first big concept change came when the authors of Assessing Learning talked about starting your lesson plan with the assessment. No, it's not about teaching to the test. Rather, one must think about what exactly it is that you want your students to be able to do, then work backwards to the activities that will lead to the learning. This is called "backward design" by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigh in their 1998 book Understanding by Design.
I used to plan and teach this way; I even have Understanding by Design on my professional bookshelf! I'm afraid I became complacent in my planning and teaching and forgot all about objectives. I was more focused on covering the content and coming up with engaging activities.
I am so thankful that I decided to go back to school to get my masters degree. Taking this class on school curriculum, at this time (just before graduation! just before starting my first year in my library!) was exactly right. I'm going back to the basics, looking at standards, objectives, and assessment. I am going to be a better teacher by becoming a librarian.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Hello readers! I am investigating Twitter for a project I'm doing in class. I have to teach my classmates about Twitter. So, if you'd like to check it out, go to My twitter name (?) is MissMeiser. So far, most of my posts, or tweets, have been very boring. I'll try to have a more exciting life so I can tweet something cool! Or, I guess I could just make stuff up. ( - ; Feel free to comment with your ideas about using Twitter in schools or libraries. I'd also love to hear about any Twitter related websites you have found helpful.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Role of Libraries in Learning Communities

"The Role of Libraries in Learning Communities," written by Rebecca J. Pasco in Curriculum Connections edited by Barbara K. Stripling and Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Libraries Unlimited, 2003.

I first heard about the concept of Learning Communities in my Communication for Leadership class, LIS 716. During that class, we watched a video about the North Suburban Library System (NSLS) and how they became a learning community. The idea of a learning community is that the entire organization, top to bottom, encompasses both learners and teachers. Everyone can participate in learning opportunities as well as the opportunity to share what they know.

It sounds really great, and I could certainly envision this in a school situation. However, my concept of a learning community changed a bit this week. Unfortunately, I can't remember who told me this, but someone I talked to during the past week talked about Technology Tuesdays where teachers AND STUDENTS were invited to come to the computer lab in the library and learn a new tech tool! I'm not sure why I was so surprised at this. I guess I envisioned a school as a learning community within the staff only. In my mind, of course the kids were learners and staff members were teachers! Why can't the kids be a part of this?

I wonder how this would work in my building. For the most part, I think my staff is pretty comfortable about telling kids that they don't know everything and we all learn together. But, when it comes to technology, some staff members may not feel comfortable having students around while they are learning something new. As a person running one of these classes, however, I would love to have some kids in there with me! It's likely that they'll catch on quickly and be able to help the staff members!

Another great thing about having kids present is that they're usually not afraid to try new things. In years past, I would show my students the basics of a tech tool and in 20 minutes they had mastered those skills and found several things I had never seen before. I always learned something from the kids.

As librarians, we need to be teaching and supporting our students in such a way that life long learning is the ultimate goal. According to Pasco, "Learning communities emphasize connected knowing and the integration of ideas." (p. 191) These communities "facilitate active and collaborative learning and new opportunities for students and educators to construct and demonstrate understanding." (p. 191) This is exactly the environment that fosters life long learning. When students learn to work together, to be responsible for their own learning, when their curiosity and risk taking is valued and encouraged, then school becomes a place for excitement and enthusiasm rather than drudgery and boredom.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

NPR Interview with Lizzie Skurnick

Bob Edwards, on his radio show Bob Edwards Weekend, interviewed Lizzie Skurnick, author of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. I hadn't heard of her before, but now I am anxious to find out more! She writes a couple of blogs, one called Old Hag and another, on the website called Fine Lines. For Fine Lines, Lizzie rereads a book she read in her teen years, and comments on it. She also accepts questions from her readers about plotlines in books that people remember, but they can't remember the titles. I have one I want to submit already.

Bob Edwards also interviewed the guys who wrote "Yackety Yack," Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, which was interesting as I just finished reading The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 on Friday night and that song is mentioned many times. (Type in the search term "yak" in this reader for some funny examples.) Did they really sell record players that play in cars? I guess so!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Information Forensics Goes to School

For class on Monday night, instead of driving to Dominican, I attended a virtual class. I chose to view a recorded session titled Information Forensics Goes to School presented by Dennis O'Connor and Carl Heine at the 2009 ISTE conference in Washington, DC. You can view it at

I learned so much about research and the evaluation of web sites that I hardly know where to begin! I think the first important thing that stuck in my mind is that there are things about technology and the internet that the digital generation doesn't know. Mainly, how to decide if web sites are credible or not. O'Connor and Heine quoted several studies in which gifted seventh and eighth graders were sent to these, or similar hoax sites: and but they never figured out that it was a hoax. Students must learn proven techniques for searching and evaluating, or what these two men call: Investigative Searching. The process of searching and evaluating should be done together.

During Information Forensics goes to School, O'Connor and Heine say that students of the "digital generation" don't know how to turn questions into queries, know where to go to find information, find relevant results, decided on quality, and use information ethically. Here's where librarians and teachers must step in and teach.

A statistic that really stood out for me was that often, when using a key word search, there are at least four other words/synonyms that you could also be using to search. When those key terms are not used, you are potentially missing 80% of the information available!

Careful reading is essential. Kids tend to read things quickly. O'Connor and Heine content that the faster you read, the more errors you will make. Based on my classroom experience, I concur.

There are many ways of searching for information. The first is called querying. You can use keywords, strings (a section of text or a phrase), databases, and links to find information and evaluate the site. Did you know you can find out who has links to a particular page? I didn't! You can go to a search engine (they recommend and type in links: then the entire URL address. So, if you wanted to see who had links to the Rose School web page, you could type in links: and see a list of sites that had a link to the Rose School home page.

Another way of searching is by browsing. O'Connor and Heine compared it to the hot and cold game where you get "hotter" if you're getting closer to what you want, and colder if you're farther away. This is not a particularly effective way to search or evaluate a website.

Another way to find out more is by truncation. I've done this before, I just didn't know what it was called. Say someone gives you a long complicated website address like You looked at it, but couldn't figure out who the author of the site was. You could truncate, or cut off, the ending part of a website to get to home page and perhaps find a publisher or author. In this case, would lead you to the home page which should identify the author. (Of course, I'm realizing I never put my real name on this site as the author, though I did put an email address....)

A final way to search/evaluate is to look for page information about a site. I couldn't find out when the page was last updated the way O'Connor and Heine were able to show in the video. Maybe it's just a Mac thing. There is probably a PC way to do it, but I haven't figured that out yet.

A few more comments that really stuck with me: (paraphrased from the video)
  • We've created a lot of tools that make it easy for kids to copy/paste information, but we've also created a lot of tools to allow students to cite their sources as well.
  • Look beyond the obvious.
  • These skills are critical for all content areas.

I look forward to spending a lot of time at the website 21st Century Information Fluency From the description and the little I saw on the video, it will be a valuable resource!

Last thought: I watched this hour long presentation online. It took me much longer, though, because several times I paused the video and went and looked at the sites the presenters were talking about. While it took more time, I liked using this method of learning because I was using the information even as I was learning it.

Chapter 7: Modeling Recursion in Research Process Instruction

"Recursion, or this repeated application of a research procedure to the results of a prior procedure, is invoked any time the research determines that the emerging complex of relationships has undeveloped area, logical errors, or incongruitites." (Sandy L. Guild, page 141 of Curriculum Connections, edited by B. Stripling and S. Hughes Hassell, 2003, Libraries Unlimited)

I admit, my first reaction to this chapter was, "Huh? What on earth is this lady talking about?" I finally figured it out when she explained the opposite: "... instruction in the process, by contrast, is often presented in a fashion that leads sutdents to assume that the process is linear." (page 142) Ah, then I got it.

Sad to say, I've done this. Over the years I have taught my third and fourth graders that the research process is generally a set of steps that you follow in order. First you come up with questions, then you gather your sources, take notes, make an outline or organize your notes, write your paper, and share your results.

What Guild is trying to explain, in way, way too many words, is that research doesn't work that way. (Thanks for your help on this, Valerie!) Often, when you do real research, something comes up that doesn't fit, that gives you more questions, conflicts with what another source says, or that you don't understand. You will have to go back a step or two and try again. You are not just aiming for that final product.

While I did instruct my students that research was basically a linear process, that wasn't what actually happened in our classroom. For example, a student may have started an animal report on a koala. He wrote down some questions, found sources, and took notes. Then, when that student and I sat down to talk about and organize the notes, I found that he had written the word "marsupial" many times, but had no idea what it meant. I sent that student back to his sources to find the answer. He didn't even know enough about the subject to have written "What is a marsupial?" as one of his original research questions. Nor did he realize that not knowing what a marsupial was, would probably inhibit his understanding of many aspects of the koala.

When Guild started explaining "self-talk" as part of the research process (page 142,) I was finally on familiar ground. The staff at my school calls it "think aloud." The idea is that kids need a model for good self talk, or thinking. Because they can't see thinking, the way adults must model it is by putting it into words. At first, you feel like a total looney! I remember stopping during a read aloud and trying a think aloud. It was pretty cheezy!

"Hmmm... this word is hard for me to figure out. First, I'm going to cover the ending of the word and see if that helps. Oh, I see the smaller word think. If I put on the beginning sound, I get rethink. Put the ending back on to get rethinking! Great! Now I am going to reread the whole sentence and see if it makes sense."

That can get old real fast for the adult, but it is so important to model, and the kids don't mind it as much as you think.

It also reminds me of the way we teach handwriting... "First, draw the line from the top to the bottom. Then cross it on the top. Now you have a T!" I often heard my students saying those directions to themselves as they learn handwriting.

Another example is when we teach a math procedure such as long division. "First, see how many times 3 can go into 7 without going over. Right! Twice! Write the two on thetop. Then, multiply two times three to get 6. Write the 6 below the seven and subtract. Then, bring down the next digit."

You get the idea!

What I should have done, and will do in the future, is to include this self talk or think alouds to the research process. I should have explained to the student that it's normal to have to go back and look for more information about your topic, even after you've "completed" your research. I am also going to look, or create, visual models of research that show a more circular or recursive process. I have often seen models for the writing process that are more circular.

I have one worry about these ideas, however. It seems to me that it requires quite a bit of metacognition. When I sat down with that student studying the koala, he was not bothered one bit that he had no idea what a marsupial was, nor did he feel it effected his work at all. He could have continued his organizing and writing, using the word marsupial, just fine. In fact, I may not have even known until he gave an oral report and couldn't pronounce the word or answer a question about it!

When I work with students on their research in the library, I need to give them time and permission to be recursive, to go back and find more information, to make sure things make sense to them. When I begin instruction, I need to point out ahead of time, that this is likely to happen. It doesn't mean that they aren't doing a good job, in fact, it means the opposite. Good researchers and thinkers are analyzing their work and checking for understanding.

Luckily for me, Guild's final statement makes much more sense than her beginning. "If our ultimate goal as educators is to guide students to habits of mind that foster life long learning, we must ensure that we not only support and guide them in developing these risky practices of critical thinking but also reward them for their efforts." (page 150) Absolutely!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shelf Awareness

Is anybody familiar with the shelf awareness daily email newsletter? I signed up, but haven't gotten one yet.

Great title, eh? Wish I'd thought of that!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I have been wondering about the time when I am officially allowed to call myself a librarian. Do I have to wait until the students show up in August? Am I officially a librarian once I finish my degree? I've been wondering about this privately and found this post on the Annoyed Librarian's blog, thanks to a classmate in LIS 724. The Annoyed Librarian's question (What is a Librarian?) received 90 responses!

I know exactly where I was when I knew I was a teacher. Strangely, it's not that far from where I am sitting right now, in my school's library, even though this school didn't even exist then. I was driving south on Route 59, approaching Route 72. I had just been hired to teach fourth grade at Woodland Elementary School in Carpentersville. I had to pull over because of the overwhelming feeling that "I was a teacher." I felt like I had just become a nun, prepared to spend the rest of my life serving the church. (Little did I know how appropriate that comparison was!)

I believe I have transformed into a librarian slowly. Making the decision to attend library school was an emotional first step. I mourned the loss of my students, my classroom, and the identity of teacher, even though I still had several years yet to teach. Yet, once I made that decision, my mindset began to change.

The more library classes I attended, the more I felt like a librarian. I clearly remember being part of a committee meeting for a summer reading program and advocating, for the first time, the library and librarian perspective instead of a classroom teacher perspective.

Being hired in March as the librarian at Rose School went a long way towards feeling like a librarian, but I still don't have any real experience. Did I become a librarian on July 1st, when the new fiscal year started? I now have the School Library Media endorsement on my teaching certificate, but I don't have my master's degree yet. Will I be a librarian on August 17th when I finish my last class?

Even after I finish my degree, I still want to do an internship and earn my Type 10 certificate. Will I be more of a librarian then than I will be this September?

I found the many comments to the Annoyed Librarian's question intriguing. I don't know that there really is an answer. I do know that it's going to be an exciting (and odd) first day of school on August 24th. I haven't had that "Ahh, NOW I'm a librarian" moment like I did with teaching, but I'm hoping it's yet to come.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bottom of the Pile - Personal Blog Reflection for LIS 724

I started this blog because it was required for two of my Library and Information Science classes: LIS 724: Media Services and Production and LIS 725: Curriculum and School Libraries. I admit I was reluctant at first. I didn't think I'd have that much to say, or that it just wouldn't be that interesting for others to read. Well, it turns out that I have plenty to say! Whether it is interesting to others or not is yet to be seen.

Setting up the blog was quite easy. I already had an account on Google, so I just added a blog to that account. I've been playing around a bit with adding "gadgets" and changing the names of the various sections on the page.

For LIS 725, we are required to read each other's blogs and make comments. I've enjoyed that aspect quite a bit! Even though we are blogging about the same reading or class discussion, we all have our own views, experiences, and perspectives. I also found some new information about the ISAIL library standards by reading my instructor's blog. I feel so "up to date!" I'm looking forward to reading what blogs my other LIS 724 classmates are interested in. JVLopez investigated freetech4teachers and it's filled with great ideas. Chris, my LIS 724 instructor will love that one... she is always downloading free stuff onto her computers. (She probably already has it bookmarked on delicious, I'm sure!)

One of my worries is that its going to be difficult to keep up with so many different blogs, even with a reader/aggregator.

I am also experiencing a bit of the ol' Junior High feelings of inadequacy - no one's responded to my blog except my teacher, and she has to! (Still, thanks for the comment, Erin!) It makes me think about the purpose of a blog... is it to express oneself, create connections, come up with unique ideas, feel popular, vent? Maybe all of the above.

Audiobooker - Blog Reflection for LIS 724

I have decided to start following a blog by Mary Burkey called Audiobooker. This blog is hosted by a highly respected review source: Booklist. In addition, Mary Burkey was the head of the committee that chose the 2009 Odyssey Award winner for best audio book.

I first found out about this blog at the ALA conference this weekend. (see previous post) I am excited to learn more about evaluating audio books, as I plan to add many to my library's collection. So far, there is exactly one audio book available for checkout! At least it's from a great book: one of the Sammy Keye's mysteries. I haven't listened to it yet as it's on cassette and my new(ish) car doesn't have a cassette player.

If you want to check out the entire presentation from Sunday, and more, read audiobooker!

Another reason to love Booklist Online

Another reason to love Booklist Online: They reviewed Lillian's latest book, The Letter from Death. I did a fair amount of research for this book and worked on the bibliography as well. I'm so excited to see it in print soon!

I also did a lot of the research for Lillian's first published book, The Gate of Dreams.

Monday, July 13, 2009

March of the Librarians

My dad sent this link to me a few years ago, when I first started library school at Dominican. Now that I've actually been to a conference, it's even funnier!

Curriculum Mapping

I had a similar experience to sryan's when I read the chapter on curriculum mapping in our text, Curriculum Connections Through the Library, edited by B.K. Stripling and S. Hughes-Hassell. Reading Chapter 5: Librarian Morphs into Curriculum Developer by C. C. Vlasis brought me right back to the time when my district started curriculum mapping. We went through all the stages listed in the book! We started with just one subject and wrote out our own classroom maps, met as a grade level to create grade level maps, met with other teachers in our district teaching the same grade, then met with grades above and below us. We had a hard time with the idea of giving up some well loved units and accepting that a true curriculum map is never complete.

It is so interesting to look at curriculum mapping from the perspective of a school librarian. When my library clerk, Marilyn, and I were moving the professional collection, I wondered if anyone had ever looked at the curriculum map binders on the shelf. As I read this chapter, I went and grabbed the binders to take a look. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found out that there was a library tab! It looks like the library maps were printed in July of 2004, so I'm not sure if they are in current use, but it was exciting to find them. Right now, our curriculum maps either seem outdated or too cumbersome to manage. I could relate to Jo Ann Everett's (author of Chapter Six: Curriculum Mapping and Curriculum Mapping: Otherwise Know as "The Camel with Two Humps") experience of cutting up the science standards and putting them on a huge bulletinboard in grade level order in order to see the big picture. That's what we need to be able to do as librarians to make sure our collections, the materials in our library, will meet the curriculum needs of teachers and students. Bulletin boards are even bulkier than binders, however!

That's why I totally agree with Valerie's comments about curriculum being digital, therefore searchable and flexible. I believe our district paid for our maps to be on a website or database of some kind, but I can't even remember going to that website, what it was called, or even how it worked. I do remember it was very expensive! Even with our grade level binders, it is not easy to see all the skills that correspond to a particular Essential Question or content. Plus, the assessment and resources columns are blank. Perhaps we just weren't ready to be dealing with curriculum online at that time. This is an area I need to ask more questions about. Are those maps still there? Can we access them? Are they considered up to date? Is there a specific library curriculum in place?

The staff at my school found the discussions surrounding curriculum mapping to be the most valuable. We discussed what went on in our own classrooms, found out what other schools were doing, compared our ideas to those in grade levels before and after us, argued about what was content and what was a skill, we learned how to create essential questions, which skills/standards went best with which grades, what overlapped, and what was missing. I know our science curriculum was revamped quite a bit due to curriculum mapping. By pinpointing exactly what topics our students were going to cover each year in the different strands of science, we were able to purchase excellent materials that matched the students' level as well as curriculum needs. I'm sure the kids were relieved to no longer be studying plants every year from 1st - 3rd grade!

The end of Everett's chapter is encouraging in that she reminds us that we can't do it all at once. There's just not enough time or money. So, we need to prioritize and take small steps, which seems to be a theme for me this week.

ALA Conference - Part Two

My second day at the ALA Conference went much better than my first. I started out at the Hilton on Michigan Ave for the Amelia Bloomer breakfast. There were two great speakers. Sarah Bornstein spoke about her experiences as part of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. The second speaker was Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, Fever 1793, and more recently, Independent Dames and Chains. Independent Dames was chosen to be on the Amelia Bloomer Project 2009 book list.

Once I figured out how to get from the Hilton to McCormick place, I attended two seminars - one on evaluating audiobooks and one on reaching reluctant readers with non-fiction. I got a lot out of the audiobook seminar, even though I only stayed for the first half. I want to add audiobooks to my collection, but I don't know how to evaluate them. (Over the past two weeks, I've listened to four audio books and only really liked one of them - Bucking the Sarge. I also listened to Clementine's Letter, Criss Cross, and Small Steps)

After attending this seminar, I have even more reasons to add audio books to my collection and ideas about how to evaluate audiobooks. The women on the panel were members of the committee that chose this year's ALA Oyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. They listed many reasons why audiobooks are good for kids and schools. (You can find the entire presentation on Mary Burkey's blog,

1. increase reading fluency
2. improve listening skills and listening stamina (See Mary Burkey's article on long form listening in the July 2009 issue Book Links, page 26)
3. increase reading comprehension4. enlarge vocabulary
5. support correct pronounciation of words (inflection, other languages, or archaic words)
6. support struggling readers and English language learners
7. expand literaracy experiences for proficient readers
8. improve standardized test scores

Audio books can increase the access kids have to books. In other words, more is better! It can also improve affect - or emotional ties to books. Kids who think books are fun will have increased confidence and love reading!

After the seminars, my next stop was "The Stacks." (See a picture on the dollfacedlibrarian's blog.) The Stacks is the exhibit area. Even though I was there for several hours, I only got through about a third of the exhibits. I learned a lot and picked up plenty of cataloges. I didn't win anything or get much free stuff, but that's ok. If a booth looked at all interesting, I went up to the sales person and said, "I've been a librarian for 10 days now. I don't know much - tell me about your product."

It was a learning experience for sure! I saw four fellow Dominican University GSLIS students, but no one else I recognized. Next time, I think it would be more fun to attend with a buddy AND to bring a lunch.

I saw my first playaway, left my address with companies selling reference books, and got great insight about wearing bifocals vs. having two sets of glasses from a very nice lady at the Mike Venezia booth.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ALA Conference and the Great Chicagoland Target Tour

I was so excited to head to the ALA Annual Conference at McCormick Place West this morning. I was all set to attend a session titled "Meeting the Challenge" which was all about what to do when parents challenge books in the library. Sadly, after getting up in the middle of the night, practically, (I am NOT a morning person), running to school to print out my reservation sheet, ( I AM a forgetful person), paying $20 for parking, registering, and consulting three different people at the registration desk, I found out that the session had been canceled! How disappointing. On the bright side, now I can head right for the exhibits tomorrow, since I already have my badge.

On the way home, I went on a Great Chicagoland Target Tour! Yes, I am on a quest to find those large buckets with the rope handles. I told our PTO School Supply person, Sheri, that I would find approx 48 buckets in six different colors for grades K - 5. We use them to store lunchboxes when kids go out for recess. I now appreciate why some cashiers insist on scanning every item, even if you have several of the same item in different colors. One very nice lady in Customer Service at a Target in Niles offered to look up the stores that had the colors I wanted. When I got to the stores, either there were no buckets, or they were the wrong colors. Clearly, computerized inventories do no good when the items aren't properly scanned. So, be patient the next time a cashier takes the time to scan items correctly!

Thank goodness for the Garmin Nuvii GPS my dad got me for Christmas. That little guy is so handy! (Mine is Australian, but I don't have a name for him yet. For some reason, I think of my dad's as being named Nancy.) I was partway home from my failed ALA conference attempt when I decided to try finding the rest of the buckets. All I had to do was tell him to find a Target near my location and he did! Then, when I got the addresses for other Targets, all I had to do was type in the address and viola! I didn't get lost at all. Sigh... it's such an odd experience for me.

I didn't realize, however, that as I went from Target to Target, I was getting farther and farther away from home! That's because I have the Garmin map set to show a 3D view and where I'm going is always straight ahead. I wish that view included a notation about which direction I'm going. I changed the view to an overhead view and set it so north is always at the top. Perhaps that will help me to get directions into my head. If not, at least I've still got my Australian accented boyfriend to get me home!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Third Post

It's amazingly easy to set up a blog. Go to Google and set up an account. Then, click on My Account in the upper right hand corner of the screen. There, you can click on Blogger, which is how I set up this blog. Then, think of something interesting to say - that's the hard part.

I sure hope my friend (code name: RmS - you know who you are!) decides to start a blog because I'd like to read it! She could write about dirt and it would crack me up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I'm not sure what this says about my age, but I am hearing about learning theories that were popular when I first started teaching beginning to come around again! I must say, I'm happy to see some of these ideas come around again.

For example, a current topic of discussion in my building is The Daily Five. These are five activities for students to participate in while the classroom teacher is working with small groups: reading to self, reading with someone, writing, word work, and listening to reading. I found the book, written by sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, to be quite interesting and very practical. But, it sure reminded me of the way I used to organize my reading group time back when I first started, using Regie Routman's book, Invitations.

I had a similar experience during class Monday night when my professor brought up Learning Dispositions as defined by Tishman, Jay, and Perkins. These dispositions, or "motivations, attitudes, values and habits of mind" enable people to be effective learners. The seven learning dispositions are:
1. The disposition to be broad and adventurous
2. The disposition toward wondering, problem finding, and investigating
3. The disposition to build explanations and understandings
4. The disposition to make plans and be strategic
5. The disposition to be intellectually careful
6. The disposition to seek and evaluate reasons
7. The disposition to be metacognitive
(from Thinking Dispositions:A review of current theories, practices, and issues by Shari Tishman and Albert Andrade, no date given, accessed on July 7, 2009, )

When I heard about these in class, I thought back to my beginning years of teaching when my entire school, grades K-5, worked on developing intelligent behaviors. These behaviors were adapted from Art Costa's Teaching for Intelligent Behaviors:
overcoming impulsivitity,
listening to others,
flexiblility in thinking,
checking for accuracy and precision,
questioning and problem-posing,
drawing on past knowledge to apply to present situations,
precision of language and thought,
using all senses,
living with a sense of wonderment, inquisitiveness, and curiosity,
cooperation, and
sense of humor.

Upon reflection, I realize that these critical thinking ideas haven't gone away and come back. It's me that has lost sight of these all important behaviors, ideas, mindsets, attitudes, and dispositions. I think in my years of teaching and focusing on content areas, standardized testing, and more, I've lost sight of these key concepts. Whether they're called dispositions, behaviors, or habits of mind, they are even more important in this day and age.

The students I am reaching in my library are facing an onsalaught of information on a daily basis. They will possibly be preparing for jobs that haven't even been thought of yet! There is simply no way to get through all the available information or learn every specific skill that will be necessary in the job market. By focusing on thinking processes, teachers and librarians can help students become independent learners able to sift through the piles of information, and find what they need.
This is my very first blog post ever!