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.