Trekking through the wilds of library instruction, management, and fun!

Aug 31, 2013

Teacher Treats - A Giveaway Linky

Enter these giveaways for teacher-types! If you have a giveaway and would like to add it to the list, it must end within 60 days of posting and include an end date.

$20 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY (ends 9/9/13)

Woo-hoo!!! Library Safari just reached 100 Pinterest followers! I think this wonderful occasion calls for Krispy Kreme doughnuts for me and my family, and a giveaway for one of you!

Enter below to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Some entries are worth more than others, and some can be repeated daily.  Have fun!


Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 30, 2013

It's Back! Reuniting with A.R.

Well, it's Friday, the beginning of a long weekend, and I'm having a hard time winding down. I feel like I've just stepped off an Accelerated Reader roller coaster after a week-long ride!

Monday: Prepared to begin this year's A.R. program. Excited and focused.
Tuesday: Learned that we would not have A.R. this year. Sad and stunned.
Wednesday: Searched for alternatives. Anxious and overwhelmed.
Thursday: Formed a committee to help me figure things out. Calm and determined.
Friday: Learned that we WOULD use A.R. after all! Elated, disappointed, relieved, confused.

I realize this is probably not something you can relate to, but I felt compelled to let you in on the story, after sharing yesterday's post about how I'm not a fan of A.R. anymore. So, there it is. Now let's go enjoy our long weekend, but be sure to check back in Monday to see if we still have A.R. ;)

Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 29, 2013

Life After Accelerated Reader

If you'd told me three days ago that I'd soon be looking for A.R. (Accelerated Reader) alternatives, I never would have believed you. I was a real fan of A.R. - always had been. Even in library school when I was told that it worked in opposition to its intended goal. Even when my peers spoke ill of it at our district librarians' meetings. 

Recently, Renaissance Learning chose to add a mass of new features that reflect current educational trends (RTI, Common Core), which is a good thing, I guess. Unfortunately, they passed the cost of them on to the schools. That's one of the reasons my school decided that this is a great time to try something new, and I have to agree.

Now, pardon me if I boast, but we really "did it right" when it came to A.R. I set individual goals for each child, and we held the standard of 85 minimum % correct. I expanded their reading range as they progressed toward their goal. It was a very important part of our reading incentive program. My colleagues and I are discombobulated by this loss. We find ourselves asking questions like...
  • How will we determine students' reading ranges without STAR data?
  • How will we set goals without points?
  • How will we determine progress without those fancy reports?
And the BIGGEST question that haunts me is...How do I motivate these kids to read now that I no longer have my carrot on a stick? Yes, I know...these were some of the biggest reasons for not using A.R. Those reasons I'd heard during library school and librarians' meetings. 

So it would appear that A.R. is wonderful when you have it, but if you ever have to let it go, the upset is widespread, affecting teachers and students. Teachers will have to find a way to make sure students engage in recreational reading. Students will need to be trained not only in the details of a new program but also, more importantly, in reading for the joy of reading. This begs the question - Wasn't that what we really wanted all along?

I'm thinking I may never be a fan again...

Have you had a similar experience? I'd love to read how you handled it. Please leave a comment or contact me through my comment form.

I'm off now to start a new Pinterest board about A.R. Alternatives :) I'm sure this topic will be a huge theme on this blog for the rest of the school year! Like me on Facebook or follow me on Bloglovin to see how it goes!

Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 26, 2013

A.R. Quiz Tutorial Video

I have to admit - I was a little aggravated when the folks at Renaissance Learning changed their look in the middle of the 2012 - 2013 school year, after my students had become used to the look and process. I had really hoped that someone would have made an updated video tutorial by now, but that doesn't seem to be the case. So, here's my homespun A.R. Quiz Tutorial video. Short, sweet and seasoned with my southern accent! I hope y'all can stand it, but if not, just mute it and add your own narration!

UPDATE: What a difference a day makes! The day after completing this video, my school decided to take a year off from A.R.! For the past seven years, A.R. has been an integral part of our reading program, so this is a big adjustment. I'm looking forward to finding and employing other ways to grow our readers.

Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 18, 2013

Library Welcome Letter to Parents

I wanted to share with you the letter I'll be sending home to parents this week. This "Back to School" letter will give parents an idea of my schedule, what I'll be teaching, and how to contact me. Click on this preview to open the document.

I'm big on conserving my "copy count," so I tried to make the font big enough to be readable after I shrink-to-fit two of these on one page. After you click on the link and open the document, you can edit it by selecting "File," then "Download," then "Save File." Then click on the green arrow in the upper right corner of your screen. Select "Library Sample Letter" from the drop down menu, and click "Enable Editing" in the yellow bar at the top of your screen. If you have any questions, use my "Contact Me" form to let me know, and I'll try to help you!

Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 16, 2013

The Book Fairy at Back to School Night

I've never really been a key player on Back to School Night. While parents were intent on going to visit their children's classroom teachers, few ever made their way to the library. After reading the Back to School post at Elementary Librarian, I was inspired to make some changes this year! She created a fabulous AR Guide for Parents, which I downloaded, personalized for our school (some of her information was different from ours), and copied on shockingly bright paper. My principal suggested I leave the library and distribute them to parents in the hallways. So, I donned my Book Fairy costume, placed my brochures in a basket and went out to where the people were! I had such a great time meeting parents, answering questions, and entertaining the children, and I look forward to doing it next year, too!

Yours Happily Ever After,

Aug 14, 2013

My Book Fairy Costume

While not the most flattering costume you'll ever wear, this DIY "Book Fairy" or "Library Fairy" or (best yet) "Diction Fairy" costume sure is a lot of fun to make! After shopping a few yard sales and the thrift store, as well as raiding my mom's craft closet and dress-up box (for her grandchildren ;), she and I created this...


We basically followed the directions from the original post at  Lilliedale, and I encourage you to go see the original. As for ours...
  • The supplies used were a Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, scotch tape, glue guns, notions such as ribbon, cording and beads, a belt, a  tiara, red glitter foam, a toy scepter (?)
  • The headpiece is an old tiara with a piece of glitter foam behind the rhinestones
  • The scepter is some strange toy I picked up at a yard sale. It has multicolored LED lights in both ends and has a disco ball effect when turned on. I covered it in ribbon.
  • There's much less fluff in my skirt than on the original - a good and necessary thing, since I have enough back there anyway!
  • The pages on the tutu is attached to a belt we found at the thrift store.
  • All of the pages came from the dictionary, the cover of which became the foundation for the wings.
You can read about how I used this costume by clicking here. If you've made a similar costume, I'd love to hear about it!

Aug 8, 2013

Pinterest Boards for my Library Curriculum Map

Great news! Now the Library Safari Pinterest boards are aligned to the lessons on my Library Curriculum Map! Here's a sample...

Happily Ever After,

Aug 7, 2013

My (FREE) Library Scope and Sequence

UPDATE (February 16, 2018): I created this scope and sequence in 2013, using the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner. They are not aligned to the AASL Standards Framework for Learners.

As I formed my Elementary Library Curriculum Map, I also created a document detailing the scope and sequence of the lessons. The library scope and sequence at Bay Port Blue Point UFSD was a great help in putting this together!

This document includes objectives, focus questions, and AASL Learning Standards correlations. Basically, the only things missing are the procedures and assessments. You can open it by clicking the image above or by clicking the following link:

My schedule may seem strange to you (described here), and it requires a more succinct set of essential lessons than what most of us may be accustomed to. No matter, I hope it blesses someone out there!

Please forgive any errors you find and alert me to them. Also, please contact me with any questions you may have or if you'd like for me to email the original Word document to you so you can edit it to suit your needs.

Yours Happily Ever After, 

My (FREE) Library Curriculum Map

UPDATE (February 16, 2018):
If I could, I would adjust this curriculum map to better reflect modern reference sources (Items H-J). The prospect of that is very slim, as I am a now middle school librarian and have neither the time nor need to do so. Perhaps it will be useful to you as a starting point. 

As a classroom teacher, I depended heavily on my LRP's (Long Range Plans). But, somehow, as a librarian, I've never really been able to form a good LRP. Until NOW! After much study and revision, I've completed my Elementary School Library Curriculum Map for the coming school year!

In order to better understand it, you'll need to know the following:
  1. I teach kindergarten through 5th grade on a modified flex schedule. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I am available for collaborative units with teachers, which will be determined as we go along. This Curriculum Map is for my fixed classes that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  2. The numbers in the map indicate the week in which I'll teach the topic. I'm in each class's related arts schedule every other quarter. For example, if there are four 1st grade classes, I meet with two of them in the 1st and 3rd quarters, and I meet with the other two in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Therefore, I only see each class a total of 18 class periods, as indicated on the Curriculum Map. 
  3. During the first 2 weeks of school, I "pull" the "off schedule" classes and teach the week 1 and week 2 lessons, so that everyone is caught up on essential information. Then, when the 2nd quarter begins, I start that group with lesson 3, since that's where they left off. Clear as mud?
  4. The literature appreciation lessons are labeled for weeks 15 through 18, but I actually insert them as needed throughout the year. For example, during book fairs, the computers are inaccessible due to the book display cases. That's a perfect time to pull a literature appreciation lesson!
  5. While you may find that many typical library topics are not listed, please remember that I have flex days during which I could collaboratively teach lessons with the teachers.
  6. Some of the topics are very broad, and some may include different methods. For example, the lesson labeled "Research V: Do" includes several of the steps of the "Big 6" for the upper grades, while the younger grades are at different levels of the "Super 3." More details here! 
I found a great library scope and sequence at Bay Port Blue Point UFSD, which helped me discern the essential topics I should teach in my precious 18 weeks! It also helped me create a detailed outline of what each of the lessons listed above includes, complete with focus questions and AASL standards alignment.

As I'm certain there's room for improvement, I welcome your comments and questions!

Happily Ever After,