Saturday, April 28, 2018

Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock RingMe, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes

I really enjoyed this middle grade mystery! Paloma Marquez' isn't excited about having to be in Mexico to be with her mom who's received a 4 week fellowship but the trip quickly turns into a search mission to recover the missing peacock ring belonging to Frida Kahlo and helping her friends free their dad who was framed.

I quickly became enamored with Paloma and her quest to learn about her dad who died when she was 3; all the nuggets of information she gleans from mom are quickly jotted down on note-cards as a way to remember the father she lost.

Angela Cervantes does a wonderful job with this mystery, weaving in the Mexican culture, historical information about Frida Kahlo and including Spanish words and cultural customs in this great story.

View all my reviews

Bonus info!
I follow Angela Cervantes on Twitter @AngelaCervantes and she shared this fun tweet:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

AASL Social Media Superstar Honor

Hello everyone-

It's been a crazy, busy, fun-filled week!  I just got back from the amazing TLA Conference in Dallas, TX-it was a wonderful week of learning (more about that later!) but it was also the same week that AASL announced their AASL Social Media Superstars.  I was nominated as a Leadership Luminary along with my amazing colleagues and friends Carolyn Foote and Shannon Miller-what an honor!!!

These amazing ladies and I go way back; they along with other librarians in the other categories are wonderful examples of the greater librarian PLN (Personal Learning Network) that shares, supports and advocates on behalf of students, libraries and programs everywhere!

So what's next?  AASL is asking everyone to provide testimonials on behalf of honorees through Saturday, April 14.  I hope you'll share how these individuals have impacted your practice by their support, advocacy, or leadership.  I know I will! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Picture Book review: Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma and How She Got Her NameAlma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE this book! Alma and How She Got Her Name written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal shares the story of sweet, little Alma. The story begins with her spelling out Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela and complaining to her father about the many parts of her name. Her dad sits her down and shares the story of each part of her name and offers her the opportunity to understand the history of her name.

Juana Martinez-Neal uses pinks, grays, blacks and blues to delicately illustrate this book about little Alma. Along with the vivid descriptions of each family member, each page is sprinkled with Spanish words and artifacts inspired by her Peruvian upbringing.

Long naming conventions in the Spanish culture still play a role in many students lives and this book will definitely fill a gap in libraries. This book will be published both in English and Spanish on April 10, 2018 by Candlewick Press.

Juana Martinez-Neal was the 2018 recipient of the Pura Belpré Award for her illustrations in the the book, La Princesa and the Pea.  You can learn more about her via her website, Juana: Children's Illustrator

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Highlighting Hour of Code Moments

It was a busy week in all of our libraries!  A huge majority undertook Hour of Code, something we tried out last year. Here's what a I noticed:

Engaged students, no matter what grade they were in...

Collaboration between students...

Wonder and excitement... 

We also had a few parent nights... 

What I loved most: When librarians heard students say, "Ahhh, look at that!" or "This is cool!", they knew students were truly excited. When librarians heard students say, "Oh, I've got to do this first. Now I solved it!", they knew that students were thinking critically. And when librarians heard, "Yes-I did it!", they knew students were truly persevering.

How was your Hour of Code week?  I'd love to hear about your experiences and next steps.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

After TLA 2015-What’s Next on Your To-Do List?

I was checking Twitter, Facebook and email this past weekend and came across the following things from some of the librarians in my district: 
“I was at my library conference and heard an idea from another librarian. It involves several volunteer staff coming up for an hour during the summer so that kids can come up with parents to check out books to read. Can you give me some feedback on this idea, pros/cons please?”- Email to Principal & Library Coordinator from Diane Rausch, Leander ISD
“I'm learning that LISD is pretty much on the forefront of technology in the field of librarianship. Makerspaces and coding are not new to us at all. Most of us have been doing them already. So proud! Of course, we still have room to improve. That's why we are here!” –Facebook post from Brenda Speck, Leander ISD
“It was a great day! I loved Matthew Winner's thoughts. #bethehero” –Facebook post from Karen Jordan, Leander ISD

 “Last day of TLA conference! I'm sooooo tired, but it's been a great week of learning! I've learned new stuff and I've learned I'm above the curve in a ton of other stuff!! Yay me! And the BOOKS! Holy cow, the BOOKS!!”! – Facebook post Beth Brymer, Leander ISD

These are just a few of what I read but the rich learning and many resources either purchased or obtained for free was obvious.  I also noted that many librarians were already sharing what they learned via blog posts or newsletters.  Here’s an example:

I really enjoy reading over everything my librarians pass along but I also remind them to share their learning with their campus principals and teachers upon their return to campus.  Sharing new ideas and inspiration learned from conferences is an advocacy opportunity everyone can easily do.  This opportunity affirms your librarian position as a resource for others in the area of literacy and tech integration and how you see it supporting your campus and/or district goals-who wouldn’t want to spotlight that?  Also, telling your principal a simple “thank you” for allowing you to attend is another opportunity you won’t want to forget.  With all the knowledge you’ve gained and passed along, this could afford you an additional opportunity to attend conferences in addition to TLA in the future.

Whether you write a thank-you note, send an email, or simply stop by your principal’s office, don’t forget to express your appreciation and share your learning-it can really go a long way! 


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Finding Treasure on a Saturday Morning

This sweet book arrived on Friday and there's a "treasure" of a story behind how I stumbled upon it.

I woke up last Saturday morning and checked my Facebook page and found author, Will Hillenbrand had posted a newspaper link to an author appearance he was making on April 7 at St. Peters Township Public Library. The write-up shared info about Pennsylvania's One Book, Every Young Child program which highlights the importance of early literacy development in preschoolers ages 3-6.

Back in 2010, Jane & Will Hillenbrand's picture book "What a Treasure!" was selected to to lead this initiative. Since becoming a grandma just over a year ago, I decided to find out more about this book and found this video from PBS Media where Will, the illustrator reads the book aloud.

Well, I instantly fell in love with this book!  I found myself going online afterwards to purchase and add to my "future gifts to grandkids" pile-everyone knows you can never have enough gifts!

Once ordered, I got back on Facebook to share how much I enjoyed the wonderful message and Will Hillenbrand responded right back, offering me a link to get the book autographed.  I then shared info about the book being ordered but he instantly offered to send a book plate and asked where to send and who to autograph it to.  Well, I happily passed along names and this is what arrived early this week:

Front of the card which is illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

His note to me; I especially love the bonus Mole drawing.
And here's the bookplate:

I can't wait to share this book with my sweet grandkids but I'm especially excited to share the story behind how I found this "treasure" of a book!  Will Hillenbrand-thanks so much for sharing your writing and illustration talents with us all!

What reading treasures have you found lately?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Where Can You Find a Reading Yoda?

This past week was a whirlwind of learning!  The district I work for hosted it's 23rd Annual Continuous Improvement Conference.  It's two days of learning from outside presenters and consultants; we also provide our own staff with the opportunity to share their learning with everyone that attends through choice sessions.  It's a great way to learn from one another and see what's happening on other campuses.  We even have a conference hashtag (#LISDCIC) that connects everyone to what everyone else is learning.

My two days of learning were spent with Donalyn Miller, who's also known as "The Book Whisperer". She shared many insights over the 2 days but the thing that resonated with me most was the influence teachers can have on their students.  This really isn't a new concept to me; as a librarian, I know and have witnessed the influence I have had with students when they come to the library.  But I've also noticed that not all teachers harness the influence they have with students when it comes to talking about their book recommendations, books that influenced them as students, or even shared times when they didn't particularly like a book.  It's entirely possible that teachers just haven't thought of doing this! 

Teachers today have many daily tasks and demands so reading opportunities and recommendations could easily be pushed aside. Teachers need to remember that they are the "Lead Reader" in their classroom and should leverage every opportunity to share their love of reading whenever possible with their students.  Doing this not only promotes literacy but also builds relationships, a key component in building a reading community.

But what if a teacher is unsure about where to start?  This is where your campus librarian fits in. Donalyn recommended partnering with campus librarians to get reading lists, genre recommendations, series information and so much more.  Librarians have a deep knowledge base about books and teachers and students often forget that librarians can be a resource, a "reading Yoda" of sorts.  We are VERY willing to share our book knowledge and have conversations about great books to read anytime.  Our goal is increase everyone's knowledge base about the many books available and ultimately build each person's reading compacity to become "reading Yoda's" for each other.

This was only one take-away; there were many additional ideas.  If you've not read her book, please consider adding "The Book Whisperer" and "Reading in the Wild" on your "to-read" list; you will not be disappointed!  I'd love to hear what other professionals do as the "Lead Reader" in their classroom-please share in the comments so we can all continue to learn from one another.

PS-Those were the first two days of my week; the rest of the week was spent at TCEA.  I'll be posting that learning later this week!

PSS- I'm currently reading "The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction" and "El Deafo" which was recently awarded The Newbery Honor at the ALA Youth Media Awards.

Striving to share my literacy passion,