Saturday, June 27, 2015

How do you ever prepare for a conference?

As a first time conference goer, I’m already unsure of everything since I think I way over packed and may not have packed the right things.  But, I do have duct tape, a pair of scissors, highlighters, sharpies, extra hangers, an extra bag for my swag and this awesome new bag that one of my students gave me today on our last day of school.  Not sure what I will do with the duct tape.  I don’t believe it was on anyone’s “List of things to bring to ALA” but I just thought it might come in handy. 

I scoured the blogs last night at the last minute looking for ideas on unusual things to bring and how to manage my first conference.  Everyone said to bring business cards.  Check.  My almost 9 year old son designed them for me and I’ve got 500 to hand out!  Come and get one.  My principal laughed because he doesn’t even had cards.  Well, he’s not going to ALA.  If I get him to tag along with me to AASL in Columbus this year, maybe I’ll get him some cards.

I don’t know what I am most looking forward to—Oh, I know, the Newbery Banquet!  But what’s second?  The Coretta Scott King Breakfast, of course!  Then could it be the Exhibit hall?  The graphic novel panels?  Other workshops that I don’t even know about yet?  I just didn’t have the time to look at the schedule the past few weeks so I’m planning on getting up early and trying to figure it all out tomorrow.  I’m also a bit old fashioned and do well with a book in my hand.  So maybe I will register, find a coffee shop and get to work with my highlighter that I brought from home.

Only a day late--Leading up to and arriving in San Francisco for #alaac15

Greetings from the airplane, although by the time I post this I will be on my layover in Las Vegas.  My feet are touching the ground, although I feel like the airplane now and am flying.  Is this all really true?  Am I really headed to hang out with 20,000 librarians  with Kwame and Dan Santat and all the rest?!  I just shook my head.  I hope my seat mates didn’t catch that. 

On my birthday last week, I got an email from Netgalley saying I was approved to read the ARC of Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate.  You know, things have been a tad busy so I just got a chance to read it here on the plane and Wow.   2 ½ tissues later and I can finally get my thoughts on paper.  That’s some beautiful writing right there.  Boy.  I can’t wait to share it with students.  I couldn’t believe the connections to this year’s Caldecott book (Beekle!!!) and Lauren Castillo’s latest illustrations with Eve Bunting’s book, Yard Sale.  A trombone even makes a cameo, which made me smile and think of Trombone Shorty and Bryan Collier.

We had a whirlwind of a last day.  The Morning Assembly went really well.  We shared our “Best Book Ever” and “It’s a Basketball Life” music videos as well as the cover of the NYSUT magazine which features KWAME!  The fifth graders wrote memories of CES and sang beautifully thanks to Mrs. Gibney. I didn’t take a single picture but I know there are a bunch posted on the Schodack webpage.

After the Assembly, Mrs. Harris and I got to work on the NYS Archives project. Reminiscent of two years ago when we were literally working minutes before the buses pulled up, we were doing the same thing today but it was even more stressful.  Honestly, I don’t know how good it is and if the annotated bibliography will pass the inspection, but at least we can say that we submitted it. 

I got a beautiful personalized bag that says, “Librarian” on it.  It’s on my feet right now.  How awesome is that! Thank you, Becka!  I will be the envy of those 20,000 folks tomorrow in San Francisco!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A brief note to thank Mother Nature

Yes!  I walked with FIVE classes to the Castleton Public Library in the past two weeks and we never got rained on. Today was the closest we came to canceling, but we took our chances and we made it.  In fact, it didn't even sprinkle until about 4:30 p.m.  So we were safe!

45 kids in total got brand, spanking new library cards to use in any UHLS library!  And many more students got to check out books because they already had a library card.  What a great collaboration and a way to help the public library kick off it's Summer Reading program.

Mrs. Charsky's class JUMPING yesterday!

I'm still on the search for overdue library books. This is by far not my favorite part of my job.  I never know good ways to make students more responsible.  Do you?  Little by little, books come back to me but I never get all of them back. I'm having a feeling that because I have so much going on this year, fewer books will come back to me because I haven't had time to go after them as much as usual.

The response for my Summer Book Groups has been great!  I even have a student signed up for all five (AND she bought a book for each one!).  I also got an email from a current 6th grader who saw it announced on the district webpage and signed up for one, too.  Life is good. We've been jumping with books and tweeting them to all the authors.  I think that makes them happy.  I am looking forward to jumping a lot at ALA in just a few days!

And more news!  Are you a member of NYSUT, the New York Teacher's Union?  Chances are you might know someone who is because there are 600,000 members! And an article about Kwame is in it next month with our kids JUMPING with HIM on the cover! Shhh…Don't tell Kwame, though!  In the next few days I need to figure out a clever way to unveil it for him at ALA.  I will give him copies of course.  My guess is he doesn't read this blog so my secret is safe here ;-)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Salva Part 2 with video

This just in!  Some 7th graders were interviewed by Time Warner Cable News Channel 9 about our trip out to Rochester and here it is!  Nice job, Willow!

It was SO worth the WALK (and the bus ride...)

We Won't Forget this Day for a long time...

Friday was an unforgettable day for 42 7th graders from Maple Hill MS and the 4 adults chaperoning them.  Talk about connecting literature to real life.  Wow.

We all have Mrs. Fowler, the 7th and 8th grade English teacher from MHMS, to thank.  After reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park as part of the 7th grade Common Core modules, she did a little research and saw that Salva Dut, was going to be walking in Greece, NY this past Friday raising money for his organization, Water for South Sudan.  I'm not sure how she pulled it off in less than two weeks, but she did and again I say, WOW.

42 kids piled into the bus at around 10:45 am. Here they are jumping because we just drove 250 miles!

After registering and giving in the nearly $1500 that the students raised, we met Salva and started walking!

Mrs. Fowler gave Salva a bag of Maple Hill swag!

And we're off walking!

A photo op with Salva!

Thank you, Mrs. Fowler for this amazing opportunity!

Another photo op!

What?! We're not jumping?! Just wait...Thanks to one of our favorite 5th grade teachers, Mrs. Kelliher, for chaperoning, too!
Here we are with Salva!

And the incomparable, Jen Cannell from Questar III also chaperoned!

Salva inspired all of us

Salva signed Mrs. Fowler's copy of Linda Sue Park's book that was the spark to make all of this happen.

And you thought we couldn't get Salva to jump?!  How could he say no to the Leapin Librarian?!

Thanks again to Mrs. Fowler for putting this day together for all of us.  I am so grateful that I was able to go with the kids.  Connecting literature to real life is totally my thing and I love to see it in action!  The students all thought it was an amazing day and well worth the long drive.  In fact, yesterday I saw some other 7th graders from other districts around the area and when they heard that  we met Salva they thought it was the coolest thing ever!  Some even already knew because they saw pictures posted on Instagram.  Gotta love social media!  You rock, Mrs. Fowler! What a way for these kids to close out the school year!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bagels with a side of Pomp and Circumstance

Today was a day of celebrating moving on.  First we had our annual "Thank You Dewey Duty Breakfast."  I rushed over to Brueggers and bought 4 dozen bagels for my 4th and 5th grade helpers.  Thankfully, a handful of kids from each grade contributed snacks--chocolate chip muffins, corn muffins, munchkins, other donuts, even healthy orange slices (Thank you, Alayna!).  I do appreciate all they do, even though at times I question whether it is a good thing.  It really is!  The shelves aren't in perfect order, but the books are in the right area enough if we are searching for a book, most likely we will find it.  Then, thanks to an idea I grabbed from Andy Plemmons, I pulled up a blank note page on the iPad and pulled names out of a hat.  When your name was called you were given the chance to tell me what book you would like me to buy for the library.  I have some extra money leftover from Northshire Bookstore and I thought this would be a great way to spend it.  They seemed really into it.  Finally, we jumped.

Here I am with the 4th graders:

Nothing like a true action shot at 8:30 in the morning!

I remembered to take photos of the buffet AND the kids with the 5th graders.

And here is the tweet with our jumping sequence:

Today was Thursday and every Thursday since early Fall I've been working with 4th grade in ELA.  It has been an awesome experience.  We went from looking up the word GENRE in the dictionary to learning about music genres and literary genres to comparing and contrasting many different Cinderella stories (who knew there were so many out there?!) to finishing up with story elements, including theme and character traits.  It was a blast and it really felt good to co-teach with Ms. Malone, the ELA teacher, all year long.  Since we called it "Detective" training, I wore pink every Thursday, and would play the Pink Panther theme as they entered the library.  I kept a pair of pink flip flops in the back room and pulled them out even on the coldest days.  Fun.  So today was our "graduation" from Detective Training.  Ms. Malone made up diploma certificates; I created a review Jeopardy game and we had a great last day.  It was really a lot of fun to hand out the diplomas while "Pomp and Circumstance" was blaring.  Here are the pictures of the day:

The Detectives from Ms. Malone's class

The Detectives in Mr. Charlebois's class (note the Jeopardy game in the background!)

The graduates from Mrs. Hirschoff's class

Tomorrow will be another exciting day with a visit from the Castleton Public Library Youth Services librarian with Mrs. Kosinski's class and then chaperoning the 7th grade trip to Rochester to meet Salva Dut and to Walk for Sudan.

Oh, and did you know?!  Of course, you did but just in case you forgot, one week from today EST I will be way on my way to San Francisco!!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Short but Sweet

I'm tired.  I can't keep my eyes open.  Why is it that the end of the school year always feels like we go-go-go and then STOP!  And this year I won't have any time to even rest because, as you know, I AM OFF TO SAN FRANCISCO!  I cannot wait! We had some visitors this afternoon from Miller Hill Elementary School in Averill Park to sort of rack our brains on what we do in our library and I took the opportunity to tell my Kwame story! Do you have a minute ever?  Because if you do, I'm happy to tell you our story!

We are still busy working on the NYS Archives projec with fifth graderst.  I don't know how it is ever going to get completed. The last day of school is next Thursday and then I fly out to where?  I can't remember. Why am I leaving?  lol.  Anyway, Mayor Keegan gave us a template of The Castletonian that I used today to plug in some of our articles.  They look good but again, I'm so afraid we are going to run out of time!  I wish we had spent more time on the editorial piece.  A lot of the articles seem like reports, biographies, etc.  This could be SO good if we had just one more week.  I still may send it to Deborah Wiles, since she was our inspiration oh so long ago, and if it looks like we used enough primary sources, then it will go off to competition.

My eyes are droopy.  I need to get to bed.  I just have to say that I finally read Yard Sale by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Lauren Castillo this week.  I read it to myself a few days ago and then read it aloud to Miss Leavitt's class yesterday.  I didn't cry but I had to clear my throat.  That was a tough one--beautiful in every way.  The details in the illustrations are incredible--even the faded sticker with a "10" on it.  Anyone that has ever been to or had a garage sale, knows about ht

Yesterday was my birthday and did you hear what I got besides a trolley car Pandora charm?  Yes! Netgalley approved me for Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate.  Mr. Schu, guru of all children's literature, has been talking about this book for forever.  I'm dying to read it and now I can, but maybe when I am confident I would get farther than the first page without my eyes totally closing. 'Night y'all.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Case for Loving

Happy Saturday!  Since my commute is a .3 mile walk I don't get the luxury to listen to NPR to and from school.  The beauty of this world today is that nothing is missed with the Internet and online streaming.  (and yes, me who is always up till midnight actually fell asleep on Dave Letterman's last night but luckily got to watch it the next day this very way)

I have been tweeting a lot about how much I love Junior Library Guild and my "books of the month," especially the ones recently.  In my May box, I received,

Such a beauty by SELINA ALKO and SEAN QUALLS.  I didn't realize it, but I already "knew" Sean Qualls--He's illustrated a bunch of other books  including, Dizzy, Scit Scat Raggedy Cat, Before John was a Jazz Giant and more!  We used all those books for our Acoustic Rooster jazz musician project for Kwame!

The Case for Loving is getting a lot of attention now and was even on NPR (YES! There's the connection to NPR, if you were wondering) yesterday.  If you missed it, here's the story:

   The illustrations are gorgeous and help tell the story of how it was illegal for interracial couples to be married as late as 1967 in Virginia.  I am sure this would be hard for any young person to grasp these days, even me!  This hits home to me personally because my own inlaws are an interracial couple.  Although slightly different circumstances since they are Asian and Caucasian and living in California, it was still 1967 and they could have still experienced some discrimination.

The Lovings moved from their home state to Washington, DC (where it was legal) so they could raise their family without grief.  You have to get your hands on this book!  Good discussions could be had with students of all ages.  I have to be honest, I haven't had the chance to share it with my students, but definitely will in the future.  It is a great addition to my library and again, I am grateful to Junior Library Guild for passing it on to me.  The book could be paired so well with some of our chapter books with the older grades, too., Revolution by Deborah Wiles perhaps?  As an aside, I know she is working on the third book in the trilogy now and I believe it will take place in the late 1960s, so definitely, YES! Looking forward to that one when it comes out...

I'm all over the place this morning.  Probably haven't had enough coffee yet.  I just wanted to put a shout out for Selina Alko and Sean Qualls!  Maybe they'll be at ALA and I'll get to jump with them?More later….

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Walk this Way with Mr. Lemoncello

We are 2 for 2!  The rain stopped for just enough time for Mrs. Puccio and Mrs. Seres's class to walk down to the library today!  Mrs. Colloton, Mrs. Warland and Mrs. Gershman came with us, too!  And this time we were prepared.  Many of the students brought their library cards with them to school and more brought in the paperwork to get library cards.  Watch out Castleton Public Library!  Your circulation stats are going to fly out the window by the time I'm done with you!

Leaving CES.  Hoping it won't rain!

Walking down the steps from Sacred Heart Church.  Fun!

The new youth services librarian, Mia, is so cool!
Here she is doing a great job promoting the summer reading program.

Ooh! I hope I find a book I like!

Where are your Non-fiction books?  Right here!

We're all wondering who can check out a book...

And to end it all, of course we JUMPED!

I almost finalized my summer reading book groups.  Stay tuned!  It looks like they are going to be great books.  Last year I only included the current fifth graders going into sixth. This year I will open it up to current fourth and fifth.  I would love to have the older kids, too, but I don't know if I'm cool enough for them anymore.

Speaking of books and libraries...
Yesterday was a big day because all the Lemoncello books from Mrs. Yager's class finally got digitized.  That was a job!  Scanning, uploading into powerpoint, uploading into Calameo but now I can say all eight books are done!  This was a great collaborative project but a huge one!  Mrs. Yager and I worked together to have her third graders retell Chris Grabenstein's Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  Once the books were completed, they read them to all the K-2 students to prepare them for Chris's visit back in March.  The books came out great.

Here they are:

Since Chris was here for the release party of The Island of Dr. Libris we are keeping our fingers crossed that he can make his way North for the release of the Lemoncello sequel, due out in early January 2016.  Maybe we should cross toes, legs, eyes, to give us the most luck possible.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Today's big adventure was taking a walking a field trip down to the Castleton Public Library with Mr. Morse and Mrs. Hanna's 3rd grade class.  Fun!  We managed to beat the rain on both sides of the trip and even saw some sun on the way back up the hill!

Mia is the new youth services librarian and she bonded well with the students immediately.  She didn't even have to tell them that she was a One Direction, Taylor Swift and Minecraft fan.  Oh, but she did.  They have a lot of really cool programs scheduled for summer reading.  I wish I was going to be around more to check in--candy sushi, knitting with your arms (?!) and more!

Check out their website here:

Of course, I got the kids (and teachers!) to jump with me on the lawn outside the library.

Do you notice that some of them have things in their hands?  Yes!  Books that they checked out using their own library cards or the summer reading schedule that looked so interesting to them!  I'm in the back in the bright yellow shirt next to Mr. Morse!

Keep your fingers crossed that the weather cooperates again for us tomorrow.  Field trip #2 with Mrs. Puccio and Mrs. Seres's second graders!  It's so exciting to take these kids down to the library and see them so excited to be there.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Don't believe my heart will be left there but I'm going to SF!

It's been a wild week!  Started off with my mission to figure out how to make it to San Francisco for the  ALA Annual Conference and with some emails and phone calls, it happened!  The lead to me leaping and jumping the rest of the week!  I purchased my tickets Thursday morning and didn't touch the ground all day.  I will be at THE NEWBERY BANQUET, cheering and crying and laughing and who knows what, right there for KWAME!  We only had 400 11 and unders shouting "Kwame! Kwame! Kwame!"  I can't imagine what 1,000 will sound like?  (Or would they be a bit more reserved???  I know I will be shouting it regardless!) AND I will be at the CSK AWARDS!  I'll tell you what, I love Jackie Woodson--and really, that's another committee I'd like to be on some day as well.  So yeah, it was tough to be grounded this week.

The Greater Capital Region Teacher Center is funding part of my trip as professional development to help me teach a class on the Newbery in the fall!  I'm so excited for this opportunity!  It will be an insane Fall (daughter's Bat Mitzvah, NYLA in Lake Placid, AASL in Columbus, OH) but those will all enhance the teaching of the class!  I just wish ALA Midwinter (in Boston in 2016!) wasn't so early (January 8-12)! That's insane!  We're going to have to start our Newbery project in October!

I had some time to really dig into my Junior Library Guild box of books later in the week and I LOVE them all!  The highlights are:

Matthew Burgess's book on ee cummings illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo.  Yeah, ee cummings used to be my favorite poet of all time  (like we read one of his poems at our wedding even) until I met this guy with the initials, KA.

Then there was this one, Roger is Reading a Book.  It's new to us in the US this year and is funny! The illustrations actually remind me of Christoph Neimann.  The ending made me laugh out loud, for real!

Another great book was a beautiful biography, Talkin' Guitar by Robbin Gurley, on Doc Watson. I used to listen to a bluegrass show on WRPI every  Sunday morning called "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and they played Doc Watson all the time. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and a great introduction to a musician I am sure not many of my students have heard of.

There was yet another beauty of a biography in my box this week about a patriot who baked gingerbread for Revolutionary War soldiers. A fun and fascinating read that made me want to eat some gingerbread, of course! 

There were other gems in the box, including Completely Clementine, a new graphic novel with a rutabaga as the central character and more! This really was a great month for Junior Library Guild! I hope I get to see them at ALA to tell them so in person. 

It was field day on Wednesday and Mrs. Donato jumped with me after school because we were twinning orange bandanas.

Mrs. Ciampoli and Mrs. Nolan's first graders are almost done with poetry. The zoo projects are coming along and Mrs. Segarra's class started animal research. 

Beginning Monday I will start chaperoning some classes down to the public library. A nice little walking field trip, although the uphill on the way back could be a good workout for some! 

2 1/2 more weeks of school and then ALA!!! San Francisco or BUST!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Busy Biologists

It is a biologist, right, who would be designing a zoo exhibit?  At least that's what I'm saying.  The first graders in Miss Leavitt's class were busy today!  They got their boxes; they found their supplies; and, they went to work.  Lots of good discussions going on within the teams as well as hard work gluing, cutting and designing.  I can't wait to see the final products!  The grand opening happens to coincide with Flag Day! Who knew?!

It's back to first grade poetry, too!  Mrs. Ciampoli's class came in and we wrote a class poem about ice cream.  Fun!  And today happened to be the "I" day in Miss Leavitt's class and they had ice cream sundaes!

Things are getting interesting in Tupelo Landing!  The Desperado Detectives are working to find out who killed Mr. Jesse!

Tomorrow is field day!  The weather looks like it will cooperate so I imagine it will be a great day!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Celebrities in the hall today

Happy Monday! Happy June!  Where did the year go?

Today we wrapped up the biography unit with Mrs. Puccio and Mrs. Seres's class with a mini version of the "Celebrity Ball."  We've been preparing for weeks to have the second graders dress up and be interviewed as their celebrity.  The cool thing about this year was that we had a lot of interesting people that many of us had never of before.  Check out some of our celebrities and their books!

 LOVE Jonah Winter books!

 Love, love, love Maira Kalman

 This is a great book about the little known slave turned firefighter, Molly Williams.  Amazing story!

 Who doesn't love chocolate and MARS candy???!!!

 Another Maira Kalman

Thanks, Ben, for all your many inventions!

It was a great day for the party!

But wait! There's more!  The fifth graders met with Casey Seiler via Skype this afternoon for some more help with the Archives project.  No surprise--he was awesome!

First graders kept working on their Zoo Projects--We will get our hands dirty tomorrow, for sure!  

I'm reading "Three Times Lucky" with some 4th graders. How can you not love Mo and Dale?

First graders started poetry this morning.  My favorite books to teach poetry--Dear Hot Dog and Hailstones and Halibut Bones

More tomorrow!