Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween from a Leaping Roller Girl

In between ringing doorbells, I thought I could post about my super fun day yesterday!  And, believe it or not, I did get some teaching done and other library administrative duties, too!

But before any of that happened, I laced up my circa 1980s roller skates and became Astrid, the main character in Victoria Jamieson's beloved (at least in these parts, but I know elsewhere, too!) graphic novel of 2015, Roller Girl.  It was SO fun!  The best part was that Mrs. Kelliher, as well as one of our fifth graders, also dressed up!  Could we be happier triplets?

I wasn't sure about the roller skates.  Literally, I put them on for the first time when I got to school. But I quickly learned that roller skating is like riding a bike and I think I pulled it off that I knew what I was doing!  Roller skating down the halls was a blast!  Mrs. Kelliher was eying that all day and so after all the students left, she laced them up herself (good thing we have close enough shoe sizes!) and she did some mighty moves in the hallway!  A natural for roller derby, for sure!

If you haven't read the book yet, pick up a copy today!  I know kids who finished it in one day.  I know others who "stayed up all night" reading it.  When Astrid and her best friend, Nicole, go in different directions one summer, Astrid to roller derby camp and Nicole to dance camp, lots of growing up occurs.  Astrid learns how to face challenges, make new friends (and keep the old ones), and to push through even when you don't get exactly what you hoped for.  Such a great book!  We love it so much at Castleton Elementary School that it is even a book group in our Mock Newbery project! #RollerGirlLove

Views from the parade route:
Looks like I'm holding on pretty tight--we just went down a hill (you can kind of see it in the back!)

All my principal kept saying was, "Don't fall Rattner.  Please don't fall."
 A little leap goes a long way:
YES!  It's a LEAP!
 Posing on the grass (and this picture made it into the ALSC blog!):
A beautiful Halloween parade day!
Visiting Mrs. Pryde's class:

Took off the roller skates so I could get some height in this one!
YES! Another leap!

This is one of my future Mock Geisel students!

Another Geisel member!

A great ending to a down and then VERY UP week!

ps-Is "Leaping Librarian" cool enough to be a Roller Derby name?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Principal, I have redeemed myself....

Today was one of the top five days of my career, no doubt.  And I do believe if I didn't completely redeem myself for that epic observation fail Tuesday, I hope I came pretty darn close.

Was it the Beekle?  Did Castleton become Midnight Gulch?  I don't know, but whatever it was, a "snicker of magic" appeared at Castleton Elementary School this morning.  Fifth graders rocked the house after sharing a winning flag and singing and performing an original song to the tune of "Hey Mickey" called "Hey Chris."  Then, in a magical spindiddly moment, I leapt into the crowd and all our students screamed when they found out that Chris Grabenstein is coming AGAIN to our school in January, just one day after the release of Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics! Believe in the impossible and you just don't know where it will lead you.

Finding out Chris is coming!

*References to A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and Fourteenth Goldfish by Jenni Holm.

Monday, October 26, 2015

True confessions of an unannounced observation

I completely understand the consequences of me posting on social media my thoughts of today's observation and my feelings of epic failure. However, I think I will feel better if I just come clean. Then maybe I will actually be able to sleep tonight.

First of all it was my own fault! My principal came into the library minutes before my next class, the 9th  sessions out of 10 of kindergarten boot camp. Ahhhh....boot camp. You know I want to change things about the way boot camp ran this year and today helped make me realize I really do need to spend some time on it this summer. 

Back to the principal walking in, with his computer in his hands mind you, so I immediately thought he was planning a visit. But actually, no. He wanted to know about NYLA.  But I quickly interrupted and Boom!  My observation was happening. and my big mouth. 

The very well behaved kindergarteners walked into the library and came to sit with me on the rug in the Dewey Section. Today was Caldecott day.  If you know anything about me, awards are one of my favorite things to talk about. And that's exactly what I did and why I felt like such a failure. 

Honestly with only 20 minutes, maybe 25, there really isn't much time for inquiry, sharing, technology especially when my goal is to share great new and classic literature. I had many of my favorites to show, old and new.  It was fun to realize that Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was published the year I was born! Yes! Look that up and you will know how ancient I am!

So we talked Caldecott, medals and then I shared last year's winner, Beekle. By the time we finished reading and discussing (and we had a good discussion, I thought), our time was up. Exhale. Be glad it was over? No way. I thought of all these other things I could have, should have, would have done. Give them the books to look at and rate them. Give them 2016 books (Float!) and rate those. Think, pair, share. Ahhh...Regrets.  I have done all that before but I feel like we had more time then. Excuses. Excuses. I just feel like the whole lesson could have gone so much better. 

This week we have Newbery book groups beginning. We have Geisel starting (or at least the planning) and even my wrap up for kindergarten boot camp. Exhale. Exhale. It's all ok. Give yourself permission, Stacey, to just let it go. 

In the meantime, I think I will find my own Beekle to listen to my regrets, hold my hand and remind me to expect the unimaginary. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Leaping in Lake Placid

It took me a whole week to become myself again after Tari's Bat Mitzvah.  Then we kicked off our NEWBERY PROJECT and a couple of days after that I left for the NYLA conference in Lake Placid. I feel like I'm on the never ending express train, especially since things are looking to slow down anytime soon.  In a week and a half I'm off to AASL in Columbus, OH and then days after I get back my Newbery class begins through the Teacher Center!  Lots going on with many opportunities for leaping!

The NYLA conference was great! I learned a lot, tweeted more and leapt quite a few times.  I used to think when people were looking down at their phones or iPads during a workshop, they weren't paying attention.  Now I know from experience, it could very well mean the opposite.  I was looking down a lot because I was tweeting throughout each workshop I attended.  It's almost like I was writing collaborative notes.  You can find all my tweets from the conference here.

Some highlights:

The conference keynote was by David Lankes.   David is a professor at Syracuse and just amazing.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, go!  You will not regret it and I don't even think you need to be a librarian to get energized by him.  He posted his keynote on his website and I just had to share it with you! Man, was he good!

Since we are getting pumped for the release of Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics, it was perfect to have all these librarians in Olympic Land!  The exhibit hall was even on the site of the 1932 hockey win!

SSL Members in the 1980 Olympic Rink with a balloon torch.  When you read the book,
you'll know why I was hoping to find a flashlight for the picture instead.

I learned about using 3D printers, overcoming obstacles, great things happening all over the state in Smackdown 2020, an amazing collaboration between a special ed teacher and the librarian and so much more!  I even tried to find Greek resources for our new student from Greece. Lots of information to soak in.  Lots of laughs and camaraderie, too!

And what do you know?  I saw a college floor mate (SUNY-Binghamton, Endicott Hall, 1987-1989) and housemate (1989-90)!  Susan, who has been working at the Ellenville Public Library (home of the Nevele) for 20 years, always wanted to be a librarian; me not so much!  It took me a long and winding road to get to the amazing place that I am at now and after 25 years it was great to reconnect in our shared profession!

I even got her to leap with me!

And a leap at the banquet with the incomparable, Sue Kowalski!  She's my idol! When I grow up I want to be her! ps-She and I have a leaping contest going on!  How could the "leaping librarian" not win????

What a great conference!  It was good to see old friends from graduate school, connect with colleagues and make new friends.  Looking forward to the national conference and SSL in the Spring!

Until then, Newbery book groups begin on Tuesday! Please stay tuned for more on that!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leaping at the Bat Mitzvah leads to some Fuzzy Mud

Wow! What a Bat Mitzvah weekend!  We laughed! We cried! and of course, we leapt!


LEAP! (and yes, Tari and I were both wearing heels!)

Recovering from almost 200 guests and a full weekend of celebrations with family and friends from all over the country can take days. It took me about till Friday till I felt like I was back in the game again.  And here I am!

In the meantime, Zack and I did manage to listen to Fuzzy Mud by Newbery award winning author, Louis Sachar.

Usually when we listen to a book, we keep it to the car.  But one day we were so riveted that we brought it in side and I devoured almost this whole wheel of local Camembert (I highly recommend it and thank Field Goods for providing it in my bag this week!).  This is a total middle grade creepy, thriller.  I kept trying to explain to Zack that the reason it was so creepy (he almost abandoned it!) was because it's science fiction that could be real.  Who knows?  It may be happening right now and we just don't know about it.  When scientists invent Biolene, a gasoline replacement, they have no idea how the ergies got out, multiplied and caused a major "situation in Heath Cliff, PA."  Together fifth grader, Tamaya, her friend and neighbor, seventh grader, Marshall and seventh grade bully, Chad save the country one day after school in the woods by stepping in some "fuzzy mud."  The descriptions of the fuzzy mud symptoms can make your stomach turn, and not so great to hear while driving, but I managed.  I was afraid Zack might have nightmares, but he didn't.  Even, Tari, who only heard bits and pieces, had a hard time with it.  The book makes you really think about science, the environment, friendship and what is best for humankind.  It certainly sparked quite a bit of discussion among us and I look forward to hearing the reactions my fifth graders will have when they read it.

Check out the interview on NPR with Louis Sachar at the bottom of this post.

STAY TUNED!  My Newbery project with the whole fifth grade begins MONDAY!  I am finalizing my book list and getting ready!  This year, in addition to our principal leading a book group, both secretaries from the office, my volunteer, Mrs. Warland and our technology coordinator will also be leading groups!  Plus, the youth services librarian from the public library will be leading one after school and Mrs. Kelliher will be doing one during intervention.  Very exciting to get so many people involved!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My name's in print! My name's in print! School Library Connection!

YES!  Last spring the fabulous, Paige Jaeger, asked me to be columnist for the new journal, School Library Connection.  Not one to say "no" often, I took up the challenge and today the first column arrived in the mail!  Woo-Hoo!  I wrote about my experiences with our "Castleton Zoo" project.  Maybe I'll just have to have it on the coffee table on Sunday when 95 people are over for a post-Bat Mitzvah brunch….

Check out p. 44!

In other news, my fabulous volunteer, Mrs. Doe Warland, finished The War that Saved My Life this weekend.  She was up till 2 am reading!  She loved the book so much that not only is she going to lead a book group with it during our Newbery project, but she is also going to recommend it to her adult book club.  Tough, tough issues covered in the book, but done so well and so appropriate for fifth grade.  I know Doe will be hoping for some medal on that cover!  For her next read, I gave her my copy of The Marvels.  I can't wait to hear what she thinks of that one!

My daughter told me tonight that I should blog about all the things I'm doing in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah.  I don't think so.  I am very excited about the weekend and know I won't want it to end.  However, maybe on Monday when the last guests have left, I can curl up and read a good book.  Wonder what it will be for there are so many on my TBR pile.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I spied at a 2 year old birthday party: Crayons quitting, strong girls inventing and dragons eating (with little trees in her future)

I took a break last night from Bat Mitzvah planning and went to a two year old birthday party.  And since I was in the mood for breaks, this was the first occasion I didn't give my young friend books as a gift.  BUT, fortunately, she managed to get a nice stack of hard cover books to add to her collection from someone else.

The popular The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home were two of them.  Then, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin.  That book is so fun!  A few years ago the author and illustrator, Daniel Salmieri, were at the Hudson Book Festival.  This was before the book made it to the NYT Best Sellers list week after week.  They were just a couple of cool 20 something guys having fun signing their books.  So, we're at this little get together last night and one woman (not the one who gave the books), said Adam is her cousin.  She even went to his Bar Mitzvah!  Yes! I have these life events on my mind right now.  I don't know if anyone else was impressed.  But you know I was.

The final book in the birthday pile was another one I have in my school collection, Rosie Revere: Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.  A great book to encourage our little friend in becoming a strong, confident girl.  I don't know if I would have ever thought to give that as a gift, but now I certainly will.  Ahhh....I feel a pun coming--Great IDEA! (yes, Rosie likes to invent things!).

I loved meeting Loren Long at ALA and am waiting patiently for The Little Tree to come out at the end of the month (October 27).  We went to an event where Loren spoke about his journey in coming up with the idea of the book.  It was so moving.  A lot of sniffling was heard in the crowd.  I wonder, as my daughter approaches a new stage in her life next weekend, if I should give the book another read this week, and how I might look at it differently.  We always want to hold on to our leaves but sometimes, we just have to give ourselves permission to let go.  I really love this book so much and can't wait till the rest of the world can get their hands on it. (Oh, and did you know I got Loren to jump with me right before the Newbery Caldecott banquet?!)

PRE JUMP with Mary Ann Scheuer!

Coming down?

I just LOVE that little tree!

Loren signed a copy to one of my classroom teacher friends and she read it to her daughter's kindergarten class last week when she went in as a guest reader.  She was so excited to share her book with the class.

Mrs. DeMassio happily posing with her copy!

How does this relate to the birthday party you ask?  Well, over the summer I gave my little birthday girlfriend a couple of books and a board book of Otis was one of them.

Ok...taking a break was the theme for a few hours on Saturday. Well, the break is way over.  Now back to the grind.