Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mail Call Monday- Let's get Busy!

I have to admit.. Mail Call Mondays are becoming one of my favorite days!  I LOVE when people agree to guest blog for me. I love social media and how I am able to connect with people from all over the world!  My guest blogger is no exception this week!  

I think I have mentioned before that I follow several hundred blogs. The Busy Librarian by Matthew Winner is a great one.  I mentioned him in my last blog as a the founder of the #LevelUpBC and #Shelfchallenge.  I tweeted him last week to see if he would be my guest blogger.. and he agreed!  

Thanks Matthew for an AWESOME blog!  Find all of his information at the end of this blog.  Are you participating in #levelupbc and #shelfchallenge?  I just love the power of social media.  Enjoy the read!

Let's Get Busy
Guest Blogger Matthew Winner

I'm a teacher librarian and I only teach for fun. That's the rule. If I can't find enjoyment in what I do with the students, how will they?

I'm also involved in a lot of different projects. Many consume time outside of the school day. Most are projects of which my school colleagues are unaware. Each is an undertaking I consider to be central to my character as a professional.

I am a busy librarian.

But I happened to be a busy librarian on a quest. 

I want you to be busy. In fact, it might even be best for you to be busier. Hear me out before you send the angry pitchfork-wielding mob to chase me out of town.

No matter what position you hold in education, be it a classroom teacher, a teacher librarian, a student aid, a principal's secretary, a recess monitor, chances are you're already busy. Like many, you probably feel stretched beyond your means and absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. Adding another thing to your plate would ludicrous and out of the question.

But what if the one thing you added brought so much joy to your day that it actually changed your attitude about school? What if that one thing felt less like work and more like play? Less like to-do and more like an adventure? Then would you be willing to add one thing to your plate?

On October 10th, 2010 I started the Busy Librarian blog with little more than the ambition to be a voice for the busy. I wanted people to know they weren't alone and I wanted to, in many respects, be the change, as Mahatma Ghandi famously spoke. My first post was really short and pretty vague... more a a mission statement than anything else. And yet it's been a source I've returned to over and over to make sure I'm keeping myself on track.

The text read:
This is a blog for busy librarians. 
For those of us who feel, well, overwhelmed. 
It's a place of comfort and, hopefully, a source of inspiration. 
Here you will find the opportunity to interact globally and to impact locally. 
We'll synergize moments, ideas, and activities that will enable us to become more effective librarians, more efficient in our libraries, and more energetic with our students, without feeling like things are careening out of control. 
So, let's get busy!
Being busy is not a bad thing. On the other hand, feeling like your stuck or overwhelmed or uninspired where you work... that's a different story. That's something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I have added to my busy schedule in the best ways over the past 6 years as a library media specialist. Some of the things added lasted a week or two before I ditched them for something different. Others, like this blog, are still going and/or have actually increased in the number of hours to which I devote my time outside of work each week. But no matter what the task, the important part to recognize is that I'm volunteering to take it on because I see it as an opportunity for me to grow as an educator, contribute to my profession, and make my work a little more fun.

Being busy works for me. It's very easy to accomplish things when you're doing them from a place of love and with a sense of purpose.

I don't allow my work to come before my family, but I also try not to allow my work to come before my students or before my growth as a professional. Breaking routine, trying new things, and challenging myself to offer the best of myself to my students and my profession has made me a busy librarian, but it's also made me a very blessed librarian.

I hope you, too, can find yourself busy and blessed.

- Matthew

Looking to get busy? Here are a couple of things I did or do (and you can, too) that brought me a lot of joy:

  • Volunteer to be the recycling coordinator at your school. Work with students to collect recyclable materials from classrooms each week and deposit in the school's recycling containers. 
  • Serve on your state's book award committee. Help nominate titles for your state's book award and learn about a ton of great books for your classroom or library in the process.
  • Found an online book club. Meeting online takes a lot of pressure off of coordinating events and meet-ups while, at the same time, allowing for some really creative ways to connect and interact as a book club.
  • Connect your class with others via Skype. Whether collaborating on a project or simply connecting to say "hi", Skype helps your students get to know the world outside of your classroom as well as the many ways we and those we Skype with are the same.
  • Help your school celebrate a big event. International Dot Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day, and World Read Aloud Day are just a handful of truly awesome events you can celebrate school-wide while promoting literacy and creative expression, a win-win for any educator.

About Matthew:

Matthew C. Winner is a teacher librarian in the Howard County Public School System in Maryland. His library media program is aligned with ISTE’s NETS for Teachers and the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Before teaching in the elementary school library, Matthew taught in the 4th grade. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Towson University, a Master’s of Science in School Library Media from McDaniel College and is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Library Media.

Matthew has given presentations at conferences at the state, national, and international levels and has presented virtually at the TL Virtual Cafe. He has had articles published in Knowledge Quest and School Library Journal, and he is the author of the Busy Librarian blog. In 2012, Matthew was named Maryland Outstanding Educator Using Technology by the Maryland Society for Educational Technology (MSET). His love of video games and passion for teaching have earned him recognition as a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. He is also the cofounder of the Level Up Book Club, an online book club for teachers and professionals focused on game-based learning and gamification.

For more information on the Level Up Book Club, visit Learn more about Matthew’s library program and work at large at Follow Matthew on Twitter at @MatthewWinner or email him directly at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recruiting Authors/Illustrators and a Challenge!

Last year I moved schools.  With every school there are changes and new activities.  One of my FAVORITE new things is CARE day!  CARE Day you ask?  Celebrating Authors and Readers at Elliott.  It is a chance for students to create and share their own books with other students, a chance to have guest readers come in the classroom, a chance for authors and illustrators to share their love of a good book, and just a FANTASTIC day of reading!   This year I am even Co-Chairing the CARE Day committee!

We had our big meeting last week to work on logistics and we came up with the COOLEST idea! I am an avid social media user and skype classroom collaborator.  I have also started to use Google Hangout recently.  Are you an author or illustrator that would like to help us out?  Here is all that we need :)

We are looking for authors and illustrators that could spare 15 to 30 minutes of their time in early May.  We are going to set up a google hangout and invite the Author/Illustrator to be interviewed by one of our very own students.  Once the google hangout is over we will publish it to youtube!  Our CARE day is not until the end of May, but we plan to record our interviews at the first of May.  We will then be able to share our recordings with the school but also the entire world!  Please fill out this short survey at the bottom of this post (and if you are not able to participate, would you please share through your various networks) I don't know if we will be able to do every author/illustrator.... but I sure hope so!

So, I am excited about CARE day, but I am really excited about a Shelf Challenge that The Busy Librarian I follow some of the coolest people on twitter!  April is School Library Month so Matthew Winner has posed a challenge.  Super easy (and I am not a librarian, but I can't wait to go dive into a shelf!)

"Your mission, if you choose to accept it:
  • Select a section of your library collection to read throughout the month of April. 
  • Try to read every book in that section over the course of the month. 
  • Share selected gems (and cringes) through a favorite social media outlet"
Matthew also helps host this really cool online book club.  Level Up Book Club is starting again!

How does your school promote reading?  Are you gearing up to participate in Level Up Book Club or the Shelf Challenge?

Monday, March 25, 2013

#DENapalooza2013- Start of the Tour in McKinney Texas

As you know,  I am one of those crazy people that loves to fill my brain with learning all of the time (I am sure that you didn't realize that!) So, what better way to spend a Saturday than attending the first DENapalooza Event!

You know that I can't ever pass up time hanging out with my Awesome DEN Guru friend Elaine!

First Stop- McKinney, Texas

I LOVED the welcome sign!
There were so many great sessions that were offered.  Two sessions in the morning, awesome lunch and then 2 unconference sessions in the afternoon.  I knew that I would not be able to attend them all so I had my twitter feed ready to catch any great quotes or sources at #DENapalooza (go check it out!)

Started my day with Joli Barker
Joli does some amazing things with her students.  She was also named TCEA Teacher of the Year this year. You can find her presentation on the wiki.  My favorite quote from her.  "I don't want just fact finders, I want thinkers!"  

Second session! Of course I had to go listen to Elaine Plybon
Elaine showed some great ways to use Discovery Education media in various ways (and if you don't have much tech available!)  I can't wait to use some of the ideas.  Favorite one: Cut a Discovery Education media picture in half and have students describe the picture and try to figure out what is going on.  A great way to start conversations and work on inferring.  

Love hanging out with rockstars!  Rafranz Davis, Elaine Plybon,  Kristy Vincent and myself
Of course I had to get a picture with Dean Shareski
It was a GREAT day of learning (and seeing friends!)  I really enjoyed taking part in the Twitter unconference conversation.  I also got to meet some people that I stalk... I mean follow on twitter!  I can't wait to follow along with the rest of the conversation as the tour continues.  Do you plan to attend a DENapalooza?  How do you continue your own learning?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Make It Monday-Super Easy Bookmarks

My super talented friend Alex made this awesome journal for me!  That cute little ribbon is the bookmark
Spring break finished just a couple of weeks ago, but I knew that I wanted to put some goodies in all the boxes to welcome everyone back to school. Thanks to my friend Laura she mentioned this super easy bookmark idea!  So, the last few days of spring break I spent crafting.  One of the teachers (Esther) at school has challenged us to share Random Acts of Kindness (and if you know me.. I am ALL over that!) So, I made these bookmarks for all of the teachers and then made a couple of clipboards and some fun washer necklaces.

All you need is a paperclip and a piece of ribbon.  I found some cute paper clips (got the bigger ones) at Staples.  To make 100 bookmarks I spent about $10.00

Fold the ribbon in half.

Loop the ribbon through the single end (the other end is going over the page)

Pull edge of ribbon through the loop that you have made.
Pull ribbon tight.  If I did this again, I might add a dollop of hot glue.

Mark your page in a book

All my crafts!  While at Staples I found these super cute mini clipboards for $1.00. I covered the back with scrapbook paper.  On the front I put a quote and the #choos2matter tag.  I also tried my hand at those fun washer necklaces.  So, all in all I spent about $15.00 and had a ton of home made goodies to go in boxes!

 This past weekend I had a chance to go see The Odd Couple at the Wyly Theater (thanks again Esther!) and Saturday I spent the day at DENapalooza!  Great weekend of learning and connecting.  Will have a blog over DENapalooza this week sometime.  My husbands new restaurant opened up too! Blaze's Sports Grill is AWESOME! (as you can see by the below picture.. I went back to the dark side of instagram.. I just love all of the awesome things you can do with it.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Movie Monday- News 2 You in my classroom

I just looked at my last blog post and I realize that it was over 2 weeks ago!  I promise I will be back on track :)

So, this blog is going to start off with a movie for Movie Monday, how I use News 2 You in my classroom and of course I have to have pictures of some spring break fun (I even had a chance to guest blog for Tim Holt!)

Our district uses News 2 You, and I LOVE it!

I use pieces of News 2 You all day long.  In the afternoon we have our News 2 You time where I use my Smoothboard Air and my Rear Projection Screen. During this time we listen to the weekly story, work on the knock knock jokes and create our own newspaper.  My students also love checking out Joey's Locker for the latest cartoon or comic book!

I love the fact that News 2 You has appropriate world articles for the time.  What a great way to give our students a chance to discuss topics that are happening right now.  Newspaper and worksheets come out every Thursday.  These include a recipe (that even I can cook!), knock knock jokes, and other appropriate materials.  

How I use News 2 You-

I use some worksheets as individual work in to keep in kiddos desk.  I label the top with Monday, Tuesday... etc. So students know when they need to finish the work.  It all gets turned in on Friday.

This is the morning work folder.  After students eat breakfast and do hygiene I have worksheets prepared to get them going for the day.

After our News 2 You session in the afternoon I have activities ready for students to complete as a group.

I use News 2 You for our word work journals on Friday.

Group area for News 2 You

Love the word wall words!  Has picture with the definition!

If you have any other questions how I use or prepare my News 2 You, please let me know!

Last week was spring break... and it was a LOVELY LAZY one!  Yes, I said LAZY!  Several very exciting things happened!
My husband started a new job (it has been a tough year this year)
I got to hang out with some friends (which is always nice)
I had a chance to guest blog for Tim Holt (WOW! I felt SO honored!) Of course I had to write about Making Your Mark (take a moment to check out #choose2matter and #dotday)
I also got to see Peter and Paul Reynolds
These 2 guys are AMAZING! Check out FableVision and International Dot Day

But the best way to start my spring break was getting on the scale (yes, I said that!)  This year has been a tough year for a ton of reasons.  We had a chance to deal with West Nile during the summer, job changes, and some of my personal job interviews that did not go the way that I had hoped (LOVE my school family though!).  I am very thankful for all that I have.. but that does not mean that I don't have a pity party every once in awhile. Anyway.. when we had another obstacle in front of us right after Christmas.. I had this huge realization that there is not much that I can change right now.. but I can change how healthy I am and how I look.  I know that I have already blogged over it some.

But when I stepped on the scale Saturday morning of spring break.. I was down 22 pounds!  I started my journey at 222 and am currently at 198!  I am thinner than I was when I got married!
In September of 2012- 222 pounds
March 15th 2013- 198 pounds! I even got to buy a new pair of pants :)

I know this is a long post!  Already have my Make It Monday post in the works for next week :)  What did you do for spring break?  Have you signed up for #DotDay for next year?  Are you reminding people that they inspire you?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hello Again!

I realize that it has been a couple of weeks since I have written, so I thought I would do a quick update.  I will hopefully be back on Monday posting schedule during spring break (not that I am counting the days or anything.. but that is only 5 days away!)
I made 15 bags out of bandannas for our Destination ImagiNation teams.  They were much easier to sew this year.  You can find the tutorial here

Every other weekend I have been helping Co-Host a Podstock Podcast with Ginger Lewman called  'stock Talk  Podstock is one of my most favorite conferences!  I can't wait until July to get back to Kansas.  
 But, when I am not doing those things (and teaching... and sometimes sleeping) I was hanging out with some AWESOME Co-Team Managers for Destination ImagiNation.  When I moved to Elliott last year I told my principal I wanted to start a team.  The day of competition I had some teachers come support the team, see how fun it was, and tell me they wanted to help the next year.  This year we had 2 teams... and each team won 5th place! I am So proud of them... and had SO much fun this year!

Webster, Andrews, Keller, Madden

Best Team Managers Ever!
So, in other words... this month has been a little crazy (okay, I admit it.. this is how my days usually stay) The things I didn't have pictures for included filling out session proposals, working on STAAR Alt testing materials, and other random applications I had to finish.
 Blogs that are in the works:
-How I organize and use News 2 You
-Upcoming Conferences
-Some of my favorite podcasts
Is there something that you would like to see?  Would you like to be a guest blogger.. or have a question for me to answer.. just let me know!