Email Treats

I’ve recently subscribed to two more library related listservs (LM_NET and YALSA-bk) and found some gems from them in my inbox this evening.

I know you shouldn’t wish your life away, but the first gem is a YouTube video for a book coming out this fall.  Gotta get this book!


Another great find was this list of YA series on the ECYA Blog.  What a great site!  Check out the book lists, display ideas, and the Young Adult Authors page.

Publication Date Nearing

Are you a fan of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness?  The third book in the series, Monsters of Men,  is being published May 3rd – in the UK.  Not sure of the release date here, but Jennifer Rothschild shared on the YALSA-bk listserv that you can order it with free shipping from The Book (direct link to the book).  Have never done business with this site, but for diehard fans of the series, it might be worth checking out.

Book Trailers

If you have yet to discover Book Trailers for All, head on over to the site.  It’s still in its infancy (eight weeks old), but it is brimming with book trailers.

These were just a few of the great tidbits shared through listservs today.  What goodies have you discovered lately?

Make Word Mosaic

Earlier this week, someone requested a link to a concrete poetry making site on the SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) listserv.

Today as I was reading and tweaking my Google Reader, I came across a new tool through Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day that looks very promising: ImageChef‘s Make Word Mosaic.

ImageChef’s simple description: “Write a comment or poem in the shape of hearts or other symbols.
Send a greeting or post to MySpace or your blog.”

After you have chosen your symbol and typed in the text you wish to include, click on the heart symbol to the right of the text box and you can add a variety of symbols to your word mosaic. In the example below, I added musical notes, envelopes, stars, and people to the mosaic.

Free Book Friday!

free book friday teens logo

Free Book Friday Teens was started by author Jessica Brody.  Each week, a YA novel and its author are featured on the site.  You’ll find a synopsis of the book and an interview with the author.

Five copies of The Lost Summer by Kathryn Williams will be given away on Friday, July 17th (only to those with a US or Canada mailing address).  To enter the drawing, complete the entry on the site (it requires only your name and email address).

Even if you don’t win the weekly drawing (you do have to revisit each week to enter), the site is a great resource . Authors featured in the past include Alyson Noel, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa de la Cruz.

To read the first chapter of Jessica Brody’s The Karma C lub , her first YA novel, click here.

Adult readers may be interested in the Free Book Friday adult site. (Using the word “adult” here makes it sound sooo racy, doesn’t it?) You can enter to win an autographed copy of Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever to be given away July 17th.

Meme: My Best Posts of the Past

I was tagged for this meme by my friend and mentor Cathy Jo Nelson.


Ranting:  School Internet Filtering posted on September 17, 2008

The choice for this category was obvious – it has been my only rant.  But I also remember the passion with which I wrote it last fall.  Students were working in the media center and could not access the school library web site; the district’s filtering software had blocked it.  I understand that those at the district level want to protect our students from material that is not suitable for their educational pursuits in our schools.  But as educators, we cannot teach students how to evaluate questionable material if we can’t even access it to demonstrate the process.

What would I change if I were to update this today?  I would stress that when an educator finds a site that he wished to use has been blocked by the school that he take immediate action.  Contact the district level personnel who can authorize the site’s unblocking.  I am pleased to say that out of the numerous times that I have requested a site be unblocked, only one was left blocked.


The Wally Principle posted on January 11, 2009

As I was standing in one of those endless lines at Walmart watching the never ending parade of people walk by, I realized that Walmart and public education had much in common.

If I were updating this post today, I would do some further research concerning Walmart’s success. I’m sure that educators could learn much from studying Sam Walton’s empire.

organized caos photo


Scholastic Videos posted on December 21, 2008

It seems the majority of my posts focus on sharing resources, so this was not easy to choose!  This is not necessarily my favorite post, but the resource is one of my newer favorites.  Not only does Scholastic post author interview videos, but they also have booktalk videos and professional development videos.  PLUS the site offers much more than videos.

If I were updating this post today, I would point out some of the many other wonderful resources that Scholastic offers at their site including educational games, annotated booklists,  and the new Teacher Share site.



Stumbling Blocks vs. Building Blocks posted on July 16, 2008

Reading the blogs of other educators often causes me to reflect on my own practices or experiences.  This post was composed after reading a wonderful post by Carolyn Foote.

If I were to update this post today, I would focus on my role this past year.  Was I a stumbling block or a building block?

Doing Some Reflecting of Your Own

Now, if you would like to take part in this meme, here’s the information you need:

Meme rules:

1. Scan your posts for your own personal favorites.
2. Choose one post in any/each of the four categories:

  • Rants
  • Resources
  • Reflections
  • Revelations

I leave it to you folks to define these terms, but my instinct is that we could treat these loosely. You are welcome to suggest new categories if these don’t fit.

3. In a blog post, list those posts and very briefly describe

  • why it was important,
  • why it had lasting value or impact,
  • how you would update it for today.

4. Select five (or so) other bloggers to tap with this meme.

5. Tag all of your post with #postsofthepast

(I am bending the rules this time by not “tagging” others, as in “tag, you’re it,” but rather listing the writers of several of my favorite blogs whom I would love to see take on this meme- if they so choose.  Most of these folks probably don’t even know who I am, much less that I read their blogs!)

Heather Wolpert- Gawron

Dana Huff

Sue Tapp

Carolyn Foote

Steve Dembo

Image attributions:

“I Hate Mornings”

“LED + light bulb”

“Organized caos”

“Omar contemplates”



My friend Cathy Nelson recently wrote a post entitled “If An Assignment Can Be Plagairized.” We attended the same pre-conference session at the recent South Carolina Association of School Librarians Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. Doug Johnson‘s session was entitled “Designing Research Projects that Kids (and Teachers) Love!”

Doug shared how to try to plagiarize-proof assignments:

     One way to prevent plagiarism is to require students to use primary sources such as interviews, surveys, and experiments.

     Another way to prevent plagiarism is to allow students choice and creativity. The use of technology allows creativity.  Even      if the teacher has assigned a PowerPoint project and specified the number and content of the slides, the students still gets to choose the color, font, clip art, etc.

That last line was a “light-bulb” moment for me.  Students are given (not allowed to choose) an assignment.  Their final product is the beat-to-a pulp-dead-horse PowerPoint slideshow.  Students are told they have to have X number of slides.  So, they come to the media center, head for the computers, and ….what….begin to research? Not quite. 

No…they open PowerPoint and start a slideshow before they have any research to put in it! They design the first slide with a title, their names, and the date due….and then play with design and look for pictures, and try different font. 

I tell them, “You need to research first.  Don’t worry what it will look like yet – that comes at the end.”

Do they listen? Uh…no.  And why?  Because this (the design, colors, font, pictures) is the ONLY thing they have control over.  It’s the only choice they are given in the whole assignment.

When they finally do get around to “reseaching,” they end up copying and pasting (and putting way too much text on a slide – but that’s another post).

Instead, we need to plagiarize-proof the assignments as Doug and others have suggested.

Now, my brain is fried after doing true research and working on a paper for a grad class today, so forgive the departure here from anything remotely relating to plagiarize-proofing assignments.

Instead, I offer for your viewing pleasure a video that was shared by Holly Foster, a fellow grad student in my Master’s of Library and Information Science program at the University of South Carolina. 



Image attribution:

Quality Garanteed

Christmas Greetings Animoto-Style

Use Animoto to create a holiday greeting card!

To simplify the process, create an Animoto folder in your pictures.  Copy and paste all of the images you wish to include in your greeting card to the folder so that when you are asked to upload your images, you can choose all of the photos at once (Control + shift). 

I originally uploaded 18 pictures to my working file in Animoto, but only 9 of them were incorporated into the free 30 second greeting card.  Using the remix feature, I was able to delete 5 of the pictures, rearrange the order of the remaining ones,  and choose another tune which allowed all 13 images to be used.

Animoto simplifies posting your videos to many sites, including Facebook, WordPress, MySpace, and more.

On the Prowl…Again

Again looking for book trailers and came across this intriguing one – a new novel by Nancy Werlin, the author of Rules of Survival which is on the 2008 – 2009 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award List.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin


Penguin Young Readers now has its own YouTube channel where you can watch other book trailers.  Here you will find an interview with Sarah Dessen, author of The Truth About Forever, the 2006 – 2007 winner of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award.

Image attribution:

Gizmo - on the prowl

Upstate Technology Conference – Day One

Today was the first day of the Upstate Technology Conference sponsored by the Greenville County School District.  J.L. Mann High Academy is hosting the conference in their new and spacious facility.

I attended the keynote address, given by Ewan McIntosh entitled “Publishing, Play, Purpose:  Three Elements that Must Change our Teaching and Learning.”  He addressed the state of U.S. education by renaming No Child Left Behind as “No Child Moving Forward.”  Funny, but it does point out a major weakness in our system:  we are so concerned with mastering material to pass a test that we forget that the process of learning should be our focus.  He shared that in Scotland, their students are not tested before age 13.  Interesting.

I also had the opportunity to attend several hour long sessions.  My favorite today was “Creating Virtual Field Trips with Google Earth.”  Sandra McLendon accomplished quite a bit in under an hour.  She not only introduced some newer features of Google Earth including Google Sky, but also taught a roomful of educators how to create placemarks, insert hyperlinks, insert images, and how to apply overlays.  The possibilities of using Google Earth in the classroom boggle this mind.

I attended a session at the 2008 SCASL Conference on Google Lit Trips, but was overwhelmed with the information there.  With the hands on approach that Sandra McLendon took today, I feel like I have a grasp of how to start a virtual field trip using Google Earth and am excited about it!

Two helpful sites that were shared during this session:

Google Earth Resources for Educators This site includes information covered in today’s session. Also included are tutorials, files, and helpful links.

3 D Warehouse Searchable database of 3 D images, many of which are ready to open in Google Earth.

 Although I would love to create lots of virtual trips and other lessons using these resources, I realize that I am limited by time.  So, like any other time-deprived educator, I googled the topic and came across some great sites:

Google for Educators  This site contains ideas for using many of the available Google tools including Google Earth.

Juicy Geography A small collection of Google Earth lessons.

 Constitution Trek (kmz file)

 Google Earth Community You must register to use this site.

Google Earth Lessons  This site has how-to’s and a variety of lessons, both teacher controlled use of GE and student controlled use of GE.  Definitely worth checking into.

Postcards from the Past  Great lesson using historic photographs, a digital camera, and Google Earth.

 Who can help me by sharing other Google Earth lesson sites?  Please add your favorites in your comment. Thanks!

My turn – a meme

I got tagged by Valerie - last month!  Can you say “procrastinate’?

1.  I was interviewed by FOX News (they chose me because I’m a fox?  Think not!) last month.  There had been a carjacking in the parking lot of a local Circuit City and I happened to be in the parking lot the next day, visiting Office Depot.  I didn’t see myself on the news, but it was interesting to go to school on Wednesday and hear, “I saw you on the news!” from several students (I didn’t know teenagers watched the news).

2. I love birds (my older daughter HATES them with a passion) and had parakeets as pets until I was about 13 years old.  That’s when I developed this terrible sty which turned out to be an allergic reaction to my parakeet.  My reaction was a rare case and I was written up in a medical journal.  Never have looked to see if I could find that article, though.  I had to get rid of Petey – it was either him or my sight in that one eye. 

3.  I hate grits – which is an almost sacreligious thing to say when you are a Southerner.

4. I hide Christmas presents when I buy them.  Not really weird, I know, but the fact that I haven’t found all the ones that I have hidden might be!  There still is a sweater hidden somewhere in my house for one of my daughters from many years ago.

5. Misspellings and grammatical errors in advertising drive me crazy.  There is a florist in town named “A Arrangement Florist.”  I will NEVER purchase flowers from them!

6. I still have a baby tooth. 

7.  I have broken my left wrist twice: once when  I was five and swinging from a tree (we were playing Tarzan) and another time when I was about eight and fell from a horse.

Okay, I have to tag some random people here – and I don’t want to tag someone I know who has already been tagged, so it makes this part difficult.  ProfessorNana, Mandy, Mr. G., teenlibrarian, Andi, Julie, and Ann – have fun!

Here are the rules:
– Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
– Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
– Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
– Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


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