Monday, November 4, 2013

An introduction to the Holocaust for my 8th graders...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teen Read Week

We are super excited about our Teen Read Week activities!  This ThingLink will be used for all our 8th graders in our Quest for Bigfoot!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Wonderful Month of October!

our latest book window display!  

The library is THE place to be any time of year, but October is an especially awesome time.  Of course, it is time to decorate for Halloween and the weather becomes more fall-ish (who doesn't love reading a book while all snugged up in a cozy chair with a blanket and hot cocoa?) which puts me in a lovely mood.  Let's not forget about Teen Read Week coming up in a couple of weeks---oh my goodness, I'm so excited about our TRW guest lineup this year! more on this in a later post---and our school kicks off its One Book, One School campaign on Monday (again-more on this later---SUPER excited!)

Here's hoping you all have a magical October in your libraries!

Mrs. S

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Welcome back, Jack!

(the front entrance to my library)

It has been a wild and wonderful first 2 weeks of school!  I'm proud to say that we are pretty close to every kiddo on campus having been able to check out library books in this 2 week window----and have several students on their second or third trip back already.  Life is GOOD, people! :)

The school year is now off and running, kids with books in hand, and, like I'm sure many of you all, my To Do list just keeps growing.  A librarian's work is never done--which is a good thing, most of the time, as it keeps me out of trouble.  ;)  I have several areas I am in the process of rearranging, and multiple techie goals for the year (integrating our iPads, for example, into our library lessons).  I did a MASSIVE weeding at the end of last year, and now have specific areas to beef up in our collection, so lists are being made, and purchase requisitions filled out.  I've made new signage for the Fiction section, but still working on new signage for non-fiction.  So much to do!  And with each change I make, no matter how big or small, it seems to add more changes----rather like falling dominoes--because I'm always trying to better meet the needs of my patrons---my teachers and students----and move ever-closer to an "Exemplary" rating using the TEA School Library standards in as many areas as I possibly can (hard to add square footage, folks!)

With all this, I'm SUPER excited that #TXLchat starts up again this coming Tuesday night @ 8:00 pm.  The first topic deals with best tips for the start of school---something we can ALL gain from this time of year! We've shifted the Twitter chat just a bit----we'll meet every 2nd and 4th Tuesday from 8-9.  I do hope you'll join us as we rev up for the amazing year ahead.

Mrs. S

Sunday, August 25, 2013

KaPOW! Graphic Books Signage!

I'm really, really, REALLY happy with the way my new Graphic Sign came out.  I've had this on the list for quite some time, but that To Do list seems to get longer every day.  Finally, I decided to just quit putting it to the bottom of my priorities and GET. IT. DONE.

Here's a close-up shot:

You obviously can't tell from the pics that it is double sided, but it is.  I made it from foam board and used a GIANT sharpie marker and red paint for the bottom layer, then traced out the same shape (from Word ) on yellow posterboard.  I downloaded several comic book free fonts and used my own little printer to make the letters. 

Yes, it took a little bit of time, but it was CHEAP to make and I had fun doing it!

Here's hoping my students like it just as much when they return tomorrow.

Mrs. S

Monday, August 19, 2013

My debut Pecha Kucha movie------for Teacher Inservice

So, I'm new to this whole Pecha Kucha phenomenon.  Really new.  As in, just heard of it the first time this spring, and only now daring to play with it myself.

I'm NEW, but I really love it so far.  It's fun and creative and I think it will prove a GREAT way to keep  the attention of our students and    *ahem*    TEACHERS---'cause let's face it: few things on this earth are as dull and dry as typical teacher inservice days. I begin to glaze over just thinking about it.

I'm super excited to play with this format since the moderators of TXLchat (of which, I happen to be one!) will be using this format for our upcoming presentations this year.

This one hits the highlights of library info everyone needs to know, as well as info for the Gifted and Talented program at my campus (I'm also the GT coordinator.)

Honestly---for this first presentation, my goal was simply to just finish it and like what I saw.  And I think I accomplished that!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Get Your Hands on a Great Book---Zombie book display

My Zombie display is officially done! I'm quite happy with it and thought I'd share it with you!  My brain first started tingling with bits of a then unconnected idea while I shopped in Dollar Tree last weekend.  (Oh, how I LOVE Dollar Tree, don't you?) I saw they had this area filled with Zombie goodies--in particular I felt drawn to the severed hands!---- and I just keep thinking there had to be a clever way to use those in the library.  Of course, the idea didn't fully come together until Sunday night about 10!  So, off I trekked to Dollar Tree again Monday morning.  ;) I loaded up on undead lovelies and headed up to school, ever-so-grateful they had the A/C on all week even though we weren't officially back to work until Friday, and with my little 4 year old "helper" in tow.

You know I'm a Pinterest addict, right?
Yes, it's name is Sonja, and I'm addicted to Pinterest.  ;)  Feel free to check out my Back to School board if you'd like to see these pins.

In this case, I got the idea of the oozing green globs from one of my pins (especially since after I pinned it one of my students commented on the pin about how she would check out every book on the display!), and decided to update some of my "book talkers" inspired by another.  You can't tell it from the pic, but I have a couple of zombie dudes (ahem, those were my my idea, *blush*), and others are word bubbles that say things like, Read this book, zombies love brains. Duh.  and Sink your teeth into a good book.  I'll take some close ups of them and post them a bit later.

I've had so much positive feedback from this display, which is AWESOME because I really think the books are just gonna fly off of it once the kids come back!  To prepare, I've made extra vampire/werewolf/faerie themed book talkers to have on hand once I'm cleaned out of zombie books!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yep, August has arrived

I don't officially go back to work until this Friday.  Of course, as with most educators, I've been working unofficially all summer.  Reading blogs, pinning ideas like a madwoman, "meeting up" with fellow librarians through twitter and Google hangouts; sharing ideas and making plans for the upcoming year.

My beginning-of-the-year To Do lists are HUGE, of course.  HUGE, I tell ya.

But that's okay, I'm eating that elephant one bite at a time.  There are just so many AWESOME new ideas I'd like to implement this year, so many GREAT new books I can't wait to share with my kids this year, so many FABULOUS improvements to make.

Here are a few of the gazillions of things on my To Do list at the moment:

  1. Finish up my Zombie bulletin board.  The Undead aren't just for Halloween anymore! Seriously, I was in Dollar Tree last weekend and couldn't believe my luck finding a whole Undead section this time of year.   Today I'll add actual books and shelf-talkers and that bad boy will be good to go. I'm tweaking some awesome Pinterest ideas to make it too, too fabulous. 
  2. Due to some strange and unusual circumstances last year I have a million books to process.  *sigh* No more on this....let's think on some pretty pink and blue thoughts instead, okay?
  3. Finish my new signage for the Fiction section, since I did a massive book shift at the end of the year last year. 
  4. And the biggie: finish up making my new spine labels and editing my book info in Destiny for my genre-fied Fiction section.  Oh boy, I'm starting to sweat just thinking about this one.  One bite at a time, right?  
Some of these will be crossed off this week, others may take the entire year, and THAT IS OKAY. Progress, not perfection. 

What are your back-to-school goals?  

Mrs. S

Friday, July 26, 2013

Countdown to new beginnings...

One month from today a new school year will begin, with new and returning middle-schoolers walking through the halls.  New backpacks, new haircuts, new tennis shoes.  Most will say they aren't excited, but only because that's the cool thing to say.  They ARE see old friends, to meet new ones, to check out the cute new guy/gal, and to come to the library.  And I'm excited to see them, too.

It never gets old for me, this new beginning. This year will be my 23rd as an educator, and I still get excited about planning new book displays, collaborating with teachers, and most of all---seeing my kiddos.  Is anything better than the student who pops their head into the library on the first day to ask if I have the sequel they are just dying to read? Oh, it's just music to my ears!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful, restful, rejuvenating summer---let's all make the most out of this last month and get ready to move into an awesome new beginning!

Mrs. S

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teachers Write summer camp!

It's that time again---time for the oh-so-amazing Teachers Write summer writing camp put on by the oh-so-amazing Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles and Jen Vincent.  I was lucky enough to hear about it in time to participate in their first ever camp last summer and so I know we are in for a real treat this year.

Teachers Write was a total game changer for me.  

Dare I say it with such boldness?  You bet I do!

Being part of such a wonderfully challenging, inspiring, collaborative and positive group last summer has really propelled me onward in my writing throughout the year. I'm proud to say I am now a founding member of a local writers group, I am actively writing every week (still working on figuring out how to make it happen daily with my 2 kiddos, but still...progress, not perfection, right?), and I was asked to read my own work aloud at a literary reading in town this spring---and I ACTUALLY DID IT!  Like, in front of other writers.  And professors of creative writing.  And some incredibly supportive friends.  :)

I didn't always get to be as active on the boards as I would have liked, and I didn't always do every prompt or submit my work for critique---but I wrote and I participated as I could.  And the benefits just keep coming in.

So I urge YOU, dear teacher and librarian friends to do the same.  If YOU are a writer at heart it will benefit you personally, and if you are terrified of writing but must teach it to your students it will empower and embolden you to write more with them next year.

I hope to see you there!

Follow the Teachers Write link above, and join in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #teacherswrite and join the Facebook group!

...and OH MY GOSH look at the guest authors for this year--squeeeeeeeee!

Read on, gentle readers; Read on!
(and write, too!)
Mrs. S

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Once upon a school...

A friend shared this with me a couple of weeks ago and I just can't get it out of my mind.  As I work toward branding my library and moving forward with re-imagining the library to better meet the needs of our students, the message of this video replays in my head.  Be it a pirate shop or a superhero shop (Capery, anyone?) these spaces appeal to our "clients" AND more importantly, provide work space that is completely innovative in that these spaces were created in order to better...well, CREATE.

Working together, brainstorming, asking questions, increasing YOUR knowledge as I increase MY knowledge through the sharing of information, space, time, ideas.

It is really simple when you look at it in its core, and yet such an incredible paradigm shift.  

Thoughts rolling through my mind; ideas at play.

What do YOU think?

Mrs. S

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

There are many wonderful things about being a middle school librarian.  Getting to read amazing books by fantastic authors is indeed high on the list.  

I've long been a fan of Joan Bauer's work and I'm especially fond of her underdog-makes-good stories like Hope was Here and Rules of the Road.  She just has this magical way of writing that always makes me feel like her characters are not only actual people, but people that I know and love. 

Sugar Mae Cole might just be one of my all-time favorite characters, and that's saying something!  I absolutely love her voice, and her wisdom, and her strength throughout all her many trials and tribulations.  

Hard times hit Sugar and her sweet mama Reba, leaving them homeless and in charge of a puppy named Shush.  They may be down, but don't count them out! Saving their world and impacting those around them with their sweetness-and-strength combination makes this book a fun and inspiring read.

Grab it up and get cozy in a comfy chair---
Read on, Gentle Readers; Read on...

Mrs. S

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Branding Your Library

As one of the moderators of the Twitter Chat #TXLchat I've spent a lot of time and energy lately pondering our latest chat topic, branding your library.  We discussed it last week, and will continue for the next couple of weeks (we'd love you to join us Tuesday nights from 8-8:30, Texas time) speaking with a couple of experts on the topic.

While working on brainstorming for creating my own library's brand, I came across this fun video that has some great reminders on branding.  Go on, take a look-see!

What is Branding? from Bret McQuinn on Vimeo.

I've taken a good long look at the TEA library guidelines and standards document to really properly evaluate the current state of the library, if you will, noting strengths as well as weaknesses,  and I've created my new combo mission/vision statement (I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, too)

The MMMS Library exists to:
Empower learners with information literacy skills, creating an information commons where inquiry, knowledge, enjoyment, and creativity all come together; a space where minds are nutured, inspired, and challenged. 

Now I'm focusing on some keywords in the statement that should be reflected in my brand (inquiry, knowledge, creativity, inspire) and trying to gather up bits of inspiration for a logo and catch-phrase.

Hey!  Here's another word for me to ponder--transform--because that is exactly what I'm in the process of doing in the library!

Where are you in the process of branding your library?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Mrs. S

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meeting of the Minds

April 9th was an amazing day as it marked the very first #txlchat librarian chat on Twitter.  Each and every Tuesday evening from 8:00 to 8:30 (Texas time, howdja like that?) a great group of Texas librarians virtually get together and have a meeting of the minds.  I am beyond thrilled and blessed that I was asked to be a founding moderator of this amazing group of information goddesses!  Every week I have learned amazing things and "met" librarians and other educators from all over Texas, and other parts of the US (we Texans are a friendly lot--all are welcome, Texan or not!)  Sharing information makes us ALL stronger! 

The topics are relevant and voted on by the group each week, so you can always count on it to be a time of meaningful Professional Development (PD), which is SO important in today's world.  Librarians, in particular, tend to be a lone wolf in the schoolhouse, with schools rarely having more than one librarian.  Sometime it is even difficult for district librarians to physically get together---and we need that time for learning, growing, brainstorming, and thinking outside the box.  

Sharing ideas is vital to keeping our libraries...well, vital. And I truly believe the world needs libraries and librarians now more than ever---if they are vital, vibrant, amazing spaces (both physical and virtual) where information seekers can be connected with just the right information they need at just the right time that they need it. 

Won't you come join in the fun?   I'd love to "see" you there!  This week's discussion will be on branding your library!

Mrs. S

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I mentioned that during testing I made plans for some changes to the library.  That very Friday afternoon I was able to start implementing some of those changes---and then I worked on things a bit more as my library space was in use for a meeting the following week.

I'm thrilled that my principal was on board and helped get the district painters out SO quickly to paint the wall behind the circ desk "dragon gold" as well as painting over the what-had-been-hideous-but-now-looks-amazing galvanized steel piping on the back wall that holds extra electrical stuff.  I can't tell you what a difference these little touches have already made!

Sometimes its the little things, folks.  We can rearrange a cozy reading area to make it even better and suddenly the entire world (or library, as it were) opens up with new possibilities.

For me, my mind is buzzing with a renewed energy and excitement.  I'm finishing up this school year, yes...but already really in the head space for planning for next year.

David Bowie is a master, but perhaps the fabulous Nina Simone said it best...

I'll post pics of my "new" library soon!

Mrs. S

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Times They ARE a Changin'!

After getting incredibly inspired last night by the TL Virtual Cafe:

The Connected Concierge In Your School (& Classroom!) April 8th, 8pm EST with Tiffany Whitehead (aka The Mighty Little Librarian) and Nick Provenzano (aka The Nerdy Teacher). The age of toiling away alone in the classroom is long gone. There is a hero in your midst that can help you now. This suave savior is a master of media, a talented techie, and a connected colleague. The teacher librarian should be the "go to" resource in every building. This chat is going to focus on how these amazing people can be integrated into a teacher's lesson planner.

I feel like my MOJO is completely BACK, people!  I have been a blog-readin', idea-thinkin', revved up library gal today.  Reading Jennifer LaGuarde's blog, The Adventures of Library Girl I came across a billion ideas I'd like to *ahem* steal, and this awesome slideshare page is one of them.  It was just TOO good not to share it with everyone.

Mrs. S

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring has sprung...

and it has been fabulous thus far.  Even on the days that are still chilly or rainy (or that lovely combo of both!)  spring is STILL in the air and it just feels renewing.

My gorgeous girls on Easter Sunday.  Aren't they lovely?  Yes, I'm a proud mama! :)

This week we Texas educators have been giving the STAAR test.  While I'm not in love with all the standardized testing, the bright side is I have been able to test in my library for the past two days.  The beauty  is that proctoring a STAAR test gives a person a ton of extremely quiet "think" time.  Since I was allowed to test in my library, I had a chance to really focus on looking at things through new eyes and contemplate possible changes, shifts, and upgrades.  I have a new TO-DO list and am seriously excited to start implementing some of the changes tomorrow!

I hope that spring will be a time of renewal for you, too---that you will remember in the chaos of the day to breathe deeply and smile often.

Read on, Gentle Readers; Read on...
Mrs. S

Friday, March 1, 2013

Oh happy day!

Isn't this an absolutely lovely old postcard photo?  I just adore it---utterly fabulous! Found it on Pinterest (of course!) and just had to share.

Spring is just around the corner, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  Who doesn't feel renewed in the springtime air, right?

Last Friday I had the opportunity to gather with some amazing librarians in the East Texas area.  What a wonderful day we had discussing the future of school libraries---thinking outside the box, looking at unlimited possibilities and also hearing about some really cool "best practices" in our library world.  This was JUST the thing I have been longing for, so it was especially gratifying to be around others doing the same thing. 

Of course, we spoke in the context of imagining NO limitations (budget, time, etc.).  To me, this is the library world version of a avant-garde fashion show.  Once you free your mind to think TOTALLY outside the box, we can pick out the parts that are practical to begin now--while still dreaming of what our future will hold. 

I feel more energized than ever---I believe my mojo is officially back!  I hope all of you are feeling that, as well.

and to once again share the quote from my Womens History Month lesson (so applicable here, too)...

Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.
Mae Jemison, astronaut

Read on, gentle readers; read on!

Mrs. S

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Womens History Month

So excited to teach some women's history month lessons!  Here are a few items I'll be using with my middle school classes.

Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.

Mae Jemison, astronaut

Suffrage:the right of voting

and here's the link to an archived post & video on Madame CJ Walker

and last but not least, here's the link to an awesome Womens History Timeline from

Sunday, February 10, 2013

hello old friend, glad to see you again

 I will live in a place of gratitude for ALL that IS.