Thursday, October 1, 2015

September Flew By...A Month in Review About the Amazing Things That Happened K-12 Mason City CSD Libraries

I can't believe it is the 1st day of October!  September sure flew by fast!  It goes to show that "time flies when you are having a good time!"  The K-12 school libraries in Mason City CSD definitely had "good times" in September!


Thanks to the awe-inspiring, and the newly retired, teacher-librarian, Kathy Kaldenberg (formerly of Solon CSD), she has always encouraged teacher-librarians, colleagues, friends, family, Twitter world, etc. to "share what may be obvious to you, but amazing to others."  Kathy's mantra of "share what may be obvious to you, but is amazing to others" is inspired by the following tweet and video.

Last school year, over this summer, and even at the start of this school year, I've been mentally beating myself up that I haven't blogged like I want to!  So, at this time, I am going to declare that I will make an extra effort to blog from now on.

I want to share and celebrate special moments and events that are happening in the Mason City CSD school libraries.  My intentions of blogging is not to brag, but to share, inspire, and pass on special moments and events.  You never know what could spark or inspire something in your world.

Well, September flew by, and I didn't blog.  While I can't rewind time to write an individual blog post for every amazing thing that happened last school year, and more importantly, for the month of September across the K-12 Mason City CSD school libraries, I can review and celebrate the month of September in this blog post!

I lot of amazing things are happening in all of our schools and school libraries, but I can't be everywhere and wasn't able to "lead" in every building in September.  The following are highlights on how I was able to "lead" in certain buildings within our district in the month of September.

  • Harding Elementary
    • Teacher Painting Class
      • I've been a part of Harding Elementary for eight years.  While I wasn't able to collaborate with Harding staff and students during the month of September, I know there are plenty of opportunities awaiting!
      • I do want to highlight that I had the honor of participating in a painting class with Harding staff in August.  I want to share pictures of our fun evening as it illustrates the value and importance of spending time with colleagues outside the work environment.

  • Hoover Elementary
    • IC Checkout and Familiar Faces
      • Nothing is more fulfilling than watching students check out books and enjoy them, right in the IC.
      • This is my first year at Hoover, so when I see former students from Harding and Jefferson I am excited to see them.

    • Hoover Book Fair
      • On Thursday, September 17, Hoover Elementary had their annual Back-to-School Night, which also meant it was Book Fair too!  We had a fabulous turnout!  Unfortunately, I was so busy that I didn't take the time to capture the incredible night in pictures!
        • Due to the generosity of many, we made close to $4,000 which results in us being able to add a lot of incredibly, amazing books to our school library!  Your generosity allows us to select the latest, greatest, hottest reads for all grade levels, that support both an enjoyment of reading for pleasure and to support learning and classrooms.  We know that our Hoover students will enjoy reading the many new books that have become part of our treasured collection!
        • An extra special thank you goes to Hoover teachers, IC para Janelle Bothwell, Hoover custodians, Hoover PTO, and a parent volunteer (this mom is a parent of former Hoover students).  Thank you to the Hoover teachers who took time to set-up and pack up the book fair!  Thank you to IC para Janelle Bothwell for helping with all the behind-the-scenes prep work as well as also setting up the book fair, running the book fair registers, and packing up the book fair!  Thank you to Hoover PTO for purchasing a book for each classroom teacher!  Thank you to the mom for her huge help at the registers as well as maintaining the book fair products and appearance!  Thank you to Principal Barb Wells for her support in various forms; behind-the-scenes prep work, management of teacher volunteers, pizza dinner for the teacher volunteers, and more!  The Hoover Book Fair was a success thanks to these people!  I couldn't have done it without these people!

  • Roosevelt Elementary
    • Keyboarding with Ms. Hunter and her 4th grade students.
      • During the first week of school, I made sure to be visible at each of the eight buildings.  I was lucky and happy to be at the right place at the right time, when Ms. Hunter and her 4th grade students came to the computer lab, and didn't know what to do.  Of course, I am going to promote keyboarding! First, the students and I learned the home row keys in a whole class discussion.  Then, I let the students try out the first lesson in Dance Mat Typing.

    • International Dot Day Skype Visit in Mr. Ausborn's 2nd grade class with Solon CSD K-12 Teacher-Librarian Ms. Kral and her 2nd grade students.
      • I LOVE International Dot Day! It happens around September 15ish.  While, I wanted to celebrate it this school year in a huge way (district-wide), the reality was that I couldn't make it happen this year.  Thankfully this special day is every year, so I can plan and celebrate it with a big "mark" next year!
      • To celebrate International Dot Day, Mr. Ausborn and his students read "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds to his students prior to the Skype connection.

      • Mr. Ausborn then had his students color a dot from the augmented reality app called Quiver.  The dot can be scanned with Quiver to bring them to life in 3D form.

      • During our Skype connection, students from Mr. Ausborn's class and the students from Solon took turns sharing the dots they colored.
        • The "oohs" and "aahs" exchanged by both classes was absolutely priceless!
          • The best part was seeing each student's face light up when the other class would "ooh" and "ahh" over his/her individual artwork!

      • Following the sharing of dots, the students took turns asking each other questions.
        • On a side note, the question and answer time brings such a rich discussion of the differences between the students' different worlds.  While this connection was right here in Iowa, both classes discovered that some things are different and some things are the same.
        • Students are also practicing their communication skills.
      • After the Skype connection ended, Mr. Ausborn and his students used the augmented reality app called Quiver to bring their dots to life in 3D form.  I wished I would have taken a video of the students' reactions when they saw each dot come to life in 3D form!
      • This special time was definitely a great reminder that Dot Day is an absolute must celebrate event every school year! I can't wait to make it bigger and better next year!

    • Alphabet and Technology with Mrs. Kraft
      • Kindergarten students arrive to school, full of excitement and different experiences with technology and letter name awareness.
      • Mrs. Kraft contacted me to collaborate and co-teach introductory computer lessons to her kindergarten students.
        • I always start out teaching students the parts of the computer.
          • Headphones
          • Mouse
          • Mouse Pad
          • Keyboard
          • Monitor
          • Screen
          • Hard Drive
        • With each part of the computer, I have hand signals.  I have to admit it is so cute to see them state the name of the computer part with the hand signals.
          • The best part was when a boy called out "mouse house" instead of mouse pad!
        • Once we have identified the parts of the computer, then I model to the students how to access a website.  For this class time, Mrs. Kraft's kindergarten students accessed
          • This is an awesome website with a variety of math and reading learning opportunities!
        • Not only were students able to practice using the computer, but they also were learning to identify alphabet letters.  This will help them with their reading skills!

  • Jefferson Elementary
    • Opportunities are awaiting, and I look forward to sharing future collaboration with you.
    • I've had the privilege and honor of working with Jefferson Elementary for 7 of my 8 years as a teacher-librarian in Mason City CSD.
      • We've done amazing things in the past, so I know there is amazing work waiting to happen.

  • Lincoln Intermediate
    • Social Media Presentation to Staff
      • Lincoln Intermediate started Twitter last year, and it has taken off ever since!
      • Principal Tom Novotney and Associate Principal Teresa Schlicting asked me to give a presentation on social media, in particular Twitter, to staff during beginning of the school year professional development.
      • I loved sharing what Twitter can offer and giving credit to Twitter and my PLN for being where I am today as a teacher-librarian!

Click here to access my presentation on Social Media and Twitter

    • Students checking out books and enjoying them in the IC
      • During the first few weeks of school, the 5th and 6th grade literacy teachers brought their students in for a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports) lesson in the IC.
        • We had a discussion of what it would look like to follow the 3 Rs at Lincoln Intermediate?
          • Respectful
          • Responsibility
          • Relationships
      • Following our discussion on the 3 Rs in the IC, students get to check out books!  I love capturing students getting lost in the enjoyment of their books!

    • Kids Caught Keyboarding
      • A 5th grade teacher brought in her students to the computer lab and asked me to show them keyboarding websites.
      • I wasn't sure about the levels and abilities of students, so I decided to start them all on Dance Mat Typing.
        • Of course, they loved it! Who doesn't love the British accent Goat?!

  • John Adams Middle School
    • On Monday, September 14, John Adams had their annual Back-to-School Night, which was also meant Book Fair night.
    • Thanks to the generosity of families and students, we were able to purchase the following books to add to the IC!

  • Mason City High School
    • New Furniture
      • Over the summer, the high school (and John Adams Middle School) received new furniture for the IC.
      • I LOVE the new furniture!
      • It invites collaboration and a place where students want to hang out.

    • Mrs. Christine Petersen's 9th Grade English Classes
      • Freshmen Orientation - Destiny Card Catalog and Iowa AEA Online Resources
        • Mrs. Petersen was awesome enough to approach me to collaborate and co-teach on using the Destiny Card Catalog system and Iowa AEA Online resources!
        • In addition to teaching students how to use the card catalog and Iowa AEA Online Resources, I gave students a tour of the HS IC.
        • While I didn't capture our collaboration in pictures, I can definitely confirm that the entire 7 periods of teaching students how to use Destiny and Iowa AEA Online resources was a success!
          • Students gave positive feedback and were excited to explore these resources.

    • Mr. Jeremy White and Ms. Eva Gutierrez's iJAG
      • Mr. White and Ms. Gutierrez emailed me early in the school year to ask for ideas on how to incorporate cell phones into instruction.
      • So I teamed up with Mr. White and Ms. Gutierrez to brainstorm ways to use technology in their classroom with iJAG.
        • Check out our Google Doc we used to collaborate and brainstorm.  Ways to Use Technology in iJAG
          • After our brainstorm session, we decided that students would benefit learning more about digital citizenship and digital footprint.
      • On Monday, September 21st I gave a Digital Citizenship and Digital Footprint Google Presentation to iJAG students.
      • In addition to the Google presentation, the interaction on Today's Meet and our whole class discussion was rich and through-provoking.
        • Some students walked away with a new outlook on social media, digital citizenship, and digital footprint.

      • I was pleasantly surprised and honored when Mr. White sent an email out to district-wide staff to share about our day!

      • Here are pictures that Mr. White and Ms. Gutierrez took.

      • I am excited to continue to work with Mr. White and Ms.Guiterrez.
        • Stay tuned for more work and collaboration with iJAG!

  • Mason City Alternative High School
    • The Mason City Alternative High School is in a separate building on the 7-12 campus complex, and hasn't received any services from the library.
      • On August 21, I presented to 7-12 administrators about what the library program will look like this school year.  A side note, on August 19, I presented to K-4 administrators about the same thing.
    • During that August 21st presentation, Principal Dave Cicetti spoke up throughout the presentation on how he can also see me work with his staff and students.
      • Through an exchange of emails, Mr. Cicetti and I scheduled me to present to his staff on Tuesday, September 18.
        • I presented about services I can offer his staff and students.
          • Such as...
            • Book Talks
            • Check out books
            • Digital Citizenship and Digital Footprint
            • Using, implementing, and integrating technology
    • I don't have pictures that captured our first meeting, but I wanted to share my excitement for this new endeavor that the school district hasn't ever attempted!
    • While we are in the early planning stages, I am excited to continue to work with the Alternative High School.  I definitely see lots of potential and amazing things to come from the Alternative High School.

  • Obviously, lots of great things happened across the K-12 school libraries in Mason City in September.  Hopefully you discovered September's happenings to be inspiring!

  • I am excited that there is still plenty of school year ahead of us so endless opportunities await to "lead" various buildings within Mason City CSD!

  • Stay tuned for more updates on what is happening in the K-12 school libraries in Mason City CSD!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New School Year, New Beginnings, New Position Bring New Opportunities!

I LOVE a new school year!  A new school year brings new beginnings, new promises, a new start, and a refreshing outlook of all that a new school year brings!  Basically, I view a new school year as if it is New Year's Eve/New Year's Day!

Speaking of a new school year, this new school year I have transitioned to a new position.  Instead of serving as a K-6 teacher-librarian at Harding Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Lincoln Intermediate in Mason City CSD, I am now K-12 teacher-librarian for the entire Mason City CSD.  This entails serving Harding Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Hoover Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, Lincoln Intermediate, John Adams Middle School, Mason City High School, and Mason City Alternative High School!  Wow, eight buildings!  While it may seem like quite a load, and doesn't necessarily support research on how a full-time, certified librarian positively impacts student achievement, I LOVE the opportunities and possibilities that await this year!

By the way, Iowa City CSD teacher-librarian Chelsea Sims, tweeted out a tweet this past week, from School Library Journal Summit, that inspired me to look at my role as a teacher-librarian in a new light.  We (teacher-librarians) are here to "lead," so, from now on, I choose to lead as a K-12 teacher-librarian for Mason City CSD!

Obviously, with my new job role and large load, I haven't had a chance to blog sooner.  In fact, I've been mentally "beating myself up" about how I haven't blogged sooner.  So, just like a new school year brings new beginnings, I am going to use this blog post as a spark to new beginnings and promises to bring many new blog posts!

P.S.  On top of my new job role, this fall semester, I am finishing up my FINAL graduate class to earn my master's degree in library media education / school library information studies from Minnesota State University Mankato!  My Alternative Plan Paper (similar to a thesis) is "The Impact of a Full-Time Teacher-Librarian and Quality School Library Program on Student Achievement."  I can't wait to celebrate in December!

P.P.S.  Even though it appears I am busy with my new job role and my final graduate class, I am determined to blog so I can share the amazing things that are happening at Mason City CSD, across the entire district!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Year Brings New Beginnings and Fresh Starts...and a Chance to Blog Again

Happy New Year! Happy 2015!

Wow, it is hard to believe that half of the 2014-2015 school year has flown by!  A lot of amazing things have happened in the three school libraries I serve during the first half of this school year (and there is more yet to come)!  Frustratingly enough, I haven't been able to blog like I would love to about what is happening at Harding Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Lincoln Intermediate.

Over winter break, I suffered severe writer's block.  I wanted to blog but I didn't know where to start.  I wondered if followers of my blog would want to read about what happened for the first part of the 2014-15 school year (September-December 2014), even though it was long past gone.  If my blog followers did want to read about the amazing things that happened at Harding Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Lincoln Intermediate during the first part of this school year, I questioned how I would share these amazing moments.  Should I share all these amazing moments in one super long blog post, or blog "Throwback Thursday" posts to address specific events in greater detail?  I questioned myself on what should I write about that would make a great blog post to set the stage for awesome future blog posts.  Obviously, I am putting way too much pressure on myself.

Then two incredible things happened.

First incredible thing that happened to me...

  • Last Wednesday, January 7, 2015, Mason City Schools was cancelled for the day due to the bone-chilling temperatures.  The minute I found out school was cancelled, I immediately thought that this might be the perfect chance to get back to blogging.  Well, once again the pressure got to me, and I wasn't getting out of "the starting blocks," for lack of better words.
  • Then something "Godsend" happened.  My incredible friend, Sandi Ellis, a fellow rock-star teacher-librarian, (K-8 Dallas Center Grimes Teacher-Librarian) texted me to ask if I wanted to chat via Google Hangout in the afternoon!  Of course, I wanted to chat with Sandi!  So, at 1:00pm, Sandi and I connected via Google Hangout to chat about what was happening in our personal lives and then we got to business talking about tons of various topics in the teacher-librarian world.
  • We chatted about the Iowa Goldfinch Award, the upcoming Iowa Association School Library Conference, how we are going to miss Solon CSD teacher-librarian Kathy Kaldenberg after she retires at the end of this school year, lesson ideas, and technology (coding, apps, etc.).
      • On a side note, Sandi was also entertained by my two sons, Levi (5 years old) and Jacob (3 years old).  My two sons decided it was time for "show-and-tell" as they wanted to show her their new collection of Nerf dart guns they received as Christmas gifts.  Of course, Sandi giggled and told me that my world of two sons is quite different than her world of two daughters.
    • Then she asked me about my blog and why I haven't blogged.  I confided to her about my "writer's block" and the pressure I was putting on myself to write "the most perfect" blog post.  I also shared my same doubts to her that I had mentioned above.  Sandi LOVED the "Throwback Thursday" blog posts idea, and encouraged me to blog within the next week.  Sandi's encouragement was exactly what I needed!  I needed someone, like Sandi, to encourage and inspire me to start blogging again.
  • Unfortunately, after chatting for approximately two hours via Google Hangout, my boys decided they wanted my full attention again, so they decided to get my attention by wrestling which turned into a fight that required "mommy intervention."  Sadly, Sandi and I said our goodbyes and promised to stay in touch again.

Second amazing thing that happened to me...
  • This weekend, I saw the following quote on Facebook that also inspired me to start blogging again!

It made me realize that I truly don't have "writer's block!" Instead, I was afraid to start over, meaning start blogging again.  What truly sparked my motivation to start blogging again was reading the part of the quote that said, "It's a chance to rebuild what you want."  So, this blog post brings about a new chance to rebuild that brings new beginnings and fresh starts.

Finally, I saw this on Pinterest this morning, and this is truly what sparked me to blog today...

So, today marks the first day of a new year with a new book, waiting to be written!  It truly is my chance to start back blogging to write a beautiful story about the amazing things happening at Harding Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Lincoln Intermediate for the remainder of the year!

Stay tuned for future blog posts about...
  • Current events happening at Harding, Jefferson, and Lincoln
  • "Throwback Thursday" Blog Posts about the first half of the 2014-15 school year...
    • International Dot Day (September)
    • ITEC Conference (October)
    • Meeting the incredible author and illustrator Peter H Reynolds at ITEC Conference (October)
    • National Digital Citizenship Week (October)
    • National November Picture Book Month (November)
    • AEA 267 1:1 Conference (December)
    • National Hour of Code Week (December)