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Doctor Who and the Power of Stories April 14, 2014

Posted by Collette J. in Books, Ebooks, Fun Stuff, Reflections.
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Fair warning: This post contains spoilers for Doctor Who seasons 4 and 7. I take no responsibility for disappointed fans who read past this line.  :D

The Doctor Who Christmas special (that I just got around to watching 3 weeks ago) didn’t just make me cry, it upset me for days!  Literally, for a week afterwards, whenever I thought of the bow tie dropping to the TARDIS floor or Amy Pond saying “good night,” my eyes welled up with tears.  Even as I’m writing now, I’m fighting back the emotion in my throat.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m addicted to all things Doctor Who, but such a strong reaction got me thinking.

Why does a character dying/regenerating on a TV show (albeit a stellar one) affect me so much?  Why do I care?  I felt silly as I was watching and sobbing, but I was equally curious and a bit concerned about my reaction.


Direct-to-Brain Downloads? No thanks, I prefer the smell of books. Quote from Doctor Who, Season 4: Silence in the Library. Image from Emily at Novel Ideas

Then it dawned on me that Doctor Who isn’t JUST a sci-fi show about a quirky time-traveler who saves humanity over and over.  It’s also an amazingly well-written story that sucks you in like a black hole.  It’s just as absorbing as the best books I’ve read.  Steven Moffat and the other contributing writers like Newbery author Neil Gaiman, are nothing short of brilliant in my opinion.  His storytelling and creativity and ideas are what makes keeps the Doctor Who fandom vibrant and alive.

After a couple days’ reflection, I also realized that this analogy exactly illustrates my thoughts on the hackneyed discussion of print vs. eBook in education and wider society.  I am *SO TIRED* of having this conversation with community members, administrators, and other school librarians.  Just because eBooks exist doesn’t make them a one-size-fits-all format for any content.  It’s not about how we read or what “thing” we use to read or the number of multimedia features in a book/eBook/iBook.

It’s about excellent stories.  It always has been, and I believe it will continue to be all about the stories.  As my husband (a HUGE graphic novel fan) so beautifully summed it up:

 Anyone who discredits a format, underestimates it.

Some stories are best told in print, some in eBook, some with interactive features, some as audiobooks, some as graphic novels, and some as movies, plays, podcasts, or even British sci-fi TV series.  The format only matters if it’s limiting or liberating to the story being told, which can lead to exciting, endless possibilities for storytelling.  That fact tells me that libraries and librarians aren’t going anywhere.  No matter what you call us or how our role inevitably changes, we are, at our core, lovers and sharers of stories in all formats, genres, and devices.

TL Blogging Challenge #8 – Professional Read: Invent to Learn April 7, 2014

Posted by Collette J. in Books, Makerspace!, Reviews.
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TL Blogging Challenge #8 - Tell about a professional read that has impacted you.

Sorry for the terribly long hiatus since my last post!  I hope to finish the Blogging Challenge by the end of the school year.

InventToLearnBookThis school year, reading “Invent to Learn” by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager has been the best book I’ve read, hands down!  In fact, being part of the ConnectED Book Club led by Silvia Martinez herself was the best thing I got out of ConnectED Month and all the hyped festivities.  Later this month, some teachers from my school and I are getting together to do a book club of our own with this book, and I can’t wait!  Every school librarian should read it, because the maker movement is gaining STEAM (pun intended), and it has the potential to drastically shape how our libraries look and run on a day-to-day basis.  It also has the potential to show administrators a taste of what a 21st century library and teacher-librarian can do with a flexible schedule.  In that sense, I recommend it to every administrator and educator.

More importantly, I think having a makerspace is also essential to helping students discover that they have creative skills they may not have known they possess.  Some students may discover that their natural curiosity, when channeled into making, uncovers not just a hobby, but a talent that deserves cultivation.  That idea fills me with excitement and passion, and it reinforces why I became a school teacher-librarian: to help children learn and learn how to learn.  So go pick up a copy, or borrow one from your local school/public library!

The blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet.  I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.  Follow and learn with us!  The participating blogs are listed in the comments of her post.

TL Blogging Challenge #7 – The Bells of Mrs. J March 16, 2014

Posted by Collette J. in Fun Stuff, Library Space, Reflections.
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TL Blogging Challenge #7 – Share a Library Management Tip

I’m blessed to have a separate room for an office, and it’s nice to sometimes zone out and work for an extended period time.  Of course in this case, “extended” really means “any length of time over 30 minutes or my planning period.”  I still want the library to appear open,though, even when I’m not sitting at the circulation desk.

Here’s my solution:


Even the little ones who can’t read the entire sign just can’t help but tap the bell.  It’s like a siren call for their hands.  :D  So whether I’m in my office typing emails or weeding books on the floor and hidden from view, I can both focus on what I’m doing and help my students when needed.

So how do other elementary librarians make it work?  Do all the other library management tasks get done after hours, or do you have a trick to share about how to squeeze them in between classes?  Feel free to share in the comments!

P.S. – If you get a the title reference, you get a virtual chocolate chip cookie with ice cream!  :)

TL Blogging Challenge #6 – Find Fantastic Images on Pixabay February 25, 2014

Posted by Collette J. in Reflections, Tech Tips.
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PixabayTL Blogging Challenge #6 – Share a Tech Tip

Pixabay.com is my new favorite website.  Since all the images on the website are in the public domain, you can use them anyway you like…alter them, remix them, and combine them to make new images. Don’t get me wrong, I *LOVE* buying quality clipart and digital paper from clipart artists too.  Though a lot of the Pixabay media is high-quality, it isn’t consistently good enough to meet every image need a person could have.  I’m not against paying artists for their work; instead, I think of Pixabay as an excellent supplement.

Pixabay tomatoes

One of many, many fantastic clipart images from Pixabay. I’m going to use this in my garden this year.

Still, public domain images come in handy for blog title images and other online media needs.  I don’t have to worry as much about getting a DMCA notice if I’m sure the media I use isn’t copyrighted.  Also, I’ve been making garden markers from Pixabay clipart like so.  I’ve even recommended it to students to illustrate their Story Pockets stories (with some guidance and supervision because they’re not all kosher for school).

So try it out the next time you need a photo or clipart!  You might just find the exactly what you need.

The blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet.  I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.  Follow and learn with us!  The participating blogs are listed in the comments of her post.

TL Blogging Challenge #5 – Booktalks February 17, 2014

Posted by Collette J. in Books, Reflections.
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Pixabay and MS Office Clipart

I’m not really a huge booktalker.  I realize that’s almost blasphemous as a teacher-librarian, but honestly, it’s about limited time.  After teaching 20 classes, managing 6 sessions of RtII, supervising TV crew, ditching the Dewey decimals, managing the Android tablets, and ordering fantastic and exceptional books, there isn’t a lot of time left for dedicated booktalking.

Here’s what I do instead:

  • Personalized book recommendations – During almost every library class, I offer to help anyone find their next book based on their genre preferences and past reading.  This takes 3-5 minutes per student, so I can’t do it for everyone, but the ones that take me up on the offer get my undivided attention.
  • Book tastings – In September, the four 5th grade teachers and I collaborated for the first time in several years.  We schedule book tastings in the library with 7 library tables of books, 1 genre per table with a mix of fiction and nonfiction.  The library was a mess for days, but it was worth it!  The classroom and several learning support teachers came with their students to help with choosing and evaluating reading levels.  By the end of 90 minutes, each student left with a list of 7-10 books they wanted to read this year.  Many checked out one or two that day.  I’d like to repeat the tasting again for the spring, but I think it might have to wait until after PSSA tests.
  • RtII literature circles – When over 60 students need to choose new books for literature circles, the gifted teacher and I decide on a few choices, and I booktalk them to the students before they vote for their favorite.  Lit circle groups are organized by student choice of books.

And that’s about it.  I used to do more booktalks when teachers did monthly or quarterly book projects/reports on a particular genre.  Book projects have fallen out of favor in our school in the past few years, and perhaps that’s for the best.  Though students were forced to read a variety of genres, inevitably the genres that were less-respected by teachers such as humor, poetry, and science fiction were overlooked.  Besides, I prefer students to read what they want, instead of what their teacher wants them to read.  I’m a reading rebel like that!

I sometimes wish our teachers and public schools could be more focused on reading for fun or for enjoyment (Rosenblatt’s aesthetic stance) instead of almost exclusively on reading for information or learning (Rosenblatt’s efferent stance).  Booktalking was always a great way to promote reading from an aesthetic stance, and it introduced students to books they might not have read otherwise.  I think students would be more likely to become lifelong readers and learners if we could.

For more information about Louise Rosenblatt’s instructional stances, check your local public or college library databases for “transactional theory of reading” or “reader response theory.”

Rosenblatt, J. M. (1991). Literature — S.O.S.! Language Arts, 68, 444-448. Preview available on JSTOR.

The TL blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet.  I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.  Follow and learn with us!  The participating blogs are listed in the comments of her post.


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