Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning, Connecting, Growing

This past week, I had a few opportunities to learn and share with other educators. From blogging to Twitter to faculty book club meeting to attending my first Edcamp, it was definitely a FULL week!

On Tuesday, I worked with teachers and librarians on blogging. Each person was at a different place, some had an active blog but just wanted to add some WOW to it, while others had not yet begun to blog.

I went with Blogger, since that is the one I am most familiar with and helped teachers set up a Google account and then create  and "decorate" their blog. Sometimes, especially with elementary teachers, we can't even begin until we are pleased with the look! :)

 In addition to teachers & librarians, our diagnostician came to the session, wanting help not only with blogging, but also finding relevant blogs to follow.  By searching topics and people, we were able to find blogs that would be beneficial.  Some decided to add these to their blog page under "My Blog List" so that it was easy to follow. 

There was a really good discussion about "audiences" for our blog and who we are targeting.  We all agreed that our hope is that our school families are reading them, acknowledging though that more often it is other teachers & librarians.  Everyone brainstormed ways to draw in our school families, and decided one way is to make sure there is more coverage of daily events with pictures!  :)

The best part of the day was the informal sharing that happened as we all moved forward with our blogging skills!  I love how Mrs. Abdur-Razzaaq added video of her new genre-fied fiction section to her Crockett Elementary Library blog!  

It was fun working with each other to create informative blogs for our students & families!

On Wednesday, I met with a few teachers to help them create Personal Learning Networks (PLN)on Twitter.  Again, we started where each person was, some without a Twitter account, some with "eggs" as profile pictures, and others with wanting to find people to follow. 

I am passionate about sharing the benefits of establishing a PLN with colleagues and was excited about the opportunity to "hook" a few new people!  :)  We discussed the difference between using Facebook and Twitter, separating your personal and professional Twitter accounts, and connecting with people who will inspire and energize you! The professional learning opportunities that come up from following people on Twitter are fabulous!  The weekly chats are plentiful!  Just look at this Tweet for Jerry Blumengarten, who is an incredible asset to any PLN:

Webinars are often shared on Twitter, as well as conferences.  And then there is the daily interaction between people who create, collaborate and share!  This is the best place to personalize your professional learning!  (see, I told you I was passionate about this!  ;) )

When everyone left, they had their account set up, people to follow, and had posted at least one tweet!  Woohoo! 
Most of the people working on Twitter are also members of our faculty book club, which happened to be meeting right after.  Each month we choose a book to read and then meet to discuss it. Now that more of us are on Twitter, we are also using #curtisbookclub when talking about our books.  We read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for this month's book and the discussion was LIVELY to say the least! (This is NOT a children's book, definitely for "mature audiences.")  The delicious treats at Cup and Cake in downtown Weatherford made the discussion even better!

Our next selection is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and we will meet in a few weeks for this discussion.  This is another adult book, but as I have recently been reminded, teachers need to be READERS to teach READERS!  :)  We will work in children's books during the school year, but for the end of summer, this seems good!  I'm taking it with me on my end of summer trip next week. 
Edcamp Fort Worth was so awesome, it deserves its own post! More to come!
Happy Reading AND Happy Learning!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Throwdown (Attacking my TBR Stack!)

I am enjoying participating with other readers in the Summer Throwdown , which in the past has been a friendly competition between teachers and librarians to see who could read the most books. This year, readers are just competing against their own TBR (To Be Read) stack, which mine stays miles high!  This competition was started by some teachers & librarians I follow, or have started following, on Twitter (Jillian @heisereads, Brian, @brianwyzlic, Sherry @LibraryFanatic, and Kathy @thebrainlair).  Over 100 other teachers and librarians are participating in the contest, and hopefully the TBR stacks are shrinking!  :)

Today, I am beginning my 13th Texas Bluebonnet nominee for this year.  The book is called Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. The book is set in Mississippi in 1964 and deals with the racial tension during that time period.  Glory Be, just days before her 12th birthday, is worried about the threat of the community pool being closed during the heat of the summer due to "outside agitators" trying to make it possible for ALL in the community to swim.  I've just started, but will share more about the book when I finish!

I set my goal at 20 books, and you can see to the left what books I have read so far.  At the halfway point, I am well on my way (18 books so far!) and anticipate updating my goal to 30 books! 

What are you reading on this rare, rainy cool JULY day in Texas?? It is a PERFECT day to curl up with a book!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Delicious Story

A Tangle of KnotsA Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A TANGLE OF KNOTS is a fantastically woven tale of Cady, an orphan, and how her life intertwines with a host of other characters. Each character has a Talent, or is Fair (without an identified Talent.) Cady's talent is baking the perfect cake for each person, a talent she usually uses for Adoption Day parties or baking contests. Unfortunately, Miss Mallory, who has a Talent for matching children to families, has yet to find the perfect family for Cady, until Toby enters the picture. Each character seems to hold secrets that help to add an air of mystery to the book. And as you go along, you wonder how the knots will untangle and the puzzle will fall perfectly into place. This would be a wonderful read aloud for elementary age students!
To add to this fabulous story, each person has a cake and recipe designated for them. You can find the author, Lisa Graff sharing the recipe for Miss Mallory's Peach Cake here .

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Monday, July 1, 2013

What am I reading about today? Babe & Pluto

Becoming Babe RuthBecoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#Bookaday As a 7 year-old, George Ruth skips school and steals money from a nearby saloon. His parents are out of patience with him and take George to Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys. While there, George discovers baseball, and so begins the life of Babe Ruth. The story of Babe Ruth is accompanied by colorful illustrations that perfectly capture the time and personality of Babe. This will be an enjoyable read for baseball fans of all ages. In addition, the messages in the story, about hard work, having good mentors, and remembering the people who helped you along the way, will provide opportunities for great conversation.

Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of DiscoveryPluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whimsical illustrations and background information about the discovery and naming of Pluto make this a great addition to a solar system collection. An explanation as to why Pluto was removed from the list of planets helps readers grasp the definition of a planet. The authors help young readers by providing definitions and pronunciations of unfamiliar terms, as well as adding actual photographs, a glossary, and "Who's Who" at the back of the book.

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