Monday, March 31, 2014

Reference Sources Review

This week in the Media Center, we are reviewing reference books to help us get prepared for our state testing in a few weeks.

This year I have covered several different types of reference sources during our media lessons: atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and glossary with first, second and third graders, almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia, and thesaurus with fourth and fifth grades.  After talking about these sources, students practiced finding different information in these books.  You can find the dictionary lesson here.  You can find the thesaurus lesson here.  I am still working on a post about our atlas and almanac lessons, but you can read about my previous years' reference lessons here.

During these week's lessons, I will be reviewing each reference source and when to use them.  I will be using my Reference Sources PowerPoint to review.  You can get a copy of the first grade Reference Sources PowerPoint here.  You can get a copy of the 2nd-3rd grade Reference Sources PowerPoint here.  You can get a copy of the 4th-5th grade Reference Sources PowerPoint here.

I created two different Reference Sources activities for students to complete as a review.  The 2nd-3rd grade version covers the atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and glossary.  The 4th-6th grade version covers the almanac, atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, and thesaurus.


Each activity includes a Reference Books definition sheet, 12 Reference Source question cards, a  Reference Source poster, and an answer sheet.  You can get the 2nd-3rd grade version here on my TpT store for $3.00 or the 4th-6th grade version here for $3.00.

Hopefully this little review will jog their memory and keep this info fresh in their minds for testing, but also for times when they need to use these resources in real life...which is really the point of this lesson, right?

Do you have any fun ideas for teaching reference sources?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Children's Choice Book Awards 2014

It's that time again!  Time to promote to your kiddos a chance for them to vote for their favorite books!

The Children's Choice Book Awards is sponsored by the Children's Book Council.  Voting closes May 12th and winners will be announced during a live video broadcast during Children's Book Week (May 12-18).  There's a K-2nd 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, and Teen category this year, as well as Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year.  There are some really great nominees this year.Go to  to see the nominees and to cast your vote or to have your students vote. You can find out more about the awards by clicking here.

To find out more about Children's Book Week go to

Friday, March 28, 2014

Celebrating Reading in March


We've been celebrating reading all month long with special days and special author visits.

For Read Across America, a couple classes were able to connect with other classes in our county to share a book.  The kids got a kick out of seeing each other on the screen.

For World Read Aloud Day, several classes were able to connect to some fun authors through Skype.

A kindergarten and second grade class connected with Melissa Guion.  She was so much fun!  

She read her books Baby Penguins Love Their Mama! and Baby Penguins Everywhere!  The students loved her illustrations and the way she read her stories.

She sent us a special penguin picture that she drew just for Moreland.  She even incorporated pizza and tacos in the picture because the students mentioned it during their Skype visit.  It was close to lunch time, so they had food on the brain.  But how cool is it that she remembered that and made it part of the picture?

A fourth grade and fifth grade class was able to Skype with author Geoff Rodkey, author of the Chronicles of Egg series.

He spent a bit of time talking about his books, as many students weren't familiar with them. (We don't currently have any of his books in our library...going to remedy that soon!)  He showed the different covers of the same book for different countries. That was really interesting.  Then he gave the kids a chance to ask him some questions.  He was really entertaining, and I think a couple of students went out and bought his books that afternoon.

We also had a special visit today from children's book author Kay Heath.  She visited with Kindergarten and second grade classes. They had a blast.  After her visit she stayed and autographed copies of her books for any student who purchased one.

It has been such a fun month of celebrating reading.  Did you do anything special this month to celebrate reading?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Collaboration and Advocacy Through Blogging and Other Social Media

Recently I was asked to present at our local RESA to area Media Specialists about my love of blogging.  I had been vocal in the past about sharing some great TL/MS blogs that I follow and so I was happy to have a chance to really talk about what a great tool blogging is.

I shared about how important it is for us to show what we are doing because not everyone knows.  There are so many news stories lately about school libraries being closed due to budget cuts.  It's scary and sad.  But perhaps if "the powers that be" realized all that we do in our position as teacher librarians and media specialist, our positions won't be so quickly cut.

I also shared about how blogging is a great way to connect with other TL/MS.  Many of us are the only one at our schools who do what we do, so it's easy to feel disconnected, especially if you don't have regular district meetings.  Even if you don't blog yourself, reading blogs of other TL/MS can help you feel not quite so alone.  I have found some great ideas to implement in my own media center by reading other's blogs.  And there are some great tools to use to keep up with the blogs you follow.  Two of my favorites are bloglovin' and feedly.

I also use some bookmarking tools to keep track of the great ideas I find on blogs.  Some of my favorites are Blendspace, educlipper, Livebinder, Pinterest, Pocket, Sqworl, and Symbaloo.

Another great way to connect and collaborate is through social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Skype, Pinterest, and even Instagram are great ways to share.

I have created a Livebinder about this topic.  If you are interested, you can check it out here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Georgia Children's Literature Conference and a Little Augmented Reality

I had a blast at the 2014 Georgia Children's Literature Conference.

I got to meet some fun authors like Jennifer Holm author of the Babymouse and new Squish series...

and Jodi Moore author of When a Dragon Moves In, winner of the 2013 Georgia Children's Picture Storybook Award...

and Susan Nees, author/illustrator of the new Missy series.  She was super nice and I found out that even though her last name is spelled differently, it's pronounced the same as Nase.  Wow! She actually lives around the Atlanta area, so I hope to have her come visit Moreland soon.

I also attended some great workshops while at the conference and bumped into Jennifer Lewis of the Miss Liberry Teacher blog who was co-presenting about augmented reality and demonstrated how she used Aurasma and several other AR apps.  I was so excited that I came back and downloaded the apps myself.

If you are not familiar with augmented's basically a way to make pictures look 3D.  Here is a video that explains AR a little bit...

There are many story books that come with a free app download that make the pages come "alive."  Here are some videos of a few of those books:

Augmented Reality Storybook

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Super cool, right?  I really think AR is going to become the next big thing.  And that is why I like the Aurasma app.  It allows users to make whatever they want into AR.  

You can see how the app works by viewing this tutorial video.  This was just one of the many Aurasma tutorial videos on YouTube. 

There are so many possibilities for using Aurasma in the classroom and in the library.  Instead of a QR code, scan a picture of a book and a student book review video will pop up.  Scan a library section sign and hear a description of what types of books are in that section.  Take a tour of the school and stop at designated areas to scan a sign to watch a video from a student. You can see in the videos above some of the ways other schools have been using Aurasma.

I took the book The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing and made what is called "auras" to appear throughout the book, when it is viewed with the camera through the Aurasma app.  That was such a big hit that I decided to try it with another book, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell.  It really blew their minds...and they were paying attention the whole time!  If you are interested you can access the auras I created once you download the Aurasma app.  To access The Night Before St. Patrick's Day, click here.  To access Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, click here.  Please note that you will only be able to view these links through a mobile device.

A couple of other cool AR apps that Jennifer shared were the Guinness Book of World Records AR apps for the 2013 and 2014 books.  They are a free download in iTunes and they make about 10 of the pages in each book come alive.  Here are videos of both of the apps and books.

Guinness World Records 2013

Guinness World Records 2014

We actually have both of these Guinness books so I downloaded the apps and showed them to my PreK and second grade classes. They loved it!  

Now to just have the time to make some more cool things with Aurasma.  I would love to create an end of the year scavenger hunt for students to show they know how to locate books in specific areas.  Maybe over Spring Break I will work on that one.  =)

Note: Since this post was first published, Aurasma has become HP Reveal.  However, all trigger images created with Aurasma should still work with the new HP Reveal app.

What cool apps have you come across lately?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Luck of the Librarians to Ya

I had so much fun at the Children's Literature Conference in Athens.  I picked up some great ideas to use in the Media Center and hope to blog about about it soon.  In the meantime, since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, I thought I would look up some fun St. Patrick's Day websites. I created a Sqworl of what I found.

On a side note: I haven't utilized Sqworl as much as I used to, but it really is a great way to bookmark websites.  And it will bookmark websites that Pinterest won't pin, so it comes in handy.  I really like how visual it is.  It is a great way to bookmark websites you want kids to visit.

And here are some fun St. Patrick's day items I've made.

Try out my free St. Patrick's Day story starter (about a leprechaun) to help get your kiddos writing.  Click here or on the picture above to download your copy.

And to inspire them for this story, you could have your younger classes make a fun leprechaun trap out of ordinary household items. Display the traps around your library.

Above is a letter I sent home to parents about making the "traps".  I used this letter when I taught first grade.  I always made the assignment optional, but never had a student not participate.  I used this with first grade, but I think even upper elementary students would enjoy this project if you connect it up to creative writing.  In the picture above you can see one of the traps that my former students made.  To download your free parent letter about the leprechaun trap, just click here or on the picture above.

I also have St. Patrick's Day bookmarks available.

Click HERE for four free bookmarks on my TpT store.

Click HERE to view this pack of 32 St. Patrick's Day bookmarks (16 color and 16 black and white for your students to color)...only $3.00 on my TpT store.

One of my favorite books to read for St. Patrick's Day is The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing.

I made this story element freebie to go with the book.  Click HERE to download this freebie.

Happy St. Patty's Day!


*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Visiting the Elementary Librarian

Hey everyone!  I'm getting ready to head out for the Georgia Children's Literature Conference in Athens this afternoon so this is just a quick post to let you know that I did was a guest on the Elementary Librarian's podcast this week.  =)    Joceyln  asked me to share a little bit about my book tasting lessons and experiences with her listeners.  It was so much fun!  You can listen to the podcast on her website, the Elementary Librarian, or even download the podcast and listen to it later.  Jocelyn has tons of other podcasts with some great library ideas, so if you haven't checked them out, I encourage you to do so.

While there, why not browse her website and blog?  Jocelyn has many great lesson ideas she shares and even has links to tons of free resources which she uses with her monthly lesson plans.

I know you will find something great you can use.  =)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Prize Cart

We just got new prizes for our prize cart and the kids are thrilled!

The prize cart is a reading incentive program I use in the Media Center in conjunction with Accelerated Reader.  Students in K-1 are required to read 5 books of their choice per month to earn a prize at the end of the month. 3rd-5th grade students are required to read 2 AR books, 2 chapter books, and 1 free choice item to earn a prize at the end of the month.  I decorate the prize cart to match our theme in the Media Center. This year's theme is "Get Wild About Reading" so the prize cart has a wild animal decor.

To help students and teachers keep up with what books and how many books they've read, I use a punch card system.  The littles get a punch card that looks like a business card and the upper grades get a book mark punch card.

Here are some close up pictures of the prizes on our prize cart:

I got all of these goodies from Oriental Trading and spent about $100.

In addition to these fun items, I also include an extra book check out "coupon" as an option for a prize.  This is the first year I've offered it as a prize and it has been more popular than I thought, especially with second grade.  Right now K-1st get one book per week, 2nd-3rd get 2 books out at a time, and 4th-5th get 3 books out at a time.  I'd love to let students check out  more, but I just don't have the help to be able to check out and shelve more than that.  However, with the extra book check out "coupon" students can choose to get one extra book when the turn in their "coupon." This makes it manageable for me and fun for the kids. 

What kind of fun reading incentive programs do you use to motivate your patrons to READ, READ, READ!?