The Good

This week I introduced my elementary students to Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Before reading, I discussed the Newbery and Caldecott awards. I only have 25 minutes with each class so after checking in books, reading a story, and checking out a new book, there is not enough time to do much else. I would like to do more with these classes but I just don’t know how to squeeze it all in. That is something I am going to look more into this summer.

My last big book order came in this week. Again, before I even started processing them I had students asking for some of them. Here is a picture of the first part of the shipment:

new books

The ones on the left side are for my elementary students and the ones on the right side are for the 6-12 students. Minecraft inspired, Ninjago, and Amulet are huge right now for the 3-5 grades. The second part of the shipment came in at the end of the day and had the majority of the graphic novels that I ordered. I can’t wait to get the bigger display set up in the elementary library. My students will be excited to see the new graphic novels.

My bins also arrived this week. I used Scholastic bonus points to order these to help with the Great Elementary Library Organization Project. I am going to put some of the more popular series in these so they are easier for the students to find. Aren’t they cute? I got three sets of these.



The Bad

One of the more frustrating things I’ve had to deal with this year is that several times I’ve scanned a book for a student to check out only to discover it was in the computer as something else or not in there at all. This has been particularly bad with books in the non-fiction section. During 2nd block on Friday, my student worker and I took one bookcase and scanned each book. I was not only checking to see if it was in the system correctly, but also putting in the location (elementary or high school) so that I will know when I look up a book which library it can be found in. I was shocked at what I found. This picture shows the books from just one bookcase that were not in the system or were in as a different book.


Some of these will be weeded.

It’s a good thing I started now. Hopefully, we can finish this job before school is out so that inventory will go much more quickly.


The Awesome

On Thursday, I got to spend the day at McKenzie High with my cooperating teacher, Mona. I also happen to be the guard instructor at that school and got to see my guard girls and many of the band students when they came into the library with their classes. Mona and I spent time discussing weeding, cataloging, purchasing, TASL activities, etc. Since we use the same software, I covered for her while she went to lunch so I got the opportunity to recommend and check out books to students. I am fortunate to have Mona as my cooperating teacher. She has been so kind and helpful answering all of my questions during this school year.


Also in awesome news- I spent time this morning in the elementary library and was able to get the pink dot section in order! I am so close to having this library more organized and functional. It’s getting there!

Values collaboration. Actively seeks out and incorporates ideas of others. Takes leadership in working with others to improve the overall environment. Regularly share information and ideas.

Before beginning the library media program, I didn’t think much about collaboration in the library. For one, I was a math teacher. Secondly, the lms at my school did not reach out to teachers to collaborate. As a result of this program and the fact that I am already working in an lms position, I see the benefits of collaboration. Studies have proven that collaboration with the library media specialist contributes to higher test scores. Students learn literacy and technology skills. Besides, I am a teacher and need to have this sort of interaction with students and not just be the guardian of the book collection. I enjoy introducing students to new tools and seeing what they can create from them. I have reached out to three teachers this year for collaboration and all three were very receptive considering that their precious class time is being used. They were all pleased with the final products that the students produced and felt that the collaboration was a good use of time. I hope to work with the 6th grade before the school year is over and plan to do even more next year.



Somehow having a snow day on Tuesday seemed to make this week drag out forever! Here in the south, we get out more for ice than snow. This is the amount of snow we had on Tuesday that got us out of school.


Not a lot of snow, but the backroads were slick.

The younger students are a little more rambunctious after a break like this and this week was no exception. I had to review the library rules during the elementary classes. Some of them seemed to have forgotten how to come in quietly and not play around while looking for a book.

On Monday of this week, the Social Studies classes finished up their projects and presented them on Friday to the entire 7th grade (around 40 students). The classroom teachers and I were very impressed with their work. While there were some questionable images in regards to the images of food and a few spelling errors, overall, they did a great job choosing images that fit what civilization they were researching and choosing music.

Here is one example from the class:

The teacher liked this project so much that she wants to do something similar when they study the Dynasties of China.

I wish I had more time to work with students for this project. They felt rushed toward the end because it took so long to teach how to save and open from a flash drive, save a Word document and images, etc. I typed up basic instructions on how to do this and gave a copy to each group. This seemed to help. Doing this project helped me think about how I can scaffold the learning in the library beginning with 6th grade. I am going to try to start at the beginning of the school year and use the advisory class time to teach the basics.

In other library news, I assumed that I had the whole school year to spend my library budget and had been budgeting to stretch out the money at least through April. Imagine my surprise when I found out it had to be spent by February 12!  I have been working every free minute this week getting orders together- one from Scholastic and one from Amazon. Several of my 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade students are starting to read graphic novels thanks to Raina Telgemeier’s books, so my goal for these orders was to get graphic novels for both the elementary and the middle/high school libraries. I used the Facebook group ALA Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries MIG and ALA’s Great Graphic Novels lists as guides for my purchases. I was able to spend the rest of my money with 26 cents left!

I have also continued this week to re-organize some of the shelves in the elementary library when I’ve had time between classes. It’s getting there, but I think I could almost finish if I had an entire day to work on it. I see a Saturday project coming up soon!

This week I worked with the 7th grade Social Studies classes on a project. One of their standards is to use multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to describe the artistic and oral traditions and architecture in the four civilizations (Olmecs, Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations). The classroom teacher and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do some collaboration in the library media center. Students would learn technology skills along with creating a presentation.

Last semester, the school board authorized money for library upgrades. This included laptops, an interactive white board, and a projector. These make collaboration and instruction in the library so much better. Before the students came in I got everything set up and ready.

media center

Recent additions to the library- interactive white board & laptops

I started off talking about reliable sources and was quite impressed that many of the students were aware that they don’t need to believe everything out there on the internet. The more challenging task so far was getting students to save onto a flash drive properly. This made me realize that I need to work on this skill beginning with the sixth graders and gave me ideas for a plan of action starting next school year.

I use my hands a lot when I teach.

I use my hands a lot when I teach.

The social studies teacher already had her students in pods so we used those as the groups. They picked out of a hat which civilization to research, then in their groups decided who would work on which aspect. I gave them suggestions of sites to use other than just Googling or Wikipedia, showed them how to save their sites in a Word document, and gave them an overview of Animoto. Since I had a limited time with these students, I did not require proper citation but did tell them they at needed to give me a list of sites they used.

Overall, the students worked well within their groups and were eager to get started making their video. They are to finish up Monday and hopefully we can present them to their classmates Friday.

The principal can be seen peeking in the window.

The principal can be seen peeking in the window.

I had one of my observations during one of my lessons this week and the Director of Schools also popped in for a bit. Collaboration in this manner and instruction in the library is new at my school and I think they were fairly impressed with what they saw.

Other than the collaboration, I catalogued more books, ordered book stops to help organize the shelves better, and started working on organizing my office in the high school. Between bus duty, homecoming activities, parent-teacher conference, and announcing at both the senior night and  homecoming games, it has been a crazy long week.

I am in the high school library all day on Fridays. As much as I enjoy the little ones, one of my favorite parts of my job is talking about YA fiction to the big kids. Typically on Friday the middle school Language Arts teachers will bring their students in to renew or check out books. Students are welcome to come at any time during the day, but this gets the reluctant reader in the library at least once a week. I enjoy getting to see what kids are reading, recommending books to students, and chatting about the new Shadowhunters tv show (which, in my opinion, is not that great) during this time. Often there is a bit of downtime between classes and this is when I can get work done. Today I was able to finish labeling the remaining books in my last book order so that they are ready to be covered by my library assistant (who has covered the majority of the 1,000+ books I’ve catalogued!).

During these downtimes, I love listening to audiobooks. I have been able to plow through quite a few books by “reading with my ears” while cataloging, processing, labeling, and reorganizing books in both libraries. Today, I finished Winter, the last book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Such a great ending to this series! It’s one of those that when it ended I wanted to demand more. Give me an epilogue, a “19 years later”, something more!

I borrow most of my audiobooks through Tennessee READS, the Regional e-book and Audiobook Download System through one of the local  county libraries. If you enjoy e-books or audiobooks and you’ve never heard of READS, you are missing out on a great resource. You have to have a library card from a public library that is connected to this system. Once you have it, create an account over on the READS webpage , use your library card number to connect to your library and start browsing the shelves.

One of my goals this year is to get students signed up for library cards at the county library so they will have access to even more books and audiobooks.

Next up in the audiobook queue: Sugar Skulls by Lisa Mantchev (who, by the way, is quite hilarious and very friendly on Facebook).

This week, I began working on my hours for the practicum for my Master’s degree in library media education. Being in graduate school has been an adventure, especially since I became a first time mother (at age 39!) and now have a toddler. It has been hard at times to balance play time, bath time, snuggle time with graduate courses, but thankfully, I have had a lot of support from my hubby (and many late nights!).

Since I am already in a library media specialist position, most of the hours will be covered by what I am already doing. I have two libraries- one k-5 and one 6-12- that I am in charge of. The elementary library was a complete mess when I inherited it. The books were arranged only by dot color (AR reading level) so if someone wanted a particular book, I had to look up the level then search every shelf of that color.

bookshelf before

As you can see, most of the books do not have a spine label. It was a nightmare. At some point an assistant to the previous librarian attempted to group books together as much as possible, but the lack of organization was so time consuming. My goal was to get all the books labeled and in order by Christmas but I fell short. While most are done, I still have a few bookcases to go. I have had some fantastic student workers both last semester and this semester and this week they have helped me label and begin the process of reordering this set of bookcases. Reorganizing takes so much time but will be worth it in the end.


Another big part of my week has been cataloging new books. I recently made large purchases from both Scholastic and Barnes & Noble. My Scholastic order arrived late last week and early this week. There is still something so exciting about seeing that red & white box arrive! I have several students who clamor over and claim books as soon as they arrive. I barely have time to get them processed before they are snatched up! One example was the newest Lumberjanes graphic novel.


In cataloging news, at the beginning of the year I ordered a roll of barcodes to help speed up the processing time. There were 1,000 labels on the roll and this week I catalogued my 1,000th book (about 350 of those were books that I found stacked in cabinets and counters in both library offices).

I have a fixed schedule in the elementary school and classes come once a week for 25 minutes.  Students are beginning to understand, though, that as long as I am in there they are welcome to come in and exchange their book, even if there is a class in there.

There is a flexible schedule in the high school library. I have more middle school visitors than high school visitors. I am still working on ways to get more high school students interested in reading again, but we’ll save that for a future blog post.

I am so fortunate to be in the position that I am in. I am still learning but I feel I have already come so far since August. I look forward to seeing what all I can accomplish the rest of this semester!



Thanks for stopping by my blog! Here you will see the finished projects from my Ed Tech classes at Western Kentucky University. Please leave some feedback!

I was a classroom teacher for 19 years. When our school librarian retired this summer, I became the librarian for both the k-5 and the 6-12 libraries at my small k-12 school. I taught 2nd grade one year, 5th grade for eight years, 7th & 8th grades and 9th & 10th grade algebra. The majority of the last 10 years have been in 7th grade. I am a self professed nerd and book lover. Even as a math teacher, I had over 2,300 books in my classroom library and love recommending and talking books with kids. At my school I am on the Teacher Advisory council, on the School Leadership committee, a PLC leader and one of the Promethean troubleshooters.

I love Doctor Who and Sherlock and I am quite obsessed with the Harry Potter series. I got on the Potter bandwagon about the time the 4th book came out. I had just finished the third one and had to borrow a copy of Goblet of Fire from one of my fifth grade students. I love Harry so much that my son’s first birthday had a little HP influence.

I currently live in a tiny town in Tennessee you’ve never heard of with my husband, one year old son, and two cats. 2014 was a big year for me. I celebrated the birth of my first child, my 20th wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday! Oliver was quite a surprise to everyone (including his parents), and brings so much joy to everyone he meets.

I love to travel and visited Dublin, London, and Paris this summer. The highlight of my trip was touring the Warner Bros studios in London (where Harry Potter was filmed)!

I love young adult novels and want to believe in magic, elves, and fairies.

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