Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blog - 12-2-14

Fail, OpenQwaq. Giant fail.

Tonight is it! It's supposed to be the last night of class. We are supposed to have our ALAR expo tonight. Everyone has put so much time and effort into their presentations and, yep, you guessed it, OpenQwaq is broken.

ALAR Expo - Break the Internet
^^yes, that is a Kim Kardashian reference. God help me.

What a semester. Looking back, I can't believe we all accomplished what we did. It flew by, honestly. I feel like I was just having mini-meltdowns because I couldn't figure out what to do my project on. I had no idea what to research.

Then, with a little help and love from Dr. Moe - BAM! I had a project idea. A great idea at that.

From there, it's been a whirlwind of research, planning, and experimenting.


As far as the parent night is concerned, flyers have been posted, Alert Nows have been sent out via telephone, letters have been sent home with the kiddos. I'm just waiting to see who shows up on the 11th.

Is it wrong that I'm nervous. Talking in front of 7th grades = easy. Talking in front of their parents = terrifying.

Prayers please :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blog - 11-25-14

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Wow, this semester has flown by. I have one week left, that's it! Class is over in one week.

Last week, I posted that I had to create flyers for my parent night. Welllllll, fail. I made them, hung them up, and then the parent night had to be moved, again.

Go figure, right?

It has been pushed until December 11th at 5:30 pm.

We are sending home permission slips and everything that night so that students will be able to use the NOOKs after Christmas.

I found a really neat video that I want to show the parents when they come. It'll serve to educate them on how to use OverDrive. I wonder how many parents will use this themselves.

Something I've been thinking about a lot is: Why didn't the public library really advertise when they acquired this service? It's still relatively new for the system, but no one told anyone. I found out from my media specialist that our county now had access to OverDrive. Had I known that, I would've been using it from the beginning. I think listening to Audra talk about how she's advertising the things her middle school media center is doing makes me wish that the public library had something like that to keep us all informed.

Audra's project has given me some really great ideas for when I have my own library as well. I'm definitely going to be utilizing social media to get things out there for parents and the community to see how fantastic the media center really is. I love that this project has inspired me to do more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blog - 11-18-14

Oh, planning parent nights is always so much fun.

So. Much. Work.

It doesn't look like parent night will work until December. I was hoping to have this project completed by then, but I guess I will have to wait.

Planning a meeting is a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. First of all, it has to be after a certain time because of work schedules, after school activities, etc.

Sporting events have blocked out some dates. We wouldn't be able to get into the media center other dates. December 3rd is the earliest we can have this meeting.

The night after class. Of course.

I wanted to have pictures to show what I was doing.

Guess I better start making flyers. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blog - 11-11-14

Remember the incentive I blogged about last week? Ram Cash?

BIG SUCCESS. I was hoping we'd have 20 kids show up with a public library card. We just had student number 53 show us the card today. 53! I know in school of 500+, 50 doesn't seem like a lot. It is. In my area, these students will barely do anything if it counts for a grade, let alone just because we ask them to.

We've given out a ton of Ram Cash this week and we are going to continue giving it out for the rest of the semester. We aren't going to announce the prize any more after this week, but students will be able to show us their card all year and we will give them Ram Cash.

We also found ourselves needing to get homeroom lists from every homeroom teacher so that we could cross off students when they show us their card. Sneaky rascals tried to come back and get a second Ram Cash. I didn't even think of that. They're smart.

We've decided that the next step would be to have a parent night. This will benefit our school in general, because Title I requires so many parent meetings, but also because it's always great to have parent involvement.

I'll blog more about that next week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Citing Your Sources in APA

Alright guys, it is getting close to that time where you're going to need to learn how to cite your sources in your paper.

I'm going to give you the basic run down in this blog as to how to cite scholarly journal articles within your paper as well as how to create the bibliographic entry you'll need at the end of your paper.

First, let's start with how to create the bibliography.

Citing scholarly articles in APA is relatively simple. Just follow the following formula:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number. Retrieved from http://www.journalhomepage.com/full/url/

For example:

Kenneth, I. A. (2000). A Buddhist response to the nature of human rights. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 8. Retrieved from http://www.cac.psu.edu/jbe/twocont.html

Make sure you indent your second line of your source entry.

In your bibliography, follow these simple rules:

1. Indent the lines after the first line of your entry. (Hanging indent)
2. Alphabetize your reference list by author's last name.
3. Always include the full journal title, which means you spell things and punctuate things exactly.

In-Text Citations:

If you are using a short quotation from your source, you need to use the author, publication year, and page number for the reference. Always introduce the quote using the author's last name and the year.

For example:
According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

For longer quotations (40+ words), you need to leave off the quotations marks and put the quote in its own, indented block of text. Still introduce the quote using the author and year of publication. Add the page number at the end.

For example:

Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

If you are summarizing or paraphrasing material from a source, you just have to include the author and year of publication. It's a good idea, though, to try to give the page number even though it is unnecessary.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blog - 11-4-14

This week has been much better.

It's nice to say that and really mean it.

After sitting down with the media specialist, we've decided to do something really awesome for the students - RAM CASH!!!!!

Ram cash is a red slip that students receive that allows them to get a free concession at school events - dances, sporting events, after school activities, Ram Fest (which is coming up in a few weeks), etc.

Now, how will they receive this Ram Cash you ask!?



Students are going to have to have public library cards in order to use OverDrive. We knew that, without incentive, students were not very likely to go out and get a library card. However, with an incentive, we figured that a lot more students would go to the library and get a card. The more students we have with library cards, the more students we can reach with this program.

I'm excited! Maybe I'll show my library card so I can get Ram Cash too ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog - 10-28-14

Just a few days before Halloween! My favorite holiday! Just had to put that out there! ;)

That feeling of discouragement? The one I talked about last week? Yeah, still here.

Still a very unproductive week. After I surveyed my students, I decided to play around with OverDrive. You can use OverDrive with just about ANY device. If it doesn't download the app, you use Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). If it uses apps, it's even easier. The NOOKs that our school has doesn't have apps, so I will have to use ADE to get it working with our devices.

The librarian and I are working on a system to check the e-readers in and out right now. We don't feel like we will be checking any of them out until after Christmas, but it's nice to plan early.

Next week:
1. Sit down and plan with librarian again. Need to come up with next steps.
2. Contact Jesse Gibson again. Ask for permission to link OverDrive to school website.
3. Continue to work on check out system for e-readers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog - 10-21-14

I am feeling very discouraged. There is so much that I want to do with this project, but I don't feel like I'm going to accomplish it. I wish I had chosen something a little easier. My Learning Set meetings help me to feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, but I think promoting the media center on social media is such a good project! I wish I had thought of that.

Not a whole lot happened this week. Next week, I plan to play around with OverDrive some more on my own personal devices so I'm well-versed when anyone asks questions.

Goals for this project:
1. Increase student reading
2. Integrate literacy and technology
3. Parent involvement.
4. Collaboration between the public library and school media center.

Seeing my goals on the page helps me to stay focused and motivated, but right now, I just feel...lost. Hopefully, it'll get better. Just a busy time of year.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Search for Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals - Belk Library

This blog post will teach you how to use the Belk Library online databases to find scholarly sources for your literature review.

Step 1: First, go to the Belk Library Website.

 Step 2: Click on "Article Search"

 Step 3: Click on "List of all article databases."

Step 4: Scroll down to where it says "By Subject"

Step 5: Click on the subject that best matches your topic. For the purposes of this demonstration, I am selecting "Marketing." When you click on the subject area, a list of databases will appear.

Step 6: Select the database that you feel will provide the best results. For the purposes of this demonstration, I am selecting the first database: "Business Source Complete."

Step 7: Click "Advanced Search." This will provide you with many more options that will help you control your search.

Step 8: As you can see, the next step is to enter your search terms. Use the Boolean operators (AND, OR, BUT, NOT) to help you narrow down your search. For this demonstration, I am using the terms "mass media" AND "advertising." Then scroll down to "Search Options."

Step 9: Select "Full Text" and "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals." This will ensure that the articles you are finding will be academic and reliable sources. Once you've done this, go ahead and search for your articles.

From a very simple search, I was able to find very good, full text articles that would help me write a paper on the effects of advertising in the media.

I will be more than happy to help you find the correct database, lead you through the search process, or help you with anything else you need! 

Hope this helps!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blog - 10-14-14

Last week, I surveyed my students to find out what kind of readers they are and how much technology they use. I am a little shocked at the responses. I learned that a lot of my kids like to read, but not all of them consider themselves to be good readers. I also learned that a lot of my students use technology. I had a feeling that they did, but to see how many students use it on paper - WOW!

I'm glad I'm working on this project. To be able to tie in reading with technology is really exciting for me and for the students. I hope that it will push them to read more in their spare time since they will be able to use their personal technological devices to read. Plus, students will be able to use the NOOKs from the media center to read anything from the public library.

Still waiting to hear from Jesse Gibson, director of the Sandhills Regional Library System. Once we have his approval, we will be able to move forward with the project.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blog - 10-10-14

I did the survey in class today! I'm so excited to sit down and analyze the results.

Other than this survey, I feel a little lost. I haven't had a chance to download the OverDrive app or Adobe Digital Editions to work with the devices yet. I realize I don't need to make a guide because OverDrive has already done that for users. They have a really intense help guide.

I feel like I need to go back into the explore phase of the project. I'm in need of some inspiration. Hopefully, that'll come in the form of some really good articles on using e-readers in the middle school classroom. I hope I find something great!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blog - 10/7/14

This week, we have moved into the planning phase for the ALAR project. Here's what I plan to do this week:

1. Survey students to find out their personal reading habits, use of technology, and willingness to read more if it was available to them via technology.
2. Coordinate a meeting between Jesse Gibson, the Director of SRLS, myself and Karen Brewer, media specialist at Hamlet Middle School. Phone conference, e-mail communication, something. Open the lines of communication to determine how best to work with Overdrive.

It doesn't seem like much, but it's exactly what I need to get done this week to move forward in the project. It will be part of my data collection for the project.

After this, I will move into next week's goals:

1. Download the Overdrive app onto all of my devices to learn how they work.
2. Work on a guide to teach students how to operate Overdrive from their devices.
3. Look into a time when students can get their own library card.

This will put me right on my way to creating something useful for my students who are interested in reading. Plus, this will hopefully make reading more appealing to my boys, since middle school boys are more likely to read if they are reading on some sort of technological device.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blog - 10-3-14

Literature Review post!

I found the coolest article this week. Did you know that middle school boys are more likely to read on e-readers than using a book? I didn't.

I do now!

There is a study being conducted that shows that boys are much more engaged in reading when they do so on a tablet of some kind.  I wonder why that is.

I also have found another article that shows that students are just as, if not more, interactive with a text when they utilize the features on an e-reader than they are with a book. You can't highlight in a library book. You can't take notes on a library book. BUT you can with an e-reader. They come with those functionalities that allow for much personal interaction.

I hadn't even thought about that before. I should have. Every time I read something from Amazon on my Kindle, it will have passages underlined with a dashed line. If you click on it, it says ### people have highlighted this passage. Neat, huh? Also, kind of creepy that Amazon keeps track of data like that.


Basically, e-readers are the bomb.com. Glad I'm doing my project with them!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflection - 9/30/14

This week is the last week that we have to "explore" our topics for the ALAR project.

I'm definitely going to be working to collaborate with the public library and school media center to link up Overdrive and student devices.

I'm more out of the explore phase and working on planning out what I have left to do.

Here's where I am:

1. Need to talk to my school media specialist about what she has already planned.
2. E-mail Jesse Gibson, Director of the Sandhills Public Library System, about his plans for Overdrive.
3. Inventory student devices.
4. Student survey on reading and technology
5. Links on school website
6. Find out about getting every student a public library card???
7. Downloading the app onto my personal e-reader and begin playing with the technology
8. How much would it cost to get Overdrive as part of the school media center? Worth it budget wise?

I think that's a pretty solid list. I'm getting a little nervous again. I wonder if I could really impact students with this idea. I think that more boys would read if it wasn't out of a paper book. They enjoy reading in my class, even if it is Shakespeare.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog - LIB 5050 - Due 9/23/14

We had our Learning Set meeting tonight. I felt like it was a struggle to really start talking about the project. I eventually started asking questions of my group members and was quickly reminded that that's not what we stated as the "norm" for our group. We decided to let each person explain how their week had gone - 10-15 minutes worth of talking. We quickly realized that 10-15 minutes is a lot of time for someone to talk about their exploration so far, so we decided to explain our project and then get feedback.

There were several times during the process that I had to get clarification from a group member about what they were planning to do for their project. It looks like we have a lot of technological issues at one of the schools and it's hard to figure out what to do when you have so many things to choose from. Another group member had the complete opposite problem: Her school has very little technology, especially in the media center. I feel very blessed to be at a school with a good amount of technology and an IMPACT team that constantly searches for the next appropriate amount of technology we need to acquire each year.

I really am thinking that I'm going to focus the project on the collaboration between the public and school library + Overdrive + Nooks + smartphones and tablets. I think it has the potential to be a really neat, very real project for my school. Audra even suggested that if it goes well, it could be something I present at the NCSMLC conference next year. How awesome would that be? I love that everyone loved the project. I do wish for some ideas on how to get started though. That's my biggest concern at the moment. Where in the world do I start? I think I need to sit down with my media coordinator and ask her for her input. Maybe it would be smart to set up a meeting with the director of our library too and see what Mr. Gibson thinks about the whole process.

I'm excited!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog - Due 9/16/14

We are supposed to be reflecting on the exploration phase of the Action Service/Action Learning project.

Up until tonight, I've mostly spent my time freaking out over the fact that I couldn't think of anything to do. Finally, I got in to see Dr. Moe at our scheduled appointment in her office. I thought I was going to have to have her go back through the whole project from start to finish. Once she got started, I realized that I understood the project itself. It was just my anxiety was preventing me from narrowing down topics. Basically, my head was going "technology....now what...."

We started by talking about my interview with my school librarian. What were the technology issues that were mentioned? I came up with three biggies: Nooks that are underutilized, technology only being used as a method of display in some classrooms, and "stuff" not working correctly. After talking about these issues, we were able to come up with several neat ideas that I could use for my project.

1. Write a grant that would "fix" the technological issues my school is dealing with.
2. Restructure the organization of technology to have computer carts that are more adequate for the uses - i.e. figure out a way to get 30 laptops on a cart or figure out how to fully stock a computer lab.
3. Collaborate with the public library, which has just become an Overdrive library, to somehow infuse technology (Nooks and devices that students already have) in their reading habits.
4. Develop a technology relationship with another teacher. Use them as a "guinea pig" of sorts. Have them branch out and use more technology while "advertising" to other staff what we are doing...how the students are reacting, etc.

I love that I have ideas now. I was drawing a blank, seriously. Sometimes, it's nice to just sit and bounce ideas off of someone. I'm honestly leaning more toward the idea with Overdrive because I am familiar with the technology and the companies involved. I also really believe in the idea that bringing in more technology and pairing it with literacy is good for middle schoolers, specifically. I hope this is something that could really happen. All of the libraries in the Sandhills district already have Overdrive. All the kids need is a library card and a device with the app downloaded, which is really neat. This would be a good way to utilize the Nooks that just sit there, gathering dust.

I have so many good ideas bouncing around in my head now. Thank God for Dr. Moeller's office hours. I highly advise everyone in class to go sit and talk to her. It helps!!! A LOT!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflecting on the Action Learning Project (What has happened thus far)...

This week, we were asked to blog about what we might want to explore for our action learning process. I know we are supposed to get our topics approved by Dr. Moe, but I have no idea where to begin. Projects like this freak me out in that they are so wide open. Really messes with my anxiety.

My initial response to the project was to figure out what I might want to explore. Immediately, I began to think about using social media to promote the school library. Social media, technology, etc. The idea of using technology to make students and parents more aware of the media center. I also was thinking about using technology to create some kind of center of resources for students and parents alike to use to improve reading, math, social studies, and science skills. 

The idea of technology and the library fascinates me. I don't know if I'm thinking like a media specialist or like a twenty-four year old kid, but the idea of using more technology is exciting in general. There are several things that a library could do with technology: promotion, publicity, technology based competitions, research, online tutoring, etc. 

I think...well, I think I'm stuck. I honestly think I need to come to office hours and talk more about the project because I'm at a loss as to where to start. I need help in narrowing my focus. From what I understand, this has to be something that I'm actually doing as well as learning from.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview: Technology and the Library

Interview: Technology and the Library
            Technology is becoming more and more useful, especially for librarians and library patrons. In order to fully understand the role of technology in the library, specifically a school, I interviewed the media specialist at Hamlet Middle School, Karen Brewer. She has been working at Hamlet Middle School for four years and has been a media specialist for much longer than that. Before becoming a media specialist, she was a teacher. She taught before technology was common in schools and is now a media specialist that has seen technology come in, be upgraded and enhanced, and be used by kids of all learning abilities.
            First, I wanted to know about the budget for purchasing new technology. I asked Mrs. Brewer how much money is allotted each year to purchase technology and equipment for the library. She explained that the budget comes from the state instructional/state library fund. For the 2014-15 school year, she has been given a budget of $9000. All technology, subscriptions, books, management, or other purchases have to come out of that $9000. This led me to ask about the process for choosing what types of technology to purchase or use for that particular library. She said that the technology that is purchased all depends on what the specific need is at the time. I asked how it is determined that a specific piece of technology will meet a need. She replied, “We try to research prior to purchasing. There have been some goofs like when items were fond to not be ready for testing or not allowed on testing.” An example of a need might be to purchase a MacBook Pro to manage all of the iPads for the school. Computers are currently out of her specific budget and will have to be acquired elsewhere. There is a group of computers that suggest items for the school, as far as technology is concerned. There is also a committee that meets regularly about technology. The final decision ultimately rests with the school administration and the staff at the county Central Office.
            This information led me to my next question. I asked Mrs. Brewer what technology she currently has in the media center. She said that the Hamlet Middle School media center has twenty student computers, two teacher computers, a SMARTboard, video cameras, nine Nooks, projectors, a poster maker, and a printer. The poster maker is for staff but the librarian uses it. Video cameras and spare projectors may be checked out. Computers are used to research, locate books with the Alexandria system, print student and teacher work, and general internet-based assignments. Mrs. Brewer said that, of all of that technology, the computers are the most used and the cameras are the least used. “All technology is used to incorporate the standards that are being taught in all classes,” she explained. This means that she tries to make all of the technology available that she possibly can. I wanted to know how often the media center’s technology is used. Brewer sighed and explained that the computer lab in the media center is on a flexible schedule, which means “the first to sign up, gets it.” There is another open computer lab in the school, but it’s only partially working, so the eighth grade teachers closest to it generally use it.
            Naturally, I then had questions about the support and management of all of this technology. I asked Mrs. Brewer who handles problems regarding technology. She said that teachers try to troubleshoot problems first, then the computer teachers or librarian tries to fix it. If neither teacher nor computer teacher nor librarian is successful, they have to submit a work order and get county personnel to come out to the school. “On site, we do the best we can, but we really have limited rights to fix any network issue. The technology staff – four members – does a good job, but they service the entire county,” she explained. I also wanted to know how she manages all of the technology in the library. She said that most equipment is inventoried, so it is managed through the library system. Teachers are allowed to check out equipment, and she keeps track of that through the system as well. My next question was about the process to remove obsolete technology. Brewer said, “If it’s not a fixed asset item [that’s worth over $500 at the time of purchase], the item can be thrown out. If it’s a fixed asset item, it must be retired and then is removed from inventory and auctioned.”
            My last few questions were all about the use of technology. I first asked whether technology is used effectively or is just for show. I wanted to know if it really enhanced lessons or if it was being used just because it is “supposed to be” used. She replied very courteously to her teachers at her school and simply said that it depends on the teacher as to whether or not it is used for show. She explained that technology is being used as one of the major methods of communicating information to students and she can’t imagine not using technology throughout most of the school day. My next question was whether or not technology has ever proved to be a hindrance or if she has ever seen technology go unused. She said that the Nooks that are in the library are rarely used. This is because “students want complete access to accounts to buy the books they want and we do not have that kind of funds.” There is another complaint with the Nooks: they do not allow internet access. “We were only allowed to order the simple touch Nooks. Our Nook Colors cannot be monitored, so we do not allow them to be checked out by students.” She went on to express that she feels like this is one of the situations mentioned earlier in the interview where they ordered something before really looking into how it would or could be used. They ended up being a waste of funding.

            To end the interview, I asked two more questions. The first was how the digitizing of material was affecting the future of the library as an institute. She laughed and said, “oh, I get this question all the time!” Brewer believes that there are people who will never give up their books. They are attached to the “touch, smell, and security of books.” The cost of digital material is quite high when compared to having a physical copy. There are other people who are ready to jump in and completely convert to all technology and no paper. “I still see the library as a brick and mortar building but transitioning to a more social meeting place to acquire and share information.” I loved this answer. Finally, I asked her to name three things that her library would have in a perfect world. She laughed, again, and said “mobile and flexible furniture, enough technology for every person in the school, and an unlimited budget.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Analysis of Technology and the School Media Center

For class this week, we were required to interview a librarian about the role of technology in the media center or library. I decided to interview the media specialist at my home school - Hamlet Middle School.

There was a lot that I didn't know. I thought I was more knowledgable about the processes for using, managing, and removing technology than I really was. For example, I learned that technology can be thrown out. Yes, you read that right, thrown out. If it was worth less than $500 when it was purchased, it can just be "gotten rid of." However, if it's a fixed asset, it will be auctioned later. I had no idea that the school did technology auctions. Who buys old, obsolete technology??? Maybe that is just coming from a youngster who only wants new and usable stuff. 

I knew about all of the technology that we had in the media center - computers, Nooks, SMARTboard, projectors, cameras - but I didn't know how often it was being used. From what we discussed, it sounds like there is rarely someone in the library using the computers. This made me wonder how often I can push and get my class in there. If it's sitting there, not being used, I WANT IN! I fight over laptops upstairs, so if I can just travel to the media center, I'm game. I would be about three computers short for my biggest class, but I always have students who want to do their assignments on paper. It works out.

Something that bothers me about this interview was how to handle broken or malfunctioning technology. For the entire county, there are only four people who are equipped to do repairs.  Four. FOUR! This helps me understand the long wait when we submit a technological work order. For example, there are currently four laptops on the cart assigned to my team that do not work. I have tried to fix them as has the media specialist. Nothing can be done until they are reimaged, at the very least. The only people with those capabilities are required to do other orders for the whole county. If we are moving into a more technological age, shouldn't we have more people who have the ability to repair computer issues?

Budget is an issue, again. The school media center always gets the short end of the stick with the budget, I feel like. I remember from another class I've taken (one from the summer with Dr. Veltze) that the school library budget is supposed to be very large, but never is. $9000 for everything may sound like a lot of money, but it goes fast. Between weeding out old material and replacing it with something better, subscriptions to magazines and online services/databases, upkeep on technology and other equipment needed, etc. the budget is gone. Imagine the amazing things that the school media center could do if it was given budget that it could really work with.

I think that this interview really just served to frustrate me a little. I'm inspired as well, because I can see the potential for beautiful things to be done in the media center with technology, but I'm frustrated because the media center is so separate from everything else. I wish I knew how to explain it...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Summary: 3-2-1 Style

I saw this on a post over at Middle School Math Rules! and wanted to use the same strategy to summarize the week.

3 Things that Happened This Week:

1. I finished my classroom!! Here are pictures :)

These are still not even the fully finished pictures. I added the novels and some supplies to the red caddies. I added books to the shelves, fixed the shelves, and got everything perfect for tomorrow.

2.  I attended Church and got exactly the sermon I needed: all about dealing with anger. I am not an angry person, by any means, but I have been angry here lately. I just need to remember that God is in control. Period. If I can remember to trust Him to do what is best for me and my son, I have no reason to hold on to this anger.

3. My son prayed. He prayed for someone who was in desperate need of prayer. Then, he told me his heart felt better. On Sunday (today), he prayed again in Sunday School AND in the car after Church. Moments like that make me feel like a champion as a mother. :)

2 Things on my To-do List:

1. Run copies for next week (well, decide what all needs to be copied and get the master copies so I can make the copies).
2. Get my house cleaned up and ready for tomorrow!

1 Thing I'm Looking Forward To This Week:

1. Meeting all of my kiddos at school! I can't wait to run through my first week of lesson plans with eager new faces! They'll be angels this week. Then, it'll get interesting. ;)


Friday, August 15, 2014

New products!!! (Monday Made It....on Friday) ;)

I've added two new products to my TpT store!

#1) Common Core Vocabulary Cards. (CCSS Vocabulary - Reading Literature)

These are just cards that you can use on your Word Wall. They have a blue striped background with a black and white frame. The word is in the middle of the card. There are 47 vocabulary words and 3 blank labels with the set.

#2) "I can..." Statement Cards (RI/RL.7.1 only). (I Can Statement Cards - RI.7.1 and RL.7.1)

I've done the statements for the first standard. I will be adding more as I finish them up. They are gorgeous and very useful!

Just thought I'd update you guys on what's going on in my store. Go check it out and see if you can find something you like!

August 20th is a 20% off sale for all of TpT. My store is participating. Here is the link to my personal store. 26 great products to choose from!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Old Family Joins New Family + More About Jonah

I should've posted this on Sunday.

Maybe should've posted this on Monday.

I wasn't feeling it. I knew there was some greater reason to wait and post this until I really felt inspired (even though I was really excited).

On Sunday, my mom, dad, and little sister, Alex, joined Freedom Baptist. It was like my two worlds came together and merged into this beautiful new reality. My family is now part of my Church family. I wasn't sure at first if I would really even care. Let me tell you now: I care. I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days, and I know that this is the start of a beautiful new family - one that primarily focuses on what God wants and the plans He has for us as an immediate family, Church family, and as His children, in general. 

Let me talk about Church for a minute or two.

I went to Sunday School again. I really like my class; however, I found myself to be the only one there this week! The teachers - Brad and Michelle - came, but no other students! Everyone was on vacation! Oh well. I have this firm belief that God has the people show up that are truly meant to be there. Maybe I needed to hear this particular lesson or maybe I needed to learn from it so that I can help someone else be repentant. I'm not sure yet. 

Anyway, the lesson was "Do Not Lie." But it's not as simple as don't tell falsehoods. It talked about intentional deception, white lies, and stretching the truth. 
  • Stretching the truth: I will be the first to admit that I am a storyteller. It's not something that I would have ever considered to be lying. Instead, I know how to put just the right spin on something to make it interesting. Creative by nature, if you will. After this lesson, I'm not sure that being creative with my words is always such a gift. It is so easy to take this gift of creativity and being good with details and turn it into something negative - embellishing a story with lies to make it sound better. While it's ok to do this with fiction (when writing short stories, poems, etc.), it's not ok to this with things that really happen. 
  • Intentional deception: I try not to intentionally deceive anyone, so that is easier to avoid. 
  • White lies: everyone does it. The thing that I really liked about this part was that it says in order to tell a white lie, you must first convince yourself that it's ok...that it will make some situation better. That you're really avoiding hurting someone else by lying now. But the thing with all lying is that it takes more and more lies to back up the original lie. The truth will always come out in the end.
Then, it was time for Church. We are still in the book of Jonah. I'm really enjoying moving through this book and learning the true story of Jonah and the whale. Sunday, we focused on what happened when Jonah actually got to Nineveh.

Short story: Jonah got to Nineveh. They had already heard of him because of what had happened to him. He told them to change their ways or God would destroy them. They trusted in God and repented. When the citizens repented, word of this got to the King. He then repented and humbled himself before God. After 40 days, God saw that they were repentant and He changed his mind. He decided to let the city stand.

Now, that seems easy enough to explain. Jonah preached. Nineveh repented. God relented. Why does there need to be a sermon on that?

Let me tell you what I really learned from that sermon:
  1. Repent: Turn away from whatever you are doing and turn towards God. Change behavior.
    • Did you know that when it says God changed his mind, it actually says that He repented?
    • That's crazy! God is above sin! He's holy!
    • Repent means to change. He changed His mind. He does change His mind. He does whatever is in the best interest of His people. He is loving and merciful.
  2. People who repent are seeking genuine forgiveness. They are really changing.
    • Y'all, it is not repentance if you ask for forgiveness and go out and do the same thing again.
    • If you are repenting, you have no intentions of doing a 360 and repeating old behaviors.
  3. The people of Nineveh (and the King of Nineveh) believed God. (Jonah 3:5)
    • They believed him and changed their ways.
    • God gave them 40 days to change. They knew they had a time limit.
    • What's our time limit? We could die tomorrow. We could die in 5 minutes. We could die in 50 years. We just don't know.
    • Something that Pastor McLean said that really stuck with me about believing God: "Be careful not to substitute man's opinion for God's truth." How often do we do this (*cough* daily *cough*)?
    • These people of Nineveh fasted, put on sackcloth, and made themselves physically and emotionally uncomfortable. They mourned their sins. The point of this is to change the comfortable behaviors that we've been living in into uncomfortable sin. This way, we won't want to do them again.
  4. The King repented (Jonah 3:6-7)
    • This led into an entire conversation about leadership.
      • White House
      • Church
      • Home
      • School
      • Wherever!
    • Loved hearing this: "Christianity isn't bi-partisan. You have to go and vote for what God said." Support what His word supports. Do what God would want His child to do.
    • We have to stop blaming everyone else for our problems and start looking inward. Look at ourselves. Get right with God. 
      • Imagine if everyone got right with the Lord. If everyone did it, where would our country...our world...be?
  5. God repented (Jonah 3:9-10)
    • He changed his actions.
    • He forgave Nineveh.
    • God gives grace and mercy.
    • He is holy. Sinless. Perfect.
So, if you didn't know why a sermon should be given just to explain that Jonah preached, the people changed, and God showed them mercy...well, there is just SO MUCH MORE to that story than that.

I know I learned a lot. I always learn a lot. That's why I'm proud that Freedom is my home.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oh, The Joys of Motherhood

Today has been one of those especially trying days that comes with being a mom.

I got a paycheck today....which was then immediately spent on bills, food, etc. Christian was in day care for this process. I came home and got started on some things that absolutely needed to be done. It was a low-stress kind of day.

Then, the storm hit. Christian was home.

My house is now demolished. If you know me, you know I can't stand mess. He refused to eat dinner. He stomped at me. He spit at me....TWICE. He got a spanking and several time outs. During his bath, he splashed me and completely soaked my pants. It wasn't anything bad, but it was a lot of little annoyances that add up to a big frustration.

When Christian went to bed (and got up twice to "go stinky" - which he didn't need to do), I decided I needed some encouragement. I looked on Facebook and that sucked. I looked on Twitter. That was worse. I turned on 7th Heaven because I wanted to watch a mother really work hard taking care of her large family. That just made me feel worse because Annie Camden is almost perfect and rarely loses her temper with her children.

It finally clicked. If I need encouragement, where should I look first? The Bible. Duh!?

A quick Google search and this is what I found:

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  (Proverbs 31:10-30)

This is under the heading: "Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character." You know what though? It is about so much more than a wife. It is about a mother. It is about a housewife. It is about a working woman. It is about women, period. I want to pick parts of this out and reflect on how they sparked something within me.

Proverbs 31:15: "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants."

This is the story of my life. Leave out the female servants. I'm not getting into that. I am up at the weirdest hours doing crazy things for my son. Whether it's cooking, changing sheets because of an accident (which are rare these days, thankfully), or consoling after a bad dream. My sleep has been seriously altered over the past three years and I'm not sure it'll ever be the same. That's ok though; I'm working to raise a wonderful little boy who deserves the attention.

Proverbs 31:21: "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet."

I know that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to take care of my son. I make and sell things. I work. I sell what I don't need. I help others to earn extra cash. I make sure his needs are provided before I even think of what I want or need. I have no worries about him and what he has.

Proverbs 31:24: "She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."

I laughed when I read this part of this. I just started making a blanket for someone to purchase. I also have some other crocheted items I'm selling. It's just interesting that this was in this passage. Ha!

Proverbs 31:25-26: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

This is a testament to all women who work to take care of a house and a family. We are strong. We are dignified. We have to endure so much as women without the pressure of children. Add in a child or two and the strength that we need to have increases exponentially. We raise our children and take care of the household while keeping our respect intact. That is impressive. Women are impressive. That is inspiring. The part that really made me giggle: "she can laugh at the days to come." God recognizes that we are going to have days that suck beyond the telling of it. We are strong enough to just laugh it off. These days are GOING TO HAPPEN. It's all about how we look at them when they are over. Hopefully, the last part is true about me in more than one way. I hope I am a good teacher to my son as well as my students. I pray that God inspires the teachings that I impart on my students and helps me to raise my child in the way that He intends for Christian to be raised.

Proverbs 31:28: "Her children arise and call her blessed..."

I sure hope Christian calls me blessed. Tonight, at the end of it all. After I had fussed and spanked, lectured and given time outs, he told me that I was beautiful and perfect. He said, "Tomorrow, Mommy, I want to be perfect like you." Now, I don't know if I really want my child to think I'm perfect...but it sure was nice to hear.

Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Why, oh why, did I not just look at my Bible before I got so freaked out about how the last part of my day turned out? This is all I need to know. I need to fear the Lord. I need to turn to Him, especially when I'm annoyed. He loves me and will help me when I'm stuck or frustrated. I can be charming and wonderful, but that doesn't matter in the long run. What matters is that I love God and that I teach my son to do the same.

Man, I am ready for Church on Sunday. I'm needing some more time with Jesus. Days like this remind me of how happy I am when I leave Church. I love sitting there and being taught a lesson, reflecting on it later, and really letting it sink into my soul. I wish my pastor knew how wise his words are and how God has inspired him to teach things that really matter to me, specifically (and to others too). Come on, Sunday. (God, help me make it to Sunday!!!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Flat Tires and Jesus

I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I'm not always sure what the reason is, but it eventually reveals itself.

Today, I went to lunch with a friend. I haven't been to hang out with this person ever really, but we've been friends since I was 14 or 15. Lunch was great. It was nice to catch up and talk about the past. It's always good to go and relax with a friend. 

On the way home, we got a flat tire. Never, in my life, have I ever gotten a flat tire, been riding with someone who had a flat tire, or anything related to getting a flat tire. I've never seen a tire changed or anything. I've never seen a jack used. This was a totally new experience.

I may not feel comfortable doing it by myself, but I'm a visual learner. Watching Ozzy change that tire made me feel a lot less fear about what I'd do in the same situation. Now, I have a spare tire, of course, but I don't have a jack or anything. I'd still have to call someone...but now that I've experienced it, I'll be a lot calmer, I think.

The Jesus part of the post is directly related to the flat tire. It's been pretty hot outside today. The entire time we were stuck on the side of the road, it was comfortable. The sun ducked behind a thin cloud and it kept it a lot cooler outside than what it had been so far today. There was even a slight breeze that kept me cool. Ozzy was hot, I'm sure, from working so hard...but it had to have been a lot better than working in 95 degree heat with no breeze!

I maintain that it was Jesus. He knew that we'd be stuck. He knew that there would have to be some manual labor today. He kept the breeze blowing and the sun tucked away behind the cloud for us. 

I know it's a small victory to write a post about, but it's important to be so thankful for the little things - like keeping the weather a little cooler when we were stuck trying to change a tire. Like having me stuck with someone who was knowledgeable enough to try to fix the situation and to teach me how to handle it if I had to do it on my own. Like having my sister return a phone call to come and pick me up off the side of the road (when she's had a delayed response in returning phone calls and texts here lately). Having us get a flat on a road my sister knows instead of having it happen somewhere unfamiliar.

This situation could have gone a lot differently, and I, for one, am thankful that God is always in control. He is always looking out for His children...and aren't we blessed!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The God of Second Chances

Today's sermon in Church was amazing.

We have been going through the book of Jonah all summer. We finally got to Chapter 3 today. Focusing on Jonah 3:1-4, my preacher taught us all how God is patient, merciful, and generous.

I loved hearing all of the ways that people in the Bible have screwed up. I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but it makes them all seem more real to me. Yes, I know they are real people and they had real experiences...but to hear that they screwed up in one way or another really makes me feel better.

--Jonah ignored God and went to Tarshis instead of going to Nineveh to preach.
--Abraham lied to everyone and said that Sarah was his sister instead of being honest and saying she is his wife.
--Elijah ran away from God and ended up having to deal with Jezebel.
--David saw Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, bathing and ended up committing adultery with her (even though he knew it was a sin). She ended up getting pregnant.

And on and on and on.

The Bible is very honest in showing the good times and the bad times that the people were faced with. It just makes me feel better to know that these men really screwed up big time and were still forgiven. As long as we are repentant, we will be forgiven as well. We just have to trust and surrender to the Lord and we will be saved, period.

Another good point that was made today is that God uses preaching as His main form of communication - using preachers like mine, Ronnie McLean, as his instruments to guide and teach his children. During this segment of the sermon, Pastor McLean said that any time you feel like the sermon was tailored to you and what you need at that point, don't thank the preacher. Thank God. He uses ministers to speak to his children and address their needs.

This spoke to me specifically. This is why I'm in Church again now. I went back to Church last February (2013). It was the first time I had been in about a year. Before that, I was going on and off. I was in a bad place in my personal relationship and I was searching for something to fill a void that had formed in my heart. When I was sitting there, Pastor McLean spoke about making decisions that reflect what God wants for you. He said that we have to make hard choices, choices that may hurt, but choices that make us happy - choices that make God happy. I'm sure those aren't the exact words (as a matter of fact, I have almost that whole sermon written down in my journal that I take to Church)...but they resonated in my soul. I ended my broken relationship about two weeks later and my life has been up and down since.

In this period, the biggest constant and the biggest joy I've had is Church. Freedom Baptist has been a place where I feel at home. The people who attend there are friendly and welcoming. It just feels like a family. This is the place where I belong. That's why today, 7/27/14, I finally joined the Church as a member. It feels wonderful to finally call Freedom my Church home. Now, I want to get plugged in and really become a good member of the Church! I can't wait for CWS to start and I get my 3-4 year olds (if they're still going to let me lead the group!!!!!) :)

If you can't tell, I was really inspired after Church this morning. This is the kind of post I want to write. This is what I feel called to do. Of course, not everything can be a reflection of a sermon I hear...but man, it feels so good to get it all down on paper (or online, haha). Hopefully, I'll keep up my momentum and continue to post regularly.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

I'm back (for the millionth time)

There has been so much that has changed since the last time I wrote a legitimate post (other than the ones for graduate school....those count, but who wants to read that ;) lol).

I don't really know where to begin with what's changed, so instead, I'll tell you what's going on with me right now. BTW: These items are not ranked in order of importance, but in order of what comes into my head at the time:

1) Exercise: I'm combining two of my really favorite things when I exercise now: PiYo and Hula Hooping. So fun! I do a hoop workout 5 days a week and PiYo is done 6 days a week. Today's workout: Lower Body Ballet (hoop) and Sweat (PiYo). All together, that's about one hour of working out for today...which isn't terrible AT ALL.

2) Work: I will be at Hamlet Middle School again this year. There was some question of where I would be, but I think that God has me right where he wants me - 7th grade ELA.

I'm really, REALLY excited about the changes in curriculum that have been made for the coming year. I'm even more excited about the fact that instead of six 6-week grading period, we now have four 9-week periods. In 7th grade, we're pairing one major text - a novel or play - with each 9-week period. That makes so much more sense to me. I'm ready to get in there and start planning, although, I'm not about to wish my summer away either.

3) Church: Where do I start with this? I've had mixed feelings about going to Church in my hometown. Do I want to go to Church with people I know in the community? Would I rather have a Church community that is completely separate from what I do outside of Church (obviously, that would not be good)? Should I make sure that the Church that I go to is one that my family attends? Should the Church I attend have friends for Christian? Should it be people he already knows? And on and on and on....

I realized that it doesn't really matter where I go as long as I GO and take my little boy. He needs to be in Church, as do I. I know people at the Church where I am joining. I have friends who go there and the children that are Christian's age are wonderful, well raised children. He goes to day care with some of them (his "girlfriend" is at this Church and his day care...lol). He loves it there and begs to go back each week! That's a good sign for me.

I feel at home at Freedom. I feel like there are millions of opportunities for me to get involved - whether that is by attending a small group or teaching Campus Worship Series to 3 and 4 year old children. Either way, I know that it is a way for me to stay focused on God throughout all that I do.

4) Spirituality: I have this fire in my soul, a burning in my gut, something inside me that is yearning for closeness with God. It's not always the thing that I am focused on most, but it's always there, gnawing away at me. It's like someone whispering at all times, "Shouldn't you go read your Bible?" "Shouldn't you pray and ask God about this?" "What would God want for you?" "Are you sure that skipping Church is smart? Won't you feel better if you go?" etc. This yearning is extending to the books that I'm reading, the songs that I'm singing, the shows that I'm watching....it's into everything I do - which yes, I know it's good, but it can be annoying and overbearing too - and I'm shocking myself by the things that I'm saying or doing. It's good!

My favorite Christian author, Beth Moore, is a wonderful, brilliant woman. I want to be her when I grow up. Not too long ago, there was a deal on Amazon where you could get all of her books, almost, for free on your Kindle Fire. I jumped on that instantly. I want to start reading one of them, but I can't decide which one to start.

My iTunes/iPhone/Mac/CD in the car is constantly set to either a Fireflight mix, a We As Human mix, or it's on my Jeremy Camp Pandora station. It depends on my mood...but I can pretty much hit all of my moods with those three. I have them on rotation for the most part. Now, I still listen to my other music, of course...but that's what I've been listening to the most.

I've been watching 7th Heaven on Hulu Plus. I watched this show religiously (pardon the pun) when it was originally airing on TV, and I have been so excited to watch it again as an older, hopefully wiser, woman. I thought it was just a good TV show...but now I'm seeing the value in each episodes - the lessons we were supposed to learn from watching the Reverend Camden interact with his family and the members in the community. It's just an inspiring series, and it makes me want to be a better person.

But do you see what I mean? Everything I do seems to come back to God. Now, what I really REALLY want is a devotional that is also a journaling assignment. Suggestions? I'll even take one that starts January 1, 2015...but I want something that forces me to write my own thoughts on it.

5) School: I just want it to start back. I want to get back in class and have work to do. It makes me feel like I'm really accomplishing something for myself. I know that, once it starts back, I'll be ready for it to be over again. However, right now, I miss it. When school, work, and life in general are all going on at the same time, I'm sure I'll regret saying all of that.

Well, that's pretty much where I am at the moment. I want to do better posting on here...but I want the posts to mean something and not just be random thoughts, like this one.

I'm off to watch Pirate Fairy with my son. He loves Tinker Bell right now.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Planning the School Based Educator Unit

The school based educator unit went ok. It was really hard at first for me to feel comfortable enough reaching out to someone at another school in the community. Because of this, I got a late start on the assignment. 

Once we finally got started planning out the unit, it was just fine. I felt very confident in my suggestions and in the help that I was able to provide. I have never worked with high school and it was very interesting to see what my future students will have to accomplish once they get to Richmond Senior High School.

After the initial face-to-face meeting, we just relied on facebook, e-mail, and texting to plan the rest of the unit. It was very simple and we worked well together. This made me so much more comfortable with the idea of working with other teachers in content areas other than what I am used to teaching.

The unit itself is very well planned, I believe. I'm still waiting on one final piece from my colleague, but it will be completed and wonderful tomorrow evening.

I think that next time I go to plan a unit, I will start earlier. I will show up with ideas and not let my nerves get the best of me. I will contribute confidently and not worry so much about making suggestions.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blog Reflection on Blogging and Class Assignments ;)

In all honesty, between extensive assignments for multiple classes, creating impressive lesson plans for work, raising a 2 year old on my own, and life, itself, I have been slacking on writing my blog. Yes, this is all my fault and, yes, this is sad. However, after this entry, I will be completely caught up.

Blogging is an effective way to reflect on your work and your readings. I thoroughly enjoy being allowed openly express my thoughts and opinions on the material that we are reading/working on that week in class. It is just hard to remember to complete. You'd think that I would be better at this, considering the fact that I am quite the opinionated writer. Oh well, I have them all completed now and, personally, I think that my opinions adequately reflect on the topics assigned each week. 

As far as what we have been working on in class lately, well, I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this assignment. We have been working on an Instructional Unit with Classmates. It was not an easy assignment. I wrote most of the materials, lessons, and did the APA citations on the original submission and then contributed to the reflection piece. When the assignment was sent back to the group, I took a few days and edited the assignment to address the concerns of the professor. I then e-mailed the edited assignment back to the group. Then, the group met and changed the entire format of the unit and submitted it. My e-mail was rebelling against me being a great member of the group and I truly got to feel like what it must be like to be the media coordinator who is not 100% involved in the final creation of a unit/lesson that directly involves the use of my materials, resources, etc. While I got to go back in and approve of the final submission, there were times that I was completely left out of the planning portion. I addressed my concern via e-mail with my group and was able to work again with the group, but it was really difficult to plan with multiple people who are on very different schedules.

More now than ever, I want to be a librarian. I have personally felt what it is like to collaboratively plan with others who are on such different schedules and I know that I have the patience and ability to work around the schedule of others, even when mine is hectic. I feel like my personality helps me to have the skill set needed to work with others and make suggestions/revisions to work without being "pushy" or "overstepping my boundaries" in one way or another.

I did not realize how difficult the job was going to be, though. If I'm going to be honest, I went into this program under the assumption that the media coordinator's job was a lot easier than that of a classroom teacher. What I am learning is that the media coordinator's job is just as difficult and just as complicated. Sometimes, it might even be more complicated because of the expectation to work with the entire school - all grade levels and all content areas, including encore classes like music and art. While this is frustrating, it is also inspiring. I have so many great ideas as to what I will want to do once I have my own media center. I am incredibly excited with the possibilities that this class has made me realize I can do once I get in there and work in a library that is all my own. I am also very lucky that my own media coordinator has allowed me so much freedom in running the library so far. She has been very receptive to my ideas and has allowed me to do so much more than I imagined I would be doing at this point in my program.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teacher Observation and Interview

This week, we were asked to explain how the topics in this week's readings relate to the teacher observation and interview that we were asked to complete.

I observed an 8th grade ELA teacher at my school. She is an incredible teacher who was working hard to review difficult concepts with a smaller group of students during an intervention/enrichment period and then trying to inspire her full class to work hard and complete difficult assignments on time.

During the intervention/enrichment period, she clearly set a purpose for the review/readings that the students were doing: They were reading for information (discussed in chapter 9 of Donham). Students were reading articles that were related to astronomy and taking the information gained from the articles to answer questions. Students would read, look for a particular piece of textual evidence, and then use that evidence to support an answer choice.

During the regular class period, the teacher first gave a small speech about responsibility, effort, and completing assignments. She then assigned a difficult fiction piece for the students to read and complete an assignment on point of view. When we discussed why she chose that particular piece for the students to read, she told me that she had looked at various measures of complexity before deciding to use this specific play.. She said that while the lexile level of the play was easier than the suggested lexile level for 8th grade, the qualitative dimensions of the text made it more complex and therefore, made it appropriate for her students. This was also discussed in chapter 9 of Donham.

The teacher that I interviewed admitted to not working collaboratively with the media coordinator. I wonder if, had the media coordinator gone to her planning meetings and made suggestions to the teacher, she would have been more receptive to working together. Collaboration wasn't the particular focus of this week's reading assignment, but it has been the focus in the past. This is not just common for this particular teacher. There is a lack of collaborative planning with the teacher and the media coordinator in a lot of the schools that I have worked in previously.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Most Heartening Piece This Week

I'm a little unclear on how any of the assigned readings this week were "heartening." I didn't find anything that we read specifically cheerful or encouraging. If anything, it made me more nervous. A lot of the pieces we read this week were about planning collaboratively. Teachers and media coordinators working together to create materials, lessons, units, etc. together.

The article that I liked the best was "Understanding How Teachers Plan: Strategies for Successful Instructional Partnerships." I feel like this article gave the most helpful hints as to how to work together. For example, media coordinators should "be open to new ways of looking at teaching and help teachers to do likewise." I think that media coordinators should be the more open-minded of the two who are planning together and should be responsible for suggesting "out of the box" ways to address the same standards that the classroom teacher is looking to address in a particular lesson or unit.

I really appreciated that the collaborative reflection and planning is supposed to reflect the teacher's teaching and planning style. The fact that this article encouraged media coordinators to truly help the classroom teacher was great. When teachers and media coordinators talk about their planning and about their work, it will eventually become obvious that the teacher's style and desires will drive the instruction. When the media coordinator can add to that without being hostile or overly demanding, the planning will go a lot more smoothly.

My favorite part of this article was where the author said, "Don't wait to be asked; assume partnerships and look for opportunities to plan with teachers." In my district, at least, I do not ever see teachers go out of their way to plan with the media coordinator. However, if the media coordinator were to come to our common planning with some ideas ready to be contributed, we would not turn him or her away. We are very receptive to new ideas but do not have a lot of time during the school day to seek out the help.


Thursday, February 27, 2014


According to Gail Bush in School Library Monthly (2006), "Differentiated instruction is a learner-centered instructional design model that acknowledges that students have individual learning styles, motivation, abilities, and, therefore, readiness to learn."

I know that differentiation is critical to effective teaching. However, I know that it is incredibly difficult to effectively differentiate in a classroom. I teach 4 classes every day. Each class has approximately 25 students who all have different learning styles.

One way that I have differentiated instruction in the past is to create MENU assessments. Here is an example of a MENU assessment that I have used in the past:

The Outsiders MENU assessment:

1 Point
·         Timeline of major events in novel
·         Create a 6 panel comic strip of the major events of the novel.
·         Describe each of the major characters using figurative language.
·         Create a movie poster that illustrates the three most important scenes in the novel.

2 Points
·         You know Johnny’s family. Write them a sympathy note expressing how you feel about what happened to Johnny.
·         Create a Facebook profile for one of the characters in The Outsiders. In addition to the profile, create a wall conversation with at least 10 comments that demonstrates your understanding of the character.
3 Points
·         You are Ponyboy and you are now a grandfather. Tell your story to your three grandchildren about what happened at the church.
·         In the novel, Soda is heartbroken when Sandy does not respond to his love letter (pg. 174). Imagine that you are either Soda or Sandy. Make an inference about their situation by either writing the letter from Soda’s point of view or responding to the letter from Sandy’s point of view.

4 Points
·         Graduation speech from Ponyboy’s perspective.
·         Advice column.
5 Points
·         The two opposing groups in The Outsiders are the Socials and the Greasers. Think of two opposing social groups today. Describe in a narrative one possible confrontation that may occur between the two groups. Be sure to include dialogue, descriptive details, and a well-structured sequence of events.
·         Write and perform a slam poem that raises awareness of gang violence in our society.

**Total points must add up to 20 in order to receive credit for this assignment.

This was a fun way to assess whether or not students understood the novel. Looking back, I wish I could have integrated the media center in this assignment. Students were able to write, create poetry, artwork, etc. There is a huge opportunity for them to use technology as well. Next year, maybe I will coordinate with the MC in order to effectively hit all learning styles and differentiate successfully.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taxonomy Reflection

This week in LIB 5070, we were asked to reflect on how our practice fits within a specific taxonomy that was discussed in our weekly reading.

The specific question that was asked of classroom teachers was: Where are you as a teacher and how could you take your resource-based teaching a step further?

First, I'd like to discuss what taxonomy #2 is, specifically. This is a "Teacher's Taxonomy of Resource-Based Teaching." It explains the different methods that teachers might use in their classroom to incorporate use of collection/resources. It gives information about self-contained teaching, private collection, borrowed collection, media staff, media resources, and curriculum development.

Currently, as a classroom teacher, I am somewhere between #4 and 5 in the taxonomy. There have been many instances where I have just used my media specialist as someone to bounce ideas off of, and there are other times where I have used Mrs. Brewer and the resources provided in the media center to better a specific lesson or unit.

For example, Mrs. Brewer and I will frequently discuss how I can use technology and specific books in my unit. I am currently teaching a unit on WW2 fiction and nonfiction, focusing on the techniques unique to each genre. We are then comparing print to video/audio. I have gotten resources from her that I can use with my students. I wouldn't have thought about using these materials without planning with her. 

My next step as a teacher would be to try harder to use my media specialist as more of a partner. I would love to sit down with Mrs. Brewer and analyze what my students need, develop objectives together, and figure out ways to present and evaluate curriculum together. I think this will be very neat to try during our "spiral review" at the end of the year where we begin to review all of the standards in the CCSS.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pooh-character Attributes & Teaching

This week in class, we did a personality assessment. 

I learned that I was both a Pooh and a Rabbit.

Here are some attributes of a Pooh (Harmony):
  • Caring
  • Sensitive
  • Nurturing
  • Harmonizing
  • Feeling-oriented
Here are some attributes of a Rabbit (Production):
  • Logical
  • Structured
  • Organized
  • Systematic
  • Thinking-oriented
I find that it's very interesting that I am both a Pooh and a Rabbit. This means that I somehow find the balance between thinking with my head and thinking with my heart.

We were asked to reflect on how we see our Pooh-character attributes come through in our teaching. In my classroom, my students are fully aware that I am very easily attached to them. Even if students are behavior-issues, chaotic, and restless, I am almost another mother-figure for them. I love all of my students. I want them to feel like my classroom is a safe-haven for them. I celebrate their accomplishments with them and I grieve their disappointments as if they were my own.

However, I am DEFINITELY a Rabbit as well. I am organized to the point of insanity. I have to have my classroom completely structured at all times. Free time drives me insane. I do not like it when students are unorganized and chaotic. It causes me to even lose my focus at times, which then upsets me, which keeps me off balanced...it's a vicious cycle. I have systems in place for everything from turning in homework to lining up and walking down the hallway. When students do not follow these structures, I can get very cranky, to say the least.

I think that my two characters come together in the perfect way, though. Because I care deeply about my students, I work even harder to create lessons that my students will truly enjoy and learn from. Because I am an organized, structured teacher, students gain self-discipline and have an awareness of exactly what they can expect from my class each day. This helps them to become more organized themselves.

I can also see where my two characters can cause issues. Primarily, I have an issue with classroom management. This has improved over the last few years, but I care too much about "upsetting" my students or "hurting their feelings." I also can get more angry and upset than I should. I'm also a logical and rational person, though, and can quickly remind myself of the task that I have to accomplish. This helps me to go back to my lesson plan and begin again.

Overall, I am shocked at how accurate this test was. I can see why most teachers identify with Pooh, but I think being equally a Rabbit works to my advantage!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Learning Theories --> Behaviorism

This week, my group and I were asked to research behaviorism. I already had a pretty good idea what behaviorism was thanks to my college psychology classes as well as my education classes (love my Tar Heel education)! This assignment really focused in on what behaviorism is and how can I apply it to my work as a media specialist.

1. What have I learned about behaviorism?

--Throughout this process, I was reminded that behaviorism is essentially conditioning. While there are two types of conditioning - operant and classical - I believe that the one that is easiest to apply in a teaching/learning environment is operant conditioning, in which you use reinforcement to encourage or deter behavior. When there is a desired behavior, you use positive reinforcement to encourage the behavior to continue. When an undesirable behavior is displayed, you use negative reinforcement to stop the behavior from occurring again.

2. What does this mean to me?

--As a middle school teacher, I see that consequences and rewards do work with my students. My kids will do just about anything for a reward (especially if that reward is candy). When they exhibit behaviors that are less than desirable, there is a system of consequences (negative reinforcement) that is meant to teach them not to behave in that manner.

3. How might I use this information for work as a school librarian?

--Behaviorism is very simple to use in a school library. This could be used to teach students the norms for behavior within the library. Without these rules and norms in place, students can cause a lot of damage in a place like a library (especially my students). Using positive reinforcement for a successful trip to the library and negative reinforcement for students who behave inappropriately will ensure that the library is respected and enjoyed by both students and teachers.