Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Handouts for Spring Conference Presentations!

I'm happy to have the opportunity to share this message with y'all in NY, Texas, and my virtual presentation friends!  Remember....the next generation will grow up and run the world!  Let's prepare them:  to think, to assess, to wonder, to solve problems, to be responsible and more.  You have a very important job!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We are blessed to be a blessing. Please ponder this library cause:

Please Help Build a Library in the World’s Poorest Nation: Burundi
Give up one pizza for one small piece of this library?

Burundi is one of the world’s most impoverished  countries. Annually it places at the bottom of the GDP list competing with Congo, Liberia and other a handful of other struggling countries. Burundi lies deep in the heart of Africa, just west of Tanzania and neighbors with Rwanda.  Tribal warfare (Hutu and the Tutsi)  and AIDS have left orphans and widows behind.

Along comes Freddy.  This man had a vision to “rescue” orphans, build an orphanage and also a “first world” school in this struggling country.  Ten years later, Freddy has raised hundreds of Hutu and Tutsi orphans, (together, so they don’t even know to which tribe they belonged), a medical clinic, and an English-speaking school.    He believed that in order to positively impact the future and economics in Burundi, kids needed to know English to compete in our global society. Freddy knew that love and education would supplant the hatred and dysfunction that defined Burundi’s culture.
2018 Video - Look @ ten years later!  

When I met Freddy, I was so compelled by his cause, and convicted by my “privileged position.”  I am an educator, librarian, author, and I  give to many worthy causes. But, I eat pizza and buy lattes too.  

Would you consider giving up one pizza towards this school’s Library Fund?  We librarians and educators could build them their “Great Gitiga Library” if there were 2000 librarians willing to give $20.00 – that’s just one pizza pie each!   They need $37,000 to cover the construction costs of this building and that would about cover it.  I thank you deeply for considering this.  (Imagine building a library for only $37K?! - I've seen the architectural plans and can share them if you'd like.) 

For those interested in larger tax-deductible donations, you may give through this 501-C3 link – Choose “Other” and note it for the LIBRARY  - You will receive an instant tax receipt. 

 Still not convinced? Watch this difficult video in which they give statistics about our US money spent on cosmetics and dog food.  It's humbling. 

They are also in need of new books, if your organization or company would have inventory needing a write-off.   

My brother and niece are involved in this work as well as the work of Hope International in Bujumbura, Burundi. That is how we found out about this and met Freddy Tuyizere.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Join me for an SLC Webinar!

Power verbs for the new AASL Standards for School Librarians! 

I'll share some valuable insights and ideas to help you digest and embrace these new standards from AASL! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What's In A Name?

Harvey's Leaving A Legacy --What will yours' be? 

As we sit warmly in the Northeast watching devastating winds and water tumble homes and communities into a path of destruction, our compassion rises and we get frustrated that there's little we can do but contribute.  We applaud the schools all across America who are rising to the fundraising challenges. This shows Americans are truly generous and kind.  

As we daily view new Harvey devastation, and fear the impending Irma, I am reminded that these real life experiences should become a teachable moments. After the waters recede and communities are being restored, we can continue to weave these real-life connections into other assignments thereby elevating relevancy--all because our students know about them. The human brain puts more priority on material which is "real"or "connected to experience. 

Pulling on a previous blog posting, I'd like to share an example of how to weave Harvey and Irma into Ivan, Mitch, Sandy, Dean, and Katrina (who's remnants still cry out). These infamous names resonate destruction and fierce strength. 

In light of the recent Hurricanes, wouldn't it be nice Seize the Day! 

  • We could build a biography unit challenging students to leave behind a living legacy of good--not evil. 
  • We could Uncover and Discover who the wonderful aid workers are. 
  • We could research and vet a list of recommended Disaster Relief Organizations.  Find out what they are all about and how much of their contributions really go directly to help--rather than administration. Communicate this list of "approved" organizations and how they help victims, communities, and recovery efforts. This is real-life.  

When a horribly huge storm leaves marks on a community, its' reputation is not good. We can turn right around and ask our students:  What's your legacy? What are you known for?
Essential Question: Why should we care about what legacy we are leaving behind?  

This essential question is a figurative way to examine a life (biography) in an introspective manner.  All too often, when school "cover" biography units, the focus is meaningless.   Kids have to report meaningless details of the Bio's life without any introspection or application.   The facts are easily recovered on a simple Google search for a website which enables the students to avoid reading the book. The Common Core calls for "relevance" and this simple re-wording of biography units can help mold character in our students. 

If biographies are repackaged we could find more meaningful constructivist assignments that ask the students to find the meaning in a life, rather than the birth-date and date of death. I don't know when Nelson Mandela's birthday is, and it doesn't matter.  I can tell you however, that he was imprisoned for principles that we all should embrace.  I can tell you that he stood for peace and equality in a sea of inequality and injustice.   I can tell you that Irene Gut Opdyke helped resist the Nazi's in Germany even though she risked her own life when she helped and hid the innocent, spied on the enemy, warned of Ghetto cleansings, and saw relatives die.  I can tell you that Condoleezza Rice arose from a humble home to a level of international ambassador. Now, those people have left footprints on the world that will never be forgotten.  

A biography unit like this could accompany any history unit where remarkable people are studied.  A research reaction to Martin Luther King could send kids out to find remarkable people with remarkable footprints. A reader and the task, reaction to Cesar Chavez study on migrant workers could lead to a footprint examination of others who have fought for a worthy cause.  This could also parallel a SS unit on a decade of change where students search for impactors (i.e. those making an impact).    They would need to persuade me as to why their choice was nominated for our "Hall of Fame Footprints!" 

When a horribly huge storm leaves marks on a community, its' reputation is not good. We can turn right around and ask our students:  What's your legacy? What are you known for?
Essential Question: Why should we care about what legacy we are leaving behind?  


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

National Writing Day ...ideas for celebration!

I'm blogging for School Library Connection these days, but here's a short idea piece to lend ideas for celebrating National Writing Day...tomorrow!

Today is National Dictionary Day.  Who would have thought that we would have a day that would make Daniel Webster leap? Tomorrow is Writing Day.  Now that’s one day for which I will LEAP!  I’m a believer that the “pen is mightier than the sward.”  That’s my tool for passivism. 

Words are powerful, strong, long lasting, and able to change people and the world.  Thomas Paine held his mighty pen and proceeded to plant seeds of change (insurrection)?  Why not have your students hold pens tomorrow and celebrate this minor holiday. 

Here are a few quick ideas for elementary librarian to embrace with their classes tomorrow:

Write 6 word stories!  On Twitter the #NCTE is having a contest for 6 word stories.  Check it out!  Wouldn't this be a fun activity for kids to do collaboratively, or individually?  Here's the entry that I tweeted:   Fido whhhiimmmperred and died.  Mom Criiiiiieedd.  

·      Pen a Poem - Via a limerick  (rhyming pattern AABBA) have your students talk about “changes” they’d like to see in the world.  Here’s an example (‘Not too great, but you’ll get the point!)

Jot thoughts:  lack of water, waste, farms needing, twenty year low; wild fires raging;
We’re at a 20 year low
And have not enough water to grow
Think twice before you waste
That way they’ll be more moisture in this place
Farms, fires, and people too—need our water to flow!

·      “Model diplomacy” by writing letter to your Congressman, local official, etc..  Students should both commend and complain.  A commendation will make a complaint fall on receptive ears.  Most letters can be easily mailed via email—not even requiring a stamp.  

Years ago we did this with our 8th graders, after they had watched the Superbowl and made notes of commercials that portrayed either females or males in good vs. garbage roles.  They wrote physical snail mail letters as well as emails to companies, and the responses were amazing.   Almost every letter was responded to and the students received freebies, coupons, and individual responses.  They were thrilled!

·      Storybird  - For those of you with the technology to support online writing, Storybird will give your students the tools to write and concentrate on the words, rather than the illustrations.  Illustrations are keyword searchable and you could teach the simple: Beginning, middle, end, rising action, falling action, etc., elements of a story.  Check it out at

Friday, June 17, 2016

Read Like a Wedding Crasher!

Please check out the School Library Connection blog, as I will be blogging for SLC on their site.  If you have enjoyed the content (searchable) here, I encourage you to follow this SLC blog also: 

The latest piece I wrote was posted there today -  Read Like a Wedding Crasher:  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Begin with Purpose!

"Annnnd---We're off!"   That was one of my mother's favorite announcements.  Great were the preparations, and finally we would jump in the car and hit the road.  Going....wherever.  Daily, we heard that proclamation. It represented the difficult task of actually commencing whatever was planned.  Here we are with a new year.  A clean slate and another try. Dare I ask..."What are we contemplating, planning, or purposing to do differently this year?"   

Every year I worked, I would contemplate and set a goal.  Usually this happened in September, but September gets crowded out with tyranny of the new year and lost in the school year rush.  I found January was a better time to make educational resolutions. If your December life was so oppressed with "Holidayitis"  (or, hollerday-itis), may I offer up a few suggestions to freshen up your program? Listed below are a few ideas to infuse innovation and offer the unexpected to your colleagues.:

  • Purpose in your heart to deliver end-of-year awards to faculty members (at an otherwise dull meeting) awards for: *Innovator Award for ...The Most Innovative New Research Unit; *Bravery Award-for working out-of-their-comfortzone; *Gallant Knight Award for a new untenured teacher who left the silo embracing a research endeavor; *Lighthouse Award given to the teacher who unexpectedly inspired reading in their students (gym teacher? art teacher?)  You get the picture.  These awards will give public Kudos to peers and perhaps spotlight strategic library partners. These will be awards that can go into "evidence binders" and demonstrate exemplary educational habits.  Why not try? 
  • Take first step towards "Inquiry" with teachers who otherwise have flat fact-based "research" projects.  Getting teachers to recognize the value of asking an Essential Question, or an "Umbrella Question" which requires students to synthesize real meaning in their facts is the first step of evolving a flat-fact-based project into something that requires a conclusion based upon evidence (i.e. information) and this supports preparation for most standardized tests...BTW.  An example for baiting the hook would be our current hoopla over the growing El Nino.  EQ: How will our area be affected by the growing El Nino?
    Make and evidence-based-claim (EBC) and support your view with evidence.  Or, pick where you will live....and research from that area's perspective. Prepare to convince me with evidence. Present your conclusions in any media format (Green Screen Newscast? Scientific Chart mode?, etc.) With this approach, your students could even reflect on this in June to see of their predictions came true.  This is a great real-life alternative to "disaster reports".                                                                
Picture adapted from Jane Martellino's GreenScreen projects. click
Jane is the elementary librarian at Bethlehem Elementary in Bethlehem, Ct.  
See her other green screen projects at this link:  click 
  • Reading Mix-up -  The brain is stimulated by change.  Why not surprise your students and mix up the locations of reading shelves, collection, or genres after a vacation?  On one superintendent's day, my principal asked whether I had anything for all the para-professionals to do while teachers were attending in-house training.  We jumped at the opportunity and resolved our entire fiction section in one day.  Now, you don't have to do something so big, but you could create a new "Spotlight Shelf."  Or, a "Page-Turner Shelf" something to inspire your readers.  You get the idea... brainstorm a change you can handle.  Down with the status-quo. 

As with any "resolution," the maker must resolve, or purpose, to succeed. An idea is great, but if not acted upon, or unaccompanied by commitment, it remains an idea.  Why not purpose, commit, plan, take steps, and succeed?  We can do it. You can make a difference.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

12 Ideas to Inspire Reading!

12 Innovative Reading Ideas! New Ways to Inspire You & Your Students

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST 

reading literacy
Presented by Paige Jaeger, Curriculum Consultant and Instructional Focus Editor for School Library Connection
Sponsored by Libraries Unlimited and ABC-CLIO Solutions

On Wednesday, December 9th, I'll host a free webinar via EdWeb.  This is sponsored by the Libraries Unlimited, and we invite you to join in the fun!  I  guarantee you that you'll exit with a few new ideas to incubate reading.  

HANDOUTS: (Sorry to send you elsewhere, but blogging platform doesn't allow .doc files)

These handouts were either made by me or friendly librarians who tested and tweaked some of the ideas. Thanks to Lauren Abad of Greenfield Elementary School Library, Saratoga Springs, NY who tested some lesson ideas with second graders; and thanks to Sheila McIntyre of Milton Terrace Elementary School Library who tested some lessons with 5th graders.  

Listed below are a few links referred to, but time will not permit us to go out and "play" these reading commercials, sample knowledge products, and other cute ideas to test or tweak for your students! 

Idea # 4 --"Book Bubbles" -Embedded here is a short Teddy Roosevelt example created by CrazyTalk software available from which brings stationary photos to life.  This was a variation of the biography example, simply to demonstrate the software. (May this disclaimer say that it doesn't capture the "Recipe for Success" recommended in the webinar idea as a "biography knowledge product" but reflects synthesis and thought none-the-less.

Links to Reading Commercials:  Idea #13 ... A Baker's Dozen! 

Thanks to Jane Martellino, award-winning Elementary Librarian, teaching at Bethlehem Elementary School in Bethlehem, CT:  Here are the links to her wonderful reading commercials made with/by her students.  She has spearheaded a "12 Days of Reading" campaign to reduce the vacation reading slide. It looks like a big success.  Here are a few of Jane's details she shares for her "reading and book commercials"  
  • Here was another great project: fifth grade students gave up their lunch break (and rainy day recess) to create book commercials for picture books for the k-2 students. They read the book, create a short summary without giving away the ending, they grab an iPad, and using a cool app called Tellagami, they create a 30 second book commercial.   The link for their video clip is then encoded onto a qr code which is glued to the inside cover of the book. Next week, K-2 students will learn how to use the iPad app Qrafter to scan the code and listen to the commercials. Hopefully, the 5th graders were persuasive enough!  Our goal is to increase the range of books K-2 students choose from the "E" section of the library.  This project is a win-win situation for all involved. The older students are refining their skills in summarizing, fluency, appropriate use of technology, while providing a valuable service to our school community.  The images below show  what the video commercial would look like. However, to access a sampling of these commercials, either scan the QR code or click on the link! 

From Stony Evans - Great sample commercial for reading and the brain:  

Thanks Jane and Stony for sharing! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thanksgiving THINKING: "Got a real problem?"

EQ: Do we have an "attitude of gratitude?"   
EQ: Are we blessed, or distressed? 

EQ: How do our personal issues stack-up against issues in the news? Are these issues being addressed?

Let's face it.  We live in a world of issues, problems, disease, distress and... blessings. 
Our students, children, and family often live in either a blessed-bubble or a world of trouble. I am amazed at how often students who are from "blessed" families, embrace an attitude of oppression, while others from less fortunate situations seem optimistic despite their struggles.  

Here's an Inquiry-based lesson to challenge students to overcome struggles or over-look slight "first world problems."  My former library aide used to tell students, "You need to get a real problem." Kids would laugh and get it. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade. 

Activate thinking:  

  • Give each student 3 Post-it notes and ask them to write their three biggest problems--one on each note.
  • Using a bulletin board or wall, ask students to post their "problems" anonymously under the appropriate heading: "Problems" or  "Perceived Problems" 
Connect to the real world: 
  • Ask students to find articles in the newspapers of real-world, headlines, articles, and other items can serve as real-world connections.  
  • Post the pictures, articles, and other fodder on the board next to their "problems." 
Discuss and question: 

  • Discuss "perspective" 
  • Brainstorm questions for research 
  • Ask students to choose a "real-world issue" - Or, perhaps connect to their reading choices asking students to choose an "issue" that might be within the book.  
  • Taking the brainstormed-questions (wonder), students can look for evidence to support their thinking.
  • Students should research their "issue" to make an Evidence-based Claim (EBC) as to why this is a problem needing to be addressed, seriously. 
  • Ask students to open their "claim" with a juxtapose comment about their "issue" compared to a real one, or acknowledging that a problem they are dealing with is a real-world issue.    
Share Knowledge - and advocate: 
  • Give the opportunity for students to "create" a poster, ePoster (Smore), technology communication product, or to create a campaign, advocate, raise money, etc... for a cause of their choice. 
  • One goal of the new C3 standards is to compel students to civil action. Let's allow them to change the world. 

If you are a librarian and don't have scheduled classes, consider collaborating with an ELA teacher, or Social Studies teacher, embarking on this learning adventure before Thanksgiving.  Let's try to challenge our students to identify real-world issues or perceived -- First world problems vs. Third World problems. 

Image: Desktop snapshot from Google image search "homeless famine"  

Post an image of your "wall" below, if you do this lesson. Thanks!