Saturday, January 30, 2016

What Are You Reading?

I've been reading Frank Cammuso's books to students the last few weeks.  I wanted to prepare the students for his author visit (which was last week).

With 2nd-5th I read The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble (it's on our Texas award the Bluebonnet list).  It's the first book in the series.  It takes us about 3 weeks to reading the books.  We read it before Christmas.  Two weeks ago I started The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Big Birthday Bash.  I'll finish reading it them this weeks.  Salem is a fun loving witch who gets herself in all kinds of trouble.  I mentioned to Frank that I wasn't sure the students always got the humor.  He said he also tried to write his books for the parents who "have to" read them to their kids.  He wants parents to enjoy the books too.  It works because I really enjoy them!

With Kinder-1st I read Otto's Backwards Day.  It's the second book in the series.  I tried to purchase Otto's Orange Day, the first book in the series, but my vendor didn't have it.  In Otto's Backwards Day, Otto is a bit selfish and focused on the wrong parts of his birthday party.  His birthday gets stolen and he has to find it with the help of his robot sidekick, Toot.  Students really enjoyed this book.  Otto has to wear his underwear on the outside on Backwards Day... I mean underwear is just hilarious!  And a robot name Toot... how is that not funny to little kids... and big kids?

What a Day

Last Friday was a day I don't ever want to repeat. It started with 5th grade. And taking everything I said so literal. So. Unbelievably. Literal. At one point I just stopped talking and gave a student a look. Just stared. Stared until he became uncomfortable, apologize and did what I originally asked. I know it's the age, to take everything so literal but really!

Then the 3rd grade teachers got pulled into a long parent/teacher conference. It went so long that I had to keep 3rd grade while I had 2nd grade. 3rd grade was fine when they were in there by themselves but when 2nd grade came in 3rd grade lost their minds. Lost. Their. Little. Minds. By the time the teachers came and got both classes my blood pressure was off the chart. 

At lunch I had to have a Diet Dr. Pepper. But I was short 5 cents. My fabulous assistant principal quickly dug through her desk and gave me a quarter. 

1st grade turned things around for me. A student asked me if I knew her granny. I said "No, unless I met her at a parent night and can't remember." She continues with "Well, she used to wear a wig but now she has tracks. Is your hair real or a wig?" Then she reaches up and tugs my hair. I lost it. Laughed till I nearly cried. Laughed till my stomach muscles hurt. I called my favorite paraprofessional and told her the story. I laughed all over again. 

That one little girl made my day. She made me refocus on the positive when I was so focused on the negative.

Then Kindergarten came.  After a story and checking out books I sent them to stations.  One sweet little boy who is always smiling and quick with a compliment came up to me with his LEGO creation.

Kinder: Mrs. Taylor, look!  I made a knife!

Me:  You sure did!  But we don't make weapon in the library out of LEGOs.

Kinder: Ok!

He goes back to the LEGO walls and comes back to me a few minutes later with a new creations.

Kinder:  Look!  I made a BIGGER knife!

Me: Remember what Mrs. Taylor said?  We don't make weapons in the library?

Kinder: Oh... right!

He goes back to the LEGO wall, pauses, comes back to me and says:

Kinder: Is a taser a weapon?

Me: Yes it is.

Kinder: Ok, I guess I can't make that either.

These kids can make me lose my mind and crack me up all within minutes. This is (one reason) why I love my job. I never know what's going to come out of their little mouths. 

Collaborating-Black History Month

Our principals want our students to do projects for Black History Month.  They want to put the finished products in the cafeteria and the front office.  Once I got the email I immediately pulled books and set up displays in different sections of the library so students can easily find what they want.  I didn't put all the books out yet.  I want to put them out in waves so that they all don't get taken by the first few classes.

These two pictures are on either side of my biography section.  I pulled books from K-Z.  I'll pull A-J later this week.  I want to make sure everyone gets a book and the first few classes don't take them all.

As I'm looking at this picture I realize it looks like these books are graphic novels (this is the second time I've taken a picture of a section and realized I needed to fix something.  Pictures really are worth a thousand words!). I need to move those over a little.

I also pulled books from the history section.

One of our 3rd grade teachers called me and asked me to pull books written and illustrated by black people. I pulled some picture books and some chapter books for her.  I had my picture taken with one of the illustrators, Don Tate, and I gave that to her too.

As the day went on I was still thinking about her lesson and I thought about Principal Kafele.  Principal Kafele came to our school last year to talk to the staff.  He's written many professional development books. Our principal last year purchased Closing the Attitude Gap for us to read (he signed my copy).  It was a very informative book!  Principal Kafele also does a YouTube series called "A Message to Your Son".

I emailed the teacher and asked if she still had her book (if she didn't she could use mine) and suggested she show one of his messages.  I told her I could find some of videos for her to show (not all the topics are appropriate for 3rd graders).  I thought it would be good for students to see a black man who wrote books for professionals and also does motivational videos.  She thought that was an excellent idea (she does still have her book).  So I sent her 3 videos.  One of the videos is about saying encouraging words to others is a video I think I'm going to show in my library because I'm so sick of these kids being mean to each other.

I really enjoyed working with this teacher.  I wish more teachers would include me in their lessons.  With me being in rotation this year it doesn't happen as much as it did last year when the teachers came to the library with their students.

Frank Cammuso's Author Visit

Author/illustrator, Frank Cammuso, visited our school last Tuesday.  He stayed the week in our district visiting all six elementary campuses.  He did two sessions at each school and signed books for us too.  He's a very down to earth guy and very easy to talk too.

At my school he spoke to Kinder-2nd.  He did a presentation then drew.  The students LOVED the drawing.  Half were yelling to draw a dog and the other half yelled for a duck.  So he drew the head of a dog with a duck body.  The students, of course, thought that was hilarious!  He also did a Q&A.  The first question was "How old are you?"  They never could get off the age thing so we stopped the questions.

3rd-5th had "better" questions for him.  They were very interested in why it took him a year to write and draw a book.  He talked in detail about that.

We have our sessions in the cafeteria.  It's the biggest place in our school to have assemblies.  But we start lunch at 10:30 with
Pre-k.  So when we finished the last session at 10:20 I always help our custodian and lunch ladies set up the tables.  Frank is the second author to jump in and help set up tables.  It always makes me feel a little bad that they are helping but if I was in their shoes I'd help too, so I never make a big deal about.  I just snap a picture and share it on our school Facebook page.  As you can see one of our lovely lunch ladies jumped in the picture.
I love collecting books signed by authors and illustrators.  I started one for my daughter when she was little and I'm starting one for my nephew too.  These are the books I had Frank sign for us.  

After our two sessions I took Frank to lunch.  Normally another librarian and I take him out but she's out sick so I chose a teacher to go with me.  Which was a hard choice!  So I ended up picking the teacher who had come to all the Book Studies we had on Reading In The Wild by Donalyn Miller.  Frank wanted TexMex so we headed to Posado's.  I told him how my best friend ate her flour tortillas, chips crushed up, with butter and and syrup on top, roll and eat.  He tried it and said it was like a dessert.  I had to snap a picture and text to my BFF.  I love Frank's funny pose! One of the things Frank said while we were at lunch was that it was fun to be a celebrity that no one recognizes.  Which is so funny because as we were sitting in the restaurant I kept thinking "No one knows we are sitting here with an author!"

When we got back to school we took a selfie by our school sign.  I asked if we could put "Welcome Frank Cammuso" on our sign.  It didn't get done that morning which was really no big deal but when one of the principals realized it they put it up by the time we got back from lunch.  Frank found it funny.  We did try! 

If you're ever looking for an author/illustrator to visit I highly recommend Frank!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Did a Little Weeding

Friday was a Teacher Work Day. So I made a to do list.  I started with three things on my to do list and added two more as the day went on. Weeding a shelf in the library was on my list (per the Happy Librarian Challenge). It was the last thing I decided to tackle since it didn't "have to be done". After I did everything on my list I had 20 minutes before the end of the day. So a little weeding I did. 

Last year I hit the nonfiction, biographies, and fiction section pretty hard. Between buying new books and weeding I brought the age of the collection up four years. It's still unacceptable by TLA standards but I'm making headway. 

So I decided to head to the Everybody section. The challenge suggested weeding a shelf that looked a little sad and could use a little freshing up. So as I did a 180 I noticed my R shelf was crammed with books and no way to really shift books to lessen the load. So I dropped into one of my new donated bean bags and went to work. 

(As I'm looking at this picture I see that some one moved the "S" marker... I need to move that to the right shelf.)

I weeded books that had seen better days. Books that had mold growing in them (just as I think I've gotten them all I find more. Sigh). I compared books I had multiple copies of and kept the better looking book. I also weeded based on the dated illustrations and the copyright date. The 1980s don't seem that long ago till you start to calculate. 

I ran an analysis when I was done because I just added my Junior Library Guild monthly subscription books and a rather large order of Spanish/bilingual books. Unfortunately it didn't affect the age of the collection but I'm sure it put me one step closer to my goal. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016


I'm participating in The Happy Librarian Challenge.  The Sassy Bibliophile put it together (inspired by The Happy Administrator Challenge.  You can read about it on her blog).  She is an inspiring librarian in my district.

I like doing these challenges.  They make me get out of my comfort zone.  They expose me to things I don't know about.  They help me build my PLN.  If you haven't done one before I encourage you to try one that fits you.

I'm going to keep track of what I complete here on my blog and on Twitter using the hashtag #happylibchallenge.

I've completed a few already but this is one was one of my favorite. Wear some fun bookish socks!  I have many bookish shirts but only one pair of bookish socks.  A situation I need to remedy!

I received these "Librarians Rock" socks from Junior Library Guild at the Texas Library Association Conference last April. I wear them at home all the time but for some reason never wear them out.  I'm going to start wearing them more!

Wearing these socks was a small thing and no one actually noticed them but it did make me happy to know I was wearing them.  And really that's all that matters.


I have a love/hate relationship with the newspaper.  Really it's mostly hate with a little bit of love sprinkled in.

I don't like the way the thin, cheap paper feels.

I don't like the black ink on my fingers.

I don't like that so many of the articles are wrong. (I speak from experience here.  I've had articles write about my Deaf Ed classroom, about my school, about my library, and me teaching my daughter sign language when she was a baby and I wonder if the reporter was at the as same interview I was participating in, so many of the facts were wrong.)

I just don't like the newspaper.

I do love reading Dear Abby.

I love the comics.

I love reading my horoscope even though I don't put much (well, any) stock in it.

I love Wednesdays because there's a recipe section.  Which is ironic since I hate cooking... that's for another post.

I wouldn't say that I love reading the articles about my school district but I do look for them and read them when they're there.

I'd never buy a subscription for my house but I'm glad I get them for my library!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I Hate Cooking

I hate cooking.

I don't like taking 10-15 minutes to plan our meals for the week.

I don't like the 10-15 minutes it takes to make a grocery list.

I don't like the 10 minutes it takes to drive to the grocery store (and the 10 minutes it takes to drive back to my house).

I don't like the 30-40 minutes it takes to grocery shop. 

I don't like the 5 minutes it takes to unload the groceries from the truck.

I don't like that it takes 5-10 minutes to put the groceries away. 

I don't like that it takes 30ish minutes to cook.

I don't like that it takes 15ish minutes to eat.

I don't like that it takes another 20ish minutes to clean up.

I don't like that it takes longer to prepare and clean up the meal than the time that it takes us to eat it.

I just hate it.

If I become a millionaire the first thing I'm doing is hiring a chief... then a maid. 

Library Lessons

Last week a read Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio to Pre-k through 2nd.  It's on our Texas 2x2 list. Every single class clapped after this book except one Pre-k biligual class (I think that was just because of the language barrier).  They clapped... for a book!  My students almost always like the books I read but I rarely get clapping.  This book is clappable (I totally made up that word!) good!

Charlie is a young boy who is tired of school and wishes he was his dog, Norman.  To his surprise he wakes up Monday a dog!  Charlie is thrilled as he rolls over and goes back to sleep while Norman heads to school.  Charlie quickly learns that the grass isn't always greener on the other side and by the end of the week wishes he was a boy again.

The first question I ask the students was "Is the grass always greener on the other side?"  Then I asked "What did Charlie do as a dog that wasn't really fun?"  Then we discussed all the things Charlie had to do as a dog that weren't as fun as being a boy and weren't even as fun as going to school.

The students and I both had fun reading and discussing this book!

I read The Scraps Book by Lois Elhert to 3rd-5th grade.  It's a Bluebonnet Book and part of a reading incentive I do. I googled images of all of Elherts books and showed to students before we read The Scraps Book.  I wanted students to see how many of her other books they had read.  Some of her other books are included on the pages of this book.  As we read The Scraps Book students would raise their hands (and of course just yell out) when they saw a page from one of Elhert's other books that they've read.  Students had fun looking for her other books on the pages of this book.

This week I'm reading The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat to Pre-k through 2nd and The Right Word Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant to 3rd-5th.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bean Bags!

We have a group in our area called Supporters of Nacogdoches ISD.  They asked all the teachers in our school district to list 3 items we'd like donated to our classroom.

I jumped at the chance to have some items donated!  I filled out the survey they sent us via email with:

1 yellow bean bag

1 green bean bag

1 red bean bag

AND I GOT ALL THREE!!!  The ladies that delivered them to me in the library told me that one person donated all three.

I am so excited!  With a limited budget and a library collection that is 18 years old (below standard according to TLA standards) I don't like to spend my budget on "extras" like bean bags.  I'm trying desperately to weed out outdated books and purchase current books. To bring this library up to standard.  So having someone donate 3 bean bags to the library is awesome sauce!

Of course now I can think of a dozen other things I could put on a donation list... I think I'll keep a running list in case we are asked again!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Back To School

There's always a bittersweetness to going back to school after a long break. On one hand I don't want to give up my leisurely days but on the other hand I can't wait to see the students and get back into a routine.

I'll miss:
Sleeping late
Drinking two cups of coffee 
Enjoying said two cups of coffee 
Binging on Netflix
Reading anytime, all the time

Can't wait:
To see my students
To continue with the teacher Book Study, Reading in the Wild
For student Book Clubs & LEGO clubs
To get new books for the library

Like I said, bittersweet. 

You Don't Know How Much You Use It....

You don't know how much you use something until it stops working.

A week ago this past Sunday I pulled a muscle in my back.  Ouch!

The first time I pulled a back muscle I was 17 years old.  I didn't pull it out again for another 10 years. Now I pull it out every 3 or 4 years.

Two Sundays ago it started hurting.  I tried to ignore it and hoped that the anti inflammatory I was taking for my carpel tunnel would take care of my back too.  By Tuesday morning I was really hurting.  I decided to try calling the TelaDoc instead of calling my regular doctor.  It's hard to get into my doctor plus we were meeting my parents to pick up Reagan at lunch.

I have never used the TelaDoc before.  It was SUPER easy.  And a little scary.  After registering and answering a bunch of questions I waited for the doctor to call me back.

When she did I explained how I hurt my back and how I was talking an anti inflammatory already. She asked what I needed from her.  I told her I thought I needed a muscle relaxer.  She called it into Walgreens and an hour later I had my prescription.

It's a little scary that it was that easy.  I guess if someone called all the time they'd know not to prescribe them something.  But the doctor didn't ask me any questions like can you stand straight or what's your range of motion or how bad I was hurting.  She just took my word that I needed the muscle relaxer.  I can see how someone could easily abuse this system.

I gave TelaDoc permission to fax my doctor telling him what I called for and what they prescribed me.  I like that my regular doctor will know and have a record of what's going on.

It's been a week and a day, I'm still not back to normal but my back is feeling better.  I never realized how much I use my back till it starts hurting!  Simple acts like getting out of bed, sitting on the couch, feeding the dog, doing laundry, etc hurt.  I can't wait till I'm back to normal!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Eve

We had seven families over for New Year's Eve. Everyone brought a snacky type food. Everything was so yummy!

Jay set up a photo booth in the dining room. Next year I'm going to double up the butcher paper so it's wider. 

Even though it was super cold outside the kids mostly played on our deck. Close to 11:00 all the kids came in and either laid on the living room floor and watched a movie or sat in the hallway and played games. I've never seen our children so still! Ha! The adults had a table of 42 going and a table with a game of MahJongg. 

I look forward to this holiday all when we get to spend time celebrating with our friends!