Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blogging....not so much!

I've discovered that I'm not that great at Blogging.
But.. I do a decent job of sharing what I'm doing on a web page!  This year's transition to being an elementary librarian has been quite a journey!  December has been a month of projects.  1st grade students have participated in a Holiday Card Exchange with 120 other classrooms, 2nd and 3rd grade have begun learning about the Caldecott awards and are working to predict who might win the 2014 award.  4th and 5th grade students were compelled by a book fair book called Loot.  We had a lunch book discussion about it which gave students a chance to discuss their thoughts about the book.

Take a look at the Mitchell Elementary Library webpage to learn more!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reinventing... and all that comes with it.

I've been in education for 23 years.  For some people that might mean the same classroom, same grade level, same school... for 23 years.  Not for me.  I've changed schools, grade levels, states, positions at the district level and even had a stint in higher ed.  Why?  Because I get itchy.  I don't like becoming stagnant or stuck in the same routine.  I grow when there's change and challenge.

And so, this year, I'm reinventing myself.  Today was my first opportunity to welcome students into my elementary library.  And it was awesome!

I've always loved books.  I remember the exact location of the entire series of Nancy Drew books in the Wenatchee Valley library.  I read the entire set (several times!)  I love technology, too, so having a job where I get to teach kids how to be literate through both print and electronic modalities is right up my alley.  I love learning new things and digging for knowledge, too.  After just one day I've been charged with a wonderful to do list that includes (but isn't limited to) finding resources to study the life cycle of a frog, looking for information for 4th graders to learn how to take care of their class pet (it's a hedgehog!), and pulling together a plan for all 1st graders to learn about how to retell a story.   Once again, I'm itching.... but not to change.  I'm itching to get started.  And I think it's gonna be fun.  Really fun.  :)

But although everything I've just said is true, it doesn't mean it's easy.  Change is hard and change is scary.  For me, there's the ever-present questions that ride on my shoulder... will I be good enough?  Will I know how?  And, what if I don't?   You'd think that someone who itches for change would welcome the uneven ground that changing schools, grade levels, states and positions brings.  Not so much.  But I'm learning how to push past that feeling and am celebrating what I do know.  And, today, I know that I'm working with some great students, at a great school, with some really great colleagues.

So for my To Do list, here's what I have so far.  I'm sure that is will grow and blossom as the ideas come flowing in!
- introducing the 2nd grade frog studiers to the differences between fiction and nonfiction by using the book Tuesday by David Weisner and some nonfiction books like Frogs by Gail Gibbons.  We'll use Discovery Education, too-  I'll be Techbook could help out with some of the nonfiction content.  And if there's time we might even make some origami frogs and have a jumping contest!
- connecting the 4th grade hedgehog caretakers with a friend who's a vet tech, animal lover and previous hedgehog momma.  Skype call, maybe?  We'll need to check discovery for this one, too.  I think there are some videos that might be useful.
- Doing some story walks with the little ones who need to learn the steps in a retell.

Yep.  I think this is going to be a challenging, ever changing but really fun and inspiring job to have.  :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Gearing Up!

It's hard to believe that it's that time again, but with every trip to Target and/or Walmart it is very apparent that the start of school is just around the corner!  It's been a busy summer, so in some aspects going back to work will be a vacation from my vacation!

This year's going to be a change for me.  It is time to reinvent and to find some new professional passions.  I'm excited to be headed into an elementary library where I'm going to do my best to introduce K-5 students to the wonderful world of all things literacy. Books will be a big part of it, of course, but there's so much more.  Information literacy and media literacy needs to be a part, too.

So, as I sit here thinking about my "eating an elephant" metaphor I'm building my TO DO list.  There's a lot to learn, and a lot to do.  So, where to begin?  Where would you begin if you were starting a new job, in a new school and in a new role?  What would the top 5 must do's on your list?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute Reflections and Thanks

Home.  It's so nice to be home.  But all the same, I'm torn.
I spent the past week learning from and with the most amazing educators I've met.  Participating in DENSI for a second year was an incredible boon and I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity.

Because of the DEN (Discovery Educator Network for those not familiar with the acronym) I am:

  • trying my hand at blogging.  Never thought I'd say that!
  • connecting with my PLN via Twitter (though I'm Tweet challenged and desperately want more than 140 characters with which to communicate.  Will I get over that?!)
  • excited to take the next step in my journey as an educator.  I'll be an elementary librarian this fall and I'm glad to have connected with several DEN members who have already taken those first steps.  They've graciously allowed me to learn from them and I'm thankful.
  • giving Aurasma a try and thinking about how it might be used in an elementary library.
  • exploring new technologies (love those 3D printers!)
  • reflecting on my instructional practice and thinking about flipping some of the things I do so that I'm more intentional about time that students spend in my classroom
  • pondering over my professional passions and trying to articulate what I believe about teaching and learning
  • learning about new ways to connect with and develop my PLN

As others have done before me, I'd like to give a huge THANK YOU to the Discovery Education team, with Princess Porter in the lead.  Your support of me and so many other teachers provides us with a global support system that helps us to thrive and be our best.  DENSI 2014 was awesome and I'm thrilled to have been a part!

To my DENSI friends, you amaze me, motivate me and encourage me to keep learning and growing.  It was wonderful to see those of you I met last summer in Vermont.  It was equally wonderful to meet new friends along the way.  I was fortunate to have the BEST room mate (Julie Wenger), the best suite mates (Zulma Whiteford, Karie Huttner, Anne Shrode, Karen Ogen, and Julie Wenger) and the best team (Zulma's Team Z.)  Thank you all!

To Eat An Elephant

Do you remember elephant jokes from your childhood?  I remember loving them and giggling hysterically at their silliness.  They were based on simple humor that often had me puzzling to make sense of exactly why an elephant would need to paint his toenails red... and even more, why that same elephant would need, or even WANT, to hide in a cherry tree!   

Although most of the jokes were silly, some had an underlying deeper message.  This one sticks out:
Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer:  One bite at a time!

For me, professional learning and growth is like eating an elephant.  It's a tasty elephant, and I really want to be able to gobble up the whole thing!  But, though I want to, it just isn't possible to accomplish everything all at once.  The best way to tackle it is one bite at a time.

Up to this point I haven't been a blogger.  I've preferred to share my ideas with one or two close friends in face-to-face conversations.  It's safer that way.  I've just returned from the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute, though, and was encouraged by several to share my teaching and learning journeys with a broader audience.  

And so, here's my blog.  I hope that by sharing with the world I'll accomplish several things:
  • I'll learn to take the time to chew each bite of my professional "elephant", reflecting on successes and challenges along the way
  • I'll share ideas and strategies that I've found successful (or not!)
  • I'll connect with my PLN in a new way-  please be gentle with your feedback!  :)