Monday, October 16, 2017

Get involved with TxLA!

For secondary librarians who are interested in becoming more involved with your professional organization:

The YART (Young Adult Round Table) committee has extended its application until October 20th.  YART members are not only encouraged to volunteer for committees, but also to serve on the executive board.  If you'd like to become more involved in TxLA through leadership or participation, please fill out the YART volunteer form.  Also, please note there will be commitments all appointed committee and executive board members will have, which demonstrates responsibility and a willingness to be part of a professional community serving young adults.  All public and school librarians who work with young adults are encouraged to apply. 

The application can be found at:

Thank you,

Naomi Bates, YART chair-election 2017-2018

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Letters About Literature Contest

from Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator at the Texas State Library...

Hi Everyone!

It’s time for the annual Letters About Literature contest!


Has a book brought you to laughter, tears or changed your life? Write a letter to the author. See the 2017 Winners!

Letters About Literature is a reading/writing contest for 4th-12th graders under the direction of the Library of Congress.

State winners receive $100 and a trip to the Texas Library Association Conference. National winners receive $1,000 and travel assistance to the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.

Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. See this printable handout as a frame of reference for key information.

Deadline: Plan to make sure entries are in by January 8, 2018 for all levels.
Level 1 – Grades 4-6
Level 2 – Grades 7-8
Level 3 – Grades 9-12

Held in conjunction with the Library of Congress, the literary competition encourages students in grades 4-12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives.

“The Letters About Literature contest makes a lasting literary connection between an author’s work and the lives of young readers” said Texas State Library and Archives Director and Librarian, Mark Smith. “The contest bridges a direct partnership between students, librarians, educators and parents and lays the foundation for a life-long love of reading.”

Last year more than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in the Letters About Literature initiative funded by a grant from the Library of Congress’ James Madison Council with additional support from the Library’s Center for the Book. Since 1997, more than a million students have participated.

Established in 1987, the Texas Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. One of 50 state centers affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.

For more information on the Letters About Literature Contest, including printable entry forms, educator resources and more visit

From Mary:

Texas winners in each category are invited to read their winning letter at the Texas Library Association Conference. Since the 2018 conference is in Dallas, it would be amazing to have a winner from our area. I know you probably have some students who could definitely be a contender for this honor. They just need a little encouragement from a teacher or librarian.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Every day is library day

Everyone who cares about creating lifelong readers and thinkers needs to watch this video! Then those people should share it with others who also work with kids, but just might need a nudge in helping kids learn to love reading.

Who is this person who sees such value in point of need access to the library? Jen Jones (@hellojenjones) is a K-12 reading specialist, curriculum writer, staff developer, and - although this is not included in her official bio - I would say staunch library supporter. Her web site is Hello Literacy.

Thank you Jen!

Every Day is Library Day - Instragram Live from Jen Jones, Hello Literacy® on Vimeo.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Upcoming CODE.ORG workshops at Region 10

I know that many of you have been tasked with offering coding opportunities for your students and might be interested in the following professional learning class from Region 10:

We are glad to announce a CS professional development opportunity from at R10 ESC. is providing a no cost workshop for educators interested in learning/teaching coding. Over 6,000 teachers have participated in a similar workshop, and the majority say it’s the best PD they’ve ever attended. 

Teachers will receive FREE swag bags, classroom supplies to begin using in the classroom, certificates at the end of the professional development, and lunch.

9/23 Registration Link

10/28 Registration Link 

12/2 Registration Link 

The workshops begin in September, so please share this information with anyone else (teachers, administrators, central office) who might be interested.

Thank you and have a great week.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New Timeline for Book Orders

At the Destiny training in August, you all received information regarding the book budget for this year.

Now that September 1 has come and gone, you may begin submitting orders to Library Services using the following guidelines:

  • Each order must total in excess of $500.
  • Plan to submit orders that equal 2/3 of your total budget by November 30.
  • Submit orders to spend the rest of your budget by March 31.

Since you are now able to submit orders throughout the year, you may send in orders for your extra sets of Bluebonnet, Lone Star and Tayshas books as those lists are published. (Library Services will still provide one set.)

Mockingbird list for 2018 will be available in mid-October. 

For more information, please see the ordering procedures page on the Policies and Procedures site.

Questions? Contact Cathy Hall.

Image citation: Money. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 7 Sep 2017.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Region 10 Library Services Coop Offerings Fall 2017

Mesquite ISD is a member of the Region 10 Library Services Cooperative which allows us access to their PD offerings free of charge. Some sessions may be of interest to instructional specialists/coaches or classroom teachers also, so feel free to share!

Click here for the Fall 2017 schedule.

Monday, August 28, 2017

PD in Your PJs - September 2017

Each month, Daniella Smith, associate professor at UNT, curates a list of free online professional learning opportunities on the AASL blog. Here is her list for September.

September 2017 Professional Development Opportunities 
Title:  10 Ways Google Can Increase Student Engagement
  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 10:00 AM-10:30 AM EDT
  • Description: If engagement is the fuel necessary for learning to take place, how can teachers use technology to harness the power of higher-level thinking and creativity? Many schools are turning to the powerful resources that Google offers schools across the globe. Join Matt Bergman as he discusses 10 ways in which you can use Google Apps, Chrome Extensions, and Add-Ons to increase student engagement.
  • Link:
Title:  Getting the Most Out of Google Forms
  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 11:00 AM-11:30 AMEDT
  • Description: If you have never used Google Forms, you are missing out on a tool that can save you time, engage your students, and inform your instruction. If you have used Google Forms, you know how useful they can be for collecting and analyzing data, giving quizzes, doing formative assessments, conducting surveys, and so much more! Join Tia Simmons for an informative overview of Google Forms. In addition to pointing out great features and where to find them, Tia will provide a brief explanation of Google Forms, as well as tips, advice, and suggestions for using them in the classroom. Whether you are brand new to Google Forms or have used them before, come discover how to get the most out of Forms!
  • Link:
Title:  Great Things You Can Do with Google Docs: More than Just a Word Processor
  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 1:00 PM-1:30 PM EDT
  • Description: Google Docs is just one application within Google Drive, the user friendly suite of online collaborative tools that have tremendous potential for use in the classroom. While often used as a word processor to create documents such as announcements, letters, reports, and handouts, Google Docs allow you to do so much more than that! Join Jenna Linskens as she shares a variety of interactive ways Google Docs can be used to engage students in advanced, collaborative learning opportunities. Come discover innovative ways to use Google Docs as effective tools for learning!
  • Link:
Title:  Using Google Slides to Construct Knowledge and Encourage Student-driven Learning
  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 2:00 PM-2:30 PM EDT
  • Description: Would you like to design student-driven learning experiences that require students to construct knowledge as they create – an idea supported by the Common Core State Standards? This could be easier than you think. The Google Docs Presentation tool can be a great starting point to begin breaking the barriers of traditional tech integration and help you design student-driven learning experiences. Join Susan Oxnevad for an in-depth look at the features available in this collaborative and user friendly tool and learn to use Google Docs in innovative ways that go well beyond the typical student presentation. Templates to get you started also will be provided.
  • Link:
Title: School Culture Rewired: Proven Strategies from an Expert
  • Organization: net
  • Date: Monday, September 11, 2017 @ 4:00 PM-5:00 PM EDT
  • Description: In this edWebinar, Steve will present the major components for rewiring your own school’s culture as well as experiences from the field that school leaders have shared regarding successes and challenges of shaping their cultures.
  • Link:
Title:  Getting Started with Personalized Learning
  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 @ 2:00 PM-2:30 PM EDT
  • Description: Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to meet each student’s needs through personalized learning. By thinking differently about teaching and learning, you can make personalized learning a reality for each of your students. Join Dr. Jayme Linton as she explains what personalized learning is, why you should incorporate it, and how to design and facilitate personalized learning in your classroom. You will walk away with strategies you can implement right away to personalize instruction for your students.
  • Link:
Title: Beyond Book Readings: Building Science Literacy with Hands-On Activities
  • Organization: AASL
  • Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 @ 6:00 PM–7:00 PM CST
  • Description: Pairing science and nature-themed books with hands-on science and outdoor activities can provide educators with fun and easy ways to engage curious learners in school-day enrichment activities, in afterschool programs, and in family/school programs. This webinar will introduce librarians to freely available lessons as well as multimedia resources related to birds and nature that are designed to help build learners’ Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) skills and content knowledge. From the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds (the world’s premier scientific archive of natural history audio, video, and photographs) to K-8 book guides and free lesson plans, to free Apps and online interactives—there will be something for all levels, including those unfamiliar with science and outdoor learning.
  • Link:
Title: Intellectual Freedom is Not Just About Censorship!
  • Organization: net
  • Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 5:00 PM-6:00 PM EDT
  • Description: What happens when a resource in a K-12 library is challenged? We don’t always think of Internet filtering as censorship, but it can be. How do emerging student privacy laws impact intellectual freedom? How can UNESCO’s Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy support responsible use? How can professional organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Librarians support educators? How can intellectual freedom promote library and librarian advocacy? In this edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair at New Canaan (CT) High School, and Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director at the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, will answer these questions and many more. All librarians are invited to attend this live, interactive session.
  • Link:
Title:  The Name of the Game: Playing Tabletop Games to Build 21st Century Skills
  • Organization: OCLC Webjunction
  • Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3:00 PM-4:00 PM EDT
  • Description: As hubs of lifelong learning, public libraries are always seeking new strategies to cultivate 21st century skills in their community members. The deeper we move into this century, the more critical it becomes for people to hone skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, global awareness and creativity. Your patrons can strengthen these skill sets while also having fun in a social setting — through playing tabletop games at the library. Learn about the wide array of games available and the specific skill sets each one promotes. Hear how public librarians are using games and get new ideas for programming and game-related projects that you can do at your library. Your younger patrons will be ahead of the 21st century game in no time.
  • Link:
Title:  Assess Students’ Impromptu Speaking Skills with a Free App
  • Organization: net
  • Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 5:00 PM-6:00 PM EDT
  • Description: What if I told you that teachers can post questions in a platform that allows students to answer using recorded video messages instead of typed or written responses? The possibilities are endless! Join educational technology adopter Shannon Holden as he shows teachers how to assess students with Recap – a free platform that records student answers to teacher questions through recorded video messages. Recap is great for educators looking for innovative ways to use iPads and Chromebooks.
  • Link:
Title:  Common Core OER and Websites & Google Classroom
  • Organization: AASL
  • Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 6 PM–7 PM CST
  • Description: A major challenge to Common Core implementation is the shortage of new and proficient standard-aligned material. As districts face the necessity of purchasing new instructional materials aligned to the CCSS, open educational resources (OER) has become crucial. OER has become a central model for the development and dissemination of free online content. The digital libraries of OER has increased significantly, providing schools and teachers with standards-based materials for developing CCSS curriculum. A variety of Common Core OER websites will be demonstrated to attendees and how they can be applied in Google Classroom. They will learn how to search, filter, and assign exercises and formative assessments to students in Google Classroom.
  • Link: