Monday, September 30, 2013

The Top Shelf returns!

Back in the early days of blogging, some of you may remember that I had a blog called The Top Shelf. That blog focused on the "best stuff" for school librarians. I read a lot of library-related blogs and web sites, then shared what I thought was the best stuff from what I read. Sadly, it was abandoned in 2011 when Debbie and I began blogging here and using Twitter more. 

Now, though, I think it's time to bring back the Top Shelf concept, but with a different twist.

As we do walkthroughs, visit with you, check your websites and your Facebook pages, Debbie and I see lots of exceptional things going on - things that are worthy to be designated Top Shelf - so we're going to start highlighting them here. 

All Top Shelf entries will be labeled as such, so when you're looking for good ideas, you can click the Top Shelf label and see all of the tremendous things that MISD librarians are doing.

Today I'd like to feature a Top Shelf worthy newsletter from Vanston Middle School. It was created by Carmin Langford, who is a first year librarian. 

New librarians in MISD all have the same goals for their first year. One of these goals is
Build a relationship with the campus principal.  Communicate at least four times during the year about the library program.
This newsletter is one way Carmin is using to let her principal know what she is up to in the library. It's visually appealing, packs a lot of information into two brief pages, and was created with plain old Microsoft Word.

Congrats to Carmin for her Top Shelf newsletter!

September news letter from Mary Woodard

How do you communicate with your principal? Share your ideas in the comments.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Activity Report Changes for 13-14

Based on input received from many of you, we have made a few changes to the Library Activity Report form. New categories/data points are explained below. Click on the graphics to see them larger.

General Data section

Class Activity section

Instructional Activity section

Instructional Partner Activity section

Leadership Activity section

Program Administrator Activity section

Outreach/Service Activity section

New award titles added to the Digital Library!

A few additional titles from our Texas award lists became available for our digital library.  This week we added the titles below.  They can also be found under the Collections tab.


  • Flying the dragon
  • Ghetto cowboy
  • Laugh with the moon
  • Tua and the elephant
  • additional copies of Wonder and The One and Only Ivan
Lone Star:
  • Bewitching
  • Planet Tad
  • Steve Jobs
  • additional copies of Wonder
  • All these things I've done
  • Cinder
  • Cross my heart
  • The diviners
  • Don't turn around
  • Every day
  • The girl of fire and thorns
  • The miseducation of Cameron Post
  • Never fall down
  • Through her eyes
  • Variant

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Activity Reports and Zombie Librarians

The end of the first six weeks is upon us and it's almost time to submit your Activity Report data. There have been some changes to the Activity Report that I will blog about in an upcoming post, but first I'd like you to remind yourself why we collect and share data in the first place.

The blog post below makes some great points about the reasons we do this. Its author, Jennifer Lagarde (aka Library Girl) also lists great tips about collecting and sharing data with your library stakeholders.

Take a look, then watch for more information about the new and improved Activity Report!

AASL Best Website: Wonderopolis

Each year the American Association of School Librarians publishes a list of "best websites for teaching and learning." The list for 2013 features a great website that you should know: Wonderopolis

The AASL blog provides the following ideas and information about Wonderopolis:

Have you ever wondered about…well just about anything? Do you find yourself thinking why do people believe that picking up a penny on the sidewalk will bring them luck (#1019), why do we blow out birthday candles (#366), or why do zebras have stripes (#852)? Well, look no further than Wonderopolis, an informational yet whimsical Website which sparks curiosity and motivates students to delve further into topics that interest them.

With each new Wonder of the Day, students are able to explore topics through pictures, informational text with a listen/play button and related videos. Every Wonder of the Day includes: introductory questions to introduce content and spark discussion and further exploration, a Wonder Gallery to post pictures or videos, Wonder Words, a vocabulary list with words grouped by level with definitions and a word match challenge, Try it Out, activities used to extend learning at home, Still Wondering, a link to lessons for more in depth study,Test your Knowledge, a 3 question quiz, Wonder Categories and Tags and Wonder What’s Next, the clue for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day.

Newly redesigned in May, 2013, Wonderopolis content is aligned to Blooms Digital Taxonomy, the STEM Educational Quality Framework and the Common Core State Standards. Beside the daily Wonder of the Day, Wonders can be searched from more than 90 Wonder Categories by subject matter and grade level. Users can also suggest Wonders, as well as vote for their favorite Wonder. Teachers and parents can visit the Educator Sandbox to find additional resources and link up with others in the “Wonderopolis Community.”

The National Center for Family Literacy has created Wonderopolis “as a place where parents nurture a brighter world for their children through discovery, creativity, learning and imagination.” The Website is supported by a grant from Verizon Foundation and is part of Thinkfinity, an educational platform where educators can access free researched-based educational resources.

Take some time to explore Wonderopolis and share it with your teachers. Let us know how you like it in the comments! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Big Library Read at Cannaday

Students at Cannaday love the Big Library Read! They are enjoying reading about Nancy Clancy's adventures from their laptops in the library. Margaret demo-ed the easy check out process and the kids took it from there.

Professional development opportunity

Some of today’s most incredible innovations are coming from the global community of makers--thinkers, inventors, and programmers sharing information and using technology to push new ideas forward. Through programming and community partnerships, your library can help drive this powerful new movement forward by becoming a makerspace. In this hour-long, free webinar hosted by University of Michigan School of Information professor Kristin Fontichiaro, authors from Cherry Lake Publishing's Makers as Innovators series will share their lessons learned from creating a makerspace culture. Tune into this exciting webinar to learn tips and secrets to unlocking creative energy, innovation, and action in your library, staff, and patrons!

Click here to register.

Date and time:Tuesday, October 8, 2013 1:00 pm
Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)
Change time zone
Booklist Webinars
Duration:1 hour

Thursday, September 19, 2013

iOS 7 update

I know you received the email from tech services yesterday about waiting to update your district-owned devices until further notice.  However, many students and staff may update their personal devices.  The Overdrive Media Console will be affected by this update. Just want you to be aware if you get questions! See the message below from Overdrive:

Apple released iOS 7 yesterday and many Apple users may have upgraded their device(s) or will be upgrading in the near future.   When an existing OverDrive Media Console (OMC) user upgrades to iOS 7, the app will fail when trying to open a DRM-protected eBook. New or first time users of OMC are unaffected by this issue meaning that if you download the app for the first time post-iOS7 update you will not experience this issue.   We are resolving the issue but in the meantime, here are immediate remedies for users:   1) Re-authenticate the app with your existing or a new Adobe ID. (Recommended)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tech Camp at TLA 2014

Going to TLA this year? Consider attending this preconference!

Here is your chance to experience a technology conference while attending TLA!  TLA Youth Programming (TASL, CRT, YART) is working to bring a preconference day of high interest, technology-focused topics to help you integrate and use technology in your library.  Spend Tuesday, April 8th with us looking at tools that will help you collaborate and integrate technology to provide a highly engaging learning environment for your patrons. 

Early bird registration is now open!  See details below!


TECH CAMP: Technology Conference within a Conference

Spend a day with our Tech Camp Counselors and earn life-saving badges of knowledge that will move your library down the 21st century technology trail.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Texas Library Association Annual Conference

Location: Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas

Early Bird Registration: $50 for TLA Members; $65 for Non-Members

Registration and complete schedule for the day:

*Free Tech Camp T-Shirts & other goodies for attendees. 


Dr. Bruce Ellis, TCEA

Levels of Technology Integration – We all agree that technology integration is a good thing. Trying to explain what it looks like for teachers with different skill levels, though, may prove more challenging. By identify specific levels of technology integration, our teachers are better prepared to accurately self-assess their own level of use/integration and develop a plan of how to go deeper in their journey of integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom.

Library Girl, Jennifer LeGarde

Cape Optional! Leading From The Library! – The evolving needs of library communities (be they school, academic or public) require new dynamic, innovate and ever changing roles for librarian-leaders. In this keynote, Jennifer LaGarde will help arm future library-leaders with the tools they need to move out of the stacks and into the limelight where library programs are recognized as essential rather than expendable.

Tech Ninja, Todd Nesloney

Web Collaboration Tools – What does it take to inspire a child? How can we impact students on a much deeper level? It's all about building relationships between educators, and by using web collaboration tools, it’s easy!  


Breakout Sessions: (attendees will have a variety of sessions from which to choose)

Game On! Using Game Based Learning To Ramp Up Your Instruction   

In this session, participants will learn how to incorporate console video game systems like the Nintendo Wii/xBox Kinect and Game Based Learning strategies into library instruction and programming in order to build successful collaborations and impact student learning. – Jennifer LaGarde

Get Organized 

Librarians are busy people! How does one keep up? Come learn from a Tech Ninja some of the "latest and greatest" organizational tech tools that you have can use for FREE!– Todd Nelsoney

Cyber Safety and Digital Citizenship  

We are all bombarded with technology; whether it is websites, devices and gadgets, or online services, each person has a growing digital footprint that they are developing. Join us as we talk about ways to safely interact online and limit the access that others have to your information. Lots of resources will be shared that you can take back and use with your teachers, students, and parents.– Bruce Ellis

i <3 bluebonnets: Digital Promotion and Programming  

Expand your digital toolkit to engage students and promote your Bluebonnet Program with tips from the TBA committee. You and your readers will <3bluebonnetbooks using fun apps and programs – Mary Jo Humphreys

The Best Tech Tools I’ve Ever Used 

As rapidly as technology is evolving, what technology tools will enhance your library program, classrooms, and school?  You will learn some cutting edge tools, creative and crazy apps, and an energy and flare that will leave you excited about making an impact in your district.  – MISD's own Matt Nichols

It’s Appy Hour with No Cover Charge  

A session packed with the best free apps available for iPads in the classroom. Companion websites will also be included for a refreshing taste of new technology integration ideas! – Naomi Bates

*These breakout sessions will be repeated 3 times during the day.

Mary here: 
If you are interested in attending this event, please email me by October 1. We can go ahead and get registered for this separately from the TLA conference. 

If you aren't sure right now, you can register later when you register for TLA if all the spots are not taken.

Big Library Read

The Big Library Read started on Monday. Have you checked out your copy of Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth yet?

Check out this post from the Overdrive Digital Library blog for details.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sharing your great ideas

MISD librarians have great ideas and a couple were shared with me this week that I wanted to pass on to everyone.

Selena at AC New set aside one day this week to do training on the Digital Library for her faculty. This is the email that she sent out:

Subject: Free books and how to get them on your iPad! 
Next Wednesday, September 18th, stop by the library for free e-books, audiobooks and a smelly prize :-)
 I will be offering training on how to use the Overdrive Media Console app on your iPad to access thousands of books in our digital library.  Bring your iPad and your employee ID number.
 I’ll help you get setup to load and read free e-books or download and listen to free audiobooks!!
 Each session will start 10 minutes into the period.  No obligation and no purchase necessary, but don’t forget about that smelly prize incentive for coming.
 See you then!

Leann and Sherry at NMHS are piggybacking on the BYOD initiative and promoting having the library in your pocket at this week's Open House. Here's the flyer that they will be handing out.

Thanks Selena, Leann and Sherry for sharing your great ideas! If you have a great idea to share with others, please let me know. Maybe next time we'll feature YOUR great idea.

Peggy Sharp is coming to Region 10!

The Region 10 Library Cooperative is bringing What's New in Children's Literature with Dr. Peggy Sharp to Region 10 on October 7. Members of the cooperative can attend this session that usually costs $175 for FREE.

Learn about the best of the new children’s books in all formats, and how to use them in your program to increase learning, motivation, and enthusiasm. Specific strategies for your classroom and library curriculum will be shared for the new books.

October 7, 2013; 9:00 – 4:00

Region 10 ESC Spring Valley Site

Open to all members of the R10 Library Services Cooperative:

Librarians, Teachers, Instructional Specialists, Curriculum Specialists, Administrators, and anyone interested in children’s books

For more information, download the flyer.

Registration is now open at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

25 Standalone Books to Read After Series Burnout

Are you as burned out on series books as I am? It seems that EVERY book lately is the first in a series. Sometimes I just want a good stand alone book, so this blog post really spoke to me and gave me some great titles to add to my "to read" list! Hit the link to see the list.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Big Read is coming on Monday!

Don't forget!  The Big Read begins on Monday, September 16 and goes through September 30th.  This would be a great time to demo the digital library since it will be available for unlimited checkouts for audio and ebooks.It will also be available in the Read in Browser format!

Friday Food for Thought

Click the link below to read this thought provoking blog post from Doug Johnson:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crowdsourced Ideas for Reading Promotion

At our August staff development we brainstormed some ideas for reading promotion. 

Those ideas have been posted at the links below. 

As you think of additional ideas, please feel free to add to our lists!

Reading Promotion Ideas - Elementary

Reading Promotion Ideas - Secondary

International Dot Day - September 15

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.
The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.
And each year on International Dot Day – with the help of people just like you –the inspiration continues. What started as a story in the pages of a book is transforming teaching and learning around the world as people of all ages re-discover the power and potential of creativity in all they do.
Need ideas for celebrating Dot Day on your campus? Check out the blog post below from The Busy Librarian blog.

Reading list charts for 13-14

Reading charts for the 13-14 Bluebonnet and Lone Star lists have been provided to us courtesy of Tom Bolger at Follett. Click the links below to download:

Thank you Follett!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Region 10 Training Opportunities for Fall 2013

The Library Services Cooperative staff development offerings for Fall 2013 are now open for registration.

Click here to download their flyer and register online at

Wednesday, September 4, 2013