Thursday, 20 December 2007

FBA Read-Aloud

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo

This is my new favorite read-aloud for 2nd or 3rd grade classes. Edward Tulane is a stuffed rabbit who falls overboard while on a cruise with his child owner. His subsequent journey is long and difficult, both physically and mentally, and he must learn a valuable lesson along the way. I admit that I found myself heartbroken for Edward while reading this book, but the message is so powerful and the end does finally wrap up nicely enough to make it a fantastic read-aloud. The discussions a class could have while reading this book have the potential to be incredibly deep.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Library as an Experience

I recently read an article on the libraries of today, and I was struck by the comment that chain bookstores of today have morphed into a full "experience" with comfy chairs and coffee options and loads of perusing in quiet corners that independent bookstores used to have the market on years ago. Cheers to school libraries that are creating the same experience for their kid customers. Small touches like comfy chairs, student artwork, hanging Chinese kites, and a shoes-off option have allowed our school library in Shanghai to have much of that same feeling (except for the coffee bar part that we are sadly lacking!). Kids, teachers and parents alike love the welcoming and warm vibe that the library gives off, and I love nothing better than turning the corner to find a kid with their legs draped over the side of a big easy chair reading a book.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Vokis Rock!

Get a Voki now!

The WOW factor is through the roof on this one for me! I've been looking for a creative way for my third graders to show what they learned from a simple research project in the library, and I found it. My husband came home today and told me about, and we both spent tons of time creating our voki characters. It's a widget that allows you to customize an avatar and then record 60 seconds of voice. You can then embed it on a blog. What a fabulous way to take a traditional research project and turn it on its head by having the kids present their information this way. And I'm positive it will be incredibly motivating for the students!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Free Rice

Yet again, I am amazed by the connections that technology is creating. Now you can actually can actually provide free rice and be part of a solution with world hunger simply by playing a vocabulary game. I picked this up from The Fischbowl, and it's a vocabulary game where you earn 20 grains of rice per vocabulary word you get correct (all paid for by the advertising on the site). The more you play, the harder they get. I found it a bit addicting myself... Kudos to the United Nations World Food Program for finding a cool way to use education to lend a helping hand.

The banner for Free Rice can be found under the FAQ section of the website and added to your blog.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Global Collaborative Projects

One of the best ways to get teachers into the library for some true team-teaching and learning is to offer the opportunity to do a collaborative project. My own participation in the Books Go Global! wiki has been a great example of meaningful learning for me, the classroom teacher and the students are we create digital book reviews. However, the question is "How do you find out about these projects?" I feel ready to start another project, and I found a great website at Global School Net that has a list of collaborative projects anyone can join. From something as simple as the Monster Motel where kids from all around the globe add a drawing of a monster to a room in a cyberhotel to creating a video of your city to add to a virtual field trip site, there is something for every level of technology experience here. When you enter the site, go to COLLABORATE NOW and then FIND PARTNERS OR PROJECTS for a list of what is out there. A great place to get your feet wet in connecting with others via the library!

Sunday, 25 November 2007


Friends have been telling me about StumbleUpon for some time now, so I finally decided to sign up a few weeks ago. The concept is simple and more than a bit addicting: you tick off areas of personal interest to you--anything from photography to Macs to Africa-- and the site randomly generates various websites, hence the "stumble upon" name. If you like the site, great. If you don't, you simply hit the Stumble button again and a new site is sent to you. Kind of like a modern day remote control for your computer when you just keep clicking to find something good on TV. What it is interesting is that I am now hearing people using the tech verb "stumble upon" in conversations..."I stumbled upon this great website the other day." As a matter of fact, that is how I found the previous blog entry about the Darfur is Dying game.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Darfur Digital Activists

This game has been rattling around in my thoughts for about a week as a potential high school or middle school social studies tool. I am both intrigued and disturbed by it. Darfur is Dying is an online game created by students from USC as part of a competition sponsored by Reebok Human Rights Foudation and the International Crisis Group. The player of the game uses an avatar of a Sudanese man, woman or child in a refugee camp and helps to keep the camp running and safe from attack. You must also forage for water and navigate the desert with your avatar in search of a well, but you must hide from the approaching Janjaweed soldiers while doing so. Even simply as a player, I was feeling anxious as I tried to hide behind rocks to avoid capture (the game even tells you the horrific things that happen to women and children once they are captured, which is why this is not an elementary game). With students sitting at desks thousands of miles away from something as tragic as the Darfur crisis, I see this as a fantastic tool for evoking empathy in a way that reading about it many times cannot do.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Digital Storytelling Links

Too often, I find myself going to one site that leads me to ten more, but sometimes I discover a real gem like Sharon Betts' site. She is a technology coordinator from Maine and her site has a ton of great links and info about her presentations. I especially liked the huge list of 50 cool tools under her Digital Storytelling links--hard to wade through them all at one time but a great resource to go back to every now and then when you want to find something new.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Kids and Smartboards

Kids LOVE using Smartboards, and I am teaching myself how to navigate the one I have in the library. Because not many of our classrooms have Smartboards, I also want to provide some exposure to teachers on how to use them for literacy. For this reason, I've designed my next few weeks of library lessons using the Smartboard and have invited the teachers to join their students for the lesson so they can how easy it is to use and how engaging it is for the students. My hope is that after these lessons, our Smartboard area in the library will be signed out by teachers in the future.

Here are some of the sites I've found that are fantastic and easy to navigate.

Game Goo has a bunch of different, silly character games. Tina's World game is great for Kindergarten classes in following directions and Kangaroo Confusion has kids matching capital and lowercase letters. Since it's just clicking a button and not dragging (harder skill for little ones), these are great. More games for older kids as well.

Houghton Mifflin's Eduplace has some great interactive activities for the older grades. I did the Proofreading activity with 3rd and 4th grade and was amazed at how much they loved an activity like proofreading that isn't usually too exciting. My theory is that it's just cool to be able to type on the computer screen and to hit the buttons in a new way. The Spelling Match game was a ton of fun for 3rd and 4th and I'm sure would be for all grades.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Awesome Library/Tech link

I recently came across a fantastic resource that allows librarians to easily incorporate technology into their library lessons. The St. Joseph School Library has a webpage filled with online library games about the Dewey Decimal system, Library Lingo Jeopardy (a big hit with my 4th and 5th graders today!), Parts of a Book hangman and many more. Very worth checking out!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Voicethread FBA

I am well into a Voicethread project with a 4th grade class, and we all seem to be enjoying it. It's team teaching in the library for me and giving the kids a chance to learn some great technology while working on their voice in writing. Making the Simpsonized avatars was a hoot, and we are encouraging them to think of this book review as something for their peers instead of for their teachers. The conversation should be among them and not a traditional book report of setting, plot and theme--our goal is for them to say what they would say in person to a friend about why he or she should read the book. As a model, I made my own Voicethread digital book review of a favorite of mine, Mr. Putter and Tabby. Please note that it takes a minute to load.

A teacher sidenote--Voicethread is incredibly user-friendly and mine was done in minutes. The only trouble I had at first was finding out how to edit it (the little wheel in the left corner by the title).

Saturday, 27 October 2007

FBA for Reluctant Readers

The Dragon of Doom (Moongobble and Me series). Bruce Coville.

Bruce Coville's Moongobble and Me series is one of my favorites for the second-third grade level. It's filled with Harry Potter-esque magic but at a much more accessible reading level. A loner boy in a small town becomes the apprentice to a fumbling, awkward magician and they go on adventures in the efforts to prove that he is indeed a good magician. The book is fantastic for a read-aloud in second grade (my students begged me to read all books in the series!) and it's a great "hook book" for reluctant readers in grade two. A mom recently came to me and said that her son, who never could find a book that really hooked him, was actually up at 5:30 a.m. devouring this book. That's my favorite part of being a librarian--hooked another one!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Wacky Web Tales

Wacky Web Tales, part of Houghton Mifflin's Education Place website, is a great activity where students choose random parts of speech to later be turned into a story, much like the beloved MadLibs. I've done MadLibs for years, but usually on a piece of recycled paper and with me reading the final story aloud. I like that this online version is set up so kids can actually see what I'm writing and read the final story together. Make sure to check the Classroom Resource links on the bottom of the home page for various teacher resources available for free.

Monday, 15 October 2007


72 hours ago, I didn't even know what an avatar was (the tech definition is a graphic representation of oneself), and now I have my own custom-made avatar straight from my blog picture to the right! The Voicethread project I'm doing with the Books Go Global! group will be using avatars for students instead of actual photos, which I assume has to do with online safety and privacy. Either way, I readily admit it was a blast to upload my photo, plug in the info and create my alter ego. And if I look a bit familiar, well, that's because I've been "Simpsonized" in this picture. The students are going to LOVE this part of creating their cartoon selves with the Simpsonize Me program before we get started on our book reviews. Try it just for kicks!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Great Smartboard Site

A friend introduced me to Starfall, a great site that teaches reading skills to younger grades but also has lessons designed to be used with an interactive whiteboard. I am pretty new to Smartboards, but I want to learn quickly to give teachers the opportunity to see how Smartboards can be a great tool to use in the library. My plan is to invite a few first grade classes in with their teacher while I demonstrate the Snowman activity and hope that the word spreads and others want to see what it's all about. With the program called Snowman, there are numerous opportunities for young kids to come up and practice using the Smartboard.

Note: In China, the site has stories in both Chinese and English and computers will automatically go to However, recently it will only show a sample (Snowman is one of the samples) if you are not a member. The US site does not require membership.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Digital Storytelling with Voicethread

Wow--I was just turned on to Voicethread via the Learning 2.0 site that was set up for the recent Shanghai conference. In a nutshell, you create a digital story by adding images and adding your own words over the images. At first, I thought it was similar to Photostory, another great and simple way to use photos and audio, but the difference with Voicethread is the conversation that happens AFTER the product has been made. Students can comment on each other's work by adding their own words, and a little icon with their picture pops up on the side. I've joined a group of teachers from around the world in a wiki project called Books Go Global! where we will be using this with 4th graders to create book reviews. Wesley Fryer, of Moving at the Speed of Creativity, has great samples of books reviews done by his own children. The Voicethread site has a large amount of sample projects to give you ideas of how to use them in the classroom. Some ideas bouncing around in my head...

COUNTRY REPORTS--fabulous way to jazz these up AND allow kids to comment on each other's work or their personal experiences in that country

ART CLASSES--create a slideshow of works and have students begin audio conversations commenting on the work, like an audio blog. Sharon, thought this might be great for Tetrablink!

SCHOOL COMMUNITY--our 2nd grade does an "Our Cool School" project where the students interview the workers around campus. Making a Voicethread of that and sharing it with schools around the world would give a wonderful global perspective of how those jobs are the same and different.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Pumpkins and Technology

From reading other blogs, I often find cool website suggestions, like this one at Technospud Projects. Jennifer Wagner, creator of Technospuds Project, is hosting a Pumpkin Seed Count for teachers in grades Pre-K to 3. The idea is for classes around the world to compare estimates and actual amounts of pumpkin seeds found in pumpkins. Having been a classroom teacher for years, this is an activity that many teachers do already, so what a great twist to add your data to the website and then have access to data from all over the globe! An added bonus is that this would be an easy way to get teachers who may be a bit hesitant to use technology involved in a project. Registration opened on September 28, and her website has other great classroom technology activities as well.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Storytelling and String Figures

Our fifth grade classes are studying Global Native People at the moment, so I began investigating storytelling websites in the hopes of doing an oral telling for a lesson. While investigating, I came upon a lot of information about string figures. Basically, these are the fun things that many of us remember doing as a child-- taking a piece of tied string and creating Jacob's Ladder or Cat's Cradle. Well, who knew that all these string figures were all based on native tribal tradition? Kids' Easy Guide to String Figures has a number of design options as well as videos to demonstrate how to make them (the key part, I think, as it's not as easy as I remember!). I chose to focus on a story called Moth, The Fire Dancer from a book called Keepers of the Night by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. There is a moth string figure design that goes nicely with it. The plan is to slowly be making the moth design while telling the story. Kids can then use the site themselves to make their own designs.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

International Living Website

Here's something related not to the classroom, per se, but to the international teachers in general. One of my favorite websites to peruse when wanderlust sets in is Tales from a Small Planet . It's a free website with stories of global nomads' adventures, as well as detailed information provided by people living in various countries around the world. A great way to get a window into the nitty-gritty important questions about a country such as how long the flight is from US or Europe, what the schools are like, whether or not you can save money and pollution and security concerns. Of course, some people have an axe to grind with a country and may be venting their culture shock on the page, but I have found most entries to be helpful and interesting. Readers can add their own reports on a country by answering the questions provided.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Adding a YouTube Video

Adding a video to your blog is one more thing that looks a lot harder than it really is. I used to let those technology tricks that looked too complicated intimidate me, but I've discovered that many really are very easy to use. To start out with, all you need is an account with YouTube or some other video site (I hear Google is good). Once you have started an account, here are the instructions to have a cool video on your blog in just minutes.

1. Once you are in YouTube, click on the button in the top right that says UPLOAD

2. This step will ask you to write the information about your video. I tend to use the same word for each category, so the same one each time is just fine. For the "video category" step, choose people and blogs.

3. Scroll down to UPLOAD A VIDEO.

4. Browse to find your video and upload. This takes a few minutes.

5. Now paste the html code provided and paste it in your blog entry. You're done! (insert cheering)

NOTE: Perhaps because I live in China, but it takes a while for the video to upload to the blog. Patience is key.

Friday, 14 September 2007

FBA for High School

Anderson, MT. Feed. City: Candlewick, 2004

Wow--what a great read for techies and non-techies everywhere! The world of the future is one where we all have a chip in our head that allows us to access and download information directly into our brains with a mere thought. The "feed" is constant and sponsored by the corporate world of advertising, so each person's feed is customized to their buying history. Head to the moon on a trip and be bombarded with advertising about what to do and where to stay when you get there. A female protagonist is the lone dissident of this Brave New World-like book that had me hooked from the beginning. Although the language is pretty strong, I feel it would be a great companion to Brave New World, We, The Handmaid's Tale or simply a great read on its own.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Citations Made Easy

An oldie but a goodie in the citation department. Gone seem to be the days of requiring students and adults to memorize MLA and APA format. Instead, you simply enter your information into the Citation Machine website or the Ottobib website and the computer does it for you. Voila--citations made easy.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Flip Camera

Finally, an affordable video camera for schools! The Flip is compact, lightweight, runs on double AA batteries and downloads directly to your computer instead of using tapes or memory cards. For about 150 US dollars, you get 60 minutes of video capability. It's incredibly easy to use--just point and hit a button to record--and for this low price, librarians and tech teachers could order several for the price of one digital video camera. I bought one myself and while the quality is not the same as a digital video camera, it has VGA (640x480) resolution and is more than enough for what the majority of teachers and students would need and use.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Bulletin Board Idea

For a fun beginning of the year bulletin board display, I put a note in the teachers' boxes asking them to write down a book title that was a favorite for them when they were in elementary school. I then took pictures of them reading that book and put the pictures outside the library as a display. It was great fun finding out more about the teachers, especially in my first year in a school, but it also is so fun for students to see pictures of their teachers reading their favorite book. A big thanks to my husband and daughter for volunteering to be my blog picture for this post--he loved any and all Berenstain Bears books as a child, so I'm sure my daughter will hear many of those stories in the future.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

FBA-Fabulous Book Alert!

The Adventure Begins: First Day at Detinu International School. Jen Munnerlyn

In my opinion, this is a perfect international student book! Any student new to the international scene, or moving to a new international school, can relate to the character's feelings of eating different foods, speaking different languages, and the myriad of differences in general when arriving in a new country. It's a great book to use in the first few days of school or as a springboard for discussion about what it means to be a TCK, or Third Culture Kid. A friend and fellow teacher wrote this book (one in a series of more to come) because she herself grew up a TCK and found that there are few resources out there that address this group of children.

Friday, 24 August 2007

ESPN and Math/Science

While watching ESPN the other day, a segment came on where a surfer girl was chatting with an interviewer about how the sport relates to math and science. Hmmm, interesting...all of a sudden what is already a cool sport in the eyes of students became a lesson on wave properties and the electromagnetic spectrum. It was engaging and had me hooked. The website is geared for teachers with lessons for middle to high school students. Videos and lesson plans are included on the site with everything from waterskiing to billiards.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Fun With Geography

I am a huge fan of anything dealing with geography, and I'm loving this National Geographic sponsored site called My Wonderful World that I found recommended on another blog. There is a world geography quiz each day that you can take as well as a game to locate the various countries, continents or states. Having the quiz on a computer makes it more interesting and a great test of geographic knowledge. In a laptop school, taking the geography quiz of the day would be an excellent warm-up, and I'm thinking of using the site with upper grades in the library as a reinforcement of the curriculum.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Cool Product--CPS

I'm taking a tech class at the moment, and we are learning about many interesting new tech tools to be used in the classroom or library. CPS means Classroom Performance System, and they are hand-held clickers that allow you to take a survey quickly and with immediate feedback. You can create a test with the software and have students take the test from their seats. What a fabulous way of assessing kids quickly but also jazzing up the test process! There is a 30 day trial offer where the company will send you the bag with 32 clickers and the base to try for one month. All you are responsible for is the return postage.

I'm already thinking that a fun introduction for teachers would be to create a short, lighthearted test to have them take during a staff meeting as a demonstration of the coolness of the product. The final part would be an invitation to collaborate with me in the library to come up with a test together to do with the students.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Grammar Girl

A great site for middle and high school students (and not just girls!) is the Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing site. Grammar Girl has podcasts explaining various grammar rules as well as including the written explanation of the rules. Although it's a bit lengthy, it's well-written and would be a great resource, especially for second-language learners. And for the super-tech twist, there is a voicemail on the sidebar that allows someone to ask a grammar question to Grammar Girl herself. I'm thinking that English teachers would appreciate this site when collaborating with the librarian or working with students who are needing extra reinforcement.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

One For The Boys

A great recommendation from a librarian friend today led me to a fabulous website created by the always wonderful Jon Scieska. is set up with titles that appeal to the younger, middle and older boys. It includes links to authors and also has GUYSREAD posters and bookmarks available for downloading. What a great resource for parents and teachers alike as a springboard of recommendations and ways to get more boys in the library!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

FBA-Todd Parr

This author/illustrator is one of my favorites! Being home in the US for the summer, I have a basket of books that I read with my six-year old niece. Without fail, the ones she chooses to read over and over (and over!) again are my Todd Parr books, and a recommendation from a first grader is considered an expert opinion in my book. His books are beautiful in their simplicity and whimsical nature with a message gently tucked inside. In my search for an image of Todd Parr's books, I came across his website . This discovery is one of my favorite things about technology--you start by looking for one thing and wind up going down paths along the way that lead you to fantastic new information. I had no idea that he had a TV show and is also a designer! My library will be stocked with all his books, including a new book coming out in the fall about adopted children called We Belong Together.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Global Learning

While perusing other edublogs today, I landed on one called The Connected Classroom, created by Kristin Hokanson, and one of the postings had a list of global resource sites. Being that global living is my gig, I checked some of them out. My favorite was one called KATW, or Kids Around the World. Put out by the Peace Corps, it has interviews and photos from children around the world doing everyday things. In trying to find ways to integrate with classroom teachers next year as our school launches flexible scheduling, this is a great lesson that I am tucking away for the fall. What a great way to shake up the traditional "come to the library, check out a book on a country and study the people of that country" lesson. Most of the interviews can be either read online or listened to, which enables younger students to obtain the information as well. Lesson plan ideas are included, as well as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteers section that allows you to contact returned volunteers in your area to bring in as guest speakers. Check out The Connected Classroom for more globetrotting ideas.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Canadian Authors

Canada has so much to offer in the way of literature and music, and all too often we Americans don't know what we are missing from our lovely neighbor (or neighbour to the Canadians) to the North. My good friend Pierre sent me the link to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio where there is plenty to peruse in regards to Canadian and international literature. Between the Covers highlights Canadian contemporary fiction, and, although it is no longer broadcasting new readings, there are plenty of archived readings to enjoy. Worth checking out!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Teacher/Librarian FBA- Fabulous Book Alert

Build Your Own Information Literate School. Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan; Hi Willow Research and Publishing: Utah, 2004.

I love this book and can't wait to use it as a librarian when I start in the fall! I love it because it has all the elements of a teacher reference book that continually comes off the shelf and is dog-eared like mad--it's interesting, accessible and manageable. There are practical and relevant lesson ideas of how to integrate the library into the classroom curriculum. And, as I move into the library arena, I am noticing through conversations I've had with either beginning librarians or veterans that there are many questions of how to actually get started working with various grade level teams and how to get a handle on flex scheduling and integrated teaching. The desire is there, but often the first step of breaking into a different way of teaching is not yet formed. Koechlin and Zwaan's book makes that transition even easier with their information literacy lessons. Each lesson has the benchmark, or infoskill, provided in the top left corner as well as the introduction to the lesson, weblinks to further information and the lesson itself presented at three different levels: novice, apprentice and infostar, depending on the grade level.

A new book is also out by these two authors called Info Tasks for Successful Learning: Building Skills in Reading, Writing and Research. The review states that it has 50 mini-lessons on information literacy and is a great companion to the first book.


I admit I was hesitant when a friend suggested I try out Facebook , a social networking site that is all the rage. Not sure why really, but I guess it seemed like something for the younger folks to use. However, she was persistent and convinced me to set up an account, and I love it. Being an overseas teacher and a member of a very transient population, Facebook has helped me reconnect with old friends and former students from around the globe. International students are a different breed in that they don't have the reunions that typical highschoolers in the United States have--they lead a peripatetic lifestyle and lose touch all too often. I love hearing from a former fourth grade student who is now in her last year at university and seeing a folder in one former students' account of our school in Ecuador and the many students with whom she is still in contact. You will also be surprised at how many "grownups" are on Facebook as well. I've only begun to tap the tip of the iceberg with its capabilities and hope to dive in deeper.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Adding A Clustr Map to Your Blog

Being a traveler and a collector of maps, I love the idea of adding a ClustrMap to a blog. This allows you to see the various locations of the people around the world who visit your website. I wanted one for a while and then sat down one day to figure out how to do it, and it's not too difficult. It take a few days for it to get up and running, but you will see red dots in the locations. Here are the instructions:

1. Go to
2. Click on the icon on the top that says GET ONE!
3. Type in your blog address and the email address you want the password sent to
4. That's it for part one. Just wait for the password to come to your email account.
5. Now take the password (copying and pasting it works best) and go back to the clustrmaps page.
6. Add in your blog address and the password where it tells you to
7. Now you will see an HTML code (this is the computer's way of telling it to put the Clustrmap onto your page)
8. Copy this code and then go to your blog
9. In the LAYOUT section, there is a part that says HTML/Java Script. This is where you will paste the HTML code.
10. Save changes once you have pasted onto this part.
11. Check out your blog now. You should have a small map that says (updates soon).

Detailed Instructions To Start Your Own Blog

Imagine my delight when a fellow blogger at Cool Cat Teacher found my blog and commented on it in her blog. Vicki, the Cool Cat herself, wrote about the value of having relative newbies to technology teach other newbies. I agree wholeheartedly and have found this to be quite safe for teachers and successful for me. Something about being so new at it myself helps me remember how challenging (and frustrating!) technology can be at the beginning. My hope is to find more time as a librarian next year to offer learning sessions for teachers at the emerging level. Vicki suggested that I post the actual detailed instructions I used at my session for teachers on my blog. Well...that has become my tech challenge to figure out how to do that, so while I experiment with that, I will post the actual instructions here. And when I do figure it out, it's a perfect posting!

Creating Your Own Blog

1. Go to the internet and type in
2. Click on the “Create your Blog Now” button
3. Follow the steps to create your own account. (you can use an existing account and it does not have to be a google account)
4. Decide what you want your blog title (display title) to be (i.e. China Adventures, The Life of…, My Dog Spot, Classroom Capers, etc.) and then what you want your web address to be called (for example, mine are or ) These can be the same as your title if you want. When you are done, click on the big arrow again.
5. Fun part! Choosing the template you want. You can preview as you go along, but it’s also easy to change your template later by just clicking a button and, for some reason, you have more options later on. Once you choose your template, you can start your first post.
6. Now you need to decide what you want your first post to be about…you can simply add the title to the title bar and the text to the text box, just like a word document.
7. If you want to add a picture, there is a square icon in the upper left that is a picture. Click on that and you will have options similar to that of attaching a photo to an email.
8. Go to ‘choose file’ and then find the picture you want to add. You can also decide on the placement of the photo and the size of the photo. Click on ‘upload image’ when you are ready to add the picture.
9. When you are ready to add both the picture and the text officially to your blog, click on the ‘publish’ button at the bottom of the page. DONE!

Edit template—things to do here
This is basically fun to play around with but here are some tips.

a. Go to the ‘template’ tab on the top left. This will take you to the layout of your blog page. You can add info about you in the “ABOUT ME” section or a message in your NAV BAR on the top (sort of a subheading to your title).

b. The “add a page element” option is a cool thing to explore. You can add links to other websites you like or a link to a flickr photo account.

c. Tons more fun things to add later on once you get started...

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Starting Your Own Blog

I have met so many people who enjoy reading blogs, think they are a good way to communicate your thoughts and ideas but think it's difficult to start their own. Absolutely not true! Creating your own blog, especially with Blogger, is really very simple as it walks you through the process for each step. There are other free blog sites out there, but I personally find Blogger easy to use, and I wanted to start with something that gave me confidence.

Here are the steps:

1. Go to
2. Follow the 1, 2, 3 directions. Please note that one can spend a long time choosing the colors and design of a template--I suggest choosing one and then making changes to it later as that is easy to do by going to the template section.
4. Start your first posting! You can add an image by clicking the square image button
5. Once you have your first posting up and running, then it's fun to go back and look over all the various things you can add to your blog.

As a classroom teacher who is really enjoying having a blog or two, I offered an after-school session on getting a blog up and running. I provided very clear, written instructions on how to create one. What a great way to help teachers who aren't quite sure of technology to feel more comfortable and see that something as cool-looking as a blog can be quite simple to do.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

FBA--Fabulous Book Alert

How Much? Visiting Markets Around the World. Ted Lewin; Harper Collins, 2006.

I came across this book at an independent bookstore last summer and knew it would fit perfectly with a goods and services/market unit our second grade classes do in the spring. With illustrations of markets around the world, from the camel markets of Cairo to a market on the train tracks in Agua Calientes, Peru, the language is rich and poetic. When describing a night flower market in Madras, India, Ted Lewin writes

"The lamps reveal half a face here, a silhouetted hand, flashing white teeth there, half a body draped in a gorgeous silk sari."

Makes me want to hop on a plane and go now! For many kids in the international school system, there is a good chance they have been to some of these markets or at least dream of going at some point in their travels--for me, it's the camel market in Cairo that I hope to get to one day...

Poetry + Tech

My class is finishing the school year by wading waist-deep in a poetry unit that is just as much fun for me as it is for them, and I'm already thinking of ways to help teachers extend their poetry lessons as a librarian. I found a cool website that allows kids (and adults!) to use the "magnetic poetry on your refrigerator door" concept online, complete with a virtual refrigerator door. Something about having all those words for the choosing provides an opportunity to play with language that I love to see as a teacher. Check out the magnetic poetry online.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Miniature Earth Video

My fabulous friend Sharon sent me the link to this short video illustrating what the world would look like were there to be just 100 people on it. Stunning photography and valuable information are included regarding poverty, wealth and the people who make up this world. This video would be great to use as a combined math and social studies lesson, or, as Sharon says, everyone should keep it on their desktop as a reminder...

Friday, 11 May 2007

Chinese Librarian

Just had to share this gorgeous painting a local artist named Lu Yong Zhong made for me this week--it's a style called "peasant painting" that I absolutely love for its details and color. He has been at our school the last few weeks creating this exact painting as a mural outside our library, and so I asked him to paint me the same piece so I can take it with me around the world as a librarian. I just love it, especially the scrolls in the porcelain jars and the kids on the floor. Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate a single online source with information about the artist, but all of his work is simply stunning.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Step-by-Step Tech Training

Until I figure out how to upload video to this blog (my own tech challenge!) to demonstrate a few tech things I've tried recently, I will direct your attention to a very cool blog I found put out by PLCMC (Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County). The folks over there have presented a challenge to their employees to try 23 things related to Learning 2.0 technology. It's self-directed, very easy to navigate and walks you through things like Flickr, creating a blog and YouTube. A fabulous way to tackle some new tech!

Monday, 30 April 2007

FBA-Fabulous Book Alert!

The Ugly Vegetables. Grace Lin; Talewinds: Watertown, MA, 1999.

My students and I simply loved this book as part of our plant unit! The main character, a Chinese-American girl who is really Grace Lin as a child, helps her mother plant the garden but notices that all her neighbors have colorful flowers growing while her mother's garden is filled with only ugly green vegetables. However, when it's harvest time, her mother uses the vegetables to make a soup that has the neighbors following their noses to get a taste, and it turns into a sharing garden the following year with everyone growing both flowers and Chinese vegetables. Ms. Lin gracefully weaves cultural pride into the pages by making something that is "different" become wonderful and something others wish to be a part of.

Check out Grace Lin's website at She has links to lesson ideas for her books (including a script for the Ugly Vegetables) and a section called Behind the Story that tells of why she wrote the book. I love when kids get a glimpse into the connections between authors and their own small moment stories in life.

Sidenote: I'm working on coming up with a catchy name for books I want to recommend to teachers in their classrooms next year when I'm a librarian. Hence, FBA (pronounced feeba maybe?). Not sure about it--open to suggestions...

Saturday, 28 April 2007


One of the first things I love to do when I go to someone's house is to check out the titles they have on their bookshelf. Now, over at, there is a way to peek at people's bookshelves online. It's really very simple--after choosing a user name and password, you just type in the titles from your home library, add them to a list and then you have created a visual display of all your book covers in alphabetical order. The social networking aspect of the site is that with every title in your personal library, there is a link to other LibraryThing users who have the same title in their library. When you click on any title, you are also provided with a list of 20 recommendations related to the topic. Various discussion threads such as librarian discussions and book reviews are also included. Feel free to check out the books on my virtual bookshelves.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Beauty and Tech

Personally, I love Dove's beauty campaign of real women with real bodies as models, and I was thrilled to find that they have two new commercials that can be viewed online--one aimed at young girls' self-esteem and one showing the evolution of beauty by showing a model from the no-makeup stage to the billboard stage (and she barely looks like the same person, which I assume is the point!). Both are very powerful, and I immediately sent the videos to my friends who are health and wellness teachers. I thought it could be a great tool for discussion and written reflection with upper grades. For the research/library twist, I'm thinking that ideas of beauty in different cultures would be a great project to provide young girls with a different perspective of what is beautiful in other places. Something like a "Did You Know...?" activity. For example, in Africa, the bigger you are as a woman, the more beautiful you are perceived because it shows you have enough money for food. And for the Kuna people in Panama, albinism is considered a sign of good luck because their faces tend to be round like the moon.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Music in the Library

One of my favorite easy things to use the computer for is to listen to music. There is an awesome website called that creates an ongoing playlist for you based on the type of music you like. You simply enter the name of a musical artist you know you like already, and Pandora will create a stream of music from that artist as well as artists who have a similar style. It's a great way to discover new artists! One recommendation for mellow music in the library is the instrumental loveliness of Carlos Nakai...

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Parent Book Clubs

I meant to launch this first posting with something involving technology, but I can't get my mind off this fabulous idea of parent book clubs! A counselor friend of mine shared the idea with me recently, and I immediately realized that it was an easy, fun way for librarians to connect with the parent community and also do some parent education in an informal setting. As I began thinking about titles that would work, the first one that came to mind was Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox (a big WOW! on anything Mem Fox does!), a book I have seen but never read before. For those of you out there that don't know the book, it is absolutely perfect as a first book to start off the book club--easy to read, filled with practical ideas of how to read aloud to your child and it never talks down to parents who aren't reading to their children right now but instead guides them into how to get started. What a perfect opportunity to support the classroom teachers and the parent community by providing a discussion group about this topic that seems so easy to us as teachers and librarians but really can be challenging if you are not trained.

In some schools, the PTSA (or PTA) might even be able to fund buying the books. My plan is to include the title in a newsletter to generate interest and enthusiasm at the end of this school year and then start the club in the fall, but I'd love suggestions for other books that might be great for parents.

Some other titles bouncing around in my head...

The Reading Bug by Paul Jennings
Third Culture Kids by David Pollack and Ruth Van Reken (for the international community, TCK is a hot topic)
How To Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell

I would love any titles that anyone else could recommend so I can start a running list.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Why TLC?

The idea for creating a blog called Tech-Library-Classroom, or TLC, comes from my own journey as a classroom teacher now entering the field of library media. Since technology is becoming such an important part of both the classroom and the library, I have been searching for easy and authentic ways to integrate all three elements. My idea is to have this blog become a place to go for integration ideas, book recommendations, and easy-to-use instructions about various technology you can use in your personal life or your classroom. Another discovery of mine along my own journey is that jumping into technology can be a very humbling experience, one where we can feel overwhelmed and downright befuddled by how to do something involving so many seemingly complicated steps. I'd like to break those steps down to make them more accessible. So...shall we begin...?