Evaluating Web Resources


I actually managed to work ahead! I wanted to go ahead and do this assignment and get it out of the way. I had to make a ThingLink with resources to teach something related to research in the library.

The standard I chose


My ThingLink focuses on evaluating web resources.

We also had to create a padlet to accompany the ThingLink. The purpose of the padlet is to be a way for distance learners to engage in discussion on the topic.

Made with Padlet

The assignment never mentioned included a list of references, but what kind of librarian would I be if I didn’t?


Makerspace Fun

This week we were tasked with creating a makerspace activity to add to a class wiki. It’s really fun to be able to look at the pages my classmates have added and see the cool projects they have done. Here is my contribution: Halloween Basket Makerspace Activity

This project is something that I did with my kindergartners last year, so it can be done with any age. I was amazed at some of the things my kids came up with. It was so cool to see their thinking and problem solving. I had them working in groups of three to come up with their baskets, so I also got to see who stepped up as a leader, what teams made a plan before jumping in and wasting their tape. It was fun for them and gave me valuable information.

Learner Centered Strategies

This week I made a google slides presentation and an accompanying handout in google docs. This is the first time that I have used those applications, so it was a learning process. It was not that difficult to figure out really, they’re pretty intuitive if you’ve used Microsoft PowerPoint and Word. I missed some of the features of the Microsoft products, but I loved the way it was synced anywhere I wanted to work on it and when I edited it it updated everywhere the link was shared.

Here’s the presentation and the handout.


Incorporating Educational Technology

The article “Let’s Play! Why School Librarians Should Embrace Gaming in the Library” (Elkins, 2015) aims to convince school library media specialists to add games, specifically video games, to the collection. There are several benefits to including video games in libraries. Three of the key benefits highlighted in the article are building 21st century skills, leveling the socio-economic playing field, and building relationships with patrons.

Video games build 21st century skills by engaging players in problem solving and critical thinking. Players also develop collaborative skills when they work together to design game modifications, and literacy skills when they write strategy guides.

Libraries have always been an economic leveler, providing access to content and materials to people who would otherwise be unable to afford them. The benefits of gaming should not be limited to the wealthy, and libraries can help close the gap.

Video game culture is just that, a culture. If you can speak the lingo you can relate to students on their level. Showing students that their interests are valued can make a big impression.

One of the biggest problems that a librarian will encounter when trying to add games to the library collection is budget. Gaming systems and games are expensive and school library budgets are notoriously small. Two ways to get a foot in the door are to start small with adding game guides to the collection, and to start with less expensive games that can be played on mobile phones and tablets. Even if your school does not possess mobile devices, sites like GoFundMe and Donor’s Choose make it easy to set up a virtual fundraiser.

Incorporating gaming into the library comes with challenges, financially and logistically, but the benefits are worth the work.


Elkins, A. J. (2015). Let’s play! Why school librarians should embrace gaming in the library. Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 58-63.

Web 2.0 Tools and Cyberbullying

As promised, here is my post from last week’s discussion.

How do you feel about the way the video represents Web 2.0 tools?

The film “The Machine is Us/ing Us” (Wesch, 2007) is a dynamic, engaging, informative, and thought provoking piece. It encourages viewers to consider the long term implications of the way Web 2.0 is changing society. Interestingly, this video was published to YouTube ten years ago. A lot has changed in that time, just as the video predicted. Society, law, relationships, and privacy have all had to adapt to the ever changing, ever growing entity that is Web 2.0. Because of this ever changing nature, information about Web 2.0 quickly becomes obsolete, but the content of this video has remained relevant.

As an educator who may use social networking tools, how will you protect your students from cyberbullying?

Education and relationships are the first line of defense. Students need to know how to use tools safely. It would not make sense to let a person wield a power drill without first teaching them what it is meant to be used for, how to use it safely and effectively, and providing safety equipment such as protective glasses. In the same way students must be educated about how to safely and effectively use online tools. All the safety knowledge in the world, however, cannot guarantee a child will not encounter cyberbullying, either as the target, a witness, or even the perpetrator. This is where the importance of building relationships comes in. A student who witnesses or is the target of bullying must feel safe coming to an adult for help. Too often children are embarrassed, afraid of being labeled a snitch, or worried about retaliation. Relationships can also prevent bullying from starting. A student who has positive relationships with adult role models is less likely to become a bully.

What advice would you give your students and other educators about using Web 2.0 tools?

When contemplating the incorporation of Web 2.0 tools it is important to ask yourself what it is you want your students to learn and how a Web 2.0 tool can achieve that goal. The ASSURE lesson plan model described in chapter three of Instructional Technology and Media for Learning (Smaldino, Lowther, & Mims, 2015) provides an excellent framework to guide an educator through the process of reflecting on the benefits and uses of different tools. Using Web 2.0 tools just to be using Web 2.0 tools is not effective or beneficial.


Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., Mims, C. (2015). Instructional Technology and Media for Learning, 11th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Wesch, M. (2007, January 31). The machine is us/ing us [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

I’m not dead yet

I have been a very neglectful blogger. This back to school season has really been stressful and overwhelming. It is now the fourth week of school and it’s starting to get easier, but I’m still feeling spread thin. I’m not dead yet, though. I’m going to get through this season. I’m so glad I decided to only take one course this semester to see how balancing school/work/life works out though.

In the course I’m taking, INFO 5720, the assignments I have completed so far are setting up my livebinder portfolio to house my assignments from the class and a discussion about social tagging/bookmarking sites.

Here’s what I had to say about social bookmarking:

Librarians are curators and disseminators of knowledge. Social bookmarking allows librarians to do just that. School librarians have so much knowledge and expertise to share with teachers, but in my experience teachers do not realize this or go to the trouble of asking their librarian questions. With social bookmarking the librarian can easily gather resources that could be of use to the teachers on their campus, organize them, and share them. Not only does this give teachers new tools, but it also encourages them to add to the collection and exchange ideas.

Looking at the tags on a social bookmarking site can give you an idea of what types of content and resources a website contains before you even visit the site. If I am looking for a site that has math lesson ideas that includes student practice sheets and video tutorials I can search my social bookmarking site of choice for my topic and scan the list of results to see if any contain tags indicating they have the resources I want. This keeps me from having to open and explore each site individually, saving time.

Social bookmarking has applications beyond teacher centered use. My first thought when considering how it could be employed in a lesson was as a resource hub for webquests. I recently worked with a group to create a webquest about the solar system and we used popplet to gather all of the websites the students would need to visit in order to locate all the information, but a social bookmarking site could be used in the same way.

Social bookmarking could also be used for students to track their research sources throughout a project. A teacher could assign each student a unique tag to use, such as lastname_class_title of assignment, and instruct students to tag all the sites they use for the assignment as they find them. Not only would this help students keep their sources together, the teacher could pull up any student’s tag and check to see if they are collecting resources and whether the resources are quality/reputable.

I am currently working on the next discussion: web 2.0 tools and cyber bullying. I’ll share that with you as soon as I’m done.

I still want to do a little classroom tour, hopefully next week I will be able to tidy up a bit and take some photos.

kindergarten crazy

Training a new group of kindergarteners is hard work. I love teaching kinder, but when I finish my degree and move into a library I will not miss this part at all.

All the supplies my students brought are stacked up in the back of my room and I’m trying to find the energy to get them stowed away (i.e. procrastinating by writing this instead of getting to work). I have more boxes of tissues than anyone ever needs. I still have boxes left from last year. Tissue boxes take up so much storage space. I have to find room somewhere though. Once I have things put away I will share a little classroom tour with you. I finally got around to organizing my classroom library using the labels made by Maria Gavin over on Teachers Pay Teachers. My partner teacher has been using this system for the last couple of years and I’ve been so envious of her tidy shelves that I finally got it for myself.

Classes for me as a student start in a few days. I decided to only take one class this semester so I can get a feel for how much I can handle while still teaching full time. Hopefully I will take two classes in the spring so I can finish sooner.


Ten Commandments for School Librarians

I just turned in my last assignment of the semester. I wrote ten commandments for school librarians based off of Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians

  1. Reading I will at all times promote reading across all modalities.
  2. Information Landscape I will be a beacon of current technology best practices.
  3. Collection Development I will develop a collection of books, technology, and creative tools that meets the unique needs of my population.
  4. Access, Equity, Advocacy I will advocate for and strive to provide equitable access to digital tools and information to all.
  5. Audience and Collaboration I will promote and facilitate student collaboration and publishing beyond the walls of the school building.
  6. Copyright, Copyleft and Information Ethics I will educate students and teachers on copyright law and promote digital citizenship.
  7. New Technology Tools I will embrace new technology tools.
  8. Professional Development and Professionalism I will constantly seek out opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.
  9. Teaching and Learning and Reference I will facilitate and encourage students to become learners.
  10. Into the Future (acknowledging the best of the past) I will incorporate the best of the past as I pave the way to the future.

the end is nigh (for now)

There is only one week left of my first semester as a grad student and I have learned so much. I had no idea the scope of the librarian’s role in the school. It’s a lot more work than I thought, but it’s work that I love.

Next week is going to be an overlap of my life as a kindergarten teacher and my life as a grad student as I go back and start setting up my classroom while also finishing my last assignments. I’m excited to get back into my room and set things to rights after the summer cleaning and to see my partner teacher. She is such an encouragement to me (even though we pick on each other constantly) and I am looking forward to planning the first few weeks of school with her. We are going to start the year coteaching all day until our kids have learned the basics of school and gotten used to us, then we will begin rotating. It’s a new adventure for both of us. We didn’t departmentalize and start partner teaching until February last year. It worked out really well even with the late start, so I can’t wait to see how things go this year.

The next four weeks are going to go by far too quickly. Finishing the semester and working in my classroom week, in-service training and meet the teacher the week after, and then the first week of school with my students followed by another first week of school as a student.


term papers and webquests and popplets

It has been a busy week. I’ve been working on my term paper for INFO 5000. My working title is “Professional Learning for Teacher Librarians: Utilizing the Resources Available to Create a Personal Learning Network.” I’m about halfway done with my first draft.

The other assignment I’ve been working on is a group project. We created a webquest, something I have never done before. You can see it here. I had two other people in my group and we worked really well together. I was responsible for the process and evaluation portions. When I started the popplet that is used in the process section it was just me organizing my thoughts about the assignment. As I put it together though I realized it could actually work really well as the instructions for the students and it fell into place from there. I cannot tell a lie, I’m pretty proud of that popplet. I really enjoyed working in popplet (and saying popplet, it’s just a fun word) so I decided to use it as my literature map for the aforementioned term paper. Once the paper is finished I will share all of that with you.

In PLN news, Curmudgication has quickly become my favorite blog that I follow. It’s mostly about education in general, mostly education policy and politics. What I love is how, well, curmudgeonly he is. I enjoy a good snark-ridden rant.


regarding banned books

Here are some more of my thoughts after looking at the top ten most banned books of 2015 (page 18 of the ALA State of American Libraries report)

I think there is a difference between “appropriately banned” and “inappropriately chosen” books. No book should be banned, but not all books are appropriate selections for all libraries. A high school librarian should certainly select books that include some language or sexual/violent content because teens need a safe space to explore those aspects of life. Books like Fifty Shades of Gray, however, that are written purely to titillate and not inspire reflection on the part of the reader do not serve the needs of the high school library user. Just as it would be appropriate to have a library subscription to a magazine like Teen Vogue that discusses sexuality and identity in order to help teens navigate their personal experiences, but would be inappropriate to subscribe to Penthouse or Playboy.

I do not think any of these books should be banned, but the librarian must take the task of material selection very seriously, bearing in mind personal prejudices and working to overcome self censoring.

diversity matters

Diversity is a big issue. The world is a diverse place full of people with different backgrounds, experiences, traditions, the list goes on. And yet somehow I find myself surrounded by books featuring the same type of characters. White, able-bodied, cis-gendered, and straight. According to the American Library Association’s State of American Libraries (2016) out of the top 10 most challenged books that year 9 included diverse content. Students don’t see themselves reflected in library collections, or when they do those books are challenged. What message does that send to our children? We are telling them that their very existence is offensive. As a school librarian I intend to make it my mission to stock my library with books that show students that people like them matter. Their stories matter. They matter.

That’s why when I came across the site Social Justice Books I was so excited.

SocialJusticeBooks.org is a project of Teaching for Change, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world. Teaching for Change developed SocialJusticeBooks.org in 2017 to identify and promote the best multicultural and social justice children’s books, as well as articles and books for educators.

Their “about” page has this beautiful infographic that they encourage others to share


Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. sarahpark.com blog. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing/

What a great visual and a great resource!

I was just casually scrolling through my Twitter feed when I was sucker punched in the gut.

gut punch

Steele, D. [SteeleThoughts]. (2017, July 22). Not all kids have hope, and when that fact hits you, you realize your job is bigger than any lesson plan or standardized test. #leadupchat [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SteeleThoughts/status/888765707357495296

here’s the latest from my PLN

One thing I was not expecting when I started putting together a PLN (which I really should have expected) was the political activism of the librarians on Twitter. Some of the librarians I follow have been posting regular updates on what is going on in the Texas Legislature regarding education. Librarians are advocates.

Yesterday’s KnowledgeQuest blog post was about science in the library and I love it. I followed a link to a blog all about doing science in the school library (and added it to my follow list ’cause I gotta grow that PLN). While I love books and reading my favorite subject to actually teach is by far science. I love doing hands-on experiments. Give me mud and slime and worms and paper pulp any day. I thought I was really going to miss that in the library. I guess I thought wrong! I love the idea of bringing science to the library and I wouldn’t have discovered this idea and specific blog if I weren’t building my PLN.

This past week I was a bit of a creeper and went through the ePortflios of my classmates to see who actually posts on their blogs and subscribe to their feeds. I have a section of my feedly for classmate blogs now and it’s really cool. I like getting to see how other people are going through the course. What they learn that maybe I missed, the direction they take an assignment that I hadn’t thought of. With this being an online course and not having any actual in-person interaction it’s really nice to get that insight. I think it was a smart move to add them to my PLN. If you are from my class and reading this hello!

Through my Twitter PLN I found this video about what kids deserve and it made me cry.

Twitter also led me to this blog post about being too focused on reading levels and suffocating kids’ love of books. The title of the blog is Curmudgication: Trying to Make Sense of What’s Happening in Education. I am all about grumpily pointing out the faults of the American education system so I subscribed through my feedly.

In non-PLN news I turned in my midterm for INFO 5000. Before I submitted it I printed a copy and gave it and a red pen to my sister (who was an English major and knows about writing) and it came back to me with very few red marks. My top priority this week is finishing my infographic, which I will share here when it’s finished.

PLN roundup


Project Connect “Follett formed Project Connect to advocate for librarians as district leaders so that students can learn digital literacy, modern research techniques and cutting-edge skills that apply across all subject areas. We help librarians transform their library spaces into vibrant hubs of digital learning by giving them ideas and resources to become future ready.”

Future Ready Schools “Future Ready Schools® helps K-12 public, private, and charter school leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential.”

Future Ready Librarians “Future Ready Librarians is an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting the Future Ready goals of their school and district. Two guiding questions are central to Future Ready Librarians.

  1. How can librarians and libraries support Future Ready schools?
  2. How can librarians and libraries become more Future Ready?

Future Ready Librarians will provide resources, strategies, and connections for district leaders and librarians to be able to work together to promote and implement innovative learning opportunities for students.”

EveryLibrary “EveryLibrary helps secure funding for libraries at the ballot box. We train, coach, and consult with library communities on Information Only and Vote YES campaigns. EveryLibrary is donor supported in our pro-bono work. We believe that any library campaign anywhere should matter to every library everywhere.”

Save School Librarians “This site and our state partnership activism are made possible with the support of Follett Learning. Their donor support lets us do targeted, smart, and effective outreach and activism wherever and whenever it is needed. With Follett’s support, we can build on our successes and try to address this school librarian crisis in schools and districts around the country. SaveSchoolLibrarians.org has one-click ‘take action’ capabilities that make it easy for concerned parents and stakeholder to make their voices heard for school libraries and librarians. The site will include the best training guides for local school library activists to build their own political and organizing power. But they don’t have to do it alone. EveryLibrary is here to help advise on the right tactics to make change happen and, with Follett’s support, we can put the power of social advertising to work reaching and activating more potential local supporters than ever before.”

Blog Posts

Librarianship: Not a Job, an Avocation “Rather than keeping the status quo in our K-12 libraries, let’s become vocal advocates for change. We need to leave our comfort zone and invent new ways to provide services effectively … we need to leave diversity and embrace inclusion…we need to remember that society is changing and we need to change with it! Do I know how to do all of this right now? No, but I am not ruling anything out.”

What is an Educator Mastermind, and Why Should You Join One? “A mastermind is a small group of people who meet on a regular basis to talk about their work, set goals, learn together, and help each other solve problems.”


Disrupting Thinking

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

This book showed up on my twitter feed several times today from people attending Scholastic’s Reading Summit in Houston.


twitter roundup

Here’s a few things I found through my new library-centric twitter feed that I wanted to share here.

I cam across a link to an article called “Confessions of a Librarian Who Does Everything Wrong” and I was intrigued. It’s a good reminder that what may be considered the “right” way to manage a library may not always be the way that is best for students. I was inspired by the author’s honesty and her commitment to her students.

I also came across this quote image:

And finally a blog post by The Kindergarten Smorgasbord about an easy to use green screen app. This one gave me an idea for the webquest my group is going to be creating. We’ve decided what our goal is, but we haven’t decided on an end product. I think tasking the kids with making a green screen video would be a great way for them to use technology, synthesize their knowledge, practice public speaking, and use creativity. I’m going to share it with my group and see what they think.

PLN update

After following the moderators of #txlchat on twitter and sending an “I’m here” tweet out into the void I almost immediately got a welcome to the community tweet from one of the #txlchat mods and four people followed me. I feel like that’s a good sign.

for the love of reading

When I was applying to the MLIS program for school librarianship one of the documents I had to submit was a statement of my purpose and goals. It challenged me to really think about the decision I was making to pursue this career path, why I was making it, and what I wanted to accomplish. Here is what I wrote (it was good enough to get me into grad school so perhaps you will enjoy it).

When I was growing up my papa read to my siblings and me every night before bed. He would read all sorts of things; poetry, picture books, short stories, novels, even comic books. We would pile around him, reading over his shoulder and studying every detail of the pictures. Those are some of my most treasured and impactful memories of childhood. I learned to love books; they contained worlds full of people, information, and truth. The contents of books have changed my life and I want to help children discover that magic.

Books have the power to take us places we will never go, introduce us to people we will never meet, and show us a whole new side of the world. Seeing the world through the eyes that books give us builds empathy and understanding for our fellow men, qualities that are crucial in our global society.

In my own life I have learned to understand the lives of people who are different from me by seeing the world from their point of view. Books such as Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry, Seedfolks, A Girl Named Disaster, and The Hiding Place have all taught me important lessons about the world and the people in it.

I began my degree in education with the intention of sharing my love of books with my students, as my papa shared his with me. I always had the idea in my mind that perhaps after I had taught for a few years that I might go back and get a masters degree is something literacy related. It was during my very first year of teaching that the vague idea of going into a more specific field in the future really crystalized in my mind as a desire to be a librarian. I was teaching at a charter school whose library consisted of one tiny room with an un-curated hodge-podge of beaten up books. As a charter school our school librarian was not required to have any training or certification, and consequently she did not have the knowledge to help students select books that were appropriate to their maturity, interest, and reading ability. I took it upon myself to make sure my students had access to a variety of books appropriate to their levels. I went to library book sales, scholastic warehouse sales, begged donations from friends and family, and regularly combed used book stores. I built my classroom library to more than 500 books during that year and soon realized that connecting students to books was my favorite part of teaching and I wanted it to be able to focus on it full time.

School librarians are in an ideal position to open the eyes of children through books. Helping students find books they enjoy, and encouraging them to explore the world through the pages of a book, is my passion. I want to create lifelong learners who see the world differently.

There’s no reason for me to wait until I have charge of a library to work towards that goal, though. I intend to use my graduate studies in my classroom immediately. Courses regarding school librarianship, instructional materials, learning resources, and literature for youth can be implemented in my classroom right away. The knowledge I gain from this program of study will have an immediate and direct impact on my students. It is my constant desire to improve my methods and better serve my students.

In the future I intend for my degree to help me reach more students through a station as a school librarian. While my current teaching position gives me direct responsibility over 34 children, a librarian position would increase my responsibility and impact to every student in the school. Helping students to develop a love of literature and providing them with the tools and knowledge to seek out books and materials that will challenge and inspire them is the dream of my heart.