Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cultural literacy

Apparently, I've never gone to a movie on the day after Thanksgiving, or else I'd forgotten that it is really busy then.  At any rate, I went to go see Lincoln with my mom yesterday.  We got there just as the show was supposed to start, and then there was a big line outside the theater, plus it wound around a few times inside.  We did get in just as the show was starting, but it was completely packed and we had to sit separately.  Oh well, going to the movies with someone is really the two of you doing something by yourself at the same time, right?  It's not like we would be sitting there discussing it as we went along.

Anyway, I was wishing my son, Jesse, was with me because he is such a history buff.  I'll take him to see it at Christmas if he hasn't seen it by then (he went with two siblings to see Red Dawn - obviously not as good, but they'd been waiting for it).

At one point, if I were with Jesse, I would have said, "Is that Thaddeus Stevens?"  He would have been impressed with my historical prowess (although, ahem, it did say on the wall, "The office of Thaddeus Stevens," but maybe he would have missed that).

I imagine Thaddeus Stevens was scarier in real life.

But!  People!  In one of the final scenes of the movie, there's a view of a courthouse building, with the words, "Appomattox Courthouse, April 9, 1865" on the bottom of the screen.  Here comes a man atop a white horse, dressed in Rebel Gray, who has a white moustache and beard.  Here, he looks remarkably like this:

Yes, Virginia, that is Robert E. Lee.
And two adults within earshot, in different parties, said, "Is that Lee?"  I mean, my god, who else would it be?  Do the filmmakers have to tell us exactly who every.single.person in the film is?  Can we not expect that people who are educated enough to want to go to a historical movie like Lincoln would know by sight the greatest military mind ever born in the U.S., especially when given context clue after context clue after stinking context clue?  SHEESH!!!!!! 
So, that brings me to the idea of cultural literacy.  Even in this age of Wikipedia (which I love, donate to, and use every single day), when you can look every date and name that you come across, let's have a foundation of knowledge that does in fact include recognizing some characters of history.  There simply are things that one must know to be an informed citizen. 

I have the What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know series in the library, thanks to my years as a homeschooling mom.  I need to figure out a methodical way of working my way through the most important tidbits in those books with classes as they come to the library.  Do you have any ideas?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things I love Thursday

5.  Michael Bublé

Pandora always knows to default to this guy for me.

4.  My dog, Buster

He (and my sons) aren't so happy with me as I'm making him wear a sweater these days.  But wait until I get him one of these!

3.  Cardigan sweaters

Yes, I love me some sweaters.  I'm not sure if you'd say I'm an afficianado or a hoarder (I have at least 15).  I put the above sweater on my "Yes, I want!" Pinterest board, but I also hate to spend more than $10 on a sweater!  So we'll see.  (Have I had Goodwill on my "Things I love Thursday" list yet?  I should!)

2.  Akinator

Maybe this is the thing I love to hate.  Have you played this?  It's crazy.  So you think of a character - real or fictional - and answer questions with yes, no, don't know, probably, or probably not.  Obviously he gets easy ones like Rebecca Black (12 questions) or President Obama (10 questions), but even Tony from Saturday Night Fever (25 questions) or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters (14 questions), Akinator knows all.  It's a little freaky!

1.  Seeing my folks

I'm going to spend Saturday with my mom, while my daughter takes my dad to a Panthers football game. 

My parents have always been my biggest fans.  I love to spend time with them!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book party

It was a good week for books!

On Friday, I went to the Friends of the Fort Dodge Public Library's book sale and bought several books for $1 for hardcover, 50 cents for paperback.   Then I went back on Saturday and got books for $1 a bag.  (I would have bought a 2006 set of World Book encyclopedias except they were missing the U-V volume!)  On Friday, I bought books that I didn't want to miss, and on Saturday, I bought lots of books for our Literacy Night book exchange (this Tuesday).  We have some to start at the library that we're weeding, but if they were any good we'd be keeping those, so I wanted to get some nice ones to begin the night.  Then we went to Goodwill and I was able to pick up a few more.

So check these out!

These are for the book exchange:

Some of my favorites from there:

Some boy is going to be really happy with this dinosaur book:

This is from The Zoom Trilogy by Tim Wynne-Jones and Eric Beddows:

Here are some I got for my sons:

For my poli-sci/history major at Grinnell:

Here are the books I got for myself:

I really like that What do you know? book.  It was published in 1990, but I'm particularly fond of its quizzes - so far, I've only taken one, but I was scored 90/100, "having an uncommonly good grasp of common knowledge."  I didn't know who Albert Schweitzer, Kurt Waldheim, Virginia Woolf, Ray Kroc, Timothy Leary, or Norman Mailer were (or at least  not specific enough to count).  I didn't know in what countries Alamogordo, Managua, or Gdansk were (I know my college son is embarrassed for me).  I didn't know who wrote The Color Purple (I'm embarrassed for me).  I'll have to see if there is a new edition - so I didn't know Kurt Waldheim was the Secretary-General of the UN in the 1970s and president of Austria in the 1980s.  I know all about Honest Toddler!

Here's an image from the inside (obviously that is Ernest Hemingway and Amelia Earhardt, which of course you knew as you also have an uncommonly good grasp of common knowledge, right?):

I used to have "international night" dinner parties, and I loved to use cookbooks from the "Cooking the _____ way" series.  If you want the basic, definitive recipes of a culture, these are the way to go.  I'm going to be on the lookout for more.

And another cookbook:

From some of my favorite authors:

And here are a few I got for the library:

This is a wordless book, but it seems more Where's Waldo than Flotsam:
And finally, not sure if this one is for the take a book table, the library, or for my future grandchildren - The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown:

All of the pictures have a little segment if you will like this:
All in all, an excellent book haul.  I got 29 books for (drum roll please . . . ) $8.50!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On elections

It's been quite a couple of weeks. There was ITEC, then the regional STEM council meeting, then Edcamp Sioux City. I was busy volunteering with the presidential campaign (and sure as heck wasn't getting paid to do so!) and busy cooking up new projects at school. I was reading more (I've discovered Michael Connelly - he's a can't-put-down type of writer) and still trying to exercise after my 15 pound weight loss this summer. Then I got an email, asking members of the Iowa Association of School Librarians to consider nominating themselves or someone else to run for office.

I had kept that email around for awhile, mulling it over whenever I cleaned up my email enough to see it again. I think I was approached via email, that someone else had suggested that I run. Really, me?? I decided to run for the secretary/treasurer position, but then in another week, there was another email looking for people to run. I emailed again and said I'd run for either secretary/treasurer or vice president/president-elect. If I won, I would be VP for 2 years, then president, and that would give me enough time to know what I was doing. That worked out well as they already had two others who would run for secretary/treasurer and just one for VP.

Anyway, on the morning of the last day of voting, I wrote a blog post. I told myself I'd be fine no matter the result (in any other year, I would have voted for my competition, as I know and like her), but my mind hearkened back a couple of years when someone else asked me to run for office . . .

A school board election was coming up and the person in my area was stepping down, and no one in my precinct had made it on the ballot in time. So the previous school board president approached me and asked me if I would run. Really, me?? I was honored, but told her I wasn't going to campaign. I'd put an ad in the paper, but I wasn't going door-to-door, trolling for votes. She assured me that since no one was on the ballot, putting my name in the paper would be enough - no one else was running a write-in that she knew of, and she'd get the word out too. I did reach out to a few neighbors and ask for their votes - completely out of my comfort zone, but I did it anyway.

I didn't know the results that night, and the next morning, it wasn't on the auditor's website as it was a write-in election. I didn't know for several DAYS when I finally called the previous school board president who figured I already knew that I'd lost, even though it still wasn't on the website and no one had called me (by the time I called her, I knew I must have lost). She said, "Well, you can run again next time." HA! That wasn't going to happen. (There was another write-in candidate who didn't put an ad in the paper but who told all his friends and family, and vote they did.) At any rate, I wanted to put the whole embarrassing event behind me and didn't check the auditor's website again.

So all of this was on my mind as I was running for IASL office. Again I didn't actively campaign, but I did talk to a few librarian friends, and honest-to-goodness, when I sat down at lunch at ITEC and the table of ladies happened to be librarians (complete coincidence!), I asked them for their votes. I put something on Twitter. I may love to talk politics, but I'm not going to be a politician. That was enough campaigning for me.

And I won!

And then today, looking something up, I found this.

I know in my heart of hearts, it's a good thing that I lost that, because I never would have moved and taken the great job that I have now. But I know now it's a good thing that I never knew the exact vote tally, or I never would have run for IASL, and I'm really excited to serve there.

So why am I so embarrassed three years later? And I'm thinking back - did I ever use "ran for school board" as a bullet point on a résumé or interview? Good Lord, I hope no one else has ever Googled me and found this!

Or, that is, found what I found, and read as quickly and incompletely as I did . . . if you go down some, you see I did get more than 3 votes. That was just someone in the wrong precinct writing me in. I ended up getting 50 write-in votes in my precinct, plus my 18-year-old daughter got one too! (We often are mistaken in looks - until I quit dyeing my hair, anyway - apparently by name, too.) At any rate, it is good I didn't see this before I ran for IASL - because I would have read this quickly and incompletely and thought all these years I had only gotten three votes.

But still, they don't know what they missed!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#edcampsiouxcity wrap-up

I went to EdCamp yesterday in Sioux City - a good 2 hour drive, but it was so worth it.  (I wasn't the furthest traveler, either, that goes to @hklenke from way up in northeast Iowa - a six hour drive!)

When I go to conferences, I used to write notes by hand, or take notes on the computer.  (I type 120 wpm, so I can type without thinking, basically.  I actually get a lot more out of notes if I hand-write them than by typing.)  But now, I tweet them.  This accomplishes a few things.  1., I know where I put my notes!  When I took notes by hand or type, I would never look at them again.  That doesn't happen anymore.  2., I'm able to share a resource or idea with someone right away when I hear about it, rather than waiting later and then forgetting.  3., It shows my PLN that I am a lifelong learner, and willing to share.  It's a win-win-win!

So here are some tweets from yesterday (I did 37!):

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My vision for school libraries

Perhaps you've come to my page as you consider your vote in the Iowa Association of School Librarians election.  Great!  Glad to have you.  I hope you will follow my blog and come back routinely.  I try to blog at least a couple of times a week.  If you blog, too, please comment and link back to yours; I'll reciprocate.

I believe that school libraries should be the center - symbolic, if not physical - of the school.  Schools are places of learning, and libraries are repositories of the learning of all mankind.  Of course, access to that learning has changed tremendously in the decades since I graduated from high school (Dike High School, Class of 1988).  And yet, libraries still serve an important function in our schools.  

One thing that I've done in my time at Manson Northwest Webster Schools is to work to create Learning Commons environments at both the elementary and secondary centers.  This week at the Barnum center, third graders came into the library and used the space as an extension of their classroom as they did their Daily Five literacy stations.  Also this week, students brought their parents into the library after their conferences were done, to proudly show them the many changes that we made this summer.  Our guidance counselor, Pam Bleam, said, "The changes to the library make me ask, 'Why didn't we do this twenty years ago?' It's hard to believe what paint, talent, rearranging, and fresh new energy can do to a familiar space."  It really is true.  We're not done yet, either - my associate, Donna, and I are looking at genrefying the fiction, and bookstore-modeling the nonfiction.  Next summer!  (Granted, we are blessed with a generous gift from a benefactor, and a tremendously supportive administration.)

Changes at the high school are no less exciting.  In fact, it was the library in Manson that was first tackled. What has happened since, though, is more exciting - students come in to the library each period to study, to collaborate, to relax, to talk about the latest game or current events.  That reminds me - I need to count students!  I'm sure, though, that we've gone from about fifteen students a day at the beginning of last year to over a hundred these days.  Mondays often find students coming in, checking out new books or magazines.  There will be even bigger changes soon as the FCCLA makes the finishing touches on - what used to be my office - a coffee bar, once a week serving not just flavored coffees, but breakfast pizza, cinnamon rolls, smoothies, and more.

Another thing I think we need to do as teacher librarians is to reach out to new teachers.  If elected as IASL vice-president/president-elect, I will reach out to our teacher education programs across the state and seek to put teacher librarians on their radar.  When I was in UNI's 2+2 program not too long ago (I was a non-traditional student), there were many opportunities for collaboration with teacher librarians, although it seemed I was the one, as a student, who repeatedly mentioned that.  I had several professors who, when pressed, sort of romanticized teacher librarians, as if we belong to some idealized past.  Perhaps we are part of their memories - which is great! - but we must be part of their realities, too.  Teacher education programs have a lot to focus on, yes, but I believe teacher librarians can help.  

At any rate, one thing that I've done at MNW is to hold "Lunch 'n Learns" (last year) and now "Teacher Investigations," both dedicated time in the library for new and seasoned teachers to learn about new technology, to share what is working in their rooms, and to help each other in educating the children at our school.  This is exactly the vision I have for Iowa's teacher librarians.  I know I already do this through Twitter, through reading librarians' blogs, through the IASL convention - learn about new technology and ideas, share what is working at my library, and, with other teacher librarians, work together to educate the children of Iowa's schools.  

It's so easy as a teacher librarian to feel isolated, but it doesn't have to be.  IASL is there to help.  

I humbly ask for your vote as IASL vice president/president-  at large elect (that's what you get for blogging at 5 a.m).


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Seven Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit

I don't read many spooky books - I'm not going to be able to name ten.   No commenting on my end - I think the books speak for themselves: