Weekend Website

7 Nov

So, last week I watched one of our science VHS tapes about DNA replication. Then I felt the overwhelming need to send a note of apology to every one of the science teachers in our school. The video was not current, it was not engaging and it made no sense (and I have a degree in Biology!). As an olive branch I have sent them the information about X-Stream Science.

The X-Stream Science site offers a series of videos (à la Bill Nye) to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and is targeted at middle school students. Episodes are available for free online viewing or downloading. Lesson plans can also be downloaded.

The titles that they have available are:
    • “Air Pressure vs Altitude”
    • “2001 Space Weight Loss Plan”
    • “Convection Connection”
    • “Atmosphere Pie”
    • “States of Matter”
    • “Parts of an Airplane”
    • “Aerostatics vs Aerodynamics””
    • “The Montgolfier Brothers”

These are a series of vignettes designed to introduce students to the topics. I also sent teachers a link for Splicd so that they can choose the sections applicable to the learning outcomes of the lesson and only show those to their students. 

Unfortunately X-Stream Science does not have any biology topics available, but I will keep searching for that. 


Job Description of a School Librarian

5 Nov

The library technician at my school left this on my desk. I must admit, I was a little hurt when I glanced at the title, thinking this was a not-so-subtle hint that I wasn’t doing my job properly or working hard enough, but then she instructed me to read it.

Here is the first section, entitled “Literature Skills”:

“Must have memorized the plots, characters, themes, lengths, reading levels, and controversies of all books in the library as well as every popular new book that comes out. Must be able to produce lost of stolen books out of thin air on demand. Must know the exact volume and page number of every article in all encyclopedias plus Current Biography, and all abstracts. Must be able to help students and teachers extract information from all information sources without actually causing them to read anything. Must be able to identify any book ever published based only on a vague description of the cover art and perhaps equally vague hints of characters or plot.”

And people think our job is easy!

An explanation for my absence

5 Nov

My computer has officially kicked the bucket. One day it was working, the next it wasn’t. This forced me to bring my old computer out of storage. My old computer is light and clean-looking, but does have some deficiencies. Because of a quick and dirty meeting with the tile floor on our honeymoon, the computer struggles to remain on at all times and it is missing an “L” key. It still has a connection to the internet and an old copy of Microsoft Word so I thought it would work fine for updating my blog.

Much to my dismay, I was incorrect in this assumption. (You know what they say about people who assume….) The programs are too old to allow me to log in to wordpress so I was forced to search for another way to post. And then I found Posterous!

I had heard about Posterous on the weekend at a meeting to schedule speakers for our upcoming professional development conference next October. I thought that it had something to do with poster creation or maybe post-it notes (that might have just been wishful thinking on my part as I love all things post-it). When I checked it out I realized that it is a blog type format but it has a few differences from a typical blog which make it great for classroom use.

Similar to most blogs, it has a variety of different templates to choose from for its overall appearance. You can also add widgets and create new pages.

However, in Posterous you do not have to log in to post on your page. This is what makes it ideal for me to use with my ancient and sad computer. One of the most important differences for teachers is that the creator of a Posterous page can invite other individuals to contribute to the blog.

These contributors don’t have to be able to log in and see the back office of the blog. Outside contributors simply share their thoughts and add blog posts by sending an email from their registered email account (the one the blog creator has added as a contributor) and the post is added to the blog as an individual blog post.

This would be a great application for teachers doing novel studies. When a student begins a novel, he or she can be added as an email contributor and post into the discussion. When the student is done the book, his or her email address can be removed as a contributor (and added to the Posterous page for the next novel that he or she will be reading). This would stop people from outside the discussion from posting and also doesn’t force the teacher to give the log in information to students.

Posterous is one that I need to tell the blog-loving teachers in my school about!

And here is my post from last week – on my new Posterous site. The Useful Websites page in “Sites I Like” has many new websites that I haven’t yet covered on my WordPress blog.

Halloween Window Display

28 Oct

It was my first window painting experience. At the beginning of the year I advertised for a group of students who would like to produce some displays throughout the year. For Halloween, the design team and I spent a few hours putting up this Halloween display. It was great because they came up with the design and I just helped with the manual labour. It was a lot of work but it draws students’ attention and helps to make the library relevant to the rest of the school.

Weekend Website

24 Oct

I am involved with a specialist group of teachers who serve intermediate teachers. For our professional development day I had to help run a conference and didn’t get any professional development of my own. To try to remedy that I have been voraciously reading journal articles online, especially in the area of the internet and the library.

During my research I came across School Library Monthly’s blog and, after seeing this, I’m afraid that my husband may have some competition for my time.

This site is a wealth of information and resources. It has quite a few entries on technology in the library and links to many helpful websites. The visuals of the blog are engaging and vibrant and the organization of the site makes it incredibly user-friendly. The archives are all listed and none of the articles are time-wasters. They are organized by date and also by topic.

I really like that the current entries seem to coincide with things that teachers have been asking me about lately. This shows me that my teachers are up-to-date but also that we are on the right track with new technology initiatives. It is also helpful that I have found this resource because now I can use this blog as my cheat sheet and look like I know all of the answers!

I dream of a beautiful library

20 Oct

This post is dedicated to all librarians-who-wish-that-they-were-interior-designers. Drooling is allowed.

I have spent many hours over the past few days looking at library design. I may have to plan a trip to Amsterdam to see the new Netherlands branch library.

Apparently, the number of users in the month after it opened increased 5%. I wonder what the increase in the number of international visitors was. The whole goal of the library was to be more of a bookstore than a traditional library. It has shelving that displays the front covers of the books, comfortable sitting areas and a colourful, modern design.

I have linked this stunning catalogue desk before but I can’t get it out of my mind so here it is again. It was created with old books when a new library was built at the Technology University in Delft (interestingly enough, also in Amsterdam).

This bookshelf caught my eye and I’m sure it would make students stop to take a second look.

If I find myself with some time on my hands, I will look into making one of these. I could fill it with a selection of books that make you look at an issue differently.

The previous two library decorating ideas may be far off dreams, but I have plans to make this next one a reality. I have mentioned before that I love the alphabet as a decorating tool and this is the best way to use it as a functional decorating tool…as an alphabet bookshelf!

Joanne’s Crafts (in the country of our cousins to the south) has a selection of large 3D cardboard letters. They are intended to be painted or papered or decorated in some other creative way. If I was to paint these out and attach them together (using my father’s expertise as an engineer) they could be a stunning way to display books that I want to highlight. It would be ideal because I could design it to have the books facing with the cover out (as we all know that the likelihood of choosing a book if you can see the cover goes way up).

Sometimes I just like to dream.

Weekend Website

17 Oct

Ooh and ahh. I love books. I especially love books when I am the first one to read them. That’s sick, I know, but I just can’t help it. It hurts me a little inside to pass on this website because it might impair my ability to be the first to have seen a new up and coming book but I am willing to make this sacrifice.


I should just end my post there to entice you to check it out… but I can’t help but gab a bit about how exciting it is.

The page iteslf if very attractive with a rotating shelf of books to entice the viewer. Librarians can sign up to read books before their release date and, in some cases, even before their publication date! You can choose the types of books that you are most interested in and be a casual reader or sign up as a book reviewer for publishers. Since we all have oodles of free time, I know we will all be signing up for that. NetGalley is a good way for librarians to be tuned to the new and upcoming books.