Thursday, December 26, 2013

Unsung Heroes

What is it about theatre that makes one want to watch a show over and over? It's magic, pure magic.  Chances are everyone has seen some type of show whether on a Broadway Stage, Community Theatre or school play. We love how the actors and actresses become someone else. The singing, dancing, and acting stir up a variety of emotions. However behind the scenes are some very important people that aren't given their due. Actors and actresses command the stage, demand attention, and reap the benefits through applause and standing ovations. Behind the scenes are….the others.

Stage Managers: These are the kids who sit next to me and keep me organized. They are willing to jump in at a moment's notice to fill in for a missing actor/actress. They take notes, follow along in the script, practically memorize each and every role, AND basically do whatever is asked of them. These kids need to recognized for their incredible organizational skills. They are intrigal to the actual production and smooth running of the play. Without stage managers complete chaos would reign and probably nothing would be accomplished in a timely manner. In the real world, they will be able to engineer teams of people and accomplish things quickly and efficiently.

Sound and tech: I so admire these kids. They remember where lights are placed, the light cues needed for each and every scene, when the spotlight comes on and, most importantly, off. They remember where props are to be placed and when they are to be taken off stage quickly and quietly.  Manning the sound board and knowing when to cut the mikes takes a lot of concentration and good listening skills. The kids handle and manipulate literally thousands of dollars of equipment with some guidance from adult volunteers. They only meet a handful of times and are competent enough to independently work this expensive equipment during the show with hand signals from me. There is a lot of technology, observation, and concentration going on here that goes un-noticed. These are skills needed in the work force and go unsung many times in theatre.

Stage make-up: These kids work hard at learning how to apply make-up to someone else and consider shading, lights, and character. While we don't do the gory make-up, they do learn about time periods, age, gender, and even face paint for the younger students. They learn to look and examine their work to each individual person and adapt the color scheme they are using. They also create. Some of the best face make-up schemes in our productions have come from students' imaginations after researching (Researching? Yup, they research for stage make-up), and experimenting techniques with each other. This fosters creativity and we are lucky to have some students who excel in this. Real world value? The arts. Some of these kids look at the world differently and see things many of us don't. Their creativity needs to be awarded and valued even if they are hiding backstage.

Costumer and Set/Props: These jobs are mostly done by some wonderful adults who give up precious time to create costumes and sets. Looking good on stage matters and the costumer needs to be able to envision what will work with each actor/actress in combination with each scene. We are extremely lucky to have a wonderful costumer who gives time to our productions. Set/prop manager is occasionally a student with great artistic ability and can draw and paint a nice set for us. This is usually done with the assistance of the art teacher. This year we had another adult volunteer do both of the jobs. It is clearly a detail oriented job that requires one to look at the script and interpret what would work on stage. Again we are lucky to have these people.

The people above are the unsung heroes in my book. Some of the skills they obtain blow my mind and I am so fortunate to have these volunteers who make my job so much easier. Many times we value what we see on the surface, but if we take a closer look behind the curtain, we see that there are hidden skills that make life richer. Hopefully you just learned about those skills and will promote the value of them next time you see a production because in all truthfulness, they just made that cast look darn good!

Happy holidays
The Noisy Librarian

Monday, December 9, 2013

LinkedIn, Blogging, Goodreads, Twitter…….

I teach information literacy so I need to be current on all the cool new tools, techniques, methods, and curriculum ideas. In addition to that, I need to keep my Personal Learning Network (PLN) active and current. How does one do all this? Where is the time? I follow several education gurus and wonder, "How do they keep up with all these tools? Do they sleep? Perhaps they have minions and, if so, where can I get some?" I am in total awe of some of these people and they inspire me to better myself. So what is the solution since I don't seem to have any minions running around my house?

Two or three years ago, I was on the same track to tackle all the platforms  I could to learn more and put my thoughts out there. That ended in one crash and burn of overwhelming "started" but not completed projects. Slow but sure like the tortoise, I am making progress by tackling one tool at a time, feeling comfortable with it, and then moving to the next. Depending on the tool, I try to check in with each one an appropriate amount of times so I don't become overwhelmed.

LinkedIn: I am not proficient but feel comfortable with this network. I use this completely for professional purposes. I "link" (this would be called friending in the Facebook realm) to other professionals to create a unique network that allows the of sharing pertinent information. I don't use this to share what my child has accomplished or the current weather conditions. What will you see on my network? I post hyperlinks from various sources about new and upcoming ed trends, CCSS, tech tools, cool new apps, and how students learn. I like LinkedIn because I can post my thoughts without having to worry about the number of characters I can use. Obviously being succinct is not one of my best qualities. I try and visit LinkedIn weekly to keep up with everything. This is the site I hope professionals would look at to see what I think is important in my field.

Blogging: Well if you are reading this, you know I am an on-again-off again blogger. Sometimes I just don't have time to sit down and write what I feel is a quality blog. Other days, it is difficult to choose what to share. I do love blogging. It allows me to write with voice and feeling. When you blog it is important to "pick" an audience to direct your writing. I am a casual blogger; I like the pedestrian type of writing I can do here. I feel anyone can read my blog, including my students, and come away with something. Of course, my professional style of writing is vastly different and has a different place. One of my goals this year, is to show the students various types of blogs and eventually allow them, in a class, to create an entry on this blog. I feel that we could expose some truly creative minds if they are taught blogging etiquette.

Goodreads: I joined a few years ago in the mad rush to put myself out there and it promptly fell by the wayside. However, I have gone back to it and revamped and am making an effort to post weekly. Goodreads is a book review site. You can friend people to see what they are reading and get the updates when they post something. It is completely book oriented. My posts concern professional reading and children's' books. I tag according to genre and rate and write a short review of what I have read. If you are looking for book recommendations, this is where you want to friend me and watch my shelves. I usually post 2-4 books weekly. To find me look for, "Jill Cd' I hope to see some of you join and peruse the site.

Twitter: Again something I started and dropped. I have been persuaded by numerous people to get back on this horse. So back I went. I find Twitter overwhelming and not my favorite tool. However, I have also found tons of information on projects, curriculum changes, and tech tools all displayed in one place. I am still working on tweeting and learning how manipulate it to my benefit. I do see some value with Twitter and it does allow me to communicate with people that, otherwise, I wouldn't be able too. I'll keep working on this one and if you want to follow me, my handle is "jcd118." Remember you are only allowed 140 characters in each post on Twitter.

All these tools supply me with thoughts, ideas, and information as well as allow me to express mine. They have become part of my PLN and I can learn as much from using these as attending a course. The biggest problem, I find, is the amount of energy, time, and information you are exposed to when you try to perfect them all. As you can see, it has taken me several years to involve myself in just these four tools. My suggestion is choose one, master it, and move to the next. Don't get discouraged; the learning curve can be steep but the benefits are well-worth it. If you need assistance, feel free to contact me through one of the tools listed above and perhaps I can help. If not, I'll link, friend, follow, or tweet, you to someone who can.

Next up; Pintrest. Well, maybe I can save that one for next year….

Happy Holidays and keep reading!
The Noisy Librarian

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Websites-apps and fun learning

I love perusing blogs, articles, magazines, and the Internet for the latest and greatest new sites and apps for education. One of my longtime favorite sites ( and paid apps) is It defines itself as a site that gives, "dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods." Sounds like a geeky math website, but it isn't. I use the site to investigate scientific data, discover fun facts such as what occurred on a certain date, convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, and to compare various famous personalities. It is also good for math questions, formulas, and computations. If you are stuck for an idea, you can always access the examples page and spend hours pouring through the information there. Sounds geeky, but fun.

The other site and FREE app I currently love is the Library of Congress: I use this in classes to demonstrate the importance of primary resources. It is filled with historical photos, films and multi-media. It supplies ample links for a variety of age levels and interests. I love learning about the history of the day, an intriguing science fact, or listening to something from the performing arts link. The photos are interesting and great discussion starters connecting us to the past.

Both sites/apps are easily accessible and the navigation is simple with loads of links and/or ideas. I will be exposing the students to both sites throughout the year but in the meantime feel free to use them yourself. Since we will probably have a few snow days in the near future, instead of letting your kids play video games all day, ask them to find one interesting fact, clip, data analysis, or composition of THEIR choosing off one of these sites to share with you. You might be amazed what they come up with!!

Keep reading,

The Noisy Librarian

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Put your thinking cap on

Critical and deep thinking. How do we get students to do this? Regurgitation of information is great for Trivial Pursuit but what about thinking, relating, and understanding information? I always strive to get kids to THINK about things. How does what I am teaching relate to them? This can be a challenge but one I enjoy trying to manipulate.

For the past few weeks, my fifth/sixth grade students have been comparing Wikipedia to our databases for formal research purposes. I find that when I try and teach them how to evaluate resources I get the automatic nodding heads and "uh huh" probably to appease me. I discovered a few years ago the best way to get kids to understand what  I am saying is to have them figure it out for themselves. So I informed them I was going to give each pair of students a random topic. One of them was going to evaluate Wikipedia and the other was going to use one of the databases. They were going to become teachers. As a class they needed to decide on a concrete grading method. They created a checklist and developed the criteria they were going to use for grading. Once they did this, I typed up their sheets and they were given their topics.

Students warily printed out articles from the sources. Many were nervous at the amount of pages spitting out of the printer. I let them know, for this project, it was important to actually print the articles so they could dissect and share thoughts and results with their partner. The following week students grabbed highlighters and underlined words, sources,  checked multi-media, updated editions and all sorts of things. Noisy conversations were held with colorful articles strewn everywhere. I think it looked like being on the stock market floor during trading time. Deep and critical thinking was happening. Kids were validating their opinions and sharing them.

Presentations were interesting. Only three students in the entire 5/6 grades decided to defend Wikipedia. I felt like I was in a courtroom hearing them validate their thoughts and grades. For the most part, the students reflected on what they had read and how it would work as a resource for a research paper. Collaboration and conversations had happened and were continuing to do so.

The following week I showed them an article I had seen about a sting operation in regards to reliability and journals accepting scientific papers.
We had a discussion regarding the repercussions of the article. Students really began to see the impact and difficulty of recognizing reliable resources. I was asking them to do HARD work, and they knew it! They also rose to the challenge and some good problem solving and out of the box thinking occurred. I will keep hammering away at how we disseminate information and use it. Hopefully, you too, can have some meaningful conversations with your child about how much information we receive and how we can THINK about it in our very fast-paced world.

QW Who wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?

WOW eerie: adj Definition: spooky

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Reading is......

I have been madly reading books to introduce to the students. Recently, I read two books that I really enjoyed. They will be in the library soon for students to take out.

Counting By 7s By Holly Goldberg Sloan: This is a poignant story of an adopted girl that suddenly loses both her parents in a car accident. Willow thinks differently than other kids and that is evident in the beginning of the book. She is facinated with the number 7 and counting by 7 is something that soothes her.  After her parents death, she does not allow herself this luxury. She is a brilliant young girl who doesn't seem to really fit in with others until she meets Mai. Mai takes pity on Willow and tries to help her out. Together the girls trick social services into believing Willow is an old family friend and can live with Mai's family. The story takes unexpected twists and turns when social services wants to come for a home visit.. Delving into odd relationships with a variety of people, Willow learns more about friendship than she could have dreamed of. A wonderful book that weaves in people from almost every ethnic culture without seeming overwhelming. I found this book interesting and it sends a good message. I would recommend it for students in grades 5 and up.

Bo at Ballard Creek By Kirkpatrick Hill: This is one of my new favorite books. The writing style and illustrations reminded me of the Little House books. This is another story that has an adopted child, Bo. The story takes place in an Alaskan gold mining camp during the time of the Gold Rush.  Her mother relinquishes her to the orphanage at birth, but two gold miners step in and adopt her. She lives with them in the cook shack and has a variety of responsibilities, just like Laura in Little House. Bo is too young to attend school so she befriends everyone in and around camp and even goes on dog sled runs with an older Eskimo woman.  She becomes special friends with a little boy who is an orphan, and the friendship develops into a heartwarming tale. The book is full of rich, caring, realistic characters that make you want to read more. I could see this being a good read aloud book that can promote interesting discussions around setting, time period, ethnicity, and friendship. I will definitely be watching for more books from this author.

yen: noun Definition: desire or craving
Who wrote Yertle the Turtle?

The Noisy Librarian

Monday, September 23, 2013

Contest time!

I like contests. I don't enter many, and when I do, I never seem to win. However, I have discovered kids LOVE contests even if the prize is small and cheap. I enjoy using contests as a way to hook students into learning something different and new. Last year I created weekly Wordle contests. A Wordle is a word cloud that auto-generates into a neat mishmash of chosen words in various sizes and colors. My Wordles contained plot, setting, and characters from a certain book and students had to identify the title of the book to win. It was pretty popular and many students played the entire year. It served as a way for me to see if the kids knew some popular books and classics that are referenced later in life. I also got an idea as to their reading habits.

This year, despite the Wordle popularity, I decided to focus on research. I constantly ask students to evaluate the information they receive whether the form is visual, physical, or audio. With so much information streaming at us on a constant basis, it is important to verify sources, know if they are reliable and, if not, how to check that. Although I hammer this at them year round, I feel I could do better, hence a contest! At the entrance to the library I put up a "Question of the Week." Students answer the question AND have to tell me the source. We have gone over, that perhaps, they know the answer due to prior knowledge or looking it up on the web, in a book or just asking a teacher, family member, or friend. Each week I draw 3 names and if they have answered correctly and provided a source that I feel is legitimate ( most kids cannot tell me the temperature of Venus without researching it so answering "prior knowledge" wouldn't apply), they get something from the prize box. In addition to this, I put up a weekly mini poster showing something entertaining or thought provoking having to do with libraries, books, or reading.

We have also continued with word of the week (WOW). This is a great way to introduce new vocabulary words and remind students the purpose of the parts of speech. Students in K-8 are exposed to WOW and the younger students love rolling the new words around on their tongues. Sometimes the pronunciation is quite comical and even I can get tongue tied.

Below are the questions of the week and the WOW's so far. Unfortunately, I cannot show you the weekly mini posters, but if you visit the school feel free to take a glance. Sorry, I am not giving prizes for correct answers off the blog.

Question of the Week: (QW)
What is the largest frog in the United States?
How long is the NH coastline? (There are a couple of acceptable answers. Ask your child why.)
What is the name of the group of islands belonging to NH?

Vague-adj definition: not clear
Compliment- noun definition: expression of praise
Lament-adj definition: to feel or express sorrow or sadness

Keep reading!
The Noisy Librarian

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pecha Kucha....whaaat???

Pecha Kucha? What is that?? Nevermind what it is, how do you pronounce it? Try the Youtube link below.

I learned about this during Library Camp this summer. Yes, hip librarians go to camp during the summer and learn about more than books. Pecha Kucha ( don't feel bad, I had to watch the video 7 times and ignore the non- phonetic spelling to be able to say it), is a style of presentation developed in Japan by some architects. The goal was to make their presentations shorter yet remain informative.  The format is composed of 20 slides, using Power Point, and each slide is displayed for 20 seconds. The speaker has a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to capitivate, educate, and excite the listener using the slides. Examples of Pecha Kucha were held during camp and I immediately begin to think of how I could use this with the students. What a great way to present a topic. This is better than a poster, more dynamic than a regular memorized speech and deals with technology, public speaking, organization,depth of knowledge AND is fun! Not only all that, it hits a lot of the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) that are heading down the pike.

So,  I excitedly showed a  fellow teacher the possibilities of this technique and BAM, we are going to start this with my older students.  I will go over techniques, examine what a good Pecha Kucha looks like, how to begin the process, and design a graphic organizer/check list with the students to make this smoother. There is a lot of visual literacy, research, and organization involved in this large project. Although this will encompass most of the trimester, we are estatic over the endless possibilities this will have for all students. Kids will have to be concise, know the topic in depth, be able to improvise, have fun, and share what they have learned in a known format. What better way to get them ready for the real world than to pilot this? We are very excited and can't wait to see the results. Perhaps with parent and student permission, we can post some of the Pecha Kuchas on the blog. I'll keep you informed.

Do, do, dododo....pecha kucha.....
The Noisy Librarian

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Annnndd..... we're off!

I LOVE going back to school. I deem myself a life long learner and my teachers are my colleagues, the kids, and animals all in various settings. I love learning. Coming back to teach in the fall is rejuvenating. I spend some of my summer in classes and workshops, reading, investigating, and discussing new ideas, thoughts, and trends. Teaching gives me the opportunity to share what I have learned.

The first few weeks are both boring and exciting. It is important to go over basic rules and expectations ( the boring part). Exciting because the kids can't wait to tell me what they have read, where they have gone, and what they have done. I love hearing all about what has gone on in their lives over this seemingly short period of time. In turn I can't wait to tell them about infographs, petcha kucha, the NH award nominees, Google and the "new" research button and automatic citing source, Easybib, and what CCSS (Common Core State Standard) means to them. We discuss the new contest for the year, Word of the Week, writing about our pets from pictures and the possibility of having a super hero day ( which may include mask making in the library). I tell them about my new texting tool that I am sharing (check the newsletter), BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) class,library lunch on Wednesdays,  my website, book whips, and perhaps letting each class take a turn blogging on this very site. We tour the library and examine the new playaways, magazines, NOOKS, movies, citing sources papers, and graphic organizers.

By the time the day is over, I am exhausted. I have spent the day listening to their enthusiastic sharing and have kicked it up a notch with my own. I love it. In my mind, this is what education is about. Next week we'll discuss more books, and how to use the online catalog system which I have revamped and will allow them to review books as well as many other cool features.

Keep reading and if you are stuck and need a good book, well, I have read over 100 during the summer and am sure I can recommend something for you!

Needing sleep...
The Noisy Librarian

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Books and beach towels

Soon to be in the library......
the books, not the beach towel! I just finished reading these and thought I would tempt you with some good reads to convince the kids that the school is worth rentering this fall.. Maybe that's a little far fetched, especially in July, but school supplies have hit the shelves.
Throne of Glass (YA) by Sarah J. Maas
LOVED IT!! Although the fantasy- adventure  genres are appealing to me, the cover screamed of chick lit. Surprisingly, it wasn't! This was a page turner and even though it is a hefty 404 pages, it only took me two beach days to read. The female protagonist, Celaena Sardothien, is one tough cookie. She is a professional assassin banished to the mines for hard labor. Being one of the very few to survive this torteous ordeal, she is pulled from her sentence to compete against other hardened crimals for the title of the King's Champion. Facing, danger, monsters, truly scary beings, and people she ,must rely on but cannot trust, she must win this competition or go back to the mines. Although it was somewhat predictable in places, it kept me engaged and I'll even consider buying the sequel.
Also Known As (YA) by Robin Benway
Another spy book but this time the main role is played by Maggie Silver. Maggie has grown up in a spy family; she is the resident safe cracker. Rather than turn to the dark side, she uses her powers for good. Sadly, Maggie has never known the normal\ life of a kid, UNTIL she gets her new assisgnment in a private school where she must wear a uniform.Maggie needs to save the Collective before someone exposes all the spies, including herself and her family, to the public.  Adventure, danger, and a little bit of romance, this is sure to be a hit with girls wanting a different kind of role model in their books.
Zeus and the Rise of Olympians (3grade and up) by Ryan Foley
Not a lover of graphic novels, but understanding their importance, I thought this book to be well done. The illustrations are good and the characters are not scantily clad (which seems to be the norm in some of these books). The format is perfect and not too busy, at least for me. Kids will read about the story of Zeus and learn a thing or two that they may not have known. I can see this being a big hit with mythology lovers and reluctant readers.
 Grab your beach towel and keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shhh it's summer

It is hot today. Not just summer hot, but pavement searing, warm lake water hot. Not that I am complaining, I love this kind of weather. However, I am in the library where it is cool, quiet, and quite messy. Most people believe schools shut down during the summer, but that couldn't be further from the truth. A lot happens when the kids are gone. It also happens to be the ONLY time this library is quiet. No kids, and no noisy librarian trying to teach and engage. So what am I doing here? Working in the silence. I am pouring through websites and magazines hand picking the books I want displayed when the kids come back. I am writing lesson plans and coordinating author visits. I am secretly downloading apps to play with so I can introduce them to students. I am working on units for other people and grabbing resources for them. I am investigating all the Google "stuff" I learned about at a recent conference and I am gazing at the library wondering if I will have it all cleaned up and ready come fall.

See, it's messy but I know that when push comes to shove at the end of August, I'll be ready for those kids. I'll be armed with books, apps, research tools and new Google lingo to jump start them back into school. 

Until then, I am going to grab a book and head to the beach!
Happy reading everyone,
Jill (AKA The Nosiy Librarian)