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