Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool library website

I am always on the look out for great library websites to inspire me. Here is one I stumbled upon while looking for book coverart. ACPL Teens. I will definitely be going back to this website as I start updating my own library page for the coming school year.

Stakle anyone?

Stackle is a Jenga-style physics game where you have to remove blocks from the structure and place them on top without causing it to collapse

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This is another audio book I listed to with my daughter. She saw the movie first and just had to read the book. Since it was not available at out local libraries I ended up purchasing it at as an instant download. It was a great investment because my daughter was so excited about starting right away on it.

Although some might find the storyline dark, my daughter and I really enjoyed getting lost in the fantasy of it. In this story, Coraline is living a humdrum life. She has just moved into a new house, her parents are constantly too busy for her, and she loves to explore. When she finds a secret door, she follows a path that takes her to another reality. In this world, her other mother and father are perfect. They cook yummy food, play games with her, and give her lots of attention. But, everything is not as it appears to be. Before long, Coraline wants to go home but she is trapped in this alternate reality. How will she escape?

This book reminded me of another book by Neil Gaiman that I read recently called the Graveyard Book. If you liked Coraline you might like this one as well.

Ivy + Bean and the Ghost that had to go

I enjoyed listening to this audio book with my daughter Haille. After reading Ivy + Bean on her own, we decided to listen to book two in the car together. You can check it out on audio at the Pharr Library.

Ivy is an imaginative student who is always getting in trouble in class for talking too much or being off task. But she doesn't mean to cause trouble...HONEST. Bean is her bestfriend...who usually just goes along with what Ivy suggests. When Ivy decides that a Ghost has started to haunt the girls bathroom, pretty soon the whole school knows about it. No one want to go to the bathroom anymore, even the teachers start to suspect something. Ivy + Bean decide to create a potion to banish the ghost forever... the problem is that the bathroom is being watched by the teachers...not to mention the fact that the ghost might get them first. Will they survive?

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

After reading Ender's Game I really got hooked on the Enders series of books. However, although I highly enjoyed this book, I don't think it is appropriate for elementary students.

This book takes place 3,000 years after Ender and his sister leave Earth and travel around the universe. Because of their time in space they age much slower than normal and the story begins when Ender is about in his 30s. He goes by Andrew (his birth name) and he is an official Speaker for the Dead. His job in society is to travel around to different planets and speak for the dead after they have passed. The goal is to clear up any confusion about the departed person and set things right. When he gets an urgent message to preform this ritual for a planet that has the only known alien race coexisting on it...Ender sets out right away. His hope is to get to know this new race nicknamed the Piggies.

This race turns out to be very intelligent and interesting. I found myself immersed in the storyline long after it ended. Ender and his sister became tangible to me...and the Piggies...I found myself also wanting to know them better.

Highly recommend for 8th grade and up!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Well...I have been meaning to write this up for a while now. I finished book 2 in the Harry Potter series about a month ago! But during the summer it is easy to allow time to get away from you.

First of all I must note that I did listen to this as an audio book. I have found this is extremely convenient for me...since I am a busy body. I can multitask and listen while I wash clothes or cook.
In book two, Harry is back at Hogwarts although the year starts out rather bumpy when he misses the Hogwarts Express and he and Ron must borrow Mr. Weasley's enchanted muggle car and fly there! Also something is not right in the halls of the school. Messages start appearing about the Chamber of Secrets and people are being attacked! Will Hermonie, Ron and Harry figure out the clues fast enough?
Be sure to check out Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to find out...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Based on the recommendation of my wonderful principal, I borrowed Ender's Game in audio to read this summer. I have found that I really like to listed to audio books. When I first took young adult literature at Sam Houston State University and Dr. Lesesne recommended that we ourselves should use audio books and promote them with our students, I thought why...reading it yourself is always superior! I have to say it is a whole new experience listening to it.
Ender's Game was based on a novella the author wrote in 1977! It is a fast paced sci-fi book. Set in the future, where families are only allotted two children, Ender is a 3rd. He was commissioned by the government to work as a space invader. Since an early age he wore a devise that monitored his every movement. The government watched all the time in hopes that he might really be the ONE who would save the world. Aliens had invaded many years before Ender's birth and he was specifically born to fight this species of aliens when they return. The only problem one asked Ender what he'd like to do. He is isolated since no one at school wants to associate with a 3rd. His brother hates him because he is so special and when no one is looking he tortures Ender with mind games and abuse. I really enjoyed this book, although I don't know that I would recommend it for an elementary school. There are some bad words used and some inappropriate scenes. If you are in middle school/ high school this book would be better suited for you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lower Rio Grande Valley Collection- UTPA Library

At UTPA one of the special collections is the Lower Rio Grande Valley Collection. This collection is held on the first floor to the left of the circulation area. Materials included in the collection pertain to all areas from Laredo to Rio Grande City. The nothern most Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila are also represented in the collection. There is a serials collection of newspapers and magazine produced in these regions. A complete listing of these serials is located online. Titles are available in both English and Spanish.

In addition there is a Chicano collection that focuses on the Chicano movement. Also there is a map collection of South Texas and Northern Mexico. One feature I find neat are the oral histories recorded by locals. What a neat way to preserve your heritage! Vertical reference files are available with local materials. Genealogy resources on local family history is present as well. The room is decorated with artifacts and artwork from this region.

I think this room would be very useful to an author writing a book about the area or a person with a special interest in the area's history. I think it is a very useful feature of the library.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Audio

I feel like I might be the last librarian on the face of the planet who has not read a single Harry Potter book. I don't know what took me so long. I did try when it first came out, I swear I did. Maybe it wasn't the right point in my life to read it. It just didn't hold my attention back then. This time however, I really fell in love with the series.

I decided to listen to the audio for a few reasons. It came high recommended to me by Professor Nana (Dr. Lesesne.) And we all know she definitely knows what she's talking about when she says a book or audio is good. Some things I loved about this audio version was the many different voices the narrator uses for the different character. Even though he is a man it was very believable when he played female characters. I liked the faced pace feel of this book. However, I started out listening with my daughter who will be in third grade and it was too fast for her. Perhaps that is still okay, since this book is actually at a fifth grade reading level. I went right away on got book 2 on audio and and I will be sure to review it here as well.

I'm enjoying my summer. I love pleasure reading/ listening. I am also enjoying being crafty and a little traveling with my family. How are you spending your summer?

Friday, June 26, 2009

University of Texas Pan American- 6/24

I was able to visit UTPA (my alma mater) on Wednesday 6/24. Things sure have changed since I graduated in 2000! The library has since expanded quite a bit. I did not get a tour, instead I did my own research ahead of time and just wandered around taking it all in. According to their webpage, "the collection consists of more than 417,300 volumes, 21,500 government documents, 5,300 audiovisual materials, and 2,035 annual periodical title subscriptions."

The library lobby is very large and spacious. Students can walk through it without actually accessing the library. This makes it more convenient than walking around the library to reach your class. There are many snack items for sale in the lobby. Also there are many display cases with student work. Seating is staggered around the room.

The first floor has theft prevention devices that you walk through on the way in and out. There is a circulation desk for assistance. In addition, there are popular new books displayed here. Back behind the circulation area, there are library instructional classrooms. This is where librarians conduct classes on how to research, etc. Among other things, there is also a writing lab where students can seek assistance with research writing. Down the back hallway is an art gallery of student work and outside contributors.

The second floor consists of research materials including print journals, government documents, reference books, research and internet computers. The reference desk is located here as well as administration. Dispersed throughout are study carrels as well as small group study rooms. There are seventy five computers available for research located right beside the reference desk. Call numbers A-L are located in the stacks on this floor.

The third floor holds audio visual materials as well as reserve materials on hold for students in particular classes. Microform readers, microfiche are located on this floor as well as a help desk. The general fiction book collection is located here and classified according to LOC. There is a large lounge area on this floor. Call numbers M-Z are located in the stacks on this floor.

The fourth floor has a brand new media lab with state of the art technology. Bound periodicals are located here, as well as oversized items, and the juvenille collection. Group study rooms as well as individual study carrels are available on this floor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

George Bush Presidential Library 6/15/09

When I came to this library, I really didn't know what to think. I thought that a presidential library was just a library funded by a president. I figured it would have displays about the president...maybe a museum about him. But...I really believed that this library would have stacks of books for checkout or research....SHOCKER! It didn't have books for check out!

I had the pleasure of getting a "special" tour from Zachary Roberts, archives Technician at the George Bush Presidential Library. We went through a special entrance to view the research area. Mr. Roberts was very informative. In fact, it was a little hard for me to keep up with all the great information he was giving me. Once we arrived at the second floor, he showed me their "clean" research room. He said what this means is that no purses, backpacks, food or drinks allowed. One technician is always on staff to supervise. Patrons must make appointments and be escorted in. I asked Mr. Roberts how patrons go about finding the materials they need at the library and he broke down the steps for me:
1. Patron calls and requests materials to be gathered (usually this can be accomplished within 30min to 1 hour.)
2. Patron views the materials in the research room under the supervision of technicians.
3. There is a separate room for lunch, if a patron plans to be at the library for many hours.
4. No photos allowed.
5. Technicians ensure security of the documents.

Next we went to see the main stacks (also on the second floor.) As I walked in, I was shocked...the shelves were filled with boxes and boxes and books. Mr. Roberts informed me that this library has about 50 million pages of materials from George Bush's presidency. I noticed two types of boxes on the shelves. One was the traditional brown shipping box, labeled with marker. The other type of box was gray and looked kind of like magazine boxes with a typed up label of the contents. The brown boxes were unprocessed, while the gray boxes are processed. According to Mr. Roberts, only 15% of the collection is processed. Each processed box has a code. For example. FI= Finance and BB= Barbara Bush. Besides having a main identification code such as FI or BB, each box also has a unique identifier and then a code is attached to each document inside the box to facilitate location at a later time. Mr. Roberts' job duties are as follows- rotate on phone reference and work on classifying materials. In order to classify each document an archivist must sit and read each document and determine whether it meets all guidelines in order to be made public. If it is private/ personal or a national security risk then those items are sent to a clearing house to determine whether it can be made public or marked classified. Once a box of items is classified, it must be labeled and imputted into the database. Finally it is ready for research.

This library has approximately 35 staff members on duty each day, 12 of which are archival, 4 research technicians, and 4 AV/ Media personnel. Something I didn't realize is that this library was a federal library. Also records for a presidential library are not released until five years after the presidency has concluded.

I was not taken to the third floor however, Mr. Roberts told me about the collection there. This floor is dedicated to 3-D items the president may have received as gifts during his presidency. At the end of a president's term, he may choose to purchase the gifts given to him at market value or allow the library to store and display these items. The museum does their best to rotate these items into the museum collection.

Friday, June 19, 2009

George Bush Museum Tour 6/15/09

On Monday, June 15th my family and I went to the George Bush Library in College Station. First we went through the museum exhibits. The museum was much larger than I had anticipated. In fact, to be quite honest I really thought the museum would be small and most of the building I would be seeing would be a library. I truly learned a lot by visiting this establishment.

The museum was presented in chronological order. We picked up an audio wand to listen to information while walking through the museum. While this was useful, we found ourselves putting it aside and immersing ourselves at our own pace. The first display includes a presidential limousine and other symbols representing the presidency. Scrapbooks of the Bush Family were also displayed throughout the museum. There is a WWII section with a restored 1944 TBM Avenger. I thought it was neat to see a replica of Barbara's wedding gown and some quotes about George's love for her.

One standout in the museum is the 30 foot tall replica of the Capitol dome which features campaign advertisements and articles. Our family took a picture in a replica of the Oval Office. How neat is that?

The literacy lounge is a resting stop during the museum tour. It is a room filled with sunlight, comfy seating and plenty of children's books. On the TV screen, you can see George and Laura acting goofy. There is a child-size White House playhouse that the kids can play around in.

On the way out, visitors can get a "personalized" letter from the president. You type in your name and whether you want a letter from Barbara or George. Then you choose a question you would like answered.

Riverwalk Waterfall

Destination Relaxation- San Antonio Style 6/14/09

I have been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really enjoyed the first section about eating and living it up in Italy. While in San Antonio we stayed at La Mansion Del Rio (Omni Hotel). It was such a nice luxurious hotel stay. One morning I was lucky enough to wake up before my family and I went out to the River Walk and enjoyed breakfast on my own. I walked from my hotel to Starbucks and ordered a tray of fruit and cheeses.

It was............PHENOMENAL. I sat by the water in the shade and ate brie and apples, cheddar and Asiago with crackers. Chai Tea Latte. YUM! It was so nice. I sat close enough to a man made waterfall to enjoy the peaceful sounds while I ate. I don't know if I would have thought about how nice a breakfast on my own could be if I hadn't been reading this book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

San Antonio Central Library Mix Book 6/12/09

For the photo book below I used MixBook. It is a really easy webtool for creating virtual "coffee table" books (and you can choose to pay to have an actual book created of your images as well.)

Using Tabblo to Feature Your Pictures

Click on the image below to see full size. You can also click on each individual picture once you go to the Tabblo site. Tabblo is fun and easy to use with WYSIWYG technology (what you see is what you get.)

Tabblo: IMAS 6/9/09

We arrived at the museum on 6/9/09 at about 10am. My daughter Haille (8), was excited to spend some alone time with me.
... See my Tabblo>

Pedro Meyer, Photographer

My favorite part of the museum was the collection of photographs by Pedro Meyer entitled Heresies. This was the only portion of the museum I was not allowed to take pictures of. I looked online at Meyer's website for some background on him. Meyer's artwork is known for pushing the limits between reality and fiction. As I observed his photographs, I noticed some added element that did not belong in each. It made looking at the photographs very interesting for me. I made it a sort of game to determine what was out of place and why the artist chose to add that element. The collection was titled Heresies for exactly this reason- each image is both true and untrue. After researching him on his website, I was led to ZoneZero, a collection of his artwork online (along with other artists). I especially liked his Self-Portraits collection that is on the Zone Zero website. It has background music and a little background information. I liked the way his shadow is used as his self portrait in one section of the collection. He shoots pictures of his shadow at different angles, different lighting, different locations. It was really quite splendid. I wanted to include a picture of him or his work here, but I didn't have any copyright free photos of him to use.

IMAS Exhibits

Besides Grossology, there were some other interesting exhibits on display at the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen. Paul Valdez's Fragments (left) was a neat collage of signage from both Mexico and the United States. Valdez is an instructor at the University of Texas Pan American. According to his statement, he wanted to "capture the feel of the border." It took him three years to paint the images in this display of 450 pieces.

Another exhibit was Ancient Egypt: The Quest for Eternal Life from the private collection of Giovanni Amin. On display were replications of relief panels (right), sarcophagus, and death mask. The sarcophagus (below) was very large (full size I believe.) It was really neat to see these items closeup.

In addition, there was ICONS Stained Glass Windows which originated from St. Paul's Church in Albany, New York dating back to 1914. The room where these windows are on display has been recreated to look like a chapel. The room is dimmed and each window is illunimated from behind. In the center is a bench that resembles a church pew. The room is calm and relaxing. We spent a while here admiring the details in each stained glass window.

Uploading Videos

When I started the post about IMAS I thought, well it should be easy to upload a video with my Flipcam...and it was...Sort Of. In total, I wanted to make a video of all the clips from Grossology which came out to about 8 1/2 minutes. I created the video but it ended up being more than 300mb. This was too big to upload on Blogger. So I thought well let me try OneTrueMedia... I've used it before and been pleased with the final product. Unfortunately, it kept giving me an error message for the file upload. SO then I thought, well TeacherTube would is certainly educational. However, it too has a file size limit of 100MB. So I ended up having to re-do the video into three short clips of under 100MB. Maybe there is a way to compress the full length video, but I was not sure how to do that. Since the focus was on the exhibit and not how to compress a video I decided to just go ahead and post here as three clips. They can be viewed in any order.

McAllen International Museum 6/9/09

On Tuesday, my daughter Haille and I visited the McAllen International Museum of Arts and Sciences (IMAS). We had a great time spending the morning together at the museum. We started out by exploring their special exhibit called Grossology (or the science of the body.) I had been here once before on a field trip, but I didn't get a chance to fully enjoy the exhibits since I was so busy keeping an eye on the students and taking pictures for the website. I had the chance to take some footage using my FlipCam at the museum. Since all the features of the exhibit were interactive the FlipCam really captured the exhibit better than merely taking pictures. (Although I did do both.)

Preparing for my trip to San Antonio

Last week on Monday, I called Central Library in Downtown San Antonio to schedule a tour. The person I spoke to was very helpful and scheduled me for 3pm on Friday, June 12th. I searched the web for some background information about this San Antonio library. On their homepage, I noticed the interesting architecture and bright colors. According to their site, the design and colors of the library have "changed the face of downtown." It was designed by Ricardo Legorreta an architect from Mexico. He is well known for bright colors and geometric shapes. This library was built through the funding of a bond issue in with construction beginning in 1993. The doors opened to the public in 1995.

The library has a few special features including the Blue Room created by Stephen Antonakos. This room marks the entrance to the library was designed to have a calming effect on patrons as they enter the library. Another feature is a mural created by Jesse Trevino. The 36 foot long mural he created for the library is a collage of images from San Antonio during World War II.

Interesting points to note- this library is more than twice the size of the former main library. It has six floors above ground on one floor below ground. Its seating capacity is 1,300.

I look forward to arriving at the library on Friday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/3/09 Liberty Middle School Library

On 6/3/09 I met with Mrs. Dee Lopez, librarian at Liberty Middle School in Pharr, TX. This school was a huge change from Ramirez Elementary. Liberty has only been open about seven years. It is state of the art in many ways. It services 1,502 students and has 16,221 books and 1,000AV items. As I walked into the library, I immediately noticed the theft prevention devices at the door. I think this is essential for a secondary library. The circulation desk greets you next. I really like that it is spacious enough to accommodate three people but not so big that it takes up too much room. It has a drop box right as you enter.

Right in front of the circulation desk there is a computer station with 16 student computers for reference and testing and in separate kiosks there are two computers dedicated for OPAC usage.

There are also two leisure areas on either side of the computer area with couches. In the far corners of the library there are quiet areas for independent study. I really like the shelving in the library. Sections of shelving fan out around the library to feature particular areas/ genres. On top of the shelves, there are neat displays of books by series or topic. In the center of the library there are two separate class areas. Each section has eight tables with four chairs each.

This library has two librarians and one aide. This type of seating allows the library accommodate two classes at a time if desired. Each librarian has a private office. In addition, there is a large AV room, where VHS, DVD, Audiobooks and checkout equipment are stored. There is also a workroom, with a copier, tables, refrigerator, and restroom.

It was interesting for me to see the difference between elementary and secondary libraries. I really like the layout and features of this library. My only concern is I don't see much that looks "geared for teenagers." Since the goal should be to get teens to love coming to the library, it should have some finishing touches such as posters, art, decoration, student work, that teens would enjoy.

6/1/09 Ramirez Elementary

On June 1st, I was able to meet with Lizet Valenciana, librarian at Ramirez Elementary in Pharr. Ramirez Elementary is an older campus (at least 15 years old.) The library is located in a separate building apart from the classrooms. As I walked into the library I immediately noticed it was quite small. The circulation desk was rather large, it took up about 1/4 of the room. The second thing I noticed was that there were not very many books on the shelves. I knew that this school was a recipent of a grant to purchase additional books for the 2008-2009 school year. In total, they received approximately $30,000 which was spent on books, computers, staffing, etc. I did not realize how little books their campus must have had before the grant. The librarian informed me that the goal of the grant was to raise the average age of the collection. Previously it had been in the 1970's. This year she weeded over 700 books from the collection in an effort to make it more current.

During my interview of Mrs. Valenciana, I found out that her school enrollment in 720 students. She has 36 classes which meet on a fixed schedule. She is in rotation with PE and Music for grades 3-5. She says she does not like this schedule and she is asking her principal to take her off of rotation. In total she has 8,149 books in her collection and 519 AV items. The library has very limited seating. Six small tables are arranged in the center of the library with four chairs each for a total of 24 seats. Towards the back of the library is a computer station with ten computers (some of which were purchased with the grant.) I had to take into consideration that this was during inventory time, so there were not many displays or decorations in the library.

I was curious about how books were shelved and labeled in the library. Mrs. Valenciana stated that all books have a yellow label with a number on it. This number signifies the grade level. The only problem, she says, is that some of these labels are hand written. She is working to replace all handwritten labels with typed professional labels. Mrs. Valenciana mentioned that she had literacy nights once per week during which the library was open until 5pm. She said that sometimes these events did not draw a very large crowd.

I think it is important to visit other libraries within my district to inspire me to try new ideas in my own library. It is also a good way to network with other librarians.

Online Scrapbooking with Smilebox

This summer I am taking a travel class, during which I will be traveling around the state of Texas visiting libraries and reflecting on the experience. I am trying out this new tool called Smilebox as a means of sharing my experiences. Please let me know what you think. The version below is the free one, so there are ads. You can also pay per scrapbook or pay a monthly fee for ads free scrapbooking.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: PSJA Libraries
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster

One of my goals this summer (besides spring cleaning, visiting libraries across the state of Texas and crocheting a baby blanket for a dear friend) is to read all the books on the Texas Bluebonnet Award list for the coming school year.

This is the funny of tale of a small worm who grew to be the Loch Ness monster. It all started when Katerina-Elizabeth is sailing aboard a ship and cannot stand the oatmeal she is given. So what else could she do, but throw it over board? It turned out that a tiny worm found the oatmeal she tossed over the side of the ship and gobbled it all up. It was so yummy to the worm that it started to following the ship throughout its journey. All the while the tiny worm grew and grew and GREW. What happens when Katerina's ship docks? Will the worm be all alone? Be sure to read The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster to find out.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting people hooked on the library

I was browsing around tonight on Twitter. Checking out Cathyjo's twitter page and stumbled across Buffy Hamilton. She had a link to this video advertising a library re-opening. I could see myself creating something similar about coming to the school library again at the start of the school year. To make the library feel like a fun place, because it should be. To get kids revved up about what there is to offer.

A Neat Video about 21st Century Learners

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inventory - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
It is my first time conducting inventory and I am please it is going well. Right now it took me about 3 days to have about 5,000 books inventoried. I have about 7,000 to go. As I go through the shelves I am pulling out books that I plan to weed. Our shelves are very full and I think we will need more shelves soon. I moved all the books to the left and filled up an entire additional three shelf bookcase. Back in December I asked for additional shelving but I was told I could not have any at that time. Maybe after seeing how full our shelves are we might be able to purchase some with the coming school year' budget.

I will be working eight more school days and then summer vacation begins! I have some organizational tasks I plan to attend to. I need to add all the new book sets, videos and audio books to the print list. In fact, I will probably retype them all because I was unable to find the previous list on my computer. I also have an assortment of books that belong in the book set boxes that are pending. I need to figure out which belong where and which need to go in the "prizes" box.

I had a really awesome first year in the library. I am so pleased with my decision to become a librarian. I think it is a really good fit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Podcasting 101

Well I have officially created four podcasts. And I must admit that once I got the kinks worked out it was not as hard as I thought it would be. In fact it is pretty easy! I am using podbean to host my podcasts, but I just figured out how to use my school website to host my podcasts as well. The only bad news is it can be a little challenging for visitors to the site to find my podcasts on the school page.

Today I had a student create a podcast. It was pretty simple process. I created a template for her to use as a script. Once she wrote out what she wanted to say, we were able to record her in about five minutes. Then I sent her back to class and went to work mixing in the music at the beginning and end of the track. I have been using to find royalty free music. Then I mix it in and finalize it.

I will be creating a tip sheet soon for those of you interested in creating your own podcast. My best advice is to try a few on your own first, so you can feel confident when you're working with the students.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Embedding my podcasts

I'm officially podcasting!!!

Here is my podbean account. I still need to learn how to embed this. Hopefully the next post will have my podcast embedded into it.

I must say...I put off podcasting for a while. I was intimidated by it, but once I had the right tools it was pretty easy.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good microphone. Don't believe me? Just listen to my 1st podcast vs my 2nd podcast. The 2nd one is much better. All it too was an $8 standup microphone from Target. Who knew? The 1st podcast was done with a cheapie headset microphone. I can't keep from making popping sounds with the mike so close and the quality was just rinky dink.

Free Webpage Development Options

I have been trying out both Google Sites and Webs for my technology class at Sam Houston State University. I thought I would write up a little review.

Just a note: both webpage developing sites are free, although the free version of Webs has advertisements.

Google Sites
First take a look at what my Google Sites webpage looks like.
Google Sites is easy to use for basic webpage development. It has a few themes/ layouts for your pages. This is a draw back for me. Since I really didn't LOVE any of the layouts. To edit a page you simply click edit page and begin typing just like in MS Word. I have encountered problems every time I try to embed HTML code. I am not a super tech. I don't know a lot about HTML. But I want to be able to copy the code from a variety of websites so that I can add slideshows, images, videos, etc. With, Google Sites, I am given an error about some of the content being blocked and then the HTML code is removed from the post. After tinkering and searching online for how to go around this, I finally was able to embed one thing...a counter for the homepage. The way I did this was I had to remove parts of the code and keep trying until I removed "the blocked scripts" and was allowed to embed it. It was not easy or convenient. It was FRUSTRATING. I plan to make a tip sheet for how to get around the blocks in Google Sites and I'll post it here when it is ready.

Final word= good for beginners, but a little frustrating if you want to add some "Frills" to your site. B

Here is my webs account.
I really like the themes and professional look of Webs. I do not like the advertisements. However, you can subscribe to have those removed. Editing the page is as simple as Google sites. You simple type in the box. Embedding HTML code is very easy. I have not had any problems adding items to my site. In addition, Webs offers different layouts for page types. You can choose a videos page, photo album, links page, or just a standard page. There are even more options with Webs.

Final word= great for beginners- intermediate tech users. A- only for the advertisements on the free account.

What do you think? Google Sites or Webs?

Regional Technology Conference

I recently had the chance to present at the Regional Technology Conference for Educators at South Padre Island.

If you have never been to "the island," as we natives call it, you're really missing out.

Here it is pictured at left. (I did not take this picture myself.)
For the conference, my topic was Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom or Library. I had a full house both times and some really positive feedback from the participants. Overall, I was very pleased with it. I presented my information as a webpage. Here is the link. I will continue to update this webpage with more useful 2.0 information for educators. In fact, I am currently working on a podcasting basics section. More on that later.

If you have a chance check out my webpage on Web 2.0 and tell me what you think!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm Twittering!

Well, last week I decided to go ahead and jump on the Twitter Bandwagon! Although to me it is a lot like a chatroom, I figure if Joyce Valenza's doing is something I should check out.
Here is my link:

Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

In this installment of the House of Night Series, Zoey has just escaped Kalona and the Raven Mockers. She and her friends are hiding in the tunnels with the Red Fledglings. Neferet has become evil and is a powerful enemy. Zoey and Eric seemed to be making up just as Heath arrives again! And when Zoey is seriously injured she must drink from Heath and their Imprint is reestablished. Not to mention, Kalona has been stalking Zoey in her dreams and wants her to be his A-ya. That is three guys after Zoey so far and there is still a fourth she encounters that she begins to fall for! I enjoyed the fast pace of this novel.

By the time I reached the end, I half hoped that things would be resolved but I also didn’t want the story to end. Will Zoey remain with Eric? What about her Imprint with Heath? Can she save Stark? Defeat Kalona?

Book Reviews

I am not sure yet how to link my two blogs together. I would love to have my book reviews blog feed directly into this one. I don't want to lose my following on that blog so I guess for now I will just copy each review over to this blog. You can find my other blog at

Oggie Cooder by Sarah Weeks

Oggie Cooder doesn’t mind being different. He does wish he had more friends, but the people in town just can’t accept his weird clothes and odd habits. When he accidentally auditions for Hidden Talents and is chosen to appear on TV everyone in town starts to notice him. It starts out as a blessing. Oggie loves to Charve (Chew and carve- a word he created himself) cheese into sculptures of the states. However, when Donnica becomes his manager, she wants to be famous at all cost. Will Oggie make it all the way to Hollywood? Make sure to check out Sarah Weeks’ novel to find out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TLA Conference

TLA was awesome. And I plan to write all about it. But, it's past my bedtime already.

Check out one of the fun pics I took at the conference. Here I am reading to Darth Vader. Boy I look mad about reading to him...don't I?

I swear it was fun...really it was!

Month of March

Yep! It's been too long. I am finding it hard to keep up with my blog(s) and work and my Master's. But I am back in the saddle and I am trying my best to keep up with weekly entries. I am going to back track some to keep up to date on what has happened from Feb. 22-Apr. 16.

Well, let's's been busy. Actually most of March I was in charge of administering an online test.
March 2-6 (TELPAS Testing)
March 9-13 (Spring Break!!!)
March 16-20 (TELPAS Testing)
March 23-27 (TELPAS Testing)
What all that means is that I was out of the library...

The last week in March I was able to attend the Texas Library Association Conference. It was so much fun...but for now more on that is another post.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Library Makeover 2009

I have been working hard to redecorate my library. Please tell me what you think so far.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Video Editing

Guess what? I went out and bought a flip cam (ultra)! And...I love it. I am not the most technologically advanced person in the world, but this is the simplest device ever for creating videos. I have been playing around with editing a few of my videos.

I used the Muvee editing software that comes with the camera. It was really easy to capture a still image, add music, mix it up, cut out parts. I actually read the reviews on Cnet to decide which model of the flip cam I should buy. If you are thinking about purchasing one I would highly recommend you check out these reviews.

In addition, I am comparing some free online video editing sites. I have been reading some reviews from ExtremeTech about 5 Free Online Video Editing sites. I haven't tried one out yet, but I think I might try One True Media or Jumpcut. I'll let you know what I find out and which I prefer.

My first video conference

Thursday 2/18 I set up my first video conference with the MegaConference Jr. 2009. I can't say everything went smoothly but we survived and made it work. I set up my unit at about 8:15 and I couldn't get it going for some reason. (Remember this was my first attempt at using the unit.) Well after looking at all the connections and making sure everything was plugged in I realized I hadn't turned on the video conferencing unit's main switch. DUH! Well, one thing accomplished. Then the images started streaming in however they were highly pixilated and indistinguishable. Also there was no audio. I called the service providing the stream from the MegaConference and I was assured nothing was wrong on their end. So I called my district Tech department and they came to the rescue. One of our technology integration specialist walked me through a few things and then decided he would come straight over. In the end 3 techs showed up and worked on my connection.

The problem, I was told is that our school runs on a T1 connection and since all the classrooms in the school (about 50) were on the Internet ahead of me by the time I tried to squeeze in there was not enough bandwidth left. But our specialist saved the day, they made calls and slowed down some Internet connections across the school to accomodate the video conference and from there it was pretty much smooth sailing.

It was a realy great learning experience. My favorite part of the conference was watching the world's youngest teacher Adora. Click on the clip below to learn more about her.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Love Your Library Month

Sorry it has been so long. My master's classes and my job are keeping me quite busy. Here's a recap of what's been going on:

February is Love You Library Month
so we are having an art contest in the library where students complete the phrase: "I love my library because..." Then they draw, paint, etc. their reason why. So far I have receive about 5 entries. I can't wait to see all the reasons the students love the library.

Appreciation- Last week one of the parents from my school gave me a potted plant and a really nice compliment. She said something along the lines of, "This is the first year my kids have been really excited about the library. Thank you for that." Wow! That is so great to hear and I hope I am able to continue making the library better and better.

Makeover Library Edition- My assistant and I are working on redecorating the library. I am not sure what it was, but one day I walked into the library and I looks so I thought about some decorations and came up with a plan. I have been taking some pictures and will post some before and afters of our hard work. It is not major changes, just decorative touches.

Technology Inspiration- I finished my Intel Master of Technology class here is the link to the site I created for my final project if you'd like to check it out. It inspired me to start using Flip Video to create some videos for work. I went out and got one yesterday, but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I also got a microphone to use at home and work and plan to start having some of the kids make podcasts where I interview them about their favorite books. I am a little intimidated by Audacity, but I am going to give it a try. I post a link when I have them ready. Back to the Flip, I purchased the Ultra because of the reviews of cNet. I especially liked the software (MUVEE) that is built-in and allows for easy editing and movie mixes.

Library Science Master's Classes- I am taking Library Administration, which and I know this sounds corny, is a lot of fun. I have to create some action plans, floor plans, budgets, etc. I really like this side of library science. For my other class I am taking Computer Science. Yes...I love that one too! I am creating a mock library website, although I think I may use it as my school library homepage after I get it all set up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Intel Master of Technology Certification

I mentioned in a previous post that I am currently working on the Intel Master of Technology Certification. I am more than half way through. Through this course, you learn about pedagogy and implementing technology through project based learning. I am creating a blog to be used for my student project. Please check it out and see what you think.

Here it is:
NSJE Library


Shopping for the library sounds fun...right? Well it is at first. What more could a girl want than to go shopping, I thought. I was given a set amount of money to spend from our district library department back in August. Our deadline was Jan. '09. It was no problem coming up with the list. The problem came when I had to get three quotes for each order! It's time consuming...but I did it.

To my surprise my campus informed me that I will be able to order another large amount of books. I tried to be ahead of the game this time and have my lists ready. So I think I will be able to submit my orders early this coming week. Just a few final touches. I am excited to say that I am working hard to increase our collection to meet Texas Library Standards. We have so much fiction, and while I love it too, I know we need mainly history books. So I am purchasing a tremendous amount of history/ biographies. I can't wait for all the boxes to arrive so I can see all the beautiful covers and put them into the hands of our students!

Pizza Making Field Trip

Wednesday Jan. 14th I took the Top 100 AR students from my campus to Mr. Gattis' Pizza for a pizza making class. It was lots of fun. The kids were great and we got lots of compliments.

In groups of four students took turns pressing a metal ring on the dough to form an outline. Then one spread on sauce. Another put the ring back on and poured a scoop of cheese in the middle. The next student took hold of the metal ring and tray and shook the pan. This spread out the cheese! How cool is that? Finally the last person put on the sausage and shook the pan to spread it out. I had no idea they made pizza that way.

After making their pizzas the kids got to play in the arcade. No couldn't have gone smoother. We even got photographed for the PSJA ISD newspaper!

Vacation came and went!

Well, time definitely flies in the library. When I was a teacher last year (it seems so long ago) I had no idea that librarians were sooooo busy. Let's catch up on what's been going on. It feels like so many things have happened, but would you believe I had to consult my iGoogle Calendar? I went back to work on Jan. 5th and 6th to an inservice. I am participating in the Intel Master of Technology Certification program. It is five full days of inservices during which I have independent reading and homework. So it is keeping me busy, but it is a really neat program...more on that later. Let me give you a run down on my schedule lately:

1/12 Family Time at the Library
1/13 Library classes were canceled
1/14 AR Field Trip (more on that in a later blog)
1/15 Intel inservice
1/16 Tech training for teachers ALL day
1/18 RIF Week starts/ tech training all day
1/19 tech training after school
1/20 set up teacher's document readers
1/23 librarian meeting all day

Needless to say I have definitely felt overwhelmed!