Friday, October 19, 2018

Renovation is Nearing Completion, Many Lessons Learned




We are nearly finished with our mini-renovation! Phew. It's been a long road-- it started 5 years ago when a newer colleague came to me and said she really saw my library and wanted to help turn it into a 21st Century space. This led to afterschool meetings with a few other teachers on campus to come up with an outline of what we wanted to accomplish.
First, we simply brainstormed. We just put a bunch of dreams on paper. First, new computers (both Mac and PC) to level the playing field for our kids who are affected by the digital divide by creating tutorials and help them earn their own devices, next we would expand our hours (necessitating additional staffing), free wifi for students to access within a 3-mile radius, and new modern soft seating. We priced it out and figured that $75,000 would help us get there.
Next, I set to work gathering the info needed to write the grant application. I wrote our first draft, shared it with the team. My colleague, Natasha, had several contacts that could help us get this grant request in front of some decision makers of a foundation. After numerous attempts and a re-write, the grant request was approved for 50% with the provision that we find matching funds.
That led to call a with a District administrator, I merely wanted to inquire as to whether we could get the District to match the grant. I figured that there was nothing to lose-- the answer would be no if I didn't ask. To my surprise, the answer was yes.
The District's "Yes" meant great changes to our vision and plan. Whereas Natasha and I were focused on bridging the divide, the administration had other ideas. Instead of the wifi, all new computers, and additional hours and staffing, we would receive a few cross-platform devices, numerous TV screens, a Google Jamboard (which is an awesome device), soft seating, and new tables and chairs. Additionally, we would remove our large circulation desk, and more than a few sections of shelving (along with the books housed there).
So, to make a long story short, we compromised (not really an option not to) and will have to write another grant to get the rest of what we envisioned. But, this next time we will enroll the administration in our vision (it will help that we won't likely experience a change in administration in the very near future). Second, I will better communicate my intentions and plans before I put all the work into it. Plus, I have a plan in case a grant is not immediately successful; it will be a lot of work. But, it will be worth it to see kids with the tools they need to further their skills and provide more career and college options.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Busy times

Crazy Busy Days
Like every other Teacher Librarian I know, it has been crazy busy this fall. I had hoped to blog more but, holy cow, it's been completely impossible this fall! The last 5 months have been so far BEYOND my norm.
Here are just a few things that happened:
  1. The library was renovated in 4 weeks time.
  2. We barcoded 18k textbooks- my administration gave me 3 days of pay...
  3. New Orleans
  4. Omaha for the College World Series (my team won! Go Beavs!!!)
  5. Grandson's birthday- his first
  6. We handled centralized textbooks for the first time in close to 40 years.
  7. Half of our students did NOT attend registration meaning we had soooo many textbooks everywhere, and did I mention that summer school was in the library until August 13?
  8. The renovation that was given 10 days time had no wiggle room for error - the bulk of the furniture didn't come until after the school year was 3 weeks in!
  9. And, and, and... you get the picture. 
We are closing in on the renovation being completed, we still need our circulation desk(!). You can see a few pics on the Instagram account, Valencia Library & Tech Hub (@valencialibrarytech).

CSLA Presentation- 25 Tech Tools for Teaching & Learning
I used Book Creator for my presentation on October 13 (Thanks for the idea, Jane Lofton!), you may access it below. You may also access the sites via this Padlet. I will add a doc there that will have a plain list of the sites and extensions that I spotlighted at CSLA.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Changes, changes, and more changes!

Students de-stress by tackling one of our mini puzzles. (pardon the crummy pic- I took it through my office window). They were just so engrossed, I didn't want to miss it. 

 Change is the Word! 

Change is coming-- but, for the past 14 years, I have enjoyed having our preschool students come in and read, have storytime, and learn to love books and reading. 

 This year started as the last 14 years have begun-- me staring at a mountain of tasks with 3 days to get it all done. But, we all know that the mountain always changes as we make our way through the tasks. As soon as a few things are completed, more is added. Like all of you, we just plug away at it. So, the year started, I was excited to see what a new Principal would bring to the school where I've spent the past 23 years.

Things were humming along, changes were looming and that meant more work. But, all this was good stuff. A colleague and I had written a grant and finally gotten it funded!  Yay! The grant was for $35,000 and $35,000 matching funds from my school district. The district funds were used to purchase additional technology- one of my primary goals was to give our students an opportunity to use various platforms and be more college and career ready. We are developing a badging system and are looking for additional funds to purchase small devices so that students who complete the modules and work as a peer mentor can earn a device of their own.

Our school population is extremely diverse, we are an International Baccalaureate school as well as an AVID demonstration school (one of just 16 in the state of California), and we have every kind of kid in between. The word "diverse" hardly seems to cover our situation. Our IB kids come primarily from the more affluent part of our district and have all the tools they need and more to be successful, but the majority of our students are on free/reduced lunch and struggle financially. They come from hard-working families who are just getting by with multiple jobs and lesser education.

My partner in grant writing, Natasha Ulibarri (French teacher), and I really saw a gap in our programming and thought that by bringing our old Library Media Center to the 21st Century we could serve all our students and help bridge the gap. We are planning to write another grant to make the rest of that happen. With additional funds, we will be able to extend our hours and provide transportation for the students who need it most. They will get additional tech training and leave school with more skills readying themselves for positions that require keyboarding and proficiency with various technology tools and programs.

The plan also called for our students to assist in making the physical changes. The BITA kids came in and helped remove the shelving units to help us save a bunch of "shekels." They were also able to do it so that we will get to re-use the shelves in other spaces in the library and campus.

Now that you know the background, let's get back to the fall when everything was beginning to take shape. We had confirmation that the funds were coming, we shared our tech wishes, and waited for approval. My new Assistant Principal had a different vision for the space-- much, much different. He's a bigger picture guy-- he imagined several screens located around the space, a new/smaller circulation desk (relocated) and about 4500 fewer books in the library. I dreamed of new computers in the lab as well as the new tech center/pairs to provide the varied platform experience. He also wanted all new furnishings! POW! I was completely gobsmacked! That was miles away from what I had considered-- I never thought we would be allowed new furnishings just 9 years after the first mini-renovation (new tables/chairs, lighting, and carpet.) The new design calls for tables and chairs with casters to allow for quick changes of the floorplan for activities. (Below is just one rendering of thousands of possibilities.)

Purge-Fest 2018

So, that's the direction we are traveling. When I first arrived, I was terribly reserved in my weeding. as I'm not deeply steeped in nonfiction-- I know how to use it for research but my first love is and will always be fiction. So, how to go about weeding 4,500 books to make room for the new tech centers? As a veteran Teacher Librarian, I've honed my skills in weeding. I'm fairly ruthless-- if it hasn't checked out in 5 years it's likely going to be set free and re-homed. I had let the nonfiction section slide in many areas, but no more.
I love giving books away-- and let me tell you the students went wild!

The purging didn't end with books, we had many years of stuff to go through to make room. That included the sacred collection of National Geographic magazines. Our collection goes all the way back to 1907 and in the unbound section there were many duplicate issues! I gave away many duplicates to staff, but was left with a closet full of them. I saved the leather-bound years 1907-1953, but had to release the rest.

I also had classroom materials that I had saved through the various times my Teacher Librarian position was at risk. My library also serves as our staff club storage area-- we host a number of events for staff throughout the year and that means food serving utensils, paper goods, decor, and so much more. So, we had a lot to move out of here. 
I didn't get rid of the items at left-- those went into my "treasure box." Some classroom decor and my first and second Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figures. 

Over the years, I've been reducing the equip-ment as things become obsolete (it was just a couple of years ago that AP Spanish was still using battery operated tape recorders). I found and tossed many obsolete tech things in our back room - old manuals and diskettes from Windows 95.
Now, we are down to just a few random things-- I have a funny looking, electric book eraser that looks like it's from the 50's. I cannot bring myself to pitch that one. I even have a box of the erasers that fit into it.

Here's the blank canvas -- next fall it should look much different.
The last change is that our preschool program will be removed from campus and replaced with an education pathway. Students will instead be given the opportunity to work at the closest elementary, and middle school to learn about Teacher Education as a career. Sadly, this means I have just one more storytime with the munchkins. But, I am working on some nearby preschools and seeing if I can have them come in periodically. This age group is so fun to interact with-- those days are my favorites each month. They are so excited and have soooooooo much energy. 

Well, you're caught up now, although there's been so much going on and I didn't even scratch the surface. Check this space for more details and tech tips as I will be going like gangbusters in the coming months. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Wonderful Surprise

This year has been an incredible whirlwind! It might be the craziest year in my career - no easy feat, let me tell you! Between getting a small article in School Library Journal, 7 weeks of jury duty, a new baby on his way to our family (first grandchild), Mock Trial/FBLA challenges, and all the rest filling up my life it is hands-down the weirdest year yet.
Then this happened... I guess I should start with the beginning. Four years ago, I saw a Little Free Library; I was smitten. I simply had to have one. I looked around at plans, nagged my hubby, then had the bright idea to have the kids in our BITA (Building Industry Technology Academy) program build one for me. 
My Little Free Library has been such a bright spot in my life. Neighbors from near and far come by and have told me how much they love it! It has created a wonderful connection where there was once none. I have had letters dropped by, bookmarks, and books (of course). 
One day, we came home to some young kids and they had a red wagon; they had taken it upon themselves to tidy it up and suggest that I add another shelf. The youngest, a 5-year-old suggested that I build another one for little kid's books. 
There was an article in the newspaper which really drove up the numbers of people stopping by to check it out, everyone taking and leaving a book or two. It has been a wonderful experience. 
Most recently, I had to wipe out the collection and begin afresh. With all the rain this year in Southern California the library had sprung a leak and books had mildewed. So, we are rebuilding the collection but will have it ship-shape in no time. 
This week, our Little Free Library won an award! The Orange County Reading Association selected my LFL to win the Celebrate Literacy Award. Isn't that nice? It was such a nice way to end the school year.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Big Excitement and Fall Planning Begins

Off topic - Family Excitement (You can call me Nanny J)
We have our first newborn grandchild, meet Mateo Jesse- if you want to keep up with him, I've been sharing a pic a day using the hashtag #365daysofMateoJesse or #cheeksfordays. Those cheeks, I'm telling you.  For those stat lovers- he was born 6/29, weighing 8 pounds 14 oz, and measuring 21 inches, and a fine set of lungs. He is pictured below with him mom, Ali and me (bottom pic). Exciting times for us all.

Back to work-- 
 I'm sure if you're anything like me, summer is a time to catch up, get a little ahead (ideas/some execution). I've been focused on making new posters and memes for getting books cared for and returned in a timely manner.
I used Imgflip for this one:
Here's the latest

I found some great ones on Pinterest as well from the Library of Congress
Check these out-

Big Project Coming Soon-
Next up, we are changing our circulation system provider, the pain comes for us when we have to check out each book that is currently out. 😁 But I don't mind, the program we've used for years is TERRIBLE! I cannot even begin to explain how bad (another post, another day). 

No more time tonight for playing-- more soon. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Creating Super Readers

     My school is incredibly diverse; it is almost like 3 schools in one. We have a very successful International Baccalaureate program, Valencia Academy (Technology magnet program), and AVID (big time- we were recently named an AVID demonstration school- only 3% of AVID schools receive this designation).   We serve the highest levels to brand new immigrant students and everyone in between. That is what I love about this school; we have so much diversity and we are giving our students a realistic experience of how the world is outside our walls! 
     One of our specialty programs is the on-campus preschool that gives our students the opportunity to earn certification in Early Childhood Education and the ability/experience to go into a preschool and work with children using their skills and experience upon graduation. 
     Now, back to those sweet and funny preschoolers; they are my favorite friends! They come in once each month to read with me and their big "buddies," this year's group has really developed a  deep love of reading. This year they have simply been AMAZING! Every visit is an utter delight! The kids simply L-O-V-E 💗reading! One little girl, Kiara, asks me nearly every time to read more books and longer ones.  One time she asked, "Why do you only read 2 books each time?" Why indeed! So tomorrow, I will be reading 3!.

     We will have our last visit tomorrow and I am surprising them with superhero capes because they are SUPER READERS
Emily Winfield Martin's book, The Wonderful Things You Will Be and Pinterest were my inspiration for this little bit of fun.  I used the plastic sheeting we use for our staff luncheon tables and cut vinyl using my Silhouette to make the capes more special. 
     The link (via Pinterest) from Mrs. Goff's blog, gave me further inspiration. I will be taking pics of the little SuperReaders and posting them on our Valencia Reads bulletin board. Then I will use the photo to create a certificate awarding them the title of Super Reader. 
     I will add more pictures tomorrow as we take over the world as SuperReaders
     Oh boy! That was AWESOME-- so much fun. They were so excited. I wore my own cape and they were so curious and cute! At the end of our three books, I had each one come up and I made a proclamation that each was a SuperReader and then placed the cape over their head. They just thought that was the coolest thing. 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Two-fer Tuesday- 2 Book Reviews and a Book Challenge Update

Like most of you, I'm juggling what seems like a million and one things--house renovation (15 years overdue), craft room purge (ridiculously difficult), library life, my last child moving out, a visiting sister who views me as her personal tech support, a need to work out in direct opposition to what I want to do, and a new grandbaby coming into the world.
Like you, I'm squeezing in some books. Today's offering is double the fun:
The Impossible Fortress, Simon and Schuster, 2017.
I've been listening to this one on audio and it has been great. I'm incredibly fond of all things 80s, well maybe not my crazy poofy, permed hair or some of the ridiculous outfits we wore back then. But, it was the dawn of a new era for me. I was introduced to the world of computers. It was so amazing to be able to type a paper one time and save it instead of having to re-type drafts over and over again. If I go back to the very early 80s and late 70s, I can remember the Commodore 64. Oh man, I wanted one of those sooooooo badly. Perhaps that is why I am loving this book, The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak. The book features Billy (aka Will) Marvin, he's a 14-year-old boy who is part of a trio (Alf and Clark fill out the crew) enthralled with girls, boobs, and getting their hands on the copy of Playboy featuring the letter-turning goddess, Vanna White.
The boys scheme unsuccessfully and are stymied at every turn. Finally, Alf  turns to notorious town bad boy who has a plan. But, they need the security code to the stationer's store this brings us to Mary the stationer's daughter. She and Will share a love for games, coding, and computers. They work together and enter a game design contest.
I won't tell much more as you can discover this gem on your own. I really enjoyed this book-- the teen voice seemed very authentic to me. It took me right back to that awkward stage of questioning myself nearly every second of the day. The characters are multi-dimensional and interesting. There are some downright laugh-out-loud funny moments, some truly cringe-y moments that make you feel just like you did as an uncertain hormonal, pimply-faced teenager. It is a glorious coming of age mashup bringing new love, the 80s, and tech together. This is a worthy effort and I'm happy to have another book to hand to my techy kids and friends.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, Delacorte Press, 2017. 
I eagerly snapped up this ARC at Midwinter Conference in January. I looooove Lockhart's books; her last book, We Were Liars, kept me entertained with all its twists and surprises and ultimately wanting more.
Her latest features Jule, a girl on the run. From what/whom it isn't immediately clear. In fact, not much is clear. Jule is a very unreliable narrator. You never know whether she is telling the truth. But, isn't that what you love about the unreliable narrator?
The book opens with Jule in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in June 2017.
Lockhart unwinds the story bouncing around from place to place and various times. She successfully keeps her readers guessing.
Jule befriends the privileged Imogen (Immie) and slowly inserts herself into Immie's life.
It's got layers upon layers of lies with shades of The Talented Mr. Ripley. E. Lockhart has written another page turner with a narrator that I'm not sure I like. She's broken and bent on being her own superhero. I'm pretty sure I will have to re-read to gain clarity on this one. (Maybe I'll re-read after I finish the 2017 Reading Challenge.)
Update: How is your 2017 Reading Challenge going? Me? I've read 8 books since January! I know there are a lot of book-a-day folks out there, but I'm not one. I'm not counting picture books either, although I did pick up The Secret Pizza Party, (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013) by Rubin and Salmieri-- the same guys who wrote and illustrated Dragons Love Tacos!  So cute!

So far, I've satisfied my Reading Challenge with these books:
#2 A book recommended to me:  A Man Called Ove, by Backman.
#4 Nonfiction title: Hillbilly Elegy, by Vance.
#6 A book published in 2017: Genuine Fraud, by Lockhart.
#12 A novel that deals with diversity: Hidden Figures, by Shetterly.
#18 An audiobook: Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn.
#20 A book I would recommend: Six of Crows, by Bardugo.
#25 A laugh-out-loud/funny book: The Impossible Fortress, by Rekulak.

So, 7 down and 18 to go before January 30, 2018. I'm in good shape.