November 9 – 20 at the Library


The library was busy with research visits the last two weeks. Mr. Holland’s Freshman English classes visited for a mythology project and learned about good resources, bibliography, and note taking, while Ms. Vaughan’s Freshman English classes learned similar skills while doing research on topics related to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I also taught her class a lesson on being “Quotation Savvy.

Digital Citizenship

The last two days before Thanksgiving Break, I taught a two-day digital citizenship lesson to Mr. Davidson’s Health classes. On Day 1, we talked about online safety, etiquette, digital footprint, and respecting intellectual property, roughly following these slides:

Here are some of the thoughts the students shared about what digital citizenship is in Period 0:

Here’s what Period 1 students shared:

For homework, students completed this short activity, which had them searching for themselves on Google, learning about modifying Facebook settings, and sharing something they leaned so far. Here were a few of the comments students shared of what they learned:

“I learned that it is very important to never put anything bad up online because in the future it could possibly be used against you or haunt you. I learned that getting involved in positive online use can benefit your skills and interests on certain topics (ex: blogs). Lastly, I learned that the Internet is very helpful, but should not be taken for granted because anything and everything you use it for can be traced.”

“1) Blogging is a positive source to interact with others and to share your thoughts. 2) If you are not comfortable with the whole world seeing something, don’t post it or make it visible on the Internet. ”

“I learned how to find pictures labeled for reuse. I also learned about copyright and how not to infringe on the rules. I finally learned how to be respectful online.”

On Day 2, the students explored ways they could learn about and share online about topic they care about. They found blogs, Twitter feeds, and copyright-friendly images on their topics, and completed this form:

Books We’re Thankful For

During the week before the break, some of the visitors to the library shared books they are thankful they read:

Books We're Thankful For

International Gaming Day

We also participating in International Gaming Day last week, and a number of students enjoyed playing board games in the library:

Gaming Day


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Sharing with the Science Department

During our Office Hours/Collaboration Time on Wednesday, November 18, I visited with the Science Department faculty and shared some of the options available at the library, including our 3D printers, littleBits, and research databases. I also showed them the free Daqri Elements 4D augmented reality app for exploring chemical elements, which I learned about at the American Association of School Librarians conference. Look for it in the app store!

Here’s the ethanol molecule I printed on our 3D printer to share with the science teachers:

Ethanol Molecule


Maker Fair Featured in La Vista

I was pleased to see our Maker Fair featured in a La Vista article. Thank you, Ellie Shalvarjian! Here’s the link.

Great take-aways from the AASL Conference

My IdeaLab Presentation on Student BloggingFor a couple of years now, my “main” method of note-taking from conferences and other events has been tweeting and favoriting tweets by others attending the same event. Here’s my summary of my experiences and take-aways from last week’s amazing American Association of School Librarians’ conference, told through Twitter compiled with Storify, one of my favorite storytelling tools:


October 12 – 30 at the Library

Library Lessons

We had lots of classes in the library the last three weeks. Here are some of the lessons I taught during visits:

  • Ms. Cabrera’s Senior English Philosophy Seminar students, who started blogging a few weeks ago, came for a lesson on writing good comments for their blogs. Students who blog build skills in all aspects of digital citizenship, and the commenting part of blogging allows them to learn about and practice good online etiquette.
  • Mr. Westerberg’s Freshman English classes began a Mythology project, and learned about finding good sources, and citing sources and note taking using our Easybib subscription tool.
  • Ms. Sieker’s Senior English Literature of the 1980’s class also learned about good sources, citations, and note taking for their 1980’s research project.
  • Ms. Vaughan’s English/Social Studies block class visited for two days to work on a research project analyzing art related to the French Revolution period they are studying in Social Studies. She and I collaborated on lessons on good sources, citations, and note taking using Easybib and Google Classroom. I also visited her class one day to teach a lesson on how to incorporate quotations into papers.
  • Ms. Clarke’s Freshman English classes were in the library for five days this last week working on a mythology research project. She and I collaborated on lessons introducing the students to using Google Classroom, finding good sources, taking notes and citing sources with Easybib, finding copyright-friendly images for their Google Slides, and using Twitter as a vehicle for having their gods and heroes converse. You can read about the assignment on this webquest site.

Library Maker Fair

Halloween Maker Fair

On October 29, we had our first-ever maker fair in the library after school, sponsored by the Geeks Club with help from the Library Club. Everyone had a great time! Attendees got to: 

  Halloween 2015

Google for Education

On Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, I traveled to San Diego to participate as a presenter at the EdTechTeam Google for Education Summit. I presented sessions on “Google Forms: You Can’t Live Without Them” and “Become a Google Images Ninja.” I learn so much while preparing such presentations and interacting with the attendees. I also was able to attend lots of inspiring sessions I can take advantage of at our library and share with our teachers and students.

Staff Collaboration and Professional Development

During our recent office hours/staff collaboration Wednesdays, I have been able to lead several workshops with our staff, including sessions on our new Learn360 streaming video, which is available to both staff and students; Google Classroom; and Google Forms.

Sep 14 – Oct 9 at the MCHS Library

The last four weeks have been jam packed with lessons and other activities at the Mira Costa Library! Here’s a brief summary.

Library Lessons and Projects

Students sharing their slides during Freshman orientations
Students sharing their slides during Freshman orientations

I continued and completed the Freshman Library orientations, teaching lessons for the 9th grade English classes I didn’t see during the first two weeks of teaching. See this posting for details about the contents of these lessons. From September 14 – October 9, Mr. Holland’s class completed their “Day 2″ scavenger hunt, and Mr. Zeoli’s, Mr. Chow’s, Mr. Wheeler’s, and Ms. Jimenez’s classes all visited for Day 1 and Day 2 orientation lessons. All told, 29 9th grade English classes came for 2-day orientations during September and October.

In addition to the Freshman orientations, Ms. Clarke’s 10th grade English students came for a four day series of research sessions. Each student selected a Biblical painting, learned about the artist and style, and compared the work to the original Bible story. On each day, in collaboration with Ms. Clarke, I taught mini-lessons on research skills using databases, evaluating websites for quality, taking notes and crediting sources, and finding and crediting images in their presentations. We also helped the students take advantage of Google Classroom to access all the needed assignment information and submit their presentations.

On September 17, Mr. Knutson’s 11th grade Social Studies students visited to learn about taking advantage of our subscription databases for great research sources and our subscription for keeping track of sources, taking notes, and creating Works Cited.

On September 30, Ms. Hallgrimson’s 10th Grade Social Studies students visited and participated in a QR code scavenger hunt that helped them learn both about how QR codes work and how to work together to follow instructions and find information in the library. They all did a great job. You can see the Google Form we used for the activity here.

Spanish 2 Google Forms

On October 8 and 9, Sra. Rossell’s four Spanish 2 students came for a two-day visit to build vocabulary skills while working with Google Forms. I showed them how Google Forms can be used to create surveys and quizzes. After completing a sample survey created by Sra. Rossell and me, students worked in groups of four to create their own surveys, with each group assigned a different category of vocabulary. Next week, their class members will respond to all the surveys. Then, as a class they will use their Spanish vocabulary while viewing and discussing the results. The students really enjoyed working with their classmates and learning a new skill – creating Google Forms – which they can take advantage of for both academic and extra-curricular activities in the future. I look forward to sharing some of the surveys on this blog. Here’s the sample survey we used to get them started with the project:

And, here’s a link to just one example of the surveys the students created:

While I use Google Forms all the time and have helped other teachers use them to create quizzes and gather information, this was the first time I had the opportunity to help students create their own forms. Clearly, the students were engaged and learned some valuable tech skills while simultaneously building their Spanish vocabulary skills.

Along with these class lessons, a number of other classes visited the library to use the computers and get my help as they worked.

New Online Resources

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We have a brand new resource for streaming and downloadable video: Learn360 from InfoBase. Each of the teachers just got accounts to access the database and find videos, as well as timelines, maps, fact sheets, and more. Students will also have access to this resource when they do research. On September 30, I demoed this great new resource with our Social Studies teachers. I’ll be doing demos for other teachers and sharing more information very soon.

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We also just added access to the online version of the Los Angeles Times. This is part of the free Los Angeles Times in Education program.

Contact me or come by the library for information about how to log into these great resources.

Library Club

#SWVBC Discussion of I'll Give You the SunOur Library Club was pleased to serve as moderators for our monthly Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC) discussion of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun on Wednesday, October 7. We had a great discussion with our club President, Danit Rich, as moderator. Our SWVBC network is growing this year! Eleven school library clubs have signed up to participate, and we were very pleased to have at total of seven able to attend this month. Participating schools on October 7 included Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, CA; the American School in Japan; New Canaan HS in New Canaan, CT; Dorman HS in Roebuck, SC; Decatur HS in Decatur, GA; Sunset HS in Beaverton, Oregon; and, of course, Mira Costa! Students and librarians alike gain so much from the interaction we have with schools from around the country – and, this year, international! – using the Google Hangouts on Air platform.

Visit from Rock Star Librarian Deborah Ford

Deborah Ford

On October 6, I was honored and delighted to have a visit from my friend and rock star librarian, Deborah Ford. Deborah is a former district librarian in San Diego County who now works as the School Library Outreach Librarian for Junior Library Guild (JLG), based in Ohio. JLG is a subscription service that allows libraries to receive an outstanding set of curated new books each month in genre categories of our choice. So many of the JLG books we receive each month at the Mira Costa Library end up winning national awards and being “must read” popular titles with our students.

Deborah helped me work on “weeding” our collection, i.e., discarding outdated titles to make new books more accessible to our students. Many thanks to Deborah for spending the day and sharing your expertise with our library!

Geeks Club and Maker Space Planning

Our Geeks Club is busy learning the ins and outs of running our 3D printers and making plans for maker activities for our student body. Stand by for information about an exciting after school maker event very soon. In the meantime, come by the library at lunch on Fridays to see our 3D printers in action and ask me if you would like to get involved or design objects to be printed.

Your Librarian on the Road …

School Library Journal Leadership Summit
At the School Library Journal Summit

During the last month, I was fortunate to participate in a couple of outstanding school library professional development events. July 25-27, I attended School Library Journal‘s annual invitational Leadership Summit, held this year in Seattle. I heard great speakers, got lots of inspiration, and networked with some amazing school librarians from across the United States. I will be sharing more on this summit as I process all the great ideas. Here are just two of my takeaways, one that will inspire how I think and plan, and one immediate practical project:

  • Keynote speaker Marnie Webb, CEO of Caravan Studios, which creates apps for social good, shared her organization’s technique of “extreme listening.”  We were all inspired by it to improve our listening skills as we develop programs and curriculum for our students in order to best address their needs. Here’s an excellent summary and video of the session by Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of  School Library Journal.
  • Another speaker, Sabrina Urquart, is manager of the nonprofit Bezos Family Foundation‘s Students Rebuild project. I learned from her about various opportunities for our students to contribute to our communities and the world. Right now, Students Rebuild is challenging students to to help Syrian youth recover from crisis and grow into happy, healthy adults by creating and mailing pinwheels. For each pinwheel students send in, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $2—up to $400,000—to IRC’s Healing Classrooms program to support Syrian youth. Our Geeks Club is going to initiate Mira Costa’s participation in this project by having pinwheel making part of our first marker event.
At CSLA’s Annual Southern Region Workshop

Jane Lofton presenting at CSLA Workshop

On October 3, I attended and presented at California School Library Association’s (CSLA’s) annual Southern Region workshop. My session was on “Blogging is for Everyone.” I shared about the value of blogging for students, teachers, and librarians. This school year, I am excited to be working with two English teachers – Mr. Brown and Ms. Cabrera – who are having their students blog. Here’s the link to my presentation slides:

Your Librarian Around the School

I was honored last week to be elected as co-chair of Mira Costa’s Education Council. This group of department chairs is led by Dr. Dale as a permanent co-chair and an elected faculty member as the other co-chair.

Join the #SWVBC!

Here’s a flyer I created to share information about the Somewhat Virtual Book Club. It came out a little too narrow embedded here. So, for ideal viewing, visit this link. Please join us for our discussion of I’ll Give You the Sun this Wednesday at 3PM.

Many thanks to my friend Michelle Luhtala for letting me adapt her flyer!

If you like this flyer, you might want to try out yourself. :-)

Banned Books Week

Banned Books WeekBanned Books Week – coming up next week – is an annual celebration sponsored by the American Library Association which brings awareness to the importance of protecting the freedom to read what we choose, even when works may be unorthodox or unpopular. Unfortunately, many books have been challenged or banned in many schools and communities where individuals work to impose their own censorship ideas on others.

To inform our students about the importance of this right to access to books and information, the Mira Costa Library has a display of banned books and is holding a contest. Both students AND teachers can participate in the contest, which is based on a Google Form (so can be done from anywhere, and even on a mobile device) with 6 questions. It asks the participants to visit informative sites as they progress through it. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate of their choice. Entries are due by Monday, October 5.

So, visit the library display, but go ahead and start the contest below, or visit this link – – or QR code:

BBW contest qr code

Fall Library instruction program begins … and much more

The first two weeks of school have seen non-stop activity at the Mira Costa Library. Students filled the library each and every day before school, during Snack, lunch, after school, during our first ever Office Hours on September 2, and for class visits. Despite much remaining textbook distribution during the first few weeks of school, I always change focus to the library teaching program as quickly as possible each year. I began teaching Freshman library orientations on Monday, August 31, just four days after school opened. Each of the 9th Grade English classes come for two-day orientation lessons. From August 31 to September 11, 17 9th grade classes – Ms. Hutchinson’s, Ms. Cons-Diller’s, Ms. Chen’s, Ms. Clarke’s, Ms. Vaughan’s, and Westerberg’s – all visited for two days each, and Mr. Holland’s students came for their first day on Friday, Sept. 11, for a total of 36 orientation lessons over these two weeks. (To provide these lessons for all 9th grade English classes, I will be seeing additional classes over the next two weeks.) In addition to these orientations, seven other English classes – Mr. Brown’s and Ms. Cabrera’s students – came for lessons to begin blogging on September 2 and 10. All told, as your teacher librarian, I taught 43 class lessons during these nine school days.

Here’s a summary of what I have been covering in the Freshman library orientations:

Orientations Day 1:

On Day 1, we play a guessing game based on an iPad image I display on the screen for them, in which each “app” represents a feature of the library. I describe the app, then students guess what it is. Once they do, I share a little more about that feature. In the process, students learn about how students who use the library more are better students, about me and my role as a teacher librarian, how to find books and ebooks, research resources, technology resources, the library’s few simple rules and our basic procedures, the after school program, clubs and other fun activities and events, accessing the virtual library through the library website portal, and how they can explore their passions at the library. Here’s the Prezi presentation file I use to run the game:

While it’s not self-explanatory without my commentary, I embedded it here so that you can see the iPad image.

I use a software tool called for the student responses. It’s one of the websites that I learned about as a member of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning selection committee. It is one of the top 25 sites our committee chose in 2014. The students enjoy being able to submit their answers via computer rather than on paper. I decided to go with it instead of the Google Form I had in the past since it offers a “teacher lead” mode which allows me to display just one question at a time and to see the student responses immediately and thus better check for understanding. It is also better assures that every student to responds to every clue.

Before we start the guessing game, I also ask the students to answer the question, “I wish the library would …” to give me input on what they would like to see in their library. I do what I can to accommodate all their requests. Many of them share what kind of books they would like us to have more of, and I always use that input when making purchases and modifications to the library program.

Orientations Day 2:

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Students scanning QR code clues
Library orientation
Students working on the Scavenger Hunt

Day 2 of the orientation is a scavenger hunt. Students team up in groups of two and complete a Google Form gets them moving around the library looking for books, scanning QR codes as clues, and learning about how to use the library catalog and access the library website resources. Here’s the form we are using:

My goal with this activity is to have every student complete every activity and get a 100 percent. And, fortunately, most of them do! This is the second year I have used the Google Form as their means of input. I love that it can validate those questions requiring a correct answer and provide them with hints if they don’t get it right initially. I also love that I can give very little oral instruction; but by and large, the students read the instructions, and, helping each other along, work out any issues on their own.

The last task in the Scavenger Hunt gives the students instructions on how to login to their district Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account, then navigate to Google Classroom, join the library orientation class, and find the assignment to edit a whole-class Google Slides file sharing their passions, a book or ebook they found on the topic, and their photo. Here’s a link to what the slideshow looked like before they started it. (For each class, I filled the teacher’s name and class period.) The students clearly enjoy themselves as they find books on their interests and share about them in their slides. At the end of each period, I had one of the students run the completed slideshow and each of the students shared their own slides orally. They left the library with a number of skills, new to many of them. They left knowing:

  • that students who use the library more are better students
  • that the library is a place to visit both for academics and to explore their passions and interests
  • how to browse the shelves and use our online catalog to find books
  • how to login to our library computers using our Guest account
  • how to use QR codes
  • how to log into their GAFE accounts
  • how to use Google Classroom to access an assignment
  • how to edit a shared Google Slides file and add an image

I plan to display of some of the students’ responses to the slide show question about their passions and books they found about them. Do come by to see them!

One final question on the form asks students what they learned during their orientation. Here are a few of the responses so far:

  • “I learned that the library is a great place to find books for independent reading that interest me since there are plenty of books to choose from here. I also learned how to look up books on the catalog and also that the library is great for studying independently and also in a group.”
  • “I learned about the online library that we have at Mira Costa and how helpful the library can be for so many things other than books.”
  • “I hadn’t thought of trying to read more on some of the passions I had; normally I would prefer to simply read what has been recommended for me. In the future, I plan on broadening my choices, though I’ve always been interested in many genres, and I’ll probably try to fit reading into my busy schedule. It can be a good way for me to relax. Thank you.”
  • “During this orientation, I have learned that the library is a safe and resourceful place for students to achieve academic success. The library is easy to reach on our school campus, and it is here to help the students with whatever they may need.”
  • “I learned that the library has so much to offer when it comes to helping my academic career. I am so excited to get to explore all these resources during my high school years.”
  • “Today I learned how to use Google Accounts in more depth. This will help me in my future learning because I can now collaborate easier in group projects with google accounts.”
  • “I learned that my school has a magnificent library that is always helping everyone and I’m looking to learn a lot more.”

Blogging Lessons

Those who know me or have been reading this blog know that I am a big promoter of student blogging as a way to build a positive digital footprint and portfolio, develop their informal writing skills, share about what they care about, and learn digital citizenship and digital literacy skills. This year, Mr. Brown is having all his English students (12th and 10th graders) blog, and Ms. Cabrera is having her 12th Grade Philosophy Seminar students begin blogs. To launch these projects, the students came into the library for a lesson on the value of blogging;  things to know before starting, including privacy concerns and respect for intellectual property; and how to set up blogs and get started. Here is the slideshow I used for the bases of the lessons. The first several slides focus on the value of blogging:

Library Club

Library Club
Library Club Meeting

The Library Club is meeting on Tuesday during lunch. New members are welcome! The club shares books but also supports special event and program planning at the library. In addition, we meet after school the first Wednesday of each month with our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” network of library clubs from around the United States via Google Hangouts on Air to discuss books. Mira Costa has been participating in this network since it began in November 2011. We had our first meeting for the year on September 3. It was a “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Book). Each participant shared a book and promoted it to the group. Our next meeting will be October 7, when we will be discussing Jandy Nelson’s Printz-Award-winning I’ll Give You the Sun.

SWVBC I'll Give You the Sun for MCHS

That photo of Jandy Nelson is one I took when I was fortunate to meet her at the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco last June. Write now, Ms. Nelson’s travel schedule is uncertain, but she has agreed to attend our virtual meeting if she is home. Either way, I know we will have a great discussion of the book.

Geeks Club

Geeks Club

The Geeks Club is meeting during lunch each Friday, and will also make themselves available at other times to help students, teachers, and event parents with technology support. They are also going to be supervising the running of our new 3D printers and helping to launch our maker space with the 3D printers at the heart.  We have done demos of the 3D printers a couple of times during lunch so far, and we will be having a training for Geeks Club members and anyone else interested in designing for and running the printers. The training will take place next Thursday, September 17 from 3pm – 5pm:

3D Printer Training Flyer

Please RSVP at

Back to School @ the MCHS Library

Textbook distribution
Textbook distribution in progress
Checking out textbooks
Checking out textbooks

Textbook Distribution

The library definitely has been much more of a “textbook warehouse/distribution center” than a library so far this school year, but, as your librarian, I have enjoyed meeting many of our new students, greeting returning students, and helping them all find the textbooks they need for this year’s classes. We began textbook distribution on during student registration, August 17 -20, and 24, and continued helping students get their books the first three days of school, Monday – Wednesday, August 26 – 28. Since August 17, we have checked out 7,830 textbooks. We still, though, have a number of books waiting for students, so please come get them as soon as possible. We want to clear the textbooks out to make the library space more comfortable again!

This massive distribution couldn’t have happened without a lot of help from Cindy Gardner, from our Guidance Office, and the many regular parent library volunteers and other parents who stepped up to help with the process. And, speaking of library volunteers, we are in need of several new volunteers to fill our weekly shifts. Contact Irene White, our parent volunteer coordinator, if you are interested.

Library Open House

Library Open House
Getting ready for the Open House
Library Open House
Wayne Knutson checks out our 3D printer during our Library Open House

In addition to textbook distribution last week, I also held an “Open House” for teachers on Friday, inviting them to stop by during their prep periods to see some of what’s new, have a snack, and enter a prize drawing. Andrea Cons-Diller, one of our new English teachers, won the drawing, and will receive a customized name plate printed on our 3D printer.

Coming Up Next Week

I am looking forward to starting library orientations for each of the Freshman English classes on Monday. Each class visits for two days to learn about the library and how it can help them with their studies and exploring their personal passions. I will also be spending a day with William Brown’s classes getting them started with blogs.