May 11 – 22, 2015 at the Library

Our Makerspace Supplies Arrive!

Since the library is one of the several places on campus with class sets of computers, it has been used for the new California standardized testing during much of the last two weeks. All 11th graders participated in two mornings of testing May 14 – 21. That meant, unfortunately, that the library was closed for other class or individual student visits all those mornings. I do, nevertheless, have some exciting library lessons and other activities to share.

Makerspace Startup Supplies Arrive!

On May 11, the Geeks Club, with help from the Library Club, unpacked startup supplies for our library’s new makerspace! We are very excited about what we will be able to do with these these and how we can share them with the entire Mira Costa population. The supplies include two 3D printers, a Raspberry Pi, and two littleBits kits. So, you may be wondering, what are all these items I just mentioned? And, for that matter, what is a makerspace? Here are some short explanations:

  • A makerspace is a space in which students can tinker with electronics and other materials, have fun, challenge themselves to figure out how to design something, and make creative products. While many of our students take classes in which they learn about and practice programming, art, and/or electronic building, a makerspace allows all students to tinker, explore, have fun, and be creative. The library is an ideal place in which to start a makerspace, because it is open to everyone on campus and has a staff person (me, your librarian) and enthusiastic helpers (the Geeks Club members) to provide help and support.
  • 3D printers provide the capability to “print” 3D objects designed in 3D software applications from strands of plastic filament. The printer melts the plastic filament and then reshapes it in layers into an object using directions derived from the 3D software.
  • A Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer. Once plugged into a computer monitor and keyboard, students can use it to explore computing and to learn how to program the operating system in languages like Scratch and Python. Our Geeks Club members, and anyone else interested, will be using it to learn about and experiment with programming computer operating systems.
  • littleBits are small electronic light, sound, motor, and sensor building block modules that all snap together with magnets and allow students to experiment and create machines. Students will have the opportunity to try out unlimited combinations of the components to create working machines.

These supplies came to us thanks to a special Google-sponsored offer from DonorsChoose. Twenty one of our students completed a Khan Academy self-paced introductory course in JavaScript, which earned us $100 per student. Many thanks to Jeanne Reed and Aaron Braskin for bringing this program to my attention and supporting getting students signed up for it.

Right now, our Geeks Club members are working away getting the 3D printer up and running. Stand by for introductory makerspace events open to all students very soon. In the meantime, contact me or any of the club members if you want to get involved in the planning.

Booktalk videos in progress

Laura Clarke with her English Class

Ms. Clarke’s English students visited the library for a short introduction to booktalk videos. As a final project for the year, they will all be creating short videos promoting a nonfiction book they recently read. We talked about what makes a good booktalk, using these guidelines. Once the projects are complete, we will be uploading good examples to the library website and adding QR codes to books so students can view a booktalk while considering whether to read a book in hand.

Here’s an example of a booktalk done by one of our students earlier this year:

The Library — a very busy place!

And, as you can see in one of my first experiments with making a hyperlapse video, even on Senior Ditch Day last Friday, the library was a very busy place during lunch!

CUE Blog

CUE Blog

One of my activities outside school this month has been serving as guest editor of the CUE (Computer Using Eductors) Blog. You can see the post introducing me here. My first of four postings summarized highlights of California School Library Association’s Information Literacy Summit during the March CUE Conference. The second posting, on how we can support teachers implementing the new standards, was one I solicited and edited. It’s by Mark Archon, Director of Instructional Technology Services for the Fresno County Office of Education. Stand by for two more postings about selecting quality research sources by Tasha Bergson-Michelson and why we need teacher librarians by me.


Add comment Posted in  Books ,Geek Squad ,Makerspace  Tagged:  , , , May 25, 2015

April 20 – May 8 at the Library

The last three weeks have flown by at the Mira Costa Library. Ms. Cabrera’s and Mr. Wheeler’s English students and Mr. Knutson’s U.S. History students spent several days in the library working on research projects which began with lessons on how to find and evaluate research sources and how to do citations. Mr. Carlson’s music students worked on their new blogs and we talked about writing good blog comments. And, Sra. Rossell and Sra. Hernandez’s Spanish 2 students worked on projects using VoiceThread to practice their new vocabulary related to travel. Working in teams of two, the students all chose a country for a hypothetical trip and shared something about the country, how they would get there, where they would stay, what they would eat, and sites they would visit. In the process, they also learned about a new tool for finding and sharing copyright-friendly images, voice recording, and creating avatars. Here is an example, sharing a trip to Cuba:

Here are three more great examples:


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Library Club Activities

The Library Club was also very busy. We sponsored a very successful YA (Young Adult) author panel on April 22. Read about it in this blog posting.

SWVBC Meeting  SWVBC Meeting

The club also participated in one of our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” Google Hangouts on Air discussions on May 6. The topic this month was “bring your own graphic novel.” All the participants brought and shared a favorite graphic novel or other book. Mira Costa had excellent representation at this get together, both from our club members and from Ms. Wiseman and her English students.

The club has also been working with me on selecting some new books for the library based on the student survey we recently conducted. Our order has been placed, and we will be receiving approximately 80 new books based on student input!

Outside the Library

Outside Mira Costa, I had the honor of co-anchoring the TL News Night on April 20 and of co-presenting a session with Pam Oehlman for the CUE Beach Cities/Los Angeles Affiliates Workshop on May 2. The topic for Pam’s and my session was the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. We shared ways to use some of the sites selected by the AASL Best Websites Committee to enhance student learning. Although the slides don’t really stand alone, I am sharing them here, and encourage you to contact me to fill you in with more information about them.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized ,What's happenign  Tagged:  , May 9, 2015

Great Free Summer Audiobooks

SYNC Audio

Each year, I know that summer is near when I get the announcement of the start of Sync’s free summer audiobooks. The amazing Sync website offers an annual summer program of two free audiobook downloads each week. This summer, the program has been extended to 14 weeks with a total of 28 free audiobooks! And, summer starts early with Sync; Week 1 began yesterday, May 7, and and the program continues through August 13. Titles offered each week are always paired, featuring one contemporary YA (young adult) book and one classic on a related theme. Week 1’s books are popular YA title, Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and classic Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Read about these selections here on the SYNC blog.

To participate, be sure to download each of the selections during the scheduled week. The books will no longer be available after the last day of each week. Each week starts on a Thursday. You don’t actually need to listen to the books during the availability week; you just need to download and install them. Once you download and install the books, they become yours and you can listen to them at any time.  You can visit the SYNC site for more information and to request text message or email alerts each week. Be sure to check this link for information about how to download titles.

So, be sure to enrich your summer with some great YA and classic literature.

Here’s the full list of YA titles:

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Hachette Audio)

A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty (Scholastic Audiobooks)


CROWS & CARDS by Joseph Helgerson (Brilliance Audio)

DODGER by Terry Pratchett (HarperAudio)

ECHOES OF AN ANGEL by Aquanetta Gordon (christianaudio)

THE EXPLORERS CLUB by Nell Benjamin (L.A. Theatre Works)

THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena (Brilliance Audio)

MARCH by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin Audio)

MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers (Listening Library)

THE RING AND THE CROWN by Melissa de la Cruz (Recorded Books, Inc.)

ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein (Bolinda Publishing)

UNDER A WAR-TORN SKY by L.M. Elliott (Tantor Audio)

X: A NOVEL by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon (Brilliance Audio)

And, here’s the full selection of classics:


ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED by Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold (Oasis Audio)

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS by Jules Verne (Tantor Audio)

BUDDHA BOY by Kathe Koja (Full Cast Audio)

DRACULA by Bram Stoker (Naxos AudioBooks)

GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens (Naxos AudioBooks)

HERE IN HARLEM by Walter Dean Myers (Live Oak Media)

JOHN BALL’S IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT Adapted by Matt Pelfrey (L.A. Theatre Works)

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott (Listening Library)

LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (Listening Library)

THE OLD BROWN SUITCASE by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz (Post Hypnotic Press)

THE PERFECT STORM: A TRUE STORY OF MEN AGAINST THE SEA by Sebastian Junger (Recorded Books, Inc.)

REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier (Hachette Audio)

SEA HEARTS by Margo Lanagan (Bolinda Publishing)

Happy listening!

Sync audio

Add comment Posted in  Books  Tagged:  , , May 8, 2015

Library YA Author Panel Rocks!

YA Authors with Library Club members

Our Young Adult (YA) Author Panel on Wednesday was a great success! We hosted three wonderful authors – Robin Benway, Gretchen McNeil, and 2010 Costa Graduate Emily Wibberley. They all shared interesting and helpful tips about writing during the panel and were so willing to visit with our students, teachers, and community members before and afterwards. As a school librarian, authors are my rock stars. I am always star struck when I meet an author, and, over and over again, I am surprised and delighted that most of them treat me as a friend and colleague. Our three visiting authors were all incredibly friendly to everyone.

I was also very proud of our library club members who organized the event, and especially of Colette for leading the effort and moderating. We got rave reviews from the attendees, and a number of people purchased books from {pages} bookstore and got them signed. If you missed the event, I’m pleased that we were able to tape it using Google Hangouts On Air. Here is the recording:

Here are photos I uploaded to Flickr from the event:

Here is my tweet commentary during the event:

Many thanks to our authors for coming, our library club for organizing, {pages} for providing books for sale, and to everyone who attended. Don’t forget to buy or get copies of the authors books from the library. I’m also looking forward to new titles by all three authors in June:

  • Robin Benway’s Emmy & Oliver 
  • Gretchen McNeil’s Get Dirty, the sequel to Get Even
  • Emily Wibberley’s sequel to Sacrificed


Add comment Posted in  Authors ,Events ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , , , April 25, 2015

February 16 – April 18 at the Library

Speed Dating with Books

Speed Dating with Books

As you can see, I’ve gotten way behind here on my resolution to post highlights of library lessons and other activities every several weeks. Since this posting is catching up on nearly two months, please excuse the very brief summary.

As earlier in the year, the last two months were packed with classes visiting for help with research. These included Ms. Wiseman, Ms. Clarke, Ms. Cabrera, Mr. Brown, Mr. Zeoli, Ms. Brown, Mr. Wheeler, Ms. Chen, Ms. Sieker, and Ms. Owen’s English classes, and Mr. Uhalt, Mr. Marx, and Mr. Timberlake’s Social Studies classes. In addition Mr. Davidson’s Health class students came for lessons in Digital Citizenship, and I was delighted to work with Mr. Carlson’s Music students to get them started blogging.

An activity all the students enjoy is “speed dating with books.” In this activity, I set out books on different tables by genre. They get two minutes to choose one of the books and browse the offerings, then they spend two more minutes reading one of the books to decide whether to select it as their “date.” At the end of the round, they can check out a book or move on to another table for the next round. Ms. Brown’s English class students enjoyed “speed dating” with YA (young adult) books sorted by genre, while Ms. Clarke’s students selected from different categories of nonfiction.

On February 16, I was very pleased to join the TL News Night anchor team. I will be participating as one of the show co-moderators on the third Monday of each month. These shows are hosted live on Google Hangouts on Air and also recorded for later viewers. They always feature guests and news of interest to the school library world.

On March 9, I gave a short talk about the library program at the PTSA meeting. I showed the group the CSLA “Does Your School Have a Teacher Librarian?” film to provide some examples of what teacher librarians do. The film also includes scenes filmed at our library and interviews with some of our students and teachers. I also shared this slideshow, and described some examples of my information literacy, digital literacy, and digital citizenship instruction:

During the staff professional development day on May 6, I had the opportunity to talk to a joint meeting of the English and Social Studies teachers, and to share information with them about our research offerings, focusing primarily on our database subscriptions. With the addition of EBSCO Academic Search Premier and Academic eBook Collection, we now have access to 135,00 ebooks and 4,600 academic journal titles, giving our students a vast collection of high quality research materials.

The Library club participated in a Google Hangout on Air discussion of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why on March 4 and hosted the discussion of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One on April 15. I was very proud of all the students for their excellent contributions to the discussion. Here’s the recording from the Ready Player One discussion:

We just learned that Steven Spielberg will be directing the film version of Ready Player One. The book should become even more popular as the film release approaches.

In mid-March, I attended and presented two sessions at the CUE (Computer Using Educators) Conference in Palm Springs. You can see my posting about that conference on my Jane Lofton’s Adventures in School Libraryland blog.

presenting at CUE

As Chair of MCHS’s Curriculum Committee, I have also been working with committee members and department chairs to get the course descriptions in our course description handbook updated and to create pathways files for each department to clarify course sequence requirements and options. You can see these under Academics on the Mira Costa website.

Finally, the Library Club has been busy going over the results of the student book survey and working with me to order new books based on student requests. They have also been working hard to prepare for our YA Author Panel on Wednesday, April 22. We hope that you can come!

YA Author Panel books

YA Author Panel books

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized  Tagged:  April 18, 2015

YA Author Panel April 22

YA Panel FlyerThe Mira Costa Library Club is pleased to announce a Young Adult Author Panel and Book Signing on Wednesday, April 22 from 3:30pm-5:00pm in the Library. Students, teachers, and community members are all invited. So, please, mark you calendar! Here’s the line up of authors:

  • Emily Wibberley. Debut Author Wibberley is one of Costa’s own! She is a Mira Costa graduate and recently graduated from Princeton University. Sacrificed, the first book in her planned The Last Oracle series, tells the story of Clio, a very  reluctant 15-year-old Oracle.
  • Gretchen McNeil. McNeil has authored several popular YA books. Her latest is Get Even, the first book in the Don’t Get Mad series, about an unlikely partnership of four very different girls who form a secret society, DGM (Don’t Get Mad) to expose and seek revenge on bullies at their school.
  • Robin Benway. Benway’s latest book, Going Rogue, is the second featuring teenaged spy and safecracker Maggie Silver. Her next book, Emmy & Oliver, is coming out this June.

Books will be available for purchase from {pages} a bookstore, our local Manhattan Beach independent book seller, during the event. To assure getting the books you want, you can order copies in advance at this link.

Many thanks to Library Club member Colette Grubman for initiating this activity and inviting the authors.

Event Flyer

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , , March 24, 2015

What Books Do You Want in the Library?

Survey QR Code

The library club wants YOUR input on books to purchase for our library.  I have allocated the the book club with a portion of the school library materials budget to select and purchase books students want in their library.

Students, please complete the survey (or the embedded version here) by Friday, March 13 and let your voice for new library book purchases be heard!


Add comment Posted in  Books ,The Library Club ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , February 25, 2015

Participate in the International Student Blogging Challenge

student blogging challengeThere’s probably no better way for students to build a positive digital footprint they can be proud of than than through blogging. Blogging gives you the opportunity to practice informal writing, develop your personal writing voice, and to share with a global audience. You will also learn valuable digital citizenship and tech skills as you create and customize your blog and add text, images, videos, links.

To help you with your blogging skills and assure that your postings will be read by an international audience, consider participating in the semi-annual International Student Blogging Challenge. The next challenge starts March 1. Each week for 10 weeks, you will be given new tasks and challenges to complete in postings, commenting on other blogs, or working on your blog design and sidebar contents.

Mira Costa students who participate will be recognized in a special library display and will receive a certificate of completion that can be shared with their teachers. Do participate! Visit this link to get information and sign up. You can also contact me with any questions or for help.

Add comment Posted in  Blogging ,Events  Tagged:  , February 25, 2015

CSLA’s Centennial Conference

CSLA Centennial Celebration

I had a jam-packed four days of learning, sharing, and networking at the California School Library Association (CSLA) Centennial Conference February 5 – 8 at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport. I came away with:

  • Notes of many great new books to purchase for our library from Michael Cart’s workshop on “Best of the Best Young Adult Books”
  • New ideas of ways to help students become astute researchers and agents for change from author Paul Fleischman’s “Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines” workshop
  • Inspiration from opening Keynoter Michelle Luhtala to move more learning activities to where students love to be, on digital devices, and to make learning help available virtually on demand
  • Inspiration from closing keynoter Shannon Miller to implement more activities that break down the library and school walls and help students connect with the world
  • At least a year’s worth of lesson and program ideas and tools to engage students from so many talented colleagues whose sessions I attended and with whom I networked
  • Excited product purchase ideas from the many wonderful vendors who support school libraries and exhibited during the conference

I also did a lot of sharing at this conference. Here is information about my four presentations:

AASL's Best Websites

AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning: I presented this session with Sue Heraper. Here is a link to our slide deck.

Of all the sites we shared, I think our attendees especially liked the hands-on demos we did of how to use two of them, Kahoot and Socrative, to quiz or survey students during lessons.

Good Ideas!

Blogging, Digital Timelines, & More with Embedded Digital Citizenship: This was a short presentation I did to share the project for which I won a Good Ideas! Award. These awards are given for collaborative projects done by a teacher librarian and classroom teacher that can serve as a model for easy replication by our colleagues. The project I shared came from my collaborative work with Spanish Teacher Anita Rossell and her Spanish for Native Speakers Class. Here is the link to my slides for this talk. I will also be talking at more length about blogging at the CUE conference next month.

Going for Moonshot Thinking

Going for Moonshot Thinking: The Latest from Google from Two Googly Teachers: Amy McMillan, a middle school English teacher working on her teacher librarian credential, and I met at the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View last summer. We co-presented this session to share some of our takeaways from the Academy and to encourage more teacher librarians to apply to attend future academies. As with almost every session I present, we learned so much more as we prepared and compared notes on our different practices. Here is a link to our slides. We also recorded this session using Google Hangouts on Air:

Make Twitter Your #1 Tool for Building a Personal Learning Network: Marie Slim and I prepared this session, an update of one we did last year. We are both passionate about the value of Twitter for learning and wanted to get more of our members on board using it at conferences and for learning and networking throughout the year. Unfortunately, Marie wasn’t able to be at the conference, so I did the presentation on my own. Here is a link to the session presentation Prezi. I also recorded this session with Google Hangouts on Air:

As Social Media/Website Chair for the conference, I did a lot of tweeting and encouraged tweeting by all our participants. In fact, I taught a four-week course on Twitter (which the presentation above was a short summary of) to help prepare more members to tweet during the conference. Although the course is now done, all the material is available to read and use on the course website. One great use of Twitter is to share highlights of conference sessions and events. Here is a Twitter summary of the conference, captured using Storify. You can see as you scroll through the tweets that, while we work very hard learning at conferences, we also have a lot of fun! This conference was CSLA’s Centennial, so it also included a wonderful Gala celebration of this amazing milestone.

I look forward to sharing great ideas from the conference with students and staff at Mira Costa.

Add comment Posted in  Blogging ,Conferences ,professional development  Tagged:  , , , , , , February 20, 2015

Spanish Class Mystery Hangout

Mystery Hangout

Sra. Rossell’s AP Spanish students had an engaging challenge on February 3. We connected them via Google Hangouts with Sra. Díaz-Ross’s Spanish 3 Honors class at Menlo School in Atherton, CA. I was able to make the connection between the two classes when I reached out through the Google+ GlobalTL community, and Cathy Rettberg, the Menlo School Librarian, responded and put me in touch with Sra. Díaz-Ross. Sra. Rossell’s class has been blogging for some time, and we wanted to find her students an audience outside our school for their postings. Sra. Díaz-Ross is interested in the possibility of having her students blog, and she welcomed having the two classes meet through a mystery hangout.

Here is how a mystery hangout works. The teachers or librarians find each other and set a date for the two classes to meet in a Google Hangout or Skype session. The students know about the event, but not where the other class is. They prepare for the get together in advance by brainstorming a number of questions and possible clues to share with the other class. The game rules are that each class alternates asking questions that require a yes or no answer. The goal is to be the first class to identify the school of the other class. We teachers decided, due to time restrictions, to also allow limited clues if no one guessed the location after about 25 minutes. Each of our class members had different “roles,” including introducer, questioner, photographer, videographer, and recorder. All of the students participated in being researchers, attempting through Google maps and other online sites to narrow down where the other school was based on their answers to our questions. The trick is thinking of the best questions to narrow down possibilities as efficiently as possible.

Classes around the world have been participating in these mystery events recently, using either Skype or Google Hangouts, and the activity works for all age levels. See the list at the end of this posting for some resource links. And, of course, our event was conducted entirely in Spanish. Our students found the fast pace exciting and challenging, as they had to use their critical thinking skills and come up with fast questions based on the previous answers. They were also proud to be the winners! We now look forward to receiving comments on their blogs from Sra. Díaz-Ross’s class. Unfortunately, I forgot to start the recording at the beginning of the session, but recorded a bit of the end of the hangout. You can see that below, along with some photos and short video clips taken by the videographers:


Student Videographer recordings:

End of hangout recording:

Here are some resource links:

Skype in the Classroom

Google+ Community for Mystery Hangouts

Google+ Community for Mystery Hangouts for Foreign Language Teachers

Add comment Posted in  Events ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , February 19, 2015

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Our New Makerspace Supplies arrive!

Our New Makerspace Supplies arrive!

Our New Makerspace Supplies arrive!

Our New Makerspace Supplies arrive!

Our New Makerspace Supplies arrive!

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