American Library Association Conference

ALA books

Last month, I attended the American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas. In addition to the huge stack of free published books, advanced reader copies, and audiobooks you see above, I came away with an even bigger stack of new ideas and connections I’ll be implementing at our library and sharing with staff and students in the fall. Please read about my experiences in these two postings on my librarian blog:

Part 1

Part 2


Add comment Posted in  Books ,Conferences  Tagged:  , , July 16, 2014

2013-2014 Year in Review

It’s been a very busy year at the Mira Costa Library! Here is a short review of some of the highlights of the 2013-2014 year at the Mira Costa High School Library:

You can also view this visual report here.

This report was created using slides made in, a great site for dynamic graphics, then imported into ThingLink to add the pop-ups and links for a few more details. Many thanks to Sue Fitzgerald, Teacher Librarian at Pike Middle School in Justin, TX, who concept using Canva and ThingLink I adapted with her generous permission.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized June 11, 2014

Enjoy Free Audiobooks All Summer – Starting Now!

cropped-SYNC-header980wYes, I know it isn’t summer just yet, but we’re all starting to think about it, aren’t we? And, the folks at SYNC are ready to offer some great summer reading options with audiobooks. Each year, SYNC offers a total of 24 summer reading audiobooks free of charge. So what is SYNC? Here’s the explanation from the SYNC site:

SYNC is a program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads–a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title–each week to listeners ages 13+ while SYNC is in session each summer.
Titles are delivered through the OverDrive Media Console.  You can prepare for the program by downloading the software to your desktop and whichever device you anticipate listening on.
SYNC is dedicated to introducing the listening experience to the young adult audience and demonstrates that Required Reading can be completed by listening.
SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer. In 2014, 26 titles will be given away over 13 weeks starting May 15th. 


And, even though it’s not summer just yet, the free give aways start this week, on May 15. Here’s the schedule:

May 15 – May 21 
WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

May 22 – May 28
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18
*CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25
I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2
*FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6
*DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

The asterisks (*) are my indicators of books I have recently read in print and highly recommend.

A nice feature of the program is that the weekly titles are always paired with one YA (young adult) title and one more classic work on a related theme.

An important thing to know about the program is that you have to download and install the books during the week they are offered; they are only available during that time frame. So, don’t miss out; get and install the first two titles by May 21. Note that one you have the audiobooks, there is no deadline on when you listen to them, and they are yours to keep indefinitely.

To avoid missing any of the weekly offerings, you  can sign up for email and text alerts and be first to know when new titles are available to downloadat

So, get out your mobile listening device, and happy listening!


Add comment Posted in  Books  Tagged:  , , , May 13, 2014

Rich Historical Film Archive from British Pathé

British Pathé

British Pathé

If you are looking for contemporary news film coverage of any world event between 1896 and the late 2oth century, here is a great find:

On April 17, Newsreel archive British Pathé announced that it had just uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel.  British Pathé reigned as the premier newsreel organization for many  years. It now has one of the world’s richest archives of historical and cultural footage which includes material major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture from around the world. The two World Wars are prominently featured. 

These videos would be great to show in class, embed in teacher and student websites and blogs, comment on, and use as sources for research projects.

Here are just a couple of the intriguing options. The first is a short clip of Armstrong’s stepping on the moon in 1969. The second is “The World’s First Mobile Phone,” a video made in 1922!

There are also a number of playlists of multiple videos on a theme, such as 85 videos on “A Day That Shook the World.”  You could definitely spend hours and hours dipping into history with this archive!

Thanks to Joyce Valenza for sharing this news on her blog and filling me in on it.

Add comment Posted in  Media ,Research  Tagged:  , , , April 29, 2014

What “How About Writing a Persuasive Letter?” Led to … or … The Value of Collaboration

(Note that I wrote this posting for the American Association of School Librarians Blog, and am cross-posting it here.)

I have had the pleasure during the last two years to collaborate with Teresa Nielsen, one of the science teachers at my high school. When she arrived at Mira Costa HS in Fall of 2012, I urged her to bring her classes to the library to work on projects together. For one project, she asked for my input on an assignment in which the students would learn about stem cells and then answer questions about the ethical issues associated with their use. I suggested that, instead of having them answer questions, she have them choose a side and write a letter to their congressmen for or against funding for stem cell research with arguments to support their viewpoints. She liked that idea, and I offered to set up and walk them through a pathfinder for sources and a template to help them learn the structure of a business letter. As a result, in addition to practicing research skills and learning about stem cells, the students also learned about finding their political representatives, how to write a persuasive letter in proper business format, and how to use Google Docs for word processing.

A few weeks ago, Teresa let me know that her Chemistry students were learning about combustion and the benefits and disadvantages of hydrogen power compared to gasoline. In talking about this in class, she told me, a local controversial issue – whether to proceed with drilling for oil off the coast in Hermosa Beach, California –  came up, and she thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of this local situation to have the students research the issue, and, like we did with the stem cell project, write and send a letter to a local political figure about their stance on the issue. I agreed that this was an excellent idea! I offered again to set up a pathfinder and prepare a template for a letter to the members of the Hermosa Beach City Council. This time, we went with sending the letter as an email. Here is the pathfinder we used:

drilling pathfinder.jpg

Not only did the students write excellent letters voicing opinions on both sides of the issue, but Nanette Barragan, one of the City Council members, responded to many of them, and both she and Hany Fangary, another Council Member, got in touch with Teresa. The students’ letters became part of the March 25 City Council meeting official input, the Beach Reporter featured an article about it, and both Council members came to speak to students from Ms. Nielsen’s class and several other science classes in the library last week.


The students learned about an important “real world” application of their chemistry studies, practiced persuasive writing, and became engaged in an issue affecting their local community.

Nanette Barragan and Teresa Nielsen also signed the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries! (Read my earlier post for information about the declaration, and sign yourself online here.)

barragan declaration.jpg

nielsen declaration.jpg

Add comment Posted in  Curriculum ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , , April 27, 2014

CUE Conference 2014

CUE 2014

Last week I attended and presented at the CUE Conference in Palm Springs. The conference had record attendance of over 5,300 attendees as more and more educators see the benefit of this professional development opportunity. In fact, CUE previously was “shorthand” for “Computer Using Educators.” At this conference, the association announced a new logo, included in CUE’s Twitter header pictured above, and that the association name will now be simply CUE. “Computer Using Educators” will no longer be part of the name. The rationale? It used to be that teachers and other educators interested in computers and technology were in the minority. That’s no longer so. Now all educators need to be tech-savvy; they all need the kind of professional development that CUE offers.

Here are a few of my personal conference highlights and takeaways:

LeVar Burton, pictured in my screenshot of CUE’s new Twitter header above, was the Friday morning keynote speaker. Here are some of my Twitter “notes” from his inspiring session:  (Be sure to scroll this text box to see all the postings.)

digital citizenship logoAs part of the conference, California School Library Association presented a “Digital Citizenship Summit” on Saturday. We were very fortunate to have Gwyneth Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, a middle school librarian from Maryland, as our lead speaker. In her session on “Secrets of the Remix Mash Up YouTube Generation” she shared that “Everything is remix; use it for engagement.” We all learn by repeating; we can leverage that and help students to be respectful remixers by working with the tools they already love, sharing other engaging tools with them, and teaching them about Creative Commons and attribution. Here’s a tweet shared by teacher librarian Sharlene Paxton during Gwyneth’s session:

To engage students, we need to be using tools like YouTube and great YouTube channels like Horrible Histories and the History Teachers Channels, while also introducing innovative tools such as for curation, LessonPaths for online lesson playlists, and Flocabulary for engaging learning through rap music.

The Digital Citizenship Summit also included Pam Oehlman on “Teaching Digital Citizenship by Crafting Quick Flipped Tutorials and Using Existing Resources,” Glen Warren on “The Uncommon Core: New Standards, New Literacies, and Student Significance,” and my session on “”Inspiring Creativity While Respecting Copyright with Fair Use and Creative Commons.”

Pam shared an analogy comparing the pencil to digital citizenship instruction; our kids today need the same careful instruction on using devices as we use to teach kindergartners the safe use of pencils. She shared lots of great resources for digital citizenship instruction, and you can see them reviewed in her presentation file.

All too often in school, Glen shared during his session, we don’t ask kids what they want to learn. Instead, we just tell them what they have to learn. One the great things about school libraries, is that we ask them what they want to learn, and we help them connect that to the literacies, including those covered in the Common Core, that they need to learn. Here is a graphic showing how information literacy, which librarians teach, crosses all curricular areas, including personal interest:

Information Literacy

Glen advocated for giving students the same kind of 20 percent time  that Google provides, allowing them to pursue their own interests in that time. He also shared how he makes students accountable for their time and has them simultaneously learn and practice information literacy skills. He uses a Google Form to have them submit information about their work, including the questions they asked and the research they did.

In my session, I focused on teaching respect for intellectual property, on understanding copyright and fair use, and on taking advantage of using Creative Commons material to make that task easier. I also advocated for contributing to a creative society by licensing our own works with Creative Commons licenses and encouraging our students to do the same. Here is the presentation file:

If you haven’t already joined the Creative Commons community, please do so! By sharing, we all contribute to a more vibrant, creative world. Gwyneth Jones included this powerful message in one her slides from her Friday session on “Marketing Your Program Like Lady Gaga”:

creative commons message from gwyneth jones

I tweeted a photo of the slide during her session, and it clearly resonated with many people, since I got lots of retweets.

I was also proud to be a part of CSLA’s booth presence in the exhibit hall, promoting what teacher librarians do:

csla booth

Thanks to Sue Heraper for taking the photo of me (current Past President) with Janice Gilmore-See, current CSLA President, and Pam Oehlman, 2012-2013 President.

I came away from the conference bubbling with new ideas and some fun tech tips to share. Many of these are included in my Twitter feed (I’m @jane_librarian) from March 20-22, since Twitter has become my primary note-taking method during conferences. Also check the #CUE14 hashtag for a wealth of quotes from presenters, links to sessions and tools, and more. Thanks to all the presenters for their great ideas. I’ve captured only a fraction of them here. Also, thanks to CUE and Executive Director Mike Lawrence for enabling CSLA to present the Digital Citizenship Summit.



Add comment Posted in  Conferences ,Digital Citizenship ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , , , , March 27, 2014

And the answer is …

Thanks to everyone for participating in last week’s library contest to guess where I took this photo:

library contest photo

And …..  here’s the answer:

It was a shot I took of the construction work on February 27 from the back window of the library. I was so surprised to see that the photo looked like a mountain range after I shot it that I did a retake. The retake came out the same. I also have to admit that, for the contest, I cropped the original photo so you wouldn’t see the part reflected in the glass. Here’s the original, which includes a faint image of me taking the photo and a book truck next to me:

2014-02-27 08.27.14

You are welcome to visit the library and check the current view out the back window, but the “mountain” has been flattened. Here’s what it looks like today:


Congratulations to Joe Luck, who wins a Starbucks certificate and who will soon be featured in a library READ poster. Joe’s name was drawn from the several people who guessed correctly that is was the Mira Costa construction site. Other guesses included Catalina, the Mojave Desert, Machu Picchu, and China! Everyone who participated is invited to visit the library and get a Menchie’s discount coupon. Mr. Piorek’s Period 2 class, which participated as a whole class, is invited to be featured in a group READ poster.

Follow the library on Twitter (@miracosthslibr) for ongoing updates on the view of the construction site from the library back window.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized  Tagged:  , March 11, 2014

Guess where this photo was taken

library contest photo

Can you guess where I took this photo? Enter your guess here:

Everyone who submits a correct answer by this Friday, March 7, 2013 at 3 PM will be entered in a drawing to win a Starbucks gift certificate. Please note that people outside Mira Costa are welcome to guess, but the prize option is open only to Mira Costa students and staff.

Add comment Posted in  Contests ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , March 3, 2014

Len Vlahos Author Visit Review

len vlahosWe were delighted to have Author Len Vlahos visit our library February 25. His first book, The Scar Boys, was just published in January. He inspired our students and staff attending the assemblies Periods 5 and 6 with his love of music and his message of how it can transform lives. He also entertained us with one of his songs and invited students to come up and share their musical talents with us. And, we got to enjoy some incredible talent! Thanks to all the students who volunteered.

Vlahos also read the opening of his book, in which Harbinger (Harry) Jones starts a college admissions essay sharing some of his personal history, explaining “I played guitar in the greatest punk rock band you’ve never hear of.” The entire book is a continuation of this essay, explaining how he became scarred in an accident when he was very young making him a pariah due to his disfigurement, how he and his friend form a punk rock band; and what happens when a girl joins the band. Here is a video I recorded of the first session using Google+ Hangouts:

Visit our Flickr page for some photos from the visit.

To learn more about Len Vlahos, visit his website and his Flickr page.

Here is a link to his Scar Boys YouTube Channel

To enter his contest, visit this page on his website.

Many thanks to Len Vlahos for visiting us and to {pages} Bookstore for arranging it. Please come to the library to borrow copies of The Scar Boys, or visit {pages} to purchase a copy.

1 comment Posted in  Authors ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  , , February 28, 2014

CSLA Conference Takeaways on Common Core, College & Career Readiness

I am still in the midst of processing all the great takeaways from an incredibly exhilarating California School Library Association Conference February 6 – 9. Please see my posting on my personal blog for a summary of some of the highlights, including the Unconference I organized and a session on Twitter as a professional development tool that I co-presented. The posting here focuses on several sessions related to Common Core and college and career readiness.

Kevin Baird Keynote

Kevin Baird, Chairman and Senior Faculty at the Curriculum Institute and the Center for College and Career Readiness, was our keynote speaker.  I have been finding lately that my best “notes” from a conference presentation are my tweets, so here they are, assembled using a new favorite tool called Storify, from his session:

Mr. Baird also helped me to better understand the need to help students stretch themselves to be able to read more complex texts. One of the points he shared is that many out-of-high school careers students may enter, such, for example, as law and public safety, actually require them to read more complex texts at higher lexile levels than college texts. That means that we do need to help students but providing more complex texts, but I also believe that the more pleasure reading they do, the better readers they will become, and the more able they will be to read complex material. So, I see my job in the library providing both stretch texts and engaging pleasure reading.

Mr. Baird also shared how the new standards include different depth of knowledge levels and advised us to work to become experts in supporting teaching at the needed level for each standard.

He was extremely generous with us as conference attendees, and provided us with free access to an online Depth of Knowledge guide, model performance tasks, and Common Core-aligned lesson plans that I will be able to study and share with my teachers and administration.

College Readiness-Related Concurrent Sessions

I also attended two concurrent sessions that dealt with preparing students to be college-ready. Sara Oremland, the Teacher Librarian at Albany High School, shared two videos that she produced, one for students and one for teachers, to share what she learned from interviewing college students, professors, and librarians sharing what high school research should be like to prepare for college research. Here is the student video, intended to motivate them to conduct effective research:

Here is the teacher video, intended to help high school teachers understand the benefits of Authentic Research projects:

In another concurrent session, Doug Achterman, Head Librarian at Gavilan College and a former high school teacher librarian, shared results of a series of interviews he conducted with community college instructors about their expectations around students’ reading, writing and research. Far too many students come to community college improperly prepared with the reading, writing, and research skills needed. He helped us explore the implications for supporting teachers and students through our library programs to better prepare students for community or other college expectations, which are in alignment with what we need to be teaching as part of Common Core.

I will be working to use and share this material throughout the rest of this school year and beyond.

Add comment Posted in  Conferences ,Curriculum  Tagged:  , , February 21, 2014

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lots of research in the library

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