Bookish Movie Review

I saw Saving Mr. Banks Christmas night, and I’ll admit I was really pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. To be frank, I thought it would be corny, Christmas fluff, but I was impressed with the depth and it got me intrigued with learning more about P.L. Travers, the author of the original Mary Poppins books. I remember watching the Disney movie as a kid and just being entranced with Julie Andrews. I thought she was so beautiful and simply the epitome of class and sophistication.

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So it was interesting to learn that she was based on a real person, Travers’ aunt, who came in to help out her family during a particularly dark time in their lives. As soon as we got out of the movie, I started looking up information on Travers to see how accurate the movie was. And besides leaving out anything alluding to her dating women, ahem, the movie really did a good job covering her childhood and adult life and interaction with Walt Disney.

Give the movie a shot- I think you’ll be just as pleased with it as I was.

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Author visit!

I love it when we can have authors visit the library, and recently we had Doug Dillon, a local author from Orlando, visit for our quarterly Breakfast of Reading Champions. This event is something I work with our literacy coach and reading teachers to hold to award our intensive reading students who have been performing well or making learning gains. The students are always excited for any chance to get out of class and have free breakfast, but whenever I can get a local author as our guest speaker it’s an extra special treat. It helps when the author is also a great speaker, and that was the case with Mr. Dillon.

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I think the students were happy to see their hometown as the setting in the book, and Mr. Dillon captivated them with his stories of how the characters and story came to be.

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Mr. Dillon signed a copy of his book, Sliding Beneath the Surface, for each student, too. Some of the students didn’t realize their book was signed until they got back to class- it was a nice surprise!

The sequel to Sliding Beneath the Surface is out now, so I asked Mr. Dillon if he would come back next year and speak again, and fortunately he agreed. Local authors rock!

For more information about this event and about Doug Dillon, you can visit his blog at http://dougdillon.com/2013/12/17/rewarding-reading-excellence-in-schools/.

Computer Science Education Week

Today is the last official day of Computer Science Education Week: http://csedweek.org/ and we participated at my school by exposing students to The Hour of Code 2013. This is a series of free tutorials that walk students (and adults like me) through the basics of coding. If you make an account you can keep track of your progress, and students K-12 can also win prizes if they complete all of the modules.

I had limited availability in the library this week due to testing and Bright Futures sign up, but I packed as many teachers in as I could. The site is going to stay up for a while longer, so maybe I can coax some more teachers into letting their classes try it out.

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I was so happy to see how engaged the students were in the process and how they helped each other figure the puzzles out. I know coding isn’t for everyone, and I told them that, but it’s all about exposure in my opinion. How do you know what you like until you’re exposed to it? I wish I would have known how much I enjoyed graphic design before my senior year of college, for instance. So, expose them to as much as possible as soon as possible, I say!

Are we to blame?

I read an interesting comment in the Letters to the Editor section of School Library Journal this month and it made me pause. A reader suggested that as we as librarians are lamenting that young people no longer want to read actual books in actual brick and mortar libraries, we’re actually the ones to blame for this because of all of our pushing of electronic devices and new tech. Good point? Maybe.

Is it because of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads that young people are reading less? Or is it just something that is happening despite our best efforts? Are ebooks getting reluctant readers to actually read? I’ve seen how using iPod touches and iPads do help lower level readers engage more with books, but I don’t know if they’re hurting us when it comes to getting these same young people to come into the library on their own.

I would argue that readers are readers no matter how they consume their books. I know some avid readers who prefer reading on handheld devices, and I know some people like me who prefer actual books. So I don’t know if it’s fair to share we’ve turned young people off books by pushing e-readers. I’ve only seen positive experiences come from using handheld devices with students, and I do think reaching out to them with these tools helps them feel less intimidated by us and our libraries.

This whole Common Core fuss

I thought I should focus my first full blog post on Common Core, since that’s the big issue in education right now. Only five states have chosen not to adopt Common Core, so I figure most of us know what it is, or at least know it’s the biggest thing right now since Marzano.

A lot of people have pushed against Common Core, but I am for it. Not only is it just practical to standardize what our students learn from state to state, but it gives us a nice guideline of what we should be teaching. I also like that it shifts the focus from “what” to “how.” I know our students can memorize facts, but I want to know that they know and understand what they’re being taught.

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To be frank, what scares me the most is the role of librarians in this Common Core world. I attended the annual FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) conference two weeks ago, and naturally Common Core was mentioned in every single session I attended. But it was one session in particular that scared the bejesus out of me, and it’s because the presenter cheerily proclaimed that as media specialists, we are in a great position with Common Core because we are subject area experts! We can be the ambassadors to Common Core for the other teachers! We can lead the way! I thought, “whaaaaaaat!”

I should be thrilled, right? With our profession in such a tenuous position currently with so many schools cutting their media programs, how wonderful is it that Common Core has placed us in such a high prestige place? I suppose it would be wonderful, if I felt like I could truly be the leader of Common Core at my school. But honestly, I don’t know that much about it myself. I know it’s good because it puts a focus on informational literacy and non-fiction reading, but that’s about it for how it affects my daily life. Is it terrible that that’s all I know? Maybe… but I’m trying. I’m sitting at home right now in the middle of a webinar all about Common Core and librarians. It’s the first of a multi-part series of webinars, so I’m hoping to know something at least by the spring. (Joking! Joking…?)

Is it just me? Are there any other librarians out there scared out of their wits? I like to feel like I know what I’m doing, but I’ll admit I don’t feel ready to be the leader of Common Core at my school. Is there hope for me? I’ll keep you posted.

Hi and thank you for visiting

Hello blogosphere! Although this isn’t my first time blogging, it’s my first time blogging as a full time librarian. I have worked in the library setting for over 13 years now, but I haven’t taken the time to sit down and share my thoughts, experiences, and knowledge in a blog form. I know I’m not an expert by any means, but I know that I appreciate learning from our peers, so hopefully I can at least help others by sharing some of what I know or find. Yes, this is another librarian blog, but the more the merrier! We can all learn something from each other.