Dust from the Book Fairy

Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

So I found this video on Joanne Jacob’s website. It’s a great explanation of the problems with merit pay.
In my area, teachers do get value added scores. So much depends on the group of kids you start with, how well you get them to do their work, the backup you get from parents and administrators, etc., etc. My value added scores my first year in the classroom were awesome.  I beat the 20 year veteran teacher down the hall.  By a lot.  In a year when I felt like nothing was going right, I changed my classroom procedures a million times, and went home to cry quite a bit.  Plus, my own classroom assessment results were not so good.  The next year, we got more done, class was calmer, and my value-added scores were not as good.  Okay, so I know this is all anecdotal, but that’s what really convinced me value added scores were crap.  crap. crap.  So it’s nice to find somebody else to explain why they are crap, in a more scientific way. (Besides the fact that teachers who do not have a tested subject just plain miss out)!


Ahh. . . summer vacation beckons.  The students are wild, the teachers are frazzlesd, and your friendly school librarian is nagging, nagging, nagging.  I spent the better part of my day calling the parents of the kids who still have 80ish books checked out of my library. That’s about 60 phone calls, people.  Of those phone calls:

  • 1/4 were to disconnected numbers, “She no longer works here,” and just plain incorrect numbers.
  • 1/4 had no voice mail/answering machine.
  • 1/4 were to voicemail, so  I left a message.  Easy
  • 1/4 I actually talked to the child’s adults.

So that last 1/4. 99.99% of the parents promised to look for the book and get it or the replacement cost to the library ASAP.

Now the others:

  • “My darlin did NOT check that out, I am not going to pay any $5, and the school had better NOT hold their grade card.”  Um. . . okay.
  • “My darlin said they returned that book, and we are not paying for it. It’s your word against theirs.”  My WORD?! We have spent the last two weeks inventorying all 10,000 items in the library.  The shelves have all been read and straightened.  We have searched for the books still checked out and/or missing several times.  My back still hurts, and my eyes still have a twitch from reading shelves in the semidark because our lightbults are blowing out all at once and we don’t have any replacements.  Your darlin has spent their last several library classes arguing with me about this book, and we have checked the shelves for it together.  Multiple times. It’s not here.
  • And my favorite:  Little darlin had failed to bring home any of my weekly overdue notices. SINCE JANUARY.   Darlin told momma they never got a note, and anyway they couldn’t return it because no one was in the library.  But, alas, momma wasn’t buying what darlin was selling. . . “I’m just calling to confirm that notes were sent.  I want to see how deep into this lie darlin’s gonna go.”

When does summer start?

So, I’ve managed one thing during my vacation. . other than family time. . . cleaned up the office. Oh, two things–I got rid of some old books (gasp).
I’m ready to go back to school.

Just got back from the Tennessee Association of School Librarian conference yesterday.  Too pooped and sick to write much today, but hope to have more later.  Lots of good ideas I want to take back to my teachers and students.  Loved hearing Deborah Wiles and Will Richardson speak!  Wanted to blog about it while at the conference, but darned if I’m willing to pay $11 for wireless in the hotel or tie up one of the two computers available for that long!  (Boo Marriott).

Will hopefully write more about it later.

The Day Leo Said “I Hate You!”
Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 •
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

I’ve been reading this book to my kindergarten through second grade library classes this week, and it has been a definite hit. An applause-after-the-story, read-it-again-now hit. It rates a 5/5 just on the students’ reactions. They are held rapt by Bang’s imaginative illustrations, which are a combination of drawing and Photoshopped objects, like the broccoli exploding around Mommy in one spread. They loved the crazy things Leo does and gets fussed at for, like squirting toothpaste down the toilet. The particularly observant ones have noticed that Leo’s stuffed dog and dinosaur react to his emotions by looking worried when he’s worried, etc. This book provoked a lot of conversation from the kids; I stopped just before Mommy’s reaction to Leo telling her “I Hate You!” and asked them what they thought.. Some of them were sure he was in BIG TROUBLE, and others admitted to doing something similar themselves. We talked a little about how angry words can hurt feelings, and especially about how it’s hard to take them back. The story ends with forgiveness and making amends, which relieved the students. Some of my teachers got to see it during Family Reading Night, and my behavior-assistance teacher decided to order her own copy, because it would be a great lead-in to talk about the hurtful power of words and the process of making amends with her students.

—posted as a comment at The Picnic Basket book review blog–

This week we’ve been reading Maybe a Bear Ate It! by Robie Harris with my little ones. (K & 1st). It is such a fun book, told just as much through the pictures as the minimal text. A little purple and green monster is reading HIS BOOK in bed. Then it disappears. He can’t live without it, and starts imagining all sorts of ridiculous things that might’ve happened to it. . .

“Maybe a bear ate it! . . . Maybe a elephant fell asleep on it!”

Then he starts hunting all over his house for it. . in the sink, in a shopping bag, even in the dryer! My observant children were edging off their seats, saying, “It was under his bed! It was under his bed!”

After reading it through once, we flipped back through it to talk about taking care of library books, and places to look when you can’t find your book

“Should you sit on your book like the elephant?” “NO!”

“How many of you have found something you thought you lost under your bed? (Lots of sharing time here. . .the best one was a little boy who found his puppy under his bed).

It’s definitely on my most recommended list, especially for librarians. . it’s a good lead-in to a book care lesson without feeling too didactic.

Also Posted at The Picnic Basket.
This book is a definite winner.  I read it to all the second graders at my school, and it makes a great read-aloud.   When Judy Moody visited the art class and called it the “Naked Lady class,” she had them rolling with laughter.  The story moves quickly, and it’s full of humor that the kids loved.  Almost all of them know someone going to college, and it made for great real-life connections for them. Every single Judy Moody title in our library has stayed checked out ever since.  I’ve been recommending it to students who love Junie B. Jones by Park and Clementine by Pennypacker.

Judy Moody Goes to College

Judy Moody Goes to College

As a teacher, I thought it would be a great novel to build a curricular theme around—you could work in math by talking about the topics Judy Moody discusses with her tutor, art through the art class Judy attends in the story, and even some environmental science topics.  You might even take a field trip to a local college and see how it compares to the one Judy Moody visits in the story.