Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making Book Trailers

This summer I am taking a course through Simmons in creating book trailers. I am learning about tools that are new to me, considering what to include and what to leave out and am newly impressed with how music changes the tone of a video. 

Here is a first try. I am hoping to join with students to make book trailers for the 2014 - 2015 nominees for the Massachusetts Children's Book Awards. 
Making book trailers is fun and rewarding. It's also time consuming. While I hope to create plenty of my own, enlisting students to make them seems like a good idea. 


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Setting: Creating a Sense of Place in Your Novel

The group of young novelists I have been working with this year have been working independently. It's been amazing to see their enthusiasm. Yet there is never enough time to give all the attention I would like to each novelist, so I decided to create a series of videos for them. Here is the first one - Setting. This is also my Show Me tutorial.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


A couple of years ago I had a plan to separate my content into distinctly themed blogs. I had so many ideas and I dreamed big. It turned out, however, that at the same time I inherited some major projects and my change in responsibilities broadened my focus. At this time, posting all school library and kid lit posts to just one blog makes more sense. I will be closing down Picture Book Inspirations and keeping Purple Glasses Club. A few posts, like the one below, will be migrated to this blog. 

Origami Angel (originally posted March 19, 2013 to Picture Book Inspirations)

For years I have been doing origami as part of my story time routine. The kids love and so do I. When I switched schools at the beginning of the school year and met students who I hadn’t seen in years, the first sentence most of them said to me included the word origami.

I wrote an article, Origami as a Teaching Tool in the Elementary Library, a few years back that was published in Library Media Connection in May 2009. It detailed how I use origami in my library program.

With all the push for time on learning I constantly reevaluate what I am doing. For a while I practically cut origami out of my program. After a hiatus I put origami back in…it just made sense. Origami is a great motivator and everything is so much better when students have something to work towards. Still, I started wondering whether I should pre-fold the prizes. Then along came a couple of young boys who totally changed the way I saw the value of origami.

Last Tuesday I was a little discouraged. I needed a little inspiration. I went to pick up my first grade class and a boy handed me a trio of cat puppets.

“See I made these last night. I watched how you made them” he said.

I looked at them in amazement. They were folded almost the same way I folded mine. When I tried to return them, he said “No, those are for you. I have a lot more at home.”

I treasure them.

As if that wasn’t motivation enough for me, later that day I folded a pig puppet for second graders. At the circulation desk a boy told me that he was making pigs at home. His teacher is a great fan of pigs. Another student asked how he learned to do that.

“Oh, I watch Ms. Shoup to learn how. Then I go home and try changing it to make my own things” he said off handedly.

At the beginning of the next day I see his teacher holding an intricate pig mask with an elaborate headdress. The boy was standing beside her pointing up at the mask. There were smiles all around.

The kids are learning all about geometry. Not to worry, I find ways to integrate origami as part of the learning process. I usually make them “pay for” the folds with recalling facts from something we read.

What does this have to do with picture books? When I read a picture book, I try to find an origami that goes with the picture book. The origami is an enticement to sit still, to focus on the story and recall details. The child who wins the origami at the end of class will remember the story as long as they have the prize. This extends the fun far past the moment they leave the room.

It extends mine when I see them clutching their prizes as the leave the school building at the end of the day or hear tales of students who still have them years later. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MotherReader: 150 Ways to Give a Book

Many of us are in the process of doing holiday shopping. Mother Reader has made a list of 150 ways to Give a Book. I know that I have a whole new set of gift giving options.

MotherReader: 150 Ways to Give a Book: For all of your holiday shopping needs, here are 150 Ways to Give a Book , grouped by (approximate) age. They are all MotherReader-approved ...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNo's Eve

I haven't been posting on any of my blogs lately. I've been completely focused on the work of reconfiguration of schools, serving a wider age range of students and catching up on middle grade reading. Revamping a library to serve a new range of students is certainly time consuming, but very exciting at the same time. 

My writing has been mostly of the school related sort. I was delighted to see that one of the goals of my new school is to foster the writing skills of our students. So I suggested that NaNoWriMo would be a perfect project to have our students not only writing, but also excited about writing. Don't know about NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month. If you don't already know this, NaNoWriMo has a curriculum of lessons that align with the Common Core. Sweet. 

I decided to have students have the option to sign up for NaNoWriMo or be critics. Before I left school today there were 142 students signed up and ready to write. 

To figure out word count for each student I assigned them a 10 minute writing test. They wrote story for 10 minutes. Then I developed a formula to calculate the number of words they could write during their library block during the month of November. Lastly, I conferenced with them and allowed them to choose to set their word count higher, lower or exactly the same. I thought it was interesting to note that most students elected to set it higher. 

Tomorrow we start writing our novels. It's going to be a crazy ride. Not only will I be writing my own novel, but I will be cheerleading 142 students as they write their novels. Coordinating extra writing time   before school, during recess and lunch and providing incentives. How I'll juggle it all, I don't know yet. 

As if that isn't enough, I've signed up for PiBoIdMo as well. 

I'm excited for this month. The writing samples students have shared with me are inspiring. I can't wait to see how it will all unfold. 

So tonight is NaNo's Eve and tomorrow I'll wake early to jot down a few words before I have to head off to school. 

Hoping your writing is sweet!

Friday, July 13, 2012

I finally decided to sign up for the Good Reads Reading Challenge. I generally like a challenge. I love reading. So it seems like it would be a natural step to join. I found myself, however, worrying about whether I could read as many books as I set out to. I worried about whether it would be embarrassing to fail. This morning as I saw that button on my Good Reads account, I thought of my students. How they feel about reading challenges. Some of them may love them. Some of them may dread them. While I can't change their feelings about this summer's challenge, I could at least take the plunge. So here I go, in the middle of July setting an arbitrary goal of 200 books for 2012. 

I realized that the additional benefit of declaring my goal is the incentive to remember to log in books that I have read. When I remember to log in books I don't usually take the time to review them. My reviews are more like notes to help me remember how I want to use the book. Occasionally a book will inspire me to write a review, but the lack of a review does not mean that I did not like it or that I was unenthusiastic about the book. I know that I spend time on social networking sites and I've learned to put limitations. I use Good Reads as a way to track my reading. It suffices at the moment. 

Want to see my progress? The widget on my sidebar is my goalkeeper. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Bolduc House Earthquake Exhibit

The Bolduc House Museum's exhibit to commemorate the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811 begins on December 16th. The thoughtful, varied ways they have chosen to commemorate the earthquake are intriguing and make me wish I lived closer so I could visit during the exhibit. 

The aspect of their commemoration that is close to my heart is the exhibit of Debbie Davidson's etegami. Etegami is an art form I have always admired and wanted to try. I had seen plenty of beautiful artwork in Japan, but I remember first identifying Etegami as an art form when I went to mail a postcard. The post office was a large one and had a etegami exhibit. Etegami art is striking. It is common to fill the page and spill over the sides. I feel a certain kinship to it as I feel like I spill over the sides quite a bit of the time. 

Debbie's work is remarkable. After the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster I found myself visiting her blog daily. She was a voice in those terrible days that followed that spoke of strength and unity and love. Her series Humanizing the Quake brought hope during a very fearful time. The images from Humanizing the Quake are on display at the Bolduc House Museum. The proceeds will assist those who have had to relocate after the disaster.

If the story ended there it would be enough. For me, there is more. My own response at the time seemed inadequate. Too far away. Too little. The poem I offered up was all I had to give. Debbie was inspired by it and (with my blessings) created an etegami. In fact she created two. This piece is part of the collection. So in my small way, I too, have a connection to the exhibit. 

We are all connected. We all make a difference. You never know how far your actions may ripple. 

Visit Debbie's blog Dosanko Debbie's Etegami Notebook and follow her on twitter @dosankodebbie