Texas State Library—Use it!

Don’t forget!  You can request titles in the state Library Science Collection (LSC), a professional collection which exists to serve librarians across Texas for no cost, other than the responsibility of return postage. To request a loan, just e-mail the titles (or a topic for recommendations) to me at lsc@tsl.state.tx.us and I’ll send them to your preferred address (school or home).

Free CE & Training Online for May: http://bit.ly/144tcqk

Book Love….and Hate

I recently read a book that I hated…truly hated, yet the reviews for the book were fabulous. I thought maybe I was just missing something, or maybe I wasn’t evolved as a reader. Then, I was talking to a co-worker about The Kite Runner….a book that touched me to my core. Needless to say, I was somewhat confused when she told me how much she hated it! She said it haunted and scarred her. As we talked, I realized THAT is what I love about books. The book that offends one person might heal another.
A teacher I know recently read Penny Kittle’s Book Love and has starting encouraging self-selected reading time in her classroom. When I saw her this week, she told me that two of her boys asked her why she didn’t let them read like this all year. She said they love having some time to read in class and have found some books which have drawn them in to that scarring, haunting, magical, uncomfortable, and mesmerizing world of reading. It was a turning point for her and her students. In a matter of a week, she has become convinced that allowing her students to explore their reading appetites by consuming a variety of books and authors is what has engaged some of her most “troublesome” students. So, as summer approaches, I root for the teachers everywhere who will be sifting and scouring through the clearance shelves and garage sales in search of those treasures to fill classroom libraries. Your quest will be worth it!

No Lamb Left Behind


Irish Countryside

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Ireland. One of the many delightful stories we heard while we were there was from Cathy, a sweet, animated woman who sold us a beautiful lambs wool sweater. As a child, she told us, she lived with an uncle who raised sheep. When she was five or six, one of her uncle’s sheep birthed four lambs, but the sheep, according to the uncle, would only be able to care for three of them. “Leave the little one to die,” he instructed his niece. Unable to conceive of that, Cathy sneaked out of the house after her uncle was asleep, smuggled the lamb into her bed, and fed it milk and whiskey! Early the next morning, before her uncle awoke, Cathy carried the lamb out of the house and hid it outside. This continued night after night for weeks! Finally, she presented the lamb, healthy and strong, to her uncle. Duly shocked, her uncle let Cathy keep the lamb as a pet, and they lived harmoniously together for years. (She didn’t tell us if the whiskey night caps continued after she was discovered!)

Food for Thought

According to a new research study conducted by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the picky eating habits of young children could have links to genetic disposition. UNC Nutritional Psychologist, Myles Faith, was the primary researcher in the project that studied 66 pairs of twins ranging in age from four to seven.  Dr. Faith noted that although some children are genetically predisposed to avoiding new food, their behavior can still be shaped so that they are less picky.

Social Media Skills

Have you been left behind in the social media whirlwind?  Recently I attended a wonderful webinar by Cathy Hoesterey entitled “Sharpen Your Social Media Skills.”  She provided many compelling reasons to use social media, the most important of which is to create a personal learning network.  Be still my heart!  I always threatened, after I finished my terminal degree-the one that kills you, I would start on my second doctorate.  Only this time, I would be the committee, the chair, and design the course of study.  This social media thing allows just that to happen!  So here’s a list Ms. Hoesterey provided of people on the QIAT listserv who are also on social media:

TED Talks Education

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and TED, the non-profit organization that is devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” have teamed up in an effort to provide TED’s first original television special, TED Talks Education. The special, airing tonight at 9:00 on your local PBS Station, is a one hour program that features a variety of “teachers and education advocates delivering short, high impact talks on the theme of teaching and learning.”

Language Differences and Bias

In a telling experimentconducted by Marilyn S. Rosenthal, children were asked to accept a box of crayons and drawing pad from one of two “magic boxes.” The boxes looked identical, but the voices that played from a hidden speaker within each box were different: Steve spoke Standard American English and Kenneth spoke African-American English. The interviewer played the same message from the different boxes, followed by questions such as “Which box has nicer presents?” and “Which box sounds nicer?”

Transition to Kindergarten

As the school year is entering its final month, it is time to start thinking about the transition to kindergarten for some of our young children. The Harvard Family Research Project, a division of the Harvard School of Education, recently published a brief entitled: Ready for Success: Creating Collaborative and Thoughtful Transitions into Kindergarten. The brief, based on current research, examines several important components for a successful transition. As we know, two predictors for future success are early social performance coupled with early academic performance; therefore, it is crucial to ensure that young children have a successful transition into kindergarten. The authors of the brief explore “effective collaborative approaches in which state departments of education, advocacy organizations, school districts, early education teachers, kindergarten teachers, families, and members of the community work together to help kindergartners enter school ready to begin this pivotal new phase of their lives.”

FREE! Highland Park Centennial Literary Festival

Want to do something special for Mother’s Day weekend? On Saturday, May 11, bring the whole family to the Highland Park Centennial Literary Festival at the Highland Park United Methodist Church (3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75205). Adult author sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. and Children’s sessions begin at 10:30 a.m.

All morning sessions are free and open to the public. Click here to view the Festival schedule.

On the job, low-tech sometimes beats high-tech

Students are more than the sum of their gadgets. When it comes to real-world job skills, high-tech knowledge isn’t always the last word. Take a look at the following “old-school” skills, along with the tech-friendly methods by which educators can instill them in students.

Dinosaur #1:  Writing

Often cited as one of the most important tools in the office, powerful writing and rhetoric skills are threatened by the easy-access writing found in texts and tweets. From the moment a resume hits the HR office, writing makes a big impression on employers.