Sunday, December 11, 2011

Leo Lionni Author Study Lesson

I teach in a progressive school with multiage classrooms that ranges from 2 and a half year olds to 5th grade. In October, I did an author study with the 6/7s on one of my favorite authors, Leo Lionni. We spent the month reading his books, talking about his artwork, and learning about his life. The study culminated with a collaborative project with the art teacher. Below are some of the details.

I introduced the kids to Leo Lionni by showing them the book Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art. It's a beautiful book with fold out pages of illustrators working in their studios, some of their early art, pictures of them as kids, and each of them has written a page about why they became an artist. The entry for Leo Lionni is written by his granddaughter Annie, for whom he wrote his first book Little Blue and Little Yellow, which was a perfect segue into our reading that as our first book.  We then read read Inch by Inch and compared the stories and styles.

Random House has a great Leo Lionni website and I showed a video each week to the kids from their gallery. The videos are about 2 minutes long and are Leo Lionni talking about his childhood, why he writes about animals, etc. They are very sweet and make him come to life for the kids. One of the videos I showed after we had read Frederick was a video of Leo making a paper mouse by just tearing the paper and then I had the kids do it. It was a really great and easy project to do and the kids loved it. Here are some of their mice. After they made their mice, some kids got even more creative and made cats and dogs.

The week before we read Frederick, we had read Swimmy, at which point the art teacher began talking to the kids about Leo Lionni as well. She talked to them much more in depth about his techniques and also had a lot of examples of his books available to look at in the studio. The children began to experiment sponge painting with different textures and also talked a lot about collage and some of his other styles. This year as part of their classroom study, they are studying farmers markets and farms, so they had just taken a trip to the Union Square farmers market. Here is their Leo Lionni inspired farmers market mural they wound up creating.

We finished by reading Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse, although in some classes we also read additional stories if there was time. Throughout the month, I also used some of the biographical material on the Random House website. The kids loved the books and I really enjoyed being able to collaborate with the art teacher and it meant a lot for the kids, too.

                                                                              This post was brought to you by HVLA Communications Coordinator, Kerry Roeder

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NEIT 2011

Last month, I had the opportunity to once again attend the NYSAIS Education and Information Technology (NEIT) conference, which is held annually at the Mohonk Mountain House. NEIT is a fantastic event that brings together librarians and educational technologists for three days of learning and sharing. This year’s keynote speaker was danah boyd, who spoke on the topic of “Privacy and Drama in Social Media: Youth Practices and Educational Opportunities.”  You can read collaborative notes from her presentation in a google doc here.  

The rest of the conference is mostly an unconference, or open space sessions. Anyone can propose a session on any topic or question he may have.  This style of conference stresses taking responsibility of your own learning; making your own choices and being encouraged to stay as long as one session is productive and leaving when it's not. You can see all of the sessions that were offered (as well as ones from previous years), with notes from nearly all of them here.

Aside from the open space sessions, it is a great place to get to know librarians and tech teachers and integrators. There are also opportunities to relax and take in the gorgeous surroundings, go on hikes or if you’re adventurous, attempt the rock scramble. Click on the picture below to see a slideshow on flickr of some great nature shots and technology.
On Thursday night, everyone came together for an hour of ignite sessions. In an ignite session, a speaker gives a 5 minute power point presentation with 20 slides, each of which automatically advance after 15 seconds.  Due to the format and restrictions, these are very dynamic presentations and were really great to listen to with great topics, such as the One Laptop One Child Program. The ignite sessions ended on a lighter note with some very funny power point karaoke. The conference closed the next day with an informative panel discussion on Educational Implications on Games & Gaming.

Many thanks to HVLA’s own Kathleen Ellis, Barbara Lutz, and Diane Neary, who were on the organizing committee for this year’s conference.

If you are looking for ways to stay involved with technology throughout the year, here are some suggestions:
This post was brought to you by HVLA Communications Coordinator, Kerry Roeder

Monday, November 28, 2011

The HVLA Edublog Award Nominations

Thank you to those of you who made suggestions for the Edublog Award Nominations. Here are some of the sites we'd like to nominate:

Best Individual Blog:

We love Betsy Bird's Fuse #8 Production blog for her regular book reviews, insights into the publishing world and her uncanny ability to predict the Newbery Award winners. Her write-ups on publisher's librarian previews are a huge help to those of us unable to attend in person and every weekend I look forward to her roundup of videos related to children's literature.

Best Group Blog:

Yalsa's The Hub (Your Connection to Teen Reads), exemplifies why group blogs are so fun. With over 30 bloggers contributing content including teen bloggers, this one gives readers a wide variety of programming ideas, breaking YA lit news and offers insight into Yalsa's Selection Lists and Awards that no other blog can provide.

Best New Blog:

Launched in September, Someday My Printz Will Come, fills a gap in online book awards discussion. We have the Newbery and Caldecott blogs, but no place to discuss the Printz Awards. Even if you aren't following the Printz Awards, it's still a fabulous blog just to get ideas for great books to recommend to teens.

Best Ed Tech/Resource Sharing Blog:

Hack Education is one of the best blogs for information about the use of technology in education. Audrey Watter is "committed to telling the stories of students, educators, organizations, entrepreneurs who are using technology to 'hack education.'" Her writing is accessible and her blog discusses the latest in technology developments relevant to educators.

Best Library/Librarian Blog:

What did I do before School Library Journal's Adult4Teen Blog existed? When SLJ's Adult Books for High School Students column ended, few resources existed to help librarians determine which adult books would have appeal in teen collections. Many of the juniors and seniors in our library have moved beyond reading young adult titles, but want an adult book that speaks to them. Angela Carstensen's Adult4Teen blog, launched last October, has made it easier to make recommendations to this group of readers. Angela's blog is constantly updated with contributions from a variety of reviewers and all include that key element- will this book appeal to teenagers?

Best Free Web Tool:

Google's brain teaser challenge, A Google A Day, is a fun way to teach students how to hone their research skills. A new puzzle is posted every day and a running clock keeps track of how long it takes you to solve the puzzle using web search strategies. Students can try to beat their own record or compete against each other to see who can solve the puzzle first.

Over 400 sites have been nominated so far, see all the nominations here.

This post was brought to you by HVLA Treasurer Rachael Myers with help from Kerry Roeder

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Edublog Awards

The Edublog Awards is a community based incentive started in 2004 in response to community concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access of learner and teacher blog sites for educational purposes.
The purpose of the Edublog awards is promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.

The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners while creating an invaluable resource of the best-of-the-best on the web!
Last year, I found the Castilleja School Library Website while browsing the Edublog winners and it has become the inspiration for our new library website that we will hopefully launch after winter break. I think the Castilleja site is everything a school library website should be- it is easy to use, nice to look at and features student reviews and engaging information while also promoting library programs. I've also found some of my favorite resources and blogs on the Edublog Awards Site including Free Technology for Teachers and the Moodle Guide for Teachers.

I'd like to use our blog to spotlight and nominate some of the sites, twitter feeds and other online resources we all use and would like to spotlight. The nominations period just opened last week- if you have any resources you think should be nominated please leave a comment on this post or send me an email. The categories are below. Please let me know by next week if there are any online sources you think should be included.

Best individual blog

Best individual tweeter

Best group blog

Best new blog

Best class blog

Best student blog

Best ed tech / resource sharing blog

Most influential blog post

Best twitter hashtag

Best teacher blog

Best librarian / library blog

Best School Administrator blog

Best free web tool

Best educational use of audio / video / visual

Best educational wiki

Best educational podcast

Best open PD / unconference / webinar series

Best educational use of a social network

Lifetime achievement

This post was brought to you by HVLA Treasurer, Rachael Myers

Monday, November 14, 2011

New York Comic Con Report Back

I had a chance to attend Comic Con this year as a presenter on a panel about graphic novels in libraries. I had never been to any Comic Con before, so I was excited to have an excuse to go. NY Comic Con offers a free professional pass to educators and librarians for the Professionals-Only Day where they conduct panels during the day and then the Exhibition Floor opens in the afternoon.

Sadly, because of my schedule, I missed some of the early day panels that likely would have been the most interesting to me as a school librarian: a panel on digital comics and graphic novels in the classroom. When I arrived, I was able to attend two panels on video games in libraries. One was about starting a video game collection where they discussed how to evaluate video games, lending pr
actices and budgets. The second was about National Gaming Day and was more focused on libraries that already have video game programs in their libraries. The final panel, Beyond the Basics, was about some of the issues that come up after you have an established graphic novel collection. I had a chance to talk about our experiences with our graphic novel collection along with two public librarians and one academic librarian.

After our panel ended, we got to explore the Exhibition Hall which was overwhelming to say the least. I mainly just stuck to the publisher rows to take a glance at some of the new graphic novels being showcased. Unlike ALA and other conventions I've been to, there weren't many publishers giving away books or Advanced Reading Copies. But it was a great place to pick up little buttons, bookmarks, and other memorabilia that will be given away as prizes throughout the year. I even got some Comic Con temporary tattoos which students in my graphic novel club were excited about.

If you're thinking about attending Comic Con next year:

- it's free to librarians and educators
- good panels for school librarians if you can arrange your schedule to get there for them
- free memorabilia that your graphic novel fans will love

- it's at the Jacob Javitz Center
- no free books

This post was brought to you by HVLA Treasurer, Rachael Myers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Running a Mock Newbery Club

It's the time of year that people start talking about and making predictions for the upcoming book awards. At my school, we have just created our shortlist of five titles and students are furiously reading to be eligible to vote in our annual Mock Newbery Election. Our five titles are: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier.

From talking with other librarians, it sounds like there are a lot of different ways to run a Mock Newbery, but our club begins in September with a list of about 50 books that I have been compiling since January. From this list, students weed down the list to about 15 just by looking at summaries and book covers. Once we have the list of 15 books, we talk more in-depth about each title. We watch book trailers, read excerpts and listen to audio-book excerpts. We discuss the Newbery criteria and talk about the merits of each book and students vote for their top five. From this vote we get our list of contenders and students must read and write reviews for all five in order to vote in the final vote.

Last year our Mock Newbery winner was the book After Ever After and the author, Jordan Sonnenblick, visited our book club via skype for a mock awards ceremony. We even created a little awards seal that students solemnly placed onto the cover of our library copy. We had about 25 students eligible to vote in the final election last year and it even inspired a Mock Printz Club to form in the high school.

Here are a list of resources that I refer to frequently throughout the year:

Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog- run by Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt, this blog is a wonderful and thorough resource for anyone who follows the youth media awards.

Goodreads Mock Newbery Group- a Goodreads group where readers can discuss eligibility and make predictions.

A Fuse #8 Production- Betsy Bird also served on the Newbery Committee and offers great insight into potential titles. Her predictions have been uncannily spot on!

Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Tool Kit- I have an older edition of this, but I am looking forward to taking a look at the newly released toolkit.

The HVLA Listerv- when I first decided to try to run a Mock Newbery Club, I emailed our listserv and got some great ideas from colleagues in terms of creating a structure and process for the club.

This post was brought to you by HVLA Treasurer, Rachael Myers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Greetings from AASL 2011

There's so much going on at AASL 2011 in Minneapolis, MN.  Lots to learn and absorb!  Here are a few highlights that I've picked up in the last day and a half:
This post was brought to you by HVLA president, Anglela Ungaro.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Embedded Librarian at Library2.011

Are you planning on joining the masses for Library2.011?  The worldwide virtual conference is fast approaching and the presenters have some amazing sessions planned for the three day event.   You can watch librarians from all over the world talk about what they are doing in their libraries.  One of HVLA's  own librarians, Briar Sauro, will be presenting her curriculum as well.  Read all about it below.

Briar was inspired by conference STRAND 2:  "Librarians & Information Professionals" - Evolving Professional Roles in Today’s World. Says Briar, “I wanted to present at Library 2.011 because I saw the term ‘embedded librarian,’ an idea to which I strongly relate but which I rarely see applied at the elementary level.”

Briar has been at Berkeley Carroll since 2004 as the librarian for Grades 2-4 and has been an Independent School Librarian in New York since 1999. About two years ago she began making big changes to her library curriculum. She got the Fourth Grade library class scheduled back-to-back with computer class so that she, along with the computer teacher, could use the time flexibly for computer skills, library skills and online research skills as needed.

Briar did not stop there. That year, she was under Peer Review and was asked to imagine her ideal library program by her Review committee.  She told them about all the things we learn in library school, flexible scheduling and integrating research skills into the classroom curriculum. One wise teacher said, “Sounds like you need to be working with the classroom teachers, not just the computer teacher.”

So, with the support of her Peer Review committee, she presented a proposal to the administration to overhaul her entire Third and Fourth grade curriculum. She now co-teaches with the computer teacher and the classroom teacher. They work in the library, lab, or classroom, depending on the content of the lesson. Briar attends all grade level meetings and works out a research timeline with the teachers. They figure out what the students will need to know for their research projects and then they break it down into lessons and mini-lessons leading up to their projects.

The integrated library curriculum is always dependent on the social studies curriculum and may change over time. For one unit, Briar taught three weeks of lessons on using authoritative websites followed by a short mini-lesson on using Google Docs for note-taking as students launched their explorer research. For another project she built a web page full of video and interactive resources for a trip to Ellis Island and then assisted while the students wrote immigrant journals in their docs (with factual sidebars!).

This new curriculum would not be possible without the support of the administration, a team of enthusiastic teachers up for a challenge, a reworked schedule, and a librarian for PreK-1st Grade who can help the students become independent library users by 3rd Grade. And it is not without its challenges. In her presentation, Briar will talk about all that went into her embedded curriculum: the planning, the collaboration, and the challenges. “This is messy work and we are still figuring out how best to do it. I’ve been pleased, though, by the increase in students’ capability and competence with online tools and their enthusiasm for the work we do together.”

Thanks to Briar Sauro for providing the details of her  program. I hope you check out her session

  This post was brought to you by HVLA Vice President, Kimberly Pallant

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A 21st Century Librarian Conundrum

This week I received my first set of bibliographies to correct and I started thinking about MLA format.  It seems to have taken over my brain recently and left me with lots of unanswered questions.  One question in particular has been haunting me; how does one cite an iPad app?   My students are using apps for research more and more frequently and in fact I was thinking of recommending these apps for a science project next week. But before I do, I want to make it clear to the students that they will have to cite the app and show them how to do it.

Let’s consider the following:

Is an app a website?
Not quite.  One does not necessarily need Internet access to use an app, just a device on which to view it.

Is an app a database?
Not exactly, however you could use an app to access an online database from the library or create your own database using an app.

Is an app an eBook?
Well….there are book apps.  You could purchase and read an eBook using  an app or download a unique book app that lets you play inside the story.

My conclusion: an app is an app!  It seems to me that an app can be any and all of these things, thus it is a completely unique resource requiring it’s own citation format.

So, where to go from here?  I did some googling for app citation suggestions and came across a few helpful responses.

A member of the California K-12 School Librarians List Serv had a great suggestion that 
mimics the citation for a general website, with a few tweaks that are unique to apps such 
as creator, version and release date. The iPad Journal had an equally helpful response. 
The only difference I noticed between the two is a matter of labeling the medium.   
Should it be iPad or app? 

Is this an issue that has come up in your schools?  How have you responded?

This post was brought to you by HVLA Vice President, Kimberly Pallant

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Monday, October 3, 2011

HVLA Goes to the Morgan

Happy October!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for our fall meeting.  The Morgan Library has some great exhibits right now that I’ve been meaning to check out.  I can’t think of a better group of people to share the experience with then my HVLA friends and colleagues.  

We’ll be touring with a Morgan educator and learning about the history, architecture, special collections, highlights, and current exhibits. After our one-hour tour we’ll be meeting up in the dining hall for a meeting/social.  There will be a few welcome back announcements followed by beverages and light refreshments and, of course, great conversation. 

And remember, it’s a Friday so the Morgan is open until 9pm! Feel free to stay after the meeting and enjoy the exhibits again at your own pace. 

If you'd like a sneak peak at the permanent collection, or you can't make it to the meeting, take a look at the video below.

For more behind the scenes information, including a closer look at the music manuscript collection and reflections on Jane Austen, be sure to check out The Morgan Library's Youtube channel.  

If you have any suggestions for future meetings- theme, guest speaker, location- or would like to volunteer to host, please leave a comment or send me an email, kpallant [at]

Update: RSVP here

This post was brought to you by HVLA Vice President, Kimberly Pallant
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

fREADom For All: Celebrating Banned Books Week Online

It's Banned Books Week--a favorite event for librarians, authors, and book lovers everywhere!  Since 1982, libraries and bookstores around the country have participated in the only national celebration of our freedom to read.  Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from September 24 through October 1.  It's a great time to talk about censorship with your students, discuss why some books are challenged or banned, and celebrate by reading anything you want to read!

If you're in the market for a juicy read that just happens to have made it on the most frequently challenged list, you might want to take a look at culture blog, Flavorwire, where HVLA Secretary, Sarah Murphy, delves into 10 Banned Books That Talk About Sex.  (Banned books are so hot right now!)

Another way you can participate is by uploading a video to the BBW Virtual Read-Out channel on YouTube.  You can find all the criteria and instructions you need on the official BBW website.  After all, if it's good enough for Judy Blume...

Librarians are a resourceful bunch.  Have any great blogs, videos, or sites that we should know about?  Share it in the comments!

This post was brought to you by HVLA president Angela Ungaro.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Special Librarian Morning at KMA

The Katonah Museum of Art has a new exhibit opening called Storied City: New York City in Picture Book Art and on October 17 they are having a morning just for librarians.  In addition to a tour of the exhibit, there will also be intriguing discussions about picture books including one led by HVLA's own Michael Clark.  

The museum is also hosting Picture NYC Book and Art Family Festival Day on October 23, a New York City themed Book and Art Family Festival.

                                                                    This post was brought to you by HVLA Communications Coordinator, Kerry Roeder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

90-Second Newbery Update: James Kennedy is Even Cooler Than I Thought!

The power of the internet is at work, people.  After posting about James Kennedy and what my students are doing with the 90-Second Newbery contest he co-created, I was contacted by the author himself.  We e-mailed back and forth a few times and I can confirm suspicions that he is indeed a wacky and affable guy.

Here's the great news:
  BFS has arranged for James Kennedy, author of The Order of the Odd-Fish, to visit our middle school students!

Greater news:  He'll be in the area a few days before the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival (which is Saturday, November 5th) and is available to visit other schools in the area!  Contact him by e-mail ( to arrange something.

And the greatest news:  James has invited my students to introduce their film live at the event.  Needless to say, they are thrilled about the whole thing.  Two of them are convinced that this is their ticket to fame.  We shall see...

So what are you waiting for?!  You still have three and a half weeks to grab some kids, a video camera, and get editing so you can submit a video entry to The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival.  This handy, dandy flyer will help you get started.  Good luck!

This post was brought to you by HVLA President, Angela Ungaro.

Monday, September 19, 2011

90-Second Newbery in Your Library

Do you have 90 seconds to spare and a few willing, creative kids in your library?  If so, you still have time to create and submit an entry to James Kennedy's 90-Second Newbery Film Festival by Monday, October 17th

James Kennedy, author of The Order of the Odd Fish, and Betsy Bird of NYPL and SLJ's Fuse #8 Production blog, have joined forces to curate a film festival consisting of videos "that compress the story of a Newbery award-winning book into 90 seconds or less."  This contest is open to all (ages 0-18) and at the bottom of a blog post back in January, Betsy Bird made note of a "New York Caveat" where NY kids are not restricted to only Newbery books.  Imagine the possibilities!  (Note: Since you're in the area, you can also attend the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the main branch of the New York Public Library on November 5, 2011 from 3-5pm.)

So if you're wondering why I'm making such a fuss over this clever little contest, allow me to explain.  Near the end of last school year,  I "caught" a few of my 5th grade students huddled around a computer streaming James Kennedy's video "A Wrinkle in Time" In 90 Seconds on Vimeo.  One of the girls explained to me what the video was and how she wanted to get some kids together to enter this contest with her.  Right away, I was interested in the project and knew I had to get involved. 

As a faculty advisor, I was able to help the students get organized, access equipment that the school already owned, and provide a space/time for them to prepare and execute the video.  I had the very good fortune of working with a group of kids who were extremely motivated as well as technically proficient.  At times it felt hectic but for the most part it was fun!  The students decided to create a  90-second(ish) rendition of Ellen Raskin's 1979 Newbery winner The Westing Game.  Without further ado...

Want to see more 90-Second Newbery entries?  Check out YouTube and search "90-Second Newbery" or visit James Kennedy's blog.  Enjoy!

This post was brought to you by HVLA President, Angela Ungaro.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Conferences and Festivals in Fall...Oh My!

Fall is here and that means school librarians have a plethora of literary and library-related events to consider attending.  The following conferences and festivals range from absolutely FREE to just a few hundred dollars; from virtual to IRL (in real life); and from local to national to worldwide.  There truly is something for everyone.  We hope you give (at least) one a try! [Note: All these events and more can be found on HVLA's google calendar.]

Brooklyn Book Festival
Date of Event:
September 18, 2011
: Brooklyn Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street)
Brooklyn presents the largest free literary event in New York City featuring "literary stars and emerging authors who represent the exciting world of literature today."
Don't Miss Out:
  As part of Brooklyn Book Festival's "Bookend Events" the Brooklyn Public Library is hosting a Librarian Mingle on Saturday, September 17, with Marilyn Johnson, author of "This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All."

BookFest @ Bank Street
Date of Event: October 29, 2011 (Registration begins September 12, 2011)
Bank Street College of Education
This event is dedicated to the celebration and discussion of books for children and teens.  The day includes conversations with kidlit luminaries Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer, and Leonard Marcus as well as panel discussions, break out discussion groups, and a delicious lunch catered by 'witchcraft.
Don't Miss Out:
With only 150 spots open for registration, the event fills up quickly.  Check out their facebook page for a link to register to this year's BookFest today.

Library 2.011 Worldwide Virtual Conference
Date of Event:
November 2-3, 2011
HVLA is partnering with this free worldwide online conference.  The conference co-chair, Steve Hargadon, describes it as a "unique chance to participate in a global conversation on the current and future state of libraries."
Don't Miss Out:
HVLA members are encouraged to submit proposal ideas about the "Evolving Professional Roles of Librarians in Today's World" to HVLA vice-president and Library 2.011 liaison, Judy James at Judith_James [at] before September 15, 2011.

AASL 15th National Conference & Exhibition: "Turning the Page"

Date of Event:
October 27-30, 2011 (Advance Registration ends September 29, 2011)

Minneapolis, MN
"This conference promises to provide you with thought-provoking sessions, discussions, (in person and virtually) with colleagues and friends, time to investigate new materials and resources in the exhibit hall, and the opportunity to get invigorated with a big dose of energy to help you and your program turn the page." -- Ty Burns & Cheryl Steel, Conference Cochairs
Don't Miss Out:
The Independent School Section Networking Event will take place on Thursday, October 27, 8-10pm.
  Be there!

This post was brought to you by HVLA President, Angela Ungaro.