29 Aug

gjmueller: Violence concerns persist amid CPS school closing…


Violence concerns persist amid CPS school closing plan

As Chicago prepares to close 54 schools in an attempt to rescue an academically and financially failing educational system, one of its greatest challenges will be safely maneuvering thousands of students to and from class through the patchwork of rival gang territories that cover large parts of the nation’s third-largest city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, have acknowledged the danger of mixing young people from different neighborhoods.

photo via flickr:CC | duncan

24 Aug

Super Bowl Fun in the Classroom + FREEBIE! #4thchat #5thchat…

Super Bowl Fun in the Classroom + FREEBIE!

#4thchat #5thchat #literacy #superbowl 

Party planning can develop many skills.  Party planning teaches: how to organize, communication skills, new vocabulary, creativity (art and writing), attention to detail and so much more. 

I put together this “Super Bowl Party Planner” booklet so that kids can create their own “virtual” Super Bowl party. It incorporates all of the skills listed above. Kids can really get creative with this one.

Who knows? Their families (or teacher) may even want to use it for their own party. Wouldn’t that be cool?


  1. Directions for assembly
  2. 4 Covers (2 color & 2 b/w)
  3. Booklet includes (half pages, b/w)
  • My Invitation List (writing)
  • Invitation (writing/art)
  • My Menu (writing)
  • Halftime Game (writing)
  • Jersey (art)
  • Cheer, Chant, Rap (writing)
  • Party Scene (writing/art)
  • Word Bank

image4 covers included (2 b/w, 2 color)


This booklet covers multiple intelligences. Of course it covers the linguistic intelligence, but it also covers a few others. Once completed you can play the games students create (kinesthetic intelligence), have them perform their cheer, rap, or chant (musical intelligence), and interpersonal intelligence is covered because students must think of others while planning their party.


I would also like to share some football freebies with you. Below you will find 2 football themed writing templates and a word bank. Hope you can use them.

image  image  image

Remember to follow me at TpT so you are updated when I post products and freebies. Thanks!

23 Aug

March Madness hits the library!

Here’s another great idea for a library display that goes along with March…or rather March Madness.  I swiped it from a librarian friend of mine, Susan R. Meyers who works in a neighboring district high school. Of course she credits her intern for the concept.  So go on over and read and see their set up.

Dorman High School Library’s March Madness 2013

It’s going to be a fun project.  Here’s how I came up with our version of a Library March Madness.

In our Destiny Program, I ran a report for the Top Titles (Reports–>Library Reports–>Top/Bottom Titles). I adjusted the time frame to use one year as basis for the report.

Reading the report, I eliminated those titles I knew had inflated circulations due to in-library use with classes in the library.  Once I had sixteen titles, I set out to create the brackets.

I found and printed the covers, seeded them (numbered them one through sixteen) and then worked out the brackets.  Yes, I had to research seeds in a sixteen-team tournament, but luckily our library assistant is a high school softball coach (and middle school basketball coach) so she is well versed in tournament brackets and how they work. She sketched out the brackets and where to place seeds.

Our Tournament of Library Books will be decided using voting.

  • For our “Sweet Sixteen” Week during week one, students will use a ballot to select a winning title from the paired books for each of the eight “games.”  This will determine our “Elite Eight” that will compete in week two of our tournament.
  • The ballot for the “Elite Eight” in week two will feature the four pairs competing in the quarterfinals, and students must select one from each pair, narrowing it down to the semi-finalist titles. 
  • Week three’s ballot will feature the semifinalists, aka the “Final Four,” and students will be invited to vote to narrow us down to the two books that will be squared off for the Finals.
  • Week four’s ballot will only have the two finalists on it, and students will decide using votes which book will be declared our March Madness Champion.

Prizes: I haven’t really come up with a great plan to reward students, but I think during Week One, we’ll ask students on the ballot to predict the champion title, and then all who predict accurately get in a drawing at the end to win our school’s “Cafe Coupon” on “Cavalatte Coupon” and a free book of their choice.  We’ll fund these with fine money–> twenty or so fifty cent coupons.


Want to know which titles are in our Sweet Sixteen?  Head on over to the library blog Cavaliers Read to see.

22 Aug

Super cool! PULP-O-MIZER Create your own “Pulp Magazine…

Super cool! PULP-O-MIZER

Create your own “Pulp Magazine Cover

#edtech #literacy via @edtechchic Blog: EdTech Chic

Lots of customizations can be made (text, backgrounds, images). No registration required. Kids will love creating covers to go along with their stories, poems, projects, etc. I had fun creating the one above.

Created image can easily be saved to your computer.

Added to Write On! 4 Kids under the tab “Book Cover Creator”.

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Futebol TV

16 Aug

Ultimate Writing Resource List

Ultimate Writing Resource List:

Superb categorized resource for #writing resources!


100+ resources. Click here for the entire list.


a massively extended version of ruthlesscalculus’ post

General Tips

15 Aug

Can you name these “tweet” reads?

Our USC School of Library and Information Science school library intern Lori Willis-Richards created this awesome book display in our Dorman library during November. We are going to sponsor a contest in which our students must guess the books. http://www.flickr.com//photos/c_nelson/sets/72157632042431512/show/

Want a taste? I don’t have all the pics, and we know we need to fix one, but here are a few. See if you can guess the popular YA Lit title.

02 Aug

So You’ve Decided to Blog!

Dear friend and now new blogger,
So you’ve decided to blog.  Congratulations!  I have to say I find the experience quite rewarding!  It’s just a great place to be reflective, entertain, to wonder, rant, express joy–to all around show your passion to the world.
You’ve asked for some constructive criticism so I’ll do my best.


The site itself

Your blog is very much like a garden.  You have to take care of it.  That means keeping it fresh, and on an infrequent basis, weeding.  Your sidebar is a place to store widgets and more, and they speak to your personality, beliefs, passions, likes, dislikes, and more as much as the “you” in person does.  It should also be representative of  you and your readers. So periodically comb through that information and rake out links and widgets that are dated, dead (yeah, surprise, bloggers will eventually abandon their site), or no longer in alignment with your passion.  (I probably need to take care of that tonight on my own.)  Don’t be bashful. Change your theme daily until you find one that works for you!! It’s your space so you should play dress-up until you are happy with the look and feel.  



Wordiness is a significant problem I have, and I can see you might have it too.  I don’t apologize for being wordy, and you shouldn’t either. But I have had friends tell me they start a post of mine, and after seeing how long it is,  decide to return later to digest that mammoth amount I have put there–that it is just too much for quick reading. Many of my devoted readers read from a service (like Netvibes, Feedly, etc.) Those services work great for the short posts, but not so much for linger ones. If it requires a reader to scroll, there’s a chance they’ll never read it completely at all. Only your most loyal readers will patiently scroll on to read in full. The impatient ones will will mark it to come back to or read later, and then that’s a big IF they decide to come back. Dangerous ground and risky business. Better hope you have devoted readers who are loyal.


Use Subheadings
Since I know I’m wordy, I tend to chunk mine, and use subheadings.  I took that suggestion from guru blogger Sue Waters. Sue is one of the primary bloggers over at The Edublogger (http://theedublogger.com/) and this is a worthwhile blog to subscribe to, read, and follow–and while you are at it, follow her (@suewaters) on Twitter too. She’s awesome and full of great blogging advice for the educator and for the educator wanting to blog with students.


I would also suggest adding visual interest to your posts with some pictures. Best case, use your own. But if you don’t have a picture to match your post topic, head on over to places that offer creative commons licensed content. I don’t always do it, but we should aslo provide an attribution to give credit to the picture source. We are librarians and therefore we should be modeling ethical use and respect the property of others. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a formal one. That is why original artwork is usually best. Pictures are not the only way to add flash and pizazz, you can get that with embeddable content too (youtubes, slideshows, etc.) Start noticing shared content that offers an embed code.  Blogs are the ideal playground to learn about embedding.


Don’t assume your readers are aware f everything. Hyperlink anything that has additional content elsewhere. Hyperlink to content and PEOPLE.  My own blog received a nice ping today because you linked to it. THANKS.  Not only did my blog tell me, but it drove your readers over to my blog. Smiles.


The Comments Feature


Moderation is Key
I noted today that you are running comments as moderated.  I think that is safest, especially in the k12 arena. You can try out unmoderated. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I am STILL keeping it moderated. This is one of the ways to keep spam off my blog. There are other ways too in the dashboard.


Spammers are savvy these days, and they will find a way to get onto your comment page. Beware. Notice URLs for those that leave comments. Often times spammers simply try to get visitors by commenting on blogs. If their site seems fishy or not in alignment with your post or reason for being a blogger, mark them as spam. Just be vigilant and check each one out.  It’s okay to go back and “unapprove” a previously approved comment.  Eventually you’ll get a feel for the spammy ones.


Commenting Etiquette
Commenters often want to extend the conversation around the topic of your post. Don’t be afraid to interact with them there in your own comments. Sometimes you will get push back on ideas. Don’t take it personally. Just agree to disagree.


Acknowledge Comments
I’ve tried to pattern myself after Doug Johnson and his handling of vistors who comment on his blog.  He ALWAYS eventually will email a personal note of thanks along with a response or reaction, and post that same sentiment on his blog in his comments.  It’s nice to be acknowledged, and visitors appreciate knowing their thoughts were valued by you as the post author.


Wordy Comments
If a response to a comment becomes very long, consider it as a new post. Sometimes that happens.


Lack of comments
Don’t get discouraged or take it personally if no one comments. It doesn’t really mean people aren’t reading. Many just lurk long before they are ever ready to comment–it’s just so public! It takes a lot of nerve to jump in with a comment. Remember how nerve-racking it was the first time you decided to publicly comment on a post out there? Different posts will generate different interest. I always tell myself many posts were written for my own reflection. No comments is okay.  Some posts just get more attention than others. I’ve also discovered the way to get comments is to comment on others’ blogposts.  Often they return the favor or direct their readers over to your posts.


Construction Criticism Done
Now that I’ve exploded with wordiness….
Okay that’s all I can think of tonight.  I hope you find this more helpful than critical.  And just as I suggested to you, since I knew this was too long for a comment, I decided to make it my own blog post.  So GLAD to see you join the blogosphere. I can’t wait to learn from you.


Image: ‘Rosie the Blogger’
Found on flickrcc.net
Image: ‘Thank You’
Found on flickrcc.net

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