Merry Christmas, especially from the library!!

Some rights reserved by Bibliotheek Kortrijk

This little creative interpretation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” takes on a definite library slant and is so cute! It is making its rounds on our SCASL Library Listserv, and very much worthy of sharing!!

“Christmas Wishes”

Written by Frankie Adkins, ML, NBCT
Professional Storyteller
President Ex-Officio
North Carolina Storytellers Guild
PO Box 295
Honea Path, SC 29654

‘Twas the month of December, and all through the school

The kids were excited; the teachers were, too.

The sun, it was shining; The weather was warm.

When from the library there came a loud cry!

“Oh goodness! Oh gracious! Oh what shall we do?

We have just too many books overdue!

We’ve sent out the notices to no avail.

What do you suppose has caused us to fail?

The semester is ending, the holidays neigh.

Why, St. Nicholas soon will fly through the sky!

We have an idea – What more can we do?

We’ll make an announcement to say, please won’t you

Bring your book back today, or as soon as you can,

So we can get on with our holiday plan.

Look under your bed. Check in your locker.

Maybe you’ll find a book. Won’t that be a shocker!

And all of the books will come back like they should.

That’s the end of this poem. (Don’t you think it’s quite good?)

So bring us a present, but not one you bought.

Your overdue book is the one that you ought.

Then go sing some carols and deck all your halls,

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Have a Cool Yule you all!”


Let’s get ready for the Oscars & a blind the library

Trying to create displays in my library can frequently be a challenge.  Our high school library has quite a varied group of teens who come and hang out, and quite frankly, not all come to read.  That’s okay since there is so much more going on here than just reading.

So we try to snag YA  Lit attention through displays. My predecessor had quite the knack (and still does) for creating attractive displays, particularly when there is little shelf or wall space to do so.

I am sharing some that I consider to be “homeruns” for us, as these generated quite a bit of interest in the kids.


February “Blind Date with a Book”

Blind Date was a really big hit! WE shared about it here.


Books 2 Movies Display

We added a contest to this one here.


Zombies are really popular with teens!


Another great displays this year include our Twitter Contest, which you can read about here and here, and our banned books display below.


Edmodo: I’m finally drinking the koolaid

How will I manage all these Edmodo groups!? After SCASL13, I find my sidebar of groups (ones I’ve joined) to be quite full. SCASL asked presenters to create an Edmodo group for conference sessions this year, and now that I’ve opted to join those conference session groups, I have to click “show all” to find ones I want to revisit. As I ponder this, I wonder how I will manage it? Let me tell you how. Now that I have a working understanding of the groups, once I decide there will be no more interactions to extend my learning, and I have taken the resources offered, I’ll leave that group.


Edmodo at first

My first experience with Edmodo came maybe 18 months ago. I read of the new “Facebook-like” app several years ago. It began in September 2008, and by the next summer was being raved by many in my PLN as the be all end all classroom app. I signed on for an account, but could not wrap my head around how I could use it in my teaching context. Afterall, I am a librarian, and every class in school is “my class.” Being in a school with 2600+ students, it seemed a bit overwhelming to begin promoting a code to join the library. I seriously believed my colibrarian and I would be overwhelmed with sheer numbers.


One more thing?

Don’t get me wrong, I manage other online spaces pretty well. In some I’m a lurker, others I’m an active participant, and even others I’ve created a spaced and actively recruited members. Edmodo to me seemed like one more place to navigate and manage, and just another option. It would add to my already too full plate. So while I could see the beauty of it, it was just one more thing to add to my teacher toolbox, one I didn’t have a lot of time for. Over the last few years I’ve promoted its use to my faculty, and I know of several who with my encouragement among other sources, actually jumped right into using Edmodo with their classes. Successfully. I even felt a little smug that I (essentially a non user) had convinced others to give it a try.


SC Edtech used it for virtual handouts and more

My first real experience with using Edmodo in a professional sense came from SCEdtech in the fall of 2012. The organizers asked us to create a group for our sessions, as that would be the conference endorsed way to digitally share online handouts. Dutifully as a presenter, I created my space, uploaded my links, presentation powerpoint, and digital handout. But I confess I never even looked back at it. The chatter about the conference was that even if you missed a session or had a session conflict, you could still get to the resources same day. I totally missed the part of interacting live with participants and having a back-channel happen in an  “edmodo room,” but I did know some were exclaiming the virtues of it. I did keep getting notifications of new members. I never even looked back at it or even tried to interact with the group. Never took the opportunity to exchange ideas, interact, or crowdsource new and better to build on the foundation I lay in my session. I was too busy for Edmodo, and so just took a passing interest that eventually turned into indifference and disinterest. I even eventually deleted that group (horrors!) when the chatter died down, roughly four weeks or so after SC Edtech 2012.  (Truthfully I wanted to forget it as I had issues with connectivity in the session, making me think it was sub par to my standard, and I had overwritten the absolute latest version of my presentation fifteen minutes before time. I couldn’t even use the pres in Edmodo, as it was a far cry from the one I had majorly tweaked and updated the night before. I really wanted to FORGET it forever, despite kind words from attendees and follow up emails. Maybe they didn’t understand the interaction feature of Edmodo either, so I wasn’t alone. But maybe-and probably more likely-they saw I wasn’t using the space that way either.)


Glad to be done and leaving!

I had to leave the conference early, right after my presentation that fateful day, as our family had lost a loved one, and so I drove away to be with them, which would really help me forget. I still cringe inwardly when I think of SC Edtech 2012. But I will probably be back in 2013.


Fast-forward to SCASL 2013

Jennifer Tazerouti. IT Chair

Jennifer Tazerouti, aka “AuntieLibrarian,” and current SCASL Information Technology Committee Chair convinced the SCASL Board to go the route of Edmodo for our conference handouts this year. Sigh. Here we go again!  So I reacquainted myself with Edmodo, tweaking my space some. I decided I really needed to understand it better, so worked to develop my profile. I found and joined some communities, created a badge for my session attendees (#fail since teachers can’t award teachers badges), and waited for interaction to begin.  I also selected a few sessions (groups) from SCASL13 to join. Hey, I’m not 100% sure it was her brainstorm, but I am 100% sure who made me feel comfortable using it.


And then the light came on!

Keith Curry Lance at SCASL13

Since I had signed up to attend Keith Curry Lance’s preconference session, I joined his group too.  Later I found out this was his first experience with Edmodo.  But I must say, he hit the ground running.  He modeled for me a professional use of Edmodo as it should be–sharing his presentation materials, links, and most importantly discussion and pushback on my own thinking as we interacted with him and other session attendees in his group space. He posted all his session presentations (preconference, break-out session, and keynote) in this space. This confused some initially since the group was titled Preconference, but it didn’t take long for most to forgive that issue and plow right into asking questions and engaging in virtual conversations around his topics.


I’ve grown!

So now I have a whole new appreciation for this school-friendly tool, and even how i can use it professionally as well as with students. I’m going to create some more groups and get some students interacting in it too! It IS a great thing.  Hey, why not connect with me there??

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 3.49.04 PM


So now I want you to wow me with how you have used it.  Do tell.

Picture Attributions:
  • Edmodo Sign-up Page image came from
  • SC Edtech Logo –
  • Jennifer Tazerouti and Dr. Keith Curry Lance – SCASL13 Confernece Set
  • Facebook Like Button – via FlickrCC
  • My Edmodo Profile Screenshot (right from my desktop)



Is E for Easy?

Today many of my SC library friends engaged in a healthy discussion about the books that have mostly pictures, are roughly 32 pages (give or take), and have been maligned by teachers as “easy.”

The conversation began with an innocent question:

If you are in an Intermediate school, 4th and 5th grade, do you have an Easy Book section with E on the spine?

Here are the takeaways from this crowd sourced “wonder.”

  • I had an E section but it was called Everybody Books.
  • We have a E “Everybody” section.  Many of these books are good read-alouds that support standards, especially science and social studies.
  • We call them “Everybody” books because they aren’t all that easy to read.  There are several picture books in our “E” section that have lexiles in the upper hundreds. I hate to call them “Easy” because they aren’t all that easy to read.  We call them “Everybody” because if you can’t read the words, you can enjoy the pictures.  Therefore “Everybody” can enjoy those books.
  • I use E for Everybody books  – if I were starting new, I would use P for picture. Picture books are NOT easy books – some of them are on 4th, 5th, 6th grade levels!
  • Very well stated! I totally agree with what you’ve said and that is how I promote my “E” section – easy is not part of the vocab here. And for what it’s worth, I despise the term “Chapter books”.  Makes me want to scream.  Why teachers use this when sending the kids to the Learning Commons is beyond my imagination.

Found on

All of these are fantastic support from some great SC voices. As a high school librarian, I want to add my support for these books as well. These books are a GREAT way to introduce a topic in any classroom or content area. They can be the perfect segue from topic to topic or activity to activity in any classroom. These books also tap into the inner creative side for some, and we all know there are plenty of students who do not respond to dry text, but will respond to stories or pictures that make connections, evoke feelings, and allow for the appreciation of literature, dramatic readings, and in its purest form, the appreciation of art. Just think of the possibilities too, as you prepare for Common Core, and providing varied texts and formats of information.

Levels can be misleading
It’s funny that this came up. Years ago when Lexile became all the rage, I had a teacher friend in my school ask if I would pull some 1100 level books for her. Her daughter had to have one the next day for her English class (at a neighboring elementary school) and hadn’t had the chance to get one. So I said I’d pull some together and they could come right after school together to browse through the books pulled. Imagine her shock and indignation when in the pile of books  there were a couple of picture books. She immediately tossed them aside, saying I needed to put them back, as her daughter would be in trouble if she brought such a book in. While the fifth grade daughter selected something more appropriate to what her teacher wanted, the mother, my colleague, was amazed at the variety of books that seemed to be from a wide range–> small books to thick books, easy books to longer works and even classics. But each book met her criteria of being in the lexile range requested. I demonstrated how to use our Destiny catalog to search Lexiles, and told her she could use the catalog to narrow down choices once in the Lexile range. I wanted the Mom/Teacher to take the book and teach the teacher a thing or two about Lexiles and vague assignments. Alas, she wouldn’t do it. But you rest assured she told everybody in our middle school about her experience with Lexiles.
A favorite
There are many I find favor in.  Patricia Polacco, Chris Van Allsburg, Mo Willems, John Scieszka, and many more…these authors are found in my high school collection. And yes, many classified as Easy.
So without further adieu, here is one of my  favorites!! Actually, ANYTHING by Mark Teague.  I could list many, but I think I’ll just feature one that I have used before.

What can you address in a classroom with this book appropriate for high schoolers?
  • Different Points of View (reality vs. what we manifest in our minds)
  • Differing views through colors (Visual literacy/Art appreciation)
  • Imagination and perception
  • Letter writing  and audience
  • Newspaper article writing and audience

I’ll close with this reflection.  Just as we cannot judge books by their covers, this is a reality for levels too.  No matter the intended audience, the level may vary greatly. A book, despite a low level or lexile, might be the prefect choice for adding variety, providing choice, creating a mood, or modeling/demonstrating a concept. So don’t be dismissive of these well loved books just because they are labeled Easy..

Picture Attribution:
Morgan, John.  ”Caught Reading.”
14 November 2011.

From our SCASL Conference – bragging rights

Public Thanks!

Frances Lee Oneal and Cathy Jo Nelson at the Summer Institute in June 2012

Greetings SCASL Members.  My name is Cathy Jo Nelson, and I am currently on the SCASL Board of Directors, serving as the Regional Network Director. I have assumed these duties by appointment. This position has been held a number of years by a beloved, long-time SCASL member, Frances Lee O’Neal. She has served in many roles in SCASL over the years, is a charter member, a past president, is a veteran of numerous committees and task forces, and is held in the highest esteem by many. She is my esteemed mentor and friend, and has been a tremendous help to me as I  have transitioned into the position of Regional Network Director. I wanted to publicly thank her for helping me get my feet wet and getting the Regional Network off the ground at the beginning of this year. She laid the groundwork for a strong group of librarians who serve as the liaison to the Board of Directors, and I must give credit to her cultivating and growing this group of volunteers. I did make this statement publicly at our SCASL Business Meeting at our annual conference this past week.  Franki, you are irreplaceable. I only hope I measure up half as much as you do still. Thanks for setting the standards so high–FLO, Frankie, Frances Lee O’Neal. You have left me huge shoes to fill! You are a true southern lady, jewel, gem, and treasured friend who embodies all things S-C-A-S-L.


100% – Nine Districts 

At our business meeting, one of my responsibilities is to recognize all the districts in South Carolina who have all their schools served with SCASL Member Librarians. What a joy to discover that nine school districts in our state can brag about this achievement. It gave me immense pleasure to announce that at conference.  They are:

  • Allendale School District
  • Barnwell District 45
  • Calhoun County Schools
  • Florence 4 Schools
  • Dillon 3
  • Dillon 4
  • Dorchester 4
  • Fairfield County Schools
  • Richland One Schools


SCASL Committee Exploratorium 

All committee chairs were asked by Heather Loy, SCASL President to create displays for a “committee exploratorium” that would line one side of our conference exhibit hall.  The displays were to show visitors initiatives that our committees are working on, our “advocacy-themed” activities, and draw interest to encourage nonmembers to join, and inactive members to get involved.  I must say the displays knocked my socks off. After seeing some of them I felt mine did not necessarily measure up.  But my goal was to put a face-to-face connection with those serving the individual regions outlined by SCASL, as well as educate viewers of what the Regional Network does (or should be doing.)  I did have three people sign up to volunteer in some way, so I’ll take that as a success.  In the business meeting I reminded attendees to be sure and visit this area of the exploratorium and to find a way to actively plug in.

Open to Suggestions

I am open to suggestions from any and all in our state, and will make it a personal effort to work for the membership. As my mentor Franki pointed out, our 100% districts should not just be recognized now, but in mutliple places, and particularly in our first organization publication that every librarian AND principal receives, no matter their membership status. It’s a great idea, and I plan to do exactly that.  I am taking this to heart, and going ahead and publishing it here.  See, I told you she is a great mentor who can teach me a lot of things.  Love that woman!!


Best YA Books of the Year 2012!!

Was shared originally at Yalsa’s THE HUB

I stumbled across this blog post on Stacked, which led me to this Yalsa – The Hub post where I found the Wordle. BOTH are worthy reads to add to your RSS feeds, and I love the Wordle so I’m sharing it here. I love the teen lit blogs that help me stay on top of my game!!