Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hope you all have a joyous and healthy new year.
My vacation begins at 12:30 PM today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What are Primary and Secondary Sources?

Contents of President Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination. 
Contents of Abraham Lincoln's Pockets on the Night of His Assassination on Exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibit. Library of Congress           Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Digital image. Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

A few years ago I took an excellent online class which was all about the Library of Congress and utilizing its primary sources. It was amazing to see how many resources had been digitized, (they are not done quite yet with all the items) and how they could be used in the classroom. 
Ask your students if they can explain the difference between primary and secondary resources, and you will probably find that they do not know the answer. 

A primary resource is the original document, including photos, newspapers, birth certificates

Secondary sources evaluate or discuss primary sources.
Here's a short video explaining primary and secondary resources:

This table shows you the differences side-by-side:

Here are some digital photographs and primary sources from the Library of Congress'
Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints Collection: 

Officers of General Grant's Staff,City
Point, Va. 
March 1865

Federal dead on the field of battle the first day 
Gettysburg, PA

Need a Last Minute Christmas Gift for a Baby?

If you haven't already heard, I have been a songwriter since I was in high school. My CD for the nursery, "Welcome to the World" was written a while back, before technology took hold of me. I created the music to lull children to sleep, and it has gotten rave reviews. You can listen before you purchase on CD Baby,, or iTunes. (Just search "Julie Greller".)

Babies love it.
Parents love it.
You will love it too.

Loads of Resources and Lesson Plans for Speech Teachers

100 Best Websites for Speech Pathologists

Child Speech and Language- from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Crazy Speech World- blog written by speech-language pathologist Jenn; many great suggestions

Famous People Who Stutter- from the Stuttering Foundation

Information for Speech-Language Pathologists- from publications to connecting with your peers

Internet Resources for School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists Serving Students Who Stutter- last update was 2012, but this is a comprehensive list worth using

iPads in Speech-Language Therapy

A Special Page for Kids Who Stutter- resources for you to use with your students

Speech and Communication Disorders- from MedlinePlus

Speech Techie- blog written by  Sean J. Sweeney, CCC-SLP

Stuttering Foundation of America- resources for parents, teachers and students

Teacher Checklist: Fluency- for stuttering students

The Best Speech Therapy Activities and Ideas on the Planet- from specific disorders to seasonal

Examples of Materials Which Can Be adapted for Therapy- extensive listing covers interactive sites, handouts, templates and so much more!

Sample Lesson Template (Google Doc)

SLP Lesson Plan Freebies- Pinterest board

SMART Exchange- lessons to download using SMART Notebook Express

Speech Therapy Activities- free!

Speech Therapy Ideas- extensive listing divided into 9 categories

Speech Therapy Lesson Plans- from Speech Buddies

Speech Therapy Songs

Have You Heard of Crash Course Kids?

The ever-popular Crash Course also has a junior version called Crash Course Kids. There are science videos for elementary and middle school students which are presented in an easy to understand way. Take a look a the videos below to see if you would like to use them in your classroom.

By the way, the original Crash Course is not only available on YouTube, but they have partnered with The Khan Academy, with videos in math for K-8, and areas of test prep, economics, arts and humanities, and computing.

NOTE: It is important to preview Crash Course videos, (not necessary for Crash Course Kids) since there are some sarcastic comments which might not be acceptable in your classroom. You be the judge.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

9 Resources to Flip Your Classroom

The flipped classroom model reverses homework and classwork, so that students can learn at their own pace on their own time.


Educreations- free accounts and $$ accounts

EDpuzzle- students watch videos and add their comments as they are watching; EDpuzzle lessons now integrate with Google Classroom.

Educanon- interactive video learning; free

Explain Everything- interactive whiteboard; $3.99 iPad app

Haiku Deck- presentation software; education account is only $5.00 per month

Jing- download the program to your computer and once you create a video it is hosted on

Khan Academy- instructional videos for math, computer programming, history, art, economics.

Screencast-o-matic- create and share your screen recordings

Teachum- build courses that are hosted on YouTube; collaborate with colleagues to create courses

Friday, December 4, 2015

What to Do When the Budget Has Been Crushed

I intentionally chose the cartoon at the left because sometime in the future, I am afraid that  "free" libraries might be a thing of the past. Budget and job cuts are happening all over the country, and teacher-librarians have had to come up with ways to buy books for their collections.

Are you in that majority?

This school year I was not given any money for my budget. I have needed to pull out all the tricks in my magic bag, and although I have not been able to adequately stack the shelves, I've done about as good as one can do considering the circumstances. If you find yourself in this spot in the future, here are some of the things I have done to generate ca$h:

1, Keep a small school store stocked with book covers,(jumbo Book Sox, the original one) pens, pencils (students are always unprepared..) erasers, notebooks and ear buds. Can you guess which item we sell the most of? It's the ear buds. Price markup is the key, folks. Purchase from clearance sales, discount warehouses etc.

2. The raffle sale. See if you can get a local business to donate an item, or take the price of the item out of the raffle sales. With the second choice you won't make as much, but you'll still make something. If you attend a book fair, you might have gotten the author to autograph your copy, The autograph will make your book raffle more appealing.

3, Charge students 10 cents per sheet for printing from the computer. Believe me, this money adds up.

4. Charge students for copying in color or black and white. Many companies like Apple are giving away free all-in-one printer/scanners with the purchase of  a computer. See if a colleague will donate it so that it will cost you nothing. (Old printer/scanners as donations can work as well. You will have to pay for the ink if your technology department or supervisor does not have the funds for it.)

Hope this takes the sting out of the "zero dollar game."  If you have any suggestions to share, please add to the comments. I still haven't found a high school library with no budget other than us.

UPDATED POST: Do Your Students Know How to Evaluate a Website?

Most students are really not sure how to tell if a website is trustworthy. In fact, when I teach classes on research, several students mention at the beginning of the lesson that all they need is Google to do their paper. By the end of the lesson they have retracted that statement. How savvy are YOUR students? Here are 16 resources on website evaluation:

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources

Credible Sources Count- view a 10-minute tutorial about how to find sites you can trust. EXCELLENT!

Critical Evaluation of Information- Kathy Schrock's guide by grade level; covers elementary through secondary 

EasyBib Research- students can enter a topic to search and EasyBib tells them if the site is credible or not. (NOTE: Not all sites have been rated)

Evaluating Internet-Based Information- from Media Smarts

Finding Reliable Information Online- slide presentation from middle school teacher Sean Hinger

The Five Ws of Website Evaluation- from Kathy Schrock

Museum of Hoaxes- bogus web sites from A to Z

University of Berkeley Library- an excellent tutorial on finding information on the Internet

Using Critical Thinking to Find Trustworthy Websites- video from Common Sense Media

Website Evaluation- I have put together three important links for your students


If You Dislike Lorem Ipsum, Fillerati is For You

If you are either creating a template or working on a document and need text to fill in so you can see the big picture, Fillerati is for you! I personally am not a fan of Lorem Ipsum and have been using Fillerati because it uses English text from seven famous authors' books. (Teacher-librarians and media specialists take note.) The diagrams below give you an idea how this text filler works.

The drop-down menu offers seven famous authors and their books.

Choose paragraph, header, list or text for your sample.
Slide to the right to increase the number of words.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Textbook S'Mores: A Delectably Different Kind of Post

As I was looking for books to order for our library, I came across a cookbook ( Nerdy Nummies Cookbook, by Rosanna Pansino) which featured books which were made out of graham crackers. They looked so awesome that I decided to see what else was offered in the book. The table of contents (on Amazon, you are allowed to look inside) told me that the chapters was based school subject areas, as seen below:

Under the chapter, "Geeky Treats", there is a recipe for Textbook S'Mores. This book gives you all the information you'll need to follow the recipes, including all the supplies you need to have on hand and a conversion chart. So if you'd like to try this recipe out before buying the book, (you really should buy it!) here's a video of the the author Rosanna Pansino making Textbook S'Mores. Enjoy!

You can find a host of video tutorials from Rosanna and her book, Nerdy Nummies Cookbook HERE on youtube.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Loads of Book Display Ideas for Your School Library!

Spice up your library environment with tempting book displays. Students DO judge a book by its cover, so don't let them judge your library as dreary! Special H/T  to Library Girl Jennifer LaGarde for the terrific infographic.

You can find this post and a HUGE collection of resources for teacher-librarians HERE.

Book Displays to Attract Reluctant Readers- from EBSCO

Fiction Book Display Ideas- Pinterest board

High School Library Book Display Ideas

Library Book Displays- Pinterest board

Library Displays- Pinterest board

School Library Book Display Ideas- Google image search

School Library Displays- Flickr pool of over 700 photos!

School-Library Displays- Pinterest board

Twenty Rules for Better Book Displays-from EBSCO

TED Talks About Libraries and Librarians

In case you haven't seen these wonderful TED Talks.................

2016 School Libraries Work!

Scholastic has released its 2016 document, School Libraries Work! and I'm hoping all my library colleagues will download a copy.  It's important to note that the majority of administrators have no idea what we do every day as teacher-librarians, so it is up to us to let them know.

Always keep a log of what you do every hour of the day. I use a Google document and constantly add to it, inserting visuals for clarification. Don't risk forgetting how busy your day was!

My recommendation is to download a copy and use it to show your district how important school libraries are for our students. Here are some screen shots from the document:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Are You Ready for Google Jamboree?

Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 5th. EdTechTeacher is presenting Jamboree in Medfield, MA, and it looks like it's going to be terrific! The event will take place at Medfield High School and feature the following workshops: Google Drive and Google Classroom, The Magic of Chromebooks and Google Web Tools, Google Drive as Collaboration Station, Student Creations with Google Drive Add Ons and Chrome Extensions, and YouTube-It's Not Just Cats and Khan Academy.

For more information and to register, click HERE.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Doodle 4 Google Contest Open

It's that time of year again for the Doodle 4 Google competition! Students in grades K-12 can submit their entries from now until December 7, 2015.
Here's what Google has to say about the contest:
"For this year’s contest, students can create a doodle that tells the world “What makes me…me.” Kids have all kinds of things that make them unique, so they can use all kinds of materials to create their doodles, from crayons, to clay, to graphic design, even food and video games.
     Students in grades K-12 are invited to take part in the 2015 Doodle 4 Google contest. Like all Google Doodles, each doodle must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e. One national winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship."

The online entry form is HERE.

Here is the winning doodle from last year.

Monday, November 2, 2015

5 USB Microphones Under $250.00 for Podcasting

So you say you are ready to podcast? I have already posted loads of information for you to get started as well as sample technology and education podcasts. Today's post specifically covers USB microphones which are priced under $250.00. These are the previous 2 posts:

All About Pocasting: 82 Sites Which Will Show You Everything You Need to Know

The Best 30 Technology and Education Podcasts

My Top 5

1. Audio-Technica AT2020- with a list price of $225.00, this cardioid mic picks up sound from in front and limits the sounds from the sides and rear. It's currently on for $169.00 with free shipping.

2. Blue Microphones: YETI- this retro-looking microphone offers multiple pattern selection:  cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo. It can be used in any situation, including podcasting, 
It's currently on for $84.95 with free shipping. (It is a #1 Best Seller on their site)

3. CAD Audio U37- studio-quality mic for vocals, instruments and podcasts. This is a cardioid mic which limits side and back sounds, concentrating on the sound from in front of the mic. The USB cable is 10 feet long. It's currently on for $43.03 with free shipping.

4. Rode NT-USB- package includes a pop shield, tripod desk stand, ring mount,
and storage pouch. Currently, this low-noise condenser mic has a 5-star rating (59 reviews) on where it is $169.00 with free shipping.

5. Zoom H2n- this mic runs on (2) AA batteries, 
Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90° X/Y stereo, and both 2-channel and 4-channel surround. Comes with a 2GB SD card. Currently available on for $159.99 with free shipping.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Want More Theme Choices in Google Slides?

Tired of the limited choices of Themes in Google Slides? Why not try Slides Carnival, which offers free presentation templates in 8 different categories, including Formal, Inspirational, Creative, Simple, Startup, Elegant, Playful and Business. Once you are logged into Google Drive, simply choose the template by clicking "USE THIS PRESENTATION TEMPLATE" and it is brought right into your Google Slides to edit. Instructions are written on the actual slides. Here are a few sample templates:

H/T to Joyce Valenza for the info!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Page Added: Special Education

With a limit on the number of pages Blogger offers, I condensed the Web 2.0 resources so that Special Education could get its own page. Sorry it took so long.

4 Fonts Designed for Students with Dyslexia

For any student with dyslexia, reading can be very difficult. Fortunately, designers have created several fonts to aid students when reading online, saving them from trying to flip, swap or reverse letters. (Currently, Arial, Courier, Helvetica and Verdana are easiest for dyslexics to read.) Here are 4 fonts you can load on your school's computers:

1. Dyslexie

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cheating is Sometimes Okay: This Cheat Sheet is Awesome!

Here's a big shout-out to Kasey Bell, whose blog Shake Up Learning has some of the best technology tutorials on the web! I am currently teaching our new 9th graders how to use Google Docs and Drive, and found this cheat-sheet which Kasey created. It is easy to follow and I love the design! (What is that handwriting font? Love it!)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Guest Post: On Digital Citizenship

Our 21st Century libraries are the perfect place to explore, and what better way to practice digital citizenship than by connecting with others around the world!

Dot Day 2014 035.JPGCommon Sense Media’s vast website is chock-full of resources related to kids, tweens, teens, parents, and media. Their Digital Literacy and Citizenship educational resources and curriculum are well written, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and they are kid, tween, and teen friendly.  Their Power of Words, Pause and Think Online are great videos to share with elementary school students, and Oversharing: Think Before You Post is perfect for tweens and teens.

One way to incorporate the Digital Citizenship curriculum and to honor the Digital Citizenship pledge is to connect with other schools via Google Hangout or Skype, and practice what they have learned in a fun way.   By celebrating various literature-inspired holidays with other schools within your district, the United States, or worldwide, elementary students can  hone their 21st Century communication skills.

Dot Day 2014 003.JPGIn September, we celebrate courage, creativity, and collaboration with International Dot Day, We read books about art and taking risks, and share dot-inspired art with other schools.

In October, we celebrate Read for the Record and collaborate with other schools to share the book of the year.  Also in October is Digital Citizenship Week - the perfect time to teach this topic, and practice new skills like communicating kindly with someone else online.

In March we celebrate  World Read Aloud Day where my students connect with other classrooms around the United States to share information about each other’s state and read aloud to one another. Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books are perfect books for Gerald, and the other, Piggie, Older students can the younger grades - one school can read the part of read two-part poems such as Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman  or read a Readers’ Theater version of a book, such as Judy Schachner’s  Skippyjon Jones- Lost in Spice, dividing the parts between the two schools.   

Another favorite holiday I celebrate with my students Poem in Your Pocket Day.  This year, after reading a few examples of list poems, we collaboratively created list poems, using Google Hangout, and typing together on Google Drive as our students created and dictated the lines of the poems.

As students go farther and farther into their exploration of cyberspace, powerful digital citizenship lessons such as these will serve them well.

My collection of Digital Citizenship resources can be found here, or check out Julie’s blog!

Melissa McDonald is the School Library Media Specialist at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is the author of the blog, The Creative Librarian - Adventures in School Librarianship.

Where I Have Been the Last Few Months....

My apologies for not posting in quite a while.  I have had some health issues which ended with a hospital stay this past weekend. It's been a tough road back but I am glad to be feeling better!


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