Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Boogers!

As kids we remember the book fairs. As media specialists, we looked forward to earning free books for our school from those fairs. Scholastic Books, well known for their children's books, just published another winner for 8-12 year olds entitled, You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Boogers! Other topics in the "You Wouldn't Want to Live Without" series have included: ...Snot, Plastic, Vegetables, Electricity, Pain, Bacteria, Sleep, Writing, Trees, Toilets, Nurses, Glass, and Gravity, just to name a few.

The latest installment became available in hard cover and paperback this past September 2016, and just like the others, it is engaging, educational, and beautifully illustrated.

With chapters like How Does Mucus Protect Us?, What are Boogers and Snot?, and What Animals Use Mucus for Defense? it's easy to see how youngsters will be drawn to this book. The glossary at the back of the books gives definitions for words used in the book. I give it 5 stars. In fact, I give the whole series 5 stars! Your kids will too! Order yours here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Where Have All the Teacher-Librarians Gone?

It’s hard to imagine that school districts across the country have cut down or totally eliminated the positions of library media specialists. Now that we are sixteen years into the 21st century, one would have imagined this educational position to be considered one of THE most important in the school.  Without literate students and graduates, how could we expect them to thrive in college and the outside world? So many uninformed administrations have believed that as long as the Internet and Google are there, they can save money by not hiring a teacher-librarian. As author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,00 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

One area that we thought was going to make a dent in the printed page was e-Books. While many schools purchased Kindles or other e-Readers, too many were not able to afford the cost.
 The advent of 3D printers and makerspaces has taken off, with many activities occurring in the media center during and after school hours. But what happens when there is no one to run the school library? What happens to our children without someone there who can really explain how to evaluate a website? How to locate a book on the Holocaust? A biography on a world leader? Is this the direction public education is heading?

When I left my position as a media specialist in June 2016, I was both surprised and upset that the district was not going to replace me. I was located in a junior-senior high school, (
grades 7-12) and was the ONLY media specialist in this five-school district. My last year, I was given $0 for my budget. That's when I knew it was time to move on. It's clear that the students will be the ones who will suffer because of this.  

If it all comes down to money, districts need to reevaluate their budgets. This is one place they cannot afford to cut.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Infographics are Easy With Venngage

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I love infographics. As a media specialist, I used them to create visual tutorials for my students. For those of you who would like to be designers but do not have the skill, Venngage is the answer. With its easy to use interface, anyone can create beautiful posters, brochures, reports, flyers and much more. How about an infographic resume? Currently there are nine designs to choose from; two are with the free account. The one on the extreme right is a premium resume template.


The first thing I noticed when logging into my account was that under "templates" there were five main categories: infographics, reports, posters, promotions and social. Each of those categories has several subcategories, and the choices are many! Here's an example on the left of what's under the "infographics" category.

Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose beginner, intermediate or advanced templates. All are labeled so you can choose easily. If you have a free account, the number of infographics, charts, icons, themes, templates and uploads are limited. Venngage branding is also on your final product.

Educators will be happy to know that special pricing of $99.00/year covers premium features, 35 accounts for students and teachers and class sharing. A 14-day free trial is available. Education pricing is here.

Premium accounts have unlimited use of templates, charts, icons, themes and uploads. Pricing is here, and features of the premium account can be found here.

Recently, Venngage introduced Venngage for Business, which is perfect for small businesses which don't have their own graphic designer on staff and normally would have trouble allocating the funds for a company to do all their design work. After all, professional freelancers could charge thousands of dollars to design infographics, posters, promotions, brochures and social media related graphics. Perhaps you own restaurant and need a new menu design?


Business accounts also have a Manage Your Team option, where two members of your team are given access to all the features of your premium account.

Business accounts are divided into two categories: for profit and non profit. When paid yearly, the cost for non profits is only $20.00/month. Both types of business accounts have the same premium benefits and a branding kit which gives you the opportunity to save your company logo and special colors, fonts and sizes. Allow me to show you how incredibly easy it is to get started with Venngage.

Before beginning to work with a template, I decided to view the getting started video as seen here:

There is a whole page of instructional videos to help you with every aspect of the program, so you never have to feel lost or confused. I started out with a beginner template and found the drag and drop interface very easy to use. I then tackled an intermediate template and uploaded a few of my own images to the site.


As you can see from the two examples, I was able to easily substitute the template information with my own information. Between the two infographics, I changed the background color, fonts, moved text, added icons, changed the border size on the circles, and added my own photos. Not bad for the very first time using Venngage!

If you would like to see the terrific projects people are creating with Venngage, all you have to do is click on the community page, and there you will find recently published projects.

Venngage's blog has a variety of helpful articles, such as 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating an Infographic, How to Make a Timeline Infographic in 6 Easy Steps and 5 Strategies to Engage Students Using Education Infographics. Whether you're a small business, an educator, or someone who just wants to be creative with social should give Venngage a try. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Only Back to School Listing You'll Need!

The Rio 2016 Resources: Try These 29 Items

Although school in New Jersey doesn't begin until September, (after Labor Day) I am aware that many districts have already started the 2016-2017 year. I've put together a nice listing of resources, including websites, videos, cartoons and lesson plans.


Articles on the Summer Olympics- from National Geographic

Infographic: The Physics of Olympic Bodies- from NPR; weightlifters, sprinters, rowers, marathon runners, swimmers

Medals Race- listing of total medals by country

The Official Rio Olympics Site

Ready or Not, Let the Games Begin- interactive story map covers all the conditions in Brazil, including economic, political, health. (zika virus)

Resources for the Rio 2016 Olympics- from TES

Rio 2016: 16 Fun Facts About This Year's Olympics- from NBC

Zika Virus Adding to Long List of Brazil Olympics Woes

(Great discussions can take place when you share cartoons in the classroom!)

2016 Olympic Summer Games- TeacherVision's list of lessons, worksheets, activities

2016 Olympic Games in Rio on Pinterest

CK-12 Foundation: Olympic Content- "Learn the math and science behind Olympic sports"

E.L.L. Practice + Prompt- by Larry Ferlazzo for The New York Times Learning Network

Olympic Games for Kids- for younger kids; worksheets, puzzles, coloring pages

The Olympic Games- from Scholastic; history of the Olympics, sports and Ancient Greece; all grades

Olympics: Summer- Teacher Planet's list of resources, lesson plans, worksheets

Read, Write, Think- many ideas and activities

Teaching About the 2016 Olympic Games- from NEA

Teaching Resources from the Olympic Museum- lesson downloads available in English, French and German


Friday, July 29, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election: 44 Digital Resources

Here we are, another Presidential election in November 2016. I've tried to gather as many resources as possible to teach your students about the candidates and the electoral process. Although it is difficult for me, I promise not to inject any of my personal political feelings into this post. If necessary, I will update the post.

About the Election Process
Congress for Kids: The Electoral College- interactive quiz at the end of each section

Fact Monster: How the President Gets Elected

The Presidential Election- from Flocabulary (rap)

2016 Election- CNN politics

Ballotpedia: The Encyclopedia of Politics

Elections 2016- USA Today

FactCheck- non-partisan site to monitor the accuracy of speeches, articles etc.

Presidential Election 2016- NY Times articles

U.S. Election 2016: Six Reasons it Will Make History- from BBC News

U.S. Election Glossary- from enchanted Learning

Hillary R. Clinton
All Things Clinton- from the L.A. Times

Clinton's Nomination Puts "Biggest Crack" in the Glass Ceiling- from CNN

Hillary Clinton News- from ABC News

Hillary Clinton's Twitter Account

Hillary Clinton's YouTube Page

Hillary Rodham Clinton's Official Website

Presidential Candidates: Hillary Clinton

Why Vladimir Putin Hates Hillary Clinton- from NBC News

Donald J. Trump
All Things Trump- L.A. Times

Donald Trump's Twitter Account

New York Times Articles About Donald J. Trump

Official Donald Trump YouTube Page

Presidential Candidates: Donald Trump

Trump's Official Site

Lesson Plans
2016 Presidential Election Resources and Teaching Tips- from TeacherVision; also has a multitude of election resources, including lessons, printables, activities

Campaign 2016- C-Span

Electing the U.S. President, A Printable Book for Early Readers- from Enchanted Learning

Election Collection- PBS lessons on elections (grades labeled)

Election Worksheets- from Enchanted Learning

Elections: Everything You Need- from Scholastic

How to Become President of the United States- infographic from; lesson plan here

iCivics- terrific site includes teacher files and state standards

Lesson Ideas- from BrainPop Educators

Meet the Presidential Candidates in Election 2016- H.S. lesson plan from PBS News Hour

NEA's List of Lessons on Elections (not specific to this year's candidates)

Newsela- teachers can sign up their classes and follow Newsela's Blog

The New York Times Learning Network- lessons for election 2016

Pinterest Search: 2016 Presidential Election

Timely Teachable Videos- from C-Span

Election 2016: Lesson Plans and Digital Resources for Educators- from Edutopia

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Opportunity to Teach Students About Plagiarism and Paraphrasing

By now we are all familiar with the "similarities" between Melania Trump's speech (2016) and Michelle Obama's speech in 2008. Looking at them side by side, it is quite apparent that the speechwriter (I use that term loosely) took big chunks of the 2008 speech and pasted them into the speech given by Mrs. Trump at the Republican National Convention. Take a look:

Putting the words side by side:

When I taught my students about plagiarism, an important element was a discussion on paraphrasing. Most students are not aware exactly what paraphrasing is, and some are satisfied to replace a word here or there in a sentence, thinking they are making it their own. Even when paraphrasing, a citation MUST be written, because the original idea is not yours.

EasyBib has some excellent videos which talk about plagiarism and paraphrasing. I always show my students these two videos. (The female voice on the second one is a bit odd, but the information is great.) This recent event is the perfect opportunity to show students the right way to do research.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Getting to Love the PDF File

Have you ever received an attachment in Word, Excel or another program and you just wanted it to easily open? Have you ever created a document and didn't want the people you shared it with to edited it? The answer is the PDF file. (portable document format)

The beauty of the PDF is that any computer on any operating system can open this file. Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free download and allows you to open all PDF documents.

The steps are very easy when working in Microsoft Office's four main programs:

Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher follow the same three steps:


  Save the document as a PDF

A Visit from Author Jeff Gottesfeld

I'm a very fortunate woman. I grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and graduated high school with so many talented people. So when my friend and author Jeff Gottesfeld said he would come speak to my 7th and 8th graders, I jumped at the chance.

Jeff is an accomplished writer for page, stage, screen, and television. On the fiction side, his children’s picture book THE TREE IN THE COURTYARD (Knopf, 2016) has garnered a number of starred reviews and was an pick-of-the-month  His other works include the Los Angeles Times bestseller ANNE FRANK AND ME and the New York Times bestselling teen series THE A-LIST under an alias. He also co-wrote the adult novel HOW TO TEACH FILTHY RICH GIRLS  which became the CW television series PRIVILEGED. His current focus is on books and plays featuring heroes and heroines from diverse cultures  For television, he was Emmy-nominated and a Writers Guild Award winner for THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and wrote the Paramount movie  BROKEN BRIDGES.

When he visited my school on Tuesday, Jeff read THE TREE IN THE COURTYARD, which is based on the story of the large tree which Anne Frank was able to see from the attic where her family was hidden from the Nazis. The students asked terrific questions and posed with Jeff in a few photos. Yes, that is me crouching in the photo below. Just wish that student had been facing the camera!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Time for a New Chapter: Moving On

At the end of June, I will be "retiring" from my teaching job as media specialist. I put the word "retiring" in quotation marks because after 25 years of teaching, I am ready to cut back to part time, and to utilize my technology and design skills in another place. With a B.A. in Communications, teaching certificates in Early Childhood, Elementary Education and as a Media Specialist, I feel well-rounded and ready for the changes that await me. (Let's not forget the Master of Education!)

This has been a bittersweet decision, as I work with the greatest colleagues and students, but to understand my decision, you have to know me and the many interests I have.

1. I have been writing music since I was ten years old. Having produced a CD over twenty years ago, I have missed writing and playing the guitar. As a senior in high school, I composed the music to a play written by one of my friends. You can find the CD on or iTunes®. (Scroll down a bit and you will see the CD Baby ad on the right.)

2. Photography has been an important part of my life since high school.(Thank you, Mr. Reilly) I took photos for my high school yearbook and developed them in my darkroom at home. When digital photography came about, I immersed myself in Adobe Photoshop®, and began learning how to retouch and restore old photographs. This came in very handy when I needed to create a website for the school's media center. I learned basic HTML and was off and running. I'm proud to say that I've written more pathfinders than any other high school on the web. (Let me know if you have surpassed 133!) I then learned Adobe InDesign® and started designing newsletters, business cards, websites and the school newspaper. Here are some samples of my work:

3. My technology skills have grown by leaps and bounds since I became a media specialist. I taught professional development classes to my colleagues and worked with classes and individual students. I'm excited at all the new changes which occur on a daily basis. I NEVER have turned down the opportunity to learn more or try something new.

4. I'm not sure if I want to remain in New Jersey. Our property taxes are one of the highest in the United States. The air pollution is bad. My door is open to change. Where? I don't know right now, but it's definitely on the table.

So, what do you think? All suggestions and job offers are welcome. Please email me if you'd like.......I'm ready for that new chapter to begin.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

UPDATED: Need a Teaching Job? Here's a Megalist of Resources!

Wow. Another school year is coming to a close It's that time when students are graduating college and school districts are eliminating positions for next year. I am once again posting my comprehensive list of resources for teachers looking for a job. Special listing also for school librarians/media specialists. Over 79 links (33 in the job search category!!) to 100's of resources! Good luck!

updated 5/2/16

Job Interview Questions- covers interview questions, interview guide, after the interview, salary negotiation, second interview

10 Things Job Applicants Should Know- from the NY Times

2016 Best Private High Schools in New Jersey

The Association of Boarding Schools- search by keyword, job type, calendar year, salary and location

Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS)- 

Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE)- search by school or location

Career Builder- search for all types of jobs on this site

Christian School Employment- K-12 Christian teaching jobs

Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) -click on a school to see their openings

Indeed- one search, all jobs

Jobs 4 Teacher- search by city, state or zip code

K12 site says they have served a million teachers and administrators in a year.......

K12 Jobspot- search by job title and state; when you pick a city it shows you how many positions from the drop-down menu; also shows the location on a map.

The 9 Best Places to Teach Overseas

New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS)

NJ Hire- search by job type, location or keywords postings are constantly being updated

NJ School Directory- all school web sites are listed by county; check employment opportunities on each site.

NJ School Jobs- search by county, specialty, school or date

New York State Association of Independent Schools- sort by position, city

Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools 

Peterson's Private School Search- covers The United States and countries

Private School Job Banks- from the Council for American Private Education (CAPE)

Resources for Teaching Jobs- only ten states are listed here

SchoolSpring- over 86,000 jobs listed; choose location, category, grade, job type

Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS)- search for jobs or check other job banks

Teachaway- find jobs in places from Abu Dhabi to Beijing

Teacher Jobs- join for free; search the United States for a job. site says it lists jobs for 1775 districts and they are in partnership with the NEA.

TESGlobal- from nursery to higher education, search education jobs from all over the world!

Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS)- 

Why Las Vegas is Desperate to Hire Thousands of Teachers- article from HuffPost Politics

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)- state-by-state information

How to Become an International School Librarian


K-12 Media Specialist/Librarian Jobs- from Education Week

SchoolSpring- search by full/part time, location

USREAP- library media specialist job search

The 25 Most Creative Designer Resumes You'll See This Year

38 More Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work
- from JobMob

Cover Letters- from Career Lab

You can ignore the sales pitch---there is a lot of valuable information: 

Create a Free Teacher Portfolio

Got Resume Builder- build your resume online; download as a PDF, Word doc or text file

How to Write a Resume- from Open Colleges

JobMob- 36 beautiful resume ideas

Resume Help- site has examples resumes

A Resume in Prezi

Resume Tips and Advice- from

Sample CV for Education Counselor- from CV Tips

Teacher Resume- from Microsoft online; you need MS Word to use this template

Teacher Resume- from Monster Worldwide, Inc.

Teacher Resume Template

VisualCV- free Internet-based resume

Your Cover Letter Information Center

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Getting to Know Artist-Writer John Atkinson

I first learned about John Atkinson and his hilarious cartoons when I saw Vintage Social Networking. Googling his name led me to his website, Wrong Hands, where I found a huge collection of cartoons. There is a link if you wish to purchase poster versions of his cartoons on the blog. I chose a special list for those of us who are teachers. Enjoy. Hats off to Mr. Atkinson!


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