Weeks 36-37

It’s crazy how it all just gets away from you. We’ve started the slow crawl toward crazy here in the library. Still managing to keep it all under control, but I feel like everything is about to get that much more bizarre before the end.

In a weird moment, I decided to do an inventory of fiction. We’ve had a few problems with students “promising” that they turned in a book, yet it wasn’t checked in. And since I’ll be handing the library over to a new staff member, I thought it would just make sense to get that inventory done. It’s one of those things that isn’t exciting or particularly impactful, but it is part of the role of the librarian and managing resources. So, we jumped in. Thanks to my amazing library assistant for all of her work!


Trying to guess where our new friends are from.


We had a fun Mystery Skype in Ms. Hassel’s class, too. She and I ventured into this last year, and it was great to get asked back. My MIE friend Lisa Simmons helped connect us to a class in Texas, and we all had so much fun. The kids were quick to guess states, so we continued on with guessing city. It was, of course, great.

I’m also gearing up for ISTE and prepping to help out with the Microsoft team. I know that I’m doing 2 sessions on Sway and one on Office 365. ISTE always recharges my idea batteries, and it will be awesome to hang out with so many friends from the MIEExpert community.

Our long weekend will be spent with friends in Plain, WA – enjoying cabins, dinners, games, and a lot of laughter.


Making some swag for MIEExperts at #ISTE2016

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Weeks 34-35: Changes and More

Reflections from the last few weeks:

Take-apart station was CRAZY popular. Students so loved getting into the devices we collected, really taking them apart. Lot’s oh “oohs!” and “aaahs!” all over the place.

Now  students are converting the equipment into items found in nature. I made a Sway to explain the information, and posted signs around the makerspace. Kids have shown great creativity, and of course, keep smiling and having fun. Oh yeah – it’s pretty messy.

I co-hosted an awesome Twitter chat with Sherry Gick. Our topic was finishing the year strong in the library. Lots of friends (new and old) joined the conversation and shared many great ideas on how to finish out the rest of the year.

Completed the (now) annual electronic haiku project with 6th grade. I liked our approach this year – giving kids some basic instructions to help them all be successful, then turning them loose to expand on their ideas.

I was asked to share my thoughts on being an MIE Expert – twice! Thanks Robyn and Todd for asking me to share.

In general, the end of this year is feeling rushed, hurried, and not really allowing me to take care of myself. This feeling comes on the heels of my “just do it” post a few weeks back. While I’ve jumped in and embraced my library list, my out of school life could usechanges fb post the focus. So I affirm this week that I need to be healthy and strong for myself and the others who depend on me. I will reflect on this more in my Bullet Journal.

And – how that it’s Facebook and Twitter real – I’ve taken a new job! I’ll be a tech integration specialist in my district next fall. Excited to join a great team to look at our technology vision and plan for students and teachers.

Testing comes up this week (along with fixing a major hiccup in our laptops), and students are submitting their take-apart projects on Friday. Should be a good one!

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Week 33:What Day Is It?

Just trying to survive the (now) visible wave of the end of the year. 6 weeks to go, and it’s been busy.

  • Finished science projects with 7th grade. The catastrophic events preparedness kits and models were so well done.
  • The Sway and OneNote team visited our school. Great to share student and teacher work with them.
  • Poetry month wrapped up with the poet-tree, sidewalk haikus, and #COP selfies. So much fun!
  • Got prepped for the “Take Apart Station” for makerspace.

More later – but that’s my super quick update.

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MLA 8th Edition: Setting a (New?) Standard

I taught high school English for 9 years, have served as a librarian for 11, and have been a teacher for 20 years. The number of times I have talked about citing sources is…well, I don’t really want to count. Games, jigsaws, hands-on practice, even MLA songs have been a part of my yearly instructional practice – all for the same goal: reminding students to cite their sources.

With this instruction came a lot of frustration (both from students and educators). “Why is it that way?” “Why do you need the city?” “I don’t get it!” – and those are the teacher comments. If the enduring understanding is that we need to credit the source of a fact or quote or piece of information, then having a standard that would match any resource would be helpful.

So when I learned that MLA 8 was arriving, I groaned a little. As did most of my colleagues who felt they just achieved citation nirvana with their students. I ordered a copy of the manual and started skimming. Then I decided to read it. Okay, skim read – but the introduction and preface really caught my attention. The surprisingly slim volume of the style manual has a tone of flexibility and forward-thinking. This passage caught my eye:

With the eighth edition, we shift our focus from a prescriptive list of formats to the overarching purpose of source documentation: enabling readers to participate fully in the conversations between writers and their sources. Such participation requires the presentation of reliable information in a clear, consistent structure, but we believe that if we concentrate on the principles undergirding MLA style and on the ways they can be applied in a  broad range of cases, we can craft a truly flexible documentation practice that will continue to serve writers well in a changing environment. (xii)

I love that. Creating a flexible, living documentation style that will allow for new types of sources – regardless of the format.

MLA help template

“MLA Practice Template.” MLA Handbook. Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

The manual goes to describe the principles of MLA style (which may not be a new feature, but caught my attention this time – mainly because I was actually reading the text, not scanning for the format of an email citation). The three guiding principles are  (3-4):

  • Cite simple traits shared by most works.
  • Remember that there is often more than one correct way to document a source.
  • Make your documentation useful to readers.

As a fan of Understanding by Design, these come across as enduring understandings rather than tasks or rules. Frankly – I love it. The rest of the manual is worth a thoughtful read, as even the back cover will tell you it is a new MLA style. It will appear similar, but the underlying tone is different. Make citations useful to the situation and reader. A place to begin is using the guiding questions that MLA provides researchers for creating their citations. 5 questions that are meant to work with any type of source:

  • Who is the author of the source?
  • What is the title of the source?
  • How was the source published?
  • Where did you find the source?
  • When was the source published?

Now, on to the good stuff. Here are some the changes I’ve noticed in the eighth edition.


  • Omit city of publication (optional element to add, but not required)
  • Original date of publication is (still?) optional
  • Omit medium of publication (unless it’s unusual or unexpected, like “Transcript” or “Address”)


  • Omit date of access (optional to include)
    • Note: If you do include it, add “Accessed” before the date, so “Title.” Site, Publisher, date, URL. Accessed Date.
    • Note: include date of access if original publication date is not available
    • Note: Omit Publisher/Sponsor if it is the same as the title of the web site
  • So, most website entries would look like this:
  • Options (including publisher, as it is different from the site):
  • Option (including date accessed, since no publication date exists)

MLA notes that the optional list is not exhaustive and that people “should carefully consider the source [they] are documenting and judge whether other kinds of information might help your reader” (53). MLA provides templates and resources to help student construct Works Cited pages, both online  (coming soon) and in the manual.

Those are my thoughts. Curious to see what anyone else thinks about this direction of MLA style.

Add, of course, here is my own citation. 🙂

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016. Print.

Oops – MLA 8 version:

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. Modern Language Association of America, 2016.



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Week 32: Getting There from Here

I have goals. Tons of them. They are represented by many piles of things around the house and around the library. Let me share a few:

I can, with all confidence, write that all of these items are unused out of fear. Fear of failing, fear of “now what else do I have to do?” afterwards, fear of injury, fear of rejection. All of that.

While fear can be a motivator (albeit not always an effective one, but still…) and has been at many times in my life, I’m not sure that living with fear is the best recipe for my life. I spent many years afraid of many things, and all of that lead me to one place: inaction (is that word? I’m afraid to look it up). If our fears lead us to change or act or stare the ghost in the eye and get rid of it, then bravo. Mine don’t always do that.

So, in these last 7.5 weeks of the 2015-16 school year, I need to abandon fear and embrace “let’s do this” and move on. In that spirit, here are my to-dos for the rest of the school year.

  1. Use the supplies to let kids unleash their creative
  2. Plan and advertise the take-apart station and get it going
  3. Ask about summer course offerings and plan it out – Windows 10 would be a bonus here
  4. Get my flabby rear end to the Y, and take better care of myself
  5. Embrace reading and talking about books again
  6. Get planning activities for Denver and MIE work

These are doable. These are beneficial. These are things that will make me go “yaas!” when I can look back and (without fear) say that I did them.

It’s going to be a good week. I’m afraid to not let it be.




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Week 31: Poetry Palooza

I didn’t make my goal of blogging this last weekend – so I’m doing a very quick update today:

We kicked off National Poetry Month with some spine poetry in the library. Students worked in their English class to develop a poem, based on a theme or idea. Then they looked up book titles in Destiny (our OPAC) to find copies that worked with their idea. Finally, on Wednesday, they pulled books and displayed them. It was so much fun, and the poems have been on display all week in the library.20160413_200400625_iOS

Worked with 7th graders to do Sway on Friday. They are creating some great projects around preparing for catastrophic events.

Book Club picked Martians for their next title.

And the weekend was warm and perfect. Overall, a great week in the library!


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Week 30: Genius!

Lisa (8th grade science teacher) took the plunge into unknown territory. Not only is she giving up 2 weeks of curriculum time to let student pursue their own interest (and meet NGSS standards), she is embracing OneNote class notebooks as the medium to do that. I’m very lucky that she asked me to help out with this project, and I’m excited to see what students do!


8th graders begin their Genius Week projects.


Essentially, her scientists are picking a topic as it relates to Earth and Space (their current unit/book in 8th grade) and determining how to teach the rest of the class about it. It’s a mini Genius Week idea that we came up with. Students will be required to obtain topic approval, document their research (and be transparent about it), develop a model to use for instruction, and present their findings to their peers. It should be fantastic! They are using OneNote to keep track of everything (and we are using it teach research and information literacy skills, too). Again – I can’t say how happy I am to have joined her in this endeavor.

I’ve been planning with another amazing science teacher, Susan, to help her student understand the impact of natural disasters (like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other potential disasters that could be seen here in the PNW). She has been using OneNote for a little longer, and we are using this chance to collaborate together and let OneNote deliver curriculum (in addition to hosting students’ research and information). This project is also exciting, as we will incorporate Sway and other learning tools.


Mrs. Steirer prepping the crowds at Battle of the Books 2016.

Battle of the Books wrapped up this week with  (ta-da!) another victory by the KiMS team!

They were just fantastic! Our KiMS team is a great group of students (3 of 4 are attending STEM high school next year), who are eager readers and just nice, bright young women. The overall event was a success and such a nice chance to connect with the community and other middle school librarians. They are a great team of colleagues.


More donations came in for my take apart station coming in May. I’m also working on the


A student’s Minecraft box he made in our makerspace.

April makerspace design challenge (my first!) to encourage students to build something that moves. The new arrangement of materials seems to be working well. I guess. Not many students using things right now, and I wonder what’s behind that. The Lego wall is always changing, but the other “free range” items stay stagnant. I will need to investigate this more and find out what I’m doing to discourage the interaction.


Other things are in the works, but nothing to write about it. I finish my post while looking onto the patio of our PSP vacation home. Here with my husband and delightful friends. 5 days of sun, laughter, walks, good food, rest, and recharging. Genius.


Pool. Sun. Rest.

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