Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Great Books

This week’s blog post is about the books I have been reading and listening to.

Wisconsin public radio features a marvelous program called “Chapter-a-Day” aired Monday through Friday  at 12:30 p.m. and repeated at 11:00 p.m. Currently I am enjoying listening to Jim Fleming read from First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joe Ellis. http://www.wpr.org/chapter/ "The story of the premier husband and wife team in American history is part political history and part love story." 

If you miss a chapter, the five most recent chapters can be found online where you can listen at you leisure.  Having just been separated by John’s four years of service in Paris; Abigail and John Adams are about to be reunited in 1785 at the end of the chapter that I heard today. Thomas Jefferson also comes to Paris, while the Continental Congress labors back in America to provide the legal and governmental structure for the new country.

The other audio book I am enjoying is one that I borrowed from the public library. Mark Twain: A Life, written and read by Ron Powers. Read is too simple a word though, as the author takes on the persona of Samuel L. Clemens when he quotes from the writings of Mark Twain. On nine CD's, this audio book runs 11 hours. I find it a fascinating exploration of Mark Twain’s life and the times he lived in. In 1861 Sammy Clemens is about to going traveling with his older brother, Orion, who has just been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. Sammy moves west to get away from the advancing civil war, He assumed it would be just a few months before the war was over, but it turns out to be a six year stay in the West.     http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mark-Twain/Ron-Powers/9780743249010 

My final recommendation is a book for young people called Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute, a picture book with woodcuts by Caldecott Medal winning artist, Mary Azarian.  Set in Concord, Massachusetts it tells the story of eight-year old Louy, as she was known to her family, and her friendship with local teacher Henry David Thoreau, also a young man at the time. It's a lovely story that ends with Louys' first poem; To the First Robin.  

Remember, both children and adults can participate in a summer reading program at the Spooner Memorial Public Library ~ Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Can I really make a video tutorial?

Today many of my classmates have disappeared and we are down to just three students. That's great for me because I can get lots of personal attention. I'm a bit distracted by the news from the Duluth/Superior area about flooding, but have been working on understanding how to make video tutorials.

Here's a link to my first video: How to make a Google Doc using Word   It's just 1 minute and 40 seconds long. Oops! Forgot to name my document. Not great! But, it's a start.

I used Jing, a screen capture program that I've had at home for quite awhile. I had never noticed that you can do video captures also. It's a free program that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but seems to do a nice basic job.

Now, if I could only remember how I got to this point. More practice needed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taking a Class: Google Apps!

Here I am on my second day of summer school class right here at Spooner High School. Facilitating the Future has brought Julie Thompson over from Hayward to Teach Google Apps to an enthusiastic group of educators from around the region.

Our school district already uses Google Docs and Calendar, so I knew a bit coming into the class. There is always something new to learn though! We've joined a Google Group, created a survey using Google Forms, chatted with one another using our GMail accounts, imported and exported Google Calendars and made a fancy iGoogle page with lots of widgets.

Today we are working on Google Sites, which is what I used to make my SES Technology page, so I got to spend some time thinking about ways to improve the look and flow of my web pages. Take a look and see what you think of My New and Improved Web Site.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Vacation -- iPad Adventures

My trip to Western Minnesota for an overdue visit with my family was great fun. I took my iPad along and shared it with my 11 year old niece; she enjoyed an app called JoiningHands. This seemingly simple app features various characters with hands that have to be matched. Peablins have 1, 2 or 3 hands which can spin around to match other Peablins. Brufflins have two inflexible  hands at "10 and 2", Poeglins don't get along well with others, so they require space around them. Take all these characters and imagine a game board that looks like a bee's honeycomb with rocks in some of the cells to form a wall barrier, pretty pink hearts for "safe" cells and golden stars to collect when landed on. Now arrange these characters so they all hold hands. Well, except the Poeglins, who have to stay a space away from all others. It's a strategy game that is fun for all ages. The current price is $2.99 at the app store.

My 80 year old mother, on the other hand, most enjoyed an app called Whirly Word  from Mighty, Mighty Good Games. Like many word games, this one presents a game board with 3 to 6 dots to fill complete to make a word. They are arranged alphabetically within their numbers, in other words, all the 3 letter words will be alphabetical, then the 4 letter words and so on. The pot of words is arranged in a nice big golden circle with an enter button in the center. You can Whirl the letters to see different combinations. Mom regularly plays a game called Text Twist every night on her laptop so she enjoys a good word game. Thanks for the recommendation mom, this one is free!

Tomorrow I start my summer school class, Technology Adventures and Google Apps at Facilitating the Future being held at our high school. Should be fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Change Has Started

Today, with the help of the school district custodial staff, Mrs. Nowak and I changed the layout of the library/media center. You will be surprised to see how it looks now! The shelves were awkward and very heavy, so we tried taking all the books off the shelves to make it easier. That worked pretty well, but we ran out of time to put the books back where they belong.

If you are coming to summer school next week, things might look like quite a mess in the library. Several summer helpers will be working the rest of this month to restore order.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Reading at the Public Library

I stopped at the Spooner Memorial Library today to pick up a few items and browse through the book sale. I found a copy of the seventh, and final, Harry Potter book; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in good condition that I thought we could use at the elementary school. 

Then I moved into the children area where I filled my bookbag with lots of interesting picture books to think about new titles & authors to recommend for our school library. Such fun!

Next thing I knew there was a student asking me how to sign up for the summer reading program. How wonderful it was to see her. We found someone to help her get signed up, and then she was off riding her bike again. Pretty soon, two more students appeared, and they too were signing up for the summer reading program. Hooray!

My pick of the day is a paperback book called Books can be Deceiving: A Library Lover's Mystery by Jenn McKinlay who also writes the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. This is a new author for me, but I love mysteries, especially those with a theme like the Goldy Bear Culinary series by Diane Mott Davidson. 

Happy Reading & all you kids -- go visit the public library. It's a great place to meet. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last Day of School

It does not seem possible, but here we are at the last day of this school year. This morning's assembly featured a fitting tribute to all of the dedicated volunteers who give so much of their time to students in our school district.  There was a nice reception in the library afterwards. Thanks to the AmeriCorps team, also volunteers, who worked hard to pull this together.

This morning, I was able to show students their completed "Kindness Chain", made after the Rachel's Challenge program undertaken by the high school student body. Our students were challenged to complete a chain of kindness that would stretch from one end of the library to the other. They accomplished this, and more, with 714 links on the final chain. Well done students!

Congratulations to all of the 4th grade award recipients. Seeing the Good Citizen and the Academic Awards presented is always a highlight of the final day. I will miss you 4th graders and look forward to your switch day next spring when you get to return for the morning. Have a wonderful summer!