About Okle Miller

Mrs. Miller is the library media specialist at John B. Gorrie Elementary in Tampa, FL. She enjoys reading, technology and helper her students connect with the world. She also loves spending time with her husband and daughter.

Still Here!

This has been a busy, crazy year but I am still here.  I’m looking forward to my state conference, FAME, at the end of this week.  I am presenting with my good friend, Julie Hiltz, and then plan to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

I always come away with so many great ideas and with the conference at the beginning of my fall week long break I will have time to reflect and plan for the second semester of school.

I have already been thinking of a new lunch time program called Lunch Bunch Book Brag.  More details coming soon!

 

Happy Reading!

Why we do it

I’ve had a fun summer.  I spent time with my soon to be first grader.  We swam, relaxed, went to the mountains in North Carolina and to Disneyland in California and of course read, read, read. While we had fun, we are both ready for school to start and it will for her next Tuesday.  I went back this week.  This is the first time in 23 years of teaching that I did not go back early on my own time before pre-planning to get my room/library ready.  This week I have been going to meetings and helping teachers get their technology up and running in their classrooms so there are some odds and ends still needing to be done in my room, and I have tried not to stress about it!

While I was out and about helping teachers I found the note below (along with another sweet  one) on the checkout counter when I returned to the library.  This makes it all worth while!  This is why I am a school librarian, not because I love books (which I do), not because I love connecting with the world through technology (which I do) but because I LOVE getting kids to love these things too!  To see their excited little faces when they find just the right book, a new favorite series or get their tech project working just they way they want is priceless.

I have some exciting plans for this year and I can’t wait to share them with the favorite people at my school…my students.   I hope everyone has a great school year, I know we will.

 

Okle 🙂

 

note

 

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Well, the April Shelf Challenge is over, phew!  Did I get all the way through my assigned section, the S section? No, no I did not.  Am I still glad I tried? Yes, yes I am!

It was great fun to read through my section and revisit some old favorites like: The Stinky Cheese Man and other fairly stupid tales  by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith, Where the wild things are  by Maurice Sendak, One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, by Dr. Seuss and yes, by Dr. Seuss.


I also discovered some new favorites like: Monkey and Elephant by Carole Lexa Schaefer and Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure by Viviane Schwarz

 

I must admit one that should have already been an old favorite but I had never actually read was Skippyjon Jones and the big bones by Judy Schachner.

 I have recommended Skippyjon Jones books millions of time but they are always flying off the shelves and I never had the chance to read one myself.  I read it to my daughter after school one day and we laughed and laughed.  Talk about a book you need to practice with first if you really want  to use your best read aloud voices and accents! Thank goodness I had a supportive audience in my 5 year old daughter and not a whole class of kindergartners!

 

Along with some misshelved finds, (Henry and Mudge what are you doing jumping a shelf down into the S’s!) I found some holiday books  by Lola M. Schaefer that should be in nonfiction. While they probably circulated fine in the easy section my younger readers LOVE to go the nonfiction section and this way I can steer them to some that I know they can read.  A win-win for everyone!

 

April was busy with testing…poetry… more testing… formal observation… still more testing…and reading! I didn’t get all the way through my section but I have fun almost making it around the corner of my book case.  Who knows, maybe I’ll keep going into May.  I do know that I will be signing up again next year…maybe a fiction section next time!

 

Happy Reading!

Okle

 

A Poetic Evening

Andy Plemmons in Athens, GA blogged about doing a crowd-sourced poem with his school (you can read his post here).   I thought is was a wonderful idea and decided to create a form and sent it out to all my county librarians , or media specialists as they are called in my school district.  I got back just enough to put together a really nice poem.  I was really excited about sharing it.

Luckily for me, our county association HASLMS was hosting our annual media specialist – principal banquet. There would be librarians, administrators, supervisors and school board members present.  This was the perfect place to share a poem about how great our libraries are, so I asked if I could read my/our poem at the dinner.  I was slightly nervous since I get choked up reading, as mentioned in other posts, but it went over really well, I warned the audience ahead of time and only choked up some at the end. ; )   Several people complemented me and asked for me to post it in school email, which I will, but I wanted to share it with you too!

Here is how it turned out:

 

 

Our Libraries are NOT a quiet place

 

Our libraries are not a quiet place, they are…

full of learning and connecting,

energetic,

rush hour in the traffic of knowledge,

like a crowd of eager book fans behind home base,

a symphony of literacy and learning,

buzzing with energy and creative ideas,

full of learning fun,

learning labs of the future.


In our libraries you can hear…

a blend of great literary noise,

turning pages and readers cheer,

students engaged,

students chatting, books slapping, keyboards tapping, and data charts mapping,

keyboards clicking, scanner beeping, excitement overflowing,

all kinds of reading done.


In our libraries you can see…

smiling faces and excited minds,

fantasy, information, adventure, knowledge and curiosity,

science alive from avocado plants to the mealworm life cycle,

a wild garden of activity,

kids read and talk and play,

the world!


In our libraries you can feel…

safe,

at home,

excitement

wonder, curiosity and a love of learning that’s real,

a love for books each day,

empowered and content, since we are reading for life.


No, our libraries are NOT a quiet place and we are glad!


By HCPS Media Specialists, 2013

 

Happy Reading!

Okle

#ShelfChallenge – Day 3

Well, day two was a bust. After school I worked on finishing up the yearbook and finally left the building at 7:00pm! I was so tired I went to bed at 8:30 without reading the bag of books I brought home. I was excited to see Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say in my bag. This is definitely a favorite.

So, today with the yearbook done, I took my bag with the same books and went home at a decent hour, well 4:15. Audrey (my daughter) and I went to our favorite pizza place and while we waited for the pizza I read 6 books. Audrey looked at some and 2 of my 6 I read to her. It was fun to be in a restaurant reading a book out loud (but not too loud!)

I still have some to read but wanted to go a head and make my post so I can read in bed. : ) I’m not very good a book reviews, I’m one of those people who love or hate a book and it’s hard for me to articulate why. But I’m trying to get better. I guess one thing I can say is books I love evoke a feeling. I am a very emotional person (ask anyone I know I can cry or get choked up at the drop of a hat). Of the books I read tonight, Grandfather’s Journey was the best. I love all of Allen Say’s work. The pictures are gorgeous  it’s no wonder it won the Caldecott.  But it’s also the prose that gets me.  The economy of the text, the stillness I feel when reading it.  The way his life echoes his grandfather’s, with the yearning for both countries, (good grief I’m literally tearing up typing this!) it is just so beautiful.  Sigh, it is pure bliss to read his books.

Some of the books I read and when I’m done I’m just “meh, that was okay”.  Again, it’s hard to me to say why and I don’t really want to tell you the titles because I feel like it will hurt the book’s feeling!  But two of them just seemed okay, cute enough stories, cute enough pictures.  But then again my easy section is really, really full so maybe they shouldn’t be taking up valuable shelf space.  One Audrey looked at and she said she liked it but when she saw  Farm-Fresh Cats by Scott Santoro she immediately said “ohhh, read that one to me!”  It was funny and fun to read and she totally loved the idea of the green cats.

I’m signing off to finish up my day three reading.  Tomorrow is a day I have no classes and a parent volunteer so I’m hoping to work my way through some during the school day.  I can’t think of anything better for the students to see than me sitting in the easy section engrossed in a book!

 

Happy Reading!

Okle

 

#ShelfChallenge – Day 1

Well the day has finally come, I am supposed to start my #shelfchallenge today.  I didn’t get off to a great start.  I have book fair  for most of the morning and then spent the rest of the school day working on finishing the yearbook.  The yearbook is due today and I need one more day.

That said, I did make a short video to show you my assigned section, the “S” everyone or “easy” section.  I did grab the first few books to take home with me to read tonight.  My father just called to remind me that my Aunt and Uncle are visiting and to report to his house.  It’s like the universe if trying to keep me from reading but I plan to read some if not all of the ones I brought home so I may have another post later tonight.

Soooooo, enjoy my video (one take rule) and I will report in later.  Hope everyone else’s first day of the challenge was more productive than mine!

Books Read: 0

Okle : )

 

 

April is a Busy Month

April is a busy month and I couldn’t be more excited!  Since I have started using Twitter for my PLN my eyes have been opened to all kinds of fun projects and activities to do.  So in addition to state testing and formal observations that I have this month, I plan to:

1. Participate in Matthew Winner’s (@MatthewWinner aka The Busy Librarian) Shelf Challenge 2013.  I let Matthew assign me an easy section to read and lucky me got the “S” section.  I looked over my shelf list to start planning and saw there is a little over 500 books!  After I cleared out the multiple copies I have 400 titles to read.  I plan to start right away on Monday.  If  I only read on school days I need to average 18 to 19 books a day.  There are some great titles I’m looking forward to reading again and I’m excited to find some lost treasures.  Be sure to check back as I will post photos and update my progress.

2. April is School Library Month Plans are in progress for this, some ideas include:

  • Hide Post-it notes inside of several library books, when a student checks out one of these special books they receive a prize.
  • Treats for teachers who encourage check-out.
  • Announce on the morning show which grade level had the highest circulation for the previous day.
  • Give out prizes at faculty meetings to the teacher(s) with the highest circulation.
  • Have an library themed estimation station at the circulation desk. Students can enter the contest each time they checkout a book.
  • Allow students to check out more books at a time
  • Book mark contest
  • School wide door decorating contest

3. It is Poetry Month, we will be sharing poetry all month on the morning show and in my lessons with kindergarten.  We will also participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day, Thursday April 18.  I am looking forward to connecting with other schools through Skype to read poems together. I am also going to attempt to create some Book Spine Poems.  I plan to use it as a display and maybe get some of my library pages to try and create some during one of their shifts.

 

This is going to be a fun, busy month and I can’t wait for it to start!

Okle : )

Social Media is Great!

I didn’t use twitter much before this school year but I have been dipping my toes into the twitter stream and it feels nice.  I unfollowed most of the fluff and starting following school librarians, tech educators and other book lovers.  This had been great for my teaching and my library.

You can learn so much and connect with so many people.  I found out about World Read Aloud Day which is March 6.  I reached out to a my new twitter friend Shannon McClintock Miller, from Iowa, about Skyping read alouds with our students.  She graciously agreed and we have been emailing and tweeting plans that included a live pig at the read aloud!  It has been so much fun.

 

Remember back when we were little and you would write to an author? You usually had to send it in care of the publisher and hope that the author would actual receive it.  Well twitter and Facebook make this so easy.  At home today, in the familiar Amazon box, was Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier. I started reading it and Audrey instantly came over to see, I read it again from the beginning to her and then she took it from me.  She spent the next 45 minutes reading it over and over to herself.  It was so sweet to see.  I took a photo of her and I don’t think she even realized she was so focused on the book.

I posted the photo to twitter and then went to share it on Facebook too.  As I was typing in the author’s name it highlighted the way it does when they have a Facebook account.  After I double checked to make sure I wasn’t linking up some other random Jesse Klausmeier, (cause you never know) I posted the photo.  To my surprise the second comment was from Ms. Klausmeier herself!  She also answered my original tweet. She then offered to send Audrey a signed bookplate!  How cool it that!!  I love the quickness of twitter and Facebook.

Social media opens up so many ways for us to connect outside of our school and I can’t wait to dive more into the stream!

 

Happy Reading!

Okle Miller

State Conferences Matter

 

I went to my state conference,  FAME this past week.  I had a really good time and connected with some great people.  Not all of my friends were able to go this year, but I haven’t missed a conference since I became a librarian. Here are my reasons for never missing your state conference:

 

It’s fun to get away from school sometimes.

It’s true, going to a conference is still getting to go on a trip.  I don’t normally stay at a Hilton and eat at high end, nice restaurants  it’s usually Motel6 and McDonald’s, so this is a treat each year.

You can hear some great speakers, like Shannon Miller and Buffy Hamilton

 This year my conference had exceptional keynote and closing speakers.  That might not be the case every year, but usually one or the other has something you can take back with you.  Like I said, this year was super great and I made sure I was on time for the opening session with Shannon Miller and I stayed to the last second to make sure I didn’t miss hearing Buffy Hamilton.

You learn some new ways to engage your students.

You can always find some sessions were you can pick up new tips and tricks.  I learned to manage my social media better (thanks Shannon) and some great ideas for implementing book clubs that I hadn’t considered before. 


You learn what you were already doing is the right thing.

 Sometimes you don’t learn anything new in a session.  While you might think it was a waste of time, I like to stay positive and see it as validation that what I am doing with my students is right.  If another school librarian in a different part of the state is doing things the way I’m doing them, then we are both brilliant! 


 Session and workshops are great, but sometimes the most insight comes from lunch.

Session and workshops are great but sometimes the most insight comes from lunch.  That’s right lunch, when we are all looking for a table and you end up at a table with new peers.  The first day we sat with  author Christina Gonzalez, who was a delight.  The next day, Michelle Harclerode, sat down next to me and we had a great conversation about her wonderful book trailers and how things are in her district.

You realize the maybe things are not so bad at your school or district after all.

Getting to meet and talk with school librarians from around the state can really open your eyes.  We still have a certified school librarian in each of our schools elementary through high school.  After talking to others I am starting to realize how lucky we are in our district. I may not have a clerk for help,  but my students still have me and I’m glad I have one school to go to each day.

 

You get to meet face to face with your PLN peeps.

I follow Shannon Miller on twitter and read her blog so I was really excited that she was the keynote speaker this year.  She was also presenting a workshop that I got to attend.  It was great that she just didn’t speak and leave. I was able to really talk to her and make a connection.  She has had a big impact on my professional development and getting to connect with her in person has made it all that much better.


You realize you are not alone.

We spend much of our time professionally by ourselves.  The teachers at school may like you and support you but that don’t always “get” you.  “You have the be here for conference night?”, “You are so lucky, you get to read books all day”  Even connecting with your library peeps on school email isn’t that same as getting to spend three days together.  To really get to talk and pick each other’s brains is priceless.

When it is time for your state conference do whatever you have to do to be able to go.  You won’t regret it. : )