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.

Out There

Being connected is fun. I have learned so much by connecting with other school librarians and educators on Twitter, Google+ and even Facebook.  Being connected is fun, but also scary.  I was recently contacted by one of my connections from this summer. While at ISTE I met Brooke Ahrens, she was emailing me now to ask if I wanted to be a guest blogger on the AASL Blog for Tuesday Tech Tips.  Nothing big, just 300 to 500 words on how technology might be used by a school librarian. I freaked!  Someone wanted me to write something? I’m friends with those people, I do the reading… not the writing. I was flattered but not sure what to write about. I said “sure” and then didn’t do anything but quietly panic.  After a couple of days Brooke emailed again to check on when I might want to submit something, maybe something for November. So I bit the bullet and said I would work on something that weekend and send it to her.

After a few deep breaths, I thought about the technology I was using. I had some old favorites and some newly discovered apps I decided I would write about. Once I got started it wasn’t so bad putting myself out there. I finished it up and emailed it to Brooke Sunday night. Then I waited…and waited. All day Monday I keep checking my email…nothing. My parent volunteer keep laughing at me saying to relax.  All I could think was she read it and thought it was awful and not worth using but didn’t know how to tell me.

We all do great things every day in our libraries and I guess most of us are pretty humble. I get overwhelmed with all the great activities, lessons and projects I read about in the blogs I follow. My little write up didn’t seem that great, I was ready for disappointment.

Well at 3:15 on Monday I got an email back from Brooke saying the post was great and all she needed was a byline AND it would be posted the next day.  Yay! I breathed a big sigh of relief , everything was going to be okay.

Here’s my guest post:  http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=5197

Okle 🙂

Summer Reading

For me reading happens all year, all the time, but there is something special about summer reading. Maybe it is because I feel like I can take my time with a book, I can read during day light hours and finally get to the professional titles I’ve been meaning to read.  So it was with great pleasure I came across Sherry Gick’s #SummerThrowDown. You can read all about it and sign up at her blog The Library Fanatic.

This is the third year and as an added bonus we can call someone out on social media to challenge them to a SummerThrowDown.   Because he is always challenging me to be a better school librarian (whether he knows it or not) I decided to call out and challenge Andy Plemmons to 30 books. He is probably already reading over 30 books anyway but if anything it will keep me on track to read my 30.  Telling you right now some will be picture books! But that still counts.

So if you want to challenge yourself and/or call out someone else to read with you jump over to Sherry’s blog and join us!


Sweet Summertime

Summer is here, finally. The end of this school year has been a hard one for me. My 19 year old niece was killed by a drunk driver on March 28. The rest of the school year was a little hazy. This blog isn’t a place for pouring out my grief, but I just wanted to mention why I had been so absent.

With this said, I am excited about my opportunities this summer to collaborate and grow professionally. At the end of this month I will be attending ISTE for this first time.  The conference is in Atlanta so it’s not too far to drive and I convinced two other library media specialist from my school district to go with me so housing won’t be too expensive. I registered for this conference in January and have been really looking forward to attending. I will be able to meet many of my virtual Twitter peeps IRL (in real life) and I can’t wait! I even created new business cards so if you run into me at ISTE make sure I give you one so we can connect next school year.


Week 4: World Read Aloud Day

Oh why didn’t I remember to read ahead for the blog challenge?!  Matthew Winner challenged us for week four to do the following:

Raising Our Voices

It’s time to read aloud! Select a favorite text, or a personal story that you love to share out loud, and make a video. If you don’t have a webcam, are having technical difficulties, or prefer not to be on camera, you can also translate this challenge into a written post. Share what you will be reading on World Read Aloud Day, and why you chose this particular piece to read aloud.

I was so busy connecting (and stressing) that I didn’t get much video or even photos.  (I did have a few that are below) I keep forgetting to pass the camera to the classroom teachers to help me out!  Luckily, Mr. Winner to the rescue! During our Skype call he managed to video me and send it to me right after our session. We had so much fun reading No Fits, Nilson by Zachariah OHora on the wonderfule We Give Books.  I don’t know how he does it, he must have four arms. One of my student commented after that he really is a winner, I agree!

Gorrie students really enjoyed connecting with so many new friends. As we sat in our shorts and t-shirts, we were amazed that some of our new friends thought 35 degrees was WARM!  We thought it was cold when it got down to 60 degrees after a cold front came through on Thursday.  We discovered much that was the same, student councils, recess, and of course loving to read aloud.

We had a total of 18 connections.  We had 8 more but Mother Nature had other plans. We are already looking forward to reconnecting with some of our new friends in April for Poetry month. Here are the librarians we connected with during the week.

  • Crystal Hendrix Asheville, North Carolina
  • Andy Plemmons Athens, Georgia
  • Wendy Garland Dedham, Massachussetts
  • Misti Sikes Forsyth, Georgia
  • Jenny Lussier Durham, Connecticut
  • Laura D’Elia Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Jeanne Cook Wentzville, Missouri
  • Donna MacDonald South Burlington, Vermont
  • Matthew Winner Ellicott City, Maryland
  • Esther Uribe Austin, Texas
  • Wendy Garland Norfolk, Massachusetts
  • Shannon Miller Van Meter, Iowa

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Week Three: My Reading Life

I am participating in The Busy Librarian’s World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge, below is the assignement for week three and my entry.

A Snapshot of My Reading Life

Post a photo that gives readers a glimpse into your reading life. This could be your favorite place to read, your bookshelf, your library, your classroom, a book from childhood that you still re-read today, your favorite person to read with. Anything that brings joy to your reading life will work!

Below the photo share a short narrative explaining why this picture is meaningful to you.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 7.18.06 PM

This is a screen shot from Amazon of my Kindle library. I love to read, have always loved to read, and for the most part read “regular” books.  When I finally broke down and got a smart phone I downloaded the Kindle app.  On September 18, 2011, I downloaded two free titles and I never looked back.  There are now 140 books in my Kindle collection most of them already read. I still order print books, especially picture books, but I do love the convenience of always having my book with me.  I even ended up buying an actual Kindle paperwhite a few months ago, but tend to read off my phone most of the time.  I like that I always have it with me.  I know, I know I could carry a book with me. But my phone is already with me and I don’t forget it.  If I am sitting on the sidewalk at Disney waiting for the parade, waiting at the dentist,  getting my hair done, or eating lunch in my office,  I can finish up a few chapters.  Finish a book? I can start a new one already downloaded or even buy the next book in the series where ever I am.  Since using my phone I have really gotten back into the grove of reading books for me and not just books for work.

Just recently I have bought some Kindle versions of picture books for school.  I was buying the book and even with my two day Prime shipping I couldn’t wait to read the book and so bought the Kindle version too.  For picture books I use the Kindle’s cloud reader on my computer.  I used it to share the books with my students and will be using it to share with some of our WRAD connections.

This really wasn’t meant to be an advertisement for Amazon or Kindle but it is a big part of my reading life right now.  I think the important thing to remember is if you want to read, and want to make time for reading, then do what you need to do to make it happen.  For me, it was realizing I didn’t have to have the hardcover or physical book for me to still be able to read and enjoy the story.  As a librarian, I do like have my bookcases full of books in my house and I have them all over the place along with books stacked by my bed.  With that said, I do like always having my book in my purse or back pocket and more titles ready, just a download away.

So whether you are old school or new school reading, as long as you are reading you are doing it right!

Free to Read: Week Two WRAD14 Challenge

We are in week two of the WRAD Blog challenge and I had so much fun with this post. I liked being able to ask my daughter the questions and see what her reply would be. Even though we will be moving into week three tomorrow, I plan to ask my students some of these questions and post their answers.

My daughter, Audrey is six years old and in first grade. She loves to read, often getting in trouble at school for reading the book in her desk instead of paying attention, but that’s a whole different story…


Here are our answers to the questions for this week. My reactions to Audrey’s answers and in italics.

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

Me: … WHATEVER THEY WANT! (Sorry for shouting, but I feel a might strongly about this.) It breaks my heart when students don’t get to read the book they want to read. Yes, we should encourage them to branch out and grow as readers, that’s why they can check out more than one book at a time. We did away with Accelerated Reader at my school several years ago (Yay!) but some teachers have started using a free online quiz program that is similar. And some of the same problems, when those classes come from checkout, have already started. I had one 1st grader, who is a strong reader, checking out Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. I asked her if she wanted the second book Knuffle Bunny Two. It had been turned in recently and was right behind me on the bookcart, (I like to be helpful like that 😉 ).

“No thanks, there isn’t a quiz for it”.

“Are you sure, it’s really good!”

“No, I have to met my quiz goal”.



Audrey: … nonfiction. Because you can learn from it, and you can learn stuff you don’t know.

This reply kind of surprised me because we mostly read fiction picture books at bedtime. She does like to read my magazines after school and checkout nonfiction. Guess we need to beef up the nonfiction books at home!


2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

Me: … someone British! I love accents, so maybe Sir Patrick Stewart. His voice is so “engaging”  (Trekkies did you see what I did there? 😉 )  For the most part, I can listen to almost anyone, if it’s a good story. 🙂

Audrey: … my mommy, because she can read really good. (I really think that, hey… you don’t have to type that!)


3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

Me: …animals and regional accents.   I love to read Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman, I may not have a perfect east Texas accent but it’s funny and the kids laugh.  I also enjoy saying “Affirmative” when reading the delightful Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman.

Audrey… puppies! (Put an excite mark, because I LOVE puppies)

4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

Me: …science fiction. I have always loved science fiction (and fantasy to a lesser degree). I love the classics from the Golden Age of Science Fiction with authors like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and Anne McCaffrey.

Last year, I read Wool by Hugh Howey and it blew my mind! I still think about it and have read several books by other authors set in his Wool Universe. I think it got picked up to be made into a movie, but read it first! I also really liked his Molly Fyde series. Currently, I have been reading a lot of young adult dystopian novels, here are some of my favorites: (links are to the first book of each series)

The Giver series by Lois Lowry
Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
The Frost Chronicles by Kate Avery Ellison
Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie
Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Taking Series by Melissa West
The Testing Series by Joelle Charbonneau

I could go on and on, even just compiling this list I kept finding series I haven’t read yet and need to add to my must read list!

Audrey: … books about puppies.

 We are reading our way through the Puppy Place series right now, can you tell! And yes we do have a dog so she isn’t starved for puppy love.


5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

Me: … performing for the audience. I love seeing the students’ reactions, when they laugh at the right parts, or wait in suspense for me to turn the page and the gasp of the reveal. Two years ago for the 2012 Global Read Aloud, I read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with a 4th grade class during their lunch time, for the whole month of October. Now that I’m not a classroom teacher I don’t get the chance to read aloud entire novels so this was a real treat for me. I loved having them beg for me to keep going, which sometimes their teachers would graciously allow us to do. I miss that part of being in the classroom, I developed a special bond with that homeroom by sharing that book with them. When it won the Newbery we were so excited and not surprised, it is a wonderful book.


Audrey: … hearing mommy make the different voices, it sounds so realistic.

That makes me feel good, I love reading aloud to Audrey and I hope she will not outgrow this feeling anytime soon.


Well that’s it for this week.  I need to get on Twitter and finalize some WRAD plans, it is getting closer!

No Reading Aloud Until 4th Grade!






Don’t let the title alarm you! I’m all for reading aloud starting at an early age and continuing to read aloud even as students get older. You will see why fourth grade in just a few seconds. : )

March 5, 2014 is World Read Aloud Day.  The wonderful event is hosted by LitWorld.  I plan to celebrate with my students for the entire week starting Monday, March 3.  To help me mentally prepare I am participating in the World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge hosted by Matthew Winner  a.k.a. The Busy Librarian.

Here is my entry for week one!

Week 1: February 10 – 16

What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?

My mother was a teacher, I know we had books at home (I still have some of our favorites from when I was little) and I know she and my dad read to me when I was little, but for the life of me my earliest memory of being read aloud to is my fourth grade teacher!  This is one reason why this post has taken me most of the week to finally write.  I kept racking my brain trying to remember bedtime rituals, favorite read alouds…nothing!  Sorry mom and dad.  Maybe it was so common when I was young that my brain didn’t think it was that important to hold on to. I’m not sure.  So leaving the guilt behind, here is my earliest and one of my fondest memories of being read aloud to.

In fourth grade my teacher read The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  In case you don’t know the story:

This is the classic story–read and loved by children all over the world–of Pod, Homily, and their daughter, Arrietty, who live under the kitchen floor in a quiet, half-empty house and get their livelihood by borrowing from the “human beans.” “Delectable fantasy.”–Booklist

I loved hearing my teacher read this book aloud to us.  I have vivid memories of sitting at my desk, swinging my feet back and forth in excitement waiting to hear what was going to happen to the tiny family. And goodness, when Arrietty allows herself to be seen by the boy who just moved in… well, I can’t give it away but for fourth grade me it was exciting stuff to be sure!

One of my favorite memories of reading aloud was when I was the reader.  Early in our marriage, I was on vacation with my husband and was rereading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card for about the millionth time.  I kept wanting to tell him about the story and and since he was a captive audience, I started reading the book aloud to him while he drove.  There were some days of our trip that we would miss exits or sit in the parking lot because we would get so wrapped up in the story and didn’t want to stop.  Even though he could have taken over and finished the book by himself, he continued to let me read it aloud to him. (that’s one reason why I love him) I have read Ender’s Game a couple more times since then but I always remember sitting in the car reading aloud while we cruised down the interstate.

This year I will be connecting 20 times with other schools for World Read Aloud Day.  I am still working out the details with my friends about what story to read and how to share, but I know we are going to have a great time.  If you haven’t planned anything yet, and need some inspiration check out LitWorld’s webpage World Read Aloud Day Activities.

Help us “raise our voices” to celebrate reading aloud!


Coding Club

Last week we started our next session of after school clubs and I am doing a coding club.  I have 14 third through fifth graders meeting me in the lab after school on Thursdays. We have started out using the K-8 intro to computer science course available for free at code.org. This course is great and shows the students lots of different coding activities they can work through at their own pace.  This is good for them, but bad for me! Well, not really bad for me but our club meets once a week for an hour and we only have 8 sessions.  Since this is a 20 hour course, and they were so excited the first day, I said it was okay for them to log in at home and work on it if they wanted.  Well, a few of them are almost through the entire thing and we a haven’t even met the for the second session!

I’m sure I will be able to set these go-getters free to do some other coding activities if they finish early. I for sure didn’t want to dampen their enthusiasm.  I’m only partway through the second activity so will have to work some before next Thursday to catch up with them.

Be sure to check out code.org, it is a great site!


Happy coding!


Reflect Connect Obsess

Winter break is a time to rest, relax and spend time with family. It is also time to reflect, connect and obsess about how to make your program better for your students!



I spent time thinking and pondering about my program and what I can do to help my students.  Reading different blogs gave me much to think about, especially  the wonderful Jennifer LaGarde’s, Adventures of Library Girl.  Her recent post, 11 Questions (About Libraries) That Need Answers made by brain hurt!  They are questions that can’t help but make you a better school librarian by just thinking about them.  I am still working on my answers and will post them when I get them sorted out.



TL Virtual Cafe is tomorrow night and Library Girl, Jennifer LaGarde along with Jennifer Northrup, The Candid Librarian will be on.  Another one of my fav bloggers Matthew Winner, The Busy Librarian will be host.  I can’t wait to listen in and learn from these great librarians.

I also spent time during the break trying to catch up on my professional reading, I got some great ideas to put into motion when I get back.





I spent some time meeting up with some of my librarian peeps for some book store browsing, fun to have time to talk books.  We even helped a few customers find good books to read!




Obsess (and Connect):

I have already started obsessing about World Read Aloud Day, which isn’t until March 5th!  I plan to celebrate all week at school and have made 11 (and counting) connections for my students during that week.   It is always exciting to reach out and connect with other students in different schools and states.  The kids love it and I get to develop lasting professional contacts.

More obsessing, I am close to implementing my Lunch Bunch Book Brag.  I just need to work out the last few kinks.  I put signs up in the library and have already had some students ask about so when I launch the program I don’t think I will have any trouble getting some takers.


So from my house to yours I hope you have a great Winter Break and are ready for a fun 2014!

Christmas Eve Pajamas

Christmas Eve Pajamas


Happy Reading!



Dinosaurs and Coding

Last week was Hour of Code week.  Since we have just gotten our iPads ready for use I thought this would be a perfect week to let the students explore a coding app.  Since I was seeing primary classes, I selected Daisy the Dinosaur by Hopscotch Technologies.  It was perfect for introducing the  kids to computer programming.  They loved it!


Coding with kinders

While we didn’t have a full hour to code, the students really liked giving Daisy commands and watching her complete the program.   They loved showing each other what they created.


Look what I did!

Look what I did!

We will definitely be playing more with coding.