Cool Tools for School Thing 22: Create a Resource Guide, Part III

Pinterest Header

Wow oh wow! When I was writing up the Part II for this Cool Tool I was so confident that it would be easy to whip up a Pinterest board for the library and share it with teachers before we went on February break. I wasn’t entirely wrong, creating the library Pinterest account was a snap. Coming up with boards was pretty easy breezy as well. It wasn’t even that difficult to get started pinning to the boards. I had meet with a technology liaison from my district about an entirely different project a few weeks before starting this and she shared the link with me to the New York Model Schools Pinterest account she is helping create. I used many of their board ideas and pins to start my library Pinterest account. And that’s when I hit a wall.

Suddenly, tasked with pinning things that not only would appeal to teachers (instead of random things I liked) and would represent the library well, I froze. I’m a librarian, not a classroom teacher or a content specialist. I found myself second guessing the things I was finding and thinking of pinning to my boards. I thought this math activity looked cool and fun but would teachers think it was silly or stupid or would it be something they’d already seen a million times before?????? Slogging through all the different Pinterest search results and online search results and articles I’d saved to Pocket took what felt like FOR.EV.ER. And when I was done, I’d only pinned 5 things, tops, to each of my 24 boards. I’d had a goal of at least 10 things pinned to each of my 24 boards before I shared it with my teachers. I wanted it to seem well developed and worth their time to check out, something they could explore and discover new things through, not something they could glance at and be done with in 5 minutes. So, board by board, I set aside a little time each morning, afternoon and evening of break to reach my goal and FINALLY, the last weekend of break, I got it done.

But, before I could share my Pinterest board, I had another problem to solve. The results of my teacher survey were an almost even split between wanting a Pinterest account and a digital newsletter to keep them up to date on new resources. As such, I had decided to do both, send cool stuff to our Pinterest account whenever I found it and, every other week or so, send my teachers a digital newsletter highlighting some of the Pinterest finds. So now, I had to figure out what digital newsletter I wanted to use for monthly updates. I thought I was going to use Scoop.It but I honestly wasn’t feeling it so I keep looking and looking and looking. There are a lot of results when you search for digital newsletters but none of them were blowing me away. I wanted it to be slick looking but easy to put together, easy to add my contacts to and, easy to add my Pinterest finds.

Oh a whim, I decided to look at Our department head had recently created and sent us flyers for the district Battle of the Books competition using and I had used it in grad school for some assignments. It’s really easy to use and looks pretty great for the effort so I decided to noodle around and see if I could make a flyer work as a newsletter when I discovered the best thing EVER! When you click on “start new flyer”, one of your flyer set up options is news bulletin!!! It was exactly what I had been looking for and not finding with all the other digital newsletter options online and even easier to setup than I had hoped. I was able to add a “button” linking people directly to the library’s Pinterest page and, embed links from our Pinterest page as well. Then, I emailed the flyer to myself at work. After I opened it, I forwarded it to a custom mailing list I have saved on my work email account of all the teachers (after taking out all the obvious bits and pieces that showed I had forwarded the email to myself). WordPress doesn’t let you embed a Smore flyer into your posts but I’ve attached a link to the news bulletin I sent my teachers below. And of course, feel free to check out my Pinterest board!

I’m hoping this helps my teachers stay up to date on what’s fun and cool out there without me having to run all over the place tracking them down!

And with that, I’ve officially finished Thing 22 and have FINALLY created a resource guide….now to just keep it up and keep it fresh!

Psst, check out the long, slow journey to making my first resource guide with Part I and Part II


This & Thats

Oh my, I have been neglectful this week haven’t I cats and kittens?

I didn’t mean to up and disappear on you all but, well,  there hasn’t been anything major to share with you this week. There have been a few random this and thats and now that I have a week’s worth of them, I guess I can share them in a single post (rather than give you a week’s worth of posts that contain less than 10 sentences).

So, without further ado, here are some of the random happenings from the past few days:

Stories from Student Teaching

One of the high school classes is studying Ancient Greece and her students are working in groups to create newspapers from that time period. A group came in during study hall to do research and get ideas for their project. The one girl was reading about gods and goddesses and while reading about the god of fertility, came across a word that stumped her, phallus.I watched as she asked her group members and none of them knew what it meant. I watched as she went to several other class mates in the library and none of them could help her. (I mean genuinely, could not help her. Not a one of the showed a hint, a glimmer, of recognition of the word. I was shocked, don’t kids make it their business to learn every way possible to say “naughty” words like that?) I would have left it at that but it became clear when she returned to her table that she could not get over not knowing what the word meant and was having trouble making progress with her research as a result. When she got up to sharpen her pencil I waved her over and assisted her in locating the definition of the word. After discovering what it meant, she turned 18 shades of purple and while looking at the floor instead of me said,

“Um, well, okay. Um, thanks, I guess? I don’t know.”

And she booked it back to her table and quietly worked on her research for the rest of class.

The next day, the same girl was in the library with her class for additional group research time. She approaches me and we have the following exchange:

Her: Hi! Do you have any geometry books in here?

Me: Geometry books? (Already mentally preparing the best way to scold her group for working on their math homework instead of the project their teacher brought them here for and getting them back on track)

Her: Yeah, you know, geometry books. Like with maps and stuff.

Me: Ohhhh, maps. (The relief of not having to scold them quickly being replaced by an intense sadness at their lack of basic reference book knowledge). Maps, geography, yes we have those. They are called atlases and they’re right over here.

In preparation for collaborating on a research project, my host librarian and I observed a Junior High social studies class to get a better idea where they are in their unit and what they are expected to know/be able to do.

The class is studying colonization and was given a reading on English colonization to read and fill out a note taking sheet together in groups of two or three. Shortly after the assignment began, I heard one of the girls say she didn’t get it. Since the assignment had just been handed out, I assumed she was struggling with the directions so I went over to help her and we had the following conversation:

Me: Hi, are you having some trouble? What don’t you get? Maybe I can help you figure it out.

Her: Well, no, like I get what we are supposed to do. I just don’t understand something.

Me: (crouching down next to her desk) Well, what don’t you get? What’s got you stuck? Let’s figure it out together.

Her: Well, I’m just like confused.

Me: Okay, what are you confused about.

Her: Well, this time time  we’re learning about…..Well, wasn’t like, Hitler, like from the 1660’s too?

Me: (Without making the face you’re probably making right now or laughing) Well, no. Hitler and World War II happened in the 1940’s. You’re learning about colonization and that happened 100s and 100s of years before that.

Her: Oh, okay.

After that she seemed to work through the activity just fine. Apparently, she was having trouble grappling with the conflicting images of the colonists arriving in ships after months on the ocean, having to make their own clothes and dying of so many diseases in the wilderness of the new world while Europe was waging a war filled with tanks and airplanes?

In other News……

I meet with the lovely Amy Rau at Green Girl Press yesterday afternoon to start talking business cards. I can’t say enough great things about working with Amy. She had studied the Pinterest board I put together of business card inspiration and had identified some key themes and reoccurring elements in what I liked.

For source information, please see the original Pinterest Board
For source inspiration, see original Pinterest Board
For source inspiration, see original Pinterest Board

After walking me through the different themes she picked up on we discussed what messages those themes conveyed. She helped me identify what message I wanted my business card to send so we could narrow down my inspiration points. Actually, before we even did that we kicked the first theme, clean design, to the curb. Amy knows me well enough to know that clean design isn’t really “me” and knew I would be happiest with something that showed more of my personality. We decided that what really appealed to me about those designs wasn’t the design but other elements, like font choice. Of the remaining two themes, I decided I liked animals more because they represented a little more whimsy and personality than the traditional, classic repeating patterns and geometric shape designs.

Then, we through each element of the card (information I want on the card, front and back or just front, shape, colors, fonts, images/graphics etc) and talked about what would best meet my vision complete with her showing me samples/potential elements so she could get a better idea of what I liked and didn’t like.

I’m so excited about what we worked on and can’t wait to see the ideas she comes up with. Something tells me I’ve have an even more difficult time narrowing down my favorites than I did when she designed our wedding invitations!

As always, I’ll keep you updated on the process as it happens.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week (promise!).

‘Til then,


Pssst….I know Amy is in the process of revamping and rebranding her website. Bookmark it anyway. When it is re-launched you will be glad you did. There will be more eye candy than you ever thought possible.