Friday, April 6, 2018

More Alternatives to AR

One of my most read posts is Alternatives to AR where I describe three alternative websites  to Accelerated Reader or Reading Counts, or other reading incentive websites-Book Adventure, Reading Rewards, and QuizWik.  Since that post, I have come across several other alternatives.

Whooo's Reading is a fairly new website which claims to accelerate not only reading but also writing through the use of open ended quiz questions rather than multiple choice questions.  Because the questions are open ended, the quizzes are not limited to specific books.  Students also get feedback and hints as they are forming their answer to included evidence that support their answer.  Teachers get quiz result as students complete quizzes and also receive reports tracking student progress. 

Just like in AR, up to 3 goals can be set for students to encourage and motivate them.  Students earn coins for successfully completing quizzes which they can then use to purchase items for their owl avatar.   Whooo's Reading is free for teachers, but teachers cannot add other teachers to their account.  For that, a school would have to purchase an account. With that account, schools also get access to reading logs which students can use to track how much they've read before quizzing.

The short (and admittedly cheesy) video above, gives you a quick overview of the website.

If you like the reading log part of a reading program, but not necessarily the quizzing part, then you might like to check out these next three alternatives.

Biblionasium is a place where students can review, rate and recommend books they have read in a safe, yet social online community. It's similar to Goodreads, but it's for kids in grades K-8th grade.  Biblionasium is COPPA compliant.  Students set up virtual bookshelves where they display books they have read, books they want to read, and books that they own.  Students are able to connect with their friends, teachers, and parents (with parent approval) and can recommend books to each other.  Students can earn badges based on how many books they have read and how many recommendations they have given.  There is also a reading log available as well as online reports for teachers for each of their students.  Teachers and parents can set up reading challenges for their kids.  The short video below gives a quick overview of the site.

Biblionasium is free, but if you would like to integrate it with Follett Destiny (if that is your circulation system), that is subscription based.

Book Taco is a website that students can use to log books they've read while earning game coins and "cyberswag" and "virtual pet play" and even class milestone rewards.  Students can customize their avatar.  Teachers can track, monitor, and set reading goals, print and share reports, and message class and individual students.  Teachers can reward students for read alouds, participation and completing printables.  Book Taco is free for educators and even offers free training, but also provides free resources on its site including helpful videos and parent letters.

The video above gives you a quick overview of Book Taco.

While the last two alternatives could be used for free, this next alternative is a paid program.  Beanstack is a reading program designed to encourage independent reading, drive circulation, and increase library visits.  This program requires the user to design reading challenges which students, classrooms, or families can participate in to earn virtual reading badges and real-world prizes by tracking their reading.  Students can also write book reviews and keep track of activities they complete during the challenge.  Beanstack is both a website and an app. Within the app, users can look up books by scanning the ISBN, log reading minutes, and achieve streaks by logging in multiple days in a row. Users get weekly emails or texts with recommended reads. 

This video above gives you an overview of Beanstack.

Do you know of any other alternatives to AR or RC?  

*"AR" and "RC" are trademarks of Renaissance Learning and Scholastic, respectively.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Happy National School Librarian Day!

Hip hip hurray!  It's a special day!

April 4th is National School Librarian Day, a day to celebrate and honor school librarians- or media specialists, or teacher librarians.  Whatever your preferred title-it's your day!

Why not celebrate it with other school librarians?   Share this day by growing your PLN on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Below is a list of of ways to connect with other school librarians on this special day.

@cybraryman1  (Jerry Blumengarten)
@cathyjo  (Cathy Jo Nelson)
@THLibrariZen (Lynn Kleinmeyer)
@librarianprblms (for a good chuckle)

If you want to find even more school librarians to follow on Twitter, try searching using these hashtags:

#LibrarianProblems   (for more good chuckles)

Cybraryman has created a list of educational hashtags that you might find helpful. You can find that list HERE.

Another great way to connect to school librarians is through Twitter chats.  There are tons of twitter chats going on nightly/weekly/monthly. They usually last about an hour and go by surprisingly fast.  Pick one that tickles your fancy and check it out.  If you like what you see, jump in the conversation.   If the pace of a twitter chat seems too fast, don't despair.  Some Twitter chats are archived so you can always go back to look at something you might have missed.  If you're not sure what a Twitter chat is or how to take part in one, you can check out THIS helpful info compiled by Cybraryman

Cybraryman has also created a neat little page that lists the current day's Twitter chat and what time they take place. You can find it HERE.  Another great resource to check out is the TL Virtual Cafe.

Mrs Lemmo

Another great way to connect with other school librarians is through blogs.  Here are some of my favorite bloggers:


And of course, you can always follow me on Bloglovin', my Facebook pageTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

And as a special reward for making it all the way to the end of this post and to celebrate this special day, I am having a sale!  20% off all my paid products on TpT- no code needed!  Just click HERE to access my store.

So go celebrate!  It's your day!  Happy National School Librarian Day!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Owl Activity Freebie

Every year about this time, I introduce the BIG nonfiction section to the first graders.  First we read a nonfiction book about owls.  And then I surprise them with a very special "visitor"- Mr. Owl.

Mr. Owl was donated to our school many years ago-even before I was even a teacher (so a really long time ago LOL).  He has lived in the Media Center ever since. 

Students are always fascinated by Mr. Owl who sits in the back of the Media Center keeping watch over everyone.

So, I like to play on that excitement.  First we read a nonfiction book on Big Universe.  We have a subscription to this fabulous ebook site. But you can also find nonfiction books on Epic about owls. Then I bring out Mr. Owl.  I explain that Mr. Owl is not alive and how he came to be at our school.  He actually flew into the side of a barn and that is how he died.  Someone found him and had him stuffed and then donated him to our school.  We have special paperwork granting us permission to keep Mr. Owl because by law, you can't just kill and stuff an owl.  After I tell the story of how Mr. Owl came to live at our school, I point out the beak and the talons.  And then I let the students touch the feathers of Mr. Owl with the back of their hands to keep the oils from their hands from damaging Mr. Owl. They love it!

Then I let students know that they can find fact books about owls and other animals in the BIG nonfiction section.  I show them how our nonfiction section is organized with book stops to label the different types of books in that section.  I don't go into Dewey. They learn more about that in second grade.

To wrap up, students label the parts of the owl and find pictures of owls on their activity sheets while they are waiting their turn to go to the shelves.

You can get a copy of these activity sheets for FREE in my TpT store. Just click HERE to download. 

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hippity Hoppity Easter Freebie

It's almost Easter time so it's the perfect time to read a fun story about the Easter Bunny.  

One of my favorite books to read this time of year is The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing.

Because we read The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing a few weeks ago, the students were familiar with the author and illustrator.  We compared the story and the drawings in both books and also talked about the characters and plot of the story.

I made this quick little freebie to go with the book.  You can download it for free HERE in my TpT store.  I'd love to know what you think of it if you use it.

Do you have any special books you like to read this time of year?

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


It's almost April which means it's almost School Library Month.  This year's AASL theme is "Making Connections at Your School Library."

As I have done for the past 2 years, I have created a free advocacy pack based on this year's AASL theme, filled with fun facts and statements about school libraries. This is a freebie in my TpT store.  You can download it HERE.  Please let me know what you think of this freebie.  I also love seeing pictures of how these packs are being used.  Feel free to tag me in your social media posts if you decide to post pics using this pack.

For more advocacy tools, check out these links:

AASL School Library Month free downloads -Here you will find all kinds of pics to add to your social media accounts to advertise SLM18

AASL Advocacy Tools- Find downloads you can print and handout to stakeholders

AASL Toolkits

AASL Position Statement on the Role of the School Library Program

School Librarian: State of the Union- An informative read

You can find more resources on my past posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.

How are you celebrating SLM18?

Friday, March 23, 2018

It's Springtime in the Media Center

Spring has arrived so that means it's time to change the book displays in the Media Center.

I was able to change the displays today in between checkouts.  

I used some leftover plastic table cloths from previous Scholastic Book Fairs, some small spring stuffed animals (donated from my own kids' stash), and some fake flowers that I bought on clearance at Michael's several years ago.

I grabbed some books that had bright colored covers to highlight and added these Spring Book Display Signs to them.  It took maybe 15 minutes all together.  I did have the signs already printed, so it may have taken just a little bit of extra time if I had had to print.

Doesn't it look so happy?!  Of course, five minutes after taking this picture, I had to replace several of the books because they had been checked out, but that was the purpose of the new displays-so mission accomplished!

If you'd like to purchase the signs I used in these displays, you can get them HERE from my TpT store.

Do you do any special book displays in your Media Center?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lion Lessons Freebie

Yesterday was the first day of spring, so I thought I would read a fun new-to-me book to my kindergarten and firsties about lions.

We read Lion Lessons by Jon Agee.  I received this book (and a few other books) free a couple of weeks ago from my Perma-Bound rep when he came to meet with me.  Have I mentioned how much I love Perma-Bound?

After reading the book, we discussed how spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. We talked about what a lion does, how it acts.  I showed them  a video I found on THIS link from National Geographic Kids.  We compared the lion in the video to the lion in the story.  They also enjoyed looking at the gallery of lion pictures on this page.

We also reviewed the story, mentioning how the story is make believe because real lions don't talk or wear clothes.  We talked about the different settings the lion and boy go to throughout the story and we reviewed the steps for becoming a lion.  

Students then went to their tables to complete THIS review sheet.  You can download your own copy to use from my Google Drive.  Just click HERE and then click the download button in the top right hand corner of your screen and save the file.

Do you have any books you love to read for spring?

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.