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Check It Out: May 2, 2018

Your weekly news from the OPS Library Services Staff


Send your or your students' favorite books of the year to Courtney to share on our social media in May.

What to do on Lame Duck school days...

"The term “lame duck” is most often used to describe a president who is still sitting in office after his or her successor has been elected. Technically this person is still the president, but his or her decision-making power is generally perceived to be minimal.

We have something like that in school: those days when technically we’re still in school, but because it’s right before vacation, the end of the school year is near, or we’re in the middle of standardized testing, those class hours don’t have the same instructional potential as your average school day. In some cases, like on standardized test days in certain districts, teachers are explicitly told they CAN’T plan regular instruction. On these Lame Duck days, it’s hard to figure out what we can do to still provide valuable learning experiences for our students.

Sometimes instead of days, we have small bursts of Lame Duck time: The leftover 15 minutes after the fire drill, when you know you don’t have enough time to actually finish the lesson you were teaching, but you don’t want to just let them sit there. We often call the activities we need for these times “sponge activities.” Regardless of what you call it or how much you need, we all have those times when students are right in front of us but the regularly scheduled programming just isn’t going to work.

What then?"

The paragraphs on why not to show videos in class provide the author's perspective.  For you, it comes down to the Media Use Guidelines in the A+ Curriculum Guides and copyright.  There are some activities in here that do not provide much of an instructional component (like coloring books), so be sure to read through the offerings carefully.

Great for full days:  Mystery Skype, Board/Card Games (from you Makerspaces), Minute to Win It Games, Kahoot, STEM Challenges, Genius Hour, Community Service Project, Student Video Project, Breakout EDU, TED Talks

Great for 10-15 minute bursts:  Clean-up Day, Thank You Notes, Philosophical Chairs Debate, Group Story/Progressive Writing, Found Poetry, Icebreakers, Podcast reviews, Read Aloud, Mindfulness Practice

What do you do on lame duck days or for sponge time?

Happy May Day!

Wrap up to SLM 2018 from Shannon Miller

As we wrap up a wonderful School Library Month, we all look back at the amazing resources, events and ideas that were shared and celebrated in April. 

I learned so much all four weeks by following along and participating in lots of ways including conferences like TLA; the AASL School Library Month site; Knowledge Quest blog; during special AASL webinars; on Twitter and Instagram following #AASLslm and #SLM18; and from school librarians, educators and others each and every day. 

I gathered up these resources, events and ideas each week and shared them in four special Collections by Destiny.  These are public and will be available forever. 

I will continue to add resources that fit into each as I come across them and please share things with me that fit too. 

I hope everyone had a very special School Library Month. I am inspired by all of the things that are happening in our libraries and schools.  You are making a difference for communities, teachers, families and most of all, the children that you work with everyday. Together during this month, and all throughout the year, we can make a difference together and show the importance of school libraries and librarians.  

Let's keep this celebration going all year long, friends.

Rick Steves Keynote at Texas Library Association

Immersing ourselves in a book gives us a broader perspective and challenges our understanding of the world. Going to the library, he argued, is like going to the airport. It’s a step down the road of experiencing the world and humanizing all the people in it. It’s not in everyone’s budget to travel, but the library makes it in everyone’s budget to read. (from article)


Broaden your global perspective at General Session I. Libraries and travel have much in common. Both expand our understanding by exposing us to different cultures and perspectives. Librarians and travel guides lead us to discover and appreciate the diverse world we live in. Rick Steves—acclaimed for his bestselling guidebooks and public television series—believes there's more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cuisine. Americans who “travel as a political act" can have the time of their lives and come home smarter with a better understanding of the interconnectedness of today's world. In this provocative presentation, Steves will explain how travel, whether overseas or through libraries, can be truly transformational, providing the greatest souvenir: a broader perspective. From TLA Website

Library Girl's Tips for Spotting Fake News

CSM--How Podcasts Can Improve Literacy in the Classroom

If you're considering whether or not you want to explore using podcasts as primary or supplementary texts, consider these benefits for students: 

Reading along with a podcast builds confidence and literacy. 

Podcasts present a broad array of narrative types and subject matter. 

Reading along keeps easily distracted students extremely focused.

Podcasts are free, accessible, and always contemporary.

Is Listening to An Audio Book "Cheating"?

I've been asked this question a lot and I hate it.  I’ll describe why in a bit, but for now I’ll just change it to “does your mind do more or less the same thing when you listening to an audio book and when you read print?”

The short answer is “mostly.”

Picture An influential model of reading is the simple view (Gough & Tumner, 1986), which claims that two fundamental processes contribute to reading: decoding and language processing. “Decoding” obviously refers to figuring out words from print. “Language processing” refers to the same mental processes you use for oral language. Reading, as an evolutionary late-comer, must piggy-back on mental processes that already existed, and spoken communication does much of the lending. 

So according to the simple model, listening to an audio book is exactly like reading print, except that the latter requires decoding and the former doesn’t.

Is the simple view right?

Who Ya Gonna Call...or Email?

The fastest way to get your questions answered is to contact the right person!

  • Laura Pietsch (531) 299-9615: Policy, personnel and evaluation, Sherwood grants and building projects
  • Stacy Lickteig (531) 299-9614: Technology, cataloging, copyright, budget and ordering
  • Courtney Pentland (531) 299-9609:  Inquiry, professional library, newsletter Items; Secondary Review Committee; secondary author visits, skype visits
  • McKenzie White (531) 299-9362 Instructional technology , ITL Program

  • Gwen Jackson  Elementary author visits

Technology Training/Support

  • Debra Bordenkecher  531-299-9841: Handles training needs of classified staff (including paraprofessionals)
  • Hardware issues should be handled by your building assigned technologist. If this person is not in the building, call or email the Help Desk 531-299-0300

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (402-557-2001).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (402-557-2001).