December 22, 2012

New Equipment!

Blue Spark Digital Microphone for the iPad
     I received good news this week, the new equipment that was requested has arrived. Since owning an iPad, I've noticed the sound quality can be quite crappy. Yes, I said it. Now that my students are really getting into the groove with interviewing, I really want to capture sound without distortion.

     My co-worker, Mr. Brown found the Blue Spark Digital Microphone on the Apple Store. I can't wait for January 7th to come so we can use it for the first time.  Now, the next thing I need to work on is a iPad light for low light situations.  Any suggestions?  You can see what I mean by viewing the latest episode of "Behind the Paws."  It was great to capture the students performances at the recent Holiday Extravaganza assembly but I just wish the auditorium had better lighting and the iPad sound/picture was better. Am I pushing the limits of this device? Maybe so, but I'm such a critic of my work!  
      Here's the latest episode of "Behind the Paws."

"Behind the Paws: Holiday Edition" - S1 E3 from WPAHS Video Page on Vimeo.

December 6, 2012

Season's Greetings!

Send story ideas to
Holiday Greetings from the 
Behind the Paws Student News Program!

In this episode of "Behind the Paws," the students shot videos for:
- VIP Member Luncheon (student interviews)
- Upcoming Phillips Talent Show
- Preparations for the Upcoming Holiday Extravaganza Assembly (Ms Alexander and Ms Kamysz)
- Chicago Elite Classic Basketball Games (Mr. Briggs and Kenyon)
- World AIDS Day Celebrations (Mrs. Taylor)
- Holiday Greetings (several staff members)

I cannot tell you how proud Mr. Brown and I are of these students.   Please when you have a chance, please watch the video below and compliment them on their Twitter page @PhillipsHSBTP.  Enjoy the holiday music and until next time.

"Behind the Paws" - S1 E2 from WPAHS Video Page on Vimeo.

December 2, 2012

It's Official

It's official:  The Behind the Paws News Crew has a Twitter page!  Follow my students and keep up with all of their stories as they relate to exploring the world of television production.

Below are a couple of tweets the students have posted over the last couple of days.  Many teachers have been so nice and have complimented the students on their work.   One of the students sent a lovely tweet about the Library Media Center.... #Wonderful!

November 27, 2012

Behind the Paws Student News Program

"Behind the Paws" - S1 E1 from WPAHS Video Page on Vimeo.

     "Behind the Paws", is a new weekly student produced news program at Phillips High School.  The students will be responsible for editing and producing content presented on this program.  The tasks that lead to the development of such a finished product will include interviewing Phillips personnel, shooting video using iPads, writing stories, and editing video.  The goal of this program is to provide students with the skills to create new material and inform peers with Wildcat news, announcements and other school events on video.  
      I am really proud of my students; they have accepted the challenge of learning how to use iPads and editing software within a short period of time.  Their efforts should be applauded.  Please enjoy the video!

"Behind the Paws" - Season 1, Episode 1
This Segment Includes:
Stories about the Academic Skills Center, John Byrne and Joi Tillman interview.

November 19, 2012

12 Reasons to Be Thankful You Are a Teacher

You know I love Twitter.  Recently while sifting through my Twitter feed, I ran across a post from Teacher Hub that I just had to share.  Yes, I'm a teacher, a teacher-librarian for those who don't understand the true role of school librarians.   

Reprinted from Teacher Hub

Teaching is not a profession known for instant gratification. Sometimes, we teachers can feel completely unappreciated.  Dubbed a “thankless job”, teaching comes with many daily challenges. Grading, meetings, more grading, planning and the seemingly hundreds of tasks we are charged with can make us feel frustrated and burned out.  More often than not, we take  on much more than our job description.  Everything from improving student’s academic abilities to making up for their inadequate home life leads to a feeling of overwhelm and negativity.  

In his 2009 Reader’s Digest article, “How to Be Thankful and Improve Your Life”, David Hochman discovers that “life gets better when you adopt and attitude of gratitude.” In other words, look at life from the “half full” point of view instead of the “half empty” one. Take time to appreciate yourself and the positive aspects of your profession.  Here are 12 unexpected reasons to be thankful for being a teacher.  

Teachers, Be Thankful For...
1. Your heavy teacher’s bag...
because it symbolizes your employment. Take a moment to think about how many people you know who have been laid off. According to The Wall Street Journal, there were over two million people collecting unemployment in early October. Be grateful you are not one of them.

2. The deductions from your paycheck...
which account for your health insurance. Insurance is expensive. Many of our students go without medical attention, medication or glasses. In fact, The US Census Bureau tallied
nearly 50 million people without health insurance in 2010. Appreciate your health coverage.

One of my library books!
3. Monday mornings...
because they come after weekends and holidays off. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have weekends and holidays off. Many of our spouses may be required to work Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day and even Thanksgiving or Christmas. Feel fortunate to have these days off from work.

4. Rising at an early hour...
since going to work early means you can leave early. Although most of us take work home at night or on weekends, the actual hours we are required to be "at the office" allow us to
be home at a reasonable hour. Welcome the idea that you can get home before dinner actually begins.

5. Parent meetings...
because they are an opportunity to reach out to parents and students. Meeting with parents is a chance to connect with a family and demonstrate your willingness to help.  Take advantage of the possibility that may make a positive impact upon parent and student.

6. Student loan statements...
which are invoices for an educational investment. A good percentage of the world’s population does not have the opportunity to seek higher educated. Be thankful for yours.

7. Wearing an ID...
which can be very useful. Yes, it is annoying - getting caught on everything and constantly misplaced - but flashing your school ID can get you discounts at many retail stores. Money saved is certainly something to be thankful for.

8. A noisy classroom...
which signifies productivity. Learn to embrace the racket that comes with learning. Noisy students are discussion books or significant classroom topics. Be thankful that your students are excited to learn.

9. The pile of unread books on your desk...
because it is evidence that you can read. According to a 2009 USA Today article, a federal study found that one in seven US adults cannot read well enough to comprehend a newspaper article. Acknowledge that the ability to read makes your life better.
Phillips High School Professional Development

10. A full email inbox...
which symbolizes your ability to communicate. Out of all the email or voicemail correspondence we get, there will be a “thank you” from a parent or a commendation for a job well done. Appreciate the ability to communicate.

11. A lesson that doesn’t follow the script...
because it means your students are thinking. Embrace those teachable moments that may not be part of the master plan. Pride your self on being confident enough to teach off the
cuff once in a while.

12. Challenging students...
Meeting a challenge only makes us stronger and helps us learn more about ourselves. Be thankful for the opportunity to grow as a person and as an educator.

November 14, 2012

Try, Try Again...

In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do next time.  Anthony J. D'Angelo
Oops, I messed up again!
Lately I've been thinking about this popular quote written by contributing author and editor of the New York Times bestseller, "Chicken Soup for the College Soul."  The students are still going through a crash course in video production and there's been some successes and hiccups.   Mistakes are being made but most importantly the students are learning from them.  Overall, the students are thriving and enjoying using the iMovie and Videolicious software programs.   Two interview segments have been shot so far and now the students are shooting the opening and closing segment to the news program.    My colleague Mr. Brown and I are so proud of this video crew.
Here's a example of the shot log recorded by one of the crew members.
The students have learned that taking notes helps greatly when it's time to edited the entire video.
Stay tuned for the first complete production of, "Behind the Paws" student news program!

November 13, 2012

What Can Parents and Educators Do to Encourage Black Boys to Read?

I marvel at the number of students that are checking out books in my library media center.  
This student enjoys reading the Charlie Bone series.

Books selected range from Anime/Manga and adventure to informational texts and Street Lit.  I've also noticed the strong increase of readership of males checking out books across the genres.   I'm just so happy to see my students relish in the love of reading, the excitement and the smiles.  To remain abreast of studies, I look for journal/magazine articles and blogs that discuss new trends or thought about the subject.  Below is an excerpt from an article posted on Getting Boys To Read blog.  The article discusses how parents and educators can encourage black males to read, provides GREAT tips and references a thought provoking journal article by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Jeffrey Lewis.


What Can Parents and Educators 
Do to Encourage Black Boys to Read?
1.  Provide their sons and students with positive black male role models. Enroll their children in mentoring programs, hire black male teachers, give boys examples of positive black male role models, bring in adult black male readers to read to classrooms.

2.  Provide black males with a male-centered learning environment.

3.  Make sure libraries and classrooms are stocked with books and magazines that cater to African American culture. It can get frustrating for black kids to continuously read about white protagonists. Check out, a site committed to African-American Children’s Books, Multicultural Children’s Books and Workshops. 

4.  Be sensitive about stereotyping ANY student of a different race or gender. Have a zero-racism policy in your classroom/ library/ home.

5.  Be encouraging. If your son or student whines that he “can’t,” remind him that “can’t” is a lot different than “won’t.” Black boys are JUST as capable as anyone else. They just have more obstacles in their way sometimes.

6.  Make sure their basics needs are being met. It is hard to concentrate on reading, or school work in general, if one is hungry, cold, or living in an abusive environment. Be sensitive to what’s going on at home or even in school when you are not there.

7.  On the other side, hold ALL boys, regardless of race, accountable for their behavior. Don’t allow their homework to slide or their attitude to be less than respectful based upon their race or gender. 

8.  Parent-teacher contact is important and vital to student’s educational growth. 

For more information about providing black male students educational support, read this recent article from entitled Supporting African American Boys in School by the Wisconsin Center for Education.

November 8, 2012

"Behind the Paws News Program"

Trameka tests out the Videolicious app
Phillips high school has a new student news program called, "Behind the Paws."   Behind the Paws is a weekly news program where students report on Wildcat events/highlights of student life at Phillips.  My colleague Mr. Brown and I are working with a group of sophomore students to create this new program.

So far, the students have been very busy this week.  They've interviewed the Athletic Director, Manager of the new Phillips Academic Skills Center and shot tons of video.  
Raekwon is shooting video on his iPad while Erianna (left)
is using an iPhone to shoot Mr. Brunson's tutoring session.

Mr. Brown and I love our iPhone and Galaxy III Smartphones!
Devices used for this project are iPhone/Galaxy III smart phones and iPads.   After receiving a tutorial on using Videolicious and iMovie apps, the crew feels very confident to tackle more projects.  

Wish us luck!

October 25, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile

When I first began teaching, my late father and CPS veteran gave me the best advice:  To be a success in the field of education you must,
1.  Have knowledge of your subject matter
2.  Patience
2.  A sense of humor

Well, the third is what I hang onto the most because it make my day go by faster and keeps me motivated.

Here are some things that make me smile everyday.  (please note:  some of the pictures are from Homecoming Spirit Week at Phillips)   Click on the picture to take a closer look.


1.  My students willingness to share fashion, fun with school events and to be themselves.

 2.    My students smile/happiness when they realize they can check out books that are on the displays in the Library Media Center.

 3.    My students love of reading....priceless!

Receipt for books checked out
The student on the right is an avid reader of e-books

4.  Book donations and my growing Street Literature collection....I'm so thankful for them!!!

The most recent donation is from author, Wahida Clark

5.  My students following directions during lunchtime.

LMC Entry Sign-in-sheets
iPad Sign-in-sheets
You want to use a iPad, give up your i.d.
Thank you for removing the finger prints off of your device.

6.    My student's ability to hold strong onto their Republican beliefs....and discuss the issues in the 2012 election intelligently.

7.  Girls reading Anime/Manga!

8.   Students asking for recommended reads.

9.   Students discussing books!

Ms Tillman's Reading Class from WPAHS Video Page on Vimeo.

10.     Finally, a cool pic of my LMC.  Thank you Mr. Rose! 

October 24, 2012

My Entrepreneurship Spirit

I will be a panelist at the upcoming Jump$tart Coalition National Educator’s Annual Conference on Sunday, November 4th at 9:00 a.m. The panel discussion, “Teacher’s As Entrepreneurs” will investigate how successful teachers have incorporated personal experience into teaching personal finance.  I will be sharing my personal story about students, blogging and entrepreneurship.  This panel discussion will be moderated by Susan Beacham, founder and CEO of Money Savvy Generation.  Wish me luck!

The Jump$tart Coalition is devoted specifically to Pre-K-12 classroom teachers to assist them in advancing curriculum that focuses on personal finance.  Throughout the conference, educators will have an opportunity to see, learn about, and try educational resources that can be integrated immediately into current lesson plans.  Educators will also attend informative workshops under three different strands—advocacy, curriculum/content, and personal development; to meet with leaders from finance and education; and to network with colleagues from across the country.

Now you are probably wondering how did I get involved with Financial Literacy.  About five years ago, I met Susan Beacham through a ten minute phone call to my office.   During this conversation, she spoke with passion about the importance of financial literacy for kids, and her SAVE-SPEND-DONATE-INVEST Money Savvy Pig. You can say the rest is history.  Since then, Chicago Public School Librarians have been at the forefront implementing and driving this program that have educated thousands of students about finance.  This program provides a ton of materials that can be used with students K-12th grade on their website, Money Savvy Generation.  So educators start planning now for Financial Literacy Month in April and order your materials today.

October 9, 2012

Relating to Tyrell

Yesterday was extremely hectic:  1st day of Homecoming Week at Phillips.  While enjoying 'pajama day,' a freshman reading class visited the Library Media Center and discussed Coe Booth's "Tyrell."  The discussion was lively and justified the need to providing books for teens that they can relate to.


Ms Tillman's Reading Class from WPAHS Video Page on Vimeo.

October 2, 2012

My Co-Workers

I appreciate the generosity of my co-workers.  The Phillips Refocus Room Manager, Mr. Brown attended a festival over the weekend with his family.  During this festival, he won a hardback copies of "The Hunger Games Trilogy," and donated them to the Library Media Center. 

Thank you Mr. Brown!!!

The Hunger Games Trilogy on display.
These books were checked out during the first lunch period.