Life's like that!

August 31, 2010

Textbook Headache

This year's textbook inventory has been a big headache for most teachers at the school where I work.

On the first week of school, we realized that there was a shortage of social studies, math, language arts and science textbooks, workbooks and assessment books for 4th grade. All praise be to Allah SWT last week 10 new social studies textbooks arrived, so students no longer needed to share textbooks during class. The SS teacher told me that even though the publisher is out of stock of the accompanying workbook, miraculously she found a free full-version download of the workbook online! As a result she is able to make copies and distribute them to students instead of creating new classwork and homework assignments on her own.

At public schools, textbook inventory is usually handled by a team of 4-5 people for the whole district. Because it requires a lot of time and effort to ensure ordering of textbooks are done timely and accurately, the team can take about 2-3 months to get the job done correct the new school year commences.

The article below is extracted from the web site and it explains the process of textbook publication and selection.

A Textbook Example of What's Wrong with Education

A former schoolbook editor parses the politics of educational publishing.

Some years ago, I signed on as an editor at a major publisher of elementary school and high school textbooks, filled with the idealistic belief that I'd be working with equally idealistic authors to create books that would excite teachers and fill young minds with Big Ideas.

Not so.

I got a hint of things to come when I overheard my boss lamenting, "The books are done and we still don't have an author! I must sign someone today!"

Every time a friend with kids in school tells me textbooks are too generic, I think back to that moment. "Who writes these things?" people ask me. I have to tell them, without a hint of irony, "No one." It's symptomatic of the whole muddled mess that is the $4.3 billion textbook business.

Textbooks are a core part of the curriculum, as crucial to the teacher as a blueprint is to a carpenter, so one might assume they are conceived, researched, written, and published as unique contributions to advancing knowledge.

In fact, most of these books fall far short of their important role in the educational scheme of things. They are processed into existence using the pulp of what already exists, rising like swamp things from the compost of the past. The mulch is turned and tended by many layers of editors who scrub it of anything possibly objectionable before it is fed into a government-run "adoption" system that provides mediocre material to students of all ages.


Don't Mess with Texas

The big three adoption states are not equal, however. In that elite trio, Texas rules. California has more students (more than 6 million versus just over 4 million in Texas), but Texas spends just as much money (approximately $42 billion) on its public schools. More important, Texas allocates a dedicated chunk of funds specifically for textbooks. That money can't be used for anything else, and all of it must be spent in the adoption year.

Furthermore, Texas has particular power when it comes to high school textbooks, because California adopts statewide only for textbooks for grades K-8, while the Lone Star State's adoption process applies to textbooks through to 12th grade.

If you're creating a new textbook, therefore, you start by scrutinizing "Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills" (TEKS). This document is drawn up by a group of curriculum experts, teachers, and political insiders appointed by the 15 members of the Texas Board of Education, currently five Democrats and ten Republicans, about half of whom have a background in education. TEKS describes what Texas wants and what the entire nation will therefore get.

Texas is truly the tail that wags the dog. There is, however, a tail that wags this mighty tail. Every adoption state allows private citizens to review textbooks and raise objections. Publishers must respond to these objections at open hearings.

In the late '60s, a Texas couple, Mel and Norma Gabler, figured out how to use their state's adoption hearings to put pressure on textbook publishers. The Gablers had no academic credentials or teaching background, but they knew what they wanted taught -- phonics, sexual abstinence, free enterprise, creationism, and the primacy of Judeo-Christian values -- and considered themselves in a battle against a "politically correct degradation of academics."

Expert organizers, the Gablers possessed a flair for constructing arguments out of the language of official curriculum guidelines. The nonprofit corporation they founded 43 years ago, Educational Research Analysts, continues to review textbooks and lobby against liberal content in them.

Read the rest here.


August 30, 2010

Bangladesh Dish for Nursing Mothers

This weekend came and went so fast like a flash of lightning. I thought I could catch up on my sleep but ended up spending most of my time on laundry, cleaning and tending to the kids.

On Friday and Saturday, the landlord hired contractors to paint the patio shelter's ceiling. They also installed a new clothes line in the backyard for us to dry our laundry.

I brought DD1 to get groceries on Saturday, then brought her to visit a teacher, Sr. Nafisa, on Sunday. She teaches Language Arts and Social Studies for 5th and 6th grades and had moved from Kansas to Texas with her husband. All praise be to Allah SWT it was great to hang out with her at her place. Her husband let DD1 scribbled and drew on pieces of blank papers with markers while I chatted with Sr. Nafisa.

Sr. Nafisa was so kind to prepare a special Bangladesh dish for me. This recipe helps to increase milk supply for new mothers. Here it is:

1 medium size Hairy Gourd (Mao Gua), chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 cup shrimps, peeled and cleaned (optional)
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped coarsely
1 red tomato, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in pot and fry onions and garlic until fragrant.
2. Add Hairy Gourd, shrimps, tomato, egg, turmeric, chili powder and salt.
3. Add water and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until Hairy Gourd is soft.

Before we left, Sr. Nafisa braided and tied DD1's hair with a pretty hair band. She and her husband love kids and look forward to hanging out with DD1 and DD2 soon. Allah SWT willing I'll bring the girls to visit them again.

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August 27, 2010

Folk remedy for children's ear infection

All praise be to Allah SWT we had a heavy rainfall on Tuesday night, and it has been cooler ever since. Yesterday's high temperature was in the mid 90s, and this morning's temperature is just 74 degree F. Allah SWT willing hopefully we won't get triple digits for the rest of the summer.

DD1 and DD2 are almost recovered from the running nose problem. Husband is taking off-the-counter medicine to fight the cold. I am trying to wash my hands as often as I can while at the school because several 4th graders coughed and sneezed throughout the day yesterday. With two young children at home, I hope I don't bring germs back home.

The babysitter's son has been fighting an ear infection since Tuesday. Yesterday she told me an effective folk remedy from Tunisia that uses onions to treat ear infection. This treatment helps to clear the infection in about 2 days.
1. Grate a raw onion into a fine mash.
2. Squeeze out the onion juice into a saucepan.
3. Boil the onion juice for about a minute.
4. When cooled, apply 1 or 2 drops of the onion juice on the infected area at least twice a day.

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August 26, 2010

Standardized Testing is Not the Answer

For the past two days, kindergarten to high school students have been taking the IOWA standardized test. This is a pre-assessment test for teachers to find out students' knowledge of core subjects, namely English/Language Arts, Math and Science. The homeroom teacher will read out instruction to students and all tests are timed, usually lasting between 5 and 45 minutes.

When I quickly glanced at some of the questions in the test paper, I realized why many teachers all over this country object to this type of standardized testing. The most important job of the teacher, according to the test results, seem to be just to teach writing, reading, math calculation and selective science concepts. At the end of the day if students did poorly in these subjects, teachers are seen as failing to teach well. No wonder they complain about time and resources being taken away from 'non-essential' subjects like physical education, art, drama and music.

As a parent, I believe in providing a holistic education to my children. I realized that I will have to put in time and effort to do that for my children. Allah SWT willing I will implement fun and educational activities for DD1 as she grows. I want her to learn to sew, cook, farm and participate in community service. Then when DD2 is older, she will also be learning these important life skills too.

Life is too short to spend all of our time to achieve perfect scores on standardized tests. I want my children to achieve high marks on being self-sufficient and be of service to people in need.


August 24, 2010

School Schedule Change

Last week the school schedule was from 8am to 2:30pm. This week it has been changed from 8am to 2pm. The main reason for the schedule change was due to parents feedback to the school administration. It was already a tight fit to squeeze in 8 subjects in the previous school timing, now it is even more challenging for teachers to cover important concepts with precious minutes taken away from each period.

Last week's 4th grade schedule looked like this:
1. Math
2. Arabic
3. Language Arts (Reading)
4. Recess (5 minutes)
5. Language Arts (Grammar/Comprehension/Writing)
6. Qur'anic Studies (Technology on Wednesday)
7. Lunch (10 minutes)
8. Science
9. Social Studies
10. Prayer
11. Islamic Studies (P.E. on Tuesday & Thursday)

This week students will not get recess but will have a 15-minute lunch time.

All praise be to Allah SWT I'm glad that I have breaks in the morning and at about 1pm to pump breastmilk. I am so looking forward to the Eid break from September 6-10 so that I can nurse DD2 at home during the last week of the month of fasting.


So how do you know you’re a 21st century librarian? When…

  1. You have to remind kindergarteners to turn off their cell phones before the story starts.
  2. You know what an IP number is but not an ISBN number.
  3. You have a student who does a better job troubleshooting the circulation system than the district technician.
  4. Your students think both The Princess and the Frog and Meet the Robinsons were written by Walt Disney.
  5. You know more librarians in Texas than you do in your home state because of LM_Net, TL-Ning and SecondLife.
  6. The best way to remind a student about an overdue book through Facebook.
  7. You don’t talk in the teachers lounge about a project because it is not tied directly to a state test.
  8. When answering a reference question, you head to an Internet terminal.
  9. You’ve started dressing like your avatar.
  10. Kids look at you funny when you call it the “the card catalog.”
  11. You have 5th grade girls who sport more tats and metal studs than a biker gang.
  12. You have more polo shirts with computer logos than you do book logos - and 25% of your wardrobe comes from vendor booths at conferences.
  13. Your students show you how to get around the district Internet filter so you can teach a lesson.
  14. Your aid spends more time troubleshooting the network than reshelving books.
  15. You never see anyone copy out of the print encyclopedia anymore.
  16. Your index finger has a callous from tapping the SmartBoard.
  17. You didn’t get your last grad class assignment turned in on time because the network was down and you haven't attended a F2F class in years.
  18. You’ve Googled the new teachers in your building - and all the kids have Googled you.
  19. You don’t remember the last time you’ve had to alphabetize something.
  20. You have all your passwords and PIN numbers are on your PDA - and you can’t remember the password for your PDA!
Found the list here.


Two Cranky Sick Kids

DD1 and DD2 have been having stuffy noses since Sunday. DD1 has low grade fever while DD2 does not. All praise be to Allah SWT husband has been taking care of them at night so that I can have some rest.

It was not fun to deal with one sick kid before DD2 was born. Now it is just a nightmare to get through the day. Allah SWT willing we applied Vick's Rub on the bottom of their feet and made them wear socks all day to help with the running nose. This technique has worked wonderfully for us in the past so hopefully it'll stop the running nose in less than three days.


August 22, 2010

Easy Breezy Job!

I love my job as a Teacher's Aide!

All praise be to Allah SWT everyday I get to help students learn. I also have the chance to learn classroom management skills from a master teacher. And I'm able to chat with other teachers during my free periods.

This job is really easy breezy compared to the responsibilities of a librarian. No budget to plan for, no fund-raising to run, no collection management to take care, and no overdue reminders to send out. Yes, I do miss the sense of accomplishment that came with that job, but right now I am happy that I can leave work and focus on my kids when I'm home.

I think that with young children, it is better that I take up a job with less responsibilities. That way, I can have free time to plan activities for DD1 at home. Now I am teaching her simple addition and I have the time to read to her everyday. All praise be to Allah SWT when we are open-minded about the choices that we can make, we are often surprised by the positive outcome.


August 20, 2010

Healing Chinese Soup

I just spoke with my mother on the phone. She said that I should drink more soup to replenish my strength since I am breastfeeding and working. Here is an article from about benefits of drinking soups.

Healing Chinese Soup

Beyond comforting, Chinese soups have holistic value

By , Guide

Treating a cold or fever with soup is an ancient and time honored tradition. If nothing else, a bowl of soup, lovingly prepared, can make us think we feel better - even if it doesn't really help cure our illness. However, in addition to its ability to comfort, the Chinese believe certain soups have healing powers.

A large part of Chinese medicine is based on the concept of yin and yang, the two forces that rule the universe. Depending on the context, yin refers to the feminine, darker, cooling forces, while yang represents the masculine, lighter, hot forces. Although sometimes depicted as being in opposition, in reality they are meant to complement one another.

So what does a philosophical belief have to do with medicinal soups? The Chinese believe illness is a signal that the two forces are out of balance. For example, if you have a cold it is because there is too much yin in your body. A Chinese herbalist might prescribe a soup designed to restore the yang forces. Similarly, a fever might be treated with a yin soup.

Over time, medical experts and herbalists have developed a classification system, in which foods are categorized as having either yin or yang properties. (I should point out that no food is purely yin or yang - it's more that one characteristic tends to dominate, which is why you'll sometimes find experts disagreeing over what category a specific food falls into). Physicians make use of these classifications when deciding on a course of treatment.

Read more here.


'I want you to love me too.'

Whenever husband tells DD2 that he loves her, DD1 would say immediately 'I want you to love me too.' Husband would then reply, 'I love you too.'

I try to remind husband to give more attention to DD1 whenever he takes care of DD2. All praise be to Allah SWT DD1 has been really good at helping us to take care of her baby sister. She is eager to get clean diapers, feeding bottle and bibs when we ask her. She also loves to kiss her sister every day. Allah SWT willing I hope that our children learn to take care of each other as they grow older.


August 19, 2010

Time Management for Children

Yesterday Sr. N's third daughter volunteered in 4th grade to help kids who need additional help in math. Since college starts on Friday, she wanted to use her free time to help kids. Students are now reviewing numbers in standard, expanded and word form, and this concept can be tricky to understand. All praise be to Allah SWT at the end of the period, most students seemed to have to grasp the concept.

One of the challenge of teaching elementary students is how to manage time in class. Some students do not know how to work quickly within a given time frame, so they end up not being able to complete math questions. We are trying to get these kids to learn to focus on their task. For now Sr. N allows them to bring unfinished work home and hand them in the next day. Allah SWT willing with daily practice they should be able to manage class time well within a month.


August 18, 2010

Poem: Whose Child Is This?

Author Unknown

"Whose child is this?" I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
"Mine", said the parent with a tender smile
"Mine to keep a little while
To bathe his hands and comb his hair
To tell him what he is to wear
To prepare him that he may always be good
And each day do the things he should"

"Whose child is this?" I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
"Mine", said the teacher with the same tender smile
"Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach him how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct his dear little mind
To help him live by every rule
And get the best he can from school"

"Whose child is this?" I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
"Ours" said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
"Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever."

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Science Tech Fair

Last school year, Sr. N. hosted two successful science tech fairs for 4th and 5th graders. All praise be to Allah SWT two parent volunteers spent many hours at school to help her with this project. On two separate nights, teachers, parents and students were invited to attend the tech fairs to see students' completed work.

Here are two of the students' completed project.

Polar Bears Habitat

The Planet Uranus

Allah SWT willing I hope we'll have successful tech fairs this year.


Pop Quiz is Fun!

Yesterday during science, Sr. N. gave the students a pop quiz based on Monday's lesson. She gave out note papers and read the questions out loud. For each question, she substituted the key words with 'blank' and students were supposed to write the correct answer. For example, 'Living organisms 'BLANK' and develop.' The correct answer should be 'grow.'

Before she gave the correct answers at the end of the quiz, she asked students words that would define how well they did in the pop quiz.

Number of correct answers: 8-10 = 'I am smart, all praise be to Allah SWT.'
Number of correct answers: 5-6 = 'I am acceptable, all praise be to Allah SWT.'
Number of correct answers: <4 = 'I have tried, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, boo-hoo.'

Then she told them she expected them to be honest about their own assessment and trusted them to be so. As she was giving out the answers, the excitement level increased as students marked their own answers. 3 students had perfect score while most others got most of the answers correct.

I think it is important to remind students to review their lessons without nagging at them, because they will not take ownership of their studies. Pop quizzes can be used as an effective way to reinforce important concepts. It also helps the teacher to know which students need clarification on a topic or just need reminders to review lessons at home.


August 17, 2010

Keeping students on task

All praise be to Allah SWT yesterday passed by real fast. The 4th graders have settled down and seemed to be ready to work in class. One of the main challenges of teaching 30 students is keeping them on task, and Sr. N. is an expert on this issue. Whenever she sees students who looked like they didn't get a concept, she asked them if they needed her to explain it again. For students who seemed to be easily distracted, she asked them to explain a key concept.

For math, she made it interactive. She would write questions on the white board after explaining a math concept e.g. numbers in standard and word forms. Students then wrote their answers on a small whiteboard and she'll check them quickly. Only when all students demonstrate that they understand the concept then she moved on to the next one e.g. word problem.

For science, she kept students engaged throughout the lessons by using several effective strategies.

For example:
- She asked students what they know already.
- She introduced additional information based on existing knowledge.
- She told students how each concept related closely to plants, animals and human being
-- (e.g. 5 functions of living organisms: fuel for energy, growth, reproduce, get rid of waste and respond to our environment)
- She taught students note-taking skills (summarize main points for each paragraph in the science textbook).
- She showed students how to peel an onion skin and students observed the cell of the onion skin under a microscope. Students drew a picture of the onion and the cell in the notebook.

In just one day, she was able to identify students who may need tutoring and those whose behavior need to be monitored closely.

I admire Sr. N.'s passion for teaching and her ability to multitask. All praise be to Allah SWT I am thankful that I have the opportunity to work closely with her.


August 15, 2010

Busy weekend

All praise be to Allah SWT I am so glad that I have the weekend to get house work done. Yesterday I washed a load of clothes, then today bedsheets and cloth diapers. Went to get grocery yesterday and today with DD1 while husband watched DD2.

The best part of the weekend was spending alone time with DD1 and breastfeeding DD2 at home. I really treasure every minute of their time with me. Although it was tiring and made me even more thirsty since I am fasting, I want to nurse DD2 as long as possible. Her toothless smiles always help me to forget about the thirst and hunger.


August 12, 2010

Chinese Idiom: 孟母三遷

Chinese Idiom:

One of the most famous traditional Chinese four-character idioms is (pinyin:mèng mǔ sān qiān; Zhuyin/Bopomofo: ㄇㄥˋ ㄇㄨˇ ㄙㄢ ㄑ一ㄢ; literal translation: "Mencius' mother, three moves").

This saying refers to the legend that Mencius' mother moved house three times before finding a location that she felt was suitable for the child's upbringing. As an expression, the idiom refers to the importance of finding the proper environment for raising children.








一 天,孟子因不用功讀書而逃學回家。孟母立刻拿起剪刀,把織布機上正在編織的布剪斷了,並且對孟子說:“求學的道理,就和我織布的道理一樣,要一絲一絲的織 上去,才能織成一塊有用的布。你讀書也是一樣,要努力用功,經過長時間的積累,才能有成就。像你這樣不用功,怎麼能夠成就大業呢?”



Yesterday I had the opportunity to have a quick chat with the new middle school science teacher. He and his wife relocated from California to the DFW area for one goal - to raise their three children in a community where emphasis is on spiritual growth instead of materialistic pursue.

He said that in California where they used to live, they were not able to find an Islamic school that incorporates Islamic education into secular subjects. Since they want their children to grow up with practicing Muslims and learn to read the Holy Qur'an from learned scholars, they decided to relocate when they found out about this Islamic school.

For parents who want to raise their children to practice their religion, I agree with him that it is important to live among like-minded people. It is essential that we find the proper environment to raise our children. We want our kids to have good role models and by living close to the mosque, they have more opportunities to see how our religion is being practiced on a daily basis.


Preschool Behavior Chart

I am starting a preschool behavior chart system for DD1 and her babysitter's fourth son who is the same age as DD1.

Everyday when I pick up DD1, I'll ask her babysitter if the kids are getting a happy face, a straight face, or a sad face on their behavior log. The assessment will be based on how helpful they were and whether they followed directions. If they get five happy faces on their chart for that week, they receive a surprise goodies bag from me.

All praise be to Allah SWT the two kids are trying their best to earn a happy face at the end of each day. DD1 told me she has been reminding her babysitter's son to follow directions. Her babysitter told me that DD1 has been putting her best effort to earn a happy face. Allah SWT willing I hope that DD1 will continue to keep up the good work.


School starts tomorrow!

All praise be to Allah SWT 4 round tables with adjustable legs were delivered to the classroom on Tuesday morning thanks to the effort of the Principal, PE Teacher, Qur'an Teacher, and the Security Guard. These tables were purchased from the Independent School District surplus warehouse. Each table can accommodate 8 students. Since we are going to have 30 students this school year, we should be able to fit everyone in the classroom.

We are still waiting for chairs to be delivered. Tomorrow is the first day of school. Allah SWT willing hopefully we'll get them by today.

I am having first day jitters since this will be my first time working as a full-time teacher's aide. The lead teacher said that I should teach the class on days when she is absent. All praise be to Allah SWT I am thankful that I will be learning the art and science of teaching from a master teacher with 23 years of classroom instructional experience. Allah SWT willing I hope that I will be able to do a good job.


August 11, 2010

Ramadan Kareem

Today is the first day of the month of fasting according to the Islamic calendar.

When school starts this Friday, students will be dismissed at 2pm after salah while teachers get to go home at 2:30pm. With temperature hoovering above 100 degrees F, this month's fasting will be a real challenge for us.

May Allah SWT accept the fasting and prayers from Muslims all over the world. Ameen.


Mini United Nation at the School

All praise be to Allah SWT, teachers at the Islamic school originate from 17 different countries. It just love the atmosphere where people from different background and culture come together to work for a common goal - educate the future generation of Muslims. Here is the list in alphabetical order.

1. Afghanistan
2. Algeria
3. Bangladesh
4. Egypt
5. India
6. Indonesia
7. Jordon
8. Lebanon
9. Malaysia
10. Morocco
11. Pakistan
12. Palestine
13. Singapore
14. South Africa
15. Sudan
16. Syria
17. United States of America

Allah SWT willing I hope to get some ethnic recipes from the teachers and try cooking them. Husband will hopefully be willing to be the 'guinea pig' as the 'royal taster'...


August 09, 2010

Favorite Snack from Malaysia - Mamee

Last week Sr. Anita was so kind to give me two packs of Mamee noodle snack that were made in Malaysia. I used to eat this snack when I was in secondary school in Singapore. It has been eight years since I last ate this crunchy snack. I shared the first one with a colleague's daughter during lunch at school, and shared the other one with DD1 yesterday.

All praise be to Allah SWT I am thankful that Sr. Anita is so generous and kind!


Vegetable Garden Update: August 2010

It has been quite hot since last Monday with temperatures between 102 and 105 degree F. Since I started working, I try to remember to check whether the quails, chickens and Niko have sufficient food and water.

Niko chilling out under the big tree in the backyard.

Bell pepper harvest on August 6, 2010

One of the ladies laying an egg on top of the compost.

Bell pepper plants

The five Better Boy and Better Bush Tomato plants that were planted in May almost took over the entire left side of the garden bed. I pruned the branches last week so that the garden looks more tidy. Since tomato plants will not set fruit when temperature stays above 90 degree F (as heard on the radio from NPR Morning Edition), we'll have to wait till late October or early November to get any tomatoes, Allah SWT willing.

I have been harvesting at least one Okra per day from the container garden on the front porch. The Okra plants are just loving the heat and I just love to see the beautiful yellow Okra flower.

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August 08, 2010

Video: Don't laugh at me


Job Corps

'Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job. For eligible youth at least 16 years of age, Job Corps provides the all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life.' -

Last week my doula told me about this program, Job Corps, that sounds almost like a dream. This program caters to people age 16-24 years old. Where on earth, other than the U.S.A., can you find such a program that helps young adults make their career choice? Not in Singapore where I come from. In Singapore, when you graduate from secondary school at age 16, you are on your own. You've got to decide whether you want to continue your education at a Polytechnic or Junior College, or work in a low-wage job. For a guy, you can choose to enlist in the Singapore Arm Forces.

I am still constantly amazed at the types of opportunities that you can find in the U.S. No wonder so many people outside U.S. think that this is the land of milk and honey.


Good Research vs. Bad Reseach - ULVC Winner

This video reminds me of my job as an information services librarian at TTU.

'The University of Alabama Libraries sponsored a video contest to promote library resources and services and encourage students to create collaborative teams from the student perspective. Nine teams entered and a panel of judges selected four videos as finalists. More than 1,800 votes later, this video (4:07) emerged the winner.' - American Libraries Direct 8/4/2010


9 Of The Worst Library Books

Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner
Aug 3, 2010

Every library has them: titles in the collection that we stumble upon and think, "What is this doing here?" "Weeding" is where librarians take a close look at our collections and remove items that are past their prime. They are outdated, irrelevant, or just plain funny. AwfulLibraryBooks is a collection of the worst of library holdings. The authors collect the discards of their colleagues around the world and post them (anonymously, of course). The point is to have fun, laugh, and celebrate the time and place when these old, obscure books were popular.

If you'd like to re-live our moment as guests on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show in November 2009, go to

Submissions are always welcome. Send scanned book covers and any commentary you'd like to add to

1. The complete book of ethnic humor by Larry Wilde

2. Sex lives of animals without back bones by Haig H. Najarian

3. Hot lines: the letters I get... and write! by Burt Reynolds

4. Hawaii (Hello USA series) by Joyce Johnston

5. Makeup for fun by Parmentier Bulles

6. Beyond basic dog training by Diane L. Bauman

7. Canada: young giant of the North by Adelaide Leitch

8. Holidays and festivals: new year by Alan Blackwood

9. Man and the motor car by Center for Safety Education

See the book covers here.


August 07, 2010

Hectic Week!

All praise be to Allah SWT I survived the first week of work!

Yesterday morning I got to school early to make photocopies of math assignments for students. Sr. N. uses the TEKsas Daily Moose practice sheets for students. I've took a glance at the worksheets and the questions are actually quite fun to solve.

After all teachers attended a training session about how to use the school's grading system, one of the school board members held a training session about communication. Some of the fun activities conducted during the training helped to break the ice between existing and new teachers.
1. Provide two statements about you that are true, one statement that is false, and let someone guess which is the false one.
2. Introduce the person sitting on your right.
3. Follow the leader - one team member will be blindfolded while the others try to guide him/her to walk from one end of the room to the other end without knocking down cones. The rest of the group is allowed to distract the blindfolded person with sounds.
4. Jigsaw puzzle - group game

During the communications training session, the school board member welcomed me back to school. I was quite surprised by this kind gesture.

In the afternoon teachers were able to work on the classroom preparation. The 4th grade classroom is almost ready except we are still waiting for new students' desks to arrive. Sr. N. brought her three daughters to help her put up classroom wall decorations while I helped the Assistant Principal place order for IOWA Test papers. When that was done, I helped a new 3rd grade teacher carry tables and chairs from the cafeteria to her classroom.

Allah SWT willing I hope that all teachers will be able to get their classrooms ready in time for the Back-to-School night on Monday, Aug 10th.


August 06, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

Allah SWT willing I think I can get rid of the 10-pound baby fat by December.

I have been so busy at school that I am so glad I am wearing running shoes to work. Yesterday morning after the librarian gave a 30 minute library orientation and the school counselor gave a 40 minute workshop on how to refer students for counseling, teachers received their textbooks and supplies and started their classroom preparation. It is quite interesting to see teachers setting up their classrooms.

Here's what I did in a nutshell.

- Helped Sr. N. to look for textbooks that she had put into boxes at the end of last school year.
- Helped to compile a list of textbooks and workbooks that need to be ordered since we are going to have 30 students.
- Supervised a co-worker's child during lunch time while my co-worker run a quick errand.
- Verified my tuberculosis (TB) test results as this is required for all staff every year. Brought two new teachers along to show them the location of the clinic.
- Dropped off one of the teachers to get her background check done.
- Helped Sr. N. to rearrange wooden cabinets in the classroom so that the carpenter can fix them to the designated location.
- Added new teachers' email accounts to the teachers' yahoo group mailing list.

On Tuesday Sr. N. mentioned that she need to download a YouTube video and use it as part of her mini-workshop for teachers on how to incorporate hands-on learning in science for all science teacher. All praise be to Allah SWT yesterday I found a free software on that does just that. There is even a tutorial on YouTube on how to use the freeware YouTube Downloader 2.5.7 . Allah SWT willing I'll try it today and hopefully it'll work.


August 04, 2010

Heat Wave

Last Sunday we lost one of the brown quails to the heat wave. Temperature reached 105 degree F and the heat index was higher due to the humidity. We may have to move the quail house onto the patio because it is cooler there.

The last female quail has been crying every morning since she lost her friend. Allah SWT willing we'll get another brown quail some time this month.


Learning From a Master Teacher

All praise be to Allah SWT, yesterday I spoke with the 4th grade teacher, Sr. N., whom I will be assisting this coming school year. Allah SWT willing there will be 33 fourth graders and the classroom will be located on the second floor. I will be assisting her in writing, reading, language arts, math, science, Islamiyat and technology application classes.

Sr. N. has over 20 years of teaching experience. Her face lit up when she talked about making learning fun for students and how to guide them to be independent learners. She believes in facilitating learning and uses different teaching styles to engage students' attention. She sets high but realistic expectations for each students and communicates with parents/guardians on a regular basis about students' performance.

Last year Sr. N. held two science technology fair for 4th grade students. Two parent volunteers helped to make these events successful and students had lots of fun creating digital projects. Sr. N. mentioned that she might want to create a blog for parents and students to see students' work and for them to post comments. I showed her this first grade teacher's class blog and said that I will look into setting one up, Allah SWT willing.

I am looking forward to learning from Sr. N. and Allah SWT willing I hope I will do a good job as her assistant.


August 03, 2010

Multi-tasking while pumping breast milk (at school)

All praise be to Allah SWT yesterday during breaks I managed to pump 4oz of breast milk. I felt so happy after every pump because I got to multi-task!

Here are a list of things that I did while pumping breast milk in the restroom (in no particular order).

1. Humming to the theme of the game show "Jeopardy".
2. Planned dinner menu.
3. Chatted with the school custodian, Ms. Miriam.
4. Mooed when I saw a Kindergarten teacher who has 7 children.
5. Exchanged breastfeeding experience with a teacher who has a 4-year-old child and is 7 months pregnant.
6. Joked with another teacher about feeling like a cow (that was how I felt at that time).
7. Asked a social studies teacher about the time so that I won't miss the congregated prayer.
8. Chatted with a pre-K teacher who just moved from New York six months ago.

Allah SWT willing hopefully I get to do more fun things today while pumping breast milk!


August 02, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho, off to work I go...

Or rather,

Hi (excitement) low (emotion), hi lo, off to work I go...

First day of work...


August 01, 2010

Never Argue with a Woman

Received from Sr. Sarah G. Thanks a bunch!

One morning, the husband returns the boat to their lakeside cottage after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap.

Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out.

She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up, and begins to read her book.

The peace and solitude are magnificent.

Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in his boat..

He pulls up alongside the woman and says, 'Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?'

'Reading a book,' she replies, (thinking, 'Isn't that obvious?')

'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her.

'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.'

'Yes, but I see you have all the equipment.
For all I know you could start at any moment.
I'll have to take you in and write you up.'

'If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault, ' says the woman.

'But I haven't even touched you,' says the Game Warden.

'That's true, but you have all the equipment.
For all I know you could start at any moment.'

'Have a nice day ma'am,' and he left.


Never argue with a woman who reads.

It's likely she can also think.


Agriculture in the Classroom

Just what I've been looking for to teach DD1 about gardening.

Food and Fiber for the 21st Century - a resource guide for elementary school teachers to use as a classroom aid in teaching agriculture.

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4th Grade - Here I Come!

Wherever I worked, I hope that my co-workers have good impressions of my work ethics. I also hope that I brought positive energy to the workplace.

This time I am hoping that I can bring positive energy to thirty-two 4th graders who will be spending the next ten months in the classroom with me, Allah SWT willing.

The last time I worked as a full-time librarian, I implemented several changes that I thought were beneficial to the school's structure. For example, I initiated the procedure for minutes to be taken at all staff meeting and for it to be sent out within three days. All praise be to Allah SWT this procedure worked well and communication among teachers and staff was greatly improved. Another project that I undertook was posting school activities on the library web site. This helped to keep stakeholders e.g. parents, students, community members etc. well informed about school events.

This time, my energy will be focused on helping the 4th grade homeroom teacher in classroom instruction and discipline. I will also be helping her to implement hands-on projects with the 4th graders. I am excited about the opportunity to work with 4th graders and the challenges of helping to meet the learning needs of 32 students.

I just hope that I can contain my enthusiasm on the first day of school!

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