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An Autumn Visit

This is one of many many many poems which i've written over the last five years of "retirement" as a teacher.  

Many are in my books or on my website (Google JOSIE'S POEMS) but this one you can use in your classrooms or libraries to read to the children as autumn is well and truly here.  Well it is here in England as my back tells me because I've been picking up many leaves today.  Do let me know if the children enjoy this poem:


An Autumn Visit

By Josie Whitehead


Autumn is wearing her bright golden crown.

 She’s coming this morning to visit our town,

    And Wind, her best friend, will be joining her too.

    Will they have a nice day and what will they do?


She’ll be changing the colours of leaves on our trees

And Wind likes to tease with his cold, playful breeze.

     As the leaves tumble down in a pile on the ground,

     He will take a deep breath and blow them around.


They’ll both knock down conkers for children to find,

But the nuts aren’t just there for the good of mankind.

    The squirrels like nuts and they’ll store them away

    But then out they will come on those cold wintry days.


So what do you think that the two friends might eat?

 What sorts of things would be good for a treat?

      There are sweet tasting berries and fruits of all kinds

      Which are wonderful treats for the two friends to find.


They will chase over hills and along by the river.

 Wind’s cold wintry breath may well cause us to shiver.

     The swallows will see them and say their goodbye,

     Calling “See you next year” as they fly through the sky.


With the sun going down there’s no time left to play,

But the two friends have had such a marvellous day!”

    When you look all around at this colourful scene,

    You will see very clearly where these friends have been.


Copyright 2011




What fun when I read this to a class recently:


"So, what do you think the two friends might eat?"  Answer:  "Crisps, chocolate, sweets, cake, biscuits."  

"No, they didn't eat these things.  Think "healthy eating".  No answer.

"Well, look out of your classroom.  It is autumn outside.  What do you see by the window that they may like to eat?"  (There were berries and apples outside).


Answer:  "Pineapples".  Teacher:  "Now you are being  really really silly and you don't want Mrs Whitehead to think that do you?

  Look out of the window.  What do you see".

Answer:  "Berries and apples".  Another child:  "No they didn't!!  Mummy told me that we must not eat berries or they would poison us."  


Then trying to explain to them that Autumn and Wind are personifications is a bit difficult, so we told them that of course they are not human beings.  One was a season and one was an element of nature - ie weather.


At last we have them completely satisfied and decided it was better not to ask any more questions. ha ha So what would your answers have been?


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Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the over 50 authors who contributed to School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, What’s Yet to Come, we are delighted to announce that our crowdsourced eBook is now available for free download!

We hope you will enjoy downloading and reading these diverse perspectives on where school libraries are and what school librarians are doing to redefine, stretch, and expand traditional services.

Please feel free to share this link with your colleagues, administrators, professional and union organizations, Board of Education members, and more. Help us spread the word and build the conversation about the possibilities of school libraries!

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With deep thanks,

The Authors of School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, What Comes After

Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Buffy Hamilton, Creekview High School, Canton, GA

R. David Lankes, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

Diane Cordell, Retired Teacher Librarian, Queensbury, NY

Kelly Ahlfeld, Mettawee Community School, West Pawlet, VT
Diane Erica Aretz-Kernahan, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Emilia Askari, Living Textbook Project, McCollough Unis School, Dearborn, MI
Kathleen Atkin, Louis Riel School Division, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Robert Baigent, National Library of New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
Susan D. Ballard, Consultant and Simmons College, Boston, MA
Angela Washington-Blair, Emmett J. Conrad High School, Dallas, TX
Dan Bowen, ICT Learning and Teaching Consultant, Surrey, England, UK
Holli Buchter, St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont, CO
Jennifer Branch, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Len Bryan, Cedar Ridge High School, Round Rock, TX
Jennifer Colby, School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Diane Cordell, Retired Teacher Librarian, Queensbury, NY
William Cross, Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Meg Donhauser, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington, NJ
Joanne de Groot, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Stacy Dillon, LREI - Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York, NY
Andrea Dolloff, Ethical Cultural Fieldston School, New York, NY
Meg Donhauser, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington, NJ
Laura Fleming, Cherry Hill School, River Edge, NJ
Lorna Flynn, American International School in Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Elizabeth Friese, University of Georgia,Athens, GA
Rachel Goldberg, East Middle School, Plymouth, MI
Beth Gourley, Western Academy of Beijing, Beijing, China
Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX
Alida Hanson, School Library Teacher Program, Simmons College GSLIS, Boston, MA
Violet H. Harada, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
Heather Hersey, Lakeside School, Seattle, WA
Valerie Hill, Ethridge Elementary School, The Colony, TX, and Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Studies, Denton, TX
Kimberly Hirsh, Butner-Stem Middle School, Butner, NC, and G. C. Hawley Middle School, Creedmoor, NC
Shannon Hyman, Byrd Middle School, Henrico, VA
Pamela Jackson, East Wake High School, Wendell, NC
Melissa P. Johnston, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Jesse Karp, LREI - Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York, NY
Sara Kelley-Mudie, The Forman School, Litchfield, CT
Tricia Kuon, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Neil Krasnoff, New Tech High School at A. Maceo Smith, Dallas, TX
Jennifer LaGarde, New Hanover County Schools, Wilmington, NC
Teri S. Lesesne, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Margaret Lincoln, Lakeview School District, Battle Creek, MI
Kate MacMillan, Napa Valley USD, Napa Valley, CA (see also Chap. 9)
Adrienne Matteson, White River Elementary, Noblesville, IN
Kathleen McBroom, Dearborn Public Schools, Dearborn, MI
Walter McKenzie, ASCD, Alexandria, VA
David Meyer, TMC Furniture, Ann Arbor, MI
Ben Mondloch, Cherry Lake Publishing, Ann Arbor, MI
Leslie L. Morgan, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
Cathy Jo Nelson, Dorman High School, Spartanburg District 6 Schools, Roebuck, SC
Beverley Rannow, Otsego Public Schools, Otsego, MI
Howard Rheingold, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Nikki D. Robertson, Auburn High School, Auburn, AL
Daniella Smith, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Evan St. Lifer, Scholastic Library Publishing, Danbury, CT
Jennifer Stanbro, South Portland School Department, South Portland, ME
Caitlin Stansell, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Jeff Stanzler, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Carolyn Jo Starkey, Buckhorn High School, New Market, AL
Wendy Steadman Stephens, Buckhorn High School, New Market, AL
Michael Stephens, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Linda Straube, New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL
Cathy Stutzman, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington, NJ
Mega Subramaniam, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Margaret Sullivan, Smith Systems, Plano, TX (see also Chap. 6)
Joyce Kasman Valenza, Springfield Township High School, Erdenheim, PA
Karen Villegas, Grosse Pointe North High School, Grosse Pointe, MI
Jeanna Walker, Portage Public Schools, Portage, MI
Donna Watt, Invercargill City Libraries, Invercargill, New Zealand
Holly Weimar, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Senga White, James Hargest College, Invercargill, New Zealand
Erin Drankwalter Wyatt, Highland Middle School, Libertyville, IL
Amanda Yaklin, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Alice Yucht, Retired/rewired Teacher-Librarian, NJ
Marci Zane, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington, NJ

PS - Want to create a Smashwords book of your own? We recommend the Smashwords Style Guide (

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The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All I can say is that this book was just as suspenseful and nerve wracking as the Maze Runner. Dashner's descriptions of the heat and horrid conditions was relentless; I thought I was the character Thomas going through all the pain and psychological torture. The one thing I loved was Thomas' loyalty and caring for his friends throughout the whole book, I loved the way they talked to each other. "You guys alll right?" Minho finally asked. Thomas grunted a yes, and Newt said, "Pretty dure we just arrived in bloody hell. Always thought you'd end up here, Minho, but not me." I liked how Minho was a cut-throat leader you admired (because Tomas admired him) and I felt I got to know Frypan and Newt more as fleshed out characters...I was not happy with the Teresa scenario, I will say no more about that...and I hate WICKED and their plots against these kids (for the good of the human race---baloney!), the Flare and the variables!!! I am hanging on for the 3rd book, The Death Cure, but I have a few other books ahead that I must really get to, but these books just really stay with you... Highly recommended.

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Personalized Learning (Session 3 Capstone 2)

Students as the center or heart of the learning process? AWESOME idea. Self directed learning using technology as the structural platform seems to be one possible educational future. Self motivation is the key to successful self directed learning per several academic articles on the subject. However, technological tools cannot take over the educational process instead the two (technology and education) should be a seamless marriage that allows students to do what everyone wants them to do: LEARN.

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Chasing Tail Lights by Patrick Jones

Chasing Tail LightsChasing Tail Lights by Patrick Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Patrick Jones has such a way with his characters in this book! Christy is now sixteen but she alternates the chapters with dates in her life. Christy has many issues and low self-esteem. She lives in Flint, Michigan in a rundown school, poverty stricken town, and a shattered household. Christy is best friends with Anne but Anne knows nothing of her life, because Christy is afraid if she knew, she wouldn't be her friend. Christy doesn't want any attention so being friends with out loud Anne is great for Christy. Christy loves her truck driver dad but he dies very early on in the story and she is left with her brother Mitchell (she loves him), little cousin Bree (she is Robert's daughter and Christy loves her). Christy really has three brothers: Robert is in jail, Mitchell and Ryan. Robert and Ryan are her half brothers, different fathers from each other, and from Christy and Mitchell. There is no evidence of Christy's dad but her alcoholic mother's room is loaded with pictures of Ryan's dad, who didn't stick around. Christy's mom favors Ryan and as a result Ryan terrorizes Christy and Mitchell and makes everything their fault. Christy doesn't feel like anyone cares about her and it is Jones' characterization of Christy as lonely, shy, and who feels like a loser who slowly, achingly overcomes a life of neglect to take control, think of adults as counselors who will help her, and confide some of her "secrets" that really spoke to me as I read this book. I haven't even mentioned Tyrell, but you need to read this book to find out about this character who sticks by Christy and offers her a ray of hope. Reluctant readers will love this book, as well as Harris' other books. His honesty about teen life is compelling and not soon forgotten.

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forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For the third and final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls, I so enjoyed the story, the suspense, the maturation of the characters (Sam and Grace, Isabel and Cole)and the ending was very satsifying. Sam and Grace were still such an in-love couple, caring deeply for each other even when one was a wolf. They even got cocky Cole St. Clair to become a supporter and believer in their devotion to each other. Isabel was still the ice queen but both she and Cole definitely thawed toward each other and oh did I enjoy when they were under the table in her mother's exam room!!! I really disliked what Isabel's dad was intent upon doing to the wolves and it was Cole who really grew as a human/wolf in order to help the wolf line. It was a definite page turner, and I really hated whenever any of them had to become wolves with all the popping bones, yuck! But I am going to miss not having another novel of Sam and Grace to look forward to; Maggie Stiefvater better start working on another great series for those of us she hooked!

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Take Me There by Carolee Dean

Take Me ThereTake Me There by Carolee Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I so wanted to give this book 5 stars. I loved the main character, Dylan. He had a horrible life and he always wanted to make the right choices, but trouble seems to follow him. Dylan Dawson's narration goes back and forth in time. Dylan's father is in jail, Dylan was six when his father went to jail and is on death row for killing a police officer who was also his friend. Dylan's father was selling drugs on the side and since he went to jail any information he wanted about his father was not provided by his mother, grandmother, and uncle. In the present, Dyland and his friend Wade are running from a drug lord Two Tone but Dylan is also trying to find his father in the Texas jail to ask his father if he was born "bad" and would he ever find happiness. Even more important than his unfortunate life is his deep love for Jess. Dylan has loved her since he was 12 years old and Jess has dropped in and out of his life over the years, but Dylan knows he is not good for her and tries to stay away but life just isn't helping him. Even after he tells Jess trouble seems to follow him and she should just stay away, and Jess tells him despite his history, he is decent,real and genuine. I love the way Dylan speaks and thinks. "There was a light in her eyes that reached all the way to the corners of my soul, telling me that I could start over. That I could leave my past behind and be worthy of a girl like Jess. It was like a small explosion shaking me all the way down to my roots." I had so many passages marked throughout this book where I was just so moved by Dylan's plight and his love for Jess. I wanted him to get the girl, have a happy life and leave all his trouble behind. A really, really, really good book (guys and girls will love it) and a PA Young Reader's Choice title for this year!

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Creativity and Collaboration (Session 2 Capstone 2)

In a previous life, I was a historian on track to earn a doctoral degree from a prestigious university. I taught large sections of freshmen western civilization history. I loved the Socratic method as a teaching method and yet I never stopped to think about how I was teaching was just as important as what I was teaching.

In my readings for this session, I have confirmed what I have suspected for awhile. History professors and educators in general, need to make a fundamental shift in the paradigm of teaching and learning. If our students are to be successful in life, they need to know how to think rather than know a finite amount of information that is regurgitated on demand. Students need to be given the time and tools to review and process information as well as the practice of working collaboratively.

Students need practice in working together across cultural and social divides. In order for our students to become effective citizens of the 21st century, they must learn how to successfully bridge those divides. Technological tools such as Google docs offer students in the same classroom and across the globe the opportunity to collaborate on projects. Educators must ethically maintain their own knowledge and understanding of technology in order to give our students a competitive chance of success.

In the Media Center, I have an opportunity that classroom teachers do not. I see students across their entire elementary school experience, from when they enter as kindergarteners to when they leave as 6th graders. With support from administrators, Media Specialists can initiate and monitor student project based learning experiences that progress over grade levels. Student reflections on these pbl modules could range from monthly wiki updates to blog entries to podcasts. However, as with everything in public schools, administrators must be on board if any new idea is to be successfully launched!

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Roth's first dystopian novel is thrilling, packed with suspense as it tells the story of Beatrice (Tris) whose society is comprised of five factions and with arrival of her 16th birthday, she will need to choose where she wants to spend the rest of her life. The five factions are Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless, this is the faction Beatrice has been in), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent. Beatrice has two loving parents and a brother and she has never quite felt right in the selfless way of life. She angers quickly, questions where she belongs, and is curious, none of the Abnegation attributes. It is at the choosing ceremony that she makes the decision to leave her family and join in the initiation to become Dauntless. the process is grueling and now Tris (she renames herself) questions if she made the right decision, who her friends are and who can she trust. I really liked the Beatrice/Tris character; she was vulnerable yet prickly. She underestimates herself, thinking she is selfish and weak, when she has proved to others that she is selfless and brave. When Tris meets Four, one of the instructors of the Dauntless initiates, she waffles between anger at him (he has shifting moods)and interest in him. What will happen to them evolves with purpose and their romance is unexpected but key to what Divergent really means and what kind of threat being divergent holds. The dystopian world that Roth crafts is so interesting with the Abnegation, self denial, controlling the government, food and luxuries. But there is an undercurrent of evil that manifests itself and Tris and Four will have to choose how to stop the forces that want to betray their faction. A must read!

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Achoo Will Catch You

(Well he has caught me because I'm recovering from a cold after a school visit.  I should keep away from such places).







ACHOO WILL CATCH YOU - Josie Whitehead


Everyone’s met Achoo, known as the common cold.

He’s an evil little cold germ who’ll not do as he’s told.

    He likes to pounce on people for he’s such a social man.

    He hides away in corners and he’ll catch you if he can.


He’s invisible to humans so you won’t know that he’s there.

He’ll be hiding in your classroom or sitting on your chair.

    He’ll be waiting on the door handle or flying through the air.

    He’ll be hiding where you least expect, so is this really fair?


You’ll know when Achoo’s caught you for you start to feel quite ill

And Mum might say “Stay in the warm - you’ve got a nasty chill.”

     Your throat feels sore, your nose will run and oh how tired you feel.

      The fact that Achoo’s caught you isn’t easy to conceal.


Keep sneezes in your bedroom.   Don’t let Achoo get away.

He soon will tire of his silly tricks and he’ll go another day.

      By keeping him at home you will not give him to your friends

       And Achoo’s nasty, sneaky tricks will soon come to an end.    


Hope your children like this.


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