Minecraft in Schools


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Last week, I was so blessed. I was blessed to be supported by a principal who understands the importance of professional development. I was blessed to be part of a cohort of NCCE and Microsoft Innovative Educators that continually push the envelop and seek greater challenges. And I was blessed to be able to receive Minecraft in the Classroom training in order to facilitate change and empower student voice.


Minecraft is an amazing new tool that engages students and makes learning fun and stimulating. Too often, I have heard that that “school is boring,” or “we never get to talk about important things- only what the teachers what us to talk about.” Some teachers think Minecraft is just a game. But it is really so much more. While part of Minecraft is game creation, it also facilitates transdisciplinary learning with the right planning and incorporation of the curriculum. While some may dismiss game creation as a catalyst for learning, look closely and you will see children’s lives change for the better through it. They learn to work through problems and not give up.They develop confidence and the ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas as they scaffold teaching others. Minecraft teaches resilence, persistence and critical thinking  as children are engaged, motivated and ready to learn.

Consider adding Minecraft to your library or classroom. You won’t regret it!

The School Year in Review


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This past school year has been a learning experience. Leaving NYC DOE last year and entering the Westchester County school system was a gateway to better understanding my strengths. I was able to bring in many different authors for author visits,but it took quite a bit of persuasion and conversation getting this approved. While many educators understand what a future ready school library looks like, not all administrators do, unfortunately. However, you can see for yourself how inspired the children are bu author visits as it helps them better understand the writing process and appreciate reading!

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I had a chance to hear CeCe Bell, author of El Deafo, speak and detail her life experiences at a NYC School Library Exploratorium. She values school librarians, as do many authors, and is a reminder of why we do what we do. El Deafo is her true story of dealing with a hearing disability in school. This was particularly empowering as I had two similar students gain cofidence by this book.


I never realized how much professional development I received as a NYC teacher. NYC DOE invests heavily in their teachers and  I always took it for granted believing it was the status quo of all school systems.

While I have had to find webinars and read a lot, being a Microsoft Innovative Educator has been a tremendous asset. Twice a month Microsoft provides live Skype online PDs. If you miss them, they are also available as a recording. These webinars are led by Microsoft leaders and by teachers in the field that have been creative in their teaching practice with the use of technology.


Additionally, partnering with Microsoft has helped me grow as a leader in ways I never would have dreamed off.  They have quickly made me comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have been encouraged to present professional development on e-Portfolios not only on a local level, but also at a state and national level. This year I presented at the NYLA (New York Library Association) Annual Conference, the AASL (American Association of School Libraries) Conference, two PD sessions for NYC DOE school library meetings, one for SWBOCES Exploratorium and an Ignite session at the MIE Annual Conference.

Lastly, Microsoft has fostered collaboration and communication witheducators all over the world. A panel session of best lessons was held and teachers were inspired by each other. This gave new energy and ideas for all participants. Thank you Microsoft for all you do in supporting education!!!






ALA Scholastic Publishing Award


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I am extremely honored by the press release below. Thank you Scholastic and ALA!!!

ALA Scholastic Library Publishing Award

Tracey Wong

February 16, 2016

For Immediate Release:

Tracey Wong, a school library media specialist for the Daniel Webster Magnet School in New Rochelle, New York, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the American Library Association’s Scholastic Library Publishing Award. This special recognition is given annually to the librarian whose “unusual contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young people” exemplifies achievement in the profession.

It is with pleasure that the 2016 Award Jury recognizes Tracey Wong for her important and creative achievements in the field of Library and Information Science said Judy Nelson, chair of the Scholastic Library Publishing Award Committee. Tracey deserves this honor for her ongoing commitment to incorporating the interdisciplinary use of technology to promote transliteracy ( the ability to understand and communicate or be literate across all communication platforms including but not limited to sign language, speech, reading, writing, mass media and social media) to support and advance low level readers and English language learners. Her libraries have become centers for reading, writing and exploration for not only her direct students, but also for their family members who often have no access to technology in their homes.

Wong received her Masters of Education degree in School Library Information Technology in 2012 from Mansfield University. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Reading from Lehman College (2004) and a Master’s of Science in Teaching in Elementary Education from Pace University (2003). She was named one of 11 Microsoft Innovative Educator Regional Experts for 2015 – 2016. She holds several additional certifications including the Graphite Accelerated Educator certification, the PBS Innovative Educator certification and a Reading Recovery certification. She has utilized the knowledge from each of these disciplines to creatively serve her inner city students. She has authored several articles and presented trainings on how to obtain grants. While new to librarianship, her efforts throughout her career have been directed to supporting literacy and encouraging reading by children and young people.

Wong was nominated for her unique ability to build alliances and partnerships throughout her community, her careful attention to grant and funding opportunities, and her dedication to students and their progress across multiple literacies. From yoga practice in the library to a scholar-created community garden, all combined with introductions to research and reading resources, she has engaged the whole child in active learning. In the 2013 article “Grant Central Station” in New York Teacher, Wong’s work was described as being like a” traffic cop directing students, teachers and parents in and out of the school library where she hosts around-the-calendar celebrations of books and literacy, highlighting and tying books to national holidays, authors’ birthdays, ecology, technology and anything and everything she can think of to entice young readers and enrich the curriculum.” Wong’s expressed goal has been to “make reading fun and cool and to make the library a hub of activity and a center of learning and collaboration”. In three years she obtained just under $1 million dollars in program funding, resource’s, technology and learning opportunities for three different NYC Department of Education schools to support this goal.

Members of the 2016 ALA Scholastic Library Publishing Award Jury are: Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, David Wang, Queens Library, Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, Elizabeth P. Dumas, retired school library media specialist, Judy T Nelson (chair), Pierce County Library System.

NYC DOE Supports Innovative Teaching


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Recently, I delivered several Redefining Learning PD sessions for NYC DOE educators. Teachers were thrilled to discover Microsoft’s OneNote and Class Notebook. Part of Office 365, Microsoft has made technology free, accessible and is helping to equalize the playing field in education. Teachers no longer need to stress over xerox copies and handouts being completed in time. Paperwork does not need to be carried home for scoring as all notebooks are stored in the cloud.  Digital notebooks are created and quickly duplicated for different subjects or classes. Teachers can insert Word documents, multimedia content, screenshot on the fly with date and website references, insert audio recording / explanatory feedback for students. Additionally, emails, parent contact info, notes and tags make organization a breeze. As more and more learning environments are going paperless, Microsoft is supporting teachers’ learning by continual workshops, webinars and teacher led tutorials.

NYC DOE teachers and school librarians participated in several different Redefining Learning sessions. They discussed how administrators need to allow teachers to be more creative and in turn teachers need to allow students to be more creative.  By releasing some structure and turning the reigns over, innovation can truly take place. Creativity will not be stifled.

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As a partner in education, Microsoft realizes the value of fostering collaborative learning environments among scholars and staff. Being digitally organized, educators are able to deliver curriculum more effectively and work in a time efficient manner. Lessons are interactive and transliteracy skills are promoted in order to foster future ready skills for scholars. For U.S. students to be able to compete in a global economy, they need to be technologically fluent as they lean towards greater creation rather than consumption. Microsoft encourages greater creativity through its various Office 365 tiles like Sway, Yammer and OneNote.

To learn more about the power of OneNote, please visit http://www.onenoteforteachers.com.

Kate Klise


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We are so fortunate to have a supportive PTA. Our author visit by Kate Klise in December was funded by the PTA. The PTA in this district supports literacy, learning and truly believes in making education stimulating for the children. Students in the school were particularly enamored with Kate Klise’s nonfiction book, Stand Straight Ella Kate, which detailed the troubles and also the glory of growing up as a giant in the early 1900’s. Kate also wrote Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother and other engrossing picture books that the children could not get enough of.

Kate had children create a story for the audience and  also taught the learning community plot action with a culminating “ah ha moment.” The literacy coach liked the mini lesson so much that she even emailed the template Kate shared with us. Kate Klise was a pleasure and an inspiration to have. She encouraged teachers in their own artistic endeavors.

If you have never had Kate Klise visit,  I highly recommend it!!! Her energy is contagious and it was truly the best author visit ever.


Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Regional Lead


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Recently, I was so honored to have been selected as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Regional Lead for the Northeast for the 2015-2016 school year. In the  United States, 11 educators in total were recognized for leadership, outstanding contributions and for creating innovation and fostering collaboration in learning communities. As  regional leads, we will help

  • build educator capacity to improve educational communities through technology use
  • collaborate with other MIE in the U.S. and globally
  • model effective use of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Program in learning communities
  • advocate for training, conferences and educational events to build the capacity of other educators

I am so thrilled to have become a part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator program. Microsoft has pushed me to become a better teacher and forced me to go outside my comfort zone. By doing so,  I have grown both personally and professionally. In the past year, I have done things I never dreamed of. I have attended national conferences. I have presented to esteemed colleagues and highly respected education professionals. I have honed my craft and fine tuned my technological savvy.

Thank you Microsoft for helping me develop into a stronger teacher! Thank you Microsoft for supporting innovation in public schools, promoting e-learning and collaboration and for fostering global communication through Skype and community partnerships!

2015 in review


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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Authors Galore


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One of the best things about being a school librarian is that I get to inspire children to read. Bringing authors to the school and having them speak to children is an incredibly amazing experience. Nothing is more exciting than witnessing scholars getting turned onto reading, literacy and authors they have read.


Not too long ago, Scholastic author, Steve Metzger, shown above on the left, visited kindergarten through 2nd grade. As the author of over 70 books, many students knew him by the titles in the classroom. Steve Metzger showed the lower grades a slide show of the writing process and what his work looks like in the beginning phase compared to a finished product. He read two of his most popular books and children joined to read the chorus. Kindergarteners and 1st graders participated in reading readiness by determining reading direction, intonation and a one to one match with Steve Metzger’s read aloud.



The upper grades, 3rd through 5th, also had their own author come in. Dave Roman, pictured above on the right and shown illustrating below, is a  well known graphic novel author and illustrator. He came to the school and had children screaming in excitement and happiness throughout his presentation. Children readily identified with his work and were thrilled by learning his secrets to success. Dave Roman told children to read, be curious and ask lots of questions. He also drilled into the audience that failure is ok and we should practice finishing things. Dave added that most people give up when something is hard or they leave things unfinished. Some of the best things happen in life when you push through difficult times.


Students were able to collaborate with the author /illustrator, Dave Roman, who was so generous that he even gave each child who volunteered a copy of his first book published. Talk about winning over an audience. All the children wanted to take home impromptu drawings they witnessed!


Author visits are very beneficial to the learning community. Authors are a source of enjoyment and inspiration. Our learning community is so blessed to have had Steve Metzger and Dave Roman in! Thank you Steve and Dave!!!!

Librarian A La Cart


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What do you do when you are a librarian without a library – you have no books, printed resources or computers? Well, when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade.

You can strengthen your partnership with the local public library. I connected classrooms and asked teachers to support visiting the children’s library so students could get their own library cards. They listened to read alouds and learned about resources available to them.


You can collaborate with NYC based authors. I invited L.A. Campbell into the school for an author visit. Students were so excited to meet her that they wrote letters and made time capsules like the main character in her book.


You can build partnerships with technology companies. As a Google School, I signed up to bring Google Expeditions to the 3rd through 5th grade. Children participated in virtual reality field trips directed by teacher controlled tablets. The fact they we did not have wireless capability was alright since Google Cardboard had a smartphone already.

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The PTA sponsored an author visit from Kate Klise. This was a truly incredible experience. She took children through the writer’s process in her presentation and scholars were physically involved in writing their own class story.


In addition to the literature appreciation lessons and information fluency continuum lessons, school libraries can be an open experience. You are only limited by the limits of your imagination. Learn how to leverage learning. When life takes away the books, you bring literacy and learning opportunities in!

AASL 2015 Columbus Ohio Conference


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November 6 marked a very important day for this excited school library media specialist. Along with esteemed Mansfield Professor Cindy Keller, I was able to present an AASL session to libraries from all over the US and even a few international attendees. The workshop had 38 participants.


We shared with participants the importance of e-Portfolios for both professionals and students. Digital portfolios are so helpful in a school environment since education is becoming increasingly paperless. e-Portfolios are great tools for reflection, assessment and for showcasing great work being done. Rather than confining professional and student achievements to the borders of the school walls,e-Portfolios allow us to reach connected colleagues, stakeholders, administrators, potential employers, school admission boards and a global audience in general.

OneNote, Microsoft’s best kept secret, is gaining increasing popularity as a free, collaborative digital resource that further aids in organization and accessibility. Participants were taught how to use OneNote and spend collaborative time together planning a digital portfolio. Please see onenoteforteachers.com for more tips and techniques for using this awesome resource.


Most notably, esteemed library legend Barbara Stripling was in our session audience. After, I spoke with Barbara Stripling and she proudly told me to keep forging ahead – she has kept up with all the work I have done. What a honor!

Use OneNote to build your professional equity and transform student learning!!!