Category Archives: Pathfinders

Talk at home about…a few weeks in pictures!

Time flies, friends! Here are a few pictures highlighting the things that have been keeping us so busy over the past few weeks.

Kindergarteners are exploring how to find “just-right” books, and we’ve also been sharing great new wordless books with them, working on visual literacy skills. They had great fun designing their own!

1st and 2nd graders have been reading, reading, reading! They’ve also begun learning about our new maker space materials, and getting creative with some awesome literature as their inspiration!

3rd graders have begun their fairy tale unit, and we have begun storytelling workshops as they work to write their own fractured fairy tales! 4th graders have been practicing their Destiny Quest and research skills as they work to find information on their independent topics. They have also been exploring the new maker space materials!

5th-8th graders have been busy with research, writing, and book groups! These are times when I get to visit their classrooms to help, or have students visit me with questions like “I’m using one of the library’s eBooks. Can you show me how to cite it?” and “I know ABC-CLIO is one of the most reliable sources, but what if the information I need isn’t there?”. I love that our older students have things like citations and reliability as part of their every day vocabulary! Here is an example of how I help guide middle schoolers through the research process. Give it a try!

Westward Expansion Pathfinder

Counting on You Pathfinder


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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Collaboration, Digital Literacy, InformationLiteracy, Middle School, Pathfinders, Research, Writing

Talk at home about…stories and statistics!


Building bags of DCF goodies!

This week CCS celebrated stories! Numbers and statistics always seem to be woven into the stories I tell about our library. Students learned the winners of the two Vermont kids’ choice awards. The Red Clover Award winner is the Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Deywalt;  ill. by Oliver Jeffers. Our CCS K-4 voters were so happy with this news! This book won here with 42 votes – a landslide!

4th-8th graders who read enough Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award nominees started their day today with a celebration! They got a sneak peek at the titles on next year’s list, enjoyed a few breakfast munchies, and were able to “build a bag” with DCF goodies. Congratulations to Schuyler Edgar-Holmes, who read ALL 30 of the titles this school year! And congratulations to the winning book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. This won 34.6% of our student votes here at CCS!


“See, Think, Wonder”

6th graders began learning about primary sources this week in USkills classes as a way to prompt their thinking and questioning of images & other media. They are currently reading the book Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop, and will be researching photographs taken by the investigative photographer Lewis W. Hine. The Library of Congress holds 5,309 of his photographs, taken at the turn of the 20th Century. One of these photographs inspired Winthrop to write her story. Students will turn their wonderings and research into writing of their very own during Language Arts classes. The strategy we used to think critically about primary sources  is called “See, Think, Wonder”.  Ask your 6th grader about the strategy! If you’re curious about these photographs, you can take a look at our pathfinder.

Finally, I have one last story about numbers. 4th graders are investigating what it means to be a Vermonter. Today, we used Google Forms to create a survey for their families to complete in order to gather data about the qualities they think are most important when defining what being a Vermonter means to them. This data will be analyzed and added to the eBooks they are creating. I can’t wait to see the numbers.

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 6th Grade, booklists, Books, Data, DCF, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, Learning, Pathfinders, reading, Red Clover, Research, Writing

Talk at home about…collections, curation, and #shelfchallenge

SwinburneDo you know how teacher librarians spend their time? My time is filled with so much more than just checking books in and out. The major part of my day is, of course, my students! This week alone, lots of learning is happening. Classes of K-4 students are learning all about the author Steve Swinburne, who will be visiting with them in a few weeks. His books are providing fuel for the minds of CCS young writers and scientists. They prompt what I call “the lean-in effect”. I know a book is a winner when I see their little bodies lean in to just get closer to the words and pictures. It’s a good thing. We are busy collecting our connections and questions to share with Mr. Swinburne on the day of his visit. And his website? Totally awesome and kid-friendly!

6th graders are getting ready to embark on a new integrated unit of study on the Industrial Revolution. Reading, writing, research and media literacy skills will combine in this unit inspired by the book Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop. In addition to collecting enough copies of the book for each student, I also prepared a pathfinder to help students gain some background knowledge and explore materials for research. Curating resources for students and teachers is a part of my job that is not easily seen, but it is so crucial. I couldn’t do that part of my job without having classroom teachers and administrators who see me as an instructional partner. I can’t wait to visit classrooms next week to begin teaching about primary sources!

7th graders are also practicing their media literacy skills! Yesterday’s activity in the classroom allowed for conversation about media resources, particularly those that abound via social media. My favorite part of the visit was overhearing pairs of students investigating websites using their critical thinking skills and using some pretty great language while doing so:

“This site has adds, it’s distracting”
“Oh look! This one has citations – three of them, right here!”
“I can’t tell who the author is, only who edited it last.”
“This one is a .com. That might be bad. We might need a .org.”
“What’s a site map?”
“This is pretty one-sided.”

So that covers my week in direct services to students. shelf challengeNow I’d like to talk about something else that teacher librarians are ALWAYS doing in the background for our students. We’re like ninjas, really; sneaking around all quiet-like in the before and after school hours. We are constantly assessing our collections and determining where we need to add, refresh, or take away. That nonfiction book from 1963? That’s just gotta go. Every year during School Library Month, I participate in the Shelf Challenge. I found this through my twitter PLN a couple of years ago, and have used it ever since to keep me motivated to always be thinking about what resources will best meet the needs of my school community. This year my challenge was the 973 section. U.S. History. I found some things that really had to go. I found some that just needed a little refreshing; new covers perhaps. I began looking at this collection and comparing it to what I have available for students in a digital format. Do we need both? Not necessarily. Finally, I touched every book in this section! I found myself saying “Oh yea, I forgot about this one!  I’ll need to remember to share that the next time that unit happens.” I’m happy to say I made it all the way through the 973s and my students are better for it, whether they realize it or not. All these little things that happen in the background lend strength to their learning.

Oh, and we’ve got our Arbor Day celebration coming up, so I couldn’t forget to build a display for easy access to those books celebrating the goodness of trees. And hey…the week isn’t over yet!

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, Authors, Book Groups, booklists, Books, Collaboration, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, Middle School, Nonfiction, Pathfinders, reading, Research, ShelfChallenge

Talk at home about…School Library Month!

April is School Library Month! This is the perfect time to talk about the variety of learning experiences that happen through our school library program. I’d like to highlight a few that show the reach of our program.

We teach specific skills. 3rd grade students have flip-flopped roles and are using what they have learned to teach others!DestinyQuestMs. Leach’s students have learned the finer points of using our automated catalog, Destiny Quest, to locate materials in our library. This skill was learned to support their current writing unit. In addition to locating expert topic books, they are also using their expertise to create digital “How-To” books for their peers. We will post them for all to see when finisheGoogleSited!

Cher’s class is creating a Google site to teach other 3rd graders beyond our school about the life of American Colonists. Do you have what it takes to start a new life in a new country? We can’t wait to share the site so you can see all the different things you’ll need to consider!

We collaborate with teachers to curate amazing resources to support and extend classroom learning. 7th & 8th graders are in the thick of learning about the 30s and 40s. This is our display of fiction & photononfiction titles those students are choosing from to complete an independent reading project. The library was hopping recently with these students spread out in nooks & crannies, rooms and tables with laptops, microphones, scripts, and their imaginations to create radio show-style broadcasts. Researching World War II now includes navigating both print and digital resources. We created a pathfinder to help them along the way that is accessible 24/7 from school or home.

We partner with other community establishments. CCS just completed another successful Reading to End Racism Week. Our school and public library worked together to support this program. We love any excuse to work together, especially when students benefit. Mrs. HuestisHere are Margaret Woodruff and I teaching a mini-read-aloud-lesson to volunteer readers.

RtER Training!

They, in turn, chose a book to share with classrooms throughout our building. The setting, along with the books, provided an avenue for the readers to share their own stories with students.

We also put our librarian heads together and are gearing up for the first official 6 x 6 Charlotte Reading Challenge. The goal is for readers in the school and around the community to commit to reading 6 books in 6 weeks. M6x6odeled after the Six Book Challenge started by The Reading Agency in the UK in 2008, our aim to inspire and support readers of all ages and abilities. Join the fun!

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Filed under 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Books, Collaboration, Destiny Quest, InformationLiteracy, Learning, Pathfinders

Talk at home about…


Mrs. Muroski’s and Mr. Baird’s 5th graders are conducting research to gain background knowledge to create a feature article about a planetary topic. What do these boxes have to do with research?! Ask your 5th grader about the Big6. Click here to access a pathfinder that I created to support students with the research process for this project.
A pathfinder is a tool used by librarians everywhere to help students navigate their way through the research process and locate the best resources. Information literacy skills are best taught in collaboration with classroom teachers, integrated in to an authentic learning task. Thanks to a flexibly scheduled library for 5th graders this year, I am able to plan with teachers and deliver instruction in a way that best suits the needs of our students. This makes me a happy librarian.
Find out more about the Big6 model by clicking here.

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Filed under 5th Grade, Big6, Collaboration, Pathfinders, Research