Did you know that librarians are librarians wherever they are? Did you know that library resources include things that live on shelves AND things that are accessible 24/7 from wherever you are? I always love it when I get to teach things like digital literacy skills, and I love it even more when I get to visit classrooms to do the teaching!
Here are my feet…and here is the hall…
Here are the classrooms I visited last week to teach 2nd graders how to use a database!
They learned all about the text features of the CultureGrams database to help them learn more about countries from around the world. Students were able to practice transferring what they already know about print-based nonfiction text features to the digital realm, and learned about some features that are unique to online databases. Ask a second grader what “breadcrumbs” are. Not the fairy-tale ones, but the virtual ones! I was so impressed with how helpful our students were to one another as they explored something new, and at how they problem-solved and worked through their learning – even when the chromebooks decided to be uncooperative!
Mrs. Gerson has a nice post about why students are learning to use CultureGrams on her blog here.
If you are interested in exploring CultureGrams yourself, please let me know and I’ll help!
“I am a story. So are you. So is everyone. How does your story begin?” – Julius Lester, Let’s Talk About Race.
This week, CCS celebrated Reading to End Racism. We welcomed guest readers from our own community and beyond to read to our K-4 students and talk about the importance of recognizing and celebrating our differences. We shared Daisy and the Doll by Michael & Angela Medearis at our whole-school morning meeting. Vermont author Jane Beck spoke to 5th-8th graders about the life of the inspiration for that story, Daisy Turner. Students visited the library to promote the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. It has been a full week, but this is something that we should embrace and celebrate every day. This week provides a time to remind us to continue thinking about the fact that everyone’s stories matter. I would like to thank all of our guests. It is so important for our students to hear voices other than our own. Here are some highlights from the week, in pictures!
Here are some of our guests sharing stories and activities with our students!
Here are some of our students sharing why #weneeddiversebooks!
November is Picture Book Month! Here are some highlights from library land that have been inspired by picture books.
Our youngest learners have finished their Global Read Aloud books. Some classes learned all about the Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal via an author study. Some have been listening to a read aloud of The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Our thinking about big ideas contained in these stories went beyond the walls of our building! We shared our thinking and learned from others via tools like ChatterPix, ThingLink and Padlet. We also opened up conversations with good old fashioned postcards, which led to a high-tech impromptu Skype visit with a classroom in Michigan! We realized that we had many things in common with these other students!
We have also turned the library into a literary cafe this month, hosting a “Book Tasting” for 6th graders learning and writing about courage. We wanted students to have access to books that would allow all of them to have an entry point to information about people, both famous and not-so-famous, who exhibited courage in a variety of ways. Picture book biographies proved to be the best resource. Picture books for 6th graders? Absolutely, yes. Here’s why!
Book Tasting is an engaging and efficient way to share lots of books with students! Normally, it would take me more than one class period to book talk a sufficient amount of titles, hoping that each student would hear about something that interested them. The Book Tasting format, in contrast, allows students to be in the drivers’ seat, so to speak. Tables are set up in a cafe like arrangement, each one pre-set with about ten titles. Students rotate tables about 5 times, with just enough time to sample at least one item from each table. They are encouraged to look at illustrations and text features, read a paragraph, and a bit of the authors’ note. Menus help students keep track of their favorites, and give me the information I need to match each reader with a book that interests them!
It is hard to believe that we are actually still in the first six weeks of school! This is the time that we as a school community lay the groundwork for students to be successful both in learning and in life. We establish routines, share hopes and dreams, and encourage each other to be both kind and brave. Two of the books our elementary students love are The Dot and Ish by Peter Reynolds. From my perspective, both titles celebrate learning, and give power over learning to the learners. One of my favorite quotes from the author is “Let it flow and see where it goes.”
Two events happened this week that had elementary students thinking about being true to themselves while having the courage to think big and work with others. Tuesday was International Dot Day, inspired by Reynolds’ book The Dot. All the publicity for this annual event said to celebrate on September 15th-ish. That “ish” gave me some wiggle room with how I would celebrate with my students. Since the print book is so popular(and always checked out), I shared the BookFlix ebook version with 2nd graders last week, and we discussed the big ideas held within. Then, students “made their mark” by creating their own unique dots, and today we had a “Dot Day Gallery”. During this time, we used the Quiver app to bring our 2 dimensional drawing to life in 3 dimensions! A little augmented reality in the library was quite fun, and got the students engaged with each other’s artwork. A bonus – we discovered that Quiver has some applications that teachers can use in their mapping unit. It’s good to share, you never know how far your reach might be!
Thursday was Global Collaboration Day. I was able to connect our previous reading of What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada with the thought that big ideas can change the world. There were many ways to participate on this day, but I chose an all day Twitter chat to share my own big ideas with others, as well as share some that our students had thought of, like “I’m going to be an inventor when I grow up so that I can invent something that will help people.” Now that is a big idea!
This week, the library also shared great stories with preschool & kindergarten friends, took inventory of what 4th graders already know about using Destiny Quest, introduced it to 3rd graders, and welcomed more middle schoolers for Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award book talks, and many others dropped by just to get books as they needed them. We love seeing a steady flow of book-related foot traffic!
We are also working on getting more new books on the shelves, creating guides for database access, and getting ready for “Back to School Night” next week. Thank goodness a little “ish” goes a long way! Follow the link below to see the Quiver app in action, or give it a try yourself! If you have a 2nd grader, they should be able to teach you how to use it.
This picture really captures our first week of school! It’s a proud “look what we found” moment at the end of one of our first library classes. I thought I’d give you an idea of one of my typical “reference interviews” with a student. Those are fancy words for “let me help you find what you need”.
Me: “Let’s find something great for you to bring home today!”
Student: “OK! Member that really sparkly book you had last year? I like that one.”
Me: “Hmmmm….I think we have a few sparkly books. What was the book about? What did you like about it?”
Student: “Well…..it had a kitty on the cover, too! A MAGIC kitty. I like books like that!”
Me(having a memory moment)….”Ah! I think I know just the one you mean. Let’s go find it!”
Once we get to the shelf, we locate the book. It’s from the Magic Kitten series and the title is Classroom Chaos. While I’m thinking to myself how funny that is, the student looks the book over, reads a bit and says “Naaa, do you have any books about the Titanic?” And we’re off exploring something new!
That moment reminded me to be thinking beyond all the other minutia of getting our library space truly ready for learning. Sometimes I worry about having it look “just so” by the beginning of the school year. In reality, it’s ready the day the students arrive no matter what it looks like. They arrive ready to explore and learn, and we are ready simply by being there and having conversations. Learning is about celebrating the comfort of old favorites AND it’s about having the freedom to choose a new path. That’s growth.
I am looking forward to thinking, and sharing, creating, and growing with my students this year!
Wait a minute! What does this picture of beautiful Lake Champlain have to do with summer reading? Today was field trip day for the middle schoolers who participated in the Classical Connections summer reading program! Now in it’s 5th year, this collaboration between CCS and the Charlotte Public Library has grown into one of my most favorite things to do with my students!
Each year, students read a modern novel paired with a classic. This year’s classical connections were The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Is the picture making more sense to you now? Good! Over this past week, students have read and talked about two amazing stories, participated in activities like “How to Survive if You’re Lost at Sea”, written about the books using their Young Writers Project blogs, created fictional journals, and today they learned how to sail! The week just flew by, and I hope that this quick jump-start to summer reading will carry through the rest of the summer months for my students. I am so thankful to families that share their children with me. I find constant delight in my students, and am always amazed at their insights into what they are reading. I am also grateful for our strong Vermont community connections. This program would not be possible without the help of Cheryl Sloan and the awesome Charlotte Library staff. I am also grateful to Kathy Folley and the Young Writers Project Staff who provide a tool for students to capture their thinking in writing. Appreciation to Mrs. Williams and Mr. Lutz for offering this program as a choice to help complete summer reading requirements. Thanks to Sharon Colvin of the Vermont Department of Libraries for supporting the goodness of this program and helping to spread the word around the state. The Charlotte community also played a huge role this year! A Front Porch Forum request brought out donations for the week of nautical charts that illustrate the very setting of The Great Wide Sea! Alex Bunten of the Charlotte News visited and graciously answered questions about a recent sailing trip of his own! Thanks also go to the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center for an awesome experience today. Not only were my students making connections to the books they read as they sailed, they did so on the gorgeous Lake Champlain canvas. I so appreciate the opportunity for my students to make a connection to this beautiful body of water. Stewardship of our local natural resources begins with simply experiencing them! Many thanks to Alex Kroll, who appreciates the middle school soul, and supports their reading adventures from summer to summer. I cannot forget to thank the entire Charlotte community, who welcome a middle school takeover of our public library space for a week every summer. As you can see, it really does take a village! I’m so happy that my students get to experience something that develops around them with the help of many community hands. See the slide show below for the story of our week in pictures, and sail on into summer my friends!
Filed under 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Books, Collaboration, DCF, Fun, Learning, Middle School, reading, SummerReading, Writing, Young Writers Project