Category Archives: Research

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

Leave a comment

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…when Mrs. Huestis leaves the library!

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2nd Grade, Digital Literacy, InformationLiteracy, Learning, reading, Research, Uncategorized

Talk at home about…Story Time and Beyond!

What images appear in your mind when you think of the library? I hope you see students like preschoolers gathered together listening to a wonderful story, building early literacy skills without even realizing it. Libraries are all about literacy, and it starts in the story square with our youngest students.IMG_5068

The library program also reaches beyond the story square. Here are some other images I’d like to think come to your mind when you think of the library. Picture this – K-2 students gathering together, listening to a good story, AND communicating with others around the world about it through Global Readaloud.Screenshot 2015-10-12 at 8.14.28 AM

Picture this – 3rd & 4th graders practicing information literacy skills with our Destiny Quest library catalog, getting ready to teach others how to use it.

Picture this – Students of all ages taking on a new design challenge in our creation station.IMG_5065IMG_5058

Picture this – 5th graders enjoying a read aloud at the end of the day that I knew would keep them on the edges of their seats and provide tons of opportunities for thoughtful classroom discussions. It not only has a great story, it contains excellent vocabulary, and even math and science connections. The book? Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sacher.

Picture this – 6th graders learning how to ask good questions about big ideas. Knowing how to ask good questions is the start of the inquiry process. Ask a 6th grader what the connection is between a traffic light and asking questions.

Picture this – 7th & 8th graders in the classroom using their information and digital literacy skills with the library’s Digital Reference databases to research the early 1900s. Oh and yes, they still visit the library to use paper books, as well. The best part of all this for me is that I have been here long enough now to see how my students grow and develop these various literacy skills, from preschool to 8th grade.

These are just a few snapshots of learning that have occurred over the past couple of weeks in our school, supported by the library program, in the story square, and beyond!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Books, Collaboration, Destiny Quest, Digital Literacy, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, Learning, Preschool, Readalouds, Research

Talk at home about…authors’ journeys via @steverswinburne

“Libraries are filled with authors’ journeys.” This was something that Vermont author Steve Swinburne shared with my students last week. We are so fortunate to have authors like Steve who share those journeys with students!

Hands-up, lean in!

Hands-up, lean in!

I’ve said before that Steve’s books prompt the “lean-in” effect when read aloud. He weaves the power of story into all of his books, fiction and nonfiction alike. Even facts have a story to tell!  You may read Steve’s thoughts on this yourself on this blog post “How to tell the story of sea turtles?” Seeing him in action, interacting with my students, made me realize that it’s really his words that have that effect, because he completely captivated his audience.

A little help from a friend!

A little help from a friend!

He incorporated movement and music while teaching students about his research and writing process. He encouraged students to think like scientists as he talked about how he researched his books, highlighting Turtle Tide and Sea Turtle Scientist. They were participants, not just listeners.

He left them with five reasons to love nonfiction. My favorite? “You may discover your passion.”

Signing our sea turtle!

Signing our sea turtle!

High fives for everyone as they left the library after the presentation left my students feeling connected and kept them thinking as they went through the rest of their day.

photo

Thumbs-up selfie!

The best part of this story is that Steve not only got my students thinking, he motivated them to take action. By the end of the day, I had a teacher telling me to expect persuasive letters from her 3rd graders. They were making the case for CCS to support the conservation efforts of  WIDECAST, The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Now that’s passion!I met Steve at a conference the following day, and he donated the first dollar toward the students’ efforts.

A huge THANKYOU to our PTO group for making this author visit possible. This event provided the opportunity for  an author’s journey to inspire our students’ journeys. I couldn’t make this happen without their continuous support!

2 Comments

Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Authors, Books, Kindergarten, Learning, Nonfiction, reading, Research, Writing

Talk at home about…stories and statistics!

dcf

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!

Grace

“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.

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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…where the year went!

When school begins in late August, it always seems as if the year ahead is long, just waiting to be filled with learning. Then April break happens, and…poof! It seems as if those last few weeks go by in an absolute blur. CCS staff congratulated 8th grade graduates last night, and waved goodbye to our K-7th graders this afternoon. Another school year is over, but I’d like to celebrate some of the learning that has happened over the last few weeks in the library.

We have helped students research, research, research! From independent topics to those framed by curriculum, students from grades 3-8 have been exercising their very best inquiry habits. We’ve seen tons of use of our print and digital resources. Curious about how to find resources yourself? Ask one of Miss Leach’s (former) 3rd graders! They learned how to use our Destiny Quest library catalog in order to help them become experts in a topic of interest. Not only did they create tutorials for YOU on how to use the library catalog, they also wrote their own informational books in class! They celebrated their hard work this week by sharing their books with Ms. Lubic’s (former) 1st graders. Click here to see & listen to a sample how-to crash course on using Destiny Quest!

We have also celebrated reading and writing. Ms. Lubic’s class participated in our 6×6 Reading Challenge, a partnership with the Charlotte Public Library aimed at highlighting the power of reading whatever we want to read! In class, they wrote book reviews of their favorite titles as part of their writing unit; during library time, they added audio and visual layers using the StoryKit iPad app. Then, we added their written reviews as well as their StoryKits to our library catalog. Now that Miss Leach’s class has taught you how to use Destiny Quest, go there and search for Stink: the Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald. Click on the cover, then on one of the links under “Electronic Resources”  to see a sample. To read the review, simply click the “Reviews” tab. Enjoy! Need more options? Ask one of Ms. Lubic’s (former) 1st graders. Need help? Ask one of Miss Leach’s (former) 3rd graders!

Screenshot 2014-06-13 at 5.59.31 PM

In recent weeks, we have also hosted readathons, student-created book talks, and poetry readings. We have talked up summer reading opportunities, tracked down over 1,000 library books, genrefied our fiction collection, and generally celebrated all the learning that has happened in our library space over the past year. We can’t wait for next year!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Grade, 3rd Grade, Booktalks, Collaboration, Destiny Quest, reading, Research, Writing