We just unpackaged (and threw into bins) four different types of construction tools into our STEM area of the library. I had to be VERY specific about he expectations, because this “Maker Space” concept is new; it’s just so tricky to demand level one voices on checkout days and allow for the volume level appropriate to mirth on the other days. When I was very clear before-hand it went better. After a particularly raucous session, I told the fourth graders who came in next “this is not a birthday party. This is not a play date ion your friend’s basement. This is us, learning how to problem solve together, and I need a level two voice for this to happen. They were great and I held an impromptu challenge of creating a known structure. Quick as lightning we had the White House and two versions of the downtown Clock Tower. And something else very tall. And I just built my standard lego house. I mean supervised the STEM projects.
They may not have any impact on the selection of Newbery or Caldecott Awards, or presidential elections, but the first through third graders in Mead School District (and across and have had their say about which children’s book wins the Children’s Choice Picture Book Award! We have been reading (actually the students have been listening and discussing, Mrs. Henning and myself have been reading) the nominees for the past six weeks. We voted for our favorites on Friday, April 14, 2017
At Midway, our overwhelming choice was I’m Trying To Love Spiders by Bethany Barton. We followed the charming story about TRYING to get used to and appreciate spiders (awesome gross fact: one spider eats 75 pounds of insects every year!!) with further research about spiders on Pebble Go, our favorite database for primary grades.
At Colbert, our top choice was Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert. I think it’s because I talked about it being a meaningful and clever example of prose, which is long form poetry, AND it’s National Poetry Month. Also, it was the last book I read and fresh in their minds. I’m pretty sure that if I’d re-read the “Spiders” book, more students would have voted at Colbert, as well. Both schools loved Nerdy Birdy, too!(by Aaron Reynolds) We will see in the next few months who the statewide winner was!
For the second year, my library classes–yes, even the first graders, are learning computer programming by using code.org. WHY? Because kids of all ages and languages can speak it (like math, coding is a universal language) and “Computer science drives innovation throughout the US economy, but it remains marginalized throughout K-12 education.” According to the code.org website, “Only 33 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation. There are currently 517,393 open computing jobs nationwide. Last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.”
That’s a big gap!! Washington state is one of only FIVE states which dedicates funding to computer science. Right now, there are 26,000 computer science jobs in our state, and 1100 graduates to fill them. As I told my students, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t avoid classes and activities that weren’t “right brain” activities, which I was comfortable learning–those which dealt with drawing and painting and writing. I’d learn to love and find my place in math and science, because I’ve always felt that so much of the world was closed to me by not having skills in these vast and important fields.
Hour of Code is a global movement. Find out why in this darling and motivating video below.
Initially an exercise to honor World Kindness Week, students used the Tagul.com application to generate “Kindness Word Clouds” to express and spread their own perceptions of what kindness means to them. Then, students liked the customization of their lists so much they began creating gifts for loved ones. My daughter used it to make a Christmas Wish List. And I used it to create a picture summary for staff about what we’ve been working on in Library for the past month. I love Tagul because it doesn’t require additional software (some require Microsoft Silverlight) and can be used on any device. We recommend writing a list of words on a separate document rather than typing them straight into the available text box.Anyway, here’s the cool images that emerge! Two are from the Tagul website shapes menu and two are downloaded from custom images. Use and have fun!
Spent this week’s lessons talking about banned and challenged books, as it was National Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2). After discussing this photograph of a wonderful library display which I right-clicked from a Pinterest page (I’d love to know who created it so I could give this person due credit!) I discussed more contemporary banned books, such as the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Divergent series.
I also set up this display:
to illustrate what would be missing if the books on this cart were actually eliminated from the library. I believed that the students were clear I was the ADVOCATE for open and free information and access. I had them take their (sometimes vocal) sense of indignation, and write me a response to the idea of either censorship in general, or the removal of THEIR favorite children’s book on the banned and challenged lists. Not everyone made this connection, so I got a few threatening messages about “taking away their Junie B. Jones.” (I did not, nor would I)
By the time I’d taught this lesson to the fifth class or so (I teach these lessons to 25 4th-6th grade classes in a week) I realized I needed to physically remove the CAUTION tape. They needed this sense of closure.
Here is the article I had them read for further information:
http://www.factmonster.com/spot/banned-kids-books.html (“Fact Monster” is a great elementary level online database.)
And here are some of the most insightful responses from 5th and 6th graders.
“Books are banned to protect others, frequently children, from difficult information. Adults don’t want their children to be scared. I think that children should be able to read those books. These books boost up their imagination.”
“The witchcraft (in Harry Potter) seems reasonable because they are all witches!”
“The reason given why Harry Potter books were banned is because, ‘It promotes witchcraft.’ Just because there is witchcraft, does not mean people will take it seriously. Also, it said that Harry Potter sets a bad example. I disagree. He only does things for the good of the school and his friends.”
“If you banned Harry Potter, you might as well ban all the other books. If you WERE to ban Harry Potter, I would come and find you and do something quite unpleasant. Your Harry Potter loving student…”
“I don’t understand why The Wizard of Oz is banned because women play the main roles! That is criticizing all woman and also, I mean seriously, banning the book because it had a witch in it because of the fake witch burnings! Women who were healers got burned for no reason!”
“I think…some of the boys I know act just like the Lion, Tinman, and the Scarecrow. I do understand that in earlier days women were not treated well.. but that is stupid.
“I think ‘The Hunger Games’ shouldn’t be banned. ‘The Hunger Games’ may be about some type of murder but it isn’t real and I don’t think people understand that! This isn’t ever gonna happen and parents should tell their kids if they read it that they won’t do what happens in this book, and that it is fake!”
P.S. If your children end up being advocates for first amendment and open access to information , it wasn’t me. They came ready to fight 🙂 It was quite glorious.
Already totally in love with the new head of the world’s largest library, Carla Hayden. Here are two of her quotes from the interview that I posted below:
“…a library’s place is even more important (now). There is a hunger in this digital age to hear authors together, to participate in programs, to just be in a place; a community space.”
And, in talking about librarians’ reputations when she was head of the American Library Association (ALA) back in 2003 …
“Librarians were called during that time ‘feisty fighters for freedom’, and we were very proud of that label.” America’s Historic New Head of Library of Congress
Carla Hayden, the first female and African American leader of the Library of Congress sworn in September 14, 2016
When you work at a school library, you are constantly working to keep students engaged: in reading, in education-based software games, effective search engines, platforms and apps. We are savvy enough, as modern library information technology specialists, to be happy with ANY attention or foot traffic, and it behooves us to be up with all the cultural trends.
There hasn’t been a more universally loved or enjoyed trend as Pokémon Go in a VERY long time. I love it because my now 16-year-old-son who used to LOVE playing and collecting Pokémon ten years ago, now loves this modern upgrade. I have noticed most of the people obsessed with the game are intrigued in part by the nostalgia. And parents, happy their children are disconnected from PS4 and XBox are echoing a sentiment something like “Well, at least they’re getting outside!!”
What has put libraries in the forefront of Pokémon Go is that community gathering places, like libraries, are programmed to be “Gyms” for Pokemon battles. They often have a high concentration of more valuable Pokémon as well as upgrades and other tools (Like “razz berries,” Which help capture the more powerful, slippery Pokemon.)
Here’s some examples of tweets sent by bookstores which are, not surprisingly, totally cool with any publicity and traffic:
If we are in the patrons’ worlds at the time, they will remember! If you are gracious and enthusiastic, they will remember when it is time to hang out, or when the Pokémon Go servers are down (which has happened often) maybe they are more likely to come and check out a book with us! Also read the LA Times article below, it’s just the best!
As the fifth and sixth graders round out the Spring 2016 Social Studies, we find ourselves studying American Patriots and Greek Heroes and Legends. What better way to create relevance than to plop them onto a social media site?! Or at least a pseudo-social media site.
We are having them fill out the basic information first: The birth places, the approximate year of birth (the aristocrats had birth certificates, the commoners, not so much) the “networks” (Daughters of the Revolution, Boston Tea Partiers) before filling out their favorite TV shows and movies (Game of Thrones? Lincoln?) The actual transferring of the written research content to electronic format will be a learning curve.. and, oh, with the sixth graders I have been creating tweets from famous historical personalities and asking the fifth and sixth graders to guess who they are:
I’ve changed my mind. I’d really prefer you just give me liberty.
@Jefferson Honestly, do you think my signature is too big? I don’t want it to stick out.
@Clark have u seen this? http://maps.google.com ugh. Last six months, wasted.
@Poseidon, Does this skirt make me look fat? Oh, man. I keep forgetting. #turntostone
@persephone.Did you feed Cerberus this morning? I don’t want to go near the Styx.
I’m bored today, let’s go start a war. @ZeusHey dad, can I borrow some thunder bolts?
A tech expert/future trend guy was being interviewed (on CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria, to be exact) and said that 65% of jobs that children will have in the future DON’T EXIST YET and that learning how to do computer coding will qualify them for these jobs. It stuck with me. It is with this context in mind that the students at both Colbert and Midway embarked on learning how to create command patterns for the adorable non-gender, non-species specific FINCH ROBOTS. They worked in teams “professionally taking turns” with different challenges; like programming the finch to turn in different directions, turn different colors, etc. Next level will be commanding it to talk.
For the full skinny on the Finch, which was developed by Computer Science (CREATE program) students at Carnegie Mellon University, see their website:
The kids are loving it..and learning NOT to drag or pull on the $100 devices we are BORROWING. If your kids love it, let the district know! We are piloting the program here.
We’ve been spending this literature award season (Yes, it’s award season in libraries just like in Hollywood, but authors don’t tend to have glamorous parties to celebrate their achievements.) We focused on the 2015 Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander’s Crossover.
In the primary grades, we talked about the most recent Caldecott winner ( The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend) and I explained to everyone that generally only intermediate grades get to enjoy the Newbery winners, as they are chapter books or err on the side of YA, since this is the kind of breadth necessary to deliver the kind of emotional and social goals the Newbery committee has for its nominated books. But then, BOOM! The Newbery committee, in a major shift from their normal MO, selected a picture book as the 2016 Newbery winner. What?!
The Last Stop On Market Street, by Matt de la Peña~ the first Latino Newbery winner, btw~ is a lovely book, but honestly, it’s no Giver or Tale of Despeareaux. Still it’s worth having in any collection. It was also a Caldecott Honor book, thanks to Christian Robonson’s sweet illustrations. Here’s the publisher’s synopsis: “Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.” But what excited the kids more than any reading or historical lesson (I know, shocker) was the quiz i gave them through an interactive platform called “KAHOOT IT” I took nine questions and they raced aganist each other to choose the best answer. It was such a loud success that I honestly don’t know if I can play it in library. It sets a very high volume precedent which is hard to bounce back from. You need other players to try it out, but you totally should. Start at https://play.kahoot.it/