Friday, June 17, 2016

Saturday, June 11, 2016

We Had A Little Makerspace Exploration For.... Staff!

We were fortunate this year to have been awarded funding for our Makerspace from the Medfield Coalition for Public Education (MCPE). This amazing organization supports the Medfield Public Schools and encourages innovative thinking and programs. Lucky for us, our grant, Makerspace Memorial Style, was approved!

We've added lots more legos, K'Nex, Picassa Tiles, Wooden Castle Blocks, arts and crafts supplies, books that inspire making, robots, Hokki Stools and more. Our young students have been loving the new additions and it's been a joy to watch them plan, do, create, work collaboratively, think about how it can be improved and be proud of their work. We have a Makerspace Museum where kids can save and share their creations.
Close-up from the Makerspace Museum
But we wanted to do more. Our principal, Dr. Missy Bilsborough, and I planned a Makerspace Exploration for staff which took place during a scheduled staff meeting one day after school. Our goal was to introduce the whole idea of what a Makerspace is and to give everyone an opportunity to do, make and learn.

The staff was divided into three teams which cycled through the three activities (table-top manipulatives, KIBO robots and BeeBots, also robots. All of the items used were from the grant (yes, HUGE thanks to our MCPE!)

Here are some pics from the afternoon:

KIBO Robots



 As you can see, there  was lots of learning, exploring and fun. Now when staff walks by or come into our library they have first hand knowledge about what the kids are doing and that they're doing more than just playing.

This image by Sylvia Duckworth shows the mindset of a makerspace. Our students are into it, are you?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The One Where We Say Thank You

All of the books in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems are pretty much the most popular books in our library. It is a rare occasion that we have any on our shelves and we have multiple copies of all of them. Most of the time they get snatched off our shelving cart! At the moment, I Am Going is our #1 book to be checked out (that's for the whole library!).

When I read that Mo Willems had written the 25th and final book in this series, I knew I had to pre-order a copy. The Thank You Book had it's book birthday (otherwise known as the day the book is introduced to the world) on May 3, 2016. I felt very lucky to get a copy that day - it was a celebration after all!

I shared the book with all of the K-1 kids at Memorial School and I can tell you I never got tired of reading it, even though I read it aloud 16 times! We all LOVED the book. What a brilliant way for Mo Willems to end this beloved series.

Students and I talked about what we loved about these characters and the stories. We took a look at the special post Mo Willems wrote to celebrate this final book. Mo has declared the month of May as Thank-O-Rama Month. He, along with Gerald and Piggie are thanking all of their readers and they are taking this thanking very seriously. One of the ways Mo is saying thank you is by teaching us how to draw Piggie. Hope you enjoy the following pics from a few of my classes:

Learning how to draw Piggie by watching Mo Willems via video

Mo is a great teacher!

He taught us how to make a "moval"

Mo said we weren't done until we signed our names

Proud and happy kids

Saying thank you to Mo

After drawing our piggies, we all thought about who we wanted to say thank you to, afterall, it's Thank-O-Rama Month!

Dear Mo Willems,

Thank you for writing 25 Elephant and Piggie books. We love them.
Love from, Memorial School

Friday, April 29, 2016

Learning About Non-Fiction

Our students are very fortunate for many reasons, but the one I am highlighting here is about our annual Author Visit. Our PTO always sponsors these visits. We have had some amazing authors in the past including Grace Lin and David Biedrzycki. This year we decided to invite an author who writes non-fiction books. We spend a lot of time teaching our students about text features in non-fiction books, about searching for information, about writing and about drawing "true" illustrations to go with our work. We thought author Melissa Stewart would be a great choice. Our students love her (more than 180) books and we have many of them in our library.

It was a thrill for our young learners to meet a real author and for many to purchase an autographed book by Melissa. All classes read a few of Melissa's books prior to the visit. First graders in Mrs. Paget and  Mrs. Ravinski classes made welcome posters which were hung around the school. Mrs. Teany's kindergarten students each created a poster about one of Melissa's books. It was a thrill for sure when she looked at each drawing and made comments about them. She loved the posters so much she took them home one night to show her husband!

Here is a very short video showcasing the kindergarteners posters. Enjoy!

Here are a few photos from the visit:

Even our Preschoolers had a session with Melissa Stewart!
Kindergarten class
Looking at each and every poster made by students
Autographing a student's book
First graders with a few of their welcome posters

Thank you Medfield K-8 PTO for supporting our literacy program at Memorial School! We are so grateful :-)

Update May 1, 2016: Melissa Stewart was awarded the New England SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Crystal Kite Award for her

book Feathers Are Not Just For Flying

Congratulations, Melissa! Our students will be very excited to hear this news.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Trendsetting" with KIBO's!

Thought it was time to give an update about our KIBO project. Last June I submitted a grant to the amazing Medfield Coalition for Public Education (MCPE) for two KIBO's. The grant was approved! We started using them in the fall with three kindergarten and three grade 1 classes. You can read about our 1st experience using KIBO's here.

In the meantime, something most unexpected happened. The Tufts DevTech Lab (which provides 'resources to teachers, parents  and anyone interested in using robotics in early education classrooms') asked if I would like to be featured as one of their "Teaching Trailblazers." Whoa, what an honor! 

Click here to read the entire Early Childhood Robotics Network interview

Back to planning our KIBO curriculum...We were very pleased with our first KIBO lesson but realized quickly that it would be a much better experience for our students if we had more KIBO's. Julie Colantoni, Meredith Teany and I wrote a new grant requesting eight more. We are so grateful that the MCPE approved this request. We now have 10 KIBO's at Memorial School!

We've been using our 10 KIBO's for the past two weeks and I can say for sure that this is the way to go. The whole class can now use the KIBO's at the same time and work in groups of 2-3 students per KIBO, which is how they are meant to be used. The kids loved having another opportunity to use KIBO and learn about more of the sensors and blocks. Each student had the opportunity to try out all of the jobs: planner/programmer, checker, scanner, and the very important, push the start button.

Mrs.McAvoy sharing the How to Make KIBO Work How-To Book, which her students wrote. It was the perfect way to begin our 2nd KIBO lesson.

Going forward, we will dig deeper into what our students can do with our KIBO's and learn from using robotics. We can't wait to use our KIBO's with more students this spring. 

Many, many thanks to the strong support from our principal, Dr. Melissa Bilsborough and to the MCPE.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Melissa Stewart is Coming to Memorial!

We are very excited to announce that Melissa Stewart, an award-winning author of more than 150 science books for children, will be visiting our school April 5 and 6. She has always been fascinated by the natural world and is passionate about sharing its beauty and wonder with readers of all ages. Melissa will be presenting to all Memorial students during her two day visit. We are grateful to our PTO for sponsoring this literacy event.

If you would like autographed copies of her books, please print out a copy of the order form. All orders are due, with payment, by March 16.