Sunday, December 29, 2013

On Being Connected

As I enjoy this wonderful December vacation in beautiful Maine with my husband, two dogs and my son's puppy, I've had time to reflect on the past few months.  It's been an amazing time of growth and inspiration for me professionally, probably the most learning ever in such a condensed time period.  And why?  It's all because I became a "Connected Educator."  Last year,  T-21: Teaching in the 21st Century, an all year course was offered to elementary teachers in Medfield. I ran, not walked, to be part of this experience.  I've been running ever since.  Beth Holland (@brholland), taught our group and opened our eyes to the possibilities of 21st Century education. We learned about web-based applications to use with our students and to manage and organize our own work. There was a lot of learning and lots of work as well, but the work was all very much hands-on and practical- projects we could use with students and in our own practices immediately.

For one assignment I made an Animoto featuring new informational books added to our library collection  thinking it would be a fun way to share titles with staff:

We also learned about the CRCD Framework: Collect, Relate, Create and Donate. About how social media can be of use to us and to our students. We talked about the 3 A's, that information can be accessed, adapted and archived.

Then at our last session led by Tom Daccord (@thomasdaccord) and Samantha Morra (@sammorra), we delved into Twitter.  I had been lurking on Twitter for a little while, but that day it clicked for me.  I was ready and willingly went down the Twitter rabbit hole. 

There was so much to learn.  A few hashtags that were tailor made for me as a school librarian such as #tlchat and #tlelem.  One tweet led to another and slowly I began building my PLN (personal learning network).  Now I was connected with passionate and committed educators.  I started reading relevant blogs, got led to amazing websites and began to feel my brain was exploding with inspiration. I was collecting ideas and knowledge that I related to in a big way.

As Twitter was literally blowing my mind, I had also decided to change things up with the summer reading list I prepared each June for our young students. Out with the old, in with the new! I decided to create a Pinterest board for the Summer Reading List.   I could add descriptions to all the books and have links to author websites and to other literacy based sites.  Here's what it looked like:

Soon after I completed the board, I was led to Joyce Valenza's NeverEnding Search Blog where she was asking for new ideas for summer reading lists.  Hmmmm, I thought my pinterest board might be what she was looking for, but wasn't sure.  And then, I did something brave - I "donated" the board to her.  I will admit I was a bit nervous about putting myself and my work out there but to my great astonishment, she wrote back  and asked if she could use it in her blog and to add it to her ISTE 13 presentation.  To say I was blown away is an understatement.  This is Joyce Valenza we're talking about.  To say this was a top professional moment for me is also an understatement! The only reason this happened, is because I am connected, oh, and I was brave.

Then I started seeing tweets about edcamp BLC13. I quickly registered.  It was a day of PD unlike anything I've ever experienced.  Spending a day with passionate educators who are excited about what they do, who love change and want to share knowledge and experiences was exhilarating. I love this model of PD. 

Because I became a connected educator, I learned about International Dot Day. Here is a Smore I created describing our celebration:

So far this school year, I have attended 2 edcamps, my first national AASL Conference (American Association of School Librarians), have particpated in several twitter chats,  and have nErdamp Northern New England,  Edcamp Boston and the MSLA (MA School Library Association) conference on my calendar.  All because I am connected virtually but still crave actual connections too.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I have learned from and have been inspired by Diane Horvath (@techmonstah).  She is a technology integration specialist who loves to share her enthusiasm and love for all tech things.  She is a wonderful addition to our school district and I thank her for always being so patient...

It was so much fun skyping with Wendy Garland (@dancelibrarian) for International Dot Day and Edie Crook (@WESMediaCenter) for The Global Read Aloud.  I want to especially thank Shannon Miller (@shannonmiller) for being an outstanding library teacher and for always being so generous in sharing her work and Beth Holland for helping to get me started on this journey.  I've also learned from Amy Short (@amyshort2).  It would be impossible to thank my PLN adequately - I appreciate every single one of you.

What's ahead?  More learning and connecting.  I'm still working on the 3 A's. Archiving deserves it's own future post.  In a couple of weeks, a first grade class will be skyping with a class in Pennsylvania to share their Global Gingerbread projects.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Library Update

Hard to believe it is almost the end of 2013. This school year seems to be zooming by. The library has been a busy place where lots of learning, reading, exploring and fun has happened. Our students know the routines and are learning the lay-out of our library.  They know where their favorite sections are such as pets, sports, Elephant and Piggie, Mercy Watson, etc.

An exciting change has taken place! Our kindergarteners are now able to borrow two books at a time and first graders are now able to borrow three books at a time. Actual cheers and applause could be heard from the library when students heard this news! Our library program is here to encourage and promote the love of reading and I think this new policy supports this mission. Now an additonal 200 plus student books are going out and coming in each week.

Students dropping off books one morning.  We may need a bigger book cart to hold all the returns!

This means I need to allow more time for book selection and check out during library classes.  It means slower lines at the check-out desk.

Here are a few of our students waiting very patiently in line to check out their books.

Donna Knott, our wonderful Library Assistant, and I are amazed at the piles of books that now need to be checked back in and then shelved. This means more work for our dedicated (and fabulous!) parent volunteers and makes their time in the library even more essential. We are all getting used to this change, but everyone thinks the extra efforts are worthwhile.

What do you think?

Friday, December 6, 2013


What is iCollect! at Memorial School?  It's a program for our students to show off their personal collections.  It all started a couple of years ago.  I was remembering how much fun it was for my own children to have the opportunity to showcase their collections in our public library. My daughter displayed her My Little Pony collection and later on, my son displayed his Troll collection.  It was so much fun setting up in the library's display case and having patrons come see their prized possessions.  But, I also remember how long the wait was till it was their turn.  So, after talking it over with our principal at the time, Andrea Trasher, I got the go-ahead to write a grant for a display case from the MCPE (Medfield Coalition for Public Education).  They approved the grant and generously funded us purchasing a new display case for the library with lockable doors!

I created a form for interested students which is always available on this blog and in the Thursday Packet:

We try to display as many different collections as possible. Here are two from past years:


This fall, Abby, one of our first graders, displayed her shell collection.  She made a lot of very helpful signs identifying the different kinds of shells and where they were from.

Here is Abby setting up her collection before school one morning.

Here it is all set up.  What a beautiful display!
Abby's class came to the library to learn about her shell collection. We were all impressed by how much she knew about shells and by the great questions her classmates asked!

If your child has a collection they would like to show off, please fill out the form and send it into school.

We look forward to displaying many collections this school year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Perfect Match!

During a library class recently, I was walking around to see the books the students had chosen to borrow that day.  It's always fun and interesting to see the variety of information books, chapter books, picture books, princess books, etc., that catch their eyes. I always love to see the kids in our "Cozy Reading Corner" sharing their finds with their friends.  I love to see the kids carefully choosing the perfect book for themselves on that particular day.  Mrs.Knott (our fabulous library assistant) and I love to help our students locate and choose books they're wanting. I love to see the excitement of students knowing these books will be theirs for at least 2 weeks. But, I also love when the unexpected happens.  Check this out:

A Perfect Match!

Truly a perfect match. Don't you agree?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We Went Wild!

To extend the fun we had reading The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle during The Global Read Aloud, Room 13 students made their own mixed-up selves!  Please enjoy this animoto!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Global Read Aloud

Memorial School participated in the Global Read Aloud (GRA13) this fall. This program, with the slogan "One book to connect the world," was created by an elementary school teacher from Madison, WI. For six weeks, starting Sept. 30 and ending Nov. 8, participating classrooms across the world read a book, different for each grade grouping, aloud. The choice this year for K-1 students was six different Eric Carle books. This gave us the perfect opportunity to learn all about this truly special author/illustrator and read a different book each week. Eric Carle is definitely a Memorial School favorite!

We looked at a Google Map that had been created for the GRA13 to see all the locations around the world where schools were participating.  Our students were VERY excited to see Memorial School on the map!

We watched Eric Carle himself read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  

We did what good readers do when listening/reading stories:  We looked at the front and back covers of his books and made predictions before hearing the story.  We also made predictions during the story.  Did you know that good readers are thinkers?

We also learned how Eric Carle makes his illustrations - by painting tissue paper and then cutting it out to make collages.  Our students enjoyed making art like Eric Carle at the Eric Carle Library Center

Mrs. Ravinski's class made a connection with a first grade class in North Carolina.  Both classes read, 10 Little Rubber Ducks.  The NC kids learned some interesting facts about ducks and Mrs. Ravinski's class created a remix of the story by combining elements of this Eric Carle book, Make Way for Ducklings and Knuffle Bunny. In this remix, the 10 rubber ducks end up in many of Boston's well-known locations (think Public Garden, Duck Boats, etc).  The finished product is FANTASTIC!  We shared our book with our new friends in NC via skype and they taught us new facts about real ducks. Did you know that ducks only eat at night when there is a full moon. Can you guess why? Talk about fun and about sharing our work with new friends far away.

When kids came to the library during the 6 weeks of the GRA13, often the very first question would be, "What book are kids reading around the world this week?"  How cool is that - to know we are part of something larger than ourselves.  It's been an awesome experience!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Storybook Pumpkin Patch

Have you ever seen pumpkins like these?

Our library is growing a Storybook Pumpkin Patch!  Memorial students have been decorating pumpkins to look like their favorite book characters.  Can you name the books these pumpkins come from?

This has been such a fun activity and created excitement and smiles in the library.  Maybe our pumpkin patch will be even bigger next October!