Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hour of Code... Memorial Style

What is the Hour of Code?

"It's a one hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify 'code' and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, and innovator."

Memorial School participated in our 2nd Hour of Code December 8 - 17. Throughout these two weeks, each of our eight first grade classes came to the library to experience their 1st Hour of Code. We explained that we were joining millions and millions of other kids and grown-ups in more than 180 countries around the world to see what coding was all about and to try it for ourselves.

We used the fabulous free app ScratchJr. Students were given a brief lesson on what coding is and how to use the app and then they were off! Such excitement! Such engagement for each and every student! Such fun!

Enjoy this brief video of our HOC 

There's a lot of thank you's to go around - I never could have made this such a success without help and support from many Medfield friends:
  • Thank you to Dr. Missy Bilsborough, our principal, for supporting this program. 
  • Thank you to our Technology Assistant, Bruce Glaser for rounding up all the iPads we needed - one for each student!
  • Thank you to our Library Assistant, Dorothy Redding for her enthusiastic support and participation. 
  • Thank you to Debby Froman, K-5 Technology Expert for helping out one afternoon. 
  • Thank you, once again, to the fabulous team from Blake who spent an entire afternoon helping us out: Nat Vaughn, principal, Diane Horvath, Technology Integration Specialist, Michael Gow (even though he could not join us that afternoon, we appreciate that he organized the Blake Community Service Club members who joined us) and Brenda Perachi who filled in for Michael. And to the seven amazing students who were so great in helping our young students: Sarah B., Taylor G., Grace L., Charlotte R., Grace F., Caroline C., and Katie S. 
  • Thank you to Neal Sonnenberg, Medfield High School Tech Integration Specialist for bringing three very awesome students Anna W., Alex H., and Mark B. from the Help Desk for one whole afternoon.
  • Lastly, thank you to all the grade 1 teachers for helping to make our HOC happen.
We're hoping our students will have opportunities to do more coding throughout the year. Many kids have told us they've been using ScratchJr at home since our HOC and have been teaching their families how to code. How awesome is that! Cannot wait for year 3!!!

PS  Found this great sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth. List by Brian Aspinall:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Let the Mock Caldecott Begin!!

The 2015 Caldecott Winner

So excited to be starting our 3rd Mock Caldecott with all of our Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes. To begin, we read and looked very closely at last year's real Caldecott award winner, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. It's amazing how much we noticed in the illustrations (honestly, I saw new details with each reading and with the help of our young students who noticed things I had missed). We talked about how the illustrations help to tell the story in a picture book where there are not that many words. One first grader said, "Words and illustrations are best friends in a picture book." BOOM! She nailed it. This is the best description of how words and illustrations work together in a picture book I've ever heard wink emoticon

Here are the potential contenders for our Mock Caldecott (in no particular order):


Something new this year: I've invited our staff to help narrow down the field (usually our young students choose from four titles). I thought, why should I have all the fun choosing? But really, it's just too hard with so many outstanding choices. I admit it, I need help! So thank you in advance, Memorial staff!

More to come as we get deeper into our Mock Caldecott unit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Amazing Three Days of Learning, Sharing and Connecting at #AASL15

I was so lucky to attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in Columbus, Ohio last week. It was truly an outstanding conference. More than 3000 school librarians from across the US came to learn, share, and to meet each other and some of our very favorite authors and illustrators. My head is still spinning from all that I took in and experienced. If you have not attended a national conference, I highly recommend that you do!

There were so many wonderful and interesting sessions, there was an Idea Lab where librarians shared ideas, programs, technology and how they're being used in their schools - it was inspiring and practical. There was an Unconference one night that went till midnight (our learning and sharing truly never stopped!). One highlight was a speed dating event where participants traveled from table to table to meet incredible authors and illustrators and were even given books to have autographed. We had a Makerspace where there was lots of tinkering - I made something with a 3D pen, a badge that lights up and experimented with different robots. So fun.There was also time for important conversations during meals, while walking from one event to another and late night gatherings.

Some of my library heroes were there and I had a chance to say hello and express my appreciation for all they do. I met Barbara Stripling, who is a dean at Syracuse University School of Information Studies. She created the Stripling Model of Inquiry which we have been using at Memorial School. That was a thrill.

Another thrill was spending meaningful time with other school librarians from Massachusetts. One of the co-chairs of the conference was Kathy Lowe who is the Executive Director of MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association).We have an impressive group of leaders from our state.

I recorded my learning and thoughts several ways: photos, twitter, Evernote and something new for me, sketchnoting (I'm not too proud of my results, but it was fun anyway...). I want to thank my friend and fellow librarian, Laura D'Elia, for the idea to Storify my tweets from the conference. First time using Storify too. Here it goes:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Storybook Pumpkin Patch is Back and It's the Best One Yet!

October is a favorite time in our library now that we look forward to our annual Storybook Pumpkin Patch! Students are invited to decorate a pumpkin to look like a character from a favorite story. 

The pumpkins this year were FABULOUS! Come take a peek:

Memorial School's Story Book Pumpkin Patch from Randie Groden on Vimeo.

A huge thank you to all of our students and their families for participating this year. We love that our Storybook Pumpkin Patch keeps growing bigger every year!

Happy Halloween!
Happy Reading!

Monday, October 5, 2015

We are so excited!

This week is a very exciting week in the world of children's literature - it's the beginning of The Global Read Aloud (GRA)! This will be our 3rd time participating. What is so awesome about the GRA is that teachers around the world read the same book aloud to their students during a particular week. It is a free project and it fits perfectly into the standards we have to cover. It is a way to be connected to the larger world outside of the walls of Memorial School! How cool is that?

The GRA provides an opportunity for our young students to take a deeper look into a particular author. During the project, our K-1 students will be reading books by Amy Krause Rosenthal. I may try to make some connections with schools outside of Medfield depending on how our technology is working. At the very least we will be sharing our students ideas and thoughts via twitter. The official hashtag is #GRA15 and the specific hashtag for the 
Amy Krouse Rosenthal Picture Book study #GRAAmy  
You are invited to follow our experiences here: @MemLibrary

At this time more than 200,000 students from more than 60 countries are already signed up to participate. This project will allow for students to use technology tools in a meaningful way, while listening to a fantastic read alouds. FYI: Older students read a particular chapter book and then read the same chapter each week.

Here are the books I will be sharing with our students during library classes for the next few weeks:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

 Week 6 is Teacher Choice of any book by Amy Krause Rosenthal (here are a few to choose from but there are many more!):


If you would like more information about the Global Read Aloud, feel free to visit the website or I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Happy, Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

We went a little Dotty...!

September 15th-ish is one of my favorite dates of the year. It's the day/week we join more than four million people all around the world to celebrate International Dot Day, which is inspired by Peter Reynolds' book, The Dot.

From :

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration... The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

This is the third year Memorial School has participated in Dot Day. Art teacher, Joe Knaus and I have collaborated each of these years and we're proud to say that every student and staff member reads or hears the story and then creates their own dot. It's a One Book, One School event! Kindergarten and grade one students create dots in art class (and a big thank you to brand new art teacher, Tracey Babin, for jumping in!). And, our PreK students make dots in their classrooms. It's so much fun and so inspiring to see all the dots displayed around the school.

But that's not all! This year we added Go Dotty Day  when everyone wore dots. What a fine and fun example of school spirt.       



Staff member Kathleen Flaherty gave dot stickers to anyone who did not wear dots

One component of Dot Day is connecting with others outside of our school walls. We had seven Skype sessions planned, but due to technical problems we were only able to make four of them. Still, four very successful Skype sessions! We connected with students from Austin, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, Carlisle, MA and Dacula, GA. We co-read stories, had one mystery Skype where students gave each other clues so they could guess where the other class was from, and each time we asked questions to learn what was the same and what was different about our schools and where we lived. I was so proud of our students. They showed they were excellent digital citizens by their respectful behavior.

That's us on the screen! We're co-reading Ish by Peter Reynolds (the sequel to The Dot)
For those classes whose Skype sessions did not work out (YAY for plan B!), we made dots come alive using Augmented Reality (AR). This was LOTS of fun!


We were all about Dot Day in the library too. Kids listened to related stories, learned the Dot Song (you can see a live version here) and there were a couple of special centers. Here's one where dots were made: circles were traced, decorated and then cut out.

Lots of thanks to go around: To our principal, Dr. Bilsborough and the staff for their support, to all the students and their families for their partipation and enthusiasm, to fellow teacher librarians for their collaboration and to my partner, Joe Knaus. 

Can't wait to see how we "Make our Marks" throughout this school year until next September 15th-ish, 2016!

Friday, August 14, 2015

It's Almost Back to School Time!

Dear Memorial School Parents,

If you're like me, you are already thinking about the first day of school. Are you back to school shopping for supplies and clothes? Are your little ones getting excited about meeting new friends and the new experiences ahead? 

Did you know that there are lots of great books about the first day of school? Here is a Pinterest Board with many books for young children - one of these might be just the one you are needing to share with your child this August.

To view the entire board click here:

This being said and shared, I hope everyone enjoys these last few weeks of summer. It sure has been a great one!

Happy Reading and Learning,
Randie Groden

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Reading, Learning and Fun!

2014-15 has been a great year. Here's a Smore for you with lots of ideas and links for you and your family to keep on reading and learning all summer long:

We wish everyone a wonderful summer filled with fun, adventures and lots of reading!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

We are dreaming BIG!

The last couple of weeks of the school year always brings up a wide range of emotions: excitement for the summer and the break from routine it brings, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that still needs to be accomplished, and of course feeling bittersweet about saying goodbye to students and colleagues. In our school we really say goodby to our rising second graders as they are off to a new school at summer's end.

It's also a time for reflection.You can watch some of what we did in this Animoto. Surveys have been sent to staff and to the other school librarians in our district to assess our collaborations, to collect meaningful stats and to seek suggestions for improvements. A new library assistant joined our school this year. Dorothy Redding has quickly become a true partner, occasional hero(!) and all around awesome assistant.

I have also asked my students to reflect on the past year in the library and the library program initiatives. They were not shy in sharing their thoughts as you can see in the padlet below:

For our final library class of the year I often give students a choice of which book(s) we read. A few classes very wisely chose, If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen.

 One kindergarten student noticed that Chris Van Dusen is the illustrator for the Mercy Watson series and Leroy Ninker Saddles Up all by the great Kate DiCamillo.He noticed that the style of the illustrations were very similar and he recognized the name. What a connection! The kids got all excited examining how the main character in If I Built a House had many artistic features in common with Kate DiCamillo's characters. But the main story here is how this book entertained and ignited all of their imaginations. This led to another padlet:

I just love to hear what our students are thinking and boy did they ever dream BIG!
Here are some kids working on their dream rooms, inspired by the book we had just read:

As you can see, this was a very fun and imaginative activity. We love when books bring out this kind of excitement.

Oh yes, talking about BIG, each of our 8 first grade classes did an Inquiry/Wonder project. Our young students learned how to use a database (PebbleGo) and how to take notes (just the "nuggets"). They worked in teams and decided which facts were the most interesting and important. Then they learned how to take those notes and turn them into sentences using their own words.They learned how to cite their sources - we're talking about being good digital citizens here. Then we shared our learning with others. This is authentic work! Here is an example of one of our finished projects:

On another note, this has been a very BIG year for my family. In February our first grandchild was born. I could never have dreamed what a BIG deal this is! She is the new BIG love of my life. 
Liv and Nana (that's me!)

Then in May, my son married the woman of his dreams.
Congratulations Emily and Alex!
I wish them and all of you a summer of BIG dreams, BIG fun and lots of reading too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2014-2015 Highlights!

It was a busy year in the library. Check out this Animoto to catch a glimpse of some of the fun we've had:

And, we still have two weeks to go!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

David Biedrzycki was here! David Biedrzycki was here!

Memorial School students had a very special experience last week thanks to the generosity of our CSA - author/illustrator David Biedrzycki visited our school! Dave is the author and/or illustrator of many fabulous books such as:

 Dave spent two whole days at our school - how lucky were we! Students were so excited to finally meet him - he was greeted like the celebrity he is!

 Dave met with two classes at a time which made for a very up close and personal presentation. There were lots of laughs and learning as Dave explained his writing process and the really cool way he creates his illustrations (hint: he is a completely green artist!).

Here's one of the beetle families he made with each group - awesome, right?

And here are some beetles our students made in the library after meeting Dave using the computer program Pixie - again, awesome, right?

Yup, Dave made a  big impression on our students. This was one of the very best visiting author visits we've ever had. Prior to the visit, all of our students had been introduced to Dave's books and had learned a bit about him (including seeing a photo of him on his 1st day of kindergarten!) during library classes. Lots of students made welcome signs and were so excited to see him see their art work! Teachers read his books aloud ahead of the visit. In other words, the kids were psyched and knew exactly who he was when they saw him in the hallway. Dave is wonderful with the children. His sense of humor, energy and warm way were all perfect. We can't wait till he comes back!

PS  Recognize anyone in this page from Bear Alert?