April is a time for celebrations! It’s School Library Month AND National Poetry Month, and it also features National Robotics Week and Earth Day. Our book displays and read-aloud selections will include titles for those topics. Additional class activities include the following. Preprimary students have been hearing stories about frogs and insects, in conjunction with their classroom units. Two popular choices are I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt, and The Little Squeegy Bug, by Bill Martin. After hearing the latter story, the students will make their own bugs using our Makerspace resources.
Primary students enjoyed hearing me read Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color, by Mary O’Neill. As I read those poems about different colors, we used the Smartboard to provide complementary images. The students also have heard several humorous, cumulative picture books recently. They especially enjoyed Fix-It Duck by Jez Alborough.
Recent Kindergarten library classes have been devoted to fiction and nonfiction about farm animals and equipment. As you might imagine, the children seemed most fascinated by the manure spreader featured in Fantastic Farm Machines! First graders have heard picture books set in Mexico, including one of my all-time favorites, Under the Lemon Moon, by Edith Hope Fine. We also watched a short video about a day in the life of a young boy in Mexico; after the video the students compared and contrasted his life with their own.
Recent second grade library classes have been devoted to a special state research project. Specifically, the students found visual information and interpreted agricultural and industrial symbols on state maps from the World Almanac for Kids Online. They recorded their findings and interpretations into the books they created in library class using the Book Creator iPad app. The children will record a Seesaw digital portfolio entry about this project. Third graders have spent library classes this month working on their second video book reviews using the DoInk green screen app. Additionally, the students are revisiting some library and maker skills they have acquired over the past year, reflecting on those skills and earning digital badges. When a student earns a badge I place it in their Seesaw folder. A few sample badges are shown at left.
During March, several of our library classes were devoted to Maker projects, including the Rigamajig house, shown at right. The house was a schoolwide project and was occupied by a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day! In addition to maker activities, we still found time to enjoy stories!
Preprimary students enjoyed listening to stories related to transportation. After hearing a story, the children like to select a book and “read” it to one of the library’s plush animals. In the photo at left, a child shares Uni the Unicorn with Harry the Dirty Dog. Harry seems to be enjoying the story!
Primary students engaged in stories and activities related to their classroom study of mammals. During one class the children used the Smartboard to show me what they knew about mammals. I hope to design additional Smartboard activities for them.
Kindergartners enjoyed hearing stories by Dr. Seuss and began to explore interesting literary characters, starting with Wanda, of Wanda’s Roses. We will discuss story characters and their traits for a few weeks; this concentration complements our earlier exploration of plot and setting.
First grade library classes completed their unit of Australian Aboriginal folktales. We also enjoyed one of my favorite Irish folktales, Fin M’Coul, as retold and illustrated by Tomie DePaola.
Second graders completed the totem poles for the garden and shared their Arctic animal research reports. I was proud to read the informative reports aloud and to display them for the rest of the school community to see. Younger students wondered if the reports could be checked out!
Lastly, the third graders spent most of our March classes in the Makerspace, where they helped build — and later disassemble — the Rigamajig house. They also have begun using some of our woodworking tools and hope to make something in April. Before leaving for spring break, the students selected books for their next video book trailer.
Students in second- and third-grade continue to use Seesaw to document library/maker class activities. I have created several Maker and Library digital badges that the children can earn by acquiring and mastering basic skills. When a student earns a badge, I will add that badge to his or her Seesaw folder. I expect the digital badges will be incentives for many of our students! Sample digital badges are pictured below.
It’s autumn, and with the change in season come stories about fall color, animal migration, and Halloween.
In addition to our school-wide topics mentioned above, individual classes have been learning library routines, enjoying story times and maker activities, and sharing their love of books with me. In Preprimary, we have explored colors and basic shapes through picture books, including Perfect Square, by Michael Hall and Mix It Up! by Herve Tuillet. I look forward to planning special Makerspace activities with the Preprimary classroom teachers.
Primary class children have enjoyed picture books that promote curiosity and invention, including What Do You Do With an Idea, by Kobi Yamada, and The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires. I may plan a special Makerspace activity with the classroom teachers that will support their classroom inquiry into boats. One of my book recommendations, Float, by Daniel Miyares, served as a prompt for classroom paper boat building.
Kindergarten, like Preprimary, focused on shapes and colors in the classroom. I supported their interest through picture books such as Friendshape, by Amy Kraus Rosenthal. We also are focusing on story plot arcs, which we define as “beginning — middle — end.” After hearing a story, the children describe events that occurred throughout those stages of the book. I am hopeful that understanding literary elements such as plot, setting, and character will enrich the Kindergartners’ own storytelling.
First grade library story times are devoted to folktales from around the world. We started our exploration with “pourqoui” tales, also called “why stories.” We imagine that we are children from another time and culture, asking our parents a “why” question, such as, “why does the elephant have a trunk?” The stories I read aloud provide culturally interesting, if not scientifically accurate, answers. We will enjoy some folk tales from India while the students are learning about that country in their classroom.
Second graders have been hearing tales and legends of the Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands. One favorite was The Great Ball Game, a pourquoi tales that features lacrosse, the official team sport of Maryland. This story was retold by Joseph Bruchac, an Abenaki Native American, and illustrated with collages by last year’s visiting author, Susan L. Roth. The illustrated folktales I choose to share with the children provide both visual and textual clues about the specific Native American culture and environment being studied.
Third graders are busy makers in library class! The children have heard some Norse myths, viewed a short video about Vikings, and will complete additional Viking-related activities. The students are creating Viking longboats out of LEGO bricks or other materials, based on their classroom-based knowledge of the ships. Another library/makerspace activity was based on one of my favorite picture books for our older students, The Matchbox Diary, by Newberry Medalist Paul Fleischman. After hearing the story about a child who learns about her great-grandfather’s immigrant experiences through little mementos he has saved in matchboxes stored in a cigar box, the students decorated their own matchboxes to house their own collections. After I tweeted about the project, we were excited when author Paul Fleischman tweeted back, encouraging the children to develop their collections!
The month ends with Halloween stories for all! Happy Halloween!
May seems to be flying by! The special book display features books about the Chesapeake Bay. Soon we proudly will display the bird books written and compiled by our Preprimary class.
Big news: our summer reading lists have been posted on our website. Each list was recently revised to include some new favorites. The list for incoming first graders includes a long list of picture books that may be enjoyed by children of all ages. You may find these books at your public library, local bookstores, and on our amazon.com store. Here are quick links to the lists by grades:
Preprimary students are hearing fiction and nonfiction books about birds. I hope to share some books about insects, as well. I predict they will enjoy two special books by Eric Carle that featured built-in digital effects — specifically, the clicking sound produced by The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, and the lights produced by insects at the end of The Very Lonely Firefly. Additionally, I hope we will have time to hear The Little Squeegy Bug, by Bill Martin, Jr., which may inspire the children to create their own squeegy bugs in our Makerspace. They will have fun using loose parts from our Tinker Trays to make their little bugs.
Primary library classes will round out the year with some very special fairy tales by local author Laura Krauss Melmed. The fairy tales are longer than the typical picture book choices for the Primary class, and I am eager to see how engaged the children will be throughout the story. They certainly have increased their listening span over the course of the school year, which is one of my goals for them. The story of Prince Nautilus includes an enchanted prince, a perilous quest, and two sisters, one of whom seems to do all the work. Most of the children made a spot-on literary connection to Cinderella, and they all enjoy helping me complete stories with “they lived happily ever after!”
Kindergarten story time choices complement the classroom exploration of cities. One of my favorites is Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo. This book features a city-dwelling grandmother who helps her grandchild learn not to be afraid in a city full of noises and so many people. We also will enjoy some very funny picture books by Robert Munsch during the last few weeks of school.
In first grade library class, we are enjoying a few Greek myths before the school year ends. I will read selections from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, Rockwell’s The Robber Baby, Mary Pope Osborne’s Favorite Greek Myths, and Hutton’s individual picture book retellings of the tales of Persephone and of Theseus and the Minotaur. I hope we can experience at least one of our remaining library classes outdoors!
Second graders will round out their year of library classes by hearing some humorous American tall tales. The John Henry tale, as presented by Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney, is a personal favorite. Before adjourning for the year, the children will share feedback about their favorite books.We will compile a list of their choices to share with next year’s second graders.
Third graders have completed their weeks-long unit on circuits, which Mrs. Opdahl and I co-taught. The students applied their knowledge of parallel circuits to make LED-equipped Mother’s Day cards. Scroll over the images to see captions. The children also completed their Scratch programming unit described in my April post and invited their former teachers to play their finished games. We also had time to invent with our Makey Makey kits. The library was a temporary concert hall as banana bongos and aluminum foil pianos produced music when the students designed and completed circuits that allowed the fruit and other random conductive materials to highjack computer keyboards. Scroll over the images in the following photo gallery to see captions of our third grade makers at work.
During one class we will set up obstacle courses for our Dash, Ollie and Sphero robots to maneuver using iPad and iPhone apps. Sometimes our learning looks an awful lot like play, but then again, play is learning — whether acquiring and using cognitive skills to drive a robot through a maze, or improving social skills through collaboration. The following video was produced by Sphero, and shows that little bot in action.
April is School Library Month AND National Poetry Month. I will share poetry with the students during at least one library classes. Preprimary students have been hearing stories about garden plants, in conjunction with their classroom unit. Two new favorites are My Garden, by Kevin Henkes, and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal.
Primary students have heard several humorous, cumulative picture books recently. They especially enjoyed Fix-It Duck by Jez Alborough.
Recent Kindergarten library classes have been devoted to fiction and nonfiction about farm animals and equipment. As you might imagine, the children seemed most fascinated by the manure spreader! First graders have heard picture books set in Mexico, including one of my all-time favorites, Under the Lemon Moon, by Edith Hope Fine. We also watched a short video about a day in the life of a young boy in Mexico; after the video the students compared and contrasted his life with their own.
Recent second grade library classes have been devoted to a special state research project. Specifically, the students found visual information and interpreted agricultural and industrial symbols on state maps from the World Almanac for Kids Online. They recorded their findings and interpretations into the books they created in library class using the Book Creator iPad app. The children will record a Seesaw digital portfolio entry about this project. Third graders have spent library classes this month working on their Scratch programming projects. Mrs. Opdahl and I are co-teaching this unit. The students are working in teams to create online games that represent some of their favorite memories from their years at Concord Hill. When the coding and debugging are complete, we will start a special Maker unit on circuits.
Finally — March is here, and this librarian’s hopes for warmer weather are coming true! We have two special book displays. The first display, shown above, highlights picture book biographies of young people who followed their dreams, never giving up, and if not changing the world, at least making it a little more interesting. I will be sharing many of these titles with our students in library class. The second display, shown below, features books that our third graders read for their February book trailer project. Each book now includes a QR code on the cover; scanning the code with a mobile device will bring up the student book trailer on YouTube. Both displays were admired by special visitors at the Admissions Coffee for parents of newly-accepted children, Mrs. Ruina’s Kindergarten Teacher roundtable group, and by our next Head of School, James Carroll.
This month, Preprimary children have enjoyed books centered around a couple of their classroom units. When they were comparing and contrasting wild and domestic animals in the classroom, I read one of my favorite Jan Brett books to them. Annie and the Wild Animals follows the tale of a child whose pet cat has wandered away into the woods. Annie puts out corn cakes in hopes of attracting a new furry little friend, but instead attracts a slew of wild animals, including a moose, wildcat, wolf, stag, and a big bear. The children explained to me why those animals would not make good pets, and we all were relieved when Annie’s cat returned at the end of the story — with three little kittens. I showed the children how Jan Brett often puts little clues in the borders surrounding the illustrations, and the children used those hints to make story predictions.
We will enjoy several transportation-related picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) as the class spends time on that unit. Favorites include Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a Car and Seymour Simon’s Trains. We will make toy vehicles in the Makerspace using recycled items and our imaginations.
The Primary class has extended its exploration of maps, and I continue to support the unit by highlighting books that include maps during our weekly classes. I will show the children examples of books that feature frontispiece maps, including picture books, chapter book fiction, and nonfiction. One favorite is And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. This funny story involves familiar nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters on a trek to retrieve the runaways, using maps along the way. We only will have two read-aloud sessions this month.
Kindergarteners are having fun learning about Dr. Seuss in their classroom, and they are hearing many books by that late, great author. In library class I read Horton Hears a Who.We will incorporate technology into library class as we use the ChatterPix Kids iPad app for a special project related toThe Lorax. The children’s 3rd grade reading buddies and Mrs Opdahl will help with this project; be on the lookout for a Seesaw entry when we finish.
First graders are hearing some hilarious Aboriginal folktales in library class. These stories tend to be cautionary tales — stories passed down from one generation of Australia’s indigenous people to the next as warnings against certain behaviors (e.g. getting to close to the crocodiles or being a braggart). Many of the stories feature the exotic flora and fauna of the land down under. My main source for these stories is The Flying Emu and Other Australian Stories, a collection of Aboriginal tales written down by Sally Morgan. I also hope to find time to share a new nonfiction picture book, Emu, by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne.
Second grade library classes included a little work in the school’s rain garden this month. The students helped me deadhead plants, clean up the garden for spring, and look for signs of new growth. Mrs. Opdahl and the classroom teachers will join us for a lesson in safe searching on the Internet using KidRex. The students will use iPads and KidRex to answer questions I created for them, such as, “Do jaguars eat turtles?” “What is Concord Hill School’s phone number?” and “What is the capital of Argentina?” This lesson will be an important crossover between the information literacy and digital citizenship goals the faculty share for the children. We also will have time for a story and a special DVD that I enjoy showing before spring break. The Scrambled States of America, based on Laurie Keller’s picture book of the same name, provides a rollicking preview to the state research the students will undertake in April.
Our third grade library classes in March are devoted to Scratch programming. Mrs. Opdahl will lead these special coding sessions, and I will support the learning. The students’ coding skills, combined with what they will learn in next month’s special Makerspace classes on circuitry, will lead to a fantastic end-of-the-year project. The project will be based on their favorite Concord Hill memories; details to follow.
Our special display this month is devoted to books about winter. The display is pictured in the header, above. Two new favorites are Snow Day! by Lester Laminack and Adam Gustavson, and Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins and Paul Zelinsky. The latter title is a picture book featuring the lovable characters from the Toys Go Out chapter book series. I hope you enjoyed some family read-alouds during this winter’s snow days!
Preprimary pals are enjoying hearing stories about animals that hibernate and stories of animal friendships. One of our favorite titles is Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. We recently have begun to explore books about dinosaurs, and will enjoy both fiction and nonfiction books on that topic. Many of the children were surprised to learn that dinosaurs hatched from eggs, and we thought of other animals that hatch from eggs. The children also are having fun in the Makerspace, using our Tegu blocks, DUPLO and LEGO bricks, Joinks, and other building materials.
The Primary class is exploring maps and cartography in the classroom, so we will be sharing atlases and other sources of maps in library class. A recent article I found on the PBS Parents website asked: In a GPS world, where synthesized voices tell us when to turn to get from point A to point B, do kids really need to learn how to read a map? Absolutely. While many skills have become obsolete in the digital age, map reading remains an important tool for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world. (Kris, Debra F. “Why Children Still Need to Read (and Draw) Maps.” PBS Parents: Expert Tips & Advice Jan. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/01/children-still-need-read-draw-maps/>) I always have loved maps, and I will enjoy sharing maps and books that foster the children’s spatial thinking and visualization. One picture book, As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps, by Gail Hartman, contrasts surface views with aerial views of different animals’ maps. This month we also read and discussed a Valentine’s Day story and Rosie Revere, Engineer, one of my favorite picture books for young makers.
Recently, our Kindergarten library classes have been devoted to an exploration of setting as an important story element. The students excitedly identified favorite stories when I merely described the setting, e.g., the Plaza Hotel in New York, “an old house in Paris that was covered with vines,” and “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.” They are learning to identify the “where and when” of a story using picture clues and text I read aloud. The picture books inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series are particularly useful for discussing setting — the illustrations and text work together to transport the listener to the Wisconsin woods of long ago. We also will hear a couple of stories that support the classroom exploration of postal service, including Special Delivery, by Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell. When the children choose their books to check out, they are finding sight words and telling the stories to their friends with feeling. I love to watch them sharing!
In First grade library class, students enjoyed read-aloud picture book selections that prompted discussions about empathy. Henry and the Kite Dragon is a beautifully illustrated story that chronicles an event that occurred in New York City in the 1920’s. Henry, a young Chinese-American boy, and his friends who live in Chinatown have a series of conflicts with the young Italian-Americans of the adjacent block. The Italian-American kids keep throwing rocks at the grand Chinese kites that are guided by Henry’s friend to chase pigeons in the sky. Henry and his friends do not know that those pigeons are pets of the Italian-Americans, and that the kites traumatize the birds. Eventually the groups learn more about each other’s culture and hobbies, and find a solution to the kite-pigeon situation. Another selection that fosters empathy is a new book by Salina Yoon entitled Be A Friend. This story introduces us to Dennis, a boy who does not talk, but acts out his imagination through mime. Although he seems happy most of the time, sometimes he is lonely. The first graders liked how a girl named Joy “caught” Dennis’s imaginary ball and became his friend. We all saw how friends can communicate in many ways — even without talking. Some of the students tried miming, as well!
Second graders have continued using Alexandria to find library items, and they have shared their thoughts about the new skill using the Seesaw app. In support of the classroom curriculum, we watched a short video about a 100-year old totem pole that had been restored and placed in a museum for children to explore. After watching the video we discussed different types of artifacts, why they are preserved, and what we might learn from them. We also have had some opportunities to make miniature totem poles and invent things with Cubelets and littleBits. (Scroll over images below for captions.)
The Third graders have worked long and hard on their book trailers, and the completed videos have been uploaded to our YouTube channel. You may view the videos on my blog here. The students will use the Seesaw app to document their progress and to reflect on their finished trailers. At the end of the month we will view all the finished trailers at our World Premier Party, complete with red carpet and special treats. (Scroll over images below for captions.)
Recently the third grade teachers brought their students down to the Makerspace to conduct a 20-minute maker challenge. The challenge: construct a model of the Jamestown fort based on what you have learned in class. Here are some photos I took of the class at work. (Please note: because safety is the top priority in our Makerspace activities, children who were snipping wire or cutting craft sticks wore safety goggles.)
As the month draws to a close, I enjoy reflecting back on our library activities. All grades wrapped up a month-long study of the books of Susan L. Roth by celebrating with her at Concord Hill’s 50th birthday party on October 3rd. Susan’s collage demonstrations were phenomenal, and her personalized book-signings made her visit even more special to CHS families. I was so proud of how well our students listened respectfully and asked thoughtful questions based on their knowledge of Roth’s books. I am especially indebted to Susan for donating some of her books to the library collection!
Susan was not our only visitor. We welcomed visitors from the AIMS accreditation committee into library classes. Even our youngest students were comfortable with the visitors, and several struck up conversations and asked the visitors to join them in the Makerspace. One of the visitors enjoyed a Maker activity so much that she intends to replicate it back at her own school!
Also in October, we have highlighted the picture books of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is the featured author selected as the Global Read Aloud 2015 picture book study. Teacher librarians worldwide are sharing their activities via twitter and the hashtag #GLA2015. Concord Hill students and teachers especially like Friendshape, The OK Book, and Duck! Rabbit! Rosenthal’s picture books are on display in the library until November 13th.
In addition to our school-wide celebrations described above, individual classes have been learning library routines, enjoying story times and maker activities, and sharing their love of books with me. In Preprimary, we have explored colors and basic shapes through picture books, including Perfect Square and Mix it Up. Children used colorful craft sticks to create various geometric shapes in the Makerspace, as well.
Primary class children have enjoyed picture books that promote curiosity and invention, including Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, and The Most Magnificent Thing. I might undertake a special Makerspace activity with the children that will support their classroom inquiry into wind.
Kindergarten, like Preprimary, focused on shapes and colors in the classroom. I supported their interest through picture books such as Friendshape (see above). We will undertake a special Makerspace project related to Rosenthal’s The OK Book; we will share the completed projects with parents.
First grade library story times are devoted to folktales from around the world. We started our exploration with “pourqoui” tales, also called “why stories.” We imagine that we are children from another time and culture, asking our parents a “why” question, such as, “why does the elephant have a trunk?” The stories I read aloud provide culturally interesting, if not scientifically accurate, answers.
Second graders have been hearing tales and legends of the Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands. One favorite was The Great Ball Game, illustrated by our visiting author, Susan L. Roth, and featuring lacrosse, the official team sport of Maryland.
Third graders are busy makers in library class! They created collaborative structures based on the Watts Towers and inspired by visiting author Susan L. Roth’s book, Dream Something Big. The children also have heard some Norse myths, viewed a short video about Vikings, and completed additional Viking-related activities. Several of the students created Viking longboats out of LEGO bricks or other materials; others experimented with Cubelet robotic blocks or assembled LEGO community helpers for the younger students to enjoy. We are sharing our Maker activities with parents via Seesaw.
The month ends with Halloween stories for all! Happy Halloween!
I’m still coming down from that cloud known as ISTE2015. The International Society for Technology in Education has wrapped up its annual convention. Philadelphia lived up to its nickname — brotherly (and sisterly) love ruled, as 17,000 attendees shared ideas and learned together in a supportive, energizing environment.
Upon arriving in Philadelphia, I met up with three of my twitter colleagues at the Franklin Institute to see the LEGO art exhibit. The Art of the Brick featured LEGO art by Nathan Sawaya. It was an inspiring exhibit for those of us who embrace maker education. I so enjoyed going through the exhibit with tweeps Diana Rendina, Okle Miller, and Nathan Stevens. Visitors were encouraged to photograph the exhibits; here are a few of my favorites:
After picking up my conference registration materials, I began to learn my way around the massive convention center. I made two presentations over the following two days. Mrs. Opdahl also attended the meeting, and she was so supportive as I set up for my two presentations. My first presentation was one of several sessions hosted by the ISTE Librarians’ group. As one of several stations in an area dubbed a “playground,” I discussed how librarians can match picture books with maker activities. I especially enjoyed meeting librarians from all over the world who are interested in starting their own library makerspaces.
The following day I lugged books, robotic devices, and other maker resources from our hotel to the Convention Center for my second presentation. “The Youngest Makers: Maker Activities that Help Preschoolers Develop Fine Motor Skills” was a very popular station, if I say so myself. Attendees enjoyed experimenting with one of our Bee Bots, the Osmo tangram set, Cubelets, and a “tinker tray” full of loose parts. We focused on how each resource could help young children develop hand strength, pincer grip, and other skills. I posted QR codes linked to the resources, and many visitors indicated that they planned on acquiring and using the items with their own students. I had 300 handouts, which proved to be too few. I was pleasantly surprised when Benjamin Herold, a journalist with Education Week, asked if he could interview me for that publication! The article has a couple of minor inaccuracies, but I chalk them up to my own momentary discombobulation following the two-hour presentation! The EdWeek blog article is here.
In addition to sharing my own ideas, I attended several workshops and sessions so I could discover more ideas to borrow! I enjoyed a Makey Makey workshop, a session on designing library makerspaces, a panel presentation about incorporating maker educuation into the curriculum, playgrounds featuring digital storytelling and early learning technologies, and other topics. At the ISTE Librarians’ Network breakfast meeting, I was inspired by the keynote speaker, Shannon Miller. She spoke about the important role school librarians should play as technology integrators in encouraging students to find and share their own voices respectfully and safely through social media — including Skyping with their favorite authors. Mrs. Opdahl and I attended the Independent School Educator Network’s dinner, where we found other Marylanders and AIMS members, including our friend Marti Weston of Georgetown Day School. Marti was awarded the group’s Outstanding Educator Award for implementing innovative practices, establishing private-public partnerships, and advancing the teaching practice with all educators. Well done, Marti! Another evening I attended the Librarian Network’s dinner and social at the Independence Beer Garden near the Liberty Bell, which was great fun. Several vendors and corporate sponsors hosted social events. The Gaggle party and the Edtech Karaoke party always are popular. (I had so much fun at the former that I was too pooped for the latter!) Speaking of vendors, Mrs. Opdahl and I both spent hours meeting and greeting representatives of companies we already know, and making new connections with potential vendors, as well. Some of the products and companies represented were Microsoft, LittleBits, Modular Robotics, Britannica, KidPix, LEGO Education, MakerBot Industries, Bretford Library Furniture, SMART, One More Story, Common Sense Media, Sphero Education, and many, many more.
My final action to report on from the immersive experience of ISTE2015 was serving as a conference volunteer for a couple of hours. I handed out welcome treats to attendees — Philadelphia water ice, such a refreshing treat — and got a t-shirt for my efforts. Before I knew it, it was time for Mrs. Opdahl and me to get our bags and go to the Amtrak station for our train home again. Now I will have some time to thank everyone who was kind enough to tweet about my sessions, and plan how I can incorporate new ideas into my own curriculum. Making new professional connections, extending my own personal learning network, and acquiring new skills and ideas are great take-aways from the conference. (The vendor swag is pretty cool, too!)
If you would like to see my presentation handouts, click on the “Nan’s ISTE2015 Presentations” link on the top menu. To learn more about ISTE, see www.iste.org and watch this ISTE-produced video about the conference:
May seemed to fly by! Our summer reading lists have been posted on our website. Each list was recently revised to include some new favorites. The list for incoming first graders includes a long list of picture books that may be enjoyed by children of all ages. You may find these books at your public library, local bookstores, and on our amazon.com store. Here are quick links to the lists by grades:
Preprimary students heard fiction and nonfiction books about insects. They especially enjoyed two special books by Eric Carle that featured built-in digital effects — specifically, the clicking sound produced by The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, and the lights produced by insects at the end of The Very Lonely Firefly. Additionally, after hearing The Little Squeegy Bug, by Bill Martin, Jr., the children created their own squeegy bugs in our Makerspace. They had fun using loose parts from our Tinker Trays to make their little bugs. Photographs of that maker activity may be found here.
Primary library classes rounded out the year with some very special fairy tales by local author, Laura Krauss Melmed. The fairy tales are longer than the typical picture book choices for the Primary class, and I was pleased to see how engaged the children remained throughout the story. They certainly have increased their listening span over the course of the school year, which is one of my goals for them. The story of Prince Nautilus includes an enchanted prince, a perilous quest, and two sisters, one of whom seems to do all the work. Most of the children made a spot-on literary connection to Cinderella, and they all enjoy helping me complete stories with “they lived happily ever after!”
An early highlight this month for Kindergarten students occurred on May first, when they erected their May pole outside and danced around it, to the delight of several other classes who came to watch. Literary selections in May included one of my new favorite picture books, Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo. This book features a city-dwelling grandmother who helps her grandchild learn not to be afraid in a city full of noises and so many people. We also enjoyed some very funny picture books by Robert Munsch.
In first grade library class, the children completed their Makerspace piñata, which they enjoyed breaking open on Cinco de Mayo. See my detailed description of this maker project here. Following that celebration, we left our Mexico stories behind in order to share a few Greek myths before the school year ends. I read selections from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, Rockwell’s The Robber Baby, Mary Pope Osborne’s Favorite Greek Myths, and Hutton’s individual picture book retellings of the tales of Persephone and of Theseus and the Minotaur. We were able to enjoy our very last first grade library class outdoors!
Second graders rounded out their year of library classes by hearing some humorous picture books, along with a few more American tall tales. Before adjourning for the year, the children provided great feedback about their literary and maker activities undertaken in library class. The Global Cardboard Challenge seems so long ago, but the children still talk about it. We compiled a list of their favorite books and stories to share with next year’s second graders.
Third graders likewise helped compile a list of their favorite books and maker activities. A few students contributed new video book trailers to our YouTube channel. The children also enjoyed “free maker time,” during which they built, programmed, or solved problems using tools and devices of their own choosing. Students applied their coding skills to create online games using Scratch. Some applied their knowledge of conductivity to make musical instruments using the Makey Makey kits. Still others programmed our Ollie and Sphero bots using iPad and iPhone apps. Sometimes our learning looks an awful lot like play, but then again, play is learning — whether acquiring and using cognitive skills to “drive” a robot through a maze, or improving social skills through collaboration. The following video was produced by Sphero, and shows the little bot in action. Incidentally, Sphero has teamed with Disney and Lucasfilm to create the new BB-8 droid for the new Star Wars movie!