The Snowman

the-snowman book cover.jpgRaymond Briggs’ book The Snowman (originally published in 1978) is a beautiful example of a wordless picture book and is perfect for winter read aloud.  After describing the characteristics of a wordless picture book, and showing the covers of several books in my collection, we read The Snowman, carefully looking at the illustrations, and discussing the images and actions in the book.    As the video soundtrack of the book played, my students created their own multimedia snowman portrait.

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Reading Rockets, a website I highly recommend, offers an informational handout for parents which explains the importance of wordless picture book on language development. In the handout, they remind parents that “sharing wordless books is a terrific way to build important literacy skills, including listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension — and an increased awareness of how stories are “built,” as the storyteller often uses a beginning, middle, end format. For a book with few words, you’ll be surprised at all the talking you will do, and all the fun you’ll have!”   I think it is very important to provide handouts and other resources to parents so that they can see the important role the library program plays in their child’s language development.

Additional Resources:

Have “snow” much fun reading!  ~Melissa

Girls Rock in Hour of Code!

As we have the past two years, we participated in Computer Science Education Week December 5-11, 2016. “Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science”, as and as we have in the past, my students tried their hand at computer program using the website  Hour of Code by Code.org. My preKindergarten through grade 2 students worked together with their classmates on the Promethean board to work through the coding activities, while grades 3 to 5 students used their Chromebooks. One of the many things I love about Code.org is that they highlight women in many of their tutorials and posters which is wonderful for my female students – this helps these young girls  to imagine themselves as computer programmers.  

As you can see from the pictures, all had fun while learning the basics of computer programming – I hope my students will continue to explore computer coding (with their parents permission and encouragement)!

Interested in reading about our previous Hour of Code events here in the  Flower Hill Media Center?  Click on the links below!

Coding is a Easy as 1-2-3-click! (2015)

MCPS Moment (2015)

Celebrating in the Library-December Edition (2014)

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

My students in prekindergarten through grade 2 participated in JumpStart’s again this year.  “Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students and community Corps members to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Threir curriculum helps children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.” Through its Read for the Record event, JumpStart  promotes early literacy, and encourages teachers, librarians, parents, and students around the world to read the same book on the same day in support of early literacy.

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JumpStart’s Read for the Record 2016 book.

This year’s picture  book was The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, and it was read by over 2.35 million adults and children! But did the bear really eat your sandwich? Read it together, and find out!  If you would like to read the online version of the book, please visit here  (scroll to the bottom of the web page to find the book in both English and Spanish).For additional teacher resources, click here.

One of my 2nd grade classes even had the chance to connect with a 2nd grade class at Orchard Elementary School in Vermont – the media specialist, Donna Sullivan-MacDonald, and I alternated reading the pages of the book to each other’s students.  What fun!

Did you know? It is important for parents to read aloud 15 minutes every day to their children – from birth all the way through school-age. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, “This time together has a powerful impact on children’s development because it strengthens their relationships with their parents and caregivers, the most important people in their world. A great deal of research supports this statement, yet fewer than half of children younger than age 5 in the United States are read to daily.” Here is some recent data on the importance of parents reading aloud to their children.  I encourage all parents to spend 15 minutes a day reading aloud with their children – it is time well spent – and priceless, too!

Digital Citizenship Week 2016

Digital Citizenship Week (Oct 16-22) is a week, sponsored by Common Sense Media, that is focused on learning what it means to be a digital citizen.  The  Common Sense Media “comprehensive curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world”. As a Common Sense Media (CSM) Certified Educator, I regularly incorporate CSM lessons throughout the year because digital citizenship is part of information literacy taught in media lessons.

During Digital Citizenship Week 2016, my students in Kindergarten to grade 2 learned about A-B-C searching and how, just like in the library, you need to use your alphabet to search online.

My students in grades 3-5 learned more about what it means to be a good digital citizen, and how they could become a Super Digital Citizen by following a few common sense rules.

My grade 5 students also had some time to play the Digital Passport , CSM’s “award-winning suite of engaging games that address key issues facing kids in today’s digital world”.

The Common Sense Media curriculum includes parent handouts and family activities that I send home with my students.   At a future Flower Hill ES PTA meeting I will be sharing information about the organization as CSM is now partnering with the National PTA.  Stay tuned!

 

 

Celebrating Courage, Creativity & Collaboration on Dot Day

Encouraging our students to embrace the growth mindset is an important focus this year at my elementary school, and  International Dot Day, inspired by Peter H. Reynold’s book The Dot, is a an effective way to engage students.     International Dot Day is one of my favorite days in the world of children’s literature, and I love to help my students make their marks by celebrating courage, creativity and collaboration.   Younger students created dots in their frames – remembering to sign them – and older students created collaborative posters with dots.

Peter H. Reynolds writes a series of books, all with a theme of growth mindset, and they are wonderful additions to my school library, as students and teachers alike check them out.

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Reading Challenges Can Be a Good Thing!

I have challenged my students in grades 3 to 5 to read as many Maryland Black-Eyed Susan (BES) Book Award nominees as they can – and those that read more of the books than I do this year will be recognized at the end of the year (there will be classroom and grade level recognitions as well).

 

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As you can see from the bulletin board display, many students are participating in the challenge. The black centers each represent a student, and they earn a petal for each BES book they read. The Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award is selected by Maryland students in the spring, so all students who participate in this challenge will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite picture book, chapter book, and/or graphic novel, if they have read the required number of books. To learn about the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, please visit the website here, and for teacher librarian resources, please visit here. As the year progresses, I will post updated pictures of this bulletin board to watch the flowers bloom!

A second challenge for students is to participate in the Reading without Walls challenge from Gene Luen Yang, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

For more information about the Reading without Walls challenge, visit Gene Luen Yang’s website here .

From the beginning of school through September 30th book circulation for all grade levels was 3779 books, compared to 3304 last year. 400 more books were read this year than last! Whoo hoo! That is cause for celebration!

Reading challenges CAN be a good thing!!

Huzzah for Martha Washington & 18th Century Women!

Summers are the perfect time to immerse oneself in  professional development, and I have taken full  advantage opportunities presented to me this summer.

I am grateful and thankful to have been selected a second year in a row to participate in the George Washington Summer Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon – this one with a focus on Martha Washington & 18th Century Women.

We experienced the Revolutionary Period from the women’s point-of-view, from enslaved women to Piscataway Indians to fashionable ladies to female Army soldiers.  In addition to the women themselves, we learned about their clothing, artwork, needlepoint, food preparation, farming, gardening, and music through examination of primary and secondary sources. We learned that “history is made, and the past happens”, meaning that we add our biases and past experiences when we interpret historical documents and artifacts.

As participants of the institute, we stayed in the Mount Vernon Ladies Association quarters, and were treated as if we were special guests of the Washingtons, eating most dinners in the Mount Vernon Inn, and being allowed to stroll the property early in the morning, and later in the evening.

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(Want to see more pictures?  Click here)

Professors, authors, and other scholars that immersed us in outstanding 18th Century life and culture presentations included:

  • Carol Berkin (Martha Washington & Women’s History Methodology, MW & Republican Motherhood, Navtive American Women)
  • Patricia Brady (Martha Washington’s Early Life, MW & the American Revolution)
  • Cynthia Chin (The Communicative Power of Women’s Clothing in 18th Century America)
  • Amy Hudson Henderson (Gender and Material Culture)
  • Kathryn Silva (Enslaved Women in the 18th Century)
  • Jennifer Van Horn (The Coming of the Revolution)
  • Holly Mayer (Women and the American Revolution)
  • Piscataway Tribe (Matriarchal Culture)
  • Cynthia A. Kierner (Women in Contested Spaces in Revolutionary Virginia)
  • Lydia Brandt (Mount Vernon Ladies Association & the Legacy of the Washingtons)

Mount Vernon staff & other experts:

  • Jessie McCleod (Oney Judge & Oral HIstory)
  • Jackie Jecha (Teaching with Documents, Teaching with Place, Teaching with Objects, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)
  • Dean Norton (Strolling the Pleasure Grounds and Gardens)
  • Susan Schoelwer (Women’s Work: Needlework & Education)
  • Michelle Lee (Tour of Library)
  • Mary Thompson (Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)
  • Lynn Price (George Washington and Women, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century, The First, First Lady – Martha & the Presidency)
  • Deborah Colburn (Tour of Pioneer Farm)
  • Brenda Parker (Defining the Women’s Sphere)
  • Neal Millikan (George Washington’s Correspondence with Women, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)

Living Interpreters:

  • David and Ginger Hildebrand (Music of George and Martha Washington’s Time)
  • Darci Tucker (Loyalist women, Deborah Sampson & Teaching with Biography)
  • Brenda Parker (Enslaved Servant Caroline)

Martha Washington and the Women of the 18th Century resources

I cannot speak highly enough of this summer residential institute, and I encourage every K-12 educator with an interest in Colonial America to apply for the program.  Your experiences will far exceed your expectations!

There are many summer teacher institutes offered around the country and around the world. Some that have been recommended to me are:

Huzzah for life-long learning!

Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators

Forget the pool, the beach, or a romantic summer getaway … I have again taken full  advantage of professional development opportunities presented to me this summer!

  • Represent MSEA as a delegate at the week-long 2016 NEA Convention (✓)
  • Help revive Library, Information Literacy, and Technology special interest caucus (✓)
  • Attend week-long class Mentoring for All: Strategies, Activities, and Assessment (✓)
  • Attend  Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators (✓)

I am thankful to have discovered the Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators, and especially thankful that my school’s PTA graciously paid my registration fee with Scholastic Dollar$!  Muchas gracias,  Flower Hill Elementary School PTA!

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 I finally had the opportunity to meet the fabulous Mr. Schu – John Schumacher – and now understand why he has such a devoted following, and why he is the new Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs®. He’s awesome!  His book talks were full of energy and inspired me to find time – to make time — to sit and read as many of the  the more of the wonderful children’s books available, so that I can give authentic and inspired book talks to my students, too.  I was also pleased to discover that I am not the only person to smell the inside of a new book, or thrill in revealing the book under the dust cover! Thanks, Mr. Schu for the reminder that the goal of libraries is not to get back the books, but to get back the readers!!

Donalyn Miller had wonderful things to say about school librarians and the wonderful world of literature. “We are not simply teaching the readers our children are; we are reaching the readers they will become!”  I was thrilled to discover that we received a copy of her book, Reading in the Wild   and will be incorporating many of her suggestions for developing life long readers.   I’ve also become a fan of the Nerdy Book Club blog of which she is one of the four facilitators.   Thank you, Donalyn, for your wisdom.

Nancie Atwell, author of The Reading Zone (among others) offered an inspired discussion of reaching each student where they are, and how to nurture joyful reading, even with the most seemingly difficult-to-reach kids.  Thank you, Nancie (and daughter, Anne Atwell Merkel) for sharing your love of literature and reading.

Sara Pennypacker, author of middle grade novel Pax, was the keynote speaker.  Pax is the story of Peter and his pet fox Pax, who are separated when Peter’s father goes into the military to serve during the war, and their journeys to find each other again.   Pax Book Discussion Guide .  To listen to her NPR interview, click here.

Pax was illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen (click here for more information about his artistic inspiration.)

I left the July 14th event filled to overflowing with ideas for books to read (and share) and unique ways in which to encourage my students to develop a love of the written word – such as hanging book talk mini-posters in the girls’ and boys’ bathroom stalls!  Check back for a future post that will include pictures!

Still to come this summer:

Love, love, love being a lifelong learner!!

Unite. Inspire. Lead. 

I just completed an exciting week serving as a delegate for the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) the National Education Association (NEA) Representative’s Assembly in Washington, DC. There were more than 7500 educators working together to build strong public schools.

Highlights of the week were the impassioned speeches of the ESP of the Year, Doreen McGuire-Grigg, and Teacher of the Year, Johana Hayes, and the President of our union, Lily Eskelsen García.

“Continue growing, guiding and loving your students because you may have the next president, supreme court justice, doctor, lawyer, business owner, performer, volunteer, activist, or national teacher of the year sitting in your classroom.”  Johana Hays, Teacher of the Year, NEA RA 2016

It was fascinating to know that I was part of the decision-making process of the NEA.

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I, along with about 20 other educators, helped to revive the Libraries, Information Literacy, and Technology (LIT) special interest caucus, whose statement of purpose is to:

Increase the awareness and promotion of library media programs, information literacy and technology integration within the National Education Association.

Address and impact N.E.A policies that relate to library media, information literacy, and technology educational issues.

Provide opportunities for library media, information literacy, and technology educators to expand their professional awareness by sharing ideas and solutions to problems.

Provide opportunities for networking and professional growth.

(Updated 7/7/16 by NEA RA 16 LIT Caucus)

LIT

 

We encourage all media specialists, reading specialists, technology specialists, and other interested people to join us by visiting here . We’ll be connecting virtually throughout the school year and face to face in Boston for the 2017 NEA Annual Meeting. We hope you’ll consider joining us to reach NEA’s vision “to create a public school for every student” by joining our special interest caucus!

Hope to hear from you soon!

ESP of the Year: We Are the Secret Weapons in School and Student Success

Be Your Students’ Hero, Teacher of the Year Tells RA Delegates

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García to the 95th NEA Representative Assembly

Hooray for Mistakes!

As the Creative Librarian, I am always looking for interesting ways to get my students’ creative juices flowing. Today, my kindergarten and first grade students explored their creative side after reading the book Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg, an ode to those who make mistakes – and how they can be turned into something beautiful.

Tying in the importance of recycling and reusing our resources, we discussed risk-taking and challenging oneself to make the world a better place. One of the many wonderful things about teaching elementary age students is that they generally are willing to explore an idea and embrace it fully with abandon.  My students were given scraps of ripped, wrinkled, and worn construction paper, scissors, glue, markers,and crayons, and began creating their own Beautiful Oops– inspired artwork. They selected just the right pieces of paper, and began crunching, coloring, cutting, and ripping. Within a few minutes their scraps transformed into art. I was thrilled with their excitement, and impressed by my students’ masterpieces!

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Beautiful Oops book trailer

Beautiful Oops – A Program to Foster Creativity

I hope you and your students will be inspired to make your mistakes beautiful, too!