For the Education of Its Citizens

Part of my adventures in school librarianship is participating in professional development, such as attending the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference,  SLJ Leadership Summit, the MCPL Diversity in Children’s Literature Symposium, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library Storytelling Conference.  I have also become involved in my local, state, and national teachers’ unions, and am proud to be a delegate at the 2017 National Education Association Annual Meeting and Representative’s Assembly in Boston, Massachusetts.   As luck would have it, the hotel my state delegation is staying at is directly across the street from the Boston Public Library, and I was able to take their Art & Architecture Tour of this beautiful (and magnificent) set of buildings that comprise their central library.

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The original cornerstone of the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building was laid in 1888, and was completed in 1895. From the rose granite and the beautiful courtyard to the stunning two-dimensional murals and the mosaic vaulted ceilings, this building is a masterpiece of art – inside and out.  Restoration of the building began in 1980, and continues today – it is a must see for library lovers of all ages!

The McKim Building houses the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, one of America’s top 10 map collections.  The map center’s current exhibit is entitled Regions and Seasons – Mapping Climate through History, and the website includes a virtual tour of the map center.   Also on exhibit is  Who We Are: Boston Immigration Then and Now – a celebration of Boston’s diversity.  Boston Public Library (8)   The map center’s Walk to the Sea provides a great virtual tour of the transformation of Boston.   In addition, they offer educational programs for students, as well as professional development for teachers, and there are many tools for teachers available, too.

The addition to the central library, the Johnson Building, opened in 1972 and  houses the BPL Children’s Library , the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center and Boston Public Library Studio.  The bright and open design of this building is stunning, and I plan to bring back to my school library some of the wonderful ideas that I gathered there!

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring into Summer Reading!

April is Poetry Month, and my students learned about Haiku– a Japanese form of poetry. Traditionally, Haiku poetry is about the beauty of nature, but it can be about anything that interests the writer. Haiku is very concise – three lines, and 17 syllables: 5- 7-5. Word choice is important because the writer is attempting to convey a feeling in very few words. My students had fun creating poems about topics important to them. I also shared
Haiku poems from children’s authors who have written their books entirely in Haiku.

Haiku Poetry Online Resources:

Haiku Starter from ReadWriteThink: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/30697_haiku.pdf

Haiku Poetry Generator:  http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/haiku-poem-interactive-31074.html

Books:

Guyku – A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Guyku website chock full of resources:  http://hmhbooks.com/guyku/

Dogku by Andrew Clements & illustrated by Tim Bowers

A tale in haiku
of one adorable dog.
Let’s find him a home.

Teachingbook.net has a nice assortment of resources for this book:  https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?a=1&tid=10530

Cricket Never Does –  A Collection of Haiku and Tanka Poems by Myra Cohn Livingston & illustrated by Kees de Kieftemedia center 1

Poem in Your Pocket Day is at the end of April, and each year I encourage my students to pull a poem from a pocket (or two or three) and share the poems with others – staff, other students, and their parents, too.

MakeIt@YourLibrary-300x300Our library makerspace was explored and enjoyed by all students at every grade level. Makerspaces are do-it-yourself spaces where students can gather to create, invent, and learn. Makerspace activities are STEM or STEAM related (Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Mathematics  related. I am pleased to say that Educational Systems Credit Union has been a strong supporter of our makerspace, and has donated funds to help support it.

The Black-Eyed Susan Book Award is sponsored by the Maryland Association of School Librarians. The purpose of this award program is to promote life-long readingBESgraphic habits by encouraging students to read and enjoy quality contemporary literature that broadens understanding of the human experience. This year I encouraged students in grades 3-5 to participate in the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Challenge to see if they could  read
more 2016-17 Black-Eyed Susan book titles than me. About twenty students took that challenge, and many read almost as many as I did, a couple tied, and one read more than I did.

Another reading challenge was from The Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature – Gene Luen Yang. His Reading without Walls book challenge rww-criteriaencouraged students to read something different than they’re used to reading to gain another perspective and break down the walls, brick by brick, that separate us.

Because of these two challenges, students were able to enjoy many wonderful books that they might not have read otherwise – and that is a great thing, indeed!

summer-reading-logo-clear-background.pngI encourage you and your children to read together this summer – it is one of the best activities your kids can do to prevent the loss of reading progress (sometimes called “summer slide”).

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If you are in Montgomery County, consider signing up your child for the Montgomery County Public Libraries summer read and learn program – Build a Better World – here: http://montgomerycountymd.libguides.com/kids – Public libraries around the nation provide summer reading opportunities to youth and adults.  Check them out!

In addition, check out the resources on Reading Rockets website here:  http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/summer

Here are a few summer reading tips from Reading  Rockets  website:
1. Read aloud together with your child every day.
Make it fun by reading outdoors on the front steps, patio, at the beach or park. Also, let your children read to you. For younger children, point out the relationship between words and sounds.
2. Set a good example!
Parents must be willing to model behavior for their children. Keep lots of reading material around the house.
Turn off the TV and have each person read his or her book, including mom and dad.
3. Read the same book your child is reading and discuss it.
This is the way to develop habits of the mind and build capacity for thought and insight.
4. Let kids choose what they want to read, and don’t turn your nose up at popular fiction.
It will only discourage the reading habit.
5. Buy books on tape, especially for a child with a learning disability.
Listen to them in the car, or turn off the TV and have the family listen to them together.
6. Take your children to the library regularly.
Most libraries sponsor summer reading clubs with easy-to-reach goals for preschool and school-age children. Check the library calendar for special summer reading activities and events. Libraries also provide age appropriate lists for summer reading.

For more information, please visit: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/summer-reading-tips-parents.

Happy Summer Reading, everyone!

 

Spotlight on 4 Children’s Book Illustrators Coming to GBF 2017

Picture books are amazing works of literature, and spectacular works of art!  As a member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival committee, an elementary school librarian, and a mom of four kids, I love to read books. Love. Love. Books!  Lots. And lots. of. Books. I love the words, and I love the illustrations.  I love to hold the books in my hands and feel the pages when I turn them.  When I read picture books, my students and I analyze and discuss the artwork as much (and sometime, more than) the actual words on the pages. We discuss the cover art, the colors and art on the end pages, the title page, and all of the pages that follow.  My students and I experience the books using the Whole Book Approach described in detail by Megan Dowd Lambert in  Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking about What They See.

In this blog post I am focusing on four talented author/ illustrators that are coming to the Gaithersburg Book Festival on the May 20th.  I hope you will take time to come see these four, and many other authors and illustrators and a variety of other activities and for all ages.

Brian Floca and Chris Van Dusen share thoughts about Friends Misbehaving in the Jim Henson Pavilion, 12:15-1:05 pm.

Brian Floca

Featured Children’s book illustrator

Presentation: Friends Misbehaving

12:15-1:05 pm in the Jim Henson Pavilion

princess coraFrom Candlewick Press: Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.

Brian Floca’s website: http://brianfloca.com/princess-cora-and-the-crocodile.html

All the Wonders Interview http://www.allthewonders.com/?s=princess+cora

Locomotive (2014 Caldecott Honor Book):  http://brianfloca.com/locomotive.html

Locomotive Book Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y18-XZ7SB6I

Chris Van Dusen

Featured Children’s Book Author/Illustrator

Presentation: Friends Misbehaving

12:15-1:05pm in the Jim Henson Pavilion

hattie and hudson

From the publisher: Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified — except Hattie, who looks into the creature’s friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant — whom she names Hudson — and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn’t scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.

Chris Van Dusen’s website: http://www.chrisvandusen.com/

Video Interview with Chris Van Dusen: http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/vandusen
Joining forces on the How to Illustrate Humor in the Jim Henson Pavilion are Brian Biggs and Tom Lichtenheld.

Brian Biggs

Featured Children’s book Author/ Illustrator

Presentation How to Illustrate Humor

11:15am-12:05pm in the Jim Henson Pavilion

Noisy+Night+Cover+copy

From the publisher: It’s a noisy night in this city building! The residents of each floor can hear their neighbors above them, and are wondering what’s going on above their heads. Climb floor by floor and page by page to find out whose singing, dancing, cheering, and cooing are keeping a grumpy old man awake.

With innovative split-level spreads that offer the feeling of climbing an apartment building floor by floor, this clever and colorful collaboration between New York Times–bestselling author Mac Barnett and gifted illustrator Brian Biggs offers an irresistible investigation of one noisy night.

Mac Barnett -TED Talk – Why a Good Book is a Secret Door

https://youtu.be/LPrS7-kx9Y0

Noisy Night Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMh0OOhigKo

Tom Lichtenheld

Featured Children’s book Author/ Illustrator

Presentation How to Illustrate Humor

11:15am -12:05pm in the Jim Henson Pavilionmighty mighty construction site

From Chronicle Books:  At last—here from the team behind the beloved international bestseller comes a companion to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. Al
l of our favorite trucks are bac1k on the construction site—this time with a focus on team-building, friendship, and working together to make a big task seem small! Down in the big construction site, the crew faces their biggest job yet, and will need the help of new construction friends to get it done. Working as a team, there’s nothing they can’t do! The millions of fans of
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are in for a mighty good time!

Library of Congress presentation  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jInkwtDkrjg

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCsia3xndoA

All the Wonders podcast Interview:  http://www.allthewonders.com/podcasts/sherri-duskey-rinker-and-tom-lichtenheld-all-the-wonders-episode-327/

Good night, Good night, Construction Site: http://www.tomlichtenheld.com/childrens_books/goodnight-goodnight-construction-site.html

Cloudette:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBxXhqXTmIs

Exclamation Mark!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWnPSLYO9aM

Sing!   http://www.tomlichtenheld.com/childrens_books/sing.html

About the Festival:

In its 8th year, the Gaithersburg Book Festival was originally conceived and introduced by (then City Council member and now Gaithersburg Mayor) Jud Ashman with the support of the mayor and City Council, and the Cultural Arts Advisory Committee. GBF is produced by a core committee comprised of city staff and a dedicated group of volunteers who donate their time and talent.  For more information about the Gaithersburg Book Festival, please visit www.gaithersburgbookfestival.org

About Melissa:

Melissa A. McDonald, MLS, is a School Library Media Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools and Children’s and Teen’s Workshops Coordinator for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.   Melissa writes the blog The Creative Librarian – Adventures in School Librarianship.  She is also a proud mom, animal lover, avid reader, and volunteer extraordinaire who lives in Maryland.

 

GBF – Literally, the Place to be on May 20, 2017

 

GBF logoThe Gaithersburg Book Festival, a celebration of books, writers, illustrators, and literary excellence, will hold its 8th annual festival on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall  (31 So. Summit Ave, Gaithersburg, Maryland) on Saturday, May 20, 2017.   Gaithersburg, Maryland, was named the most diverse city in the United States, and our festival honors and celebrates diversity in literature.

As a lifelong lover of literature, a mother of four children, and now as an elementary school librarian, I’ve been an avid reader of children’s books for many years, delighting in both the words and the illustrations.  Several years ago I was thrilled to discover the Gaithersburg Book Festival in its inaugural year.  I began volunteering in its second year and eventually was invited to join the core planning team two years ago. I am the coordinator of teen’s and children’s workshops, and am so pleased to share our wonderful festival with readers of all ages in Gaithersburg and beyond!

The Gaithersburg Book Festival (affectionately known by the committee as GBF) boasts:

Locally and nationally known featured authors in adult, young adult, and children’s literature

There is “literally” something for everyone at the Gaithersburg Book Festival!  As an elementary school librarian, I am pleased to share with our community of readers that Brian Biggs, Fred Bowen, Doreen Cronin, Jen Swann Downey, Brian Floca, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Maria Gianferrari, Debbie Levy,  Tom Lichtenheld, Juana Medina, Kate Messner, Dave Roman, Leila Sales, Chris Van Dusen, and Salina Yoon are among the KidLit authors and illustrators presenting at our festival.  Amalie Howard, Brigid Kemmerer, Christine Kendall, Michelle

Knudsen, Kimberly McCreight, Meg Medina, Erin Teagan, Booki Vivat, and Carol Weston are among the teen and YA authors presenting at our festival. There is a fantastic line up of adult featured authors, too!  Information about each featured author or illustrator, and a link to each presenter’s website is included on the GBF featured presenters’ pages, and I have also hyperlinked within this article outstanding interviews and book reviews from All the Wonders website and author commentaries and book reviews from Nerdy Book Club blog.   

Led by our author presenters (Fred Bowen, Dave Roman, Alexis Frederick-Frost), writing specialists, illustrators (Elise Gravel, Timothy Young), and other trained professionals, our writers workshops include topics such as creating characters and sketchbooks, sports journaling, comic stories, writing fiction, and writing college essays.  Encourage your children to stop into the workshops tent and let their creativity flow!

As you can see, GBF offers a wonderful world of family activities in the Children’s Village – we hope to see you strolling through the grounds of the Gaithersburg City Hall, peeking into each tent, and soaking up all of the wonderful experiences the festival has to offer book lovers of all ages!

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About the Festival:

In its 8th year, the Gaithersburg Book Festival was originally conceived and introduced by (then City Council member and now Gaithersburg Mayor) Jud Ashman with the support of the mayor and City Council, and the Cultural Arts Advisory Committee. GBF is produced by a core committee comprised of city staff and a dedicated group of volunteers who donate their time and talent.  For more information about the Gaithersburg Book Festival, please visit www.gaithersburgbookfestival.org

About Melissa:

Melissa A. McDonald, MLS, is a School Library Media Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools and Children’s and Teen’s Workshops Coordinator for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.   Melissa writes the blog The Creative Librarian – Adventures in School Librarianship.  She is also a proud mom, animal lover, avid reader, and volunteer extraordinaire who lives in Maryland.  Follow her on Twitter @Cre8tiveLib !

 

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.

the-snowman2 the-snowman3 the-snowman4the-snowman

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!!