Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Countdown to the Global Read Aloud!

The students in Mrs. Proudman's class are currently working through an author study focusing on the books of Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Last year, we read some of her titles and they were really enjoyable!  Since we have many new faces in Mrs. Proudman's group this year, we thought it was beneficial to read some of our old favorites again, as well as delve into some books that were new to all of us.

Placing our author study at this time gives us the opportunity to participate in the Global Read Aloud.  For those unfamiliar with the Global Read Aloud, it is an event designed to facilitate a shared reading experience across the globe.  There are specific books selected for a variety of grade levels and interests.  Participants are urged to reach out to others in order to share their experiences with reading.  This experience will help students to appreciate the world around them, as well as show caring to students in other parts of the world.

Although we are just in the early stages of planning our connections for the Global Read Aloud, we are excited to report that we will be sharing our experiences with the students in Mrs. Walterich's library at Highland Elementary School in Derby, NY. 

Our classes will be communicating via Padlet, sending postcards, and possibly connecting through Google Hangouts for a live chat.  Our class is looking for other students to share ideas with, so please email me (mmuhlbauer at, message me on Twitter (@muhlbs83), or leave a comment at the end of this blog post if you are interested in learning along with us!

Now to the books.  Last week, we began our author study by reading I Wish You More.  After reading, each student shared a specific wish they had for the future.  Wishes ranged from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to go out to eat at a restaurant that night!  We focused specifically on the page which stated, "I wish you more umbrella than rain."  The class decorated and folded their own umbrellas.
Intense focus while coloring!

A beautiful finished product.

Ready for the rain!
Today we read Spoon, an old favorite by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Some returning students remember this book from library class last year.  The book tells the story of Spoon, who is feeling a little blue about all of the things he can't do.  By the end of the book, Spoon is able to embrace all of the unique things that he can do.  It is a great story about celebrating individuality and uniqueness.

In order to explore our own creativity, we spent the rest of our library visit decorating our own spoons.  All of the craft items were donated to the library, so it was even nicer that our art project was a recycling project as well.  The finished products are absolutely amazing and unique, just like our students!
Donated art supplies used for our spoon project.

What a great group!
Now that we have had a taste of a few Amy Krouse Rosenthal books, we are ready to dive in to the rest of her stories during Global Read Aloud!  We are looking forward to sharing this experience with other students worldwide.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Global Collaboration Day

The World Languages teachers are always looking for new and exciting opportunities for Pioneer students.  This year, Ms. McKenzie wanted to find a way to participate in Global Collaboration Day.  The purpose of Global Collaboration Day is to demonstrate the power of global connectivity.

In order to participate, we first needed to find a school interested in connecting with us during the time periods where our Spanish students were available.  We were lucky enough to find Ms. Kattia Higdon, a Spanish teacher at Andrews High School in Andrews, North Carolina.  Her high school students were eager to connect with a group as well.

Global Collaboration Day is officially observed on September 17, 2015.  Luckily, this was a day that both of our schools would be able to digitally meet!  From viewing the Global Collaboration Day website, we learned that over 325 schools participated in this experience.  The map below shows the locations of other Global Collaboration Day participants.  This map was found on the Global Collaboration Day website.
The Global Collaboration Day map. Participants from around the world!
After some trial and error with our technology, we decided to use Google Hangouts as our platform for collaboration.  Through using our LGI room at the middle school, our Pioneer students would have the ability to see and hear the students at Andrews High School.

Our collaboration took place between the hours of 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM.  This was great because the seventh graders in Ms. McKenzie's first period class were able to begin the visit and then the eighth graders in Ms. Pidsadnick's second period class took over.  We were happy that two classes were able to participate in this experience.

For the collaboration, students at both locations were not aware of the location of the other group.  The purpose of the collaboration was to see if the students could guess the location of the other classroom.

It was decided that students would converse primarily in Spanish for the purposes of the collaboration.  Since the students have varying experience with the Spanish language (our seventh graders were brand new to the language!), Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Higdon provided students with some sample questions that could be answered in just a few words.  Along the way, the Spanish instructors gave students some key vocabulary words and suggestions to help guide the questions.

In order to make the most of the collaboration, members of the class were assigned different tasks.  A group of students were designated as communicators; these were the boys and girls asking questions in Spanish to the other class.  Another group of students were the researchers.  These students, equipped with iPads, were using Google Maps in order to research and narrow down the potential location of the other class. A third group of students were the recorders.  They were keeping track of the answers provided by the other classroom.  This helped the researchers narrow down their search parameters and guided the communicators in finding new questions to ask.
The seventh grade communicator group receives assistance from Jasper, a Pioneer therapy dog.
The seventh grade recorder group kept track of the answers provided by the students in the other location.
An eighth grade research group uses iPads to narrow down the location of the other class.
The questions initially asked by each group elicited a yes or no answer.  This provided much-needed information about each group's location.  As the visit continued, Ms. Pidsadnick introduced students to the Spanish terms for north, south, east, and west.  This assisted the classes in narrowing down the location even further.

By the end of the collaboration, the students in Ms. Higdon's class were able to successfully guess that we were located at Pioneer Middle School.  Our group was able to narrow down the location to the Cherokee County area of North Carolina, but fell just short of guessing the specific location of the school.
Ms. Pidsadnick and Ms. McKenzie provide guidance to Spanish students throughout the virtual visit.
Our participation in Global Collaboration Day was an exciting and unique experience for our Pioneer Spanish students.  We are looking forward to collaborating further with Ms. Higdon's classes and hosting other mystery visits with classrooms from around the world!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dot Day #2

On Wednesday, September 16th, Mrs. Proudman's class visited the library for their first scheduled library visit of the year.  It was great to see some familiar faces from last year and wonderful to see that some new students have joined us.

We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the first day of library than to kick off the year with an International Dot Day Celebration.  This is the second year in a row that we have celebrated International Dot Day with Mrs. Proudman's students.

For those unfamiliar with Dot Day, it is a special holiday centered around The Dot, a book by Peter H. Reynolds.  The Dot talks about a student who was initially reluctant to try her hand at art, but was able to conquer her fears through the creative influence of a special teacher.  In short, International Dot Day is all about creativity.  The students in Mrs. Proudman's class are all sorts of creative, so this is definitely a holiday made just for them.

To kick off Dot Day, we began by reading The Dot.  The returning students from last year agreed that The Dot is a story they don't mind reading again and again.  After discussing the themes of creativity and mindset, we decided it was time to get started on our own artwork.

Last year, we chose to color in order to create our artwork.  This year, we took more of a 3-D approach by using clay to make our dots.  It was wonderful to see the students' creations!
Students use rolling pins, jar lids, and measuring cups to create their dots.

A creative finished product.  A dot topped with fruit!

The dots created by all of Mrs. Proudman's students.
Peter H. Reynolds, the author of The Dot, challenges Dot Day participants to "make your mark...and see where it takes you."  These are great words to guide the rest of the year with Mrs. Proudman's class.  We might not know where our paths may lead, but it is important to take that first step!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Off to a Great Start!

September is always a busy time in our library.  The start of the 2015-2016 school year was no exception.  There were many new updates to our library this year.  This kept us on our toes, but we are excited about the great new services provided for Pioneer students.

The first exciting addition is the beginning of the 1:1 device initiative at Pioneer Middle School.  This means that all students in fifth and sixth grade will receive their very own tablet to use during school.  The addition of the tablets will increase accessibility to technology for educational purposes.  Although there are still a few kinks to be worked out, the tablets have been well-received.

Another new service available through the library is OverDrive.  OverDrive, provided through assistance from CA BOCES, allows members of the Pioneer community to access free eBooks and audiobooks.  It is basically an extension of our physical library, but titles are now available through electronic devices.  Pioneer students may use school-issued technology to access OverDrive materials, or they may choose to use their own personal devices at home.

Each family received notification about OverDrive through the back to school mailing in August.  Families were invited to bring in their personal devices on Orientation Day (kind of like our Open House, only right before the official first day of school) in order to setup their OverDrive accounts.  We were pleased to see many families visit the library that day to get OverDrive installed on their devices.

During the first few weeks of school, students were again reminded about OverDrive.  We had additional students come in to access their accounts.  Teachers such as Mrs. Batt, Mrs. Leavoy, and Mrs. Kleinschmidt even brought their entire classes into the library to learn about OverDrive!  We are excited about the promise that OverDrive holds for our students.

Mrs. Batt assists her students with OverDrive.
No September would be complete without checking out tons of books!  As of September 14, 2015, every ELA class at Pioneer Middle School visited us for library orientation and book selection.  I was happy to discuss some of my book picks from the summer, and was even happier to hear about the great reads our students discovered this summer.

Mrs. Boberg compiled students' top summer reading picks and made a beautiful bulletin board for the outside of our library.  This bulletin board provides the call number for books that were highly rated by our students.  As always, students are encouraged to submit a book review to post to our library website.
Our Pioneer Middle School Favorites bulletin board (complete with works cited!)
Pioneer Middle School students sure love to read!  On the first day of school alone, 250 books were checked out.  As of today (September 18th), 1,550 books have been checked out of the library. 

We received a big book order and are anticipating that the new titles will be on the shelves next week.  We are looking forward to sharing these titles with students.  2015-2016 is shaping up to be a great year!