Monday, October 31, 2016

Kodable and 21st Century Skills

The library was busy with FACS classes during October 2016!  Mrs. LoBianco always creates engaging projects for her fifth grade students.  This month's offerings were no exception. 

STEM/STEAM, growth mindset, and 21st Century Skills are ideas gaining traction in education--and for good reason.  It is important for students to cultivate a positive mindset around facing challenges, as well as create habits that are appropriate for school, work, and beyond.  Students should develop an awareness for the types of careers that are available in their future.  Most importantly, students need to be empowered to do wonderful and interesting things NOW!  The career unit developed by Mrs. LoBianco was instrumental in addressing these larger concepts.

During the career unit, students were introduced to different jobs that are available in the burgeoning STEM field.  These careers (as well as others) rely heavily on the acquisition of 21st Century Skills.  These skills, as well as the dispositions associated with growth mindset, were discussed prior to the day's activity.

21st Century Skills contribute to success in school and work.

In order to give students a taste of what it might be like to hold a job in the STEM field, they would be working on the Kodable iPad app.  Kodable introduces students to the concept of computer coding by having students control moving a fuzz character through a series of mazes.  Kodable begins with directionality concepts, then moves into move complex coding ideas such as loops.

Before students began using Kodable, they received a preview of the reflection sheet they would fill out at the end of class.  Students were asked to use metacognition--thinking about their thinking--in order to determine the 21st Century Skills used during the Kodable activity.  We really were working with some high-level skills during this library visit!

Students then had time to work through Kodable.  They were allowed to work independently or with their classmates, but no questions were answered by the adults in the room.  This ensured that students were using their own problem solving skills to troubleshoot any issues encountered.

Some students chose to work together on Kodable.

Other students worked independently on the Kodable puzzles.

There is never enough time to work on Kodable!  It is a highly engaging activity, and students were disappointed when the period was coming to a close.  After we wrapped up with Kodable, students worked on extremely insightful reflections regarding their time coding.  It was interesting to read about the variety of skills employed during Kodable.

Assisting others, learning from mistakes, and respect are 21st Century Skills.

Exhibiting character, creativity, and collaboration are 21st Century Skills.

Organizing information, using a variety of techniques, and listening actively are 21st Century Skills.

Creativity, critical thinking, and collection of information are 21st Century Skills.

At the end of the period, students wanted more time to explore coding concepts.  The good news is that their time coding has not come to an end!  During future FACS classes, students will be adding to their coding knowledge by presenting their career research through Scratch Jr., another coding program.  More on that soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Twenty Yawns

It is week four of the Global Read Aloud.  Today, Mrs. Proudman's class came to the library to read Twenty Yawns, a book written by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.  Just the title of the book made us sleepy!

Twenty Yawns was our book of the week.

This story talks about Lucy, a young girl who had a tiring day after spending time at the beach with her parents.  Instead of being able to fall asleep right away, Lucy needed to tuck in all of her stuffed animals before getting sleepy enough to doze off.  This book was full of yawns!  We all agreed that this would be a perfect book to read right before bed.

We spent time discussing the things that we do that make us sleepy.  Mrs. Proudman's students all had different bedtime routines at home.  Here are their responses:

Things that help Mrs. Proudman's students fall asleep.

After reading our story, we then discussed writing to our partnering class for The Global Read Aloud.  We have been reading these books alongside Ms. Jerabek's class at the Carol Stream School Elementary school in Illinois.  So far, we have shared our impressions of the book via Padlet.  We now will be working on sending each other mail!

We discussed the elements of a friendly letter and then the students got right to work.

Working on a letter for the Carol Stream School students.

We have many questions for our partnering school.

Mrs. Proudman's school is looking forward to receiving mail from the Carol Stream School students.  We're hoping that they are enjoying The Global Read Aloud as much as we are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Reader

Today's library visit with Mrs. Proudman's class seemed to go by a bit too quickly!  We spent time checking in with our partner school, then we read this week's book.

We first looked at the Padlet page we share with Mrs. Jerabek's class at the Carol Stream School.  This page displayed our "All About Me" assignments where we were able to learn a bit about the students in each school.  When we read the "All About Me" pages aloud, we discovered that there are many similarities and differences between the students in our classes.

Today's book was The Reader by Amy Hest.  The book was illustrated by Lauren Castillo, who is the focus of our book study for The Global Read Aloud.  We made a prediction about the book based on its cover.  Since the cover showed a snowy scene, we thought the book would take place in winter.

The Reader is set in winter.

Our prediction about the book was correct!  The Reader is definitely set during winter.  This story talks about a boy (the reader) and how he finds a special spot to read with his friend (an adorable dog).  The book got us thinking about winter and the different places where we like to read.

Although we aren't quite ready for another snowy winter in Western New York, we agreed that there are many fun winter activities to do in our area.  We made a list of the activities our class likes to participate in during winter.

Our favorite winter activities.

We also had a discussion about the places where we like to read.  The Reader in today's story picked kind of an unusual spot for reading.  It turns out that the students in our class had some unusual places for reading, too!

Mrs. Proudman's students find some interesting places for reading.

Next week, we are looking forward to reading Twenty Yawns.  It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through this year's Global Read Aloud!  It has been wonderful to read these stories.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Troublemaker

Mrs. Proudman's class visited the library on October 13, 2016 for our second official Global Read Aloud session.  It is very exciting to be reading Lauren Castillo's books alongside other classrooms around the world.

We began our library visit by reading the mail we received from other GRA classrooms.  Our class received postcards from W. S. Boardman Elementary School in Oceanside, NY and Calvin Coolidge School in Shrewsbury, MA.

It was great to receive postcards from other schools!

Next, we checked our Padlet page to see if we received any messages there.  Mrs. Jerabek's class at Carol Stream School left us lots of material to read!  First, they shared what their class would do if they had a bravery cape like the boy in Nana in the City.  It was interesting to see that many of the students in their class had similar answers to what we discussed in our class.

After reading their Nana in the City responses, we then looked at the All About Me pages for each of Mrs. Jerabek's students.  There are 18 students in the class, so we did not have time to read all of the pages during our library visit.  We plan to read more of their responses next week.  We noticed that there were similarities and differences between Mrs. Jerabek and Mrs. Proudman's students.  Some of the food that Mrs. Jerabek's students enjoy (such as Pozole) is food that we are unfamiliar with in our area of Western New York.  We plan to make some of the foods listed in the All About Me pages so we can try it out!

We were then able to get into reading The Troublemaker, our Lauren Castillo book for the week.  This story focused on a boy who was bored and then made a bad choice by stealing his sister's stuffed bunny.  After the boy was exposed as the bunny-kidnapper, strange things start to happen to him.  A real raccoon then steals the bunny, as well as a number of items belonging to the boy!  We discussed similarities between this story and the tale of the boy who cried wolf.

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo was this week's book.

Once we were finished with the story, we discussed some times where we could have made a better choice.  We wanted to make sure that we didn't have the same experience as the boy in the book!  Mrs. Proudman's students came up with excellent answers as to behaviors we should try to avoid.  Our list evolved into ideas for behaviors we should exhibit.

Our class's ideas after reading The Troublemaker.

We were all ready to work on a craft activity when we discovered our library class was almost over!  Students had just enough time to select their library books before the bell rang.  Mrs. Proudman took the craft activity back to the classroom for students to work on during their Fun Friday time.

Students will make paper hats like the one the boy in The Troublmaker wore.

Mrs. Proudman's students brought the hats down later on in the week!  They even made one for me.

Homemade hats, inspired by The Troublemaker.

Next week's class will be spend responding to our partner schools and reading The Reader, our third Global Read Aloud selection.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

September 2016 Highlights

It is hard to believe that we are so far into the 2016-2017 school year.  September flew by, and there were many exciting things taking place in our library.  There were 68 scheduled visits to our library in September alone!  Here are some of the highlights from our first month:

The Pioneer Middle School community loves to read.  During the first month of school, 2,257 books were checked out by students and staff!  Our Graphic Novel section continues to be very popular.  In fact, Amulet 1: The Stonekeeper was the library's most frequently checked out book in September.

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi was September's most popular book.

In addition to book checkouts, the library was also busy checking out equipment.  Pioneer Middle School provides student tablets for each student in grades 5, 6, and 7.  Students came down to the library to receive a brief introduction about the tablets from Mrs. Wright prior to checking out their tablets for the year.  Although we experienced some growing pains with the roll-out of this technology, it is wonderful that our students have access to these resources.

Every fifth grade class visited the library for a brief library orientation and checkout.  It was necessary to go over some of the expectations that we have in the library.  Most importantly, students were excited about coming down to the library during the day (without a teacher!) and having over 14,000 books available for checkout.  Mrs. Izzo's fifth grade reading class has made Thursday their designated library day.  They visit the library for book recommendations, then find a comfortable place to read a book.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students also visited the library for a brief orientation review, a book talk on the latest titles available in the library, and information about the OverDrive service.  The OverDrive platform for ebooks and audiobooks continues to be popular at Pioneer, with a number of students signing up for this service on their own personal device.  The audiobooks are particularly helpful if you want to listen to a book as you follow along with the paper copy.

Ms. McKenzie's seventh grade Spanish class also had their first visit to the library in September.  Throughout this year, the Spanish students will be exploring the relationship between computer coding and learning a new spoken language.  During the visit, students used the Bee Bot coding tools in order to learn the letters of the Spanish alphabet.

After school clubs have also began in the library!  We recruited amazing students for two First LEGO League teams.  Maker Club also held its first meeting in September.  Many familiar faces, as well as many newcomers, plan to stay after school to work on their own creative projects.

Working with the Lego Mindstorms during Maker Club.

Using found materials to create art projects.

A duct tape pin created during Maker Club.

The focus of October's library activities will be participation in The Global Read Aloud.  We will keep you posted about October's updates.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Nana in the City

The Global Read Aloud is officially here!  Last week, Mrs. Proudman's group was introduced to the event and learned a little about Lauren Castillo, the author/illustrator we are studying.  This week we were ready to dive into the books.

Before reading, we spent a moment looking at our Padlet page for this project.  This is a page where we will be sharing our thoughts and ideas with other students that are reading Lauren Castillo's books.  We can't wait to read messages from new friends!

A sneak peek into our Padlet page for The Global Read Aloud.

This week's book was Nana in the City, which was both written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.  The story talked about how a grandson initially did not like visiting his Nana in the scary.  To help fix this problem, his Nana made him a cape that made him brave.  While wearing his cape, the grandson realized that the city can be a fun place to visit.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo

Our school is located in a very rural area in Western New York.  Where we live is very different than what people would find in the city.  As a group we discussed differences between cities and the country.

Our ideas about the differences between the city and the country.

We then thought about all of the things we would do if we had a bravery cape like the boy in the story.  It was interesting to hear about all of the scary things we would face when we were feeling brave!  We worked on an illustration and sentence to show our ideas.

Our group working on our illustrations.

 Here are some of the ideas that our class generated.  We used a great worksheet provided by Erin Kramer, another teacher participating in the Global Read Aloud.

Hannah would face a wild coyote.

David would try driving his tractor.

Evan would face a bad guy.

Logan would face his brother Owen.
Ty would not be scared of being injured.

Nicholas would not be scared of bad guys.

We will be updating our Padlet to reflect the work done by the class this week.  We can't wait to read the next story!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Global Read Aloud Kick Off!

On Wednesday, September 27th, Mrs. Proudman's class came down for their first scheduled library visit.  It was wonderful to catch up with last year's students and meet some new students as well.  I can already tell that it is going to be an excellent year!

Over the next few weeks, Mrs. Proudman's students will be participating in the Global Read Aloud.  This will be our second year participating in this exciting opportunity.  During the Global Read Aloud, we will be reading the same books at the same time as thousands of other students around the world.  We are looking forward to the opportunity to make new friends around the world!

In order to kick off our participation in the Global Read Aloud, we chose to read Friendshape, a book about friendship by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  She was last year's Global Read Aloud author.  This book included many funny (and punny!) observations about friendship.

Reading Friendshape with Mrs. Proudman's students.

If you like puns, Friendshape is a must-read!
After laughing our way through Friendshape, we were all eager to learn more about the focus of this year's Global Read Aloud project.  This year we will be reading books from Lauren Castillo.  Ms. Castillo is both an author and an illustrator.  To learn a little more about her, we watched a video on YouTube.

We learned about Lauren Castillo by watching a video.
Next week we will begin reading Lauren Castillo's books.  In order to prepare to meet our new friends through the Global Read Aloud, we worked on a short activity to introduce ourselves to other students.  Below are the introductions from the students in Mrs. Proudman's class:

During our next library visit, we will be reading Nana in the City and making connections with our other partner schools around the world.  We're eager to share our thoughts about what we're reading and even make some new friends along the way.