Monday, July 10, 2017

June 2017 Highlights

I feel as though I say this every year, but the school year really flew by!  It seems like we were just getting things started in the library, then it was time to wrap everything up.  Although the work in the library was focused on inventory and tracking down books, we were able to complete some long-term student projects.

Fifth Grade Reading Enrichment
At the beginning of the year, two groups of students from the classrooms of Mrs. Kamats, Mrs. Kline, and Mrs. Asquith came to the library to participate in The Global Read Aloud.  We enjoyed reading together and decided we would continue to meet for the rest of the year!  The books we read together were The BFG by Roald Dahl, Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, The Witches by Roald Dahl, and Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson.  We enjoyed listening to the audiobook versions of these books, working on activities, and watching the movies (when possible).  Near the end of the year, students worked on some maker projects in the library.  We're looking forward to continuing the enrichment program again next year.

Chicken Little Puppet Show
In May and June, the weekly library visits from Mrs. Leavoy's class were dedicated to work on a puppet show version of Chicken Little.  The students learned about life cycles in class and were raising chicks, so it only made sense to continue the theme in the library.  While in technology class, the students built a puppet theater with Mr. Tackett and Mr. Root.  During our library time, we worked on making puppets, learning lines, and projecting their voices for the presentation.

Students used makerspace materials to make their puppets.

Mrs. Leavoy's students worked on perfecting their puppets.

The completed puppets.
During the last week of school, we hosted a performance of the puppet show in the library.  Parents, grandparents, family friends, students, and staff members attended.  It was a full house!  After the performance, we held a breakfast reception.  It was the perfect way to end the year.

The wonderful cast of Chicken Little!

The Chicken Little cast with the puppet theater they made.

Teen Iron Chef Project
Mrs. LoBianco's seventh grade students came to the library one last time for research.  The students used the World Book database in order to research corn, the secret ingredient for their Teen Iron Chef project.  This project involves a high level of teamwork.  Each student within the group plays an important role within the overall project.  All of the team members work in the library to ensure that they have all components of the project addressed before their recipes and creations are evaluated by a team of judges.

End of 2016-2017 Maker Club
Participation in Maker Club seemed to ebb and flow this year.  However, we did have some "regulars" that always made Maker Club a part of their Wednesday afternoon.  Some of the June projects included computer coding practice, a homemade Pokemon guidebook, handmade notebooks, and furniture for hamsters.  Next year, we plan on offering more robotics options and in-depth projects.

The cover of a handmade notebook.

A student used Microsoft Word to generate pages for the notebook.
Working on Scratch, a computer coding program.

Students use various supplies for their projects.

Working on an obstacle course for a hamster.

The 2016-2017 year was one to be remembered!  Next year, we plan on building upon our previous projects and finding even more opportunities for collaboration and student learning.

Monday, June 5, 2017

May 2017 Highlights

May 2017 brought many different classes into the library!  Here are some highlights from the month.

Mrs. Leavoy's Weekly Library Visits
For the end of the year, Mrs. Leavoy and I decided to mix up our usual library routine by engaging in a long-term project.  To coincide with the live chicks coming to her classroom, Mrs. Leavoy suggested working on a puppet show of Chicken Little.  During the May library visits, we read a book version of Chicken Little in order to get an idea of the story.  We then read the play version and students expressed their wishes for which role they would like to play.  After roles were assigned, students then read through the scripts again.  While in technology class, Mrs. Leavoy's students are working on building a puppet theater for the production!  In library, they worked on the first step of creating their puppets.

Working on the Chicken Little puppets.

A cow serves as one of the narrators for the puppet show.

Walking Tour of Quebec
The French 8 students in Ms. Marshall's classes spent two days in the library using Aurasma to take a walking tour to points of interest in Quebec.  By pointing the iPad app loaded with Aurasma at a picture, this triggered the iPad to play a video about Quebec.  The students especially liked learning about the Ice Hotel, the Chocolate Museum, an amazing toy store, and of course--poutine!  This was a great way to become immersed in French-speaking culture, all while relaxing before the stressful French speaking exams.

Environmental Issues Research
Throughout the year, Mrs. Kleinschmidt's fifth grade students have become expert users of nonfiction books.  They visit the library every Monday morning, and nonfiction is always a popular choice!  However, the students needed some guidance when it came to using databases and websites for their environmental issues research project.  During the course of a few library visits, small groups were introduced to the library databases (namely World Book and Amazing Animals of the World) and approved websites for research.  We even discussed plagiarism and the importance of keeping track of all of your research sources.

Fifth graders used Symbaloo to access approved websites for research.

Career Research Project
Mrs. LoBianco's seventh grade FACS students are frequent library visitors, and the month of May was no exception.  Students participated in a mock job interview day in the library.  After the job interviews were over, the students then used the Career Cruising database in order to research a career of their choice.  The students learned the advantages of using library databases, as well as some helpful research tips.  The final project involved students choosing how they wanted to present their findings.  There were many creative finished projects.

New Books!
As part of the James Patterson Grant awarded to our school library, we had the opportunity to purchase some new titles to add to the library's collection.  The Goosebumps books are extremely popular, and many of these books are very worn out.  With the money left over from the grant, we purchased a brand new selection of Goosebumps books.  They have been flying off the shelves!

The new Goosebumps books purchased for our library.

Professional Development Opportunities
Outside of daily work at Pioneer, I have been taking advantage of professional development opportunities to learn some new ideas and skills.  It is important to do this in order to stay current on all of the great things that can be brought into school libraries.  The SSL 2017 Conference took place in May (more on that later).  Also in May, I took a PD course through the Erie Catt Teacher Center.  The course was hands-on and all about the 3D Doodler Pen.  This pen is much like a 3D printer, except it is hand-held.  It was interesting exploring the capabilities of this tool.  The pen may be added to our library's makerspace!

Using a pattern, I made glasses using the 3D Doodler pen.

Tried making finger puppets (more practice needed!).
The end of the year is in sight!  One more month until summer vacation.

Friday, June 2, 2017

April 2017 Highlights

April 2017 was a shortened month due to the spring recess, but we were still able to pack in many library visits from a variety of classes.  Here are some of the highlights from April:

Historical Fiction Introduction
Throughout the year, fifth grade students have enjoyed reading books from a number of different genres.  Mrs. Mangino, Mrs. Richards, and Mr. Kramer brought their students to the library for an introduction to the historical fiction genre.  We utilized a PowerPoint presentation and graphic organizer to discuss the elements of historical fiction.  After our discussion, we then read Wonder Horse by Emily Arnold McCully in order to further illustrate what historical fiction is.  Students enjoyed listening to the inspirational and entertaining story of Doc Key and his amazing horse, Jim.

Wonder Horse by Emily Arnold McCully

Scratch Jr. Career Project
Mrs. LoBianco's fifth grade FACS students spent the majority of April in the library working on a career exploration project.  After researching three careers of personal interest, students then demonstrated their learning and research by presenting information about their careers through the use of Scratch Jr.  Mr. Maeder, Pioneer's technology integrator, joined us in the library to explain how to use the Scratch Jr. computer coding program.  Students used their creativity to make stories about their careers.  This project required research skills, as well as the 21st-Century skills needed to be successful computer coders.

Eager students share their finished projects with Mrs. LoBianco.

Students used Scratch Jr. to code stories about their chosen careers.

Students reflected on their learning.

It's great to see that a student is consider a STEM career!

A student makes the connection that STEM careers can be helpful to others.

Mini Inquiry Project
The students in Ms. Schaper's ATT group conducted a mini inquiry project during April 2017.  Each student was given the opportunity to research a topic of personal interest.  The students picked a variety of topics, including countries, historical mobsters, video games, the Holocaust, and cryptozoology.  Students generated a number of questions they would like to answer about their topic, then used library resources in order to find the answers to those questions.  Students received guidance in choosing library resources appropriate for each topic.  The class has been working on video presentations to show what they learned throughout the project.

Mrs. Leavoy's Weekly Library Visits
Each Wednesday, Mrs. Leavoy's students came to the library for their weekly visit.  In honor of Earth Day, we read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  Anything by Dr. Seuss is always well-received by the class!  Students then decorated and assembled their own Lorax.  Recycled items from our library's makerspace were used for the decorations.  Here are the finished products:

Even with the shortened month, April was an enjoyable time in the Pioneer Middle School Library!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

March 2017 Highlights

Keeping with the "better late than never trend" I started earlier this month, it's now time to highlight some of the interesting, collaborative projects that took place in the Pioneer Middle School Library during March 2017.  Even though we lost some time due to snow days, this month was packed with fun visits from a variety of grade levels.

Eighth Grade ELA Holocaust Project
One of the month's larger projects involved a multi-day inquiry project about the Holocaust.  During eighth grade ELA with Mr. Colaiacovo and Mrs. Wood, students read both the play version of Diary of Anne Frank and Night by Elie Wiesel.  To provide students with some working knowledge of this time in history, the unit begins with a research project.  Student groups completed a KWL chart in order to narrow down their research focus into a manageable topic about the Holocaust.  Next, students individually brainstormed questions they would like to have answered about their topic.  The student groups collectively chose the questions they would use to guide their research.  Using library resources such as books and databases, student groups then found the answers to their personal research questions.  Students were sure to use MLA note sheets in order to properly cite their sources.

The groups then compiled their findings into a poster presentation.  They stayed in the library and presented their projects to their eighth grade peers.  The facts found through this research experience were eye-opening to say the least.

A group presents about the Battle of the Bulge.

Students present their research about Auschwitz.

This group studied methods of execution used during the Holocaust.
Because students were allowed to choose their own topics and create their own research questions, they displayed greater interest and engagement throughout the project.  The knowledge gained through research helped students tackle the literature presented throughout the rest of the ELA unit.  It's always wonderful to have 8th grade ELA visit the library!

Seventh Grade Spanish Coding Project
Personally, this project with Ms. McKenzie's students is one of my favorites of the year.  This project takes place during the students' unit on community and neighborhood vocabulary.  In order to learn the vocabulary more fully, students program the Bee Bots to move around a mat labeled with pictures of their community vocabulary words.  Once students have a firm grasp of this vocabulary, the difficulty level of the classwork is increased.  The pictures on the mat are replaced with Spanish words.  Students then code the Bee Bot to create questions and answers in Spanish.  These questions and answers provide students with directions to locations one would find within a community.

An example of the Bee Bot and mat (equipped with Spanish vocabulary).

Throughout the project, students are challenged to consider the following:
1. What is coding?
2. What is the relationship between languages and coding?
3. How can coding and world languages be helpful in your future?

Students were assessed on their knowledge of Spanish vocabulary during a Kahoot! quiz at the end of the project.  They were also able to reflect upon the teamwork and Habits of Mind utilized in order to meet the project's challenges with success.  As an added bonus, we are able to put in a plug for our after school Maker Club which meets in the library on Wednesday afternoons.  Students who enjoyed working with the Bee Bots would also enjoy the after school time devoted to exploring additional coding projects.

Eighth Grade Spanish "Walking Tour"
Mrs. Pidsadnick brought her eighth grade Spanish students to the library in order to take a "walking tour" of points of interest in Spanish-speaking areas of the world.  To facilitate the tour, videos of the destinations were loaded into iPads using the Aurasma app.  Students traveled around the library to find pictures of the destinations.  By holding the iPad up to the pictures, the video of the destination was played.  This led students to a greater understanding of the innovations found within other areas of the world.

Mrs. Leavoy's Weekly Library Visits
The students in Mrs. Leavoy's class continued to visit the library each Wednesday.  During the month of March, we read a variety of books and worked on activities related to each book.  One of our lessons involved reading Animalia, a story by Graeme Base.  This is one of my favorite stories from childhood (my grandparents read it to me), so it is always special and meaningful to share it with students.

Animalia by Graeme Base
Each page within Animalia is devoted to a letter of the alphabet.  The pages contain illustrations and alliterative language corresponding to the letter of the page.  The illustrations are very detailed--each page gives you so much to take in!

Mrs. Leavoy's students then chose a letter of the alphabet and illustrated it in the style of Animalia.  The finished products were lovely.

S is for Slappy!

Brainstorming words that begin with the letter L.

An assortment of words beginning with C.

More projects to come from April 2017! Stay tuned...

Friday, May 19, 2017

February 2017 Highlights

The 2016-2017 school year is flying by with amazing speed!  Even though I'm a few months behind with blog updates, it is still worth mentioning the special library visits and projects we had during the month of February 2017.

Diversity Month
As mentioned in a previous post, Pioneer Middle School Library was the recipient of a grant from James Patterson.  This funded a bookmark contest and the purchase of a Kwame Alexander book for each student in the school.  In addition to this, the library also hosted lessons centering upon diversity.

One such lesson was delivered to the eighth grade ELA students of Mrs. Wood and Mr. Colaiacovo.  During February 2017, immigration, refugees, and the advent of "fake news" were hot topics.  This also coincided with the completion of the class book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, which is based on Ms. Lai's experiences coming to the United States during the Vietnam War era.  Students participated in a Kahoot! activity to test their knowledge of refugee issues.  Through a slideshow and video clips, they then learned facts about refugees from reputable agencies such as the United Nations.  We then discussed the validity of news sources and how to evaluate websites before they are used.  It was a great opportunity to combine timely topics with classroom reading.

Mrs. Leavoy's Library Visits
Mrs. Leavoy's weekly library classes involved read alouds and activities based on diverse themes.  One week we read The Case for Loving, a book by Selina Alko about the fight for interracial marriage.  We used coloring sheets to create own people.  Using the Quiver app, these pictures came alive!

The Case for Loving by Selina Alko

The Quiver app is always a big hit!

During our next visit, we discussed the life of Louis Braille by reading Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jennifer Bryant.  This book gave us some insight into the life of Louis Braille and how he was able to create what is now known as the Braille alphabet.  We tried our hand at using Braille, too.

Six Dots by Jen Bryant

We learned how to write words using Braille patterns.

Finally, we took a look at the life of one of the world's first computer programmers: a woman named Ada Lovelace.  We then sampled a bit of computer coding through use of the Bee Bots.  Mrs. Leavoy's students are natural coders!

Ada's Ideas by Fiona Robinson

Enjoying a library visit with Mrs. Leavoy's class.

Using the Bee Bots to try out some computer coding skills.

French 8 Community and Neighborhood Project
The eighth grade French students came to the library to complete a very hands-on project to assist with learning community and neighborhood vocabulary.  Using paper cut outs and art supplies, student groups were responsible for creating 3D neighborhoods.

Once the neighborhoods were built, students used their knowledge of new French vocabulary to give directions to get from place to place within the neighborhood.  The activity concluded with a Nearpod activity where students were able to reflect upon their teamwork and learning.

Students used a variety of resources to create their neighborhoods.

An example of a finished product.

Another view of a completed neighborhood.

Historical Fiction Kickoff
The students in Mr. Zabaldo and Mrs. Irizarry's class visited in order to get some recommendations on great historical fiction titles in the library.  Students were introduced to prominent historical fiction authors and were provided with search terms to use in the OPAC for finding historical fiction about specific time periods.  Students were eager to get their hands on these books.  This made for a very busy day in the library - 243 books were checked out!

We enjoyed many interesting class visits in the month of February.  This, coupled with the special Diversity Month offerings, made February 2017 a very memorable month.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We Received the #PattersonPledge!

February 2017 was a particularly exciting time in the Pioneer Middle School library!  First of all, this is the month where our school observes Diversity Month.  This month celebrated the achievements of different groups and individuals.  It also challenged us to think about what we can do within our own lives to be kind, caring, and accepting to others.

As usual, we displayed books by diverse authors.  The website was very helpful in gathering some amazing books for display!

Our regular offerings for Diversity Month received a serious boost thanks to James Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club.  In March 2016, Patterson announced that he would donate $1.75 million to save school libraries nationwide in the second installment of his School Library Campaign.  As part of an ongoing effort to keep books and reading a number one priority in the United States, selected school libraries would receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.  Since the grant program's launch in 2015, Patterson has donated $3.5 million to school libraries nationwide, with all funds being personally donated by Patterson.  This is extraordinarily generous!

Pioneer Middle School Library applied for the grant and was one of the lucky recipients.  Our school library receive $8,750 to spend during Diversity Month.  With this funding, we decided to purchase books for each student in our school and host a bookmark making contest.

First, the books!  We were particularly interested in purchasing books by Kwame Alexander, an African American author and a 2015 Newbery Medal recipient for The Crossover, a novel in verse.  His books are engaging, exciting, and promote the power of reading.  Additionally, his books fly off the library shelves!  We knew that Mr. Alexander's titles would be a popular choice for our Pioneer readers.

Because our students have a variety of interests, they were given a choice of the following titles: The Crossover, Booked, Surf's Up!, Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game Called Life.  What was even more exciting is that Playbook was recently released during this time!  This means that Pioneer students were some of the first people in the world to receive this book.

Once the books were ordered, they were organized and distributed through homerooms and ELA classes.  We have over 720 students at Pioneer Middle.  There were a TON of books to distribute!

Books ready to be distributed to sixth grade!

The books for our 5th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

After the books were distributed to the students, we heard some great reviews.  There were a number of students who read their book in ONE NIGHT and came back to the library for more of Kwame Alexander's titles.  It was wonderful to see this enthusiasm about reading.

Ms. Gates' class was thrilled to receive their books!
Mrs. Scheer's students got right into reading.
In addition to the wonderful books, the Patterson Grant also covered funding a Diversity Month bookmark making contest.  This contest was open to all students and prizes were involved.  The winning bookmarks would be professionally printed by the Warsaw Pennysaver (a local, woman-owned business) and distributed to students.

This was the design contest entry form that was distributed to all students.
The amount of amazing bookmark design entries was overwhelming!  It was impossible to choose just one design, so we chose eight winners.

Our winners from the Diversity Month bookmark contest.
When you see these entries, you'll understand how it was impossible just to choose one.  These students certainly were able to harness their artistic abilities and capture the spirit of Diversity Month.  Check out the winning bookmarks below:

Bookmark by Cortnee

Bookmark by Renee

Bookmark by Brady

Bookmark by Colin

Bookmark by Theresa

Bookmark by Cameron

Bookmark by Payeton

Bookmark by Ty

Nearing the end of Diversity Month, our students wanted to show their appreciation both to James Patterson (for supplying funding) and to Kwame Alexander (for writing such wonderful books).  Just a small sample of these thank you notes can be found below.  These notes will be passed along to Mr. Patterson and Mr. Alexander.

Pioneer Middle School certainly had an enlightening and engaging month of reading due to the generosity of James Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club.  We look forward to celebrating Diversity Month again in 2018, but this one will be hard to beat!