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.