"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, August 11, 2014


I was not able to participate in Picture Book 10 for 10 this year, but am so thankful for those that did. Please check out the embedded Storify below and follow the links! I am so inspired, I may just have to post a belated 10 for 10.

~jennifer


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Darn, the Internet went down!

Well, not really, it is just that my access to reliable Internet service has temporarily disappeared!
I should be up and running next week.  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy looking back over what my students and I learned this year.



As for me?  I am reading and writing. This is my professional development book stack. I have been reading books for my library and already have a book stack of books that I cannot wait to put into the hands of my students come September.

~jennifer


Sunday, June 22, 2014

On Building Lasting Relationships


 Friday was the last day of school with students. It is always an up/down day. I hate saying goodbye to the students, especially the fifth graders, who are moving onto the middle school. We have formed a different kind of a bond over our six-year learning journey. Yet it is also exciting looking forward to a summer vacation filled with adventures.

Unlike the grade level teachers who experience the intensity of 180 days in and out, as a teacher librarian, I have a more drawn out relationship that builds slowly. We have shared memories of past years. I am like the relative that has known them for a long time and can recall earlier events and experiences.  

Our teacher/student relationship changes over time as well. By the time the students get to fifth grade, I know them, I know what they are capable of, I know how much I can push them. I am scaffolding their learning experiences, but they are leading the charge. It is thrilling to stand back and watch them work through projects and rely on each other for help. My name is still called out and I am still the teacher, but I spend more and more time moving from group to group and checking in with students. It is exciting to sit down and talk through a piece of writing, a storyboard, a collection of images, and/or a draft project. 

The notes, hugs, and conversations that I had with the fifth graders on Friday let me know that they feel the same way as well. I received full on arm hugs from students as well as notes mentioning specific events or projects. I think our relationship is special partly because we can always talk about books, but I would also like to think that it is because we have formed a bond, not one like the classroom teachers, but one that is a little bit different. It is still a student/teacher bond, but because we grow together over those six years, it is more like a relative/teacher/student bond. This year was different, but so is every year, because every year both the students and I are different people, we grow, and we see each other's growth. I am going to miss this fifth grade graduating class, but thankfully, my heart will not allow this sadness to stop it from welcoming a brand new class of fifth graders in the fall. For now, I'm just going to savor the memories of this year.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Celebrate: Gardens

Discover. Play. Build.
My Saturday Celebration post has been interrupted to bring you these photographs. I'll finish my other post later, but these pictures are my true Celebration. This day was filled with such beauty. Blue skies. White clouds. Green Mountains. I spent the afternoon at my parents' house in the mountains getting it ready for their arrival next week.  Amidst the tasks and trips in and out and up and down, I continued to be called outside to look at the gardens. 
My mother does not think she is a gardener, but she is, and the gardens are a testament to that. Even in her absence this spring, the gardens have put on their best show. We've missed the lilacs, rhododendrons, and irises, but from the spent blossoms, I can tell that they were involved in the act (of blooming, that is).  The gardens need my mother to arrive soon. There is plenty of weeding and pruning ahead, but the garden is a garden after all and doing what it does best: growing.  These blossoms are such a celebration of life, how could I not go out and enjoy them?










Wednesday, June 18, 2014

4th Graders Create Digital Postcards for National Monuments

I recently wrote about a project where the fourth graders used Tellagami to create digital postcards for National Monuments. You can read about the project on this blog post: Hi, My Name is...and I am Visiting....

Below are the final projects from two of the fourth grade classes. As I said before, these projects are part of a scaffolded process where the students are learning, understanding, and practicing digital literacy skills. I am excited about their journey and I am happy with these expressions of their new knowledge.

McManama Monument Project from Mason-Rice School on Vimeo.



Page Monument Postcards from Mason-Rice School on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Slice of Life: Does it count if we talk about books?


Jen Vincent (who blogs over at Teach Mentor Texts), was visiting over the weekend. I celebrated her visit on Saturday, but that was only the beginning, of both the visit and the celebration. We had such a great time exploring the environs of Boston together. 


As I left her at the airport last evening, I realized I didn't sit down and read all weekend. I KNOW! Can you believe it? Two book-ish people spent the weekend in each other's company and did not sit down and read books along the way?

This may sound crazy, but I don't feel badly about this. I don't feel badly because it was a thoroughly book-ish weekend.

First, we visited the grave site of poet e.e.cummings. 
We decided to go for a walk in the beautiful and huge Forest Hills Cemetery.  Once there, we realized we should look to see who was buried there. Once I found out that e.e.cummings was buried there, we had to find the grade site. I grew up on a healthy dose of cummings, as he is one of my parents' favorite poets. In a weekend that began with a conversation about passion-driven research and writing nonfiction children's books, we found ourselves living out this idea. 
We had to find a map on our phones, determine the correct north/south direction, and look for markers to locate ourselves on the map. Having located our whereabouts within a section of this 247 acre park, we headed toward the grave...and missed it. We turned back, pulled up the map, read the lane signs, and looked for geographic patterns. We missed it again.  That third time? It was a charm. Turns out the lane we were looking for was unmarked and unpaved. Knowing the family name for the grave plot, we switched to reading tombstones.  Sure enough we located the family plot and with a bit more searching, found e.e.cummings grave marker. As readers and as educators, we remarked upon the grit and perseverance the search had required. We could have easily turned back or moved along, but we didn't. We were passion-driven searchers. As we left the grave, we reflected upon how we could help create educational environments that support passion-driven learners engaged in passion-driven learning. Food for summer thought.

Our non-reading but book-ish weekend continued with a visit to the Glass Flowers at Harvard Museum of Natural History. Where this quote inspired us to continue our passion-driven research conversation 
and think about how we model our passion for reading and writing for our students. What do I love and and how do I show my students?

The next day, a visit to SoWa, South of Washington open art and food market and Paddle Boarding on the Charles were filled with conversations about books.  




I don't need to say how much fun it is to spend time with someone who doesn't get tired of talking books. Our conversation was not relegated to books written and published by others, we spent quite a bit of time conversing about books we are writing (or thinking of writing in my case).  I so enjoyed hearing Jen work through the ideas for her novel. I may just be brave enough to sit down and write this summer! My head is full of characters, settings, and plots. 
So, yes, I did not actually sit down and read a book this weekend, but I feel like I did, now that's a book-ish celebration.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Celebrate: Time, Talent, Treasure

Discover. Play. Build.

TIME
Yesterday was the last official day of library classes for this school year, but not my last day working with students, thankfully in the remaining five days of school I will be working in classrooms on projects. It is so hard to say goodbye. This was a hard week, but a good week. I always feel pressure to make the last library classes of the year memorable, so that can put too much pressure on me and the students. Saying goodbye to the fifth graders is the absolute worst, our six-year journey together comes to an end too abruptly. I was forced to change my last lesson with them because I forgot to give them a district-wide assessment (oops), so I thought "no memorable lesson could they have," but I was mistaken!  I've said it before, time is a crazy thing.  How is it that thirty minutes can be so different depending upon one's goals for that time? In thirty minutes, the students took the assessment, reflected on their library experience and then created six word memoirs. I am celebrating the power of these intense amounts of time where the students are so willing to through themselves mind, body, and soul into our work. Check out their six word memoirs.

TALENT
I am celebrating the visit of Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts. She is here in Boston for the weekend and staying with me. We have big plans that mainly involving spending time together. Jen is an inspiration, but even better she is an inspirational leader. Jen is one of the forces behind Teachers Write! a summer-long writing experience that encourages writing from prompts as well as working on projects. Participants receive feedback and advice from established authors.  I signed up two years ago and made it through the first few weeks, but couldn't carve out the time. Last year, Jen worked tirelessly to encourage me, but my father's health and well being took precedence. So here I sit, on the cusp of a third summer hoping this will be "the one." Without knowing it, Jen provided the reassurance I needed, the sense that I could accomplish finding the time to write in a busy life. Lat night, she carved out twenty-five minutes, turned away from the distractions in the room, and wrote. I think I can do that. I hope I can do that. I am going to try to do that. The same pulls and pushes on my time will still exist this summer, but I am going to find twenty-five minutes to write, every day, and see where it goes from there. Thanks, Jen!

TREASURE
The world is full of treasures and I love reminding myself of those that are right in my backyard. This morning, Jen and I are going to The Forest Hills Cemetery to walk around. This might sound morbid, but it is not, it is a beautiful garden as much as a cemetery.  This afternoon, we are heading to Harvard to go to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see the Glass Flowers. Sure, we'll walk around Harvard Square, which is always fun, but the Glass Flowers are rare treasures that are hard to comprehend until you actually see them.

Here's to hoping you found time, talent, and treasure in your own lives.