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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Teacher Librarian Jeopardy: the going-back-to-school edition


Me: "I'll take Things that Make Going Back to School After Summer Break Exciting for 200 dollars."
AT: "Okay, for 200 dollars...the item(s) you cannot wait to share with your students"

Me: "What are BOOKS?"


AT: "Correct!"


I cannot wait to get back to school and share, read, talk about, and/or hand to students boos from the #bookstack of books that I read over the summer.  I think I have the BEST profession.  I spend my days hanging out at the corner of reader and story and witness the magic that happens when these two connect. 

I get to hear and see the excitement a student has after reading a book.

I get to hear inspiring and fun discussions about books, authors, and illustrators.

I get to see students' faces light up when they see or hear something in a story that tickles their funny bone, surprises them, elicits outrage, or scares them.
~~~~~~

Me: "I'll take Things that Make Going Back to School After Summer Break Exciting for 400 dollars."

AT: "Okay, for 400 dollars... the thing that makes your school community feel like a family."

Me: "What are teacher friends and staff?


AT: "Correct!"


I feel fortunate to work with a staff that is committed to the learning experiences of each and every child that walks through the door. The added bonus is that I like my colleagues. How lucky is that? I work with people that I enjoy spending time with and with whom I have established personal connections. We run together, we watch Jane Austen movies together, and we know enough about each other's lives to share a look, a hug, a card, and/or a poem on just the right day.


~~~~~~~ 

Me: "I'll take Things that Make Going Back to School After Summer Break Exciting for 600 dollars."

AT: "Okay, for 600 dollars...this makes every day learning experiences more exciting."

Me: "What are literacy initiatives like World Read Aloud Day, WRAD, Picture Book Month, Dot Day, ALA Book Awards, Read Across America, and Children's Choice Book Awards?"

At: "Correct!"

Moving my library beyond the bricks and mortar that creates our physical space is important to me. Connecting with other students, teachers, authors, and illustrators across the country and around the globe makes our learning experiences more engaging, more interesting, more authentic, and more fun.


~~~~~~~

Me: "I'll take Things that Make Going Back to School After Summer Break Exciting for 800 dollars."
AT: "Okay, for 800 dollars...What makes each school year feel fresh and new?"

Me: "What is taking risks?"

AT: "Correct!"

Despite the planning, curriculum mapping and other efforts to plan out a year, there are always new opportunities for collaboration, unexpected events, and fresh initiatives. These learning experiences are often the ones that I remember the most. Each year feels fresh because I like trying new things and exploring new learning experience for the students and myself. 


~~~~~

Me: "I'll take Things that Make Going Back to School After Summer Break Exciting for 1000 dollars."

AT: "Okay, for 1000 dollars...These make coming to school each day the only choice you can imagine."

Me: "What are the students?"

AT: "Correct!"

What can I say, the students are the glue that hold everything together, without them the rest of this would be gravy, just nice projects, lessons, and learning experiences. Their energy, knowledge, and presence make everything else worthwhile. They inspire me to be a better teacher and learner every day.
~~~~~

On Tuesday, I will be welcoming students back into the school and my library. My arms and my heart will be open. Happy New School Year to All!

~jennifer

~~~~~
Discover. Play. Build.

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.