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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"A dolphin is awesome, a dolphin is intelligent, a dolphin moves by flipping its fluke."

One of the first grade classrooms has been studying ocean animals. You can read about their experience as information gatherers on this blog post, Can Dolphins Talk to Wails? I decided to try some poetry about their animals. They returned to the library with the nonfiction books that they each wrote. I encouraged the students to create either an acrostic or a shape poem. I gave them a simple form and they set to work. Check it out. They are pretty awesome.

Word Movers

I recently received five iPads from my Library Department. I have been exploring Apps and thinking about ways to incorporate them into the learning experiences in the library.  I used my Poetry Month Centers as an opportunity to try them in a center. It worked fairly well.  I added the Word Mover App from ReadWriteThink and let the students follow their passions.

Here are a few of the poems from each of the iPads:

There are a few things I learned:

*The students took ownership over explaining to each other how to use the Word Mover App.

*The poetry varied in quality, showing me that I need to place more parameters on the content.

*The drag and drop options were more popular than creating a poem from scratch.

*I need to manage the time spent on the iPads to ensure more equity.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Slice of Life: Knowing you love what you do

This is the second day back from vacation and I had a great vacation. It was relaxing and free of any set schedule from Monday on - the best kind of vacation. There are many wonderful memories, but the two days on Martha's Vineyard biking and reading stand out. I loved the book that I was reading so much that I couldn't wait to get to the next place, so I could get off my bike and read.  I was reading The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, it's a well-crafted, victorian ghost story. 
Knowing that I couldn't get up and leisurely drink my morning coffee and read made waking up yesterday was a bit hard. Walking into school and exchanging vacation adventures with other staff was not, and the day only got better when the students and I shared vacation reading stories. 

Today was more of the same, but also a serious look at these next eight weeks of school. I spent the afternoon meeting with teachers and planning units, this collaboration benefits the students and makes my work more fun, but it also strengthens my working relationships, I feel like a teacher partner.  It was about 6:30 pm when I finished my work. On my way out of the school, I stopped by the Principal's office to catch up on life and school. I then stopped in to catch up with my running partner (we had planned to run, but didn't). Finishing my school day with these casual conversations reminded me of how lucky I am. As I left my school building, I carried with me a feeling of happiness and contentment. I love doing what I do in the place that I spend each working day. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Slice of Life: treasure from the sea

It is our spring school vacation here in Massachusetts. My daughter and I are enjoying a staycation of sorts. With Easter and The Marathon, it didn't feel like vacation until yesterday. We decided that we would try to visit a few new places this week. Yesterday, we got up early and headed for Plum Island in Newburyport.  I am always struck by how short a distance I have to travel from my normal stomping grounds in order to feel like I have "gotten away." 
A mere hour from my house and I felt hundreds of miles away. We went directly to the Wildlife Refuge, which is beautiful and rugged. Unfortunately, we were unable to walk along the six miles of beach because of the nesting shore birds (Piping Plovers), but we did get out on state park property on the point. This little spot had all that we wanted: tide pools, rocks, sand, gentle rolling waves, and an expansive view.  I think this last thing is why I love being at the ocean, the sky opens up and the horizon reveals itself. This opening of the physical landscape brings a calmness to my being. I feel small in this environment, which allows me to relax. 
And relax we did! We spent five hours exploring tide pools, walking over rocks, lying on the beach, navigating boardwalks, eating lobster rolls and fried clams, and walking through the town, but one moment stands apart from all the rest - the two of us, looking for "treasures" amongst the rocks. 
Sadly our oceans are full of trash, but some of it speaks of a different time or of those who make their lives on the water.  When they were young, the children loved collecting these sea treasures: bits of fishing nets, lobster traps, buoys, and rope; as Tom Zart said, "one man's trash, is another man's treasure." 
Yesterday, as we wended our way through the rocks, we found "sea rope", "sea metal" and "sea leather," and as we did, we would call out to each other.  We are collectors at heart. 
In the old days, we would always leave the beach with as many pieces of the sea-worn fishing items as we did rocks and shells, but yesterday was different, we referenced these items and evoked memories, but we left them on the beach. The treasures we collected were of the more traditional kind: rocks, shells, and sea glass. 
They are treasures because they are beautiful, but they are also treasures because I collected them with my daughter, they now hold the memories of a day at the beach spent together doing the thing we enjoy - exploring and collecting. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Can dolphins talk to wails?"

The first graders came to the library last week, they came to read and write, to gather information and share information, and to create new knowledge. 

The students used a combination of print and electronic resources: PebbleGo encyclopedia, nonfiction texts, and the Science Discovery encyclopedia. We brought in parents to assist with accessing information in the printed texts.
One of the things that made me happiest about this project is this:
The students wanted to know more, questions lead to learning which leads to more questions, this is where I would like to begin a project. This is what authentic inquiry is all about. After vacation, I hope to capture this energy around their subjects.

I love having our space filled with active and engaged learners.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrate: Good Times, Come on!

Discover. Play. Build.

First, a thank you to Ruth Ayres over at Ruth Ayres Writes for hosting this meme. Head on over there to read other celebrations.

I feel like there are many things to celebrate this week.

1. The fifth graders continue to work on their science presentations. I can't wait to share this project. They have been information gatherers, script writers, and prop creators. The productive buzz is contagious.

2. The first graders came to the library  on Wednesday and Thursday for some ocean mammal research. I love having our space filled with busy and eager learners.

3. We started spring vacation yesterday. I don't need a break from the students or school, but I am looking forward to a change in routine and time for reading and being outdoors.

4. It's Easter weekend and my house is full of family. I love having everyone gathered and living through the traditions of the weekend, my favorite of which is the post lunch basketball game. After church, a delicious repast, and an Easter egg hunt, our real personalities arise in a competitive basketball game filled with laughter.

5. The weather today was amazing! We gathered at my parents house in the city and spent a good deal of the afternoon "stoop sitting." 

Happy Saturday to all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A poetic snapshot

This poem was written by a fourth grader. I don't think I could have produced something so personal and beautiful at that age (or possibly even now). I continue to be impressed with the students willingness to express their ideas and emotions. The students have been producing blackout, fibs, rebus, acrostic, shape, book spine, 5 senses, Haiku, and free verse poetry.

A snapshot of our poetry-filled week

Free Verse Poems

Rhyming Poems

Blackout Poems


Rebus Poems

5 Senses Poems
(1st graders wrote these)

(Thanks to Peter H. Reynolds and Bob Raczka's 
book Guyku for inspiration)

Book Spine Poems

Shape Poems


Most of the classrooms are engaged in some form of poetry exploration, so my unit compliments this classroom instruction. I've also been collaborating with classroom teachers to bring poetry into the other areas of the curriculum like science and social studies. I'll be posting these soon.