Library Lately

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I post photos almost everyday of all of the action going on between the shelves. Our library isn’t just a place for checkout – it’s a lively, exciting, rockin’ place where all sorts of fun, games, songs, and exploration take place! Scheduled weekly visits from students in grades K-6 keep things busy, but my favorite moments are often ones where students come to visit independently before school, during breaks, and after school. I love that the library is a place where they feel comfortable hanging out, laughing, engaging in discussions, and doing creative work. And sometimes even singing! Once every few weeks, I’ll do a roundup of the most popular Fitz Between the Shelves Instagram posts to get you all caught up on what’s been happening in the St. Anne’s Belfield Lower School Library.

The Twelve Days of Tech-Mas. In case you missed it, during the month of December, the library hosted a Twelve Days of Tech-Mas tech bonanza with the help of Ms. Wilkens, STAB’s tech genius extraordinaire. It was a fast-paced and exciting few weeks of coding and engineering, and I shared a little bit of the action everyday with the hashtag #twlevedaysoftechmas. Here’s one of the shots from the ninth day, of a third grader hard at work creating a coding tutorial on his iPad. Once mastering their coding project, third and fourth graders created a LetsPlay tutorial to teach younger coders about the challenges they faced creating their code, bugs that they had to fix, computer science concepts used, and what coding means to them. Check out all of the Twelve Days of Tech-mas snaps and more about the program in the Twelve Days of Tech-mas blog post.

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Paper Wishes tells a powerful story in sparse, haunting style. After the 1942 attack on Pearl Harbor, Manami and her family are suddenly forced from their home on Bainbridge Island to a Japanese prison camp in the Arizona desert. When she learned that she can only take what fits inside of one suitcase, Manami is the most upset about her grandfather's beloved little white dog, Yujiin – and she makes a split-second decision with major consequences. Manami is Japanese – but does that make her any less American? The heartbreak and confusion of the main character is overwhelmingly clear in the meticulous text. I love that while this novel is melancholy and intricate, it is also accessible to younger readers looking for a satisfying challenge. It feels more important than ever to teach students about prejudice and racism in our history, so we can ensure that it doesn't repeat in the future. I am so excited to have Paper Wishes as our next book club book – 4th graders will be reading, and 5th graders will be leading the activities and discussion. Parents, watch your inbox for more info this afternoon. #bookreview #bookcover #amreading #library #librarian #bookclub #discussion #fourthgrade #fifthgrade #childrensliterature #weneeddiversebooks #wwii #pearlharbor #ireadya #empathy

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4th and 5th grade book club is coming! Have you heard about the book?

Readers return. Students returned from winter break ready to READ. It has been exciting welcoming them back this week, hearing all of their winter and holiday stories, and helping them find new books to get 2017 off to a great start.

Guitar Quest. This semester, I am teaching a Quest for 7th and 8th grade students all about learning. How do you learn best? What’s the best way to set a goal? What kind of tools can help you to learn faster? Are there certain things to avoid when you’re trying to learn something new? Through goal setting, discussion, and experimentation, we are learning more about the way that we learn and using that to become better guitar players. As a bonus, I got lucky and landed with a wonderful group of girls – independent, talented, and so much fun. We are working on a project right now and I hope to have something exciting to share with you by the end of the semester!

I’m always amazed by the weird and wacky positions that my students choose when looking to get comfortable with a book. We have a rule – you can sit however you want as long as you’re safe and focused. I’ve seen it all, from camping out under tables to hanging upside down off of sofas, but I still couldn’t help but giggle when I saw this third grader planking on what is generally used as a table. I need to start some sort of hashtag for the crazy positions I find my readers in – maybe #kidssitweird? #readerstyle? #yesimreadinglikethis? Any good ideas? (PS – He didn’t even notice me taking the picture – now that’s what I call focus!)

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#weneeddiversebooks alert! 🚨 Save Me A Seat is an interesting collaboration between authors Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan that tells the story of Ravi, whose family has just immigrated to New Jersey from India, and Joe, a student in Ravi’s new school. Ravi is feeling cocky – he was a top dog at his old school in India and can't wait to show off his skills. But he is shocked by how different the culture in his new American home, and finds himself struggling (and attempting to hide it from his concerned family). Joe has his own issues, between school and home – but he knows Ravi is having trouble, and has a choice to make about what kind of classmate he wants to be. Both characters were lively and interesting, and their stories intersected in a funny, sweet, and engaging way. The book’s structure and details are based on food – an interesting and educational way of comparing American and Indian cultures. Loved the additional details of the glossary in the back and the recipes of desserts that played a large role in the story. It’s hard to write a collaborative novel that works, but Weeks and Varadarajan have pulled it off. Save me a Seat is a winner.

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I’ve been reading… and reading… and reading! I use my Instagram as a reading log to track what I read and share it with you. This social media platform feels right to me because I love photography and like to keep my reviews nice and short. You can follow along using Instagram or read the book reviews on the blog (reviews are generally published on the blog about a month after they go live on Instagram). Would you like to see more easy readers featured in my reading log? More picture books or young adult titles? Let me know what you’d like to see, and I’ll add it into my rotation.

Speaking of book club, here are the 5th grade planners, hard at work putting together what they have decided will be the “greatest book club of all time” for their fourth grade readers. I’ve been sworn to secrecy on their discussion and activity ideas, but I can tell you this… this will NOT be your average, run-of-the-mill book club! Barring any schedule changes due to winter weather, we’ll be meeting Tuesday, January 24th for this fun, student-run book club.

To be honest, this is a photo from about two months ago, but it’s a great representation of the fun crowds that I see in the library in the mornings before school. The library’s eclectic collection of seating draws quite a crowd – and they LOVE playing with my “teaching tools” (think pointers, calm jars, magic wands, etc). I love this time of day because it’s all about casual chat, laughing, and games, which allows me to get to know the students in a totally different way than I do during their class time. Sometimes I’m behind the desk getting work done (or playing DJ – our morning playlist game is strong), but sometimes if I’m lucky I get to join in on the fun and hear about all of the exciting things going on with my students. And you’d never believe it, but this casual time leads to great conversations about books, extra checkouts, and new ideas for book clubs and library activities! Fifth and sixth grade especially have taken an ownership of the space and helped me to turn it into a safe and inviting place for everyone. These quick mornings between 7:45-8:20 are often some of my favorite moments of the day.

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Library class got me feelin' like 💃🏻💃🏻

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It’s not always easy getting out of your warm cozy bed to come to school… so I hope that you know that I look forward to your visits and love getting to see you, your students, and your families in the library! Coming to work everyday makes me feel happier than a kindergartener on a dance party brain break 🙂

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