Friday, January 25, 2019

Kindergarten Engineers

Last week in the Hillside library our kindergarten academy scholars were researchers and engineers. Kindergarten is in the middle of our NonFiction unit where students learn the difference between fiction and nonfiction. They also learn how the nonfiction, or dewey, section is organized in the library. My youngest students are not limited to a certain shelf like many other libraries have, but instead learn to make good choices about the right book for them. They learn to use the entire library.

This past week, we went further into our unit and learned how to extract information from nonfiction books. We started with penguins. I mean, who doesn't love penguins?! I read a nonfiction book, and students took turns telling me facts to add to our chart. 

After reading the book and taking down facts, we discussed interesting facts about penguins. The students mostly found the fact that penguins slide on their belly most interesting. I set out different materials at each table, and asked the students to come up with a slide for the penguin. A slide that the penguin could slide on his belly into the water. 

Each table has a different set of materials. I received these materials from a grant recently. 

The penguins are just images I printed out, then taped to a block. The kindergarteners had so much fun sliding their penguins down their slides. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Text Structure with 4th Grade

Informational text structure is one of my favorite lessons to teach. There are so many activities that you can have students to in order to learn about informational text structure.

What are text structures?

Text structure is the way that an author organizes the information in a book. Is the author comparing two topics, describing a topic, etc... The message that the author is trying to get across goes hand in hand with the text structure the author is using.
  • Description
  • Sequence
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Problem/Solution
  • Cause/Effect
Students have heard these words over and over throughout the school years, but have been asked to identify the sequence or identify the problem/solution, for example. Today, we took it farther and asked students to identify the way the author is organizing the information. 


First, the teacher had been going over one text structure a day for the past week. The lesson in the library started as a review. I used these free images created by Deb Hansen to create a slide show for students. You can get these posters on TPT for free. 

I hung the text structure posters around the library, similar to 4 corner, but we had 5 corners. Each table group received a paragraph and had to decide which text structure the author was using. Once the group decided on a text structure, they moved to their corner with the matching poster. 

Once everyone was in their place, about 3 - 4 minutes, groups had the opportunity to read their paragraph while the rest of the class agreed or disagreed with their decision. Students had to say "I agree because..." or "I disagree because.... I think the author uses this text structure..." 

Students observed that all the paragraphs I gave the groups had something to do with ice cream. So, then it was their turn. Students chose their own topic, then wrote a paragraph using each text structure. I placed a Google Slides template in their Google Classroom, then they started writing. After writing students were given the option to add pictures. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hour of Code Week

My first love is BOOKS and READING, but my second is technology, coding, and computer science. I always have a blast teaching students the aspects of coding and watching them problem solve. 

This year, I decided to focus on robots for Hour of Code week, so every grade level had a challenge using the Ozobots. 

5th Grade

5th grade had my favorite challenge of the week! We use to program our Ozobots. If you have Ozobot robots and have never used Ozoblockly, you should really check it out! Each group was given an Ozobot, and logged into the website. Using the program, students were given the challenge to choreograph a dance for their Ozobot to dance to Feliz Navidad. 

They had a blast, and there was a lot of collaboration and problem solving going on. The students learned that the Ozobot would not blink colors and move at the same time, so they had to create loops within their program. Lots of learning going on this day! 

4th Grade 

With the fourth graders, I integrated Geography into our coding lesson. Each student recieved a map of the world, then students labeled the continents. It was a great review of the 7 continents. They drew their code to have OzoClause 😊 to visit all the countries. We added some flying tricks in as well. 

2nd and 3rd Grade

For the second and third grade class, we had a Grinch challenge. Students had to fill in the codes for Ozobot, or OzoClause to visit the houses and avoid the Grinch. We also had to be sure to code the robot to stop for milk and cookies. 

Kinder and 1st Grades

This is the first time the kinders used the Ozobot, so we did simply line codes. They had so much fun making their Ozobot move from one end to the other. Then we made the Ozobot go slow, then fast. The giggles in the room were contagious!

Most of the first graders had used the Ozobots the previous year, so we had a more complex activity. First graders had to use turn left or turn right codes to get the robot to the dog. We had fun, made some mistakes, and learned together. 

The Hour of Code is always one of my favorite weeks, even though the students on my campus code most the year. This week is a fun week where I get to see everyone in the library and learn coding.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Family Engagement Month

The month of November is a time to celebrate and encourage Family Engagement in schools. A successful partnership between the family and school is important for our children. While family engagement should be encouraged all year long, we celebrate our accomplishments during the month of November.

To celebrate family engagement in the library, I invited parents of kindergarteners and first graders to the library for story time, an activity, and checkout time. I asked parents to RSVP to their child's library time so that I could have a parent account created for them before that day.

I read aloud I AM NOT A CHAIR by Ross Burach, which had the kids and parents laughing out loud. After the story, parents and their child went to tables where there were different materials set out, plus little toy rabbits. The challenge was for the parent and child to build a chair for the rabbit to sit in instead of sitting on the girraffe.

These kinders built a tower, but it still held the rabbit. 

I adore how this chair looks like the giraffe from the story! 

The parents also had the opportunity to be a part of their child's library choice for the week, plus with their parent account check out up to 5 extra books to read at home.

The turn out was amazing, and the parents loved being a part of library time. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pumpkins and Self-Checkout

I know this is a month late, but I have to show off my students' amazing work on their storybook character pumpkins. Each year, I am amazed at the creativity of the students. While some of the pumpkins, you can tell that the parents helped the child, I encourage this home involvement. I love that the child worked on this at home with their parents.

Storybook Pumpkins

Self Check-out

I recently came across a post in a librarian page I follow on Facebook about self checkout. The conversation started with self checkout and how it could possibly endanger our aide's jobs. I was honestly astonished at some of the comments, especially since this was a page dedicated to be Future Ready.

Self Check-out Myths

First of all, having self check out does not keep you from interacting with the students. This was the most astonishing comment to me of all, and it was stated several times. Actually, self check-out allows MORE interaction with the students where it should be happening; AT THE SHELVES. We have to get this mindset of staying behind the circulation desk. This is not where a librarian should be spending most of their time. Students need help finding their books, and need to have recommendations made. If you are behind the circulation desk the entire time scanning books, you can't have meaningful conversations. The fact that so many librarians commented that they had most engagement with students while checking out, really worries me. Engagement should happen out in the open of the library, not with a desk between you. 

Secondly, if all your aide is doing is checkout/checkin, they aren't being used to their full potential. An aide should be maintaining shelves, repairing books, helping you gather resources for lessons and/or classroom use, as well as interacting with students. 

Pros of Self Check-out 

Self check-out has been one of the best things I have brought to my library!

  • It frees me up to help students at the shelves. 
  • It allows me to have more one-to-one interaction and make recommendations. 
  • It allows me to keep my library open even if I'm involved in teaching a lesson or even having a meeting. 
  • Students have more ownership of the library. 
  • It frees me up to collaborate with teachers. 
  • It allows me to be a future ready librarian. 

Get out from behind the circulation desk!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Speedy September in the Library

The month of September has come and gone, and what a whirlwind it was! We started the school year with construction throughout our entire building. Construction is still going on, and I can't wait to see what our school will look like once all the construction is finished. I know it will be amazing!


I spent quite a bit of time in September collaborating with the 5th grade teachers on the best ways to teach cybersafety and digital citizenship. With the increase in technology use, especially the ability to add comments to Google Classroom, we thought it would be a good idea to start off the school year with discussion. 

The first week we talked about bullying and cyberbullying with the students. I use a PearDeck presentation and placed several discussion points for the 5th graders. They were able to add their thoughts on several different situations, and see others statements as well. 

The following week, we decided to look at the positive aspect of the internet and how we can control our digital footprint. Students traced their foot, then wrote/drew what they want to have in their digital footprint.

Book cover reveal

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting our students connected to people around the world. We had an amazing opportunity to connect with the author of one of my students' favorite series, FENWAY & HATTIE. The author, Victoria J. Coe, hosted a Google Hangout, and we were one of the schools chosen to participate. Victoria J. Coe talked about her series, then revealed the cover of her new book coming out in 2019. We cannot wait to read the 4th book in the series!! After she talked about the upcoming book, our students were able to ask her questions. It was an amazing morning for our second graders.

Dot Day

One of my favorite days of the year is Dot Day, which falls around September 15th each year. It all started with the book THE DOT by Peter H. Reynolds. If you have not read this book to your students, do it today! It has an amazing message of how we can make our mark on the world, no matter how insignificant we think our talent is.

The art teacher and I collaborate on this day every year, and we come up with grade level activities. She brings her art classes to the library where I read the book, discuss the theme, and then students participate in activities having the do with dots. 

Start with a dot and see where it takes you.

Our first graders received a framed page where they started with a dot anywhere on their page. Then, they changed their simple dot into their own creation. We had dinosaurs, snowmen, cars, flowers, and ducks just to name a few! 

Every student in the school was given a dot to decorate any way they wanted. Thanks to some amazing parent volunteers, the dots were all put together into a school wide collaborative art creation that is now hanging in the library for all to see! Isn't it BEAUTIFUL!

I can't say no to a fun Breakout EDU activity! I found a Breakout that was based on THE DOT, so I set it up in the library for our 4th grade classes. We did 4 Breakout sessions in just 4 hours! MAN was I TIRED!!

In the hallway, we hung up another school wide collaborative art project. Each student in the school received a dot sticker to place anywhere on the poster. This project was based on Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room. The kids had so much fun with this! 

Whew! September was busy busy busy!! Now we are into October, and I just recieved 7 boxes of brand new books. I cannot wait to get these books ready, and I know I have some students that are patiently waiting to get their hands on these new books. 

Many more activities are coming in October, so stay tuned!! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Kindergarten Check Out

I saw a post on a Library Facebook page that I follow recently asking if librarians allowed K-1 "free rein" of the library stacks, or if they were only allowed a controlled area. I was shocked and saddened at the percentage of librarians that said they only allowed kinder and 1st grades a controlled checkout. They pull books and lay on a table or cart, and students only can choose from those books.

I was curious about this, so I asked many of them that commented how long this "controlled" check out would last. I was again shocked and saddened that for the majority, it lasted all year. Why would we limit our readers like this?  Why is it that so often, we as professionals, underestimate our young learners?

Teach them good choices

In my library, kindergarten is taught how to make good choices so that by week 4 or 5, they have free rein of the library. They can look at any shelves they want and choose their books. Do they get to walk all willy-nilly around the library the first week of school? Goodness, no! They have to be taught how to make their choices. The first week, we learn 'book care', then we move into using the shelf markers. The second and third week, they practice using their shelf markers on a book cart. I pull "good fit" books for them and put them on a cart like they would be on the bookshelves. After 2 weeks of practice, we move to the actual shelves and learn the "bookie lookie" song. 


(sung to the tune of Hokey Pokey)

You put your shelf marker in,
You pull a book right out, 
You open up the book to see what it's about. 
You do the bookie lookie and
you turn yourself about. 
That's what it's all about!

They always ask to sing it over and over!! 

After they learn using the shelf markers, we discuss choosing "good fit" books. I use examples from the library with books that are too hard, too easy, and just right. The next few weeks, the teacher and I help them make their choices, but by week 5 even my kindergarten students are going to the everybody, nonfiction, and biography sections and making their choices. 

Why do I start them so early?

Our young learners are capable of so much more then we give them credit for. They are curious, observant, and learn quickly! Often times, they are limited by adults around them, simply because our expectations are not high, or we don't want to take the time to teach them. We are doing them a disservice when we don't teach them to be independent and don't teach them to make good choices. 

Starting early, teaching the students to make good choices with their books, actually help grow better readers on your campus. If they learn to make their own choices at kinder and first grade, imagine how well they will be doing when they reach upper grades. 

Every year, I am amazed at how well our little learners do at tasks that many adults say they aren't capable of doing. Believe they can! 

Does it take time to teach them? YES! But it is all worth it to see them get so excited about a book that they picked out for them. It is so much more excitement than that first week when I pull the books out for them.  

I know -- it is hard to let go of that control. Yes, they will make a mess the first few times, but it is a teaching moment. Go over to the shelf and ask, "what could we do better at here?" "Which way do we put the books back?" Isn't it more important that we get kids excited about reading??

Believe they can

For the sake of your young students, set your expectations higher! Believe in them, and teach them to make independent choices. 

I once had a teacher doubt that her students could use Google Apps and the Chromebooks. I asked her to bring them into the library and let me help out. After only 2 sessions in the library, each kindergarten student could independently log in to their Chromebook and access Google Classroom. They can tell if you believe in them or not, and if they know you believe in them they will strive to reach your expectations!!