Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 Shelf Challenge

April is School Library Month, and to celebrate I'm participating in the The Busy Librarian's annual Shelf Challenge! After seven years at Maury I'm still amazed at how often I'll come across a book that I didn't know we had. In this challenge, I'll read every book in a certain section of the library.

I chose the W section of the picture books for this challenge.  Before the end of April, I'll read each and every book on that shelf. If I get really inspired, I'll read all the way through to Z. I'll be blogging about some new favorites. Want to see what librarians across the country are reading? Follow the Twitter hashtag #shelfchallenge.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Today was Digital Learning Day, a day dedicated to celebrate learning in a digital environment. There are so many ways to integrate digital learning into the school day, I had trouble choosing what to do!

For our youngest students, we checked out the BookFlix available through the DC Public Library. These are animated versions of favorite stories, and they're great for kids who are just learning to read because they include highlighted text so the kids can "read" along with the book. In Pre-K this week we've been exploring books about favorite characters, so after reading books about Elephant and Piggie and Froggy, we headed over to the Promethean board to watch the BookFlix version of Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt. (A small confession: I pride myself on a dramatic reading voice that helps the kids really get into the books we read aloud, but try as I might, I have never managed the comic timing necessary to read Scaredy Squirrel as well as the BookFlix narrator.) Later that afternoon, our Kindergarten students enjoyed a read-aloud of Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, then watched the BookFlix version of the companion book Diary of a Fly.

BookFlix is free and available through the DC Public Library to anyone who has a library card, so be sure to check it out at home!

First graders have been immersed in a Jan Brett author study, which fits in perfectly with Digital Learning Day because Brett has truly made her website a treasure trove of activities, information and resources for kids and teachers alike. For each book that we've read by Jan Brett, we've visited her website to look for more information. In previous weeks, we've learned who the models were for the characters in The Mitten, why she considered Peer Gynt the soundtrack to Trouble with Trolls, and today, what her inspiration was for the gorgeous clothing the characters in her newest book, Cinders, wear. After reading Cinders, which is a version of Cinderella told with chickens as the main characters, we looked for more information on the Internet--a true celebration of digital learning!

The fourth graders in Ms. George's class got a chance to work with students from Leckie Elementary in Southeast on a quick research project and game. When students entered the library, they were given the name of a famous African-American person (in celebration of Black History Month) and given 20 minutes to find three facts about the person to use as clues, using books and Biography.com. Then, we did a Google Hangout (similar to Skype) with the Leckie 4th graders so that they could share their work. Students from Maury read their clues, and students from Leckie tried to guess the famous person being described, then the roles reversed and Maury students tried to guess based on clues given by Leckie students. Students from both schools showed impressive research skills and had a great track record with their guesses. (Oprah Winfrey proved to be a stumper.)

And finally, this last picture has nothing at all to do with Digital Learning Day (that book is decidedly analog) but it's such a great picture I couldn't help sharing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day, everyone! I just wanted to share some really awesome artwork the first graders came up with after our Thanksgiving lesson this week. We read 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey. If you know the story, you know that at the end, the kids sneak the turkeys out of the farm under their shirts. That prompted a discussion--how do you disguise a turkey? Luckily our creative first graders had a lot of ideas. Check some of them out below.

You'll never see this turkey coming...he's
a ninja!
Look closely: this turkey has a mohawk
and "punk spraypaint."

What a beautiful flower! Now, where did that turkey go?

This turkey is disguised as a banana in a
fruit bowl! 
Turkey? What turkey? That's a librarian!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I haven't been posting much this year, but that doesn't mean that there aren't lots of great things going on in the library. This has been a particularly exciting week!

This Fall, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders come to the library twice a week, once for Library and once for Technology. This week in Tech class, 4th and 5th graders got the chance to become creators of content by creating short animated films. If that sounds familiar, it should! Fourth graders have been working with Mrs. Ford during recess to make stop-motion animation videos. The animation they explored this week in Technology is all computer-generated, but it uses a lot of the same concepts.

Let me tell you, they were riveted! It was really difficult to get them to stop working and shut down their computers at the end of class--a sure sign of a successful Technology lesson.

But why animation? Two reasons! First, I wanted to give the students a chance to experience being a creator of content. This is such an important skill--it's absolutely vital for 21st century learners. Second, I'm trying to get them into the habit of exploring new technologies and programs on their own, without step by step directions. We've talked a lot about the fact that the best way to learn many computer programs is to get right in and try it through trial and error. I gave pretty minimal instructions on how to use this animation program, and waited to see what they'd come up with. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. They really rose to the occasion and came up with some really interesting videos.

Want to try it for yourself? We used the Animation Studio at Abcya.com.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Centering the Library

In my first year at Maury, I was terrified to work with our early childhood classes! I'd never worked with children that young, and teaching 16 3-year-olds was a daunting task for a first-year librarian. I quickly warmed up to Preschool and Pre-K, though. These kids come to the library so excited to explore great books, and they love being read to!

This year, I'm trying something a little different with my early childhood classes. We're still reading great books together, and the kids still have a chance to browse for books on their own. This year, though, they're also getting some free choice/center time in the library. Over the past few weeks, I've been introducing library centers one at a time, and the response from the kids has been wonderful!

The feltboard is really popular. I use it often
to tell stories, and the students love using
the feltboard pieces to retell the stories themselves.

I introduced the Promethean board as a center
this week. Can you guess which book we read?
I've got big ideas for adding more centers to the library. If you want to help, you can check out my Donor's Choose project here. In addition to the two you see here, we also have a puppet center, and I'll be introducing another new center next week!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Welcome back!

Welcome back to another great school year! The Maury Library blog has been a little quiet thus far, as I've been very busy planning our beginning of the year programs and getting the library back in order. I've got so many wonderful things planned for the library this year, I don't even know where to begin.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days for information about our Summer Reading celebration, the launch of our annual reading initiative and news about our exciting new technology class. It's going to be an awesome school year, and I can't wait to share it with you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Misson: Preservation at the Rosedale Library

One of the things I love most about teaching in Washington, DC is that we have so many incredible opportunities for hands-on experiences. Last Friday, I went with our fifth grade to the Rosedale Neighborhood Library to participate in Mission: Preservation, a program put on by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening in 2015.

Mission: Preservation is a really cool program that puts objects and artifacts into the students' hands to teach them how to preserve pieces of their own family history. We arrived a bit early, so we had the chance to browse for books and sign up for library cards.

We learned about the different types of artifacts that museums have, and also about the different types of damage those artifacts can sustain.

This artifact is a great example of light damage.
It has been faded by the sun.

Finally, we put on gloves to protect the artifacts from the oils in our skin, and we were ready to handle the artifacts!

Examining a silver teapot.

This wallet had pest damage.

Once the students assessed the damage to the artifact, they
recorded the type of damage and the condition of the artifact.

Old photographs can be damaged by placing them in photo
albums. We learned that you should always make a copy,
and put the copy in the album.

We couldn't resist taking a few more
minutes to read in the library.