Between the Stacks

March/April

Hello Hello!

Well, at this point in the school-year I think we can all see what's going on "between the stacks". It feels like there is never a quiet moment here in the library, as construction is well underway, and books are being pulled aside to be discarded, for replacement, or for classroom use while the library is closed. Sometimes it feels like they are drilling right under my feet (or into my skull) and there was a short period of time where I had no electricity and Robert and Jose and to hook me up, but hey, that's construction!


By the way, if you have still not sent me a list of things that you would like me to pull for you, please do so as soon as you can!


Summer reading lists have been on my mind, as have online resources that I hope to pilot while I am in your classrooms, later in May after the wall-breaking and The Big Move happens. Check out the rest of this newsletter to see more!

Thank goodness for the middle school

It would have been very difficult to make the swift progress that we did in the library without our middle school student's help. I am so thankful for all of their hard work!


It has been my intention to rebuild the bond between the middle-school and the library. Throughout the year, I have noticed very very little interactions between our middle school students and the library, outside of picking up class set books and all of their wonderful volunteer efforts with me. All year, the middle school students have been asking if we can have a book club, and telling me about how they miss coming to the library, and having a book club. Book clubs are a popular way to allow readers to discuss books in an informal setting. Well, obviously the demand is here, so now all I need to do is make it happen for them.


As for a time and a place, I am thinking middle school recess- and until we have a library space, we could even meet out in the garden (if accessible), or on the steps between the middle school and the lower school.


Just look at these great kids- they deserve great things.

Literacy and Global Change Through Art

This March when I attended SxSWedu I sat in on a panel, "Building Empathy Through Virtual Storytelling", and came out with more than I thought I was going to when I walked in. While working through the activities that the panelists wanted us to try, I met Sabrina Urquhart. Sabrina manages day to day operations for Students Rebuild, a collaborative program of the Bezos Family Foundation (BFF) that promotes global youth connectivity, leadership and service.


Students Rebuild is one of those really special things in those really special things in the world that can provide anyone who's interested with a fun way to make a positive global impact. Students Rebuild was born in January 2010 in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake, Students Rebuild has mobilized thousands of young people in 65 countries and all 50 United States and raised more than $2 million in matching funds for rebuilding schools in Haiti, youth facilities in Japan and livelihoods in Africa.


"Through our Challenges, we tackle some of the world's most difficult problems, issues that one cannot affect alone. We believe in coming together in order to make a collective impact. And we believe every young person should have an opportunity to help others—but not everyone has the ability to fundraise. Our Challenges require young people to create a simple, symbolic object which the foundation matches with funding. This approach allows students of all ages, backgrounds and in countries around the world to take action and see change on international concerns."- Students Rebuild


Sabrina had my attention, but when she mentioned that this year's project involved global literacy, I was definitely in.


Here's a bit about the project:


"Join Students Rebuild, Save the Children and Global Nomads Group to improve youth reading and writing skills around the world! To participate, make and mail in a bookmark. For each bookmark you send in, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $1—up to $300,000—to Save the Children’sLiteracy Boost program in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali) and Asia (Nepal). The more bookmarks you send, the more children you’ll help!


Why is reading and writing so important?


Illiteracy can lead to poverty, low self-esteem and isolation, poor health, unemployment / weak economies, inequality and more. Worldwide, 250 million children of primary school age cannot read or write—whether they attend school or not. More than 30 million girls are out of school today and children from the poorest 20% of the population are four times more likely to be out of school than their wealthier peers. So take action and see change right now!


Save the Children will distribute a selection of your bookmarks to Literacy Boost students around the world. Funding generated by the Challenge will stock Save the Children’s international book banks in Peru, Mali and Nepal, improve school attendance, reading comprehension and self-confidence."


When I enter your classrooms in May for our library class time, one of the things that I would like to work on with students is creating bookmarks for this project. The deadline to send bookmarks in is June 5th. I've got old magazines and books that are literally losing their pages and have crumbling spines -past the point of rebinding- that are just waiting to be upcycled, as well as some super cardstock paper that is just waiting to get into our students hands so together we can change the world a little bit for the better.

Speaking of literacy...

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free reading program

dedicated to stopping the "Summer Slide" and encouraging kids to read more books during the summer months. Now in its 9th year, the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge invites kids to log the minutes they spend reading in an effort to set a new reading world record!


The theme this year is “Power Up & Read”. As students log their reading minutes, they’ll unlock original short stories from some of their favorite authors and earn digital rewards. You can register your students and track their reading progress all summer long using the Educator Dashboard.


Even if you don't want to take on this challenge and track all of your student's reading records throughout the summer, Scholastic provides fantastic reading lists that would make wonderful individual summer reading challenges, or great suggestions for your own summer reading lists.


Ages 3-5


Ages 6-7


Ages 8-10


Ages 11-13


Spanish reading list Ages 0-13

Summer Reading Lists from The Association for Library Services to Children

ALSC's Quicklists Consulting Committee has updated our Summer Reading Lists with new and exciting titles!


The lists are full of book titles to keep children engaged in reading throughout the summer. Three Summer Reading book lists are available for K-2nd, 3rd- 5th and 6th-8th grade students.


Each list is available here to download for free in color and black and white.

Titles on the 2015 Summer Reading List was compiled and annotated by members of ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee


Click here to see ALSC's Summer Reading Lists

2015 Building STEAM with Día book lists

ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has created four Building STEAM with Día book lists for children from birth to 8th grade. Intended to accompany El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) programming, the book lists are comprised of multicultural titles that showcase STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) topics.


The four Building STEAM with Día book lists are available for children from birth to Pre-K, kindergarten to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grade and 6th to 8th grade. PDFs of the reading lists are available online in full color and are free to download, copy and distribute. Each list also features simple and age appropriate STEAM activities for one of the included titles.


Click here to see ALSC's 2015 choices for Building STEAM with Día

Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Of course, we can't forget our reluctant reader teens. The Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens that dislike reading for whatever reason. The list selects both fiction and nonfiction. Select a link below to view the full annotated Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers lists. As you consider summer reading recommendations, please consider these titles for your lists. The Quick Picks list, presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting suggests books that teens, ages 12-18, will pick up on their own and read for pleasure


click here for the quick pick list

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"Hands on Literacy" with Legos? I think so.

"Is there a student on Earth who doesn’t love LEGO? StoryStarter, from LEGO Education, taps into that enthusiasm with a language and literacy product that combines an inviting tub of LEGOs with thoughtful lessons and user-friendly writing and comics software.

LEGO Education describes its new Common Core-aligned kits, designed for group or classroom use in grades 2–5, as “Hands-on Literacy.” Teachers can also use it with first graders (given a little support) or older students who love LEGO. The engagement factor and repetition of key literacy elements make it a natural for English for Speakers of Other Languages programs and remediation.


Kits center on tableau-building, with targeted lessons on storyboarding, scriptwriting, or analyzing themes or elements before building and then writing, reflecting, and presenting after building. Kits come in several sizes and include sorting trays, story-element spinners, an enticing LEGO assortment, and StoryVisualizer software (think Comic Life, but easier and with a few extras). Each kit or software purchase includes a teacher lesson binder. Software purchases include a PDF download of the teacher binder content. Teachers also receive emails with free extra lessons and activities to download; examples include “A Memorable Character” and “Your Favorite Author.”

Students use LEGO pieces to demonstrate understanding of story elements, practice summarizing skills, enhance knowledge of genres, and create scenes to accompany creative and nonfiction writing assignments. The spinners have replaceable mood choice or category choice cards, and students can easily make their own spinner choice cards. Teachers will find it easy to devise new ways to integrate these activities with any literacy-focused lessons, from language arts to social studies to cross-curricular activities. The “Constructopedia” section of the teacher binder includes tips and tutorials, as well as colorful mini-posters of backdrops and visual promptsStudents build scenes, take photos, and then upload the photos. The StoryVisualizer software features backdrops and clip art elements for drag-and-drop scene building. It also allows for import of images from cameras, smartphones, or webcams. There are effects choices for images as well as an eraser tool to allow for editing and masking images.


Editing and design choices are simple and clear. Teachers may find that, for younger students, saving images from the camera and replacing the memory card is more difficult than using the software. Most of the templates are comic panels, but students can also drag text boxes to write descriptive paragraphs and pages.Projects are saved locally in either a proprietary format (.LSP) or as PDFs. It’s nice to see the distinction spelled out for students: “Save project file to work on later” vs. “Warning: You cannot reopen PDF files in the StoryVisualizer software.”


Where does StoryStarter fit into a typical elementary classroom? It aligns nicely with traditional elements of literacy: retelling, comprehension-building, understanding literary elements, and writing in all genres.


Building writing stamina is a major concern in schools, and the StoryStarter approach supports students who have a hard time getting started and offers advanced options for extending projects. Teachers and teams could share a five-student pack as a rotating station or go with a whole class pack."-School Library Journal, Sept. 8, 2014


I love the idea of using Lego StoryStarter as a medium for allowing students to share their stories. Whether it's in your classrooms or the future library, I would love to collaborate with you all on lessons, mini-lessons, or story telling challenges using this.

More Fun In the Library

Final Notes (just because)

Longhorn Cavern

Last week I helped chaperone a group of students on a field trip to Longhorn Cavern -which was so neat. We were lucky enough to see a few Eastern Pipistrelle bats! Check out these pictures of our kiddos exploring the cavern.
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Rainbow crystals on the way back out of the caverns.