In The Libratory
New Emerson School Library & Makerspace
February: Black History, Kindness Month & National Engineers Week
Thanks to a librarian I follow on Instagram (The Book Wrangler) I decided to implement OPTIONAL Black History and Kindness Book Reading Track Sheets. The kids were welcome to track the reading of these books in February and the response was excellent. I had many more books read than in February's past. And as kids turned in their sheets, I also let them pick a little something out of my birthday/treasure box. (Pencils, stickers, etc.)
But we also did LOTS of lessons at each grade level.
I'll share our learning by grade level this month ...
But they also had the chance to show their engineering and making skills when we read made Kindness Gifts and Valentine's Day STEAM work. Check out some of their projects below>>>
This special book not only told the story of an imporant woman in American Black History, but it also opened up a discussion on respecting others for Kindness Month.
We then had fun making our own music on the Chome Music Lab website. What an amazing FREE music resource!
We had fun with Valentine's Day -- of course.
Then we voted on Kindness questions at each box -- like what do you prefer ... A Kind handshake or a Kind High Five, etc.
This was a three-day project but I was really proud of the hard work they did!
January: New Year's, MLK Day, Chinese New Year & Winter STEAM
Even though we were only in session for three weeks, it felt like we were able to get a lot of STEAM learning into a short time. We started the first week back with some meaningful and inspiring read aloud books and a little 2023 fun thrown in for good measure. Learners made their own glasses and worked hard to choose ONE word to embody the year.
It ended up being a huge game-changer! This created even more excitement than usual because the kids could come in and start creating immediately! And it helped me tremendously because we didn't run out of time to document our learning on Seesaw, plus it gave us more time for cleanup.
Here are some pics of the WINTER station options a along with snapshots of all the different kinds of projects our learners got to choose to do on our Winter STEAM choice board.
We will also be implementing a new library book passport system to encourage our readers to read books outside of their comfort zone. More on that next month!
December: Computer Science Week, Elves, Gingerbread Houses & Making Gifts
December 2022/January 2023
Every year we love to celebrate National Computer Science Week the first week of December at New Emerson.
This year was no exception.
I compiled all the pictures from kids coding in Ms. Michelle's Tech Room and our Libratory. Check it out!
Until Next Time!
November: Native American Heritage, Veterans Day, Book Fair & Gratitude Month
First Quarter Ends and the October Fun Begins!
New Emerson Library & Makerspace Teacher
Our Libratory class is a little different than most elementary library classes in D51. Mixing library learning standards and STEM/STEAM standards in an elective class is definitely a challenge. But so far this year, it has been a good mix of both as we continue creating a one-of-a-kind, standards-based Libratory curriculum to meet the needs of all learners.
We started out the month of October by finishing up our first quarter learning targets.
As you can see below, we had a lot on our plate those first 9 weeks.
At the beginning of the month, First-Fifth grade learners got onto our online learning portfolio system called SEESAW to talk about what they learned this first quarter and what they what to learn going forward. (Kinders will get on Seesaw in the Spring.)
Were you able to watch your child's learning reflection video on Seesaw?
If you're not connected to your child's account,I will be sending out another email with a link in the next week. Please click on it, and then you will have access to all the learning work, photos, and videos they make in Libratory.
It is so insightful to hear from the kids themselves about what they're learning and how they feel about it. What's even more amazing? Watching them throughout the years as they grow up before our eyes. I hope you'll connect with your child and our class on Seesaw.
iPads and Digital Citizenship Month
I was able to secure a couple of grants over the last three years, and because of the generosity of others, we are able to begin teaching our New Emerson learners as of last year how to use different programs that only iPad technology can offer.
How wonderful is it that our kids will leave New Emerson knowing how to work/design/create on TWO technology platforms? We are so very lucky.
The iPad lessons this month were coordinated with Halloween/October-themed books and also worked well in conjunction with Digital Citizenship Month.
We also had a blast working with the iPad app called "Chatterpix Kids." This app allows learners to create something with their hands and then bring it to life with the app.
Check out some of the fun Chatterpix creations made after reading the new book, "Creepy Crayon" by Aaron Reynolds -- the third book in a highly popular October-themed children's book trio.
Our Kinders have transitioned from the same class routine each time I see them, to experimenting with using new building materials and working in pre-selected partner teams after our book read aloud. These pictures show what they made with STEM BINS. Each tub has an eclectic building supply, and they must figure out what they can make using only that item(s). You can see the curiosity and creativity they had with this project after reading the books, "Be a Maker!" and "The Most Magnificent Thing."
First graders come into the Libratory right after math learning. We always take time to do a brain break/movement activity at the beginning of class to get them ready for learning. Here they are on Orange "Unity Day."
October has bee particularly exciting for first graders as they used iPads in Libratory for the VERY FIRST time. They were each assigned their own to use, we reviewed iPad SOPs, and then we practiced using them multiple times with book-related lessons. Here are a few snapshots below. Our iPads allow the learners to easily access info and apps that they can't always use with a Chromebook and afford us the opportunity to mix hands-on making with tech.
We don't have any pictures quite yet ... but just give us another week and we will start cranking out all the wonderful 3D printer projects they have been designing the last three weeks on a free digital design program called Tinkercad.
Everyone in class watched two Tinkercad tutorial videos, took notes, posted those in our Seesaw digital portfolio, and we will begin printing nametag key chains next week.
Wish us luck! (Our old 3D printer is a little bit on the temperamental side ... )
Halloween STEAM Stations K-5
You can see a few pics and videos below of the learning and the books we read with them.
(And you can see the Harvest Party Rice Krispy Treats I sent home with learners, too. LOL!)
Stay tuned next month for our special National STEM/STEAM Week Pet Video and highlights from our Fall Book Fair. The book fair will be Nov. 14-17.
Book Fair Coming Nov. 14-17, 2022
Brain Week, Dot Day & Engineers Extraordinaire
September flew by and we had so much fun — but not without a lot of learning happening as well.
In addition to a little revamping of the decor in our Libratory (Library & Makerspace) this last month, we also revisited how to care for library books, the sections of the library, and how to search for books.
We started the month with our first library book checkout day and have now checked out books twice so far this year. Our learners check out books every other week.
Last week, we learned how to use the catalog computers (called the OPAC computers) to search for books on the shelves in grades 2-5. We discovered (and re-discovered) that we can use the OPAC computers to order books from other schools so that we can even check out books we don't have in our own small library.
As part of our STEAM learning standards, we utilized team building centers or "STEAM stations" as I like to call them, located around the Libratory this month to help students get reacquainted and learn the important lesson of collaboration. It's not easy compromising and generating one action plan with a team of peers. We work really hard to teach these skills starting in kindergarten.
Learners in Grades K-3 were put into teams of four and learned how to brainstorm and come up with ONE GROUP idea for building with material constraints. They rotated through six different stations over the course of the last month. Take a look at some of their team builder designs:
Dot Day was first celebrated in 2009 based on the children's book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.
We had a different "Dot" STEAM lesson for each grade level this year. Check it out below:
Tye Dye Dots and Dot Toothpick Towers
Sphero Robot Coding Twister Game and Dot Toothpick Structures
Notecard and Dot Towers and Sphero Robot Coding Twister Game
We read exemplar texts at each grade level, which showed us what engineers do and how they work. And then we got to work designing our own maker projects. These varied at each grade. Below you can see a "Blanket Fort" design from first grade, and a Lego partner build --- the first partner build of the year for our Kinders!
Next week we will have our third library checkout day of the year. I will be teaching our 3-5th graders how to check out books DIGITALLY on their Chromebooks.
Stay tuned in November for more books and building fun in the Libratory.
Back-to-School Learning Fun!
For those of you who don't know, one of the special or elective classes each student at New Emerson attends is my class -- a mixture of Library and Books & Creating and Engineering.
Our Library and Makerspace is called the Libratory and all students attend twice a week on "A" weeks and once a week on "B" weeks for 45 minutes.
We began the very first week of school with icebreaker activities, back-to-school read alouds, and an introduction to my family and myself in the slide below.
(A little bit about me: I began my journey in education 23 summers ago, and I have worked on and off in that time teaching just about every grade level in three different states. I received my master's degree in curriculum and instruction in 2015. I used to primarily be a secondary ELA and Journalism teacher in Texas after a stint as a newspaper reporter, and now I find pure joy teaching YOUR children every day at New Emerson Elementary School.)
During the first weeks of school, I try to spend a lot of time getting to know our kids ... or becoming reacquainted with them. And we also learn (and relearn) what it means to collaborate with a team of creators and engineers --- as you can see in the pics below.
Pringle Chip Team Challenge
Cup-Moving Tower Team Challenge
Oreo Cookie Tower Team Challenge
Longest Paperclip Chain Team Challenge
Tallest Marker Tower Team Challenge
Choosing STEAM Stations
We also spent time creating our Code of Collaboration or learning agreements together. This year I tried something new, and I asked different grade levels to create or build something that had to do with our rules and standard operating procedures (SOPs). They used Lego, art, pipe cleaners, and ACTING!
Yes, some of our fourth and fifth graders ACTED OUT the rules and SOPs, and then we made a movie and showed it to the younger kids. It was a hit -- as you can see below.
(And hopefully, they'll remember that how we act and treat others while we're learning is just as important as what we're learning.)
Libratory Rules & Learning Agreements Creations
Regarding the library -- I try to tie books to the building weekly. And I alternate checking out library books every other week.
First through Fifth Graders checked out books this last week.
Those books are due back the week after next on the week of Sept. 12. We have "Bookie Monster" cans to return books in the hallways at school.
Below is a list of Library Book FAQs to help answer any questions you might have about the Library portion of the Libratory.
Library BOOK FAQs
Every other week when the kids come once that week in small groups on "B" weeks.
May my child check out books more often?
Of course! They can come in after school or at lunch after arranging a time with me. Or you can check one out during Early Bird Reading time and leave a note on my desk about which book you and your child took. (I work part-time in the afternoons.)
How long do the students keep books?
Two weeks. However, they may check them out for longer if need be.
What if my child accidentally damages or loses a book?
Accidents happen! Please let me know as soon as possible and I will either repair the book or collect a replacement fee.
How much is the replacement fee?
$25 -- This covers the cost of purchasing the book from a district-approved library vendor and having it cataloged into the online library system.
Can I just buy you another book to replace the lost or damaged one?
No. Please don't do that. We purchase our books from special book vendors who reinforce the spine and cover to make the book last longer. I also have to pay to have it barcoded and cataloged in the online system.
How many books may my child check out?
Kinder - 1 the first half of the year, and 2 the second half of the year. (I will begin checking out books to kinder for the first time on the week of Sept. 19th.)
First Grade - 2 books
Second grade - 2 - 3 books
Third grade 3 - 4 books
Fourth Grade 4-5 books
Fifth Grade - Up to 5 ... or as many as needed
How come some books from the library don't have a barcode on the cover like the others?
I have a very limited budget to purchase books each year. Sometimes, I get books by donation, or I purchase some myself, and I don't have the funds to get everything barcoded. But I still want to get those books into kids' hands -- so I check them out the old-fashioned way ... with paper and pencil.
Lastly -- please feel free to reach out anytime about any questions or concerns you may have about library books or projects we are working on. I am at email@example.com
I am SO looking forward to another great year of books and building with your kids. :)