GMS Library News

February, 2016

Author Visits

We've been privileged to have two awesome authors visit us this year. Kenneth Oppel, read selections from his very creepy psychological thriller, The Nest. This book has been incredibly popular at GMS this year. It's a book that must be read with the lights ON! We were also thrilled by Joelle Charbonneau's highly engaging visit to the school. She is the author of the best-selling The Testing Trilogy. While the focus of her visit was about writing, she told us about all the other careers she's had in her life, including being an opera singer. She actually performed a song for us. She was a huge hit with our students.

Please Excuse our Dust!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

You may have noticed our library has at times been a little cluttered. We've been busy this year planning and rearranging as we turn our space into a learning commons. What's a learning commons? It's a flexible space where students, teachers, and community members can come to collaborate, investigate, research, create, present lessons, etc. We have moved all our books to one side of the room, opening up the larger side of the room for multiple uses. Our goals are simple: flexibility and mobility. We also want it to look appealing.


  • We have a designated cafe area where students can be part of our lunch bunch program.
  • We've removed the old clunky desktop computers and now have nothing but mobile devices (chromebooks and laptops) that are stored by the circulation desk. Students and teachers can come in, grab a device and use it anywhere in the room. They are no restricted by a "computer lab" setting. The devices are used by individual students, but also by groups of students working together around a table or in our "lounge" areas.
  • We have three "lounge" areas where students can sit back in a comfy chair or sofa, put their feet up in an ottoman, and relax, read, or collaborate with others.
  • We have added casters to all our tables. These allow us to quickly and easily move the tables and reconfigure out space to meet specific classroom or student needs.

More to come

We have plenty of things left to do in the library that will improve the space and make it even more inviting for the GMS community. We will complete these as funds become available.

  • One of our biggest problems in the library is the noise. Our four-story ceiling is stunning and beautiful. However, it also gives us the acoustics of a recording studio. When you are on one side of the room, you can hear every word spoken by someone on the other side. This makes it difficult for teachers to teach and for students to hear their teacher over the other things going on in the room. We are looking into suspended sound boards to absorb some of the sound. We need to ensure the sound boards don't interfere with our lighting and HVAC. We have contacted architects to look into the matter for us.
  • We would like to acquire several mobile whiteboards that can be used to write on and also to absorb sound when multiple classes are using our space.
  • To increase the flexibility of our space and to make moving furniture around easier, we want to add several flip-top tables on wheels and ergonomic stackable chairs. In addition to being easy to move around, these items can be quickly and easily stowed away when we need to clear a large area for grade level activities.
  • We will be moving the empty book cases, hopefully this summer. This will give us wall space we can use for displays, whiteboards, posters, etc.
  • We are hoping to replace our Innovation Station with something a little easier to use, namely a big screen TV.
  • We need a couple more "lounge" spaces in the room and are hoping to get some modular furniture that will add color and flexibility to the room.
  • An addition we dream of being able to do some day is a loft area. We have so much open space and we have so many people needing to use our space, that adding more floor area would be great. This will be very expensive, as you can imagine, and we need to ensure we meet ADA rules regarding access. But, we can dream!

Happenings

We took over 100 students to see The 5th Wave movie at Alamo Drafthouse. All these students read the entire book (and it's long!), took and passed a 20 question test to ensure they had read the book, and were passing all their classes. The movie was a well deserved reward for their efforts. We loaded up 3 buses loads of students and enjoyed popcorn and soda with our movie. After returning to school, we shared lunch, picnic style, in the Commons.


Our first Annual Lone Star Challenge Celebration was held in the Library the week before winter break. Each year, books are evaluated by middle school librarians all over the state and 20 titles are determined to be the best. These 20 titles make up the Lone Star List. We challenged students to read at least 15 of the books on the list before Winter Break. Those who did, got to come to the library for a celebratory luncheon. The luncheon consisted of the kinds of food middle schoolers love and moms find cringe worthy: pizza, candy, cake, chips, soda, and ice cream. We threw in a fruit bowl, that was hardly touched, just so we felt we had provided at least one healthy option! About 40 students achieved the goal and had a really good time celebrating. What they accomplished was a huge achievement as they only had about 3 months to read all 15 novels. My hat is off to them!


We just concluded this year's Read-A-Thon. It generated a lot of excitement about reading as students tracked the number of minutes they read each day for two weeks. Teachers competed against each other for an ice cream sundae party. Mrs. Dammann, one of our awesome 6th Grade Reading teachers, had the highest average number of minutes read per student and her classes will be celebrating with an ice cream sundae party towards the end of the month.

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