Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Girl, PLEASE! From Media Specialist to Tech Integrationist

Obviously, the driving force of this blog is: How Does Media Fit into STEM Education? This is our first year as a STEM school - with the massive amount of change and progress we have made as a staff, this question mattered to me alone for the first part of this year.

Before I moved to the library I was the Tech Facilitator for our school. My heart is in the library but I brought so much Tech from the lab down the hall that our library has been a different place since I moved in. Moving to a STEM curriculum and supporting that has been a challenging and fun fit for me.

That said, I feel like Chicken Little running around my building squawking "We need more tech! We are falling behind, there is no reason for this! Pick up those heels! Girl, PLEASE!"

As a staff we are creating the Master Schedule for next year and I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to be on the edge of change in our school. Currently kids come to the library for a total for 60 minutes a week, with check and "media lessons" in that time.

Holla! Next year it looks like kids will retain check out time and the rest of my time will transition to Tech Integration. I will be able to be in the classrooms, lab and offices driving and supporting tech. (And yes, I do realize people reading this know what Tech Integration means).

I will continue to ask my big question but now I feel like I have more tools to take Media where it should be in our school and  engage our modern readers.

Next week at the Leadership Meeting I am presenting a Tech Timeline to our Committee....I get to convince our Staff to jump on the Tech Train in 4 minutes or less, no problem! I came across this fantastic Tech Matrix that will illustrate where we are as a staff and where we should be. I hope to be in solid Infusion territory by August with our staff following. Not a bad way to end the year!

Kids as Engineers: Harnessing the Potential


We are a high poverty school and one of the challenges our students face is picturing a "big" future for themselves. Some of our kids don't have the resources to imagine and believe that they can achieve success they don't see today. 

To that end, we are spending time exploring cool STEM jobs through May. Another goal I have with this focus is helping kids bust stereotypes kids have about Scientists and Engineers.   The most difficult part is narrowing the field when presenting choices to kids. Last week we saw amazing things while learning about Marine Biologists.

I am always inspired by kids who believe in themselves and their vision. Because so many of our students don't, I jump at the chance to show them kids who take chances and make differences.. William Kamkwamba's story fits the bill perfectly. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a perfect chance to discuss the role and Engineer has and who exactly is an Engineer? The questions go on and on....

The video from YouTube brought the story home for our kids, I especially think the kids engaged when they saw William's village and his electrical wiring.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Kids are Reading 2013 Annual Report - Can This be True?


I actually look forward to this annual report from Renaissance Place. We are an AR school and I frequently use this information in conversations with students, parents and teachers. I print each grade and get teachers a copy. I know each teacher drops what they are doing and spends their planning time poring over my favorite report.

After briefly looking at this year's info, I am concerned. Really concerned. I love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but is that ALL kids are reading? According to this data, we are in real trouble as a nation of readers. Similarly, I love the Hunger Games trio but am saddened to see these titles take as much space on the 9-12 level. 
I believe this report is accurate but it does not coincide with what I see every day. The kids I know do read Jeff Kinney and Dave Pilkey and Suzanne Collins (a lot) but they also read JK Rowling, Sharon Creech, Tom Angleberger, Erin Hunt, Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Lauren Tarsis, Michael Buckley, Neil Gaiman, Christpoher Paul Curtis and more. Much more. 
Does this point out "point hunting" in AR? I think we are all familiar with kids racing around the shelves to find a "3 point book" in order to reach their goal.

take a look at the annual report here:

Who DOESN'T Want to be a Marine Biologist?


Knowing I wanted to add STEM Careers as a rotation in the library is one thing. After just two days of teaching STEM careers, it is completely another. I am just going to put it out there: when I grow up, I want to be a Marine Biologist!

I emailed author Mary M. Cerullo to discuss the possibility of a SKYPE session with my kids. I was pleased to hear she attended a SKYPE for authors session but bummed to hear her schedule won't allow a session until fall (but not surprised). I am also looking forward to the publication of her new project, four books about sharks for 7-10 year old readers. I will DEFINITELY check back with her in the fall.

The waiting list for Giant Squid is second in our library only to Zombie Makers. This text is fascinating and relays Clyde Roper's career long quest for the elusive giant squid. The link below is a wonderful video that Grant Galland put together for a 2nd grade classroom.

As our school has made the change to STEM and I  learned more about this, I have always wished my kids had this education. This week, looking at all of the SUPER COOL things you can do with a STEM education, I wish I had received a STEM education. Amazing!



Saturday, April 20, 2013

STEM Careers - the endless possibilities!


 This week we had a STEM Leadership Retreat and one of the things we did was review the pressing need we have for STEM education. And that is the biggest understatement I could have used.

I had already planned to cover STEM careers this week and the retreat work reinforced that. Last week I came across Careers in Biology from @scienceamy. (via one of my favorite blogs, http://mrscrookreads.blogspot.com/ Thanks to both of you) This year I have beefed up STEM non fiction and the kids are fascinated by it all so I anticipated a fun week.

I also came across this amazing Pinterest Board STEM Works (truly, I can not happily remember life before Pinterest) which led directly to the website http://www.stem-works.com/

The amount of exciting possibilities on this website is amazing! The biggest challenge is choosing what to present and sifting through this content. An exciting week is looking better with each click.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Talks: Surprising Side Effects

I would love to add the actual Book Talk that inspired this post but that would violate my student's privacy. So instead, a little history: Last year we had a newscast project at LEES called The Stallion Scoop. Every other week in the library a 4/5 class would create a newscast that streamed to the school and was posted online. The students brainstormed, researched, created and posted the newscast.

My goal was that each student tried a different job and tried everything: a little Mrs. Jenkins if you will. Most kids loved being in front of the camera and campaigned every time for this job.

Out of the blue I received a phone call from a mother letting me know that her 4th grade daughter was terrified of being in front of the camera and was so distressed she couldn't sleep. The student was positive that every kid in the school was laughing at her and picking apart anything she would present. Needless to say, after a few discussion about this, the student and I decided that when she changed her mind she would let me know. Meanwhile she cranked out some pretty exciting copy for us.

Fast forward to this morning when the very same student stayed behind in library, book in hand. "I'm just finishing, I'll miss recess" Love that, check. "It is sad at the end, I wanted to cry but couldn't with everyone else around" Double check.

Not thinking, I asked her if she wanted to do a book talk. She grabbed a piece of paper, whipped out a review and pulled up a chair for the book talk. There was another student taping in front of her and I fully expected a change of heart when she realized the girl was staying to watch. Not today, though: I grabbed my camera and the magic started.

Eye contact, clear intro, excitement for this book and interest generating book talk. I can not stress how impressed I was by her delivery. There was NO HINT of the girl who came to me in tears after class last year. This was a girl who loved the book she just read and wanted to share it with anyone and everyone.

I love when we give kids the tools and stand out of the way.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Earth Day: the original STEM PBL


Is there a STEM approach to Earth Day? the approach we tackle in the library is answering the question "What can we (2nd graders, 1st, etc) do to help the Earth every day?"  I don't think there is a more basic PBL question we could ask students anywhere. In recent years some fantastic titles have been published (in every genre but especially highlighting Ecology) and this makes Earth Day insightful and thought provoking in the library.

One of my favorite titles we read this week is The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. I love it particularly because the main character, Liam, makes noticeable changes to the city he loves. This book led to a lively discussion and exploration about rooftop gardens. For kids in almost rural-ish Colorado, the concept of a rooftop garden was novel. It was fun to watch the discussion grow with their comprehension. A quick Google search revealed rooftop gardens that fueled the conversation.

I also love that a quick search at www.mimioconnect.com for "Earth Day" resulted in pages of age appropriated lessons and activities for the Mimio Board. LEES kids love the Mimio Board! www.mimioconnect.com is an amazing resource if you are not using it already.

Tim and Moby did not disappoint for the older kids, either. www.brainpop.com provided a glance at the history of Earth Day (Moby, meet Rachel Carson) and posed the same question to kids: what can we do to respect our home? Below are more titles that I am using this week throughout K-5:



The newest book by Victoria Kann, Emeraldlicious, was a surprise Earth homage for the spring. My first graders wanted to know "What happens to our trash after we throw it away?" So glad you asked! The following video is a little long (10:43) but is aimed at kids and through humor and interesting acts kept 6 year old's attention the entire time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

STEM Poetry - Who Knew?

 April is National Poetry Month and we are having a (surprisingly) exciting time with this in the library. For me this year it does not get more simple than the question on my blog header: How does MEDIA support STEM education?

To this end I am constantly planning through this lens. I really thought Poetry would be a time I would take a break from STEM.... WRONG, how great! Science Verse by John Scieszka and Lane Smith totally fit the bill in many ways. And really, a whole book about Science Poems? Hilarious, Informative and Engaging! Case in Point: 1st Grade has the privilege of having Meal Worms in their classrooms. This metamorphosis is fascinating for the kids to watch and they take away loads of knowledge.

Enter Science Verse: the poem Changes is all about that metamorphosis a meal worm undertakes. The kids could not BELIEVE that someone else knows about meal worms and created a poem from the meal worm's (and later beetle's) point of view.

The first graders first heard Changes (on CD, even more fun) on Tuesday. This Friday when they came to check out I was delighted when 3 of my kids had a surprise poem for me. During centers and their recess time they created a "sequel" poem to Changes. The boys read their poem to me together and it was a perfect fit with the original. That is some fun stuff, STEM or not.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rap as Poetry - T Swizzle saves the day!

 This was tough, much more difficult than I anticipated. For some (crazy) reason I thought I would be able to find clean, current rap to share with my 4/5 classes while we discussed the age old question: is Rap Poetry? WRONG! Crazy wrong. Even the "clean" versions were full of actual bleeps or wildly inappropriate phrases.

After venting to my daughters (16 and 12) my oldest  looked at me and casually said "You should play that Taylor Swift rap." oh yeah, that Taylor Swift rap. I actually have heard that, looonggg ago. My younger daughter immediately backed up her sister and I knew without listening that it would be great.

And it is! Current, catchy, APPROPRIATE, funny and engaging. In the middle of a poetry month I can ask for nothing more.

There is a clip of JayZ discussing our exact question: is Rap Poetry? He makes valid points and is thoughtful in his presentation. The problem is that the song titles he discusses have titles such as "Pimping" and I don't want to discuss that with elementary kids. I would love to share this interview with my students and share JayZ's POV but that's more of a late middle school conversation.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2014 Colorado Children's Book Awards Nominees

What a list! Not quite April and the CCIRA gave a sneak peak of the 2014 nominees:


In the Junior Category:
Almost Home by Joan Bauer Bad Kitty School Daze by Nick Bruel Candymakers, The by Wendy Mass Wings of Fire #1: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin & Kevin Cornell One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper Spy School by Stuart Gibbs Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice Wonder by R. J. Palacio

In the Picture Category:
Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee
Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
Detective Blue by Steve Metzger
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story by Martin Springett
Return of the Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy
Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

I am SO PLEASED to see some of our current favorites in this list such as Wonder, Wild Life, CandyMakers, Bad Kitty, and Extra Yarn.

It is instantly clear to me that while I/ we have read the majority of the Junior list, I/ we have some work to do on the Picture List. It does make me feel better to know that four of the books we don't own were already on a purchase list. Now to get these titles on the shelves!

check out prior nominees and winners at www.ccira.org

Goodbye 1979, Hello 2013...Right?

Our school is a neighborhood school that opened in 1979. Open infrastructure was the rage at this point and our library has no walls. It is literally in the center of the school and given definition by the book cases. That concept seems nice and typically is.....except the cases that give that definition were BRIGHT 70s orange. This year we had the back wall of the library painted a moss-y green and while the color itself is nice, all I could see was the fight between the cases and now green wall.

To the rescue, PTA! They generously approved my request to prime and paint the cases on their dime. I hit Pinterest, researched the best way to paint laminate and did a test run on an orange cabinet. The primer is expensive, and I requested up to $250.00 - happily, I spent under $160.00 on all materials needed.

Fast forward to Spring Break. The very first morning I bribed my two daughters with SONIC, grabbed our supplies and hit the library for some serious priming. I handled the edges and the girls split the tops and sides of the cases. The primer is THICK and it was slow going. If I sped up too much I had primer everywhere and it did not come off the trim.

Priming took about three hours, just enough for the SONIC to wear off and kids to realize they were spending their Spring Break painting. In a school. For their mother. Quick evacuation at that point.

We gave the cases a day to dry completely and got back in there with the paint first thing Monday morning. Thankfully, the actual paint applied smoother and we had the enjoyment of seeing our goal accomplished. Painting two coats on each case took a little over two hours from start to finish. We will be back after the carpets are cleaned  to push those monsters back into place before Break is over.

As we proceed as a STEM school, our thinking shifts forward. Hopefully this change in appearance will help us move forward ...I figure anywhere from the 70s is progress.

As an update.... we have been in school after break for almost 2 weeks. I am surprised to report that as a whole, the kids MISS the orange cases! Does that mean I regret the change? No way!  I love the open-ness and modern colors but find it very interesting that the kids like the color.