Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Level Cross Students Enjoy Tasting Books

      Tables set up for Book Tasting

        The lights turned down, soft music playing in the background, candles and menus were on the tables as the students entered the media center. The media center was transformed into the "Lion's Cafe," the perfect place to taste our new books and some of our classics also. As the students walked in they gathered in the middle of the media center and waited to be seated. I explained the procedures of the afternoon and then allowed them to seat themselves.
        Their was an atmosphere of excitement as they tasted the books on their table. I walked around to get a feel for their favorite flavors. At one table the students told me that their book was delicious and they would love to take it to go. Several times when I rang the bell for them to taste new flavors I was met with "Not Yet!" They would linger until someone came to the table to take their place. Students moved from table to table to taste the different genres.  I was excited to see the students engaged and truly reading or sampling each book. They were comparing series and commenting that if you like these books then you would love these books.
     As they move from table to table they would find me and tell me to put certain books on hold for them. One student came up to me and said, "Realistic Fiction seems to be my favorite flavor." Another student said they couldn't wait to read the entire series. When fifth grade came in they were a little shocked to see me all dressed up as Chef Mitchell but they truly enjoyed their time. I had a long line at the checkout desk of 5th graders wanting to take their books to go over the long weekend.
         My sole purpose of hosting these events was to help students find their favorite author or series. At the beginning of the year when I asked students who their favorite author or what their favorite series was they couldn't really give me an answer. I wanted to help them find their author/series. I feel that this event helped accomplish that goal for a lot of the students. Since the event I have had several students come back to the media center and make a dash for the bookcases. It has made this event feel like one of my biggest successes in the media center. 
 Menu from Book TastingChef Mitchell

Friday, June 2, 2017

3D Designs created by LCES 5th Graders

       Every since I started our makerspace in the media center my goal was to give the students the full experience of creating and designing by using a 3D printer. This month that goal became a reality. I decided to pick 5th grade for this project since it would be their last project in elementary media.
       They were tasked with creating a product that would be beneficial to other people. They got into groups and started filling out their proposal in Google Docs. They had to explain why they wanted to build the object and then create a sales pitch to convince the judges to pick their project.. Their designs and proposals would be judge by our principal and 5th grade teachers. The winning proposals would be built on the 3D printer. The others would be built using 3D pens.
       After they finished their proposals, I introduced them to a program called TinkerCad that allowed them to build in 3D. The students really impressed me with their work especially since we were learning the program together. The collaboration, engagement, and dedication to this project was phenomenal. The students worked through two class periods to finish their products.
     Once the students finished the judges had the hard task of deciding which project was going to be built on the 3D printer. The students did so well we couldn't just pick one per class, so we picked three.  The next media day the students entered the media center excited and nervous to find out which design was going to be built on the printer. Mrs. Chandler's class winners included an eyeball, an arm, and a skeleton. The other students had the experience of using our 3D pens to build their projects. The media center was buzzing as the students started building.
       I am thrilled that these 5th graders had this experience before they left elementary school.  I can't wait to start our STEAM Fridays next year where we will be creating and designing every Friday in the media.
       The following pictures and videos are from today's class. I will post more next week after our last two 5th grade classes get the opportunity to build their projects.















Sunday, March 19, 2017

Women's History Makerspace Fun

           Last year the students created a Women's History Museum to celebrate the past accomplishments of various women. This year I wanted to not only celebrate women from the past but also women who are currently working in STEM type occupations. I felt this was a great way to share with the students, especially the girls, the many different type of jobs that are available in the STEM field and incorporate my makerspace. I gathered my materials and set about designing a month of activities that would hopefully inspire creativity and inquiry. 
          Using the materials that I had in my makerspace I came up with eight stations for students to explore through the month of March.   I created a hyperdoc for them to use to do their research and post their findings. 


 

           As soon as students walked in their eyes immediately went to the stations set up in the corner of the media center. I explained what we were going to do, assigned them groups, and they began their research. They learned about computer programmers, aviators, inventors, video game developers, engineers, and construction engineers.  As students finished their research they moved to the makerspace stations and the excitement grew as they tried to recreate the inventions or designs of their women. 


           At each station students were collaborating, problem solving, and creating products to represent their women. Here are some of the products that were created during the first week. 





 


             I am looking forward to watching the students discover and create over the next several weeks in our Women's History Makerspace. 

















Thursday, March 2, 2017

Crime Scene Investigation Seuss Style

          This year I wanted to do something different for Read Across America Week. I decorated my media center to excite the students, planned Breakouts with 2nd-4th graders, but wanted something different for my 5th graders. I went online to look for ideas and ran across a blog post by Sarah Svarda called Suesstastic Mystery in Library Revealed. After reading it I realized that this was exactly what I needed for my 5th graders. It was engaging, thought provoking and fun. It was time to create the crime scene.
                       

           The students were excited and started asking questions as soon as they came in. I had them sit down and explained we had a horrible crime in the media center last night; books ripped, bar codes removed, food left, and scanners moved. We had to solve the crime before we could check out because I couldn't remove evidence from the crime scene.  I divided them into teams and explained that they needed to analyze the crime scene and alibis to get as many clues as possible. We talked about the importance of paying attention to the details and how sometimes it was the smallest details that can help solve a mystery.  They divided into teams and began their investigation.



            Critical thinking and problem solving were evident at each stage. They were working together and debating their theories while supporting it with evidence from the alibis or crime scene. I threw a lot of red herrings in, as Sarah suggested, to throw them off but they were diligent and kept returning to the alibis given and the crime scene. By the end of the investigation most of them had figured out who was guilty. We discussed the details that led to their decisions and the evidence that suggested it. As the students left the media center I did a quick poll to see how they enjoyed the lesson and they confirmed that they had really enjoyed the Seuss Crime Scene Investigation.  I love to see students so engaged that they don't realize how much problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking they are truly doing. Today was a great day in the media center.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Camp Out with a Good Book" Mornings


My number one passion is to connect books with students and help them find their favorite author and/or series. Donalyn Miller said in her book "The Book Whisperer" that when teachers create reading nooks as designated reading spots it helps place an importance on the concept of reading in the student’s mind. Well I wanted to apply that to the media center. While most people think of a library as a reading place not enough reading takes place during the week in the media center. I have a fixed schedule, which means that the guidance counselor and I have classes in the media center most of the day. While students get to check out during that time they don’t get a chance to really sit and just read for extended periods of time. So I started thinking how could I help the students associate the media center as a place to sit and relax with a good book. I came up with the idea of “Camp Out with a Good Book” Mornings. Each day is designated for a specific grade level. They can send three to four students per class to the media center just to read. The students are loving it. They come in and find a book and sit in the reading hut, or in the rocking chairs to enjoy a good book while soft music is playing. I have had parents tell me that their child really loves this quiet time in the mornings just to read.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

If You Give a Librarian a New Book

        Today was our first Afternoon Reading Session of the year. A parent had donated a  If You Give a Mouse a Brownie Kit to the media center so I did some research and found out that Laura Numeroff's new book If You Give a Mouse a Brownie came out on October 18th. I knew I had to use this book.
         It is important to me to always make sure that the stations I plan are something that the parents can easily copy and do at home. So for this session the stations were about extending the story, creating a new story based on the story, sequencing, retelling, creative responses, and critical thinking. I added a game feel to the stations by giving the attendees a maze game board and a dice to use as they visited stations. They had to roll the dice to find out which station to go to. As they finished the station they colored in a spot on the maze. When they reached the end they were able to get a prize.
         As the parents and students came into the media center they signed in and received a handout from readingrockets.org with grade level reading tips for them to use at home. Then they waited at the reading circle for our special visitor to come and read with them.
 The mouse from Laura Numeroff's books made an appearance. She talked and read the newest book that she is the star of.
         The students really enjoyed seeing me dressed up. The excitement in the students eyes was wonderful. One of my first graders looked at me and said I know it is really you Mrs. Mitchell.
After I finished reading with the students I explained the stations to them and told parents how it helps with reading and how they can do the same thing at home. The students found their parents grabbed their dice and game board and found their first station. 
        At the Beyond the Brownie station the students were able to draw a picture of what they think would happen next if the story had continued. This station worked on making predictions and extending the story. 

         Mouse memory found students testing their memory in two different ways. They played a classic game of memory with the scenes from the book then they had to put the pictures in order based on what happened in the story. 

         At the "You are the Author" station the students came up with such cute stories to share with others. We had the Mouse getting apples, oranges, cheese sandwiches, and even an iPod. The creative juices were flowing for sure.
        The puppet station is always a big hit for our students. They create a paper bag puppet so that they can use it to retell the story. We had some really cute mouse puppets this time.
          
                                   

         Knowing how much students love creating and making I decided to add a construction station this time. Students and parents worked together to build boats like the mouse did when it rained. Then they tested them out in the water to see if they floated. 

 

         The last station was a new station for most parents and students it was a mini-breakout session. They had to work together to solve two puzzles to unlock the brownies!! It was great to see parents and students solving problems together!


           The media center was buzzing with excitement for over an hour and half as the parents and students moved from station to station. I enjoyed watching the level of engagement at each station. One of the main reasons I started these afternoons was to provide a way for the students and their parents to connect over a great book. 
          As the parents were leaving this afternoon they thanked me for the afternoon session and said they were looking forward to the next one. I am already thinking ahead to January when I have my next afternoon. Some of the things I am working on include: reaching all grade levels instead f just PK-2nd grade, reaching more parents, inviting the public library again, and putting together take home reading packets for the students and parents.  I want to make sure that the students and parents always feel like they are getting what they need from these afternoons. 
              






         


Friday, October 7, 2016

Global Read Aloud 2016


    

       
 Every year in October there is a Global Read Aloud event. This is where people around the world read the same books and share ideas and activities with other classrooms. It is a great way to make global connections. This is the second year that Level Cross Elementary participated. Knowing that students are more engaged when they have an authentic audience to share with I created a Google Doc and shared it with others in the Global Read Aloud Community and on Twitter. I decided to try to make the activities as hands on and interactive as possible for the students.
            This week we have been busy making connection with students around the country. We read Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo and discussed what it means to be brave. Wanting to share our ideas with others we added our thoughts to a padlet.
     
             We also wrote letters to and tweeted with students around the globe to tell them about our town and school. The students were excited when we received our first post card from Calvin Coolridge Elementary in Massachusetts. We are eagerly waiting for more postcards from our new friends. 
             I also created a Global City Google Presentation for students and teachers to share their "city creations" with us. We had classes from as far away as Canada share with us. Wanting to make our last day of Nana in the City special I decided to do a K-5 project and have the students build a city. We started with our 5th graders researching City Planning on Wonderopolis and becoming City Planners, Engineers, Parks/Recreational Planners, Architects, and Department of Transportation workers. They designed and built the framework for the younger students to add to our city.
             As each class entered the media center I gave them the schematics that the 5th graders came up with and then they became builders and landscapers. They built with Legos,cereal boxes, toilet paper/paper towels holders, and construction paper. During each 45 minute session our town grew bigger and bigger until it was finally 4th grades time to draw the road for our Ozobots to travel down. 
          
                     



               Today the theme of the media center was design thinking. They had a task to accomplish and they used ingenuity and problem solving to create the perfect city for our Ozobots to travel through. I am so proud of our students hard work and great attitude. It was a great way to conclude our week with Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo. Next week we will be reading The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo.