Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Think I Can! I Think I Can!...

At a recent conference, Steve Spangler brought it to our attention that everyone is getting on the STEM bandwagon.  By adding art and reading to STEM, it just becomes school with a cool acronym. If STREAM makes school fun and cool, I'm all for it.

During the last few weeks of school, we had fun integrating science, technology, and engineering with some classic books.  The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper was given a 21st Century spin by attaching "boxcars" to my Dash robot, and having the students program the "train" to get school supplies across the library. Preschoolers and kindergartners were excited to know they could program a robot. 

Introducing students to classic children's books addressed the "Next Generation Science Standards" of the AASL Standards for kindergarten.
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool. 
It's wonderful when lessons align with the standards.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Engineering With Wild Things

The kindergarten students not only enjoyed listening to the story, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, they collaborated to make a boat for Max.

After listening to the story, I told the students that in another version of the story, Max’s boat sailed away before he could return home.  I asked for suggestions about how Max would get home. Some said he could swim home. Others said the Wild Things would get him.  I had to suggest that Max could build a boat.

Then I explained that they would work with a partner to build Max a boat. The tools they needed were in a bag. They didn’t have to use all of the materials, but they would only make one boat with their partner.  I explained that after they built their boat, we would test it. I told them that we would put the boats in the ocean to test them. :o  They were excited even after they realized the “ocean” was a plastic container with water in it.

The items in each bag varied slightly.
aluminum foil
modeling clay or Play dough
old cd
drinking straw
foam board (cut into about 4x6 pieces)
foam filler (that came from packaging for Nooks or iPads)
lids from Pringles cans

Students also had access to scissors and a hole punch.

Next time I will include craft sticks, different size lids, and masking or duct tape. I might also include fabric, string, and/or yarn for a sail.

A few students had to make changes in order for their boat to float, but they were not discouraged. They were determined to help Max get home. 

Thanks to Mrs. DeWeese’s Kindergarten class at Oak Grove Elementary for inspiring this activity.

Oak Grove Elementary, Roanoke, VA

Thursday, May 19, 2016


The month of April has so many observances that it was hard to pick just one to focus on in the library.  This year, I decided to combine Arbor Day with poetry.  Most grade levels focused on a style of poetry.  Kindergarten made Acrostic poems about trees. First grade did Haiku, third grade did Cinquain, and fourth grade did Diamante poems about trees.  It helped that they were familiar with the different styles of poetry.  Fifth grade had fun creating Book Spine Poetry.

ReadWriteThink is a lifesaver
Since third and fourth graders shared their Cinquain and Diamante poems with me on Google Drive, I was able to make comments. This gave helpful feedback to the students, which they liked.  It nudged them to ask questions about how to improve their poems.

Pre-K and Kindergarten helped list ways that trees are helpful after reading Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I really must do better with posting to my blog.  Hopefully when I am finished with grad school, I will be more consistent.

So much has happened since October.  After our school participated in Hour of Code for the first time, I attended a training. The workshop was so good that I encouraged our district media and technology director to get the trainer to come to our district. The workshop equipped us with the confidence to teach computer science skills to our elementary students. It also helped us understand why computer science should be taught in every school. Over 600,000 job openings are available in computer science, but only 43,000 computer science students graduated to fill the positions, last year. The average pay for computer science jobs is triple what teachers make.

Each participant was given an instructor handbook with lesson plans. I am now integrating some of the Code Studio lessons into my library lessons. The most recent unplugged activity was Building a Foundation. I used it to help third graders make a connection with finding the theme in a story. After doing the activity, students shared what they learned from the activity. Some said that teamwork made the task easier. Others said they had to keep trying (persistence and perseverance). Perseverance happened to be our Character Ed word for the month. While some students said problem solving or trial and error was the theme. The next time I do this lesson, I will get the students to add their theme to AnswerGarden to make a word cloud.
Will it work?

Determination is also a theme for this activity.
I hope to share what I learned at the two conferences I attended recently.  The theme for the day is Accomplishment.  See ya!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Make It to the Library

I knew that I wanted to get on the Makerspace wagon, but I wasn't sure about where to start.  During our district meetings, there was discussion about using what you already have.  I was okay with letting students create with discarded books, recycled materials, and art supplies.  I even had some old boxy computer monitors for the students to take apart and some Legos.
Pinwheels made from discarded book pages

After I took my granddaughter to a Maker Day at our public library, I couldn't stop thinking about the possibilities in our school library.

Determination became the word of the day.  I submitted a Donors Choose project and bugged my family and friends for about a week.  Donors Choose matched donations for a week and I wanted my family and friends to take advantage of that.  Then NEA matched the donations that were already there.  I didn't want to lose those funds so more pressure was put on my family and friends.  In exactly one week, my project was fully funded.  I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when the items came in just a few days.

My excitement escalated when the students didn't want to leave the library.  A few of the teachers wanted to stay also.  I would love to have Maker Mondays or Tinker Tuesdays a few times each school year.

More books will be added to the collection to reinforce the students' curiosity in relation to the new materials.  I am anxious to see how the new setup will effect the students' thinking and learning.