Thankful for DonorsChoose.org

Recently DonorsChoose.org had a special #FillEveryShelf day, where all projects for books were matched by donors.  Our school was wonderfully blessed by several donors, who gave toward our project, “Wild About Wimpy Kid Books.”  We have a complete set of these titles in the media center, but it is rare and very lucky for a student to find one waiting on the bookshelf to be checked out.  When I found out about this special match, I knew that my children needed more Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles in our library media center.  My students couldn’t wait to open the box to see what the donors had given.  They were shocked to find an entire set of this entertaining series, plus an extra copy of the first book.  During the box opening, the students had the opportunity to start reading one (or more) of the books and they helped me start the task of processing all of these books.  Each child stamped a book to help get them shelf ready.  We are so very thankful for our donors, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and DonorsChoose.org.

Our school has benefited greatly in the past from our partners at DonorsChoose.org and we greatly appreciate all they have done for us!  Because of this site, our school news show has lighting and a professional background.  The students’ science fair project boards at our school can have gorgeous letters cut out of vinyl with our Silhouette machine.  The kindergarten library section has forward-facing shelves that make selecting books a breeze.  A Lego Wall makes every child smile that comes into our media center through our front door.  We have been truly blessed with these special touches, which make our media center unique, thanks to our DonorsChoose.org community!

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Reflecting on Stations for Orientation

Planning for the station method of orientation for grades 3 through 5 took quite a bit of time, but for the most part I think the students enjoyed being able to move around to learn about the media center.  The planning was worth it!  Before starting the orientation, I had planned about 14 different stations, which was way too many for the students to visit during our short 35 minute time period.  Sadly, some of the stations had to be cut out of the orientation experience (the Lego Wall will have to be visited another day and time, which was a disappointment for some).  At first the movement from one station to another was chaotic, but by the very last orientation class we had the transitions down pat.

The stations that remained throughout the entire orientation process were 1. a video about Borrowing and Checking Out Books from the Media Center, 2. a video about Areas of the Media Center, 3. a video about Safari (our OPAC), Lexile.com, and Overdrive, 4. a library card decoration station, 5. an online survey about wants and needs in the media center, and 6. checking out books in the media center.  We had an optional bookmark decoration station with a basketball theme, which was phased out through the course of the orientations.  If the students were making really good choices and following media center expectations (Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe), then I pulled out the iPad for the students to take a photo with the book they checked out in front of the READ backdrop for the “Photo Booth” station.  The kids really loved the photo booth!

Before beginning the station rotation, I randomly numbered off the students for groupings.  This worked well in most instances.  If I had to do this all over again, I would try to make the videos about the same length.  One of the videos was about 4 minutes long and that was almost too much; it didn’t hold the attention of the students.

As a result of the rotations, I have had a few students go to the computers to search for books independently, which is not something that has happened this early in the school year in years past.  If a student asks about where certain books are, I can pull up the Safari video and after watching they are ready to attempt searching for books on the computer and will only need a little bit of guidance to find what they desire.  I do not mind showing students where certain books are, but I want them to feel like they can find materials independently in our media center and in a public library setting.

Media Center Orientation

This school year I am trying something different for orientation.  In the past, I have made a video to show to the entire class at one time and then allowed the students to check out their library books afterward.  Last year, I showed the video and then had students visit stations (our Lego Wall, observing our media center frogs, and decorating their library cards).  At the end of last school year, I watched a webinar about using stations in the media center and I was truly inspired.

During media center orientation this year for my older students (Grades 2-5), I will have several computer and iPad stations set up for students to visit to learn more (or share more) about the media center.  One station will be a survey for the children to share about the types of books that we need in the media center.  Other stations will share resources and procedures for the library media center.  Two of the stations will be decoration stations, one for library cards (like last year) and another to decorate paper basketballs to prepare for an upcoming author visit from a local university’s basketball coach.

Here are links to the videos that I have created to use during this year’s station orientation:

Knight TV Information

Basketball Decoration

Lego Wall

Safari, Lexile, and Overdrive

Borrowing and Checking Out Books

Areas of the Media Center

An Introduction to Mystery Skype

Students try to figure out where our Skype friends are in the USA.

Students try to figure out where our Skype friends are in the USA.

 

 

Our third grade students recently had the opportunity to Mystery Skype with another class in another state.  They had never participated in a Mystery Skype before and I wanted to provide them with a fun educational experience.  Typically, Mystery Skype participants have their own maps and atlases to use to work together to narrow down the options of which state we think our friends are in based on the responses to the questions that have been asked.  Before our Mystery Skype we talked about good possibilities for questions and where our state is located.  This initial preparation seemed to be helpful as we started the questioning part of our Skype.  Each class took turns asking questions about the other’s location.  Because this was the first Mystery Skype for these students, we had a map of the USA (on the web) projected to our screen, where I would point out states that were eliminated based on the answers to our questions.  For example, if my students asked if their state was in the Southwest, and the answer was, “No,” then I would point with the mouse and show the students where our friends were not located (not saying state names, but showing the general area).  As a first Mystery Skype, I think this was helpful for the students.  The next time that we have a Mystery Skype, the students will work more collaboratively, but more independently of teacher assistance in asking questions and eliminating possible states.  We look forward to our next Mystery Skype experience!IMG_2540

Dot Day Fun!

This year was the first year that our KBS Knights have celebrated International Dot Day.  Our students wore dots as a part of the fun, created dots in art class for a fantastic Dot Tree, and read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  Many of our students enjoyed singing The Dot Song and a Skype visit with another class!  Our computer lab teacher, Mrs. Donna Burris, showed the students how to create dots and fill them with color using Publisher!

Students created Dot Day bookmarks to share with our Skype friends.  We hope they like them!

Students created Dot Day bookmarks to share with our Skype friends. We hope they like them!

The students, who came to The Merry Media Center @KBS to Skype, made bookmarks for our new Skype friends.  Our school connected with 15 other schools from a variety of states.  I greatly appreciate the members of my PLN, who we connected with this year!  Some of these friends included:  Jennifer Reed, Matthew Winner, Andy Plemmons, Sarah Staudt, Kathy Schmidt, Kathryn Cole, Esther Uribe, Chad Lehmann, Donna MacDonald, Sarah Wendorf, Cristol Kapp, Jenny Lussier, Shawna Ford, and Meg Allison.  Some of the great activities that we shared with our buddies were having an Elephant and Piggie Dance Party (with Mr. Winner), reading Press Here (until interrupted by a fire drill– with Donna MacDonald), creating a nifty collaborative dot (with Mr. Plemmons), Mystery Skype experiences (with Cristol Kapp, Kathy Schmidt, and Chad Lehmann), reading The Dot with many wonderful classes!  We had so much fun!

Mrs. Johnnie Skelton's art class created a Dot Tree as a part of the Dot Day celebration this year!

Mrs. Johnnie Skelton’s art class created a Dot Tree as a part of the Dot Day celebration this year!

Lexile Resources

Some of the best resources that were mentioned during a Lexile training session that I attended:

Search for books on a particular Lexile level:  http://www.lexile.com/fab/

Excellent games/center activities for reading sorted by grade level:  http://fcrr.org/for-educators/sca.asp

Find skill or strategy lessons and novel studies sorted by Lexile:  http://www.readworks.org/  Create a free account to access the most information at this site.

Scripts for Reader’s Theater:  http://www.readinglady.com/index.php?module=documents&JAS_DocumentManager_op=viewDocument&JAS_Document_id=9&MMN_position=34:34

I hope that these resources will be helpful to you!