Below is my last post for the year titled “8th grade “Steps Up,” while 7th grade “Writes Up.” When school officially ended this afternoon, so did my tenure as Pollard Middle School Librarian. I have decided it’s time for me to move on to another venue. I don’t know yet where I’ll go or what I’ll do, but this blog will remain as a testament of my work at Pollard. I thank those teachers who were listening ears when I needed to speak, and a shoulder to lean on when I needed to rest. You know who you are, and will always have a special place in my heart.
This blog contains my ideas, thoughts, lessons and myriads of events which took place throughout my three years at Pollard. I know it has proven helpful to librarians in different states who found it via a simple google search and contacted me, so I may decide to add some thoughts on the school librarian field from time to time – just to keep it active. Who knows? I may even add a few book reviews as well.
As I looked at my emptied office and prepared to leave for the final time, many memories rushed through my mind. As in all endeavors, good comes with bad, but the kindness of those who I call friends remain. May you all have a wonderful summer, filled with the kindness you have dispensed to me and to others.
Mrs. Mac has left the building.
Today was the 8th grade “Step Up” ceremony, which was held in the auditorium because of rain, and televised to parents and guests in the gym. All were entertained with selections from the Middle School Jazz Band (directed by Mr. Bush), the 8t grade Chorus (directed by Ms. Peterson) and the Middle School Strings (directed by Mr. Smith.)
After introductory remarks by Principal Brand, students who had been chosen to represent their cluster by giving a speech before certificates were presented had a chance to share a few words. Matthew (cluster 1) took the stage to speak on “Trying your best” followed by Micayla (cluster 2) “These are the days,” Olivia (cluster 3) “Everyone has a Voice,” and Lily (cluster 4) “Who are You?” The speeches were written by the students who spoke and evoked smiles, groans, laughter and much applause from the audience.
Ms. Berman, 8th grade Administrator, wrapped things up with a few closing remarks, then students were dismissed for a reception with their parents and guests.
While 8th graders were stepping up, 7th graders were busily “Writing Up.” The rain kept them indoors but, undaunted, they spread out in the 7th grade hallways to sign each others’ yearbooks and other assorted items. There was a buzz of activity as yearbooks, hugs and goodbyes were freely exchanged.
Congratulations to both students and teachers for all that has been accomplished this school year. Have a wonderful summer!
Today was cluster 7-4′s Public Declamations, held in the Lecture Hall, where Ms. Gomes was assisted by Max (cameraman) and Ellie (microphone). Along with the 14 students presenting, two of my advisory students were also lending their voices: Haley and Michael.
Ms. Gomes introduced the presentation by thanking Ms. Smart (METCO Coordinator) for giving students their introductory lesson on Declamations. After thanking the parents and teachers, presentation began with various students in the audience “popping out” of their seats to give a little “sound bite” related to one of their Declamations.
Before declaiming, the students introduced their selection, giving it a “time and place” so the audience would know its context before they began to speak. All students appeared quite confident, as seen in their impeccable memorization skills, smiles as befitted the character they were portraying, maintaining eye contact with their audience, and their skills with the microphone and their audience. A slideshow of all the presenters can be viewed, while below is a list of what was declaimed today along with a few key phrases for several speakers.
Thank you Ms. Gomes for all of your hard work in preparing your students. Congratulations cluster 7-4 on a job well done.
- Alex: “Give me Liberty” by Patrick Henry: “the battle is not to the strong alone”
- Lindsay: “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou: “you may kill me with your hatefulness but still, like air, I rise.”
- Rachel: excerpt from “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
- Michael: “Inaugural address” by President John F. Kennedy
- Sudarsna: “Betwixt” by Tara Bray Smith
- Katie: “The Marriage” a poem by Anna Wickham: “one held my vanity, the other your sloth.”
- Sam: “These are hard times, not end times” monologue by John Stewart
- Haley: “1873 speech” by Susan B. Anthony
- Ally: “Speak Now” by Taylor Swift: “words can break someone in a million pieces but can put them back together again.”
- Dan: “1912 Speech” by Arturo Giovanitti during the IWW Industrial Workers strike in Lawrence, MA
- Lauren: A monologue from the movie “Freedom Writers”
- Spencer: “FDR Pearl Harbor” speech
- Julia: “Big French Bread” a poem by Marvin Bell: “he loves it as an old lady caring for her plants.”
- Nick: “Ain’t I a woman?” by Sojourner Truth
As the school year winds down (just 4 days left), several Public Declamations by 7th grade students remain on the agenda. Today, Mr. Ciccolella’s and Mr. Lundberg’s 7-2 ELA students lent their voices to the mix, with twenty-one of their students performing for their fellow cluster mates, teachers and parents in the auditorium.
Several students stood out not only for their words, but for their mannerisms and dress. Charlotte gave an inspiring speech by Lady Gaga, but also dressed the part with an outfit which would have made the real Lady Gaga proud.
The students were well versed, confident, calm, and at ease with themselves, their audience, and the stage as they gave their renditions of famous speeches and/or book excerpts. It was obvious alot of work had gone into their memorizations, and all are to be congratulated. Thank you Mr. Ciccolella and Mr. Lundberg for your hard work with your students. Along with a slideshow of the speakers for your viewing pleasure, I also include a brief listing of those who spoke today:
- Lucas: Obama’s Inauguration Speech
- Julia: First chapter of “Double Identity” by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Logan: “Diary of Adam” by Mark Twain
- Jane: excerpt by William DeFoe
- Carson: Frederick Douglas’ 4th of July Speech
- Marisa: “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
- Noah: “Editorial on CGI Effects”
- Niall: “I have Returned” speech by Douglas McArthur
- Kathleen: excerpt from Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
- Mikey: excerpt from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
- Morgan: excerpt from “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
- Ali: Prologue to “Maximum Ride” by James Patterson
- Zach: excerpt from Obama’s Inauguration Speech
- Abby: except from John F. Kennedy’s “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech
- Zach: excerpt from “Romeo and Juliet”
- Elizabeth: Environmental speech in Copenhagen by Prince Charles
- Billy: Tim Teebor after a game
- Julia: Chapter 42 from “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech
- Ben: Taylor Molley “What teachers make”
- Charlotte: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” speech by Lady Gaga
- Eyal: “Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog”
Today, the staff got together to congratulate Ms. Abrahamson (Speech), Ms. Kirsh (Health), and Ms. Morini (Science) on their retirement from Pollard. Together, these three teachers have over 100 years of experience, and have touched hundreds and hundreds of lives in their tenures at the school.
Ms. Berman (8th grade Administrator) graciously opened up her home for the festivities, and we enjoyed a time of mingling and sharing with one another as well as with the honorees. Everyone was very happy for them (and slightly envious). We all agreed with what was read out loud from one of their farewell cards “May you sleep in on the first day of school in September.”
Congratulations ladies on a job well done. You have earned your rest, and we all wish you well in your future endeavors.
As of yesterday, when Ms. Elliott’s 7-2 Social Studies classes came to my classroom for their NoodleTools lesson, the number of 7th grade S.S. teachers who have yet to do this lesson with me had dropped to zero. That’s right – EVERY 7th grade S.S. teacher has helped their 7th graders become prepared for their 8th grade research reports by giving them time in the library with me to teach them important research skills. Thank you Ms. Kuhn (7-1), Mr. Ciccolella (7-2), Mr. Etscovitz (7-3) and Ms. Gillespie (7-4) for joining the “I did it!” parade of teachers with Ms. Elliott (7-2).
Ms. Elliott’s classes were in the midst of their Islam unit. As such, her lesson centered around having students research information on the Student Resource Center database which would help them to see how anti-Muslim bias has increased since the Sept. 11 attacks. They would use this information to create two online notecards to document what they found.
Thus, as part of this lesson, I taught students how to perform Advanced Keyword searching in the database, reminding them not to use complete sentences and, before citing, to ask themselves “what was it called before it was put onto the database” to determine what it is they will be citing. Was it a newspaper? A magazine? A book?, etc. I also reviewed how to create online citations, a skill which they learned in 6th grade. I also taught them how to create their online notecards using direct quotes and paraphrasing the information they chose to put into that notecard.
Congratulations to all 7th grade Social Studies classes. I trust you will use your newfound knowledge of research and NoodleTools online notecards to great levels in your upcoming 8th grade research reports.
Author, Yoko Kawashima Watkins came for her annual visit to Pollard, and it was a pleasure to be reunited with her. The 7th graders had finished reading her book “So far from the Bamboo Grove,” and her visit would give them opportunities to ask questions about it.
Yoko started her talk by teaching the audience to say “Ohayo,” which means “Good morning” in Japanese. After asking them to stand and bow to their honorable teachers, who she had asked to stand in the front of the room to receive their greetings, Yoko asked them to allow her two minutes to speak.
She showed a Chinese/Japanese character for “people” explaining that the two sticks in the character are like people – representing you and me. She told the students “Allow me to lean on your shoulder, and you can lean on mine. True peace comes from each of us. Peace comes from our hearts, not the government. The world is bad, but you’re not going to be bad adults. Let us lean on each other’s shoulders and show respect, appreciation and charm to each other. Please teach these wonderful qualities to your own children. You are the mirror of your children.”
Students were asked for questions, and Yoko greeted each with a respectful bow, asked their name, and listened to their questions. When one asked what was a tatami mat, Yoko showed a photo of a room in her home her husband had built for her which had 8 tatami mats, explaining that they were very large and heavy. She said when they married she had asked to stay home to raise their children, so felt she should not ask him for any gifts on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. He did not give her anything, and she was fine with that decision. However, after 35 years of marriage, he surprised her with the tatami room explaining he had used the money he had saved from 35 years of holiday gifts he didn’t give her.
When another asked if she was the character from the book, everyone had a good laugh as Yoko explained she was much older. One young man asked about her geta (clog-like shoes) wondering if they were comfortable. Yoko showed him several types of geta, from baby to adult sizes and explained show she had trained her children from a young age how to walk in them. They started out with a small slipper then a small flip-flop then another flip-flop with a little wedge and a small ribbon to tie around the ankle. Gradually, they progressed to a much higher shoe. Yoko explained she only let them walk about 5 steps in the higher shoes until they got used to it and were able to run around in them – just like they do with their flip flops and sneakers.
To the question “what was your proudest moment?,” Yoko said it was raising her four children without having to say she was too busy because she was a stay-at-home mom so she would have time for them.
Several girls in different clusters asked if she had ever become friends with the girls at her school. Her answer was a definite “No!” They had called her names, made fun of her raggedy clothes, called her trashpicker because she was poor and had to rummage through the trash to find paper for her school lessons, made fun of her deafness, and bullied her every day. When she wanted to retaliate, she remembered her parents telling her three things: a) no matter the circumstances, don’t lose your temper, b) throw away your pride, and c) forgive. She felt able to do the first two, but admitted to having difficulty with the third. When she made the decision to follow her parent’s advice, she gained two invisible friends “hope” and “dream,” which followed her throughout her life.
When asked, Yoko told the story of how she had been inspired to write her book. When she first visited the U.S., she stayed with a host family and met their very spoiled 15 year old daughter. This young teen was very rude to her parents, complained of having nothing to eat (despite a full refrigerator), complained of having nothing to wear (despite a closet full of clothes), smoked in the house, ground out her cigarette on the banister before stomping upstairs, and was very rude to Yoko and her parents for the rest of the day. Yoko had written the girl a 10 page letter telling her to appreciate what she had, then decided not to mail it because she realized the girl was spoiled because her parents had raised her that way and realized her letter wouldn’t change her behavior. Several years later, she wound up expanding those 10 pages to 50 for a writing assignment, and it became the beginnings of the book.
At the end of each session, Yoko answered questions one-on-one with students who crowded around to speak to her. You could see the love Yoko had for her young listeners and for their honorable teachers. Thank you Yoko for coming to visit. Pollard looks forward to having you come in the future for many more years. (Click here to see a slideshow of her visits. All photos on this page can be enlarged by clicking on them.)