On this last day of school before vacation, students were engaged in all sorts of activities and preparations. Cluster 7-4 planned to spend part of their day viewing the documentary film “Mad Hot Ballroom.” When I mentioned that I was teaching at the school when the movie was released in 2005 and that the students in the movie were my former students, I was invited to speak to various classes about my experiences.
“Mad Hot Ballroom” is a film that documents the influence of ballroom dancing on NYC school kids. It is viewed through the eyes of various groups of 5th graders at three NYC schools competing for the chance to win the “big prize” at the year end Rainbow competition.
Ballroom dancing entered my career as a teacher sometime in 1994 at my Brooklyn, NY school. My principal invited my students and me to be part of the pilot program at the school. Through our 10 weeks of training, we eagerly embraced Ballroom dancing and the skills it offered from a trained dancer who came to us weekly from a Dance Studio in Manhattan.
Some of my talk included information about the many benefits of ballroom dancing: it encouraged students to dress better (boys were not allowed on the dance floor with “untucked” shirts), encouraged respect (the boys, referred to as gentlemen, were expected to escort the girls, ladies, to the dance floor), all students were expected to be respectful of each other on the dance floor, and it encouraged students to feel better about themselves.
I also told them a bit about my former students, and discussed some of the differences between the students (NYC schools are named with numbers and most students dress in school uniforms.) Finally, I let them know I’d be available for further questions and comments about the movie, and left them to enjoy it with their teachers.
If you haven’t seen “Mad Hot Ballroom,” it’s time.
Did you know that the Media Center’s inventory has expanded to include digital and video cameras? Yes it has, and it’s easy to borrow them.
Any teacher or staff member wishing to borrow a digital or video camera for a class trip or for personal use can come see me in the Media Center. Once you tell me what kind of camera you want, I will sign it out to you electronically – just like you have been signing out books, DVDs or videos. Whether you need a camera for a day or for a week, digital and video cameras are ready for you. When you’re finished, simply return it to me, and someone else will get a chance to use it. It’s that simple!
So, if you’re heading out on a class trip or are having student presentations and you suddenly realized you’d left your camera home – don’t panic. The Pollard Media Center has a camera waiting for you.
Theatre Espresso, a group of actors and actresses who perform for schools and at the John Adams Courthouse, was brought to Pollard today by the PTC Creative Arts Counsel. Eighth graders were treated to two performances of “Uprising on King Street,” in which a recounting of the Boston Massacre took place via the trial of Captain Preston. Captain Preston was accused of shouting the fateful word “fire!” which resulted in the deaths of 5 Colonists in 1770.
Theatre Espresso used a minimum of props to depict what happened on that fateful day, with a paneled backdrop, two tables and several chairs all that were needed to tell their story. Actors and actresses were outfitted in colonial garb, and assumed accents appropriate to the time period. Judge Trowbridge was quite impressive as a regal, no-nonsense judge presiding over the trial. Titters of amusement were heard from the audience as conflicting testimony ensued from various witnesses as to whether or not Captain Preston was wearing a blue coat or a red one. Preston obliged by flinging both types of coats on and off his person, which allowed students to see how much eyewitness testimonies differ from each other.
For his closing arguments, Loyalist John Adams, who had defended Preston, reminded the jury that they were there to judge the Captain’s actions – not the King or the current situation – and that a man is innocent until proven guilty. In contrast, the Prosecutor Robert Paine argued against the presence of the Crown and 4000 soldiers in Boston, reminding the jury that the soldiers had followed Preston’s orders to fire and that the innocent cannot be slaughtered without consequence.
The Judge addressed the jury, which was made up of the audience, and gave them time to ask questions of Preston, Adams and Paine to aid in their decision making. When the court was cleared, the students were given the opportunity to debate amongst themselves as to whether or not they thought Preston was guilty or innocent. Following the debate, they rose for a head count from the Judge to determine their vote of Guilty or Not Guilty. In both performances, the students voted Preston to be innocent.
When the cast came back on stage for a curtain call, Preston addressed the students and gave them some background information on the time and place of the Massacre, and enlightened them on various aspects of the performance. When a student asked what happened in real life, they were told that Preston had been found Not Guilty by a jury of 12 men – 5 of whom were deemed to be Loyalists.
Thank you to Theatre Espresso for a fine performance, carefully researched and executed. Also, thank you to the PTC Creative Arts Counsel for bringing yet another excellent production to the stage at Pollard.
A 7th grade assembly was held yesterday on the Fujinomiya Experience: The Japanese Exchange Program of Pollard. Led by Mr. Lundberg, 7-2 English teacher, the assembly was an opportunity to speak to the students about the program and pique their interest for the upcoming Exchange. Other teachers and staff who had participated in past Exchanges: Mr. Berk 7-4 Social Studies, Ms. Daigneault 7-1 Social Studies, Ms. List Principal’s Secretary, and Ms. Kaminga French Teacher, were also on hand to lend commentary to the program.
The Fujinomiya Exerience: Japanese Exchange Program began in 1996 as a small teacher program, and has included over 200 students over the years. Fujiyomiya is located at the base of Mount Fuji, and has 11 middle schools. Though the two cities are apart globally by a 16-17 hour plane ride, they are connected by this common friendship.
The Experience is not a tourist trip, but an opportunity to show how we live our lives to the Japanese students and staff who come to visit the United States, while living our lives in a foreign place. Some differences in the Japanese educational system shared by Mr. Lundberg were that Japanese students did not rely on custodians to clean their schools but cleaned it themselves after school. Also, the Japanese after school program is run by 8th graders, who teach the 6th and 7th graders.
The Fujinomiya Exchange Program kicks off in October 2010 with 10-15 Japanese students and 3 teachers arriving at Pollard. To prepare, the students are given language and culture training, and attend fundraising events. Once in the United States, they experience family and school life in Needham and the area. At this time, Pollard students and staff have the opportunity to host a Japanese student or teacher in their homes.
The Pollard Exchange Program takes place during Spring Break in April 2011. About 15-20 Pollard students and 3-4 teachers travel to Fujinomiya for 12 days. They will spend 5 days in Fujinomiya, 5 days traveling in Japan, and 2 days traveling to and from Japan. To prepare, they are given language and culture training, and participate in fundraising events (the trip costs approximately $4000).
Whether hosting or traveling, much responsibility is involved. Interested students were directed to the Special Program section of the Pollard web page. To apply, students will fill out an application, write answers to several questions, interview with Pollard staff, and submit several recommendations from adults.
Information on who will be hosting and/or traveling with the Fujinomiya Experience will be available by the end of February 2010.
World Book Online is a wonderful resource!
Today I worked with Ms. Gillespie’s 8-1 Social Studies classes to prepare them for an upcoming research project on the American Revolution. To help them prepare, I showed them how to access World Book Online. World Book Online is a free resource paid for by the state of Massachusetts for school libraries with a certified school librarian. Since my degree is in Library Science, Pollard is eligible to receive this wonderful addition to our online database collection. World Book Online is also a free resource in public libraries for patrons who have a library card. I hope that the recent cutbacks in state aid will not result in the loss of this valuable tool for our school.
I showed the students how to “drill down” a topic using the “Subject” portion of the site, and we also worked on “quick searches.” When “American Revolution” was entered as a general search term, World Book Online featured 542 articles, as well as numerous websites, photos, historical maps, and more. We focused on just one article titled “American Revolution” so students could see the many topics on the sidebar which corresponded to the topics assigned to them by their teacher. We discussed how to cite their information, and I reminded them of the 2009 print edition of World Book Encyclopedias that we have in the library.
In addition, since they may also also choose famous people as well as events for their topic, we worked with the Biography portion of World Book Online, as well as the Biography Resource Center database. I reviewed with them how to use the print resources I had placed on a cart, reminding them to use the index or table of contents to see if the book contained information on their topic.
This will be a collaborative project between the English and Social Studies classes for 8-1. Ms. Gillespie will conduct the research portion, while Mr. Dussault (English) will work with them on the writing portion. It’s an excellent way to lightly immerse the students in the research process in preparation for their upcoming large Research Report in the Spring.
That’s the thought for today.
In between working with teachers and students, I have been continuing to work on completing the library’s inventory and am now on the video and DVD sections. Yesterday, someone stopped by and seemed surprised we still had videos saying they were old technology. That comment made me ponder a bit as I handled video after video today.
I am old enough to remember back to the Stone Age days before videos came along. I also remember the excitement caused when BETA tapes were invented in 1975 followed by VHS in 1976. Then DVD’s began to rule the world in 1993, and Blu-Ray has come along to add to the mix of inventions. Yes, we have replaced many videos with DVD’s at Pollard, but budgetary concerns will make that an ongoing scenario for years to come. So, the question remains: Are videos considered to be old technology?
Webster’s Online Dictionary defines “old” as: “distinguished from an object of the same kind by being of an earlier date,” while “technology” is defined as: “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area.” When these definitions are taken together, I see that a video can easily be defined as “a distinguished object about a particular area that has practical application of knowledge.”
With this definition, I say videos are not old technology. They have stood the test of time, and are still being used by teachers and staff on a daily basis. In addition, many contain information that has not been able to be reproduced onto DVD or Blu-Ray – making them an unusual and important source of knowledge. Videos have stood the test of time.
Thus, the question returns to be asked one last time: Are videos considered to be old technology? No. I believe they’re still alive and well. They’re a bit worn around the edges but, like a good book, are hard to forget.
I hope that, in time, all the great videos we have will be transferred over to DVD or Blu-Ray. However, until that time comes, our videos will continue to teach and entertain scores of students at Pollard – just as they’ve done for the past 33 years.
This is a great question, and one which can be easily debated. What do you think?
With the Thanksgiving break now behind us, a new month has begun. A new month means it’s time to take down last month’s book displays in the hall display cases, and time to put up new ones. December’s themes are: “Read a New Book Month” and “Enjoy Stress Free Holidays” Month. Some of our new books are displayed in one case for students to think about borrowing, while various holiday books are displayed in another case with some that tell students how to avoid stress.
A new month is also the time to gather statistics for the month that came before it. That means adding up the number of students and teachers who visited during the school day, after school and with Health passes. Also included are statistics for how many requests were made for Inner Space and the Media Center, how many books were borrowed for the month, how many carts of books were requested by teachers and other topics. At the end of the year, these statistics are compiled into an Annual Report on the library’s usage. A new month means that those statistics now have to be carefully entered into various charts and a compilation written into a monthly data sheet.
A new month means that it’s time to take down the books on display on top of the library shelves and replace them with new ones to attract further interest in reading. A new month is the time to find out who still owes library books from the month before and send out overdue notices to get those books back into the library so other students and teachers can enjoy them.
A new month means it’s time to start fresh.
Enjoy the month!