Today was the annual Teachers as Scholars Day at Pollard. I attended the Glee Club workshop, and will report more on it later in this post.
According to the Organizer and 8th grade Administrator Ms. Berman, Teachers as Scholars began about four years ago, and is a time for teachers to share their knowledge and passion with other teachers. Today’s Teachers as Scholars Day allowed teachers to help other teachers by sharing their passions and engaging teachers’ bodies and minds. Below is a list of the workshops that were offered, as well as a short synopsis of what was taught. Ms. Berman attended all the workshops and provided the synopsis of each for this article.
Dr. Martin, 7th grade Administrator, handled the Technical details for the day and took the photographs shown below (click photo to enlarge.) Ms. Berman thanked all of the Teacher Scholars for sharing their knowledge with other teachers.
Newspapers 101 - taught by Mr. Lundberg (7-2 ELA): Mr. Lundberg discussed newspapers, and how they’ve changed with the advent of blogs, twitter, radio and television. The future of newspapers are being threatened because of “instant news,” but they should never die.
Anyone can be an Engineer - taught by Ms. Clarke (7th & 8th gd. Engineering): Participants became mini engineers as they worked on making a bottle holder, using various power tools to shape their product. The holders were created in individualized sizes and were stained. Specific wood angles were cut, which supported the weight of a bottle.
Green Home – taught by Mr. Cournoyer (8th gd. Tech. Integration Specialist): Those participating in this workshop had to travel a long distance in the early hours of the morning to learn about environmental responsibility. Mr. Cournoyer built his home as a Green Home, and gave a tour of the inside and outside, answering questions about its construction.
Meditation and Mandala – taught by Ms. Carlotto (7th & 8th gd. Art): Ms. Carlotto discussed how meditation helps manage stress and develops positive mindsets. Everyone drew Mandalas (a symmetrical design).
Summer Search – moderated by Ms. Matlaw (ELA 7-3) and Ms. Gomes (ELA 7-4): Four high school METCO students (Zendilli D. freshman, Lamont T., Lindsay W., and Angie M. (seniors) came to Pollard early this morning to participate in a panel. They spoke honestly about programs that did and didn’t support them while in Needham, noting Homework Club and One-on-One Mentoring as their greatest supports. Guest Speaker Mollie Solloway, Program Associate from Summersearch, spoke about how to successfully mentor students of color, and participants left with alot of ideas.
Mind, Body, PE Connection - taught by Mr. Wainwright (gd. 7 & 8 PE): Participants played volleyball and other games to get their blood flowing and bodies moving.
Glee Club - taught by Ms. Peterson (gd. 7 & 8 Music) and Ms. Elliott (7-2 S.S.): Participants watched a video of “You can’t stop the beat” from the musical Hairspray. Ms. Peterson spent a short time spent helping us to learn the words and music, then Ms. Elliott took over showing us some choreography to go with the selection. We were broken up into smaller groups to “perform” various parts of the song, and had a great time laughing, singing and dancing.
Thank you to all the Teachers who were our Scholars today. We learned alot from you, and had fun while learning.
Ms. Gomes (ELA teacher for cluster 7-4) invited me to her class to observe her students in a game of Human Scrabble. Ms. Gomes told me Human Scrabble had first been played at Pollard by ELA teachers Mr. Lundberg and Ms. Daigneault. In fact, Ms. Gomes believes the very first Human Scrabble board at Pollard was created by Ms. Daigneault. With their inspiration, Ms. Gomes decided to go ahead and create her own Human Scrabble board. The entire Scrabble board had been recreated using the natural classroom floor tiles as well as colored paper which would be used as double and triple point tiles. (click photo to enlarge)
To begin, all students drew numbers out of a hat which determined who would be on the four teams who would play. Ms. Gomes explained the rules to the students, reminding them to stay in their team area and to show team spirit. She demonstrated how to play and showed them various “keys” they could use to determine their score and to try and use up some points.
One student from each team held up a tile. Whoever was closest to the letter “B” was able to go first, and claim the coveted “star” points. From then on, students worked in groups and tried to come up with creative ways to use as many letters as they could. I observed students flipping through dictionaries, changing letters around, suggesting new words, correcting each others’ spelling, and generally having a great time. One team managed to score 39 points by putting an “s” on the word “clime” and then adding the word “sharp” to that “s.” Very clever.
The students were very engaged, and Human Scrabble proved to be a wonderful way to show that “word play” can be lots of fun. Thank you Ms. Gomes for such a wonderful way of teaching important English skills in an exciting and “hands on” manner. Also, thank you for the invitation to view your students hard at work, while having fun.
Good job cluster 7-4!
For the past 3 days, the 7th graders have been working hard on their MCAS Reading test. With the library being utilized for this yearly rite of passage, I spent Wed. and Thurs. in Ms. Driscoll’s classroom teaching her 8-3 Social Studies classes. Another rite of passage is the yearly 8th grade research reports, and Ms. Driscoll is the third cluster to undertake the challenge.
Over those two days, I showed the students how to create virtual lists using the online catalog, and focused on teaching how to use two of the Issues databases as they had some database instruction with me earlier in the year and were familiar with some of the others they’d need to use for this project. In addition, I reviewed Noodlebib citations and taught them how to constructively use the NoodleTools online notecards, as well as how to conduct advanced keyword searches in databases and in Google.
At the end of the classroom lessons, students had time to browse through some of the books I had brought with me on Social Justice and Historical topics of interest. Others went online with the laptops and browsed for topic ideas. I walked around and helped students flesh out their ideas or come up with topics.
Today, all of Ms. Driscoll’s classes came to the library and spent their time working on both desktops and laptops, as well as using the online catalog and wandering the bookshelves seeking books for their topics. Next week, they will work with their teacher in their classroom and will return to the library for more fine tuning with me in early April.
Good luck cluster 8-3!
It’s been awhile since I’ve last written. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a fall but am back and busy as ever…
El Día de los Jovenes/El Día de los Libros = Day of Youth/Day of Books will be celebrated at Pollard during the middle of April. In anticipation of this upcoming celebration, take a look at the article “Building a Culture of Literacy through Día” written by Jeanette Larson for American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association (ALA) which was posted today. Jeanette interviewed me for the School Librarian chapter in her book “El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in your Community through Día,” which will be published in April in time for the 15th anniversary of Día.
About 3/4 of the way through the article, Jeanette talks about how I work with the students and teachers of Pollard to celebrate Día:
“School libraries may not be able to support a major event or series of events right around April 30 because of end-of-year testing. It is, however, acceptable to set your own dates for Día programming and to intersperse bilingual activities throughout the year, as does Alma Ramos-McDermott, school librarian for Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts. Although Pollard is predominantly English-speaking, Ramos-McDermott views Día activities as teachable moments. She recognizes that bilingual literacy introduces her students to literature they would not normally be exposed to and that reading books in Spanish helps them to make connections between their own language and new languages. She also views Día activities as bridges between cultures. Pointing to April as School Library Media Month, Ramos-McDermott suggests that bilingual programming and books be incorporated into already-planned activities. Because she works in a middle school, she refers to El día de los niños/El día de los libros as El día de los jóvenes/El día de los libros, reflecting young people rather than children as the audience. In fact, her school celebrates for a week (Semana de los jóvenes/Semana de los libros), and she works with different teachers and students each day.”
Read the entire article, then get ready for Día. It’s coming…
Today the 7th Grade Annual Pi Reciting Contest was held in the auditorium, with Monday March 14th being the official National Pi Day. Pi Day is so important that M.I.T. is known for sending out its acceptance letters so as to be received by prospective students on Pi Day. According to the Pi World Ranking List, Chao Lu of China holds the world record for memorizing 67,890 digits of Pi. The American record of 10,980 is held by Guarav Raja of Virginia. Last year, an 8th grader in Oregon set a school record by memorizing 237 digits, while a 6th grader in Connecticut set his school record of 401 digits. Keep reading to see how one particular 7th grader at Pollard performed against his fellow middle schoolers in other states.
Before I write more about our winner and the Pollard Contest, you may be asking “what is π?” According to the Free Online Dictionary, Pi is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet and “expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle and appears as a constant in many mathematical expressions.”
At Pollard, students from all 7th grade math classes in each cluster had an opportunity to memorize the digits of Pi. Since Pi can include over 1 million digits, memorizing them can prove to be quite a feat. Each math block had student finalists who competed against each other to find out who would represent the entire cluster at today’s finals. During Advisory, I heard several of my students challenging each other to recite the digits. One mentioned he had heard there was a Pi song, so I found it online and played it for them.
All their hard work paid off today when 17 contestants gathered in front of their fellow classmates to compete. Mr. Baker was the MC and gave the rules to the audience: they may cheer, but must be silent until a judge raises his/her hand signaling the contestant “out.” Only at that point would they be allowed to make noise for their candidate. This was to ensure contestants had a chance to focus and concentrate.
Contestant after contestant came up to try their hand at the elusive digits of Pi. The audience was able to see the digits displayed on the screen before them and follow along. Some students went past 100 digits while others were a little lower, but all did their best. The audience respected every one of them, clapping and cheering for each equally.
One contestant, Ethan, outdid everyone with his recitation of 406 digits – a new school record. As he rattled off the digits and progressed lower and lower on the list of numbers, the audience seemed to be holding its collective breath. Whenever he paused to ponder what digit would come next, the students sat transfixed with clasped hands willing him to continue. When he did, a collective sigh came forth from almost all present. At one point, after a long pause, Ethan came out with the single digit “2,” then paused again. Everyone laughed with relief that he was continuing and because he’d only said one digit after a long pause.
Amazingly, Ethan continued on and on. One boy whispered to me “Mrs. Mac, do you know where he is on the screen?” I pointed out where he was and that student was just one of many following eagerly and hopefully along as Ethan continued to proclaim the digits of Pi. Ethan was almost at the end of the displayed screen of numbers, with Ms. Pacis ready to change to the next screen. Many students were on the edge of their seats when he stopped. When he did, an enormous burst of applause and a partial standing ovation greeted him from his fellow 7th graders. Every single student was highly impressed he had gone so long and so far in the memorization process.
When the winners were announced, Sonia R. (cluster 7-3) was announced as the 3rd place winner with 120 digits, Julia O. (cluster 7-2) received 2nd place with 121 digits, and Ethan N. (cluster 7-2) was crowned School Champion and School Record Holder with 406 digits. Congratulations on your win Ethan, and on placing 2nd and 3rd Julia and Sonia!
Also, congratulations go out to the other contestants and to their teachers: Mr. Baker, Ms. Pacis, Ms. Cuddeback, Ms. Baughman and Mr. Marino for their hard work preparing the students for this event.
Happy early Pi Day everyone. Great job!
I just finished registering the Pollard Middle School Library for the National Celebration of Día de los Libros/Día de los Jovenes (Day of Books/Day of Youth.) Our celebrations are scheduled to run the entire week of April 11th, ending April 15th.
All Pollard’s 8th grade Spanish classes will participate with their teachers. This year, several of the teachers have chosen to celebrate in two different ways during two different days in the Library. In addition, some of the Spanish teachers are teaming up with each other to make a larger “audience” for our celebrations. (All 7th grade students who take Spanish had an opportunity for mini celebrations of Día’s goal of building Literacy through Reading when I worked with them earlier in the year.)
I won’t give away any more hints. Stay tuned for Monday, April 11th to find out how we will be celebrating Día de los Libros/Día de los Jovenes at Pollard.
PS – Below is the new Día logo that was just unveiled today (click to enlarge).
Today was my 4th day researching with Ms. Gillespie’s 7-4 Social Studies classes. The students continued researching information from the Ancient China books I had collected for their use as well as the Student Resource Center Junior, and the Exploring Ancient Civilizations databases. We continued working on Advanced Google searches, looking for reputable websites as I helped students find sites specific to what they were seeking for their Dynasty, and I also helped them complete their NoodleTools online notecards.
One student asked for help with one of his notecards, wondering why the teacher had written he needed to do a better job paraphrasing. She wrote that his paraphrase sounded just like the direct quotation he had copied into the first part of the card. He thought what he’d written was fine and told me “But I used a thesaurus.” I hid a smile as I told him changing the words with a thesaurus was not paraphrasing, and to use his own words as if he were talking.
We practiced with another article, and I had him pretend he was talking to me about what he was reading. It took a few tries but, when he realized the difference between what he’d written earlier and what he would now write, I could see the proverbial light bulb pop up over his head. He smiled and said he was ready to do it on his own. When done, he proudly showed me his notecard and said “Look at this Mrs. Mac. What do you think? I did a good job, huh?” Yes, you did.
Keep up the good work everyone!
Today marked Day #1 of the two days I will spend with Ms. Streisfeld and her 7th graders. Ms. Streisfeld is having her 7th grade Spanish classes work on a mini-research report where they’ll learn about a famous Hispanic American. When they have gathered all their information, they will create a poster and prepare a class presentation. I worked with the students today in Inner Space, welcoming them to my classroom. I began the lesson in Spanish, then switched to English.
I asked how would they locate information about a person in a collected biography, and was happy they remembered what they’d learned in 6th grade; the importance of using an index or table of contents to locate information on their person if the book is a collected biography. In addition, if the book is completely written about their person, the table of contents will also help them locate specific information.
We reviewed how to create their bibliographies in NoodleTools, and went over what they will need to compile for their bibliographies when citing books. In addition, I showed them how to use and cite the Biography in Context database to locate more information on their Hispanic American person of interest.
The students went out into the Library and began working with the biographies and collected biographies on Hispanic Americans I had collected in advance and set out for them. Several had obscure persons, and were able to find more information using the database.
I will continue teaching this lesson to the rest of Ms. Streisfeld’s 7th grade students tomorrow.
Buena suerte estudiantes! (Good luck students!)
Congratulations to Leo, Cluster 7-4′s Paper Airplane Contest Winner!
Paper Airplane Contest? Let me explain…
This week, students in the advisories of cluster 7-4 worked on creating paper airplanes for the annual Paper Airplane Flying Contest. Earlier in the week I explained the rules to my advisory students, telling them they had to use a regular sheet of paper, and could choose to use up to 3 staples, a normal sized paper clip, and/or 3 inches of tape. They would be allowed to have 2 throws, and the longest throw would go on to the finals held in the gym on Friday. The plane would be measured from where it landed, and not from where it skidded as it landed. All planes had to have the names of the contestants.
One of my students asked if he could make a “prototype,” and everyone began making sample planes to test fly. Students worked in groups of two to plan their creations. Some chose to use an Origami book to get ideas, while others built from scratch. I gave them “practice lanes” in the library. Some had the aisles, some had the front of the room, while others threw in the aisles between the stacks of books. It was funny to see paper airplanes flying through the air in the library from every angle. Students who weren’t in our cluster and were randomly in the library to get/return a book would look puzzled and wonder why students were flying paper airplanes in the library. They were quite interested when my students explained, and I had to hurry them on their way.
Yesterday, 4 of the 6 teams in my advisory had a chance to fly their creatively designed paper airplanes. I carefully measured each throw with an automatic tape measure I had brought to school just for this purpose, and had students assist me as line judge assistants, “spot” judges to check where the plane actually landed, and with measuring. Today, the final 2 teams of my advisory had a chance to fly their planes (we had run out of time yesterday), and the winning team for my advisory was the paper airplane created by the team of Jack and Anthony.
We all trooped down to the gym where the winners for the entire cluster 7-4 lined up with their planes and were cheered on by their fellow advisories. The rules were explained. This time, students would get just 1 throw, and planes would be measured from their point of landing. One by one, the paper airplanes were flown by their winning pilots. The further they flew, the louder were the cheers. Jack was the designated pilot for his creation, and his airplane wound up in second place.
The winning paper airplane was built by Leo, and flew a record breaking 64 ft. 6 inches! Leo’s plane had an unusual design. Instead of having a typically pointed end, his had a blunt end. I thought it was an interesting feat of aerodynamics to have a blunt tipped plane fly further than a pointed ended plane, as I had never even thought to create a paper airplane with a blunt end. Very smart idea Leo.
Congratulations to Leo on his record breaking flight. He won a book about how to make paper airplanes furnished by Ms. Pacis (Math teacher), and is seen below with his winning paper airplane (click photo to enlarge.)
That was fun! Thank you to all the teachers and students of cluster 7-4 for participating in another great Paper Airplane Flying Contest. Good job everyone!!
Author Pat Mora, founder of El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), sent me a personal e-mail today about her post on her Bookjoy blog letting me know she is honoring me for my work with Día at Pollard. Every year, I work with Pollard’s 7th grade Spanish classes in December and February, and work with the 8th graders in April, bringing “bookjoy,” which is Pat’s coined expression for the love of reading. At Pollard, we call our celebration El Día de los Jovenes, which means “Day of Youth.”
This April, Día will celebrate her Quinceañera, 15th birthday. In honor of that milestone, Pat chose 15 people for their work with Día over the years, leading up to her April birthday. I received the 14th honor (for the month of March), and am also the first school librarian to be so honored.
In addition, author Jeanette Larson‘s book “El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in your Community through Día” will be released in April. She called me at home, saying she had found me through my blog, and interviewed me about my work at Pollard for a chapter in the book on how School Librarians celebrate Día. I am proud to represent School Librarians in the push to get Día celebrated by school librarians nationally.