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.
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.)
With the end of school approaching just a few short weeks away, the library has been a busy hub of activity with end-of-year preparations. This summer, Pollard will be having its roof replaced. Since the library is on the second floor, this means much has to happen in the area of preparations.
So, besides the weeding of books which has been ongoing for most of the month, I will soon begin to put boxes of magazines into specific empty shelves at the very end of the library’s non-fiction shelves. These boxes hold back issues of all types of magazines which are shelved in A-Z order as well as chronological order. Students and teachers borrow from these magazines all the time, and they are considered part of the circulating collection.
In addition, the tops of all of the shelving units will need to be cleared, and all shelves will have to be covered in some sort of plastic or tarp. This include the library’s collection of DVD’s and videos in the workrooms, as well as the separate shelves of Reference books and the teacher’s Professional Collection. Everything on shelves and desks that is visible will have to either be covered or put away, as roof dust will likely gather on everything in sight. The computers and laptop carts will be taken care of by the Technology Department, which will be done after school has officially ended.
Thus, with approximately 17 days left of school, frantic weeding, boxing and shelving is taking place. This doesn’t include what I do with my usual library duties, as well as collecting overdue books, helping teachers, maintaining the collection, ordering books for next year, etc. etc. There is never a dull day at the Pollard Middle School Library, and that’s a good thing!
I’ve been out sick for a few days, but Mrs. Mac is now back!
I recently received my May issue of the American Association of School Librarian’s (AASL) Knowledge Quest magazine. Knowledge Quest is issued on a bimonthly basis, covering news and topics of interest to school librarians. The May issue is dedicated to the 15th Annual National Conference, being held this coming October in Minneapolis. I was asked to write an article related to El Día de Los Niños/El Día de los Libros: Children’s Day/Book Day (also known as El Día de Los Jovenes/Day of Youth when celebrated with teens/tweens), as author and Día founder Pat Mora will be speaking at the conference.
My article, titled “Día and You: Celebrating Children and Literacy,”describes the importance of Día and explains why all school librarians should make its yearly celebration a natural part of their curriculum (click photos below to enlarge). For the past two years, I have been celebrating Día at Pollard with the 8th grade Spanish classes, and hope that by reading about my experiences at Pollard many other school librarians will be inspired to start their own Día celebrations.
I look forward to attending the conference and hearing Pat speak.
I’ve been spending this entire week Weeding the library. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, Weeding is very similar to what’s done in gardens. If you’re a gardener, you plant flowers and, when things grow that aren’t what you planted, you have to pull these “weeds” out of your garden. Those weeds, if left unchecked, choke out the flowers you planted and wind up taking up more room than the original flowers.
The same applies to Weeding in libraries. The flowers that are “planted” are the books I purchase for the library every year. As I continue to add newer books over the years, earlier books were getting older and older just with the normal passing of time. With budgets being what they are, I can never purchase enough new books to match what’s already in the library. Thus, older books tend to overwhelm newer books just by their volume of numbers. They need to be “weeded” out so students/teachers/staff are able to see the new books “blossom” in all their glory instead of being hidden by unsightly, old, broken down books.
Just yesterday, I had a student looking for books on Homelessness. She was discouraged, telling me all she saw when she went to the bookshelves were “old” books. I hastened to show her how to sort them by year of publication, telling her the results showed her the newest books. As a result, she went away happy with a newer book on her topic. This is an excellent example of why older books tend to overwhelm newer books and take away their ability to “shine” and why it’s my job to make sure students/teachers/staff members walk away with what they need.
When Weeding, I don’t haphazardly go through the library’s collection just looking for old books. To begin the process, I create a shelf list of books for each of the numbered Dewey sections using the Reports feature of the online catalog. I go through each book on the list, circling the ones who have older years (1940′s, 50′, 60′s and 70′s). I know the 80′s are also old, and if I see a book in the 80′s that’s very old, I “weed” it too. I also pay particular attention to areas like Science and Technology which should always have the newest books.
Then I go to the actual bookshelves looking for the books I circled to see if they are about something so unique that nothing has ever been written about the subject since that time frame. I also check to see if it’s in good condition and whether or not it has been borrowed within the last 3 yrs. If none of those areas apply, then the book gets “weeded,” meaning I pull it off the shelf.
Once it’s pulled off the shelf, I fill a cart with these “weeds.” Once the cart is full, the next step is to delete them from the online catalog so they’re not able to be searched by a student/teacher/staff member. Once deleted, all identifying marks (school name, barcodes) etc. are taken off the book and it’s stamped “out of circulation.” Finally, the books are boxed. When enough boxes are accumulated, a company who specializes in recycling books arrives to pick them up. This whole process takes many months. I have been doing it a little at a time throughout the year, but usually reserve the end of the year to taking larger chunks of time to get the process done before the year ends.
So, as you can see, there is alot of hidden work to keep the library running on a high level. Purchasing books, getting them into the hands of students, teachers and staff members is important. Teaching the library lessons are also important. However, keeping the library looking good (and new enough) to attract regular visits is very important. Who wants to visit a garden when all you see are weeds? Weeding will commence through the end of the year and will continue throughout the life of the library, as it is necessary to keep the library alive and to keep its visitors multiplying.
So, come on by the library and pick your favorite “flower,” and watch the library “bloom.”
Today’s visit by Ms. LaBarge’s 8th grade ELA students was a trip down memory lane. I originally had this group of students in 6th grade when they had Ms. George for ELA. We worked together alot that year with the brand new Hi-Lo (High Interest-Low Level) books and the Blogging with Books and Buddies program I got as a grant from the Needham Education Foundation my first year at Pollard.
Last year, in 7th grade, I worked together with their ELA teacher Ms. Russo to help them find the best Hi-Lo books they could find to give them reading enjoyment.
Now, this year as 8th graders, we’ve come full circle. Seeing them evoked alot of memories of the 3 years we’d spent together and I marveled at how tall they’d gotten (which pleased them) and reminded them of the fun we’d had over the years.
I gave booktalks for three titles from the Hi-Lo collection, then students had a chance to browse through the new Hi-Lo books I had on display. They also browsed through the general fiction, non-fiction and Biography sections searching for books of interest. All of them borrowed two books, and Ms. LaBarge was very pleased they’d all found something to read. I told her about the Blogging with Books and Buddies program, so hope to see some of their Book Reviews on the blog very soon.
Have fun and enjoy your books everyone! It was great to see you again.
At the end of the day, I bid farewell to Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 Social Studies classes after a week of working with them on the research portions of their required research reports. By tomorrow, students are expected to have at least 5 NoodleTools online notecards completed, with a paragraph describing their thesis due the following day. The rest of their deadlines will follow, and the students were busily working hard today on their final day in the library with me.
Good luck cluster 8-4!
Vacation is over, and work has begun in earnest on the research process for Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 Social Studies classes. This group of students will be the last group of 8th graders to work on their research reports this year.
Mr. Kraus’ students will spend the week with me in the library, as they work on refining their research skills and putting into practice the lessons I taught them today. Among other skills, I showed them how to use the Gale Student Resource Center and the ABC-CLIO Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society databases, while teaching how to use advanced keyword searching with Google and these databases. In addition, I showed them tips on how to create their keywords from their Thesis Statements, showing how to use all we’ve discussed to create their online citations and notecards using NoodleTools.
Good luck cluster 8-4!
Today is the last day of school before Spring Break begins, and Sra. McKenna’s 8th grade Spanish classes were the last of almost 200 students to come celebrate Dia and Bookjoy with each other during our week long celebration. All 8th graders who take Spanish had the opportunity to learn about author Pat Mora’s founding of El Dia de los Niños/El Dia de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), also called El Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros when celebrated in middle and high schools. They also learned about Dia being a celebration of Literacy, Culture, and Bookjoy.
Thank you Sra. McKenna, Sra. Streisfeld, Sra. Hill, Sra. McNamara and Sra. Wescott for bringing your classes and giving them a chance to grow in the language, experience Bookjoy, while exposing themselves to the great array of Latino literature available to them. Thank you to all 8th grade Spanish class students for your great comments, for your lovely poetry, and for sharing Bookjoy with each other. Remember – these books on the Latino culture are available to you any time, and can be accessed by searching the online catalog.
Below are some photos from today’s event (click photo to enlarge), along with a slideshow of our celebrants from Sra. McKenna’s classes.
Great job everyone, and enjoy Spring Break!