Thursday, November 7, 2019

Yearly Library Retreat: Purpose and Value

This past Friday members of the Library Department gathered together in the Upper School Library for our annual retreat. We challenged ourselves to think  about our yearly goals, evaluate our roles as school librarians and highlight the contributions we make to the Wheeler Community. We also spent time reflecting on our work as Recipients of the Miller Fellowship. 

We were lead by Christine Smith, the head of the Library Department who gave us this encompassing objective; To come away from the retreat with a plan that supports the unique ways librarians add value to the school’s educational goals, and affect teaching and learning through collaboration and inquiry.

We spent time thinking about the ways we support teachers, students and other constituents of the Wheeler Community. We used the Question Formulation Technique (a tool Christine Smith and myself are currently taking an online Harvard Graduate course in) to think about how our department goals align with the school's strategic plan. We created a list of tasks we each needed to accomplish in efforts to align with the school's strategic plan.

During our retreat last year we took a critical look at the American Association of School Librarians Standards and framework. We brainstormed ways our curriculum meets each standard and we highlighted places in the framework where we were not addressing certain standards. This year we discussed our current curriculum and worked collectively to fill in the gaps we had from last year's work. We still have some gaps and we are committed to continue to find ways to align meet the AASL Standards.



















I think it would be fair to say we all left the retreat feeling valued and endowed with a purpose. We also know that this work is ongoing. We know as librarians we will constantly reflect, adjust, make mistakes and try again. We are up for the challenge!




Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dan Santat's Visit

Dan with Early Childhood
On Friday, October 18th, we were so lucky to welcome Dan Santat to Wheeler.  He met with students in grades N-7 and boy did he entertain us!   One student commented that he could be a stand up comic if he wanted. Dan regaled us with stories about  how he learned to draw as a child by copying his favorite comic strip characters.  He drew this picture of Garfield in the 2nd grade!

He captivated every group of kids he met with.

When asked about what they thought about his visit, many kids talked about how they went home and drew their own comics.  One child even claimed that it helped him to tackle his homework that weekend in a more creative way.  In any case, the message was clear:  "He told us that he worked hard as a kid to learn how to draw and that we can do that too.  It just takes practice!"



A big shout out to the Parent's Association who funds our author visit every year and to Magda Krzystolik and Andra Shea who helped to plan Dan's visit. We couldn't have done it without you!


Saturday, October 5, 2019

An October Reading Challenge

Happy October!
We are well underway to another amazing school year. As all of our schedules start to get busier we want to make sure you are all finding time to read fun and exciting books, magazines and websites. We thought a fun book challenge would be the perfect way to ensure your October reading is fun and exciting!

We have three challenges to propose. You can take on all, a few or one.  
Challenge 1: Read a book that features a character who wears a fun costume
Challenge 2: Celebrate Dictionary Day on October 16th by using a dictionary to look up the definition of three words you don't know. Write down those words and share with one of the librarians for a prize.
Challenge 3: Read a book told in diary or letter form. 

Here are a few suggestions to help you complete the challenge. We will have these titles on display in the Story Room. 

For more fun and exciting challenges visit Brightly: Raise kids who love to read 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Some resources for you!


Hi everyone!  We have enjoyed meeting you at Parent's Night over the last two weeks.  Here are some helpful resources from the library that you can use from home.  Remember we are open M-F 7:30 AM- 4:00 PM.  Feel free to stop by any time and let us know if you have any questions.  

Do you want to learn how to access our databases from home?  Some of the information on the library site has changed slightly since this video was recorded in 2018, but you should be able to navigate it easily:




Are you interested in downloading e-books and audio books from our collection?  Check out this video that explains how:









Friday, September 20, 2019

Welcome Back!!

Happy September!


We trust that all have had a fun and relaxing summer break. Students have been coming into the library each morning and they have been eager to catch up with friends, excited to check out books, and to share what they have read over the summer with the librarians. What a great way to start off the school day!

We have been spending the majority of the month getting to know new students and catching up with old students. One of our goals this year is to be intentional when getting to know your kids. Knowing your kids will influence our curriculum, our library collection and ensure an overall amazing library experience.



As we begin another school year we are excited to share library events, class projects, collaborations and books here on our blog. Feel free to stop by the library to borrow materials from our collection. Library hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30am-4:00pm.

We are looking forward to another fun, happy and healthy school year!







Monday, June 10, 2019

Wrapping up the End of the Year




As we enter the month of June, there are currently three hundred and forty six library items still checked. These books may be in a student's back pack, on the bedside table, in the classroom or in the car. Where ever your book may be we encourage you to return it to the library.





However, if you are like me you probably cannot bare the feeling of leaving all these books alone over the summer break. There is good news! You can borrow a few books to take with you over the break. Studies show that students, who do not read over the summer suffer from summer learning loss. All the skills and information each student has learned over the course of the school year can be lost if students do not continue to exercise their ability to read, write and do math. Brightly for parents and kids provides a great guide to help you carve out time in the summer for reading, math and writing. 

Teachers and librarians have created a summer reading list organized by grade and division. Here is a link to find summer reading lists and math work. 

Have a Fun, Happy and Healthy Summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Top Ten Reasons to Visit...

Sharing their speeches and note-taking sheets with grandparents!
Presenting Idaho!
Back in December, 3rd graders began brainstorming "I wonder..." questions about their states.  They organized these questions into categories which became the categories on their note-taking sheets.  Next, they turned their most interesting facts into reasons to visit their states.   Their final lists are amazing!  Did you know  that 90% of the popcorn in the US comes from Indiana? How about that there are more hogs in Iowa than people? Or that Alabama is home to the National Women's Football League?

Beginning last week, the 3rd graders started presenting their findings in their "Top 10 Reasons to Visit My State" speeches.  These children have worked hard to convince their classmates to visit their states.  I am not sure how they will choose which one is the most convincing in their class.  The winner in each class will receive a letter from someone who lives or used to live in their state!
Practicing speeches with a partner before the final presentation.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Digging Deep into Biographies

Every year students in second grade are exposed to our biography collection in the library. Sometimes that exposure happens explicitly, but sometimes the exposure will happen through other units. For example, a biography might be a book on our Mock Caldecott reading list or a part of an author study. This year I wanted to create an experience where students would learn about biographies and be pushed to dive deeper creating an experience that showed more than the definition of a biography. I wanted students to learn about people in our history that they may have not known about.

As in past years, I explained to students what a biography is, but this year I also read two to three biographies during library class. We then chose one of the people from the three biographies we read, and then we gathered information about that person. The person students chose was Ernest "Ernie" Barnes; the first official artist of the National Football League. 


We discussed important information that should be included in our research and what information qualified as "jaw dropping or mind blowing information". Students then chose their own biography to read and gather information from. 



I was blown away by my second graders's hard work, creative practices and the information they chose to share out. These projects are on display in the story room and I encourage you to stop in during your free time and see them. Along with their biographies their fables will also be on display for your reading pleasure. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The 30th Annual Battle of the Books!!!


(video credit: Jon Green)

Yes.  The heading is true!  We held  our 30th Annual Battle of the Books Thursday night April 25 at the Lincoln School.  We also honored the retirement of two people who have participated in the Battle from the very beginning:  Mrs. Simpson and Mrs. Hahn. Thank you for your 30 years of support for this event.

Students from Wheeler/Hamilton, Lincoln, Gordon and St. Michael's answered quiz-show-like questions about the 30 books on the Battle List.  They competed collaboratively on teams that included students from all four schools.  Each school also performed a cheer. As you can see from the video, not only did our 4th graders create a fun cheer they also performed it with a ton of enthusiasm.  For those of you who haven't attended the Battle in the past, you would be amazed by the palpable excitement in the room.  One fourth grader put it best, "That was the best night of my life!"

Friday, March 1, 2019

Before We Go...

Spring break is always a time to press the reset button. It is a time for relaxation, reflections and reading. All around the Lower School you can find children in all grades reading and sharing their of joy of reading. Just last week fifth grade students spread their joy around campus when they competed in the annual Rooster Games. Our hope is  that their love for books and reading will never die. With that in mind here's a few reading lists and challenges for students and families to enjoy over the break. We look forward to hearing about books and characters students have enjoyed over the break when we come back on March 25th.

I have compiled a list of of great reads for students in  Early Childhood. This list includes books that are fiction, nonfiction, books about the alphabet, numbers and books about colors.

Lastly, we leave you with a few reading challenges for the month of March. We hope you find some time over break to complete one or two of these challenges.

  • Read a book written and/or illustrated by a female
  • Read a nonfiction book about a female who has made a difference or a great contribution to our world 
  • Read a book to your pet or favorite stuffed animals 
Here is a list of suggestions to help you complete some of these challenges. Simply click on the tab that says 2018-2019 Reading Challenges. 



Monday, February 25, 2019

The Rooster Games

Excited 5th graders decked out in their team colors
On Thursday, February 21st the 5th graders participated in our 17th Rooster Games along with the students from Lincoln School.  They have been reading from the Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee list since the summer.  The list consists of 20 books chosen by librarians and teachers around the state.   The 5th graders must read at least 10.  The kids then play a variety of games focused on the books. They match the title and authors and titles and first lines of the books. They also answer 40 multiple choice questions in just 10 minutes (We've never had a team not complete it!). They match an object to each book, make a poster based on the books without using words or symbols and finally they just have 20 minutes to create a cheer for their team.

We end the event with a celebratory pizza lunch and a beautiful rooster cake.  It really is one of the highlights of 5th grade and so fun to see this level of excitement over reading.  As one 5th grader put it, " It will be one of my favorite 5th grade memories!"









Monday, February 11, 2019

2019 Youth Media Awards

On January 28th the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards were announce. I talked about some predictions on my podcast with Wheeler Voices. Additionally students in second grade have studied one of the awards; the Caldecott Award and they have made their own predictions.

Here's a link to all the winners. These award winning titles serve as a great recommended reading list for children, teens and adults. Many of these titles can be found in our libraries here on campus.


Monday, February 4, 2019

4th grade FlipGrid Vlogs

Last year, Megan O'Hara's class began using FlipGrid to keep track of the Battle Books they read.  This year the whole 4th grade has joined in.  The students have a great time recording short videos that include a summary and the star rating they give their books. The kids then record responses to their classmates videos.   Several students have enjoyed it so much that they have recorded book recommendations at home!  On Wheeler Day Ms. O'Hara's 4th graders showed their parents the FlipGrid videos they previously recorded. The parents and kids then recorded videos together.