Featured Post

Gearing Up for and Participating In ... The Hour of Code

Lately, we have hit the pause button on our library sleuthing skills and tuned into our tech problem-solving skills to participate in the Ho...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April Is The COOLEST Month

...or so T.S. Elliot would have said if he'd been in the NAPS Elementary School libraries this month!

Even though our schedules went topsy-turvy with the start of MCAS testing, and with April vacation, we still managed to celebrate National Poetry Month in style in each of the libraries!

Each school did something a little bit unique to celebrate...check it out!

Kittredge library detectives know lots about poetry. We celebrated National Poetry Month in different ways and enjoyed listening to and writing our own poems.

The month kicked off with quatrains in grades K-2. We had fun learning about quatrains and writing one as a class before writing our own. Students listened to a variety of silly and fun poems and identified which were quatrains. One poem in particular that made us giggle and inspired many students to write their own quatrains was "If Kids Were Put in Charge of Schools" by Kalli Dakos from her book Don't Read This Book, Whatever You Do! More Poems About School:

Our town poet laureates inspired Mrs. Mullally to lead the students in a performance poetry session based on Odgen Nash's quatrain poem "The Termite."

Based on a fairy tale of their choice, grades 3-5 at Kittredge took on story recreation in poem form. We were inspired in particular by listening to the different perspectives provided within Marilyn Singer's poem about the three little pigs. This poem appears in her book Follow, Follow, a collection of reverso poems based on fairy tales.

The library was transformed into The Beatnik Cafe later in the month so that students could do a poetry book tasting and also perform their poetry in a brief poetry slam jam. We kicked off the class using the library's collection of poetry books to sample new poems and write about them in our menus. Afterwards, we worked to create and revise our existing poems. We finished it all by sharing our favorites with the class.

Sargent & Thomson also got to sample some of Marilyn Singer's reverso poetry with her first book, Mirror Mirror. We talked about how poets tell fairy tales with a slightly different perspective, and we compared and contrasted Singer's poem about Little Red Riding Hood with a traditional version by Trina Shart Hyman.

We also had a chance to listen to one of Mrs. Ahearn's favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, recite his fairy tale-inspired poem, Instructions. We discussed how knowledge of fairy tales helps inform our knowledge of other works of literature - it's like finding little clues in a forest of stories!

With the younger grades at Sargent & Thomson we talked about quatrains. A quatrain is a poem of four lines with a rhyming pattern. We read a few by famous authors (and two by Mrs. Ahearn!), and then we worked on one as a class! 

The second graders, who caught on really fast, were able to start working on their own individual quatrains - and some of the students submitted their quatrains to the Elementary Schools Poetry Contest!

Poems That Take Shape 
Students at Atkinson School had the opportunity to write their own poems during the month of April with Ms. Osborne, Atkinson Schools’ Library Media Specialist. They learned about concrete poems, also known as shape poems, through Ode to a Commode by Brian Cleary and Wet Cement: a Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka. 

After discussing the characteristics of concrete poems they then created their own poem and added art work. The younger grades used handprints as a template for their poems and were asked to write about the things they can do with their hands while the older grades were asked to come up with a shape or topic that meant something to them such as a hobby, sport or activity that they enjoy. With various poetry books available in the classroom for inspiration the children quickly came up with topics and were engaged in the activity and expressing themselves through the combination of text and artwork. 

That's it for this month, library detectives! Stay tuned for more exciting library news as we wrap up the year in May and June!

- Mrs. Ahearn, Mrs. Mullally and Ms. Osborne

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Technology Mania

Phew! March was a busy time spent honing our technology skills and practicing good computer posture habits at all grade levels. Their library media specialist turned into Coach Posture who dispensed personalized posture tips and ergonomic advice. In the earlier part of the month, Grades 3-5 got savvy with the technology tools and features used in the online test module of MCAS. K-2 began the month using their ABC knowledge to hunt in NASA's online picture dictionary. All around, our super sleuthing skills were in sharp focus! 

Grades 3-5
Our MCAS technology scavenger hunt opened the month's lessons and got everyone figuring out all the buttons and test elements that are built in to the site. Instead of working to solve the problem at hand or read the selected passages to answer the question, students were on a mission to understand how to use the features built in to the online test. Working in small groups to locate the parts of the test where certain tools are useful and why they are important, the students reported back on their findings at the end of the class.

Later on in March, we highlighted the importance of posture and emphasized good hand position on the keyboard  to improve our typing. We watched a video to open a conversation about our posture

and students learned about bad habits we adapt while sitting at the computer (these include sitting like a turtle, diving into the computer, and using zombie arms - or chicken wings - to type). But we learned some simple tips to immediately improve our posture (putting both feet flat on the floor, sitting up flat against our chair, keeping neutral wrists, and adjusting our computer screens).

We practiced our good posture while using typingclub.com and took stretching breaks to check in with our bodies and readjust our posture.

Grades K-2

It's never too early to start learning good posture habits - that's what our youngest computer sleuths learned and practiced throughout the month. Our youngest classes got practice in correcting bad computer postures in this video before turning their attention to how they were sitting in front of their computers.

In our earlier library lesson, our students created their own picture dictionary entries after navigating through the NASA's Online Picture Dictionary. From Asteroids to Zarya, they showed they could look up a word from the site to draw their own visual definition.

Later in the month, we had loads of fun playing Alphamunchies, a game designed to help us learn to locate letters on the keyboard. Alpha Critters fall from the sky and kids must stop the Critters from hitting the ground and eating their food by typing the correct letters.

Your posture coaches are hoping you'll keep up your good posture habits by practicing more at home and at school. Over and out, library detectives!

Friday, March 3, 2017

February Fun in the Libraries

Though February is the shortest month of the year - made even shorter by all those snow days and the vacation week! - we still packed in a lot of fun to our library lessons!

The general theme for the month was Nonfiction, as we spent a good amount of time in January talking about Fiction and its elements. However, we still made room for some fun read-alouds!

K-2nd Grade

The younger grades celebrated World Read Aloud Day (February 16th) by working on pieces of art depicting their favorite scenes from a story. Some classes read works by our favorite author, Jacqueline Woodson; other classes listened to Chicken Big by Keith Graves. To spice things up, some classes were able to check out TumbleBooks - an amazing resource hosted by the Stevens Memorial Library. Did you know there's an entire online library of books - chapter books, as well as picture books that can be read to you - available to you 24/7, as long as you've got your Stevens Library card? It's an awesome website, perfect for hosting your own storytimes at home!

 Search for "Tumblebooks" in the Stevens Online Database Catalog!
Click here to find the TumbleBook library in the Stevens Online Databases!
The art the students made after reading the stories is being turned into story quilts that will be displayed in Central Office - here's a sneak peek at what they'll look like!

We also did some work with KWL Charts. KWL stands for "Know/Want (or Wonder)/Learned". The chart is a way for kids to organize their information, and to visually represent the learning they do when they read a work of nonfiction. 

We practiced with nonfiction books, and we noticed that it was a whole lot easier to come up with things we wondered about than things we knew about certain topics! It was fun to see our "Learned" columns fill up after reading nonfiction titles! 

3-4th Grade

The 3rd and 4th graders started discussing the ways in which they can develop their own research topics from essential questions. We talked about Pre-Search - a similar concept to our "what I know" column for the younger kiddos - and how it's important to brainstorm everything you already know about a topic as a guideline for discovering new information. From one essential question about animals and camouflage, students were asked to use the Encyclopedias (the book ones!) to look up the keywords they brainstormed in order to find more information about the topic. Finally, they were asked to develop Thick and Thin Research Questions. A thick research question is robust, requiring a lot of in-depth research. A thin question is a question that can be easily answered in a few words. We talked about why those questions might be helpful in our research. During one class, students were so engrossed in the research and question-writing that they didn't realize a full hour had passed! 

Sharing resources, brainstorming, and researching using the encyclopedias! 

5th Grade

The 5th graders started a discussion on Evaluating Sources of information. One lesson focused in on evaluating text/book sources. We talked about how you need to really look over a book before you decide it's going to be helpful for your research. Things like age, condition, illustrations/images and readability all play a role in determining if a source is the best possible source for use in projects. We worked in groups to evaluate three different books to determine which would be the most helpful to us in a project. It was a hit! 

In our discussion surrounding the Evaluation of Websites (which can be significantly trickier!) we talked about what might be the most memorable acronym to ever appear in the library curriculum: The F.A.R.T Test! 

This acronym is helpful for everyone who goes on the internet - kids and grownups! 

We put a few websites to the test - specifically, a fake website about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!

That's all for now, library detectives!

Monday, February 6, 2017

New Year Fun in the Libraries

Happy 2017, North Andover! This is shaping up to be a great year for our school libraries, as we re-focus on our book collections after a month of coding fun. We split the month into two sections, both devoted to promoting our fiction collections.

Grades K-1

Our youngest library friends spent some time talking about what makes a book a work of Fiction. We talked about how fiction usually has illustrations (as opposed to photographs), characters, and a story with a beginning, middle, and end. We read an example of a fiction story, like the one featured below!

Click here to find this in the MVLC catalog!
Then we worked on identifying whether or not books were fiction or something else in small groups!

Grades 2-3

Second and third graders were tasked with creating Story Maps of different stories. We talked about how almost every fictional story has these five elements: Title, Setting, Characters, "Problem", and "Solution". Once you can dissect a story into those five parts, it's easier to read & understand...and to write your own stories, too! We read a short story together and then students worked in pairs to read and analyze picture books. Some were pretty tricky!

Mrs. Ahearn liked sharing a story from In A Dark, Dark Room for this lesson.

Click here to find this in the Stevens Library catalog!

Grades 4-5

Fifth graders mapped out stories using a Plot Diagram worksheet in Google Classroom. We talked about how plots of fiction stories have a "rising action"/problem and a "falling action"/solution, as well as a climax (the most exciting part, where the story takes a sharp turn), a beginning and an end.

The students worked in pairs on the computers to complete plot diagrams for different picture books. 

Book Tasting!

By far the most exciting part of studying fiction has been our Book Tastings! The librarians created a "menu" for kids to sample parts of the library fiction collections that students might not otherwise have tried. Every class had a selection of books that were developmentally appropriate served as "courses" during the tasting. Kids got a book, analyzed the cover, read a few pages, and then decided if it was a book they might someday like to try. The idea being that every child would leave the library with a list of books that they could try out when next they had library check-out time.

Because we librarians like to make things fun, our book tastings were complete with music, table cloths, candles, trays - the works!

That's all for now, Library Detectives!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gearing Up for and Participating In ... The Hour of Code

Lately, we have hit the pause button on our library sleuthing skills and tuned into our tech problem-solving skills to participate in the Hour of Code! Our library classrooms have been transformed into computer labs and our students into programmers. Using Chromebooks in our classes, we are able to get students engaged in coding games available from code.org. Students are now getting programming experience through special games available on the Hour of Code site that emphasize sequencing and order, conditional statements, and other habits of mind used when designing code.

Our kindergarten, first, and second grade classes are having fun with the game Kodable available on code.org. They get to tell the Smee character the right steps to navigate his way through the path in order to get to the next level. Each level requires students to provide step-by-step ordered instructions to the Smees, with each level getting progressively more complex.


In third, fourth, and fifth grade, students are challenging themselves to complete code in the Minecraft and Moana games. There are many opportunities to be creative and silly in Minecraft Designer, the code.org game where students are in charge of designing how their chickens and other characters will behave and what they will do. The Moana game, also available from code.org, has been a timely hit with many students as well, and provides students the opportunity to practice spatial skill-building by completing action-oriented and specific tasks.


Code.org/learn is a free site that you can use at home and has a wide range of games that introduce coding skills in a fun learning environment. Check it out!