There've been some scheduling snafus to contend with for the last six weeks, plus kids being late on finishing projects due to snow days followed by February break, so in a concession to the realities of the situation, the students in 5th grade who still hadn't finished their projects/left them at home were granted one final extension. Of course, this meant that my lesson plan to have the students present their biographic subjects fell slightly by the wayside (though a few students had finished before the break and left their projects in school).
What's a library teacher to do in such a situation? Luckily, that very morning, I had brought in the US map puzzle I picked up for $1.50 at my local Goodwill store (thanks to Mrs. Lodge for the inspiration!). I have also been accumulating magazines through the subscriptions to National Geographic Kids, Cricket, Ranger Rick, and Zoobooks that I picked up through LivingSocial for a song. I'd been planning on introducing library activity centers for awhile now, and this seemed as good a moment as any to do it.
Students were given three choices: they could pick a book and read quietly, as usual, they could pick a magazine and read quietly, or they could work on the puzzle. They LOVED it, particularly the puzzle. It was great to see some teamwork and cooperation in action as the students worked together to figure out how to get the pieces to fit, and as a bonus, their geography skills got some practice because this particular puzzle has the pieces slide up next to each other instead of "lock" in the usual fashion.
Other students decided to read. One got really excited reading about models made of chocolate in a NatGeo issue, another curled up in the corner with a copy of Cricket. Two others sat down with one of the "records" books we have (always a huge hit - they're so thirsty for non-fiction, I love it) and read aloud to each other.
This trial run makes me excited to experiment with introducing my other planned stations, and to continue to find new ways to engage students in productive learning in the library while working within my space restrictions.
While searching Pinterest for ideas on creating library activity centers , I came across a post suggesting the use of stuffed animals as reading companions for students. While scaling this up to work with 24 kindergartners didn't seem feasible, I stumbled upon a trove of stuffed vegetables (don't laugh, I'm serious!) in a basket on one of the library shelves. A quick count revealed more than enough to use with my PTC class, a group of eight students with special needs, and I thought this would be a great way to get them to focus on reading time once we were done with our lessons.
The kids LOVE them. Every week now, when we're done with reading our story and doing any associated activities, the students come up to me and ask, "Ms. Bery, can I have my special friend?" They get a huge kick out of holding them and reading quietly, and they know that the rule is that if they throw their special friend around, it will be taken away. I'd love to be able to acquire more stuffed creatures to make this feasible for my other younger students, because I think it's a great way to positively reward students for good behavior during library (classroom management) and to get them to focus on reading independently before they line up for dismissal.
For the past few weeks, students at the Nathan Hale in grades 3, 4, and 5 have been working on studying biographies and learning to use resources, both print and digital, to create posters displaying what they've learned about their subjects.
The third graders have been working with myself and the technology teacher in the tech lab. The unit began with learning how to use KidsInfobits to do background research, and then translating their knowledge into interactive glogs using Glogster. This video, submitted as part of Digital Learning Day/Month, showcases the awesome work these third graders have done. They're very proud of themselves!
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also (very occasionally) review children's and young adult literature on my book reviews page.
Other Library Blogs
The Centered School Librarian
Mrs. Lodge's Library
Trust Me, I'm a Librarian
The Librarian in the Middle
Thinking Outside the Library Box
Ask a Tech Teacher