Sunday, September 25, 2016

Feet on the ground, now let's dance!

The first few weeks of school give me time to get into routines, establish ground rules, welcome back the kids and begin to get to know the class dynamics. Since I only have each class once a week, this takes more time than a classroom teacher. I am finally beginning to feel we are grounded in routine and expectations and it is time for real learning to being; let's dance!

On the docket for the next few weeks, we will continue with Genius Hour in grades 2 ( see for specifics) 5P, and 6-8. Several classes will play BreakoutEdu. This is an amazing game I purchased last year that can focus on a specific curriculum content or be used for team building skills. The game we will be playing focuses on team building, problem solving, and paying attention to detail. The kids will have 40 minutes to solve the clues and "break into" the box. I will also be setting up appointments with other schools to Mysteryskype. This is a wonderful tool that utilizes mapping skills in addition to Common Core speaking and listening standards. Students love playing and learning about schools around the world. Lastly, the 7th and 8th grades will begin research projects that will take a few weeks to complete. 7th grade will begin researching trip options for their class trip next year and 8th grade will be investigating statistics related to social media. Both grades will create final projects to share.

All in all we will be incorporating various standards and life-skill sets in the work we will be doing. Once the iPod, that the class of 2016 purchased for the LLC, arrives I hope to revive the LLC Twitter account and show the students how to post appropriately on the LLC's Instagram which I use to promote new books. I hope to be transparent in my teaching so listed below are the social media sites I currently use to showcase the amazing accomplishments our students are doing. I welcome thoughts, comments, or questions. Please follow us!
Twitter:      @jillcd- this is my professional one
                   @PlainfieldGH- this is for Genius Hour posts
Instagram:   @noisy_librarian
Youtube:      PESedchannel
FaceBook    Plainfield School Library Learning Commons

Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian

Saturday, September 10, 2016

When the Circus Came to Town

Drop a pebble in a pond and watch the ripples spread and grow. That is what happened when the circus came to town this summer. Circus Zambia came to the USA to assist with the local circus camp that many of the students attend during the summer. They left a sizable impression upon our community.

Upon greeting one of my 5th grade classes last week, the students eagerly inquired when they would be starting Genius Hour. It was with great trepidation that I explained I would not be able to mentor them this year as my teaching schedule was full. My confession was met with disappointed faces. Students rallied and began to share their summer experiences. Circus Zambia came up several times. I informed them that schooling in Zambia is very different than at Plainfield School. We discussed that in Zambia education is a luxury for many students. The kids were literally horrified that children may not be able to attend school or even have access to books or supplies. They were passionate and involved in this discussion. Every single one of them. I could not let this go, so I suggested we turn our LLC ( Library Learning Commons) class into a big Genius Hour Project with the focus on, "How do we help Circus Zambia build a circus school and provide education for the children in Lusaka and surrounding areas?" The kids were ecstatic.

Question: Why is helping Circus Zambia important to you?

We decided that our kick-off point would be International Literacy Day ( September 8th). Students researched Zambia and created posters sharing the various statistics they discovered. They did this on their own time and often gave up their lunch and recess to come research and collaborate. They pulled library books on Africa and displayed them throughout the LLC. They collaborated and wrote an announcement to read over the loud-speaker on September 8th encouraging staff and students to look at the bulletin board and read the books to learn about Africa. 

During their class this week, they came in ready to work. I barely got my greeting out before there was a barrage of ideas and questions. We organized and pulled a focus question to harness the excitement in a productive and positive direction. "What do we do next?"A lively discussion ensued about fundraising. They came to a point where further organization was needed for progress to happen. A list of jobs was created. They suggested:
Writers            Speakers     Readers     Video/ Camera     Editors     Researchers     Leader
Printers           Time-keeper                  Secretary             Artists.

Students raised their hands for the jobs they felt they would be successful at doing. A team leader was unanimously selected to run meetings and, with the time-keeper, create agendas for further meetings. This was accomplished in 45 minutes by 5th graders. However, they felt that was not enough time and asked to come back during their lunch.

When they arrived, a short agenda had been created and they had already decided that the next step in the process would be reading books about Zambia to the children in grades K-2. The team leader took the head of the table, the secretaries had pencil and paper and computer and the time-keeper had a watch to keep everyone abreast of the time. I stood back and watched the magic happen. It was decided that the writers would need to create a proposal to the teachers and the speakers would go to the K-2 teachers to inquire whether or not reading to the students could occur. I offered to order specific books about Zambia to read aloud, and they decided to use the next class to practice reading for fluency. I felt like I was in a corporate board meeting. Students were respectful of each other, listened, focused, and offered logical ideas. Several kids were so engaged they chose to stay in during recess and gather more information about Zambia.

I am in awe of my students. Circus Zambia lit a passion that promotes empathy and so many life-skills that will make these kids a force to be reckoned with. I have hash-tagged my students #worldchangers and they are.  For more information on the achievements of Circus Zambia, check out their Face Book page. If you want to watch us learn, laugh, and grow, follow the blog or our Instagram account noisy_librarian.

Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian
"We are going Global this year. What will YOU do to make a positive impact?"- LLC theme