“Hygge” in the Library

 

Image from Little Book Of Hygge

I love the uncluttered calendar and idle days of summer. There is time for traveling to new places and cultures, bingeing on books, and expanding interests and hobbies. While I cherish the possibilities of the open day, the open road, and the open book I still have the thoughts about library spaces and programming. There is time for reflection and forging forward with giddy anticipation for improvements and new implementations for the next school year. I recently stumbled upon a wisp of a book with a wealth of wisdom that immediately resonated with my philosophy of the library as the heart of the school-The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.

 

 

This book succinctly summarizes a Danish way of life that explains how and why they have the highest rates of happiness in the world.  With many of us traveling to new cultures and countries either physically or metaphorically through books I thought looking at our libraries through the lens of another culture a fitting summer exploration. Through research and experience the author Wiking attributes Danish happiness to the complete embrace of “hygge.” I am sure there are some ideas lost in translation, but the way Wiking frames the philosophy of hygge aligns with the many aims library programs have as an inviting, and welcoming place for students and faculty. There is something wonderful in the state of Denmark that we can apply to our library programs.

Image from Little Book of Hygge

What is Hygge?

The word “hygge” comes from the Norwegian word meaning “well-being.” Some speculate that the word is also related to the word “hug” from the earlier version “hugge”which is also from that region. It could also come from the Old Norse “hygga” which means “to comfort.” There is also the Old English word “hycgan” which means “to think and consider.”  According to the author, hygge is more about atmosphere and experience than tangible things. Some refer to it as a “coziness of the soul.” Others describe it as “cozy togetherness.” All these meanings remind me of how many of us try to create a similar feeling and presence in our spaces. One of the unspoken but palpable aspects of libraries is that is is a refuge for people. This factor is often overlooked by outsiders or administrators that are only data-driven because it is hard to quantify. I am sharing about hygge to say it is not just the hushed tones that some seek when they enter a library; it is the community commons libraries offer. Embracing hygge can help us explicitly develop an environment and culture to serve to our students. Here are some key points of hygge and ways libraries can enhance their services incorporating it.

Atmosphere and Comfort

Much of the discussion of hygge centers around cultivating a space that fosters comfort and contentment. This part of hygge reminds me of the ways good design in library spaces can generate more use from patrons. In some ways the list of recommendations to build hygge sounds similar to the best features libraries have always exhibited: small nooks for reading and contemplation, abundant warm light,  comfortable seating and natural materials like wood. Traditionally in hygge, candles have been the favored light source for both the illumination and the warmth it creates. While this is not practical or safe for libraries incorporating natural lights whether through windows or lights and lamps heightens the feeling of hygge. I think about the regal reading rooms of the New York Public library as an example many libraries emulate.

The book delves into foods and beverages with example recipes too. This made me think of the current trend libraries are moving towards with softened restrictions on food and drink in areas of the library, or adding cafes and food prep areas much like the bookstores in the last decade.  This also fits with activities librarians plan that include food. I have noticed several AISL members share creative events they developed that had a hygge element through the comfort of food. It is also important to note that as many libraries move towards the learning commons model and open plan models that we do not lose the incorporation of smaller spaces, nooks, study carrels, and study rooms. The Danish relish smaller group settings and spaces for more contemplative activities. I notice in my own library that many students gravitate to the nooks and crannies of a library to get their work done; it offers a respite from the designs in classrooms where students are expected to perform and execute in a larger group setting.

Togetherness and Equality

A positive side of the trend towards learning commons within libraries settings is that it acknowledges that we are social creatures. The other most important factor of hygge is happiness together. Spaces that allow common areas for collaborative work embody the social side of hygge. Fostering areas in the library where students can have a meeting of the minds or work on a puzzle together are more examples of hygge in action. Makerspaces, fab labs, and collaborative zones are another iteration of creating spaces that encourage social interactions of students for a common cause or problem. Equality is an important element in hygge. Wiking points out that Danes exhibit “relaxed thoughtfulness” where nobody takes center stage or dominants the conversation in a group.  These communal spaces help students develop healthy social-academic interactions. Many librarians have shared their stories of successfully balancing these communal areas with the quieter zones to fully exemplify hygge in the the library.

“The art of hygge is therefore also the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people,” I found this quotation to be the most important as I try to embrace hygge in my outreach to colleagues and faculty. This reminds me to continually build relationships with teachers over time and that informal and smaller meetings are just a powerful as scheduled professional development. It also reminds me to invite others into the library to collaborate on creative projects. I found it intriguing that Danes say the best number for hygge is three to four people. I will keep this number in mind when embarking on new initiatives. Additionally, simplicity and presence of mind are cornerstones to happiness together.

While many of the actions and advice I shared are not all new; looking at them through a new cultural lens can help improve and reinvigorate our current programs and spread happiness and joy in the process.

Finally, here are a few of my favorite hygge makers from the book-

Image from Little Book Of Hygge

1. Taking a break and reading a book
2. Nibbling on high quality chocolates
3. Going into nature
4. Taking your dog to work
5. Bringing out the board games

 

 

Wiking, Meik. The Little Book of Hygge:Danish Secrets to Happiness. Penguin, 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

2018 AISL Atlanta Conference

This April I attended my first AISL Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. From the moment I boarded the plane in Denver, Colorado I knew I was in for a life changing experience. As one colleague described it, it is like discovering a “field of unicorns”! She was spot on! From the very start, I was immediately welcomed with open arms from fellow unicorns across the country. Within minutes, I was engaged in conversations that made my heart leap with joy! As a solo librarian in a Pre-K- 8th school, it is not often that I find a willing victim who allows me to carry on about cataloging, MLA citations, intellectual freedom, and my endless obsession with Judith Krug! But not here, here I was home.  The conference included several tours of campuses in the Atlanta area and one very powerful visit to the Museum of Human and Civil Rights. The opportunity to visit other libraries was particularly inspiring for me. As librarians, we are constantly facing change in our profession. Our libraries are as unique as our patrons and our spaces are constantly evolving to reflect these changes. That being said, the ability to have such a strong network of professionals with a growth mindset really sets our profession apart. I felt the workshops provided not only were educational and inspiring, but a reminder of the endless and creative ways in which libraries can extend their reach in independent schools. The opportunity to share best practices with other librarians was probably the most significant takeaway for me. It is not often in this profession that you have the chance to talk “shop” and this time was priceless.  AISL did not disappoint with the delicious catered meals and a grand finale SKIP Banquet. These perks however were just a backdrop to the lifelong connections I made with new friends and colleagues. This group of professionals is hands-down the most supportive and inspiring yet. The entire experience was invaluable and you can bet I will be in Boston in 2019!! The goal of this year’s theme Making Connections was surely met! Thank you AISL!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Write for Your Favorite Professional Journal

Is there a particular journal that you really enjoy reading? Your favorite journals are always looking for writers. Why not write an article, on a topic that you are passionate about, for that special publication?

AISL bloggers explore current library topics, entertaining lessons, intriguing displays, research, etc. Bloggers, you might want to turn one of your blog posts into a journal article. We have compiled a list of publications and their writing requirements, plus an article, Writing for Teacher Librarian: A Guide to the Process, which is an excellent resource to read before submitting your work to any journal.

Open your favorite journal link below, and read the submission instructions. For periodicals like Educational Leadership that describe upcoming themes, select one for which you can make a case for your expertise and a unique point of view.  Others, like Literacy Today, want you to submit a proposal before you write.

Always read one or more issues before you start the process.  When you write for an audience other than school libraries, recognize that the more you can “speak” their language and reflect their goals, the better your communication will be.

Instructions for Submitting Articles

ACCESSPOINTS(ATLIS – Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools)

Educational Leadership  (ASCD – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

Independent School (NAIS – National Association of Independent Schools)

Independent Ideas Blog (NAIS Blog)

ISTE Publications (International Society for Teaching Technology in Education)

Kappan Magazine (Journal for Educators, members of Phi Delta Kappa)

Knowledge Quest (AASL)

Knowledge Quest Blog

Literacy Today (International Literacy Association membership magazine)

Rethinking Schools (social justice teaching and educational policy)

School Library Connection

School Library Journal

Teacher Librarian

Teaching Tolerance (social justice teaching and anti-bias topics)

The Publication Group members are available to help you observe, brainstorm, organize, synthesize, and edit your writing. Or, in design thinking terms we can help inspire, ideate, and implement your ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.

Don’t forget to list your AISL membership in your biographical information.

Our next blog post will discuss Editorial Calendars for the different journals.

 

Debbie Abilock: dabilock@gmail.com

Tasha Bergson-Michelson: tbergsonmichelson@castilleja.org

Dorcas Hand: handd51@tekkmail.com

Christina Karvounis: KarvounisC@Bolles.org

Sara Kelley-Mudie: sara.kelleymudie@gmail.com

Cathy Leverkus: cathyl@thewillows.org

Nora Murphy: NMurphy@fsha.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Publications Group, Conferences and You

You have expertise. Yes, you! And there are librarians and classroom teachers out there who want to learn from you.  Perhaps you’ve considered writing a proposal to present at a conference. There’s a support group for that!

Similar to an author’s critique group, the Publications Group is here to help you as little or as much as you feel you need. We would like to encourage you to share your learning journey. The delightful surprise is that, by sharing, you have another opportunity to reflect on and learn from your practice.

Here are some steps to begin your conference presentation proposal:

  • Brainstorm topic ideas
    • What are you truly passionate about? What have you been thinking about or researching?  Chances are this will point to the expertise you can share with colleagues.
    • What conferences are you interested in attending in the next 24 months? If you have attended the conference before, what topic choices work based on the audience and speakers you’ve heard in the past?  If the topic is new, look at the previous year’s schedule and speaker presentations online to find similar presentations.
    • Brainstorm how you can express your idea so it dovetails with the conference theme. Just tweaking the title to tie-in with the theme can be important.
    • Adult audiences, just like students, like to be engaged and challenged.  What mini-inquiry questions or activities might serve your topic well?
  • Plan your application
    • Read requirements. Make connections between your topic idea and the call for proposals. Make sure that your content and format fits with the conference format.
    • Pay attention to deadlines. Proposals are due long before the conference happens, often several months to a year or more.
    •  A good title can organize our thinking about the presentation.  Sometimes when gathering resources the big picture emerges.
  • Write a focused, action oriented proposal (“Writing a Winning Conference Proposal”)

Here are some organizations that would benefit from your expertise at their conferences.

NAIS

AASL

NCTE

NSTA

ASCD

ATLIS

Don’t forget your State Association!

As you research possible venues for your idea(s), please feel free to reach out to one or all of us to help you refine ideas, review proposals, or simply discuss the process.

Debbie Abilock: dabilock@gmail.com

Tasha Bergson-Michelson: tbergsonmichelson@castilleja.org

Dorcas Hand: handd51@tekkmail.com

Christina Karvounis: KarvounisC@Bolles.org

Sara Kelley-Mudie: sara.kelleymudie@gmail.com

Cathy Leverkus: cathyl@thewillows.org

Nora Murphy: NMurphy@fsha.org

 

The Publication Group

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Place for Fandom: Celebrating Star Wars Day in the Library

 

Last week was Star Wars day – May the Fourth be with you!

Getting more involved in fandom is a great way to connect to our school community, but it can be difficult when we don’t get to do a lot of outside-the-school- day programming. One of my fellow Mercersburg Academy librarians, Suzanne Taylor, put together a great range of activities related to Star Wars.

The best equation for programming seems to be: food + giveaway + books + decorations + contest

Food

 

Suzanne found these great silicone ice molds that I used to make chocolate in the shape of Star Wars things. I used candy melts from JoAnn that we had leftover from our Harry Potter celebration. They are on sale frequently at JoAnns and there is always a coupon.

Giveaways

Suzanne found these great downloadable bookmarks (download here) that we printed out and cut to size.

Contest

A few short trivia questions were printed on small cards and then students were asked to answer the questions for a chance to win one of two prizes. The prizes were a coloring book and a notebook!

Decorations

Suzanne made several posters, digital display slides and foldable characters. If you’d like a copy of the posters or displays, I’m happy to share via email!

Book display

We put all of our Star Wars books and some of the DVDs on our short stand display. Students were surprised to note that we had so many! These books are often lost in our graphic novel section so it was a great opportunity to trot them out.

 

Have you done a fandom themed day in your library?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Culture and Approachability in the “Heart of the School”

Last week I was preparing for the first meeting of a new book club that had been reading  The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read the whole thing, but I did open up the table of contents a few hours before the meeting to select a chapter or two I could consume before then. Chapter 11 in the section entitled “Share Vulnerability;” is called “How to Create Cooperation with Individuals.” Like I’m sure many of you have found, I find that my best interactions with students engaged in a research process are in one-to-one research meetings, so I opened up this chapter. Either I picked exactly the right one, or I ought to read the whole book.

In this chapter, Coyle meets an IDEO designer named Roshi Givechi, who is prized by her colleagues for her ability to help others solve problems. She is described as a relatively quiet person who puts others at ease with her air of serene competence and approachability. When a design team is facing a sticking point in their process, Givechi is able to help them discover new approaches by “asking the right questions the right way” (151). Coyle is impressed by her term for when this happens – “surfacing.” By making people feel comfortable, listening fully and taking interest in their interests, and asking good questions, Givechi doesn’t offer answers but creates a situation in which the problem solvers can make connections that reveal solutions. In reading about Givechi’s talent, I thought “this is just a super deluxe reference interview!” 

These are some basic elements at the core of our profession that I think we generally internalize, but it doesn’t hurt to give them some extra thought sometimes. Simple but important, “approachability” is listed first among RUSA’s Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers.

Steven Bell at Temple University, who was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Summer Institute, blogged last year about the basic importance of being friendly, approachable and trustworthy in library services (https://tinyurl.com/y8x8xb7y). Our Marsha Hawkins in her great conference presentation last month on the “Boy-Friendly Library” talked about this simple idea too, when she said that she greets every student every day by name. Making ourselves accessible and approachable creates the shared vulnerability that builds trust in a community.

I don’t really have an office; I work at the 105-year-old reference and circulation desk in the middle of the library. From my workstation, this is what I see:

The Front Door

When students come in this door, whether to come to the library or go to class, this is the first thing they see: 

Just imagine the pumpkin is me.

Working at a computer at the desk, it is way too easy for me to, as Steven Bell writes, “fail to quickly and adequately acknowledge another person’s presence.” My monitor and the desk itself are physical and psychological barriers between the students and me, and it’s my job to break them. I want to make eye contact, say hello, “happy birthday” and “good luck at the game today” to students as they walk in the door, giving them the cue that they are welcome and in the right place, and usually/often I do. But sometimes when engrossed in a task, I find that I haven’t looked up in a while. Maybe a student will say hello to me and draw me out of that place, making me feel sheepish for failing to greet her and acknowledge her presence. On the other hand, maybe I’ve greeted her enough times that the relationship is there and her greeting can remind me of why I’m standing in the middle of this room in the first place – to be approached, to be open to what the students need and help their ideas surface, and to be at the heart of a school culture that supports and gently pushes at the same time.   

References

Bell, S. (2017, August 21). There’s a reason why eye contact and smiling improve the experience [Blog post]. Retrieved from Designing Better Libraries website: http://dbl.lishost.org/blog/2017/08/21/theres-a-reason-why-eye-contact-and-smiling-improve-the-experience/#.WvtlCGbMzVo

Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: The secrets of highly successful groups. New York: Bantam Books.

“Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers”, American Library Association, September 29, 2008. http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidelinesbehavioral (Accessed May 15, 2018) Document ID: ce1dea7f-f77b-c194-2967-b53adb4b40ed

Hawkins, M. (Presenter). (2018, April 17). The fundamentals of a boy-friendly library: Practice and research instruction. Presentation given at AISL annual conference, The Lovett School, Atlanta, GA.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why We Do What We Do

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an Institute at St. Mark’s School of Texas, a peer institution here in Dallas, Texas. The keynote speaker for the Institute was Jim Burke. Mr. Burke is the author of numerous books on education, specifically books relating to best practices in teaching English class. Before attending the Institute I jumped on Amazon to research Mr. Burke’s titles. As a Librarian, the book that stood out to me was I Hear America Reading: Why We Read What We Read. I ordered a copy and, once I started reading it, the book reminded me why I love my profession so much.

“In an era of decreasing commitment to literacy……it is no surprise that most students, too, are bypassing books.” Mr. Burke, an English teacher, wrote these words in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. He then encouraged readers to write to the students in his high school English class and tell the students about experiences with books and how books have played an important role in life. Over one thousand pages of letters arrived. I Hear America Reading is a collection of some of these letters.

As I read the letters from librarians, artists, cattle ranchers, elementary school students and retired senior citizens it made me appreciate the joy that my job can bring. So often we lament the changing face and role of libraries. So often we focus on technology and how we have to have the latest, greatest and best in order to remain relevant. So often we feel like we have to justify our role to our administrators, fellow educations and community. It was refreshing to read letters from people that simply enjoy reading, and what a remarkable job we have to help facilitate the love of reading!

From one letter: “When I was twelve years old, I read Theodore Sturgeon’s scary fiction book More Than Human. I liked the part of the psychiatrist so much that I decided to become one. I’ve been a psychiatrist for twenty years now, and I love it.”

From another letter (a second grade student): “I like reading because when you keep growing and you keep on reading when you grow up you may be a famous reader and you may even sit on the stage and read so keep on reading…”

Last one! (from a third grader): “I have a Rocking Book, Godzilla is the title. I can’t wait for you to read it. It is about Godzilla trying to destroy the city. You will think it is cool. You can read it if you want!”

Happy Summer!! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

on a mid-research pause, reflect, share, and go…

Sometimes, as the saying goes, “It’s better to lucky then good.” This is a story about one of those times–a research and information literacy experience that was totally planned and developed by non-library faculty that further our program’s information instruction goals.

Who Teaches Research? – In a PK-12 school with a rather large student population, I have come to realize that as librarians here, our mission is to be sure that sound research and information literacy skills are being taught in our curriculum, but the librarians cannot, and indeed SHOULD NOT,  solely be the ones delivering all of that instruction. Everyone needs to teach research!

The IB Extended Essay (In my head, also known as #ResearchArmageddon… LOL) –  Students here at Mid-Pacific can elect to earn a full International Baccalaureate Diploma over the course of their junior and senior years. One of the core requirements of the IB Diploma program is that students must complete a 4000 word research paper on a topic of their choice. In the fall of junior year, students are paired with a faculty mentor. Students research and write through the remainder of their junior and into the fall of their senior year. Completed IB Extended Essays are submitted to the IB in the spring of students’ senior years. Faculty mentors guide and coach students through the research and writing process, but the IBEE is largely a student-driven independent study experience.

Bring on the Extended Essay Cafe – Although the Extended Essay is intended to be a student-driven, independent study experience, the IB understands that these are still 16-year old human beings–many who are writing a research paper of this extent for the very first time. The IB, therefore, encourages schools to offer an “Extended Essay Cafe” experience. Coordinated by our school’s awesome overall IB coordinator, Kym Roley, and our amazing Extended Essay Coordinator, Jessica Hanthorn, students gathered in the school seminar room along with a history teacher, the head of our science department, the head of the Mid-Pacific School of the Arts, and me. Each student prepared a 7-slide presentation as a snapshot of the state of their Extended Essay research at this moment in time.

  • Slide 1: Introduction
  • Slide 2: Research Question
  • Slide 3: Background
  • Slide 4: Chapter Headings/Working Outline 
  • Slide 5: Detail 
  • Slide 6: Problems and Solutions 
  • Slide 7: Bibliography

The Experience – Students were each given 10 minutes to introduce us to their topics and walk us through their process. What an amazing process it turned out to be! As I listened to my kids, I literally thought, “I wish every jaded adult who writes about today’s youth and their lack of passion could be here to see what I get to see and to hear what I get to hear because what I see and what I hear is passion!”

G. talked extensively, and with great passion, about the the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

Feedback from our faculty panel was that it was clear to anyone in the room that G. has a deep love for her subject, but that she easily has an 8000+ word essay on her hands–if not the makings of the start of a book. She was directed back to the IB Film: Subject-specific guide, and someone suggested that she might consider a single element of film-making in the 3 Miyazaki films she discussed or that she might consider looking at a single film rather than 3.

Click here to view JKs full IBEE Cafe slideshow

J. shared his interest in the the way that technology has impacted his learning experience as a student at Mid-Pacific. He spent a substantial amount of his time explaining the struggle he has had narrowing his topic. The panel suggested that one possible way to narrow the topic might be to focus on the effect that a particular app or type of app such as an online calendar or a “to do” app like Google Keep has on student learning. Another suggestion was for him to consider focusing on a narrower age group such as early elementary or middle school students. J. also expressed his belief that he was not finding a lot of “statistical” data about technology and learning so the suggestion was made that he seek information about the difference between quantitative and qualitative assessment data as he begins digging more deeply into scholarly sources for his research.

It was wonderful to see that our students were willing to be open minded to the panel’s suggestions, but that they also felt comfortable pushing back on suggestions as well! What could be better than students feeling ownership about how THEY want to shape their work? Almost across the board, when students pulled up their in-progress works consulted lists, they did not yet have many scholarly works in place so that was a frequent refrain. Given that their research is just now coming together lack of scholarly sources was not a surprise at all, but it was a nice opportunity to remind students that, that was what IB readers would expect to see.

The Benefits – To my mind, having students create and share an artifact that reflected their research accomplished a number of things:

  • Because they had to have something to present to an audience, some of the kids who have been frozen by indecision were forced to make some tough decisions and start moving forward.
  • Students who were frozen in place by the evils of learned-procrastination were forced to develop a plan of action that got them off the starting line.
  • Presenting to a live audience helped students come to the their own realization that their topics were too big for 4000 words.
  • Students who got overly enthused about the experimental design aspect of their science topics received guidance that refocused their work around that fact that they are, indeed, writing an ESSAY–the experimental design, while appropriate for an internal assessment is not the goal here.
  • Students who had DEEPLY back burnered the Extended Essay got to see how much progress some of their peers had made.
  • Students who had made progress, but who were feeling anxiety about being “in the weeds” learned that they were doing fine.

The Steal-worthiness and Making It Scale – I think we all understand how important reflection is to the learning experience. Too often in our instructional design, however, we ask students to reflect on their process and their learning at the END of a project. I love the fact that our Extended Essay Cafe allowed students to pause and reflect mid-way through their project which allows them to make changes that will improve the experience RIGHT NOW on THIS PROJECT rather than making adjustments to their research process on a hypothetical project sometime in the future. This kind of mid-research / mid-project reflection would have served 16-year old me far better than a reflection that came at the end.

While I do not think that it is realistic for us to replicate the Extended Essay Cafe experience fully for all of our projects, as a school that has invested heavily in the project-based learning process I see many opportunities for us to build smaller scale mid-research “pause and reflect” opportunities into our project design for students.

I’m looking forward to seeing if we can make this a reality in our students’ project experiences going forward.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Curation and Curiosity

Cabinet of Curiosities

The librarian’s role as curator was the topic of a TxLA conference session by Joyce Valenza. For anyone who has attended one of Joyce’s high-energy presentations, you know that you leave with your brain whirling with new ideas. This session on curation was timely because the new AASL standards feature curation:

Curate: Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources of personal relevance.

Here are four curation tools that I plan to explore this summer. My goal is to curate resources for students and also guide students as curators:

Google Custom Search
Combine the power of a Google Search with the expertise of a librarian assembling the websites for students to search. The Google Custom Search box can be embedded on your library resource page.  I plan to explore further the option to register as an educational nonprofit to turn off ads on the Google Search boxes.

Symbaloo Gallery
Here is a Symbaloo that I created to begin curating resources for Copyright and Fair Use, Digital Citizenship, and Media and News Literacy.

Pearltrees
Visually organize content in grids.  Here is an example of Joyce Valenza’s Pearltree and a blog by Richard Byrne about Pearltrees (FreeTech4Teachers).

TES Teach with Blendspace
Bring together videos, photos, and documents into a visual grid that encourages exploring resources.

I have also assembled a list of suggested books that can be used to introduce our students to the idea of curation and promote its value in the research process.

Young Readers
The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell by Candace Fleming (picture book biography)
Author Fleming dramatizes a true moment in the life of artist Joseph Cornell: as a young boy, Joey was fascinated by collecting things and he organized a special ticketed event for friends and family to view his collections.

Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner (picture book biography)
This is my favorite version of Potter’s young life because it shows her fascination with exploring nature and desire to be a scientist. Unable to pursue this scientific field because she was a woman in the Victorian Period, she turned her love of nature to creating delightful drawings for the Peter Rabbit tales.

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman (picture book)
A grandfather shares his special matchboxes with his granddaughter. Each matchbox contains a small object that marks a moment in his immigrant story.

Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis (fiction)
A young child explores a grandmother’s collection of pennies; the year on each penny designates significant events in the grandmother’s life.

Middle School Readers
What Darwin Saw: The Journey that Changed the World by Rosalyn Schanzer (Biography) . Darwin’s natural collections and observations in his notebooks fueled his scientific theories.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Darlene R. Stille This historical look at the expedition of Lewis and Clark includes primary source drawings and diary entries from Lewis and Clark’s journal.

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge
Dorothea Lange’s documentation of social issues through her photos is a great example of sharing important ideas with an audience.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
This fiction story is loosely based on an Outsider artist whose cast-off sculpture assemblages were exhibited at the Smithsonian. A young boy is assigned community service with this “junk man,” and the boy begins to find personal healing as he assists in gathering the pieces for the sculpture.

High School Readers
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
In this historical fiction novel, a teenage girl is assigned to community service, assisting an elderly woman in cleaning out her attic. What they discover together is a treasure trove of memories of the elderly woman’s experience as an orphan train child.

The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom
by John F. Baker, Jr. As a seventh grader, Baker discovered a photo in his history textbook
that depicted slaves on the Wessyngton Plantation. The people in the photo were his
grandmother’s grandparents, and it prompted Baker to begin a life-long project of collecting oral history interviews and photographs that were later assembled as part of a special exhibit at the Tennessee History Museum.

Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo del Toro
Director Guillermo del Toro surrounds himself with curiosities and collections that help to inspire him in his movie projects. This book is filled with his sketches, journal entries, and collections from his estate that inspire his imaginative works.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas on how librarians can engage students’ curiosity and encourage their desire to become curators of knowledge.

Bibliography for Image
Georg Hainz Cabinet of Curiosities. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. quest.eb.com/search/109_111663/1/109_111663/cite.
Accessed 5 May 2018.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watermelon Rhymes

Plant a watermelon vine upon my grave

And let the juice, slurp slurp, seep through.

Growing up, my family maintained a huge garden in our backyard and watermelons were one of our best and favorite crops.  My mom would sing this old song to us whenever we had a watermelon feast. I’m not certain we understood the meaning of the words (!), but we sang it, loud and proud, to express our love for watermelon.

When I was searching for new ideas to share with third graders this year during National Poetry Month and stumbled upon a lesson plan called the Poetry Pizzazz  (gotta love Teachers Pay Teachers!), and for a very reasonable price I received six different lessons and activities to celebrate poetry writing with my students. One of the six, Watermelon Rhymes, seemed just right for our third graders because it provided a writing activity that would allow students at every level to succeed.  That’s when that old watermelon song jingled my memories of watermelon summers. 

We began a month long process, with one library lesson per week, of reading poems, brainstorming lists of rhyming words, using our rhyming words to write poems, and then creating watermelon slices of our own to illustrate our poems.  To celebrate our poetry writing journey, we projected student poems on the whiteboard and had each third grade poet read aloud their poems to the class.  This crop of watermelon poems was silly, fun, and full of creative juices that seeped into each of our students for poetry fun!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment