Week 11

Our week started off with Parent-Teacher conferences, but since we didn’t have any virtual meetings set up, we had the time to shift books! After listening to the ladies from #DisruptTexts, we decided to get rid of the “Classics” section because what really counts as a classic?? In its place, we decided on a short stories section. This required recategorizing all the classic books and pulling all the short stories from their various genre locations. We also shifted the professional development books and replaced them with new non-fiction books and the yearbooks. Hopefully we’ll get more check-outs and interest this way!

This week we also wrapped up the 8th grade chemist research project and continued to set up Noodletools accounts in the Upper School. We also had a lively discussion of Six of Crows in 8th grade book club – probably our best yet this year! The busy weeks continue… 🙂

Weeks 9 & 10

As quarter one came to an end, we went sprinting into quarter two! As teachers are finding themselves unable to teach from campus, we’ve been called upon to cover classes. No complaints here – just trying to balance schedules!

Whitney has been setting up NoodleTools and teaching about citations in US History classes and also taught in MS Science where the final product was an infographic about the science of Covid. She also hosts weekly Community Life meetings which seem to gain in popularity as time goes on 🙂

I have been working in 8th grade science on a chemist research project and gained another level of respect for teacher’s workload. Between balancing Zoom students and in-person students, back-to-back classes, and eating lunch with advisees, it’s tough to find time to go to the bathroom let alone take a breath! This project teaches the kids how to use Gale’s Biography in Context, share a NoodleTools project, create in-text citations, and upload documents in OneNote. Technology wasn’t my friend at the beginning, but things seem to be smoothing out now. I even heard a student say she loved databases because you could export citations directly to NoodleTools. Welcome to the dark side of loving research!

Next week includes 2 days of Parent-Teacher Conferences so we’ll be working on more of the physical space of the library while students are gone. Stay tuned for more info.

Week 7

This week held another rousing 8th grade book club discussion of Ender’s Game. Now if we could just get all the kids to read the book….I’m excited they chose Six of Crows for next month! It’s also been a week full of professional development: MASL Conference on Leading the Change for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, SLJ’s Day of Dialogue, and the continuation of ALA’s Leadership for School Librarians. We put up a new Halloween display, finished up New Kid Jamboard discussions in advisory, weeded some of the travel and reference books, and dipped our toes into pulling holds at the Lower School. Since neither of us are too familiar with the collection down there, it took some time but I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it. Nothing better than getting books into the hands of excited kids 🙂

Week 6

It seems that every week is different from the last, and this one was no different. We gave the 7th graders a chance to check out books in their English classes, listened as middle schoolers gave speeches for student council, launched Flipster virtual magazines, covered other teacher’s classes if they needed to work from home, met with our Titlewave rep, drafted a list of physical/ebooks to buy, put up an election display, weeded the fiction DVDs and reference books, pulled dozens of holds for kids to check out, and switched up the bulletin board display. I’m embarking on ALA’s Leadership for School Librarian’s course, and Whitney’s busy representing the library in US and MS meetings, hosting Community Life club, and planning long advisory activities tying in New Kid, a MS summer reading book. We’re also talking with the 8th grade English teacher about diversifying class reading and thinking about revamping our 6th grade Breadwinner collaborative unit. Oh! and we’re planning ways to get physical books into the hands of our LS students since our colleague is working from home.

Week 5

Last week was a 4 day week – what a great treat to have an extra day to relax. We were certainly able to squeeze a lot into those 4 days though!

Our 6th graders received an orientation and introduction to our online catalog and physical space. To make sure everyone at home got a glimpse of the library, we filmed a video tour, edited out some of the more cringe-worthy moments, and asked the at-home students to watch it while the in-person students walked through themselves. It was fantastic seeing students curled up in a seat reading for fun again!

We also had meetings galore. Checking in with each other, updating our year-long goals, speaking with our EBSCO rep to discuss Flipster and additional resources, and officially launching our Fall into a Good Book Reading Challenge through Beanstack. We also had lunch duty with our advisory and a rousing 6th grade book club that ended with a pushup competition? Loving the energy 🙂

Week 4

This week was so fun! Primarily, I’m talking about Thursday when we had a “Get Acquainted Day.” Since only the 6th and 9th grade students were on campus, the entirety of their grades came (as opposed to A or B cohorts). This was the first time we saw all our 6th grade advisory in one place, with the exception of our one fully virtual student. As a group, we created a secret (distant) handshake that involved each student adding one dance move onto the string of dance moves created by everyone else. This meant both Whitney and I were asked to dab, do the wave, floss, kick our feet, do a pretend paddy cake, and roller coaster our hands – all while remembering the order of each addition. Sounds complicated, but it was primarily a lot of laughing. What a lovely treat after a painfully silent virtual 4th quarter last year.

Additionally, we hosted a 7th grade book club (they chose to read When You Reach Me), met our advisory parents at Back to School Night, taught bias in 7th grade Science, taught plagiarism in 6th grade History, introduced 8th grade English to the library, met with Zoobeans to plan a Fall reading challenge, and emailed resources to an US History teacher to use in class. With the US clubs fair, we both got involved as faculty advisors – Whitney for Project Lit and myself for Virtual Games. The school year is certainly speeding up!

Week 3 in Review

Highlights from this week include calling our beloved friends at Follett tech support (they’re going to start remembering my name soon!), adding new ebooks to our collection, creating a display for Hispanic Heritage Month, moving offices around and organizing supplies (who knew we had so many sizes and colors of sticky notes?!), meeting with our school’s head to discuss the year ahead, curating a list of Flipster magazines to purchase, and most importantly the return of 8th grade book club!! Our group remains strong at 10 members who have participated since 6th grade. After much chatter, laughter, and debate, our next book will be Ender’s Game. The school year is now moving and grooving as we fall into some normalcy and routine.

Off to the Races! Weeks 1 & 2

Today wraps our second official week of school. While faculty did come in to set up classrooms and move furniture 6 feet apart at the end of August, it wasn’t until September 2nd that we got to see “the new normal.” Our school opted for the hybrid model where students are in either an A or B cohort or work remotely everyday. This means every class is at half capacity in person and half Zoom in from home. Major kudos to all the teachers juggling Zoom, Swivl, iPads, Google Drive, LMS, OneNote, and on and on and on! Despite all these tech-y challenges, it is so nice to see students’ (masked) faces (from 6 feet away). We also had a bittersweet retirement in our department so things continue to shift day by day.

Whitney headed into the classroom for the first time and co-taught a lesson with the 8th grade Science teacher who is prepping for a project on science vs. pseudo science. We’re also working with the US English department planning for plagiarism lessons, US History already delved into Noodletools, and we’re finding resources for the school counselor’s Psychology class. We brainstormed what MS book talks and checkouts will look like and even had our first 6th graders come browse books! There are big tubs for book returns so we can quarantine them for a week until they are safe to go back on the shelves. This year we’re switching more to virtual options – hopefully more Follett ebooks, maybe Sora, maybe Flipster, and definitely Zoobeans! So many options so little time 🙂

Aside from all the planning, prepping, and cleaning, I have LOVED our time with advisory. This year we are advising a 6th grade group. At first I was nervous they wouldn’t want to talk to us via Zoom if we were already engaged in a conversation with the students in person, but we’ve made it work. It certainly helps that we have some chatterboxes who make us all laugh, and we can see their silly tongue out faces on the big whiteboard. It’s also been great to see the library regulars pop in just to say hi. Surprisingly normal feeling and as if we haven’t been apart for 6 months!

Now time for a relaxing weekend – our brains and bodies are tired!

Redwood & Ponytail: Book Review

This book in verse focuses on Kate, aka Ponytail, and Tam, aka Redwood. Their nicknames are fairly obvious based on their physical makeup, but it is sweet that they have secret names for each other. Both characters begin 7th grade and feel an immediate reaction to each other. While it is not surprising to Tam who is more in touch with her feelings and not afraid of being attracted to another girl, Kate has a lot to reckon with. Kate’s family life is complicated in that her mother wants to make every decision she thinks best for her children. This causes her older daughter, Jill, to leave the house to join the Navy and sever any sister-like bonds she has with Kate (this changes later in the book). Kate becomes a cheerleader, despite actually wanting to be the school mascot, works to be popular, and internalizes some homophobia as a result of her mother. Their relationship makes it tough for Kate to figure out who she really is and what she actually enjoys doing in life. Tam on the other hand has an incredibly supportive mother and lesbian neighbors who act as role models for her. Tam forces Kate to start questioning things, and the pair have many ups and downs as they try to figure out what their relationship means and how it may change both their lives.

I love K.A. Holt, and I love novels in verse. This book did not let me down! It was a quick, cute read I would recommend to any student who likes romance or a middle schooler trying to figure themselves out. Because it is in verse, it would also be great for a reluctant reader.