We are excited about the start of a new year here in the library. There’s something about a fresh calendar that makes the possibilities seem endless. Already, in just the first week back to school, we’ve been helping 6th graders study Shakespeare and 8th graders research Ancient China. We’ve done jelly bean bamboozling with some very brave sophomores and had our first Tuesday reading club of 2019 with the middle school. We’ve helped about one million students print something for class (give or take) and ordered Brandon Sanderson read-alikes for some big fans of his novels. Can’t wait to see what happens next week!
The start of the school year brings creative, yet informative bulletin boards, plenty of plagiarism lessons, but most importantly new customers! In an effort to get our 6th graders off on the right foot loving the library, we hosted an introduction class with a scavenger hunt. After introducing ourselves and attempting to learn every student’s name, we got to work with the online catalog. Students got their first glimpse at Destiny Discover and the possibilities of requesting new books, putting books on hold, and renewing before the due date. New this year is our single sign on for ebooks through our Destiny catalog. Some students actually prefer using their iPads to read, so we had some takers. Then we went over the layout of the library as well as a few general housekeeping rules to remember. To bring back the excitement of the library, we talked about book club and our reading contests, then set them loose on a goosechase.
Literally – we used the app Goosechase, available for free through the Apple store.
Since some students didn’t have Apple IDs and others required parental permission to download, only 1 student per group downloaded the app. Our 5 groups of 3-4 students were each named after a genre, which later came into play for a mission. With Goosechase, teams can only submit photos or videos (something we set up ahead of time) to complete missions within a certain amount of time. Our missions included:
- Team selfie in front of your genre
- Picture of a book by an author whose last name starts with the letter M
- Video of a team member logging onto the computer (and logging off!)
- Snapshot of a book search in the catalog
- Picture of a graphic novel by a particular author
Our 6th graders zoomed through the stacks racing each other to finish. They learned how to use the catalog, where to find books, how to use the library computers, and how the library is organized. Once the scavenger hunt wrapped up, they used these skills to find a book to read and explore a little more. Based on the silliness and number of books checked out, we’d call it a success!
Back before winter break, we introduced the idea of Battle of the Books to our students to gauge interest and form teams. Since every grade level is allowed only 4 participants (and 1 alternate), we had to have a quiz-off to see who made the cut. Students read 2 of the books on the sanctioned Battle of the Books list and were tested to see who read more carefully and thoroughly. After a valiant effort by all, the final roster was determined.
With the teams settled, students got to work reading! 5th and 6th grade had the same list, and 7th and 8th grade had a different set of books to read. Leading up to the big day, we had a test run so students could get a feel for the types of questions and what it would feel like on competition day.
5th/6th grade books
- The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
- Everything for a Dog by Ann M. Martin
- Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
- Ms. Bixby’s Last day by John David Anderson
- The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
- Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm
- Ungifted by Gordon Korman
- The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- Wild Robot by Peter Brown
7th/8th grade books
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
- Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
- Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick by Jennifer Holm
- Ghost by Jason Reynolds
- House Arrest by K.A. Holt
- A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
- Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
- Peak by Roland Smith
- Ravens Gate by Anthony Horowitz
Last Monday we grabbed 2 mini buses full of students and headed to the Battle of the Books competition. Each grade level had 17 questions to answer on their whiteboards. Questions began with the phrase “In what book did ….” and students answered with book title and author. Teams received 5 points for the correct title and an additional 3 for the author’s name. Should the students disagree with the answer, they had 2 challenge opportunities. During challenges, the team members had a set amount of time to locate the answer to the question in the book of their choice. If they came up empty handed, there was no penalty. However, if they did find text supporting the question, any team on stage that used that book as an answer received points.
We are incredibly proud to announce that 5th grade tied for 1st place, 6th and 7th came in 4th place respectively, and after a nail-biter, 8th grade came in 2nd. Can’t wait for next year’s battle!
As part of the Severn Library’s mission of cultivating a love of reading both inside and outside of school, we continued our partnership with the Anne Arundel County Public Library this year. Back in February we split our 6th grade class into two groups and took them each to the Severna Park AACPL branch. There, we met with Ms. Samantha who told our kids all about the public library’s resources. We learned their website offers homework help with live tutoring online, a calendar of events for the community, and a new catalog that can search through all types of materials (e-books, audio books, large print, books, etc.). The kids then explored the teen/children’s sections of the library and picked out some of their favorite books for checkout.
About two weeks before our trip, we sent library card applications home with the kids. Since they are minors, each needed a parent’s signature to be able to get their own card. After shuffling along the applications to the Severna Park branch, they worked their magic and filled out cards for the kids. When we arrived to the library for our field trip, kids received their AACPL library card. For some, it was their first time checking out a library book outside of school!
Fast forward a month and a half (this week), and we took our 3rd grade students to the library for a similar experience. Since they are a younger audience, the lesson on the AACPL website was slightly different, and the library card rules are a little stricter. The excitement level remained high though. One parent told Lower School Librarian Pilar Okeson that her son, Bennett, “…talked about the trip and his library card for 20 minutes over dinner. He said it was the best field trip ever.” Our goal is that their love of the public library continues long into adulthood so they can remain informed readers and successful information consumers.
After the success of last year’s African American Read-In event, we decided to host another during February’s Black History Month. African American Read-Ins are a chance to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the arts, specifically books, poems, and other writings. We pulled all books from our library’s collection written by an African American and set them out on display. Students and teachers were invited to stop by for a snack and settle in to read during their free moments throughout the day. Some teachers even planned their class period around bringing the students to the library.
Over 20 students loved their choices so much they checked the books out, including choices like Long Way Down, Dear Martin, and The Rose That Grew from Concrete.
We also celebrated musicians by playing records from black artists. Duke Ellington, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Lauryn Hill, and Nat King Cole were some of the featured musicians, though the This is Soul record was a personal favorite. Kids also got the chance to learn about what a record player is and gain a brief history of the evolution of music – they just had to ask any of the teachers who were old enough to appreciate vinyl!
After a great day of reading and reflection, this is definitely an event we wish to continue.
We welcomed some little visitors to the library this week! Our 5th grade students made the trek over to our campus to do some research on arctic explorers. We set up 6 different computer stations to encourage students to use specific resources (databases, videos, pdfs, etc.) to answer questions about explorers. “According to Admiral Richard Byrd, what did he do on May 9, 1926?” is just one example. Students also learned about Barbara Hillary (first black woman to reach the North Pole), Robert Scott Falcon (leader of the Polar Plateau expedition), Lillimor Rachelew (one of the first women to reach Antarctica), Matthew Henson (first African-American arctic explorer), and Roald Amundsen (first to reach the South Pole). The 5th grade students got a feel for how our library is set up and what life might be like once they progress to 6th grade. We supplied additional books about animals and arctic life to provide some entertainment between stations. The students will now travel back to their campus to complete projects on the explorer of their choice. We’re excited about this new batch of researchers!
This graphic biography covers the entirety of Malcolm X’s life in just over 100 pages. The drawings are all in black and white, adding to the black and white subject matter. While I can understand how challenging it is to boil down someone’s lifetime, it seemed odd how the book was paced. Specific events were explained in depth for an entire chapter, whereas other portions (namely family life) were skimmed over with just one sentence. Majority of the graphic novel focuses on the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X’s complicated relationship with its members and views. Conversations and narrations wove together, adding a personal touch to the historical context, but the narrator’s bias is strongly felt. It would partner well with a straightforward textbook about Civil Rights, providing a specific point of view and narrative, though students should be warned of Malcolm X’s sometimes PG-13 lifestyle of drugs, women, and guns.