Week 32

This week, I got to do some real librarian stuff!  I planned out a research project with our 8th grade science teacher and did a Zoom session with two of her classes today, as a short refresher on using NoodleTools and creating database/website citations.  It was so nice to teach some library skills! The kids are each picking a scientist in any field that interests them, doing some research, creating notecards and an outline, and writing a short paper.  We’re focusing on the skills of paraphrasing, in-text citation, and organizing a research paper.  Hopefully it will be a useful way to end their 8th grade year and give them a solid experience to prepare for the papers they’ll be asked to write in the upper school.

Diana sent out the fourth Severn Library Supplement today, something she has been putting together for our teachers to offer resources, ideas, and some fun. This week she highlighted building virtual escape rooms and taking virtual filed trips.

We also had a really great 7th grade book club meeting today.  Eight of our regular kids came, and it was so nice to see their faces and hear their voices.  We played a rousing game of pictionary (scribbl.io) and just enjoyed hanging out.

Finally, I got some very exciting news for next year, but can’t share it just yet.  I’m waiting for a general announcement to go out to our middle school students, and then will write about it here.  Stay tuned 🙂

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! Happy Friday!

Week 31

This week all of my efforts went into Battle of the Books. Naturally, this year’s competition was forced into a virtual version, which created quite an organizational circus. A million thanks to the hosts who created a Zoom room, individual breakout rooms for every team, a live stream, fun trivia for the virtual audience, and a relatively seamless competition. I was so impressed by all the student participants who really showed flexibility, sportsmanship, and respect. Whitney put it well – “I’m really proud of all our kids who competed, for sticking with it even through this time of remote learning, social distancing, and uncertainty. We all have so much more on our mental and emotional plates right now and I was impressed with their dedication to reading the books and showing up for their teams.” The mental drain is certainly seeping in by the end of these weeks, so it is great to see kids thriving.

Other highlights of the week included a Dungeons and Dragons themed trivia, collecting resources for a 6th grade science teacher, scheduling classes for next year, and helping students with their last push to turn in their research papers.

Week 30

Hello from remote learning land! This week has amped up a level due to the fact that junior research papers are due next week AND scheduling for next year has begun. While we still aren’t sure exactly what is in store for the remainder of the year, we’re trying our best to anticipate needs and help out wherever we can. We’ve hosted Kahoot trivia during middle school study halls, met with our Battle of the Books teams in preparation for next week’s competitions, launched the virtual version of our reading challenge, emailed out book recommendations, checked NoodleTools bibliographies, found resources on everything from unemployment rates during the Great Depression to Native Americans in Western films, and finally followed up phone calls to families as part of the “Ambassadors” program. And now, I’m off to watch the middle school Talent Show and enjoy a “snow day” on Monday for a nice 3-day weekend!

Week 29

Another week of remote learning is in the books! Sorry for the late weekly round up, but time moves strangely these days and Friday afternoon got away from me.

It is interesting to me how the reality of remote learning compares to what I predicted.  One major difference is that before we began this journey, I was worried that we wouldn’t be busy enough in the library during this time. We wouldn’t have kids coming in to chat with us, to ask for help, to hang out.  There would be no books to catalog or weeding to do. We wouldn’t need to fix the printer or monitor students during free times or do the thousand little things that happen in a physical library every day. Maybe teachers wouldn’t use us as much.


Are we busy?? YES.  Zoom meetings, finding resources, marketing our eBooks, doing remote readers advisory, looking into expanding our digital collection, answering student emails needing help, running virtual book clubs, hosting virtual library events, acting as family ambassadors for the school. The issue isn’t not having enough to do – it’s remembering to get away from the screen periodically and move.  My poor dog usually ends up coming over after a few hours to remind me she exists – and oh yeah – a little walk would be nice.

Some highlights of this week of remote learning include having a Pictionary lunch with students, seeing our 6th grade book club, helping a language teacher set up a Minecraft project for her students, finding JSTOR articles for a junior’s term paper, and Zooming with my fellow librarians to catch up on a regular basis.

We hope everyone out there is staying safe and healthy!




Week 28: Completely Virtual

I’m writing this post eking in the last moments before my eyes give out on me. Virtual learning is hard on the brain! Not just because of the juggling of Zoom room codes, schedules, calendars, and emails, but also because of the amount of screen time. I have to remember to take breaks, preferably outside, to give my head a rest. What’s the recommendation? For 20 minutes of screen, you need 20 seconds without a screen looking 20 feet away? Something like that.

This week we got into a groove balancing our Zoom time. We created a library Zoom room that is open throughout the normal school hours, manned at different hours by the 3 librarians.  Today saw the most action with students popping in to ask for help with primary sources, book recommendations, trivia questions, and just to say hi! Teachers are also beginning to ask for help with projects, especially translating plans that used to use physical resources to now using digital ones. I sent out my first Severn Library Supplement to teachers, highlighting one database, two project ideas, and three fun links. It’s a tricky balance between overwhelming them and actually providing help! We also created LMS pages for students so they can find all the library resources in one spot. This page includes instructions for downloading ebooks, where to find databases, and a link to a Google form where students can receive personalized book recommendations. This week saw two takers!

My two personal joys this week both came in the form of online games with kids. In 7th grade book club, we very briefly discussed Storm Keeper’s Island, then headed over to Scribble.io to play Pictionary. The kids loved this, and it was fun to see them all interact (something I’ve missed!). The other librarian followed-up with a photo challenge where the students were asked to take a picture of themselves reading with a pet/sibling/plant. They sure are creative.

The second joy was hosting a Kahoot trivia during the Middle School study hall period. We had six students partake in the fun. A follow-up email I received asked when we could play again- “I know you’re busy but I can’t wait to watch myself fail again, I had so much fun yesterday!” Trivia Thursday might just have to become Trivia Tuesday AND Trivia Thursday.

All in all, a solid five days of online learning and fun. Now for the weekend and some screen-free reading time!

Week 27: Learning in the Time of Corona

Remote learning week one is in the books. Let me start by saying that our teachers are absolute rock stars and have been working their buns off to make this the best it can be for our students.  My roommate is a teacher at our school, and right now, at 5 PM on a Friday, she is still working virtually with a colleague to make this experience better for our students. We had teachers going to virtual trainings throughout our spring break, lesson planning and adding resources to the learning system, and basically getting ready for another first day of school with determination and good will. And our awesome students have been showing up remotely every day, ready to learn even in these surreal times.

All of us are still getting a handle on this new experience, but in the mean time I have been blown away by the generosity of authors who are sharing their time, experience, and works with kids.  I’ve been blown away by companies giving educational institutions free access to their products.  I’ve been blown away by my community of fellow librarians zooming with each other to share experiences and knowledge so that we can do our jobs better for our patrons.  Public libraries have been holding it down with eCards and access to digital resources. Healthcare workers have become our new superheroes, along with grocery store clerks, gas station workers, trash collectors, truck drivers, and every one else who is doing the jobs that are often underpaid and thankless, but that we have found out are absolutely essential to our society.

Next week we’ll talk some more about actual library stuff we have going on, but until then, I hope that all of you are healthy and safe.  Happy Friday.

Week 26

We made it to Friday!! The struggle is real between winter break and Spring Break, and we are alllll feeling it these last couple of weeks.

Highlights from this week included our second sixth grade trip to the public library to get library cards, hear about the library’s programs, and browse the shelves. (Sixth graders also like to play with the toys in the children’s area. I have to admit the mini puppet theater is hard to resist.) As a Friday treat, we were able to take a librarian field trip to one of our fellow AIMS schools for a thoughtful and interesting session on paraphrasing and plagiarism. It was a nice change of pace and fun to see our fellow librarians.

We also put out displays for Women’s History Month this week.  On the first floor, we have books grouped by various themes (see signs below).  On the second floor, we put out non-fiction books and also highlighted some of the research projects our juniors are doing related to women’s issues.

Happy Friday!!