Weeks 33-35: The End!

The past few weeks have been filled with research projects and typical end of the year duties. In 8th grade science classes, we helped students figure out paraphrasing, citing sources, and using databases. Whitney is up to her ears in checking notecards, bibliographies, and rough drafts. In 9th grade history classes, students worked on a culminating project in lieu of a final exam. This lead to Mary being up to her eyeballs in bibliographies as well. I helped out where I could in both projects and manned the fort for Trivia Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In terms of end of the year items, I’ve been working on our annual report graphic. Every year we try to make it look a little different, so it requires lots of data collection and style. I also created our “new books” list which by now is slightly out of date since we haven’t been able to buy many new books. We have, however, helped narrow the choices for faculty summer reading books and purchased those. We sent out dozens of emails to try to get seniors’ library materials back before they officially leave school 😦 and I made a video for the 8th grade graduation ceremony guiding students to reread their favorite books to get them through the potentially stressful times ahead. We hosted our last book club/reading challenge/Battle of the Books meeting celebration and got a good mix of 6th/7th grade playing online Pictionary and chatting about life.

The last thing on my plate has been planning modules for our freshmen library unit next year. I’m in charge of “Welcome to the Library” and “How to Use Databases,” while the other librarians cover topics like plagiarism, search strategies, website evaluation, and citing sources. I’m working out the kinks of Screencastify and posting tutorials on an LMS topics page. Depending how things go next year, this may or may not be completely virtual, so I’m trying to create connected assignments that can all be done within our LMS. It’s always nice to be prepared!

As for the summer ahead, camps have been cancelled so it’s up in the air for me. I’m sure there will be lots of reading, lots of hiking, and lots of planning for the school year ahead!

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.

Weeks 23-25

Happy Monday! Friday afternoons have been hectic, so this weeks in review post is coming to you at the start of a week instead. We have had some really awesome things happening in the library the last few weeks of February, so I’ll give you the highlight reel.

Valentine’s Day (2/14) was a professional development day for us here, and the library hosted two in-house PD sessions.  The first was a  lovely hour for faculty to spend checking out our professional collection and any other materials they might want to use for a class.  The overwhelming feeling was one of gratefulness that it was a chance to just breathe and do some reflecting/planning with books.  The second session was a book tasting for adults, which featured a number of themed tables including Taste the Rainbow (LGBTQ+ books), The Salad Bowl (#OwnVoices immigrant stories), Tough Topics at the Dinner Table (race, politics, etc…), Chef’s Specials (librarian recommendations), etc… We provided themed snacks and had a lot of books checked out or put onto TBR lists by the participants.

All month long we were celebrating Black History Month, but we a few special events during the third week of February.  On Wednesday, we hosted a lunch for any interested middle school students, where we showed some video clips of Black American authors reading from or talking about their middle grades books.  (You can see our YouTube playlist here.) They got really excited about the authors and books that were featured, and we gave them the last ten minutes of lunch to check out books. Thursday we hosted a lunch for our high school students where we talked about The Hate U Give and watched a few video clips for discussion. (YouTube playlist here.) Friday was our official African American Read-In celebration, with the first floor of the library reserved for students to read works by AA authors.  We had a lot of teachers bring their classes to visit, as well as individual students who came in during their free time to read. The library provided snacks, comfy seating, and played some sweet records on an actual record player.

Our highlight from the last week of February was our 6th grade book club meeting.  The book for this month was The Thing About Jellyfish, so we set up a jellyfish craft to do during our meeting.  Their jellyfish turned out so well and look super cute hanging up in the library.  img_20200302_113251061img_20200302_113243500img_20200302_113237011

Now it’s on to March! Women’s History Month, Spring Break, March Madness, and more!

Week(s) 19-22

As is probably obvious from the weekly review hiatus, we’ve been busy!

Some highlights from the last few weeks include:

  • Continuing our diversity audit of the fiction collection
  • Having a packed house for our 6th grade book club discussing Aru Shah and the End of Time
  • Wrapping up the 2nd quarter reading challenge with prizes and a pizza party
  • Meeting with the Battle of the Books teams
  • Putting up displays for Black History Month
  • Cataloging LOTS of new books
  • Weeding LOTS of old books
  • Chaperoning the 7th grade DC field trip, which is the culminating activity for an interdisciplinary unit on the Chesapeake Bay
  • Participating in Unity Day in our high school
  • Finishing up an award application for our awesome collaborative 6th grade Breadwinner unit
  • Teaching nineteen upper school English, history, science and foreign language classes
  • Starting the US History term paper research process
  • Meeting with the powers that be about our budget next year

Happy Friday!!


Week 18 – Welcome to 2020!

We’re back! After a restful winter break, we came back to a busy week. Here’s what we covered:

  • 12 6th grade classes on Question Formulation Techniques
  • 1 review of our collaborative Breadwinner project from before break
  • 4 7th grade classes walking through the library counting printed lizards (???)
  • 1 Upper School Shakespeare class
  • 13 lively participants in 7th/8th grade book club discussing Blind Guide to Stinkville
  • 2 visits to the Lower School
  • 4 hours of Innovation Day in the Middle School – building, collaborating, and listening