Hope’s House And The Makerspace

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The library was very fortunate to have sponsored a local retired teacher, Joan, who conducts earring workshops. Joan keeps active and like to continue teaching others in service learning projects that build citizenship and community. She conducts workshops with the Boy Scouts, local libraries and also does birthday parties and local events.

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Children not only learned how to make earrings using creativity, dexterity, and fine motor skills, but more importantly scholars learned the significance of giving back to the community.Scholars had fun, were given a chance to be creative and learned through a hands on project that they have the ability to help others and have a positive impact on the world.

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For every pair of earrings that students made, they were required to make another pair to donate. It was so adorable to hear 2nd and 3rd grader talking among themselves saying they were “donating” their work. This service learning project made the word donate come alive and children accurately grasped the sense of the word.

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Hope’s House is a local domestic violence shelter for battered and abused women. By donating earrings, scholars help put a smile on someone’s face. Who would have thought that something so simple could be rewarding to all the participants involved.

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Ending 2016 With A Blast

Scholars were given several opportunities to learn, make and create in the school library media center. They were able to connect a reading of How The Grinch Stole Christmas by determining the three different connections readers make to books: 1. text to text, 2. text to self, 3. text to world.  After, scholars then cut, decorated and glued their own Grinch faces and each face looked very different from the others.

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While it may seem like a simple activity, there are so few times during the course of the day when children are actually using motor skills and being creative.

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As an introduction into the makerspace that is officially launching in January to the whole school, children used straws and connectors in teams to create standing structures. It was interesting to observe the more successful teams were able to communicate, collaborate and create best by working and listening to one another. Some children had difficulty working in teams and this exercise in other STEM activities will serve to strengthen their people skills.

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STEM is  state of mind. STEM is about thinking outside of the box, being critical and analytical. STEM is a way of life.

Scholars Present to the Board of Education

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At the November Board of Education meeting, two library superstars presented to a room of 50 adults. 3rd grader, Henry , and 2nd grader, Melanie, came out at night to read their Storybird e-book creations and advocate for all the digital learning occurring at Highview School. Both children focused on International Baccalaureate (IB) character traits.

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Henry was quite at ease speaking to a room of educators, board members, parents and administrators. The audience loved his s e-book, Ways to Communicate .

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Melanie created her e-book titled  Helping People on the IB character trait of caring. Special thanks to both families for supporting education and bringing their children out for the meeting and presentation!!!

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STEM In The Library’s Makerspace

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Thanks to the encouragement of Mr. M, the school’s principal, and a grant from BOCES, the school library received several supplies to foster and promote STEM in the library’s new makerspace.

The makerspace team solictied one high flyer from each class. Each teacher sent a child for the first makerspace class and a challenge was issued.

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Children were split up into 2nd and 3rd grade teams. They read the challenge and the rest was up to them. One group disagreed on how to best solve the problem. Teachers did not intervene,  but rather let them solve their issues on their own. The group that had the highest tower was the group that worked best collaboratively. They respected each others’ opinions, discussed rather than dominated among themselves and worked well as a team. And it was a 2nd grade group!. See the highlights below!

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Skype Without Boundaries

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Just last week I connected a 2nd grade library class with a high school reader in Arkansas. Fellow school guybrarian extraordinaire, Stony Evans, in Arkansas asked to Skype. We had planned last year to Skype and connect our schools, but the school  I was at frowned on using technology for anything other than typing games and testing children. This year is a whole new ballgame.

 

 

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Angel, Stony’s student, read aloud to Ms. Maldonado’s 2nd graders. They were thrilled that they could see and hear a person far away in another state and as a live feed.  Prior to Angel reading, Stony gave our students a tour of his library and quickly walked outside so they could see how hot and sunny the weather is in Arkansas, much different from the 48 degree cold day we were experiencing in a suburb outside of New York City.

Consider using Skype to learn and teach without boundaries. Skype even has a translator app that will translate many languages quickly and efficiently so classes can connect and learn more about other countries, customs and people.

Families That Read Together Succeed Together

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Continuing in my new school’s tradition, I am leading the monthly book club established by my predecessor. The book club is a family engagement piece that requires both an adult and child to be present for all sessions held once a month in the evening. Families receive a chapter book to read together and then come the following month to participate in accountable talk, do literacy based activities and just bond in general with their family.

 

Nowadays, adults are so busy working and have little time to spend together. Family book clubs are a special time away from the hustle and bustle and will become memories for our children to cherish when they later grow up. For the first meeting, even though the book was just being given out to be read, parents and children used joint memoirs to create into shared books . Story lines were continuous even though parents and children alternated illustrating and writing each page.After the presentations of their created books were done, many parents came up to thank me for having had fun and reading at the same time, something they did not think was possible.

As the old saying goes, ” Families that read together succeed together.”

 

Nick Vianna Author Visit

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The new school year has started and gone so quickly. After having spent the last year in a city district that frowned upon blogging, innovation, edtech and grant writing, I am overjoyed to finally have found a home where I can be the educator and school library media specialist I have always dreamed of being. Suddenly, I remembered I should be blogging all the great things happening in the LMC …….I’m no longer stifled like  last year.

All the 2nd and 3rd grade children were so excited to have author and illustrator, Nick Vianna, visit for an in depth look into how he creates his wonderful stories and eye catching artwork. Nick brought original artwork, led interactive sessions and truly excited our scholars. It was motivating to hear such depth in questions being asked by scholars.

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To learn more abut Nick Vianna or have him visit your school, he can be reached at Iwantawhale.com .

Minecraft in Schools

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Last week, I was so blessed. I was blessed to be supported by a principal who understands the importance of professional development. I was blessed to be part of a cohort of NCCE and Microsoft Innovative Educators that continually push the envelop and seek greater challenges. And I was blessed to be able to receive Minecraft in the Classroom training in order to facilitate change and empower student voice.

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Minecraft is an amazing new tool that engages students and makes learning fun and stimulating. Too often, I have heard that that “school is boring,” or “we never get to talk about important things- only what the teachers what us to talk about.” Some teachers think Minecraft is just a game. But it is really so much more. While part of Minecraft is game creation, it also facilitates transdisciplinary learning with the right planning and incorporation of the curriculum. While some may dismiss game creation as a catalyst for learning, look closely and you will see children’s lives change for the better through it. They learn to work through problems and not give up.They develop confidence and the ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas as they scaffold teaching others. Minecraft teaches resilence, persistence and critical thinking  as children are engaged, motivated and ready to learn.

Consider adding Minecraft to your library or classroom. You won’t regret it!

The School Year in Review

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This past school year has been a learning experience. Leaving NYC DOE last year and entering the Westchester County school system was a gateway to better understanding my strengths. I was able to bring in many different authors for author visits,but it took quite a bit of persuasion and conversation getting this approved. While many educators understand what a future ready school library looks like, not all administrators do, unfortunately. However, you can see for yourself how inspired the children are bu author visits as it helps them better understand the writing process and appreciate reading!

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I had a chance to hear CeCe Bell, author of El Deafo, speak and detail her life experiences at a NYC School Library Exploratorium. She values school librarians, as do many authors, and is a reminder of why we do what we do. El Deafo is her true story of dealing with a hearing disability in school. This was particularly empowering as I had two similar students gain cofidence by this book.

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I never realized how much professional development I received as a NYC teacher. NYC DOE invests heavily in their teachers and  I always took it for granted believing it was the status quo of all school systems.

While I have had to find webinars and read a lot, being a Microsoft Innovative Educator has been a tremendous asset. Twice a month Microsoft provides live Skype online PDs. If you miss them, they are also available as a recording. These webinars are led by Microsoft leaders and by teachers in the field that have been creative in their teaching practice with the use of technology.

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Additionally, partnering with Microsoft has helped me grow as a leader in ways I never would have dreamed off.  They have quickly made me comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have been encouraged to present professional development on e-Portfolios not only on a local level, but also at a state and national level. This year I presented at the NYLA (New York Library Association) Annual Conference, the AASL (American Association of School Libraries) Conference, two PD sessions for NYC DOE school library meetings, one for SWBOCES Exploratorium and an Ignite session at the MIE Annual Conference.

Lastly, Microsoft has fostered collaboration and communication witheducators all over the world. A panel session of best lessons was held and teachers were inspired by each other. This gave new energy and ideas for all participants. Thank you Microsoft for all you do in supporting education!!!

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ALA Scholastic Publishing Award

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I am extremely honored by the press release below. Thank you Scholastic and ALA!!!

ALA Scholastic Library Publishing Award

Tracey Wong

February 16, 2016

For Immediate Release:

Tracey Wong, a school library media specialist for the Daniel Webster Magnet School in New Rochelle, New York, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the American Library Association’s Scholastic Library Publishing Award. This special recognition is given annually to the librarian whose “unusual contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young people” exemplifies achievement in the profession.

It is with pleasure that the 2016 Award Jury recognizes Tracey Wong for her important and creative achievements in the field of Library and Information Science said Judy Nelson, chair of the Scholastic Library Publishing Award Committee. Tracey deserves this honor for her ongoing commitment to incorporating the interdisciplinary use of technology to promote transliteracy ( the ability to understand and communicate or be literate across all communication platforms including but not limited to sign language, speech, reading, writing, mass media and social media) to support and advance low level readers and English language learners. Her libraries have become centers for reading, writing and exploration for not only her direct students, but also for their family members who often have no access to technology in their homes.

Wong received her Masters of Education degree in School Library Information Technology in 2012 from Mansfield University. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Reading from Lehman College (2004) and a Master’s of Science in Teaching in Elementary Education from Pace University (2003). She was named one of 11 Microsoft Innovative Educator Regional Experts for 2015 – 2016. She holds several additional certifications including the Graphite Accelerated Educator certification, the PBS Innovative Educator certification and a Reading Recovery certification. She has utilized the knowledge from each of these disciplines to creatively serve her inner city students. She has authored several articles and presented trainings on how to obtain grants. While new to librarianship, her efforts throughout her career have been directed to supporting literacy and encouraging reading by children and young people.

Wong was nominated for her unique ability to build alliances and partnerships throughout her community, her careful attention to grant and funding opportunities, and her dedication to students and their progress across multiple literacies. From yoga practice in the library to a scholar-created community garden, all combined with introductions to research and reading resources, she has engaged the whole child in active learning. In the 2013 article “Grant Central Station” in New York Teacher, Wong’s work was described as being like a” traffic cop directing students, teachers and parents in and out of the school library where she hosts around-the-calendar celebrations of books and literacy, highlighting and tying books to national holidays, authors’ birthdays, ecology, technology and anything and everything she can think of to entice young readers and enrich the curriculum.” Wong’s expressed goal has been to “make reading fun and cool and to make the library a hub of activity and a center of learning and collaboration”. In three years she obtained just under $1 million dollars in program funding, resource’s, technology and learning opportunities for three different NYC Department of Education schools to support this goal.

Members of the 2016 ALA Scholastic Library Publishing Award Jury are: Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, David Wang, Queens Library, Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, Elizabeth P. Dumas, retired school library media specialist, Judy T Nelson (chair), Pierce County Library System.