The library has been a BUSY place, and I keep meaning to post some updates! The past few weeks we had Maker Club, I attended the annual MassCUE Conference, where I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Social Media Ambassador, AND we have started a new project in the library: BreakoutEDU!
BreakoutEDU is Escape Room for classrooms. Students use critical thinking and collaboration to “breakout” of various boxes and solve puzzles. The great part about BreakoutEDU is that teachers can create their own games, and all free games that others have created are curriculum-based. This week I introduced BreakoutEDU to all Unlocking Social Studies workshops. 7th graders were tasked with a math/logic puzzles (from a game called “Amnesium”, with a few modifications), and 8th graders had a puzzle based on Ancient Rome (from a game called “Saving the Emperor”). The 8th graders have a pretty healthy competition going between groups…with one group left, Mr. Tribou’s 1st group is winning with a time of 27:49 to breakout.
Now, I don’t know about everyone else out there, but personally…I LOVE and am now obsessed with invisible ink! SO FUN!
For the past 2 weeks I had been reading new LGBTQ+ literature for our GSA event (which was GREAT), and rereading some of my favorite books. There are a few specific LGBTQ+ books I am always recommending, and absolutely LOVED reading them, but when enough time passes and I’ve read so many books, I forget the reasons why I enjoyed a particular book so much.
In particular, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I honestly felt just as emotional rereading these books as the first time I read them, or potentially even more so, and it made me see how powerful rereading a book can be. I honestly I didn’t want to spend the time rereading them because I have such a long “to-read” list, but to see that I potentially gained even more insight after rereading them, it makes me want to reread a lot of my favorites now (Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, and more).
Another reason rereading can be useful (and a good use of time), at least for me in particular, is because I am a speed reader and often miss important details the first time around. I cannot help but read quickly, which is great for my job as I like to read a lot as a way to recommend books, but is hard because I do forget specific plot points of any given book rather quickly.
National Coming Out Day is October 11th, and to mark that occasion the Lawrence GSA and the Falmouth Academy GSA will be meeting for a social event and book talk. Myself, the GSA leaders, and co-owner at Eight Cousins Bookstore, Sara Hines will be hosting the students in the Lawrence Library and discussing some important books dealing with LGBTQ issues. To prepare for my piece in this event I have taken a huge bag of books home to read and re-read that I want to discuss with the students. Today I created a book display that showcases some of of LGBTQ literature in the library – fiction and nonfiction.
Last night alone I read The Pants Project by Cat Clarke and Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart.
The Pants Project follows Liv, who was born in a girl’s body but identifies as a boy. When Liv starts middle school he is forced to wear a skirt, per the school’s strict dress code. While battling bullies, losing a best friend, and trying to navigate a new school, Liv is able to find some loyal friends who want to help change the dress code as a means to make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin. This book is wonderful for students questioning their gender, or students who want to understand what it means to be transgender and provides a window into the mind of feeling so out of place in your body. This book also works on a different level for our students, because we do have a dress code in our school, so a lot of students will find a common ground with Liv. Although, our students are allowed to wear skirts, pants, dresses, and shorts!
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart was one amazing read I couldn’t put down, and stayed up until past my bedtime finishing it. Lily, born Timothy is slowing trying to transition, but is meeting some resistance from her father about hormone blockers and her choice of clothes, makeup, and hair. She also is having difficulties getting through the day without being bullied by a group of boys. She meets Norbert before school starts, who she lovingly refers to as Dunkin, because Norbert also doesn’t think his name fits him and absolutely loves Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin is battling his own demons, an absent father, mental health issues, and deciding where he fits in at a new school.
We had our first meeting of Maker Club yesterday, and it’s off to a wild start! About 20 students showed up, mostly new members from the 7th grade. We started with our Quickfire Challenge after I went over some general rules for how the afternoon would run. Our Quickfire Challenge this month was a tower building competition. Students got into groups of 2-4 students and were given 10 Popsicle sticks, 10 straws, tape, and scissors. They had 10 minutes to use those supplies to build the tallest tower that was standing when the 10 minutes were up. Some students quickly realized the key to winning was building a strong base, others forgot that the heavier materials should not be on the top. Some teams had great teamwork and each had a role, and some teams worked independently and had trouble coming together at the end. The tallest tower ended up being 41″, and in 2nd place, 39″, so it was very close. The two winning teams got a candy prize and glow sticks!
When the challenge was over, students had about 40 minutes to try out all the gadgets. A lot of students were quickly drawn to the Spheros, littleBits, and 3D printer. It will take students some time to get used to using all the gadgets, and I suggested coming in at lunch time to become more comfortable with the technologies. We had 2 Spheros die, and are anxiously awaiting the replacements in the mail, so more students will have the opportunity to use them!
Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18!
Yesterday we were so lucky to have author, Lauren Wolk visit with our 7th and 8th graders. Her talk was beyond phenomenal. Our students were polite, engaged, and had a lot of thought provoking questions for her. She spoke about her background and how it helped her to write Wolf Hollow. She discussed with the students the importance of helping others, listening to stories passed down through the generations, and understanding how to be descriptive for your audience. I was truly inspired, and was in awe how easy it was for her to create such poetic literary works (in just 3 months time)!
I look forward to whenever her next book is completed and published, because I know it will be beautiful. And, I think the students have a new appreciation for Wolf Hollow and the writing process.
I cannot believe summer is over, phew, that went FAST! I hope everyone had a relaxing and fun summer!
Today marks a new school year, with many changes abound! Today we began advisory groups across the building for all students. Ten 7th grade students were paired with me, from Team 3, and will start their day each morning in the library. We’ll do short activities, get to know each other, and I am one person that my group can always come to if they need help with ANYTHING! I am sure everyone was a bit overwhelmed today, so hopefully as the week goes on we will get into a good routine to set us up for the year!
Students will begin their library orientations starting at the end of next week, and continuing through September. They will learn about library rules, after school programs, and check out a book!
Next week, on September 14th we are SO lucky to have author, Lauren Wolk visiting with us. Wolk is the author of Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea. I am so excited to pick her brain concerning these two books. One may sound familiar, as Wolf Hollow was assigned for both 7th/8th grade summer reading. I like to say, it’s a younger version of To Kill a Mockingbird. I highly recommend both of her stories for adults as well.
I am looking forward to another great year, and will leave you with this, my 2017/2018 motto gracing the library bulletin board this year:
The time has come…we had our last meeting of Maker Club yesterday. 😦 Students finished their fairy houses, perler bead projects, and littleBits creations. The fairy house project had been called “Miniature House Design” because honestly, I wasn’t sure that middle school students would want to make a fairy house. I thought they might be too cool for that. Turns out, they think they are cool, so calling them fairy houses didn’t bother anyone! Anyway, the fairy houses turned out awesome. The plan had been to showcase them at Highfield Hall next year, BUT a student just told me HH only runs their fairy house program every other year. BUT, why not bring the masses to Lawrence to showcase fairy houses?? I think we have a new idea on our hands!
When we first collected our nature materials, my office very closely resembled a forest…
While I am glad to have my office back, the project really was very fun and I am excited to amp it up next year!
Enjoy some of the creations: