Creativity & Collaboration in Grade 5

Teacher-librarians aren’t always found in the library. As a matter of fact, they are oftentimes out and about, working with classroom img_5297teachers. DEMS grade five students in Mr. Coleman’s class have been making classroom connections with storytelling by writing personal narratives that reveal creative tension and develop an emotional impact.  Mr. Coleman and I developed the storytelling unit during shared planning  time.

IMG_5281.jpgDesigned to challenge students to compare and contrast memorable stories and to find their own compelling stories to tell, the lessons have offered a way for students to dig deep to find the stories that IMG_5292.jpgoffer meaning and important lessons to share. Based on Bernajean Porter’s Digitales storytelling structure, students are examining the Six Elements of Good Storytelling and using the process to guide their creative work.

After working together as a class to create a story arc using The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch as a model, they are designing story arcs for their own personal narratives.

Sitting down to plan as a team takes commitment, hard work and time. As ideas are shared and put on the table, collaboration requires a certain sense of humility, a desire to listen to the other and a willingness to adapt.  Teachers working solo make good lessons, but teachers  working together make mind-boggling, juicy, super-duper lessons.

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Creative Gatherings, Shared Space

It all began with the DEMS middle school students. They cracked open the puzzle box and formed the geometric outline. Later, when DBGS students came in during their break, they added their own contribution. img_2614

By the next morning, the DHS high school students had added even more pieces to the puzzle, forming the central image: a blue jay.

Three schools. Dozens of students. One simple, fun artifact evolving over time. These types of shared activities give students a chance to relax, socialize, and take a break from the academic rigor of school life.

Stop by the LRC before or after school, during break, or during lunchtime  to see students participating in creative game-playing, coloring in giant coloring books, or perhaps adding the final piece to a blue jay puzzle.

As the go-to meeting place for students from all three campus schools, the LRC will continue to add interactive games to our collection and offer shared activities that allow students to connect and collaborate in our open-access space.

ISG Students Make Connections: World Read-Aloud Day

Last week during library class, upper elementary students celebrated World Read-Aloud Day. Six different classes held teleconferences with students all over the world via Skype.

Students in Siberia read to us one of their favorite Ukrainian folktales, “The Old Man’s Mitten” while we read to them Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw ’s book “Same, Same But Different”.  ISG students played “Mystery Class” with a fourth-grade class in an unknown part of the world. After many failed attempts to guess where our mystery class might be located, even with their helpful clues, we finally guessed by entering the longitude/latitude coordinates via Google Maps.

The class was in Chennai, India! Students jumped up and down when they finally guessed correctly. As a student in India read to us a chapter from their class favorite book, “Wonder” , the  tens of thousands of miles that separated us  melted away and we were all together in one place, captivated by a story. In exchange,  one of our primary students read to them a section of Michael Morpurgo’s “War Horse”. You could have heard a bookmark drop as the two classes, thousands of miles away from each other, listened.

Then we moved on to Birminghan, UK, where we were surprised to find out that some of our very own DBGS students have hometowns not far away. Even closer to us, across The Kingdom near Jeddah, the energetic students in library class at The KAUST School informed us that they love reading some of the same books, and some of the same authors, as we do.

One of the most important parts of  World Read-Aloud Day is that it demonstrates, in practical, concrete ways, that out there in the big, vast world of schools and desks and books and learning, there are students everywhere who love to read. This love of reading connects us in tangible ways.  Thanks to LitWorld and World Read-Aloud Day , for setting up this forum for connecting our young readers to the world.

For more photos and details of the event, check out our LRC Library in Saudi Arabia: World Read-Aloud Day #WRAD16 padlet.

Happy Reading, everyone,  from the LRC library!

~ Katrina Lehman, Library Media Specialist~

Facebook Book Cover Photo Contest

2130 (1) copyThanks to everyone who participated and voted in our Facebook Book Cover Photo Contest!  DEMS and DBGS students in Grades 4/5 and Years 5/6 participated in a book scavenger hunt and were photographed with their books. Here are the winners!

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Funniest

Matthew, 4R (Mr. Rider) “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”

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Most Realistic

Thayviana  5D (Ms. Duncan) “Faith: Five Religions and What They Share”

 

 

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Best Cover Drawing

Faisal  4J (Ms. Johnson) “Boy 21”

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Best Non-Human Face

David Y5 (Ms. Liptrot) “Sloths”

 

 

 

 

Best Symmetry: a tie!

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Best Symmetry #1 :

Yasmin, 6R (Mr. McMahon) “Shabanu”

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Best Symmetry #2:

Muhammad Ali, 5H (Ms. Haas)” Muhammad Ali: The King of the Ring”

 

 

 

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Honorable Mention

Ahmed and Ahmed, Year 6R (Mr. McMahon)  “Face Relations”

 

 

The Art of Eliminating Distractions

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MULTI-TASKING TURNS TO SINGLE-TASKING, INCREASING THE ABILITY TO FOCUS.

Do you find it difficult to focus when you write? That “ding” of an incoming email interrupts your thought process. A Skype message or phone call breaks your concentration just as you’ve found the perfect sentence to wrap up a really juicy paragraph. Your flow is interrupted by that weird sound that Facebook makes when to indicate that someone has commented on a photo or status update. Interrupted by the distraction, you grasp to recover the thought you just had, but it has escaped into oblivion, never to be found again.

Enough of that. One tool that I’ve been using for years to help me concentrate in a clean, distraction-free writing environment is something called OmmWriter. The free download offers a writing tool for PC, Mac, and iPad. Ommwriter is your own private writing room where you can close the door behind you to focus on your writing in peace”. Gone are the icons at the bottom of your screen. Gone is the toolbar at the top of your word document. Gone are the webpages, tabs, and browsers. All you see is a clean, uninterrupted screen, just ready for a new idea or creative thought. Even spell check is turned off so that your ideas aren’t blocked by the obsessive need to edit mid-sentence. When you’re finished, just copy, paste and save your text into a Word document and move into the editing phase.

OmmWriter is a helpful application that helps writers focus. It’s clean and free –  a fresh, calm breeze in a world of technological distractions. Multi-tasking turns to single-tasking, increasing the ability to focus. Find out more about it here.

But Can’t I Just Google It?

Google_logo_2010Hello, students. I know that most of you use Google on a regular basis. So do I! I can’t imagine a world without the instant gratification of typing a phrase in the search bar and finding the answer to my question. Because you all love finding information by doing an Internet search, it can be hard to shift directions and use online databases.  You probably like performing a Google search because that’s what you’re familiar with,  that’s how you’ve found information for research in previous classes, and that’s how you find information in your daily, personal research. I, for example, do hundreds of internet searches each week  to find information. I can’t imagine my life without Google!  When it comes to professional or academic research, however, I  turn to databases.

Here’s why some of you might have trouble switching over to using databases in your research:

  1. Database research takes time and effort to learn
  2. GOOD research takes time (it’s not quick and easy!)
  3. New databases are unfamiliar online environments
  4. Previous teachers might not have required it.

ebscoSo, why are are teachers asking you to use databases in their research?

Here’s why.

1.    Anyone can post anything on the web. There’s no sure way to ensure that your first hit when searching for info on “embryos” won’t be the post that a 3rd grader in Australia did on his class blog. For scientific research, we want credible, timely information written by experts in the field. Databases have just that.

2.    University research requires that you know how to use online databases. In order to acquire research and information fluency, you will need to apply digital tools to gather and use information. This is necessary in order to be successful in college. Teachers would be doing you all a disservice if you left our school not knowing now to navigate, search, and research within online databases.

3.  Using a database uses time efficiently. If we were to do a google a search for, let’s say, “stem cell research”, we would get 120,000,000 hits. Who has enough time to sort through millions of webpages to find a credible site, especially when many of them are advertisements or business sites? Not me! I’d rather use a database that has a collection of articles written by experts in the field.

Finding information on an online databases might not be as “quick and easy” as conducting a familiar Google search. However, if you  give it time, you will most likely be rewarded with credible sources and the added benefit of using your time more efficiently.