Thursday, September 12, 2019

Breaking in a New Year with Breakout Activities!

Like last year, students in Literacy Studies class welcomed a new year in the library with a Breakout activity that got them up and moving around, working together in teams to solve library- and reading-related riddles to open locks.

Sixth grade students used the same Library Orientation Breakout from last year--you can read about it here. With five different locks to open, students were problem solving to riddles related to finding books on shelves, to recognizing checkout procedures, and to locating the different sections in the library.

Seventh graders worked through a new library breakout, unofficially called "Get Reacquainted with the Library." Because (presumably) these students were already familiar with the library orientation elements from the sixth grade Breakout, this work--and opening four locks--focused on specific pieces of the library, such as state award nominees and winners and Public Lists on Destiny Quest. Students needed to spend time in the shelves to think through their clues and determine the combinations to their different locks.

So, were students successful? Yes! Both grade levels had groups that were able to break out, and many groups had just one lock remaining as the class period ended. 

As the year progresses, look for more breakout activities, both digital and blended. Students enjoy the process and solving the riddles, and in the process, they learn some valuable teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: Z is for Zest

We made it! Today's post is the final ABCs of DCGMS Library post, and it's brought to you by the letter Z for zest!
Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash
That's right--today's final post celebrates the enthusiasm and enjoyment many students displayed throughout the year in the library. While we can certainly celebrate checking out over 3,800 books during the school year, let's instead celebrate all the learning and good times we shared!
And we're not done yet! Tomorrow marks the start of a new school year--we can't wait to share new experiences and make new memories! See you soon! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: Y is for YouTube

It's the penultimate post for the ABCs of the DCGMS Library, and today's post is brought to you by the letter Y for YouTube.
While students use YouTube in class often to find book trailers, author interviews, or other related content for Literacy Studies projects related to books and reading, YouTube is also a great place to find clever or interesting or funny videos related to libraries and librarians in general.

For instance, several students have watched this video about book care:

And even more were perhaps reminded of their younger childhood days watching the Sesame Street martians made a discovery:

Librarians even get into the fun, including this clip from Phineas & Ferb from Disney:

Others have even noticed that librarians seem to have a secretly (?) excellent sense of humor, including the website Electric Lit. On their webpage "Librarians are Secretly the Funniest People Alive," you can find spoof magazine covers and several musical parodies posted to YouTube, including spoofs of songs by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Queen. Which is *your* favorite?

Friday, August 16, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: X is for "EX"plore

Today's ABCs of DCGMS Library post is brought to you by the letter X...which means a little "hedging." Today's letter X is for "EX"plore.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Throughout the year in Literacy Studies class, students had the opportunity to literally explore the physical book collection as well as the library space itself, along with virtually exploring our online databases as they worked together to solve breakouts and complete different projects.

Students also explored different STEAM activities throughout the year--you can read about their work on these earlier blog posts. Additionally, students explored how to present their learning in new ways using tools like Screencastify, Thinglink, and Hyperdocs.
Late in the school year, students also explored Destiny Collections as sixth graders worked to complete a Biography in Action project and seventh graders finalized their World Peace Day projects. All students searched public Collections to add items to their own private resources and explored new avenues of learning.

Stay tuned--students' exploration continues in the new year!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: W is for Writing

Today's ABCs of DCGMS Library post is brought to you by the letter W for writing.
Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash
While the primary purpose of the Literacy Studies class is to promote reading and literacy, of course that cannot happen in a vacuum. So that means students are writing and sharing their writing with one another.

Much of students' writing was tied to a book or literacy-related project. Examples included:
  • Book reviews for our online catalog
  • Genre explanations with evidence
  • Literary terms examples with explanations
  • Book talk planning
  • Author study pieces related to theme, along with personal narratives
  • Database research
  • HyperDocs collaboration
Each of these is previously shared in an earlier ABCs of DCGMS Library post, so why not scroll back through to see how students were writing to make meaning?

Monday, August 12, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: V is for Visiting Authors

Today's ABCs of DCGMS Library is brought to you by the letter V for visiting authors.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Over the course of several months, four popular MG/YA authors visited the Des Moines metro area and surrounding parts of the state. First, Akata Witch author Nnedi Okorafor spoke at the inaugural Des Moines Book Festival in late March.
Okorafor, known for her fantasy and science fiction books for young adults and older readers, spoke about the political themes she sees in her stories, the characters who "speak" to her as she writes, her work with Marvel and writing graphic novels vs. prose/chapter books, and her work with the Black Panther series.

About a month later, author Laurie Halse Anderson spoke in West Des Moines about her newest book Shout and the 20th anniversary of the release of the ground-breaking book Speak, now also presented as a graphic novel. She continues to visit high schools across the country to talk with both girls and boys about how to treat one another, especially in close relationships.

In May, author Jason Reynolds was in Dubuque, IA, and while it's a few hours from the Des Moines area, it's Jason Reynolds! The drive there and back was certainly worth it!

Reynolds spoke of his journey as a writer, and several questions from audience members were related to his work with the Track series. He indicated that many of his characters and stories are based on people and stories he knows and has lived.

Finally, in June, author Kwame Alexander was a keynote speaker at a state-wide reading and librarian conference in Ames, IA, where he challenged teachers and librarians to continue to promote reading with all students and to listen to students and their stories. He encouraged writing and poetry, and at the end of his presentation shared his new work with illustrator Kadir Nelson, The Undefeated.

With each visit, I returned to the library and to my students with renewed excitement. I'm eager to see who may be visiting the Des Moines metro in the future!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: U is for Unsplash

Today's ABCs of DCGMS Library post is brought to you by the letter U: U is for Unsplash.
You may have noticed that many of the introductory photos for our ABCs posts have been from Unsplash, and students used Unsplash often throughout the year in their projects for Literacy Studies class. According to their website, Unsplash is "the Internet's source of freely usable images powered by creators everywhere."

What does this mean for students? Great photography and images to use with user-friend citations, for one. An easy Google Slides add-on for another!

If you're looking for great photography for your students to use with easy and manageable citations, Unsplash is a wonderful option. Below are a few images students used as part of their projects.