Sunday, March 20, 2016

Teen TECH Week 2016 Brought Many to the Library

Sporting one of the prizes for the Fast Finger Search

Our school has grown exponentially since we moved into the new building three years ago. This year was the first time that three lunches were needed in the schedule. With three lunches, I have lost the ability to have the older students help with the activities for the 6th and 7th graders. While the 6th and 7th grade are at lunch the 8th-12th grade are in the middle of 3rd period and vice versa. Before we just flipped study hall and lunch for all students, so I could get the older students out of study hall to volunteer in the library for the little ones. Lunch everyday is a very long process. The 6th and 7th grade go to lunch at 11AM and the 8th graders don't finish lunch until 1:10PM. I am open every day for all lunches unless there is a class scheduled with me.

Selecting a signed ARC by last week's visiting author for his prize
Even though I would be sailing solo, I still wanted to have a robust slate of activities for the students, but I needed to design all events that I could easily oversee without extra hands. Since simplicity was the order of the week, it turned out to be one of the best Teen TECH Weeks (TTW) ever with at least 100 kids a day participating. I will say this about the week; I tried not to schedule many classes because it did take me time to set up each day before the students arrived for lunch and clean up after they left. 
Students watched the movie and ate their lunch for the kick off of TTW in the library
I started the week off with the traditional movie and a sweet treat. For TTW we always show animated shorts nominated for an Academy Award. Not all of these movies are appropriate to show at school, so I have to work with films from the current year and earlier to get 30 minutes worth of film. The 2016 winner, Bear Story, was a stunner. Students could bring their lunch to the common area outside of the library to watch the films on the huge televisions.

Supplies for the spinning tops
Happy with his creation

The finished product
There is always some craft project planned for TTW. Since this year's theme was "Create it at your Library," we had two days of crafts. The first was a spinning top made from a metal washer, wooden bead, bamboo skewer and washi tape to decorate the washers. The whole thing was put together with glue from a glue gun. This was a quick activity as the glue sets so fast, and almost every student finished their top during the lunch period. The inspiration for the tops came from the PBS website here. One student had a blast getting his top to spin on his finger, his watch, and a penny. These tops really worked.

She made a beautiful bracelet
Posing with her hand-made bracelet

For the other craft, students made beads out of duct tape and made bracelets. The tape was wrapped around a plastic straw and cut to form the beads. The beads were strung on hemp string and tied to a jump ring on the end of a clasp. Though the beads were very fast to make, it took the students awhile to string their bracelets. I had the students save all their unfinished pieces in a ziploc bag with their name so that they can finish next week. The inspiration for this activity can be found here

Coloring the sheet for augmented reality

Accessing the sword to defeat the dragon

One of our parents, who runs the Learning Lab, gave me the idea for using the Quiver app for augmented reality. I went to QuiverVision to download seven different sheets for the students to color. I gave them colored pencils because I thought that they were more sophisticated than crayons, and using markers might make it difficult for the augmented reality to work. With the app on the iPads, the students could scan their sheet and watch the image come to life. The bird could be made to walk across your hand, the dragon flies and breaths fire, and the fireworks shoot off the page and into the air. Though simple in concept, the students of all ages were enthralled. Some wanted to take home extra sheets for younger brothers and sisters, and with a free app, it would be easy for them to recreate the experience at home.

Fast fingers at work to find the answer

Students thought they could find answers faster on their phones

On the last day of TTW, we played a game that I called The Fast Finger Search. I came up with a list of research questions (with help from some 8th graders) from popular culture, science, books, movies, history, etc. for the students to answer. I had a set of iPads, but I let students use their own device if they chose. For each round, the person who found the correct answer the fastest was the winner. Even if they already knew the answer, I made them find it online to be fair to everyone playing. I had a variety of prizes that I had collected for the winner to select. Students really got into this game. I think that I could easily use it again with a new series of questions. If you want to try this out, I have the slides with all the questions for you below. Please feel free to use if you have the opportunity to play the game with a group of teens. 

Game of the Fast Finger Search from Taylorlibrarian

I have planned one other activity that won't be completed until midnight tonight. I am going to choose a grand prize winner from middle school and one from high school. The students had to complete a form with a review of a book, movie, or game that they recommend to their peers. I plan to post their reviews on the library website. I will put a link to it here in my blog later in the week if you want to read what they have to say. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Raymond Arroyo Speaks to 6th and 7th Graders

I got a chance to pose with Raymond Arroyo just before he left

A couple of weeks ago, Judith Lafitte, from the local independent bookstore Octavia Books, and I were lamenting the lack of authors for tweens and teens traveling to New Orleans this past year. Since 2010, Octavia has sent many authors to my school to make presentations to the students. In October, we had someone scheduled who eventually had to cancel due to a family emergency. We were crushed but certainly understood. Since there are only two and half months left of the school year, I thought that this would be a year of no face to face author visits. The day after that phone call with Judith, she sends me an email saying that Raymond Arroyo, a native New Orleanian, would be visiting the bookstore and wanted to do a school visit. 

Even though I had little time to prepare, and I was out of the building two days last week for a conference and ended up out of school a third day due to weather, we were thrilled to meet Arroyo on Monday, March 14th. He is on the national news, but I was not familiar with him or his work before this. Will Wilder is his first book for kids though he has written many for adults. I have no clue how people who hold a full time job find the time to write. It takes me hours to compose any of the writing that I do, and I can't imagine starting a book much less finishing it. 

Arroyo spent seven years on his research in preparation for this series. He likes to compose detailed outlines so that even though the first book took many years, he will be able to complete each subsequent book in the series in less than a year because of his extensive outlining. 

Will Wilder is an action adventure story with a hero who makes a tragic mistake and must figure out how to rectify it to save his town. This is just the kind of book that appeals to the eleven and twelve year olds in middle school. Arroyo spoke to the entire 6th and 7th grade at one time which included just over 200 students. Even though I was concerned that the students were not paying enough attention to the presentation, later that day, many of them came up to me to ask when the library copy of the book would be ready for check out. I was thrilled to hear the students get excited about a book after an author visit. That is exactly what I wanted to hear. 

I thank Judith for giving us the opportunity to meet Raymond Arroyo. 
The students at PFTSTA ♥ author visits! See more pictures of the day on the library website here

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Link to my Post on WhoosReading The Blog

Blog post here

I was asked to write another blog post for the WhooosReading blog on a topic of my choosing. Again, I coordinated my content to a presentation that I would be making to librarians across the state of Louisiana. That was last week on March 9th at the annual Louisiana Library Association conference. In the blog post for WhooosReading, I limited my description to four web tools that I use over and over in the collaborative lessons that I create with the content area teachers at my school. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Teen TECH Week 2016

I usually like to participate in national events during the time that they are scheduled. This year Teen Tech Week (TTW) comes at a bad time for me. Two days this week, I will be attending the state library conference for the Louisiana Library Association. This is so inconvenient. At first, I thought of starting the celebration this week and finishing next week. When I mentioned this to some students, they said that is ridiculous, and so in the PFTSTA Library, we will celebrate TTW beginning on March 14th. Actually, I really liked that idea because it gave me some extra time to finish up the planning and to purchase the supplies. 

All events are scheduled during the students' lunch periods. The last activity is online, and the students can participate anytime. I plan to post lots of pictures of the week on the library website here. 

PFTSTA LIBRARY: All Reader’s Welcome

Monday:                     Oscar Winning Animated Short
Kick off Teen Tech Week and visit the library during your lunch period to watch a movie and eat a sweet treat. Showingwill be the Oscar winning animated short, The Bear Story, as well as several other animated shorts nominated for an Academy Award. 
Colorful Spinning Tops

Tuesday:                     Design a Spinning Top
Are you a designer? You can be today. Visit the library at lunch to create a spinning top.  All the supplies and instructions will be available for you.

Wednesday:               Create an Augmented Reality (AR) Picture
This activity is being sponsored by Learn Lab NOLA. Each participant will choose a sheet to design in color. Using the Quiver 3D app, the picture will come to life.

Duct Tape Bracelets


Thursday:                   Duct Tape Bead Bracelets
We provide all the materials including duct tape, straws, and yarn. You get creative and craft some awesome jewelry.

Friday:                        Game of the Fast Finger Search
Bring in your phone or device or use one of the iPads in the library. We will ask you to search for a picture or information on the Internet. The first one to find that item wins a prize.

                                      Write a Review Contest
Pick a favorite book, movie, or  game(it can be a video, card, or board game), write a review describing it and recommending it. Complete the form here to submit your review. Ms. Kahn will publish the reviews on the TTW website, and everyone who completes a review will be eligible for a chance at the grand prize. There will be two grand prize winners one from middle school and one from high school who will receive a $15.00 gift card to iTunes or Amazon.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ninth Ward Annual Trip with Seventh Grade 2016

At the spot of the levee breach in the Ninth Ward 

On February 29th, the seventh grade along with five teachers boarded two buses to head from Patrick Taylor to the Ninth Ward to participate in service learning and tour the area. We began this project several years ago when the students were asked to read Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. After reading the book, we realized then that the students had little understanding of how Hurricane Katrina affected this very low area of New Orleans. Three years ago, we added a service learning component. 

Our first stop this year was Dr. King Charter School. It should have taken us 30 minutes to get there, but there was horrible traffic on the Crescent City Connection bridge crossing the Mississippi, and one of the bridges across the Industrial Canal was closed. It took us over an hour to get to the school. When we arrived, a third of the students entered the school library to meet the 1st grade, a third went to two kindergarten rooms, and a third left to go to the Guerilla Garden. This was the service learning portion of the trip. One of the ELA teachers has written a grant for the last several years to pay for the buses, books to bring to the elementary school, plants for the garden, and some art supplies for us to complete the project at the schools. 

Student actors in The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The first thing we do when we get into the school library is to pass out copies of The Sneetches to each 1st grader while the 7th graders find a seat at one of the tables and meet their book buddy. A group of students then acts out the story while a narrator reads out loud. The book buddies can follow along together in their copy of the book. 

When the play is over, the 7th graders and 1st graders read and write together. We give all the 1st graders a blank book which they can use to draw pictures or tell their own story. We bring pencils, markers, and Sharpies to use for this portion of the activity. We also share a snack together provided by Dr. King school. We are there for a little over an hour. 

1st grader makes presentation to me of a card they created for us

Mrs. Romero is the librarian at Dr. King school, here she is with one of her students

I wasn't involved with the planning or execution of the activity in the kindergarten rooms, but that activity centered around good nutrition and eating good food. The book that they read was Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham

Kindergarten class

Last year I met Jenga Mwendo who founded two non-profit gardens in the Ninth Ward. I thought that her gardens could be integrated into the service learning portion of our Ninth Ward tour. One of her staff members, Courtney Clark, met the students and teacher at the Guerilla Garden. We brought 15 students willing to work and flats of peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. The students had an hour to clean beds and plant the vegetables. It was a perfect spring-like day of 72 degrees, and the kids had a blast. Courtney was a great teacher, and we hope to include this stop again next year.

Courtney Clark with the student gardeners

Students get their hands dirty 

As I mentioned earlier, we had to curtail our tour of the area because traffic was going to make the students miss lunch at school. We did get to walk around the area developed by Brad Pitt's foundation that is called, Make it Right. 

The Make it Right houses were designed by different
architects and pay homage to New Orleans style architecture

Some of our students stop for a quick pic before heading back to the bus

I always love this project and taking this trip with the students. Because the service learning portion was divided into threes this year, it took a lot more planning and logistics to get everything in place. Two different English teachers work with the 7th grade, and a third English teacher writes the grant that allows us to make the field trip. She runs around town to purchase a lot of the materials that we need, though we order the books online.  I do all the background phone calls to set the date and plan with our point people at the sites. It is a tremendous amount of work to coordinate with everyone here at school and beyond. I believe that this project is worth all the effort it takes to get off the ground. Without collaborating and dividing up the tasks, it would be impossible for one person to undertake. I am glad as librarian that I can work with these teachers to make this happen every year.

Want to know more about how Hurricane Katrina devastated the area? Use this Livebinder to watch videos and read articles describing what happened in August of 2005.

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