Lights, Science, ACTION!: Thank You

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When we last left Lights, Science, ACTION!, the crew was getting their hands dirty (both literally and physically) with allllllll the science. From filmmaking to seed planting, we were knee deep in exciting, real-world science experiences, and loving every minute of it!

In case you missed it, Lights, Science, ACTION! is a club offered by the Learning Leopard Library in collaboration with local non-profit organization Light House Studio. Light House Studio’s mission is to “bring young people together to make movies.” From their website:

“We are a nonprofit filmmaking center dedicated to helping students develop their vision and show their work. We believe in the importance of collaboration and community, the creativity of young minds, and the lasting benefits of our hands-on mentor-based approach to teaching the art of filmmaking.”

Light House Studio brought their collaboration, mentorship, creativity, and joy for filmmaking to Lights, Science, ACTION!, and the results were incredible. You can read more about our experiences and see photos of the team in action here.

I’m so excited this morning to share the final result of eight weeks of hard work. Each short video encompasses one subject – watch them together, separately, in order, whatever you want. While you watch, keep in mind that the filming, interviewing, and many of the editing decisions were completed by third and fourth grade students, thanks to the mentorship from the Light House Studio team.

Animation Day at Johnson from Light House Studio on Vimeo.

Leaf Rubbings from Light House Studio on Vimeo.

The Johnson Garden from Light House Studio on Vimeo.

Camouflage Creatures from Light House Studio on Vimeo.

If you’d like to share these awesome videos, follow the link at the bottom of the post to view the full album and find links for sharing. 

I was so impressed with the quality of work from our student filmmakers – and with the incredibly talented Light House Studio film team that put it all together. It made me so proud to see the student excitement and passion captured on film – is there any better commercial for science, filmmaking, and after school programming? But my favorite part was the quirky humor and silliness that shines through. Even as dedicated scientists and filmmakers, this group had a creative, fun-loving feel and a delightfully wacky sense of humor that made every meeting more fun than the last. I hope that you can feel that lovely eccentricity while you watch.

As I progress through my career in teaching and librarianship, I am starting to feel more like a veteran; and yet, my capacity to learn from my experiences keeps growing and growing. The more time I spend with students, the more I learn about the big plans they have for the world around them. My experience with Light House Studio and the Lights, Science, ACTION! group gives me yet another reason to look forward to the future – if these kids have anything to do with it, this world is going to be a truly weird and wonderful place.

To the patient, dedicated, and talented Light House Studio -thank you so much for everything. You brought so much more than just camera equipment to Johnson. We adore you! None of these creative, dirty, wonderful experiences without your help.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Prana Fund, Light House offered this program to us at no cost, and student club members don’t have to pay a cent to participate. I love getting to spend this special time in nature with Johnson students, and am so grateful to Light House Studio for making it possible.

Want to know more?

 View the full album of Lights, Science, ACTION! videos on Vimeo here.

Watch more Light House Studio videos on their Vimeo here. 

Learn more about Light House Studio and their amazing community work here.

 

Calling all lost library books!

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Summer doesn’t just mean Books on Bikes. It also means lots of fancy librarian things – like inventory, space re-configuration, collection development, and material maintenance and replacement.  In order to keep our collection in the very best shape for the Johnson community, we need your help! None of these critical library jobs can be completed unless all of Johnson’s library books are found and returned to school.

Today is the deadline for student library books to be returned for the 2015-2016 school year. So to help this along, I hopped onto this morning’s announcements to lead a school-wide desk check for any stubborn lost library books. Under papers, behind binders, covered in candy wrappers, under chairs… out from everywhere they came! Thirty minutes later, I had more than 150 library books happily snuggling in the book return.

It just goes to show – your library books could be hiding right under your nose! This afternoon, I will be printing and sending lost and overdue notices for all of the books that haven’t made their way home yet. Please watch your child’s backpack and folder for a notice. If you find one, that means one or more stowaway library books are hiding somewhere in your home. Make it a challenge to find them and bring them back as soon as possible!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a kid in elementary school trying to track down my library books, and get the nerve to return them – gulp – late to my beloved librarian. So I know that library books go missing for all kinds of mysterious reasons. Never fear, my friends! We are currently accepting…

“…oops, I still have this?!” books

“…is that chocolate syrup??” books

“…how long has this been in the car?!” books

“…but my dog chewed on the corner!” books

“…I loved it so much I didn’t want to bring it back!” books

“…I accidentally left it on the playground…” books

“…my baby sister drew in it.” books

“…oh, does this belong to you?” books

and even “…we’ve been using this one as a doorstop” books.

If you’ve got it, we want it. 🙂

If you are experiencing financial difficulty, we can work together to find a plan that works for your family. Just contact me via phone or email. I am happy to work with you to find a solution that’s best for everyone!

Library books need to be returned, paid for, or replaced by the last day of school. According to our online records, 102 Johnson students still have one or more library books checked out from our library! That’s a lot of lonely books looking to come home.

Our library program depends on your support. We can’t do it without you! Thank you for your support in keeping our library collection full and our library program strong.

 

Introducing: Lights, Science, ACTION!

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Somewhere during the STEAM Team madness, I got an email. Local non-profit Light House Studio had an idea for a workshop that would be perfect for our tech-savvy, ever curious scientists. Would I like a STEAM Team project about movie making and science?

Nope. No thanks. I don’t want this to be a part of STEAM Team.

Because it is WAY. TOO. COOL.

This idea doesn’t deserve to be a short project tacked onto another club. This spectacular combination of high tech equipment and old fashioned hands-in-the-dirt activities deserves its own spotlight. Luckily, LightHouse agreed – and Lights, Science, ACTION! was born.

During Lights, Science, ACTION!’s eight week session, students are learning the ins and outs of basic filmmaking, including types of shots, types of cameras, how to run sound equipment, film set lingo, and interviewing and directing techniques. They are getting hands-on experience with state-of-the-art film and sound equipment, along with different types of filmmaking like stop-motion, claymation, and special effects. They are getting a peek behind the scenes of the editing process, learning the basics of layering video and sound, editing scenes to get the very best result, and adding special features like transitions and effects. And Light House Studio’s dedicated, experienced, patient mentors are with them every step of the way, providing individualized attention and instruction to help each child get the most out of the time behind the lens.

After our initial filmmaking workshops, the science experiments began. Each week, a small group of students gets to act as the documentary crew while the rest of the group participates in a short science lesson and experiment. The group shares stories and ideas about natural science while the crew records the action, ambiance, and interviews. All of the footage is edited and combined by the experts at Light House into a final project, which we will premiere on our final meeting in May.

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Whether we’re creating art from nature, digging (and chewing) in the garden, or studying animal behaviors, our science experiments help students to make observations and ask critical questions about the world around them. Together with our parent and community volunteers (pop quiz – can you spot Mr. Fitz in these photos?)  we are working on being more inquisitive, curious, and creative; all while working towards teamwork and a growth mindset.

As an added bonus, the filmmaking aspect of the club helps students to see their world through a different lens (da-dum-ching – see what I did there?). They have to answer new questions like, what will a viewer need to know to understand this experiment, without having heard the directions? Which students are focused enough to appear on film? Does this shot show what our group is all about? These questions force students to walk in a teacher’s shoes for an hour or two – and it is both hilarious and humbling to hear their reactions about how difficult it can be.

So much of students’ time in school is spent working quietly and independently towards the goal of a good grade on a test or assignment. These skills are essential for students to develop, but they’re not the only skills needed for a well-rounded, successful, and happy child. With so many demands and limitations placed on teachers, even Johnson’s exemplary staff can’t always get kids learning through moving, shaking, and making.  Thanks to the generosity and expertise of the Light House Studio team, the Learning Leopard Library can provide third and fourth grade students with rich, engaging, hands-on experiences that allow them to learn at their own speed, in their own way. Students are transformed when they are allowed to take an active role in their own learning – and whether they’re behind the camera or up in a tree, students on the Lights, Science, ACTION! team are exploring, growing, and making connections in a way that they won’t soon forget.

Keep your eyes on this space for more news and photos from Lights, Science, ACTION! This program will continue after school in the library through mid-May.

None of these creative, dirty, wonderful experiences without the generous help of Light House Studio. Thanks to a generous grant from the Prana Fund, Light House offered this program to us at no cost, and student club members don’t have to pay a cent to participate. I love getting to spend this special time in nature with Johnson students, and am so grateful to Light House Studio for making it possible. You may remember Light House Studio from their fantastic KickStarter video for Books on Bikes in 2014. LightHouse, founded in 1999, is on a mission:

“Light House brings young people together to make movies. We are a nonprofit filmmaking center dedicated to helping students develop their vision and show their work. We believe in the importance of collaboration and community, the creativity of young minds, and the lasting benefits of our hands-on mentor-based approach to teaching the art of filmmaking.”

Now that’s a mission I think we can all get behind. Find out more about Light House Studio including their locations, wonderful staff, and more ways that they make an impact in Charlottesville by visiting their website here

World Premiere: Second Grade Classes present, Take it From a Second Grader

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Over the past few months, Johnson second graders have been working even harder than usual. These students have stepped out of their comfort zone to become role models, mentors, and teachers to a few lucky first graders – and I couldn’t be prouder.

The videos embedded below were designed, scripted, shot, and “edited” by second grade students (with just a little help from a certain librarian). I challenged them to remember what it felt like to be a first grader getting ready for second grade, on the cusp of new independence and academic rigor. What advice did they wish that they had had as a new second grader? What wisdom have they gathered during their time in the second grade? Where are all of the Iron Man books?! With these questions in mind, we set about brainstorming, mapping, and shooting our movies.

As part of the challenge, I promised that the class with the best video would be published to our library’s YouTube channel. But after watching all three, there was no way that I could choose. You can find the links to all three videos below!

As second graders have learned more about video recording and editing, they have also been honing their teaching skills. This week, they came to the library during first graders’ scheduled library time and each spent 30 minutes coaching a first grade buddy in all things second grade checkout. This special time together included checkout tips and tricks, a special screening of their class movie, and guided tours of the library’s collection.

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Second graders rose to the occasion with excellent behavior and kind, patient teaching far beyond their years. They took their responsibility to the younger students seriously, and showed their pride, ownership, and understanding of our library. First graders not only left better understanding what library looks like as a second grader, but also feeling inspired and excited by how much their older mentors cared about them, about our library, and about the Johnson community.

Second grade classes, you should be so proud of all of your hard work on this special project! You can watch the videos on our library YouTube Channel, or via the links below. Great work, second grade!

Pi Beta Phi returns to Johsnon

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The Learning Leopard Library been lucky enough to develop a wonderful relationship with Pi Beta Phi, a service sorority with an active chapter at the University of Virginia. Over the past few years we have read together, celebrated Seuss, and received generous donations of books for our students, classrooms, and library.

I’m so happy to be welcoming the ladies of Pi Beta Phi back into the library this year. Johnson’s lucky kindergartners will be the target of the sorority’s CAR program. CAR stands for Champions are Readers, and these dedicated ladies will be giving kindergarten students valuable small group and individual reading time once a week. This afternoon, our first group of UVA students joined us in the library and whisked students off into cozy corners in the sunshine to read. As an added bonus, because they are in the library, students are sharing books that they have chosen on topics that they feel passionate about – and the mix of sharing stories and student interest are sure to be beneficial to our young readers.

I look forward to spending time with Pi Beta Phi each Friday afternoon and watching Johnson’s kindergartners grow to be more confident, passionate readers. Thank you for selecting us for your CAR program, Pi Beta Phi! We’re so happy to be working with you.

This Month in Photos: January 2016

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January has been one wild month. Robots, dogs, mustaches… we’ve seen it all. I don’t think I can even begin to describe this one well enough… so I’ll let the pictures do all the talking! Hold on tight…

It was a warm Fitz-welcome back from winter break with my new name all over the library to help remind students of the change. I got married in November and Miss Messham is so 2015. My new name is Sarah FitzHenry, but I’m inviting my Johnson family to call me Ms. Fitz. I have a new email address to match the new moniker – you can now reach me at FitzHeS1@charlottesvilleschools.org.

When we last left our third and fourth graders, they were working on our 2015 Hack-a-Thon and honing their computer programming skills. I was thrilled when many students rushed into the library the first day back from break to tell me how much they had coded over their vacation. Some even completed the courses at Code.org! Did your student use any of the digital resources mentioned in this post over the break? If so, brag about them in the comments!

No warm-ups or slow starts here – we didn’t waste a minute getting back into reading. From pre-k to fourth grade and everyone in between, we were all happy to be reading, learning, and sharing our love for literacy in the Learning Leopard Library. As you can see, Johnson students aren’t exactly shy about using their library resources and sharing their favorite books. On the right, a third grade student shares her most recent checkout with a very lucky Lego man.

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Students aren’t the only readers at Johnson. In our new I Mustache You… display, teachers get the chance to share their most recent read with the school. This week Mrs. Kamide rocks the ‘stache and tells us about the title she’s into right now.

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In Learning Leopard Library tradition, Johnson third graders are starting off the new year with the reference tool tango. To help them tackle this tricky SOL, we go over each reference tool in detail and get to know it in a unique and engaging way, like dictionary races and almanac scavenger hunts. These fun, low-pressure activities allow students to learn the tools inside and out in a way that is both fun and memorable. Above, third graders use thesauruses to re-write a silly short story – think Mad Libs crossed with English class. But funnier!

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Did you hear the one about the dog in the library??? Earlier this month, Luna the Therapy Dog came to visit Johnson’s kindergarten and first graders, and we had a barking good time. Read all about Luna’s visit – and see a short video of her presentation with her owner and handler, Stacy Diaz – here.

Have you heard? The library is hiring! Earlier this year, I quietly placed Help Wanted posters in the fourth grade classrooms. Students who took the initiative to ask were given a job application, complete with essays, scheduling requests, and character references. From there, applicants underwent a rigorous interview process (in the middle, you can see that this particular interview happened to fall on pajama day – I don’t normally interview in a tiger-striped onesie…) and only the most prepared, determined, and hard-working students were chosen. On the right, you can see fourth grade applicants checking the posted Hired list to find their names. Spoiler alert – every student that interviewed was hired – but it was only because they all did such an excellent job! I was blown away by how prepared, polished, and professional my applicants were. Special thank you to Chase and Sahana, my awesome Safety Patrol workers, who helped me to carry out the interviews (when you want the best results, you break out the big guns)!

Their start dates have been pushed back due to snow, but our new twelve-member team should begin their training next week. They’ll begin with shelving graphic novels and fiction chapter books, as well as helping younger students to find books that are a good fit and check them out independently. I love sharing the library with students, and giving them ownership in the space. I can’t wait to see what they can do – expect updates on this awesome team in the future!

Speaking of Chase and Sahana, these two have really stepped up their library game. This team is such an excellent help in the morning that they are now beginning to take on more challenging jobs, like cataloging, labeling, and processing new materials.

If you follow our library on Facebook, you know that we have recently launched a brand new program in the Learning Leopard Library – a MakerSpace! MakerSpaces are designed to get students dreaming, designing, and out of their comfort zone making anything and everything. Cardboard and duct tape race car course? Awesome. Magnatile neighborhood? Sounds great. 3-D printed jewelry? Bring it on! Johnson’s resident STEAM expert (and past HackMaster) Andy Jones helped me to transform a quiet corner of the library into a state-of-the-art MakerSpace and engineering corner thanks to the tools from our recent DonorsChoose fundraiser, the results from our Alcoa Grant, and a few generous gifts from Charlottesville City Schools. Along with a huge selection of beautiful, educational, and oh-so-enticing engineering toys, Johnson is now the home to a brand new Silhouette Die-Cut machine and a 3-D printer. I’ll be working with teachers soon to introduce them to these materials and showcase how they can integrate them into their curriculum. I can’t wait to show you all of the amazing things our students can do with these new materials!

Speaking of engineering and STEAM, I’ve been testing out our engineering toy selection on some very happy fourth grade guinea pigs. From Cool Circuits to K’nex, it’s been so much fun watching fourth graders use their imaginations and learn through play in the library. This is just a small taste of what the Johnson STEAM Team will be working on during our Friday after school meetings. Learn more about the STEAM Team here. If you’re interested in registering your child, let me know ASAP – we have four more spots remaining for this session.

Even with the snow days, it has been a busy and exciting month in the Learning Leopard Library. And with STEAM Team starting up, the Festival of the Book on the horizon, and our new MakerSpace ready to go.. something tells the that February is going to be just as good!

Stay warm and dry out there! See you soon!

 

This Month in Photos: 9/25-10/30

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WHAT A MONTH.

October is always a busy month at Johnson, but this month feels like it has been our busiest yet! From special guests and reading events to Creepy Carrots and engineering tools, October has been a blur. Take a look at some of the amazing things we’ve been doing in the Learning Leopard Library!

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This time last month, I was in Seattle, Washington in a room full of the best librarians from around North America and Canada. This fantastic opportunity to learn from the leaders in the library field gave me so many new ideas and so much inspiration! I loved hearing about how school library media specialists are making a difference in their schools and creating engaging, flexible spaces for their students.

It was also an excellent opportunity to share the message of the Books on Bikes organization to library movers and shakers to take back to their own hometowns. Above you can see me sharing Books on Bikes tshirts with famous authors like Jack Prelutzky (the inaugural winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award!), Neil Shusterman (on the short list for this year’s National Book Award!), Susan Nielsen, and Leslye Walton. Plus a few librarians from Texas, Maine, and Washington state, who are eager to start their own Books on Bikes chapters this summer!

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It may seem like ages have passed, but our Fall Book Fair was only a few weeks ago! The Bedford Falls Book Fair saw huge amounts of traffic and record-breaking sales. I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful group of parent volunteers that made the experience so much fun for Johnson’s students. Thank you to everyone that helped to make the Fall Book Fair possible!

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Along with the Book Fair comes my favorite project… Book Fair Scholarships! Thanks to our highest raffle ticket sales ever, generous anonymous donations, and teacher sponsorship, we were able to fund 88 Book Fair Scholarships this year! That’s more students shopping, reading, and sharing the Book Fair Magic than EVER before. We couldn’t have done it without you!

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One last Book Fair update… this year, we raffled off our biggest Book Fair Raffle basket EVER! With more than 25 books, a selection of games and prizes, and a Books on Bikes t-shirt, the competiton was fierce. And we sold a record 75 raffle tickets this year… WOW! Congratulations to our winner, Ananda! Ananda is such a huge reader and supporter of our library, I know that those books will be well loved and put to good use. Hooray Ananda!

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What do librarians do on Professional Development Days, anyway? We get together to help improve our library programs, of course! Sometimes our Professional Learning Community discusses curriculum, new best practices in reading and literacy, or to present about fun literacy updates at our schools. On this particular PD day, we got together to learn about the art of book mending. Using a kit of specially designed glues, tapes, and tools, our instructors from the Jefferson Madison Regional Library can take even the most damaged book and make it look brand new again.

This Book Doctor, however, still has some training to do. It was wonderful to get some hands-on experience in book mending, and I look forward to getting some of our recovering books out of the Book Hospital and back into students’ hands! Thank you to JMRL for the awesome demonstration!

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As always, the library has been full of readers showin’ off their stuff. From Dance Mat Typing to Kahoot to exploring chapter books and everything in between, the library is busy and bustling every hour of the day!

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Chase and Sahana, my Safety Patrol experts, are busier than ever. In addition to assisting with open check out in the mornings, they have also started preparing and delivering educational resources to teachers. Here, they check out a pile of books on economics for Mrs. Schaaf to use with her students in her classroom. This big pile was hand-delivered just a few minutes later!

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Thursday, October 22nd, Johnson joined the national Read for the Record celebration by sharing this year’s selected Read for the Record story, Not Norman, to every student in the building. We had a little bit of extra help to celebrate from our friends at the UVA Football Team! Find out all about our special day here.

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Second graders are continuing their Library Superhero training, and you can tell they are really taking it seriously. In the photos above, Super Leo acts as my Sidekick for the day, assisting patrons at the computer and checking the library for evil-doers; and Keira surprised me by showing up to library class in her own personal cape! Library Superhero twins!

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Have you heard? Engineering is coming to Johnson! Last week, I posted a new project to DonorsChoose to bring an Engineering Club to our students. Before I even had a chance to post is on the blog, it was fully funded! Resources have been arriving all week, and I’m having a blast getting to know the materials and preparing them to share with students. I am working with engineering students from the University of Virginia to create a custom curriculum to challenge, excite, and inspire our students starting in January. Stay tuned for updates about the coming Engineering Club – and thank you so much to all of the Johnson families that made this project possible!

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For the second year in a row, Creepy Carrots busted out of the library and took over Johnson! Today, a brave pre-k class joined me on a carrot hunt to track down all of the escaped Creepy Carrots. Together, we counted SEVENTEEN CARROTS wreaking havoc all over the building! It was a great adventure for this pre-k group, and such a magical way to bring a favorite story to life for all Johnson students.

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Later that day, Mr. Harden found the creepiest carrot of all in the Johnson Garden! I had a great laugh when he brought me this monster. I might just have to keep this guy as my creepy carrot mascot.

This has been a fun and exciting month in the Learning Leopard Library with so many great experiences for Johnson students. And none of this month would have been possible without YOU! Thank you for being a part of our library program and for making these wonderful experiences possible. I love working with you on the Johnson Elementary Team and am so happy to be a part of this wonderful community.

Wishing you a safe and fun Halloween weekend! See you next week!

The 2015 Fall Book Fair has arrived!

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No, you haven’t lost track of time and skipped the months of October and November – don’t worry! This year, Johnson’s first Book Fair is earlier than usual. And it’s not just the spot on the calendar that has changed – you might notice that our whole Book Fair is NEW and IMPROVED!

Thanks to our friends at Bedford Falls, we have triple the selection of high quality, educational titles to choose from! From non-fiction to easy readers to award winners, there are hundreds and hundreds of titles to browse, buy, and take home to your family.

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We also have some special interest sections, including a military display, reference display, and origami display complete with special origami paper and activities! Also, don’t miss our $5.00 or less tables, which feature books priced as low as $2.95!

Shop any time during school hours this week, with your student or even on your own for birthday or holiday gifts 😉 Or shop with your family this Wednesday, October 7th, at the PTO Fall Festival from 5:00-7:00 PM.

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Finally, make sure you stop by our Fall Book Fair Raffle. Bedford Falls donated more than TWENTY BOOKS for our raffle basket which means that if your ticket is drawn, you could win all of those titles plus a selection of toys and prizes AND a Books on Bikes tshirt. Tickets are $3.00 each or two for $5.00 and the winner will be drawn next Monday, October 12. Every penny raised from Book Fair Raffle sales goes towards funding Book Fair Scholarships for Johnson students!

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You can read more about Johnson’s Book Fair Scholarship program, now in its third year, here. If you’d like to help out, contact me any time at messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org! 

Donuts with Dads and the Million Father March

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This morning, Dads took over Johnson Elementary School!

In one of my favorite reading events of the year, the Johnson Reading Team invited dads, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, and other special male figures to share breakfast and stories with their children in the cafeteria. I am always amazed at the number of participants we see at these events, even before 8 AM! Students and their loved ones enjoyed donuts, fruit, juice, and a story or two. They even left with a free book!

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Johnson’s Reading Team does such a incredible job putting these events together and welcoming our students’ families. This year we had our biggest crowd ever – by 7:30, the cafeteria was at standing room only! It is wonderful to see the special relationships that Johnson students share with the male role models in their lives, and makes me especially proud to see these connections being built and maintained over stories. Books are the best way to connect, share, and start meaningful conversations. Even if they’re silly ones that you read while eating powdered sugar donuts!

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After Donuts for Dads wrapped up, I invited the visiting guys into the library to get involved in the Million Father March. Dads were invited in to grab a cup of coffee, read about the Million Father March project, and browse volunteer opportunities available to them at Johnson. After polling Johnson teachers, I learned that volunteers would be the most useful in a few common places: the garden, cafeteria, and classroom, plus at recess and on field trips. Each table had a sign up sheet for a different volunteering opportunity, and dads were invited to sign their name and info to each sheet that interested them.

We ended our morning with 26 volunteer sign-ups – a great number for our first MFM event! I was so proud to see how many braved the early hour and the cold rain to donate their time to support their child’s education. Each dad brings a unique, important set of skills and support to the table for our kids. The most important thing that you can donate is your time! My hope is to expand the Million Father March group to get even more male role models into Johnson’s classrooms, cafeteria, and activities.

Thanks for coming to join us, Dads. We hope to see you again soon!

Learn more about the Million Father March and what inspired me to get involved here. Or hear the NPR piece that started it all.  

How to Win the Golden Shelf Award: For students, by students

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New year, new competition – it’s Golden Shelf Award time!

You may remember the Golden Shelf Award from its introduction here. Or from my post bragging about it’s 2013-2014 winners, here. Or maybe even my post about its most recent winners here. Or maybe you’re just a fan of giant, shiny, book-shaped trophies. Regardless, I’m glad you’re here!

The Golden Shelf Award is a weekly award presented by me to the second, third, or fourth grade class that impresses me the most during their library and checkout times. Every Monday morning, the school holds its breath as Mr. Stern announces, “Congratulations to this week’s Golden Shelf Winners….” I don’t mean to brag, but the cheers can normally be heard down the hall. This award is kind of a big deal.

We keep track of Golden Shelf wins with a giant, interactive chart on the back of the library door. Students can stop by any time and check how many gold stars their class has earned – one for each win. By January, those stars really begin to add up… by March, the race is seriously on. The class with the most wins by the end of the school year earns an ice cream sundae party with me, as well as their picture on displayed on the library for the entire next school year, the chance to star in a Golden Shelf video, and bragging rights for eternity!

Next week, the Golden Shelf Award will be awarded for the first time for the 2015-2016 school year. And my second, third, and fourth graders are READY (not to mention their competitive teachers!). To help them prepare, I worked with last year’s big winner’s to create the video below – How to Win the Golden Shelf Award. With some familiar faces and some excellent advice, it has everything you need to know about how to make sure your class takes the prize.

I can taste those ice cream sundaes already! Good luck, Leopards!