"Flex Week" is the week where I do not have a set schedule for media lessons, but instead, am flexible to work with teachers, collaborate, co-teach, open the media center for classes to be held w/ homeroom teachers, and more. They are b.u.s.y. weeks but always rewarding! In the last 2 years, I haven't had a true flex week because we had 6 sections of 1st grade and 6 sections of 2nd grade so I would teach them on a weekly rotating schedule. In the past 2 months, I've really made the most of the flex time. Check out some of the activities we've had buzzing through our media center over the last week...
2nd graders in Mrs. Wheeler, Mrs. Walston, and Mrs. Tawes classes came down to wrap up their weather unit with a Virtual Field Trip. Back in June, I presented at our county's technology conference about what a VFT is and how they can enrich students' experiences - both with their curriculum content, as well as engaging with their personal interests. We "Connected With Weather" thanks to a program put together by Discovery Education and The Weather Channel. Thanks to a great video, we took a tour of the Weather Channel headquarters and saw how their technology helps us better understand the world around us. We "read" a picture of Jeannette's Pier from the tour video and determined (from context clues) that it was shot during a hurricane, and it must have been Sandy or Irene as it was a daytime photo. Then students headed off in partners to learn more about Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Winter Storms, and Wildfires. They shared their findings on a meteorologist's' report which we will turn into a book to have in our library! You can tell from their body language in these photos just how engaged they were and thinking deeply about what they were learning - the fact that each student in all 3 classes stuck with their tasks and didn't ask to play on other apps makes me know that it was a successful VFT! I can't wait to work with the 2nd grade team more throughout the year (they're moving to a new wing being built off the library) and take these smarties on more virtual trips. In the midst of all this, our gym teacher asked me if I could compile a virtual field trip on INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING - now that is a challenge. When I was able to pull it off, she called me the "Virtual Field Trip Guru"... I think I'll put that on my resume...
For a girl who didn't study much Art throughout my schooling, I have a deep appreciation for Art History and finally got to share some of my experiences and enthusiasm with students! Since my first attempt at collaboration, my friend Mrs. Corbett has been open to teaming up on projects so we are always bouncing ideas off one another. She was getting ready to start From The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler and wanted students to connect to the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art by creating a brochure. We evolved that idea into students creating their own museums and giving a presentation about the pieces they would select to exhibit, what theme ties their museum together, and how they would draw people in to their museum. I helped launch the project by presenting a slideshow to them of some of the museums I have visited and rather than focusing on what was inside, I showed them some architectural details and the history behind the buildings (The Louvre, Centre de Pompideau, Walker Art Center, Guggenheim, Uffizi, Musee d'Orsay). To prepare them for their presentations, I used art terminology when discussing such as "curate" and "medium." I encouraged them to ask questions and approach this like an inquiry project - one student asked "Why is the Mona Lisa the most famous painting in the world?" - which I couldn't answer on the spot, but researched and followed-up on... another said, in response to showing my favorite piece of art (Fourteen Year Old Dancer by Degas) "I don't get it. It's just a ballerina. Why do you like that if you're not a ballerina?" - this lead to a great discussion about art and the many ways people interact with it, define it, and appreciate it. After working on it over the week, the students invited me to their room to see what they came up with! Below are their created museums and clips of their presentations. I then got to follow up with them on those earlier questions and give feedback on their presentations. The link I showed to explain the Mona Lisa is PRICELESS and adorable. Highly suggest watching (2nd video below). Also, the most rewarding comment by a student: "Mrs Holloman? How do you know so much about so many different things? Like Art? And History?" Books, of course! And some personal experiences along the way :)
I'm loving our new help in the library... Yes, Ms. Terri is great BUT I mean my 5th grade media mentors!!! I have 2 students come on a bi-weekly schedule from the time I open the media center (7:40am) through the morning bell (8:05am). For those 25 minutes, they assist morning patrons with finding and checking out books, and help ME by checking in books, getting them on carts, and allowing me to prep for the day. These students are ones who helped me Genrefy the fiction shelves so they already have some ownership of the library, but I'm seeing it emerge even more when they come in the mornings. Their excitement over seeing which books are circulating, the new titles I've added and displayed, and talking to their peers about books is so much fun to see. I see them as advocates for the media center - they are my "go-to's" when I want some feedback or need to get something promoted across the school. For example, I've been trying to get a grant for iPad minis to be housed permanently for media use. I use our mobile cart on a pretty regular basis but 1) it's a good 10 minute walk for me to collect them from the upstairs computer lab, and another 10 to return them (students cannot do this for me). I REALLY want them so I can do more with Augmented Reality and QR codes and make them available all the time to students... so I had last week's Media Mentors do this little promo for me...
And on Friday, Dare Education Foundation APPROVED our grant!!! We're getting iPad Minis!!!!!! I'm so excited for our students and how these tools are going to be used to reach our goal of celebrating our School of Readers. The Augmented Reality book reviews is just one example of how this technology will enhance literacy... I can't wait to see some literature circles reading eBooks, QR code scavenger hunts, using the Destiny App to search for books, etc. Check back often to see how this great news will be put into action!