Want To Be My Book Buddy?

One benefit of the combined Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High campus is the opportunity for students to partner across grade levels. Many thanks to HIJ English teacher Ashli Cooper for sharing an experience in which older students are encouraged to read through leadership incentive, and younger students have the chance to read and learn along with the ‘older kids’!

Nook BUddies 2017 Matthew RandolfStudents are our future leaders, and what better way to show them that by offering them chances to BE leaders now. This year my eighth graders were challenged to write an “About Me” paragraph — something that, by eighth grade, they have done several times. The difference? This paragraph could not include their name. In these “About Me” paragraphs, the eighth graders’ aim was showcase their best qualities in an effort to appeal to a 5th/6th grade audience. Without knowing names, the younger students read and selected buddies based solely on the power of the 8th graders’ writing.  

Book Buddies 2017 Joseph HoangAfter connecting with their buddies in the library, students were asked to discuss what they like to read and select a book that would inspire all members of the partnership. Students set reading goals, exchanged e-mail communication, and discussed characterization and plot development as they worked their way through the novel. Eighth graders walked in  to every meeting with a plan, and they were met with thoughtful and engaging questions from their buddies.

In the end, students made text-to-self and text-to-work connections that were much deeper and broader than an assignment. Students posed challenges to one another, tempting each other with spoilers of the next plot twist or sharing a connection that inspired the other student to read just a little bit more. It is true that my junior high students led the charge in reading a book, but in the process we learned that the most important part of the “Book Buddies” process was most definitely the BUDDIES.

Panthers lead because we read! #HIJHpanthers #bookbuddies

March 2nd, aka…?

Dr. Seuss’ birthday, of course! At Harrison Parkway Elementary, the birthday of the beloved rhyming genius and children’s author is celebrated yearly in a big way. At HPE, March 2nd is Seussical Day! As part of her commitment to Read Across America, HPE Media Specialist Kristin Sager rolls out the red carpet every March 2nd, inviting family and community readers to come share a Seuss title. First and second grade students rotate through a half day of Seussical experiences, all designed to encourage the love of literature and reading.

Enjoy the slide show below of this year’s Seussical Day! (If reading via email distribution, click on post title to view slide show.)


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Bear Bonanza

Thanks to media specialist Amy Michael of Fall Creek Elementary for today’s post!

fce1One of my passions as media specialist at Fall Creek Elementary is to promote excitement for reading. Motivating kids to read is one my favorite aspects of my job. When the new Paddington Bear movie hit theaters I realized that my students probably didn’t know that Paddington was originally a book character! I wanted the kids to know more about him and all of the other famous bears in literature. So FCE had a week long “BEAR BONANZA.”

fceThe week started with Paddington Bear posters around the school telling the kids to get ready for a bear hunt. It sparked their excitement and got them wanting more. The following week they found trivia questions posted in the hallways with QR codes. The kids had a great time scanning the codes and finding the answers to the questions. Some of the questions were geared towards the higher grades. This meant they had to do research to find the information. Another good skill for them to embrace!

fce6The library contained a non-fiction section for them as well. The students were encouraged to find facts about the bears and write them down for others to read. I knew that the first grade teachers were getting ready to kickoff a thematic unit on polar bears, so this was the perfect tie in. It was also a great opportunity for me to teach the kindergarteners how to compare and contrast the characteristics of fiction and non-fiction bears.

fce11Many fun read alouds were done with the numerous bear books. Students learned the history of Paddington, the Berenstain Bears, Winnie-the-Pooh, and many others.

The week wrapped up with the kids bringing their favorite teddy bear to school! The children read to their bears, fourth graders read to the kindergarteners; the students wrote bare books with their bears, and took their bears to the library to snuggle up with a good book!

Positive Digital Footprints

Thanks to media specialist Kelly Pidcock at Geist Elementary School for today’s post! HSE’s media specialists take the lead role in teaching digital citizenship skills in our schools.  ges3

Whether ges1at school or home, playing in their neighborhoods or surfing the web, speaking face-to-face or talking through electronic devices, Geist Elementary students are encouraged to “do the right thing and treat people right”.

As Geist Elementary’s media specialist, I am passionate about teaching my students the importance of leaving a path of unmistakably positive digital footprints as they travel through the cyber world. As a result of these goals, third and fourth graders are learning about digital citizenship with instructional materials and videos from BrainPOP, Netsmartz Kids and Common Sense Media websites. The series of lessons centers around three topics: (1)responsibility to self, family and friends, and the larger community; (2)protection of private ges2information; and (3)cyberbullying. During the final class, partners use an app called Make Beliefs Comix to create an example of a cyber bullying situation handled in an appropriate way. The comic above is one example!

Lessons in Etiquette – Social Media Etiquette, That Is!

IMG_2674Media Specialist Sharon Deam makes the most of ‘real life’ teaching opportunities. During her digital citizenship unit this week at Fishers Junior High, Deam reminded her seventh graders that anything and everything they text or post online can affect their futures–and an NBC news report helped to prove her point!

In each HSE school building, the librarian/media specialist instructs all students on digital citizenship topics such as internet safety and security, digital footprints, and more. Mrs. Deam began her recent lesson by recounting the (true) cautionary tale of a congressional aide who was forced to resign last month after she ridiculed President Obama’s daughters on social media. The aide’s demeaning Facebook comments quickly grabbed the attention of media and spread. Mrs. Deam used this sad story as a real-life picture of the importance to ‘think before you post’. In the same way that we emphasize politeness and wisdom in our physical actions, so we must live in thIMG_2682e digital world, using the amazing access provided by social media with discretion. Sharon and the other HSE media specialists are committed to helping our students learn these vital information literacy and digital citizenship precepts.

Bookmarks That Take You Places

IMG_1502The ability to generate connections amongst ideas is one reason technology can be a powerful learning enhancer. Digital technologies even allow us to create new or additional purposes for traditional objects. Take the bookmark, for example. Media Specialist Carolyn Gundrum at Hamilton Southeastern Junior High has helped her students to take advantage of digital technologies to enhance learning–via the ordinary bookmark. Mrs. Gundrum explains:

“We use Word to create three tables, and then use the Table Tools Layout to change the direction of the font. Then we type in the title of their favorite book, author and keywords. After the information is complete, the students customize the bookmark to their liking.”

“The next step is to create a QR (or Quick Response Code) using a QR Code generator and linking it to the author’s website. The QR code is copied and placed by the title of the book. Now a simple scanning it through their tablets or smartphones.”

“When the bookmarks are complete, they are printed on heavier stock paper and laminated. Each student receives his/her own bookmark, and the library keeps a copy too. Now a simple QR code scan–from a bookmark–leads to extended learning!”

“I started this project this year with the eighth grade students; now the seventh grade students want to do it too!  So, this is going to be a new semester project for the seventh grade students!  What fun in learning.”

-Submitted by Carolyn Gundrum, Media Specialist, HSE Junior High

Day 60 – Ben and the Bear

Today’s highlight occurred at Fall Creek Intermediate School, where students received a much anticipated visit from young adult author Ben Mikaelsen! Mikaelsen traveled from his home in Bozeman, Montana, to spend a day at FCI.  Teachers and media specialists know Mikaelsen as a popular and successful writer; to students, Ben is most notable for his famous family member, a 750 lb. black bear named Buffy.


In addition to sharing tales of Buffy, who lived with the Mikaelsens from the time he was a cub until he passed away at the age of 26 (in 2010), Mikaelsen shared stories from his life as well as his books. He spoke to the FCI students about bullying and his own experiences with bullies. He also encouraged students to follow their dreams, again by sharing his own experiences. Both were very strong messages that connected mightily with the preteen audience.

-Submitted by Teri Zabonick, FCI Media Specialist

Day 59 – The Construction of Millerville

Students in Holly Miller’s third grade class at Sand Creek Elementary recently got to experience how a real city or town operates. As part of their academic standards, the class studied the wide of variety roles that a community must fill in order to function as a town/city. Then the student-driven portion of the project began! With additional instruction and resources from media specialist Laura Collier, each class member filled out a job applicatiIMG_1611on for a role that interested him or her. Available roles included the mayor, city council member, employee of the public works or parks and recreation departments, a career with the fire or police department, and more!

IMG_1582After a city mayor was elected and other roles assigned by interest, students practiced their research skills in the library, looking for reliable information about their chosen job. Students used that knowledge to build a 3-D representation of the town of “Millerville.” In addition to the content learned, the Millerville project gave students practice in collaboration and team-building, a visual representatiIMG_1608on of the necessities of a town,  and even included a math lesson on scale! Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Collier both declared this cross-curricular, collaborative unit to be a huge success–the students agreed!

Day 56 – 131st Street Connections: FHS & SCE Read Together

FHSReadingTigers2One of the advantages to having several school buildings in close proximity is the potential for ongoing connections between our youngest and oldest learners!  These important connections happen twice weekly on 131st Street, when the Fishers Reading Tigers walk across the road to meet their reading buddies at Sand Creek Elementary.

The FHS Reading Tigers program, now in its second year, pairs young readers with high school students who serve as peer tutors. This year, before reading buddy matches were made, Media Specialist Renee Isom and senior Alicia Macchione, club president, educated potential peer tutors on the basics of young children’s literature and literacy instruction in order to prepare students for their role.

FHSReadingTigers3Walk into Sand Creek during the last half hour of the elementary school day on a Monday or Wednesday, and you’ll be sure to see reading partners throughout the halls, engrossed in stories and conversation. Each FHS teen reader connects weekly with his or her very own reading buddy. New friends are reading and learning together. Connections within a learning community. Part of the HSE21 educational experience.

Day 18 – Curiosity and “The Blob”

IMG_1937Some Lantern Road Elementary students had their curiosity doubly sparked today, when they entered the Media Center and saw–? A big blue blob! Actually, the big blue blob is Digitarium, a portable Planetarium that will remain at LRE for the entire week. “The students have been learning about non-fiction resources, and this surprise makes the perfect culmination and connection to our unit,” said Media Specialist Lori Silbert. Mrs. Silbert’s parent helper today added that being exposed to the night sky through Digitarium fosters curiosity in the children. “It makes them want to go outside and night and think about the stars.”

Curiosity. It’s inherent in every child. Great teachers foster this natural desire to understand the world — through Blobs and tales of the night sky — and in countless other HSE21 learning experiences every day.

-Submitted on behalf of Lori Silbert, Lantern Road Elementary Media Specialist