Encouraging Leaders Through Literature

Amazing how a simple conversation between educators can spark a cross-curricular, global, enduring learning experience.  Thanks to Mrs. Kussy & Mrs. Robinson (3rd grade) from Brooks School Elementary for writing up this incredible HSE21 project to share with us, to Mrs. Patrick (BSE Media Specialist) for the video story, and to the many third graders who, through Wikispaces, are teaching the rest of us about some wonderful, insightful books!

It started as a simple collaboration between us and Mrs. Patrick and with a goal: get powerful diverse books into the hands of third graders and effectively use them to help students learn to identify a theme and support it with explicit text evidence. The books the students are reading are in the BSE Library’s collection of diverse literature which was purchased through the “Windows and Mirrors” grant — an HSE Foundation Grant that Mrs. Patrick received in 2015.

We began with three simple goals for our students. First, read and enjoy books with diversity. Second, identify the theme and support it with evidence. Third, share it beyond our classroom walls. Of course, Mrs. Patrick had a brilliant suggestion to create a class Wikispace website as the avenue to share these beautiful books and the student’s thinking and writing. Each class created its own Wiki to do just that. Students are united together in one space sharing their thoughts globally while reading diverse global texts. Students began the year sharing responses and reflections in a personal space, notebooks. Then they moved to sharing reflections via a classroom space, Seesaw. So a natural progression was to move to a global space for sharing, a Wikispace.

Weekly, students are self-selecting diverse books of interest to read and share their thinking. As they do this, they are able to add to other classmate’s posts to support their thinking with more evidence. Our next step is to have digital discussions about their affirmation or opposition to the same pieces of literature.

Throughout this entire process students have had to opportunity to discover that they are connected in some fashion with leaders of the past or present, and realistic fictional characters. Naturally, this had led us as teachers to discuss global issues being addressed through the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Along the way students are discovering leaders, real and fictional, representing cultures and diversity from all around the world and are in turn identifying these places on the world map. As we step back and analyze the work the students are involved in, it is addressing every content area and more. All of this work is “Encouraging Leaders Through Literature”.

Learn about many diverse books on our class Wikispaces!  

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Reinventing School Libraries – Makerspace!

Makerspaces are a natural evolution for libraries. We need to make the resources available to our students that will help guide their inquiry and exploration. Who can predict what our students will create when given the space and tools necessary?

– Phil Goerner in School Library Journal

What is a makerspace? Essentially, a makerspace is a physical area, often in a library, that is set aside and laden with diverse materials for student exploration. Students are encouraged to create,  design, imagine and problem solve as they choose. Makerspaces provide a natural environment where creativity and critical thinking happen naturally.

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Many HSE school media centers are developing makerspaces. At Fishers Elementary, media specialist Cristie Ondrejack has designed a makerspace around three verbs: Create. Solve. Design.

In the Create area, students use a variety of art supplies to create whatever they can imagine. Solve challenges students to use their critical thinking skills to tackle puzzles, riddles, and logic problems. Perseverance is a goal here! Design encourages students to explore with Legos, K’Nex, Magnetix, Marble Maze and other building supplies. Students collaborate as they envision, plan and build.

Later in the year, HSE21 Shorts will bring you stories of makerspaces at other building levels in the district. Who knows what future inventions or discoveries will be found to have originated in an HSE makerspace!


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!

Coding in the Real World

sce1Students at Sand Creek Elementary participated in Hour of Code during their library time with Mrs. Collier, SCE’s media specialist. After the students understood the meaning of ‘coding’ and had gotten a chance to practice, it was time to make it real, and third-grade teacher Lorena Forbes, had just the connection that was needed!

sce2Mrs. Forbes brought her husband, Randy Forbes, to school for the day! Mr. Forbes is a software engineer with Salesforce, and is experienced in all types of coding. Mr. Forbes traveled to several classes to give students some background on what computer programmers do in the real world. The biggest surprise for students was that Mr. Forbes’ job isn’t all about gaming! Mr. Forbes also worked with some students to finish an Hour of Code in the computer lab.

sce3Through taking part in fun coding activities and through hearing about the amazing things grown-up programers do, SCE students are now hooked on coding!

-Submitted by Laura Collier, SCE Media Specialist

Hour of Code…Hour of COOL!

We continue our week-long focus on the many ways that HSE schools and classrooms have implemented the Hour of Code! Thanks to Lori Silbert for today’s post.

lre1At Lantern Road Elementary, students prepared for coding before Hour of Code officially kicked-off. The site www.tinkersmith.org offered lesson plans to get us thinking about programming techniques. We thought about the “small pieces of the puzzle” that would lead to creating the “big picture.” Together we gave “human robots” commands to move forward, move backward, ‘pick up cup’ and ‘put down cup’ in order to build a pattern of paper cups on a table. Students took turns being the robots and writing the code using left, right, up and down arrows. Now students were ready to program on-line!

lre2All K-4 LRE students are participating in Hour of Code this week. They have written codes to help Anna and Elsa skate across the frozen ice by using commands like move forward and turn right 90 degrees! Using the site www.tynker.com/hour-of-code, they created creatures and programmed them to maneuver along paths to find peppermint drops and lollipops. A poor little puppy lost his family and the students wrote the code to help him find them again – forward, turn left, jump, turn right, forward!!! Often, students have needed to figure out a pattern and have their characters repeat actions. We even decorated the national holiday tree in Washington DC at www.holidays.madewithcode/project/lights#.

lre3Hour of Code has provided each LRE student with sixty minutes of engaged learning that will take them down new paths of their own!! Our 21st century students need core subjects; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. This week we are blending all of these important areas in many cool activities!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, LRE Media Specialist

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!