Leave No One Behind

This week students K-5 are beginning the work on a unit that is very dear to my heart. This summer, I was one of 8 educators chosen to go to the PBL World conference in California to work with Students Rebuild on their upcoming challenge on hunger that just launched! I was thrilled to work with the incredibly talented staff of PBL World and other dynamic educators to help shape the resources available to all teachers when they go to join this very important challenge!

This week, we began what will be a K-5 research project about hunger in our community by reactivating their knowledge of the United Nations Global Goals, and discussing the new call to action they launched this year: Leave No One Behind. We talked about what that means through a lens of the Global Goals. Students answered with responses like, People are counting on each other to helpWe need to come together to make sure that everyone has enoughWe should be willing to share whatever we have, even if we don’t have more than enough. These Goalkeepers, with humanitarianism in their hearts, are ready to do the hard work of discussing hunger.

The driving question behind this research is How can we, as UN Global Goalkeepers, challenge local chefs to commit to action to create a healthy, not hungry, world? Our goal is to create our own call to action to local restaurants/food service providers to create menus that are locally sourced, healthy, and tasty! Then we will invite these chefs to come speak to the students about their feelings on nutrition, eating healthy, food diversity, and more! I don’t want to give it all away now, but it’s going to be an incredible journey, and the students are already on board.

My favorite part of this week’s lesson is when I asked the students who they would turn to for information about healthy foods here at Ottauquechee.  There were a few suggestions but the overwhelming consensus was Mr. Sadowski, a retired teacher who runs the school Garden Club, along with his many other contributions to our school over his career. I interviewed Mr. Sadowski and asked him about what he thinks about nutrition and why he started our school garden. The kids loved it!

After viewing the video, the students discussed the many ways we utilize our school garden: Garden Club, snacks for Forest Kindergarten, contributing to the Harvest Dinner, taste-testing during lunch, pizza for Open House, and students bringing home fresh vegetables to their families to try. We talked about the many lifelong benefits of exposure to fresh foods for OQS students: a willingness to try new foods, knowledge of how to plant and maintain a garden, healthy snacks, to be healthy, to bring the community together, to name a few! We are so fortunate to have this incredible resource and opportunity right out our back door.

Lastly, we read these books, depending on the grade level, to take the idea of locally sourced produce and the role food plays in our community to a more global level.

I especially love The Good Garden, and really anything published by CitizenKid, as it exposes my rural Vermont students to the world of campesinos, aka peasant farmers, in Honduras, and the vital importance that successful agriculture has on many aspects of their lives. Students were asking me questions about the story as they were checking out books later. It definitely resonated with them.

It feels like it was a long time coming, but I have been thinking about this research unit for months! I hope that the students get as much out of this research, and eventually the creation of a recipe for the Students Rebuild challenge, as I plan!

Just Like Jackie

I had the opportunity to meet the author of this Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award nominated book, Lindsay Stoddard, at the DCF Award conference this past spring. A Hanover High School graduate and former teacher, Ms. Stoddard was very engaging and loves to visit schools. On top of that, she wrote a fabulous book set in Vermont, that I knew the students would love, so I decided to read her novel, Just Like Jackie, with both fourth and fifth grade this year, in the hopes that we can get Ms. Stoddard to come to OQS to discuss it with the students!

So far the students have been very engaged in Ms. Stoddard’s storytelling style, and how she captured the voice of her main character, Robinson Hart, a troubled girl who lives alone with her grandpa. Our discussions have been very thoughtful regarding character motivation, setting, the conflict and predicting possible resolutions, as well as the plot. I have been thoroughly impressed with how deeply the students have been willing to dive into Robinson and the other characters in this story, and their ability to use evidence from the text to back up their assertions.

As we continue reading this book over the course of the year, I look forward to many more thoughtful discussions and personal connections to the character and her problems. I know kids are going to be rooting for Jackie all year long!

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week is here! The kids are on the lookout for OQS’s Most Wanted (aka me), who is happily spreading the word about the gift of Intellectual Freedom and sharing any and all books here in the OQS library. We’re talking about how libraries are here as the ultimate haven for research and knowledge, and the role of the library in our community. We’ve had amazing conversations based on these fun and silly pictures!

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Students in fourth and fifth grade also watched this video from the American Library Association, which explains why censorship is an issue for libraries and last year’s 11 most challenged books in America.

Finally, I shared this article with older students about the recent banning of the Harry Potter series in a Nashville private school, which led to a lot of interesting discussion! Students understand that parents have every right to decide what is appropriate for their children to read, but we wondered if the same was true for a school administrator or a teacher? Students had a lot to say on the subject!

I always love reminding students that libraries are a place they can trust to get the facts, as well as how lucky we are to live in a country where they have the right to any and all information (deemed appropriate by their families). So much great discourse and impassioned feelings, as well as fun!

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month began this week and I loved sharing these amazing titles with kindergarten, first, and second grade.  Pairing stories of Hispanic families and culture along with the fantastic addition of Spanish class here at OQS makes for a more authentic experience for our young readers to fully appreciate this vibrant heritage.

Lucia the Luchadora was definitely the favorite (mine, too!), and now I’m going to have buy the sequel to keep up with the demand! Lucia is an awesome, confident, dynamic character that all the kids loved! I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a few luchadoras or luchadores at OQS this Halloween!

Check out my entire book display, including novels and non-fiction, on my Instagram! I noticed as I was making this display that I don’t have nearly enough novels that celebrate Hispanic culture.  If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Free To Be You And Me

Kindergarten, first and second grade read books last week about non-conformity and being comfortable and confident enough to be yourself. I think it’s good to start the school year on the note of self-expression and individuality.  I want everyone in the library and at OQS to know that we are free to be ourselves, and there are some really awesome picture books to help remind us.

The kids love these first two stories about characters who are willing to take risks and go against the crowd, and Red is a great example of how others can have certain expectations and assumptions about you based on your appearance.  All celebrate freedom of expression and uniqueness!  Other titles that I have read in the past along these lines are Not Quite Narwhal and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.


Here in the library, everyone is welcome, and everyone is welcome to be exactly who they want to be.  I love reading stories that emphasize that!

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How Well Do You Know Our Library?

This week was tech-heavy for grades 3-5.  With students eager to be allowed onto the computers and iPads to search for books themselves, a refresher course in how to use the online card catalog was in order. Starting next week I will encourage the students to find their books themselves, especially in non-fiction. Time to become friends with Dewey Decimal numbers!

After that, students competed in teams to prove who knows the OQS Library the best via a rousing game of Jeopardy. There were laughs, some tears, a little frustration, but overall the most engaged conversations about spine labels and genres we’ve ever had! Nothing like a little competition!

Library introductions are over! Looking forward to starting our Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award-nominated book with 4th and 5th grade, Just Like Jackie, next week!  2nd and 3rd grade will begin a short, early chapter book, Dory Fantasmagory! Hope you all have a great weekend and find time to curl up with a good book!

Be Like Bill In The Library!

4th and 5th graders brainstormed expected behaviors in the library and then used the “Be Like Bill” meme generator to create new reminders for the library! Whatever we can do to keep the library a safe and entertaining place to be, and when students take the initiative to encourage others to use PAWS-itive behavior, I’m all about it!

Click the photos below for a closer look!