The Award-Winning 5th Grade Little Free Library Project

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Our Little Free Library was presented to the school during the 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony

Today was our 5th grade Moving On Ceremony.  This is a very special day where every 5th grader is honored for their time at our school. Our teachers worked together to write tweets about each student to highlight some of their great qualities.  Another portion of the ceremony is awards.  Again, this is a very special time because so many students are honored for their many gifts:  academics, citizenship, service, creativity, and more.  Among the awards are some memorial awards which honor Barrow Buddies who were taken from our world way too soon.  The Eve Carson Service Learning Award is one of those awards.  The award is described in this way.

Eve Carson

Several ideas are important at Barrow School—learning, service and fun. Service-Learning—the intentional connection of service and learning is something we are growing here. Service-Learning adds the very important part of self-reflection to a project. Through Service-Learning you come to understand yourself and your world in a different way.Well, when we put together service, learning and fun we quite naturally thought of Eve Carson. Eve was an outstanding Barrow Buddy who continued to lead an outstanding academic and personal life. As difficult as it is today to not have Eve here, we are so thankful for her example of living a meaningful life and for the inspiration she will continue to give Barrow Buddies through the years. Each year hereafter, an award in her name will be given in honor of a service learning project completed by a class or group at Barrow Pre-K-5th Grade.

This year, I nominated the 5th grade Little Free Library Project for this award.  It exemplifies service learning because every Barrow 5th grader was involved in the project in multiple ways.  Students learned so much about a commitment to serving their community and thinking beyond just ourselves.  Today, we learned that our project was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Eve Carson Service Learning Memorial Award.  I am honored that our project will be listed on the memorial plaque among so many other inspiring projects that have served our Barrow community and beyond.  Sarah James, Barrow 5th grader, presented one of the Little Free Libraries as the gift to our school during the ceremony.  Our 5th graders should be very proud of their accomplishment that will provide more access to free books for our community for years to come.

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New Media Center Coming Soon!

On Friday, I visited our new media center at the new Barrow Elementary that should be done sometime in July.  We are busy packing boxes at our temporary home, and it was very helpful to see the space to consider what to pack and what to leave behind.  I can’t wait to see the innovative projects, ideas, conversations, and stories that take place in this new location.  One of the key features of the space is its flexibility.  Almost every single piece of furniture in the new space moves easily and quickly in order to change the function of the space in a moment’s notice.  Students have long asked for cozy places to sit and read, talk, collaborate, etc. and they will finally get to say goodbye to the big, clunky tables and hard wooden chairs.  Thinking about where every shelf and table is going to go is a bit intimidating  but at least I know that if it doesn’t work, it can quickly be changed.  I’ll do a much better tour on the blog when we actually move in, but here are a few pictures of the space in progress.

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More Great Little Free Library News

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

I love that I get to continue to share great news from our Little Free Library Project.  Here are some more great things that have happened:

  • We were approved to put our library at Lay Park.  This was in response to a student letter and a great phone call with Randy Haygood, facility supervisor
  • Camilla Bracewell, amazing superhero library volunteer & Barrow grandparent, became a supporter of our project through a donation and conversations with people in the community.
  • Our Little Free Libraries are now registered.  We received our signs in the mail!
  • Our libraries are now in art waiting to be painted once we have a design decided.
Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin's Amish Country.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin’s Amish Country.

Exciting Little Free Library News

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Two major things happened today with our Little Free Libraries.  I began talks with a possible location for our 2nd library and our 2 libraries were delivered by Home Depot!

I have to say again that we went into this project with a lot of faith in our community and amazing things are happening.  Here are a few recent things:

  • Several students from other grades have come to tell me that they are cleaning out their home libraries to bring us books that they no longer need.
  • Several people have brought in books to fill the libraries already.
  • People donated money during the book fair which was almost enough to register both of our libraries.  The 5th graders are about to each bring in $1, which will help us reach that goal.  Our library numbers will be 5559 and 5560
  • A student who wrote a persuasive letter was beaming when he found out that his letter had been received by the recipient.
  • Home Depot #0129 continues to be a very generous donor to this project.  They have built and donated both libraries and are now working with our art teacher to get supplies for painting the 2 libraries.  They will also help us with the final supplies for installing both libraries.  I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.  They definitely have my future home improvement business!
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5th graders immediately came to see the 2 libraries

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Little Free Library 5th Grade Project

I’ve known about Little Free Libraries for awhile now, and since I learned about them I wanted to help establish one at our school.  I was waiting for just the right moment.  This summer I attended the Decatur Book Festival and saw several creative Little Free Libraries that were being auctioned off and it made me want to establish one even more.  I posted a picture of the libraries on our media center facebook page and immediately Ms. Cross, a 5th grade teacher, said she wanted to help make this happen at our school.  Her comment made me think about the gift that our 5th grade gives to the school at Moving On Ceremony at the end of each year as a way for the 5th graders to make their mark on the school before they leave.  Since our 5th graders won’t get the opportunity to go to school in our brand new building next year, I thought this year’s gift needed to be extra special.  I had found the perfect fit for the idea.

I began talking with people at our school about the project.  As always, our art teacher, Rita Foretich, was on board to help weave this project into an interdisciplinary experience.  Other teachers in the school that don’t even work with our 5th graders began offering ideas too and within a few days our spark of idea was really starting to grow.

I sat down with Mrs. Foretich and we did an initial brainstorming of what our project might look like.  We thought of materials, resources, locations, and also a sequence of events that would need to happen in order for the project to be done by the end of the year.  Our plan consisted of:  an intro to Little Free Libraries for the whole 5th grade, persuasive writing in 5th grade classroom, continued research and conversation in the media center, and little free library designs and artwork in art.  I took our plan to the 5th grade team for feedback and additions.  The teachers brainstormed ways for the students to really take ownership of the project such as donating their own books to stock the libraries and bringing in $1 each to cover the registration for the 2 libraries.

We launched into the first phase right after this session.  I made a short introduction video using screencast-o-matic and uploaded it to Youtube.  Mrs. Foretich showed the video at the beginning of an art class.

As she showed it, the kids immediately began having ideas and wanting to contribute them.  She developed a Google form to share with the students so that they could all submit their feedback without taking up too much of the class time to hold a discussion.  Mrs. Foretich’s student teacher also began contributing her knowledge and connections to UGA.

The next step will be for the student to brainstorm more about the materials, labor, and location so that they can begin writing persuasive letters to individuals and organizations for support.

Our goal is to create 2 Little Free Libraries by the end of the year.  One will be installed at the new Barrow and one will be installed somewhere near downtown so it is accessible to our students and the community on that end of town.  Who knows what this project will develop into, but it is already full of participatory culture as more and more people contribute their ideas, their expertise, and their creativity.

If you have ideas or resources for this project, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact our library.

Destiny Quest Mobile App

Great news!  Now our library catalog can be accessed through your smartphone.  View this video to learn more about the features.  Please note that you will only see “library” and “webpath” in the tabs of your mobile Destiny Quest.

To install the app, visit your smartphone app store and search for Destiny Quest or Follett.

For Android, click here.

For Apple, click here.

Once you download the app, you’ll need to set it up by entering our URL, which is:   destiny.clarke.k12.ga.us

Next, select David C. Barrow Elementary.

Finally, your child can login to his/her account by entering his regular usernameand password from school.

Enjoy!

School Libraries Cultivate Digital Literacy

School Libraries Cultivate Digital Literacy.  Our media center was featured in this article in Converge Magazine.  The article discusses how libraries support digital literacy, the challenges faced by libraries in doing this, and how librarians are overcoming these challenges.

Connecting Our Stories

Today I received an interesting email when I arrived at school.  Chaela Herridge-Meyer, Senior Coordinator of Communications with the StoryCorps project, sent me a message requesting an interview about our Barrow Oral History Project.  Many of you know that last year our 5th grade students interviewed 27 former Barrow buddies from as far back as 1925.  During the project, students used online oral history examples such as StoryCorps and also used the StoryCorps National Day of Listening question generator to get ideas for the most effective interview questions.   After the project was complete, I posted the link to our oral history page on the National Day of Listening wall in the hopes that other people who were passionate about gathering community stories would find their way to our project.

Chaela and I had a wonderful conversation about the power of oral history projects bringing history alive for students.  We also talked about how our hope was that the students who participated in this project will go on to capture and preserve family stories to pass on to future generations.  Also, by sharing this project at professional conferences like COMO, GaETC, and the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature we hope that other classrooms, schools, and libraries will sponsor similar projects.

November is national family stories month.  I invite everyone reading this blog to stop for just a moment, sit down with a family member, and interview him or her to gather some family stories you’ve never heard.  I invite you record your interviews to pass along through YouTube, video, photography, writing, scrapbooking, or any other means you discover.  I would love to hear about your stories.  I would especially like to post some family stories from our school on our media center website.  I’m even happy to help you in recording your story if you want to setup a time for me to help you.

The day after Thanksgiving is the official National Day of Listening.  Their website has resources for creating effective questions and recording quality audio.  I hope you will consider participating in this important day, but even if you can’t sit down for a family interview on November 26th, sit down sometime and listen.

“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how great it is to be alive.” -Dave Isay, Founder & President, StoryCorps