Case Study: Griswold Elementary School Library

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1 Case Study: Griswold Elementary School Library Mary E. Griswold Elementary School, Berlin, Connecticut Griswold Elementary School Library Located in the heart of Connecticut, Mary E. Griswold Elementary School hosts nearly 550 students. While the school is often buzzing with activity and innovation it was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1999 it s the library that s the true hub of the school. This inviting place engenders a love for reading and literature, extends and enhances classroom learning, encourages collaboration, and fosters community involvement. It s an exciting place that has broken through boundaries of time and space, and steadily works towards ensuring 21 st -century readiness for every one of our students, says Library/ Media Danielle Salina. It s a place where core subjects, innovation, technology skills, and life and career skills drive our curriculum, learning, relationships, and environment. Also driving the library s success is the enthusiastic support of the community. Griswold garnered the most votes for the video it submitted to the Follett Challenge. Those votes earned the school the Challenge s $5,000 prize. We did an all-out marketing blitz to get people to vote for us, Salina said. We created magnets and door hangers, and these elementary kids took it seriously. They had to go home and get their family and friends, grandparents and uncles to vote it took on a life of its own, the kids were so excited. Then we had 500 and 1000 votes a day! We couldn t believe it! We couldn t have done it without the local community. Everyone got involved. The local paper tracked and reported where they were, and the local supermarket handed out lollipops. Danielle Salina,, and students celebrate winning the Follett Challenge. Winning the Follett Challenge was one of the most amazing experiences I ve ever been a part of. When we were waiting for the live announcement of the winners, we were all on pins and needles. As soon as we heard our name, all down the hallways the kids were screaming, you would have thought we won a billion dollars. FollettChallenge.com Follett Challenge

2 An extensive collection that covers all interests and abilities The cornerstone of the Griswold Library program is the vast collection of print and electronic/digital resources. This robust collection includes 13,500 print items and 200 audiovisual items. But the collection goes beyond the library s physical walls. To support anywhere, anytime learning, the library purchased 144 unlimited access ebooks, as well as online subscriptions to PebbleGo, BookFlix, TrueFlix, Grolier Online, and One More Story. So that teachers could readily access all of these resources with just one search, a MARC record for every ebook provided by BookFlix and TrueFlix was added to the Follett Destiny database. To further assist teachers, the library purchased Follett s Lexile Reading Program, WebPath Express Program, and Standards Search Program. This library s extensive offerings mean students are able to learn in a variety of modes. Library lessons have seamlessly integrated key word searching in Destiny and online computer mapping programs such as Kidspiration, arts and crafts, online video software such as Animoto, storytelling through ipad apps such as PuppetPals, online Skyping with renowned authors such as Tom Angleberger, online resource exploration, and video book trailer development. This collection enhances the love for literature and supports the development of lifelong readers and learners, Salina said. It contains high-quality materials that entice and excite our developing readers diverse tastes and interests, significantly augment the breadth and depth of our curriculum, and support each of our students reading and skill level development. With their Follett Challenge winnings, Griswold Library plans to further expand its offerings by purchasing Playaways, so kids who don t have technology at home can check out devices and use the digital content. We want to have and give equal access to all students some students don t have access but now we will be better at providing that, Salina said. She added that For many of our students, the playaways are a way to enhance their reading fluency, comprehension, and listening skills. The school s Cinnamon Club members with their reading awards. The biggest part of the money is going to buy books that kids have been requesting. Thanks to the Follett Challenge, they re now able to read the books that interest them. FollettChallenge.com Follett Challenge 2

3 Going beyond expectation to excellence The Griswold Elementary Library is a place where students want to be. Staff go beyond offering books to creating learning experiences that are fun and educational. But behind the high energy and engagement are carefully planned activities that strengthen students life and career skills. For example: Kindergarten students created their own story in which they demonstrated their understanding of elements of fiction such as sequencing (beginning, middle, and end), setting, and character development. Kidspiration, the software mapping program, was used by students to create an illustration of their unique story. Students then reinforced their communication and fluency skills as they created and recorded a video (including audio), sharing information and ideas in complete sentences. Students expressed, developed and substantiated ideas and experiences through their own writing and artistic and technical presentations. Final work was then presented in a Writing Celebration for Kindergarten families. Third grade students participated in an author study on Tom Angleberger. Students read Angleberger s Origami Yoda and/or Darth Paper Strikes Back. The class formed closer connections through this shared reading experience, continuing to build a community of readers. The lesson culminated in an online Skype session with Angleberger. Students eagerly explored the character development in the books, and questioned Angleberger s connections between his life and his work. This authentic learning experience challenged students to analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text and assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. Fifth grade students were presented with the essential question: How do media (advertisements) impact/influence us? Following the Big 6 research process, students identified, located, and used multiple print and non-print resources to determine what the critical components of a successful book trailer were. Armed with their research, students created their own book trailers via the software Animoto. Students posted their book trailers to a safe online environment (Edmoto or SchoolTube), after which students, teachers, and parents reviewed the class book trailers and voted for the book trailer that most influenced them to read the book, exemplifying the power of the impact of media. Third grade students participate in a Skype session with author Tom Angleberger. Our library is not a quiet one. And that is what we love most about it. Every child, staff member, parent and volunteer is met at our door with a smile. FollettChallenge.com Follett Challenge 3

4 Ready, set read! Griswold Library is a strong advocate for reading incentive programs. Its Cinnamon and Nutmeg Clubs contain pre-selected, gradeappropriate books that students independently read throughout the year. To successfully participate, students must set and manage their reading goals, take initiative, be self-directed, manage their time, work independently, and produce results. Besides the internal reward of accomplishing one s set goal, and along with experiencing an enjoyment and love for literature, Cinnamon Club readers are rewarded with a Make Your Own Sundae in the Library day, complete with all the toppings and a reward certificate, and Nutmeg Club readers are rewarded with a trophy during a ceremony. A program that encourages civic involvement Our library challenges our students to develop their leadership and responsibility skills, said Salina. In an effort to help build literacy around the world, Griswold Elementary School invited families to donate gently used books, which were then shipped to elementary school students in Ghana, Africa. Students collected the books, packed the books, and even suggested fundraising activities to pay for the shipping expenses. Skilled integration of technology drives student engagement and access As educators, we study and continue to build our vast repertoire of teaching and learning skills, said Salina. Through this process we ve become strong supporters and advocates of technology. With consistent exposure to a vast range and new technologies, Griswold s staff helps students become comfortable and competent users of the technologies that are ever prevalent in today s society. From an ipad lab to a mobile laptop lab, teachers and students are able to access all of the school s online resources via the library, the classroom, or home. As the library s technology resources become increasingly available and accessible, the use of technology in the classrooms and library has become integrated into the school s curriculum. Technology has not altered our goals, said Salina. The use of diverse technologies has been seamlessly integrated throughout our curriculum as a means of better achieving our timeless goals, enhancing student learning and achievement. The seamless integration of technology into the classroom curriculum is a very powerful means Younger students take part in book tastings. The teachers understand that the technology is driving learning, and using it to get the content matter across. It s another way for teachers to reach the students and push them to new heights. FollettChallenge.com Follett Challenge 4

5 of directly enhancing the teaching and learning environment. It s a tremendous tool for addressing multiple intelligences, for differentiating instruction, and for creating authentic learning experiences. Technology motivates our students, and it is how our students prefer to learn. A vision for success Being passionate about its children, learning, literacy, education, and the art of teaching has been essential to the success of Griswold s program. We have constantly strived to spark enthusiasm and excitement into the learning process and cultivate the joy for reading, love for literature, and create lifelong readers and learners who can successfully compete in a technology-literate society, Salina emphasizes. Our library is a second home to all. After winning the Follett Challenge, it s an even better place! That s step one of our vision and plan to create a sense of ownership that is shared by the entire school and community. ipad lessons help build digital literacy skills in the kindergartners. FollettChallenge.com Follett Challenge 5

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