Celebrating our KPBSD libraries in April #golden

School Libraries Transform Learning is this year's theme for National School Library Month. The following events showcase how this is taking place in our KBPSD Libraries.

Homer High School  

Students are taught to access helpful research and homework links and to log into their library accounts through the library blog: http://bit.ly/HHSLIB

Our 4th Annual "Finish Strong" Reading Challenge is underway. We started the school full of vim and vigor; now we are finishing strong by keeping books in our hands and reading on our minds. Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the basis for expanding our familiarity with Shakespeare, the Bible, and classical mythology, and for reading one more full-length novel before school ends. Students may choose from the following titles: The Yearling, The Hobbit, On Basilisk Station, The Prince and the Pauper, The Chosen, and A Tale of Two Cities. Participants who successfully cross the finish line are invited to bring a friend to a pizza lunch in the library May 17. One participant returned The Prince and the Pauper saying," I liked it! I didn't think I would." Accept the challenge: Finish Strong.

Inspired by guysread.com, Homer High is encouraging boys to read guy-approved books. Our shop teacher and a library-loving student worked to create several wooden guys to draw attention to these books.

Students unleashed their inner cowboy by reading a Western novel such as The Sacketts, Shane, or Lonesome Dove, among other titles. We also watched John Wayne in The Cowboys to get a feel for life on the range. Several students earned their spurs and have vowed to wrangle another Western for themselves sometime down the trail.

In February, readers showed their love for books by choosing any book with a red cover, and finding love quotes in their favorite novel, such as the following: "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment." (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) and "Love of man for woman—love of woman for man. That's the nature, the meaning, the best of life itself." (Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey).

The library was chosen for a group art installation in March. "Blue Haven" representing the shimmering blue bird's flight, graces our common area.

Soldotna High School continues to offer students access to their school library outside normal school hours: the library is open Monday through Friday until 4:30 this year.

  • SOHI, SoPrep, and RCA took part in March Madness in the Library. Beginning with 16 books, students and staff voted for the Elite 8, and then every three days came the new round. The top two were The Maze Runner by James Dashner and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
  • The SOHI library proudly displays student artwork throughout the year. The artwork includes animal wrap arounds, sculpture tunnel books, and monumental life sculptures.
  • SOHI has many students taking distance education courses, including four groups a day that work on their course in the library.

Nikiski North Star Elementary participated in the 'One School, One Book' family reading activity in February. Each student was issued the book The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney. NNS has completed lots of weeding over the past couple of years making room for many new books and a new reading area for the students to enjoy. Recently we hosted author Erin McKittrick and she captivated her second grade audience with tales of her Alaskan adventures.

Kenai Central High School displays student artwork of all mediums in the library throughout the school year and language arts projects in and around the library. Additional KCHS created the Kardinal Corner in the library for students keep up on what is happening and hang out to do homework or visit with friends.

Redoubt Elementary In February and March, Redoubt students celebrated Love of Reading month with several school wide activities. Those activities included Bingo for Books, Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character Day, a Love of Reading Book Fair, and the celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday. Intermediate students also participated in a reading challenge which culminated in a prize drawing for each classroom. Two winners in each classroom received gift certificates to the April BOGO book fair. Gift certificates were provided by the Redoubt Elementary PTA. To be eligible for the prize drawing students read chapter books and completed bookmark summaries of their books.

In February two Battle of the Books teams competed at the District level. On the last day of March, first and second grade students enjoyed presentations and visits by author Erin McKittrick and illustrator Valisa Higman. Fifth grade students are currently researching famous Americans, and the newly acquired Who Was biographies are flying off the shelves in support of the fifth grade classroom project.


Tustumena Elementary  

Students had fun with Dr. Seuss the whole month of March. In April, spring is happening: Miss Thompson brought her ostrich and emu egg shells to show and read the book An Egg is Quiet. We are busy looking for other signs of spring around us like mud puddles and bike riding, bird songs, and flowers. Our kindergarten and second grade classes had a visit from author Erin McKittrick and her book illustrator, Valisa Higman, to promote their book My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes. Fourth graders are learning about the Dewey Decimal System by playing "Duck, Duck Dewey!"







Soldotna Elementary  

Soldotna Elementary students enjoyed a fall book fair and holiday shop in the library organized by the Parent PACK. The reading counts contest kicked off on February 8. Students have been working hard to be the top reader in their class each week as well as working toward personal goals to be entered in the end of year grand prize drawing. We celebrated Dr. Seuss Week the first week of March with morning trivia, green eggs and ham breakfast, school wide drop everything and read, birthday cupcakes, dressing up as our favorite Dr. Seuss character, and community volunteers reading in classrooms. The Idita-READ kicked off the month of March as well. Students were challenged to read ten books about the state of Alaska and discuss them to get their check points marked off. Students won Alaskan themed prizes upon completing the challenge. This month fifth and sixth grade students are completing a biographical research project and practicing note taking skills using library reference books and biographies.






Soldotna Montessori Charter School

Students at Soldotna Montessori were challenged to compete in the Idita-READ by reading and reporting on ten books about Alaska. Finishers of the Idita-READ won Alaskan themed prizes.  Students enjoyed a book fair and holiday shop in the library during spring conferences organized by parent and school volunteers. Soldotna Montessori students also use the library throughout the year to learn about a wide variety of topics for research reports.








Soldotna Prep

The library started the year with a complete rearrangement and SMART Board addition. Now two classes—one at the tables, and one at the computers—can see the SMART Board while others can look for books without disrupting anyone else. New furniture is currently arriving to replace broken and unmatched pieces.

  • We held SoPrep's first Book Fair during fall conferences to generate needed resources and new books. It was well received with the high school students and their families.
  • During two different periods several distance education students use the computers to take their online classes.
  • Joined March Madness in the Library with SoHi and RCA. (See SoHi notes.)
  • A student initiated swing dance during lunch of first semester finals. Students had fun with each other and applied something that they learned in their PE classes.
  • Second year of promoting SYNC Audiobooks for teens. Two free downloads a week from May 5 - August 17. These 30 books should keep students reading all summer long wherever they have their electronic device and greatly improve their retention rates for next school year.




West Homer Library Activities

  • Battle of the Books We battled hard and had a lot of fun! Both the 3rd-4th and 5th-6th grades showed teamwork and good sportsmanship. Their knowledge of the intricacies of the books was phenomenal. They cheerfully and determinedly went through round after round making it into the final round. They lost the top ranking with good humor and a bit of glee as now these avid readers could return to the books of their choice!
  • Star Lab The Star lab from the Anchorage Museum was a great success. Sixteen groups of students went through the Star dome in two days. The children became adept at identifying the constellations and telling stories of the Greek myths. What an opportunity to have a planetarium in our very own library. So easy and mobile too: when deflated two packing crates and one duffel!
  • International Literacy Association Presentation How marvelous to come back to school with 150 pounds of books signed by the authors to present to the children this Fall. Not only that, the students got a firsthand account from their very own librarian on each of the author's writing style, illustrations, genre, inspirations, structure, and funny stories!
  • Jan Brett Art Lessons Every year our students draw with Jan Brett, author and illustrator. Jan gives easy to follow art lessons through the internet. All are children are successful and learn a lot about the animal and it's habitat as well. This year we drew moose, and there is now a herd running down our hallway.
  • Origami The Homer Bookstore and West Homer Library joined forces folding origami Christmas light boxes. We had so much fun making origami boxes under the instruction of Jenny from the Book Store. Each box covered a Christmas light until we had a beautiful string to hang in the students' classroom as a surprise to their teacher.
  • 6 Words of Alaska Only six words to describe Alaska—what a task! We copied the competition in the Anchorage Dispatch News created by Homer's very own author Miranda Weiss. Every student thought of six words to describe their world and we wrote them down in bright colors on huge Orca Whales (our school mascot). What a challenge and so insightful!
  • Bristol Bay Summer by Annie Boochever We put 60 copies of Bristol Bay summer into our library this year thanks to the generous donation of three local marine biologists. This book authentically describes Alaska life and has a strong teenage female main character. The 5th grade teachers found this an excellent book to teach resiliency, survival skills, Alaska ecosystems, and much more.
  • My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes: an Almost-True Alaskan Adventureby Erin Mikittrick illustrated by Valisa Higman Fireweed 3rd and 4th graders joined our 3rd graders in the library and we went on an adventure lead by Erin and Valisa through the backcountry on the Kenai Peninsula. Amazing illustrations backed the accessible text in this book allowing our kids to dive into the story. Each student then drew an animal, cut it out, and then created its environment for the animal to hang out in. So much fun.

Seward Elementary Library continues to offer on hands on STEAM activities whenever possible. In September, we celebrated International Dot Day, inspired by Peter Reynold's book The Dot. In the book, a girl named Vashti discovers the joy of creating art from one simple dot. Students were encouraged to create art using a dot theme and each grade level created different projects.

The library at Seward Elementary has also begun to incorporate makerspace activities during library centers on Fridays. The focus has been on building materials and students create all sorts of structures using blocks, notched cardboard squares, a marble run and magnetic building pieces. Students usually work together to build amazing towers, spacious airports, geometric shapes, dinosaurs or whatever else their imaginations ignite.

Currently, all library classes are being immersed in poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month. The librarian reads a poem each morning over the intercom, which usually features poems written by classes or individual students. The poetry celebration will also include Poem in Your Pocket Day, during which students will choose a poem to share with others all day. Poems will be available in the library and all over the school.

Finally, one cosmetic change has been a fun addition to the library this year. To further encourage silent or buddy reading, the library created a Book Nook that features a couch and three large bean bag cushions. Students routinely head over the nook after checking out to explore their new books and friends can be heard reading to one another or to a 'reading buddy' (stuffed animal).

K-Beach Elementary Library

We welcomed several authors this year! First in the fall we had author of Recess at 20 Below Cindy Lou Aillaud. She performed two all school assemblies and encouraged the students to dress appropriately for all seasons of weather. Second, two intermediate teachers Skyped with author of the Janitors series, Tyler Whitesides. He explained to the students how he became an author, what he majored in in college, how he came up with the idea for the Janitors series, and all about his band. Third, we had local Seldovia author and illustrator Erin McKitterick and Valisa Higman come visit our K-2 classes. Erin read her book My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes and then showed the students her packraft and several items she used on her adventures. Valisa shared her original artwork and the students drew pictures with her and presented them to their classes. We also had several clubs utilize our library space. We had Lego club for grades K-3, Film Club for grades 3-6, and Chess club for grades 3-6. For the month of February (Dr. Seuss) we put encouraging quotes around the building and encouraged the love of reading, decorated our bulletin board with Dr. Seuss books, characters and quotes and displayed Dr. Seuss books. A lot of teachers featured the Capstone Interactive EBook biography of Dr. Seuss.

During the month of April, national poetry month, we put a Poet-Tree up on our bulletin board and encouraged students to decorate the tree with their original poems.

Our Library was very happy to receive a $500 matching grant from Capstone Publishing and was able to purchase $1000 worth of ebooks to add to our library collection. The amazing thing about these Capstone interactive ebooks is that the teachers can pull the book up on the SMART Board and the entire class can enjoy the book. Or, the students can all individually read the book on laptops all at the same time. They can choose to highlight text, have the book read aloud and feature an index, glossary, table of contents and links to the Facthound website for continued learning.

We also had cosmetic changes to our library this year! We received new carpet which, in turn allowed us to shift around our bookcases and create a more open, usable space. We also receive the equipment grant this year and just received our new chairs and hope to receive our new tables by the end of the year. In all, K-Beach library is the heart of the school and everyone is welcome to come read, do artwork, play on the computers, play games and just learn.


Chapman School Library This has been another great year in the Chapman School Library! Students and staff have been working hard to promote reading at all levels. We have had many great activities this year including our most successful book fair ever. We sold more books and had more visitors than in any other previous year. We also hosted three different family education nights in the library this year. The first night focused on mathematics, what resources are available, and how to access these resources. During the next night, we focused on reading and helping students and parents to better understand our schoolwide reading program. We also played "bingo-for-books" and gave out books and prizes to students. The third family education night was a celebration of Dr. Suess and his contributions to literacy and young readers. We had a blast decorating the library with truffula trees, dressing up as the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, and serving green eggs and ham. This event was the culmination of full week of Dr. Seuss activities including a school-wide partner reading session on Read-Across-America day. The Chapman School Library continues to be a center for learning and exploration that is utilized regularly by all grade levels.

Story submitted by Karla Barkman

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