Friday, June 27, 2014

Fourth Grade Farewell Video

Dear Fourth Grade Families,

            During library class, Mrs. Eley asked fourth grade students to videorecord themselves saying a “farewell message” to their teachers and friends at Hillside.  To see this fourth-grade created movie, go to the “What We See TV” section of the Mt. Laurel Schools Family Portal page.  It is found at
            You may have to login with your PowerSchool parent login and password to see the video. Have a great summer and good luck to all our fourth graders at Hartford!


Susan Landis Eley
Hillside Library Media Specialist

Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Grade "All About" Informative Books

As part of our First Grade Reading / Writing Curriculum, first grade students learn about informational text, from simple "how to" books to informational nonfiction about animals and many subjects of interest.

One of our writing units of study engages first graders in constructing and writing an "All About" book on a topic of interest to them - anything from Girl Scouts and Rainbow Loom to Christmas or puppies.  Teachers guide students to select a topic that they feel they are an "expert" on because the writing process takes many weeks and the topic should sustain their interest and be developed over several chapters.  (One student even said he was an "expert" on baby brothers!)

After handwriting their books in class, the students arrived at the library this year ready to publish their documents on Google Docs.  (This is the second year we have collaborated on this project, but the first year students used Google Docs to publish their work.)  Weeks of typing in library class resulted in a finished "All About Book," which were printed and organized (and illustrated by the students if they did not use internet images). 

On one of the final days of school, all students and first grade teachers gathered in the library with their  published books for an "All About Book" celebration!  Small groups rotated throughout the library, and students got to share their work with about 4-5 students from other classes.  I am ALWAYS amazed how our first graders demonstrate growth.  They come in September not always knowing how to write a full sentence, and they leave with a published book of their own creation!

Click through some of the sample books below to view their work!
Congratulations first graders and thank you, teachers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fourth Grade: What did you learn in library?

At the end of every school year, I ask the fourth grade students (many of whom have been with me since kindergarten) to write down 3 things that they learned in library.

On the board, I put a list of things that we covered each year to jog their memory.  However, they are free to write whatever they wish.

I also ask their opinion for any changes they would make by asking them to complete the sentence, "If I ran the library…"

Fourth Grade Mini-Inquiry Research Projects: Mini-Books

In 2010, I read the book "Inquiry Circles: Comprehension and Collaboration" by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels. It is an EXCELLENT book that details the concept of mini-inquiry to larger inquiry projects for K-8 students. 

Since I finished the book, I decided to try a 'mini-inquiry' project with 4th graders. After getting them 'wondering' about the world and modeling my own inquiry process - What is a stinkbug and how do I get rid of it in NJ? - I set them off to work, supporting them along the way. Students researched using proper sources, collected notes, organized them into a rough draft, and typed the corrected version into a "Minibook" template I set up for them. I used the awesome minibook template a Powerpoint template from the authors of the 'Digital Goonies' blog, Jim Holland and Susan Anderson, tech integration specialists who I first saw at ISTE 2009.

For the first time, this year students completed their presentations using Google Docs and the Chromebooks.

Take a look below to see some samples of student work - when printed out and folded, these created small "Minibooks" that the students presented in library class.  The students loved taking these home.

Fourth Grade "Who Inspires Me" Voicethread Projects

Our students have come so far in their familiarity with the Samsung Google Chromebooks this year.  At the beginning of the year, teachers were worried that logging in would take too much time, that the Google Docs passwords would be forgotten, and that tech problems would plague us.

However, although the occasional network error bothered us, we emerged from the 2013-14 school year with students who were better typists, who quickly logged in (even first grade classes got their login time down to less than 5 minutes), and who navigated Google Docs with aplomb.

After Mr. Jones and I conferred about an idea for a new project, I approached all the 4th grade teachers with an idea for a multimedia presentation project for all the students in 4th grade.  Google Presentations, internet research, and voice thread would all be utilized. 

It is called the "Who Inspires Me" project, and here is my example shown to the students:

Here are some of the student projects, with the full list of project links below.
Congratulations, 4th graders!


Mr. Jones’ Class       
Kyle -           
Maddie -                                                                                      
Nicolas -              

Ms. Morrone’s Class

Mrs. Golick’s Class

Audrey C.
Ryan F.
* Chloe G.  *
Ella H.
Blake H.
Aalia H.

Samantha P.
Mariah R.
Sophia S.
Connor S.
Leo T.
Nicholas V.
* Lily W. *
Timothy Z.

Mrs. Sonnie’s Class

Erika K
Nico M
Kylie M
Gabriel M
Connor M
Lina N.
Lily R.
Phillip S.
Kiana S.
Daniel S.
Ava Y.