Wednesday, December 2, 2015

3 Amazing Authors, 1 Inspiring Day

We had one great welcome back from Thanksgiving break on Monday, November 30.  Our 8th grade ELA classes had the opportunity to Skype with three exceptional young adult authors throughout the day.  Authors Rachel Vail, Stacey Lee, and Danette Vigilante volunteered to talk with our students about their work and the writing process while at the same time answering all of our students' burning questions.

Our morning began with the very entertaining Rachel Vail, author of over 30 books for children and young adults and the most recently published book Unfriended.  Funny and warm, Rachel was ready for our five classes of students to jump right in with questions.  

Our very curious students wanted to learn more about how long it takes to write a book, where she finds ideas for her writing, and even the age of her children.  Rachel's humor and enthusiasm certainly kept our students engaged and entertained during our 45 minutes together.  

Next, we met with new YA author Stacey Lee.  Stacey's debut novel Under a Painted Sky is a unique piece of historical fiction that tells the story of two girls who head West in the year 1849 to escape from two difficult situations.  Stacey was eager to tell students more about her background and her road to publishing.  After many failed guesses, students were not able to come close to figuring out that she revised her book over 600 times before it was finally published.  Stacey also wowed our students by showing us an edited page from her original manuscript; this page was almost completely covered in red penned comments and edits.  Even professional writers have to revise constantly.

Monday's Skype visits ended with author Danette Vigilante, writer of The Trouble with Half a Moon and Saving Baby Doe.  After sharing a bit about herself, Danette read aloud the first chapter of The Trouble with Half a Moon.  Students learned about how Danette went from being labeled a poor reader as a child to a professional writer.  They also heard more about how Danette's past inspired some of the story that eventually became The Trouble with Half a Moon.  

I am always in awe of authors who will take time out of their busy schedules to meet with kids, share their stories, and ultimately inspire them to grow as readers and writers.  DPMS is especially lucky that all 8th grade students had the opportunity to make such meaningful connections.  A special thank you goes out to Melinda at Penguin Publishing who worked her magic to match all of our students up with these fantastic authors.  Thank you especially to Rachel, Stacey, and Danette for sharing your important stories and showing our young readers that their voices are important and do matter.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Second Quarter Library Newsletter

Find out what has been happening in our LMC by reading our most recent newsletter.

Monday, November 16, 2015

One Amazing #GRA15 Comes to an End

It has been an incredible six weeks at DPMS while participating in this year's Global Read Aloud Project. Together with Literacy Coach, Peggy Rohan, I was fortunate to work weekly with a group of 7th grade students who elected to read Fish by L.S. Matthews in addition to their regular ELA class work.  During our six weeks together, we partnered with 7th graders from Tosorontio Central Public School in Everett, Ontario, Canada.  In addition to meeting via Facetime to discuss Fish, we also exchanged hand-written letters, emails, and iMovie videos.  It is always fascinating to learn more about how other kids live in different parts of the world.  More often than not (as was the case here), we find out that we have more in common with them than we even realized.

In addition to our partnership with Tosorontio students, we were also able to connect with schools from Arizona and Merton, WI through a group chat via Voxer. Voxer is a free messaging service that connects users through voice, photo, and text messaging.  Students in our group asked and responded to various questions about Fish throughout our six weeks.  As a culmination to our connection, we were able to Google Hangout with Mrs. Jones' fifth grade students from Merton, WI. During our session, we shared a bit about our respective cities and asked and answered questions about Fish.  We especially enjoyed discussing some of the more intriguing aspects of Fish as a whole such as What gender do you think Tiger is? (The author never states this) and Why do you think that the guide left so suddenly without saying goodbye?  There were so many questions that L.S. Matthews left for reader interpretation, and great discussion happened as a result.

5th grade students from Mrs. Jones' class in Merton, WI

Our last Fish Global Read Aloud connection occurred with the author herself.  Through Twitter, we were able to reach the author @LauraDron (her real name) directly in an attempt to find answers to our remaining burning questions.  She responded to us almost immediately! See our conversations with her in the screenshots below.

Overall we had an absolutely outstanding GRA experience.  A special shout out and thank you goes to Pernille Ripp for her tireless coordination and organization of this project.  As a result of her vision and dedication, we are so lucky to have this opportunity to connect with other students from across the globe to celebrate literacy and learning.  


Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Scholastic Monster Book Fair Begins Next Week

The Scholastic Book Fair will be open for business in the library beginning Monday, November 16. The book fair will be open all week during regular school hours and during parent teacher conferences until Friday, November 20.  Come in and shop for some great deals during SRT, lunches, or any other time that your teachers allow.  All of your purchases support our school library.

Click on this link or scan the QR code- to see a preview of what you will find at our book fair beginning Monday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Skype with Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Today our 8th grade DPMS students had the opportunity to meet an author for the very first time. As an extra bonus, we were so lucky that this author happened to be Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  After sharing her inspirations for both of her books One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree, our students had the opportunity to ask her questions.  Excited about speaking with a professional author for the very first time, our students were especially interested in learning more about Lynda's writing process.  Our students wanted to know everything about how to overcome writer's block, avoiding writing a "bad ending," and where she finds her writing ideas.

After saying goodbye, the library was abuzz with "That was so cool!" and "She was so good!"  Thank you Lynda Mullaly Hunt for inspiring our young writers and giving your time to speak with our students.  Writers who take time for their young readers show kids that their voices matter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thanks for a great Teen Read Week!

We have officially wrapped up Teen Read Week 2015.  We had so much fun watching students participate in all of our activities.  A special congratulations goes out to our three winners who correctly uncovered all of the staff mystery readers.  (Stop in the library to see them all "uncovered"). We are still accepting book blind date reviews. Keep your blind date going, return your review, and exchange it for a prize once you have finished reading!

These students are making their book blind date choices- carefully!
Two great blind dates!
Stop in the library to see our mystery readers "uncovered.
We hope that you enjoyed all of our library's fun Teen Read Week events!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Activity Day Lego Building Challenge

Today was not a usual Fun Friday at DPMS.  Not only was it an early release day for students but it was also activity day.  During the 75 minute activity block, students could choose to attend one or two advertised activities.  Choices ranged from cupcake decorating to gaming in the computer lab to silent reading.

I thought that this time offered a great opportunity for students to utilize some of the materials in our new Makerspace.   Inspired by the amazing Lego Quest Challenge blog and considering our abundance of Legos, I offered a "Lego Building Challenge" in the LMC.  The rules were minimal and simple: choose from an assortment of Lego challenge cards, gather materials, and build a creation in the allotted time.

Since this activity was something that I have never personally done with students before, I had no idea what to expect.  Of course, I should have known that I would be blown away!  This was a group of 7th and 8th grade boys who had free reign to create with Legos!  What more creative group exists?

After choosing a challenge card, students gathered their materials and got to work.  Students used no resources other than their own imaginations to create their chosen challenges.

Once time was up, each group explained what they created.  I was especially amazed by the intricacy of their designs and even some of the stories that some students created to go with what they built. I can only imagine the ways in which this group would use Legos in their classrooms to share their learning.  Legos are a perfect accompaniment to lessons on vocabulary, recreating events in history, or sharing a story.

Here are some images of the finished products so that you can see for yourself some of the amazing work that was created in about an hour.

An intricate aircraft
A Halloween inspired house
A labyrinth with trap doors and secret passages

A boat that can only be considered a marvel of engineering
A futuristic car that can also transport aircraft

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teen Read Week- October 19-23

We are excited to participate in YALSA's Teen Read Week festivities beginning next Monday, October 19. The DPMS library has many fun activities planned for you.  We hope that you will stop in the library all week long and participate.  Your participation could also earn you some fabulous prizes.  Check out our flyer below for a complete list of next week's events.  We will see you in the library for Teen Read Week!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

DPMS Students are Getting Connected Through The Global Read Aloud

DPMS students are getting connected.  For six weeks beginning October 5, a group of 7th grade students will meet with me and Literacy Coach, Mrs. Rohan to discuss the book Fish by L.S. Matthews.  Using a variety of digital tools such as Facetime, Twitter, Voxer, Google Apps for Education, and Write About, this group will regularly connect with students from our partner school, Tosorontio Central Public School, in Everett, Ontario, Canada as well as with students from other parts of the United States and the world during the course of this project.  Our connections are part of our participation in The Global Read Aloud Project, an initiative created by Oregon, WI teacher Pernille Ripp. For six weeks beginning October 5, participating teachers from around the world will choose one of the GRA selected books, read it aloud with their students, and then form worldwide connections through various virtual outlets.  Currently, there are over 500,000 students from over 60 countries participating in this project.

Today, our Fish group met for the first time to discuss the book.  After reading chapters one and two, students made some interesting observations:
  • They identified that the author does not reveal the gender of the main character, but the entire group thought that he was a boy.
  • The main character appears to be between 9 and 11 years of age, but again the author does not reveal the exact age.
  • The family is fleeing a country and moving to another.
  • This situation is similar to what is happening now in Syria as large numbers of refugees continue to flee the war-torn country.

Each Thursday our group will meet to continue our Fish discussion with our partner school and other virtual connections I will find posted on Twitter, Voxer, or Edmodo.  Next week we will have our first Facetime chat with our friends in Ontario. We will have the opportunity to do a question and answer session about chapters 1-4 and determine if our Canadian friends are making similar discoveries and connections during the course of their reading.

We are thrilled to participate in this year's Global Read Aloud, and I look forward to sharing more about our connections as we progress through the next five weeks.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let the Battle begin!

Attention DPMS students: prepare to battle...with books.  We are currently taking sign-ups for this year's state Battle of the Books competition sponsored by the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association.  All participating students will form a team of two to four students and read all 20 books on this year's list before our February competition.  All teams will meet in February to compete in our DPMS school battle. The winning school team will move on to represent DPMS in the state Battle of the Books competition.  Here is this year's reading list:

  1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (King award)
  2. Crash by Jerry Spinelli
  3. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (GA nomination & Newbery)
  4. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
  5. Esperanza Rising by Pam M. Ryan
  6. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (GA nomination)
  7. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm (GA nomination)
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  9. Holes by Louis Sachar
  10. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
  11. Maze Runner by James Dashner
  12. Midnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King, Book 1) by Jenny Nimmo
  13. Paper Boy by Vince Vawter
  14. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  15. Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
  16. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (GA nomination)
  17. They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney
  18. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  19. Ungifted by Gordon Korman (GA nomination)
  20. The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman

All of the listed books are on reserve in the DPMS library for all participating students. Several titles are also available through Overdrive and Follett Shelf.

What are you waiting for? Sign-up for the Battle of the Books in the library today and get ready to read, read, read!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Makerspace in Progress

In just three short weeks back at school, our makerspace has become one of the most happening places, especially with our seventh grade students.  Despite the fact that we still only have a few stations available for students, they have really embraced the makerspace concept, and I have been amazed at how quickly some of these students are innovating and creating all on their own.  To document our progress for students and the community, we created a separate makerspace blog where you will see student examples, successes, failures, new items, and personal thoughts on our journey as we transform our school culture and the physical library space.  Please follow us at to see our dynamic DPMS students in action.  We welcome your feedback!

Some of my favorite success stories from this past are posted in the videos below.  The first video showcases how a group of seventh grade boys was able to create a motorized Segway by connecting the littleBits.  In the second video, view the results of a seventh grade group's first attempt at making a stop motion animation film.

We look forward to sharing our makerspace journey with you as more and more tools get added during the upcoming weeks.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Creative Minds Shine in our New Makerspace

The school year is in full swing and the DPMS library has been bustling with activity since the launch of our new makerspace.  While this space is still waiting on a few key components, we were so excited about it that we opened up what we currently have right away to students.  Most popular are our littleBits, electronic snap circuits that allow students to build without limits.  Our seventh graders have been especially creative right off the bat in designing projects with these modular circuits.  Through trial, and a little error, a group of students quickly built this awesome mobile car.  

In addition to the littleBits, students have had a great time testing the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Makey Makey, and Sphero.  

Can Sphero make it over the ramp?
Coding with Raspberry Pi
We are AMAZED at what these creative DPMS students have developed in less than two weeks! Stay tuned for more news about our future makerspace additions: an iMac and a 3D printer.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Fresh Start This Fall

Hello DPMS!  I am Mrs. Young, your new Library Media Specialist.  I am very excited to begin the next chapter in my career with all of you.  I hope that you will frequent this blog throughout the year to see the great things that we are doing at DPMS.  Just as I did in New London, I will share student work, library happenings, and awesome resources.  Please contact me whenever you need assistance.  I can't wait to start the year and learn with you.

I will also be posting library newsletters throughout the year to keep you informed of important news.  Our first one can be found below.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thanks for the memories, NLMSIS!

Those of you who know me well know that I am a risk-taker.  I love trying new things, exploring, experimenting, and testing theories.  Taking chances is what leads to the greatest breakthroughs, and it is a philosophy that I embodied throughout my entire career at NLMSIS.  Now, after 11 years at the NLMSIS, I am ready to take another chance and move on to a new adventure.  This fall I will be moving to De Pere Middle School as their Library Media Specialist.

I will miss the NLMSIS beyond any words that I can express.  My past students have inspired me and fueled my desire to push the limits of innovation.  I was excited by your energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to experiment when what I presented may have appeared difficult or strange.  I have succeeded, but I have also failed, and the NLMSIS community always supported me regardless.  I will be forever grateful, and I hope that you know that I will never forget you.

My new adventure is both scary and exciting.  I hope that I find the acceptance and support that the NLMSIS has shown me.  I hope that you will continue to follow me via this blog as I write about the new chances that I am taking in De Pere.  You can also follow me on Twitter @donnalynnyoung.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.  I will miss you. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ending the year with a SLAM!

Fourth quarter seemed to just fly! During the last few weeks of school, I was looking for activities that were fun and engaging while at the same time still gave students a chance to learn something new.  I was introduced to app slams at March's WEMTA Conference, and I thought that the last week of school was a great time to give this a try.

What's an app slam?  Similar to a poetry slam, an app slam is a competition where participants go head-to-head with one another during various elimination rounds until a final champion is determined.  Students choose an app new to them, spend some time exploring and learning how to use it, and then find a creative way to present it to the class.  During a one to three minute high energy presentation, students present each app to the class ending with the word SLAM!  After each set of presentations, the class votes for who they would like to see move on to the next round.  The process continues until an ultimate champion is determined. Using the free bracket generator and the random name picker, I created a bracket so that each student was randomly chosen to go against one other student during the first round. 

I was initially hesitant about whether or not students would continue to be engaged in the slam once they had seen a presentation multiple times.  The opposite turned out to be true.  As students moved on in the competition, their engagement increased.  During each presentation, students got more and more creative about new ways to share their apps.  One student even gave up his lunch recess to work on a new video to share only if he was lucky enough to make it to the finals.  (He did.  See his video here).  Feedback from the students was also extremely positive.  Students commented that they loved doing this and they were excited to try out some of the new apps that they learned.   Students were also able to share ways in which each app could be used for a class project or help them with their future learning.

I was most impressed with all of the different ways in which fifth graders in Integrated Technology presented their apps.  This activity not only introduced students to a plethora of educational iPad apps and their uses, but it also met CCSS Speaking and Listening standards.  Students used higher level thinking to create something new, and they considered innovative ways in which the apps can be used in a classroom setting.  Was this activity an ultimate success?  That is a definite SLAM!

6th hour champions (It was a tie!)
7th hour champion and runner-up

Sharing Sock Puppets
Sharing Tellagami

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Keeping the Library Open 24/7 with Overdrive

We are SO excited to share some big news!  You now have 24/7 access to our library via our new ebook collection on OverdriveOverdrive offers a variety of popular titles in ebook and audio formats.  Instead of having to go to the library to check out your favorite books, you can now click on the Overdrive link, sign in with your student ID number, and download up to three books to your devices.  Books can be read through your browser or through the Kindle and Overdrive apps.  The best part (besides feeding your middle-of-the-night-have-to-have-it-now book craving)? No more lost books!  You can even hold up to three titles if books are checked out.  After the regular loan period has ended, your library books will be returned automatically. 

To get started, go to Library Media Center-ebooks and ereaders-Overdrive.  You can also directly access our Overdrive library by going to  Check out what we have available to you right now.  More titles will be added in the fall.  There are hundreds of great titles waiting to be checked out to you this summer.  How many books can you read?  Let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Weather with the seventh graders!

We are wrapping up our school year with one final green screen project. This time seventh graders showcased what they have been learning in Science about weather in creative videos where they had to play TV meteorologists and predict the weather in a region of their choice. Since seventh graders were already familiar with the apps Green Screen by DoInk and iMovie, I showed them a couple of other apps to smash into their final videos: Explain Everything and Skitch. With Explain Everything, students were able to pre-record background videos to use in their green screens. They were able to add images, mark them up, and record annotations. With Skitch, students were able to add text and annotations to their images. Check out some of their final products.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Navigating through US history with My Maps

Fifth graders in Mr. Wegner's Social Studies classes have turned to Google Maps to showcase their learning. Using Google's My Maps, students pinned specific locations on a Google Map and then added descriptions, images, and videos for each location to create virtual tours of important landmarks and locations in early American history.  If you are curious about some of the important details and places related to the American Revolution and the US Constitution, view these examples below.  Click on each pin to read what our fifth graders have learned about each location and how it relates to that part of American history. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Presenting the Great Minds of Ancient Greece!

Sixth graders in Mrs. DeMoulin's Social Studies classes found a creative way to learn more about Ancient Greek philosophers: create their own videos using the green screen! After each group did its own independent research on a chosen Greek philosopher, the students wrote scripts and recorded their videos using the app Green Screen by Do Ink. Videos were then edited with iMovie and uploaded to YouTube for sharing. View some of their examples below to learn more about the great minds of Ancient Greece.



Monday, May 11, 2015

American Legion Poster Contest Winners Announced

All Integrated Technology students had the opportunity to participate in New London's American Legion Auxiliary Unit digital poster contest.  Students were asked by the organization to design a poster representing members of the American military.  During Integrated Technology, students learned how to use Google Drawing to create their posters.  Following discussions of copyright and legal use of images, students searched for appropriate rights-cleared images from various sources that promoted the American military, freedom, or patriotism.  Once the posters were complete, submissions were judged by the local organization, and this week the winners were announced.  The top three posters each received a cash prize.  With so many fantastic entries, the organization could not stop with just three.  In addition, seven posters were given an honorable mention.  View all winning posters below.  The top ten posters will also be displayed at local businesses in New London.  Congratulations to all of our winners! We look forward to working with this wonderful organization again.

1st place

 2nd place


3rd place

Honorable Mentions

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Makerspace expands!

Everyday feels like Christmas in the library lately.  We have been receiving packages almost daily with new tools, toys, and things with which we can tinker to add to our new Makerspace.  Thanks to an Innovation Technology Mini-Grant from the School District of New London, we have been awarded funds to purchase some of the latest and greatest gadgets and technologies to help our students innovate, create, explore, and learn!

Today was the first day that we tried out our new Puzzlebox Orbit helicopter. This unique gadget flies by reading one's brain signals.  After attaching the EEG headset, the user must concentrate on one specific mental task.  When the appropriate attention level has been achieved, the helicopter flies.  Our 6th graders were more than willing to test the Puzzlebox.  Proving the strong brain capacity of this group, several students were able to make it fly.  Check out our video to see it in action.

Our Little Bits kits are also new items that have been very popular with students during recesses.  Little Bits give students the chance to create their own electronic circuits by snapping pieces together.  To help students become familiar with how to create circuits, I printed out these Little Bits challenge cards.  As an added incentive, any student who completes all 12 challenges will receive a prize.  The students pictured below have already made it through challenge 10!

The library often looks like "Legoland" during recesses with students eager to build their own Lego creations using our giant tub of Legos.  I love seeing what students are creating on their own!  To help further the limits of students' Lego creations, we have added a few new tools to the Lego area in our Makerspace.  First, we now have motors and remotes so that Lego creations can become mobile.  Second, we added a Lego Fusion kit.  Lego Fusion is a newer concept that combines the physical building of Legos with the virtual world.  Once students build an item with the Lego Fusion kit, they can make it a part of a virtual world using an iPad app.  Our library has added the Lego Fusion Town Master set which lets students construct a building, take a picture of it, and then add it to the Town Master iPad app.  Their building becomes part of a virtual world that they then continue to construct.  One of our 5th graders was eager to get started using this set today and began by creating his own building.  We can't wait to see what happens when he begins building his virtual town.

You may have noticed that the iMac has moved from the back room to the main area in our library.  Unity 3D software has been installed to give students the chance to create their own games and virtual worlds.  In addition, we have a new tool called the Leap Motion that lets a user control the computer with his or her hands.  I can't wait to see the Leap Motion combined with some Unity 3D creations!  Can you think of the possibilities?  In the picture below, you can see the Leap Motion at work- simply place your hands above the sensor and watch your computer go.

Finally, we have a few more gadgets to debut in the next coming weeks.  These include Dot and Dash robots, Ozobots, and Touchboard which will make surfaces interactive.  We cannot wait to see the innovation and creativity from our students as the library truly becomes a space to create, innovate, explore, and learn!