Anyone who works at a school – or has children in school – knows what spring means: it’s busy. The calendar shows lots of fun days ahead, but we are buckling our seat belts!
Here’s a look at this past week:
We are preparing for a May visit by Peter Reynolds, the author and illustrator of many beloved children’s picture books, including The Dot, and more recently, The Word Collector and Say Something! Inspired by The Word Collector, one of our third grade students initiated a project to collect words. We have two stations set up in the Lower Elementary corridor with dictionaries, a thesaurus, and paper and pencils, and the kids are collecting words to decorate the hallway. Our head of school helps them display their favorites:
The third graders continue to focus their work on using their voices to “say something!” As I posted a few weeks ago, the kids began by learning about the Caldecott Medal and looking at different illustration styles. They also looked at books that were considered for last year’s award and made their own selections.
Next, we read Say Something! and talked about the project they will share with the author during his upcoming visit. The kids are designing posters saying something to their families, their school, and their country. We talked about the power of one voice by reading this book:
This past Friday, they began drafting their messages. We heard ideas like: I wish we had more pets. I wish my school served pizza every day. I wish math was easier. It will be interesting to see what they say to their country!
The middle school is engaged in very different work. They are “saying something” about the Holocaust. After reading about and studying WWII and the Holocaust, their culminating project was to design memorials for the hundreds of thousands of people who died in concentration camps. Their projects are thoughtful and moving.
This one was especially interesting to me. It was a response to this student’s reading of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Her “artist’s statement” reads in part: “While deciding how to focus this memorial, Milkweed and Number the Stars came to mind. Both books focus on the children and families affected by the Holocaust….In Number the Stars, the two best friends were separated and one had to leave her life behind….I remembered the necklace and how powerful a symbol it was. This led me to the ideas of having small objects.”
This student’s project focuses on Hitler’s persecution of gay people. “What I decided was a 10 ft by 10 ft fenced-in area with six people in different positions inside of it,” she wrote. “My idea is for the memorial to be made out of stained glass and colored with rainbow stripes, to signify the modern LGBTQIA and pride movements and also have the pink triangle attached them to signify the method used to identify homosexuals at that time.” She calls her memorial “The Outed.”
And this one is a stairway. The student describes it like this: “The memorial will symbolize the idea of giving up hope. As the Holocaust went on, it became harder for the Jews to keep fighting for their lives. The memorial that I designed is a set of stairs that would gradually become steeper and more uneven, making them harder to climb. As you climb further up, you would get more tired. The stairs are make out of gray granite that is sanded, but not polished. It is stone because the events that happened in the Holocaust are set in stone.” (side note: that’s my Starbucks cup behind her memorial!)
The best part of working in a school library is connecting a child with the right book. Every time I hear a student at the book return box say “I loved it,” it reminds me how lucky I am to do this work. This week was especially nice: two post-it notes in the return pile:
Finally, the picture at the top of this post. It has nothing to do with Inly. I saw this panel of medallions by Josiah Wedgwood at the Yale Center for British Art a few weeks ago and thought it was beautiful. Happy Reading…