“Different languages, different food, different customs. That's our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden.” ― Katherine Applegate, Wishtree
Lower School students, faculty and families celebrated community, wishes, love and acceptance this week as third graders completed the read of Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. The event highlighted the strength of the Episcopal community and the connections to the world beyond. The celebration was truly a community effort with special guests, a message from the author and even a Lower School version of the wish tree.
“This book has influenced me to be more welcoming to new people or to people who just want to play with me at recess. That is why The Wishtree is my new favorite book.” Evelyn Zartman
“I also love the book because it teaches me to love my neighbors. It also teaches me to be kind no matter what happens, like when you’re in the classroom and someone is having trouble you could help them.” Ada Mere
Chief Paul reflected on his own life’s path in speaking to students, offering an example of how he went into law enforcement while a close friend chose an entirely different path. He left students with three tips for staying on the path to success:
Students also had the opportunity to hear from another special guest – Wishtree author Katherine Applegate. The Newbery Medal-winning author took time to send students a personal video message that was as inspiring as the book itself. “My wish for all of you is a world full of welcomers,” she said.
Episcopal faculty and families were involved throughout the community read process. Parents read along with students and many adults were as moved by the themes as their children. The entire Wishtree experience was made possible because of the support of the Parents’ Guild. The group purchased the books as part of the annual Parents’ Guild wish list.
In addition, the 2018 Wishtree community read was dedicated in memory of O. Miles Pollard, Jr. Mr. Pollard, a former Episcopal trustee, had a love of the outdoors that made the Wishtree read a fitting tribute. Mr. Pollard’s wife Mary and their son Steele Pollard were on hand to commemorate the occasion. “Many may recognize the Pollard name because the Lower School library is the Mary Furlow Pollard Library, which was made possible through the gift of her son O. Miles Pollard, Jr. and his wife Mary Pollard in 1984. A photographic portrait of Mary Furlow Pollard hangs in the library,” said Director of Advancement Andy Spencer. Several copies of Wishtree for the Pollard Library's collection have been inscribed with a message honoring Mr. Pollard’s contributions to the Episcopal community.
Episcopal students are now extending the love and acceptance of Wishtree to students beyond Woodland Ridge. Lower School Librarian Catherine Word purchased copies of the book for third graders at St. James, St. Luke’s and Trinity. Next week, students will participate in a Skype discussion on the book’s themes to foster a stronger sense of community.
With a Lower School theme of Love Your Neighbor and a school-wide Quest for Peace program, Wishtree was a fitting read for this school year. The community read was one of those moments where everything just seemed to come together. The connections, the special guests and having the support of family made the experience one students will likely remember for some time. As they grow to become tomorrow’s leaders, we hope their wishes for kindness, peace and harmony come true.
Did you read Wishtree with your child? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought about the book.
In a recent collaboration with Britannica Digital Learning, I published a series of blog posts and presented a webinar on the topic of news literacy and fighting fake news. With over 600 educators from around the country attending this webinar and many more accessing the archive, the topic of fake news is timely and important in the world of education. Many of the concepts and resources I shared with educators in this series are also relevant to our entire school community, and I hope you will find them to be informative and useful.
There are several terms that are important to gaining a broader understanding of this topic. I have used a variety of sources, including Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy and Melissa Zimdar’s False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources to curate this list of relevant terms:
The moral of the story is that it is important, but not always easy, to seek balanced news from a variety of sources. Reading with a critical eye and fact-checking sources is essential. Here are a few websites that are designed to help readers look at news information more critically:
There is no denying that our news and media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. While we clearly have a wealth of information at our fingertips and accessible on our smartphones, in many ways it is more difficult to discern fact from fiction than ever before. As involved citizens, we must be aware of the challenges and choose to evaluate news critically and carefully.
Tiffany has been an educator for eleven years and serves as the Director of Library at Episcopal. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award and is currently the President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. Tiffany speaks regularly at state, national, and international conferences on school library and technology topics.
If you had one wish, what would it be? Newbery Medal-winning author Katherine Applegate explores the theme of wishes, love, and acceptance in her book Wishtree, which tells the tale of an old oak tree named Red.
“Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.
Word hopes that everyone in the Episcopal community will participate in the read, including students, parents and grandparents. “Parents are essential participants in this Community Read,” says Word. “Reading aloud to children who are able to read by themselves, especially books that are beyond a child’s own independent reading level, is important in developing fluency and a love of reading.”
Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson was among the faculty members who received a copy of the book. “The Parents’ Guild wish list supported this project with Wishtree,” she told students. Henderson pointed out the importance of such support and how it enhances the student’s educational experiences in such meaningful ways. Thank you Parents' Guild!
Wishtree provides wisdom from a different perspective. Word hopes the story inspires students and families to love their neighbor and make the world a better place. Please join us in this Community Read.
The Wishtree reviews are in:
“Beloved author and Newbery-winner Applegate returns with a moving tale starring, of all things, an oak tree….Timely, necessary, and brimming with heart.” Booklist
To learn more about the book and view a trailer, click here.
Before you board that train, plane or automobile for summer vacation, make sure to include reading as part of your packing list.
“I believe summer is the best time to read,” says Episcopal Library Director Tiffany Whitehead. Whitehead, who is an avid traveler, says she enjoys reading books set in her vacation destination before heading out. For example, before going road tripping in Ireland she read “Love and Luck” by Jenna Evans Welch, a teen novel set in the Irish countryside.
Whitehead offers these additional tips for summer reading success:
There are now a range of options to make reading easier and more enjoyable for readers of all ages. Today’s students are accustomed to electronics, making e-readers a great reading option for students on the go. In addition, audiobooks can make a family road trip even more adventurous as everyone listens along together. Whitehead suggests loading your devices with good reads before heading out for vacation. Helpful hint: don’t forget to include options from the Episcopal summer reading list.
To make summer reading even more enjoyable, Whitehead recommends participating in the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Summer Reading Program. Participating in the program will help students keep track of how many books they have read over the break. The library offers an extensive array of electronic and audiobook options to fill your devices before heading out. The library staff also offer events and even rewards for those who participate as an incentive to get reading.
While there is the required school summer reading list, Whitehead says summer is also a great time to read simply for fun. She recommends using the break to explore a new author or an unfamiliar genre. Whitehead says no matter how or where you read this summer, enjoy what you are reading.
Happy summer reading!
It was a great year for reading at Episcopal! Students spoke with the "I Survived" author Lauren Tarshis via Skype, they celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday, they won young author competitions, battled with books, collected books for babies and competed in book trivia.
An epic battle took place this week. No, the Olympics didn’t get an early start and LSU was not playing! It was the annual Episcopal Middle School Battle of the Books.
The battle began in the Greer Center with seven teams competing to answer questions about ten books they had recently read. After two rounds of multiple choice questions and time for a short answer round, the teams then moved to Aldrich Library where they were tasked with solving puzzles based on those same books. Everything culminated in the chapel with the final three teams answering more questions in front of the entire Middle School division.
The competition was fierce.
Students were jumping up and down. There was laughing, chanting and cheering. There was also frantic whispering as teams grappled for answers, and even a few tense, quiet moments while answers were being tallied. After five rounds of competition, Team Weaver was crowned this year’s winner.
But how did all of this get started anyway? Where else, but the library.
As you might expect Library Director Tiffany Whitehead loves books, and as a school librarian she wants to share that love with students. Thus, she took an idea from a friend in Indiana and made it her own, creating the Battle of the Books. This is the second year Whitehead has orchestrated such an event here at Episcopal, coming on the heels of planning a similar event at a previous school. While it may look easy, managing the Battle of the Books logistics is no simple feat. It takes months of planning.
Beginning this summer, Whitehead started researching potential battle books using the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice list as a guide. By September, she had invited students to form teams of at least ten members and divvy up the reading. Whitehead also identified team sponsors and ensured that everyone had copies of the assigned reading. In addition, she read as many of the books as she could. Then there was the actual heart of the event – the questions. Whitehead and her team put a lot of time and effort into researching and creating each question and each puzzle. With three rounds of twenty multiple choice questions, a host of short answer options and puzzles, this is a considerable undertaking. Once questions are established they are then entered into the software program Kahoot so that they can be answered via iPad on competition day.
Why expend so much energy and effort on a one-day competition? Whitehead says the goal is to get students excited about reading and to provide them with a team aspect that reading doesn’t typically offer. “Most of the kids who participate are already readers,” she says. “This gets them out of their reading comfort zone.” Whitehead intentionally chooses a diverse list of books for each competition. The list includes both fiction and non-fiction to push the students’ reading experience beyond their go-to genres.
The long hours of planning paid off.
In the end, Team Guarisco won the chapel round, but after all rounds of competition Team Weaver was victorious. Team Weaver summed up the competition and their feelings well with just two words – amazing and awesome. The champs already plan to team up again next year to defend their title.
Whitehead says the Battle of the Books has great momentum with nearly double the teams this year compared to last. As long as students are reading and enjoying the event, it is sure to be an Episcopal staple for years to come.
Congratulations to Tiffany and the entire Middle School division on another great Battle of the Books!
Congratulations to the winners:
First place: Team Weaver
Second place: Team Guarisco
Third place: Team Day
When you’re making your list this season, check out these gift suggestions from Lower School Librarian Catherine Word.
You may have heard your children talking about fun things they do in Makerspace during library enrichment. Kids ask me all the time, “Where did you get that?” or tell me, “I want this!” If you are struggling with Christmas ideas for your children, here is a list of some of the most popular things we have in Pollard Library!
Read! Read! Read!
Epic!’s digital library includes many of the best kids books, popular ebooks, and videos such as Fancy Nancy, Big Nate, Warriors, and National Geographic Kids.
Click here for more information
Mozaic puzzle posters.
Introducing StickTogether™—the collaborative, community-building activity with a beautiful reward. For groups of all ages, our sticker mosaic puzzle posters are a fun and easy way to get everyone working together.
Click here for more information
Limitless fun and learning with Osmo! ***Must have an ipad to use***
Click here for more
Make bracelets, necklaces, charms and more!!!
Click here for more information
Design your own video games using blocks.
***Must have an ipad*** Grades 3-5
You don’t need to understand fancy code and own super expensive computer programs to make video games anymore. All it takes is your Bloxels Gameboard, some blocks and a mobile device and, of course, your imagination to take the guesswork out of building your own video games! Click here for more information
Design, build, and create with blocks.
From the United States of America to Canada and Kuala Lumpur, KEVA planks are changing the lives of children and adults all over the world. Children discover the joy of creating original works of art or cleverly designed contraptions.
Click here for more information
Here is a collection of 32 simple projects for novice origami hobbyists — clearly illustrated and with easy-to-follow instructions that even beginning papercrafters can follow with success. Subjects range from an ultra-simple hat, cup, and pinwheel to the more challenging (but still unintimidating) penguin, pelican, and piano. Click here for more information
Catherine Word is the Lower School Librarian. She received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama and her Masters of Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University. Before coming to Episcopal, she taught first grade and eighth grade English, and was a Middle School Librarian. Catherine not only loves to help students fall in love with reading, but also creates an environment of creativity and exploration through participation in Maker Space. Her passion motivates her to stay current with library science skills to enhance student creativity and exploration through participation in programs such as Worlds of Making Makerspace Admiral Program. Catherine works side by side with technology staff and teachers in professional and student development through trainings and on-hand, in-class modeling.
October is National Book Month and fall break is a great time to snuggle up with a good read. Here are a few favorites from our Episcopal staff:
These are just some of our favorites. Do you also love to read? Share your favorites in the Comments section.
Libraries are hubs for information and ideas. Aldrich library is such a hub for Episcopal students and faculty in both its physical and digital space. While our physical space is well used and loved by community members, our digital resources aren’t always placed in the spotlight. February is Love Your Library Month, and I’m excited to share some of our digital resources that deserve lots of love!
Being new to Episcopal this year, one of my priorities in the library has been to get to know the resources we have available, so I can be poised to best connect them with appropriate students and faculty. Upon diving into the vast digital resources available through Aldrich Library, I decided to organize them within a new and improved library website.
When introducing our digital library resources to students, we discuss the importance of using reliable academic sources when conducting scholarly research. This is why we provide students with access to a variety of databases. Subscriptions to Gale Cengage, EBSCO, and JSTOR databases, as well as numerous other content specific options, grant our students access to academic publications that are not freely available through a typical web search engine. I love to share this video created by Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University when students ask, “Should I use Google or library resources for a paper?”
Should I be using Google or the Library resources for paper?
Students don’t just have access to these amazing resources on campus. They are available 24/7 to Episcopal students via our library website. To gain access to databases from home, students must access the Google document linked on the main page using their Episcopal email login. This document gives them the various credentials needed to login to each database from home.
The Aldrich Library site also provides access to NoodleTools, a research service that helps students properly cite sources, take notes, create an outline, and format the works cited. This powerful tool provides support for students throughout the entire research process.
Presentation skills are essential to bring the research process full circle, where students share their findings with an audience. The Presentation Tools page provides students with a variety of tools to create digital products, as well as helpful tips for creating strong visual presentations.
All of these resources are neatly structured on the Aldrich Library page so they are easily accessible at all times. Making use of this wealth of information to establish strong research habits is important as we prepare students for life in college and beyond.
Tiffany has been an educator for nine years and joins the Episcopal faculty this year as the Upper and Middle School Librarian. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award. Tiffany speaks regularly at state, national, and international conferences on school library and technology topics.
HELLO, MY NAME IS CATHERINE AND I AM A BOOK ADDICT.
Seriously, I have a problem with wanting to read TOO much. In fact, it used to be a problem for my budget. I would spend massive amounts of money buying books...I would read them once, let them sit on a bookshelf for a while, and eventually give them away. But now, thanks to our amazing public libraries, I DO NOT BUY BOOKS. The library has a massive collection of digital books. There are classics, bestsellers, newly released books and just about anything that you would find on the shelves of a bookstore. You can download a book to your phone, ipad, Kindle or other device in under 10 seconds! This has been life-changing for me! All you need is a free library card and you have access to millions of books for everyone in the family! There are so many advantages of checking out digital books: First, there are no overdue fees. After your loan period is over, the book goes directly back to the library. You can return the book early, but if you forget, then it disappears from your device. (I find this so freaky!) Secondly, digital books can be borrowed in an ebook version or an audio version. Long car trips are now enjoyable because you can download an audiobook to listen to along the way. I have also found that struggling readers can benefit from listening to an audiobook, while holding a print copy of the book. My 14 year old uses this method for his summer reading every year. It motivates him to keep reading. Lastly, you do not even have to get out of your pajamas on a Saturday morning to get a new book! Need I say more?
I’m going to give you simple, step by step instructions of how you can take advantage of your tax dollars and gain access to all of the free books from our public library. It is fairly intuitive, and you may not even need all of the following instructions, but I have provided pictures to help if you need them.
If you do not have a library card or can’t remember where yours is, simply go to any public library, fill out an application, and receive a free card. You will need your library card number to check out books online. Next, download OverDrive- it is a free app. You can get it from iTunes or Amazon- this will be the place where you are going to “store” all of your books. If you have a Kindle and already have the Kindle app, you can also choose to store your books there. (If you do not have a Kindle, disregard the last sentence.)
Once you have the OverDrive app, open it and search for the name of your library. If you live in East Baton Rouge Parish, you will search for East Baton Rouge Parish Library. If you live in another parish, search for the name of the library where you received your library card.
Once you have the name of your library saved in Overdrive, click on it, and it will send you to the library webpage. It will look something like this:
Search for the name of a book or author. I searched Because of Winn-Dixie. Below are my results
You can see one is an ebook and one is an audiobook. They are both available because it says ”Borrow.” If they were not available it would say “Place a hold” where you could choose to have the book check out to you as soon as it is available. If you place a hold on a book, you will receive an email when the book is available. It will just automatically show up on your “bookshelf” in OverDrive (again, very freaky.) But in my case above, the book is available and I want to check out the ebook version... so I click on the first book, and then select “Borrow.”
This is when your handy dandy library card comes into play. You will enter your library card number; just be sure to check the box “Remember my card number on this device” so your ipad or Kindle or phone or computer will remember your card number- then you won’t ever have to enter it again! Very convenient!
Once you have checked out one or more books, you will need to go to your “bookshelf.” It’s the book icon below.
You can then choose which version of the ebook to use. I always choose EPUB ebook so that it will download the book to my OverDrive app and I don’t need wifi to read it. If you have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your ipad or iphone, you could also choose the Kindle book, and the book will be stored there.
My hope is that this step by step process will help you find many, many books that you would like to read. If you have any questions, email me at email@example.com, and I can help you.
Catherine Word is the Lower School Librarian. She received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama and her Masters of Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University. Before coming to Episcopal, she taught First Grade, Eighth Grade English, and was a Middle School Librarian. Catherine not only loves to help students fall in love with reading, but also creates an environment of creativity and exploration through participation in Maker Space. Her passion motivates her to stay current with library science skills to enhance student creativity and exploration through participation in programs such as Worlds of Making Makerspace Admiral Program. Catherine works side by side with technology staff and teachers in professional and student development through trainings and on-hand, in-class modeling.
One of my favorite things about being the Lower School Librarian is to see kids fall in love with reading. By exposing students to all types of books, children will develop a sense of what genre they enjoy most and will develop a love of reading. Sometimes that comes easily.... "Mrs. Word, where are the mysteries?" These kids know what they like and devour every book in that genre. Others have a more difficult time.... "Mrs. Word, I want a book about time travel but without any fairies or weird characters!" These kids have an idea of what they like (science fiction), but need book suggestions from me or help narrowing down exactly what they want. And then there are these.... "I don't like reading... it's boring." These are the kids (and some adults, too) that have never found the "just right" book. They have either been told they have to read certain books (and didn't like them), or have just never discovered the magic of getting lost in a book. I LOVE helping these kids discover a book that truly makes them WANT to read. There is a quote on the wall of Pollard Library that reads, "I disappear into books. What's your superpower?" (By the way, my family will all tell you that I have this superpower, as I tend to ignore EVERYTHING around me while reading.) I hope that this new year there will be many, many students at Episcopal that will discover how to disappear.... In my efforts to help our students I have discovered some wonderful reading resources that might help everyone in their reading journey- whether just beginning to recognize sounds and words to falling in love with a good book. I hope you find them helpful!
EPIC! is an ebook app designed for kids 12 and under that provides access to thousands of popular children's books. It costs $4.99 in the Apple app store, but is well worth the cost... Kids can search books by topic, genre, age level, and eventually the app will recommend books based on what has previously been read. It also will keep track of the number of books read, hours spent reading, and allows kids to set preferences based on their age and things they like. For younger kids, there is a set of "Read to Me" books that give an audio version. If you are an educator, the app is free!
Apple app store
Epic! Google app
Epic! Amazon App
Is this book appropriate?
"Have you read every book in the library?" Crazy enough, I have had many kids ask me this question! There is no possible way for me to read every book- I have to rely on book reviews and websites to decide what to order for our library. As children get older and can read longer chapter books, the question I hear from parents is different: " Is this age appropriate?" The AR (Accelerated Reader) level is often confused with content level- just because a book has an AR level of 4.4 does not mean that the book was written for a 4th grade audience. It only means that the average 4th grader has the ability to read the words in the book without trouble. Every parent has a different idea of what they think is appropriate for their child to read. Story Snoops offers children's book reviews from a parent's perspective for readers ages 9-18. One of the goals is to offer unbiased summaries that will give you insight into the underlying themes and messages. I love the quote on their webpage: "Judge a book by more than its cover." http://www.storysnoops.com/
Books Read Aloud!
At http://www.justbooksreadaloud.com/ there are hundreds of books that are read aloud. Perfect for younger kids. Search by category or age.
Kids ask me everyday, "What should I read next?" My follow up question is always, "What have you read lately that you really enjoyed?" Book Seer is a website that follows the same method. Kids enter a title and author and the the Book Seer will give them a list of suggested books. This is a great resource for adults as well! http://bookseer.com/