Monday, November 25, 2013


Ever since we rolled out our 1:1 iPads to our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, I have been very busy in the classrooms helping the students learn to log in and check out books from M.I.S.D.'s Digital Library.
I don't think our students know just how good they have it! The Mesquite Independent School District has one of the BEST Digital Libraries in the country! Which is totally free to them too! All they need is their school I.D. a computer or a personal device and they are golden! They literally have the library in the palm of their hand.  Our digital library has audiobooks, digital reads, and Disney interactive books. Parents can also contact me and set up a personal account.
There are some awesome features such as putting books on hold if it isn't available, creating wish lists, and searching by genre or special collections such as Texas Bluebonnet Books and Texas Lonestar Books. I'm very excited about introducing this to our students and watching them continue their joy for reading outside of school and in their classrooms on their new iPads!
Are you a parent interested in checking out books from our digital library? Contact Ms. Reynolds and she will get you set up! lreynolds@mesquiteisd.org
Click the link below to go directly to the Digital Library
Mesquite I.S.D. Digital Library

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My 4th Grade Heart

There is something about 4th graders that just melts my heart. They are at the perfect age. They don't hate most authority, they still hug their teacher, they are willing to help, and most enjoy learning. Having taught 4th grade for most of my teaching career I grew to know and love the little guys. Knowing this, I was truly looking forward to them visiting the library to do a little research on the Texas Native Americans.

4th grade visited the library last week with a mission. They were studying Texas Native American's in their classrooms for Social Studies. They had an essential question they had to answer. This helped them to know why they were looking up information. It gave them their mission!

Essential question
What Texas Native American Indian Tribe would you join? Explain why you would join that group.

When we framed the lesson I did the "We will" and the teacher wrote and explained the "I will". It looked a little like this:

We will learn how to tell if a website is a good resource for information and learn where to find research links on the library webpage.
I will research and answer questions about Texas Native Americans using the library webpage.

The students came in with questions to guide their research while having their essential question in the back of their mind. Each tribe had a generic set of questions to guide their thinking. It looked a little like this:

  • Where they lived and what they lived in
  • How their lives have changed over the years
  • How they were organized
  • What did they do

Texas Native American Tribes: 

Before they delved in we talked a little about finding a good source on the internet and making sure the website was a GOOD resource. We talked about how ANYONE can put information on the internet (even kids) But, that doesn't make it accurate information.
I had previously gathered links to several of the Online Resources that are free and available to all MISD students through our Library webpage. After showing them how to access them from home and at school we found a few together. Afterwards, they used our brand new Apple MacBook Air computers and set out to conquer their mission
Here's a peek at one of the classes hard at work in the collaboration lab:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dot Day


Dot day was a HUGE success at Black Elementray! How might I know it was successful, you may ask? Well...the kids are STILL talking about it and begging for Peter H. Reynolds' famous book, The Dot. So to me that is a successful Dot Day and a 1st Annual Dot Day. Yep...meaning we will be doing it again...annually!

What did we do on this so called Dot Day? And what in the world is Dot Day?

Dot Day is celebrated near and far...internationally that is. The whole school read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds...nope not my brother, uncle, cousin, or husband...(I had to clarify this with my students, me being a Reynolds and all). I was able to read the book to nearly all of the Kinder thru 3rd grade and I sent a youtube link to the 4th-6th Grade teachers of the book being read. Finally, the following Monday (Dot Day) every class created their OWN Dot creation. Each teacher chose the best 2 from their class and sent it down to the library to be displayed in our own art gallery, much like Vashti's in the book. We displayed the dot art in the Library's hall windows.

Next year I would probably do things a little differently. I will definitely get the art teacher involved with this being very artsy! She was away on maternity leave during Dot Day this year. I know there are many other activities that can be done so I will hopefully implement them next year.

That was Dot Day at Black Elementary!
Here are a few pic of the Art Gallery...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Scan Please!

In my attempt to go go digital with the kids on week one in the library, I'd say it was an overall success. I learned some typical new librarian lessons myself...but, the students seemed pretty psyched about getting to explore the library all whiile using an ipod touch.

I began the 4th-6th graders with a "prezi" introduction explaining who I am and a few important things they should know and remember about our new library. Then, they were given ten questions to answer and a location of a QR code that would reveal the answer. All were posted around the library. For instance, how many Bluebonnet Books are available to read for the 2013-2014 school year? They would then proceed to the Bluebonnet books in search of the QR Code and use the ipod QR Scanner App to reveal the answer. (Which is 20 Bluebonnet Books btw)

I received a lot of great feedback from the students and teachers! So hopefully the teachers can utilize this form of digital learning and perhaps even on a higher level when they get their highly anticipated 1:1 iPads. The kids are excited about the ipad initiative taking place on our campus for 4th-6th grade and hopefully the teachers are too!
Here are some pics of the Scavenger Hunt...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rub a dub dub...repainting the tub

I debated on whether to bring the old reading tub over to the new library or not. I also wasn't sure how big of a job it would be to give it a make over. It wasn't until after Mrs. Loftin (one of the great librarians of Florence Black's past) came and visited that I decided to keep the enormous vat. Mrs. Loftin described how the students loved sitting in it! That very day her grandkids came along with her and were asking about the tub. Unfortunately, they had to look beyond the glass at it since students aren't aloud in the building yet. Their sad faces peering in was enough for me to know the  reading tub must stay! But not without a makeover. According to Mrs. Loftin it was painted before she came to our campus and she was there for years and years. My guess is she had her blue and white look since at least the 1970's. I need to do a little research and get the history of the tub. But, first a few pics of the before...
I (like always) got a little eager and started painting before I made the before shots. So her is her tail end to give you the gist of how she looked before. Book stenciling fun!

Our theme this year is sailing and pirates. We have a phrase like... Sailing into a new year...but, I am not sure exactly what it is...but, that's all I needed to inspire me and well, pinterest, pinterest, pinterest....
The end result is definitely not my original idea. I only dream of having a creative mind. My ship of choice came from Mrs. Larremore's blog and pirate classroom theme. Her tub was also a hand me down tub and it was created into a beautiful ship first. I used hers as a guide. Mine is not quite as fanciful! Check her tub and Chalk Talk Blog out here!

We used the cheapest acrylic paint I could find from Wal-mart. It did the trick. Our brushes were sponge brushes. You can see some of our supplies here.
I called in my local art connoisseur (Michelle) to come and help me out. She is what made it look great. I take very little credit.

Finally after about 4 hours, she is complete (and still upside down)! 

I have debated on where in the library I should let her set sail. But, I think I have decided her final resting spot will be on the stage. I got a fresh rug to put her on from Target. I am still collecting fresh pillows. Oh, do I dare even mention the things I found under the old pillows? It's hard to say whether the crickets went below deck and died from a sugar rush or not? But there was certainly a little bit of candy action and cricket chirping going on in that tub at one time or another...

Here is the final resting place as of now for the ship. 

I still have a lot of blank space to fill...hopefully soon! I'm thinking about somehow putting up some flags or sails.

Every ship needs a good name...not sure what yet...but I'm working on it.

I think the kids will love it! Not sure if I will repaint her EVERY summer. But, I don't think I will go more than 40 years until the next makeover. 

Oh and you may notice the chalkboard art on the wall in the back. My B.F.F. started chalkboarding this summer for fun and the The Little Black Library is reaping the benefits... here is a close-up.

Thanks for dropping in a checking out a little corner of The Little Black Library. So, have you ever painted a bathtub? Do you have memories of reading in a tub? Feel free to share your memories or creations.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Out with the old and in with the new

Black Elementary's original building was established in 1953! She was named after Florence Virginia Black. Black was the first elementary school building in the Mesquite Independent School District built away from the central campus. This summer the original building came down and we moved into our brand new building! I (Ms. Reynolds) taught 4th grade at Black and have the privilege of being the new librarian in the NEW building! Lot's of new happening here! Here are a few pics of the old and the new...
This is the front of our original campus...

A glimpse into the new library...

Those photos were taken at the end of May and things are really coming along. All the books are on the shelves, most of the boxes are unpacked, and the decorating has begun. I have been working on a few projects (mostly pinterest finds) hey...it's summer break...I can't even remember summers without pinterest?  You'll have to tune in later for those...

Until then...enjoy the rest of your summer! Only 3 weeks until those school bells are ringing!