Spotlight on Vermont!
No time to visit other school libraries in your busy schedule? Wish you could see what your colleagues are doing to embrace “future ready” school library programs? Want to build networking within your region?
Welcome to a new feature of the VSLA website that connects all professional school librarians, tech integrationists, and those who love school libraries in our small, but geographically challenging state. Let’s share our ideas by showcasing what is happening in your school or district. Each month or so, watch for “Spotlight on Vermont,” (not “Moonlight in Vermont”-that’s taken).
Spotlight on East Montpelier Elementary School
By Judy Kaplan
The Spotlight on Vermont School Libraries finds us at East Montpelier Elementary School, 665 Vincent Flats Rd, in the hills of East Montpelier, Vermont. The school has been recently renovated, and if you have not been there, take a peek at these slides. Visitors are welcome, so plan your visit soon. You are in for a treat!
In 2012, East Montpelier voters passed a bond to improve the aging facility with additional space for classrooms, a new cafeteria, and library, while upgrading infrastructure systems, inside and out. By the fall of 2014, students, teachers, administrators, and families were enjoying the benefits of a building that reflect goals for contemporary education. Bright and cheery colors, spacious classrooms and workspaces, and technology innovations provide a backdrop that focuses on student centered learning.
The East Montpelier Elementary School Library has a panoramic view that looks out towards Plainfield and Marshfield, and the mountains of Groton State Forest in north central Vermont. The wall of windows brings the outside world into a flexible center for active learning. Cloudy days or sunny days, preschoolers through sixth graders are eager to be searching for just right books, reading in quiet corners, or working on interactive technology projects in a space designed as part of the major renovation for the school community.
Arlyn Bruccoli wears multiple hats as the school librarian and the tech integration specialist. She is enthusiastic about the flexibility of her position, and her new library space. During my visit, she was in constant motion, weaving her two roles in seamless fashion. Each week, she has regularly scheduled classes for library instruction and book selection, that often spill over into some related technology projects. Likewise she collaborates with teachers to infuse technology within classroom content, so she meets with each class weekly to support curriculum with technology applications. Depending on the schedule, the class may be working in the library space or in the classroom. So, in reality, the library space and the classroom spaces are intermingled, according to the design of the learning goals.
Arlyn and her assistant, Jane Badger, get to know the 250 or so students and their families in a longitudinal way, as students move through preschool to sixth grade before venturing on the U-32 Middle/High School. Jane has been the library assistant for many years, and is essential to the smooth operation of the day to day tasks to keep the library humming. With Arlyn out and about in the school, Jane is there to help the just in time learners in the library space.
When the new library space opened, the former library space was the perfect spot for a makerspace, so Arlyn has been working to encourage other teachers and parents to use this as a creative work space for both low tech and high tech projects. During the school year, Arlyn leads a “Tech Club” at lunch and recess one day a week for those who are interested, and want more tech time. With the help of parent volunteers, Arlyn and the Tech Club run a Makerspace group for younger students during lunch & recess. 4-6 week blocks are reserved for participants from 2nd - 3rd grade classrooms on a rotating basis . The Tech Club also hosts a year end celebration, Tech Night, to demonstrate and share learning for the whole school. Arlyn has been able to purchase a variety of robotic devices and supplies through the school budget and some donations, and coding is integral to the technology curriculum across the grades.
Take a glimpse at an afternoon with Arlyn on the move:
When the students arrive they are excited to get started, but Arlyn refocuses the group on the learning intentions and explains the activity. Working with partners or in small groups, the students problem solve the facts and how to represent them on the Lego grid. Some groups jump in, but others struggle, so Arlyn, Jane, and other adults (me too) are there to help. Once the students have a completed product, the next step is to use a Lego software app, Story Visualizer to create a background for the creation, add the facts, and save it along with a photo of the partners. The goal is for a class book to show learning. Everyone helped with clean up!
Contact Arlyn Bruccoli firstname.lastname@example.org