A New Arrival

My eyes misted over with tears of joy for you finally arrived. I held you in my arms, first in a warm maternal embrace, then up high for the world to get a glimpse at you…

While writing Maker with a Cause, I often likened the process to pregnancy.

Months 1-2: Waiting to confirm, “Am I really pregnant?” “Are they going to offer me a contract?”

Month 3: Yippee! I’m so excited. “What shall we name her?” There’s so many things to pick out.

Months 4-5:  Wow, I’m gaining quite a bit of weight… (Sitting at a computer day after day, noshing on pretzels and other goodies will do that to you.)

Month 6-7: Trying to convince myself this WILL be worth it.

Month 8: Ugh, I’ve got to go out and buy more clothes, nothing fits.

Month 9: When is this going to be over!!!!

Labor: Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Smell the flowers, blow out the candles. “Seriously, more copy edits???” “Get it OUT!”

Delivery: “Awww, isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve laid your eyes on?” “I’m so proud!” “Look what I created.”

Well, in honesty, I didn’t create this book on my own. There were so many encouraging family, friends and colleagues along the way. First, and most of all, my husband, Alan for whom the book is dedicated. He is the most supportive, awesome-est husband ever. He schlepped with me to Anaheim, CA to attend a service learning conference. Made me countless cups of tea – the only thing to calm me and keep me focused. And, even while a patient in the neurosurgical ICU with a cerebellar brain bleed/AVM, his first words to me were to encourage me to finish the book when my only thought was – I hope he makes it through the weekend.

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As a mom, I am habitually proud of my children. This past year the roles were reversed as our children, Joseph, Joshua, Jacob and Hannah, were my cheer squad. My sisters managed my husband’s office while I focused on him and finishing edits. (Hint: never trust hospital Wi-Fi.) My niece, Kelly, was my go-to proofreader. Even though she has a full-time job with a commute and a 3-year-old, she managed to find time to help me.

Early on when I had no clue how to read a book contract, Heather Moorefield-Lang and Diana Rendina both came to my rescue patiently answering the most generic questions. Thank you! I am grateful for public libraries for that is where I wrote most of the book. Grateful for the peace and quiet and no eating rules. (Gained too much weight snacking at home!) And grateful for countless librarians and educators across the country who shared stories with me, kept me focused and most of all encouraged me.

At work I am grateful to Heidi Stevens, our FACS teacher, who helped me with many of the sewing projects. Rita Dockswell, who reminded me I know how to crochet. Most of all, it was my principal, Mike Mosca, who let me ‘do my thing’ day in and day out. This level of support allowed me to collaborate with so many to empower our teens to make a world of difference through our MakerCare program.

I hope you’ll love my new arrival as much as I do.

Gina

An ELL Holiday Gathering

The week before holiday break an teacher of ELLs and I hosted a bilingual story-time in our high school library. We chose a holiday classic, The Grinch who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. We found many of our students are unfamiliar with Dr. Seuss and common words and phrases such as ‘don’t be a Grinch!’

In addition to this literature based activity, we included cultural and tech activities. And to round out the festivities, a little gastronomic experience as well. Students sipped hot chocolate with whipped cream and nibbled on snacks consisting of Santa cookies and homemade brownies. Students were treated to a VR Santa experience which they enjoyed immensely as a field trip to the North Pole was not in our budget!

None of our students had heard of Chanukah dreidels so we taught them how to play. Using a simple instruction sheet the students, even with limited proficiency, were able to follow along and were delighted to learn how to gamble albeit with Hershey kisses.

All in all we celebrated together and through food, conversation, and friendship we embraced similar traditions while learning new ones.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

A Mother’s Daughter

The week before holiday break an ESL teacher and I hosted a bilingual story-time in our high school library. We chose a holiday classic, The Grinch who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. As part of the festivities we provided hot chocolate with whipped cream and snacks consisting of Santa cookies and homemade brownies.

My daughter, an education major off for winter break, made the brownies while I was at work because I didn’t have time and needed the help. I reflect on this and I’m reminded that I am my mother’s daughter. My mom, a retired first grade teacher, used to ask my sisters and me to cut out shapes and items for her class or bulletin board.

Having grown up providing classroom assistance and now requesting it from the next generation, I wonder will my daughter’s children follow suit.

Just something I ponder over tea and leftover brownies.

Conference Day

 

nysabe-posterYesterday I attended a conference. Not unusual for me as I attend many conferences annually. From national conferences as the American Library Association (Annual/MidWinter) to local events such as the Long Island Tech Summit. I typically attend library and tech related conferences exclusively, as it never truly occurred to me to attend a conference in another content area.

Yesterday I attended NYSABE (New York State Association of Bilingual Educators). NYSABE represents educators, parents, members of community-based organizations, private agencies, and institutions of higher education as well as advocates involved in the education of English language learners/bilingual students in New York State. As school librarians, we serve ALL students in our schools.

I routinely collaborate with teachers of English as a New Language (ENL) and specifically with our district Coordinator of ENL and World Languages, Claudia Osorio. We work together on literacy initiatives, information literacy and research projects and, in particular, the use of makerspaces with English Language Learners (ELLs). Claudia and I submitted a proposal to NYSABE which was accepted so off I was to my first non-library/tech related conference and my first non-library/tech presentation to boot!

 

The presentation went smoothly and it was interesting to view it through the lens of others. The questions and concerns were similar yet different from my previous presentations. I was warmly welcomed by my bilingual colleagues, yet still an oddity. I believe I was the only schoice-nysabeol librarian in attendance. Throughout the day, I had an opportunity to learn more about ELLs and the challenges they (and their teachers) face. I met with vendors rich in the materials I need for my multilingual book collection. I attended a timely presentation by members of the ACLU who discussed what to do if stopped by immigration officers. I even learned a few new phrases in Spanish. Overall, I the experience amazed me. I didn’t realize what I had been missing because I hadn’t yet experienced it.

I highly recommend getting out of your zone and continue your professional education through out of content area conferences. The mutual benefits abound. While representing librarians in a bid to advocate for productive collaborative partnerships, I was learning about policy, strategies and standards in another field. This will deepen my ability to assist and develop above par programs for all my students.

 

The Compassionate Maker: Because we all need a little ‘kind’ in our lives.  

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those military veterans who served our country in the Armed Forces. So in our MakerCare Center, what better way to honor the men and women of the military, than that of a heartfelt ‘Thank You.’

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Our MakerCare Center was all set up this week with supplies needed to create personalized greetings. Colored pencils, markers, glue and scissors all lined up ready to go. Cardstock paper in a variety of colors. Students approached the center not sure how to proceed; what exactly to say? After some thoughtful reflection, the words came flowing out and the artistry and creativity shone. I couldn’t have been prouder.

Our successful MakerCare program facilitates service projects for our teens as described in this  School Library Journal article. A highlight for us was to be recognized by Maker guru himself, Dale Dougherty. The truly special thing about our program is the amount of collaboration that takes place among myself, staff and outside agencies. Our collaborations go deep, and in this case, obtaining the names of service members and veterans so students can truly appreciate the sacrifice made by these men and women. dale-dougherty-tweet-compassionate-making

To personalize the interaction I gathered names of service people from either our community or related to someone in our community. Students got a particular kick out that one of the servicemen lives/serves in Hawaii! I explained to them it was well deserved after a tour in Afghanistan and winters in Fort Drum! Another of our contacts lives on base in Alaska! I also gave students an opportunity to write to a recent Islip grad, my son Jacob, a Marine.

 

I was truly touched by one of the cards. Read it below and I dare you not to say, ‘Wow’ afterwards.

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This week I presented at the Long Island Regional School Library Conference, discussing our school  philosophy of Compassionate Making and how we implemented our MakerCare program. It was well received probably because we all need a little ‘kind’ in our lives.

no-act-of-kindness-no-matter-how-small-wasted-aesopAs always, it’s our dedication to collaboration that provided our students with this special MakerCare experience. At Islip High School, we are dedicated to #makeadifference in the lives of others!

Sincerely,

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Hispanic Heritage Month Meet your #Maker 

Last year we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in our high school makerspace. Our ELLs (English Language Learners) made paper flowers practicing following directions, new vocabulary including names of colors all with beautiful results. We also made piñatas with foreign language classes where students had to keep in mind they were engineering to fail as the purpose of piñatas are to break. We’ve all been there when a piñatas refuses to break even though beaten unmercifully. Too light on the tape and they fall apart before you hang them up. Too much tape, well forget about getting at the candy.

Piñatas:The original piñata was shaped like a star with seven points. The points represented the seven deadly sins, and the bright colors of the piñata symbolize temptation. The blindfold represents faith and the stick is virtue or the will to overcome sin. The candies and other goodies inside the piñata are the riches of the kingdom of heaven. Thus teaching that with faith and virtue one could overcome sin and receive all the rewards of heaven.” We’ve come a long way in piñata design.

We not only made piñatas again this year but also expanded the celebration and learning to other cultural items such as worry dolls, typical of Guatemala and Peru and calaveras (skulls) a prominent feature in Day of the Dead celebrations.

Worry Dolls: According to the Mayan legend, when worrying keeps a person awake, he or she tells a worry to as many dolls as necessary. Then the worrier places the dolls under his or her pillow. The dolls take over the worrying for the person who then sleeps peacefully through the night. When morning breaks, the person awakens without the worries that the dolls took away during the night.”  Perfect for our stressed out teens!

 

Calavera:  “Calaveras are whimsical caricatures-most commonly drawings- of skulls or skeletons.” Look at the individuality and creativity!

 

Our celebration included building an ofrenda (an altar in honor of the dead. RIP Selena.) I learned that November 1st is a day honoring children and November 2nd is the day honoring adult spirits. I mistakenly thought the spirits were all honored on one day only.

 

Cultural literacy is important and as such is part of the Foreign Language curriculum. The activities were available to anyone, students and staff, regardless of scheduled class participation. Anyone could stop by the makerspace during the day and participate as we all benefit from a global cultural education. I also believe one successful program leads to another…

So now the Italian teachers approached me stating, “You know Italian Heritage Month is also celebrated in October, Gina.” There’s an emphasis on ‘Gina’ as they know I’m of Italian descent my father having emigrated to NY in his twenties. It’s amazing, I didn’t have to seek out the department to work on a project together; they contacted me! It’s wonderful to collaborate with enthusiastic teachers and I’m looking forward to using and highlighting maker activities to celebrate Italian heritage. So stay tuned, blog post on the events coming soon.

For instructions on how to create the items listed above, check out my HHM Libguide at http://hslibguides.islipufsd.org/HHM