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Gillispie School / Articles posted by Heidi Long

One major goal of our media literacy program is to instill and support a lifelong love of reading in our students. Since reading is the core of both academic and personal competencies, we aim for all of our students to think of themselves as readers. To that end, our media literacy course includes regular library visits. In the library, reading is not just a quiet, solitary activity. Students listen to a story read aloud, which builds student...

As part of our media literacy curriculum, elementary students learn some fundamentals of coding. First and second graders begin to learn computer science basics through offline activities. Using the book Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding as a guide, students learn about concepts in coding such as algorithms, loops, events, and conditionals. Older students experiment with block-based visual coding using MIT Media Lab’s coding language, Scratch. They also complete lessons from code.org’s Computer Science Fundamentals course. Throughout this unit, students...

This month, the library is abuzz with ballots and brackets. No, it’s not March Madness… it’s Book Madness! We began with 32 best-selling picture books and chapter books and pitted them against one another in a single elimination tournament. The number of votes cast more than doubled from the first round to the second round (growing from 64 to 142 total votes), and we’re hoping the numbers and excitement will continue to grow. The contest has...

Because reading and access to books are the core of both academic and personal competencies, media literacy classes include time in the library which gives students space and time to listen to read-alouds, browse for a “just right” book, read a book for pleasure, and to develop their love of literature. Learning to use the online catalog using appropriate search techniques, to post a book review, or to learn more about a subject of interest, boosts...

The family of a former student reached out to me recently with a dilemma: Although their oldest child was a voracious reader, their youngest child didn’t seem to be interested in books at all. The parents wondered if I might “work my magic” on their youngest child, to ignite the spark that would eventually become a raging fire for books. As flattered as I am to be credited with this power, the secret to turning reluctant readers...

During the first semester, Ms. Haas’s fourth graders enjoyed listening to Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo during their time in the library. Near the end of the novel, the characters hold a party. The students and I immediately agreed: Once we finished the book, we’d re-create the party to celebrate! Just before our winter break, we held our event, feasting on the snacks and drinks described in the novel. One student said she could, “taste the...

History class has a bad reputation. Sometimes, it’s well deserved: I remember high school history as a blur of forgettable names, places, and dates. Today’s history teachers go beyond rote memorization. They teach inquiry, research skills, discussion, and analysis. The best teachers spark student curiosity and ignite a passion for the study of the past. Mr. Inigo, a master teacher at Gillispie School, wins praise from his students for his memorable history lessons. Occasionally throughout the year, he...

Last weekend, I took my daughters to the LA Times Festival of Books, which is held every April on the campus of the University of Southern California. During the Q&A portion of a talk by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, my elder daughter asked, “What did you like to read as a kid?” DiCamillo answered, “If it was a book, I liked it.” I asked DiCamillo what advice she had for kids who want to grow up...

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