Wednesday, June 26, 2013

saying good-bye to the Blair Library!

This will be my final blog post on the Blair Library blog. I have so enjoyed being the Teacher-Librarian  and being part of the Blair community. I have accepted a new job at the school board office which will allow me to work with students and teachers all over Richmond. I am looking forward to visiting Blair in my new role!

A special thank you the Blair PAC for their unfailing support for the Blair Library and a special thank you to Yu-Chen, Brayden and Alan's mom, for all her very hard work in the library this year! And a big thank you to all of my library monitors who help check in and shelve library books. I have so enjoyed working with you and appreciated you lending a helping hand.

I have quite a large group of students that comes into the library in the morning to read, do homework, socialize, investigate things around the library, etc. In late May, one of our grade five students joined me in the library for an early morning visit. She twirled around and said, "I love the library - it's like home but with friends!" Her comment made my heart sing as this is the type of atmosphere I have wanted to create in the library - a place where students feel comfortable, welcome, safe and inspired.

The Blair Library has been my home for three years and it is hard to say good-bye to the place and even harder to say good-bye to the students. It has been my honour and privilege to be the teacher-librarian at Blair for the last three years.

As for parting words, my message to the students and staff at Blair is:
Be curious, ask questions, have a sense of wonder, be joyful, read lots, learn new things and take care of each other.

With much love,
~Ms Novakowski

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

favourite story characters

Today in the library our kindergarten students discussed their favourite things about coming to the library. They all LOVE taking out books and listening to stories. We discussed some of our favourite story characters and then the students used the iPads to represent one of their favourite characters.

Can you guess what story characters the kindergarten students drew using the Doodle Buddy app?

One boy was celebrating his birthday so he used the Skitch app to have Pete the Cat celebrate with him!

~Ms Novakowski

Monday, June 24, 2013

cultural art cards

One of the clear messages from our guest speakers over the last month has been to remind our Blair students to hold on to their cultural background and to be proud of it. Author Nicola Campbell included this message when she autographed a copy of one of her books for the school.
The speakers also talked about their families' re-embracing of their traditional culture as a way to move forward from the damaging effects of residential schools. Language, taking part in traditional celebrations, singing and creating art are important aspects of aboriginal cultures. We looked at art cards representing BC animals by BC aboriginal artists and learned about what different animals represent to different cultures. We also looked at the book This Land is My Land by contemporary aboriginal artist George Littlechild of the Cree First Nation and his collage style of art.

To help the students connect to the importance of their own cultural backgrounds, the students were asked to think of an animal or symbol of importance to them from their own culture. Using inspiration from the BC animal art cards or George Littlechild's work, the students drafted a drawing and then created their own art cards. The students included information about themselves as the artist on the back and titled their artwork and explained what it represented to them.

The students were very engaged in this project and many commented they wanted to frame or put their art cards up for display at home. It was such an empowering way to bring closure to our study of residential schools in Canada.

~Ms Novakowski

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spuds in Tubs 2013: the great potato harvest

Our potato plants have been quietly doing there thing in their tubs at the front of the school. Some students have expressed concern that they look "dead" while others remember this is what they looked like last year before we harvested the potatoes.

This year, five classes emptied and counted the potatoes (divisions 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12) and then we combined our totals for a grand harvest of 284 potatoes!

Some students searched for and found the elusive seed potatoes!

It was fun watching the grades 4 and 5 students help the kindergarten students with the searching and counting! Such good big buddies!

Liat and Brian from division 5 washed all the potatoes.
We boiled them, added some butter and salt and they were enjoyed by the staff and students! Thanks to Simon from division 1 for helping to deliver the potatoes to classes!

The students' overall feedback was that the potatoes were SO good!
~Ms Novakowski

bannock week in the library

As the term comes to a close, the grades 1-7 classes have been working on their final projects for our aboriginal studies. As part of our sharing of stories and artwork, we made bannock, a traditional bread of aboriginal peoples from across North America. Some sources cite the Scottish as bringing bannock to North America but there is evidence to support that for thousands of years before European contact, aboriginal groups used roots of plants to make a sort of pulp or dried flour to make bannock.

Bannock can be fried, baked or cooked over a campfire. Berries, herbs and dried fish can be mixed into the dough before cooking. In the library this week, divisions 1-9 enjoyed fried bannock and served with  smoked salmon and cream cheese, jam made from local berries and dried berries. Division 7 added some herbs that they grew in their classroom to their pieces of bannock. Division 9 got to try freshly picked salmonberries as a special treat!

Because SO many students asked for the recipe, I will post it here:

Bannock (adapted from various recipes)
3 cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Mix dry ingredients together and then mix in "fat" with your hands until mixture is crumbly.
2 Tablespoons solid vegetable shortening (or you could use lard)
Mix in about 1 cup of water, adding more if necessary to make a soft dough.
Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.
Cut off small pieces of dough and flatten in to a disc shape and place in hot oil, cooking about 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.

My family enjoys bannock when we are camping, cooked on a stick over the hot embers from our campfire.
~Ms Novakowski

Monday, June 17, 2013

the tomatosphere project 2013

This year three of our classes at Blair participated in the Tomatosphere project. More information about the project can be found HERE.

Divisions 3 and 6 planted and grew their tomato seeds in their classrooms, keeping track of the necessary data on charts and graphs. Division 12, one of our Kindergarten classes, participated in the Tomatosphere program in the library.

The kindergarten students very carefully counted and planted the seeds.

We checked and counted on how the plants were doing each week. We documented the growth of the tomato plants using the iPads by taking photographs and drawing.

The students each received a special certificate for being a Tomato Scientist and they each took home a tomato plant to continue to take care of at home.

~Ms Novakowski