A Wave Goodbye…

goodbye hand

This will be the last post to this – the very first – VPAA Media Blog. I am leaving Veterans Park with great memories of awesome students and staff members. This blog was started two years ago as an experiment to see if we could use it to expand library services for students and enhance their learning experiences with Web 2.0 tools. It became a wonderful platform for learning, experimenting, and sharing for many people – students, teachers, other media specialists, and professional educators from all over the world. It is here we shared the successes of our library media programs like the now-famous Guys Read Club, invited students to submit poetry and book reviews, promoted our summer reading challenges, and showcased resources like Sweet Search, Meebo Chat, and VoiceThread.

During my four years at VPAA we added nearly 6000 items to our collections, circulated almost 700,000 books and other items, installed a wireless laptop lab and two Smartboards in the libraries, re-designed – with student help – both libraries to make them more kid-friendly, improved the age of the collection by six years, added eBooks, young adult books, and paperbacks for middle school students, increased our web presence, helped students learn to use databases, to blog safely, to choose great books to read, and to enjoy learning. It has been a pleasure and vpaamedia.edublogs.org--2009-06-12_to_2010-06-13an adventure to work in and manage two libraries in one great school. The memories I’ll hold dearest are those of kids rocking in the video chairs or snuggled up with the big stuffed lion reading a favorite book or magazine.

Our blog’s cluster map was recently archived by ClustrMaps, but before they hit the reset button for the new year we had red dots indicating visits from students, teachers, and others from 42 different countries. We appreciate each comment we got from visitors. Having this blog helped us connect with other classes, students, and educators and made us feel like we were part of something bigger than us alone.

As I move on, I hope that every student, parent, teacher, and staff member at VPAA will continue to connect, engage, and learn from people all over the world in as many ways and with as many tools as you can, and then share what you know so you can make the world a better place.  Best wishes to you all.

-Mrs. Hanson

Guys Talkin’ Books

guys_read book image

The Guys Read Club was excited to get a $1000 grant from the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools to purchase books just for boys.

After months of reading and talking about the books, several Guys Read Club members offered to record what they thought about some of the books they read this year… and recommend a few others to you. Listen by clicking the link below: (It may take  couple minutes to load, and crank up the volume when the boys start talking…) Enjoy!

Guys Read Book Reviews

Take the Summer Reading Challenge


Avoid that Summer Slide: read at least four books this summer to keep up your reading skills. Make it a challenge and fun, too, by participating in a world record event.

VPAA is participating in the Scholastic Read for the World Record as our 2010 Summer Reading Challenge. Students are asked to sign up for an account online at http://www.scholastic.com/summerreading/index.htm 

and log their reading minutes each week between May 1st and August 31st.

Recommended reading lists are here:
For ages 3- 7, and 8 – 10
For ages 10 – 12
For Young Adult (8th grade and up)

In addition, students in grades 3 – 8 are encouraged to read the 2010 – 2011 Sunshine State Books. Those lists are here:

3rd – 5th grade 2010-2011 Sunshine State Books
6th – 8th grade 2010 – 2011 Sunshine State Books

Don’t forget that your public library is a GREAT place to get books this summer – and they have their own summer reading programs and challenges, complete with prizes and activities, so go visit your public library today! 

Honoring Earth Day with Door Art

VPAA students got into the spirit of Earth Day and decorated their classroom doors using recycled materials for our first Earth Day Recycled Door Decorating Contest.  Students used what they had learned about Earth Day and recycling to create magical, beautiful decorations with a message.

Our VIP judges – our administrative team – judged each door based on three criteria: Creativity, Use of Recycled Materials, and Theme- honoring the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Take a look at all these creative doors (click on each image to see full size):

The winning door decoration was Ms. Krystofiak’s class:


Runners up were Mrs. Rewis’ and Mrs. Marcum’s classes. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who participated.

Happy 40th Earth Day!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day – a time to celebrate the beauty of our planet and to promote awareness of environmental issues. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was founded during that same year.

A lot of people have worked hard to protect our natural resources and teach others about their importance over the years. Read about some of these “environmental heroes“.

Some of the hottest environmental issues today are climate change, renewable energy, and sustainable development. You can learn about some of these core environmental issues here.

How about reading a great book related to Earth Day?? Come check one out from your library today:

Earth Day Birthday by Pattie Schnetzler
Earth Day–Hooray! by Stuart J. Murphy
Recycle! : A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons
The Garbage Monster by Joni Sensel
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

At VPAA, students have written poetry about Earth Day, learned songs and dances, studied environmental issues, recycled, and picked up trash on campus. Today, our VIP judges will judge classroom doors decorated entirely with recycled materials in honor of this 40th Earth Day. (we’ll post pics later) Tomorrow many of our kids will perform in an outdoor Earth Day ceremony.

What will you do for Earth Day on this 40th anniversary?

Poetry for the Planet Contest Winners

Thanks to all the teachers and students who worked so hard on this year’s Poetry for the Planet Contest. We had 134 submissions from grades K – 8. The winning poets for each grade level category are:

Grades K – 2:
1st place: Ryder Mell – “Earth Day Poem”
2nd place: Stacie McKinney – “I Wish”
3rd place: MaryAnna Invergo – “Honey Bees”

Grades 3-5:
1st place: Jordan Mell – “Our Earth Day”
2nd place: Gloriangela Gonzalez – “A Promise”
3rd place: Adrienne Hill – “Friends Help the Earth”

Grades 6-8:
1st place: Jonathan Colon- “Planet Home”
2nd place: Andrea Barrera- “Mother Earth”
3rd place: Jaryel Ruiz – “HELP”

Congratulations to these student poets! Happy Earth Day.

Freeze-N-Read: Saturday April 17 @ 4 PM


Gulf Middle School’s media specialist Kathy Adams and her student crew have designed a fabulous week of activities for National School Library Month.  One of those activities is Freeze-N-Read at 4:00 PM on Saturday April 17th, 2010. They are asking people – students, teachers, parents, anyone to FREEZE and READ in honor of libraries everywhere. And if you do, they want to know about it by having you post a photo of your FREEZE-N-READ moments on their website .

It’s not just about reading – it’s about libraries and how important they are in everyone’s lives – public, school, academic, research, and specialty libraries are more than books these days – they are helping people connect to information and people all over the world in all kinds of ways. But they are in trouble – budget cuts are causing many libraries to close and lose valuable staff. The Gulf Middle crew has collected a lot of “cool & chilling facts” about the Library Meltdown of late… check out the stats and do something to show your support: Freeze-N-Read on Saturday for starters.

Great job Mrs. Adams and crew at Gulf!! We here at VPAA will join you in your effort. Keep up the great work.

Poetry for the Planet Contest

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

April is National Poetry Month and Earth Day Month, and we’re getting a head start on both by sponsoring our annual Poetry for the Planet poetry contest. You can win prizes, get published, and perform your poem at the VPAA Earth Day Ceremony on April 23rd.

Who can enter?  All VPAA students in grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8
How Do I Enter a Poem?
1. Write an original poem celebrating the environment and/or Earth Day. It can be about the earth, its plants and animals, habitats, clean water, recycling, conserving wildlife or energy, climate change, eating locally grown food, how one person’s choices and actions can make a difference, the history of Earth Day, or anything that is related to caring for our home planet. This year is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

2. Your poem must be neatly handwritten or typed on an 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper. Students are encourgaed to use the back of scrap paper to demonstrate resonsible re-use of our resources!

3. Your first and last name, your grade, and your homeroom teacher’s name must be on the back of your poem.

4. Turn the poem in to Mrs. Hanson or Mrs. Wilkes in the media centers no later than Friday, April 16th.

5. One winner and two runners-up will be selected for each grade level group, K – 2, 3 – 5, 6 – 8.

 How will my poem be judged?

VPAA 2010 Poetry for the Planet Judging Criteria
All poems in each age group will be judged using the following criteria. By reading the poem, it is evident that:

  • The poet knows and cares about the topic of the poem.
  • The poem evokes a response in the reader, appealing to emotions and/or intellect.
  • The poet uses language in a fresh way, avoiding clichés and forced rhymes.
  • The poet uses language precisely and economically.

 Scoring: Total of 100 points possible
A. Relevance to the theme – up to 25 points
Does the poem support the theme of “Earth Day”?

B. Innovation and Creativity – up to 25 points
Does the poem have a creative approach to the theme?
Does the poem use language in an interesting way (with no clichés or forced rhymes)?
Is the poem original (not plagiarized in any way)?

C. Judge’s Impression – up to 20 points

D. Fluency – up to 10 points
Smooth, flowing, written with ease, polished.

E. Poetic structure – up to 15 points
Does the poem follow the rules/format for the poetic form chosen (haiku, free verse, sonnet, etc.)?

F. Spelling – up to 5 points
Is proper spelling used in the poem?

 Criteria adapted from AFHE poetry contest www.afhe.org/resources/forms/2009_afhe_poetry_contest_judging_crit.pdf 

Here are some tips on writing poetry. Let the creativity flow. We look forward to many great entries to our contest this year :-)!

Tips for Writing Poetry

 poetry letters

“I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree…”
– from a poem by Joyce Kilmer

So, you want to write poetry?
 Getting started: Inspiration and Motivation

 1. Tap into your feelings – are there things that make you happy, sad, angry, frustrated? Express these feelings in poetry.

 2. Be observant – what’s happening around you every day? Are there things going on at home, at school, in the community, or the world that inspire you or make you wonder, think or feel? Capture them in poetry.

 3. Capture the moment – did you see someone do a kind deed, say thank you, pick up trash, cry? Did you notice the flags flying, the sounds of the birds singing when you woke up today, the sirens in the distance? Can you hear the clock on the wall ticking away? Are you focused on the here and now, the present moment – what’s happening this instant in your life?

4.  Let nature inspire you! When was the last time you spent some time outdoors, enjoying a sunset or walk on the beach or in the park, sitting on the grass and watching the clouds? Take some time to let nature tell you its stories.

 5. Keep a journal – jot down things you observe, feel, think about, and dream about. Use these “captures” to create your poems.

 6. Read the newspaper or watch the TV News…is there something going on that makes you want to scream, shout, laugh, cry, jump for joy? What is it? Express those feelings in words…

 7. Make lists – list your “top three” and tell why they made your “top three list”…then write about them!
-favorite moments in life
-people you admire most/heroes
-most inspiring events or things
-objects that fascinate you
-dreams of what you will be like as an adult
-places you love
-issues you care about

Elements of Poetry
Poetic Devices 

  1. Alliteration – using a string of words that begin with the same consonant (soft summer sun)
  2. Assonance – consecutive words in a phrase with similar sounding vowels (Hear the mellow wedding bells. — Edgar Allan Poe, “The Bells“)
  3. Dissonance – collection of unpleasant sounding words to create harsh effect (“black cylindric body…ponderous side-bars, dense and murky clouds” – from W. Whitman’s “To a Locomotive in Winter”)
  4. Simile – comparison using “like” or “as” (your lips are like a red, red rose)
  5. Metaphor – comparison NOT using “like” or “as” (“the fog comes on little cat feet” – from “Fog”, by Carl Sandburg)
  6. Personification – giving a non-human thing human qualities (“the stapler bit the piece of paper angrily”)
  7. Oxymoron – pair of words that contradict (jumbo shrimp)
  8. Couplets – pair of consecutive lines that rhyme (a,a  or b,b)
  9. Imagery – vivid descriptions – appeals to senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, hearing)
  10. Onomatopoeia – words that sound like what it means (hiss, buzz, rattle, bang, ZZZZ)
  11. Rhyme – repetition of sounds (cat, hat)
  12. Rhythm – see below

 Meter/Rhythm in Poetry: emphasis on certain syllables 
1. Iamb – unstressed/stressed; hel-LO, de-STROY
2. Trochee – stressed/unstressed; MON-day, GIVE me
3. Dactyl – GO a-way, MER-ri-ly; BEAU-ti-ful
4. Anapest – in-ter-VENE; tam-bour-INE
5. Spondee – SHUT UP; HUM DRUM

  Forms of Poetry: here are just a few, there are many more

 Simple rhyme schemes: a,b,c,b  or  a,b,a,b    or a,a,b,b,    or a,a,a,a

Haiku – 17 syllables, 3 lines, 5,7,5

Cinquain – 5 unrhymed lines; 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables

Ballad – about fatal or romantic relationships (80’s rock songs)

Free Verse – rhymed or unrhymed, free of conventional meter, often “conversation-like”

Sonnet – 14 line poem in iambic pentameter – abab, cdcd, efef, gg

Epic – a long narrative about a hero

Limerick – 5 lines, rhymed and humorous (lines 1,2, & 5 all have 3 beats and rhyme, lines 3 and 4 two beats and a rhyme)

Lyric – created to be sung with music

Quatrain – four line stanza – most common verse structure in poetry

Have fun writing! And be sure to enter the VPAA Poetry for the Planet Contest.

Women Who Changed the World

spot_wmnshist05_headerMarch is Women in History Month, and Britannica has put together a great resource for students to use to learn more about some of the most famous: 300 Women Who Changed the World. The website is complete with biographies and women’s topics, and it is very easy to search in several different ways: alphabetically, by where or when they lived, and by profession or accomplishments (what they did).

The site also includes a timeline from antiquity through the present and primary source documents (In Their Own Words) for students to read. There are a dozen videos of various women in their most famous roles and for teachers a few learning activities to use with students ages 10 and up.

Give this resource a try and if you find something you like or learn a cool fact about one of these famous women that you’d  like to share, please tell us about it here by posting a comment.