Winter Newsletter 2010

Fabulous Fables with College Volunteers

by Pat Cook, Librarian, Dothan Brook School (Town of Hartford)

This winter I have had the good fortune to work with two Dartmouth College students through the START volunteer program.  Originally START was established to bolster the decrease of the Arts in many area public schools.  Volunteers are sought to bring Music, Art and Theater into classrooms.

 I was made aware of the program by my principal and made an application specifying what day, time, and program I wanted to take advantage of.  Since I was beginning my program of Fables that I traditionally do with fourth graders, I selected Theater to work into my library program.

 My students have responded positively to the Dartmouth students.  I work with them collaboratively to decide what kind of lesson plan we’ll deliver together.  Initially I chose the fable The Tortoise and the Hare, sharing two different “book” versions.  Since I wanted students to act
out the fable, we did warm-up exercises to try out the various emotions they might use.  For this activity we worked in the round, striking poses and facial expressions.  I asked the Dartmouth students to call 

Students at Dothan Brook School prepare to perform The Tortoise and the Hare with help from Dartmouth College volunteers.

out the emotions.  The following week, we worked with spoken phrases taken from the various books.       Students were told on an index card how they were to deliver the line – one word emotion as a clue.  Again, this was performed in the round, so that students could experience their classmates.

This last week I had written a short one page script that included a narrator, the Hare, and the Tortoise.  Youngsters were broken off in pairs and they decided who would be Hare or Tortoise and practiced with the script.  The Volunteers and I rotated around groups to give suggestions on expression and delivery of lines.  We were able to have a couple of groups perform.  We used minimal costumes – a bicycle helmet for Tortoise, and a long eared straw hat for Hare. (Of course hair nets have to be used when sharing hats.)

After last week’s performances, we discussed what changes needed to be made in the script.  The Dartmouth students quickly recognized that the students hadn’t really had enough time to practice to deliver lines smoothly.  They made good suggestions for allowing the narrator to say more to give the students more direction as to where they needed to be standing or moving.

It has been a fun collaborative project.  Although neither Dartmouth student had a theatrical background, they were willing to give of their time and add flair to my library program.  I will have them into March so we will continue with other fables.  Other librarians near colleges might want to check to see if Volunteers are available.  I would be happy to share my script if you email me at

Learning about Learning for Life


To all Vermont Librarians,

If you are trying to decide if you should go to the Learning for Life (L4L) bootcamp the answer is: YES you want to go. 

Here is the definition of L4L:  Learning4LifeTM is the national initiative of American Association of School Librarians (AASL) created to implement Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and Empowering Learners:  Guidelines for School Library Media Programs.  You may say, "Oh no, not that standards stuff."  For some reason this was different than the way the national, state and local school standards have been presented to us at all those school inservices and meetings.  This really does apply to school libraries and librarians in Vermont. 

Last Saturday I drove up to Danville in the snow, not sure if that was how I wanted to spend my Saturday. I soon found out that it was exactly how I wanted to spend it.  The time went very quickly, and I learned so much that I can actually use as a school librarian.    

Linda McSweeney was a great drill sergeant. She got us whipped into shape to tackle the job as librarians in the 21st century.  She gave us information and showed us resources to get us on track to be leaders in our schools.  It was all very helpful, and the food (wonderful potluck) was great.  Best of all it was free!  All librarians in the state of Vermont should make an effort to attend the L4L boot camp. 

Remember these words:  useful, advocacy, leader, great food, old and new friends, 21st century, FREE workshop (pay only $30 for a year's subscription to the AASL online planning guide). 

Sign up today. Here’s a link to the registration, agenda, and other materials:

Get ready recruits,

Denise Wentz

Allen Brook School


 DCF Literature Groups at Essex Middle School

By Kimberly Musante

EMS Librarian Kim Musante and 6th Grade Language Arts teacher Katie Rose collaborated to develop a Literature Group unit utilizing the Vermont award-winning Dorothy Canfield Fisher titles and digital media tools. The literature groups were facilitated by parent and community volunteers, Mrs. Rose, and Mrs. Musante. Students demonstrated their learning by their participation in an online wiki as well as group discussion. Titles read were Killer Pizza; Slob; Scat; Faith, Hope and Ivy June; Bystander; and Ragtag. The culminating discussion was also a culinary event inspired by the book titles.