Shout out to Tech!

Just sending a big thank you to our tech support, Jeff Loppnow, for being vigilantly available to us on Career Day. Jeff, we felt very supported! ๐Ÿ™‚


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The library was the setting for the school level competition of the National Geographic Society’s 2015 National Geographic Bee. Congratulations to all who participated and especially to our winner, Khangai!

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Career Day 2015

8th Graders experienced a special day on Friday, January 30th. In the morning, sixteen professionals came to Maple to provide our students with a mock interview. The students prepared for this experience in ELA, Advisory, and on their own. They compiled a resume, filled out a job application, and researched the interviewer along with the company they represented.

In the afternoon, the students were treated to presentations by another set of volunteers who shared their professional passion and journey.

Thank you to ALL of the volunteers, teachers, Admin, students AND their parents who made this day a success!

Take a look:


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You’ve Got Mail

Students, please get in the habit of checking your email several times every day. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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A Little More on the Power of Spoken Word

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Young Chicago Authors & Louder Than a Bomb

Have you heard about spoken word? Spoken word is poetry that is written to be dramatically shared in a performance atmosphere. There is a huge culture throughout the city of Chicago that supports and promotes youth literacy through spoken word open mic and writing workshop opportunities. Check out the Young Chicago Authors blog to see the types of opportunities they provide for youth to showcase their work.

February and March bring a poetry festival called Louder Than a Bomb. Here is a description from their blog:

Entering its 15th season, Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) is the largest, youth poetry festival in the world. Founded in Chicago in 2001 and hosted by Young Chicago Authors (YCA), the event attracts 1000 participants from 120 schools in over 100 different Chicagoland zip codes. Imagine high school in-class and afterschool teams focused on a Literary Arts curriculum as a team sporting event โ€” with reading & writing literacy as the goal! This is the power of the LTAB platform.

You can secure tickets to watch any of the bouts as your teen peers compete to see who will be the spoken word champion this year. Most of the competitions are centered around Columbia College downtown on Michigan Avenue.

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Can You Play a Google a Day?

There is a new link added under the Games section on the right side of my blog. It is called “A Google a Day” and I challenge you to use your information seeking skills to succeed at playing this game. Let me know what you think.

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Jordan Sonnenblick’s Visit

Maple enjoyed a visit from Jordan Sonnenblick, author of popular juvenile and YA fiction books. We learned that he is inspired to write his books from life’s challenges and the needs of those around him. We also learned about the path his manuscripts take on the publication journey. Jordan captivated both our students and staff and graciously took time to autograph copies of his books for students who brought them. Take a look:

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Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.51.32 AMMaple students are voracious readers and to help promote them to read outside their comfort genre’s and authors, we have a new program in the library where the student can adopt a shelf of books to read. While there are no strict rules in the choosing of a shelf, we do encourage them to find a shelf with a variety of authors and/or genres. We ask them to let us know if there are any “clunkers,” in their opinion, thus enabling us to make good use of our readers as reviewers. So far, a few students have embraced this challenge. You can see their names on a shelf sign starting with the logo you see on this post.

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Cool YouTube Channels You Shouldn’t Miss


CommonSense Media is, as you know, one of my favorite resources on the Internet. One of their posts listed 12 YouTube Channels OK for kids. You will find the teen and tween aged channels linked over on the side of my blog. Look down toward the bottom under the YouTube Channel section. I hope you feel inspired. If you have a channel of your own that you would like me to add to our list, please email me. Happy viewing! ๐Ÿ™‚

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A Warm and Welcoming Open Mic

October’s Open Mic reminded one student of fall. It was colorful with talent and creativity along with the feeling of warmth we experience after coming inside on a cool fall day.

Take a look:

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Popular Author to Visit Maple

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.32.05 PMPopular author, Jordan Sonnenblick, will be coming to Maple School on Wednesday, November 12, to share his inspirations as well as his expertise on the writing and editing process. Some of his best loved titles include Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Notes from the Midnight Driver, and Zen and the Art of Faking It. Jordanโ€™s presentations for every grade level will include a discussion about story development in all stages, a Q&A session and book signing.

****Special Note**** If you would like to purchase one of Mr. Sonnenblick’s books for him to sign, the Book Bin will give Maple students a 10% discount on any of Mr. Sonnenblick’s books. Just tell them the book is for school. How very nice of the Book Bin! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Stars were shining at our first Open Mic

Monday brought the first Open Mic of the new school year. We were dazzled by the stellar voices and brilliant minds of our Maple students. Take a look at our participants and their beaming audiences:

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Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.21.00 AMCheck out the Common Sense Media post about 24 video games that support the subjects our kids study in school and also their social skills. Cool!

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Have You Seen a Little Free Library?

LFL1At the beginning of the summer, my sister turned me onto the Little Free Library (LFL) movement. The idea is to provide a space in your yard where anyone can come to take a book or leave a book. No strings attached. My husband and I, both being school librarians, were impassioned to build one of these for our neighbors before we left for our summer trip. Between my sister’s family and our family, we designed and built our LFL in 7 days taking about 150 person hours. It was a labor of love as we are not carpenters…remember we are librarians. ๐Ÿ™‚

The success of our LFL has been heartwarming. Kids and adults alike, bring books and take books. One 5 year old was the librarian while we were on vacation. We left a journal inside for people to write anything they want. Many adults have left us encouraging notes. The kids, (girls AND boys) stop by to thank us. Lots of people stop to meet and talk about books in front of our LFL. One young mother, new to the neighborhood, was wondering how she was going to meet people, and felt warm and invited to sit awhile in our yard to talk with other neighbors. A retired Marine is inspired to build one in his yard to match his home. Although these little structures are adorable, the best part is in supporting reading. Literacy is the bottom line.

If you haven’t yet seen or heard about the Little Free Library, I encourage you to check out their site. If you want to build one yourself and have any questions, feel free to contact me. We are pretty proud of ourselves for figuring out how to weather proof our LFL and wouldn’t mind sharing our knowledge with you. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Don’t Forget to Use Your Common Sense

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.21.00 AMIf I were still in the middle of raising my children, (although do we ever really stop?), I would rely heavily on Common Sense Media to help me guide my kids through the media world. I blogged about this website in the past, and I just want to remind you to check them out. They offer balanced guidance in all things media.

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MAP Testing

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.11.26 AMAs you know, we are temporarily closed during the day for MAP testing. The library lends itself well to the various needs of our testers and technology and we are more than happy to support the school in this way. Please be assured that you can still check out books by visiting the librarian in the hallway outside the LMC. After school, we will be open as MAP testing will be over for the day.

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New Library Hours

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.54.50 AMWe are excited to have the library space available to you Monday through Thursday until 4:45. Many students have found this time very productive to complete their homework or get ahead on a project. Please make sure you either have an activity bus pass or that your ride is here by 4:45 if you are staying to use the library after school. We will continue to close at 4:00 on Fridays.

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Last Open Mic Has Us Feeling Happy!

The last Open Mic for this year was incredibly fun! The 6th Graders started the event with talent, humor, and community. Watching them spread their wings more and more over the next two years will be exciting! The last song of 6th Grade Open Mic was “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. The entire 6th Grade population helped perform that song. Although we left late, (after the bell rang), we couldn’t help but feel very, very happy. I say we ride on the wave of that chorus as we finish out this school year.

8th and 7th Grades, respectively, also turned out stellar performances! What a great day!

Take a look at the photos:

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Minecraft in Computer Club

IMG_4717We had a visit from a Chicago Tribune reporter who wanted to explore Minecraft in education. Check out this video:

…and this article:


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