In the spirit of learning more about our own school, I sat down with Cally Flickinger, Chamberlin School’s librarian and technology integration educator. I had a broad understanding of how our library’s resources supported students’ learning, but I was excited about her holistic approach, both inside the school and in the community beyond. Cally shared with me that each student’s journey begins with building a love of reading. Finding the right book to encourage individual interests is her focus in the early years. Any subject that will nurture that curiosity will cultivate literacy. Once this seed is planted, Chamberlin continues that growth through integrated experiences and civic engagements.
Chamberlin’s library provides a wealth of information to help teachers bring units of study to life. A recent third grade science curriculum focused on how birds adapt to their environment. To build on this, Chamberlin’s library featured an entire wall dedicated to ornithology, as well as a beautiful glass display case for bird eggs, nests, and students’ original artwork. During library hours, students filled out research briefs for their particular bird of focus, leveraging both books and digital resources to document their nests and eggs. The project culminated in a field trip to the Birds of Vermont Museum, where students participated in a scavenger hunt and built birdhouses. For many, a highlight was getting their photo taken in front of a likeness of their very own subject of study: one of the hundreds of beautifully carved wooden bird sculptures by Vermont artist Bob Spear.
As this unit of study wraps up and classes look ahead to the next topic, students will collaborate on their very own hardcover book about birds, publishing their research as well as their field learning. Bringing the learning full circle, a copy will also be shared with the Birds of Vermont Museum.
Minds are not the only things that grow as the result of an engaging learning experience. In the spirit of service to the community, some of Chamberlin’s library and media activities focus on expanding personal connections. I spoke with Cally about service learning and its function in our school. Coupling civic responsibility and hands-on learning has been a very enriching experience.
Recently, fifth graders and their kindergarten “buddies” paired up to create something that would share their holiday spirit with the community. The youngest and oldest Chamberlin students donned safety goggles and work aprons to craft holiday ornaments from materials generously donated by Lowes. Hands-on problem solving builds confidence and collaboration, and this was very evident as students worked diligently on their projects in Chamberlin’s library. Following this creative exercise, classes took field trips to deliver the ornaments to Wake Robin and Pillsbury Manor senior communities; reading books together with the residents brought a truly integrated learning experience and literacy journey full circle.
Time spent in Chamberlin’s’ library is truly an enriching experience. I learned that Chamberlin’s library resources are not limited to a singular place; they are a part of the entire school day, part of an integrated curriculum, and part of our community.
Catherine Wisloski,Chamberlin School PTO