4 Nov 2019

The Pumpkin Challenge

The challenge: ASD students, can you build a structure to support the weight of a pumpkin?

The response: YES, of course we can! And, we can do it in so many different and creative ways!

Students used Keva planks and legos to build their structures. Some worked individually, some worked in pairs or small groups. Some went for height, some went for design. Highlights included a suspension bridge, a tower with inclosed pumpkins inside and a lego village that supported the weight of four pumpkins. 

Challenge accomplished and exceeded! Well done, ASD builders, engineers and architects. A new question for you, what will be our next design challenge?

Worm Wonderings

The new worm farm in the ES Library is sparking many wonderings! After enjoying some time holding and playing with earthworms, K1 students were ready for some inquiry learning. Students observed the worms closely and love how they feel in their hands. As they held and watched their worms in their environment, many questions came up...

What do worms eat? Why do they live in the soil? How do worms have babies? Are there girls worms and boy worms? How big does a worm grow? Does a worm bite? How can you tell where their heads are? How do worms move?

A small group of students gathered some of their questions to investigate. Students used books and the electronic resource PebbleGo to search for answers. When we came across information about one of our questions, students drew pictures or asked teachers to help them write words. 

As a group, our K1 researchers learned so much about earthworms! We gathered our new knowledge together and went back to the classroom to share with all of our friends. The research group was very proud to present their findings. 

Grade 2 students have also been digging deep (get it?) into worms. Students generated and sorted their questions into categories. Students looked at all the questions they had and decided what they wanted to learn more about.

Next, students chose a method of note-taking to gathering their information. Some students used a web, some drew and labeled a model, others used a t-chart organizer. Choice was embedded throughout the investigation - in terms of what students wanted to research, which resources they used and which tool they used to take their notes.

Our next steps will be revisiting our questions to learn more and sharing our new learning with friends! Perhaps we can have K1 and Grade 2 share their learning with each other. Stay tuned!

Our most recent learners to investigate our worms -- our teachers! Elementary teachers spent time after school thinking about how we can help our students learn through inquiry. We put ourselves in our students shoes and experienced the power of asking our own questions and leading our own learning.

21 Oct 2019

Building to Learn, Learning to Build

Our building installations have sparked amazing learning in the library. We are observing students working collaboratively, demonstrating perseverance and working through a design process. Students are building to solve problems, test prototypes, and explain their thinking. 

K2 students are investigating pushes and pulls. We gave the students a challenge to move a ball from a high surface into a jar. They were able to use any building materials, including tracks, tubes, lego bricks, Keva planks or even furniture. Students worked in teams to develop designs and test prototypes. We discovered that our first ideas often did not work and needed modified. Some teams successfully moved the ball into the jar and others are looking forward to trying again and testing out new ways ideas.

Students in K1 used the lego wall to build vertically and create a "rocket ship control panel." Working in a group, students discussed how various parts could be used for different controls. Moving parts were particularly useful for creating switches, buttons and levers. As the students added to the network of controls, their play shifted from constructive to imaginative play. The group conducted an entire launch sequence, not to mention the fact they also were able to ward off enemies with their built-in spy cameras!

Students across all grade levels are investigating with Keva planks. We now have over 2,000 planks available for building in the library and still there is not enough to keep up with our increasingly adept builders. Some students work individually to construct the tallest structure possible, other work cooperatively to build complex cities and inter-connected designs. Many students are choosing to visit the library during their free time at recess, morning and after-school to build and try new designs. Bridges and cantilevers are the latest challenge to push the thinking of our construction and architecture experts.

8 Sep 2019

Our Library is Waiting for You!


We have enjoyed welcoming students back to the Elementary School Library and meeting our new friends who have joined us at ASD. All classes have visited the library at least once now! And, we are thrilled to have our early morning and after school visitors.

Get ready to explore more than 700 new books in our library! We have fantastic new picture books, biographies, graphic novels, and junior fiction. We've also added new craft, coding, cooking and information books. There is something new and exciting for everyone.

Game On: Summer Reading Challenge

A big cheer for all of our students who joined the Game On Summer Reading Challenge! Thank you to all who have turned in their record sheets. It's not too late! Please stop by or email the records in if you have not yet done so. We'll begin celebrating students who took on the challenge by presenting certificates in library classes this week.

Reading is personal! And, we know that there are many unique ways to record reading. Every student that took on the reading challenge kept track of his or her reading in a different way. We appreciate our students' creativity and love seeing all the wonderful books they read over the summer. Here are just a few examples:

Core Values in the Library

Our students understand the ASD Core Values. During our first sessions together, students brainstormed in groups to consider how we can bring the core values to life in the library. Take a look at some of the ways students show compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility and excellence in the the ES Library:

11 Jun 2019

Announcing Visiting Authors 2020

ASD Libraries are thrilled to announce an amazing line up of visiting authors in March 2020. Three talented and diverse authors will work with our learning community: Aisha Saeed, Tracey Baptiste and Loren Long.

Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author. She wrote Written in the Stars, which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel Amal Unbound, a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick and Amazon Best Book of the Month, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018.

Aisha also has a forthcoming picture book Bilal Cooks Daal. Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel.

Tracey Baptiste is an author, editor and teacher. New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash, as well as the creepy Caribbean series The Jumbies, which includes The Jumbies (2015), Rise of the Jumbies (2017), and The Jumbie God’s Revenge (scheduled for 2019).

Baptiste has also written the contemporary YA novel Angel’s Grace and nine non-fiction books for kids in elementary through high school.

Tracey is a former elementary school teacher, frequent author visitor to schools and libraries, and is on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

Loren Long is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling picture books Otis, Otis and the Tornado, Otis and the Puppy, An Otis Christmas and Otis and the Scarecrow.

He is the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of President Barack Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing, the re-illustrated edition of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, and Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna. Loren's Little Tree, is a picture book for all ages.

He has most recently illustrated Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown and Love by Newbery Medalist, Matt de la Peña.

29 May 2019

Game On: Summer Reading Challenge 2019

Design your own Summer Reading Game! Choose a game board and then advance according to the guidelines below. You choose your game, you choose your books. Feel free to make up your own as well.

Color in the spaces on the board as you advance and keep track of your titles on the recording sheet. How you construct your summer reading challenge is entirely up to you!

Visit the Game On document to download or print all of the materials you need to get started with your summer challenge. And read on to find out more about how it all works...

Step One - Choose a game board. Select from the samples below or find another board you like. You can even use your creativity and draw your own game board.

Step Two - Start reading! As you read, advance on your game board based on the following guidelines. You can jot titles right on the board or you can color or number.

Step Three - Record the titles as you read. Use the chart provided or create your own list. You may record the books in any way that works for you.

When you return to school after the summer, please submit your reading challenge record to the library by Thursday, August 29th, 2019. All students will receive a certificate of achievement for completing the summer reading challenge. Happy reading. Game on!

28 May 2019

Worms in the Library?!

It actually makes perfect sense. Worms in the library. What better place to investigate and inquire about a topic most students know very little about? Ms. Carden from the Garden was kind enough to offer the library a chance to host an earthworm farm. Students were given the opportunity to hold, touch or just observe the worms.

The excitement is off the charts! Many students LOVE to hold the worms! They love to watch them wiggle and feel the cool movement in their hand. And, we are learning so many unexpected and amazing facts about worms. Did you know that worms have five hearts? Or that worms lay their eggs in tiny cocoons? In fact, we have dozens of cocoons in our worm farm right now. We also figured out how to identify an adult worm versus a young worm.

Most interestingly, we have learned how important worms are in their ecosystem. Worms have important work to do helping breakdown matter in the soil and helping to provide plants with air, water and fertilizer. Many students are surprised to discover that worms, which they may have been afraid of previously, are actually helpful and gentle.

Without prompting, many students are choosing to investigate worms using books and digital resources. Students are drawing worms, labeling diagrams, telling stories and even naming their new friends. We are researchers and naturalists in our library!

We love how curious and interested our learners are about our new library visitors. Look out for more about the worm farm. All are welcome to visit and do some investigating of your own. 

K1 Student Inquiry

As K1 students investigated living things and their environment, students began to ask many interesting questions. For example, the K1 Stars and Ducklings wondered, "Why are there so many insects in our garden at school?" The students wondered how they could find answers to their questions. So, a small group of students visited the library to do some research! We discussed where researchers can  we could find information - in books and in online resources.

Using a variety of insect books and a digital resource, PebbleGo, students searched for reasons why they were finding so many insects in the garden. When we found answers, we drew pictures to show our learning or wrote notes with the help of a teacher.

PebbleGo is a perfect resource for K1 researchers with it's read aloud features. Check it out at home to learn about all kinds of Science and Social Studies topics.

Students were excited and engaged during the research process. Because the students came up with their own question, they were determined to find answers. The students were also eager to share their findings with the larger class group.

Another question a group of students had was around uses of plants. Students were curious about how the cotton plant was turned into clothing. We researched the process of farming, harvesting, and cleaning the cotton, and finally spinning the cotton into yarn and thread. We used videos and photos to identify the important steps in the process. The group went back to the class and shared their learning.

The K1 Camels wanted to learn about turtles! The had dozens of questions about where turtles live, how baby turtles and born, what turtles eat and why turtles have patterns on their shells. We worked together to find fascinating answers to our questions.


The power of student driven inquiry! Our youngest researchers are able to find answers to their own questions. Along the way, they are learning important research, collaboration and presentation skills. We can't wait for the next question...

15 May 2019

Stick Together: Collaborative, Creative Fun

Our students in the ES Library are always ready for something new and fun - but we did not anticipate HOW much our students would love StickTogether projects!

Last week, we placed our first StickTogether poster on a board flat on a table. We organized the stickers to help students find the correct color for each letter. And that was it. No instructions were needed. A few students got started straight away in the morning before school and once the first examples were stuck down, there was a frenzy of activity. Students worked together throughout recesses and after school. Students from K2 - Grade 5 placed stickers on the grid. In 24 hours it was complete!

Here is how it works:

The StickTogether team tell us that the idea is simple: "Grab some stickers, check the color key and apply the stickers to the color key coded grid to reveal an eye-popping image. Create a shared magical moment that actively involves everyone and ignites enthusiasm and fulfillment. Perfect for any group setting!" And they are true to their word!

Watch our time lapse video to see how the image comes alive:

And, stay tuned for our next StickTogether poster...

1 May 2019

Poetry-A-Thon 2019

The goal was to read poetry all day long in the ES Library. Thanks to many, many of our wonderful students and teachers, our mission was accomplished! Seven hours of poetry reading took place in our library throughout the day on Tuesday, April 30. 

A range of original poetry and selected favorites was read by students from K2 through Grade 5. And, students of all ages joined us to listen and gives snaps to their peers. 

Highlights included the K2 Forest Friends class' presentation of color poems, 2H and Ms. Wallin's sharing of their original poem and song about treating our Earth with love and compassion, and Mr. Brown's sharing of "Characters Change."

Thank you to all who joined in the fun celebration of poetry.

24 Mar 2019

Visiting Authors Spark Inspiration

Our first week of workshops with Laura Vaccaro Seeger and William Kamkwamba were nothing short of AMAZING! Students were inspired to write, draw, design, build and inquire. 

With Laura, many students created cut-out books inspired by the books The Hidden Alphabet and First the Egg. Laura challenged our students to think differently, to think about the "empty space" and design a letter hidden within a picture. Some students drew portraits using the letters in their names just like Laura did in her book Walter Was Worried. We were all thrilled to learn more about Laura's creative process, intentional design and the meaning behind many of her beautiful picture books.

William's workshops gave students the opportunity to build side-by-side with him. Students were asked to consider a local problem in the UAE and to design a prototype to help solve the problem. Some of the students ideas included litter management, stray pet solutions, water conservation, and ocean cleaning. Of course, many students also wanted to build prototypes of windmills, just like William. Students loved asking William questions about his life in Malawi and his design process.

14 Mar 2019

Visiting Authors Celebrations Starting Next Week

Our Visiting Authors celebrations kick off next week! Students are buzzing with excitement and anticipation of meeting Laura Vaccaro Seeger and William Kamkwamba.

We are thrilled to offer several opportunities for families to enjoy together.

Books for Sale and Signing

A range of titles available from AED 30 - 70 by both Laura and William. You may also bring in your personal copies and we will have them signed for you.

Special Film Screening of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Tuesday, March 19
ASD Theater: 6pm  
Q&A to follow with William Kamkwamba
Free Admission

Family Book Making Workshop with Laura Seeger
Tuesday, March 26 
ES Library: 3:30 - 4:30pm

Our students showed their readership of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by creating an origami windmill. Each windmill on the windows of the the library represents a reader of the book. Please come by the library to add to our growing collection.

We also created a piece of art inspired by Laura's book The Hidden Alphabet. Each student wrote his or her name on the "ASD Hidden Alphabet" canvas. Come and take a look!

26 Feb 2019

Visiting Authors: Community Opportunities

Visiting Authors Book Sale and Signing

The Elementary Library will have a limited selection of books by our visiting authors available for sale from March 4-8. We have several titles available by both Laura Vaccaro Seeger and William Kamkwamba, some hardback and some paperback, ranging in price from AED 30 to AED 70. Students and parents are welcome to visit throughout the school day to purchase books.

Would you like to have your books signed by our visiting authors? When you purchase a book, we will label it with the name that you would like to include in the dedication. The books will then be delivered to your child's classroom before March 28. If you have books at home or would like to purchase them elsewhere, you may also bring these books into the ES Library to be signed.

Film Screening of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

We are thrilled to offer a screening of the newly released film adaptation of William Kamkwamba's The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Join us on Tuesday, March 19 at 6pm in the ASD Theater. A Question and Answer session will follow with William Kamkwamba himself. Families of students Grade 4 and up are encouraged to attend. Please note that the film has a US rating of PG11. Watch the official film trailer here.

Family Book Making Workshop with Laura Seeger

Join us on Tuesday, March 26 in the ES Library from 3:30pm - 4:30pm for a Family Book Making Workshop with Laura Seeger. Children will have the opportunity to create and cut-out or flap book in the style of Laura's work. It will be a fun, hands-on opportunity for families to be book makers together.

14 Feb 2019

Breakout Edu: Unlocking Learning as a Team

This week, Grade 4 students have been engrossed in problem solving using Breakout Edu. Students worked in groups to solve a series of puzzles based around our visiting author Laura Vaccaro Seeger's books. The puzzles revealed the codes needed to unlock a series of padlocks and open the breakout box. A fun surprise of origami materials was hidden inside each box.

Breakout Edu kits aim to help design learning experiences that "bring the 4 Cs alive: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication." The student groups that were the most successful with the Breakout challenge worked together as a team, carefully read the clues, checked for understanding with their teammates and recorded their thinking as they worked through the puzzles.

Teams were jumping and cheering with joy as they solved each lock code. The excitement was tangible in the room. Many students asked, "When can we do this again?!" Some students also wanted to know how to set the locks and wondered if they could try designing their own challenges.

This is just the beginning of the powerful learning that we can experience with Breakout Edu. We can't wait to do more!

12 Feb 2019

Visiting Authors Coming Soon

We will soon welcome our Visiting Authors, William Kamkwamba and Laura Vaccarro Seeger. From March 17 - 28, William and Laura will engage our learning community with workshops and presentations.

William Kamkwamba's memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a New York Times Bestseller and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, is uniquely available in three formats - a picture book, middle grade novel and adult novel. William's story has inspired many as it shows how even in the face of hardship a child's idea can change the world. We invite our ASD community to participate in a One School, One Book celebration - a shared reading experience - with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

When fourteen-year-old William’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, food and money were scarce. Unable to attend school, William spent days in the library, researching and dreaming of bringing electricity to his village. William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps and became a hero who harnessed the wind.

After an invitation to join TEDGlobal as a fellow, William graduated from Dartmouth College in 2014 and began work at Ideo.org. William's time at Ideo focused on Human Centered Design and sent him around the world working on projects ranging from sanitation in India to gender-based violence prevention in Kenya. He is now working with WiderNet to develop appropriate technology curriculum that will allow people to bridge the gap between "knowing" and "doing". WiderNet will distribute the content through eGranaries around Malawi and across Africa. His Moving Windmills Project uses donations to support community initiatives in Malawi.

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a best-selling and award-winning creator of 19 children's books. Her books such as Green, First the Egg, What If? and Lemons Are Not Red are full of surprises that delight her readers. With features including flaps, cut-outs, and hidden pictures, each book is unique and interactive. 

Laura is a two-time winner of the Caldecott Honor Award, winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book, and a 2-time winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award. She is also the recipient of both the Massachusetts Reading Association and the New York Empire State awards for “Body of Work and Contribution to Children’s Literature”.

Laura’s paintings have been exhibited at many museums and galleries including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the Mazza Museum of Picture Book Art, the New York Public Library, and the New York Nassau County Museum of Art. Laura earned her BFA degree at the School of Fine Art and Design at the State University of New York. She began her career as an animator, artist, designer, and editor NBC and ABC and won an Emmy Award for an opening animation for an NBC Special.

Look out for more information about our Visiting Authors celebrations in the coming weeks.

27 Jan 2019

Maker Mindset in the Library

Our Elementary students have embraced the maker mindset in the library. Students visiting the library during class time or in their free time are diving in to investigations and play with a variety of materials. As a school, ASD has defined what "maker" means to us:

Maker Mindset @ ASD:

Question everything. Be curious. Think with your hands. Embrace failure.
Explore. Create. Tinker. Invent. Design. Experiment. Construct. Play. DO!

And how do we bring this mindset to life in the library? Through student choice and agency; students can drive their own learning and pursue personal interests. A variety of books, digital tools and materials are available and the students bring their own ideas and questions.

Over the first semester, we observed students elevate their creativity, work cooperatively and push their play to new heights. They are often using multiple materials in their creations such as building mazes for beebot robots, making tents to climb inside and read, designing a soccer game with Spheros and Keva planks and building a Christmas tree with dowels, rubber bands and art materials.

When classes visit the library, students choose from our "ASD Library Daily Menu." Students are able to make a choice as to which activity is right for them on that particular day.

Students practice making choices - one day may be book selection, another may be continuing a project with a friend and another it may be some independent exploration. Teachers and librarians support students in finding a balance that is best for each individual learner.

Libraries around the world are expanding learning opportunities for their patrons - both school and public libraries. As a K-12 Library team, we continue to research best practice for libraries around the world, and we continue to listen to and observe our unique community of learners. 

An article from Edutopia by Josh Weisgrau outlines some important reasons why libraries are becoming champions of the maker mindset:

  • Makerspaces and libraries are sites of informal learning.
  • Libraries and makerspaces are inherently interdisciplinary spaces.
  • Libraries and makerspaces provide equitable access to materials and resources.
  • Makerspaces and libraries are more than just resource closets.
  • Libraries and makerspaces serve the common goal of building community.