Friday, September 14, 2018

Play with Puppy

This post was originally published on

I read Steven Layne (author) and Ard Hoyt’s (illustrator) brand new book, Play with Puppy, to most students at Pine Glen this week. The kids love, love, love it!

Some student reviews:

“I like how the words matched the drawings.” - Liam

“I love how Steven used ‘everybunny’ instead of ‘everybody’ was so funny!” -Morgan

“I like how a bunny wanted a puppy...usually bunnies and puppies don’t like each other.” -Addie

“I think Steven did a great job making the story realistic because at first the main character didn’t like his puppy so much, because he took too much of his time, and then at the end, he realized how much he loves his puppy.” -Lena

“I love how much effort and detail Steven and Ard put into Play with Puppy.” -Sophia

“It was cute and funny and adorable and I can’t even describe how much I love it.” -Sam

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tearing Down the Dividing Wall & Painting the Walls with Student Selected Colors: 2nd post of the Pine Glen Learning Commons Transformation Blog Series

This blog post was originally published at

The old Pine Glen Learning Commons space consisted of a small room and a larger room.

Last summer, the Burlington Public Schools Maintenance Department (Steve Zarba, Neil Guanci, and Lee Nichols) demolished the dividing wall. They painted the walls with colors for which students voted. The paint color options were given to us by CDowning Interiors who studied our space.  

See what different a missing wall and paint color can make? More to come on the new bookshelves and furniture.

Access the first blog post in the series, Weeding the Collection: 1st post of the Pine Glen Learning Commons Transformation Blog Series, here.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Weeding the Collection: 1st post of the Pine Glen Learning Commons Transformation Blog Series

This blog post was originally published at

Having a relevant book collection is essential for students to find books they want to read. My amazing mentor, Susan Disanto (the previous Burlington High School teacher librarian), put it best, “Like movies, books have a shelf life.”
I used the following criteria to weed the collection:
  • Circulation: if the book has been only checked out a couple of times during the last five years, I may have weeded it.
  • Condition: if the book was stained, smelly, and/or had broken bindings and/or torn pages, I may have weeded it.
  • Copyright Date: if the book was outdated, I may have weeded it.
  • Quantity: if we had multiple copies of wonderful books such as The Little Engine That Could, I may have weeded some and left one. We only need multiple copies of titles with high circulation.
I love Jennifer Lagarde’s, “ just weed it” motto. I heard Jennifer speak about weeding library collections at a New Hampshire School Library Media Association conference a few years ago. Here is her Keeping Your Library Collection Smelling F.R.E.S.H! blog post I review every time I start to weed.

The May 2016 issue of American Libraries: The Magazine of the American Library Association included a helpful article, “Weeding without Worry: Transparency and communication helps ease weeding woes.” Rebecca Vnuk advised librarians to, “explain that the library is making room for new materials, making the shelves easier to navigate, and replacing outdated information with current information.” As always, I purchase current books as well as student and teacher requested books.

I donate weeded books to Big Hearted Books. Their mission is to, “keep books, media, clothing, and other reusable items out of landfills by getting them back into the hands of people who can use them."

Big Hearted Books collecting weeded books from the Pine Glen Collection.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Even though I’m an Apple girl (I love and use all Apple products), as a educator, I generally prefer students to have Chromebooks rather than iPads because Chromebooks have keyboards. I want students to have access to keyboards so they can type more quickly, easily, and accurately. Just like with cycle of reading, the more students write, the more they enjoy to write, the better writers they become... Burlington Public Schools just got 1-to-1 keyboards for 3-5th graders to complement their 1-to-1 iPads. I’m thrilled that we now have the best of both worlds.

One of the things I miss most about being a classroom teacher is holding writing workshops with my students. I’m using the writing workshop in grades 3-5 for the next couple of months to help students learn to use their keyboards well. I’m really stoked about this.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Google’s Expeditions

This blog post was originally posted here by AppsEvents on April 8, 2016.
Bring Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program to Your School!
Written by Allison Mollica and Rachel Small

Google has developed an economical way for schools to virtually visit attractions all throughout the world. Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program created over a hundred curriculum based 3D virtual field trips for teachers to guide students through various destinations using Google Cardboard and an inexpensive device.

It was a wild day of @GoogleForEdu’s #GoogleExpeditions at Memorial Elementary School in Burlington, MA. Last week, Burlington Public School students from grades 2-8 worked with various Expeditions ranging from Biomes, Historic Philadelphia, Famous US Landmarks, Canada, Desert Habitats, Landforms, Taj Mahal, and Coral Reef...  

Sean Musselman leading third grade students through
various rooms of the Staten Island Transfer Station.

Using Google’s Expeditions technology (and his schema), Sean Musselman (BPS Science Specialist) directed students to various areas of the Staten Island Transfer Station in New York, New York while sharing information and essential questions given to him via the Expeditions app. Many heartfelt “oohs” and “ahhhs” came from students and teachers. Sean led third and fifth grade students on a tour of the recycling process starting with throwing trash away, working its way through the recycling plant, and then getting loaded for delivery to production facilities. As Sean talked about aseptic (e.g. milk, orange juice) materials and how they go through the recycling plant, students focused directly on a 3D image of the actual plant. Sean and the students discussed how bales are transported to the paper mill to be turned into paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, etc.

Expeditions Recycling
Virtual Reality Panorama Titles
1 - Staten Island Transfer Station
2 - Rail Yard
3 - Sims Municipal Recycling Center
4 - Bale Storage Building
5 - Lower East Side Ecology Center
6 - Gowanus EWaste Warehouse

Ali, a fifth grader, recalled, “It was really cool we could explore and discover different places in one room. I felt as if I were there!”

Sean Musselman teaching fifth grade students about the recycling process.

Tyler C. said, “I like going places virtually because we can go almost anywhere to learn without leaving the comfort of our own school or risk getting hurt at the sites.”

Tyler taking comfort as he visits Historic Philadelphia.

Rozzi exclaimed, “I love Google Expeditions. It really helps us learn about places we may not ever be able to actually go.”

Our Expeditions Timeline

Hope & Dream

  • Over winter vacation, Rachel Small (Memorial’s Teacher Librarian) indicated Memorial’s interest for Google’s Expeditions here


  • Expeditions asked Rachel to submit a schedule proposal that met all requirements as well as a contract signed by Deb Dressler (Memorial’s Principal)
  • Deb Dressler, Paula Weldon (Technology Integrator), and Rachel created a schedule proposal
    • Expeditions requires 18-20 sessions throughout the day. Memorial Elementary School could only come up with 16 sessions because grades 2, 3, 4, & 5 have four classes each.  (Expeditions is only for children ages 7 and up.) We invited a couple of Marshall Simonds Middle School classes to come experience a few Expeditions.
    • Katie Bercury (BPS Social Studies Coach) and Sean Musselman (BPS science specialist) documented all applicable expeditions that fit BPS social studies and science curriculum by grade level
    • Teachers selected the Expeditions they wanted their students to experience
  • Expeditions accepted our schedule proposal and sent confirmation

Google’s Expeditions Day

  • Alex, an awesome Google’s Expeditions associate, brought everything we needed that included Google Cardboard and phones for 60 students and two tablets to run the phones. Once a tablet is set to a destination, the phones travel accordingly.
  • Alex taught participating educators about the app in a quick 15 minute training session at the beginning of the day
  • Two concurrent 30 minute Expedition sessions ran throughout the day. (There was a required hour lunch break in the middle of the sessions in order to charge the phones!)
  • Allison Mollica, as well as many members of the BPS EdTech Team, came to observe and help.


  • Students reflected upon their experience using this Google Slides Template that can be found in Slides if you are a Google Apps for Education School.

More information about the Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program can be found here.

Allison Mollica is a Google Certified: Educator, Innovator, Administrator, & Education Trainer as well as a Secondary Virtual Instructor of Computers and Web Design and an educational technology leader, facilitator & enthusiast! Allison has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has a Master's in Technology in Education and Advanced Certificate in Online Instruction through Lesley University, Boston, MA.  @AMollica can be found on Twitter.

Rachel Small is the Teacher Librarian at Memorial Elementary School in Burlington, Massachusetts. She has been a fifth grade teacher, curriculum coordinator/ literacy coach, and middle school English instructor. Rachel is also a presenter, education/ technology/ social media consultant, and a Google for Education Certified Trainer. She is extremely passionate about helping teachers blend the best practices of literacy with connected learning while trusting the process. @RachelVSmall can be found on Twitter.