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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Letter to Staff re My Weeding Process

Dearest Memorial Staff Members,

My amazing mentor, Susan Disanto, puts it best, “Like movies, books have a shelf life.” I am in the process of weeding our library. At this time, I have only finished weeding the picture books. Although there are various exceptions, here is my typical weeding criteria:

  • 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 is stained, smelly, and/or has broken bindings and/or torn pages, I may have weeded it.
  • Copyright Date: if the book is outdated, I may have weeded it.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.

In the May 2016 issue of American Libraries: The Magazine of the American Library Association is a helpful article, “Weeding without Worry: Transparency and communication helps ease weeding woes.” Rebecca Vnuk advises 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to, “explain that the library is making room for new materials, making the shelves easier to navigate, and replacing outdated information with current information.”

Weeded picture books and magazines
During your class library time, or anytime, during the rest of the school year, please go into the book room to take any of the weeded books you would like for your classroom library. The weeded books are on the left with a weeded book sign and will be organized alphabetically. (Please place a sticker over the library barcode, indicating your class, so the weeded books don’t come back to the library.) Please also invite any students into the book room to take books they would like to keep at home. The remaining weeded books will be donated to Big Hearted Books on June 16th. Disclaimer: I’m still not finished so please check the book room often. This tedious process is taking me a long, LONG time.

Please add any books (old and/or new) you’d like me to purchase for the library onto this document. And please remind students that they can request books we don’t yet have, or are not in, through their Follett Destiny account.

If you have any questions, comments, and/or concerns, please let me know.


Check out: Jennifer LeGarde's Keeping Your Collection Smelling F.R.E.S.H

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.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chapter One Reflection of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Deb Dressler, the Memorial Elementary School principal, started a staff book discussion on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I'm loving the book and the discussions. 

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, 
even (or especially) when it's not going well, 
is the hallmark of the growth mindset. 
This is the mindset that allows people to thrive 
during some of the most challenging times in their lives. (p. 7)

My biggest mantra, thanks to Don Murray, is "Trust the process!" To trust the process ourselves and instill this skill into our students is so important yet incredibly difficult to embrace in our society, especially in the school culture. Even though it's difficult, I believe it's totally possible.

I love, love, love to model the reflection process to students and give them time to set academic, social, and emotional goals as well as to reflect often. Thanks to the gradual release of responsibility, if we guide students to set goals and reflect, they may learn to embrace and automatically practice these important skills beyond school into the real world.

When I started teaching, my students created their portfolios in binders. (While teaching at North Hampton School and Kensington Elementary School, my students conducted Student Led Conferences at the end of the year to share their learning process and current goals.) Now Google Forms, Classroom, and Blogger makes the portfolio/reflection process SO MUCH BETTER AND EASIER! (I don't miss binders at all.) I love that students at Memorial have their own portfolios using Blogger. I hope to assist teachers and students at Memorial to trust the process even more.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dinner with Pam: A Discussion about Learning Commons

Last night I had dinner with my good friend, Pam Harland aka @PamLibrarian. Even though we got together for personal reasons, we couldn’t help but delve into many professional discussions. (Pam wrote The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library and is a national speaker.)

We discussed many aspects of libraries. As always, Pam continued to blow my mind. Her statement that has resonated with me the most was, “Libraries used to be designed for consumers and now they need to be designed for creators.” YES! That’s why all libraries should be transformed into learning commons. I want to work in a space designed for students (by students, teachers, parents, administration, and librarian) so that they have everything they want and need to learn by creating.

As a classroom teacher, I would have loved my students to have such a space to use.  Now, as a teacher librarian, I want to create a learning commons for students to question, explore, read, write, collaborate, get messy, learn by mistakes, reflect, thus grow.

We intended to take a selfie once we left Martingale Wharf...oops, we forgot!