At the heart of our school is the Perrine Library, an open sunny space that welcomes everyone in the community. The library houses an extensive collection of literature, reference materials, new fiction, classic selections, and multimedia. Students in every grade visit the library regularly. From kindergarten through sixth grade, children attend a library session once per cycle; in 7th-9th grades, teachers make arrangements to bring classes to the library during major research projects. Our expert librarians conduct read-alouds, support students’ book selections, and lead classes in literary analysis and research skills. They also get to know each child’s preferences and interests so that they can offer personalized recommendations.
During their regular visits to the library, kindergarteners listen and participate actively in read-alouds and storytelling. The librarians lead conversations that encourage children to access prior knowledge about books. Lessons include identification of parts of books (illustrations, end papers, page layout, etc.) and comparisons between fiction and nonfiction. Children learn to connect new ideas to information that they already know.
First graders’ lessons in the library are aligned with their growing independence as readers. Children learn about the organization of the library—the sections and locations where different categories of books are shelved. They spend more time browsing and choosing “just right” books to borrow. They become familiar with sections of particular interest and topics connected to their curriculum.
Second grade students begin to use the nonfiction collections in a more purposeful way. They learn to locate specific information in a book by using the index or table of contents. They become more adept at understanding genres of literature and learn about the various awards given to exemplary works. A highlight of the year is voting for a selection in one category of children’s literature.
Third graders become increasingly familiar with the collection codes of our library. They browse freely and explore the various sections of the library, building on prior experience and becoming familiar with certain sections of interest. With guidance, they examine illustrations, endpapers, page layout and typeface to develop appreciation of the physical qualities of books and the choices authors and illustrators make in creating a work.
As their reading, writing and keyboard skills expand, fourth graders use the online catalog for locating desired materials. They begin to differentiate between fact and opinion in nonfiction texts. Students also gain research skills by selecting topics, recognizing the need for background knowledge, and brainstorming questions to clarify the topic and the information they require. They learn proper citation formats and practice organizing information from sources by text marking, paraphrasing and summarizing the information in notes and outlines.
Library classes in fifth grade focus on expanding students’ research capabilities. Librarians lead discussions and model processes for generating questions aimed at drawing conclusions and making inferences. Students practice finding the information they need by creating suitable search strategies, using keywords effectively, then proceeding to use guide words and headings to more quickly find the specific information they need to answer their questions. Students also learn to evaluate the relevance and reliability of sources.
Computer coding is an interactive, hands-on pursuit at Foote. For a third grade STEM project, students design robots using LEGOs and program their movements using click-and-drag Scratch coding.