Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Programming Spotlight: Knitting It Together!







On Monday, February 11th, School Outreach Librarian Leigh Hurwitz brought a little bit of the Brooklyn Public Library to Passages Academy's Belmont site through a knitting program for our placement girls groups.  Leigh described all that BPL has to offer including programs for teens.   They distributed needles and yarn for the girls to keep and instructed them in the craft of knitting.

Said one student participant (T., age 17) who had just received a new library card from Leigh: “I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t go to the library before on the outside.  But now I’m gonna go to keep myself from getting in trouble. Honestly, I like to read.”

Thank you to Leigh and BPL for initiating the program, and to LIT for the funding to ensure all participants left with knitting needles and yarn!--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, February 1, 2019

Programming Spotlight: Passages' BIG (little) READ 2019


Today is our Big (little) Read!  We're all devouring the webcomic She Dared to be Herself: Shirley Chisholm's Legacy by Whit Taylor and Shannon Wright published by The Nib.  Won't you join us?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Programming Spotlight: Patricia McCormick Returns to Belmont in the Dead of Winter

Since the start of the new year colleagues Mr. Villaronga and Ms. Nadel have been teaching Cut by Patricia McCormick to two groups of ELA students. On January 17th and January 30th students in those classes were graced with a chance to meet the author herself!  Rounding out the instructional efforts were myself, Mr. Morgan, Social Worker and Transition Specialist, and Ms. Bernard, Reading Specialist.  Mr. Morgan helped students prepare for the potentially challenging subject matter with a mini-lesson on triggers and coping, and a discussion of self-harm.  

Students were moved by the author's candid replies to the questions they had prepared and are writing thank you notes we will send out this weekend.  All participating students left the program with a short stack of McCormick's most popular titles which the author autographed to each young person. We are so grateful to the author for sharing so much of her genuine warmth and piles of cozy reading during these freezing weeks.  Special thanks to Literacy for Incarcerated Teens for the funding to host the event and provide the volumes.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Programming Preparations Underway

Today we are excited to get students ready for our Big (little) Read which will take place on Monday, February 4th.  Teachers at all of Passages' sites are preparing students by introducing vocabulary words through the ever-popular word search activity.  We've prepared three levels of word searches at increasing levels of difficulty, and Ms. Latham has created a nifty anticipation guide to gauge students' perceptions and inspire deeper explorations in discussion.--The Shirley Chisholm Mini-Interdisciplinary Co-planning Team

Friday, January 11, 2019

College Awareness Day 2019

In our libraries today we are celebrating College Awareness Day 2019 by highlighting our print college resources.  We have several copies of the College Board's College Handbook which can be a challenge for students to navigate.  I find it's best to work 1:1 with interested students, teaching them how to utilize the book and listening to their college-bound hopes and dreams.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, January 4, 2019

Happy New Year!

On Thursday, December 20th, some of us teachers at Belmont (pictured above: Mr. Bent, Ms. Bernard, Ms. Leibusor, Ms. Chau and Ms. Ikawa) chaperoned two groups of detention students to the New Victory Theater to behold the spectacle of Circus Abyssinia.  We're back at work, and I, for one, am refreshed and looking forward to all of the reading, wondering, learning, collaborating and programming ahead in 2019. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Programming Spotlight: New Victory Pre-theater Workshops



The stupendous Janet Onyenucheya and marvelous Chad Beckim, teaching artists with the New Victory Theater, visited with all detention classes yesterday to conduct pre-theater workshops.  Students experimented with various circus arts, learned a few eskista dance moves, and reviewed theater etiquette.  Participants seemed energized and enthusiastic about looking forward to the upcoming school trip to see Circus Abyssinia. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Monday, December 17, 2018

Programming Spotlight: Velocity



Last month students in St. John's advisory had the pleasure of attending a performance of Velocity at the New Victory theater.  Prior to the trip, teaching artists Chad Beckim and Taylor Britt joined us inside Belmont's library to prepare students with some tap dancing lessons, pictured above.  So much fun! --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Monday, October 15, 2018

Zine Release: How To Be Humble

Excitingly, Norman Adams' "How to be Humble" zine was published today, just in time for the zombie invasion of our school library at Belmont.  The Walking Dead comic-turned-cultural-phenomenon was celebrated all weekend at comic book stores across America and it's so nice to be included.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Puerto Rico Strong: A Comics Anthology Supporting Puerto Rico Disaster Relief and Recovery Edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz



In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria upon Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017,  it’s hard not to appreciate some graphic attention in an imaginative and inspiring comic by Marco Lopez et al,  set in the year 2062,  that begins with the line,

“Ok, children!  Activate your AR headgear and we’ll begin our tour of the Diaspora of the Puerto Rican People,  20th -22nd centuries.”

This is the lovely premise of “Pasitos Grandes” by Tristan J. Tarwater and Cynthia Santos. The gorgeous colors, full of purples, teals and magentas, make the journey all the more appealing, and hint at the variety that’s in store for intrepid readers of this thick, full-color anthology.

Other highlights for teachers include the text-heavy “A Broken P.R.O.M.E.S.A.” by Rosa Colon and “La Casita of American Heroes” by Anthony Ortero.  

One of the most accessible stories,   both visually and textually is “Taino Online” by Joamette Gil,  which also serves as a great entry point for inquiry work.  However,  the best thing about an anthology like this which bears the marks of excellent editors,  is the many treasures waiting for students to discover for themselves. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Lopez, Marco, et al.  Puerto Rico Strong: A Comics Anthology Supporting Puerto Rico Disaster Relief and Recovery.  St. Louis: Lion Forge, 2018.  Print.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Programming Spotlight: Hispanic Heritage Month



Today at Belmont four groups of students engaged in multi-dimensional learning in a program honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.  

Kicking off four weeks of study, we asked students to activate schema around Latin America, and then challenged them to put together a Latin America geography puzzle.  When the puzzle was completed we asked students what they noticed and then instructed them to generate a list of questions they have about Latin America and its people.  --Lori Ikawa and Jessica Fenster-Sparber





Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Welcome back!




So much to read and it’s only September!  We’re optimistic that it’s going to be a great (school) year for reading.  Sit tight and don’t go away--we’ll be right back with more reviews, more programs, and, you know, more of what’s good. --Claudio Leon and Jessica Fenster-Sparber