Class Links:

Fourth Grade American Revolution Videos -- click here
Fourth Grade Biomes/Ecosystems research-- click here!
Fourth Grade Social Studies research-- click here!
Second Grade Chinatown research-- click here!

Do You Know What Your Son Is Up To Online?

posted Jan 10, 2018, 11:30 PM by Kim Stuart   [ updated Jan 18, 2018, 3:31 PM ]

There are two possible paths before us — one in which we destroy what is great about the Internet and about how young people use it, and one in which we make smart choices and head toward a bright future in a digital age…. On one of these paths, we seek to constrain their creativity, self-expres
sion, and innovation in public and private spheres; on the other, we embrace these things while minimizing the dangers that come with the new era. 
- John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

Teens do not remember a time without iPhones and social media. They are history's first digital natives, so to help parents navigate the new reality for kids, Town held the Teens and Technology event on December 7, 2017. Several parents gathered with Laura Donahue, Upper School Parent Catalyst, and Kim Stuart, Director of Library Services, to explore the role of technology in teens' lives. The goal of the evening was to equip parents with knowledge about what teens might be doing online in order to help them make smart choices. 

Teens and Technology December 7, 2017

First the group learned about terms like "swatting" and "FINSTA," and Laura shared findings from Common Sense Media's Cyberbullying & Digital Drama: Mean by Mistake presentation. The biggest takeaway was that there exists a paradox: technology use is linked to teen depression and insomnia, while also contributing to feelings of innovation and social connection. There seems to be a fine line between technology use and abuse, and it is up to parents and educators to lead children to make positive choices. 

Then event participants read scenarios in small groups based on real events and discuss ways to address common problems teens face. One particularly poignant scenario involved a hypothetical student who was exhibiting addictive behavior to video games, which caused him to become isolated from family and peers. Solutions to this problem was simply to have devices in a common area near other family members. The common thread for all strategies across scenarios was to promote transparency, establish boundaries, and spark conversation between teens and adults. 

Town believes that teen technology use is best navigated through proactive conversations with and preemptive guidelines from the adults in teens' lives. Town has many resources to support this and hope that you will join us at future events further exploring this topic. Please reach out to Matt Mena-Landry, Director of Educational Technology, Kim Stuart, Director of Library Services, or Laura Donahue and Keval Desai, Town School Parent Catalysts, if you have questions. 

Events - 
  • Common Sense Media's San Francisco Teen Panel: Notes to My Middle School Self on January 18, 2018, 8:30am – 10am, at Town (register here)
  • Lower School Kids and Technology will be oFebruary 28, 2018, 6pm – 7pm; please check your email for more details on that closer to the date. 
Online resources - 

Kindergarten takes on the 40 Book Challenge!

posted Nov 27, 2017, 8:56 AM by Julie Alonso   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 12:12 PM ]

This school year, Ms. Stuart launched the 40 Book Challenge in grades Three through Eight. This was very mindfully done to build a culture of reading in the older grades where often students become so busy, readership drops off. The challenge, a personal one and not a contest, where the prize-- an extra spot on one's library account for more books-- simply provides more access to reading, has been popular and visible, not just in the library where we have a display dedicated to the different genres, but also in the Upper School hallway, where teachers spent a day modeling taking part in the challenge, and in various classrooms, where teachers are posting their progress as they work their way through the challenge.

Even the youngest students at Town have heard talk of the challenge and want to participate. In Second Grade, we do a modified version (Reading around the Library), and of course everyone who asks to participate is welcome to do so-- we have a shelf in the library by the 40 Book Challenge display dedicated to the materials (forms and accomplishment stickers). Having said that, we aren't promoting the challenge in K-2 due to the nature of reading at this age. Books are so much shorter for beginning readers, and genres are not as defined. 

Even so, one of our Kindergarten classes was eager to participate and decided to do their own version of the 40 Book Challenge! KA teacher Ms. Calkins switched up the genres to make them more Kindergarten-friendly (no dystopian books in K!). With each new read-aloud, they discuss the different genres and read the books as a class and then each book is added to their list.

Thanks, KA, for taking the initiative in adapting this challenge to our youngest readers! By taking on this challenge as a class and displaying their reading, they are fostering a culture of reading in their classroom.

If you are interested in this challenge but daunted by the genre restrictions, don't be! Switch it up! Make it work for you like KA did. After all, this is a personal challenge. Any reading is good reading!

We Now Have OverDrive!

posted Nov 8, 2017, 1:17 PM by Kim Stuart

The Town School Library is excited to announce that we now have access to OverDrive,
an online collection of thousands of ebooks!  

Our OverDrive collection is located on When signing into the website, choose Town School for Boys from the dropdown menu and sign in using your Destiny Quest/Follett login

You also can download the OverDrive appSearch for Town School in the OverDrive app, and there will be a few steps before being able to browse your digital collection. Help with these steps (depending on the device being used) can be found here.

If you need more help, please let us know!

Teen Read Week 2017

posted Oct 17, 2017, 1:17 PM by Kim Stuart   [ updated Oct 19, 2017, 10:31 AM ]

Last week, students in grades 6 - 8 came to the library during recess to enjoy snacks, activities, and of course, reading for Teen Read Week. The library celebrated with a Kahoot quiz, giveaways, a favorite book poll, and book trailers. 

If you haven't stopped the library lately, please join the teens and add you favorite book to the Story Room walls!  

The 40 Book Challenge!

posted Oct 2, 2017, 10:25 AM by Kim Stuart

The 40 Book Challenge was conceived by Donalyn Miller, a 6th grade Texas teacher and author of The Book
. Donalyn instills the love of reading in her students by challenging them to read 40 books over the course of the school year. The only requirement is that students have to read across a variety of genres. Sounds impossible? It isn’t, as her students usually pass or surpass the 40 book goal. 

Miller found that providing time, space, and freedom for independent reading creates a culture of reading and lifelong reading habits. This work is important, as studies show that independent reading increases performance on tests, vocabulary, reading fluency, and motivation to read even more.

Here at Town the library has historically tried a variety of ways to encourage reading, especially in the older grades. After a self-study and correspondence with peer schools, we
piloted a half-year version of the 40 Book Challenge with 4th grade, and found that it encouraged many students to expand their reading repertoire while increasing book
 checkouts. It was a no-brainer to adopt the full 40 Book Challenge in the library this year in grades 3 - 8, especially because it complements our Reading Workshop instruction.

The 40 Book Challenge is already off to an amazing start, with four students having completed it! 5th grader Kyle, 3rd grader Vickram, 3rd grader Sean, and 4th grader Timothy are already done, and now can check out one extra book on their library accounts. Several teachers are participating too, as well as many families. 

If you haven't joined the challenge yet, we hope that you will consider trying it by tracking books with this form and sharing your progress with the Town community. Email stuart(at) if you need help or have questions. Together we can build a culture of reading! 

Second Grade Library Class

posted Sep 12, 2017, 4:31 PM by Julie Alonso   [ updated Oct 2, 2017, 8:51 AM by Kim Stuart ]

Wow, we have a lot of phenomenal readers in Second Grade! You may be surprised to see that your reader, who has been making real progress towards chapter books, is bringing home picture books from the Town School Library. Why is that? This year, Second Graders are participating in a library challenge meant to introduce them to a variety of genres that perhaps they haven't read before. We are also hoping that boys begin to understand how the library is organized so that they can feel self-sufficient in the library as they get older.

Reading Around the Library

Today, we talked briefly about how the library is organized by the information you find on the spine of a book. Every book in the library has a  sticker that tells the Call Number (which we describe as the address) of the book. Above the white call number sticker is the category sticker. These two stickers will give information that will help you find a book on the shelf.

Because the library is a big place with many different categories to navigate, we start Second Grade by just choosing books from the Picture Book section (or books spread out on tables, which is a way to continue to offer a variety of reading levels and interests within the "rules" of the challenge). Within this section, there are 22 different genres or topics, ranging from Adventure to World. Each genre/topic has an accompanying sticker at the top of the spine. This year, the Second Grade will have the opportunity to read from different sections of the library. 

For each genre they choose, they will earn the accompanying genre sticker on their library check-out card. As they reach different milestones on their card, different areas of the library open up to them and they earn a new level of access. Of course, all areas of the library (except Young Adult) are open to students before and after school, although earning stickers only happens during class for equity's sake.

The fun part is that they will be exploring different areas of the library and challenging themselves to find a just right book from various genres. After they complete the first row (and earned three different stickers) on their cards, they will be invited to check out from the Early Chapter Book section of the library, so rest assured that if they feel limited in their choices, they will very soon be allowed to check out from an expanded selection of books.

Thank you for your support of the library and your son's reading this year!

Welcome back to school!

posted Sep 5, 2017, 9:52 AM by Julie Alonso

It's always exciting to start a new school year!


This year, there are a few changes to the library to make things easier for you to find things. Most of these are minor tweaks (we've changed how folklore books are cataloged), but some are necessary improvements (we've expanded our Early Fiction section and included a new nonfiction category called Community and Society).

Here's a look at what the new, improved Early Fiction section of the library looks like now (nearly twice the size!):

And here's a look some of the new titles in our collection this year:




Can't wait for a great 2017-18!!  See you in the library!


What are your reading goals this summer?

posted Jun 6, 2017, 12:55 PM by Julie Alonso

Summer learning loss-- or the "summer slide"-- is real, but the good news is that summer reading can help!

This summer, think about your reading life.

Plan your reading goals.

Give yourself a challenge!

How many books will you read

this summer?

How often will you read?

Where will you get your books?

What kinds of books will you read?

Challenge yourself!

Stretch and grow!

Gain empathy for others!

Consider completing the Summer Reading Checklist Challenge! Have fun reading this summer!
Image result for summer reading goals

Fake News Lessons at Town

posted May 27, 2017, 3:03 PM by Kim Stuart

"Fake news" became the hottest topic of 2016 and 2017. With the spotlight on fake news, librarians everywhere are proving that their work on responsible information gathering is more important than ever. Debra Wallace, head of library services at Harvard Business School, said, "Given that the Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2016 was Post-Truth, the need for easy access to relevant, authoritative, and timely information, as well as the ability to sort through an equally growing volume of misinformation has never been more important. An informed citizenry depends upon libraries and librarians."

At Town School, we have always taught lessons on website evaluation, credibility, and media messages through our K-8 Digital Literacy Lessons. With the heightened awareness of media bias and fake news, our students are more attune to learning these lessons than ever before. 

Mr. Kyle, Ms. Svirsky, and I found the perfect opportunity to integrate study of
bias and fake news into the Reading Workshop curriculum earlier this year. Humanities 6 students were exploring various social justice issues in their Reading Workshop unit, which required them to seek outside resources to understand the issues brought up in their books. We anticipated that students might hit some potential informational "landmines" when researching certain controversial topics, so we designed a 3-part series of lessons. Students developed strategies for searching for reliable sources and learned how to spot fake news. Along the way we also touched on databases, the origins of fake news, clickbait, and balanced media sources like All-Sides. 

Inspired by the recent Stanford study that found that students are often incapable of judging the credibility of online sources, Mr. Mena-Landry and I used our 4th grade Digital Literacy class time to explore online advertising. Students were really excited by this topic, eager to share experiences when they were tricked by online ads. We asked them to spot examples of online advertisements, one example borrowed from materials used in the Stanford study. While students were extremely adept at recognizing pop-up ads, they were unable to discern the difference between sponsored content and articles.

The implication for the 4th grade lesson is that teachers and parents have to explicitly teach students the difference between sponsored and media content. This also raises the issue of exploring different types of "sponsored" content like clickbait and fake news, when information is fabricated in order to generate revenue. To this point, the Library and Educational Technology team conducted two workshops in March for faculty and staff that explored the issues of fake news, linked below. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and now we are seeing best practices of citation and information gathering all over the school! 

The journey on how to educate our community on fake news is not over. I am going to the National Association for Media Literacy Education conference this summer, and then the Ed Tech and Library team will go over the teacher responses from our March workshop in order to create a comprehensive digital and media literacy skills objectives and alignment across grade levels. We look forward to sharing more next school year! 

Day 1 - Teaching Kids in Post-Truth World Professional Growth

Day 2 - Teaching Kids in Post-Truth World Professional Growth

Kindergarten explores what "boyhood is celebrated" means

posted Mar 24, 2017, 3:34 PM by Julie Alonso   [ updated May 27, 2017, 11:58 AM by Kim Stuart ]

At Town School, learning is prized, love of school is essential, and boyhood is celebrated. While we know what it means to love school and value learning, we sometimes stumble over what it means to celebrate boyhood.  After all, we know that there is not just one way to be a boy.  Kindergarten has taken the last few weeks to explore what it means to be a boy. Our exploration has led us to a wider examination of what messages we receive from the world around us, too. 

Without knowing it, our Kindergarteners have embarked on a media literacy lesson. By thinking critically about the messages they see and hear from commercials, tv and movies, books, and the internet (like youtube and google), they are laying the foundation to be able to meaningfully evaluate information in our post-truth world. The take-aways, we hope, are to be aware of media messages and to think for themselves. In conclusion of this unit, the boys decided that boyhood (and girlhood) just means being who you are and liking what you like. And that's something to celebrate.

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