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Grant money to be used to expand Pulaski Street school’s library services

A Bloxel set. KEVA planks. A Sphero robot. A Breakout set. 

These four new, immersive technology systems intended for children’s learning will be implemented in the Pulaski Street Elementary School library this fall. 

Amelia Estevez Creedon, school media consultant in the Riverhead Central School District, has been awarded a $500 SSLMA Library Technology grant by the Suffolk School Library Media Association. The grant was used to obtain these interactive systems. Ms. Creedon, who has worked in the district for four years, said the grant will contribute to project-based learning, an alternative form of learning that focuses on hands-on technology. 

“I want them to learn through experience and doing, not traditional learning,” she said. 

All of the equipment operates in different ways, Ms. Creedon said. Bloxels and Breakout are two digital systems that allow kids to construct their own video games. KEVA planks are wooden blocks intended for children to think about architecture and building structure, and a Sphero, or an interactive robot, helps children learn about digital programming. Ms. Creedon said she has changed the library curriculum so it will use these systems. 

“I wanted to transform not only the library, but the curriculum too, so the students could really enjoy the library,” she said. 

The timing for the new equipment is ideal, Ms. Creedon said, because beginning this year, fifth grade students from all four elementary schools are coming to Pulaski for project-based learning, or immersive, hands-on learning that complements the traditional classroom environment. 

“You get the attention of more students when they learn in hands-on ways,” she said. “Not everyone is an auditory learner.” 

Fifth graders will focus on a project each month. They are planted at “stations” during library time twice a week, where they will work with new equipment. The most recent project, Ms. Creedon said, focuses on building the perfect school, which utilizes all of the new technology. 

“It’s a work where they have to create, design, explore, and work out the kinks and develop it in a way that it’s functioning,” she said. 

Ms. Creedon is only formally instructing the fifth grade, but she said she’s in the process of establishing a Library Leaders Club, where sixth graders can apply to use the new equipment.

Character education is a big part of library learning, Ms. Creedon said. She said her proposal was written with that in mind. 

“Character education is all about kids having a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset,” she said. “If kids know they can control their emotions, and their own reactions to situations, it helps their learn better, and smarter.” 

Madelyn Haussner, the past president of SSLMA, presented the grant to Ms. Creedon Oct. 19. This year, Ms. Haussner said, two other technology grants were awarded to Michelle Robinson of Tackan Elementary School in Smithtown, and Sandy Bucher of Sagamore Middle School in Sachem.

Ms. Creedon also helped Riley Avenue Elementary School receive a $500 grant in 2016 to create a more diverse library with more materials.

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Photo Caption: Amelia Estevez-Creedon, who was awarded a $500 grant to Pulaski Street Elementary School, reads to students in Riley Avenue Elementary School in 2016. (Credit: Riverhead School District)