Howard County Library
Teacher Notes From Howard County Library Archives
  • Spelling Bee

    spelling bee logoHoward County Library invites students in grades 4 – 8 to participate in its seventh annual Spelling Bee, the winner of which advances to the National Bee in Washington, DC. All public, private and homeschool associations with students in appropriate grade levels can hold classroom and/or school bees between November 1 and January 31. Winners of those contests advance to the Howard County Library Spelling Bee held in March.

    Participation in a spelling bee fosters many skills:

    • Students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English. As a result, they read and write more effectively and score higher on standardized test and college prep tests and beyond. The impact lasts a lifetime.
    • Children learn the etymology of words, the country of origin, meanings of prefixes and suffixes, and spelling rules.
    • By studying words grouped in thematic categories, spellers not only acquire knowledge but also develop cognitive skills and increased understanding of ideas and values.
    • Students develop cultural and intellectual literacy.
    • Children of all ages, creeds, and races can participate on an equal, competitive basis.
    • Spelling bees improve spelling and spark interest among the students.
    • Spelling bees create friendly, sportsmanlike rivalry among the schools.


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  • Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest

    silhouette of sherlock holmesSherlock Holmes Essay Contest

    All seventh grade students in Howard County.

    Read the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” and write a five-paragraph analytical essay about it.

    It’s fun! It’s interesting! There are prizes awarded to the top three writers! Also, it enhances understanding of the mystery
    and suspense genres, and offers a chance to hone writing skills.

    All entries are due by June 1, 2011.

    More details and contest packets are available online.

    This contest is offered in partnership with Watson’s Tin Box and HCPSS.

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  • For Fifth Grade: Battle of the Books

    image of kids participating in battle of the books

    Want to excite students about reading?

    Encourage them to participate in Battle of the Books! Teams of five fifth graders become experts on 16 pre-determined books, then test their knowledge in a quiz-show style competition in April. They parade into the Atholton High School gymnasium, wearing costumes, and ready to demonstrate their literary skills. Each team needs a coach – so fifth grade teachers can be involved, too.

    During the competition, a moderator will ask a question about a book. Four different types of questions can be asked: a direct quote from one of the book characters; a statement about something that happens in the book; a passage taken directly from the book; details about an illustration or picture. Every team answers every question, and the team with the most correct answers wins.

    Each member of the first place team will receive a gift card from a local bookstore as well as a copy of the team READ poster. Prizes also will be awarded to the second and third place teams, as well as for other categories such as best team name, best team spirit wear, etc. Everyone who participates will receive a small prize and certificate of participation.

    Upcoming important dates:

    October 19 – Information Meeting: Miller Branch at 7 pm

    October 25 – November 5: Registration occurs at

    November 16 & 17 – Mandatory Coach Meetings (attend one date): Miller Branch at 7 pm

    April 8 – Battle of the Books!

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  • Recycled Poetry

    image of the words fun times spelled out in tiles with different fonts

    Join us on Saturday, January 23 for Recycled Poetry and put those old pages to good use. Students slice and dice the words from old magazines to create original poetry and give voice to their own thoughts and feelings. Completed poems may be submitted to the 2010 Word Up! Poetry Contest.

    Register online for Recycled Poetry on Saturday, January 23 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at Central Library.

    Katie George -  Howard County Library Administration

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  • Flame-bringer Science: Tuesday, January 5 at 7:00 pm

    image of glow stickLight up the blue time at Howard County Library Elkridge Branch on Tuesday, January 5 at 7:00 pm.

    Glow under black light, create sparks in the dark with wintergreen lifesavers, and experiment with glow sticks.  Check out the science behind what’s glowing in the dark.  Then, pick up your specially marked copy of Scott Westerfeld’s The Sercet Hour to read, register, and pass for Howard County Library’s Pass the Book.

    Don’t get caught in the dark.  Register for Flame-bringer Science.

    Katie George -  Howard County Library Administration

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  • Novelist K-8

    novel list kindergarten through grade eight logo

    Having trouble finding the right book for class discussion? Are you hoping to find a book in a specific lexile level?  One of the most valuable electronic resources available at the Library is Novelist K-8! While state budgets tightened, and e-resources dwindled, this resource was one that we fought hard to keep. Why?

    NoveList K-8 is a powerful and creative online educational tool, that maximizes the instructional value and pleasure of fiction resources.

    Here’s a snapshot of what’s included in NoveList K-8 :

    • 97,000 fiction titles for Teens, Older Kids and Younger Kids.

    • 36,000+ subject headings.

    • Full-text, searchable reviews from authoritative sources including Library Journal, School Library Journal and Booklist.

    • Superlative series information in reading order—find the latest, fast!

    Plus, additional content features for you and your students:

    • Curricular Connections and other articles featuring ideas for integrating reading into content areas at multiple grade levels.

    • BookTalks on just-right reads for older kids and teens.

    • Recommended Reads book lists on high-interest topics.

    • Book Discussion Guides for lively after-school book clubs or classroom discussions.

    • Ability to search using the Find Similar Books feature, Lexile level and popularity.

    You can get started right away by taking a tour of NoveList K-8. Just click on the “Tour NoveList” link located on the right-hand side of the NoveList K-8 homepage. They also offer resources like slide presentations and scavenger hunts to help students better acquaint themselves.

    You can also register for their free webinars for searching strategies, sign up for their email newsletters, or follow them on twitter.

    For access to Novelist K-8, simply go to our web site, click on the New & Hot Items tab, and scroll to the bottom. You may be prompted to enter a library card number.

    Happy browsing!

    Sarah Russo – Howard County Library Elkridge Branch

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  • Book Reports

    Are your students reading for a book report? We love to support them! Howard County Library staff can visit your classroom to promote the best books for your assignment – or let us know what books you have assigned and we can make sure they are available. Send your students into the Library to pick up their books – or invite us to your class and we can bring them to you!

    To begin, complete an Assignment Alert or contact your school’s Library liaison. The more information you provide, the better we can match your students with the right materials!


    Amy Stephens – Glenwood Branch Howard County Library

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  • Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest

    silhouette of sherlock holmes

    Howard County Library, in partnership with Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City and Howard County Public Schools, announces the sixth annual Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest for all Howard County public, private, and home schooled 7th grade students.

    Students are asked to read the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and write a five paragraph analytical essay according to the rules and guidelines of the contest. Students may download a booklet that includes the story, pre-reading activities, a glossary of British terms, specific essay questions, the rubric which will be used in judging the essays and a contest entry form.

    Teachers who choose to have their classes participate will forward to Watson’s Tin Box the top two essays from each of his/her classes. Home schooled students may send their essay to the Watson’s Tin Box address listed in the booklet.

    Essays must be received by Watson’s Tin Box by June 1, 2010. Prizes will be awarded for the best three essays. Winners will be announced at an awards presentation in June 2010 at Howard County Library.

    Special thanks to contest sponsor and creator, Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City.

    Please note that Howard County Library’s instructors can visit your class to discuss Holmes, Conan Doyle, the specifics of the contest, and some avenues for additional research. Contact your library liaison to schedule a class.

    John Jewitt – Howard County Library Savage Branch

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  • Guided Reading Level Collection for Early Elementary Students

    image of books on a shelf

    An exciting new collection has been added to Children’s materials, with the goal of supporting the Howard County Public School System’s Guided Reading Level approach. HCPSS uses the leveling system created by Irene Fountas and Gay Sue Pinnell for guided reading lessons and assessments. The primary customers for this collection are children from pre-K through third grade and their parents. We have included Levels A though P in our initial purchase. The majority of the more than 200 titles are non-fiction.

    In addition to this new collection, Howard County Library has an Easy Reader collection of fiction that is very well used by our customers. We also have the BOB Books and Story Box books; excellent resources for parents whose children are just embarking on their journey to the joy of reading. The addition of this new collection adds materials that allow our youngest readers to Read to Learn as they Learn to Read.

    Each branch has a separate collection in the Children’s Area. The collection is identical in all branches, only the number of copies differ. The titles are organized according to text level and available at all branches. The call numbers on the spine read GRL (Guided Reading Level) with the level of title below. The opening collection is all hardcover.

    These titles can be accessed from the Library’s web site by clicking on “advanced search” and typing GRL and the desired level (letters A -P) in the call number box on the left, under the “Search the catalog by” prompt.

    We hope that you find this collection useful, and look forward to your feedback.

    Shirley ONeill – Administration, Howard County Library

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  • Russian Revolution and Animal Farm

    Tenth graders at Hammond High School are researching Russian Revolution figures who are the allegorical equivalents of characters from the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. Wow!

    To gather information on Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, students may want to search in Literature Resource Center. LRC contains reviews and criticism of literary works, biographies of the authors, and primary source material related to the works. Many of the items in LRC have been previously published in reference books and periodicals. Some items are original to LRC. All items have been reviewed for accuracy.

    For background information on the Russian Revolution, students might turn to the History Reference Center for articles and primary sources. For figures from the Russian Revolution, students can use Biography Resource Center to find biographical essays, pictures, and other information. Just as with Literature Resource Center, History Reference Center and Biography Resource Center contain items that have all been reviewed for accuracy.

    All three databases can be accessed via our web site. All you’ll need is your library card!

    And of course…we have some great books, too, like The Story Behind George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Red Princess: a revolutionary life.

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