Why Labor Day?

The following TED Ed lesson “Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day?” gives a great overview on the history of this national holiday. I am grateful for the laws enacted decades ago that make my work week easier, but I am concerned for the lack of child labor laws in other parts of the world. What could we do to help these children? As a start, become aware of the issue, as having knowledge is often the first step in creating change.

As the school year starts, let us all make a commitment to creating a positive change in our world: locally, nationally, or globally! What ideas do you have for being a change agent in your part of the world? I have several ideas for myself, and will share them in a later post. My best wishes for a wonderful start to your school year!

Ms. Francine

PS:  A shout out to Richard Byrne and his always informative blog Free Technology for Teachers.  Go here for his extensive post on the history of Labor Day and corresponding lessons.

2016 MCBA Reading List

Check out our LibraryThing widget for the reading choices in this upcoming year’s Massachusetts Children Book Award (MCBA) reading list.  All 4th to 6th graders are eligible to participate. You simply read, have read to, and/or have listened to at least five titles on the list and vote for your favorite title in February 2016. All boys who have read at least five titles in this annual reading contest will be able to participate in our annual pizza and board game party in the library in March! Let us know your favorite reads thus far!

For the complete list from Salem State University click here

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Jackson, age 1Crenshaw book cover0, is concerned and worried.  Why has his “imaginary friend” Crenshaw the cat returned? Why is his family, once again, going hungry, and his parents selling household items? Katherine Applegate’s first novel since The One and Only Ivan, is about friendship, family, and being true to yourself – even when life is confusing.

To read more about Ms. Applegate’s upcoming novel go to this interview from School Library  Journal:

Q&A: Katherine Applegate Talks about Her Upcoming Novel, “Crenshaw

Crenshaw will be published on September 22, 2015


Fenn School Summer Reading!


Mr. Potato Head enjoys a good book!

Dear Fenn Families,

We wish you a relaxing and rejuvenating summer!  For suggestions of books that may hook your boys, refer to the 2015 Fenn School Summer Reading Guides.

Refer to our Statement on Summer Reading and 9th Grade Required Summer Reading for more details about our summer reading philosophy and requirements.  Any questions, please contact either
Laurie Byron, English Department Chair  and/or Lisa Francine, Library Director

We look forward to seeing you on campus in September!

Lisa Francine, Library Director and Laurie Byron, Head of the English Department


Fenn Supports
Professional Development, again!

big sources jfk


My thanks, to Fenn, for supporting several members of the Arts Department, and myself in attending this inspiring conference earlier this month.

My favorite morning workshop included a panel discussion with three engaging and award winning authors and/or illustrators:  Robert Burleigh, Bryan Collier and Elizabeth Partridge.  After a vibrant lunch discussion with colleagues and a Park Ranger who helped plan this year’s conference we had two additional workshops.

My first afternoon session was:

“Learning about Labor History through Visual Thinking Strategies:  Cindy Vengroff and Kristin Gallas of the Tsongas Industrial History Center lead an exploration of child labor yesterday and today through the powerful photographs of Lewis Hine and David Parker. This workshop introduces participants to the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) approach, which uses open-ended questions to stimulate critical thinking. The session demonstrates how to apply VTS to other difficult historical topics.”

The additional resources shared about the Tsongas Industrial History Center makes me curious about other potential opportunities for our students and our faculty.

Bryan Collier rounded up the day by talking about his craft and his process for illustrating his books with a focus on the art of collage.  I was particularly moved with Bryan’s rendition of the story Knock Knock that was written by author and actor Daniel Beatty.  This powerful picture book speaks of love, loss, and determination, as a young boy learns to live, and to grow up without his father.

In the video below Bryan reflects on Collage as Metaphor:

For additional information about this year’s annual conference go to: