The Slice – Winter 2021-22

PiE-Funded Short Story Dispenser Inspires Fletcher Students

The first time Fletcher Librarian Kristen Lee saw a Short Story Dispenser at Greene Middle School, on loan from the Palo Alto City Library, she got very excited and asked if Fletcher could borrow it next. Students could press a button, and the machine would print out a 1-, 3-, or 5-minute story in a few seconds! When the machine arrived at Fletcher in Fall 2019 it immediately generated a lot of interest. The first Spooky Story Contest was launched and received a whopping 65 submissions (10% of all Fletcher students)!

Winners of the 2019 Fletcher Spooky Story Contest

The PiE Innovation Grant Program welcomes applications from teachers and staff using innovative methods to promote learning through collaboration with each other, parents, students, and community members. The next round of grants will close on February 14, 2022. Please email if you have any questions.

When Covid hit and everything moved online, Kristen was fortunate to have a way to engage students. They wrote thoughtful, eloquent submissions about “gratitude” and “reflections.” Shortédition, the company that makes the machine, allowed Fletcher students to use their online portal for free, and story contest winners’ stories were posted online. It was very exciting for students to be able to publish their work on the internet! When students came to pick up or drop off library books at school, Kristen and her staff would tuck short stories into their book bags.

During the pandemic, Fletcher students were included not only in the writing, but also in the programming, planning, and judging of the stories. 8th grade library assistants chose writing prompts that spoke to them for “writing therapy” activities. Library club students came up with the idea for “partner” stories, in which two students wrote and submitted a story together. This was a wonderful way for students to connect with each other during a time when connection was scarce.

Some of the short story contests held at Fletcher throughout the pandemic were: 

Since students have been back in person this year, interest in the Short Story Dispenser has been higher than ever. Students are flocking to the machine to get stories every day. They love reading the 1- minute stories written by Fletcher student contest winners, as well as the 3- and 5- minute stories. This year Kristen hosted the first ever Spooky Art Contest!

Spooky Art Grand Prize Finalist – “Graveyard” by Evelyn R. (Fletcher 7th grader)

Many community members have been involved throughout the process, including PAUSD middle and high school librarians, PiE board members, working artists, and even guest judges who’ve participated all the way from France to read students’ stories! Kristen is extremely grateful for the PiE Innovation Grant she received which provided the funds to purchase the dispenser. PACL (Palo Alto City Library) has generously paid for the monthly subscription, connection, paper, and maintenance charges. Fletcher is currently the only public middle school in the nation with a Short Story Dispenser!