Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 12

How to Teach a Slug to Read
by Susan Pearson
Read to Kinder & 1st Grade (10 classes)
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of Expository Text; Characteristics of Procedural Texts

I started this lesson with a review of fiction vs nonfiction. We then talked about how nonfiction and expository mean the same thing. I even made up a little hand gesture to illustrate this to the kids: "Nonfiction (hold out left hand) and expository (hold out right hand) mean the SAME thing!" (clasp hands together at SAME). This seemed to help the kids understand this difficult concept.

Before reading the book, I showed the kids several nonfiction books from the library that had to do with steps and procedures (how to make bread, glass, peanut butter, Christmas crafts). We talked about what features made these "expository procedural texts" (SO FANCY!)  or basically "how to make stuff books." I then read them How to Teach a Slug to Read, and they showed connection fingers every time a step in the book connected to how they learned to read in their classroom. After reading the book, the kids easily distinguished that this book is fiction "because you can't really teach a slug to read!!" (Silly, Mrs. Bailey!!!) I then asked, so what if we changed the title to How to Teach a KID to read? "Well, then it would be nonfiction because these are the steps for teaching a kid to read. They just changed it to slug to make it funny." Did I mention that I teach geniuses?

Lesson Frame

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Read to 2nd Grade (5 classes) 
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of Literary Nonfiction; FACT vs Fiction
The more that I read this book, the more that I LOVE it! It is a perfect example of literary nonfiction for younger grades because the kids can easily distinguish the elements of fiction  but understand that this is about a REAL person.I told the students that Jane Goodall is a living person, and this book tells the story of her life as a little girl. It is a quick read, and the last picture is PERFECTION because it is a real photograph of Jane with the chimps in Africa. We had a wonderful discussion about WHY did Patrick McDonnell choose to use a real picture rather than draw Jane like he did in the rest of the book. The theme of this book is wonderful, too. The kids were inspired to dream BIG just like Jane.
  The back of the book lists some wonderful resources, as well as a message from Jane. I shared a video from "Roots and Shoots" about why she started this foundation with some of the classes, and they loved seeing that Jane was not only a real famous person, but that she is also still alive! (they were really impressed by this).
 Lesson Frame

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming
Read to 3rd Grade (4 classes)
Targeted Skills: Review Literary Elements of Character; Conflict; and Theme

This is another one on the 2012 Bluebonnet List, and it is a perfect read-aloud for literary elements. Because this is a longer book, I had the kids do a lot of "Turn and Talk" so that they would not have to sit quietly for too long. Lots of great discussion! So many powerful lessons in this book, and I love the theme in the end. One of my faves!

Lesson Frame

Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim 
Read to 4th Grade (4 classes)
Targeted Skills: FUN with poetry; Rhyme, Rhythm, and Figurative Language; Make Inferences

See my blog post from Week 8 for this lesson.

I FINALLY got my Bluebonnet board up!!  This is how I will keep track of which books each class reads!

I need to get going with 6th Grade!

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pena
Read to 6th Grade (1 class)
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of Literary Nonfiction; Elements of poetry (free verse); Schema is CRUCIAL to making Inferences!

This a truly beautiful book in both the words and pictures. (Kadir Nelson can make a bowl of dog food look gorgeous.) I had the honor of meeting Mr. Nelson at the TLA convention a few years ago, and I must say he is my Illustrator Crush. You know you are a nerdy librarian when you say that.

Focus, Mrs. Bailey...Okay. As a I was saying, gorgeous, powerful book that is PERFECT for upper grades. We had a 45 minute discussion on this book because the teacher got so into it and really helped move the kids into higher-level thinking. I LOVE it when that happens! The kids realized how much background knowledge they had to have of Nazi Germany and the racial climate of America during the 1930s to fully understand this book. And the boys LOVED the boxing references. Super cool book for EVERYONE!

Lesson Frame

Friday, November 16, 2012

Week 11

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Read to 3rd & 4th (6 classes)
Targeted Skills: Discuss the differences between biography and autobiography; Use text evidence to support character traits 

This book has been on my radar for several months, but I saved it to read in November to coincide with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. We started the lesson by discussing the differences between biography and autobiography. I am really trying to use the library cards to call on students rather than the traditional raising hand method. (Confession: With so many names to remember, I find myself only calling on students who I am certain of their names, and honestly, I also call on students who I know will keep the lesson going. This is wrong of me to do.) The library card method is going well and brings equity to my questioning practices, but it does slow down the lesson. Oh well. 

I was pleased that every class easily shared the characteristics of each genre, which all credit goes to the classroom teachers, who are teaching like their hair is on fire to cover our district's extensive curriculum. We made a Venn diagram to show the characteristics: 
After reading the first two pages of the book, the students turned and talked about the qualities that they admire in Tony Sarg. This is a great place to stop and make some inferences about his character and use text evidence to support those conclusions. After finishing the book, the students easily determined that it was a biography. We then watched a You Tube video of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade so that they could see how Tony Sarg's creativity is still on display. The students truly enjoyed this book, and the illustrations are breathtaking. 
Lesson Frame:

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Read to 2nd Grade (5 Classes)
Targeted Skills:Compare two books by the same author; Look for elements of character, plot, and style

Who doesn't love the Mo Willems' Pigeon books? Since my second graders were doing an author study, I thought this was a perfect time for Pigeon because they are quick, fun reads that both kids and librarians love.  Even though most of the kids had read the first one, I started with it as a basis for comparison. We then moved on to the newest in the series and stopped to compare elements of character, plot, and style. The kids were quick to point out that Mo likes to use squares to speed up time, and he also shows the Pigeon's frustration with his trademark squiggle. They also noticed the similar "Pigeon Freak OUT" moment in both books and how Mo uses bold letters, colors, and punctuation to convey the Pigeon's emotions. I found an iPad app called "Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App." It is $4.99 and worth every penny. I did not have time to show the kids the app, but I will use it in the future. It lets the user create their own Pigeon stories, and Mo even shows you how to draw Pigeon. My own daughters LOVE it. If you are a fan of Pigeon, then you MUST let your kids buy this app!
   Lesson Frame
My Pigeon with the help of the App

Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson
Read to Kinder and 1st Grade (9 classes)
Targeted Skills:  Review Literary elements of plot and character; Make inferences

This is a great book for the primary kids because most of them can connect with the fear/thrill of losing a tooth. Of course, they all wanted to show and tell me about their loose teeth, so once we got over the initial excitement, we moved on with the lesson. They easily reviewed the literary elements, which once again proves that my teachers are rocking it in the classroom. Let me make it very clear that I do not take any of the glory away from the teachers on my campus. I am constantly blown away by their dedication and determination in the face of a very tough year. My reading lessons serve as reinforcement of the skills already taught in the classroom. 

After we read the book, the kids were able to apply the literary elements to the story and identify the events in the beginning, middle, and end.  I also introduced them to the other titles in the Bear series by Karma Wilson.
Lesson Frame

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week 10

Book Fair is gone, but it's still not back to normal
October 2012 will go down in history as "crazy month" for the Shaw Library. This is the third week that we have not been able to go back to our "normal," which is still hectic, but it feels familiar. After Book Fair was packed away, we had a staff development day on Monday. Tuesday was a self-checkout day because Wednesday and Thursday were reserved for the district's mock election to take place in the library. I attended the Plano Library Expo on Friday, so I was off campus and had a sub.

Mr. Ankrum and Dixie Cup
On Tuesday, my assistant principal came to me at 9:51 and said, "What's going on in here at 10:20? We need a place for all of the Kindergarten classes to gather to listen to someone read to them." Since I didn't have a class coming in at that time (just kids coming in randomly in groups of 3 for self-checkout throughout the day), I said, "I'll make that happen!" So I moved all of the tables and chairs out of the way in warp speed (my workout for the day), and voila! 105 kindergarteners marched in to listen to one of our retired assistant principals read The Hallo-wiener with his beloved Dachshund Dixie Cup. I'm still not sure who arranged for him to come, and let me make it clear that this kind of "spur of the moment read-aloud" has never happened before. But I am sharing this with you because I think it proves an important point about librarians: we must be flexible, and we can often be viewed as the heroes when we choose flexibility and adopt an "I'll make that happen" mantra. Tuesday was also my Snapshot Day to collect data for ALA, so I looked at it as that's 105 more bodies to count AND an "event" to include in my data. I am a "glass is always half-full" kind of girl, so I love spinning an inconvenience into a positive. That's just how I roll.

Have you ever seen this many Kindergarteners sitting still?

Wednesday and Thursday were our district's mock election, and sadly, I did not take any pictures because I was busy teaching a mini-lesson on the electoral college and making sure that 18 classes voted each day. I also had the help of our amazing speech therapist, who gave up two days to come help me. I couldn't have done it without her! Teachers signed up to bring their class in for a 15 minute slot of time in which the kids voted for the presidential race on the computers  (I used my 5 desktop Macs that were logged in to the district's Google doc that had been created for this specific purpose by our Social Studies department), and then I showed a School House Rock video about the electoral college and shared how it works (I think I'm an expert now), and I also shared this video from the Ron Clark Academy. Love this!

You can see the district's results of the mock election. This was a wonderful experience, and it went so smoothly because it was a team effort in our district. Librarians worked together to troubleshoot the logistics of getting so many kids into the library to vote; our social studies department shared lessons with the teachers and created the voting website; our teachers objectively taught about each candidate and let the kids decide who to vote for. It was truly democracy in action!

I am itching to read to kids next week! I have missed being a teacher! Librarians must wear many hats, so I included all of these non-read-aloud weeks in the blog to prove this. I can't wait to see these smiling faces next week and get back to our normal routine of enjoying books together.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Week 9: Book Fair!

Book Fair Time!
I have a love/hate relationship with the Book Fair. I love to see my kids get so excited about buying books. I love that most of them actually buy BOOKS and very few only buy what I affectionately call the "cutesy crap" (pencils, pens, finger pointers, etc.).  On the other hand, I hate that it shuts down the library for a week. I hate that I have to become a cashier. I hate that my hands reek of dirty pennies. Every Book Fair confirms that I am NOT cut out for retail!

But love it or hate it, the Book Fair is my bread and butter. It's the only fundraiser for the library, and it makes MONEY. This is my seventh Book Fair as the librarian at Shaw (last year I had three--proof that I have lost my mind), and each Book Fair I make more money. For this one, I was hoping to sell over $5500. We actually sold $6700! I took it all in Scholastic Dollars profit, so I have over $3000 in my Scholastic account to spend on books, furniture, and to use for give-aways and discounts at future Book Fairs. Here are some of my secrets to Book Fair success:
  • For every book that my kids buy, they get a ticket to go in a drawing for a free book. I give away 5 free books a day. (I use my Scholastic Dollars to pay for the books). This encourages the kids to buy books instead of the junk. No ticket for a poster or large foam pen that costs the same as a book!
  • I give my staff $5.00 off their purchase (taken from Scholastic Dollars). I also give them a ticket for every book that they buy and have a drawing for $50 worth of books for their classroom. I had two winners this time (taken from Scholastic Dollars). 
  • I stay open after school and have a night event.
  • I finally took pics of my set up so that I can remember where everything goes next time. 
I always have a "Mrs. Bailey's Picks" table.
I encourage parents to buy books for the classroom libraries.


I tape one of each "junk" item and group them by price. 

I keep all of the little stuff behind the cashier's table. 
Books that come with "trinkets" stay right beside the cashier's table.
Posters hang from the ceiling. Gig Em Aggies!
Spanish titles for my large bi-lingual population.
The T shape table arrangement makes for good traffic flow.
Some of my awesome library helpers 
Love these silly girls! 

And...poof! It's back normal. YEA!

Week 8

Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog by Adrienne Sylver
Read to 3rd Grade (5 classes)
Targeted Skills: Compare the characteristics of fiction and nonfiction; main idea and supporting details

This is the first one of the 2012 Texas Bluebonnet Books that I have read aloud to my students. Each year I choose 3-5 that I will read to the 3rd--6th grade classes when they come to the library. Because students only have to read 5 to vote for their favorite, this ensures that all students will get to participate in the voting. Sometimes I have to get the teachers to read 2 or 3 in their classrooms because I wasn't able to share all 5 in the library, but they are always looking for a great read-aloud, so they are happy to do so. Last year I had 100% of my 3rd--6th graders participate in the voting, and that is my goal again this year (over 450 students!). Many librarians in my district start reading these at the beginning of the school year, but I like to start the Bluebonnets in October/November so that they have a better memory of them at the end of January when voting occurs. 

I started out this lesson with a review of fiction and nonfiction characteristics. I called on students at random to list qualities of each genre, and I recorded their responses on a piece of colored paper under the Elmo. I did this so that I could give each teacher the list for their class (my chart paper supply is limited, so colored paper works). I should have done this as a Venn diagram so that the shared qualities would be more easily distinguished, but I guess it works this way, too. We then made the connection that "Expository" is the "Fancy Nancy" way to say nonfiction. Before we read the book, the kids predicted that the book was fiction because "it looks fiction!" they all said. Once again, I emphasized that we have to READ the book and THINK about the author's purpose: Is she telling us a story by using characters and other literary elements, or is this book teaching us facts about a real thing?


After we finished the book, the kids all decided that this book was definitely expository. I pointed out that even though the book had few text features and did have some cartoonish illustrations, it still taught us FACTS about hotdogs. We then discussed the main idea of the book since both fiction and nonfiction have a main idea. We looked at the title and subtitle as a hint. I want the kids to be more aware of title to help them determine the main idea. This book demonstrates this perfectly (The HISTORY of the Hotdog). The supporting details all connect to the history. They LOVED this book, and they enjoyed the "turn and talk" activity about what they like to put on their hotdogs. Ironically, the cafeteria served hotdogs on Friday of that week, and the kids all thought I made that happen. I love that they think a librarian has that much power.

On Friday, our local newspaper came to take pictures for a feature piece on our district's libraries. I was very honored that they came to Shaw and included us in the article. You can read the article and see some of my 3rd grade darlings.

Lesson Frame:

Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim
Read to 5th Grade (5 classes)
Targeted Skills: Have fun with poetry; Notice characteristics of poetry; Make inferences; Vocabulary development

This is another 2012 Bluebonnet book, and I chose it for this week's lesson because my fifth grade teachers asked me to do a lesson on poetry. This is a perfect book for October because it allows students to have FUN with poetry with a spooky Halloween theme! Remember that my first focus is on the affective domain of learning, so I always strive to make reading enjoyable and relevant.

I asked the students if they thought it was possible to have fun with poetry. About 50 % of each class admitted that they did not like poetry. We then read the poems together and discussed the rhyme (but I stressed that not all poetry has to rhyme), the rhythm (we clapped out the beat on some), and the figurative language. There are a few poems that make a great lesson on making inferences, so we discussed the thinking behind making an inference. After we finished the book with lots of laughs and "ooooss", I asked they thought it was now possible to have fun with poetry...I got a 100% "yes" response. And that, my friends, is why I love my job.
Lesson Frame: 

I only had 10 lessons with two grade levels this week because of preparation for the (duh-duh-DUH)... Book Fair. In order to make sure that as many students as possible could get into the library to checkout new books before the Book Fair took over, I had open checkout time for a majority of the week. I blocked out Friday to set up the Book Fair, and I had some other conflicts, so that limited the library schedule for the week. Here is our library wiki schedule if you are interested to see how it works. Teachers sign up each week to bring in their class. My 3rd grade only comes at a fixed time because of a district mandate. Unfortunately, this is the teacher's conference period, so they do not come with their class, but I still collaborate with them about what they want me to teach. All other grade level teachers come with their classes and are involved in the lesson.