Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 7

Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall
Read to 3rd & 4th Grade (7 classes)
Targeted Skills: Making Inferences; Discuss Internal Character Change; Text to Text Connections; Dialogue

When I first read this book to myself, I was not that impressed. But I was looking for something Halloweenish that would allow my kids to make inferences, and I knew they would love the illustrations, so I went with it. The more that I read it aloud this week and noticed how it captured my kids' attention, the more I liked it. So this just proves that I have to look at a read-aloud through the eyes of kids--not just through my librarian eyes.

I read with the lights off and the lamp beside my red chair on, so it created a "spooky" atmosphere, which the kids loved. There are several good spots to stop and discuss the inferences that they are naturally making. I think we need to point out the metacognition behind making an inference--thinking about our thinking--so that kids will realize that they make inferences all of the time when they read and, really, when they live. We also discussed that the creature's dialogue is in a speech bubble (and it rhymes), so this was a good way to work in an element of drama (curriculum focus for the week). The ending can be interpreted a few different ways, so the kids "turned and talked" about what they thought happened, which I pointed out was another inference that we had to make as readers. We noticed that the main character did not just transform physically, but he also went through an internal change, which is important to notice in reading fiction. Most of the kids were able to connect this book to Miss Nelson is Missing (an iconic classic) and the The Black Lagoon series.

Every class wanted to know when they could check this book out because they know that I have to use it for other classes. When I bless a book with a read-aloud and it becomes instantly requested, THAT is the sign of a great book, so I'm glad that I went with my instinct on this one. Once I put Substitute Creacher on the display shelf, I don't think I'm going to see it again until May. And that's how it should be. 

Lesson Frame and Higher-Level Questions:

Just Ducks by Nicola Davies
Read to 2nd Grade (5 classes)
Targeted Skills:Discuss Characteristics of Expository Text; Differentiate between Important and Interesting Facts

Just like Over and Under the Snow (see Week 6), this is not your typical nonfiction book. In fact, it is cataloged as an Easy book, but it teaches numerous facts about ducks, so I think that qualifies it as an expository text.

The kids kept track of facts as I read the book to them. Each time they heard a fact, they held up a finger. We stopped at a few facts and decided if they were important or interesting. This is when I relied on the teacher's help since I'm not quite sure how they are teaching this concept. At the end of the book, we decided what the author's purpose was. The kids decided since we learned approximately fifteen facts about Mallard ducks, then the purpose must have been to inform, which makes it a nonfiction book. Even though this book has illustrations and a bit of a narrative structure, it is still saturated with facts. As I have stated in previous posts, I want kids to read the content of the book and think about the author's purpose rather than rely on certain characteristics when deciding if it's fiction or nonfiction.Who says expository text has to boring? 

Lesson Frame:

Scaredy-Cat, Splat! by Rob Scotton
Read to Kinder & 1st Grade (9 classes)
Targeted Skills: Asking Questions; Fiction or Nonfiction? 

This is a fun read-aloud for Halloween that the kids truly enjoyed. They easily asked questions and remembered how to do the "thinking pose" to show they were thinking about a question (see Week 6).

They were able to categorize this easily as fiction because "cats don't talk, go to school, or make jack-o-lanterns."Good to know.

Lesson Frame:

About My Lesson Frames:

Over the summer, I read The Fundamental Five, which was required reading for my faculty and is a popular book study in my district. Cain and Laird discuss "framing the lesson," which means posting the lesson objectives in kid-friendly language and in a way that can be easily measured and assessed. Of course, I wanted to do this in the library since it was a campus expectation for every classroom. You might have noticed that I always put "enjoy a book" as the first part of my lesson frame even though this defies the qualities of a "measurable objective" according to Cain and Laird. 

But there is method to my madness; my main goal in the library is to work in the affective domain, which is often ignored when it comes to learning.The classroom is all about the SKILL of reading; teachers camp out in the cognitive domain, which of course, is crucial to learning. But in our standardized testing-crazed culture, we pay very little attention to the attitudes and feelings of the learner because these are difficult to assess in a standardized format. In my opinion, this is why so many of our kids do not ENJOY reading. They CAN read, but the question is WILL they read when given the choice?

As a librarian, my job is to plant those warm, fuzzy feelings for reading--make it fun, exciting, enjoyable so that they will become READERS FOR LIFE.  One of the ways that I do this is through carefully chosen read-alouds. Of course, we also dance around in the cognitive domain and do the things that good readers do when we enjoy a read-aloud.

Here is the philosophy that I live by as a librarian. In fact, this sign is posted at the entrance to the Shaw Library:

"Don't just assume that because kids can read, they will read. The skill and the will are two very different things; we need to acknowledge that fact, and then we need to teach as if we understand that fact to be true."
--Steven Layne Igniting a Passion for Reading 

The focus of the Shaw Library is on the WILL of reading. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 6

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Mesner 
Read to: Kinder & 1st Grade (10 classes)
Targeted Skills: Asking Questions

This is not your typical nonfiction book, and that's why I love it. Strong imagery and lyrical writing are not qualities that one usually associates with expository text, so that's why I chose to share it with my little ones this week. I want my students to READ the words and THINK about the author's purpose before assigning a genre. We need to teach our students that nonfiction texts do not always have photographs; they do not always have a ton of text features; they are not always in a stiff, voiceless style that drones fact after fact. What we need to teach our students is that even if the book has illustrations and poetic writing, it can still be nonfiction if the purpose is to share FACTS about a real subject. Over and Under the Snow is NOT your mother's nonfiction. And thank goodness for that.

This was a wonderful book to use for questioning. Just like last week, I realized that when we want kids to ask questions, they often tell us a fact or an observation rather than ask a question. I started the lesson with a review of "question words" (see lesson frame below), and told them to point to their head when they had a question while I was reading the book so that I would know. Once again, time did  not allow me to stop and let every kid share his/her question. As I read the book, I would sporadically stop and ask the question of a child who was in the question pose. This worked really well, and several teachers have said that they are doing this in their classroom, as well. Almost all of the kids shared a legitimate question when asked, so I think having the question words displayed helped them understand the difference between asking a question and telling a thought.

At the end of the book, we voted on whether this book was fiction or nonfiction. Most of them thought it was fiction because of the illustrations, so see why it is important that we don't teach that fiction has illustrations and nonfiction has photographs? After we discussed that the author's purpose was to teach us FACTS about a secret kingdom under the snow, the kids realized that this was a nonfiction book because it taught us facts about a REAL place rather than telling a story with a beginning/middle/end and a conflict. I then showed them a bubble map that I had made, and we quickly answered our questions about the subnivean zone by reading the Author's Note at the back of the book. 

Lesson Frame and Bubble Map:

The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair by Dotti Enderle
Read to: 2nd Grade (5 classes) 
Targeted: Asking Questions; Identifying Problem and Solution: Noticing good details in writing 

I try to choose my read-alouds from the new books that I buy for the library so that the kids are exposed to fresh, new literature. I love the "classics" and "oldies but goodies," but I know that my students hear these read by their teachers year after year. However, there are some read-aloud faves that I just have to revisit, and this is one of them. I will not be able to go to the State Fair of Texas this year, so this book is about as close as I can get (which is fortunate for my hips).

This book is a wonderful mentor text for vivid imagery. I made sure to point out how the writer uses similes to paint a picture in the reader's mind. The students asked questions while reading (why does Jake not notice that he has a stream of cotton candy following him? was the most obvious question), and we also discussed the problem and solution, making a connection to a characteristic of fiction. There is a great place for inferring at the very end, and I pointed out that many students did this automatically even though I did not tell them to (sign of excellent readers!).  I encouraged students to write a continuation of the story or write about a time that they went to the Fair, a carnival, or Six Flags during their Writers' Workshop time in class .
Lesson Frame:

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown 
Read to: 3rd & 4th Grades (7 classes)
Targeted Skills: Theme; Literary Nonfiction; Text to Text Connections

Because this book is a perfect paring with Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile that I read last week, I had to read this to the 3rd and 4th graders this week (see Week 5 post for more about this fabulous book). They made wonderful connections to Miss Dorothy; we discussed what makes this book literary nonfiction. I showed a picture of the real biblioburro, and the kids were so excited to see that he was REAL.  Finally, we zeroed in on the theme of the book (learned my lesson from last week). We talked about how theme can be summarized into one word or phase that shows how the story connects to life. The students easily distinguished that "BOOKS ARE WORTH MAKING A SACRIFICE FOR" was a good theme for this wonderful story. I couldn't agree more. 

Lesson Frame: