Thursday, December 19, 2013

Second Six Weeks Stats

I used to make a flyer of our stats for the 2nd six weeks. We emailed the link to our staff and tweeted it. Not only are flyers super-easy to make on Smore, but you can also see the number of views that your flyer has.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SSR: Successful Skeeters Read

The main reason I became a librarian is because I was tired of feeling like a hypocrite. As a high school English teacher, I often felt like I was doing more harm than good in cultivating a reading habit in my students. Forcing them to read "required" books was not turning them into lifelong readers. In fact, it was doing the opposite. In my humble OPINION, our educational system has turned reading into a chore rather than a treasure and writing into a restriction rather than a release. Maybe this topic should be covered in another blog post, and I am not criticizing my school district or my fellow English teacher heroes for these woes. I think this is a systemic problem exasperated by the fact that educational laws and policy are created by politicians who know nothing about how to teach children or how the brain learns.  As I talk with hard-working, passionate teachers, many feel like their hands are tied by confining curriculum created by the mandates of a high-stakes-test-crazed culture; what they WANT to do and what they CAN do in the classroom are often two different things--unfortunately.

This dilemma still eats at me--how to get kids (especially teens) to love reading more. Feeding teens a steady diet of "boring" classics that they can't relate to and short, dull passages stifled by multiple-choice questions is NOT the answer. If anything, it magnifies the problem. I have spent years researching this topic, and the works of Gallagher, Krashen, Miller, Trelease, Kittle, and Layne all support the same solution: To turn students into lifelong readers, they need:
  • ACCESS to high-interest books 
  • EXPOSURE to quality writing through read-alouds as mentor texts
  • CHOICE in reading what they WANT to read (not what we think they should be reading)
  • TIME to read
The TIME part is what I keep coming back to...

In high school, when do we give students TIME to read books of their choice? We don't. The fact of the matter is that there is too much other "stuff" out there vying for the attention of our kids. If we don't give them time in school to hook them on reading, how can we expect them to choose it on their own? 

When I was the librarian at Shaw Elementary, we initiated a school-wide DEAR time, when all 796 students and 55 staff members Dropped Everything And Read. We did this four days a week, right after the morning announcements. For the most part, it was a beautiful experience. The students LOVED it, and we noticed a significant increase in interest in reading (and a gradual increase in test scores). 

When I came to Mesquite High School this year, I admit that I was skeptical about bringing DEAR time with me. How would it work on a high school campus of 2800 kids? Would the staff "buy in?" Maybe DEAR time was only an elementary thing? I thought I'd wait a year or so to get a feel for the place before I proposed this crazy idea of giving students TIME to read. 

But it seems that others on the MHS campus were ready to try this. One of our assistant principals, a former English teacher who did DEAR time at another high school campus, and my librarian partner had been discussing a school-wide DEAR time plan last year, and they were ready to make it work. With the support and blessing of our incredible principal, we began meeting in the summer to discuss the logistics of how to make this work for our campus. Here is how SSR (Successful Skeeters Read) came to fruition. It's a tale told in parts:

Part I: Teacher Buy-In

We did not want SSR to be "one more thing" thrown at our teachers at the beginning of the school year, so we decided to take a different approach. Rather than rush into implementation, we wanted to introduce the idea to our teachers and give it time to simmer in their minds for a six weeks; therefore, we decided to begin SSR during the second six weeks. Our hope was that this would allow the teachers time to process the idea, establish their classroom procedures, and get to know their students.  It also bought us valuable time to lay a strong foundation to make this successful (more on that later). 

We presented the idea to our teachers during our staff development the week before school started. The overall goal of this presentation was to persuade them of the benefits of SSR by using research and showing them how EASY this was going to be. 

Here is a link to our Prezi; we found one already created on the website, and it contained permission to edit it. Feel free to use our's as a starting point and then adapt it to meet the needs of your campus. 

Part II: Building Classroom Libraries 

We realized the key to SSR was students bringing reading material to their 3rd period class each day. In a perfect world, our students would march down to our fabulous Skeeter Library to checkout a book or magazine or download something from our district's nationally recognized digital library. But we knew this would not happen with many of our students. If we really wanted SSR to work, we would have to bring the books to them, and they needed to be ones that they would actually read. Enter Half-Price Books of Mesquite...our angels. After a phone call to some of the people in upper management at HPB, they threw their support behind us and donated over 800 books and 10 boxes of magazines! Our principal gave us $2500 to purchase books for the classroom libraries, as well. My partner and I got to spend a blissful morning at HPB in Mesquite selecting books! (Best. Day. Ever.) It took us exactly two hours to spend the amount to the penny (we are THAT good). We hauled it all back to the Skeeter Library in our mini van and SUV.

We spent about three weeks weeding through the books, sorting them on carts, and putting "Property of MHS" stickers on them. It was a huge undertaking but worth the time and effort. 

Part III: The Plan

At the end of September, we had a staff development day and presented our plan of action for SSR to the staff. We did this in a rotation, in which each department came into the library, so we presented six times that day. This worked well because it allowed for small groups so that teachers could ask specific questions. We even had a SSR "simulation" where we gave the teachers time to read so that they could see how it looked and felt.

Here is a link to our presentation for THE PLAN. This will give you the specifics of how we envisioned SSR working on our campus and how to tackle certain issues that we felt might arise once SSR got started. After we presented the plan to the teachers, they had a week to come down to the library and choose books and magazines for their classroom libraries. Teachers were able to select 15-20 books and 10-20 magazines for their classrooms. Many teachers had already started building their classroom libraries with their own materials. I believe that building strong classroom libraries is a KEY component to any SSR program. We still have some work to do in this, but we could not have laid this foundation without the generous donations of Half-Price Books or the help of our principal.

Part IV: Just Do It

Our first day to start SSR was October 7th, which was the first day of the second six weeks. Teachers chose the time that they did SSR during third period because of the conflict with lunches; most teachers use SSR time to re-focus their classes after lunch. We asked each teacher to complete a form  in Google Docs so that we would know when each class was doing SSR. Our district created a video feature on SSR. Watching it will give you a feel for how it works in our classrooms:

Keeping it Going: 

To borrow the title of Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, I believe that's where we are with SSR--at a tipping point. Now that we have implemented it, it's time to sustain it, and that might be the hardest part.

We have sent out teacher surveys to collect feedback about how it's going so that we can evaluate and change in order to keep SSR going strong. We have created several ways to collect data and feedback for evaluation:

  • Reading Consultation Form--This is for teachers to submit the names of students who are refusing to participate in SSR time. My librarian partner and I will meet with the students to help them find a book that they will enjoy reading (hopefully). 
  • SurveyMonkey--This is the survey that we sent to teachers for feedback after the first six weeks of implementation.  
  • SSR Success Stories--Teachers can submit the names of students and share the stories of how SSR has changed them as readers. 
Here are a couple of recent blog posts from the Nerdy Book Club about giving teens time to read in school. Click here and here to read them. 

One of the biggest complaints against SSR that I hear is that it is "a waste of instructional time." I strongly disagree. Giving teens time to read what they choose is NOT a waste of time. To be lifelong critical thinkers, they must be readers. To build them as readers, we must give them time to read. Research shows that it doesn't have to be boring informational texts to improve reading; it doesn't matter WHAT they are reading, as long as they are READING! 

I am proud that I work at a school that is willing to do whatever it takes to turn teens into lifelong readers. If SSR can work at Mesquite High School, it can work ANYWHERE. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

My New Home

What?? It's November??!! How did THAT happen???

I had every intention of starting a new blog for this new adventure as a high school librarian.  I even had a name for it, but after talking to my illustrious library director (whose opinion I greatly value, and I'm not just saying that because she might be reading this), I decided to stick with the Red Reading Chair--even though the chair has been moved to my house and does not have a physical presence in my new space. By sticking with this blog as a place in cyberspace to share the lessons and ideas that come to life in the Skeeter Library, I hope to stay connected with those who followed my elementary journey. Even though I work with high school students now, I think some of the same issues permeate all age groups--how do we get kids of all ages to become passionate readers and thinkers? If you are an elementary librarian (BIG props to you, my friends; I know how HARD you work), I hope that you will continue to follow the RC and get some ideas that you can use with the students on your campus.

Everyone wants to know: "How's it going?" "Do you like it?" "How is it working with the big kids again?" Here's my answer: It's different; different is what I wanted, and I love it. I feel like I'm back in my niche; I'm home again in a literal sense because I am a proud graduate of MHS Class of 1993 (And here I am 20 years later. Never say never...)

Don't get me wrong--I miss the preciousness of my Shaw kids. I truly do. And I miss my Shaw teacher friends; I built some strong friendships in my four years there, and I've told some of them that I wish I could bring them to MHS with me. My eleven years in the English classroom were spent at two 4A campuses, and now that I'm working on a HUGE 5A campus (over 2800 students and 200 staff members), it's hard to know everyone. That's really my only complaint--Mesquite High is just so darn big. But I love it. And I am BUSY, which is the way I like it. High school librarians work just as hard as elementary ones--I know this for a fact.

Another reason I want to continue this blog is to show how HARD secondary librarians work. When I left Shaw, one of my sweet, well-meaning friends asked me, "So what are you going to do there?" I looked at her confused. "What do you mean? I'm going to do the same things I do here...teach kids how to be 21st century thinkers and help them love reading." She smiled and said, "Yes, but high school kids won't sit in front of your red chair and listen to read-alouds. How will you teach them? And how will you give them books? I can't remember ever going into the library when I was in high school.  Do they even check out books in high school?" That's when I knew I had to keep blogging about what I actually do. Many have this misconception that high school librarians just love to shush people, keep up with the stuff, and read in their offices all day. Let me tell you something--the Skeeter Library is not your Mama's (or your own) high school library! Thankfully.

Rather than try to catch up with everything that I did over the first six weeks, I'm just going to include some of the highlights to give a feel of where and how I spend my days:

  • A Library Makeover--Our district has two librarians in each 5A high school library, so I have the privilege of working with a wonderful partner. Sharon and our fabulous principal had a vision for updating the library last year, and I got to come on board and help make a few decisions, but Sharon really had the ball rolling before I got there. Taking shelves out for a new gaming area, new paint (no more hideous teal!), a bar for charging devices (we are a BYOD campus), and modern furniture that feels like a college library are some of the big changes that took place, and the results are FABULOUS. Here are a few pics of our new and improved space: 

Our cool new seating areas  and tech bar have been a huge hit with students
We chose photos from old yearbooks to include in a wall paper collage
that our district's graphic artist designed for us. Super cool! 
Thumbs up to the cool new furniture! 
A typical busy morning before school. The top columns once were green,
and now they are maroon, our school color. 
This wall was once was teal, and now it's maroon. The way it should be! 
Our new gaming area is extremely popular, especially before school

  • Freshman Orientation--We "flipped" our orientation this year and had the English teachers show two short videos before the 23 classes came down for orientation. (Yes, 23!!) First, they watched a quick Animoto that we made to introduce them to the library and highlight all of the changes that have been made. (Click here if you would like to view it.) They also watched an awesome video that we found via Joyce Valenza's SLJ blog that was made by Flocabulary called "Ode to Librarians." It ROCKS, and I guarantee the song will get stuck in your head, and you will also know about my J-O-B. 

Once they came down to the library, we quizzed them about the important points that we wanted them to take away from the videos.  Then the students spent the majority of the time checking out a book because we wanted them to feel comfortable with this process and see how easy it is. The highlight of Freshman Orientation was when a student said to me, "Your books go hard up in here, Miss!" If you don't speak slang, that means he likes the books in the Skeeter Library. As the closure for our lesson, we asked students to tweet about how they were going to use the Skeeter Library to be successful at MHS, but we discovered that many freshmen do not have  a Twitter account; Instagram seems to be the popular social media among 9th graders. A few did tweet, so we had them write their responses on paper (not as cool, but it worked). We then gave each student a bookmark that included all of the things that they could do in their Skeeter Library, as well as our hours and other important information. 

Here is the lesson frame that we used during Fresh. Orientation 
  • Another Blog--Marnie, who is a rock star librarian at Poteet High School and one of my dear friends, and I have started a new blog about one of our passions--using picture books in the secondary classroom. It's called LOL: Librarian on Loan. We both have an elementary library background, and now that we are at high schools, we want to continue our love affair with picture books and help teachers see their value in the classroom. We each use this blog to write about the lessons and picture books that we use on our campuses, and we are planning on presenting our experiences at the Texas Librarian Association (TLA) Conference in April. Please visit our blog here

  • Stats for the First Six Weeks--We created this of our first six weeks statistics to share with our stakeholders via email and on Twitter. It was super-easy to make, and it was a quick way to share our stats with our staff. 

Because we have the free version, we can't print the, so we have our stats posted in the window of the library. It is vital to let our school community know how busy the Skeeter Library is!

It has taken me 12 weeks to get this blog up and running! Rather than go back and blog about each of the lessons that I have taught, I plan on hitting the highlights in future posts. But I will tell you this: I have spent the majority of these twelve weeks teaching--just like I did in the elementary library. That's when I am the happiest in this job--when I'm engaging with a class of kids or helping a student one-to-one with a concept. I am a teacher at heart, and just because I'm a librarian doesn't mean I'm going to leave that passion behind; I've still got many years of teaching left in me, and I am excited that I get to spend them in the Skeeter Library. I am home...again.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A New Challenge

For those of you who have not heard the news, I will be joining the librarian team at Mesquite High School (my alma mater!) next year, and I am SO EXCITED! I have loved every moment of my four years at Shaw Elementary, and it is REALLY hard to leave, but it's time to return to my high school roots. That means that I'm packing up the Red Reading Chair and will no longer be blogging as an elementary librarian. My husband helped me move the chair into our girls' playroom last night, and I want to create a reading nook for them over the summer. The chair has special meaning to our family, and I hope to write a post over the summer about its significance and also post pictures of the finished product.

Just because I'm making the move to high school does not mean I'm going to stop reading to kids. I have BIG PLANS about incorporating read alouds into the high school classroom, and I will start a new blog about that adventure when the school year begins, so I will still be sharing picture book ideas. I will link this blog to that blog, so I would love it if you continued to follow me on this new journey.

Thank you so much to those of you who have read and followed my blog this school year. I love the idea of this blog living in cyberspace as a snapshot of a year in the life of an elementary school librarian. I challenge you to start your own blog and share your ideas. We need to show people that school librarians do so much more than checkout books. We TEACH and make an IMPACT on our campuses each and every day.

I will be blogging throughout the summer on My Western Sky, my personal blog. I actually wrote a post about why I want to be a high school librarian, so you can read that here. You can also follow me on GoodReads and see my Summer Reading List

I hope you all have a wonderful, RELAXING summer full of lots of time to READ!!

Here's to Summer...

The Mad Dash to the End

So the end of the year is such a cake walk for school librarians. The children quickly return their books, and we wiggle our noses like Mary Poppins (or is that Bewitched?) and POOF--the books just magically go back to their spaces on the shelves. Our libraries are in perfect shelf order with all books accounted for, so that leaves us plenty of time to sit in our offices and paint our nails while we plan our relaxing summer vacations.

While you are cleaning up the Diet Coke that you just spit out while reading the above paragraph and wondering what alternate universe I live in, let me clarify: I AM KIDDING. For school librarians, the end of the year can be summed up in three words: CHAOS. SHELVING. REPORTS.

Here's a brief glimpse of how I've spent the last month of the school year:

I came back from the TLA conference at the end of  April and started setting up my THIRD Book Fair of the year (yes, I am crazy). It was the BOGO event, so I spent the week counting baggies of dirty pennies, unfolding dollar origami art, and trying to explain the concept of "equal or lesser value" to six-year-olds. Instead of doing a preview day, I made a power point for the teachers to show the kids in class. (I guess that's kind of like "flipping" the library...) You can see my power point (with math problems!) here.

The sign of a successful Book Fair: Empty cases

Our students bought over $4500 in books (they got double since it was BOGO!!), so they are stocked up for summer reading. I packed up the Book Fair and went directly into Children's Book Week. Our highlights were outside DEAR time, a book swap, and our annual book character parade.

Here's an Animoto video of our outside DEAR time:

Students were given  passes when they were "caught reading" in the hallways while on restroom breaks and also in the cafeteria during lunch.  I drew 5 winners each day to receive a free book. We also had our first book swap, which was a HUGE SUCCESS! Students swapped over 500 books! Here's another Animoto video of our book winners and book swap:

We ended the week with our annual Book Character Parade (can you tell I love using Animoto?):

It was finally time to start collecting all of the books from my 36 classes. Each class came in to return books so that I could talk with each student who still owed books and bribe them, I mean, discuss where that book might possibly be. (It seems that library books like to hide in the tops of closets and in car trunks.) Those students who turned in ALL of their books were entered into a drawing for COOL PRIZES. Two winners from each class got to choose a book from my FREE BOOK stash and FIVE lucky winners got to come to our DANCE PARTY in the library! I hooked up my Wii and had the winners for each grade level (25-30 kids at a time) come in for 30 minutes of dancing last Friday. It was SO MUCH FUN, and I danced all day with the kids (let's just say that I got my workout in for the day). I don't mean to brag, but I did beat a sixth grader who talked trash all week. He wants a re-match. He can't accept the fact that he got beat by Mrs. Bailey.

And here's one last Animoto video of our dance party:

I have been shelving like a mad woman and doing all of our end of year reports. Here are two stats that I am the most proud of:

  • In the 2012-2013 school year, the Shaw Library circulated 46,056 books!!!
  • In the 2012-2013 school year, 752 lessons were taught in the Shaw Library!!! 

And another exciting thing that happened over this past month was that Red Reading Chair won an E-award from Mesquite ISD. I am so honored, and I have loved sharing my ideas over this past school year. Thank you to all of you who have "followed," read, and supported my little blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TLA Presentation

I am excited to present "Putting a New Face on Your Library" at the TLA Conference on Wednesday, April 24 at noon. You can find the link to my presentation here. I would love to hear your ideas about how you have transformed your library on a limited budget. Please share in the comments below.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 30

2nd Grade Research over Continents

Targeted Skills: Determining main idea; Skim and scan to answer questions; Review criteria for credible resources

Whew! April has been crazy-busy! It was wonderful to have a "normal" week back in the library without testing or a trip planned. I kicked off the week with 2nd grade research. Much of the prep work was done in the classroom. The teachers broke the kids into groups that each researched a continent. Mrs.LaRue found this AWESOME blog with links to lessons about research (check it out--it's a GREAT resource!) They made handy folders to help organize their research (these were detailed in the district curriculum). So when they came to the library, they understood where they were in the process and were ready to get on the computers to gather their information. When teachers and librarians work together on research, it's a beautiful thing!

We used the World Book Kids online database available through our district online resources page. Students looked up their continent and wrote one fact on a note card and then put it in the envelope that connected with the main idea of that card. This was our first time to use this folder system for note taking, and it ROCKED. It helped the kids organize their information in a very easy way. Each class spent an hour in the library getting started on the research, and then they finished in their classrooms on the laptops. Here are some pictures of the folders and the kids in action:

Front of folder 
Envelopes with specific topic written on each one

Chart that they made in the classroom to determine
background knowledge

Taking notes and putting a note card in the correct

Working hard 

They did a great job staying on-task 

Happy researchers! 

After the students gathered their information in the library, they then worked on a Power Point presentation in the computer lab. All credit goes to Mrs. LaRue for putting together an easy template for them to use. Here are some of the finished products from her class. They did a fabulous job! 

More Bears by Kenn Nesbitt
Read to Kinder, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 
Targeted Skills: Making Inferences; Author's Purpose

The more that I read this book aloud, the more I fall in love with it. I purposely did not make a lesson frame for this because I told the kids that our goal for this book was to just have fun and enjoy it.

I had the kids chant "more bears!" when I pointed to them, but about 5 pages in, they got the pattern and could say it without my prompting. This is when I stopped and let the lesson set in. It went something like this:

Me: How did you know to say "More bears" before I even turned the page?
Them:  Because every time you turn the page, it says that, Mrs. Bailey. We made an inference. (Yes, they really said this.)
Me: Wait. You are making inferences? I thought we were just reading this for fun! I didn't tell you to make inferences!
Them: Well, good readers make inferences all the time. That's just what we do.

Lesson learned. And yes, my librarian heart did sing.

This book is also awesome for author's purpose (Why does the author add random bears? Why does the author talk to the reader? ) It would be excellent to use with a writing lesson for revision on the importance of adding details that matter rather than just adding details for the sake of details. We also touched on problem/solution.

This book is full of lessons and the kids LOVED it. One of my new faves!

Week 28 & 29

These two weeks have been a bit hectic because of STAAR testing during week 28, which closed the library for two days, and I was out during week 29 on Thursday and Friday to attend the Abydos Learning and Literacy Conference for teachers and trainers in Houston. During these two weeks, I repeated the lessons that I did in week 26 for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades in order to meet our goal of reading all 20 Mockingbird books by the beginning of May. You can see the week 26 lessons for Cindy Moo and Betty Bunny here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Week 27

I spent most of this week helping 4th grade with revision lessons in preparation for the STAAR writing test (our state assessment). All five classes met in the cafeteria at 8:30 on Monday morning and received the same prompt. They wrote until 9:30 and then came to the library in two different groups (one group of 2 classes and one group of 3 classes) for an hour-long revision lesson. We then repeated the process with a different prompt on Wednesday.

I sat in the cafeteria with the kids and wrote a STAAR essay on both days to use for modeling the revision lessons. Let me just say this: 26 lines is NOT much space--especially for a wordy writer like me. It was painful!

Here are some pics of my process that I shared with the students:

This is the expository prompt that we used on Monday. 
My expository essay.  
Our plan for revision
Ratiocination sheet for Expository 

The narrative prompt that we did on Wednesday.

My narrative essay 
Our plan for narrative revision 
Ratiocination sheet for narrative 

I LOVE to teach writing! I just don't like to grade all those essays, so that is one of the reasons that I left the high school classroom to become a librarian. I was excited about this opportunity to teach writing again to students. I am a writing trainer for Abydos, formerly the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas, so I have the privilege of spending my summers teaching teachers how to teach writing.  The ratiocination strategy is a skill taken from Acts of Teaching by Dr. Joyce Armstrong Carroll and Eddie Wilson, founders of Abydos.

Earrings by Judith Viorst & The House that Crack Built by 
Read to 6th Grade
Targeted Skills: Compare and contrast these 2 books for audience, author's purpose, tone, mood, and theme

These are two books that I learned about in the Abydos Institute and used in the high school classroom for a powerful lesson on persuasion. The 6th graders made a tri-fold, and we read Earrings together and analyzed it for audience, author's purpose, tone, mood, and theme in the first column. We then read The House that Crack Built (yes, this is about THAT kind of crack, not the kind in the sidewalk.) Disclaimer: I would not read this book to a grade level younger than 5th. Even though it is a children's book, I think teachers and parents should use discretion before sharing it with young kids. The 6th graders made me so proud because they took the book seriously, and we had a WONDERFUL discussion about the power of choices in our lives. We filled out the last column for this book and then used the middle column to compare/contrast the two books. POWERFUL lesson! 

Lesson Frame: 

Library Lions

"The Red Reading Chair" is honored to be featured on Library Lions, which highlights libraries from across the nation! Thank you so much to Janet Lee Carey, the creator of this great blog for giving the Shaw Library an opportunity to shine!  Here is the link:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Week 26

Cindy Moo by Lori Mortenson
Read to Kinder & 1st Grade
Targeted Skills: Discuss elements of fiction (characters, setting, and plot)

This is another Mockingbird book from our district list, and it's an excellent read aloud for the little ones. We discussed the characters, setting, and summarized the beginning, middle, and end of the plot.

This book offers a great discussion of "creative problem solving" and also some science about reflection and the moon. We also discussed character traits that the kids admired about Cindy Moo, such as the power of perseverance and determination. This is a cute read aloud that the kids enjoyed.

Lesson Frame: 

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan
Read to 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Discuss elements of fiction (character, setting, problem/solution)

Betty Bunny is one of my new favorite characters because she is full of spunk and charm, proving that she truly is a "handful." I love that this book presents a realistic character (even though she is a talking bunny) because I think so many kids can identify with her strong feelings towards chocolate cake (I sure can!). The ending provides an excellent discussion on problem and solution because the students realize that Betty Bunny does not learn her lesson by the story's conclusion (kind of like in life). Even though the book ends, students can infer that Betty will eventually learn how to be patient; it just might take her a little longer. This is one of my new favorite read alouds because it is funny and the kids LOVED it! 
Lesson Frame: 

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche
Read to 3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Discuss elements of Expository; Make inferences; Generate ideas for writing 

This is an excellent nonfiction book that the students truly enjoyed. After showing them the picture of each house, I let them "Turn and Talk" to share their reactions. (I am trying to incorporate more opportunities for students to talk during the read aloud lessons.) We then read the information about the house and the students made connections to their quick conversations. I was unable to share the entire book (it features 15 houses, and I read about 8 of them). The students then determined that the book was nonfiction even though it has illustrations and not real photographs (they are getting good at judging a book based on its content and author's purpose--not the pictures--hallelujah!). There is an excellent map located in the back of the book that shows the location of each house in relation to the world. We then talked about a writer's workshop idea of designing their own dream houses based on what they read in this book. Fabulous!

Lesson Frame: 

Writing Lesson with 4th Grade using Face Time
Targeted Skills: Conferencing with other writers 

Colleen, my amazing librarian colleague from Seabourn Elementary called me up and said, "Some of my 4th grade teachers want to use Face Time to conference about writing. Are you in?" I said, "Yes!" This lesson was all Colleen's idea; I just got two teachers who were interested and scheduled a time for them to come. It was wonderful! The students volunteered to read their writing before they came so that they would be prepared. We then took turns (one from Shaw and one from Seabourn), and everyone wrote a TAG post-it (see Lesson Frame) while listening. Colleen and I swapped the post-its so that the writers could get their feedback. The students LOVED this experience, and we will definitely be using Face Time in the future for book discussions and more lessons. Thanks for the idea, Colleen!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 25

Press Here by Herve Tullet
Read to Kinder, 1st Grade, 4th Grade
Targeted Skills: Use text evidence to make Inferences
 I read this at the beginning of the school year to Kinder and 1st Grade, so I wasn't expecting the same reaction of complete glee. Since it is a Mockingbird book, I needed to share it again, and it was also a good time to read it to 4th grade. 

This book just ROCKS. Even though the kids knew what was going to happen to the dots, they still screamed in delight--yes, screamed--when the dots got bigger. Maybe it's just an excuse to scream in the library (yes, I let them--enjoying books should be so joyful), but I think it was an authentic response. And the 4th graders thought it was super-cool, too. And they screamed.

As if this book wasn't awesome enough on its own, there is an iPad app! It does not have the book as a feature (which would be amazing), but it has games to play with the dots. I demonstrated a few games and turned it into a little making inferences activity; we would guess what the dots would do based on the name of the game. For example, one game is called, "Fireworks," so the kids inferred that the dots would explode like fireworks. Boom. They were right. Oh, the app is not free. It's $1.99 and worth every penny. 
Lesson Frame:

Home Screen for Press Here App

You tap the dots to uncover the games

"Fireworks" Game--Exploding dots
Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas  and Oink-A-Doodle-Moo by Jef Czekaj
Read to 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Make Inferences and Text Connections between the 2 books

These are two short books on the Mockingbird list, so I combined them, and the kids were able to find many similarities between them (both have animals as characters, both have cows and chickens, both stories are told through speech bubbles). One that I did not think of was that they are both by authors of previous Mockingbird books, Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas and Hip and Hop, Don't Stop by Jef Czekaj. That was a happy accident. I love it when those happen!

Lesson Frame: 
I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen 
Read to 3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Make Inferences and Text Connections between the 2 books

My circulation computers took 2 hours to log on the week before Spring Break (proof that even the computers were tired). I have a 3rd grade class first thing each morning, so this was problematic. (Third is the only drop-off and fixed schedule grade level because I am part of the elective rotation to lessen the PE numbers as part of a district's a long story). Anyway, no computers meant no checkout, so I had to get creative with our 45 minutes together. This was a perfect opportunity to share these two book in a compare/contrast lesson format.

First, I read I Want My Hat Back and then This is Not My Hat. Then we did a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two books. The students LOVED it and I suggest reading these two books together for a strong lesson in the importance of using illustrations for meaning. So much of the humor in these books is inferred through the pictures. 

Lesson Frame:
Venn Diagram:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Read to 6th Grade
Targeted Skills: How sensory language creates imagery

As I've written in a previous post, I am on a personal mission to get as many people as possible to read Wonder. Three of my sixth grade classes have finished it or are in the process, so I still had 2 more classes to get on board. I decided that I would share the beginning of the book in this lesson, and then the kids would BEG their teacher to keep reading it. And it worked.  

As the students listened to the first chapter of Wonder, we discussed how Palacio uses sensory language to create imagery, and we made a foldable that looked like this:

 We discussed how the sensory details are the cause and the image that they produce in the reader's mind/heart is the effect. I recommend doing this with any chapter in Wonder. Truly a perfect read-aloud because it is engaging and offers so many lessons.

I also played the song "Wonder" by Natalie Merchant since this is where Palacio got the inspiration for the title. We listened to the song and then the students wrote about how it connects to August.

Lesson Frame:

In an effort of full transparency and fallibility, here are some pictures of March Madness in the library--the Friday before Spring Break. Actually, it has often been MUCH worse, but this will give you an idea:

Books are ALWAYS on carts in my library.

Do your shelves look like this or is it just mine?

I tell the kids that the good books are on the carts.