Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week 19

Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim
Read to 6th Grade
Targeted Skills: Have fun with poetry; Notice characteristics of poetry; Make inferences; Vocabulary development

It was 6th grade's turn to hear this great book. You can see more about his lesson in my Week 8 post.

3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Review district's online resources to prepare for research; Vote for favorite Bluebonnet Book

To prepare students for research projects that they will be doing in class during the next few weeks, I reviewed our online resources. I focused on Kid's Click, and we discussed why this student-friendly search engine was a better option than Google. Each class then voted for their favorite Bluebonnet book. 4th--6th grades will vote next week.

Lesson Frame: 

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Read to 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Elements of drama; Make inferences; Connect to schema

This is one of my all-time faves, so I just had to read it in honor of Dr. King's day. I made the stretch and connected it to the curriculum-covered skill of the week (drama) by talking about how this was NOT a drama and how we could turn it into a drama or reader's theater. I think it's good to give kid's a non-example of something and talk about WHY it doesn't fit those elements rather than just pounding them with examples all the time. This just makes their brains work at a higher level to compare and contrast. I wish that I had a copy of the newest MLK picture book I Have a Dream illustrated by my fave Kadir Nelson! I willl definitley add this one to the collection on the next book order!

Lesson Frame:

And just for kicks, here is a picture of Kadir Nelson, my favorite illustrator. Those of you who faithfully read my blog will understand.

You can read more about him here
Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney
Read to 1st Grade
Targeted Skills: Elements of a Folk Tale

This is the same lesson that I did with Kindergarten last week. Read more here.

Mouse and Lion by Rand Burkert
Read to Kinder
Targeted Skills: Elements of a Fable; Compare a Fable to a Fairy Tale

This is a new version of this fable that I recently ordered. I do not like it as much as Pinkney's version, but it would make for a good paired reading to compare and contrast. The Kinders did a great job distinguishing between a fable and a fairy tale. They've got it down, and I give all of the credit to our classroom teachers.

Lesson Frame:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 18

Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback
Read to 4th & 5th Grades
Targeted Skills: Make Inferences and Discuss Author's Purpose

As we prepare for Bluebonnet voting, it was time to share this fabulous book with 4th & 5th grade. (I have already shared it with 3rd grade, and 6th grade will read it in the classroom this week). Even after reading it 9 times this week, I still LOVE it. There is SO MUCH depth here, but I have to remember that even though I'm coming at it for about the 14th time, when I share it with a class, it is the FIRST time for them to hear it, so I have to keep that in mind. Each class still pointed out something new that I had not realized before. I just love it when that happens!

This is a perfect book for discussing author's purpose. I think students sometimes confuse their feelings as a reader with the author's intended purpose. For example, some students think that an author's purpose was to entertain because they liked a book, but really the purpose might have been to inform; an author's purpose can be to inform while the reader is still entertained. Each postcard in this book has a different purpose, so it is perfect for comparing the differences and then pointing out the text evidence to support that purpose. I think we need to point out text evidence to support the purpose--not just let the kids go off their feelings as a reader.

I put this lesson on our Bluebonnet blog for the 6th grade teachers to do with their classes. Even though I love this book, I had to pass it on to the teachers to read because I was getting a little weary of it this week. You can click here to see the lesson.

Our 5th grade bilingual class had a great time with this book. Their fabulous teacher extended the lesson into the classroom (on her own, with no prompting from me--love that!) and had the kids write a postcard to me about what they liked about the book. She gave them to me, and needless to say, they made my librarian heart sing. These will definitely be going into my "Happy File." Here are few:

Lesson Frame: 

Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators by Jim Arnosky
Read to 3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Author's Purpose; Note Taking Skills 

This is the final Bluebonnet book that I chose to share with 3rd grade. I chose Thunder Birds instead of Ruth and the Green Book because the curriculum calls for research to begin next week, so I thought this would be a good practice for them in note taking.  Even though the focus for the week was procedural text, I still found a way to connect the lesson even though this is informative.

First, students folded a piece of colored paper in a tri-fold and then folded it in half, making six squares. (Side note: I am the foldable queen. When I was in the classroom, my high school students called my class "Origami.")  This was used to take their notes, and I pointed out that I was giving them directions for how to do something, therefore, this was a procedure. I then read the book to them and we wrote down one interesting fact from each section. The life-size fold-out illustrations were a HUGE hit, causing lots of "COOL!" comments from the kids. I then asked them what the author's purpose was, which they all agreed it was to inform, so this is an informative text rather than a procedural one. We discussed what the difference between the two are. I also pointed out that even though we were entertained by the illustrations, that was not the soul propose of the book.

I passed this book on to 4th grade to read during Week 19. You can click here to see the complete lesson on our Bluebonnet blog.

The notes that I used to model during the lesson 
Lesson Frame:

Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Read to 2nd Grade
Targeted Skills: Characteristics of a Fable; Compare a Fable to a Legend

Our primary grades are continuing their genre study of fiction, so they concentrated on fables this week. We reviewed the characteristics of a fable, and then I shared Pinkney's breath-taking wordless picture book with them. They were familiar with the story, so it was a good way to compare the different versions. We then discussed how a fable is different from a legend, which was the focus for last week.

Lesson Frame: 

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty and Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries by David Levinthal and John Nickle 
Read to 1st Grade
Targeted Skills: Elements of Fairy Tales

I repeated the lesson that I did with Kindergarten last week. You can click here to read more.

The Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney
Read to Kinder
Targeted Skills: Elements of a Folk Tale; Compare Folk Tales to Fairy Tales 

We discussed the elements of a folk tale before reading The Little Red Hen. We then compared how a folk tale is different from a fairy tale by focusing on the elements outlined in the curriculum.

Lesson Frame: 

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Not Bragging. It's Job Security

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article from Education Week called "A Teacher's New Year's Resolution: Brag More."  It is a fantastic article that I encourage all educators to read because it brings to  light an excellent point: We need to shout from the rooftops the successes that are occuring in our public schools. Here is an excerpt that I just LOVE:

 Let's show them that what happens between our opening and closing bells is just as significant as what happens on Wall Street. When they hear about what we really do—rather than our complaints of low pay, unfair testing, and kids who really are just kids—maybe then we'll start to see some changes. Changes in the conditions we work in, changes in the pay we receive, and changes in the future for our students—which is really what it is all about.   --Julie Conlon

However, I think many educators feel uncomfortable bragging about the success of their students and what they are doing that works well. And librarians, well, we are a humble group. But in this time of budget cuts, it is more important than ever that we share with others what we REALLY do. This is not a time to be humble--it's a time to PROMOTE. That is one of the reasons that I started this blog. I want people to see what really goes on in a busy school library. We must not only change the perception of a school library as a hushed room filled with books, but we must also change the perception of the school librarian. We are TEACHERS.

Here are some of the things that I do in the library to promote this space as a BUSY place of learning:

I post the stats for each six week outside in the hallway so that everyone can see. Here are my combined stats for the first semester (August--December):

Number of lessons taught: 398
Number of students who came in for self-checkout: 1,611
Number of students who visited the library after school: 421
Number of items circulated during the first semester: 23,719

I promote my own personal reading life on the front door of the library. This is a great way to not just "talk the talk" as the reading guru on my campus but to also "walk the walk."

I have also started displaying the bookcovers of all the read-alouds that I do. This helps the kids remember the title of the books rather than saying, "Remember that book that you read to us about the girl..."

These are just a few of my ideas. I would love to hear some of your ideas for promoting your library program! Remember, it's not's job security!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 17: Beginning of Second Semester

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries by David Levinthal and John Nickle 
Read to Kindergarten
Targeted Skills: Elements of Fairy Tales 

The kids were excited to be back in the library after a two-week break from school. We started the lesson with a review of the fairy tale elements that they had discussed in class. The kids were easily able to tell me that fairy tales begin with "Once Upon a Time," have good and evil characters (not always princesses and princes), have elements of magic (not always with magic wands), and usually have a happy ending.

I would like to put my fallibility right out there to show that I don't always pick a great read-aloud. At the beginning of the week, I chose The Man in the Moon by William Joyce to read to Kindergarten. It is a GORGEOUS new book that tells a fairy tale that I didn't think the students were very familiar with. I read it to one Kinder class, and while it was not a horrible experience, I got the vibe that they didn't love it. It is very long, and they got confused by some parts of the story. It is a beautiful book, and I think it will be better suited for the older kids, so I ditched it and went with Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? I wanted to share something a bit unconventional since I knew they kids were familiar with many of the classics. This is considered a "twisted" fairy tale because it solves the mysteries of these beloved stories. I chose three to share (Goldilocks, Humpty, and Snow White--it is long, too), and we reviewed the traditional stories before we read the "solved" versions. Some of the humor flew over their heads (for example, referring to Humpty as a "good egg"), but they still enjoyed it. I want to share this one with the upper grades because I think they will "get it." If you are looking to spice up your fairy tale collections, this one is a must!

Lesson Frame 

I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems
Read to 1st Grade 
Targeted Skills: Elements of Drama, Examples of Dialogue, Making Predictions and Inferences

Like most librarians, I admit to having a book crush on anything by Mo Willems. Many kids forget that he wrote the Elephant and Piggie books, so I like to lead them to these (I have many since it's a series) when all of the Pigeon books are checked out (which is always). My kids have learned they must be patient when looking for books in the library.

It's difficult to find "drama" to share with students because we don't have any in the library. I chose this book because it is an excellent example of dialogue, and I wanted to show them how this can be turned into a script, which can then be shared as readers' theater.

First, let me tell you that my eyes were opened to something at the beginning of this lesson. I first asked the kids to tell me what "drama" means. Here are some responses:

  • "It means you are a hot mess."
  • "It means you make stuff a big deal."
  • "It means that you cry a lot."
  • "It means that you are a queen."
I soon realized that when our kids see "drama" on oh, let's say a standardized test, this is the definition that most of them have in their schema. It is IMPERATIVE that we teach them that drama can also mean "a play" or a "dramatic performance" so that they understand this concept. This might seem like a picky thing, but I think we have to keep in mind how things will be asked on a test and prepare our students with that terminology. Like it or not, we have to keep this in mind. I never condone "teaching to a test," but I think we have to teach in the reality in which we live. 

Off my soap box and back to the lesson: this book rocks. It's short, funny, and so fun to read. I made sure the students imagined this as a play--visualizing elephant and piggie on a stage. (Classroom teachers with more time could turn this into a readers' theater.) However, there are elements of flashback in the story, so this was a good way ask how would that be performed in a play? The kids LOVED this book, and so did I.  

Lesson Frame

If you haven't stumbled upon Mo Willems' blog, click here .

I HAVE to get this new t-shirt. You can find it on Mo's blog!!!

I am curious to know what resources you use for drama. Do you have "drama" in your library? (books not hot messes.) Please share in the comments below. I  need some titles to add to my collection.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
Read to 2nd Grade 
Targeted Skills: Elements of a Legend; Character Traits 

I like to read NEW books to the kids, but this is an example of a time when I had to go "old school." 

We reviewed elements of a legend that the kids had learned in class. They could easily tell me that legends are passed down from generation to generation, about real people, things, or events, and have some element of magic or fiction. 

I wasn't sure if the kids would enjoy this book, but they really did--especially the boys. Shame on me for doubting the magic of Tomie dePaola--he really is timeless. They liked the fact that Little Gopher wanted to be a warrior, but he was good at being an artist so he stuck to his true talent. They were able to identify this a positive character trait. We reviewed some elements of fairy tales that they learned last year (they haven't covered these in the 2nd grade curriculum yet), so that they could see what makes a legend different. 
Lesson Frame

What legends do you share with your students? I need some new ideas!

Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim
Read to 3rd Grade
Targeted Skills: Elements of Poetry (rhyme, rhythm, figurative language); Vocabulary; Making Inferences

It was third grade's turn to hear this Bluebonnet book. Please see my post in Week 8 to read about this lesson. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best Read-Alouds of 2012

This is my second year to participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I met my goal of reading 150 books in 2012. While a majority of those were picture books, I am still proud of this accomplishment.

I have chosen my Top 10 Best Read-Alouds for 2012. I based my choices on the reaction of the kids and also on my level of enjoyment while reading them aloud. When you read books multiple times to different groups of kids, it can make a book start to lose its magic. But these are the books that never got old.

My Top 10 Picture Book Read-Alouds of 2012:

1. Press Here by Herve Tullet--Best read-aloud experience EVER! Who knew pressing on dots could make kids and adults actually GASP in glee!?! Read more here.
2. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen--HILARIOUS! Read more here.
3. Guess Again! by Mac Barnett--The kids LOVED this one. Read last spring (pre-blog).
4. Woof: A Love Story by Sarah Weeks--Such a fun read-aloud experience because the words just roll like a wave. And such a sweet story with a great theme. Read last spring (pre-blog).
5. Waiting for Biblioburro by Monica Brown--AWESOME and TRUE! Read more here.
6. Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems--How can you not pick a pigeon book as one of the best of the year? A homerun with kids every time. Read more here.
7. Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman--A sweet, simple story that the kids loved! Read more here.
8. Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback--A unique book with removable letters.(A kid's dream--a librarian's nightmare, but still fantastic!) Read more here.
9. Bridget's Beret by Tom Lichtenheld--LOVE this book and its theme! Read last spring (pre-blog).
10. A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena--Powerful read aloud for upper grades, and Kadir Nelson's illustrations are simply breathtaking!Read more here.

I look forward to 2013 and a new challenge. My goal is to read 153 books this year! (I chose 153 because 150 was hard enough, and I added the 3 just to make it a little more than last year). I highly recommend joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge! I would love to know your favorite books of 2012 and what your reading goals are for 2013. Please post in the comments below. 

Waiting for the Biblioburro
Press Here
I Want My Hat Back
Woof: A Love Story
Guess Again!
Bridget's Beret
Boy and Bot
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?
A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

Postcards from Camp 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First Semester Comes to an End

Is it just me or did the first semester of school just ZOOM by? The last few weeks leading up to Christmas  were busy bliss in the Shaw Library.

I did several read-alouds of two of my new favorite holiday books--Turkey Clause by Wendi Silvano and Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin.

Lesson Frame:

I LOVE decorating for Christmas, so the halls of the library were decked in Decemeber! We did our read-alouds illuminated by twinkling lights.

This Santa was passed down to me from my Christmas-loving grandmother. 

Some of my fabulous 6th graders helped create our first book tree!

Santa left a special present for Shaw students to open. Of course, it was NEW BOOKS! Before the students got a chance to check them out for the holidays, the library hosted a book preview for the staff so that they could get a sneak peek of the books and enjoy a sweet treat with my famous Cup of Christmas Cheer.

Cup of Christmas Cheer: One bottle of apple juice and a box of Hot Tamale candies in the crock pot on high until the candies dissolve. I learned this recipe from my fellow MISD librarian peeps. Super easy and it will make you a hit on your campus and your library smell delicious!

New books!!

The highlight of the holiday season was Shaw's first annual Polar Express day. Several schools in Mesquite have a similar event, and this was my first year to jump on board. I could not have done it without the help of my librarian friends telling me how to make hot chocolate for 747 kids. ALL 38 classes visited the library on Friday, December 14. Students (and staff!) got to wear pajamas, and everyone got a ticket to board the Polar Express. Our fabulous speech therapist made the tickets for every student and channeled her inner-Tom Hanks to help punch them before the students "boarded." I moved all of the tables and chairs, and students sat on the floor in rows as if they were on a train. They came in groups of 3-4 classes, so there were 60-80 kids at a time in the library.  They watched a video of The Polar Express being read by Chris Van Allsburg, and it was truly priceless to see the looks on the faces of my students as they sat totally enthralled in the story. Most of them had read the book before, but there was something magical about listening to it read by the author in the twinkling glow of the Christmas lights while sitting in their pajamas. Even the 6th grade boys sat motionless. We then watched the "Hot Chocolate" clip from the movie, and I announced that we had hot chocolate WITH MARSHMALLOWS for everyone! The squeals of glee at this news made me feel like Oprah! Wonderful volunteers from our PTA worked hard to have cups of hot chocolate ready for the students to take as they exited the library. The drank it out in the hall (less mess for the carpet). It was wonderful to have our entire school particpate; it was a true community building event. In all of my fifteen years in education, it was my BEST. DAY. EVER. Joy, gratitude, and wonder in the eyes of 747 kids who I love...who can ask for anything more? You can see our pictures below:

Looking forward to a great 2013 in the Library!