Each year I wrestle with language that I think will make the Caldecott Medal Criteria more accessible to my elementary students. This is daunting and I am never sure I get it right. The 4th and 5th graders explore the language on their own for a bit and then we work to put it in child-friendly language with concrete examples, but I try to skip this step with the 1st and 2nd graders and go right to my own language. Here's the official language:
Criteria "In identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider: a. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed; b. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept; c. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept; d. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures; e. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience."
[Adopted by the ALSC board, January 1978. Revised, Midwinter 1987. Revised, Annual 2008.]
http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottterms/caldecottterms I love this language, but when asking student to take on the role of a Mock Caldecott Committee they need something they can feel confident in their understanding. This year, I decided to take the five criteria and translate them into this: "In identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider:" a. Excellence b. Appropriateness c. Importance d. Appeal
After a week of playing with this language, it feels pretty good.
What do you think?
What do you use?
I apologize if altering the Caldecott Criteria language has offended any readers.
Feeling like I was draining my students enthusiasm for our "wonder wall wonderings," I promised the kindergartners that we would begin an author/illustrator study this week. And then yesterday happened. We awoke to a dusting of snow, just enough snow to leave foot prints, like these that I followed to school yesterday.
And then today happened. The forecast called for about an inch of snow to begin around noon, but a few flakes were already falling on my walk to school.
I arrived at school, executed a quick Destiny search and pulled all of our fiction and nonfiction books on snow. That author/illustrator study would have to wait. We need to celebrate the first snow of winter! When the kindergarten students arrived the following books were on my bench:
I separated the books by fiction and nonfiction and book talked them. In some ways, I now wish I had had the students wonder about snow and then explored the nonfiction books, but I decided to use this opportunity to talk about the Caldecott Medal since three of these books have been recognized for their illustrations. I also needed to read The Snowy Day. It was just too perfect and I hadn't read a book to the kindergarten students for weeks. The Snowy Day was familiar to many of the students, but not all, so I am glad I chose it. Before reading the story, I simplified the Caldecott criteria and asked the students to read the story with me with this in mind. They love this story just for what it is and that makes me happy, but don't be fooled. These five- and six-year-olds showed a maturity and depth when they were sharing their opinions after we read the story. When asked why they think the book was awarded a Caldecott, they replied: "I think the colors are unique." "I like the patterns" "The snow has colors in it and it is usually white in books." "The foot prints made me feel like I was walking in the snow." "The snowflakes are beautiful." "I could really see what Peter was doing."
Maybe one of these students will be on a future Caldecott Committee... I wasn't the only teacher celebrating snow, I happened to walk by a classroom and heard Dean Martin's voice wafting out into the hallway, "Oh, the weather outside is frightful..."
Today, I'm slicing about choices and decisions. Each day we are faced with choices for which we make the best decisions. Some decisions are easy to make- which book to read, which books to display, which route to run, walk or drive. Some decisions are harder to make- which event to attend, which person to spend time with, what to write about. This week has been one that has offered choices for which I questioned my decisions. How am I to decide which is really the best choice? It could be that a decision leads to a conversation that I needed to have, or a thing I was supposed to see, or an experience for which I was meant to be present. Who knows what awaits each decision? It has gotten me thinking about the choices I make each day. Some are imperceptible and some are significant, but most reside between these two - What should I pack for lunch? When will I go to the office to get my mail? When should I refill my water? Who should turn on or off the lights to make the screen easier to read? Which way will I walk to work? Which book will I read first? What can I put off until tomorrow? You get the gist. I am okay making decisions when confronted with choices, up to a certain point, a limit which I discovered when we were going through a renovation. By the end of the process I would have paid anyone to make just one or two of the choices that I had to make, "I don't care which light fixture goes in the bathroom or what color plate should go on the light switch, just show me where to turn it on." I can so clearly remember the sense of feeling overwhelmed. These thoughts were swirling about in my head as I watched a few students try to make book choices today. A thirty minute library class does not often leave much time for browsing and borrowing, and as much as I talk about and try to encourage good browsing skills, there really isn't the time to explore that many books before choosing one or two. I found myself pushing along a student that was doing exactly what I have asked in browsing. There are students who have a hard time choosing a book because they are not sure what they want to read and some students who really struggle with the weight of this decision. I am feeling a certain kismet with the students I observed having a harder time deciding which books to borrow today, and I am going to think about ways that I can help students with their choices and decisions. I have tried to make the collection more accessible with genre baskets, stickers, book displays, and new signage, but new ideas are needed. After exploring a few choices, I'll have some decisions to make....
Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host think it is Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, go here.
For the twelfth year, I worked with a group of women to decorate a tree for the Concord Museum Family Trees Exhibit. (If you click on this link, you will our tree from last year!)
I am in awe of the creativity and ingenuity of these women, my friends. I love these women, but I love even more that we gather together to create something. After planning out our display, we cut, glue, sew, paint, and talk. Mice on Ice was a fun and sometimes challenging display, "How can we get these mice to skate on ice?"
This year, we were fortunate to create a tree for Mice on Ice by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley, both of whom were able to participate in the author/illustrator visiting day, which was today! I had never met the Emberley's and let me tell you, they are fun...and impressive, between the two of them they have over 100 books! Here a TeachingBooks.net interview with Ed Emberley about Mice on Ice.
Ruth Ayres, over at Ruth Ayres Writes started a new meme called Celebrations. I love this idea and, each week, I will try to join the Saturday Celebrations blogging community.
Today, I am celebrating being a teacher (in general) and being a teacher librarian (specifically).I think I have the best job in the world, in the best profession in the world. It is a gift to learn with, from, and beside children.
Years can have hard months, months can have hard days, and days can have hard hard moments. But on days that involve children, those hard moments are made soft, or at least softened. This happens not because the children are idyllic, but because children are hopeful, inquisitive, earnest, challenging, excited, and authentic. My students place me in time where I am forced to live in our present and not in any other moment. My students help ground me.
I spent this week rolling out the Mock Caldecott Unit. Wow. If I needed any uplifting, I found it in my students' reactions to this unit. I could barely wrest theMock Caldecott books out of their hands at the end of class.
I keep telling the authors and illustrators that I meet that I have the best job in the world, I get to be at that place where readers and stories come together. Yeah. it's awesome and it is most definitely worth celebrating.
Yesterday, we went on a department retreat. It was one of the most productive professional development retreats that I have participated in. It was a well-designed, well-run program, but honestly, I think the location was a contributing factor. When we were not meeting in small groups to grapple with ideas about teaming and technology integration, we could take a walk through this gorgeous old estate. As you can tell, I was taken with a specific element.