"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grade Four Mock Caldecott Initial Rankings

The fourth graders made their preliminary ranking of our Mock Caldecott titles. After ranking the books one to seven, with seven being the book they think best met the Caldecott criteria, the students explained their thinking behind their number one choice.  I wanted to get them thinking about how to explain their choices as they will be in small group discussions next week. 


How did your number one book best meet the criteria?

I love the way  the book's pictures show the mood of the story like if a person is sad I would know that they were sad with it being said in the text.
I think Finding Winnie best meets the criteria, the illustrations are beautiful!
I think Finding Winnie has a great appeal
Finding Winnie has really good illustrations.
Leo a ghost story doesn't have the most detailed  pictures but the style fits really well.
I think Finding Winnie best meets the criteria because the illustrations are excellent,  appropriate,  they help tell the story, and they will appeal to children.
I think Finding Winnie is a good book because it has good illustrations.
Finding Winnie because the illustrations are great and it will appeal to children
because Finding Winnie had terrific illustrations and would appeal to a children audience
I like the illustrations.  They are cute and the characters are interesting.  I think this book would appeal to children.
I think that My Pen best met the criteria because I think that it is so amazing that you can make such great, rich illustrations and shadow with just one pen.
I think Finding Winnie is a really  great book. It has illustrations that really help tell the story. I think this book would appeal to a child audience as much as it appealed to me.
I think that Finding Winnie best meats the criteria because it would appeal to a young audience. the illustrations are amazing.  
The illustrations did the best job of telling the story.
colors were awesome
It met the criteria because it was a very cute book and also funny.
The book meet the criteria because the drawings were very helpful.
I like how the is alone then finds a friend.
Lenny And Lucy best meets the criteria because all the pictures express what the theme of the page is.
I like how it meets the appeal, and without the pictures you could not understand any of the story. I think it would be better if the story went a little longer, or if the dark woods tried to come into the house
I think the illustrations meet the text.
The appeal to children.
I think that Lenny and Lucy met the criteria  because the color of the pictures matched with the mood and theme of the story.
I think the color matches the activity going on in the book.
I think the technique is excellent and it helped me understand the book.
It is pretty cool that Christian Robinson can make other colors out of blue and white
you can really see that the girl is having a hard time giving away her most favorite things, and then at the end someone wanted to sell her then her parents told her they would never sell her then it was okay to sell her things because she had her parents. So there is a lesson in this story, worry about what you have not what you don't.
Finding Winnie
The illustrations were excellent.
The illustrations were great and the technique was beautiful
The illustrations helped me understand the book.
Finding Winnie best met the criteria because the pictures really matched the story and the illustrator choose a very good style
The woods seemed to get less scary as the story went on, which made sense. The grey with a couple of other colors really fit in, and I LOVED the book!
I think that the pictures were really important in Finding Winnie.
My number one book was number one because I loved the way the author made things disappear and re-appear because Leo was a ghost and the appeal was great
I think Finding Winnie is a heart touching book that meats all the criteria!!!!
The illustrations and the choice of words were excellent

I think that Finding Winnie is a great book because the illustrations help tell the story.
how the book met the criteria was that the pictures described the feeling of the book
I just thought the pictures matched perfectly
I think the technique was great.
I thought the illustrations told a lot more about the story
Finding Winnie met the criteria best because the illustrations were important and the book really appealed to me. The colors really matched the mood!
The illustrations are really perfect, they math the mood, the pictures are really important to the understanding the story, and they appeal to children.       

You've Read an ARC, Now Share What You Are Thinking...

I set up an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) basket in my library. If a students takes a book from the basket, they "commit to comment."

I created a Google Form on my Libguides page, which the students have been accessing both during browsing and from their classrooms. There hasn't been enough time during library classes for students to comment and I am not sure I can rely on their having access to technology at home. 

I am happy with I have seen so far though!

You've read an ARC, now share what you are thinking...

Title of the Book
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Grace Lin
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, a lot of people are into that book from second grade and it is very interesting. 
What surprised you in this book and why?
When she was walking through the forest she bumped into a DRAGON.
What did this book make you wonder?
What is the book about is she actually going to meet the man of the moon.
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
MinLi's dad
Is there a character you would like to know better?
MinLi, she is so adventurous

Title of the Book
Capture the Flag
Kate Messner
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, because it is a book full of surprises
What surprised you in this book and why?
I like the way Snickerbottom was the thief.
What did this book make you wonder?
I wonder if they were ever going to get on that plane
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
Yes, I would like to be Anna

Title of the Book
Codename Zero
Chris Rylander
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, I would because it's full of action and adventure. The description and plot of the story is really good.
What surprised you in this book and why?
One thing that surprised me what that Medlock actually worked for Pancake Haus and that he was originally a part of the Agency.
What did this book make you wonder?
This book made me wonder about if there were any secret agencies near where I live.
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
I probably would not like to be a character in this book.
Is there a character you would like to know better?
There isn't a character that I would like to know about.
Mrs. Reed, you didn't ask me about...
Another thing to add is that I really enjoyed this book and that it was very interesting to read.

Circus Mirandus
Cassie Beasley
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, it's an incredible and magical book a bit advanced but who cares its the authors first novel which makes it even better.
What surprised you in this book and why?
Im surprised that uncle Ephaim saved his miracle so long.
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
I'd like to be the lightbender because he seems more than nice.
What did this book make you wonder?
I'm wondering if she'll write another novel.

Title of the Book
The True Story of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk
Liesl Schurtliff
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, I would, because it makes a shocking twist in the story and uses great details.
What surprised you in this book and why?
I was surprised at the whole story, because it's the true story, and it has a big twist.
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
No, because it would be way to dangerous for me.

Title of the Book
A Home for Mr. Emerson
Barbara Kerley, Edwin Fotheringham
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, the words and illustrations go very well together
What surprised you in this book and why?
I was surprised his house burned down because at the beginning, it was so peaceful.
What did this book make you wonder?
Why did he love his home so much?
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
I would like to be one of Mr. Emerson's Neighbors   A.) so I could meet him and B.) so I could help with the fire
Is there a character you would like to know better?
I would like to know Ellen's background a little better. What was her normal job. Did she ever have one?

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill
Megan Frazer Blakemore
Would you recommend the book to another reader? Why or why not?
Yes, because it's a really nice mystery book about Russian spies and it takes place in the 1900s and in a graveyard. Hazel, the main character in the story,makes friends with the friend of a really mean girl.
What did this book make you wonder?
This book made me wonder that if there were really Russian spies in the 1900s.
Would you like to be a character in this book? Who and why?
not really. Because the best characters have to deal with Russian spies.
Is there a character you would like to know better?
Yes. Samuel Butler. He seems very mysterious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"I learned that it must be hard to choose Caldecott Award books."

We're getting to the end of our Mock Caldecott unit. Teaching a Mock Caldecott in November during Picture Book Month has been a wonderful way to promote the power of picture books and the importance of visual literacy.  

The fifth graders have read, Finding Winnie, Growing Up pedro, If You Plant a Seed, Last Stop on Market Street, Mesmerized, and Yard Sale. Today, they ranked the books from one to seven in order of how well they thought each book met the Caldecott criteria. They will bring this viewpoint with them to the small group discussions next week. At the end of the discussion period, the students will choose their top four books and rank them. It will be interesting to see how this initial ranking changes after the discussions.

The overall ranking looked like this:
Growing Up pedro
Finding Winnie
Leo: A Ghost Story
Yard Sale
If You Plant a Seed
Last Stop on Market Street

Here are the rankings for each book:

I wanted to get a sense before the final assessment (and before the Thanksgiving break) what it is they feel that they learned.  Here are there answers:

I learned that...

Illustrations are important

I will remember the Criteria for Success.
I learned that the pictures in a picture book should tell part of the story without the text.
Pictures are just as important as the text.
I have learned about the what to expect from a good book (ie cover, end pages, and interior).
I have learned how to carefully review and take important details about a book
I learned that picture books can be fun to read
To pay attention to the pictures
don't judge a book by its cover
That it is must be very very hard to choose a Caldecott book
I will remember that the Caldecott Medal looks at art in books.
I learned that the pictures in a picture really help you visualize the story better then not having the pictures at all.
That books can be expressed in different ways
I learned that choosing one book is very hard
I will remember that some picture books can be really good
Don't judge a book by it's color
I will remember all the Caldecott books
How to think about books and to notice small details in every book you read.
I learned about the Caldecott
I have learned from this unit that picture books are not all about the text . The art matters also, and the art has to tie together with the text.
Pictures can contribute greatly to stories.
I have learned that it is very hard to make a book that is Caldecott worthy.
I learned that picture books are very interesting and that they are very hard to rate.
That picture books are very important.
I learned that picture books are amazing and are really make you enjoy the world of books.
that book to meet the criteria is that it has to have excellence, appropriateness, appeal, and importance
I will remember all the criteria in all the picture books.
I learned not to judge books by first looks.
I'll remember that it's important to think about if the book is "good'' and not just if you like it.
You can learn a lot from picture books
no time 
picture books are good to read every once and awhile
I will remember reading Mesmerized
I learned that a lot more time goes into deciding the Caldecoyt award than I thought.
choosing the right book for the Caldecott honor is hard
That book titles and pictures count in how you "feel" the book
I have learned about the picture books and how the Caldecott award works
I learned that the Illustrations in a book matter just as much as the words.
That to be a Caldecott book award you need to have good pictures that match the words and the character has to have a dream
no time
I learned it was hard to rank the books
don't judge books by their cover
I've learned that pictures are important.
That picture books are more special then most people think
End papers give a clue to the story.
Illustrations are helpful
I learned that that pictures play a very important role in picture books
I will remember to look at the back, front, both covers, and sides before I decide to not read a book
You can always make your own ranking for the book you are reading
I will remember Finding Winnie, because it meant the most to me
I learned that the Caldecott Criteria is important because you can use it to see the quality of a book.
I have learned that picture books are very important because they help flow the story along.
I will remember of how the Caldecott system works.
To look very close at the pictures in a book.
To really look into the book for important details.
I learned that picture books are important because you can learn a lot from them.
I learned not to judge a book by its cover
That picture books are very powerful.
It's hard to rank the books!
That you should plant a seed of kindness
I learned that picture books are also fun and that you can really get into them if you read them more often. I will remember that it doesn't matter if a picture book is by the same author your opinion can be different for different picture books.
That it is hard to make a book that meets the requirements, and you have to make your book better than others.
I learned that I should share a picture book I read with other people so I could get their point of view of the book
I learned that there is so much more to Caldecott judging than you would think I mean you have to see if the text and the pictures match the style of the book and the jacket and cover.
I learned that it must be hard to choose a Caldecott award.

Monday, November 23, 2015

First Grade Information Gatherers

My first graders are learning about research by gathering information - the "do" stage of the Super 3 research process, Plan, Do, Review. Here's what first grade information gatherers look like:

After gathering information, the students were invited to add their own wondering questions and to try to answer those. Here are some of their wondering questions:
Bess Beetle
Why are they black?
What is the life cycle?
Why do they eat meat?
Why do they eat smaller bugs?

What are its predators?
How many legs?
What is their habitat?
I wonder if they have 750 legs?
Do centipedes and millipedes eat the same thing?
How many legs?
How fast?
How many eggs do they lay?

Tenebrio Beetle
Why can it not live in Antarctica?
Why does it have stripes?
Why cant they live in Antarctica?

Pill Bug
How long do pill bugs live?
How many body parts?
Do they walk fast?
Do they eat other pill bugs?
Do they eat flowers?
How slow do they walk?

What does a cricket do when they are mad?
What is a cricket’s life cycle?
What do they do in the day?
How do they fly?
Why do crickets have to be black and brown?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mock Caldecott: Lenny & Lucy

The fourth graders read Lenny & Lucy as part of their Mock Caldecott unit.  Lenny & Lucy was created by the talented and dynamic duo of Philip and Erin Stead.

This beautifully-illustrated and emotionally-powerful book engages readers. There is much in the narrative and illustrations to hook their attention and spark conversations.

For our Mock Caldecott, we are, of course, carefully examining the illustrations.

Before the reader reaches the title page our story begins with an owl on a bare branch looking down at something the reader cannot see. One yellow leaf dangles from the branch and the yellow from the leaf is echoed in the owl's beak. 

I looked forward the opportunity to talk about the scene in the woods, which, with the absence of life, becomes even starker and more overwhelming. The students took turns sharing an adjective to describe the woods.
When exploring the wallpaper, the students expressed the uneasiness they felt, how the flowers were nice, but something is a little off, they are just too large and there are too many of them, as well as the fact that they are colorless. (This page spread feels very like Van Allsburg to me with its strong geometric lines being overpowered by lively organic ones.)
The way Peter peers around the window frame is a brilliant touch that reinforces his uneasiness. While there is uncertainty and it rings through the narrative and art, there is also hope which does the same. Harold in his lovely yellow shaggy fur is a solid and warm presence, as are Lenny and Lucy. (Would someone make me a plush version of these please!).
Erin Stead has included many small and beautiful details within each illustration, making the reader want to go back and explore each page.
Along with having conversations, the students shared their thinking on our Padlet:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

ReedALOUD: Lenny & Lucy

I have read Lenny & Lucy by Philip and Erin Stead with two different purposes this week, one for my Mock Caldecott and one to show my kindergarten students how books get a reader wondering and how good readers are thinking while they are reading. This beautifully-illustrated and emotionally powerful book is easy to teach with.

They started to share their wonderings by looking at the cover:

Some students wanted to share additional wonderings when we reached the two page forest spread.

The students continued to share wonderings as we read through the book. 

Where is the car going?

What is on the roof?

Why is the car in the woods?

Why are there so many trees?

Where are the leaves?

What is all that white?

Where are they going?

Why couldn't they sleep?

Why does he not want to live there?

Did he tell his parents that he didn't want to be there?

Why does his father like this house?

Why is he worried about the woods?

Are they moving? 

What are the packages on the car?

I wonder where the mom is.

Is the mom in the woods?

Is their house in the woods?

I wonder what will happen next.

I wonder what is on the other side of the bridge.

It might sound disruptive to the story and distracting, but it wasn't. We'll reread and review the wondering questions next week, see which were answered in the text and try to answer those that were not. Next we begin a unit where the students explore a wondering question. They will draw a picture of what they are wondering about, I'll help them find articles on Pebble Go, and then they will record over their picture what they have learned. Stay tuned!
Until then, please read this book.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mock Caldecott: Leo: a ghost story

The fourth and fifth graders read Leo: a ghost story as part of their Mock Caldecott unit. The book is written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Leo is published by Chronicle Books.  About Leo: "You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo's efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin."

Check out the trailer:
The students are being close readers of both narrative and art. I am excited by their conversations and can tell from what I am hearing that they are being thoughtful about our criteria. 

When thinking about the importance of the illustrationsthe students recognized that they would not know when Leo lived, what he looked like, or how he was dressed without the illustrations. They used the art to determine when Leo lived -  the peeling wallpaper, ornate table, old fashioned phone, and natty attire - guessing it was at least a hundred years ago.  They also enjoyed comparing Leo's home to Jane's modern house with a simplicity of style. In terms of appropriateness of the stylethe students felt that the limited palate was extremely effective and appropriate for a ghost story. The style also echoed Leo's mood. When thinking about excellence of execution, they recognized the complications of maintaining a ghostly presence throughout the story and felt Christian Robinson succeeded. They also appreciated the details of the two houses. Regarding appeal to a child audience, this book received a solid thumbs up across the room. One thing that did continue to arise was the idea that a ghost can carry something while also being walked through. I shared that in my lifetime, this has just been a cool thing that ghosts can do.

Along with verbal conversations, th
e fourth graders continue to practice good digital citizenship by expressing their opinion on our Padlet wall.