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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Plant a Kiss...and plant this and this...

I read Plant a Kiss with my 2nd graders.

This book is written by the wonderful Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by the equally wonderful Peter H. Reynolds.

Here's a Book Trailer that you can use with your students. I read the book; we discussed what they thought the book was about; and, then I showed the book trailer.  

This is slightly backwards, but here's why: the synopsis of the book at the end of the trailer helped start the discussion about what other things a person might plant. 

I think "hugs" was the first suggestion in every class.  Other popular ideas were: friendship, peace, love, joy and fun.  Some interesting ideas came up, such as: dreams, creativity and hope.  Cool things to plant indeed.

After brainstorming ideas as a group, they set off to plant something...

My library is a garden of hope!

Four Comments on Fourth Stall

Let the conversation begin!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Browsing has become a contact sport...

Well, contact in a very loose sense...as in... making contact with books!

After last week's lesson-less plan, I witnessed a number of students playing with book titles and making book spine poems while browsing!

Here's one:

Reading - A World of Wonders - A World of Words

Sitting Down for the Power of Story

We are starting our Civil Rights Movement exploration with the fourth grade students.

With today's fourth grade class I read, Sit-In: How Four friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Here's a great interview from Barnes and Noble Books with the two of them.

I decided to write Reading is Power and The Power of Story on the board. 

I asked the students of they could name the author whom we had studies and who said these words.In every class a few students made the connection to Patricia McKissack. I asked them to keep those words in mind while we read Sit-In. They sat engaged and intent throughout the reading of this book.  (That's the power of a great story!)

The discussion was very interesting.  This book is so rich, both in content and visually, it needs more than one reading.  We'll be coming back to it next week. I also want to show them the pictures fomr my visit to the Woolworths and then to the museum which now occupies the space.  You can read about it on this blog post: Standing Up and Sitting In.

Here's a quick look at some initial reactions by students.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Power of These Words...

World Read Aloud Day keeps on giving.

I was handed


piece of paper 
by a student.  

I couldn't open it 

because I had my classes.


when I was cleaning out 

my pockets

of the day's mementos

There it was,

in my back pocket

waiting for me.

A Poem-ish

A Poem in My Pocket 
based on

one of the writing prompts 


World Read Aloud Day.

Check it out
(The poem is typed out below.)

Here it is:


There comes a time
when we have to shed our fear
that time is now.

There comes a time
when in small places
close to home
-so close and so small
that they cannot be seen-
the individual person is called to give
hope to others
that time is now.

There comes a time
when without concerned citizens
action to uphold human rights
close to home,
we shall look in vain for progress
in the larger world,
that time is now.

after all
do human rights begin?


The Power of Story

I am finishing up a Patricia McKissack author study with the 3rd grade.
Today, I put out a white piece of paper and explained to the students that they did not have to add anything to the paper unless they felt so moved, but that it was there for those students who wanted to share their reflections on Patricia McKissack and the themes in her writing.  
For a quick, fairly open assessment/reflection, I like what I am seeing so far!

I love her books!  There are many ways to approach them.  This year, I have focused on her idea of the power of story and how, through stories, readers learn: problem-solving strategies; societal values; and, about different perspectives. 

 For those of you who have read Flossie and the Fox, we talk about the importance of being clever and why Patricia McKissack gave the fox back his "foxhood." 
 In Mirandy and Brother Wind, we talk about the character trait of determination as well as being an ally and a friend. 

In The Honest to Goodness Truth, we talk about two things as well: being thoughtful and reflective and offering an apologizing.
Here's a wonderful interview from Reading Rockets. I can't say enough about this video interview.  There are so many great themes and discussion points.

Here are a biographical sketch from Scholastic and a biographical sketch from Random House Kids.

Off to read!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Part the Second: The Book Spine Poems

Here are my first graders' Book Spine Poems.

Please join our conversation! Share these Book Spine Poem Albums with your students and have them comment on them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Part the First: The Process of Making a Book Spine Poem

Today was a great day in the library!

My first graders learned about Book Spine Poems from other first graders via Skype.  

It was a very successful experience.  See for yourself:

(Thank you 100 Scope Notes for introducing this other library teacher and me to this great form of poetry.) 

We did this for three consecutive classes.  Here's how my library was looking well into the first class:

Even better this is how my library look during the classes -- after they had created and photographed their Book Spine Poems -- my students settled in to read!

I love that the students started to read the books they had chosen for their poems, which then turned into a big book swap reading fest on the rugs.

Here's one of the coolest things that happened today. One student went over to the reference section and made a word and then another student joined in.  Check out these Book Spine Messages:
I love that this student came to me with a word he had discovered and then that they thought to turn the "w" upside down to make another word.  Cool stuff.

There was a sweet spirit and wonderful energy in this place today....

Next post: The Product: The Book Spine Poems Revealed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Now Read: Tools as Vehicles for Expression

Wordles and Book Spine Poems 

Created by 4th graders during the lesson-less plan.

The lesson-less plan...

....or the plan-less lesson. 

I decided to try something new this week.  The lesson-less plan or plan-less lesson!

The students arrived for their thirty minute library class.  I left my white board blank.  No message. No schedule.

And then I wrote one word on the white board: Reading

I told them that they were free to use the following tools as vehicles* to express what they know or think about reading:
Digital Camera
Flip Camera

With these tools as vehicles they could:

Create a book spine poem:

Create a Wordle:

Write a book review or poem:

Interview each other about a book they had read or were reading:
This footage was sadly lost by my needing to clear disk space on my laptop and accidentally deleting my movies folder...we'll not mention this Friday night debacle again...

Create a VoiceThread:

Voila!  The lesson-less plan or the plan-less lesson!

Was it a success?

Time will tell.  

*Special thanks for my friend Susannah R. for this expression.

Love this Hate That Cat Conversation

Friday, March 16, 2012

The 5th Grade Sharon Creech Author Study continues.

Once again my library looked and sounded like awesome. (See blog post: What Does Awesome Sound Like?)

Here's the scene: the four groups are scattered around the library reading and discussing the books.
Hate That Cat

With about twenty minutes left in the period, the first Sharon Creech Readers' Group finished their book, Hate That Cat.

What to do?

I decided that I would have them begin reflecting on the book.  I grabbed my flip camera to capture the discussion, but the students now knew what I was doing and became self conscious.

I put the flip camera away and grabbed my laptop.  I logged into VoiceThread,  went to Sharon Creech's Website to grab an image of the book (mine all have the barcode label right through the title), and uploaded the image.  I brought this group into the "recording studio," an entry way off the library.

I reminded them how to use VoiceThread, handed them my laptop and went back out into the library to check in with the other reading groups.

The recording studio in action
The only thing I told the students is that they should comment on a connection they made with the story or the characters or talk about a part of the story that resonated with them.

I didn't have an opportunity to listen to the VoiceThread until this morning.

Cool beans.

Have a listen:

Coming up next...the groups reading Heartbeat get a chance to reflect!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is World Read Aloud Day?

A few more World Read Aloud Day connections!

I received 150 reading logs back from students (a little better than a quarter of the population).  On  average, the students read aloud for 30 minutes, meaning that my students logged in about 4,500 minutes reading aloud at home! 

Here are some students talking about WRAD and the importance of reading.

And a Wordle of the Langston Hughes poem To You

Monday, March 12, 2012

When left to their own devices..or...mine!

Here are a few of my students interacting with an Elmo Slate for the first time.

It was fun to watch them discover how to use this new device.

They talked amongst themselves and gave each other guidance.

They practiced writing with the stylus.

What book lover would not love the message they left me?

(The red "x" over the Elmo document camera image is due to the fact that I had left one of the cables in my car.) 

I love this new tool. It has already made the teaching and learning experience more interactive. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A day in the life...


One life in a day...A photo essay of one school day in this librarian's life!

Friday, March 9, 2012

8:00 a.m.
Driving to work, I witnessed this beautiful sight, a parent reading to her children while walking to school.
A mom reading to her children while walking to school
There are so many great things about this image:
**The story must have been that good that no on wanted to wait until after school
**There is no age limit on reading aloud
**There are no boundaries on where reading aloud can happen

8:45 a.m.
The Sharon Creech reading groups meet again!
Reading Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

10:00 a.m.
Suzy Kline, author of the Horrible Harry and Herbie Jones series visits with the 3rd graders!
Suzy Kline visits
Spring arrived!  Well, at least some early signs of spring were enthusiastically welcomed by a few first graders.  Imagine a high-pitched, "I found a sign of spring!!"

I stopped by the office to check my mailbox and noticed this delivery in the literacy specialist's box.
Waiting for their turn
This harbinger tells me that testing is in the air...

My first graders arrived for the second lesson on Theodor Seuss Geisel and the award named for him.

I have no photograph for this, but will say that my students did ask me the date! 
See last week's post:  I boldly go  Ha ha!

Crossing State Lines..to Read Poems for Two Voices

On World Read Aloud Day, people around the globe read aloud to raise awareness of the importance of reading and global literacy.

Like many others who celebrated, I virtually crossed state lines (via Skype) as part of my celebration.  

The highlight of these experiences?  

My students reading from Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco with students from Illinois.

Here's Part two!

Friday, March 9, 2012

It was a RAD WRAD Celebration!

March 7, 2012.
School Librarian's Log:
It was a rad World Read Aloud Day celebration!
We read, we Skyped, we read and Skyped, and then we read some more! I am already looking forward to next year.

The began with a few last minute visits by my fourth grade World Read Aloud Day Ambassadors:

This classroom had students write their favorite read aloud book on the white board as part of the morning message:

And this fun note:

I handed the Flip video camera to a student and didn't see it again for a while...this was done all on their own: 

This class was getitng ready to Skype with students in Iowa.
Waiting for the phone to ring!

Happy Skype Readers
I sent these flyers home in each student's folder:

Tomorrow, I'll post a video clip of my students reading poems for two voices with students in Illinois.

It was a World Read Aloud Day celebration to remember!