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

Friday, November 30, 2012

All Aboard for Picture Book Reading!

My fourth grade students have been giving  their voices to the Picture Book Month Celebration.

They have been learning how to share their voice (or opinions and ideas) using social media and Web 2.0 tools.

The student blog is active! The most exciting part is seeing how quickly they have adopted this communication tool and how quickly they have improved their communication skills.  We've been evaluating their use and I'm noticing changes: improved grammar; use of whole sentences; expression of complete thoughts, and producing meaningful and productive comments.

Voices from the blog:

Here are the most recent Tagxedos they created.  The previous week, I added my own puns to their Tagxedos.  This time, I challenged them to come up with their own puns.  (I might have added one or two that didn't rise to the punning challenge.) I think they did a fine job.  See for yourself:
Here is their Wall on Wallwisher:

It has been an incredible Picture Book Month Celebration here.  I already have #picturebookmonth #plansfornextyear!

Read These Picture Books, Part Two

Read. Create.Watch.Read

Read These Picture Books, Part Three


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Students as Storytellers

The Story Seed unit continues!

Today, the students added their voices to their stories.  Each student had created two slides: one story seed starter to get someone interested in his or her story and one illustration for the story.  Their task today was to read that first story seed starter sentence and then continue to story on the next slide.  We asked them to think what the next line in the story would be and then share that sentence.

I loved being in the "recording studio" [read: back hallway] and hearing these stories develop.  Check them out for yourself!

Ms. Reggiannini's students have a story to tell:

Ms. Ramgren's students have a story to tell:

Ms. Ceglia's students have a story to tell:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kevin Hawkes is exxspiering!!!

Kevin Hawkes recently visited my school and according to one first grader, "He is exxspiering!!!"  Yes, I find him inspiring as well. (Not expiring  thankfully, he is in very good health and will be with us for a long while yet!)

Kevin Hawkes is a wonderful author/illustrator to have visit.  He is a source of wisdom and knowledge, in many ways, but on this particular visit, he channeled wisdom from his eight-year-old son.  When asked, "If you had three mouths what would you do?"  His son's answer was something to the effect of, "Eat candy, drink soda and eat popcorn."  When asked for other ways it might be useful, his son's response was, "You could sing in three part harmony." I cannot wait to see this story when it is published...

Here's a peak into our recent visit:
A visit by Kevin Hawkes is always full of wisdom, laughter, practical tips and lots of sketching.

*Illustrating stories calls for an active and creative imagination.*
*When you create your pictures, 
think about the personality of the character.*
Now, close your eyes and picture this...
What image popped into your head?
*Keep a sketch book and draw a character many times.*

*Anytime you put two characters on a page you have a story.*
*Stories answer, "What if..."*
*Sometimes the bigger the problem, the funnier the solution.*
*Think about where you want the observer to look first.*

Does this visit resonate with the students and have a lasting impact on their creativity, writing and drawing?  
Yes, and here's how I know:
~~Circulation of books he has written or illustrated has stayed         steadily strong since his visit.
~~The students are quoting him,"Hi!  Howwaya?"
~~The classroom teachers are using his ideas and inspiration as writing prompts.
~~Two weeks after the visit this structure was built:
~~and, the students had this to say: 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I have a story to tell.

Like bear, in Philip Stead's story, I have a story to tell.  It is about this great teaching experience I recently had, it was just one of those times when things come together really nicely without a lot of work.

Part the First

I was shifting out of a long unit with my second graders and wanted to spend a few weeks on picture books. I picked up Bear Has a Story To Tell, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Don't know the book? Watch the book trailer:

Phillip Stead has created a story at once unique and universal, the reader can empathize with the bear with a story to tell and no one to listen.  Erin Stead’s illustrations perfectly capture the gentleness and warmth of this beautiful story.
The Steads’ spare writing and illustration styles engage readers while also leaving room for each child to grow the story and make it his or her own.  (Those familiar with A Sick Day for Amos McGee will know the talent of this husband and wife team.)

This book was an ideal choice for many reasons: the current classroom science unit is animal habitats; the storytelling message aligns with my lesson plan about story seeds; and, the scene outside my library looks just like bear’s forest setting. To reflect on the story, I  asked the students to plant a story seed for a story they had to tell.  

When the teacher came to pick up the students, we talked about the lesson (I try to do this each week). It turned out that the story seeds I had the students plant coincided with the small moments stories the students were practicing writing in their classroom. 

Part the Second I invited the teachers to collaborate on a project using these themes. I developed a story board. The teachers and students returned to the library on Wednesday. I introduced the lesson using the students' story seed posters as inspiration. The classroom teacher then modeled working through the storyboard. (She was perfect and had no idea I was going to put her on the spot!). 

The students then nurtured their own story seeds (think many plant analogies here). I loved working collaboratively with the teachers as we helped students work from watermelon slice stories down to small moment seed stories and then helped those to grow.

Part the Third
The students came back to library at their normal time on Friday, story boards in hand and created two sides in Kid Pix.  The first slide was their story seed sentence -- designed to entice someone to read the story.  The second slide was an image from the story -- designed to compliment and expand upon the story (think precursor to Caldecott).  




Part the Fourth
We are going to finish the project by having the students narrate more of the stories. These students have a story to tell and I am ready to listen.