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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's (almost) Picture Book Month!

I am so excited for tomorrow! I have big plans in store for this month-long celebration.  We'll be reading books, creating projects, and sharing our passion for picture books. 

Visit the Picture Book Month Website for a media kit, theme calendar, links to author created activities.
Last year, my fifth graders made picture book trailers using Animoto.  My fourth graders reflected on and expressed their opinion on the value of picture books on our Weebly Blog and also created Wordles and Tagxedos. The second graders used a picture book to inspire their watermelon seed stories.  The kindergarten students used Voicethread to share their love of books.
Two years ago my favorite project was the reading challenge.  I delivered posters and stickers to each classroom, along with reading logs and instructions.  For one week the students logged and marked the picture books they read.  We had a school wide celebration at the end.  The students were so engaged that I had teachers asking me to extend it!  Here are links to those projects:
(Book)Marking Picture Book Month
Celebrate Picture Book Month with These Books

Let the reading begin!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Walking to Work

This post has nothing to do with my library or teaching and learning, except for the part where I write, "I wish I had more time with the students. I wish we could get to know one another better. I wish I could share what I see and hear on my walk to work."

One of the benefits of being an empty nester is that I can now leave the house as soon as I am ready.  I loved making lunch and breakfast and sharing the morning routine with my children, but I was rarely able to alter our routine.  A beautiful morning would pass by without my having the chance to: take in the crisp smell of autumn; hear the crunch of dry leaves under my feet; or, see the brilliant peacock-like display of autumn's trees.  Now I can.  I am walking to work at least three days every week (being those when I am able to get out the door in a timely fashion).  

When I walk to work, I am treated to sights, sounds, and smells that awaken my senses, but also give me a sense of contentment.

Take yesterday, for instance, when I saw turkeys on my way to work.

When I got to school, I wanted to talk turkey. Literally!  How cool was it to be joined on my walk by these awkward animals.  "I wish I had more time with the students. I wish we could get to know one another better. I wish I could share what I see and hear on my walk to work." I want to share these moments with the students, but with a scant 30 minutes for a library lesson and browsing and borrowing, it is not possible without giving up something else. What do the students see and hear? How can I give them a chance to share?

There are also mornings when I want to share the calm, like this one when the lake was so still...

What's a person to do?  Share these photographs and experiences on my social networks! Those who I connect can attest to my relentless posting of photographs.  This may not always be enough. I am thinking about how I can incorporate the things I see and hear and the students see and hear on our way to school into our library classroom.  

Maybe we can post a photograph or share an item each week and students can share words, phrases and poems inspired by the photograph or item....*thinkingthinkingthinking*

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slice of Life: On the Qualities of Grit and Perseverance

In last week's Slice, I wrote about words bantering about in my head. A funny expression, but it captures what it feels like as words are tossed about and then explored, expressed, and considered. There are words and phrases that keep pushing their way to the front of the queue, insistent that I pay attention. Grit and perseverance are two such words.

A few weeks back, I heard Barbara Stripling, ALA President, speak eloquently and passionately about school librarianship. Among the inspiring and thought-provoking ideas she shared was this one, "Help foster the attitudes essential for success - self confidence, grit, and perseverance."

Two weeks later, I heard Jarrett Krosoczka use the same words when speaking about his own writing journey and encouraging a room full of young writers.

I had been ruminating over Barbara Stripling's message.  Those pesky words grit and perseverance were being true to themselves! I couldn't tuck them away.  Then, to hear Jarrett pull them out, was fuel for their fire.  I held onto those two words, but kept pushing them aside, not quite sure how to respond.

I was thinking about my own children and my parenting.  Had I helped foster these qualities in my children?  I think so. I hope so. They have both had to face some tough situations and have both handled them well. When matters like grades did not meet their expectations, they took the initiative to meet with teachers and kept applying themselves. They do not give up easily.

These thoughts are taking up valuable real estate in my brain, but I have nowhere to go with them, so there they sit, until last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, I was exploring illustrations in a book and practicing visual literacy skills with some kindergarten students.  Now, like all teachers, I have tried to create a learning environment where all learners are safe and where I feel I can encourage my students to take risks. A student raised his hand to answer a question about the time of year that the story takes place. His answer was the wrong season.  I asked, "Tell me why you think it is summer?"  The student responded and I praised him for his thought process and asked for another student to share his or her response and hoped to get a different answer.  Should I have let the first child work with it for a while longer? Should I have asked some guiding questions?

Am I fostering grit and perseverance? I am not so sure.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I was up in my attic (trying to make room for a rug) when I came upon one of the boxes of my old school work. (I wouldn't qualify for hoarders, but I do have quite a few of my childhood items.) When I come across one of these boxes, I have to stop and look and read and reflect and remember.

There it was. Right in front of me.  Grit. Perseverance.

I wonder how much these experiences for the 10 and 11 year old me influenced the adult me, who stays up until all hours writing and editing and obsessing and changing and rewriting.  It is hard to look back at proof that I was not always as diligent, careful and driven.  I wonder how much these experiences fostered grit and perseverance and made me the diligent, (reasonably) careful, and (fairly) driven person I am today?  Not that I have any answers and doing it correctly!  I'm still trying to figure this writing thing out and it sure does require a lot of grit and perseverance.
I still talk about Rabbit Hill. :)

I think comments like the ones above
would not have meant so much 
without the comments below...

 Gosh did I love those Cs.

 Look: self-assessment!

Where do I end up?  Well, with a little more real estate in my brain and a little less bantering about by two specific words, but still a bit puzzled.  I think the authentic, straight forward comments of my teachers worked well for me, but would not work well for others.  In terms of my students, I plan to continue to provide a safe learning environment where students can take risks, but I'll be looking for ways to foster grit and perseverance in my school library one day at a time. 


Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host think it is Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing TeachersIf 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.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Giving a Voice (and some markers) to 2nd Graders

Yesterday, my second graders checked in with their Library Pals, second graders in the state of Minnesota.  My friend, Laura, and I, blogged with our students last year.  We shared what we were learning about books as well as some research projects.  

This year, we are working on getting to know each other better as we hope to keep these students connected through 5th grade.  We also plan to share learning experiences about location and access in a school library (how books are organized, where to find them, how to identify them, and using the card catalogue).
Like this student using Destiny to find a book

and like this 2nd grader writing down the call numbers of the books she wants. 

After watching some Vines of the books our Library Pals checked out this week, we created our own vines.  My phone does not let me embed them, so click on the links below.

After Browsing I

I also took a few pictures:

To lay the ground work for our collaboration this year, I put out three poster size papers.  I asked the students to give their voice to the posters answering each of these questions:

What questions do you have for our Library Pals? 

What do you know about our school library?  

What books are you reading now?

I wish all 2nd graders read Mr. Putter and Tabby.

Horse stories never go out of fashion.

Love this specificity.