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

Friday, October 31, 2014

If it's November, it must be Picture Book Month!

November can feel long and dark. It is nice to have a reason to fill the lengthening darkness with reading, which we all know allows us to explore ideas and travel worlds beyond the comfort of home. , November can also be filled with anticipation for the upcoming holidays, so it is nice to encourage students and families to slow down and read.  

This will be our fourth year celebrating Picture Book Month. This year, students in grades three, four, and five are challenging themselves to read a specific number of books from one of three neighborhoods in our library: picture book stories, picture book biographies, and nonfiction picture books. The students will keep track of their reading through a nightly reading log. Each week, they will add the number of books read to their library log. Students in grade two will take on a nonfiction picture book challenge. Students in kindergarten and grade one will participate in classroom challenges. Some fourth and fifth grade classes got a jump start on the month by checking out books for their challenges today. Circulation statistics looked like this:

Along with the reading challenges, the students will be creating projects for the books they are reading, finding ways to express why picture books are important, and sharing #picturebooklove with their Skype partners. If you are not sure how you can participate, here are ways we have celebrated in the past:

Capturing Reading with Posters: We are Picture Book Readers

How will you celebrate?

Not sure what to read? Use the these ideas!

How can I make this even better?Book Activities!
You can listen to stories, write about stories, and create art related to stories.

Don't forget your promo kit, it has all the documents and badges you need to get your community reading.

What are you waiting for? Register to celebrate!
Become a Picture Book Month ambassador!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sometimes a change is all you need: a visit sparks an idea

Each spring, the librarians from the children's room of our local public library visit our elementary school libraries. They talk about the summer reading program, share reading lists, and booktalk books from those lists.  
With fifteen elementary schools in the district, this makes for a planning challenge. Someone had a great idea over the summer. (It wasn't me, but I wish it was!)  The school visits will now happen twice a year. The kindergarten first, and second grade students will now have their visits in the fall while the third through fifth grade students will still have their visits in the spring.
I jumped right on board so our K-2 visits were this week. I am exceedingly excited about this new schedule because it gets the younger students connected to the public library throughout the year.
My goal for the students were met:

1. Make a connection to a librarian at the "big" library
2. Learn about some of the programs being offered there (like "read to a dog!") 
3. Understand how to get a library card. 
The visits in kindergarten and first grade were great, but it wasn't until the second graders were having a conversation with the public librarian that I had an epiphany. "Why don't we organize a field trip to the library to do some research?" This is not really an extraordinary idea, but it is a great idea. 
I having been trying to build collaboration with our public library. This may just be the spark that we need. I am excited to work with the classroom teachers and public librarians to organize a research field trip for the second graders to the "big" library. Sometimes a change is all you need to spark an idea!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Author visits are important because you get ideas."

Second graders share why 
author visits are important:

Getting all fired up at the SLJ Summit: Day One

This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend the SLJ Leadership Summit in Saint Paul. Here is the round up of day one via Twitter. (Day two to follow!)

"After you write a chapter or part of your story, stop and read it aloud to yourself."

Suzy Kline came a visiting!

Suzy Kline visited with our third graders yesterday. 
Suzy begins by asking students, "What is the one thing you should always carry with you?" After hearing their ideas, she pulls a notebook out of her pocket and talks about how having a notebook has helped her as a writer. It holds all of her story seeds -- words and phrases that will jog a memory or experience. She does a fabulous job of connecting these story seeds to her stories. 

She tells the students that she never knows how here stories will end, but she always know how they will begin - with the story seed. She gives an example of how a student came into her classroom with a long yellow scarf - not just any scarf, but a scarf that could be worn as a dress because it was sewn like a tube. Suzy thought about which of her characters would wear a scarf like that and then imagined that character wearing it to school. Then she thought about how a long scarf might drape over a should and fall to ground behind the student, where another student might do something mischievous. "What might that student have done with the tail of that long yellow scarf?" Now there is a problem and now the story has begun.
Like all the authors my students are lucky enough to meet, Suzy told the students that she reads all the time and that she gets inspiration from other authors stories. One tea party in a book was inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Along with answering many questions and helping the students perform a skit, Suzy gave some important writing advice to the students: 

Find a place to write that is away from the business of life and distractions like television.

After you write a chapter or part of your story, stop and read it aloud to yourself. You are your own best critic.

Here's what the students had to say after her visit:

Monday, October 27, 2014

"I learned about how the internet can affect you and how it helps and doesn't help people."

"I learned how to work in a group"

After learning about Internet Safety, this fifth grade class planned and created an Animoto video (setting scenes, taking pictures, typing in the text, choosing themes, choosing music, and editing) and presented their Internet Safety videos. As I said with the poster project, I always learn much during the process, but the students' reflections after the project has finished give me insight and concrete data that helps inform future projects. We are all learners!

You can read about the project and see the posters on this blog post: Stay Safe Online By Watching These Videos.

If someone were to ask you what you learned from this project, what would you say?
I learned about Internet safety
I learned how to work in a group
I learned that you should be safe on computers
I learned that you should be safe on computers
I learned how to work in a group
I learned how to draw on Google Docs
I learned about how the Internet can affect you and how it helps and doesn't help people.
I do not know what I learned.
I learned about how to treat computers
I learned all about the AUP
I learned how to be safe on the Internet

What was your favorite part?

Coming up with the music
Taking pictures
Picking themes and music
Drawing the frowning face in Google Docs.
When we made the video and danced to the music and how the music worked with the video
Choosing the music
making it with others and making something that we all liked
Watching them after we made them
getting the pictures and working together also watching how it turned out!

After watching the video, what would you change?