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

Friday, January 30, 2015

We're getting ready for Kate Messner's visit!

The wonderful Kate Messner will be visiting with our fourth and fifth graders next week.  
We are big fans of all of her books. We were lucky enough to get a few copies of her latest book, which is being passed along from reader to reader.

To prepare for the visit, the students visited Kate's Website and read the "About Me" section along with the Q&A. 

The students shared what they learned about Kate?

We learned that Kate uses characteristics from multiple people and mash them together to make one person. 

Kate has a son and a daughter.

Kate writes everywhere but her favorite place to write is her special writing room at the back of her house.

She is allergic to cats and dogs.

She carries a notebook everywhere with her  and when she gets ideas she scribbles them in her notebook.

I learned that it takes 2 years to write a book, also she lives on lake

One thing I learned about Kate is that she taught middle school for 15 years and got a National Board Certification in 2006.

Another thing I learned about Kate is that she lives on Lake Champlain and loves spending time outside; she kayaks in the summer and skates on the frozen lake when it is winter and it gets cold enough.

I learned that Kate taught Middle school for 15 years. I learned that she got her inspiration for her books from her real life. Her favorite color is blue.

It takes a while to write a book that needs research.

She has a daughter and a son. The daughter ice skates.

Kate has loved writing since she could hold a pencil.

That she likes chocolate ice cream.

Her daughter has two pet rats.

Kate Messner is an Award-Winning author. Kate spent 15 years of her life teaching middle school. She loves kayaking and skating.
That Kate has two dumbo rats and he kids help her edit.

She has two kids, allergic to cats and dogs, carries a notebook with her at all times in case she has an idea, so she can write it down, and she has passion for all of her books and develops a love for her current project. 

I learned that Kate got inspiration to write from "Harriet the Spy."

That she has two kids and they are one of her first readers once her new books come out.

She writes all over the place – even while she's watching her daughter at skating practice or waiting to pick up her son.

After reading the Q&A, the students shared questions some of the things they are wondering about Kate and her books.

If you could meet one of your characters who would it be and where would you go?  

What inspired you to write Wake Up Missing? Are the characters in Wake Up Missing based on real people? 

Which type of book, (picture, novel, mystery, chapter, historical,) do you most enjoy writing? 

Have you ever made a character that has some of your own characteristics?

Do you put yourself in your characters point of you to help you write?

How much time of the day do you devote to writing, in hours?

Are you writing a book now?

How do you feel when you complete a book?

Have you ever finished a book, then found that there are some things you didn't like or wanted to change?

What is the book you are reading right now?

Do you travel to do research?

What steps (in order) do you have to go through with a book? What's your favorite season to write in? What grade(s) did you teach? What were your favorite subjects?

How do you decide what your first sentence of your book is going to be?

Do your children like writing?

Do you start writing and then write something crazy, but just go with it?

What is your next book going to be about?

When did you first develop the urge to write books for kids. Why did you stop teaching did something go wrong or did your passion to write cause you to pursue the job to write books.

Are any of your characters based on you?

Do you ever start a book and then give up on it?  Do your kids ever help you write your books?

Which was your hardest book to write?

Are you the only writer in your family?

Did you or did someone else you know have a head injury like Cat or Sara in your book, "Wake Up Missing"? 

What calms you down when you are frustrated about having no ideas?

Why are there frogs on your home page?

Based on the questions right above, I think it is going to be a great visit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

and the Second Graders' Mock Caldecott Winner is...

After discussions... 
and evaluations...
the second graders cast their ballots.

Here's a peak at the scene:

The students needed to explain their voting in step 2:

It was time to tabulate the results:
become this chart:

WINNER is...
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

With honors to:


You can read more of the students comments about each book here:

On choosing a Mock Caldecott List

It's hard choosing a Mock Caldecott list. It's even harder if you are trying to do two things: expose students to a diverse group of illustrators and illustration styles and choose books that might have a chance of being recognized by one of the ALA Youth Media Awards.

In early November, my LibraryPals partner, Laura Given, and I created a loooong list of titlesOver a three week period we adjusted this list, relying on each other's reactions to a book if we hadn't had a chance to read it ourselves. We needed to come up with a final list of six titles because we knew we had four weeks to run the unit. Our plan was to pair two books each week and then vote on the fourth week. 

Here's what we wanted on our list:

**books illustrated by women

**books illustrated by people of color

**books representing the pluralistic society in which we live

**books illustrated with different media

**books that are fiction and nonfiction

We ended up with a good balance: Mock Caldecott 2015 List (Beekle, Draw, Sam & Dave, Right Word, Josephine**, and Viva Frida).  Not to read too much into it, but I was pleased to see that our six books were on yesterday's Horn Book's Calling Caldecott second ballot!

We ended up with a good balance...or so I thought.

My third graders registered their first round votes last Tuesday. 
My second graders voted yesterday. Their votes mirrored the third graders, but with more definitive results:
Not a woman was among the top three books. There was a flaw in our choices: all the women illustrated nonfiction books. We should have ensured that we had male and female illustrators of both the fiction and nonfiction.  

I also wonder if next year, we should choose only fiction books...OR...since, the three women illustrators, whose nonfiction books are fabulous, will likely win another award. Maybe next year, we should run a Sibert and a Caldecott? 

*pondering pondering pondering*

**There was a book change that needed to happen - Josephine was just too long for this process and would have required too much conversation, which we thought would take away from the focus on illustrations. It's a fabulous book, but not good for this unit.  We replaced it with Scraps by Lois Ehlert - wanting a nonfiction book and a book illustrated by a woman.

**We decided to not include titles by illustrators that we explored during the Mock Caldecott unit last year in an attempt to give the students a broader experience.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking forward to updating these ALA Award folders

One week from today, I'll be in a room in Chicago (with many other children's literature fanatics) to hear the announcements of the winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards.

From the ALA site:
"Each year the American Library Association honors books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards, guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.  The announcement of the 2015 Youth Media Awards will take place at 8:00 a.m. Central time on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Chicago."

"Join us for a live webcast of the press conference or follow I Love Libraries on Twitter and Facebook to be among the first to know the 2015 winners. The official hashtag for the 2015 Youth Media Awards is  #ALAyma." 

I attended this event last year and am beyond excited to be able to repeat the experience. It's special. You can read (and hear) about this experience on this post, Midwinter Night's Dream.

Here are the folders I created and laminated:

Each one had a brief synopsis of the award:

Inside, I put the medal winners and honor books.
The students loved exploring these last year and have had fun revisiting these books since I put up the folders on January 5th. 

What titles will I be typing up in a week?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Why are they building a wall and do they know if any people are already living in that area?"

The fifth graders and I continue to explore the eBook resources for the Colonial America unit. Read about last week's lesson on this post: "Why did they accuse people in the first place, if they had no real evidence?" Today, the students practiced the visual literacy strategy: See.Think.Wonder.  This is what the library looked like and sounded like. #magical
The first part of the lesson involved reviewing the data from last week's scavenger hunt. I also modeled how to access and navigate the eBook.

Next, I introduced See.Think.Wonder. We practiced the strategy with this image:
I reinforced the importance of sticking to what they saw versus what they thought.  After going through each step, I brought up the same image with the caption.
We processed this and then I demonstrated how to get to the Google Form where they would practice See.Think.Wonder. on their own with this image:
Here is what they saw:
-mostly men almost no woman

"People gathering lumber, armed soldiers armed with pikes and muskets, living grounds, people pumping water, A pot with water, people building a teepee, British flag, three ships, people felling a tree, bushes, slightly cloudy sky, people unloading from ships, trees, colored leaves, white people, green leaves, shrubs, a forest"

"People, village, boats, trees, water, air, houses, fences, spears, weapons, armor, hats, villagers, grass, dirt, rocks, bushes, puddles, metals, humans, tools, workers, sticks, wood, clothes, boots, shoes, swords, leaves, clouds."

"In the image above, I see many tents or teepees, some people dressed in armor and helmets, and other people cutting down trees and bringing them to the group of tents. I also see the ocean, ships, trees surrounding the clearing, and people building a wall of tree trunks around the gathering of the teepees."

"3 Ships, 4 men carrying a log, a fort in progress"

"I see three boats, a village, a guard with a spear, four people carrying a branch or log, two people chopping wood, and lots of people by the boats.
People are gathering wood, one person has armor and a metal pike, three ships are docked in the bay, and two of them are smaller that the third.  A beriar is being made around a small amount of wooden-fleched huts, and this is all in a clearing surrounded by forests"

"Three men with fancy hats who are carrying spears and four who are dressed normally ( but in clothes that look like they're from a long time ago) and are carrying logs, two men who are chopping a tree and lots building a fence around a small settlement."

Some of the answers verged into the "think" category:
I see many people working hard, to accomplish settlement or work.

"the pilgrims building there village and are settling down with ships docked and the forest.
a village, a bunch of ships, people, walls being built"

"I see the three ships, the Nina , the Pinta and the Santa maria. I see men at work building a village. I see men building walls around the village."

Here is what they thought:
"Where are they?

"Who are they?

"Where did they come from?"

"I think some men are coming back  from cutting down wood, and is bringing it back so them and the rest of their people can create a village to live in and also they started to load their everyday things of the ship."

"I think that people are cutting down trees to make a fence around the village"

"Building huts after settling in America, the people are pilgrims, the two smaller ships hold supplies and the big one holds people.  The pilgrims are settling!"
"I think that in the image, some people are cutting down trees and building a wall around the group of tents for protection from other tribes and animals. I also think that other people are loading the ship with things to bring to wherever they're going on a voyage to."

"I think the people in the picture are making a small settlement. They look Spanish, and I think they may be coming from Spain, (they are wearing what looks like Spanish armor.) I think they have recently landed at the New World and are led by Columbus because some of the people in the picture look like farmers that Columbus might have wanted to come along on the journey, and some look like knights and other rich people who have been sent by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. Also, I think they are led by Columbus because Columbus sailed three ships, the Pinto, the Santa Maria, and the Nina, and there are three ships in the picture. Finally, I think the season is fall."

"I think that is Columbus in Hispaniola with his 3 ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, settling in the new world."

"The Spaniards colonizing an area, and gathering lumber to start a settlement because you see them coming off the ships, so they obviously just came." 

"Columbus has just landed and is starting to colonize."

"I think that people are slaves for the people on armor."

"I think that they are the Europeans going to the new land and the ""houses"" are the Native Americans and they captured them and put them as slaves"

"People are building a community, they are taking over land, and they are Spanish."

"Looks like the english are arriving at Native American's land and taking over it."  

"I think that these people have just arrived traveling by boat and they are setting up in the village of Native Americans. I think that the people who live here are Native Americans because I know that Native Americans live in tepees and tent like houses."

"It looks like people are maybe staying there for a while because it looks like they're making somewhere kind of permanent to stay."

Here is what they are wondering:
"where are all the women?"

"I wonder what time of year this was."

"Why are the building a wall and do they know if any people are already living in that area?"

"I am wondering if it really is Columbus, and if the three ships really are the Pinto, the Nina, and the Santa Maria? I'm wondering if they came from Spain, or if they came from another European country like Italy, England, or Portugal? Also, if they are coming from England, are they pilgrims, or are they nobles? Are they even coming from Europe at all? Also, what kind of armor are they wearing? How long have they been at the New World? Are they even at the New World at all? If not, where are they? If they are at the New World, what part of it did they arrive at? Also, are they getting ready to sail somewhere else, or have they just arrived somewhere? If they have just arrived, why did they leave? Did they not like their democracy? Did they leave for protection? Or did they just sail somewhere for adventure? I'd also like to know what kind of wood they are using for the huts and for the wall surrounding the settlement, what the temperature is in the picture, who the artist is, and when the picture was made. What type of paint was used to make the picture? Also, what was the date  in the picture? Also, is the season fall? If not, what season is it? Sorry I'm taking so long; one more thing: what types of trees are growing in the picture? Also, did the artist have a daughter? A son? A wife? A husband? Finally, is it a he or a she? Or a girl or a boy?"
"Are these people the pilgrims? Are they discovering America? If so, where are the Native Americans? Are they building a new colony? How many people are here?"
"Are there more settlements or are they they the only one?"

"I wonder how long it will take to finish the fence."

"Also, why are they building a fence?"

"Who are these people? Are they staying here for a long time? How long have they been where they are? Do they really belong here? Why are the people here? Is any other religion there other than them?, (Maybe people who arrived before them? Are they doing this by option? Where have they come from?"

"Is this the pilgrims settling?"

"if it is Christopher Columbus which trip is he on because he went to america more than once"
"what year this was?"

"i wonder who they are, is it just a coincidence that they have three ships and columbus had three ships, what time period is it,are there any woman there, why are some people in armor and some people not, are they Europeans"

"Are the people Europeans? What are they doing with the wood? What dangers are worrying them to cause them to make a fence? Why are people in armor?"  

"Why is there a knight?"

"Is the body of water a lake, river, or ocean"

"Are there other people?"

"Are they the conquistadors or not?"

"If they are not building a community, what are they building?"

"I wonder why they came to the land."

"I wonder if this is Christopher Columbus' journey because there are three ships and I know that Columbus came with three ships: The Niña, The Pinta, and The Santa María."

Friday, January 23, 2015

That sound when a classroom of fourth graders are reading to each other? It's beautiful.

The fourth grade biography unit is in full swing. Today was spent reading the picture book biographies that the students chose last week. Our library was filled with the murmur of voices reading quietly to each other, and what a sweet, sweet sound that is...have a listen:
Want to know more about the unit? Read this post and then this post. 

"Why did a bad guy kill Martin Luther King, Jr.?"

The first graders are busy learning about people who made a difference. The students are listening to and reading the biographies on their chosen people. They are starting to record their new found knowledge on the information gathering forms. You will notice that I scratched out a question - "How would you describe your person?" - after a few questions from students, I deemed it too difficult to answer. As you can see from the photo, I have been encouraging them to take in information from the movies and images as well as the text. 

We'll continue this next week and move into drafting a picture that tells the viewer about the subject. You can read about the project on these postsWe are diving into some great curriculum and How did this person make a difference?

It's a bit difficult to read, but here are some examples of the first graders' work. The wondering questions they have are great. Their answers to 'Would you like to be like this person?' are really interesting.
Rosa Parks

Crazy Horse

Wilma Rudolph

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Rosa Parks

Abraham Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln

Michelle Obama

James Lovell

Louis Armstrong

Barack Obama


 Neil Armstrong