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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shh! We Have a Plan (for this author/illustrator visit)

Chris Haughton is visiting with our kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students next week!  Chris is the author/illustrator of:

Chris is the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award Winner and a CYBILS Award winner (along with other many well-deserved accolades) for the book, Shh! We Have a Plan.

We read Shh! We Have a Plan this week.  We started off by watching the book trailer.

The trailer was successful: enthusiastic thumbs up indicated the students' desire to read the book. The students shared their ideas and predictions about the book.
"It's about trying to catch a bird."
"The bird gets away."
"I think it is going to be funny."

While reading the book, we stopped along the way to talk about what each of the plans entailed. The students loved the book and groaned at all the appropriate places.  After reading the book, the kindergarten students drew their own Shh! - inspired birds.

The second grade students had an opportunity to fill in a thought bubble sharing what they thought the little guy was thinking as his compatriots switched the focus to a squirrel.

Students are careful readers of both words and pictures. My students:

~~noticed that Chris foreshadowed the bird and squirrel in silhouettes in the first pages of the book.

~~noticed the arc of light that further focused the eye's attention on the action.

After reading the book, the students and I explored Chris' blog post about the making of Shh! We Have a Plan.  I paraphrased the text and we explored the images of the work in progress.

The students are looking forward to meeting Chris, hearing about creating books, and asking questions like these: 

"Why did the story take place a night?"

"Why didn't they let the little guy stay with the birds?"

"Are they people or animals?"

"Where are they?"

"How do you use so few colors?"

"Why did they keep saying, "go?" They scared the bird!"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Act of Re-Applying New Found Skills

The fourth graders have spent the last two months engaged in a major project. With a bit of wiggle room in our schedule, I decided to give the students an opportunity to re-apply the skills they had gained during that project. The only parameter was that the product had to relate to literature in some way.  It was thrilling and re-affirming to watch them choose productive parters and set to work using the technology to create a message about a book.  Have a look at their projects:

All the Answers

All the Answers

The Other Side

Beatrix Potter

Box Car Children

The Real Boy

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Percy Jackson

Percy Jackson

Plant a Kiss

They also explored broad topics:



They wrote about their favorite sports figures:

A few students made a movie about their teacher:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Second Graders Talk Books: In the style of Reading Rainbow

A second grade teacher and I were talking curriculum and one of those unplanned, but perfect, opportunities for collaboration arose. Her students had been writing opinion pieces about a piece of literature as part of the Lucy Calkins curriculum. The teacher was using a Reading Rainbow style format for the students. I immediately thought about a few different tools that we could use to move this project beyond the classroom.  We decided upon Tellagami.

I arrived in their classroom this morning with five iPads. After a quick demonstration of how to use the Tellagami app, the students went off in pairs to practice their scripts and ensure they could keep their presentation under 30 seconds.  As they were ready to record, the students (in their pairs) found quiet places in the hallways to go off and record. Working in pairs with the iPad apps allows for a natural scaffolding and reinforcement of how to use the tool.

We managed to get all twenty-one students finished in a fairly timely manner.  They're great. I hope you'll have a listen.

Show and Tell: The fourth grade biography project

The fourth grade biography projects are all complete. These students have been practicing how to both show and tell what they have learned by using technology tools to convey their knowledge. You can read about the project and see their progress in this post and those linked within it. 

Each project includes the following information about their subject: an important fact; images; a Haiku; a Wordle with personality traits; and, a Tagxedo showing the beverage that describes the person. They would love your feedback! If you watch any of these videos, please leave a comment on this form.
Ms. Page's Class

Ms. McManama's Class

Ms. Hyder's Class

Want to share a comment with the students? You can leave a comment on this form or in the blog's comment section below.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Assessing the fifth graders' understanding of thick and thin questions

The fifth graders took the final assessment for the Colonial America Inquiry unit. This and the other data collected during the unit will inform how we further develop this approach toward inquiry next year. We will be continuing our work on our shared elementary library department professional and student goal, which is focused on developing student understanding and use of authentic inquiry.

Although the students' answers to the multiple choice questions gives a clear picture of their understanding and where reinforcement and continued learning is necessary, it is their responses to the thick question that get me thinking. Their individual responses are at the end of the post.

"It helps me as a researcher because if you are asked a thin question you know to look right in the text. But when you know it's a thick question you know that you will have to think."

Per usual, I threw their responses into a Wordle.

This image seems skewed by the students answering the question with a full sentence. I wanted to see more of those smaller words. So I removed the words "question" and "questions" from the answers and got this result:
I was starting to see and understand if they had a general understanding. I decided I needed to try one more thing: to remove the words "thick" and thin." Here's what I ended up with. I think it demonstrates their understanding:
The same information in a different layout:

Here are their multiple choice responses:

 Here are the students' (unedited) responses to the thick question:

Well, if you need to know an exact answer, it usually isn't in the text, like exactly how many people rode the mayflower, or if there is lots of answers like: How could the colonists have improved their relationship with the Native Americans? Thin questions are like what color was George Washington's coat. Or what was the color of coat worn by the "Red Coats" wear.

A thin question is really easy to know the answer, but a thick question is a lot harder. 

It can differentiate what is a good question to research and what is not.

Knowing the difference between thick and thin questions helps you answer questions and come up with them then you can also determine if your question is thick or thin depending on the project
the difference is that a thin question is a question that can be answered straight from the text with just a glance.  A thick question is something that you have to think deeply about and give some thought to what is the answer and sometimes even put themselves in their place to truly understand.

It helps me as a researcher because if you are asked a thin question you know to look right in the text. But when you know it's a thick question you know that you will have to think.

If you ask thick questions, you spend time researching more thick and interesting things.

It helps you as a researcher because, questions that are thick you want to put more effort into and add it to your to you report. I also helps because thin questions aren't as exiting. It will make your report so much more fun

It helps me by helping me answer the questions above, and it helps me come up with both kinds of questions (thick and thin.)

Knowing the difference between thick and thin questions helped me because if I need to find the answer to the question I know when to search the text or to use the text to help me infer. :)

It helps you because you need to know where you need to look or if you need to think. A thin question is "right there" so it often in the text. A thick question is a question that you need to "think and search because it isn't right in the text.

It helps because you know how to ask people questions and that it is good to always know how to ask questions about books or something else as well as asking people questions when they are right there.

because it depends on you turning in a good report or a bad one
Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question helps me as a researcher because it helps me think of questions while I'm reading

If I need the answer to a thin question, I know that it is in the book.
So if you can create good questions.

Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question will help you as a researcher because then it will make your time easier if you know whether you're supposed to just search in the text or if you need to really think about the question.

It can help by seeing if it was thin question not interesting

It helps you because you need to answer a question you need to know whether or not to just look back to a certain place or look around.

it helps because then you should ask the thick questions not a thin question
 It helps you as a researcher by letting you know weather you need to look back to a certain place in the text (thin question) or, you might need to think about a question and figure it out (thick question)

It helps me as a researcher because I think if it is a thick or thin question and it helps me see if I need to look in the text or think of the answer myself 

it can help you because you can know which questions are easy to answer.

It helps you develop better questions.

It helps you answer questions better

it helps me understand the question so I can make it a better answer

it helps you answer and ask good questions

so you can look certain ones up

It helps me know if I have to look back in the text for an answer. 

Also, knowing about thick and thin questions helps me understand any question I'm asking.

It will help by helping you know how much to write.

Knowing the difference between thick and thin questions helps me as a researcher because if something says write a thin question, I know not to write a really long response and if the site tells me to write a thick question  I know I have to think and do research to find my answer.

Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question can help you as a researcher because you will know to answer a question with your head or with research.

it helps because they can tell the difference from the easier to find questions and the ones that need more research

This helps me because if an author comes to the school I could do some research and make sure that I don't ask any of the questions on the authors web page.

Knowing the difference between a thick and a thin question helps me as a researcher because I know how to really think about questions and find answers after researching. 

Knowing the difference between the thick and thin question help me as a researcher because it makes you think more about the topic so you can search it up and learn something new and learn about it for thick. 

Thin questions are 'what?' 'Who?' 'When?' and thick questions are things like 'Why did this happen?'

Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question helps me as a researcher because it requires me to go back into the text to find the answers to both thick and thin questions. 

If you have a question you will know if it's worth researching
It help you because you know which question to research and which to not. 

Knowing the difference between thick and thin questions can help you know what to spend your time on when you are researching something.

Thick questions are questions that are really hard and complicated to get an answer.and thin questions are questions that are really easy.

You think what could be a question you find in a text easily or are you gonna have to think about it for yourself.

To know if you have to search far to find it. 

It helps you get a thicker question that can be very specific and if you are writing a book you can put in info that may be harder to get in a different book

It helps because you can look at a question, and look if you have to flip to a page or if you have to do some thinking and looking in books.

It can help you, because if you have a question that is thick that you are trying to figure out, it would be easier, because than you would be prepared, and know how much information, you need access to.

It helps you know if you have to search in other books for information or if you could just look it up in the book you're reading 

It can help me by knowing what I can find in the text and what could be a possible think and search question when researching a specific topic.

Knowing the difference between a thick and a thin question helps me as a researcher by letting me know what kind of question I should ask when doing research. 

it help you know what you have to do to answer the question

It can help you find the answers to questions quicker

It helps you look for the right questions.

It helps me ask questions better

If you have a thin question, and you know what type of question it is, you can look back at the text and find your answer easily. If you have a thick question, you can look back at the text for something that might help you, and then you can think about what the answer to your question. I think that was enough explaining. I hope it is. :) :) :) :) :) 

Because you do not want to research a thin question because there is one easy answer for thin questions and many for thick questions also a thick question is HARDER for research

a thin question is easy to  find in the text and answer but a thick question is a question that you have to think about 
it helps you because it helps you really comprehend the information.

I like to know what a thick and thin question is because it helps me know how I should look in the text. Thank you Ms. Reed for teaching me this, it is a very good skill to have. :-).

It helps you by teaching you how to answer certain questions.
Because it shows what is more detailed and what is more straight forward.

This will help me  because knowing the difference between a think and thin question is helpful by using research/questions that someone didn't just put in an article

Knowing the difference between thick and thin questions help me as a researcher by using research that someone can't just pick up the book that I used for research and just read that for the same exact information.

It can help you by using good information in something you are writing.  For example you might have to write a piece of writing with more than who, what ,and when information. 

You can know if you will need to go deeper into the text to find evidence or if it will take easy if it will take longer or shorter to respond.

You would know if you have to think hard for question or just find the answer in the text.

Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question  helps you as a researcher because it helps you brain to understand how to look for thick questions and makes you work harder. 

It helps because a thick question is a think and search question, and a thin question is a right there question

It helps because you can find more exact information

Because if you are assigned to look through a book and find thick and thin questions, you would actually have to know what thick and thin questions are.

Knowing the difference between a thick and thin question is important, because you can think about if you should really spend that much time on it or breeze by it. Also if you're taking PARCC or MCAS you don't want to spend so much time on one reading, you want to know how long it will take you and if you, have spent over 5min and just, figured out where to look my best guess is its a think question. knowing a thin question is helpful, because you shouldn't spend over 5 minutes on a question you should flip back and answer in like 2 minutes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to Read a Story : Part Two

The second graders and I read How to Read a Story by Kate Messner today. The students loved the book. The illustrations highlight the humor in the narrative. While reading the book, we would stop and recount the steps.
Prior to reading the book we reflected on our lesson last week and the steps in reading a book that the students created.
After reading the How to Read a Story, the students fine-tuned the drafts of the class stories they created during last week's lesson. Check them out, they're great. I'd like to read with these students, What about you?

Ceglia: How to Read a Story

1. Go to the library
2. Ask for a book recommendation from a friend or the librarian
3. Find a Book
4. Get the book from a bookshelf
5. Make sure you like the book
6. Read the title
7. Open the cover
8. Read the description on the flap/back
9. Read the table of contents, if it has one
10. Do a picture walk
11. Read the first page to make sure you can read it well
12. Repeat steps 1 -9 to find a second book
13. Find a reading buddy you will enjoy reading with
14. Make sure they like the story
15. Check it out
16. Begin to read
17. Read with enthusiasm and expression
18. Stop and talk about the book with your buddy
19. Enjoy the adventure
20. When you finished reading, say, “The End.”
21. If you like the book, read it again!
22. Bring the book back to the library and start all over again

**Thank the librarian
**Remember the books to find them another time

Ramgren: How to Read a Story

1. Find a Friend to Read With
2. Explore the library
3. Find a book that interests you
4. Scan the pictures
5. Look at the table of contents
6. Read the first page
7. Make sure it is a good fit 
8. Find a cozy spot to read
9. Open the book to the first page
10. Take turns reading with a friend
11. Read with expression
12.  Voice the characters
13. Make sure you can both see the pictures
14. Look at the pictures to help you sound out words you don’t know 
15. Talk about the book with your friend, try to predict what will happen next.
16. If it is a nonfiction book, look at the index and glossary
17. Go back and find the information that you might have missed
18. When you are done say, “The End.”
19. Make sure to thank your friend for reading with you
20. If you really liked it, repeat Steps 1-21… again
21. Read another book, maybe by the same author
22. If you liked the book, suggest it to a friend

** Read a lot everyday and you will become a better reader

Jones: How to read a story

1. Find a book
2. Find a friend or a pet who might like to read your book with you
3. Take a picture walk
4. Read the title and author/illustrator and look at the picture
5. Read the summary on the flap or back
6. If you don’t want to read this book, go back to step 1.
7. Find a quiet place to read
8. Dig into the story and take notice of the plot
9. Try to read the book, if you need help ask your friends
10. If you come across a hard word, sound it out or use the picture clues
11. Try strategies to figure out a word, “Does it look right, does it sound right, does it make sense.”
12. Read the pages slowly
13. Focus on your reading
14. Read with expression
15. Compare the characters and settings
16. Take a break if you need it
17. If people are loud, ask them nicely to be quiet
18. Read for a while
19. At the end of the book, think about whether you liked it or not
20. If you like the story, you should read it again or recommend it to a friend

**instead of watching tv, you can read a book
**if there is a movie of your book, you can watch it and find the differences

Thayer: How to Read a Story

1. Ask a friend or a teacher for a recommendation
2. Choose a story
3. Look at the cover illustration and read the title
4. Read the description on the flap or on the back 
5. Look through the book/picture walk
6. Read the first pages of the book
7. Decide if you like the book, if you do not go back to Step 1.
8. Find a cozy reading spot
9. Start to read the story
10. Sound out words you don’t know
11. Look at pictures for clues
Stop and think about what is happening
12. Think about the story and make predictions
13. Make predictions about the story
14. Think about what a character should sound like
15. Wonder about the book
16. Imagine what the setting and characters look like.
17. Finish the story -don’t forget to say, “the end”
18. If you liked the story, go back and read it again!
19. Look for other stories like the one you just read or, if it is a series, look for another book in the series.
20.  If you liked the story, tell a friend about it.

**cover art needed

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fifth graders gather information on Colonial America

As a way to further engage the students in their exploration of the Colonial America unit resources, I thought I would have the students contribute notes to a shared Google Doc. What ensued was unmitigated chaos; this was far too large a leap from small group Google Docs collaboration. I whipped up a Google Form, linked it to my Web page, and we were back in business.
During this lesson, the students: gained further confidence in navigating to the resources from my Web page; sharpened their search strategies; honed their skills in gathering information in multiple formats and media; and, practiced good digital citizenship by posting notes in their own words.

I took the information from the students and threw it into a Wordle. I am excited to show the students both of these versions of the same data and am interested to hear which one they think better conveys the information.

Here is some of what they shared in the Google Form:

I learned that the colonies considered themselves British citizens
The English colonies mostly farmed and fished and they practiced their religion.

In the early 1600s, the King of England had to give permission to settlers to colonize the new world.

The first colony English successfully settled was in Virginia
I have learned that the very first permanent settlement was Jamestown. 

That during the French Indian war Britain Attacked French settlements all over the world, not just in the U.S.A and Canada
women didn't get educated or were less educated. They were expected to do house work with the mother. children had to start working at age 5 or 4. everything was made by hand.

That children had big jobs at a very young age. Also women were less educated than men. When women went out, the oldest girl had to take care of her siblings.

Jamestown was the first Virginia colony.

Britain Defeated France in the French/Indian War.

that the southern colonies used slaves very early

- In the early 1600s the king of England had to give the settlers permission to colonize in the new world.
- the first successful colony that the English settled was in Virginia.
- The settlers in Virginia built wooden shelters and forts.
- life was hard for all the settlers when they arrived.
- of the 104 settlers 66 died in the first year.

i learned that the British won the war
The settlers in Virginia built wooden sheds and forts.

Life was harsh for the settlers.

Of 104 settlers 66 died in the first year.'

farming and fishing was very big in the thirteen colonies and they had to scavenge for food in the beginning of the settlement. Things also came apart when the Pilgrims and new explorers came because the Natives Americans there did not like the new settlers on their land.

- at first, living in America was very hard
- nobody had time to think about school
- boys had to help with the farm, and they learned how to harvest crops at a very early age
- girls helped with the house by sewing clothes, making soap, and watching the younger boys

I learned that by 1700, over 2 million people lived in the colonies.
The king of England had to give permission to the settlers before it became a colony.

traveling was done in the winter and summer because muddy road in the fall and spring made it hard to travel.

I learned that girls do all the boring housework while boys chopped down trees or caught food. Back then things were so stereotypical.

most colonist that arrived were wealthy men and women

Southern colonies had many plantations and slave trade
The middle colonies were the bread basket, and produced paper, textiles and iron
The New England Colonies shipped almost everything, free religion, small farmers, fishing.

I have learned that there were many kinds of people who came to America

Girls and boys had to learn to do the tasks their parents did at a young age.

Boys and girls also had to learn different tasks from farming to sewing.

I learned that everyone who went to the u.s was looking for a better life.

native Americans introduced corn to the settlers

When the British put these unreasonable laws on the settlers, They got mad and declared war. And the Indians were mad too.

It only takes a few days to make a longhouse

Before elementary school, kids went to preliminary school at a teachers house. After that, boys would go to elementary school, and girls would stay home to learn how to cook and sew.

Dinner is in the middle of the day, most important meal, lots of pork

Colonists used salt to keep meat from spoiling

I learned that when the colonists came to New England, they had tons of diseases, not much food or shelter, not a lot of clothes and they were not used to the weather.

The shirt was used as a sleeping gown,and it was long
Socks up to the knees

Young teens courted each other on idea of marrying

The biggest meal of the day was dinner, and it was served at noon.

Blacksmiths didn't just forge metal. Some also worked as veterinarians or dentists! They made many things including horseshoes, pots, pans, candle holders, lanterns, locks, keys, and scythes. To make these things they used lots of tools including sledge hammers, chisels, flatters (flat hammer), tongs and ball peen hammers.

It was a struggle to find any food

they needed help from Native Americans

in Jamestown so hungry, they had to eat the flesh of the dead
- people who wear working wore clothes that were comfortable
- rich people would wear fine fabrics
- they did not wear underwear...
- boys wore stays till they were sick but girls wore them their whole lives
- elbows and ankles were considered ugly
- girls and boys wore dresses
- boys only wore dresses until they were 6
- men wore wigs
- American Indians were nearly naked
-food was scarce
-food was a major part of each persons day
-the searched for gold/riches
- NO gold! : (
-they were cannibals?!?!?! when in need
- the natives showed them pumpkins
-colonists ate skin, ears,brains, and blood of pigs

Groups struggled to find food so they made it
Skilled hunters (Native Americans)
Many of the first pilgrim settlers where men and women
The English brought barrels of food with them
Colonists searched for gold and riches
By 1610 the colonists had run out of food
they began to eat the flesh of those who had died out of severe starvation

-they came for many reasons
-met Indians
-first Africans arrived in 1619., slaves lots of them
-wore clothes custom to their job
-did not wear underwear
-girls wore stays, even when they were sleeping
-small children boys and girls wore dresses
-1700 fashionable to wear wigs
-children's shoes were made 2 sizes too big they wrapped wool around their feet until they grew into them

school was the last thing people thought of. Survival was #1. Children as young as 4 had to help Other girls watched brothers work.Boys and girls did different work. Girls did what mothers did. Work was by hand. Girls made soap to clean. Boys did what fathers did. Wood work like hunting. Some children did education like reading. It was a slow process. Books were expensive. Most only owned a bible.Colonial children didn't have paper so to learn they rhyme. As colonies became more stable there were schools set up. The type of colony you lived in depended up what school you would go to. The New England colonists sent their children to school to learn to read and write. Some of the first schools were called "dame schools" (Women) It was very little money to go. Got taught to read and write also simple mathematics. Some only served some children when others served a lot.

In most of the colonies, it was a struggle for food because there were no grocery stores so they ate dead flesh off of dead bodies and people. They had no choice. Also, there were many Quakers that tried to make peace.

In the early times colonial children went to school, Children under 5 years old had work to do, mothers had plenty of house work, the older girls watched the younger children, boys and girls didn’t learn the same task, girls learned to spin yarn food also had to be made food, girls also made soup, boys learned to chop down trees they also learned to fish and hunt, in England hunting was a sport for wealthy landowners, colonial mothers taught their children how to read, books were expensive, most families only had the bible later on the mothers got educational books called primers, colonial children learned to learn by rhyming, colonial rhymes had religious meanings and some death, as the colonies became more steady the children went, it was very important to the penitents that they learn how to read the bible. But other kids went to school to learn to read and write.

Girls were not very privileged with gift of learning

I learned that school was not important in the colonial period. Survival came first. I also learned that girls and boys were not expected to learn the same thing. Boys were in charge of hunting and girls were in charge of taking care of the house and kids. Lastly, I learned that hunting was new to the explores. Before the settled in their colonies, they were not used to going to get their own food in the wilderness.

feeding a family was hard in colonial times

I learned that wild animals, wilderness and disease threaten their lives. Ive also learned that children as young as 5-4 had to start working, on the farm, the house, etc

In the early 1600 the king of England gave permission to settlers to colonize the new world. There were two types of characters, a royal character and a proprietary character. The colonists harvested crops and other natural products like timber and fur. They shipped the products back to England for money. The first colony that was successfully settled was Virginia.

-Ben Franklin wanted turkey to be nations symbol
-residents of colonial America could neither read or write

Most English settlers came to make money and grow valuable crops.

There were many people hungry and sick and died because of that but it didn't stop the colonists from coming.

The king had to give the colonists permission to come to the new world.

There were two types of colonies one type was where the king would control the whole colony and the second type of colony was where individuals would control the whole colony.

it was a struggle to find food in the winter
Europeans brought barrels of food
Corn was the main food that they ate
Woman used a tool called mortar
When the colonist came here they didn't know what corn was
The biggest meal was dinner
They brought pigs to the new world
Slaves were fed nations
Rich families ate two courses at dinner

-Books were very expensive
-A lot of children didn't have good education
-Kids didn't have books or paper
-Many families only had a copy of the Bible
-Dame was another name for Woman
-A law said every town had to hire a teacher
-First public schools were called common schools
-Mostly only boys went to school

built home out of pure wilderness, disease, wild animals, nature disasters threatened lives worked hard to get food, shelter and clothing survival comes first, school wasn't a problem. no school-early colonial times, find food take care of animals and survive clean house young children had work to do, made a fire, gathered fruit, farm work. mothers did housework older girls took care of younger siblings sexist time period girls helped around the house, boys farmed mothers taught how to read, learned by rhyming words

Europeans brought barrels of food
Colonist used all of their food by the winter
corn was the main food
Men dying of starvation
ate the flesh of people who died
women made corn bread

before coming to America Europeans had no clue what corn was

native Americans tough Europeans how to cook pumpkin

dinner almost always had a meat

Europeans brought pig to new land

food depended on how wealthy you were

slaves go only corn and parts up pig that no one wants

rich people had at least two meals a night

breakfast and supper were only eaten if there was enough food to eat

people who wanted meat for supper had to hunt to eat the food

They had to develop ways to feed themselves

Had to learn a lot from the American Indians

Came hopping to find gold and other riches but found none

The colonists originally fought for Great Britain in the war.

Government of England not respecting the colonists.