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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ReedALOUD: Druthers

I read Druthers by Matt Phelan with my kindergarten students this week.  I love this book.  It is a well-written, wonderfully-illustrated celebration of the power of play and using one's imagination.

It was particularly fitting day to read it as it was pouring, just as in the book, where we meet Penelope on a very rainy day.

No words were needed where none existed. Every child could read this body language, but Penelope does inform her dad, who has not witnessed it.

I adore this tête-à-tête. This is what connecting with a child looks like.

Here, I stopped and asked the students what they would rather be doing (then reading with me) if they could do anything at all. 

"going to Pittsburgh"

"going to outer space"

"flying an airplane"

"shopping for medical supplies and a camera" (a budding scientist)

"parachuting from a jet"

"riding a unicorn"

"climbing a tree"

"going to the mall"

"going to Disney World"

"watching TV"

"playing with my brother"

"spending time with my mom"

"watching a football game"

"visiting a fairy garden"

"meet a mermaid and swim deep down in the ocean"

"watching movies"

"swimming in a pool"


"going to the Bahamas"

"making art"

Fun, right?  Well, after having had a chance to share their own druthers, we went back to find out what Penelope would choose. Penelope has one wonderful imagination - a pirate captain that visits a dinosaur island is pretty darn cool.
This illustration shows how little one needs to make one's imagination come to life. Move on over pardner', I need to git on that horse!

My library and my house often look like this after great fun has been had. *Loud cheering for the power of play ensues.* 

If you had your druthers, what would you rather be doing?

Monday, June 15, 2015

And the place most third graders want their families to visit is...

They have watched the 4th grade projects.

They have reviewed the Google form.

They have cast their votes.

Looks like the Midwest is the most popular destination for these third graders.

What reason did the third graders give for their choice?

I would love to go to the water parks

because it looks really fun

Disney World

Because it has a water park

Because of the theme park and the mythology things

I love family amusement!

You can go horseback riding in Yellowstone Park.

Because at Dinosaur world you can collect real dinosaur bones. I also think dinosaurs are interesting and cool.

Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park

because it had the mount Olympus water park

I think the water park would be fun

the four D's

I chose this region because it has the Mount Olympus Water Park.

Because I read Percy Jackson and i would want to visit MOUNT OLYMPUS WATER PARK!

"I am the biggest fan of Greek mythology ever! Also Percy Jackson has been on the ST. Laurence bridge."

I want to go to the dinosaur world and bring home dinosaur fossils and go to Disney World and Dollywood 

I chose the west because it has an awesome water park and a cool mall!

The Northern Lights because they are very beautiful

This region has so much fun places, like the awesome amusement parks!

I chose this region because I love nature!

The Northern Lights because they are very beautiful

I want to visit the West because I REALLY want to see the VOLCANOES!

Because of the Mount Olympus and and the Mall of America.

Because I want to see Carlsbad Cavern

I choose this region because I'm from TEXAS, I like the wave, and I like the Grand Canyon.

I love nature, and I want to see the northern lights.

I would go to the Midwest because there are a lot of parks

because  you get to see beautiful nature.

Because I want to go to the Mount Olympus theme park.

I would choose this region because the Mall of America and the Gateway Arch.
I read a book called Percy Jackson that has Greek mythology in it, and part takes place in the Midwest.

I chose the Midwest because the water park looks really cool.

I picked this place because of the amazing wonders an sights that you can experience.

Because I want to see the grand canyon

Because it sounds really cool.

I chose the Midwest because I really liked the top four places!

it looks like a fun place to spend time with your family

Because the mall of America is in the Midwest.

Because I want to go to the mount Olympus theme park.
How did the students rank certain aspects of the presentations?

The top four reasons to visit the region had more impact than the slogan and leading question, but the other two were not that far off. I wish I had asked them to rank them each on their own merit. Ideas for next year already!

Where will your family vacation? Please cast your vote!

The fourth graders created presentations demonstrating reasons to visit a specific U.S. geographic region. The students are using knowledge they gained about the regions in the United States to convince you to choose that region for an annual family vacation. If you want to know how we got to this stage, you can read about the whole project here.

Please let check out their slide shows and cast your vote!

Please use this Google Form to vote!

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Dear Ms. Pinkney..."

There are quite a few students in my 5th grade classes who have read The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. They gather in a gaggle to talk about the book whenever they are in the library. In the "you know a book has touched a reader when" category, one of the students wrote this...

The Red Pencil Message

Dear Ms. Pinkney,

Your book was one of my favorites, and I will never forget the events that happened in this book. Some of the events I was happy crying, and some events I was crying because the book was sad. For example, I cried from sadness when Dando died. He was one of my favorite characters, but I cried from happiness when at the end she decides to go to school. All the events I loved, but some touched me in particular.
I can’t even describe one of the parts in this book. When Amira found out that she loved art, I thought of myself. Amira loves drawing so much she draws everyday. I am on a swim team, and I love it so much I go to the pool everyday. She shows lots of passion for drawing. Like, I show passion for swimming. Back to my thoughts on the book, it's not about me. Another part of my favorite part is when she gets her red pencil. She loves how she can draw on real paper, not just the sand.
Something that really made the book stand out was the illustrations.There was a lot of detail to the drawings that made them realistic. The way the illustrator put the pictures in was perfect. I can picture even better with pictures. Also, I love that the pictures aren’t perfect. Its more realistic when they aren’t the best thing you have ever seen. It looks like she drew it.
Your book was truly inspirational and I will never forget it. It will always be my favorite, or one of my favorite books. You are an amazing author and I hope you will like this message I have written to you.



ReedALOUD: I Wish You More

Today, the first graders and I read, I Wish You More, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.
From Goodreads:
"Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. The infallible team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have combined their extraordinary talents to create this exuberant book of endless good wishes. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. Whether celebrating life's joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age."

This is such a sweet book, and gets me a bit choked up at the end. It's a celebration of love. After reading the book, I asked the students to think about their classmates and what they had learned about each other during the last 170 days. I asked them to think about a wish they would send into the cosmos for a classmate or for the class in general. Here's what they wrote:

Here are more wishes:

ReedALOUD: Have You Seen My Monster?

Last week, the kindergarten students and I read, Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light. Back in the fall, these students and I had a great time reading Have You Seen My Dragon and subsequently created our own counting book. I thought it would be fun to recreate this lesson with Steve's newest book. It's just as fabulous. The students and I spent time exploring each spread - identifying and counting shapes as well as taking in the fair atmosphere.
In Have You Seen My Monster, a little girl gallivants through a county fair, searching for her furry friend. Readers will surely spot the friendly monster as well as twenty shapes, identified here by their proper names—trapezoids, ellipses, kites, and more—hidden among iconic fair attractions from the fun house to the Ferris wheel. Maybe the monster is judging the pies? Or perhaps he’s at the monster-truck rally? Youngsters will be so mesmerized by Steve Light’s masterful pen-and-ink illustrations, decorated with vivid splashes of color, they won’t even realize they’ve learned how to spot a nonagon while looking for a monster.

The Finished Projects
Each kindergarten class created their own book/slide show.

About the Lessons
We began by naming all the shapes we could. I then read, Have You Seen My Monster by Steve Light. We identified the shapes in the book and talked about how there are shapes everywhere. There's not much time left in this school year, so the production part of the project needed to happen in one forty-five minute block. With four parent volunteers for each class, we managed to accomplish our task.

The students worked in pairs to capture a photograph in a designated location of the school. They knew that the photograph should include as many shapes as possible.
The students went to their designated space, decided upon the direction and focus of the photograph, took the photograph, and then returned to the library to work with Skitch to outline and label their shapes. The expectations were that they outline a number of shapes and label at least one.
I modeled the entire process with the students before they set off.
It was reaffirming to look around my library and see such engaged and collaborative learners.

P.A.R.C.C. was challenging and making new friends also was challenging.

The third graders and I re-read Beekle  by Dan Santat today. Ending the year with the same book that we began it is helping both the students and me to reflect on all that has happened along the way.  

I re-visited the blog post from September, the one  about our community building with Beekle. After reviewing our community building, I focused on what I had written about courage:
I asked the students to think about how they had demonstrated courage, in ways both big and small this year.  I asked them to think about the courage to: share their opinions;  take risks; be curious, listen; forgive; and be inclusive. 

I displayed courage this year by reading more biographies and nonfiction books.

I displayed courage this year by getting interested in other subjects and other book types and reading.

I displayed courage this year by becoming very interested in Helen Keller. And by becoming very interested in social studies and other subjects. 

I have displayed courage by moving into a new school in the middle of the school year.I think I did a good job moving into a new school where I knew no one.

I have displayed courage by raising my hand more than I did last year.

By being kind forgiving.

I  displayed courage this year by accepting the offer to be goalie at the student/faculty soccer game.

by letting people in by asking questions and being kind to others

I try to answer some questions that I don't know the answer to when Ms. Kelleher says questions to the class 

I have displayed courage this year in open circle by contributing my thoughts a lot. 

being kind 

being inclusive 

When i don't know a question i don't ask fist i try to figure it out 

I have displayed courage by moving into a new school in the middle of the school year.I think I did a good job moving into a new school where I knew no one.

I displayed courage by saying hi to some friends that I didn't know but now I know.  

I displayed courage this year by reading more biographies and nonfiction books.

I raise my hand way more this year.

Memorized my multiplication facts.

by raising my hand to a hard math problem

I was not going to read The  Land  of  Stories but my friend pestered me until I read it,the whole thing.

I raised my hand more this year.

I wrote 5 essays to practice for the parcc

I read a new genre that I wasn't comfortable with

I have displayed courage by making friends that I will always have 

By reading new books.

I displayed courage by reading a different genre of books this year.

I have displayed courage this year by making tons of friends while being new to the school.

I demonstrated courage by trying to make friends with a new kid.

I displayed courage this year by doing the "Elves and the Shoemaker" in front of at least 275 people!

I displayed courage by reading a new kind of book

I displayed courage by doing a front handspring off the high beam in the gym

I tried out crazy writing and math problems.

I tried a hard worksheet on math.

I chose new bigger books like Ida B and the Fourteenth Goldfish

I displayed by reading a new book series

I took a new book that didn't know anything about

I displayed  courage by making new friends because I talked to more people I did not know.

I displayed courage this year by starting/writing my own new book series. 

I started reading the Harry Potter series when I knew nothing about the series,and they were hard books to read with hard words

I tried to work harder.

I tackled a hard math problems 

I made new friends

I  have been zoning people at writing and worked as hard as I could

I have displayed courage by being very inclusive in the sand court/pit.  Me and my friends are welcoming and inclusive in the sand court

being very talkative, doing my best on p.a.r.c.c , and raising my hand in some subjects.

P.A.R.C.C. was challenging and making new friends also was challenging. 

I tried to read new books

I tried to make friends more than last year.

I checked out new books.

When I asked them to describe their learning community, they used these words: 

I am already looking forward to next year!