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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I recently read SWAP! by Steve Light with my first grade students. The book, which is published by Candlewick, hits the shelves in January and I would recommend you get a copy when it does.

In SWAP! "... a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And so it goes, until the little swashbuckler secures sails, anchors, a ship’s wheel, and more . . . including a happy friend. Steve Light’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, punctuated by brilliant blue and other hues, anchor this clever tale of friendship and ingenuity."

The first graders and I started out by crowd sourcing what they students knew about pirates and sailors and then noticing what the two had in common. With some basic ideas held within our group, we started into the story.

SWAP! is a wonderfully interactive story to read with children and in classic Steve Light style offers a feast for the eyes and the brain on every page. The first graders did math throughout the story adding and subtracting the amounts of items that were swapped.

After reading SWAP! the students and I reflected on what we had thought we knew about pirates and sailors and how that information compared to the characters in the book.

The book sets the stage for fabulous learning extensions. I hope there are some in the works. I tried to create a swapping game for the students, but had a hard time making it work with twenty-four students. I have plans to create a reader's theatre script that would involve the students swapping items. I'll share it when I do. Maybe there's something you'd SWAP for it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I learned that the (creation) process takes patience.

I asked the fourth graders what they learned while creating a Google Slide presentation for their Earth's Forces unit. Here is how they finished this sentence, I learned...

about research tools

that you need to organize and name bibliographic resources

how to choose fonts

how to copy and paste

how and why to cite resources

how to use the undo button

that the process take patience

that research is a process that has steps

how to make a slide show

how to drag and drop photos

how to re-size photos/images

how to put words in italics

how to search for images when in a slide show

I am looking forward to continuing to learn with these students during the next project!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fourth Graders Practice Being Good Digital Citizens While Sharing Information on Earth's Forces

The research projects are occurring at a rapid pace these days. The fourth graders are learning about Earth's Forces. My role in this project was to remind them about the resources available on our library web page, including those resources with images. We subscribe to Britannica ImageQuest, which has millions of user-friendly images, and is really the only one we need, but the students do also use the user-friendly images in Encyclopedia Britannica as well as those from the research tools in Google Apps for Education.

My other job was to introduce Google Slides. I talked about what a Google Slide presentation should look like and how a slide presentation should be talking points and not text to read word for word. The students and I then created sample slides. We practiced bringing in images that reinforced the information we had added to the slide and then citing those images. Each classroom contributed a slide. 

I walked through the process for accessing Britannica ImageQuest, search for images, finding one that reinforced the information on the slide, finding the citation, inserting the image and then linking the citation to the image itself and the bibliography slide. 
I did the same for Google Tools.

For the information on the slide, we used knowledge from the class. Here's a look at what we created:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars Yoga Awakens the Force....

Two hours from this moment the new Star Wars film opens. I am incredibly excited for this event and wish I had tickets, but alas, I do not, so, I did the next best thing: I spent the afternoon doing Star Wars Yoga with my second graders. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a fab resource for that afternoon when vacation is looming and the students just need that bit of a break. Need proof? Watch my students:

There are different yoga stories, but this is one of my favorites. May the Force be with you!

Ethical Gatherers of Information

This is how both my library and the fifth grade classrooms have looked for the past week. The fifth graders are busy gathering information on Native American peoples from across the United States. One of my roles has been to introduce the templates for both note taking and citing sources. I very much enjoy talking with students about these two things and it's been reaffirming to watch them apply their new skills.

This project is not only collaboratively taught, it is also collaboratively planned and developed. I am honored to work with a team that values my input and my role in teaching and learning and I am grateful for the understanding and knowledge I have gained from them.

I modeled how to find the Google Docs Templates that the fifth grade teachers shared. I modeled how to make a copy of a template and rename it. I modeled accessing and navigating to the library resources like PebbleGo Next and Encyclopedia Britannica. I modeled how to cite a source and take notes using the templates. 

And then it was the students turn...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hour of Code in Kindergarten

I've been popping in and out of classes during my flex time to introduce and assist with Hour of Code. It's been affirming to watch the same experiences happen from kindergarten through grade five - students are collaborating to solve puzzles, but even better they are exercising their critical thinking skills, math skills, and logic skills. There's so much more embedded into learning coding, but these are rewarding to watch. 

The sound of students excited after solving a coding challenge is fabulous. I was in a fourth grade class yesterday when both the teacher and I emitted just this sound after solving one of the Frozen snowflake puzzles on the Hour of Code site. I had to pull it up on the screen and talk through it with the class. I hope our inadvertent modeling helped inspire them to persist during their own challenges.    

Here's a look into a kindergarten class from this week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

You're my Wonder Wall

Today the kindergarten students pursued their interests by finding books along our Wonder Wall that could answer their wondering questions from last week.  (Last week was a long time ago in kindergarten years, so thankfully they had drawn their wonderings and I had kept them.) After reinforcing the idea behind our Wonder Wall or nonfiction neighborhood -- the place to go to find answers to those who, what, when, where, why, and how questions -, I compared the organization of this neighborhood with our picture book neighborhood and talked through the process of finding the subject area and then exploring those shelves for the right book. The students then found their art/question and set off for the Wonder Wall.

It was a bit chaotic helping twenty-four kindergarten students get to the right shelves, but by the end of the class most every child had found a book to help answer their question. 

Here's a look at some of the questions and the books we found: