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

Friday, December 16, 2016

First Grade Navigators Explore PebbleGo

This week the first graders tested out their navigational skills while engaged in natural inquiry. After walking through how to get to (navigate to) the PebbleGo Encyclopedia link on our library resources page, I briefly demonstrated how to navigate within the encyclopedia and how to use the tools. Working in pairs, the students took turns driving (using the laptop) and choosing articles. I have done this in the past with first graders as a way to introduce a resource prior to research hoping that the familiarity and ease of navigating helps them focus on the content more than how to get there.  

Watching their natural interests lead their selections was incredibly cool. Have a look and listen at how this went and what they were interested in learning:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

ReedALOUD: A Poem for Peter

The fourth graders and I read A Poem for Peter, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Steve Johnson  and Lou Fancher. 

The students broke into spontaneous applause at the end of the book. I think this occurred because it feels like we, the readers, have witnessed something, something quite special. This book is the real deal. A beautifully wrapped up package in narrative and art; a gift bestowing both knowledge and understanding of Ezra Jack Keats.

The form allows the reader to read the story like a spoken word performance -- switching up the rhythm and cadence to allow for emphasis and energy as well as bring focus to emotions and elements. It's a read aloud that pulls out of the station, picks up speed and flies down the tracks, it's cargo of words like a freight train pushing forward. Not that we did not stop this literature train once or twice to talk about The Great Depression or The WPA. There is much here to consider, ponder, and wonder.

But I get ahead of myself. 

This book! Those words! That art! 


Indeed they did! I adore this image. 

This passage, describing what it was like for Ezra Jack Keats' parents, is powerful. The art that accompanies it says it all.

I am so moved by these words below. We spent a goodly number of minutes appreciate this language and what it would feel like to take a page from life's book of hard wanting. 

I love this glimpse into Peter's relationship with his father.

These stanzas are a call to action and a source of inspiration for all readers, so much power in so few words.   

Andrea provides two wonderful end notes for readers.

What did my students learn?

What questions did my students have?

Next week, the students will be exploring the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website and creating their own verse about what they have learned.

I used the book to remind students about the biography genre and the neighborhood. When asked to define biography, here's what they shared:

Monday, December 12, 2016

ReedALOUD: I am a Story

This week, the second graders and I read I am a Story by Dan Yaccarino.

I am a Story is a poetic and beautiful celebration of the history of the story, those words we have shared since time immemorial, from campfires and cave walls to tapestries and parchment; from the printed and bound book to the digital device. These stories that we share make us who we are. The history of the story is enlivened by Dan Yaccarino's engaging and clever illustrations. The careful reader will find references to stories, both historic and classic. 

The story of the story has not always been a happy one. Dan reminds readers that stories have been banned, censored, and burned. 
Dan Yaccarino reminds us of the power of story. That a tapestry of words can move us to laughter or tears, surprise or inspire us, or inform or expand our worlds is a testament to the power of story. That we can take stories with us wherever we go or find stories along the way is a hopeful thing indeed.

This was the perfect book to help the students understand that stories have a history and that the stories in this library and all libraries all started a very long time ago. The students engaged in a turn and talk with an elbow partner about these two questions:

“What is a story?” 
“Why are they important?”

With this thinking percolating amongst the group, we read I am a Story. 

The students learned that some of the oldest stories can be found in the Folk Literature neighborhood.They learned that the oldest known stories were shared orally, they were told, from person to person. We used Aesop’s Fables and talked about how stories that were being told 2636 years ago are still being told today. The Lion and the Mouse was a perfect example as all the students are familiar with Jerry Pinkney's version. 

After a whole group discussion, the students shared their thinking about these questions: 

1. What is a story?

2. Why are stories important?

3. What is a favorite story of yours?

4. How will stories be shared in the future?

After contributing their ideas and browsing and borrowing, the students practiced the art of storytelling using Story Cubes, Tell me a Story, How to Tell a Story. 

What story will you read today?