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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The 2016 Who and What Edition of Reading in the Library

We circulated almost 25,000 books from a collection of 11,000. We have a population of 498 students, a majority of which have very full bookshelves and tall book stacks at home, so this is impressive.

Top circulating titles overall 

Top 25 Novels

Top 25 Graphic Novels

Top 25 Picture Books

Top 25 Early Readers

Top 10 Biographies

 Natural Sciences Top Both 
Applied Sciences and Sports and Leisure 

Homeroom borrowing statistics
Three first grade classrooms land in the top ten!

Eight of the top 25 highest borrowers were boys. In the top ten, there was one boy at spot number four. Four third graders landed in the top ten. Interesting statistics for me to think about as I plan next year. 

It's day 180, so that's a wrap! 
We'll see what next year brings!

Monday, June 20, 2016

ReedALOUD: The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

Last week, my fourth graders and I shared The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead
"The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends."
This book is one stunning package. Stead's art and Cuevas' narrative play off each other and build to form one beautiful, evocative, and thoughtful whole. I think this would be a wonderful book to begin the year with and have the students write and send their hopes and dreams off in bottles (though they would stay at the school in some form that would allow them to revisit them in June). I couldn't wait that long though. September is so far away. We would use it now. The fourth graders and I read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles during our last library class together, which was within a week of them heading off for summer vacation. There was no sign of impatience or  day dreaming about what was to come. The students were present, engaged, and touched, something that is an indication of the story's power. 
After reading and reflecting on the book, these questions provided additional direction for the project:
What message would you like to send out into the world?
Who do you hope would find it?
How far do you hope your message would travel?
How long would your message be at sea?

What kinds of messages did they write?
We discussed how the message could focus on an accomplishment, an event or a person. If that was too limiting, they could write a time capsule type note or write to someone in the future.
What to do with all the messages?
Prior to the lesson, I had looked into purchasing bottles and having the students send them out into the world. I was dissuaded from this by all my environmentally-minded colleagues who reminded me that 75 new bottles littering the oceans was bad in many respects.

What should we do? The answer came during a conversation with a kindergarten student the day before the lesson: Geocaching! I am going to leave the messages in Geocaches that I visit and will hide some of my own. I am adding the school address to the notes, in the hopes that someone might write us back. We'll see! 

I knew I wanted to share this book with students the moment it arrived in the mail. It is a story asking to be read, shared, and discussed.

Fifth Graders Create Six Word Memoirs

The fifth graders created six word memoirs. 
Check them out. They are amazing.

About the project

For the past three years, I have had my fifth graders reflect on their six years at our school as part of our culminating experiences in the library program. I am always impressed by their thoughtfulness and creativity. Last year, the students used Animoto to present their memoirs. This year, I decided to embed citing sources and a number of useful web skills into the project by using Google Slides and Britannica ImageQuest. The project took two forty-five minute classes.  Here are the Step by Step Directions for the project. Since music cannot be embedded into Google Slides, I played an instrumental version of a song from my Google Music playlist during the show. You can link to the song on the first slide.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Over the Ocean, I think I will find...

Yesterday, the kindergarten students and I read Over the Ocean by TarĊ Gomi. 
First published in Japan 1979 and newly released by Chronicle Books, "in this beautiful testament to wondering, a young girl gazes out to where the water meets the sky and wonders what lies beyond the waves. Boats filled with toys? Skyscrapers filled with people? Houses filled with families? Or, maybe, over the ocean stands someone not so different from the girl herself, returning her gaze. In this celebration of imagination's power, young readers will find joy in the mystery of the faraway, the unknown, and the just-beyond." You can learn more about the book in this review in Publishers Weekly. While reading the book, we stopped to admire and appreciate the art of Taro Gomi.

The kindergarten students were encouraged to envision themselves standing at the water's edge and to wonder what might be on the other side of the ocean. What would they want to find there? What would they expect to find there? With Taro Gomi's art style in their minds, they let their imaginations wonder.