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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ALAMW 17....book awards, historic sites, and a social justice march

A highlight of my year is attending the American Library Association Youth Media Awards announcements ceremony on the Monday morning of the Midwinter. You can read about some experiences here and here. Sitting in the auditorium while the awards are announced and being surrounded by book-ish people cheering for the winners is affirming and hope-filled. Realizing that your own voice is part of a greater cacophony of book love is thrilling and energizing.

This year, I experienced something different and pretty cool. This year, I had some added excitement as a member of the Schneider Family Book Award Jury. Here's a look at what was a memorable weekend of thought-provoking conversations, thoughtful decisions, and book-ish celebrations.

When not engaged in all things book-ish, Atlanta had a lot to offer, including marching with the incredible John Lewis!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pink is for Blobfish: Blue is for...

The second graders and I immensely enjoyed learning about some very cool pink animals a few weeks ago. Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating, with illustrations by David Degrand, hooks readers with its incredibly engaging cover. I happen to be of the school that the blobfish is endearing and rather cute! The students loved the book so much that I created a project around it. 

For two of my classes, the students were given the color blue and had to use PebbleGo Encyclopedia or our library books to find a blue animal. Following the format in Pink is for Blobfish, the students noted the size, diet, and habitat of their animal as well as an interesting fact. They finished the project by creating a drawing of their animal.

After the project was finished, which took two library classes, the students participated in a gallery walk of each other's work. Meeting as a whole group after the gallery walk, they shared what they had learned from each other. #coolbeans

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From Katz to Keats: Fourth Graders Create Poems about Ezra Jack Keats

Inspired by reading A Poem for Peter, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Steve Johnson  and Lou Fancher, my fourth graders created poems for Ezra Jack Keats. 

Want to know how they got to this step? Read this post:Poems about Ezra Jack Keats inspired by A Poem for Peter 

Want to know how they reacted to A Poem for Peter? Read this post: ReedALOUD: A Poem for Peter 

Friday, January 13, 2017

ReedALOUD: Moo

My lunch bunch book group and I just finished reading Moo by Sharon Creech

"This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora."

Zora, that stubborn cow, steals your heart, as does her eccentric owner Mrs. Falala, with that long grey braid and those strong opinions. 

My students and I loved this book. Reena and Luke show us what it's like to be siblings dropped into unchartered territory -  this small Maine town is nothing like the urban environment they left. They also show us what it means to protect those that you love and how to find room in your heart for others. 

Here's why my students think YOU should read this book:

While reading, the students would often illustrate scenes, characters, or words that resonated with them. Here is some of their art:

"...curving lanes spreading like tree trunks from the town center"

Mrs. Falala's barn

Luke saying, "Don't touch me." because he didn't like to be touched by strangers.

Luke learning where food comes from.

The Maine seaside view
Mucking the stalls
Reena and Luke's new home in Maine

Many Maine-y scenes

Wonderful words they heard

I also copied a few pages to allow them to draw or share their thinking in the margins.

We had a special time reading MOO.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poems about Ezra Jack Keats inspired by A Poem for Peter

A few weeks ago, the fourth graders and I read A Poem for Peter, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Steve Johnson  and Lou Fancher.  You can read about the read aloud experience here. Seeing how moved the students were, I decided to turn it into a project about biographies and poetry
Step One:

The students began by exploring the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation webpage
They read about Ezra Jack Keats, they listened to people talking about the influence of his books, they explored the neighborhoods of and characters in his books. Embedded in the lesson was information on biographies and where and how to find them in our library.

Step Two:

Using A Poem for Peter for inspiration, the students used the information they gathered and their memories from the book to write poems about Ezra Jack Keats. This lesson also included a refresher on a few commons styles and forms of poetry. Having the dictionaries and thesauri in plain sight encouraged the students to dig a little deeper for juicy words.

Step Three:

The students decided how to illustrate the final draft of their poem. They could choose from collage, water color pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and markers. 

I will post the finished poems next week!