Monday, June 11, 2018

Trailer time!

I always have such high expectations for multi-week projects - if my students and I have invested several weeks in something, I want it to reflect that! I think their trailers came out pretty well. I loved seeing the books that they chose and watching how they portrayed the elements of the story. It doesn't hurt that the iMovie package makes them look so professional! 


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Every Day is Earth Day

With April vacation, it seemed like a natural break to pick up with something new, rather than continue with poetry (plus, you know, my aforementioned confession).

So, Earth Day being this week made for a natural tie-in for my lessons this week.

Kindergarteners heard a book that was recommended by local public librarian, Call Me Tree. It was short but incorporated movement while the main character (and my classes) showed off their best tree poses. We also capped off National Poetry Month with a 2 part poem from a sweet spring-themed poetry book. I needed the rest of the class to finish up our special poetry project...

1st graders heard Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kann. We talked about some of the wishes that Peter and his sister asked for and then they each had to write their own wish for the world. They put them in my repurposed wish jar (who actually uses a cookie jar, anyway?) and we took turns reading different wishes while we waited in line at the end of class. It was a pretty cute lesson - great for the first class back after vacation.

2nd grade heard The People Who Hugged the Trees, adapted by Deborah Lee Rose. We did some reading of the cover to predict some details about the story. Someone nailed that it was a story from India. This is a beautifully illustrated story, and its history as a folk tale tied back to some of the genre work we did earlier in the year.

3rd grade started a unit on Reference books. First up was dictionaries, but done in conjunction with the Earth Day-friendly story Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter. I pulled out 6 words from the story for them to look up in the dictionaries (either alone or with partners). They were responsible for the definition and the part of speech, which seemed doable to me, but the 1st class I had were only able to make it through about half the list. I adapted for the next class and had them work in groups of 5 so that they could hopefully move more quickly through the list. It seemed to work much better, so I'll file that away for next year.

Again, 4th and 5th grade marching to the beat of their own drummer (book trailers and biographies, respectively). Full update still to come!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Librarian Confessions

Here goes...I don't particularly like poetry.

(My other one is that I've never read any of the Harry Potters, though I hope to change that this summer!).

But, April is National Poetry Month and it makes a natural connection to spend a few weeks focusing on poetry so I had to try extra hard to not feel like I was a complete faker.

In retrospect, I think I had more hits than misses. First the hits:

Kindergarten - This one is a work in progress (stay tuned for the final product), but I think it's going to be a hit. I made some cards with Rhyme and Repetition and we talked about how these are sometimes seen in poetry. As we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, they raised their card when they heard either rhyming or repeating words. Our extension activity uses knowledge I got from the recent MSLA (Mass School Library Association) conference I attended and I can't wait to wrap it up this week.

3rd grade - I tried Spine Label poetry with these guys for the first time and it was so fun. Definitely a hit! Some of them struggled, but others really embraced it and kept going back to make more of them. A few of my favorites below:

The next week, we talked about different rhyme schemes and practiced identifying them in some funny Prelutsky poems. Next, we divided into groups and each group had a poem that was cut into couplets, so they had to work together to identify the rhyming scheme and piece the poem back together. Once they had it right, they illustrated their poems and I added them to my new display. I really loved the illustrations and the teamwork. Very cute. 

And the misses...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Matt de la Pena Visit!

The last couple of weeks have been largely centered on getting everything ready for my first author visit, and with a Newbery-winner, no doubt.

In conjunction with the other elementary librarians in our district, we were so excited to be able to bring an author like Matt into our schools. Through the power of teamwork, we wrote a grant to our local public schools foundation, and together with our PTOs were able to have him visit all three schools.

He did not disappoint.

Among all my classes, we focused on Love and Last Stop on Market Street to prep our students for his visit, going into varying levels of depth, depending on the grade level.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

MCBA by the Numbers

One of my goals this year has been to keep older elementary kids interested in reading. The Massachusetts Children's Book Award was instituted for this same reason, so I thought it was an easy enough way to try to achieve my goal. The premise of the program is simple: from a list of 20+ books, 4th-6th grade students read at least 5 of them, and then they get to vote on their favorite. Votes are tallied from around the state, and each participating library gets a certificate with the winning book.

We had our voting party this week, and Roller Girl was the Loker favorite - we'll have to wait a few more weeks to see what the rest of the state thought! A quick shot of our voting party spread and prize for participating:

With it being the first year, I wasn't sure what to expect, but overall, I think interest was high enough to do it again next year.

  • The 25 titles that were on the list this year circulated 135 times from mid-October to mid-March 
  • 22 out of 97 4th and 5th graders read at least one book as part of the contest 
  • 12 students read at least 5 and were eligible to vote 
  • Most books read was 17 by one eager 5th grader

As there is always room for improvement, my initial ideas to boost participation next year:
  • Have the books ordered over the summer, so that readers have an extra month to participate
  • Host a monthly book club to discuss a different book 
  • Hopefully, enjoy a little word-of-mouth, where this year's 4th graders spread the word to their classmates!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Got your attention, didn't I?

I had a great lesson with my 1st and 2nd graders for Black History Month that warranted its own post.

Whoosh! (see what I did there?) is a new book in the library which tells the story of Lonnie Johnson, an inventor who accidentally invented the Super Soaker water gun.

While I love the inspiring stories of the "usual suspects" for Black History Month (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc), I am always drawn to lesser-known people whose stories are worth knowing about. Enter Lonnie Johnson.

I thought this book would be a fun one for younger students, but after I read it for the first time, I read the back matter, where the author told of his inspiration for writing Lonnie's story. He was at a conference and the speaker asked everyone to draw what they thought a scientist looked like. Nearly everyone drew a white man with glasses and a lab coat, which was a sign for him that other stories needed to be told.

I decided to do the same thing with my classes. With no explanation, they came into library with a sheet of paper at their tables. I gave them 5 minutes to draw what they thought a scientist looked like. There were a number of glasses/lab coat scientists but I was blown away that nearly every girl drew a girl scientist. So awesome! I pinned their pictures up and then told them why I had them draw them, and explained why the author wrote this book.

Look at all those female scientists! 

We then read the story aloud and then I shared a clip of Lonnie telling about his invention in his own words (the kids were thrilled to know that he was still alive!).

This lesson worked equally well for 1st and 2nd grades - and one of my more difficult classes (end of the day on Thursday - they are often spent!), did an awesome job with it. Definitely one I am going to repeat next year!

Monday, February 26, 2018

4th Grade Collaboration

We all talk about collaboration - and it's one of the things that drove me to this career change in the first place - but in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of an elementary school, it can be tough to actually carve out the time to, well, collaborate. 

I'm lucky that the 4th grade classrooms are right across the hall from me, and that a number of research projects dovetail into library skills = a great candidate for collaboration. 

I had a really great example last week - in Social Studies, students are in the middle of their immigration unit, where they had to interview someone who immigrated to the United States and then do research on their country of origin. Helping with the research was a natural fit but I was able to go a step further with my 4th grade colleague's input. 

Their final project required them to tell their interviewee's story, including their feelings during different points of their immigration journey, but the classroom teacher felt her classes could use some practice identifying the beginning/middle/end of their stories. Enter a perfect opportunity to use some of the excellent immigration titles we have in the library. 

Immigration stories I used as part of this lesson 

My lesson was pretty simple - I read My Name is Sangoel aloud and we worked on this graphic organizer as a class (I modified it a little, where we listed major events in the story on the left side of the box, and then brainstormed how the character was feeling on the right side of the box). 

I then read The Name Jar, which had similar themes to the first story, and students worked in groups to complete a graphic organizer on their own. They were really into it, the modeling worked great, and it was a perfect preview of what they were going to be asked to do on their own at home. Win, win, win!