News From the Library–May 3, 2010

Tops and Bottoms (and Middles…..)

This week first graders heard Janet Steven’s Tops and Bottoms about a crafty hare and a lazy bear.  This is one of those great picture books that is not only beautifully illustrated, and has an unusual format (the books is read by holding it lengthwise), but it teaches a concept in a most enjoyable way.  Top, middle, and bottom might not be the most exciting subject for little ones but after hearing this hilarious tale they know the difference.  In addition, they learn a little about profit, the dangers of accepting a deal that seems to good to be true, and the value of hard work.  All wrapped up in one enjoyable story!

Also in the Library this week….

Kindergarten–What would happen in the signs we take for granted disappeared and in their place were strange directions or downright silly ones?  This is the premise for Tedd Arnold’s charming story, The Signmaker’s Assistant.  Norman, the assistant, decides to change the signs around town and has a lot of fun watching people follow his silly directions until things get out of hand and chaos ensues.  The gentle reminder is that we should think before we always follow a sign.

First Grade–see opening post

Second Grade, Third Grade & Fourth Grade–Each class played a version of “Name That Book!” to learn about the different types of reference books in our Library.  We discussed the fact that these books were (sadly) becoming “dinosaurs” with the advent of the internet but that going to sites owned by the publishers of these types of books would be a good idea.  That would save checking for authority and accuracy in websites.

Fifth Grade–Fifth graders played a rousing game of Library Jeopardy this week.

Sixth Grade–Sixth graders finished their text for their blog posting about their god or goddess.

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News From the Library–April 26, 2010

This week I started reading this provocative book.  The title alone caught my attention and I’m glad it did.  For the past several years, I have been trying very hard to balance technology and books in our library.  Not always an easy task.  The technology, especially our one-to-one laptop program, is exciting and seductive.  Students sitting at the tables, fully engaged, finding up to the minute information, learning how to evaluate it and use it in amazing diverse and professional- looking communication products isn’t altogether a bad thing.  But I kept thinking that surrounding them on the shelves were all those wonderful books.  Time after time after we’ve had a great session of research or a project using the laptops I feel a little guilty that there just didn’t seem to be enough time for browsing for books and reading.  So I vowed this year to make a change.  After suggesting to the teachers in grades 3-6 that their entire class come to the library for the entire hour, I reserve no less than the last 20 minutes of each time for silent (and I mean silent!) reading.  At first it was a little difficult to close those laptops and replace them with a book but as the year has progressed I have seen a wonderful change.  Circulation is way up and I see students reaching that wonderful “reading zone” where they are so completely lost in a book that they are shocked when I tell them it’s time to go.  With all the technology, the push to “multi-task,” and the scepter of testing, there isn’t a great deal of time left for teachers in the classroom to let children just read–read for pleasure, read to get information of personal interest….in short, just read.  No questions to answer, no test to take.  Just read.  Last week the fourth graders had a short library time and several students were shocked and dismayed that we didn’t have our silent reading time.  I’m going to take that as progress.

With what I’ve read so far in Readicide, I think it’s a call to action and an important one.  We need to teach our children (and ourselves) to unplug from time to time from the computer, the cell phone, the video game, the TV……and just read.  I highly recommend you take some time for yourself to read this book.  (No test will be given at the end!)

In the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Sometimes you find a picture book that has it all–great story, fantastic illustrations, humor, and teachable moments.  Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is one of those books.  Besides being a very funny story about a man who plants a garden and tries to keep the bunnies out, it is a great way to talk about prepositions.  And the theme is one that Kindergartens could easily recognize–it’s better to share even though it seems hard at first!

First Grade–First graders are learning about the history of our community and I had the pleasure this week of showing them some of the amazing historical documents that we have.  Several years about I found a stack of old school registers in the corner of the paper room.  This is one of the oldest rooms in our school.  It still has oak floors and it really smells like a school room (not in a bad way!)  These registers date back to 1894 and show lists of students and their attendance, daily schedules, and lists of school equipment like hatchets, stacks of wood, pens and ink bottles.  The handwriting is absolutely amazing and very beautiful to see.  There is a book with a handwritten list of 319 books in the school library and little marks that told when they were checked out and checked in.  We also have some photographs of the school when it was a one room schoolhouse, and others from the 1920’s when it was built at the current location.  The students were fascinated by it all.  They did wonder if I had been there back in 1894…..

Second Grade–Once again I was delighted that students today are still transfixed by those old fairy tales.  Second graders heard Rumplestiltskin this week from a beautifully illustrated version by Caledecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky. We talked about some of the different versions of this story and one student suggested that maybe J.K. Rowling got an idea from the way Rumplestiltskin rode on that spoon!

Third Grade–In honor of our Science Fair this week, third graders heard Science Fair Bunnies by Katherine Lasky.  This is a great little book about the necessity for flexibility and improvisation when doing a science fair project.  When their bean plants die, Clyde and Rosemary use their own lost teeth for their experiment and end up winning the fair.  A few students liked this so much they are already planning their Science Projects for next year!  With teeth!

Fourth Grade–Continuing our discussion of plot, this week I read Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella by Alan Schroeder and illustrated wonderfully by Brad Sneed.  Knowing from the title that the plot would be a Cinderella tale, students listened for similarities and differences between this one and the one they are most familiar with.  They are discovering that in may ways some of these other versions are far more interesting.

Fifth Grade–We played a game of  “Name That Book” this week and had an interesting discussion about the possible future of reference material.  As more and more of this type of information goes online it becomes important to really know the source and be sure that it is accurate, current, and reliable.  Knowing some of the print versions helps in finding those versions online.

Sixth Grader–Sixth graders wrote their essays about their god or goddess this week.  Their plates have been fired and will be photographed next week.  The last part of our project will be to combine these photos with their essays on our Research Blog.

News From the Library–April 19, 2010

Battle of the Books 2010!

Congratulations to our 2010 Battle of the Books Team for a great job at this year’s event.  On Thursday, April 15, we traveled to the County Schools Auditorium to do battle with over 300 students from around the county.  Our team this year included Soren, Oakleigh, Nicholas, Perry and Kailea.

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Oliver, the cat thought that staying out all night was a splendid idea until his owner locked the door and turned out the lights.  After some adventures in the garden things turned spooky with owls and possums and finally rain!  Fortunately for him his owner relented and allowed him in the house.  But in typical cat fashion he thinks he’s the one doing her a big favor!  Night Cat by Margaret Beames is a delightful read aloud and has dark, exciting illustrations by Sue Hitchcock.

First Grade–Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen is the hilarious story of a moose and a wolf and their ridiculous interaction regarding the possibility of the moose as the wolf’s dinner.  After several failed attempts to eat the smelly moose, the wolf decided to leave the forest and become a guide dog for the blind!  Something about this story really tickles the funny bones of first graders and it becomes a laugh out loud read aloud!

Second Grade–Second graders had to solve a mystery this week.  Who took grandpa’s teeth?  In Rod Clement’s clever book , Grandpa’s Teeth, they discover it was and inside job but not before the whole town becomes suspect. As we learned, watch out for smiling dogs…..

Third Grade–Last week we read Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley and this week it was the sequel, Raising Sweetness. After living with the sheriff for awhile the orphans keeps asking,  Pa, you ever thought about gettin’ married?”  Spaghetti and peanut butter dinners and windows washed with butter become an emergency and little Sweetness learns her letters so she can answer a letter from Lucy Locket, the sheriff’s long lost love.  All turns out well in the end as the sheriff and Lucy “get hitched.”  Another great read aloud and lots of examples of similies kept third graders wishing for yet a third sequel!

Fourth Grade–To understand the literary device of plot, fourth graders heard Lily and the Wooden Bowl by Alan Schroeder.  This beautiful tale has many elements that are similar to the plot of some well known fairy tales.  Students had a great time finding those similarities and it helped them to see what a plot is and how many stories are based on older versions with the same story line.

Fifth Grade–We had one of those “technology moments” this week as fifth graders were set to do an online scavenger hunt using World Almanac for Kids Online.  The morning of the lesson I found that the site had been compromised with a virus and we made a quick switch to doing the hunt just using Google.  This made it quite a bit more challenging but students stuck with it and did a great job!

Sixth Grade–Sixth grade started their research this week on their gods and goddesses.  This will be part of a collaborative project with Art in which they are making ceramic plates of a Greek god or goddess.

News From the Library–April 12, 2010

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

A Video Book Review by Devan and Olive

Also in the Library this week…..

Kindergarten—Kindergarteners know what it means to fidget and when I asked them to they did a great job showing me.  That was a warm up for reading Erica Silverman’s delightful book Don’t Fidget A Feather.  Duck and Gander have a freeze in place contest that turns very dramatic as Fox decides they would make a delicious dinner.  Even though Duck loses the freeze in place contest she is the true champion for saving Gander’s life.  This is a gentle reminder of the value of friendship and the fact that winning takes many forms.

First Grade—Henry is some smart Siamese in Mary Calhoun’s series about Henry the Cat.  These books always have a dramatic story line that captures the imagination of first graders.  These are great stories to read aloud to primary aged children.  Mrs. Steele’s class heard High Wire Henry and Mrs. Ishikawa’s class heard Henry the Sailor Cat.

Second Grade—What happens when a green fuzzy tennis ball slips down into the burrow of some prairie dogs?  The Great Fuzz Frenzy!  This delightful book by Janet Stevens and wonderfully illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel is a hilarious tale of curiosity, greed, rescue, and finally community.  Another fantastic read aloud!

Third Grade—One of the best ways to teach about literary devices is to read great examples.  My favorite for similies and metaphors is Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley.  Poor little Sweetness is an orphan living in an orphanage run by Mrs. Sump who is “as mean as an acre of rattlesnakes.”  When she “hits the road” the Sheriff has to rescue her.  The ensuing tale is full of irony and loaded with similies with an ending that pleased everyone.  Stay tuned for next week and the sequel, Raising Sweetness.

Fourth Grade—Fourth graders put on their thinking caps this week and were captivated by Jon Sciezka’s wonderful book, Math Curse.  When Mrs. Fibonacci tells the main character that everything is like a math problem—well, the problems begin.  Together we solved them all only to find that Mr. Newton thinks everything could be seen as a science experiment!

Fifth Graders—Fifth graders had fun this week doing a “Book Hunt” in the library.  I put call numbers on index cards for fiction and non fiction books and after drawing two cards for our hats, students have to find them, make a stack, and put their cards inside.  I explained that if they can find books in our library using the call numbers they will be able to find books in any library—a valuable skill.  In addition, they had a good time trying to beat their friends!

Sixth Grade—Ms. Zannon’s class missed library this week due to an assemble and Mrs. Gradias’ class played “Name That Book” to review reference books.