News From the Library–May 2, 2011

Cold Spring School c. 1925

(Photo by John C. Woodward)

Cold Spring School

A long time ago….

First graders are working on a unit about all things then and now and their teacher asked if I would tell them a little about our school.  One day several years ago I was rummaging around in the paper room and noticed an old cardboard box shoved over in a corner.  My curiosity got the better of me and I pulled it out and opened it.  It was as if I fell into a time tunnel….there, in the box, were school registers from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with beautifully handwritten lists of students names, daily schedules, lists of “apparatus,” and even logs of corporal punishment!  There was a handwritten catalog of 600 books in the school library!  I decided these amazing documents needed to be in a much safer place so they now reside in our school library.  Hopefully one day we can get a display case to exhibit them.  In the meantime I have photgraphed them all and they are safely on our server (and backed up on my home computer, too).  They have been a wonderful tool for showing students about the history of our little school from its one room beginnings to our beautiful present day campus.  Here are a few more photos of the pages.

Part of the daily schedule  1899

The Library Catalog 1899

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Poor Mr. Greely.  He finally plants his vegetable garden and three pesky rabbits keep munching on this plants.  Candace Fleming’s Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! is the story of his efforts to keep those bunnies out.  Besides being a charming and hilarious story, this book is a great way to intoduce prepositions and it has a lovely ending, showing that sharing might be the best solution of all.

First Grade–see opening post

Second Grade, Third Grade & Fourth Grade–This week all three grades played “Name That Book”–a fun way to review the different reference books in our Library.

Fifth Grade–Fifth Graders used our atlases this week for State Symbol research which ended with a very challenging wordsearch!

Sixth Grade–Using BrainPop as our introduction, sixth graders watched a short movie about making a bibliography as they will be starting their research projects in the next week.

News From the Library–April 25, 2011

Super Dog!

First Graders love Super Dog!  Caralyn and Mark Buehner came up with another hit in Super Dog: The Heart of a Hero.  This is a great book to use for discussions of perseverance as a little dog with big ideas works very hard to achieve his goal.  It even has a message about bullying and forgiveness–having a dog forgive a cat is no mean feat!

Also in the Library this week…..

Kindergarten–In honor of Jessie and Angie’s grandfather, who recently passed away, the staff donated to the Library a copy of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Jessie and Angie requested that we read it together and we all enjoyed the touching story.

First Grade–see opening post

Second Grade–As I’ve said before, I’m always amazed (and happy) at how classic fairy tales literally grab the interest of students.  This week the second graders heard Rumplestiltskin.  This version is the one that is exquisitely illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.  They were completely enthralled with the story.

Third Grade–Third grade had check out only this week.

Fourth Grade–This week we worked on the second literary element–setting.  After discussing what went into the making of the setting in a story students heard a great example of how the setting almost becomes the main character in Pickles to Pittsburg by Judi Barrett.  This book is the sequel to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and tells what happened in the mythical town of Chewandswallow.

Fifth Grade–Fifth graders reviewed reference books this week with a game of Name That Book.  We divided up into teams of two and played “5 questions.”  Each team chose one reference book and the “audience” had 5 chances to guess which book they had chosen.  Then students did a “scenario” worksheet in which different problems were posed and they had to write down in which reference book would they find the answer.

Sixth Grade–This week sixth graders did another World Book Online scavenger hunt.  This time they were given the worksheet and had to go to the Portal, sign in, do the research, and answer the questions all on their own.

Congratulations to our Battle of the Books Team!

On Thursday, April 14, our intrepid Battle of the Books Team for 2011 traveled to the County Schools Auditorium to do battle with students from all over Santa Barbara County in the 10th Annual Battle of the Books.  Our fabulous team this year were Junia, Kailea, Perry, and Oakleigh.  Since January, they have been reading and practicing weekly at lunch in the Library.  It was a great day with beautiful weather for our picnic lunch and special dessert.  It’s so wonderful to have a program like this that honors and encourages students who love to read!

Picnic on the grass

Alien Readers  (aka Junia and Kailea)

Weary Battle Team recovers before returning to class

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Oliver is a typical cat….doesn’t want to come in at night.  His owner, Mrs. Bundy, finally gives up, turns out the porch light, and Oliver thinks he’s won.  At first the dark moonlit garden is full of adventure but it soon becomes overwhelming with screeching owls, big possums, and finally rain.  Oliver begs to be let in.  (Of course he wasn’t really scared….it’s just that Mrs. Bundy would be lonely without him.)  This is the story in Night Cat, a delightful book by Margaret Beams.  What really make this book special and engaging are the fantastic illustrations and we had a good discussion about the role of the illustrations in a picture book.

First Grade–We read another “Henry” book this week.  This time Henry, the Siamese cat stows away on the family sailboat against The Man’s wishes.  But when The Man falls overboard and The Kid must save him, Henry is the hero and The Man decides Henry is a welcome stowaway.  Mary Calhoun’s Henry the Sailor Cat is always a hit with first graders and we talked about how the author builds suspense in the story with both the words and the illustrations.

Second Grade–It’s a mystery.  Grandpa’s false teeth are missing.  Everyone is a suspect.  In Rod Clement’s hilarious book, Grandpa’s Teeth, the town finally solves the problem by chipping in and buying Grandpa a new set.  And it’s not until the very last page, in a great little twist, that the thief is revealed.  This book is a great way to introduce the mystery genre and how much fun it is to try and solve the mystery before the end of the book.

Third Grade–The sequel to Saving Sweetness is Raising Sweetness by Diane Stanley and charmingly illustrated again by G. Brian Karas.  Third graders loved hearing what happened to “all them little orphans” as the sheriff takes care of them in his own bungling way.  To the rescue once again, Sweetness learns her letters and sends one of her own to his long lost love, Lucy Locket, asking her to “Kum Kwick” and rescue them from the sheriff’s well meaning but crazy ways.  The ending is delightful and this book is so much fun to read aloud with all the dialect.

Fourth Graders–This week we talked about plot and how there can be many variations on a well known one.  After graphically illustrating plot on the white board I read them Lily and the Wooden Bowl by Alan Schroeder.  This beautiful book was mesmerizing and after they heard it they identifed all the plot elements as well as coming up with 5 other fairy tales with a similar plot.

Fifth Graders–I was at a librarian’s symposium this week so Mrs. Wooten’s class missed library and Mrs. Weill’s class played Jeopardy.

Sixth Graders–To review reference books, I set the most common ones against the whiteboard with labels and students faced the challenge of “acting out” a book for the rest of us to guess.  They were very creative and we covered encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, and almanacs.  Then they did a worksheet called “Name That Book” in which I had written down different “scenarios” and they had to write the name of the book where they could find the information.  We had an interesting discussion about the fact that most of these resources are now available online and wondered about the future of these printed volumes.

News from the Library–April 11, 2011

Where does it start?  Where does it stop?


Sadly, we have had a few cases of cyber-bullying at our school in the last couple of months.  In the past several years, as part of my curriculum on internet ethics I would mention cyber-bullying in the context of being a good digital citizen and included it in discussions that ranged from copyright and plagiarism to how to make good comments on blog posts.  At first, I reserved these lessons for my sixth grade classes, thinking that I might have a better chance of reaching them before they were heavily involved in the world of blogs, social networking and texting.  Gradually, I found that I taught these lessons in the fall instead of the spring and then two years ago, I moved the lessons to fifth grade, again thinking I might reach them before they were involved in this ever-changing online world.  This year, I have moved down once again, and this week gave a lesson on cyber-bullying and its consequences to fourth graders.  I found a great resource on BrainPop, an online subscription we are fortunate to have.  We watched a short video on cyber-bullying that was appropriate to their age and then did a follow up activity in which they were given simulated emails, texts, and social networking examples and they were asked to choose what their response would be.

I honestly feel sorry for these children.  At the risk of sounding very old, I remember my biggest concerns in fourth grade were how fast I could run the 50 yard dash or if I would make it to the school wide Spelling Bee, not what information I should or shouldn’t reveal, what to do if someone sends me threatening emails, and whether or not to lie about my age so I can have an email address or have a Facebook page.    Research shows that the brain doesn’t really fully develop in its ability to discern consequences until the age of 27!   We are asking our children to make very difficult ethical decisions at a time when they are developmentally not ready.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I hope that my lessons can be one voice they hear.  But schools can’t do this alone….parents have a huge responsibility these days to be ahead of  rapidly changing technology that can have both positive effects and very dangerous negative effects on their children.  We’re all in this together….

Also in the Library this week…..

Kindergarten–They might not have known the word, but Kindergarteners do know how to fidget.  This week they learned what the word meant when we read Don’t Fidget A Feather by Erica Silverman.  This delightful book really captures their attention when a duck and a goose have a “freeze in place” contest and almost become dinner for a fox!  It’s a great story and a suspenseful tale that shows that friendship is the best prize of all.

First Grade–Suspense was on the menu for first graders as well this week when they heard High Wire Henry by Mary Calhoun.  It’s the story of an independent Siamese cat who’s not too happy about the family’s addition of a puppy.  Trying to get their attention, he learns to walk on his hind legs, a skill that doesn’t get the attention he wants at first but finally does as he rescues that pesky new puppy.  Next week, we’ll continue our Henry tales with Henry the Sailor Cat.

Second Grade–It’s green.  It’s fuzzy.  What is is?  Who wants it?  Janet Stevens’ hilarious book The Great Fuzz Frenzy delights second graders as they hear about a green tennis ball and a group of prairie dogs and the ensuing frenzy over who gets the fuzz.  The illustrations in this book and the format are fabulous for reading aloud.  This is a real crowd pleaser and a great way to introduce alliteration!

Third Grade--Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley is one of my favorite books to read aloud.  Told from the point of view of a sheriff in an old west town, it’s the story of a little orphan who escapes her orphanage.  The sheriff goes out to find her, getting himself in one predicament after another.  It is Sweetness who actually rescues him!  As well as being delightfully funny, this book is a great way to teach irony.  Next week we’ll read the sequel, Raising Sweetness.

Fouth Grade–see opening post.

Fifth Grade–Fifth graders went on a Book Hunt in the library this week.  This is a fun activity that has them looking all over the Library for different kinds of books.  They work in a team of 3 and one of the hardest parts is they cannot talk.  At all!  All their communication with one another has to be in the form of sign language or written notes.  At the end, they must sit in alphabetical order by their last names.  It’s a fun and active way to teach students how to find many different books in a library.

Sixth Grade–We combined math with research this week as sixth graders used atlases to find out several facts about different states, including things like total population, or land area.  When they followed the directions using the numbers they found, doing quite a bit of adding a subtracting of some very large numbers, the answer turned out to be their age on their birthday this year.  I did one, too, and they were amazed that mine came out with my birthday!  To make it just a little more difficult…..I didn’t let them use calculators!