Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!


We had a short week and had some Thanksgiving fun in the Library.  Kindergarteners enjoyed hearing Turkey Surprise by Peggy Archer, Fifth graders compared our present day Thanksgiving to the first one using a famous painting and the visible thinking routine “Same, Same, Different,” and Sixth Graders went on an online scavenger hunt for information about Thanksgiving.  One of their favorite facts was that turkeys can drown if they look up in the rain.  But…..upon doing some internet research using our skeptical eyes, we discovered this to be an old wives tale and that by using credible sources we discovered that turkeys can have  a) heart attacks when startled by loud airplanes or b) get wet in the rain and die of exposure or c) huddle together to get out of the rain an inadvertently smother each other.

Here’s hoping you enjoy your Thanksgiving (with or without turkeys).  We have much to be thankful for.



News From the Library–Nov. 21, 2011

Bag in the Wind

This week fifth graders listened to a thought-provoking book about recycling.  Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser and beautifully illustrated by Barry Root tells the circular story of a plastic bag from its beginnings at a landfill, to being in the possession of a little girl, and then moving on to several places and people until ending up back in the possession of that girl with a different purpose.  It’s a great starting point for discussions about banning plastic bags altogether or being aware of the dangers of not disposing of them properly.  It’s a quiet book and the illustrations have a pastel, autumn-like quality that fits perfectly with the text.  We started out our lesson with a visible thinking routine in which I projected slides of birds and marine animals that had become entangled in discarded plastic bags.  After looking at that slide we moved on to one of a landfill, then to a slide with numbers (statistics regarding usage, decomposition times, injured animals).  Students used their observation techniques to look for connections between the images, and then hypothesized about what the numbers meant in relation to the use of plastic bags.  We then read the story and finished with a discussion about how it connected to our own recycling efforts at our school.

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Laura Numeroff’s books are always a favorite in Kindergarten and this week was no exception with If You Give A Cat a Cupcake.  We had lots of fun using our visible thinking routines, Plot Prediction and making Connections between the beginning of the story and the end.

First Grade and Third Grade–Because of parent conferences this week, we had fun combining first and third grade into one library time.  First we all heard One Is A Feast For a Mouse by Judy Cox, a delightful Thanksgiving Tale that is perfect for a read aloud.  It has exciting illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler that enhance the tale of a little mouse who can’t resist the leftovers of a Thanksgiving Feast.  The repetition and the anticipation of a “disaster” held the interest of both first and third graders.  Third graders helped first graders choose their books and then sat down and read together.  Third graders did a great job of being “ambassadors” for the Library and everyone had a great time!

Second Grade–One of our perennial Thanksgiving favorites is Eve Bunting’s A Turkey for Thanksgiving.  Students were just as surprised (and relieved) as the main character in this story when they found out that the turkey was at the table not on it!

Fourth Grade–no library this week

Fifth Grade–see opening post

Sixth Grade–no library this week

News From the Library–Nov. 14, 2011

Circle of Viewpoints

Seeing things different points of view can be a challenge for students.  Point of view is not only a literary device but understanding different point of view also a life skill that leads to empathy, respect and tolerance.  In the past, I used a Keynote presentation about Manzanar and the Japanese internment during World War as an introduction to Eve Bunting’s excellent book about the subject,  So Far From the Sea.  This year I tried something different.  Instead of me giving the students the background information, I used a visible thinking routine knows as See, Think, Wonder.  I projected four slides–one of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, one of Japanese Americans being loaded on to buses with a few belongings, one of the desolate camp at Manzanar, and one of the monument today at Manzanar.  After looking quietly at each slide, students offered what they had noticed in the details, what it might be going on in the image, and then something they wondered about.  The difference between these two methods (my Keynote vs. slides only) was remarkable.  This time all students were fully engaged in the images, some giving factual information, some giving impressions as to the emotion in the image.  We then read the book together and afterwards did a visible thinking routine, Circle of Viewpoints.  We came up with five different possible points of view regarding the Japanese internment during World War II:  an United States soldier who had a friend killed at Pearl Harbor, a Japanese American living in the United States, a Japanese citizen living in Japan, the President of the United States, and a United States citizen living on the West Coast.  Students then broke up into groups of 3 and discussed the issue from the point of view of one of the above.  They wrote what they thought from that viewpoint and gave evidence for their opinion.  Then each crafted a question about internment from the point of view of “their person.”  Each group shared their viewpoint.  Our last question for discussion was “How does this connect to events in the world today?”  Our ideas ranged from 911, to the controversy about building a mosque near the 911 memorial, to judging people by their appearance, and how fear affects how people speak and act.  It was a great, deep discussion and added so much to Eve Bunting’s wonderful book.

Also in the Library this week…

The only other class who came to the Library this week was second grade, who enjoyed Stanley’s Beauty Contest by Linda Bailey.  Ms. Bailey’s books about Stanley the dog are a great way to introduce point of view and Bill Slavin’s hilarious illustrations make the Stanley series an all time favorite with this age group.

We had a wonderful in-service day about visible thinking routines on Wednesday and Friday was the Veteran’s Day Holiday so there were no classes on those days.

News from the Library–Nov. 7

A Different Experience

This week I brought my iPad to the Library and, as much for myself as for my students, I wanted to see what the experience of “reading” a digital book would be like.  I love my iPad.  I really do, but I have some reservations about it in regards to how it would change the way I read stories in the Library.  Many of the complaints I’ve heard about children’s books on eReaders center around the concern over the lack of what I might call the “cuddle factor”–that ebooks are hard to cozy up to, or that all the interactivity distracts from the story.  My concern (and this is partly due to the physical set up of the projector system in my library) is that I wouldn’t be able to sit in front of the students and interact with them as easily.  But brave new world that it is, I decided to put my reservations aside and take the plunge.  After researching a little, I decided that I didn’t want to use a book that had been simply “translated” to the iPad.  I was looking for something different, something that would maximize the possibilities of the interactive nature of the technology.  I found The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by Moonbot Studios.  Available at the App Store for $4.99 it seemed like an easy, inexpensive investment for my experiment.  I must say I was amazed.  Upon first reading it, I found the interactive features smoothly integrated in the story in a way that they could add to the experience and not distract from it.  But then my thoughts turned to how to present this to an entire class.  Projecting it seemed to distance me from the students so I decided to let them come up, one at a time, to activate the various features after each page had been read.  (There is a choice to have the voice turned off so you can read it yourself)  Again, I was amazed.  They were transfixed by the story, which by the way, would appeal to almost any age group.  They loved coming up and making the features work and did so with very little help from me.  The intuitive nature of the iPad and their natural curiosity made this possible.  I asked the third graders what they thought of it.  Unanimously they loved it.  Then we did a visible thinking routine–Same, Same, Different–and compared the ebook to a real book.  Our conclusion is that these are different experiences.  One not inherently better than the other.  Just different.  No need to worry about books being replaced.  Beautiful picture books will always have a place in a children’s library.  Rather, we might look at the ebook revolution as an enhancement of the experience of literature and a choice we now have.  I highly recommend the app if you have an iPad.  It’s a glimpse into the possibilities of this new technology.

Also in the Library this week…..

Kindergarten–Livingstone Mouse by Pamela Duncan Edwards is the delightful story of a little mouse who sets off on an adventure to find a nest of his own.  After deciding that China is his destination he is disappointed time after time until finally he finds an overturned china teapot and settles in.  Each of his “mistakes” gave is a great opportunity to discuss what point of view means and why, as a mouse, things might have looked different to him than they do to us.

First Grade–What makes a classic?  Timelessness.  This week Kindergarteners heard one of my favorite books, one I read to to my first class in 1972, one I read to my own children, and one I have read every year over the past 22 years to my students.  Leo Leonni’s Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse is just such a classic.  The illustrations are captivating and the story can be heard on so many levels of depth.  We got a chance to practice visible thinking routines as we compared the two mice (Same,Same,Different) and we discussed how Alexander’s feelings changed from the beginning of the story to the end (Fluttering Feelings).

Second Grade–Unfortunately I was sick on Monday and missed the second grade class.

Third Grade–see opening post

Fourth Grade–We played a round of “Name That Book” this week to review the various types of reference books in the library.  After discussing each book, students were given clues about the contents of a book and had to decide which reference book it was.

Fifth Grade–To practice a visible thinking routine–Circle of Viewpoints–fifth graders saw an online poster about Halloween (something they knew quite a bit about this week!) and after discussing it, we made a “circle of viewpoints” on the board with the question:  Halloween.  Is it Good or Bad?  Around the questions we put lines with different people or things that might have a viewpoint about Halloween such as:  parents, children, dentists, shopkeepers, farmers, and even pumpkins (!).  Students then picked a viewpoint and answered the question, and stated their opinion backed up by the information from the poster.  It was a good introduction to this visible thinking routine and we talked about how understanding point of view is important in fiction as well as in non-fiction and web-based research.

Sixth Grade–As with second grade, sixth grade missed library this week because I was sick on Monday.