News From the Library–April 30, 2012

Tug of War–to ebook or not to ebook?

This week fifth graders and sixth graders experienced The Artifacts.  Is it an ebook? An app?  A different way of experiencing literature?  All of the above?  Whatever we want to call it, it was mesmerizing to the students and a great example of the power of this new medium.  The Artifacts is the story of a 13 year old boy who loves to collect things.  But when his parents move, they decide it’s time he stopped doing that.  From then on, the collections are in his mind.  The vocabulary is so rich, the interactivity so seamless to the narrative, this is by far one of the most successful ebooks I’ve used to date.

We used the Visual Thinking Routine, Tug of War, after the story to discuss the pros and cons of ebooks.  Students were totally engaged in both the book and the activity.  Our consensus was that like a tug of war, we are pulled in two directions on the subject of ebooks.  We saw their advantages and their disadvantages.  And in the end, we hope we never have to make an absolute choice between the two forms of literature.

Here is a YouTube Video of The Artifacts.

Also in the Library this week….

Kindergarten–After reading Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candance Fleming last week, we just had to read the sequel, Tippy, Tippy, Hide.  Oh those three bunnies!  They torment Mr. McGreely once again, this time getting into his house during the long, cold winter.  Kindergarteners loved predicting what the bunnies were up to and to also find all the prepositions in the story.

First Grade–To correlate with their social studies unit, first graders heard Cold Spring School, A Long Time Ago.  Over the summer I gathered many of our amazing artifacts, photographed them, and put them into an iPhoto book with simple text about the history of our school.  First graders loved doing the math and finding out our school is 123 years old!!

Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade–Reference books are sadly becoming a little like dinosaurs as we move reference materials to the internet where they can be updated easily and often.  But it’s not a bad idea to know what each reference book or website contains so this week students had a review of encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, almanacs and thesauruses.  After looking at each book, we played “Name That Book.”  Students drew cards from a hat with different reference problems on them and had to determine in which book they could find the answer.

News from the Library–Dec. 12, 2011

Christmas Books on the iPad

This week I brought my iPad into the library again and we explored a few of the holiday books and apps that are available for the iPad.  One of the most beautiful is Jan Brett’s The Night Before Christmas that takes her already stunning picture book and translates it into an app.  There are two ways to view the book.  The first is autoplay which automatically scrolls through the book as it is being read to the amazing accompaniment of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Secondly, the book can be read page by page and on each page are interactive elements that can be touched– fairy dust sprinkles down, dogs bark, or musical instruments play.  In addition, there is a video of Ms. Brett that shows her inspiration for the illustrations.  A lot for your $4.99.

But in terms of using this book app in a library setting there were a few challenges.  We watched the auto version first and then went back to each page and I let individual students make the interactive elements work.  If you were to just do this first, I feel the interactivity, beautiful and charming as it is, distracts from the flow of the narrative.  My students and I discussed how we really have to learn how to read an ebook, and that process of reading can be very different from how we would read a printed book.

I used this with third and fourth graders and students had fun imagining how they would have designed the interactive features of the book if they had had the chance.

So the jury is still out for me on using the iPad as a teaching tool.  It will depend on the app.  In an earlier post, I talked about using The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore app and how it was a more intergrated experience.  There’s a lot of potential here.  I’m not sure taking an existing book and adding interactivity is enough, and in fact that interactivity could be an unwelcome distraction. In addition I’m working on a way to project my iPad wirelessly so I am not tethered to the projector.  Stay tuned……

Also in the Library this week….

Kindergarten-What would happen if Santa didn’t dress in his red suit?  Would we like the change?  This is the premise behind Santa’s New Suit by Laura Rader and Kindergarteners liked all his new ideas but decided in the end that the original red and white one was their favorite after all. We used our visual thinking routines to compare the different suits and to predict what would happen in the story.

First Grade-Karma Wilson’s Bear books are always a favorite and Bear Stays Up for Chirstmas is no exception.  The illustrations, large and charming, make this an ideal read aloud.  Bear’s friends do all they can to keep him up for a Christmas party in his lair.  We used our visual thinking routine, Word Detective, to figure out some great new words like lair, trudged, plodded, and slumped.

Second Grade–The story of Saint Nicholas is both similar and different from stories about Santa Claus and second graders started with a visual thinking routine, Same Same Different, to discover what a baker’s dozen is and what the difference is between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus.  Aaron Shepard’s The Baker’s Dozen is a great way to explore these ideas.  The illustrations by Wendy Edelson are rich in color and detail and add greatly to the story.  The students were captivated by the twist in the story and readily understood the theme of generosity that runs through this tale.

Third and Fourth Grade–see opening post

Fifth Grade–After discussing some of the connections between celebrations of light, fifth graders heard one of our all time favorite Hanukkah stories,  Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and wonderfully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

Sixth Grade–Sixth graders again practiced to internet research using key words for searching.

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.