Sunday, December 15, 2013

Creating Movie Dialogue Using Primary Sources

After several weeks of feeling like a creative slug, I finally got a jolt of inspiration made possible, in part, by a request to the Twitterverse.  I was looking for some lesson ideas for my third and fourth graders that utilized primary sources and technology.  Of course my trusty tweeps guided me to the Library of Congress website and from there things fell into place.

First, students will access TR Calls on Neighbors at Christmas, 1917.

Then they will complete the Graphic Organizer I have created and that is available here.

I welcome your comments and any suggestions  you might have for improving this graphic organizer.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Inside Out and Back Again

Not only is that the title of a wonderful book by Thahhah Tai but it's kind of how I feel my life has been these past couple of weeks. I love the saying, "If things aren't adding up, try subtracting." and it's so true. Sometimes you just need to cut back to get back in the groove.

 :: Did I tell you I'm attempting to achieve National Certification? On of the positives of this process is seeing how supportive my tweeps and my IRL peeps are when it comes to sharing their experiences and "lessons learned." I hope I will stick with it and follow through - I am giving myself to December to decide whether or not I will need to "subtract" this particular endeavor.

 :: Using the fabulous librarian from Voices from the Inglenook as my guide, I've been attempting some Visible Thinking Routines with my second graders. I think they are enjoying so far and I'm looking forward to coming up with a "bank" of routines that they can then choose from.

 :: We are fortunate to have Ginjer Clarke coming to visit our school in November. Beginning next week, I will be using her books to introduce my younger students to nonfiction text features and the joys of reading the facts!

 :: My fourth grade students have just finished up studying some of Virginia's native peoples. This week we will read Encounter by Jane Yolen so that they can gain a new perspective on Columbus' discovery of America.

 :: And it's just AMAZING how a little book talking will get those books FLYING off the shelf. I showed this video from A Tangle of Knots - SO LONG A Tangle of Knots! LOL!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome to the New Classic Six!

Every since, well forever, I've been drooling over Sherry's adorable blog design {okay, the content's swell too but as a librarian I can't help but judge a blog by its cover}.  I finally asked her about it and she told me that Lori over at Imagination Designs had dreamed it up for her.

A few months later, wa la {okay, I know that's supposed to be voila}...the new Classic Six!

And let me tell you, dear readers, Lori got it {me?} in one take {not counting my, "Oops, did I mention I'd really like to see..." episodes}.  And did I mention she's super nice?

So thank you Sherry {I hope you work on commission} and thank you, Lori, for my new, beautiful, fresh, clean, happy, chirpy, sunny design!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why I Bought It Wednesday {The Late Edition}

Like, the really late edition.

Like, it's totes Friday.

Thank you to my great colleague twitter.com/maggle for keeping me on task!

So without further ado...  Here is the final Why I Bought It Wednesday of my summer vaca. {SOBS!}

::  Beautiful Oops by Barney Satlzberg




Why I Bought It:  Okay, so I'm a little slow on the uptake.  I realize this book is not new, but it's new to me!  It's a perfect book for the start of the year because it encourages students to take risks and not worry about making mistakes.  This book is rather delicate, so I will probably not circulate it, but allow for much touching, ooing and ahhing over it in the Library.  I foresee many an "oops" project in the Library as well.

:: The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman




Why I Bought It:  I'm actually at a loss for words {in an entirely positive way} as to the "usefulness" of this book.  Of course, it will make a wonderful read aloud all on its own but there are so many other ways that this book fits beautifully into the curriculum.  To help us navigate, Candlewick has created a teacher/librarian guide.  I plan on suggesting this book as a companion to so many other tried and true picture books by authors such as Eve Bunting and Pat Brisson.  Books about the immigrant experience, small moments, memories, past and present...the list goes on and on.  Enjoy.

:: Arnie the Donut and the Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller


Why I Bought It:  Oh come on.  How could you NOT buy this book?  It's Laurie Keller for heaven's sake!  This is the first book in a new chapter book series feature our good friend, Arnie and his ... um ... owner (?) Mr. Bing.  I will be doing a Laurie Keller author study this year with my multiage classes (mixed first and second) but it will be a bit more than just an author study.  The entire year will be themed around Laurie Keller's books, including Scrambled States of America {lots of opportunities for learning about states and the atlas}.  

:: P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia



Why I Bought It:  Now here is a situation where I bought a book totally because my students enjoyed One Crazy Summer...and I did not.  And here is also an example of  how I am often very candid with my students but challenge them to come to their own conclusions and form their own opinions.  In other words, I do not just booktalk/recommend books I like.  I am looking forward to reading P.S. Be Eleven, though.  It just sounds so good...I hope it's as good as it sounds!

:: Robert Griffin III by Jon M. Fishman



Why I Bought It:  I rarely buy books on individual sports figures.  It just seems that as soon as they arrive the player has been traded or retired or is...er...in jail or de-medaled for steroids or something.  But I do purchase books about local team members, including this recent (and already slightly outdated) bio on RGIII.  Now if only they'd change that terrible team name...  What books do you very hesitantly purchase for your collection?

So there you have it!  See you next Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why I Bought It Wednesday!

Three *is* my favorite number, so welcome to week three of Why I Bought It Wednesday!

Today I stopped by "the office" and there were even more boxes of books waiting for me!  It was so hard to chose the five for this week's post, but here they are...

:: Brush of the Gods 
by Lenore Look and illustrated by Meilo So


Why I Bought It:  My second graders study Ancient China along with Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a perfect semi-fictional picture book.  I could pair it with several other wonderful books such as The Pet Dragon or At the Beach by Huy Voun Lee.  You could also pair this book with another book about remaining true to oneself and ones passion.  

:: Amphibians (Animal Classes Series)


Why I Bought It:  I am completely addicted to the Blastoff Readers from Bellwether Media {I have not been compensated for this recommendation!!} series of books and best of all, so are my students and teachers.  Like the A True Book series, these books are filled with large, engaging photographs, easy to read (on the eyes, I mean) text, nonfiction text features and these books pass my nonfiction text test:  a glossary MUST be called a glossary!! {So bugs me when they call it something else!  It's a glossary, people!  My kindergarteners can handle the term!}  I bought a ton, I mean a TON more of these this year after I tried them out with a few last year.

:: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
by Chris Grabenstein


Why I Bought It:  I have not read it...just the buzz.  But it has the word LIBRARY in the TITLE for goodness sakes.  And, be still my heart, it has some sort of Dewey Decimal spinner on the cover.  You KNOW I am a DEWEY NUT!  Each year I get a little more creative with my second graders and Dewey.  They love it!  It feels like cracking a code to them.  But I digress...  Can't wait to read this one!

::The Fellowship For Alien Detection
by Kevin Emerson

Why I Bought It:  Again, I have not read this one...but my 4th and 5th graders are *hungry* for science fiction that is at their level so I grabbed this one up!  I hope this one will pass their stringent requirements!

:: Tito Puente:  Mambo King
by Monica Brown, illustrated by Rafael Lopez



Why I Bought It:  This bilingual picture book was an easy pick for me.  We were fortunate enough to have Monica Brown visit our school last year and she introduced the children to many of her other books, including My Name is Celia Cruz.  After I read this book, I immediately went to uTube to watch Tito Puente in action!  A great start to biographies, music appreciation and Hispanic culture!  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why I Bought It Wednesday!!

Welcome to the second edition of Why I Bought It Wednesday!

I stopped by my library yesterday to find eight boxes of books just waiting to be opened!  twitter.com/booksandbytes stopped by, so we spent some time pawing, oohing and awing over some of the newly arrive purchases.

:: Here are five titles and Why I Bought It (THEM!). : ) {You can see more over at my Pinterest account.}

:: Becoming Babe Ruth


Why I Bought It:  Last year, as close to opening day as possible, I read several picture book biographies about baseball players, including You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter.  This year I plan to do the same, so I scooped up several more titles.  Soon I will do a post of all the fantastic baseball pictures books - there are so many great ones and so many to keep track of...!  They get my students reading sports-related books and biographies!

:: The Wing Wing Brothers Math Spectacular


Why I Bought It:  Oh...come on.  Why WOULDN'T you buy this book?  I mean, look at the cover!  However, it also amusingly explains the concepts of greater than, less than, equal to and addition and subtraction.  Funny Math!  It's a Wing Wing situation! <--Heh, heh...see what I did there?

:: Frogged

Why I Bought It:  Okay, so here is a book that I have not read yet, but I snuck it home and have added it to the Four Books I Will Read Before School Starts Again pile.  Why?  My students are always looking for fractured fairy or folk tales that mix things up a bit.  I'm sure this will be very popular with my students and will be a great book to book talk along with Rump.

:: Doll Bones



Why I Bought It:  Well...here I cheated just a little bit.  I received this book from the publisher, but with all the buzz I'm glad I did.  It is the second book on my Four Books I Will Read Before School Starts Again pile.  My students are always looking for "scary books" and I think this will do the trick without giving them too many nightmare.  What other books would go along well with this one?

And finally...

:: Frog Song


Why I Bought It:  My guys just cannot get enough of books about animals and animal behavior.  I can't wait to introduce them to Frog Song...and the opportunities for pairing fiction and non-fiction texts are ENDLESS I tell ya...  Hello Froggy Goes to School!  Can't wait to use Frog Song this year.

What books did you buy this week and why?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why I Bought It Wednesday

I've started my 2013-2014 book ordering which, as I've tweeted before over at twitter.com/classicsixbooks , makes me want to alternately leap for joy and poke my eyes out.  There is a method to my ordering madness.  I thought I would share on Wednesdays five titles and Why. I. Bought. It!!!! <-- {Say as if announcing a game show...}


Why I Bought It:  Gennifer Choldenko's Al Capone Does My Shirts and Al Capone Shines My Shoes are perennial favorites in my library.  I own multiple copies and they are rarely on the shelf.  Even over the years, these books have remained popular.  Ordering Al Capone Does My Homework was therefore, a no brainer!


Why I Bought It:  There's nothing quite as comforting as a book from the A True Book series.  I still have some versions from the...ehem...long ago so I eagerly snatch up any new additions to the series.  The photographs are engaging and the reading level is just right for many of my students.  A nice crisp, clean format that never lets me down.  Why Birds?  I have a second grade teacher who is nutty about our fine-feathered friends, so this book will be especially welcomed by her students.


Why I Bought It:  When I first came to my school six years ago, I did a major weed of the biography section.  Out went sports personalities from the early 2000s, for example, and added were some pretty fabulous replacements.  While many of them relate to the Virginia Standards of Learning, others I buy purely based on student interest.  The Who Is... is extremely popular with my students.  I buy them in paperback and purchase multiple copies of each.  They do not stay on my shelves for long.  Who Is Bill Gates? will be a great fit for my tech-savvy students.


Why I Bought It:  This is not a new book, but it is absolutely one of my favorite books ever.  David Roberts has got to be one of my favorite illustrators ever...having also inked The Dunderheads series.  This also fits the bill because both second and fourth grades concentrate on fairy/folktales, and among all grades modern versions of these traditional tales are always popular.  Can't wait to get my greedy little hands on this book once and for all!


Why I Bought It:  To be honest I'm not even sure if my students know or remember who Cal Ripken, Jr., is...after all we now have the Washington Nationals so the Baltimore Orioles may now be a distant memory.  However, this book is a perfect reading level for my higher reading 2nd & 3rd graders and, of course, it is sports-related.  The first book I tried Hothead did very well in my library, so I snatched up Wild Pitch.

And that's the first edition of Why I Bought It!  I hope you picked up some suggestions for your library...any title you'd like to share and why you bought it?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Down...Four to Go

It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were standing in the circular drive waving the busess off for the summer.  Now we at the summer halfway mark {my lucky children have an additional week off!} and it's time to check in on that summer to-do list.

::  Reading! I've been doing a fair amount of reading this summer, but my #TBR pile is still teetering dangerously.  I'm reading a little bit of adult fiction at the moment.  I LOVED Where'd You Go, Bernadette and am now reading two books at once:  Loving Frank and Let the Great World Spin.

::  "The Office": Yesterday I stopped by the school to check on the miserable lack of a/c in the Library condition, to meet our super-fun new assistant principal, and to assemble and easel = that's an hour of my life I'll never get back.  But what did I spy?  Five, five, FIVE boxes of new books!  Can't wait to add them to my new books boards.

::  Guests:  Two other librarians and I are hosting a super fun and insanely creative librarian in our neck of the woods next week.  Can't wait!

:: Family:  Now that we're back from our family vacation in Maine, I'm torn between making every second of summer left count and letting us be lazy.  We are seriously psyched for the LEGO BrickFest next week and there are lots of days left for splashing around in the pool.  I love being home with my children and am so grateful that I have the summer to be with them!

:: National Boards:  I need to make the decision on whether to go ahead with National Boards this year...and soon.  All signs are pointing to yes.  Have you done National Boards?  Any advice?

:: Lesson Planning:  I hope to have a VERY short lesson plan for every lesson this year that I can keep better track of what what I'm doing and what I've done.

:: Writing:  Happy to announce that an article I was holding on to forever was accepted for publication. Now I just need to finish up the first draft of my MG novel.  My deadline is October...just in time for SCBWI

~Amy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Room with a Review: Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

Title:  Genie Wishes

Month/Year Published:  April 2013

Author:  Elisabeth Dahl

You May Know Her: As a debut (novel) author!

You May Find Her: At her website and on twitter at @ElisabethDahl.

Review You May Not Have Seen:  Katherine Sokolowski's review on The Nerdy Book Club.

The Review

When I entered a twitter contest for two autographed copies of Elisabeth Dahl's first novel, GENIE WISHES, I had to admit that I didn't know anything about it.  I won (YAY!), received my copies in the mail and, of course, was immediately taken in by the adorable cover, but it was a tiny description about a Popsicle in the first few moments of Genie Wishes that got me hooked on this sweet and perceptive read.  

Genie Kunkle is beginning the fifth (and final) grade at her private school's lower school.  Along with the responsibilities and choices that come with being selected as class blogger, Genie struggles with many issues familiar to kids her age:  friendship threesomes (oh nothing can go wrong there!), changing relationships (with members of the opposite sex), puberty (ew), and most importantly that pull between wanting to fit in and wanting to remain true to yourself.

What I liked about Genie Wishes was that there was nothing incredibly earth-shattering about Genie's life - don't take this the wrong way...there is nothing boring about this book.  Hers are the every day worries and concerns of certain tweens, yet Ms. Dahl manages to make reading about them, and Genie's decisions, immensely readable, comforting and fresh - I was reminded of The Baby-Sitter's Club series, those books I devoured like candy back in the day and are being gobbled up in their updated form by my fifth graders.

An added bonus are the delightful line drawings sprinkled throughout the book, also by Ms. Dahl; fans of the sketches in Grace Lin's Year of the Dog series will enjoy these little touches.  Another cool aspect of the book is its pinpoint-able location, which will no doubt be of interest to many Baltimore-area readers (and writers - hello Laurel Snyder!).

I would recommend this book for readers in grade five (obvs!) and above; it would also make a perfect gift for that fifth grader moving on to middle school.

Genie Wishes gets five out of five dog ears from me!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teachers Write!

This summer I will be participating in Kate Messner's awesome-est offer to the world: Teachers Write!

Tomorrow I will post my summer writing goals (one of which is already CHECK! Phew!) but today here is my contribution to Kate's writing prompt (head over there to get the full low-down - it's awesome; I promise)

Sometimes...

Sometimes, when they’ve stayed up too late the night before, I wake up before the children. I tiptoe to my desk; a few clicks around the universe tells me the world still exists. The sun squeezes through the slats of the dusty Venetian blinds (maybe I’ll get to them today). The birds converse outside the window; I only recognize the coo’ing of the Mourning Dove. The hermit crab chirps in his (her?) cage, asking for, well, who knows what. Even the cars that pause at the stop sign on the corner sound sleepy. A thump. Stomping feet make a run for the bathroom. Dresser drawers slam both open and shut. A call from the bottom of the stairs, “Mom?”. I stretch and head down to greet them, the day, and to coax delicious, roasty smells from the coffeemaker.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Room with a Review: The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher


Title:  The Wig in the Window

Year Published:  Available June 18, 2013

Author:  Kristen Kittscher

You May Know Her: As a debut author!

You May Find Her: At her website and on twitter at @kkittscher.

Review You May Not Have Seen:  The author being interrogated by two precocious investigators!

The Delta/Plus
IS THAT BLOOD?!

The Wig in the Window is debut author Kristen Kittscher's forthcoming middle-grade mystery and like most good tales of intrigue, this one is a page-turner!

Seventh grade "spies" Sophie (public school attendee) Young and Grace (home schooled BFF) Yang have made it a habit of putting their noses in...er...investigating their neighbor's business and this time it seems, they have tangled with the wrong perp.  Dr. Charlotte Agford, Sophie's very own middle school guidance counselor, exudes just the right amount of "ick" that gives Sophie and Grace massive heebie-jeebies.  But could it be that Dr. Agford is just "Dr. Awkward" when it comes to counseling her young students or is there more to the story?

I will not lie.  Like Sophie and Grace's first encounter with the doings of Dr. Agford, I based my opinion of The Wig in the Window on appearances (the cover), with not much evidence to support my rabid...er...polite request for an ARC.  The alliterative title was also a draw.  But in this case (hahaha), judging a book by its cover was not a false lead. The mystery starts out with a rather embarrassing comedy of errors which is definitely a red herring: people, this book gets serious and by the end I was doing that thing I shouldn't do...kinda skimming the text because I couldn't take the suspense.  WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?  {Oh, assuming anything DOES happen - not spoiling a mystery is so hard!}

Along with being a fine mystery, I also liked the theme of friendship throughout the book.  As so many middle-school students know, friendships evolve, change, and some dissolve over time.  Sophie and Grace go through similar ups and downs with which many students, especially girls, will identify.  The character of Trista Bottoms was one of my favorites in the book and there again, Kittscher reminds us that appearances can be deceiving.

So in wrapping up the case, no pressure, Kristen, but please get on with book number two in the series. We'll be waiting!

This book gets five out of five dog ears from me!

{Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a free ARC of The Wig in the Window, no strings attached.}

***Update!  In the spirit of passing it forward, leave a comment on this post with the title of your favorite MG mystery and I will randomly draw a name.  The winner will receive the copy of my well-worn ARC!  Wheeee!  Please leave comments by Friday, April 26th, 8:00 p.m., Eastern.***

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pocket Poems Activity with A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes


I have to confess I have not been keeping up very well with National Poetry Month.

Probably because my school celebrates poetry in February, but no matter!

Every month is poetry month!

Yesterday I did an activity with my second graders that, um, I did with them last year as first graders.

They were very forgiving and hey, they came up with some new pocket poems.

I always enjoy reading them - they are so clever!

Start by reading A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes:  A Pocket Books by Liz Garton Scanlon.


Then, copy and cut these strips, having the students create their own pocket poems.  

Here are some great examples from my second graders:

A Desk is a Pocket for Your Pencil 
A Body is a Pocket for Your Life
A Book is a Pocket for Your Learning
A Head is a Pocket for Your Brain
 &
A TV is a Pocket for Your DVD

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mrs. Lodge's Shelve-It Book Alpha Order Game!

A few weeks ago I found this great game created by Mrs. Lodge and her husband, er, Mr. Lodge! LOL!

Well, I finally got to it this week with my third graders and they LOVED it!  They were literally lining up to play it after we had already played it as a class.



Thank you, Mrs. Lodge!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Library Lessons - Cheers and Jeers

We've had a few cheers and jeers so far this week during Library.

Let's start with the Jeers, shall we?

I decided to have my fifth graders create spine poetry with Newbery award-winning titles as a sort of poetry/Newbery unit mashup.  Meh.  The problem was that limiting students to the Newbery titles limited their creativity.  Here were two of my favorites, however:



Lessons Learned:  Next time allow students to choose books from the entire library collection.

There were more Cheers this week, however.  My students LOVED LOVED LOVED...

There Goes Ted Williams - Written and Illustrated by Matt Tavares
and so did I!  LOVED this book by Matt Tavares!  A great read for celebrating opening day or any day.

And finally, to coordinate with their animal unit, I did this Animal Mystery activity with my kindergarteners and the book A STICKLER ON STILTS:  A ZOO ANIMAL MYSTERY.  I revealed each clue as I read each page and the students would tell me what they thought and why.  The kids loved it and all their hands were waving frantically right before they told me the answer!



Did you have any Cheers or Jeers this week?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our Beverly Cleary Shelf Part One

Here is our Beverly Cleary shelf after one classes' intro to this extraordinary author:



Stay tuned!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Author Study - Beverly Cleary

Maybe it was the news that Beverly Cleary's house was on the market in Portland, Oregon.

Or maybe it was the fact that my Beverly Cleary library shelf in the Library is completely and totally FULL:



that made me think:

It's Time for a Beverly Cleary-FEST!


I'm planning on starting with my combined 1/2 classes next week.

First we'll do a little of this:




Then we'll read a little of this (actually, the entire thing):


This is the edition I have - but not in Spanish!

Then we'll move on to this...

By then, the Cleary shelf should be...well...Cleared!

Any suggestions for Cleary-Fest activities?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Noah Webster and His Words with Activity!

I'm reviewing reference resources with my third graders, including the dictionary.

We recently read a great little book about Noah Webster by Jeri Chase Ferris and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch.

A great read about Noah Webster

My students, being the smart little ones that they are, took issue with a reference to "states" when they thought it should have read "colonies".  After we sorted that business out, I decided it would be fun to use Ferris' book as an excuse to review some of our reference resources.

Here is a station activity that I created for use by my third graders.
You use the station signs and the teacher resources found at the Noah Webster house and at Jeri Chase Ferris' website.

I haven't tested this activity yet with my third graders, so I imagine there will be tweaks, which I will upload as I make them.

En - joy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

And...there went February!

I cannot tell you what a week we've had.  I was out for all but two days and for the first time ever in the five years I've been a teacher-librarian, we had to shut the library down for the day:  my assistant was also out and there were no subs to be found anywhere!  I guess that's cold/flu season for you!

Needless to say, I'm feeling very disconnected and have that old loss of momentum feeling with all of my classes.  I can't stress over it though; I just need to not look back and start a-fresh.

To get back into the spirit of things, here is a hilarious clip I picked up from over at The Teacher-Wife.  Ever have one of these days:


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2013

There are so many great new titles coming out in 2013!  Some are by well known authors, but the author in my heart can't wait to newbie authors to have their debuts!

Here we geaux....!

First of all...I have no cover art for this one YET, but I am so so sosososoosoososoos excited for Laurie Keller's upcoming chapter book starring my favorite Donut in the world:  ARNIE!!!
Rumor has it, it comes out in June.  Squeee!

LOVOVOVVOVOVOVOE!

Kristen Kittscher mentioned something on Twitter about Kiki blah blah blah something something Strike, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about!  Oh my goodness!  I read the first, am reading the second and am waiting to get my hands on the third! That Kristen wasn't kidding!
The Third Kiki Strike!
What books are you looking forward to this year?  

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Week in Review (January Something?)

Greetings, Earthlings!

Usually I give you a heads up as to what activities I will be doing with my students, but I thought it was time for a little recap.

I'm not even going to go into the havoc that holidays, teacher workdays, snow days, rain days, delayed openings, off-site swimming lessons and assemblies have caused with my schedule.  Some classes I have not seen in literally a month (never fear...they can come in and out of the library to check out, I just haven't had my "quality time" with them).

What do you do when this happens?  Do you try to get all the classes on the same  page, so to speak?  I've found that some classes, in the same grade, are just going to have to miss out on a project or two.

Soooo...LAST WEEK:

Kindergarten - We read our Caldecott nominees over the past few weeks.  Two of my classes were able to vote before today's announcement, so that's a little messed up (today was a snow day)...however, THANKS BE to the lesson plan Gods, we read two books that received Caldecott honors, so they will be happy about that!  Phew!

Firsties - Oh, we read the sooo sweet HOW TO TEACH A SLUG TO READ.  Before I read them the book, I asked them how they would teach a slug to read.  Their answers brought a tear to my eye, literally.  They mentioned rhyming words, repetition, stretching out the word like a rubber band, and teaching the slug the sounds that letters make.  I would have one request from the publisher...please create a .pdf of the slug so that I can print out slugs for them to read to ... HINT HINT.

Multiage - I used this a printout similar to this one (can't find the original!) and had my first and second graders visualize the illustration for Shel Silverstein's SHAPES (from the anthology A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC).  The kiddos had a great time - some of the illustrations were quite detailed.  I will reveal the "real" illustration this week, weather permitting.

Second - After all the hulla-ballo about Dewey at the ALA Midwinter conference, I was proud to say that my second graders Dig Dewey!  I introduced them to Dewey using this fantastic Dewey Wordle posters (scroll down) by this former (I'm assuming) library school student!  Thank you, Sue Bailey, where ever you are!!

Third - Now this is where we are so out of whack, I can't even deal...  I'm just going to forge ahead with this group and give a thesaurus lesson post-assessment next week to the whole lot of 'em.  I will post the assessment next week for you to steal.

Fourth - Oy.  Another grade that has suffered at the hands of all of the above.  Some were in the middle of book talks...some were done...some were learning about note-taking....  I'll need to reassess this mess.

Fifth - Oh. My. Gosh.  Did I tell you yet about our blog?  The fifth grade students are ON FIRE with this!  I am so proud of them!!  I also started a super adorable dictionary skills project with them that I learned about from...yes, Pinterest.  I'll post the "results" next week.

How are your classes effected by half-days, full-days or no-days?

Amy

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Week in Pre-View 1/14

Whoa.  That's all I have to say.

If any of you follow me on twittter at @classicsixbooks , you'll know that I was suffering from Who Knows What and was down and out for four days last week.  The best laid schemes...

My Students With Autism Class - We are writing poems for the school poetry journal.  First we did some PebbleGo research and they selected the animals that were of most interest to them.  Their picks were panda, bulldog, and pug!  I created a SmartBoard lesson where they could fill in some of the words with photographs from a picture bank.  Our first poem was finished on Friday:  I Love Pandas!  If you want me to email the Notebook file to you, please email me at classic6books at gmail.com. (While you're on the subject, is anyone having a problem with their Notebook software crashing?!)

We March
Written and Illustrated by Shane Evans

Kindergarten - We are hoping that We March by Shane Evans scoops up some Caldecott love!  If you would like the worksheet I created to go along with the book, please let me know as well!

First - Ever notice that the word BEST is in the word DUMBEST?  I thought I had the DUMBEST idea for my firsties and it turned out to be the BEST!  I had all the letters of the alphabet cut out on little squares, took out the number of letter to get to the number of students (so for my class of 20, I removed 6 squares), called those my "mystery letters", handed out the rest of the letters to my students and had them line up alphabetically.  When we got to a missing letter, I checked (very dramatically) to see if it was one of the "mystery letters" I had in my pocket.  They LOVED it!   Love when last minute planning turns out to be such a success!

Mixed First/Second - We'll be using the fabulous ShelSilverstein.com site this week!  There's a great game where you try to guess the last line of a Silverstein poem.  Great for teaching kiddos how to look for patterns in rhyme or wordplay!

Second - Total steal from The Centered School Library website!  Creating snowflakes from...snowflake making materials (I didn't have the heart to tell them they were just coffee filters!).

Third - We read Wabi Sabi last week and this week we are creating our own haikus about our favorite books!  I LOVE this haiku organizer from ReadWriteThink - I use it every year.

Fourth - We are continuing our Smartboard lessons on Notetaking!  I think I actually have their attention!

Fifth - More to come, but we have been blogging and commenting up a storm on our book recommendation site.  We are co-blogging with another elementary school in the county and it is totally fabulous.  More later, as that could be an entire blog post in itself.

And also...remember how I told you I abandoned my MG novel?  Well I think the muses were sending me a sign because I dusted off my YA WIP from last year's NaNoWriMo and...it is all just falling into place.  I'm up to 32,000 and I'm just loving it!  It's a joy to write it!  Imagine that!  The working title (a title!) is OTHERWISE OCCUPIED.  How's your writing going?

As one of my tweeps said, you don't realize how good you feel until you're not feeling well.  Enjoy your health while you have it for, as the poet Jane Kenyon wrote, one day it will be otherwise.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Happy Goodbye

Last night I bid a happy goodbye to my middle grade novel.

It's one of two fiction projects I've been working on in fits and starts for almost two years.

I love my main character.  She's got fire.  She's got moxie.  She's got, well, character.  And chutzpah.

But I realized last night that she doesn't really have a story.  At least not a compelling one.

She's a character in search of a plot.

And so, despite all her escapades and nosiness and dreams, I must bid her adieu.  For now.

I've taken out a fresh composition notebook, some colored Sharpies and am brainstorming a fresh start.

Clear the decks!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Week in Pre-View 1/3 to... 1/4!

Happy 2013!!

Oh I just love a Winter Break.  Here's why:

i ) No evening rush to get homework done, dinner on the table, baths, books, bed

ii ) Time to watch mindless tv and let the kiddos play not-so-mindless video games

iii)  Time to read to self, read to others

iv) Pajamas 'til...

v) Time to think

Come to think of it, just vi) time in general with the family

But alas, all good things must come to an end.  Fortunately we have a VERY short week to ease us back into the routine.

Here's my brief week in pre-view:

My Friends with Autism Class:  We will be doing some poetry writing over the next several weeks, concentrating on animals.  I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing but it will probably involve the use of the Smartboard which they love!!  I'll be sure to share what I create.

Kindergarten - This week we examine another Caldecott possibility entitled Step Gently Out.  After I read this book to them, they will create a drawing of something very close up.  I really hope that at least ONE of the books I've selected wins the Caldecott or an Honor.  Those Kinders will be very disappointed in me if I mess this up! : )

First - I, er, uh, don't actually have a plan for my firsties yet.  I do, however, have a MEGA cart filled with new books.  My teacher work day will include selecting varies book talk titles.  I love seeing their faces when I introduce new just right books for them to pick!

First/Second - My mixed grade will be beginning their study of poetry, as are several other of the grades.  I just LOVE introducing students to poetry.  It's funny because until poetry and books of poems are introduced to them, my poetry books are largely ignored.  But once I work my librarian magic:  zounds!  Bare shelves!  Have any super suggestions for this age group?

Example of a Jake Maddox book.  EEEK!
Second - I am SO SUPER EXCITED to introduce my second graders to about fifty new book I received last week.  They are all from the Jake Maddox sports series!!!!  I heard about this series via twitter of course and I just think my students, especially my boy readers, are going to go absolutely ga-ga over them.  EEEEK!

Third - My third graders are also starting their poetry study.  I'll be concentrating on the Haiku form with them over the next several weeks, so I will begin with the book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young.
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, Art by Ed Young
Fourth - I really have absolutely no reason to show this video recommended by @kdmiller4  But I MUST!  In fact, it will be a nice little tie-in to a reading of Snowflake Bentley.  So there.

Fifth - Fifth grade will be continuing their blogging project by commenting on book recommendations made by students at another school in our county.  That is...if I can manage to swindle my way into the computer lab this short week!

What does your week look like?
 
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