Monday, October 10, 2016

You Can't Read That!

Go get a different book.
That book is too hard for you.
You can't read that.
That book is not on your level.
You need an easier book.

I must (sadly) admit as a previous classroom teacher of 12 years, I probably uttered one or more of these phrases to any given student thinking that I was helping them make a better choice that would further their reading.  But instead, what I probably did was make that child like reading a little less.  

Today I had the pleasure of hearing the one and only Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks) speak in my district about Voice and Choice in Reading.  She spoke for 2 wonderful hours and gave information, personal anecdotes and research about students and reading and choice.  But this one quote, mentioned very early on, is what has stuck with me for the rest of the day.

So instead of building the student into a better reader by making them choose a book "on their level", what I did, was tell them they were not good enough or able enough to read "that" book.  

What could I have done instead? 

 *Maybe ask them to sit and read a page or two with me and see if they change their mind once they read a few pages.

*Have a "preview stack" of books ready for a child that continuously chooses challenging books and say "Take a look at these books I thought you might like!" 

*Ask "Are you and your mom/dad/grandma going to read that together?"

*Check to see if there is an audio version of the book and let them download that to a device to read along.

And then the unthinkable... let them check it out anyway!  

Maybe they have a desire to persevere and read through the book,  Maybe they hide a "baby book" in the pages of the bigger book so no one knows what they are reading. Maybe they just want to be like the other kids.  Maybe choosing a book in the library is the only choice they have control over that day.  

Maybe I need to find a way to support them and help them like reading because as Donalyn said, "If not us, then who?"

What key phrases or techniques do you use to help a student choose books?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Dot Day Aurasmas

Last week for Dot Day, my 4th graders thought about their goals for the year and how they were going to make their mark.  In class, they wrote out a script and colored a dot and then brought them to the library to make aurasma videos of themselves reading their goals using their dots as the trigger. We are planning to hang the dots in the hallways for other students to watch.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

What Was I Thinking?

For the last few years to promote my Bluebonnet  program, I have offered 3 raffle prizes for students who read more than 5 books. For each book over 5 they earn a raffle ticket and can place it in the box of their choice. Each of the 3 prizes connects or represents one or more of the books in some way. I have raffled things like Spurs jerseys when "Mathlete vs Althlete" was on the list. When "The One and Only Ivan" was nominated I had a giant stuffed gorilla. This year, when brainstorming with my fellow partner in crime, Natalie Watts (@readdancetweet), she came up with the idea to raffle a hamster- not a stuffed one, but a real, live one!

So what do all good friends do? Copy their friend's great ideas. So I spoke with my principal to see if she was ok with us keeping a hamster in the library until January and then raffling it off to a student that had parent permission to win the hamster. 

We got the hamster and cage last week and he/she has been a huge hit! 

I don't have a name yet, so the students have been suggesting ideas on butcher paper.
We have gotten names like Eyeball, Snowflake, Olaf and Caitlin from Kinder. And Fluffy, Dump Truck, Hammy and Rider from other grades. I will pick a name and announce it on the announcements on Wednesday. 

While he has caused quite a commotion this week, it has been really fun to see the excitement and wonder of all the students as they come to check out books and watch the hamster for a few minutes. Even when he is sleeping, they talk to it and ask questions about it. 

So I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I decided to bring a hamster into my library, but I can't wait to see what other opportunities it sparks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Summer Twitter Challenge for Teachers

This summer I challenged my teachers to explore twitter.  I wanted them to have a relaxed time to figure things out at their own pace.  I knew the first thing they would say is "I don't know what to tweet about!" So I tied in Donalyn Miller's #bookaday hashtag.  I told the teachers to tweet a picture of ANYTHING  they read during the summer.  It could be a picture book, a grown-up book, a young adult book, a magazine, a blog post... anything. They just needed to put the #bookaday with the tweet. We talked about how they could write a little bit about the book if  it was a picture book or chapter book they might use with their class.

It was really fun!  About 15 teachers participated.  

On the first teacher day back in August when we met as a faculty, I handed out Twitter Badges and a gift certificate for our Fall book fair - the $ amount was the amount of books they read... they ranged from $5-$50!!!).  

Now those teachers that participated are more familiar with tweeting and are starting to tweet things about their class this year.  It will be fun to have more connected educators on my campus.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What Happened to Summer?

I am not sure what happened to summer.  I feel like I spent most of it in my car.  I have an incoming Junior in high school and an incoming 8th grader, bith boys who play baseball.  So my whole summer felt like I was either taking them to practice, lessons or heading out of town for tournaments.  I did manage to get 2 weeks at my favorite place in the world, Fish Creek Wisconsin.  Otherwise I really would not have felt like I had a summer.

The good thing about all that baseball is that I got a lot of books read.  I am talking 35-40 chapter book. Bluebonnets, young adult, grown-up and professional books.  I got some of everything.  Here are a few of my favorites.

#1 Professional Book:  Kids Deserve It!
A perfect summer book written by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome.  A great reminder about why most of us got into the teaching profession... because Kids Deserve It.  With uplifting stories and humorous ancedotes, these two principals have started a revolution of educators who are in it to do what's best for kids.  I loved this book!  As a matter of fact, one of my teachers saw my tweet about it and asked if she could borrow it.  Then another one asked to borrow, and another and... now at least 9 of my teachers have read it and more are on the "waiting list".  We even gave it to our new principal as a welcome gift on her first day, signed by those of us who had read it over the summer. 

#1 Young Adult Book: Serpent King

I just love YA books.  Almost enough to make me want to be a middle school librarian... not!  But I really do love to read them.  Three high school seniors all trying to deal with their last year together in a small town.  One dying to get out, one content to stay and one who thinks he can never escape.  Told from all three points of view, but interwoven into an unforgettable coming of age story.  

#1 Bluebonnnet Book: Echo
I am afraid the sheer size of this book will scare off a lot of readers (over 500 pages) which will be such a shame because it is a wonderful story of three children brought together by a magical harmonica that comes in and out of their lives at the perfect time.  I could not put this book down. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Real World 3D Print: Part 2

So when Part 1 left off, our technology coordinator and I had spent 3 hours trying out different processes to print Braille keychains with students.  At first, we thought that each one could make a letter of the alphabet to start and then they could use each other's letters to make the key chains. Too involved! We finally decided that the easiest thing would be to have them copy the original braille cell I made and remove the dots, just as I did.

I had spoken to a 5th grade teacher about doing it with her math class of about 20 kids.  She was super excited.  The kids came to the library and I had Michelle explain a little bit about what Ivan had been going through.

She also brought some Braille shapes on paper so the students could feel what it was like.  She told the students that Ivan was at a school in Austin learning how to adapt to being blind. I then explained about the original keychain that I had made and how we wanted to make more for the other students at the school.

We brainstormed a list of positive, encouraging words that we could put on the keychains (I forgot to take a picture of that).  Word like: smile, hope, joy, just do it, cheerful, love, shine, etc.  The students picked a word and planned out what the word would look like in Braille.

Once the teacher or I checked their Braille, they could begin using Tinkercad to design the keychain.

When they were finished, the teacher or I checked their work to maker sure the keychain was the right thickness, no shapes were poking through the bottom, the hole went all the way through and that the dots were raised to the right height.  The students then wrote the title of their design on a list so I could begin printing them.  

After they were printed, I sent them home with Michelle one weekend so Ivan could "proof-read" them for us to maker sure the keychain said what it was supposed to say.  She was kind enough to record a video for the students...

The students were super excited about this product and really proud of themselves when they had their finished keychain in hand.  They knew they had done something special for the students at the school and felt good about that.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Few Things I've Learned While Using the 3D Printer

Just a few things I learned while making the Decade Coins with 5th grade.

1. Kids are WAY more creative and better at Tinkercad thank I am.  I have always had trouble visualizing things.  I can not picture how furniture should look in a room.  I actually have to see it in there or move it around.  I had a very difficult time making a sample coin to show 5th grade. I was worried how the kids would be able to connect the different shapes to create what they wanted or if they would get frustrated.  They were much faster and much better at combining the shapes than I was. 

2.  There are different kinds of filament.  Who knew?  Not me.  My 3D printer came with a role of filament and when I was running low, I emailed the vendor that the printer was purchased from and asked him for a quote on white filament for the Afinia printer.  He sent it and I bought it.  

3.  Different filaments have different settings on the printer. When I loaded it and printed for the first time the coin would NOT come off the raft.  It was stuck on there like super-glue.  I thought maybe I had messed up the calibration or the nozzle height so I reset those and printed again.  Still stuck. I emailed Afinia support - which is great by the way.  They sent back some instructions and still stuck.  I went through the whole set up one more time and happened to notice a drop down in front of ABS and remember seeing something about ABS filament.  I looked at the filament that I loaded and it said PLA.  I changed it in the drop down and presto-chango, worked like a charm. I really don't know what the difference is between the ABS and PLA but I found this article if you are interested.

4.  Different filaments take coloring differently.  After I made my sample coins, I tried coloring them with Sharpie marker.  Keep in mind this was on the ABS filament - no good.  The marker bled and looked horrible.  Crayons were no good either.
Colored pencils worked great on the ABS filament.

Colored Pencils

Once I loaded the accidently PLA filament, the Sharpie markers looked awesome!  The PLA is a little shinier and maybe seals better so the sharpie doesn't bleed.