Friday, December 19, 2014

Read Around the School

Yesterday, we had our first "Read Around the School" of the year.  This is a fun whole-school reading activity that is a bit chaotic, but the kids and teachers really enjoy it.  At my school, the classes are paired up with reading buddies that they visit with once a month so that is how we do the pairings for Read Around the School (or RATS for short).  Buddy teachers get together and choose a book for the event.  One of the teachers will be the reader and one the traffic controller on the day of the event. They have to let me know what book they choose and which room they would like to read in.  Sometimes we have a theme, like Winter Wonderland (books with winter or snow settings) or Dog Days of Summer (books about Dogs) or sometimes it is just teacher's choice.  

Three days before the event, I send out a map of the school with the titles listed in the rooms they will be read and a schedule.  I try to keep the room where the teachers ask, but sometimes I have to change the location because of traffic flow.  

Two days before the event the teachers hang a poster advertising the book outside the classroom where it will be read.  

I love seeing the creativity that comes out in these posters.  Some teachers love to make it themselves and some teachers have students work on it.

The day before the event the buddy classes get together to take a "Poster Walk" around the school.  Some teachers give the older buddies the map and the buddies highlight the books they are interested in listening to.

The Day of the Event, I come on the announcements at the specified time and tell the buddies it is time to meet.  The teachers walk the kids to the buddy meeting classroom.  I give them about 5 min to do that.  Then I come back on the announcements and tell them buddies to walk to their first story.  This is where it gets a little chaotic.  Picture 900 kids all loose in the school traveling to different locations.  The traffic controllers and any extra personnel stand in the halls and remind kids to walk and help direct them to rooms.  This take about 5 min.  I come back on announcements and say they should be in a room and for the readers to start reading.



Some teachers show the book on the document camera.  Some use the projector to display things related to the books.  Some just hold the book in front of the class.  Some teachers dress up or have props. It really can be however they want.

We let them read for 10 min and then come back on the announcements and repeat.  Two or three rotations is usually plenty.  Then the big buddies walk the little buddies back to their class and it is over!

Sample Schedule
1:45 travel to meeting location
1:50 big buddies and little buddies travel to first story
1:55 Start reading
2:05 Stop reading travel to second story
2:10 Start reading
2:20 Stop reading and travel to third story
2:25 Start reading
2:35 Stop reading and take little buddy back to class

I love that this is a whole school activity centered around reading and that the big kids enjoy it as much as the little kids.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Transportation, Recreation and Communication

This year, thanks to our wonderful District Library Instructional Coordinator and her love of social studies, our 1st grade research unit was kicked up a notch.  I blogged about this research project last year here.  The kids and teachers liked it, but this year was so much more fun.

The unit was designed as a Guided Inquiry project so we started off with by talking about the students.  How old they were, what was considered the past, the present and the future for them.  We used a strip of 10 blocks and had them number up to their current age (the present).  Anything before that was the past and anything after that was the future.  Then we glued that into a paper journal I had made.  The 10 strip was a great visual for them and I really think it helped to cement the concept. 

 They were shocked when I brought out my timeline and showed them all 42 of my squares.  You would think I was 110!  We talked about how my past is longer than theirs because I am older.  They of course wanted to know when on the timeline I was in 1st grade and when I became a librarian, etc.  
Then I showed them Discovery Education Boards that my assistant and I each had made about what transportation, recreation and communication was like when we were in first grade.  
I loved this because we could put our own pictures, or find some on the web and we could use a recording app on the ipad to read our writing and embedded that on the board to read to them also.  My assistant is 10 years older than I am so it was interesting for them to see the difference in that short amount of time.  

In the next lesson, I had picture cards for each group of pictures of communication, transportation and recreation items.  I told the kids they needed to sort the 12 cards into 3 groups.  They did need some guidance for that but once they got one of the groups, the could go from there.  Then I read them the book Hornbook and Inkwells by Verla Kay
and we talked about the different transportation, communication and recreation items that we saw in the book.  We took notes about the book in our journals.  

For the 3rd lesson, our district library services had bought each of us some items for the kids to explore with.  I had a slate and chalk, quill and ink(feathers and black tempra paint), clay to make marbles, ABC dice, wood dice with numbers, a ball and cup toy, a buzz saw and spinning tops.  The kids really enjoyed the hands on opportunity to get to use things.  More than once I heard from the quill ink station, "Boy am I glad we have pencils now!  This is hard!"  

For the final lesson, we took a lot at Pebble-go Social Studies and took some more notes on the Colonial Times and Now.  Then the students had to write a sentence or two in their journals about what they had learned.  Then they used the iPad to take a picture of an item that went with their sentence and then narrate the picture in the educreations app.  

I am so glad that we were able to have so much fun with this research.  It is a crazy time of year though and trying to fit this in right now with all the "other" stuff going on was a bit challenging, but I think the kids enjoyed it and have a better understanding of communication, recreation and transportation in the past.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hour of Code

I finally got to do some coding with students today.  I've had first grade research going on all week taking up most of my time and they were on a field trip today so I invited some 4th and 5th grade classes to the library.  After a quick explanation and demonstration of the Angry Birds tutorial I let them loose on iPads and computers.  Some worked with partners and some worked alone.  I loved the excitement and the problem solving that I saw in these hours.  The partners would high five each other as they advanced and some really advanced far in the hour they had.  Some of the students even had a chance to work on the Lightbot app I had downloaded on the iPads because they finished the Angry Birds tutorial.

I am hoping to start a coding club in the spring and would love to know of any other apps or websites that you have used for coding.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Elf is Back!

Last year, Seuss, our library "Elf on the Shelf" made his debut appearance at Woodstone (read about that here).  He arrived back in our library the Monday after Thanksgiving with a new task for us. This year, he was going to be reading nonfiction books each night and leaving us clues to what Dewey section he visited.  I have the same contest going.  Kids submit their answers on my library page and when we come back from the winter break I will draw a few names for some prizes.  Here are a few of our elf nonfiction clues.  Can you figure out the call number?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Crazy crazy crazy!

Sometimes I think I am crazy and other times I know I am! As if doing energy makerspaces in the library wasn't a little crazy by itself, today topped it off I think.  Picture this... I have an open library meaning there are no real walls enclosing it.  I am truly "the center" of my school which I love, but classes walk throught the library to go pretty much anywhere else in the school. I have one big teaching space in the center with 12 round tables and a small space with a rocking chair and a carpet where I do storytime.  In the back of the library, I have 12 computers and a small carpet space with a Smartboard on the wall.  So today, on 10 of the 12 round tables there are 24 Fifth graders working on energy makerspaces.  The science and math lab specials teachers are over by the smartboard with 2 classes of 2nd graders(45 students) becuase it is rainy and cold and the labs in portables.  On the storytime capret, I am teaching 22 3rd graders,using clipboards, a research mini-lesson I normally teach on the Smartboard. AND 24 4th graders are checking out! 

That's right folks, 115 students actively engaged in the library space! Thank goodness its a really large space.  Thank goodness my assistant is amazing and tolerates my inability to say "no" to classes. Thank goodness my teachers support me and the things I do in the library! 

And thank goodness not every day is like this! :) 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jamberry Black Friday!

I'm so excited!  Jamberry is bringing back all the Sister Style Exclusives from the year for 4 days only... Black Friday to Cyber Monday!  These are the special wraps the three founding sisters design each month and are only usually available for that month only.  However, this year, they are "Bring them Back for Black!"

I certainly plan on getting my favorites... Pop Star and Fire and Ice.

But the others are just as popular.
Modern Chic
Ripped From the Runway
Here's to 14
Art Class

Born to Sparkle
Flutter By

Psychedelic Style
Alphabet City

Check It Out
On top of that great deal running from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Jamberry is offering this BLACK FRIDAY ONLY deal...
That's right, spend $50 on anything Jamberry and get this exclusive wrap FREE.  Buy gift certificates, Buy 3 Get 1 Free wraps, Lotions, Holiday Sets, Indulgence Hand CareMini-Heaters, Application Kits, Black Friday Wraps... Anything! 

What are you going to buy?  Not sure, comment below on wraps you'd like to see on hands and I'll post pictures.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maker Spaces

I posted about my thrilling success of one makerspace activity in a prior post (see here), but now that I have had more classes go through them, I am ready to reflect a little on the experience.  Our middle schools and high schools are offering makerspace opportunities and for a while I have been struggling with the idea at the elementary level.  I totally understand how it could be done at the secondary schools because they have study halls, open lunch areas and before and after school opportunities to offer, but I couldn't figure out how to work it in at the elementary level as the teacher's day as so jammed packed. I knew I was somehow going to have to work it in with curriculum somehow.

I decided to create some "Energy Makerspaces" for my 5th graders to explore after their study of energy in science.  I started by using Pinterest to gather a bunch of different ideas of experiments and activities that I could use.  And it was actually this "Mystery Bag" blog post that gave me the idea for how I wanted to structure the space.  I loved the idea of giving kids items and then a challenge.  I was talking with one of my colleagues at a meeting one day and she was interested in collaborating on the idea so I made a Google doc and we shared links and made lists of items that we would need for each activity.  Once we felt pretty confident about the activities we had gathered, I let my teachers know about it so they could sign up for times to come visit.

Then I had to start gathering the items.  I sent home a flyer with my students asking for items that I knew I needed:  boxes, toilet paper rolls, string, yarn, cans, dental floss, buttons, wax paper, tape - anything I could think of that might be useful.  And boy did they deliver...
Kids brought in bags and bags of things that I stored in a closet.  Once I was ready to put the activities together, I put the small items into a plastic box and created a challenge sign for each activity.  
I decided to make community boxes of the cans, boxes and TP rolls that any one could could at any activity. 
Then it was time to let the kids come and make.  

The first time they came to work, I showed them this sign 
I loved this because I think it fits perfectly with the maker movement.  I told the kids that we were going to do all of these things.  I explained that each station had a challenge and that there were 5 different energies addressed:  mechanical, electrical, sound, light and elastic.  as they completed each challenge or decided to move to a different one, they had to get an ipad and using the ShowMe app, take a picture and record their product and reflect.  What was the challenge? What worked? What didn't?  How they changed the design?  And why it finally worked?  Then we set them loose...


I put books at each station and some had a QR code that linked them to a Discovery Streaming video about the topic they could watch to get ideas.  As I said in my previous post, the hardest part was to keep my mouth shut and not lead them to the product.  The whole idea was that they come up with something that worked and boy was I impressed.

One of the things that I loved about using the Show Me app rather than just shooting a straight video with the camera was that they students could draw or write on the screen.  They figured this out on their own and some became mini scientists diagramming and making notes about what they did.
Here are some examples of their videos.

All in all I was really pleased with how this turned out.  Yes, it was loud.  Yes, it was messy. But there was so much learning, collaboration, struggling, revising and reflecting go on also.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kate Klise is Fabulous!

Yesterday, we had the honor of hosting author Kate Klise.  And I am here to say she is fabulous!  She is the author of the "43 Old Cemetery Road" series, "The Three-Ring Rascals" series and "Little Rabbit" books.

She presented 4 sessions for my school and had a different way of presenting story writing for K,1,2 and 3,4,5. My students couldn't wait to go back to class to put into practice what she showed them. She had the students mesmerized with stories of growing up and how she and her sister, Sarah, formed their author/illustrator partnership.  

Students even made up stories on the spot using the strategies that she taught them.  

I think the thing that I loved most about her was she is so personable with staff and students.  As the students came into the library, she talked to them about school and asked them questions and as they left she stopped as many as she could and asked, "So what's your story going to be about?".  I overheard one of the 4th graders later telling a friend about the story they were going to write because "that lady made it seem like I could do it!"

Oh... and she performs magic and not just the writing kind ;)