Friday, May 10, 2019

Why My Kids Didn't Have Birthday Parties

My boys are 19 and 16 and I can count on one hand the number of actual birthday parties they have had.  Why, is that you might ask? It's because they had the unfortunate luck to get stuck with me for a mother.  I am not a planner.  I despise planning things.  I don't like making decisions. I hate being in charge...and that might surprise people that know me.  But there is a difference between being a planner and getting things done.  You see planning means thinking ahead of time - What needs to be done before?  What needs to be set up? What needs to be purchased?  I am not a prethinker... I am an in the moment, get things done person.  Being a planner means seeing the big picture, how all the pieces fit together.  That's not me either - I'm a tunnel vision kind of girl. I try very hard not to take the lead on things.  I would much rather be the back up, gopher, task-doer, grunt worker than the one in charge.

I have always known this about myself, but it was made crystal clear this week as I an event I was in charge of loomed over me.  Some of my 4th and 5th grade students wrote a book with a local author and tonight was the book release event. I planned an "Evening With Our Authors" to not only celebrate the book release, but also writers from other grade levels that teachers wanted to feature.  Talk about stress to the max!  Because the event was from 5:30-7:00 in the evening, we wanted to have food - but how much?  We never know how many people will show up to events at our school and I wanted to have enough, but not have an ton left over.  Decorations? I am not a crafty person.  How do you make a cafeteria look special for an evening event?  Then there's the layout of the event.  Where should the authors sit?  Where should the food go? What about the book fair?  What time should we start setting up?  What time should we pick up the food and the cake?  So many things to think about and PLAN!  All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball until it was over.

I thought if I just kept putting off making decisions, someone else would make them for me.  But as the event got closer and closer, I realized that wasn't going to happen this time.  I needed to put my big girl panties on and just  My amazing assistant held my hand as I ordered food and decided on decorations.  And today because I am not a big picture person, my timing was all off and I didn't think about how we were possibly going to be decorating, moving the book fair from the library to the cafeteria, attending to people at the book fair and picking up the food in the two hours that we had between after school and the start of the event.  Lucky for me there are AMAZING people at my school that stepped in and helped this afternoon.  First and foremost I am lucky to have a FABULOUS library assistant who is the pinteresty planner that I am not. Our technology specialist, family specialist, intervention specialist and a special education teacher also all jumped in and started decorating and setting things up while I went to get the food. And besides trouble with the microphones, I think the evening went pretty great!





While I was taking down decorations after the event, my family specialist said, "Sara, next time you do something like this.." and I interrupted her and said "Oh, there won't be a next time! No way!" I will leave the event planning to people who enjoy it and are good at it.  They can tell me what to do.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

What I Learned From Having 5th Graders Do a Digital Breakout

I created (yes, created! From scratch) a digital breakout for my 5th graders to review some skills before their state assessment.  It was a great two days of learning in the library for me as well as for them.  Here are some things I learned...

1.  Sometimes the "smartest" kids aren't the most capable of thinking differently.  The students that we thought would be able to solve the puzzles or figure out the clues to get to the actual math problems were the ones that were at a loss as to what to do.  

2.  Some 5th graders don't like to do work.  Even though we told them that this was a math review and that they had to solve math problems to unlock the locks, some groups spent a lot of time trying to guess the answer to the locks instead of just working the math problems. 

3.  Even though we only had a handful of groups get all of the locks open, most of the students seemed to enjoy themselves and all were introduced to a new and engaging way to review for the upcoming test.  

I will definitely do another breakout with these kids this year.  Now that they have been exposed to one, I think many more will be successful the next time. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Technology Tuesday: Seesaw

I am so glad that our whole school is using Seesaw this year as a portfolio for student work as a communication tool for parents.  And selfishly, I am loving it for the library.  At the beginning of the year, I asked our Instructional Technology Specialist, to add me as a teacher in all the classes.  I was then able to add a library folder in every class where students can put any work that we do in the library.  While I thought this would be the only benefit, that I would be able to keep a "portfolio" of their library work, I am finding many more benefits as the year goes on.  

1.  Parents can see what we are doing in the library!  When students are putting the work in the library folder, parents see that the library is a place where learning is happening.  Of course these are things I normally would have sent home on paper, but who knows if they actually made it home or not. 

2.  I can explain what we are doing in the library and show how it relates to what the students are doing in the classroom.  

3.  I can send my newsletter and other notes directly to parents.  Although it takes me about 10 minutes to post in all the classes, at least I am sure the parents have a better chance of seeing it than if I sent a paper copy home.  

4.  I can see what classes are doing in other subjects- because I am nosy that way LOL.  It does mean that I get notifications on every class though.  

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Elephant and Piggie Speech Bubbles

At the beginning of year, I sat with our 1st grade teachers in a meeting with the reading specialist assigned to our campus as she talked with them about reading and writing.  One of the things she mentioned was noticing how authors used different things in their writing and then encouraging the students to try it in their own writing. I decided that I could do that in the library.  I read a few of Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie books to them and we talked about how he used speech bubbles to show what Gerald and Piggie were thinking and saying.  Then they went to a template I had uploaded in Seesaw for them. We looked at the pictures in the frames and talked about how the speech bubbles. 
Students then went to work adding in the dialog.  

Most of the students recreated the banana joke from the story We Are In A Book like this student did 

However, one clever little guy really understood the idea of a joke and came up with this (his teacher did help him with spelling).  The video is only 13 seconds long, he doesn't press stop though which is why it keeps recording.  Oops.

Don't you love that??

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Woodstone Reads

I posted a month ago about my reading goal that I shared with my students for our school to talk about reading more this year.  Besides our reading interest activity that we did at the beginning of the year, I have shared with them some other ways we can talk about books.  Our district is using Seesaw this year so I created a folder in each teacher's class called Woodstone Reads where students can keep an online running log of the books they have finished reading.  Each time they finish reading (or listening to) a book - any book - the take a picture of the cover and record a sentence or two about the book and who might like the book. Other kids in their class can see these posts, comment on them as well as get ideas for good books they might want to read next.

I also shared with 3rd and 4th graders that I would like to start featuring some book talks on our morning announcements.  We read the Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee Grandpa's Hal-La-Loo-Ya Hambone by Joe Hayes and then I showed the students 4 different scripts they could choose from.  I adapted the scripts from these that I found online.  We have not had any submitted yet, but I am hoping those are coming soon.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Reading Goals

Instead of doing my traditional "where are things in the library" orientations for 3rd-5th grade this year, I decided to do a reading interest inventory and goal setting activity with them instead.

Over the summer I had been looking at reading interest inventories from Pernille Ripp's website  and Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer and then with my librarian friend, Natalie Watts, combined ideas together to form one of our own.  

 So after reading Hooray for Books to them and talking about my own reading goal for the library this year (read about that here) we went through the reading interest inventory.

There were check boxes about what types of books they like to read.  What were their three favorite books?  What was the last book they read that they liked?  What was the last book they read that they didn't like?  But one question that I was most interested in was... about how many chapter books did you read from start to finish last year? And then I had the answers of  zero, 1-5, 6-10.  I explained that I wanted them to be honest and that maybe they hadn't read a chapter book last year because they only read nonfiction or graphic novels. Or maybe they hadn't found a chapter book they liked so they kept abandoning in the middle.  I had a feeling there were quite a few zeroes and I wanted to let them know that for whatever the reason I wanted them to be honest.

At the end of the inventory, I asked the students to think of a reading goal.  It could be a small, short term goal or a bigger, year long goal.  I told them to look back at their answers on this inventory to maybe get some ideas.  I gave some examples like if they checked that they only read graphic novels that maybe their goal could be to try a different genre.  Or if they did not read for pleasure at home, maybe their goal could be to read for 15 min at home for a week and see if they like it.  We did talk about being realistic and reasonable for their goal.  

Each afternoon that first week after school, I was very excited to sit down and look at these inventories.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed, I thought I was going to find some profound answers to and revelations in them.  That I was going to finally have the answer somehow to getting our students to read for pleasure.  Most of the students set a number goal... to read 11 or 15 books.  But here are a few other goals that were set by my students...

This student had not found a book that they "loved" yet.

I liked this one so much I had to tweet and Facebook it!

And while most of the students had a goal that had SOMETHING to do with books or reading, you know there always have to be one or two of these in the bunch...

It is a goal, but...

So while I didn't solve the reading problems of the world, I realized that we are not used to setting goals for ourselves.  I did learn a lot about what kind of books my students like and don't like based on their answers.  We are going to revisit these goals in the middle of year and check our progress.  So more conversations to come. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Books are Meant for Sharing

One of my big goals for our library this year is to talk about books and reading more... to become more of a community of readers. That is not just me, the librarian, talking about books, but the students and teachers talking and sharing about books as well.

During the first week of school when the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders came to the library for the first time, I started by reading Hooray for Books! by Brian Won.
This book was perfect because turtle had shared his favorite book with zebra and when he went back to zebra to ask for it back, zebra had liked the book so much he had loaned it to another animal who had loaned it to another animal and so on.  Which demonstrated my goal that books should not be kept a secret!  Books are meant to be shared and when we find a book we like, we should talk about it! I explained to the students about my goal for us to talk about books more and share books that we like with each other in different ways this year.  

I am excited about this goal this year and can't wait to see all the sharing of awesome books we do!