Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WORM WARS are on their way!!!

 Winter Break is coming. Aside from all the things I look forward to, thinking about this makes me cringe. A school break means most of my students will STOP READING. Not cut back or slow down, but STOP. Through the last few years I have promoted reading logs with almost every incentive imaginable.

Bluntly, if I hear one more time that "I didn't really have a lot of time to read this week...BUT I killed it in Minecraft" I think my head will explode.

This idea woke me up in the middle of the night and it is kind of a last ditch for me. Kids love gross and history shows me (clearly) they don't need or particularly want any more slushies, movie tickets, pizza parties or goodie bags.

So here's the deal: over the break, my Principal and I are splitting the school into two teams. If our school hits a reading goals of 5,000 minutes (20 minutes a day x 5 days a week x 250 students) we will have an assembly on the Friday following Break. At this assembly one of us will eat REAL WORMS.

The kids with the most reading minutes will actually up the gross by adding ketchup, relish, hot sauce, etc to our worm plate. 

Do I want to eat worms? NO NO NO. Aside from hoping it is not my team that comes in last, I REALLY want these kids to READ over break. Consistently. Enough to FINISH some books.

We are rolling out the sign on top this week and not telling the kids details. Those will come next week in some fun Rocky style competition. I have ordered large Engineering prints of the above sign for the Lobby and Library. Here is the simple log they will use over Break.

My husband is REALLY disgusted by this, he does not even discuss it. I will keep you updated on the progress and hopefully will have some super nasty pictures of my Principal eating worms in January!


Hour of Code - More Needed Than I Thought

Our Teachers are bringing the Hour of Code to life next week in the classroom. We have combined time in the MacLab as well. This week in the Library it is my job to do an introduction. I have been really surprised by how much of an introduction it has been. So far, I have learned we need the Hour of Code much more than I thought!!

This is a great video that I have been showing. The second video is from www.csedweek.org and our students will watch this in their classrooms This website has grade level activities for online and hands on, it is a fantastic resource!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tis the season to READ

This has to be one of my all time favorite bulletin boards ever. One, it is really beautiful. Last year the chalkboard printables exploded and this was pretty easy to change from "be jolly" to "read". Two, this was SIMPLE. Black paper and a white chalkboard marker and voila!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SKYPING with the ONE and ONLY Tom Angleberger

It happened SO fast that I did not have time to get  nervous. I saw a quick tweet announcing that THE Tom Angleberger had a few spots left in his FREE SKYPE day!. After a quick exchange of tweets it was set: a 25 minute session where Tom would share details of new books with my kids, lead them in origami AND do a  Q & A!

Tom Angleberger was just fantastic!!! He was organized and considerate from the beginning which means a LOT. Even kids who have devoured his books did not expect to find him so funny. He was entertaining from the go and the kids were instantly and thoroughly engaged. The 25 minutes flew by in a hilarious, informative jumble and the kids were as amazed as I was that we had just spent the morning with TOM ANGLEBERGER!!!

If I never learn another thing from twitter I will be a most satisfied user. Being at the right place at the right time ...with the RIGHT author paid off enormously this week.

I downloaded Debut software before our SKYPE and was able to capture 9 minutes of the exchange. I don't know whether the software automatically shuts down at that point. Just having a little of the session is a huge perk, my other classes have loved seeing how funny and REAL this author is.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pop Culture Pocahontas vs. What the Heck Really Happened (5th Grade Edition)

I am IN LOVE with this book, How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. Some books I keep at my desk because I know I will use them throughout the year and this is ONE OF THOSE BOOKS. Filled with fascinating details and time- period snapshots, this book covers some heavy hitters in history. Multiple Kings, Scientists, Princesses, Queens, Authors and general people of interest.

My first subject we covered this week is Pocahontas. We started by discussing current Pocahontas background knowledge. This was enhanced by one (or sometimes two) Disney clips of Pocahontas declaring undying love for John Smith in key.

When we hit the sentence that mentioned Princess P was 11 years old when she met John Smith, every kid in that library was hooked. And outraged. And grossed out (me, too guys)!

This was just so much fun for the week before Thanksgiving and really gave us a chance to explore our perceptions vs what really happened. And talk about a run on non-fiction, Sacajawea even had some Biography check outs from this exposure.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veteran's Day for an Elementary Lens

In the Library, Veteran's Day  is similar to Civil Rights for me. Both subjects are enormously important and wide reaching, and both really stress me out. I want to make sure I give Veteran's Day enough weight that the kids understand how important it is. On the other hand, this can get out of hand quickly and students just don't grasp the enormity of a Veteran's sacrifice. These books gave way to some insightful conversations this week before Veteran's Day:

We also used BrainPop and viewed Armed Forces or Vietnam War for a solid front loader. My favorite video clip this week was this one where Maggie Gee briefly describes her time as a WASP and shows even more personal pictures than we see in Sky High.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Frankenstein in the Library - Multi Media Fun for all ages

I am going to skip telling you how much I love Halloween, bla bla bla.... we all do and it is the best time of year in the Library, right? OK - established, here are some really fun Frank resources that came together quickly and easily for multiple grades this week.

David Catrow's Monster Mash is delightfully illustrated and just spooky enough to keep elementary schoolers' attention. When presented with the original song this book makes for a FUN way to start the hour.

Frank was a Monster who wanted to Dance - what fun! The pictures are beautiful and original through and through. Stumbling upon the animated video was such a bonus - especially when Frank boogies and has the greatest voice. A short story enhanced by the animation is perfect for the younger Halloween fans.

 To top things off or entice the kids to be on task this week we have ended class with the "Monster Mash" on Just Dance. The dance is a slow-ish pace, perfect for the younger grades and makes for a fun "circle" lesson.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bibbity Bobboty Boo! Pumpkins into your Favorite Book Characters

For the last fifteenish years our Library has hosted the "Annual Creativity Fair" in November. The charge of this Fair was to recreate a book scene with food. We have families and former students who recall this with great fondness. Honestly, I am not one of those people. When I saw these adorable Pumpkin Characters popping up on Pinterest (again, really?) I knew I had the way to switch.

Like always, my kids amazed me!!! As the pumpkins rolled in I was delighted, impressed and overall delighted by their creativity and seeing their favorites. I love kids' takes on books.


Friday, October 4, 2013

This Library is Haunted!

 October swooped in faster than I could have imagined and that means only one thing: if I don't get on it, Halloween will be here I and I have not decorated the Library. So the first day of October it is: spiderwebs, check. Mummy bulletin board, check. New (and old favs) Halloween books, check.My favorite glittery broom floating over my desk, check.

The most exciting new additions to our spooky space are our Ghostly Bibliophiles. These are classic Pinterest cheesecloth ghosts hung with my handy fishing wire and paperclips jammed in the ceiling tiles. The books were a little trickier because the whole point was to demonstrate actual reading, not just a floating book and the placement was rough. Overall I love them and I think they hit the mark. I am glad our district (and school) does not fuss about Holiday displays and that I can go all out this month.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Young Engineers throw punches in the Library

Last year as a new STEM school we embraced the Cardboard Challenge (click here to check out Caine's story). As we near our second year of involvement it is apparent how far we have come, both as a STEM school and students. This year as we discuss the challenge in the Library my kids are READY. It's as if they have waited all year to better last year's creations. I have heard about stability, engagement, ramps, and motion all week. From 7 year olds!

After asking teachers how we can frontload in the Library this year I had an interesting response: Please expose second graders to more arcade games. Kids love Caine and embrace his challenge but if they do not have that background knowledge regarding hands on arcade games there is only so far they can go.

Hello, Google. And forget searching "arcade", "classic arcade" "old fashioned arcade". Carnival Games were finally what I needed and we spent a fun 30 minutes discussing and critiquing games from Plinko and AirHockey to PinBall and SkeeBall.

Kinder and First read Iggy Peck, Architect and The Three Ninja Pigs. Out came the building blocks and cool cubes I have not seen before. I was proud of the bridge some of our girls created with the bracing they pointed out to me.


I read Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building with 4/5 and pulled out the Lego Robotix Challenge Kits. The history shared through the text was a complete discussion while/ after we read and the end pages had compelling pictures from the actual build time.

I poured through pages of Engineering Challenges and actually had the marshmallow box ready to go with 4/5 but after setting out the trays and pairing the kids I decided it was time for free build. When they picked up their base they had to tell me what structure they were building and was I ever blown away! Granted, I don't have much LEGO experience with kids but that aside I was impressed. Complete, TOTAL CONCENTRATION. Creative process in motion and the library was humming.


And that's when it happened (no pics, sorry, too shocked). A scuffle, some 5th grade cussing and LEGOS flying when it was time to head to Spanish. And so it turns out I need to pay a little more attention to the groups I create when Engineering. There is that reason GT kids are split among groups in collaboration and I found that when the LEGOS came out all kids are GT. With well developed ideas and execution. Just don't be that person who actually hears your Librarian call for clean up and start the clearing. Woe to that person. Actually, after that person shoves back and lights up the checkout line, woe to both 5th Graders who are back in the Library at recess time, minus the LEGOS.

I texted my husband after they left and told him we had WW3 revolving around LEGOS and I got a "Duh...." back.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Censorship 101: Banned Book Weeks for Elementary Libraries

 Banned Books Week for K-5 is a challenge for me. I am 100% behind the idea of celebrating and highlighting the fact that we can read whatever we want. Displaying the Banned Books from our shelves is a good way to intro the topic but I struggle to bring the idea alive for kids this age. Many of them lack the natural outrage that comes naturally to Middle Schoolers and some of the topics of Banned Books are touchy with K-5.

This year I am going the Censorship 101 route.What is Censorship? Is it lawful in America? Do we Censor one another? Our kids are so connected 24/7 and have no concept that there are places where someone would withhold text or the privilege of reading from anyone.

BrainPop has a video on Judy Blume that I will show them, the link is here: Judy Blume BrainPop Video

In just a few minutes Tim and Moby highlight Blume herself, her books, and her fight against censorship. I look forward to this connection with 4/5 that will launch us into censorship and Banned Books.

12 Banned Book Week Classroom Activities
At Teacher Hub this post outlines 12 Activities for Banned Books week. I love the focus on the 1st Amendment and especially the Banned Books Poll.

I look forward to this week and developing this concept with K-5. Appreciating our right to read what we want is something our kids need to absorb.