Saturday, March 23, 2013

Library Centers

With encouragement and help from my fabulous fellow librarians, my Twitter PLN, and Cari Young's Library Centers blog, I set up library centers this past week and couldn't be happier!  Several of the other librarians in our district had started using centers recently and then the Twitter chat #TLElem was all about library centers this past week!  It seemed like NOW was the time to jump in so I am starting out with a few, and using them for just two weeks.  Due to our schedule, classes come to library for lessons every two weeks, so this way, everyone will have a turn.  

This is what we started with this week:

The Puzzle Table- a definite hit with students of all grade levels!  I'll change this out as the puzzle is completed. 
An ocean themed puzzle paired with ocean related books

The Pop-Up Book Center- FINALLY I have a way to share the pop-up books with students!  Even the books that come with the extra inserts, like this year's Texas Bluebonnet winner Postcards From Camp, are perfect for this table.

The Bookmark Center- students have card stock, markers, crayons, etc to create their own bookmarks.  For the younger students, there our bookmarks to color. Stickers would make a great addition to this center.

The Research Center- here, students are given the opportunity to research a topic of their choice using databases and resources provided by the library. Bubble maps are at the station so that students can document their learning.  Students enjoyed using TrueFlix while here, as well as WebPath Express.  The hardest part seemed to be narrowing the topic, which would make a great library lesson in the near future!  

The Almanac Center- I found a set of almanacs with a question of the day flip chart in the media closet.  The almanacs are a bit outdated, but the students are still enjoying them.  I also added a 2013 almanac to the table for the students to compare.  There are activities to go with the almanacs but the students enjoyed just looking through it on their own for the first time.  I even had a teacher come through and learn a couple of new things!  :)

The Book Review Center- This is something I have done in the past and it fit perfectly into the library centers.  Students will create a speech bubble with the title, author and a short summary of a book they have recently enjoyed.  These will be displayed in the library windows for other students to use when searching for a good book to read.

Leisure Reading Area- The LRA is always an option for students because sometimes you just want to read the book you just checked out!  It was surprising that with all of the new centers, several students in each class wanted to READ.  Love it!  

After one of these girls finished her book, she passed it to her friend and went on to the next one!  

Depending on the grade level, small adjustments had to be made during the week.  When 1st grade came in and enjoyed A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long, they had the option of going to a table with butterfly books as one of the centers.  Students used the books to draw and write about butterflies.

As one of the other librarians said, centers won't replace reading books with the students, but it is a nice addition to our library program!  Now for some fine-tuning for week 2 of the library centers!  Any other center ideas??

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Morning Book Club Meets Kate Messner

Our Curtis Morning Book Club has been meeting each morning before school to read Kate Messner's Capture the Flag. The students have really enjoyed the book and I promised them a "visit" with the author when they finished. This was such a success with our fall book club, who Skyped with Laurel Snyder, that I knew this was the perfect way to end our book club. When students are able to ask the author about their book and writing, it seems to deepen their understanding and connection to the book. We invited anyone who had read any of the books Messner has written to join us, including two homeschoolers who had read Capture the Flag.

It took us about six weeks to read the book and then we were ready for our visit!  The students were able to Skype with Mrs. Messner early on Tuesday, March 5th for an hour!  She shared with students how she began writing and even gave us hints about her new book, Hide and Seek, which students were given the opportunity to order signed copies!  Messner shared pictures of her community and family, which the students loved! Students also enjoyed learning that one of the books she wrote was actually started on a bus ride home from a field trip.  And there were lots of giggles when Mrs. Messner told the students about her "research" that she does for her books, including kissing a frog for her Marty McGuire book!

After she talked to the students about her books and the writing process, the book club members were able to ask questions about the characters in the book, future books, and even which book was her favorite.  It seems authors find it VERY difficult to pick a favorite book, just like you would never choose a favorite child!  :)

Our visit with Kate Messner was a wonderful way to end our Spring book club!  For more information about Kate Messner and her books, check out her WEBSITE.  

We are now anxiously awaiting our Hide and Seek books to arrive so that we can  find out what is in store for the youngest members of the Silver Jaguar Society!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mystery Skypes, Author Skypes, and World Read Aloud Day

This has been one amazing week!  Thanks to my friends on Twitter, I have made some incredible connections which has given my students opportunities to make some incredible connections!  Here is how we have celebrated reading this week:

On Monday, 5th grade connected with students in Oklahoma and Georgia for Mystery Skypes and to share books.  A Mystery Skype is where students have to use yes or no questions or give clues so that each group can guess the location of the other.  Mrs. Pitman's class had experience with this and did an exceptional job guessing where Mrs. Sikes's students were located! Mrs. Myall's class participated in their first Mystery Skype and were quick to figure out that JFK Elementary students were located in Oklahoma.  We were all very proud of the critical thinking skills used during these visits! This is a wonderful way for students to apply their knowledge of maps and geography as well as facts about Texas.  

Also on Monday, Mrs. Waller's & part of Mrs. Christian's Kindergarten classes read Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu on We Give Books with Matthew Winner's students at Longfellow Elementary in Maryland. The classes took turns reading pages to each other. This was the first time some of our students had Skyped and it was great fun!

On Tuesday, our 3rd grade along with Mrs. Zell's and Mrs. Massingill's classes were able to enjoy a visit by local author, Kristin Bryan.  Mrs. Bryan has written the Mrs. Crawdad series which share messages of having a good attitude and embracing the differences in each other.  Students enjoyed Mrs. Bryan's reading of her book and the peek they got into the new book in the series. Mrs. Bryan was kind enough to join in our Skype visit with students in Connecticut while we read One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo. We were very appreciative of Mrs. Bryan's time and flexibility as we moved from one activity to another!

Wednesday, World Read Aloud Day, was fast and furious! Mrs. Pulliam's class had a Skype visit with students in Massachusetts. My Twitter friend, Jennifer Reed connected her students with our students and suggested a great book I was unfamiliar with!  Students took turns reading parts of poems for two voices from the book Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco.  Students thought this book was a lot of fun to read together, and I was pleased to find an unknown treasure in my library!

Sixth grade students were treated to an author visit with Mina Javaherbin. Mrs. Javaherbin wrote the book Goal, which was a Texas Bluebonnet nominee last year.  She shared some of her new book, The Secret Message with the students, explaining to them about the poem from which she got the book idea. Javaherbin went on to tell the students about her childhood and all that she has seen and experienced.  

She advised them on writing and the collecting of ideas, suggesting to them that they keep all of their writings.  Her family immigrated from Iran when she was young, and she explained how she had to leave many things behind, including some of her early writing.  

Mrs. Javaherbin also encouraged the students to pursue higher  education, even if they aren't completely sure of what they want to be when they grow up.  It was very interesting to hear her perspective on the importance of being good global citizens and understanding the differences in cultures and points of view. The students seemed to really enjoy the visit, as well as the opportunity to ask questions at the end.  

Second grade came in to Skype with Mrs. Gohagon and her students in Connecticut and share the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld.  This is a great book to show different perspectives when readers go back and forth on whether the picture is a duck or a rabbit.  What do you think? Can you see both?
Cole introduces his class to the students in Connecticut!

You would think we would be finished with our celebration, with all that we have already done, but NO!  There is MORE!  Second Grade also had an Author Skype Visit with Dori Hilstead Butler, author of the popular Buddy Files books!  Curtis readers LOVE these books, and they are hard to keep on the shelf!  In fact, 3 students had them in their hands when the Skype began!  Mrs. Butler read the first chapter in book 6, The Case of the School Ghost. The students begged for more, but Mrs. Butler told them they would have to check it out and read it to find out what happened!  :)  A few students were lucky enough to be able to ask a question of Mrs. Butler!  It was another awesome author skype!

We wrapped up #WRAD13 with a visit with Shannon Miller's students at Van Meter in Iowa!  Not only did we get to Skype with Van Meter students, but we were lucky enough to be included with their Skype with Mrs. P's Storytime.  Mrs. P is a fabulous story weaver, sharing with students about her neighbor, the Tooth Fairy and her 1100 room mansion that she lives in on an island in Wisconsin.  ;)  She was quite entertaining for the students AND for the adults in the room!  

Reflecting on this week, I am amazed at the times we live in, where we can connect with people all over the country and share our love of books and reading!  Part of how this happens is by creating a PLN on Twitter and connecting with others who share a love of books and technology!  What an incredible week!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dr. Seuss & Read Across America Day

Curtis students began their celebration of reading on Friday with Read Across America Day!  Students were given the opportunity to "Drop Everything And Read" as well as share reading with others through Skypes.

Our day started with Mrs. Christian's class Skyping with WHS students.  The high school students read Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.  The students were all wearing their Cat in the Hat hats and sat and listened to the older Roos read to them!  It was a fun experience for everyone and we hope to do it again!

As fourth grade came in, they prepared to share books with students at JFK Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma and students from Matthew Winner's class in Maryland! The first class shared the new Texas Bluebonnet winner, Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback.  Our students took turns reading pages while the other class listened. When our friends had to leave, we Skyped with a retired teacher outside of Chicago!  Mrs. Barnstable has a cat, Catherine, that enjoys listening in, so our students read parts of the book to them!
 The JFK students shared Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zelinsky with us, which is a very funny book!  Our fourth graders from Mrs. Lyon's class and some of Mrs. Cast's class did an excellent job not only reading, but also with introductions.  I was very proud!! 
 Then Mrs. Hatcher's class, as well as more of Mrs. Cast's class, came in to Skype with our friends in Maryland.  We took turns reading pages from Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon on the We Give Books website. What is We Give Books, you ask? Here is a quote from their website:  "At We Give Books, each time a reader enjoys free children’s books online, they donate a hardcover or paperback book to a child in need through their great campaign partners."
It was a fantastic day of sharing!  Many classrooms participated in their own events throughout the day!  We are now getting ready for this week's celebration....World Read Aloud Day (which we are actually celebrating for 3 days through Skypes & author visits!) Stop back by to check out pictures from WRAD13!