Monday, September 30, 2013

Top 10 List

Our first six weeks is nearly finished and it is fun to see the most checked out books so far this year. The students are very excited about this year's Texas Bluebonnet nominees, so that makes up half of our list! 

Another part of our list are from an author of a previous Bluebonnet winner, Tom Angleberger. He wrote ORIGAMI YODA, which won two years ago and has a great website for kids:

The cool thing about the Texas Bluebonnet winner is that it is decided by students who vote. The students must read at least 5 books to be eligible to vote and voting takes place in January. I can't wait to see which book wins this year! 

Another thing I noticed as I looked at our Top 10 list is that the number two book, also a Bluebonnet nominee from a previous year, remains popular largely due to the author, Dori Hilstead Butler, Skyping with us last year! How cool is that?!? The students LOVE connecting with authors and it makes the books even more popular! 

We have circulated about 4,500 books since the school year began! I'm looking forward to seeing who makes our Top 10 list next six weeks! 

Happy reading! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Humming Room Review by Mrs. Cast

Mrs. Cast, a 4th grade teacher at Curtis, sent a text to me letting me know she had just finished The Humming Room by Ellen Potter and she really enjoyed it! I asked her if she would write a quick review for our students and she agreed, so here it is:

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter is full of mystery and intrigue. The characters are odd and you want to understand them better. Roo is curious and very in tune with her surroundings.  Is there something dangerous lurking in this odd building secluded on an island? Are ghosts making odd noises? Is there anyone who can understand her different personality? This story is well written and easy to read. It is filled with beautiful descriptions and suspense. A great read for the imagination and a triumph for the misunderstood. Recommended for upper elementary (4-6).

Thank you Mrs. Cast for sharing your thoughts on one of the Texas Bluebonnet nominees for this year! I'm looking forward to reading it! I wonder if this might not be a great pick for our first Curtis Morning Book Club?!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 3 of Dot Day WEEK!

Just when you think you have had the BEST Dot Day connection, another one comes along! Today our 3rd graders Skyped with 3rd graders in Texas and Connecticut. We shared dots and thoughts and had lots of fun!

Our first visit for the day was with my Twitter friend, Mrs. Alaniz. After we introduced our school to our friends in Coppell, we showed off our cool 3-D dots we made with the colAR Mix app.  We created our dots and then scanned them with the free app. They look like this, but they spin and play music with the app! We had great time sharing and connecting! 

Our friends in Connecticut had made some great trading cards, with dot art on one side and a challenge on the other. They will be sending some to us, so we will create some to send to them! We shared information our our schools and communities.

Probably high on the cool factor was discovering that the colAR Mix app works through the screen! We had the app, but no pictures (they were in the classroom) and Mrs. Lussier's students had the picture, but not the app. We decided to see if we could scan the picture through the computer screen and IT WORKED! 

The most exciting part of our day had to be our Google Hangout with Matthew Winner's kinder friends AND author Ame Dyckman! Matthew is a librarian in Maryland and helped organize a lot of the connecting for International Dot Day! Ame Dyckman wrote BOY+BOT and has a new book coming out in October called TEA PARTY RULES. The students were lucky enough to have Ms. Dyckman read her new book to them! It is a really funny book and we can't wait to have it in our library! 

Ame Dyckman also shared with us her dot picture, which she used hair dye to create! A fun thing about Dyckman is she loves to color her hair vibrant colors like purple and blue! The students enjoyed her hair, her energy & excitement and also her stories! It was a fabulous way to celebrate Dot Day!! 

There was time for questions from the students, who were very excited to be able to talk to a real author! 

Our Curtis students were definitely interested in all that Ms. Dyckman had to say! It was an incredible experience for all of us! ;)

And when it was all over, the students even got a goodie bag with bookmarks, stickers, and a BOY+BOT bracelet that Ame sent for them! 

I wonder what Day 4 of Dot Day WEEK will bring?!?!?!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 2 of Dot Day!

Today was one of my favorite Skype days so far! As we continue our celebration of International Dot Day and making our mark, I experienced it all through new eyes and it was AMAZING!

We started the day with Mrs. Palmatier's 3rd graders connecting with Mrs. Uribe's 4th graders in Austin, TX. Our students shared how they incorporated Dot Day into their science lesson on states of matter and shared some of their 3D ColarMix Dot Day designs. Mrs. Uribe's class shared their inspirational dot signs, which were well thought out and very creative!



Then Mrs. Zell's & Mrs. Massingill's classes came in for their library time. We enjoyed the Interactive Big Book version of The Dot by Fablevision Learning.  The students did a great job of sequencing the events in the book on the big screen!
The best part of the day, though, was seeing these kiddos connect with other students. We "practiced" with a couple of students in Minnesota, who shared the dots they made, and then our students proudly showed their projects.
The students came back to the library for their "real" Skype visit with Mrs. Sikes class in Georgia. Our students couldn't wait to show their projects again!

Rachel, one of Mrs. Massingill's students said, "Thank you for connecting us! It was so much fun!" She wanted to know if they could do it again! Best day ever! ;)

As these two classes were leaving, Hatcher's Heroes were marching in to share their Dot Day experiences with a first grade class in New Jersey. Mrs. Nickerson's sweet first graders shared pictures of dots they found in nature, while our students shared pictures they drew of dots they found in their classroom. It was interesting to witness our students noticing there were no boys (it is an all girl school :) ) and to notice the uniforms the girls wear. We talked about what was similar and what was different about our schools.

From the website: The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

Today, I watched children grow in confidence. I saw students so very excited to connect with others, both similar to them and different from them. I saw bravery, as students who don't normally speak out, had the courage to connect with other students, all centered around a book, THE DOT by Peter H. Reynolds. What a wonderful day it was! And to think, there is MORE! It is just Tuesday! :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

International Dot Day Celebration - Day 1

The fun began bright and early in the library today, as I hung the polka dot banners and blew up polka dot balloons!
Notice the banners and balloons! :)

Here was our first day:

We connected with students in Pennsylvania and shared our Dot Day Padlet.

We read THE DOT and helped our friends put their "Make Your Mark" statement on Padlet.
Some of our kinders came in and loved having THE DOT read to them from TumbleBooks.
And then we bravely went where no other Curtis Kinder class had gone before... we SKYPED during the FIRST WEEKS of school with some wonderful 5th graders from a nearby district.  They were kind enough to read THE DOT to our students, who loved every minute of it! We then went to our tables and decorated our own dots, to make our mark!
It was a dot-filled, wonderful day!!
I can't wait to see what Day 2 brings! :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

International Dot Day Celebration

We are getting excited about the connections we will make this week for International Dot Day! We will read the book, THE DOT by Peter H. Reynolds and then Curtis ES students will connect with students in Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin AND (thanks to Matthew Winner) we get to Skype with Ame Dyckman, author of BOY+BOT and soon to be released, TEA PARTY RULES! It is going to be a GREAT week!
Check back throughout the week to see pictures & read all about the fun!

"Appy" Hour with Curtis Teachers

We had a lot of fun in the library this week during our first "Appy" hour, sharing our favorite apps to use with students & to help us be more efficient!

After snack plates were filled & sodas poured, we were ready to get started. The first app we looked at was Aurasma, which is an augmented reality app. After showing the teachers the auras in the $1 and $20 bills, we talked about how we could use this app with students.  Ideas brought up were adding it to a book review or a report and using it with projects displayed for Open House.  We are just at the beginning stages of learning about augmented reality, but several teachers are interested in learning more about this and how they can use it in their classrooms.

The free ColarMix app was also brought up and we looked out how we could use this with our upcoming Dot Day Celebration.  Fablevision has shared a special Dot Day sheet that can be used with the ColarMix app. When the page is scanned into the app, the decorated dot becomes 3-D.

One of my favorite parts of the time we spent together was when teachers started sharing some of their apps and how they are using them in the classroom.  Two teachers shared student examples of how they use Educreations with their class. Educreations is an app that turns your iPad into a white board. You can work with photos or text and then students can use their finger to write on top of the object. One teacher had used it with students while working on multiplication and another teacher had students correct sentences using the app, having them explain their corrections as they went along.


Another app which teachers felt they could use in the classroom is Photocard. From the website: "Bill Atkinson PhotoCard is a free app available from the iTunes App store, that allows you to create custom postcards using Bill's nature photos or your own personal photos, then send them by email or postal mail from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch." You can also save it to your photo stream. Ideas for using this app were for book projects in reading, state or country projects in social studies, or animal projects in science. 
You can get more information, as well as a helpful how-to video on Bill Atkinson's website.
We also talked about Evernote, to help us be more efficient while gathering data and give us a place to organize that data. Teachers can create a folder for each student, organize information on that student and have data to share at meetings or ARDs, instead of carrying bulky binders full of student data.
Here is a helpful video from the Evernote website explaining the many uses of Evernote!
Our first "appy" hour was fun and informative!  Our next get together, on September 24th, will focus on Twitter and creating our PLN's! 
What is your favorite app for your classroom? 
Happy reading & learning!
Shawna Ford

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome Back! And Please Touch the Displays!

We have finished our first week of school, and it was so great to have the students back in the building! After weeks of preparation, the halls were full and the sound of students filled the air.  Tours of classes came through the library, and I had fun showing them some of the new things we had done to the library over the summer.  Everything was PERFECT! Everything was in its place!  It definitely won't stay that way though, and I'm completely OK with that! 
Our Graphic Novel bookshelf will not look this full again until May, when all books have been turned in!  But that is OK! :)

Our Texas Bluebonnet book display will not look like this again, at least not until after voting! In fact, as 6th graders came in for checkout on Friday, many of these books left with them.  But that is OK! :)

The display of some of our favorite chapter book series will not stay neat & nice like this.  Books will be askew, the Ivy & Bean dolls will move around, and bins will be empty.  But that is OK! :)

I'm OK with all of this because this is only a fun place when students are in here, checking out books, talking about books, creating, collaborating, and connecting! This is not a museum, with books on display.  Displays are meant to be taken apart. I love when students ask if they can checkout a book on display.  PLEASE, YES! Take a book from the top of the shelf! That is my goal when I put that book there!

So, welcome back! Come in often! And, yes, please, mess up the displays!