Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sorry...no news this week...Dec. 12

Sorry to say, but I've been hit hard with the flu......not enough energy to do my regular posting this week. And as this is our last week before Winter Break, I'd like to wish you all Happy Holdiays and see you in January!

~Mrs. Pedersen

Monday, December 04, 2006

Our First Video Blog/Book Review!!

Look below and find our very first video blog/book review with Olive the Library Cat!

Just click on the play button below Olive's picture and you'll hear and see the review.

(Thanks to a wonderful 6th grader who wrote the review and loaned her lovely voice to Olive)

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

A book review of The Great Brain by John S. Fitzgerald

Sunday, December 03, 2006

News From the Library--December 3

How Good is That Website?

This week fifth graders had a chance to put their critical thinking skills to use as we delved into what makes a good website. Our challenge is to sort through the enormous amount of information available on the internet and decide what is accurate, authoritative, and non-biased--especially if the information is being used for research purposes. Our lesson started with my telling the students 5 facts about myself (in an authoritative voice) and they had to determine from their prior and common knowledge which of the 5 facts were true and which were not. For example, I told them I love working with computers. Obviously true. Then I said my wedding anniversary was on April 31. After realizing that there are only 30 days in April, they concluded that that statement was untrue. Next we went to the Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog. After visiting the first site on the blog lesson, we evaluated it using a worksheet with specific criteria. We checked the domain type, the author, the author's credentials, the copyright date, the last update date, and looked for advertisements or commercials. If you go to the Skills blog, you'll see that the two sites we studied were both about the planets but their "goodness" was quite different. Next week, on their own, students will evaluate several sites listed in part 2 of the lesson. Sixth graders will do this lesson after the first of the year (there were several holiday conflicts for them this week and the next.)

I feel very strongly that becoming "information literate" is a critical skill in the world in which our children are today and will be in the future. We'll keep working on it during the school year.

Kindergarten--In Kitten's First Full Moon, a Caldecott Award winning book by Kevin Henkes, we not only enjoyed the story of a kitten mistaking the moon for a bowl of milk, but we studied how Mr. Henkes made the kitten's expressions go from sad, to curious, to happy with just the change of a line. These wonderfully expressive pictures are done with the simplicity of a true artist and it was fun for the children to see how they mirror the spare, yet eloquent text.

First Grade--In Rosemary Wells' book, Shy Charles, a quiet mouse resists all his parents efforts to make him more outgoing. From ballet to football, they try their best to bring him out of his shell, only to have Charles remain his shy self. But when the chips are down, and he needs to rise to the occasion, Charles comports himself with great success. This is a lovely story that children can relate to, especially its message that not everyone is outgoing but that doesn't mean they aren't competent and successful.

Second Grade--Second graders met Strega Nona this week in Tomie dePaola's classic story of the Italian "grandmother witch" who takes care of the town's needs. After hiring some help in the form of Big Anthony she leaves town with the admonition not to use the magic pasta pot. Students loved the humor of what happens when (of course) Anthony disobeys and after finishing the story, they understand the phrase "let the punishment fit the crime." Poor (fat) Anthony!

Third Grade--We had fun researching famous people using the World Book Encyclopedia. After a review of how to use guide words, they chose names out of the hat and then busily found their person in the encyclopedia and then wrote three facts about their person. Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of our favorites!

Fourth Grade--When fourth graders came into the library an image of Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa was projected on the screen. We began our lesson by telling what we knew about this famous painting but no one had heard about the strange thing that happened to her in the early 1900's. The Stolen Smile by J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley is the true story of how the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and wasn't discovered again for 28 months in the possession of an Italian man who felt she should reside in Italy. Beautiful illustrations and the first person narrative of the thief made this a very enjoyable tale.

Fifth Grade--see first posting.

Sixth Grade--After reviewing how our atlases are organized, sixth graders had a good time researching several facts about any state other than our own. We had quite a variety of interests ranging from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Do you know that the motto of the state of Hawaii is: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono? Better yet, can you say it?

Until next week....(we're getting reading for holiday stories....)

~Mrs. Pedersen

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Message of Thanks

Photo by Judy Ariel 2006

A message of thanks.......

This being the season for reflection and thanks, I just wanted to take a few lines here to express my gratitude. I’d like to thank our school administration--Dr. McCabe and the school board--for the tremendous support for both the library program and our technology program. Without this wonderful laptop on which I am now composing, I’m not sure this blog would have been “born.” Also I’d like to thank the Foundation for the support for the 1:1 laptop program that has revolutionized my ability to teach 21st century research skills to our students.

Thank you to the Parent Club and all the parents and children who work so hard to support their efforts. Without you we wouldn’t have the hundreds of new books in the library each year, not to mention the fun additions like our new bean bag chairs. Thank you to Rachel Moore and Nancy Eaton (and all the previous Book Fair chairwomen) who work so hard each year to bring the joy of reading to our students and to support our Library program. Thank you to the classroom teachers who tirelessly work to inspire our students and prepare them so well that it makes my job a joy.

I was having dinner with my older son a while back and we were talking about careers--choosing them, working at them, making those hard decisions to balance personal, intrinsic rewards with monetary rewards. I told him that there are times when I’m walking around our campus, particularly in the older parts of the building, and I’m aware this unique “school fragrance.” Many times as it drifts into my consciousness I have this thought:
I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
That is something to be truly grateful for. As a child, I loved school, loved books, loved reading. I have my own elementary school teachers to thank for that. Special thanks to Mrs. Barker, my fourth grade teacher, and Mrs. Dorsey, my sixth grade teacher. Wherever you are, you’d be very happy to see where I am now.

And as always, I am grateful for my health. February of next year will mark my five year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. Every day is a gift for me. Thank you for letting me share some of that time with your children.

We had a short week in the Library and not all classes got a chance to come. But those who did were:

First Grade—Miss Ishikawa’s class was worried. In the delightful Thanksgiving tale by Eve Bunting, A Turkey for Thanksgiving, it looks as if the turkey has met his doom when Mr. Moose promises Mrs. Moose a turkey for their dinner. Imagine his relief (and the students') when Turkey is seated at the table, not on the table, and gratefully wishes us all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Third Grade—Mrs. Villa’s class had fun listening to Turkey Pox by Laurie Halse Anderson. Poor Charity discovers she has chicken pox on the way to Nana’s house for her favorite thing of all—Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. As they arrive back home, it looks as if all is lost until Nana arrives on a snowplow with a very unusual turkey—complete with red spots all over it. By the time we finished reading, we were all hungry and looking forward to our own Thanksgiving feasts.

Fourth Grade—For a change of pace, Mr. Orr’s class heard the story of Turkey Girl by Penny Pollack. This is a Zuni Indian Cinderella story and the evocative chalk pastel illustrations by famed illustrator Ed Young add to the almost somber mood of the story. At the end, students discussed how plot works as a literary device, and they found examples of similarities and differences in this story and the more traditional Cinderella story.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I certainly did.

~Mrs. Pedersen

Sunday, November 19, 2006

News From the Library--November 20

What happens when the state of Kansas is bored? Miss Fargas’ third graders this week found out in Laurie Heller’s hilarious book, The Scrambled States of America. In the story, all the states decide to switch places and have a party, but in the end, they get homesick for their spots and return. And what will become of that long distance romance between Arizona and Mississippi? Only time will tell…

We also had time to explore a great website called U.S. Geography Puzzles and test our new-found knowledge of the states.

This was an abbreviated week in the Library because of parent conferences so some classes didn’t have library this week.

Those who did….

Kindergarten—Mrs. Campbell’s class heard a story to get us in the mood for next week’s famous Turkey Trot. In Cynthia Rylant’s, The Great Gracie Chase, a little dog who likes it quiet is disturbed by house painters and leads the entire town on a chase. Mark Teague’s wonderful illustrations really enhance the story.

First Grade—Miss Ishikawa’s class heard the story of The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza and were delighted to find out that while the wolf thought he was fattening up the chicken to make into his stew, instead he was feeding 100 little chicks who would eventually call him “Uncle Wolf.”

Second Grade—Mrs. Seeple’s class enjoyed Raising Dragons by Jane Nolan, and we call agreed that having a dragon of our own to take us on rides above the land would be the best thing yet. This gentle story of how a girl has to let her best friend go back to his own kind is sweetened at the end when she gets to take back a wagon full of dragon eggs to raise again.

Third Grade—(see first part of post)

Fourth Grade—no classes this week

Fifth Grade—After studying Native Americans in social studies, the fifth graders had a good appreciation for the legend I read them this week: Buffalo Dance: a Blackfoot Indian Legend by Nancy Van Laan. This retelling of a complex legend explains the mythical origin for the sacred buffalo dance of the Blackfoot people and is beautifully illustrated with pictographs of Blackfoot patterns and designs.

Sixth Grade—no classes this week

Happy Reading!

~Mrs. Pedersen

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thank you, Parent Club!!--Nov. 13

We Love Our New Bean Bag Chairs!!

Thanks to the generosity of our Parent Club we have two new places in the Library to cozy up and read. Everyone agreed they are really fun and really cool. So once again, your contributions make our library program ever more special.

This week in the Library:

Kindergarten: If you're a frog and you want to jog, well you certainly have to have the right outfit. In Finklehopper Frog by Irene Livingston poor Finklehopper finds out that it's not the clothes that make the man. After being teased by other joggers, he finds out that what he does best is hop, not jog, and there's room for his style. This story has a gentle message about not only recognizing your own strengths but being tolerant of others and their differences. The illustrations by Brian Lies are fantastic! (Mrs. Sickafoose's class went to the wonderful assembly by Michael Katz, storyteller, this week during their library time and were entertained by three wonderful stories told only as Mr. Katz can.)

First Grade: One of my favorite children's authors and illustrators is Leo Leonni. I remember using his books in my first classroom back in 1972. My own children (now 26 and 30!) loved his books as well. The imaginative illustrations using collage techniques, and his spare prose set the tone for the lovely messages in his books. In first grade this week we read Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse which tells the story of a little mouse who thinks he'd love to be a toy, only to discover that by his generosity he gets an even greater gift when he changes his mind as he's granted that wish.

Second Grade--Mrs. Seeple's and Ms. Warner's class have been studying insects so for this week we read the amazing story Leaf Men written and illustrated by William Joyce. Mysterious things happen in the garden and only the Leaf Men can save the day. The suspenseful story combined with Mr. Joyce's unique illustrations make this book a favorite of ours.

Third Grade--Third Graders played "Name That Book" this week (see last week's post for a description of the game) and enjoyed learning about various reference books in the library. The almanac was their favorite!

Fourth Grade-- Who is that guy, Mr. Melvil Dewey?? And what is the Dewey Decimal System? Fourth graders had fun watching a Thinkquest presentation called "Dewey and the Alien" and learned about why Mr. Dewey came up with his method for classifying books. Then we had a little scavenger hunt in which students drew a card from a deck and had to find a book in our collection that matched the Dewey 100s group that was on their card.

Fifth Grade and Sixth Grade--It was another fun week with our laptops as students learned about making bibliography citations using Citation Maker. I don't know about you, but making a bibliography was about my least favorite part of writing a report. Thanks to modern technology there are bibliography makers available on the Web and the one we used is one of the best. It follows the MLA protocol and can be used for various books and media. If you have junior high or high school students at home, you might want to try this out with them as well. There's a link to two Citation Makers on my website in the Resources page. For their assignment this week, students tried out making a citation for a book. The lesson is on the Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog if you'd like to take a look. Just scroll down to the posting for October 31 entitled "Make a Bibliography with Citation Maker."

Until next week....and thanks for all your positive comments about the blog. It means alot to me to hear from you.

~Mrs. Pedersen

Monday, November 06, 2006

Our First Blog Review!!

A Blog Review by Olive
(with the help of a very nice fifth grader!)

Hello! As you might remember, my name is Olive, The Library Cat. This week I'm very excited that a fifth grader has helped me blog a review of a wonderful book, Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes . (I especially liked the title even though I don't like water very much.)

I hope this is the first of many blog reviews to come!

Meow for now,

Olive, The Library Cat


Book Title: Olive’s Ocean

Author: Kevin Henkes

Published: 2003

Age group: 10-13 year olds

Olive’s Ocean was about a girl named Martha who gets a note from Olive’s mother a few weeks after Olive gets hit by a car and dies. The note says that Olive would have liked to be Martha’s friend and that she would have loved to go to the ocean. The story is about Martha’s struggles and things she discovers about Olive’s past.

My favorite part was when Martha painted Olive’s name on Olive’s front steps with water from the ocean. This was her way of bringing the ocean to Olive. The ocean water she collected in a jar she called Olive’s Ocean.

Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend. I think it is an interesting story about friendship and journeys.

News From the Library--Nov. 6

Web Drill!!

This week fifth and sixth graders participated in our first ever Web Drill! Although we have an excellent internet filter at our school, I felt it was important for students to understand that, in reality, they are their own best filters. They have control over what they see and hear on the internet and that control is at the tips of their fingers. Even the best filter can let something inappropriate through and they aren’t always going to be using a computer with a filter. So I created our new Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog for this lesson. After showing them a presentation on different ways they could exit a website, they opened their laptops and had time to surf several pre-selected sites I had linked on the blog. ( Of course, these were not sites that were inappropriate….but worked for the sake of a drill) After they were engrossed in their perusing, I called out “WEB DRILL!” and they had to exit the site using one of the methods we had practiced. Besides having lots of fun, I think they learned some valuable personal skills for using the internet in an ethical manner. If you’d like to look at the lesson for yourself , go to the Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog and check out the Web Drill post.

Kindergarten—In Pamela Duncan Edwards delightful story, Livingstone Mouse, a small mouse must make his way in the world to build his own nest. Having decided China is what he’s looking for, he stumbles across many wrong choices until finally landing in the perfect spot (a China teapot). Students had fun seeing real world items though the point of view of a mouse and also got a start in understanding the concept of homonyms.

First Grade-- Can cows fly? Well, in The Cow Who Wouldn’t Come Down by Paul Brett Johnson, not only can Gertrude fly, but she doesn’t want to come down. After several hilarious tries to coax her down by her owner, Miss Rosemary, jealously wins out when Miss Rosemary creates a “Trojan Cow” and finally Gertrude can’t resist reclaiming her realm. But watch out for the farm machinery…have you ever seen a cow driving a tractor?

Second Grade—What if Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk had been a girl named Kate? In Mary Pope Osborne’s (of the Magic Treehouse fame) Kate and the Beanstalk, second graders got a chance to compare and contrast the two stories and many decided that maybe Kate’s story had the best ending.

Third Grade—We read Michelle Knudsen’s absolutely wonderful new book, The Library Lion, and learned that occasionally not following the exact rules in the library is a good thing. We also went on the Santa Barbara County Education Office Student Portal and explored the many resources available to our students. If you would like to try it out at home go the The SBCEO Portal and login in as: coldspringstudent. The password is: dolphins. You’ll have access to the World Book Online and other great educational resources.

Fourth Grade—This week we played our ever popular game, “Name That Book!” After reviewing different types of reference books in the library using a game I made in Keynote and projected on our screen, students had the chance to try out real life situations and decide in which reference book they would find their answer. For example, "If you’d like to buy your mother a really, really nice birthday present….maybe something with her birthstone in it....in which book would you find out what her birthstone is?"

Fifth and Sixth Graders did the Web Drill! (See the opening post.)

Until next week…..happy reading and happy blogging! Thanks to all who have emailed me about the blog. And leave a comment on the blog! I'd love to hear from you as a fellow blogger!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween from the Library!--October 30

Fourth graders are spooked!!

Happy Halloween!

This past week we had fun--just lots of fun--reading from our wonderful collection of Halloween stories. There are so many, it's hard to pick our favorites.

First graders giggled to the story of Porkenstein by Kathryn Lasky in which one of the surviving pigs from another familiar tale decides to create a friend since his two brothers are long gone and he's lonely. After several attempts he creates a huge pig who not only eats him out of house and home, but almost eats the home itself! But on Halloween night, his new "friend" proves to be a valuable one and after one familiar wolf is dispatched with ease, the two take off trick or treating together, friends forever. The illustrations in this book are wonderful and it makes such a fun read aloud.

Kindergarten--What would you do if your little sister accidentally switched costumes with you and instead of being Captain Zigg, Space Martian pilot, you had to dress as.....oh,no....a ballerina in a pink tutu!! This is what happens to Gilbert in Diane DeGroat's Trick or Treat Smell My Feet and kindergarteners loved how Gilbert made the best of it.

Second Grade--We felt like we were looking at a photo album in Susan Wojciechoski's fun story The Best Halloween of All. After years of wearing costumes lovingly made but uncomfortable to wear, Ben decides when he's seven that the time has come for him to make his own costume which he does with a grocery bag and paper towel rolls. To him, it is the best costume ever, not to mention he earns bonus points for using recycled materials!

Third Grade--Mark Teague has once again put Mona, Wendall, and Floyd in One Halloween Night, this delightful story about a Halloween night that starts out with strange happenings and ends up a wonderful mix of supernatural powers and putting some bullies/witches in their place. The bright, colorful illustrations make this book a great read aloud.

Fourth Grade--From Spain comes the tale of Esteban and the Ghost by Sisyl Hancock. In a haunted castle, Esteban, a simple tinker, faces the ghost who has scared many men to death, and wins the gold, silver and copper coins. The rollicking story and clever illustrations kept the attention of all and it was interesting to read a Halloween story from another culture.

Fifth Grade-How many times have children been told to pick up their own things? In Bruce Coville's wonderfully funny/scary story "Duffy's Jacket" three children find themselves in a lot of trouble when Duffy forgets his jacket. This story is so cleverly written that while I was getting close to the climax of the tale, you could hear a pin drop in the library. After finishing the story we had fun "de-constructing" it and seeing just how the author built that amazing tension at the end using short descriptive sentences in a rhythmic buildup. (This story can be found in Alice Lows's great collection of scary stories for older children, Spooky Stories for a Dark and Stormy Night)

Sixth Grade-We all know R.L. Stine for his Goosebumps series, but in a collection of stories he edited called Beware! he included one of his own creations, "The Surprise Guest," guaranteed to chill your bones. Not to give it away, suffice to say that the sixth graders also got very, very quiet toward the end of the story and all will be checking out their Halloween costumes before putting them on tomorrow night!

Happy Halloween to all!

Monday, October 23, 2006

News From the Library--October 23

It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween.....

Pumpkins, black cats, witches, ghosts and goblins, and lots of Halloween books were all over the library this week as we head toward Halloween. And this week was also the "Week of the Hat." Once a month, (after I've sent out overdue notices the previous week) we have drawings in each class (grades 2-6) to reward one lucky student who has at least one book checked out and no overdue items. Student's names are put in a hat, a card is drawn, we check that lucky student's name on the computer and if all is well, a small prize is given. I'll do this each month during the school year. (K and 1 students will start in January as they are still getting used to the idea of checking out and returning books) This little incentive has worked wonders to keep our books circulating and returning in a timely manner, and several long lost books have even been suddenly found!

Last week in the Library:

Kindergarten--What happens when a witch grows a huge pumpkin and when she tries to harvest it to make her favorite pumpkin pie she can't get it off the vine? In Big Pumpkin by by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler the tiny bat saves the day. This is a fun, cumulative story with a nice message about the value of cooperation. Kindergarteners were very excited about their upcoming visit to the pumpkin patch, too.

First Grade--In a not-too-spooky haunted house, two escaped jailbirds encounter a variety of halloween creatures in Halloween House by Erica Silverman and Jon Agee. This clever rhyming story also introduces the concept of counting down and first graders loved getting into the rhythm as the story progressed.

Second Grade--What is Wittilda the Witch going to do in order to feed her 47 hungry cats? Delivering pizza on her broom is the hilarious answer in A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner. Not only is the story a lot of fun, but on each page is a hidden spider, and in the margins a concurrent visual story of a cat and a mouse! This is one of our favorite Halloween books!

Third Grade--Most of us are very familiar with Chris VanAllsburg's Polar Express but he has also written and illustrated (as only he can) a very interesting book perfect for Halloween. The Widow's Broom is a gentle and dryly humorous tale that touches on the idea of bullying and its consequences. Sepia-toned illustrations form a perfect complement. Not a book to be missed!

Fourth Grade--As with the fifth graders last week, I introduced the fourth graders to the blog and encouraged them to try their hands at book review blogging. After viewing a presentation on blogs in general, we tried our collective hand at a mock blog review. I'm looking forward to their contributions.

Fifth Grade--Get out those scalpels (pencils) and start dissecting those books! Fifth grade worked this week on "dissecting" a book in which they found all the locations of information needed for bibliography entries. This is in preparation for another lesson on making a bibliography. And once again they asked me to tell the story of how my high school lab partner (a fullback on the football team) fainted when we were dissecting a frog.....

Sixth Grade--After bringing their laptops to the Library (and I must compliment them on how well they are treating their laptops!) we had a short lesson on blogs, including the ethical ways to post to a blog, and then they had time to explore this blog and to learn how become bloggers of book reviews.

Until next week....happy reading!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

News From The Library--October 16

Introducing......our resident book reviewer.....Olive, The Library Cat!

Starting soon, we will have book reviews from students and they will be posted with the "help" of our library mascot, Olive, The Library Cat. A little history about Olive....I was scouting around some garage/estate sales in Montecito one Saturday morning and at one house perched up high on an old bookshelf was this amazing stuffed animal. It looked so real I almost thought it was a pet cat. As it turned out it was for sale (for a great price, I might add!) and I knew she had to be mine. When I brought her home, I thought she'd be fun to keep in the Library and she could reside on the little wicker couch in the Inglenook. I made the mistake of temporarily setting her down on the floor in my living room and soon after heard growling and hissing sounds. My own cat, Katy, (a.k.a queen of the house) did not like her presence one little bit! So Olive had to sit in my car for the rest of the weekend until she came home to the Library. The Kindergarten students named her after one of our favorite books, That Olive! by Alice Schertle. Now she sits in the Inglenook and all the children enjoy her very much.

For safety reasons I felt it would be a good idea not to publish student's names on the blog for now as I am still pretty new to blogging myself. So from time to time students will submit blog reviews to me and I will post them using Olive as their pseudonym. I'll be sure to let each student know when their review will be posted. So keep an eye out for Olive's first review!

This week in the Library:

Kindergarten--We're warming up for those pumpkin patch visits and reading By the Light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. This delightful poem is a lilting cumulutative tale in which a series of Halloween creatures try to nibble on a little girl's toe. We also read A Pumpkin Story by Mariko Shinju (which thankfully made it back to the Library just in time after a prolonged absence!) This lovely story is about a man who makes an entire community with the pumpkins he has grown from a few seeds. The engaging illustrations delighted the children and sparked their imaginations about what they might do with pumpkins. We also did some virtual pumpkin carving which the students agreed was fun but not as messily fun as the real thing.

First Grade--Remember that great song, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly? We have a Halloween book version called There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro and first graders loved comparing the two and chanting along with the parade of Halloween creatures.

Second Grade--One of our favorite silly stories for this time of year is Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini. Gritch, the Witch, wants piggie pie but she doesn't bargain for the clever pigs at Old MacDonald's Farm. The illustrations by Howard Fine are large and a little outrageous which only adds to the fun. The ending required a little knowledge of fairy tales and it was fun to see the "light bulb go on" for the children.

Third Grade--Third graders worked with encyclopedias this week and after drawing topics from our favorite hat, they found the correct encyclopedia, read a short article about their topic, and then wrote 3 sentences (complete sentences, that is) about their topic. They also learned the importance of returning the encyclopedias in correct order for the next person who came to use them.

Fourth Grade--As last Monday was Columbus Day, fourth graders listened to an interesting alternative version of the Columbus story. Encounter, by acclaimed author Jane Yolen, is written from the point of view of a Taino Indian boy and gives students an idea of what it must have been like for the native people living on the islands Columbus claimed. Evocative illustrations were done by one of our favorite illustrators, David Shannon. An interesting discussion followed about point of view and being able to look at historical events from more than one angle.

Fifth Grade--In preparation for blogging book reviews, fifth graders had a presentation on blogs. With a Keynote presentation as our starting point we discussed how blogs were different from websites, the safety and ethical issues related to posting or commenting on blog, and then saw our Library Blog. Together we followed a blog review template and did a mock review so they could have practice before doing their own blog reviews. I'm looking forward to receiving their submissions. They were happy to have Olive, our Library Cat, as their pseudonym, and yes....they now really know what the word pseudonym means!

Sixth Grade--I missed the sixth grade this week as they were happily off to camp!

I have compiled a list of fun online sites for Halloween and they are available on paper in the Library or at the following links:

Virtual Pumpkin Carving
The Pumpkin Farm
Starfall pumpkin

Costume Game

Hangman Game
Halloween Hangman

Unitl next week.......

Monday, October 09, 2006

News From The Library--October 9

Two summers ago, I stopped at Manzanar on my way to a vacation in Mammoth and was struck by the eerie, solemn sense of the place. I took several pictures and when I returned did some research and put together a lesson to go with a touching and important picture book written by renowned children's book author Eve Bunting. The book is called So Far From the Sea and is the story of a Japanese American family in present day who is moving from California to Boston. They travel to Manzanar one last time to pay tribute to their grandfather who lies buried there. Their story is woven with facts about Pearl Harbor and the ensuing imprisonment of Japansese Americans in internment camps. Prior to reading the book to the students I showed a Keyote slideshow I made incorporating my present day photos with historical photos I obtained from the internet and from a wonderful new site created by the state of California and UC Berkeley called Calisphere. After seeing the slide presentation, the students had a context for the story and later we had an interesting and lively discussion . One of the most interesting comments centered around the care we should take not to overreact to fear, and understanding that this historical part of California's history is not an easy "black or white" issue with one side right and the other wrong, something that is very touchingly told by the father in the story who was himself a child at Manzanar. Students also had a chance to see the other books we have in our Library about this subject including a non-fiction book with excellent historical photos, two other wonderful picture books, and two novels.

Kindergarten--Mrs. Sickafoose's class had the wonderful experience of the Ensemble Story Book Theater's presentation of Alice in Wonderland during their Library time this week. Mrs. Campbell's class got the chance to be "book reviewers" of a new book Dinosaur, Dinosaur by Kevin Lewis. With the funny rhyming story and the excellent illustrations this book got a resounding "thumbs up."

First Grade--What happens if you're a sheep who can't sleep? Counting sheep doesn't seem quite right (at first). In Russell, the Sheep by Rob Scotten, Russell tries all kinds of ways to get to sleep. In the end he finds that counting sheep really does work best, only by the time he's asleep everyone else is just waking up!

Second Grade--We continued this week with our lesson on point of view with the hilarious story The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. In this twist on the story, the pig is the "bad guy" and surprisingly the most fragile house turns out to be the best. In the end, the unlikely former enemies find a creative way to live happily ever after.

Third Grade--The term, "rocks in his head" usually has a slightly negative meaning but as the title of Carol Otis Hurst's book, it takes on a wonderful meaning. In this story, based on her own father's life, she shows how living through the Depression couldn't dampen the inquisitive spirit of her father and his passion for knowledge. It tells how he went from being a custodian at a museum to becoming a curator of mineralogy there, all because of his love of learning and his love of rocks.

Fourth Grade--This week fourth graders were introduced to the 2007 Battle of the Books and there were many enthusiastic students wanting to give it a try and read those 30 books by next April. For the list of books please see the County School website page on the Battle of the Books. Meetings will start in January 2007.

Fifth Grade--see opening post.

Sixth Grade--As the fifth grade did a few weeks ago, sixth graders played Musical Genres this week. I added a few more genres to their game to correspond with their classroom reading assignments. I also shortened the time with each genre to make it a little more challenging. They enjoyed purusing the books in the different genres even finding the two little "tricks" I added to demonstrate that some books can cover two genres at the same time.

Website of the Week: Exploring Nature. Great database for those animal reports!

See you next week!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

News from the Library--October 2

Laptops in the Library

This was an exciting week! 5th and 6th graders brought their new laptops to the Library. We are so fortunate to have a 1:1 laptop initiative at our school and I'm delighted to be able to use this exciting new technology with students in the Library. After setting up the dictionary on their dashboards, we played a lively game of "Dictionary Balderdash." I created a Keynote presentation with 10 words that I was almost sure the students wouldn't know. For each word, I wrote 3 sentences using the word in context as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Only one was the correct usage. Students had to vote for the one they felt was correct before looking up the word in their online dictionary. After voting, we came up with a majority opinion. Then they checked it in their online dictionary. If they were right, they got a point. If I "stumped" them, I got the point. The matches were close, but the students won every match!! I guess I'm going to have to come up with some more obscure words. The final word was ethical which led to a preliminary discussion about what it means to use their laptops in an ethical manner. More on that to come in the weeks ahead....

The rest of the classes had lots of fun this week as well:

Kindergarten--Mrs. Sickafoose's class had their first visit to the Library and learned how to find and check out books. We read the story The Shelf Elf by Jackie Hopkins and they were determined to find him as they looked for their books. In the story he gently instructs them on rules of the library and how to care for books. Mrs. Campbell's class heard the classic story The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Bishop. I fondly remember having this book read to me when I was a child and the students were very interested in that fact (or maybe the fact that I was child once!). Both classes had time to explore starfall.com again and this time in addition to practicing letters and sounds, we had fun "dressing" the gingerbread man.

First Grade--Can a coyote be tricked instead of being the trickster?? In Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema and Petra Mathers, first graders loved hearing that he could. This wonderful folktale from Mexico is always a hit with the children.

Second Grade--Is it possible that we haven't heard the wolf's side of the story in the classic fairy tale of the three little pigs? Reading The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (and Jon Scieszka) second graders got a chance to learn about the literary device, point of view, and some decided that maybe the wolf has been given a bad rap all these years.

Third Grade--Students in third grade got to be book reviewers this week. I get new books to review from the Santa Barbara County Schools Library and what better way to see if they appeal to children than to give the students a chance to do the reviewing with me. We read The Giant and the Beanstalk by Diane Stanley and it got an overwhelming "thumbs up" from students. This book tells a slightly different version of the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, and gives us another picture of the giant, plus a fun time figuring out all the Jacks in nursery rhymes.

Fourth Grade--Do you know what a hoatzin is? How about a linnet? Fourth graders did encyclopedia research this week after drawing topics like those from a hat, finding the correct World Book encyclopedia, locating the article, and writing four complete sentences about their topics. They did a great job!

One fun note this week--The Amazing Vacationing Library Book! I received a library book lost in December 2004 in the mail.....from Maui!! It came complete with a nice note that began with "Aloha Cold Spring folks....." and explained how it was found at the Kihei Public Library in Maui. How nice of them to send it back. Mahalo!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

News from the Library--September 25

Scarecrows in the Library!

As we head into autumn, several classes had fun reading about scarecrows this week.

Kindergarten--Mrs. Campbell's class had fun learning about how scarecrows are made and listening to The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown. They even practiced making the six scary faces! We also had fun with our resident scarecrow (see photo above!) and went on the internet to build our own virtual scarecrows at Build a Scarecrow.

First Grade--What happens when a scarecrow doesn't really want to be scary? First graders heard the story of The Lonely Scarecrow by Tim Preston and Maggie Kneen and were happy to see him turn from scarecrow to snowman and back to a scarecrow--only this time the animals were no longer afraid of him.

Second Grade--Poor Wodney Wat. He can't say his "r's" and life is hard until he saves the day for his classmates. This delightful book (Hooway for Wodney Wat) by Helen Lester is not only a favorite because of its humor but its gentle reminder that bullies often get their come- uppance in the end.

Third Grade--What happens when a librarian meets a motorcyle gang? Third graders had fun finding out while hearing Suzanne Williams' wonderful book, Library Lil. Lil convinces not only the whole town of Chesterfield that books are better than TV but she wins the heart of Bust 'em Up Bill and changes him to Bookworm Bill in the process. We also played our library location game and third graders are getting very good and finding the different sections of our library.

Fourth Grade--Judy and the Volcano by Wayne Harris was our story this week and after hearing how Judy Marx wrote herself out of trouble we made up our own fantastic group story by starting with the line, "One afternoon as the fourth graders were in the library, all of a sudden........." Each student got to add one story element and the narrative got more and more fantastic until we finished with (fortunately) a happy ending!

Fifth Grade--Musical Genres (like musical chairs) was our lesson this week. After a brief presentation about the different fiction genres, teams had fun spending two minutes at five locations in the library with a selection of books in the genres of historical fiction, science fiction, realistic fiction, mystery, and fantasy. When they finished making the rounds, each team reported on the characteristics of each genre.

Sixth Grade-- We played our ever popular Library Jeopardy only this time it was a newly revised version in which the questions were projected and teams could earn "money" by choosing their questions. That tricky final jeopardy question this week was in the category of Internet and Computers. The answer is.....HTML. Do you what the question is???

It was so nice to meet so many parents at our Back to School Night on Wednesday. If you couldn't make it, be sure to check out "Skills @ A Glance" on the Library Web Page. From there you can dowload pdf files of your child's grade level library lessons for the entire year. These are aligned with both the California School Library Association Information Literacy Standards and the California Academic Standards.

Until next week.....

Monday, September 18, 2006

News from the Library- September 18

It was a busy week in the Library as students settled into their second week of school. Each week, I'll try to post what each grade level has done to give you a little snapshot of the Library program.

Kindergarten--(Mrs. Campbell's class) We had fun reading Kevin Henkes Chrysanthemum and talking about names (as I continued to learn all the students' names!). We also visited a great website for beginning readers called Starfall. Check it out when you have time. I'm looking foward to seeing Mrs. Sickafoose's class when they begin the all day program next week.

First Grade--We enjoyed two books, Book, Book, Book by Deborah Bruss in which the farm animals, saddened that the children have returned to school decide to go to the library with humorous results, and Hunter's Best Friend by Laura Elliot in which Hunter has to decide whether to follow his friend Stripe's mischievous ways or try to help him be a better student.

Second Grade--Oh, that Miss Nelson! We had fun reading what happened when the kids in Room 207 misbehaved and had to suffer through their time with the scary substitute Miss Viola Swamp! Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard is always a favorite.

Third Grade--We learned how to use the catalog to find books in our Library and read A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech. We all agreed we like our very own fine, fine school with no school on holidays, or weekends, or the summer!

Fourth Grade--We reviewed how to use the catalog to find books and students helped create a "word wall" above the computers with commonly used words for searches. We also played a game in which students found specific sections in the library.

Fifth and Sixth Grade--This week students were introduced to the "Battle of the Books" which will take place in April 2007. Such a great program, it requires students read as many of the 30 books on the "Battle List" and then "compete" with students from all over the country in a great event at the County Schools Auditorium. For the list of books, see this link: Battle of the Books 2007

See you next week!

Book Review--Corey's Fire by Lee Wardlaw

For our first book review on "Voices from the Inglenook" it seemed fitting that the book chosen is the re-issue of Corey's Fire by local Santa Barbara author and former Cold Spring student (!) Lee Wardlaw. She's also the author of the popular 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher and 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents and she presented a wonderful and fondly remembered assembly for Cold Spring students in 2005.

Corey's Fire was orignally published in 1990 and is based on an event that happened in our own community, the Sycamore Canyon Fire of 1977, in which 200 homes were destroyed, including Lee's family home. Lee has woven a beautiful story of 15-year-old Corey, a girl
inbetween childhood and adulthood, and chronicles the life-changing event that altered her view of the world, herself, and her family.

The harrowing description of Corey's attempt to save her family's home during the fire is only the beginning of her journey to understand her own feelings about growing up and changing. She begins to see her parents as real people, with flaws and fears of their own, and as the family struggles to rebuild their lives and their home, she blossoms into an intelligent, courageous young woman.

Lee's writing style is very open and accessible and the light touch of romance between Cory and her neighbor, Topher, is very nicely done.

As I sat in my home this weekend re-reading this book, I was listening to the Santa Anas and smelling the smoke from the Day Fire. I have to say it was a little eerie. Lee has given us a novel that puts a very human face on an event that happened almost 30 years ago in our own commuity, and something we always worry about at this time of year. Maybe it would be better to read this on a rainy day with a cozy fire safely contained in the fireplace!

I can well understand why this book was re-printed by the Author's Guild. We have two signed copies in the Library. Please feel free to check them out....maybe after the first rain!

Best for grades 5 and up.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Voices from the Inglenook

Welcome to the Cold Spring School Library Inglenook!

This is our first post....it feels like we're entering a brave new world. "Voices from the Inglenook" will be the blog for the Cold Spring School Library. During this school year we'll post information about the exciting and interesting adventures we'll have in our Library discovering books, searching for information, learning about different genres of literature, and participating in many events that celebrate reading and learning.

In the beginning, the posts will be by Janet Pedersen, Cold Spring School Librarian. I will write about topics that are hopefully of interest to parents and students alike and welcome your comments. I 'll have book reviews, information about what students are doing in the Library, and in the future I hope to have students participate in blogging their own book reviews and possibly podcasts about books they have read.

So come along with us and this exciting new adventure in communication!