Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Holidays!

This was a very busy and festive week so many classes understandably didn't make to the Library. Of those who did---Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth graders heard our Cold Spring holiday favorite--The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza-- wonderfully written and illustrated by David Shannon. Kindergarten heard Eric Carle's beautiful Dream Snow and First Graders were charmed to see their old friend Bear in Karma Wilson's Bear Stays Up for Christmas. Second Graders loved Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera and most really understood Elf Rule Number One---"It's far better to give than to receive."

Here's to a peaceful and joyous holiday to you all. We'll see you in 2008!

Monday, December 10, 2007

News From The Library--December 10, 2007

'Tis The Season

While Christmas shopping last week I came across this beautiful book in our Art Museum Store. There are hundreds of versions of The Night Before Christmas but this one, re-designed and published this year, is now my favorite. It is illustrated by arguably the most famous American folk artist, Grandmas Moses. She began working on the illustrations for Clement C. Moore' classic poem The Night Before Christmas in 1960 at the age of 100! The book, with its imaginative and charming illustrations was published first in 1962, a year after her death at the age of 101.

Third graders, who had all heard the poem before, we entranced by the illustrations. I made a short Keynote slideshow about Grandma Moses and her art that students saw before we read the story. It was a great lesson in self-teaching, perseverance, and how the passion of creative endeavors can fuel a long and fruitful life.

If you're looking for a great gift this year, look no farther!

Also in the Library this week....

Kindergarten-We're getting in the spirit with The Mouse Before Christmas by Michael Garland, gentle tale about a tiny mouse who stows away with Santa on Christmas Eve.

First Grade--December 6 is St. Nicholas Day in Holland and book The Baker's Dozen by Aaron Shepard is a lovely way to teach students about the tradition of St. Nicholas and how it relates to Santa Claus. In addition, the gentle message of the story about the virtues of generosity blend beautifully with the historical background. Wendy Edelson's evocative illustrations make this a special holiday book.

Second Grade-Strega Nona appears again this week, this time in a holiday version, MerryChristmas, Strega Nona by Tomi DePaola. When Strega Nona asks Big Anthony to help with her feast, he keeps wanting her to use her magic. "No," she scolds, "Christmas has a magic all its own." And true to her word, Big Anthony brings the magic of Christmas to her with his generous and unexpected gift.

Third Grade--see opening post

Fourth Grade--One of our holiday favorites is Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel and this year's fourth graders loved the story of brave Herschel who outwits the goblins who have stolen Hanukkah from the villagers. Trina Schart Hyman's illustrations are a huge part of this book and make it both spooky and funny at the same time. After the story, we had time for a lively dreidel game.

Fifth Grade--We finished our encyclopedia research projects this week and once again I was amazed at how creative the students were using their laptops and the program Comic Life. I used to have them write a simple paragraph for this assignment. Not the most exciting task, but a useful one. Now, with the advent of the laptops and programs like Comic Life, the level of engagement and creativity has absolutely soared! They wrote more, wrote better, and had fun at the same time. Once again I am grateful to our Foundation, School Board, and administration for providing this amazing tool, and our technology teacher, Mr. Garfield ,who has sparked their technology skills and technology courage. It makes teaching this kind of lesson a dream for me!

Sixth Grade--Sixth Graders had an all important art lesson to make up this week so I missed them.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 03, 2007

News From The Library--December 3, 2007

Will Books Disappear?

More often than I like I am asked the question, "Do you think books as we know them will disappear someday?" Not on my watch, is what I'm temped to answer. I love technology, I really do, but the one place I don't think it makes sense is for reading a book.

In the Opinion section of last Sunday's Los Angeles Times William Powers, media critic for National Journal, had an interesting piece entitled "We've heard this story before..." in which he talks about this holiday's offering of the latest e-book from, the Kindle, something he says Newsweek magazine dubbed "the future of reading." Hmmm....even I have trouble imagining myself curling up with a little machine. One of the greatest pleasures I know is losing myself in a book and I have noticed a marked lack of that relaxing posture and loss of connection to the outside world when I'm looking at a screen. I've wondered why and in the article Powers explains studies done by cognitive researchers about the difference between reading something on paper and something on a screen. According to these studies...
.....when you read something on a screen, the eyes and brain are constantly at work figuring out where you are on the page, how many pages from the end of the text, etc. With paper based media, the fingers and hands take over much of the navigational work. Because you can feel where you are, the brain is freed up to concentrate on the words themselves....The book iteself--its physical presence and format--has a dramatic effect on how we experience the content.
So that's how it works....

As Powers suggests maybe ebooks have their place as a convenience for travelers who don't want to lug multiple books around with them. I don't time I'm in Hawaii reading on the beach with my (less than literary) paperback novel at least I won't have to think about sand in my equipment or recharging batteries. In fact, some of my favorite books still have some of that Hawaiian sand in them or blotches of sunscreen on the covers and every time I see them a little bit of me is transported back to those relaxing tropical escapes.

If you'd like to read William Powers article go to,1,1397292.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Also of note in the Los Angeles Times Book Review this Sunday was an article about Philip Pullman and The Golden Compass. If you are thinking of seeing the movie, you might find this an interesting viewpoint.,1,4772987.story

In the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Continuing with our study of classic fairy tales, we read Goldilocks and the Three Bears. As well as a lesson on manners (using an extreme example of bad ones, we decided) there is also a great introduction to size and superlatives.

First Grade--Alas, I was out with a bad case of laryngitis on Tuesday so I didn't get to see the first graders this week. Sorry.

Second Grade--Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola is one of our favorite books. The antics of Big Anthony mean that the magic pasta pot has a mind of its own and only the return of Strega Nona can save the village. It was fun to discuss the meaning of "the punishment must fit the crime" and we came up with some other rather humorous crimes and punishments.

Third Grade--(same as first grade) :(

Fourth Grade--The Stolen Smile by J. Patrick Lewis is based on the true story of the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 by an Italian man who felt it should be in Italy, not in the Louvre in Paris. We started out with a slide show about the Mona Lisa and had fun with a website called The Interactive Mona in which we could change her expression to one of disdain, disappointment, happiness, disgust, fright, merriness, surprise, or aggression (!) Great way to learn the meaning of some of those words, too!

Fifth Grade--At the request of their teachers, fifth graders found books of historical fiction for their book projects. We discussed the genre first and then they had a chance to check out one from our collection.

Sixth Grade--As a preliminary to an upcoming lesson on Web Site Evaluation we watched a short video called Mission Possible: Successful Online Research which covered the history of the internet, internet search skills, writing, using citations correctly, and internet safety. The video is provided by, an interesting an valuable search tool for students that gives them access to a variety of credible sources.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007

photo by Judy Ariel 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you to everyone from around the world who has taken the time to leave a comment or send me an email this year. I'm so happy this blog has been helpful to you.

We had an abbreviated week and lots of Thanksgiving activities so the library was quiet (for a change!) See you next week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

News From The Library--November 19, 2007

What happens when the state of Kansas is bored? 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… What a fun way to learn about our states!

We also had time to explore our newly found knowledge of the states and work on a word search with the names of all 50 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….

First Grade--Miss Ishikawa's class heard the mysterious tale, Nursery Crimes by Arthur Geisert, and they were able to solve the mystery of the disappearing turkey topiaries. In the process we had a great time looking at a slide show of topiary animals and learning a bit about deciduous trees. Because those missing turkeys were cleverly made with trees of this kind the thief was caught after the first frost turned the leaves into brilliant colors. Truly an unusual Thanksgiving story but one we all enjoyed.

Fifth Grade--We brought out their notes from 3 weeks ago and students worked on presenting their information. After attending a wonderful workshop by Gigi Kelley of Fisler School about how to incorporate laptops into the curriculum, I decided to have the students use Comic Life to do their short reports. What an amazing transformation from the rather dry paragraphs written in a word processing program! The students were creative and engaged and produced some great final products. Thank you to our administration and school board for having Ms. Kelley come to our school!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 12, 2007

News From The Library--November 12, 2007

Take Me To Your Leader

How do you teach students about the Dewey Decimal System? Not the most exciting of library skills subjects but with the help of a great website called Dewey and the Alien I created a Keynote presentation to show students in fourth grade how the system puts non-fiction books into categories. The beauty of the system becomes apparent as students understand that they can go to almost any library and find books filed according to Mr. Melvil Dewey's ideas. After working with the website and the Keynote students draw a "hundreds" card from a hat and go off to search our collection for a book that exemplifies the category.

Also in the Library this week....

Kindergarten--Classic fairy tales sometimes get lost in the shuffle of all the wonderful new children's books that are published every year. So I've decided to spend a few weeks with our Kindergarteners reading some of the classics. This week, we read the Little Red Riding Hood that is told and illustrated by James Marshall. I am always amazed at how these old tales mesmerize students and we discussed how fairy tales were used to teach lessons so long ago. And this one everyone got....don't talk to strangers!!

First Grade--Leo Lionni is one of my favorite children's authors and I had fun this week reading to the first grade one of my older son's favorites. Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse tells the tale of Alexander, a little mouse who wishes he could be loved like his wind-up toy counterpart Willy. But when he gets the chance, he chooses to give his chance to Willy. Students at this age really relate to the idea of toys that are once loved and then tossed aside and cheer that Willy gets his chance to be a real mouse.

Second Grade--Mysterious things happen in the garden on a moonlit night and Leaf Men tells the enchanting story of an old woman, a neglected garden, and a battle to bring life back to both of them. After studying arthropods and insects recently, second graders really enjoyed this book written and illustrated by Kevin Joyce.

Third Grade-This week we played a rousing game of "Name That Book." After looking at several books in our reference collection students watch a Keynote that gives them clues and then they have to name the correct reference book. After that we try out several scenarios and figure out in which book might we find the answer. For example, if you wanted to get your mother a really nice birthday present with her birthstone in it, in which book would you find the correct birthstone for the month in which she was born? (Good to know when your mom's birthday is, too....)

Fourth Grade--see opening post

Fifth and Sixth Grade--Get those "scalpels"'s time to dissect a book! With our scalpel/pencils students chose two books and "dissected" them to find out the information needed for a bibliography. It would be so nice if all publishers put the information in the same place but of course that isn't the case, so students learned all the different places to look for copyright date, publishing city, and publisher's name. This will help them with those reports that are coming up.

Until next week....

Monday, November 05, 2007

News From The Library--November 5, 2007

Web Drill!!!

We are fortunate to have wonderful web filtering software at our school but what happens when our students are elsewhere? And what if they accessed inappropriate material by accident? This week sixth graders practiced again our WebDrill! and they could choose one of four options to get out of a website that contained material that wasn't good for them. After we discussed the four options--closing the laptop, using control+Q, using control+W, or the back arrow---they had fun using the Halloween websites I had posted on our Skills Blog. (It was Halloween day, by the way.....) Once they were engrossed in the sites (which were all appropriate for them) I shout out "Web Drill!" and they have to quickly get out of the site they are using. Although our "drill" is a little humorous, they understand the seriousness of the matter and the reason we practice this in the same way we practice for a fire or an earthquake.
This drill is also a chance to discuss being digital citizens and using the internet in an ethical manner. And yes, having a little bit of Halloween fun at the same time....

Also in the Library this week....

Kindergarten--Mariko Shinju's charming book A Pumpkin Story was heard by the Kindergarten this week. Starting with a little pumpkin seed a man uses pumpkins for cooking pans, furniture, houses, and finally a hotel complete with a pumpkin swimming pool! This book never fails to delight young children with its clever message about using common things for extraordinary purposes.

First Grade--An 800 year-old-man wants a pumpkin pie but when he goes to get this pumpkin he finds it gone. In Tomie de Paola's The Vanishing Pumpkin the old man and his 700 year-old-wife enlist the help of many critters to finally find that elusive pumpkin. Repetition in the story make this a favorite of first graders.

Second Grade--By the time second graders came to the Library this week, Halloween was over, and so as much as we liked all those Halloween stories, it was kind of nice to go back to something (somewhat) normal. Tired from trick-or-treating the night before, they happily settled in for Mary Pope Osborne's Kate and the Beanstalk. A variation on the traditional story, the giant is still there doing his "fee, fie, fo, fum...." but the protagantist is plucky Kate out of avenge her father's death at the hand of the giant. Giselle Potter's interesting and quirky illustrations are a wonderful enhancement to the story.

Third Grade--Mrs. Villa's class heard One Halloween Night by Mark Teague and they loved how Wendall, Floyd, and Mona outsmarted those teasing witches who were chasing them. Miss Fargas' class came after Halloween and heard Berkeley Breathed's Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big. With its rhyming story and almost surrealistic illustrations this book is lots of fun for me to read aloud and for the students to hear.

Fourth Grade--Fourth graders brought their laptops to the library this week and as it was Halloween, we had a short lesson on how to get to the Library Skills blog, and how to bookmark in the toolbar, and then they had a chance to explore the fun Halloween websites that were posted on the blog. Working in an elementary school on Halloween Day is always an interesting experience......

Fifth Grade--Fifth graders graciously hosted some guests this week who were here to observe how we work with our laptops in the library. They did research using World Book Online and took notes that we will use in a couple of weeks to write a short essay on their topic. Again, my thanks to them for being able to focus so well on Halloween!

Sixth Grade--see opening post

See you next week!

Monday, October 29, 2007

News from The Library--October 29, 2007

How Spooky Should We Go?

Halloween stories are lots of fun. For the younger students we have stories of funny witches, and pumpkins, and costume contests. But for the older students there are several books with what are considered "scary stories." Is this valuable literature for children? The debate goes on. Some of the most read are the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series by Alvin Schwartz. While some of these are collections of tales from American folklore, personally I feel they may be a little intense, especially for children who are living in a world where the overall environment is more than a little frightening. Couple this with their exposure to the media and I have begun to wonder if reading scary stories is the right thing to emphasize on Halloween. So this year I spend the early weeks in October doing research with them on spiders and reading stories with a spider "theme." I liked this. Here we are, however, nearing Halloween and I admit I love reading those stories, but I have chosen stories for fourth, fifth and sixth grades that, while a little spooky, are somewhat humorous. I also chose them to illustrate the style of writing where a writer uses the length of sentences and the rhythm of sentences to create tension and mood so after we were done being "spooked" we "de-constructed" the scary part and looked at those literary devices. The story I read for fourth grade is a Spanish folktale Esteban and the Ghost by Sibyl Hancock. For fifth grade I read "Duffy's Jacket" by noted children's author Bruce Coville, and for sixth grade it's "The Surprise Guest" by none other than R.L. Stine.

Also in the library this week.....

Kindgergarten--Kindergarteners loved the rollicking rhyme of Room On the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffle. What happens when a witch lets too many passengers on her broom and it breaks? She has to face a scary dragon with half a broom, but her friends come to the rescue at the last minute. And her new broom? Well, let's just say it's the Mercedes of brooms!

First Grade--One of the worst things that could happen on Halloween is to have the wrong costume, and in Trick or Treat Smell My Feet by Diane Degroat, Gilbert and his sister accidentally switch costumes for their school's Halloween parade. To make matters worse, Gilbert has to wear the costume in the parade....a pink ballerina tutu! The best part of this story is how he handles it all with aplomb by dancing his way to the food table---a good lesson for us all!

Second Grade--Poor Dr. Smart Pig. He's all alone without a friend on Halloween since his brothers were eaten last year by the Big Bad Wolf. But since he's a scientist he comes up with an ingenious plan to create a friend. After a few missteps, he creates.....a monster pig who eats him out of house and home (literally). But when the Big Bad Wolf appears dressed as granny to trick or treat at his door, Porkenstein saves the day. His insatiable appetite actually comes in handy! Porkenstein is by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated with wonderful humor by David Jarvis.

Third Grade--Chris Van Allsburg is one of my favorite children's authors and I must say The Widow's Broom is my favorite of all his books. The story is mesmerizing and funny at the same time and the illustrations are exquisite. Third graders loved the twist at the end and got the subtle but powerful message that we should not judge without information.

Happy Halloween (and don't get spooked!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

News From the Library--October 22, 2007

Balancing Books and Laptops

It's very tempting when doing research to simply "google it" but this week in the library third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders found that when doing their spider research, a book was the best source of detailed information. After each team of students picked the name of a spider out of a hat, we started our research with our online encyclopedia. Some students found the answers to their research questions quickly, but others realized that the encyclopedia article was simply too general. The books about individual spiders that we have in our collection provided not only detailed information but had incredible illustrations and photographs as well. At the end of our hour, student agreed that the books were a better source for this kind of information and that they could trust that the information was accurate.

Just to make a final point I "googled" tarantula and showed the students that there were 1,390,000 web sites returned!!! Although the internet is a fantastic resource, it requires careful evaluation and quite a bit of time and patience to find the same information that was in the books. One of my goals this year is to provide students with a balance between books and computers and to help them understand that each "venue" of information has its unique and valuable characteristics.

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Kindergarteners are on the way to the pumpkin patch tomorrow so to get read ready we read Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler. This delightful tale reads a little like This is the House That Jack Built, only this time it's a witch, a ghost, a goblin, a vampire, a mummy and a little bat all trying to get a huge pumpkin off the vine in order to make pumpkin pie. Great messages here too....the value of team work and the smallest might be the one with the solution to a large problem!

First Grade--We all remember the song "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." In Lucille Colandro's and Jared D. Lee's There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat the progression goes from a bat, to an owl, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, some bones, and a wizard until finally she shouts "Trick or Treat!" and ends with a burp! This delighted the first graders as you can well imagine.

Second Grade--One of my personal favorites for reading at Halloween is A Job for Wittilda, Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner's charming tale of a witch who has so many cats to feed she has to find a job. The perfect one? Delivering pizzas on her broom. The story is complemented with wonderful illustrations and the chance to find a spider on every page. There's even a little sub-story going on with a cat chasing a mouse at the bottom of each page. This book is always a hit with this age group and I never get tired of reading it.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth graders---see opening post.

Until next week.....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

News From The Library--October 15, 2007

EEEK! Spiders in the Library!!!!

This week, in preparation for Halloween, we had lots of fun learning more about spiders. Thanks to a generous donation we now have a huge spider web on our window to go along with other spiders (and books about spiders) lurking in the library. Each class viewed a Keynote about spiders and then either heard a story with a spider as the main character or did a little online research about spiders.

Kindergarten--After viewing the Keynote, we read Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider. This classic picture book tells the story of a little spider who floats into a barn yard and begins to spin her web. As each farm animal entreats her to play, she doesn't answer. She's too busy spinning her web. The charming repetition continues until at the end she falls asleep (after catching a fly, of course). Repetition coupled with a simple narrative is an excellent way for pre-readers and early readers to learn to read and comprehend the flow of a narrative. But above all, Eric Carle's magnificent illustrations make this book one to read again and again.

First Grade--Poor Miss Spider....she is all set to have a tea party but one by one her invitations are greeted with fear and dread. Finally after saving a rain-soaked moth, her intentions are seen as only friendly and she has her tea party after all. We had lots of fun counting her eight legs and her eight tea cups, one for each leg. Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk gave us the chance to compare what we had learned in the Keynote with the ideas in the story and in the end we agreed most spiders aren't that scary at all!

Second Grade--While they were viewing the Keynote, second graders had a great time telling me what they were learning in their classroom about spiders...especially that they are called arachnids! We read Diane Cronin's hilarious Diary of a Spider and our favorite part was the Vacuum Drill. Stop, Drop from the web, and Run like crazy. This really tickled their funnybones.

Third Grade--After viewing the Keynote, we read our wonderful adaptation of Mary Howitt's 1829 cautionary poem The Spider and the Fly. Third graders loved the spooky illustrations by award winning artist Tony Di Terlizzi. Set on black paper with white lines, the drawings have the feeling of a silent movie and the spider, complete with a pencil thin mustache, does make a wonderful villain. The unfortunate demise of the fly serves as a little lesson on the results of falling for flattery, and in one of the best features of the book the villainous spider gets his own special afterword. There he is, sitting at the table, wiping his mouth delicately with a napkin and looking full, while the fly's pretty little hat rests on the plate in front of him. As he points out that all spiders are trappers, even the beloved Charlotte from E.B. White's classic book, we had to sadly agree that the fly should have known better!

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grade--We set up our online version of Encyclopedia Britannica on their laptops this week and they had time to do a little exploration (including a look at spiders, or course). Next week, we'll be doing more research on spiders using both books from our collection and the online encyclopedia. Mr. Orr's class did the set up last week, so this week they heard Jane Yolen's interesting book Encounter which tells the story of Columbus' arrival from the viewpoint of a Taino Indian boy. This is an interesting way to discuss different views of history as well as the literary device point of view.

See you next week!

Monday, October 08, 2007

News From The Library--October 8, 2007

Genre Scavenger Hunt

Sixth graders had a lot of fun this week learning about different genres of literature. First we viewed a Keynote that explained the common genres and gave examples from our library. Next we divided into 3 teams and each team was given cards with the genres written on them. Students had to go out into the library and find an example of each genre, put the card in the book, and make a stack on the table for their team. Lots of fun was had trying to be the first team to finish and learning how to find different genres in our library was accomplished as well!

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--This week we worked on a very important skill--how to turn the pages in a library book! We sat in a circle and I gave each student one of our ABC books. (We have a great collection) I showed them how to carefully turn pages, both forward and backward, by starting at the top right hand or bottom right hand corners respectively. Then they carefully found the page in their book that corresponded to the first letter of their name. With our newfound skills, we had a good time finding the first letters of other things from fish to zebras.

First Grade--When George the puppy's mother asks him to bark, the strangest thing happened. He quacked, mooed, meowed....everything but barked. Bark George by Jules Fieffer is hilarious and always elicits great belly laughs from the children. We had a lot of fun coming up with other sounds that George might make.

Second Grade--We finished up our "study" of the 3 little pigs this week with The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. This is one of the most popular read aloud books I use in the library. Something about switching the characters makes it inherently funny and the ending is such a surprise. I use these books to teach students about plot, character, and point of view and by using a familiar tale we can focus on learning about those literary devices.

Third Grade--This week we read Carol Otis Hurst's charming book Rocks in His Head which is the true story of her father's passion for rocks and how during the Depression he kept that passion alive and ended up a curator of minerology. This inspiring story shows the value of perseverence and the value of a true love of learning.

Fourth Grade--For the first time, fourth graders brought their laptops to the library and we set up their online version of Encyclopedia Britannica. After a quick tour, they drew topics from a hat and did some research. You are welcome to use this at home as well. You'll need a user name and password and if you give me a call, I'll be happy to give it to you.

Fifth Grade--This week we studied 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 Japanese Americans in internment camps. Prior to reading the book to the students I showed a Keyote slideshow I made incorporating some present day photos I took when I visited Manzanar 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.

Sixth grade--see opening post.

Until next week....

Sunday, September 30, 2007

News From The Library--October 1, 2007

Dictionary Balderdash!

In the library this week, the fifth graders brought their laptops for the first time. After talking a little bit about how we are going to use them and putting the online dictionary/thesaurus on their dashboards, we launched into a lively game of Dictionary Balderdash. For this game I created a Keynote with several words I was fairly sure the children didn't know. Each slide gave three choices of definition by using the word in a sentence. Students had to use the context to try to figure out which definition was the correct one and then vote for their choice. After voting they used their online dictionary to find out who was correct. The words ranged from quahog, to abject, to the final one--ethical. This led to our first discussion of what it means to be an ethical user of technology. We talked about downloading music, plagiarism, filtering and the idea that just because you don't get caught doing something unethical it is still the wrong thing to do. There is a great website coordinated by the National Cable Telecommunications Associates and Cable in the Classroom to help families and children make appropriate choices and stay safe while using the Internet. PointSmartClickSafe offers simple instructions, tips, and scenarios that can help parents and caregivers teach children to make good choices about Internet use. It's well worth checking out.

Also in the Library this week......

Kindergarten--This was our first time in the Library! After reading a short storybook called Manners in the Library by Carrie Finn, we spent some time touring the library, learning how to choose books, and checking out that first book! I had lots of fun trying to learn all those new names.

First Grade--Oh that coyote! Usually he's the trickster but in story Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema and Petra Mathers
, the little sheep tricks the coyote time after time. This Mexican folktale is a great introduction for first graders into multicultural folklore and also gives them plenty of practice honing their prediction skills.

Second Grade--We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs. But have you ever considered the wolf's side of the story? This week we read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and at the end we weren't so sure the pigs had been telling the truth all this time! This is a fun way to introduce the literary device, point of view, to children. Next week we're really going to mix it up....and read the Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig!

Third Grade--What happens when a motorcycle gang meets the town librarian? In Library Lil by Suzanne Williams and wonderfully illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Lil has "saved" the town from too much TV when along comes Bust-em-up Bill and his gang. Infuriated by the lack of television, the storm the library. When they refuse to move their motorcyles so Lil can park the bookmobile, Lil surprises them by lifting those bikes and tossing them aside. (You see, as well as being an great librarian, she's incredibly strong, too.) By betting she couldn't do it and losing the bet, the gang has to read books and lo and behold, they become readers, too!

Fourth Grade--We went on an encyclopedia hunt this week using the print edition of our World Book Encyclopedia. After drawing a topic card from a hat, students had to find the encyclopedia, find the article, and write down four facts about their topic (complete sentences, of course). Next week we're going to do the same assignment using the online version of the encyclopedia and then compare the two methods.

Fifth Grade--see opening post

Sixth Grade--Sixth graders were at AstroCamp this week and from the looks of the photos they posted to their website, they had a great time!

Until next week.....

Monday, September 24, 2007

News From The Library--September 24, 2007

Best Friends

This week First Graders heard Laura Malone Elliott and Lynn Munsinger’s Hunter’s Best Friend at School -- one of those wonderful books that is entertaining, fun to read, has great illustrations, and has a wonderful lesson that is subtle yet important. What do you do when your best friend wants you to do everything they do? And what if some of those things are the wrong things to do? Peer pressure starts very early and discussing this with young children is a way to prepare them for the stronger pressures they will face, especially as teenagers. In the story Hunter’s friend Stripe is mischievous and funny but when Hunter goes along with something that he later regrets, he decides to be a best friend to Stripe and model good behavior in hopes that he will follow. I was impressed at how quiet the children were when I was reading that scene where Hunter had gone along with the wrong behavior….you could have heard a pin drop and that is pretty unusual for first graders! It’s my hope that these little lessons will lodge in their memories and will come back later when the stakes are so much higher.

Also in the Library this week…

Second Grade—Oh no….it’s the dreaded substitute Miss Viola Swamp! In what has become a classic, Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard, the kids in room 207 are the worst behaved class in the school. Their most grievous behavior? They were rude and silly during story hour! But Miss Swamp whips them back into shape and when Miss Nelson returns the class is more than happy to behave. Students love the last scene…..Miss Nelson’s little secret….and of course, I’ll never tell it either!

Third Grade—We all agree that we have a fine, fine school with fine, fine teachers, and fine, fine students…..but what if Dr. McCabe decided that we should go to school on Saturdays and Sundays and holidays and summer!!! This is what happens in Sharon Creech’s hilarious tale A Fine, Fine School. And as with all good stories, the subtle message is clear at the end…..too much of a good thing isn’t always best and we all need time to climb up a tree, and swing on a swing, and maybe just do…..nothing!

Fourth Grade and Fifth Grade—Both classes this week were introduced to the Battle of the Books and I’m happy to say we have some very enthusiastic readers who have checked out almost all of our Battle Books!

Sixth Grade—We played our ever-popular Library Jeopardy Game this week and had a great time. This is a fun way to learn some of the less exciting things about the library such as what’s on a spine label or how non-fiction books are shelved. Our daily double (in the category of Technology and the Internet) was….http. Do you know the question????

Monday, September 17, 2007

News From The Library--September 17,2007

Do You Remember What Book Got You Hooked?

This summer I got an email about a program called First Book. First Book is a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. They provide an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community-based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs.

This summer First Book was celebrating its 50 millionth book given to children in need. They put out a survey asking people to remember that one book that got them hooked on reading as a child and then they published a list of the top 50 books.

It’s available at :

It’s really fun to look over this list….kind of like a trip down memory lane…..and I’m pleased to say that we have all those books in our Library today.

For more information about the valuable First Book Program, please visit their website at:

And yes…it was Nancy Drew that got me hooked!!

In the Library this week, we had our first week of regular classes (except for Kindergarten which will start the week of Sept. 24). After going over the library rules, how to check out and return books, we were off to a great start. One change this year…..we’re going to try this out….each grade can check out as many books as their grade! Kindergarten and first grade will both have one book for one week, and all the other grades can check out the corresponding number of books to their grade for two weeks.

Here’s what went on this week in each class….

First Grade—As this was our very first meeting we got reacquainted with how the library works and how to find and check out books. It was great to see all the students again and hear how much they read and traveled over the summer!

Second Grade—The students at Sunrise Elementary school have a new librarian this year in Carmen Agra Dreedy’s
The Library Dragon and watch out…..she’s really a dragon when it comes to protecting those library books. Nothing can be checked out, nothing can be touched until one little girl stumbles into the library and transforms the “dragon” into a wonderful librarian. After all, the library is for the children, but we can’t forget there’s still a little dragon in all librarians when it comes to protecting the books. This was a fun way to remind the students about book care practices and that taking care of the books means that they will be there for everyone to use.

Third Grade—Last year I purchased a wonderful book entitled
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. It’s the charming story of a lion who enters a library and has a little trouble following all the rules. When the librarian gets hurt, a rule must be broken, and the lion is the one who saves the day. Before we read the story, we had fun looking at a Keynote presentation I made on the two lions—Patience and Fortitude--that “guard” the entrance to the New York Public Library. They are featured in the illustrations in the book.

Fourth Grade—
Our Librarian Won’t Tell Us Anything! is the humorous book by Toni Buzzeo about Mrs. Skorupski who won’t tell fourth graders where the books are in the library…..she makes them look it up for themselves in the online catalog!!! This was an introduction for fourth graders into how our catalog works and how to find books on their own. Using our projector, students had a chance to practice how the catalog works and then they were off looking up books on their own!

Fifth Grade--This week fifth graders heard
The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter. First we used Google Earth and started at our own school library and traveled to Basra, Iraq. The difference between our locations was sobering. Then I presented a Keynote with some actual pictures of the Central Library of Basra which was destroyed during the invasion of Iraq in April of 2003.

This interesting picture book tells the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker who saved over 70% of the books in the Central Library of Iraq by removing them night after night in her car and hiding them in her house and the houses of friends. Even though the library was destroyed by bombs, Alia managed to save over 30,000 books.

Books "are more precious than mountains of gold" says Alia, and the message of this book is both the great importance of books in our lives and the terrible effects of war on everyone. A portion of the book's sales will go toward helping rebuild Basra's library and if you are interested in helping this worthy effort you can do so by contributing to a fund administered by the American Library Association. Make checks payable to ALA with "Basra Book Fund" on the memo line, and send them to International Relations Office, ALA, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. (For more information, contact the ALA's International Relations Department at 1-800-545-2433 x 3201.)

Sixth Grade—Sixth graders were introduced the Battle of the Books Program this week. They saw a Keynote of a previous Battle and we discussed the list of 30 books that are this year’s Battle books. To access the list you can visit the County Schools website at:

The Battle takes place in April 2008 so there’s lots of time to read as many of those books as possible!

Until next week……happy reading and I’m so glad we are Back to School!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Have a great summer....

This is my last post for the school year and what an exciting year it has been with all the new technology and our incredible laptop program. Many thanks to the Cold Spring School Foundation for their support in implementing that program and for taking it even farther for the next school year.

Summer is a great time to read and for this last post I have collected a number of links to reading lists. I think you'll find something for everyone! It will remain on this blog until September.

So relax, kick back with a lemonade, and read, read read!

~Mrs. Pedersen

Summer Reading Lists
From the Association for Indiana Media Educators. Read Aloud Book Lists by publication year and reading interest level (primary, intermediate, young adult and “ageless”).
Video booktalks listed by grade level.
Jim Trelease’s list of short novels for read alouds. Short novels in this case are books that “...usually contain chapters, many more words than a picture book, but fewer than 100 pages. . . and shorter than the full-length novel.” Each entry contains brief blurb about the book.
Jim Trelease’s list of novels for read alouds. Novels in this case are “...more complex than the short novels, contain more than 100 pages and are divided into chapters.” Each entry contains brief blurb about the book.
Nancy Keane’s list of “Books of Interest to Grades 5-8”, with links to her booktalks on the titles.

Battle of the Books 2008 Reading list
These are the 30 books that 4-6th graders will read in order to participate in next year’s Battle of the Books.,com_uhp2/Itemid,98/task,viewpage/user_id,83/pageid,68/

abe books Children's Reading Lists

American Library Association Children's Reading Lists

Education World Reading Lists

The Horn Book Magazine Reading Lists

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know from the NY Public Library

100 Favorite Children's Books from the NY Public Library

BookHive is a web site designed for children ages birth through twelve, their parents, teachers or anyone interested in reading about children's books. Providing reader's advisory service, this site contains hundreds of recommended book reviews in a variety of reading levels and interest areas. Parents may find special "parental notes" attached to some reviews that provide additional information about the book. Users can search for books by author, title, reading level, interest area, number of pages, and even favorite illustrator.

Books for Boys

Big a, little a
This is a blog with Booklist of recommended Early readers that you can download as a pdf file

Bank Street College Children's Library Summer Reading Lists K-8

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Summer is coming...

Kindergarteners this week enjoyed Candace Fleming's delightful book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! and in the process learned about prepositions. Three bunnies find ways to get over and under and through all the fences Mr. McGreely builds around his garden to keep them from eating his newly planted vegetables. Students cheered for the bunnies as they delighted in the clever sound effects and vibrant, funny illustrations. In the end, the message is that sharing the bounty may be the best and perhaps munching on a carrot or two is a good idea too!

Also in the Library this week...

First Grade--Is it possible to get lost in the "Lost and Found?" Wendell and Floyd meet their new friend Mona while sitting outside the Principal's office waiting to be punished for missing an arithmetic test. (Who knew there would be a giant squid keeping them prisoner in the boys' bathroom that morning?) All three children disappear into the magical world at the bottom of the Lost and Found bin and their adventure pays off with three lucky hats and a new friendship. Mark Teague's bold illustrations and fanciful story addresses that age old question, What's at the bottom of the Lost and Found? and first graders are eager to hear next week's story, The Secret Shortcut.

Second Grade--With summer coming and trips planned, I thought it would be fun to read Margaret Mahy's hilarious story, The Three-Legged Cat. Tom, the cat, would love to roam the world but his owner would prefer a cat that "likes to sleep, and doesn't eat." Her rascal of a brother comes for his yearly visit, complete with his "molting, revolting Russian hat" that looked remarkably like Tom. In a serendipitous mix-up, Tom leaves on top the brother's head and the hat remains behind. And they all lived happily ever after!

Third Grade--With it's rollicking prose and hilarious illustrations, Sir Cedric by
Roy Gerrard is always a favorite with third graders. The story of the gentle knight and the black-hearted villain, the princess in need of rescue, the battle, and the happy ending (complete with cucumber sandwiches) would make it easy to just see this as a pleasant tale, but the underlying theme of standing up to a bully is one that resonates with children. Stay tuned, third graders, next week we'll read Sir Cedric Rides Again.

Fourth Grade--In keeping with their studies of California, fourth graders first watched a Keynote presentation I made about the ghost town Bodie, California, and then heard Sonia Levitson's story, Boomtown. It was fun to try to imagine what life would have been like in those early towns of California during the gold rush and students were intrigued by how some of the early settlers made more money than the gold miners ever did just by using their ingenuity and finding the things the miners needed and selling them. In this delightful story, Amanda finds that baking pies leads to having a bakery, which leads to needing more pans, which leads to someone starting a store, which leads to a get the idea. It was fun, too, for the students to see the pictures of Bodie and to figure out why Bodie didn't last.

Fifth Grade--Fifth graders worked on finishing their research and writing their first drafts of their blog posts for The Research Blog. Next week, our last library time for this year, we'll finish them up.

Sixth Grade--This week was it! Our last library class! To celebrate we played a rousing game of Library Jeopardy. My best wishes to the Class of '07 !

This is the last regular posting on "Voices From the Inglenook" for this week I'll post a list of links to some great summer reading lists. Thanks for all the loyal readers who have made the journey with me this school year. Have a great summer and we'll see you in September!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fourth Graders Are Published Authors!

Fourth Graders Publish!

We got our books! Fourth Graders in Mrs. Edwards' and Mr. Orr's classes finished our unit on Tall Tales and after writing a class tall tale and illustrating it, I sent it to Apple to be published as an hardback iPhoto book. The books arrived this week. They are fantastic. They have been cataloged as folktales and will be a part of our permanent collection. Parents....please stop by and see your child's remarkable work!

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--It's always fun to read a classic and this week Kindergarteners heard James Marshall's version of The Three Little Pigs. Once again, I realized why these stories have remained favorites for so many years. There is drama, a great villain, a clever hero who uses his brains to outwit his opponent, and a satisfying ending. I use this story as a way to discuss what makes a classic, why it's okay to hear a story more than once, and to begin teaching about character, plot, and ending.

First Grade--The delightful story of The Pigs Wedding by Helme Heine never fails to cause giggles when Porker and Curly Tail paint wedding clothes on all their guests. All the best intentions aside, a sudden rainstorm turns the wedding reception in something the pigs really like--a nice romp in deliciously squishy mud. This is simply a fun story with lovely illustrations and is always enjoyed by the students.

Second Grade--Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking? In Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh, the family feeds Martha, the dog, a bowl of alphabet soup and a strange thing happens. Instead of going to her stomach, the letters go to her brain, and amazingly Martha begins to speak. This is funny until she can't seems to stop speaking and finally her family tells her in no uncertain terms to be quiet. When a burglar arrives, Martha saves the day, and her family is so thankful she gets to talk whenever she wants.

Third Grade--Keeping with our pig theme, Hog Eye, also by Susan Meddaugh, causes great laughs when a piglet outfoxes a fox with the magic spell called "Hog Eye. " The curse is hysterical and all through the story is a gentle message about the importance of being able to read for yourself! (Just ask the poor wolf....)

Fourth Grade--To conclude our Tall Tales unit we read The Bunyans by Audrey Wood which tells what happened to old Paul Bunyan in later years. We especially like the ending with the reference to the "Martian Face" and after the story looked up the actual pictures on the Internet.

Fifth Graders--Fifth graders began their blog posting research lesson this week. We discussed how the blog worked and they teamed up to do research on four famous people. Next week we'll do our posting. If you'd like to see the lesson please go to the Library Skills Blog.

Sixth Graders--We had a relaxing week. The sixth graders are getting very busy with preparations for their play and graduation. I gave them time to look at the display I made of their "Favorite Book" project and it was nice to hear all their comments as they reminisced about their choices and those of their classmates. Parents...please stop by the library for a look!

There are two more weeks of Library classes for this year! Please start looking for all those missing books!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Amazing William Steig

The Amazing William Steig

Third grade this week heard The Amazing Bone by William Steig and once again I was struck by his incredible respect for the minds and capabilities of children. The story itself is charming---Pearl the Pig is out for a walk on a beautiful spring day when she finds a bone that talks. After escaping one catastrophe she is caught by a fox who is bent on having her as his main course for dinner. Although these themes are prevalent in fairy tales, under Mr. Steig's brilliant pen, the story becomes much more. He never speaks down to children. Instead he delights our ears and minds with the use of wonderful words.....dawdle, odiferous wretch, flabbergasted---to name a few. Within the context of his sentences and with his quirky illustrations students enjoy figuring out these new words. And in the very satisfying ending, the magical words he makes up always elicit belly laughs from the listeners. I am reminded that children love the sound of our language and love to learn new words. Reading this book reminded me to sprinkle as many as I possibly can in my conversations with them!

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--What happens when a "freeze-in-place" contest puts your friend in danger? This is the dilemma for duck in book Don't Fidget A Feather by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler. Duck and gander each want to be the winner and instead become prime ingredients for a fox's stew. Kindergarteners get quieter and quieter (not much fidgeting) when the fox starts to pick up gander to put him in the bubbling cauldron, but are happy when duck loses the game but saves her friend.

First Grade--Wendell's mother has asked him over and over to clean up his room. But she finally concedes and lets him have his own way. Pigsty by Mark Teague is the funny tale of Wendell and the pigs that actually move into his room. All is fine, until his basketball is flattened, his comic books have hoof prints on them, and his baseball cards are chewed. That's too much, even for Wendell! The room eventually gets cleaned and the pigs.....well they get to visit every now and then.

Third Grade--see opening post.

Fourth Grade--We finished! We proofread our tall tales, got to read each other's, and they are off for publication. We're keeping our fingers crossed that they will be back to us before school is over.

Fifth Grade--Because of testing, fifth grade missed library this week.

Sixth Grade--We finished our graduation project, "My Favorite Book," and the display will be set up in the Library next week. Each sixth grader chose one book from our collection that they remembered during their years at Cold Spring School. We had quite a range of choices from favorite easy readers like Go, Dog, Go to novels like The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. With their laptops, each student wrote about the book and why it made such an impression on them. They saved their work and sent it to my folder on the server. I'll put a display card together using Pages and the display will include the book and a picture of the student and their written work. It was a great "trip down memory lane" for our graduates!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Testing 1, 2, 3......

This week students in grades 2 through 6 had STAR testing. In honor (?) of that event, I read Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler to the 3rd graders. They thoroughly enjoyed the story of how the adults at the school seemed way more stressed out than the students. This was my way of injecting a little humor in this most serious of weeks.

Also in the Library....

Kindergarten--Mrs. Sickafoose's class head The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer and they loved the story of the boy and his attempt to convince his mother that he should let his newly found pet salamander sleep in his room. With a little remodeling of course..... The beautiful illustrations are an equal part of the story and make this book one of our much so that both copies were checked out! So Mrs. Campbell's class heard another favorite, Mrs. Morgan's Lawn by Barney Saltzberg. Some people are just strange, thinks the narrator, especially since all his favorite balls end up on Mrs. Morgan's lawn and since she doesn't like anything to mar her perfect lawn, she keeps them. He finds out that in the end, one good deed deserves another and that some people, while strange, may also be wonderfully surprising!

First Grade--What does that word "Meanwhile...." mean? You know, the one with the three little dots after it? Raymond finds out in Jules Feiffer's award winning book by the same title and first graders loved all of Raymond's adventures as he "meanwhiled" from a pirate ship, to a wild west chase, to outer space and back again.

Second Grade--One of my favorite fairy tales in The Fisherman and His Wife and in this version by Rosemary Wells, the fisherman is a cat and he and his wife go through all the tribulations of wanting more, more, more, until they find that what they had in the beginning was really the best. Next week, we're reading a Russian version of the same tale, Luba and the Wren, and we'll compare the two.

Third Grade--see opening post.

Fourth Grade--We finished our illustrations for our tall tales and they are truly remarkable. Next week, we'll do our final proofing and then send the books off for publication. Mr. Orr's Class wrote "Harold the Hardware Hero" and Mrs. Edwards Class wrote "Carlitos the Colossal Cook."

Fifth Grade--Fifth graders squeezed in a half hour in the library and by the time the came, I had lost my voice (allergies? the wind? too much talking?)! So I used my laptop and projector to communicate with them about some new books we had just received and they had a relaxing time just reading in the Library for half and hour. One of the books I talked/wrote about was A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz and I would highly recommend it. The story of an orphan adopted by three elderly women, it keeps you on the edge of your seat as the girl is kept in hiding by the women who are spiritualists. They plan to use Maud to play the ghosts of children in their seances but her plucky spirit makes her begin to doubt what she's doing and after a shocking betrayal she escapes. The book is filled with details of early 20th Century life in New England and has a predictable but very satisfying ending.

Sixth Grade--Sixth graders followed all my silent directions and finished they posting of comments on the Research Blog. Please take a look at the great job they did. This lesson was about research, writing, blogging, commenting, but mostly it was about how to use this technology in an ethical way. We discussed the reasons for using good grammar, punctuation, and spelling and how to make a comment using constructive criticism. My hope is that by showing them how to blog correctly, they will remember these skills when they make their own blogs. One sixth grader already started a wonderful blog of his own and posts his remarkable photographs on it.

We are "heading for the finish line" as classes in the Library will end on May 31. I will be in the Library the last two weeks of school doing my yearly inventory. Please check those backpacks, under the seats of the car, under the bed, etc. for those missing library books. Thanks!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Readers Do Battle!

Battle of the Books!

On Thursday, April 26, our Cold Spring Battle of the Books participants had a wonderful time celebrating their love of reading and their incredible knowledge and enthusiasm. Our Battle Team this year consisted of four fourth graders and one sixth grader. These avid readers began reading the list of 30 books as early as last summer. In January, they started meeting with Mrs. Pedersen on their lunch hours in the Library to prepare for the Battle. On the 26th, they went to the County School Auditorium to participate with hundreds of other children from all over Santa Barbara County. Each member of our team was on a team with 4 students from other schools. After four battles, the final battle took place after lunch. Contratualtions to all on our team for their dedication, great sportsmanship, and hard work.

Plans are already underway for next year's Battle! The list of books will be posted on the Library webpage and copies will be available in the Library. We're already looking forward to another successful Battle of the Books '08!

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Oh that wolf.....he wants to fatten up the chicken for his favorite meal, chicken stew, so he bakes and cooks and secretly delivers food to the chicken hoping to make her plump and delicious. In The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza, the wolf finds out that he's been feeding a flock of baby chicks instead and he just doesn't have it in his heart to eat them!

First Grade--Poor Blabber Mouse! He just can't stop talking and he surely can't keep a secret. True Kelley writes a wonderfully funny story with a rather touching ending as Blabber's friends find a very loving way to make him lock up his secrets.

Second Grade and Third Grade--Rumor has it that there is some testing on the horizon, so for fun and review we played a rousing game of "Name That Book." Second and third graders really know their reference books now!

Fourth Grade--Hollister Ranch and Disneyland were too much competition for the Library this week. See you next week, fourth graders, and we'll work on the illustrations for your tall tales books.

Fifth and Sixth Grade--Because Thursday was Battle of the Books and I was a judge, fifth and sixth grade missed library this week.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Well, dogbite my buttons!"

"Well, dogbite my buttons!"

Third graders immensely enjoyed hearing Diane Stanley's two books, and Raising Sweetness and Saving Sweetness over the past two weeks. The books are a hoot to read aloud as they are peppered with hilarious similes and metaphors that spring like water from the mouth of the sheriff of Possum Trot who narrates the stories. We had lots of fun counting all the figures of speech as well as chuckling over the irony of the story. Our favorite saying of all was "Dogbite my buttons!" uttered by the sheriff after learning the "applebet" has 26 letters.

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Oliver, the cat, wants to stay out all night and play in the garden and his owner decides, after calling him in over and over, that he can do just that. Night Cat by Margaret Beames and Sue Hitchcock tells how Oliver eventually changes his mind when the garden gets spookier and spookier, and finally after it begins raining he wails to come inside. When his owner lets him in, he tries to convince himself that he's only doing it for her. Spoken like a true cat!

First Grade--Do you ever wonder what your dog does after you go to sleep at night? In The Night I Followed the Dog by Nina Laden we find that one dog has a whole other life---one that surprises his owner. This delightful story is has wonderful illustrations and the text itself has illustrated words. This is one of our favorite books!

Second Grade--Pigasso paints in an unusual manner and his friend Mootisse paints in his own way as well. When the two meet and become friends all seems well until they begin to criticize each other's painting style. What transpires is the building of a fence between their two houses but in the end the fence itself becomes a work of art that brings them back together. When Pigasso Meets Mootisse also by Nina Laden is a wonderful way to introduce the work of Picasso and Matisse to young children, but it also sends a message about how to express an opinion and that friends can be very different and still get along.

Third Grade--see opening post

Fourth Grade--With great excitement we wrote the first drafts of our own tall tales this week. Mr. Orr's class penned "Harold, the Hardware Hero" which takes place in Honolulu and Mrs. Edwards' class created "Carlitos, the Colossal Cook" set in New Mexico and complete with an enormous recipe at the end. Next week we'll start to put illustrations to our stories and then they will be created using iPhoto and sent off to be hardbound. These books will be cataloged and be part of our collection, and students will be able to check them out for years to come!

Fifth Grade--Ah, the wonders (and frustrations) of technology.....fifth graders were slated to begin their blog research project this week but after our windstorm last week, our Internet connection was, to put it mildly, on the "cranky" side. Repairs were made Friday, so we will begin next week. I demonstrated what the project would entail and we did have the opportunity once again to discuss ethical use of blogging and email. Our rule of thumb: Don't ever put anything in an email or a blog post that you wouldn't want your mother to read on the front page of the newspaper!

Sixth Grade-This was a "catch up week" and Ms. Gradias' class finished their commenting on the Research Blog. Ms. Zannon's class finished their posts and will do their commenting next week and that will complete the project. If you'd like to see the project so far, go to The Research Blog. I'll summarize the project and its goals next week. If you are a member of, please feel free to leave comments if you'd like! (I made this blog closed to anonymous comments for safety reasons)

Until next week....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Teachable Moment

A Teachable Moment

This week fifth graders played our popular game "Library Jeopardy" and one of our "daily doubles" afforded us with one of those moments teachers love. The boys team bet all their points (and sadly lost) when they tried to come up for a question for the answer, plagiarism.
What followed was a lively discussion of what plagiarism means. I presented a simple definition of plagiarism as the false presentation of someone else's writing as one's own. In the case of copyrighted work, plagiarism is illegal. Example were given, especially one where you could copy and paste into your own work something you got from a website. We discussed the ramifications of plagiarism--failing grades, expulsion from a school, legal problems, and what could be done to avoid plagiarism such as using quotation marks and attributions. But the best part was when the discussion turned nicely into a final statement that the problem with plagiarism is that it is unethical. Whether or not you might get caught plagiarizing is not the issue. Doing something inherently wrong is.

As the first group left the Library and the second group was coming in I heard several the students from the first group saying loudly, "Ask her what plagiarism is! Ask what plagiarism is!" As a teacher, it doesn't get much better than that.....

Also in the Library this week:

Kindergarten--How many cats do you have? One, two, maybe three? In the delightful rhyming story Cats, Cats, Cats by
Lesléa Newman and Erika Oller, Mrs Brown has sixty cats! They sleep all day but when Mrs. Brown starts snoring, the cats party all night. Kindergartners liked participating in the story and coming up with the rhymes. Their favorite? Cats in the hallway throwing confetti and cats in the dining room eating spaghetti (or biscetti, depending on your pronunciation).

First Grade--Henri Mouse moves from New York to Paris to become a famous artist. But with his mixtures of magical magnetic paints whatever he paints ends up on his canvas...for good! First graders loved comparing the before and after illustrations. This story by
George Mendoza and J. Boucher provides a fun way for students to practice their skills of observation and comparison. In the end Henri decides he must do what all great artists do and paint a self-portrait and the results are almost disastrous!

Second Grade--A round fuzzy object rolls down the tunnels of prairie dogs in the hilarious book The Great Fuzz Frenzy by
Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel . With alliterations aplenty and fantastic illustrations this book is a great hit. The gentle reminders that selfishness can cause trouble and that working as a group is best in the long run add to the quality of the story.

Third Grade--Saving Sweetness by
Diane Stanley and Tom Bodett tells the story of an orphan and her rescue from an orphanage and the notoriously mean Mrs. Sump. Told in the voice of the sheriff, it is so much fun to read aloud and is filled with wonderful similes and metaphors. The collage like illustrations add the the overall effect. While the story tells one point of view, the pictures tell another and the humor of the contrast was enjoyed by the students. We can't wait until next week to read the sequel, Raising Sweetness.

Fourth Grade--In preparation for writing our own tall tales, we read one more this week. Mike Fink re-told by Steven Kellogg is not one of the most well-known tall tales. Students enjoyed the story of the mighty river boatman and could easily find in it all the elements of a tall tale. Next week they will try their hand and writing one of their own!

Fifth Grade--see opening post

Sixth Grade--Most students finished their posts on the Research Blog this week and students made comments on each other's posts. Next week when all posts are finished and commented upon we'll provide a link so you can view them yourselves.

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