Sunday, January 28, 2007

News From the Library--January 29, 2007

Information Literacy

As each day goes by I feel the urgent importance of teaching our students about information literacy. With all the information that's available to them, they need now and will need in the future good skills to evaluate the information they receive. Simply typing in a search term on Google is no longer enough. I read somewhere that getting information from that type of search is like trying to take a drink from a firehose! This week fifth and sixth graders practiced again their web site evaluation skills by using their laptops and the lesson on our Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog entitled "When in Doubt.....doubt!" After reviewing our criteria--authority, accuracy, objectivity, and currency---each student chose a website to evaluate from the list on the blog. At the end, we summarized our findings. Those who went to "bad" websites had to state what was wrong with them and what they would have wanted to find on them to make them a good site. Those who went to "good" sites had to defend their opinion. This is a lesson we'll repeat several times before the school year is over.

One of the most interesting comments made by a student was, "We should turn these guys in for making a misleading website!" Unfortunately, I told them, there are no "website policeman." They will have to be their own "policeman/woman" when it comes to looking at a website. These skills are so important for today's students.

Other classes in the Library this week:

Kindergarten--When I asked for a show of hands for how many students had heard these words from their parents---"No more jumping on the bed!" the response was unanimous. I also told them the story of my older brother who had to do that "one more jump" and ended up in the ER with a hysterical babysitter. So the stage was set for Tedd Arnold's book appropriately entitled No More Jumping on the Bed and kindergarteners loved the crazy tale (or was it a dream) of Walter and his bed crashing down, down, down through the floors in his apartment building. Next week, we'll have fun with Walter again in No More Water in the Bathtub!

First Grade--What makes a classic? First grade is exploring this idea and this week we read what has been called the first children's picture book, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. Published in 1928 and with black and white illustrations, this little book has lost none of its charm for today's children. They loved chiming in with the refrain, "....hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and millions and billions of cats!" When the story was over, we thought about why we liked it so much (the cats, the pictures, the story, the repetition) and why it has been a favorite for all these years. In future weeks, we'll continue this theme as we study a list of books deemed "essential literature" for children.

Second Grade--Second graders are busy working on their biography reports in class so this week I read them a charming biography of Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian. This beautiful book won a Caldecott Medal for its exquisite illustrations, and it tells the story of William Bentley and his passion for photographing snowflakes. I made a presentation for them on my laptop of his photographs along with some modern photographs of snowflakes. We were all entranced by their beauty and singularity.

Third Grade--This week we concluded our study of Cinderella stories with two books. In Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck, the beautiful princess uses her own bravery and intelligence to find happiness with her prince, and in The Rough Face Girl by Rafe Martin, the theme of the Cinderlla tale is beautifully presented in a Native American re-telling. As familiar as we all are now with the plot of the Cinderella story, we also discussed its enduring theme-- that of the beauty being on the inside, and actions showing beauty far more than physical attributes. After enjoying all these Cinderella tales, third graders now have a better understanding of the literary elements of plot and theme.

Fourth Grade--Fourth graders took a turn with Atlases this week and we looked at the structure of the atlas and then did a project finding out information about our own state, California. We discovered that 221 people live per sq. mile in California, while only 5 live per sq. mile in Wyoming. After thinking about it for a while, students came up with the answer: the weather! Although there are many breathtakingly beautiful places in Wyoming, maybe it's those cold, cold winters that make more people want to live in our mild climate in California, especially in our hometown of Santa Barbara!

Fifth and Sixth Grade--see opening post on information literacy.

Book Clubs are thriving!!! We have oodles of Bookworms, and many Red Dot members this week!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

News From the Library--January 22, 2007

It was a busy week in the Library with lots of new Book Club members in both the Bookworm Club and the Red Dot Club. We also had some great sessions in fourth and sixth grade learning how to research with our new Encyclopedia Britannica Online and how to evaluate web sites.

Kindergarten--It was cold this week in Santa Barbara and a lot of us were imagining what it would be like if it snowed. We're not used to those chilly, chilly temperatures! Kindergarteners loved hearing Steven Kellogg's The Missing Mitten Mystery and trying to figure out what happened to Annie's mitten. Was a mouse using it as a sleeping bag? Could she plant her remaining mitten and grow a mitten tree? In the end, the mystery is solved in a "heart-warming" way as her mitten turns up as the heart of the snowman she had built.

First Grade--Almost all of us have heard the story of Jack and the Beanstalk but Steven Kellogg's version is by far one of our favorites. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and add great dimension to his rollicking text. I'm not sure who had more fun--me reading it or the children listening to it. This is the beginning of a unit for first graders on what has been called "essential children's literature" and in the coming weeks we'll discuss what makes a story a classic and read some of the best examples. In our high tech world of today we sometimes forget what makes a classic story and Jack and the Beanstalk is a stellar example.

Second Grade--On the surface, David Shannon's story, A Bad Case of Stripes, is a funny tale of a girl who finds herself changing in the blink of a eye to correspond to what those around her say. The illustrations, with their amazing color and sense of humor, add to the dramatic rhythm of the story. But underneath the story is the gentle reminder that we should all be ourselves, most especially if we want to eat lima beans when none of our friends do.

Third Grade--We continued our multi-cultural exploration of Cinderella stories with The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo. This one really turns the story on end by having the main character an Irish goatherd with very big feet. The fairy godmother turns out to be a speckled bull and the ball is not a dance but a dragon slaying!! There's no glass slipper and the princess not the prince does the searching with a big black boot. But of course, she finds her "Cinderlad" and they live happily ever after. We had fun finding the similarities and differences in the plot and third graders are getting a clear understanding of this literary element.

Fourth Grade--Fourth graders were introduced to our new Encyclopedia Britannica Online and learned how to sign in on any computer and then research a topic in the appropriate encyclopedia, in journals and magazines, and in the websites that are vetted and linked to the encyclopedia.

Fifth Grade--This week we played our very low-tech version of Library Jeopardy! and had a lot of fun. (Sometimes it's nice to take a break from those laptops much as we all love them) Students break into two teams and each team member chooses a category. I give the answers to a question relating to our Library. This has become a really fun way to learn some of shall I put this....more boring aspects of library skills instruction. In one group the boys had a healthy lead only to be tempted by a "daily double" and betting all their points. They lost everything on this question. Can you do it? The answer is: The first name of the man who invented the numbering system for non-fiction books. So the question would be.....(see the end of the post for the answer)

Sixth Grade--Using our Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog sixth graders went through the first part of the lesson on Web Site Evaluation. After reviewing the criteria for evaluation-- currency, accuracy, authority, and purpose--we evaluated two websites as a group. Next week students will have a chance to put their critical thinking skills to use and evaluate websites on their own. If you'd like to look at the lessons, just follow the link to the Skills Blog and look for the lesson entitled, "When in Doubt.....Doubt."

Until next week.....

Oh, yes....the Jeopardy answer.....the correct question would be: What is Melvyl?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mr. Squirrel Fills in for an ailing Oliver, the Library Cat!

Mr. Squirrel, helped by one of our sixth graders, stepped in for Oliver, the Library Cat, who had a slight cough this week and just couldn't do another book review. Lucky for us, Mr. Squirrel and Oliver are good friends and he's a good reader, too. The book he's reviewing is Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

A New Video Review by Oliver, the Library Cat!

Oliver has done it's a new review of the book Artemis Fowl, the Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer. He's ably helped this week by a sixth grader.

News From the Library--January 15, 2007

Book Clubs Have Started in the Library!

This past week, we started our Library Book Clubs and already we have some enthusiastic members! Grades 1-4 have special clubs and grades 5 and 6 have chosen this year to continue doing video reviews on our blog as their club.

The most important rule for all the clubs is to have fun reading! Books are chosen at a student’s independent reading level so that reading for the Book Clubs is a pleasurable and relaxing experience. This also builds confidence and fluency as the children have the opportunity to practice the reading skills they have learned in the classroom.

Each grade level has a club and the “rules for membership” vary. Personalized bookmarks are given to members after they have read and reported on their first book. Following is a brief summary of the clubs. If you have any questions, please feel free to stop by the Library or email me. We’re off to a great start!

Grades 1 and 2 are the Bookworm Club. Members read books from our Easy and Beginning Reader section. After taking the book home, or keeping it in their desk at school, and reading the entire book, members make an appointment with Mrs. Pedersen to read their favorite page either before school, at any recess, after school, or during their library time. Each time a book is finished it is entered on their “official” log and a sticker is awarded. After each 6 books are read, members can choose a special prize. As of the end of the first three days of clubs, we already have 9 Bookworms!

Grade 3 is the Red Dot Book Club, so named for the red dots on the spines of many books in our collection that are especially chosen for readers who are ready to read chapter books. After reading a “red dot book,” members write a book report and submit it to Mrs. Pedersen. After completing 2 written book reports, members can choose a special prize. Congratulations to Marlon for being our first member!

Grade 4 is the Mystery Book Club and members choose from the wide array of mysteries in our Library. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books are among the all time favorites for this club. To report on their books, members have several options. One is to write a book report and turn it in to Mrs. Pedersen. A new option (and one we are very excited about!) is to record a video report to be posted on our blog. Students will use our stuffed animal dolphin as their avatar—named Dectective McDolphin for the club—or they can dress in one of our two Detective McDolphin costumes and perform their report. After two reports or blog reports, members can choose a special prize.

Book Clubs are one of my favorite parts of being a librarian at Cold Spring! It’s such a joy to see students excited about reading. Be sure to check for weekly updates on the Book Clubs.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Video Blog Review by Oliver, the Library Cat

Oliver, the Library Cat, the twin brother of Olive, makes his debut performance with a book review of Poppy by Avi. He is helped this week by a fourth grade student.

News From the Library--January 8, 2007

A New Year in the Library Has Begun!

We're back!! The Library was a busy place this week as classes began again after our nice Winter Break. Even though the sun in shining in Santa Barbara and pretty soon we might need to do some kind of rain dance, it was "chilly" in the Library for Kindergarteners and First Graders as we read penguin books this week.

Kindergarten--There were lots of chuckles as we read the story of Tacky The Penguin by Helen Lester. That Tacky!! He's an odd bird indeed. Finding the differences between Tacky and his companions was fun (a Hawaiian shirt on a penguin?) and his marching style is a little strange, but we all agreed that in the end when Tacky saves himself and his fellow penguins from the hunters, he was a good bird to have around. This humorous and fun story also gives a nice gentle lesson that being different can be something to be respected.

First Grade--Which Cinderella story has a glass flipper instead of a glass slipper? Cinderella Penguin by Janet Perlman. First graders had fun finding the similarities and differences in this version and the one they are more familiar with. As well as enjoying the story, it gave us the opportunity to begin a discussion of the literary element of plot.

Second Grade--We had fun learning about the parts of a book this week with an interactive Keynote presentation, complete with sound effects and quizzes. Using books from our own library, we located the cover, the spine, the table of contents, the index, and the glossary.

Third Grade--This week we started on our Cinderella Project. Over the next several weeks we'll read different versions of the Cinderella story as a way to discuss plot and theme as literary elements. We also get to see a multi-cultural snapshot of this famous story and find its enduring theme of the rewards of kindness and generosity. For our first stoy, we read Adelita by Tomie de Paola and found that instead of a glass slipper to help the prince find his Cinderella, it was a beautiful rebozo, and as always, in the end they "lived happily ever after."

Fourth Grade--Get out those scalpels! It's time to "Dissect a Book!" This week's skills lesson for fourth grade involved "taking apart" a non-fiction book in order to find the relevant information needed for a bibliography. With scalpels (pencils) in hand, they bravely found author's names, titles, publishing cities, publisher's names, and copyright dates. But one of their favorite parts was my story about my high school lab partner (fullback on the football team) who fainted when we dissected a frog in Biology lab!

Fifth and Sixth Grade--We are so lucky to have a new resource for research and with laptops in hand, the fifth and sixth graders were introduced to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, our new software subscription, which allows them access to three different versions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (elementary, middle school, and high school), plus a database of magazines and journals, and vetted websites for any topic. It is updated regularly--we checked the entry for Gerald Ford and James Brown and found they were current--and it's a wonderful, accurate, and safe place to do in depth research. Watch this week's Wednesday Word for information about how you can use this at home. This is now available to students and families 24 hours a day/7 days a week/ 365 days a year! It can be accessed from any computer--at home, in the classroom, or in the tech lab.

See you next week!

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New and Exciting Year!

Happy New Web 2.0 Year!

Welcome back! I hope you had a restful and peace filled holiday. As we don’t have any student work to post yet, I thought I’d take this week as an opportunity to direct you to an article in Time magazine about the interesting, challenging and exciting direction that education and specifically my role in educating your children is taking. The year 2007 looks to be year of tremendous change not only in technology but also in the way we as educators view our role. As a librarian I love information. I used to think the more the better. But with the overwhelming amount of information available to me now it becomes almost too much. How to sort through it? What’s accurate? What’s biased? If I feel overloaded, I can only imagine what it must be like for my students.

No longer is it enough to find information. Now we must be able to evaluate it in terms of its accuracy, reliability, and currency. No longer is it enough to “google” a word. We now must learn how to narrow our searches and then critically view the results. These are high level thinking skills but I am convinced that our students must begin to think in this way. The sooner the better.

Time magazine had an interesting cover article in the Dec. 18 issue. It’s entitled How to Build A Student for the 21st Century. It poses the ideas that schools need to be brought out of the 20th century in order to educate the students of today. Although I often feel that Time paints with rather broad brushstrokes, the article makes some good points. Take a little time to read it and let me know what you think.

I find that over the last few months my own reading habits have changed. In addition to reading books ( I’ll never give that up!), and the Los Angeles Times, I read about 15 to 20 blogs each day, getting information about things in which I’m personally interested as well as wonderful information and discussions about reading, literacy, teaching, and libraries. If you are interested in reading two of the very best, try Weblogg-ed by Will Richardson and 2 cents Worth by David Warlick.

This new world of Web 2.0 has indeed changed the way I see my profession, my place in my profession, my participation in my profession—all in an exciting, stimulating way. This is the world our children are growing up in. As an educator I must be part of that world so that I can find a way to guide them through it. Blogging, Wikis, Podcasts…..these are the tools they want to use and I want to both use them myself and make sure that I can teach them how to use them ethically and effectively. That’s the most wonderful part of being a teacher for me…..there’s always something new for me to learn. Here’s to a year of learning!