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!

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