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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Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring Break

We are on Spring Break this week. See you again on April 16!

(Please read the previous post on Cyber-Bullying if you haven't already. It's such an important issue.)