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!