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!