Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Holidays!

This was a very busy and festive week so many classes understandably didn't make to the Library. Of those who did---Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth graders heard our Cold Spring holiday favorite--The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza-- wonderfully written and illustrated by David Shannon. Kindergarten heard Eric Carle's beautiful Dream Snow and First Graders were charmed to see their old friend Bear in Karma Wilson's Bear Stays Up for Christmas. Second Graders loved Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera and most really understood Elf Rule Number One---"It's far better to give than to receive."

Here's to a peaceful and joyous holiday to you all. We'll see you in 2008!

Monday, December 10, 2007

News From The Library--December 10, 2007

'Tis The Season

While Christmas shopping last week I came across this beautiful book in our Art Museum Store. There are hundreds of versions of The Night Before Christmas but this one, re-designed and published this year, is now my favorite. It is illustrated by arguably the most famous American folk artist, Grandmas Moses. She began working on the illustrations for Clement C. Moore' classic poem The Night Before Christmas in 1960 at the age of 100! The book, with its imaginative and charming illustrations was published first in 1962, a year after her death at the age of 101.

Third graders, who had all heard the poem before, we entranced by the illustrations. I made a short Keynote slideshow about Grandma Moses and her art that students saw before we read the story. It was a great lesson in self-teaching, perseverance, and how the passion of creative endeavors can fuel a long and fruitful life.

If you're looking for a great gift this year, look no farther!

Also in the Library this week....

Kindergarten-We're getting in the spirit with The Mouse Before Christmas by Michael Garland, gentle tale about a tiny mouse who stows away with Santa on Christmas Eve.

First Grade--December 6 is St. Nicholas Day in Holland and book The Baker's Dozen by Aaron Shepard is a lovely way to teach students about the tradition of St. Nicholas and how it relates to Santa Claus. In addition, the gentle message of the story about the virtues of generosity blend beautifully with the historical background. Wendy Edelson's evocative illustrations make this a special holiday book.

Second Grade-Strega Nona appears again this week, this time in a holiday version, MerryChristmas, Strega Nona by Tomi DePaola. When Strega Nona asks Big Anthony to help with her feast, he keeps wanting her to use her magic. "No," she scolds, "Christmas has a magic all its own." And true to her word, Big Anthony brings the magic of Christmas to her with his generous and unexpected gift.

Third Grade--see opening post

Fourth Grade--One of our holiday favorites is Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel and this year's fourth graders loved the story of brave Herschel who outwits the goblins who have stolen Hanukkah from the villagers. Trina Schart Hyman's illustrations are a huge part of this book and make it both spooky and funny at the same time. After the story, we had time for a lively dreidel game.

Fifth Grade--We finished our encyclopedia research projects this week and once again I was amazed at how creative the students were using their laptops and the program Comic Life. I used to have them write a simple paragraph for this assignment. Not the most exciting task, but a useful one. Now, with the advent of the laptops and programs like Comic Life, the level of engagement and creativity has absolutely soared! They wrote more, wrote better, and had fun at the same time. Once again I am grateful to our Foundation, School Board, and administration for providing this amazing tool, and our technology teacher, Mr. Garfield ,who has sparked their technology skills and technology courage. It makes teaching this kind of lesson a dream for me!

Sixth Grade--Sixth Graders had an all important art lesson to make up this week so I missed them.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 03, 2007

News From The Library--December 3, 2007

Will Books Disappear?

More often than I like I am asked the question, "Do you think books as we know them will disappear someday?" Not on my watch, is what I'm temped to answer. I love technology, I really do, but the one place I don't think it makes sense is for reading a book.

In the Opinion section of last Sunday's Los Angeles Times William Powers, media critic for National Journal, had an interesting piece entitled "We've heard this story before..." in which he talks about this holiday's offering of the latest e-book from, the Kindle, something he says Newsweek magazine dubbed "the future of reading." Hmmm....even I have trouble imagining myself curling up with a little machine. One of the greatest pleasures I know is losing myself in a book and I have noticed a marked lack of that relaxing posture and loss of connection to the outside world when I'm looking at a screen. I've wondered why and in the article Powers explains studies done by cognitive researchers about the difference between reading something on paper and something on a screen. According to these studies...
.....when you read something on a screen, the eyes and brain are constantly at work figuring out where you are on the page, how many pages from the end of the text, etc. With paper based media, the fingers and hands take over much of the navigational work. Because you can feel where you are, the brain is freed up to concentrate on the words themselves....The book iteself--its physical presence and format--has a dramatic effect on how we experience the content.
So that's how it works....

As Powers suggests maybe ebooks have their place as a convenience for travelers who don't want to lug multiple books around with them. I don't time I'm in Hawaii reading on the beach with my (less than literary) paperback novel at least I won't have to think about sand in my equipment or recharging batteries. In fact, some of my favorite books still have some of that Hawaiian sand in them or blotches of sunscreen on the covers and every time I see them a little bit of me is transported back to those relaxing tropical escapes.

If you'd like to read William Powers article go to,1,1397292.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Also of note in the Los Angeles Times Book Review this Sunday was an article about Philip Pullman and The Golden Compass. If you are thinking of seeing the movie, you might find this an interesting viewpoint.,1,4772987.story

In the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Continuing with our study of classic fairy tales, we read Goldilocks and the Three Bears. As well as a lesson on manners (using an extreme example of bad ones, we decided) there is also a great introduction to size and superlatives.

First Grade--Alas, I was out with a bad case of laryngitis on Tuesday so I didn't get to see the first graders this week. Sorry.

Second Grade--Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola is one of our favorite books. The antics of Big Anthony mean that the magic pasta pot has a mind of its own and only the return of Strega Nona can save the village. It was fun to discuss the meaning of "the punishment must fit the crime" and we came up with some other rather humorous crimes and punishments.

Third Grade--(same as first grade) :(

Fourth Grade--The Stolen Smile by J. Patrick Lewis is based on the true story of the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 by an Italian man who felt it should be in Italy, not in the Louvre in Paris. We started out with a slide show about the Mona Lisa and had fun with a website called The Interactive Mona in which we could change her expression to one of disdain, disappointment, happiness, disgust, fright, merriness, surprise, or aggression (!) Great way to learn the meaning of some of those words, too!

Fifth Grade--At the request of their teachers, fifth graders found books of historical fiction for their book projects. We discussed the genre first and then they had a chance to check out one from our collection.

Sixth Grade--As a preliminary to an upcoming lesson on Web Site Evaluation we watched a short video called Mission Possible: Successful Online Research which covered the history of the internet, internet search skills, writing, using citations correctly, and internet safety. The video is provided by, an interesting an valuable search tool for students that gives them access to a variety of credible sources.