Sunday, November 16, 2008

News From Santa Barbara

News From Santa Barbara

For those of you who might not know, we have suffered a catastrophe here in Santa Barbara. The good news is that our school is fine even though the fire started very close by. Sadly, I have lost my home and most of my possessions. I do however have some pictures of my children, my handmade Christmas ornaments, my car, my laptop....and most important my life. The community here is amazing and we will prevail. Many, many families in my school lost everything.

I probably won't be blogging for a while on a regular basis. But we'll be back as soon as we can.

Monday, November 10, 2008

News From the Library--November 10, 2008

Dissecting A Book

With scalpel (pencils) ready, fifth graders "dissected" some non-fiction books this week in order to learn how to find the information needed for a bibliography. With concerns about plagiarism increasing, knowing how to cite your sources has become an important skill. Students were given two books and they needed to dissect or find the title, author, publisher, publishing city, and copyright date. Next week, we'll use an online bibliography maker Citation Machine. (I wish that had been available when I wrote bibliographies...usually very late at night!)

Also in the Library this week....

Kindergarten--Time for a classic fairy tale this week and kindergarteners were transfixed by James Marshall's version of Red Riding Hood. I am always amazed how these classic tales capture children's attention even in this time of television, movies, and internet. We also talked about the fact that many of these tales were told to teach children an idea and everyone agreed that the moral of this tale was "Don't Talk to Strangers!"

First Grade--Keiko Kaska's My Lucky Day is the delightful story of a wily pig who outfoxes the fox and instead of being eaten for dinner gets the fox to give him a bath, dinner, dessert, and....a massage! First graders had a great time predicting who the pig was going to outwit next.

Second Grade--Do you ever wonder what your dog does when you go out? In Linda Bailey's Stanley's Party, Stanley the dog takes some tentative steps beginning with sitting on the couch but things progress until he has all the dogs in the neighborhood over for a wild party....on the one night his family comes home early! According to the author, dogs around the world are still talking about that party!

Third Grade--We played a rousing game of Name That Book and third graders are becoming very familiar with our reference materials--atlases, encyclopedias, almanacs, dictionaries, and thesauruses. At the end of our game I gave each student a scenario and they told me in which book they would find the necessary information.

Fourth Grade--We started writing our paragraph on an endangered animal this week. After doing research, students are going to write a paragraph to go with a photo of their endangered animal art project. Writing a topic sentence was our task for today and it's not easy to find that perfect hook and introduction to the topic. Next week we'll continue working on the body of the paragraph.

Fifth Grade--See opening post

Sixth Grade--We wrapped up our unit on the presidential elections by having groups explain why the candidate for which they wrote a resume would be the best for the job as president. A lively debate followed and we finished with a "straw vote." The results: Obama in the lead by 7 votes!

Monday, November 03, 2008

News From the Library--November 3, 2008

The Widow's Broom
by Chris Van Allsburg

This week third graders heard one of my favorite Halloween stories, The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg. It's a haunting tale, a great one to read aloud, as the suspense grows and grows and the ending challenges the listeners to see if they picked up the clues. As with all of Van Allsburg's work, the illustrations are evocative and unusual. In addition, there is a subtle but powerful message about prejudice and bullying. All in all, a great story to read aloud at this time of year.

Also in the library this week....

Kindgergarten--The rollicking verse in Julia Donaldson's Room on the Broom tickled the kindergarteners this week. This is a great little story about generosity and cooperation as well as just being a fun book to read at Halloween.

First Grade--In Diane deGroat's Trick or Treat Smell My Feet, Gilbert wishes that he could have a really unique Halloween costume. Well, his wish comes true but not in the way he expected. This story is a great one to show children how flexibility and "rolling with it" is a good idea....especially when you find yourself in your sister's ballerina tutu for Halloween by mistake!

Second Grade--Poor Dr. Pig. The sole surviving member of the Pig family made famous in that other story about the wolf finds himself friendless at Halloween. After several attempts at creating a friend in his lab, he finally creates a monster! Porkenstein!! Kathryn Lasky's book of the same name is a delightful tale of fairy tale revenge and true friendship and best of all, someone to go trick or treating with on Halloween!

Third Grade--see opening post.

Fourth Grade---In a great little folktale from Spain, Esteban and the Ghost, the main character bravely spends the night in a castle haunted by a ghost who robbed some robbers. This tale is both funny and scary--a great combination for reading aloud! Sibyl Hancock does a great job re-telling this tale and the illustrations by Dirk Zimmer add to the charm.

Fifth Grade--In preparation for their explorer reports, fifth graders learned how to access and use our great online resource, Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

Sixth Grade--Sixth graders finished their resumes of the presidential candidates this week. Next week (the day before the election) we'll discuss what they learned from making the want ad and the resume.