Friday, October 23, 2009

News From the Library--October 26, 2009


This week fifth and sixth graders used their "book dissections" from last week to enter information into an incredible time-saving web based applications called BibMe. (Where was this at 3 A.M. when I was typing bibliographies on a manual typewriter in the late sixties!) This program allows students to enter the information about books used in a report, then formats it into a bibliography that can be downloaded to Microsoft Word (if you register). All for free! It also has formats for all other types of media you might use in a report. We didn't register here in the Library but students practiced entering data and watching the bibliography appear. It even has a feature whereby you can enter a title, author, and/or ISBN number and it will find all the information about the book and then format it for you! I did, however, have students use the manual entry mode so they would know how to do that if the book couldn't be found using the auto mode. They actually enjoyed doing this but I must say they aren't nearly as impressed with this as I am. Maybe I should have made them hand write those bibliographies first???

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Kindergarten missed Library this week because of the Move-A-Thon.

First Grade--Two escaped convicts try to hide in a haunted house in Erica Silverman's fun story The Halloween House. As well as being delightful to read, it is a counting story and students loved joining in as we counted down from ten to none.

Second Grade--What can you do when your family wants to keep making your Halloween costume every year? In Susan Wojciechowski's book The Best Halloween of All, Ben takes us through a "photo" album of his past six Halloweens from being a clown to a bunch of grapes. He knows his family means well, but this year is going to be different as he designs and makes his own costume--not as elaborate as in past years--but best of all, his very own creation.

Third Grade--We had fun this week with a new Halloween book, Miss Smith and the Haunted Library by Michael Garland. I made a "book trailer" using animoto to introduce the book and then we read it. It was so much fun finding all the characters from other stories--the Headless Horseman, Captain Hook, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, to name just a few. The illustrations are fantastic and there is even a little chart at the end explaining where all the characters came from.

Here's the book trailer:

We're planning to use animoto in the spring when students do projects for their book clubs.

Fourth Grade--Another new book this year is Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray and illustrated by Brandon Dorman. A take off on the Night Before Christmas this book delighted fourth graders with its creepy inhabitants and rhyming verse. And again, the illustrations are magnificent.

Fifth and Sixth Grade--see opening post.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

News From the Library--October 19, 2009

A Different Point of View

As we celebrated Columbus Day this week, I read Jane Yolen's haunting book Encounter to the fourth graders. As well as being an excellent example of the literary device point of view, it gives students a new perspective on Columbus and what his discoveries meant to the indigenous peoples who lived on the islands he discovered. The book is told from the point of view of a Taino Indian boy who warns his tribe not to welcome Columbus and his men and it concludes with a chilling image of the boy as an old man. David Shannon's remarkable illustrations add greatly to the impact of this rather sad story. An interesting discussion followed in which we came to the conclusion that while we admire Columbus' bravery and persistence, there was a heavy price paid for his discoveries.

Also in the Library this week...

Kindergarten--What happens when a town mouse and a field mouse fall in love with the same pumpkin? The pumpkin becomes enormous! In The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll and Jeni Bassett, two mice both feed and water the same pumpkin each with his own hopes for a prize at the end. In a great example of compromise one wins the prize for the biggest pumpkin as the other agrees to help him move it with the promise of being able to carve it into the biggest jack o' lantern. This is one of our favorite Halloween stories in Kindergarten.

First Grade--I found this charming book several years ago and always save it for the first graders. Even now, upper grade students fondly remember it and ask to see it every year. A Pumpkin Story by Mariko Shinju is the story of a man who builds an entire village out of pumpkins--pumpkin houses, pumpkin furniture, a pumpkin hotel and even a pumpkin swimming pool!

Second Grade--Another of my favorite Halloween books is A Job for Wittilda by Marc and Carolyn Buehner. Poor Wittilda the witch has 47 cats and needs to feed them. She looks for a job and finally lands one as a delivery person for Dingaling Pizza. And in her quest for the job (on her broom, of course) she rescues one more cat bringing her total to 48 pizza loving felines.

Third Grade--There isn't a much more darkly moody story about a witch than Chris VanAllsburg's The Widow's Broom. The illustrations are exquisite and the wonderful twist at the end delights third graders.

Fourth Grade--see opening post

Fifth and Sixth Grade--This week we "dissected" non-fiction books in preparation for making bibliographies. Students used their "scalpels" (pencils) and their "lab sheets" to find the title, author, publisher, publishing city, and copyright date in several books. Next week I will show them how to use one of the online bibliography makers (that I wish had been available when I was in school!).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

News From The Library--October 12, 2009

The Tree of Kindness

This year our school is participating in the Anti-Defamation League's program called "No Place for Hate." As a project for that program, we decided to do an all school project and create a "Tree of Kindness" in our Library. I gathered a list of books with kindness as their theme and read one to each class over the last two weeks. Then, with the kind help of Ms. Billie Olson who cut out hundreds of colorful paper leaves for us, each child in the school wrote or dictated one act of kindness they had done recently. As the weeks went by our tree got larger and larger and fuller and fuller. It became a magnet in the Library for students as they read their classmates' and siblings' leaves. We all agreed that in a school where there is kindness, there's no place for hate!

One of our kindness leaves

A student writing a kindness leaf

In the Library this week...

Kindergarten--Mrs. Morgan's Lawn by Barney Saltzburg is a perfect story about kindness for little ones. The narrator tells how he keeps losing his favorite balls on Mrs. Morgan's perfect lawn where not a leaf is allowed to touch the grass. When he finally gets up the nerve to confront her he find out she has a terrible cold and as the days go by her lawn get covered with fallen leaves. At first this is great but later the boy decided to rake the leaves for her. The next day he not only finds all his lost balls on his own lawn but ends up with a very unlikely playmate!

First Grade--To get us in a spooky mood we studies spiders this week. After seeing a Keynote about spiders first graders heard Linda Monk's delightful story Aaaargh!Spider! about a little spider who tries to convince a family that he'd make a great pet.

Second Grade--Second graders also studies spiders this week and after the Keynote heard Diane Cronin's hilarious Diary of a Spider.

Third Grade--After the Keynote, third graders listened to Mary Howitt's classic poem The Spider and the Fly. This version is wonderfully illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi and even has a letter from the spider to the children reminding them of the dangers of talking to strangers.

Fourth Grade--Fourth graders enjoyed doing spider research this week. After picking the name of a spider out of our hat, they became "Web Weaver Investigators" and used a great set of books about spiders to find out information about their spider's appearance, habitat, prey, and other interesting facts. We chose to use books as our resource for this lesson after demonstrating the number of hits on Google you would have to "wade" through to find the information. It's important for students to understand that many times a good book that has been edited and published is a much faster and more reliable source than the internet.

Fifth Grade--Fifth graders made their leaves for the "Kindness Tree" after hearing Enemy Pie by Derek Munson. They all enjoyed the main character's dawning realization that one of the best ways to lose an enemy is with kindness. (A good tasting pie doesn't hurt, either!)

Sixth Grade--Sixth graders made their leaves after hearing a classic African folktale, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe or The Talking Eggs by Robert SanSouci. We discussed how the African folktale and changed a bit when it became a folktale from the American South but the message of kindness remained the same.

Friday, October 02, 2009

News From the Library--October 5, 2009


This week fifth graders participated in our Web Drill! Although we have an excellent internet filter at our school, I felt it was important for students to understand that, in reality, they are their own best filters. They have control over what they see and hear on the internet and that control is at the tips of their fingers. Even the best filter can let something inappropriate through and they aren’t always going to be using a computer with a filter. After showing them a presentation on different ways they could exit a website, they opened their laptops and had time to surf several pre-selected sites I had linked on the blog. ( Of course, these were not sites that were inappropriate….but worked for the sake of a drill) After they were engrossed in their perusing, I called out “WEB DRILL!” and they had to exit the site using one of the methods we had practiced. Besides having lots of fun, I think they learned some valuable personal skills for using the internet in an ethical manner. If you’d like to look at the lesson for yourself, go to the Cold Spring School Library Skills Blog and check out the Web Drill post.

Also in the Library this week..

Kindergarten--It was our very first Kindergarten visit to the Library! Students learned library manners using the story book, Manners in the Library by Carrie Finn and then have a great time learning how to choose a book to take home for a week. This is a big step for kindergarteners---checking out a book, taking it home, and bringing it back!

First Grade--We worked on our "Tree of Kindness" project this week. This project is part of our participation in the Anti-Defamation League "No Place for Hate" program. Each class is hearing a story about kindness and then writing an act of kindness on a paper leaf. We are building a huge kindness tree on our Library wall. (Next week you will see the results of this school wide project!) The book first graders enjoyed was Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester and we discussed how the characters in the story changed from being unkind to Wodney to respecting his differences.

Second Grade--Second graders heard the charming story, Amos and Boris by William Steig as their book about kindness. This simple tale shows how kindness can be reciprocated even by the most unlikely of friends.

Third Grade--Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler was our choice for third grade. Mrs. Ruler's rather unruly class channels their energies into coming up with 100 acts of kindness and has a great time doing it.

Fourth Grade--How to get rid of enemies? Why, baking an Enemy Pie, of course. Hoping his father's recipe for enemy pie will really help him get rid of his new enemy, the little boy in this story finds out the best recipe for getting rid of an enemy is treating him with kindness. This very enjoyable book of the same name is written by Derek Munson with whimsical illustrations by Tara Callahan King.

Fifth Grade--see opening post

Sixth Grade--After returning from Astro Camp (and missing library last week) the sixth graders reviewed how to use our computer catalog to find books.