Wednesday, December 5, 2012

7th Rotation - happy feet

Kindergarten - Students performed Pete the Cat. The book has been scanned and I put the audio to it using a video editing program. I did this lesson differently from my past and had students cut out the shoes versus me cutting them. After checking out books, the students placed their books off the floor on the benches to the right side then I hand out scissors, 4 colored pieces of construction paper (white, brown, red, and blue), and a shoe template. Students pick a color 4 to 5 depending on class size. I give them one pair of scissors, 2 pieces of construction paper, and one template. Once 4-5 students have chosen one color I hide it behind me and let them chose from what is left. Placing the shoe template over the paper, the student cuts through two pieces of paper around the outline. Most could do this. When they are done they sit on the benches by color on the left side. I play an example on the projector of a class performing it so they get the idea. I play the book and students run to the stage when Pete steps in their colored shoes.

When setting up make sure to tell the students to not scream or run. They still run but say it anyway. When all of the students go up at the end it is somewhat chaotic and crazy. Skip that part if you have a wild class.

I have the students sing along throughout the book and they are usually chirping the chorus well after we have finished. This ties in with the Readers study patterns unit.

Here's a highlight video:

 Grade 1 - Students began their nonfiction unit. I read Mako Shark by Deborah Nuzzolo and pointed out parts of a nonfiction book (call #, glossary, index, table of contents, resourses). The essential questions are How do I read a nonfiction book? What's the main idea? Readers use nonfiction text features to get information (index, other resources, table of contents). Nonfiction text help readers help us answer questions.

Grade 2 - After break students will begin their character unit. I had them find their favorite character in a book, say the title, author and why they like that character using the camera app on the iPad with the iRig microphone. The iRig posed some problems because they pushed down the switch turning off the sound. It would be easier to not use the iRig but the library is so noisy with multiple classes I like to use it because the white noise is blocked out. Here are students working:

Grade 3 - We started our book trailer lesson. Students wrote down their top 3 books on a piece of paper and I grouped them according to books read. I usually have to call up 2-3 kids to see if they have read the same books.

Grade 4 - I downloaded about 50 professionally made book trailers from our library and scholastic and showed them to students - about 20 minutes. The book fair is next week and I wanted to get them excited about reading. After the trailers, they have time to look for the books in the library with my help.

Grade 5 - Lesson 2 using the iMovie app. Some students finished trailers. One student used a book with no pictures. I need to make sure they don't do that. Also, several students chose books where one read it and the other didn't. Maybe next year I'll use a checklist. 1. Partners have read book 2. Book has pictures 3. Trailer focuses on problem. I will change the worksheet. (Take off that they can act out the book on worksheet - doesn't come out as well as other trailers. Okay to mix pictures and themselves, but not just themselves.)

Students on task and like using iMovie.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

6th Rotation - reflecting

Kindergarten - I read through my stack of new books. Students really liked The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner. The illustrations are fascinating. She outlines the bear and fills it in with different shapes. It might be a good book for teaching patterns and shapes. On a funny note I read a book about Gertrude Stein by Jonah Winter and it was imitating her play on words. It was supposed to be funny and a boy kept saying, "This isn't funny" which of course made me laugh all the more. I know that Jonah Winter's books don't target the wee ones but it was the last book in my pile of newbies and I really wanted to read it.  

Grade 1 - They are doing character studies so I picked books with distinct characters such as Henry and Mudge, Cam Jansen, Mercer Mayer, Ling & Ting, and Fox. The language arts curriculum describes the goals of the character unit as students studying what characters say, do, and how they change; plus, "they will retell to help them hold onto meaning and will make predictions based on the characteristics of the characters in their books." I could enhance this lesson by having students retell the story using the video on the iPad. The only problem is the books above are too long except for some of the Mercer Mayer. I would have to find shorter books like Biscuit, Pup & Hound, etc.

Grade 2 - I read the book, Okay by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, where the narrator says all the things they are okay at doing. Students love that the character is actually made out of the "O" and "K." They asked me to tip the book this way and that so they could spy the character in the illustrations. I wanted students to write things they were okay at but rather than be burdened with pencil and paper I wanted them to use the Dragon Dictation app. It didn't work. The app doesn't type the correct words and they got so distracted by it that they forgot about the task at hand. Some thought it so funny that they started saying all sorts of goofy things. I don't think the lesson was a complete failure. I think next time I'll just use a recorder. They can record on Sound Cloud their thoughts and I can then post it to the library blog... I need to incorporate my blog into more of my lessons as a way for students to post their work done on the iPad and then check out on their own.

Grade 3 - Teachers asked me to show the students Fountas & Pinnell. Do you know I've done this lesson 22 times?! Nuff said. I did email Follett Company and asked for them to add the advanced feature on their mobile app. Students can't search for leveled books on the app at the moment.

Grade 4 - I read Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter. We had some awesome discussions about it in every class. The first class wanted to know how long panda's live. We looked it up online. The next class wanted to find out how Mr. Harkness died. We looked that up on Wikipedia and the information was incorrect! That sparked a whole discussion on information that is accurate and not accurate and how we can learn the difference. It was a teachable moment and the students were so engaged! I was also happy with myself because I made a conscious effort to ask open-ended questions and praise students for their thinking on the text. I am also trying to think more about letting students turn and talk with a partner about the text. I don't do this enough and it is quite powerful.

Grade 5 - We started our book trailers. I showed students a book trailer I did and one done on a picture book by some 4th graders. Next, I showed the app and gave a short demo on how it works. I gave students a graphic organizer to write a book trailer and told them to get in pairs. There are some threesomes and I'm not sure how this will work. They had to choose a book and write a trailer that focuses on the problem in the story. They can't give away the ending. Those who finished quickly I gave an iPad to and let them begin. This allowed for differentiation and seemed to work well. The students were so excited to use iMovie on the iPad. What an amazing motivator. I had one boy come at recess to ask if he could work on it because he didn't want to wait for the next rotation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5th Rotation - videos on my videos

We got the online subscription to Fountas & Pinnell that can be used with our Follett catalog system. It doesn't level all the books but it has been really helpful for students getting "just right" books. I find that it is more accurate than the reading levels.  

Kindergarteners came to the library dressed in wedding dresses because they had just learned that "Q" and "U" got married to make "QU." I made an iMovie of the kids and grabbed a new book I had bought called, "Flower Girl." Luckily it had "qu" words in it because the munchkins were on the prowl for them.

With the other classes I gave one student an iPad and they took pictures with it. I told them they could only take 6 (one boy had 6 of my kneecaps... guess that's all he sees when I read). Then I posted them to my library web site. I want kids to use it to post their iPad work.

Grade 1 retold and acted out the Halloween story, "Mrs. McMurphy's Pumpkin," by Rick Walton. An evil pumpkin boasts it will eat Mrs. McMurphy but she gets the best of him in the end. I used iMovie.

Grade 2 was read "The Perfect Pumpkin Pie," by Denys Cazet. It is a fun one to change voices and do a scary moan. It was too long to add an activity afterwards.  

Grade 3 was read "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," by William Joyce, then watched the 15 minute video that won academy award for best short film. We talked about the author's message afterwards. That was hard for the students and I found their varying responses fascinating. I was surprised how much the students liked this wordless short film. They would ask when it was done for me to play it again.

Grade 4 - Classes were shown Fountas & Pinnell and changed their passwords on Follett because kids were hacking into each others Destiny Quest. Developmentally, grade 4 students don't seem to get it when it comes to respecting each others virtual space. One class finished their book trailers. The pappy pig dance is below:

 Grade 5 - I showed them Fountas & Pinnell. They started a nonfiction unit. I also booktalked with kids that teachers felt needed extra attention. Two teachers gave me 7 kids and it was hard getting through that many. Plus it takes me 20 to 30 minutes pulling "just right" books for kids so the prep time is horrendous. Hopefully it helps the teacher.

 Tennis season started and I made a video of tryouts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

4th Rotations: Shipwrecked Lessons

Ever have a week of lessons that seem to bomb? This was my week. The ship didn't always sink to the bottom of the ocean but it came close.

Kindergarten: I spent two hours pulling picture book titles that told a story and then had the kindergarteners act it out. They didn't really get it and didn't learn much so I dropped it. Developmentally it was not "just right." Oh well. Here's the video:

Grade 1: I read the book, Sometimes You Get What You Want by Meredith Gary, and had students use My Story app on the iPad. They were supposed to write something following the pattern but they just played with the app. There is learning in that but it wasn't the objective. Next time I will have them write down what they will use and I think it is better if done later in the year when grade 1 is better at writing.

Grade 2: We read new books. I got boxes of them and just read different ones.

Grade 3: The students used pic collage to find books and then I wanted them to write a reflection and post the pic collage on the school blog. The school blog was down so I created one on blogger but the students didn't really write good reflections. I sat in and watched a grade 3 teachers reflection and I liked how she had the kids turn and talk. I don't give them enough time to process. Plus, I'm hyper and that works against me.

Grade 4: I can't remember what I did with this grade. Oh yeah, one class made book trailers using iMovie. Only one group of 3 finished in 30 minutes. Afterwards I realized that the students should have written down their book trailer. Most didn't make sense. I did make them use picture books which helped simplify the project. Here's the only finished product on a Mo Willems book:

Grade 5: Finished the Overdrive eBook lesson by registering with Adobe and downloading a book. I made this photo with Pic Collage


Monday, October 1, 2012

3rd Rotation: Lessons for Grades KA - 5

I lost my library for the week because photos were being taken. At one point there were 4 classes in the library and a bunch of parents. There were probably 100 people and of course I had the grade 3 class with focusing issues. Needless to say they had a tough time doing the lesson. Look below for more on it.

I was using the iPads with grades 3-5 and we were squished in the back. It took me awhile to figure out how to teach in a different space. I used the iPads with the document camera and I also wiped out with an iPad in my arms. Nothing like making a point. I just got done explaining that students had to be careful with them and particularly around me because I am a klutz. I go to sit on my stool and the seat has been moved up two inches. I ended up missing it and falling backwards into the wall with the iPad. Because I didn't want anything to happen to the iPad, I cradled it to my chest and just let myself fall backwards. I hit my head on the stool, bruised both elbows, and cut my ankle. I untangled my limbs, stood up, and said I didn't mean to give students a demonstration. No one laughed. They were perfect little angels the rest of class. I think I scared them.

KA- We read new books. I also put the iPad Story Chimes book, 3 little Pigs, up on the LCD screen. Originally I wanted the KA kids to use the iPads but when I tested it on 2 kids they didn't really get it so I put the story up on the screen. They loved it. I did this at the end when they were looking for books.

K -I read, The Very Greed Bee, by Steve Smallman. Cute story about a bee that eats so much he can't fly back home. Other insects help him along the way. We also read, The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems. The duckling shares a cookie with the pigeon. Funny twist at the end.

Grade 1 - We read, Ladybug Girl and Bingo, by David Soman.

Grade 2 - We read, Bink & Gollie Two for One, by Kate Dicamillo and Allison McGhee. Just as good as book 1. I laughed so hard at the illustrations. I'll have to review this book. A winner.

Grade 3 - We used the iPads for a book location game. This was really successful. I used the Pic Collage App. Students had a clipboard with 6 call numbers that they had to find in the library. When they found the book they took a picture using the app. Once they had 6 pictures they changed the background and added text with the call number on top of the pictures. The most difficult part is figuring out how the books are in alphabetical order and figuring that out with each letter.

Setup. Show an example of the finished product. They really don't know the term, "call number" and the example shows this. Tell students if they are taking pictures of anything other than books they will lose the use of the iPad and have to do it with paper and pencil. I also give the same warning if they are with friends. They can't be silly or they will be separated.

One class I showed how to use the app and another class I showed it on the screen and sent them off. The second way was quicker and lets the kids who know how to use the iPad the chance to dive in and then I help the others one-on-one.

Last I emailed the collage to me so I can assess if they were able to find books. Each kids name was put in the subject area and I saved them under a folder in Outlook with the teacher's name. There are 6 sections of grade 3 students.

Grade 4 - We used the Destiny Quest app. I showed them how to logon, check book titles, and search. Because they are in pairs each student took turns. This takes up about 15 minutes.

Grade 5 - We used the Destiny Quest app that takes about 10 minutes. Next I show them the Overdrive app so students can download eBooks. They go through all the steps to the part where they download a book. (They can type TAS when they add a library.) Then they stop and the partner does it. This takes about 30 minutes depending on the quirky tech things that go wrong using the Follett catalog. Next lesson they will go to my cart and register for Adobe. Then I'll show the return feature.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Classroom Management

I am always seeking to improve my classroom management. I was yapping with my husband at lunch and he says that when he has his students work in partners, afterwards they have to compliment each other. It helps build community and kindness. Eveything I do in the library involves partners. Great idea!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2nd Rotation: Lessons for Grades KA - 5

The second 10 day rotation has been completed and we've rolled out the iPads and laptops. I have an amazing 24 laptops and 12 iPads that I can use with all the students in the elementary school!

KA - these 4 year old tots are still deers in the headlights with the library and its routines. We read the book, Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Sometimes a book is so gorgeous I want to put it next to my cheek and stroke the cover. The oil illustrations have shades of green I didn't know existed and the thickness of the paint gives the pages a three dimensional look. Sprinkle in a great story line with hidden pictures and voila, you have a very engaging book for adults and younger children.

Kindergarten - We read The Magic Hat by Mem Fox. Actually I sing the repetitive parts and wear my light-up Mickey Mouse Fantasia hat. When done we acted out the book and made a video on the iPad using iMovie. Check it out below:

 Then the KA class came in and several girls were dressed up at princesses. I couldn't resist making another video. Here it is:

 Grade 1 - We read the book, Oh No, by Mac Barnett and made scary faces on the iPad using Photobooth app - I was hoping it would help with them remember the story, especially the students with limited English. When I asked them about the story about 1 out of every 4 students knew what it was about. The next class I talked more about the story more students remembered it. They were really motivated using the app.

Here's the response on what we read:

 Grade 2 - We read Life with Mammoth by Ian Fraser. Two cavemen try to catch a mammoth as a pet. Crack out your caveman voice for this funny book.

Grade 3 - we used the Destiny Quest app on the iPads. Students searched for books. Next week they will do a scavenger hunt on the iPads using the Pic Collage app.

 Grade 4 - Did the laptop questionnaire on google apps. They didn't know the words "considered" "chain mails" ... I have 275 questionnaires to go through to check for understanding. It would appear that grade 4 lacks knowledge and need to learn more skills before they can check out after school. Email me if you want to see the questionnaire.

 Grade 5 students also took the laptop questionnaire and I pulled books for them based on their reading interest survey from last week. Teachers gave me DRA scores so I was able to get "just right" books. It took me 1 1/2 - 2 hours to pull books for each class and with 8 sections it was a beast trying to do it. I did booktalk with each kid and I gave out new books that I had gotten. The students love it when the book is brand new. Next year if the teacher doesn't give me the DRA score I'm not going to pull books for the class. I usually picked books that were too hard or easy and it took me longer than when I had DRA scores - even if the scores were from grade 4 it helped. I should maybe spread this out over two rotations and flip-flop lessons covering the catalog and eBooks with half the classes and handing out books. This will help me with not running out of books and break up the additional 16 hours of prep time. Another thing that would be good if I flip-flopped is that some teachers were in the middle of DRA testing so my timing was off for those who didn't get done in time.    

Monday, August 27, 2012

1st Rotation: Lessons for Grades K to 5

Kindergarten - I read the Magic Hat by Mem Fox and wear my Disney hat that lights up. We work on routines and how to check out books at the circulation desk.

Grade 1 - I read Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Hopkins. Goldie Socks searches the bears house for a "just right" book. After we play a game were I have clues that spell out the sentence "a just right book." The first clue is the letter "A" and it is "the person who writes the book." When the kid gets it right they stand on the stage with the letter "A". Eventually 14 kids are standing and the ones left get to read the story.

Grade 2 - We read and I blogged about it in this post Fox on Wheels. A video of the kids retelling the story using the iTouch and iRig microphone are here.

Grade 3 - We sat in a circle and discussed our favorite summer book we read for the summer. Students used the microphone to practice speaking. We also used accountable talk reviewing how we use good listening skills. Later in the year students make book trailers and they meet in a circle to discuss two things they did well or learned and one thing they would do differently.

Grade 4 - We practiced using the catalog and talked about laptop care. I created a laptop questionnaire for students to take after school. I want them to act more responsibly with the laptops and earn the right to use them. I had one blip with this lesson. The first day of school I tried having students log on and they couldn't because they hadn't gone to computer to use their passwords. I tried to cover too much ground with the catalog by adding reading levels. Next class I'm going to just talk about reading levels and what they mean then once kids know their reading levels I can explain how it is an aid to finding just right books.

I had the kids save to their resource lists and print it to go shopping. They like that phrase, "Go shopping for books." Another grade 4 teacher uses that phrase and I took it from him. I also showed the students how to log on the Follett page. They had 15 minutes left to look for books. The lesson took 30 minutes mainly because they are familiarizing themselves with the computers' interface. During the 15 minutes I was able to help students locate books in the library.

Grade 5 - I talked about my expectations when students have free time to find books. I'm not always good about reminding kids every time they come to the library. I want to work on that this year and talk about finding books and sitting down and reading them.

Students took an online reading interest survey. I then get the results and DRA scores from teachers so that I can pull books based on what they are reading. Hopefully, I can strike up conversations with kids and they'll come to me for recommendations. This is incredibly time-consuming. It takes me hours to hand pick books. We will see if it pays off by the end of the year. If you want to see the survey go to this link. I made the survey in Google Docs and put a link on the Follett Home page.

This is one of the best starts I've had to the school year and it really helps when I can reflect on lessons and jot down what went well and what needs to be improved.

Fox on Wheels part 2

I had students who forgot their books use the iTouch with the microphone to practice retelling the story I read and become comfortable with mobile devices. I found that last year students were scared of using the microphone. I used the iRig microphone and this boy has the sound on low. The button is pushed down. It's better if it is pushed up with a louder sound. By the end of the year students will do a book trailer and this should help scaffold the process. I used Mr. Middleton's script of having students begin by saying the date and day. This helps with nerves and gives them a comfortable start.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Start of a New Year

I read this to 2nd graders and they loved the character of Fox. He is annoyed with his younger sister that he has to babysit, has to deal with his fear of heights, and makes a bad choice by racing in the supermarket with his friends. This tied in nicely with the start of the year and talking to students about appropriate places to run and not run. My huge library is prime ground for sprinting youngsters. Fox is a distinct character with high energy, talks back, shows he's annoyed with younger sister while at the same time showing that he cares about her as well. He's mischievous and likeable.

This transitional book has repetition, slang, and plenty of action to keep students engaged. The author has surprising elements that balance well with the predictability of Fox's actions. For instance, when Louise hurts herself Fox feels guilty and gets her anything she wants. She gets more outrageous with her requests and while she asks Fox for things, he replies, "Of course" meaning of course he will get her what she wants. It isn't until her friends show up and she pops out of bed that Fox realizes she is taking advantage of his attention. There is a depth to how the characters act that allowed for some good discussions with students and laughter to-boot.

This is a level three book with greater frequency of compound and complex sentences and the pictures function more as decoration versus explanation. Although the illustrations do help with understanding some sections and words such as when Louise climbs a ladder and falls off while Fox watches TV. The students like the ending that shows Fox being punished by using a push mower and his other friends being punished as well by washing the car and using a push mower. Many students didn't know what a push mower was but they got the idea that it wasn't as fun as skateboarding which is what Fox is trying to do throughout the entire story. The other phrase they didn't understand was "hold your horses" and laughed when I explained it.

The first page of Fox on Wheels draws readers in with Fox wanting to skateboard with his friends and his mom telling him he has to babysit his younger sister. There's nothing like not getting your own way that pulls a reader into a story. I inevitably have someone blurt out, "I have to watch my sister too!" They are sympathetic toward Fox immediately and drawn by the fun of skateboarding. The three chapters are episodic with the action beginning at the start of the chapter and a resolution happening at the end.

Reading Level 1.9

5 out of 5 Smileys

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Using iMovie on the iPad to Welcome Patrons to the Library

It's a new school year! We had a blast making this movie for the library. It took about 2 hours.

I purchased the iMovie app for our iPad to make a movie introducing our staff. We'll put the movie on the LCD screen outside the library. Originally, I tried to make a book trailer but had too many words. I abandoned that project and started tinkering with the preset trailer templates. I decided we could be "Super Librarians" and had Ms. Lin Photoshop a logo like "Superman's" except with an SL versus an S.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Overdrive Digital Library

Parents have been asking for reading levels of the books in Overdrive because it is hard to tell if they are picture books or chapter books. I put together a list of all the books and leveled them.

The following list has 317 eBooks and audiobooks:

May 2012 list of eBooks and Audiobooks

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giddy-up, It's Summer Reading

The dreadful book list question. I get it every year. I've tried to keep book lists, but they get outdated as soon as I make them. I wish I could whip 'em out like a lasso but I'm catching air. And spinning in circles. It's really time-consuming. So when I find a good website with lists of books it is a giddy-up moment!

Here's one:

Please help me add to it and leave a comment.

Best review I've read on Hunger Games

Stanley Fish authored this great review at

Here's info on Mr. Fish

Stanley Fish is a professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, in Miami. In the Fall of 2012, he will be Floersheimer Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Duke University and the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of 13 books, most recently “How to Write a Sentence,” a celebration of sentence craft and sentence pleasure; “Save the World On Your Own Time”; and “The Fugitive in Flight,” a study of the 1960s TV drama.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Overdrive Digital Library

The Lower School and Upper School are piloting Overdrive Digital Library. I purchased 100 eBooks and audiobooks while the Upper School bought 50.  I introduced it to parents last week and 96 books have been checked out in 6 days. I'd say they like it! I put together videos on how to use it. Overdrive has a help file but it is a little confusing to use with all the options.

What is wonderful about Overdrive is that the check in and check out is automatic. Also, people can put books on hold any time and any place. There is no worry about books getting lost or damaged. Some drawbacks to Overdrive are that it doesn't work on the Kindle, there are limited book selections internationally, and the audiobooks have mostly wma versus mp3 files. The mp3 files work with the Overdrive app and are easier to use than the wma files.

I am connected to three Overdrive libraries which allows for quite a variety of choices in books. I use the Taipei Public Library in Taiwan, the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota, and our school's.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book trailer collaboration with another international school

Collaboration. One of my goals as a librarian.  Lessons are more meaningful if you collaborate with the teacher in the classroom and pepper your library skills in a lesson that supports the classroom curriculum.

Welcome to the 21st century and the World Wide Web. Today collaboration has taken on a whole new meaning. It is a way to communicate with others that previously was not possible. Yeehaw, I say! Grab a lasso and reach out globally - try to rope a few classrooms into your lessons. It is a rich experience.

Two years ago Jeff Utecht suggested I follow this librarian at ISB , Tara Ethridge, who liked to use technology in her library. I have stolen a few of her great lesson ideas and we started collaborating on some library projects. The lastest project we began together was a grade 2 video book trailer. I worked with several grade 2 classes and created a book trailer blog and she worked with one grade 2 class and made a Wiki. I had one class watch her book trailers and leave comments.

What I liked about this lesson was seeing the differences in how we did the lessons. The ISB Wiki page used audio with a picture from Fotobabble, whereas my students used an iRig microphone with an iTouch. When I surveyed the kids after my project one of the things they said was they were scared. An audio project would eliminate this. Next year I want to give them the option of using audio or video. I also liked the format ISB used with students explaining why they would recommend this book. I think I'll add this to mine. Plus, they did a nice job adding more book details - I think we could have beefed ours up a bit.

What I didn't like about the Wiki page was that it was hard leaving comments. I had to have the students handwrite them and then type them under the discussion posts myself. The comments are on a page separate from the book trailers.  It's easier commenting directly on a blog under the trailer. Also, the audio was so soft, our students couldn't hear a lot of the book trailers (we were using 4 year-old computers). That is one of the strengths with the iRig microphone. The audio is fantastic.

Honestly, isn't this incredible? We are sharing content from Taipei to Thailand. Students are motivated. I'm motivated. It's really fun. Jump on that horse and corral a classroom. It's worth it.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Grade 3 book trailer modifications

I made some improvements on my grade 3 book trailer lesson. Students kept losing their Photostory by saving it wrong. Oftentimes they would have to do the project over. Also, the bootup time of the computers was slow. We setup the laptops before classes came and logged on with a generic name and saved projects to USB disks. Students were not allowed to save but only an adult saved the projects. By grade 4 students know how to save but grade 3 just can't get the hang of it. I made six folders on the USB with grade 3 teachers classes and numbered each USB assigning students a disk. This worked well with no  hiccups.

Rather than have students fill out the teamwork form, I changed the assessment to the oreo cookie reflection that I learned from my husband. It goes like this... after watching everyone's video students get in a circle. They will get an oreo cookie and the 2 outsides symbolize the two things you thought you did well or your classmates did well. The inside symbolizes the one thing you would do differently. Don't ask the students to name two things they liked and didn't like. I made this mistake and didn't get thoughtful answers.  Below is an example of a student reflecting on the project:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Trailers Final Project

I have a book trailer project that I do with grade 3 students using Photostory. Students need to talk about the problem in the story and get viewers excited to read books. This project is hard for students and has been time-consuming. I decided to introduce book trailers in grade 2 so that I can reinforce what is happening in the classroom, as well as, build on the language arts curriculum from year-to-year. The unit they had just finished is Reading: Serious About Series (Week 23, 6 Weeks), and can be located on Rubicon Atlas.

Grade 2 students made a book trailer using the iTouch and iRig microphone. The students just finished a unit on identifying character traits in stories. I had students get into their current character groups and pick a book to read that they really liked. First I showed them an example that I had done. Next they were told to make sure they had the Title, Author, Character, Problem (don't give away the solution), and give the author's message.

I was surprised by how many students said they were "nervous." I don’t get this reaction in grade 3 and I think it is because they are only doing audio through photostory. One student was so scared he actually hid. He had to do it next library visit and I videotaped him in my office. He was fine then. Perhaps I should give them the option next year of doing audio or video.The first class I had students do the video themselves but this didn't work because they were putting the microphone too close to their mouths and moving all over the library. It was too chaotic so the next group I tried to videotape them myself. This too was chaotic and took too long. The following group I had a library assistant help me and that was just right. Yes, I do feel like Goldilocks in my lessons. I usually don't get the kinks out until the third time.  With the assistants help I was able to tell students where to go and conference with them.

This was a difficult lesson to do in 30 minutes. I was literally sweating by the end of class. The first class I had the students choose their own books. This took them too long – from 10-15 minutes. The second class that came in I emailed the teacher and asked if she would have the students come down with a book from their classroom. From then on students came with their own books.

I uploaded the videos to YouTube and the IT person had some students (page 3 or this example) put them on their blogs.  Not everyone was able to do this because of time and difficulty. I created a book trailer blog with student videos. I plan to use this from year-to-year and build a database of book trailers made by students.

I am collaborating with another grade 2 class in Bangkok where students created book trailers. We are going to read and comment on each's other books, but they just finished so I will have to update this post when we finish.

Here's the powerpoint I did for the class presentation. There's video's in it

Friday, April 13, 2012


Sometimes I hate technology. Hate, hate, hate. (Sounds like kindergartener, Junie B. Jones, eh?) But sometimes when things go wrong it forces you in another direction. Sometimes a better direction.

Such is the case when my book blog data with 150 plus posts went corrupt. I lost my links, my tags, my categories, and my sanity (briefly that is). After the temper tantrum passed, I decided to put all my blog posts onto Goodreads. The tedious process was worthwhile as I connected with other book fanatics like myself. Things I like about Goodreads: I like the feature where I can add friends from Facebook or Twitter or email accounts. I get emails telling me my favorite new authors latest books that have been published. I've had two authors read reviews I've written on their books and "like" it.  I have also found quite a few teachers who use it at school, as well as, students. There are some amazing reviewers as well. Try children's librarian, Elizabeth Bird, or author, Kate Messner - two of my favorites.  Bird explains how she likes Kirkus Starred picture books and tries to read them. Messner writes an insightful review on a novel-in-verse that grade 5 students might like. It's a great community for gathering information for my job as a librarian. My hate is now love. I love it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Read Alouds with Columbia Teacher's College

My neck has a permanent crick like a sand cranes. I read during the day to students. I read during the night to myself. I read when I'm waiting in line to strangers. Yes, if you read as much as I do, then you too, would have straightened your cricky neck from a book momentarily to listen to the news of a professional development opportunity on how to improve on read alouds.

Kristi from Columbia Teacher's College was at our school coaching teacher's on how to continue with the development of the reader's workshop in their classrooms. I was able to listen to her speak with grade 2 on how to conduct a read aloud. I have always enjoyed watching how teacher's manage classes and picked up a few tips in that area as well.  Kristi does a great job with her setup and this is something I've been trying to improve all year so I will go into more detail than usual so I can read this post to remind myself of best practices and how she did her read aloud. She was focusing on 1)inferrence 2) interpretation and 3) synthesis.

Inferring about a character - readers learn about the character by studying how he or she acts, thinks, and speaks. Interpretation - Identify the character's problem and with prompting name the lesson the character has learned. Synthesis - How does this fit with what was read before? What does the author want the reader to learn or understand about life?

Okay, stop right there. Do I have your attention? If you don't want any more nitty gritty details about the workshop, you can close your browser or hyperlink to your favorite website; otherwise read on for more nuts and bolts than you ever wanted to know about read alouds. Oh yes, I threw in some classroom management too. Just to make my post that much longer ; )

Students came to the carpet with a clipboard and 3 post-it notes. In order to motivate them to sit faster she said, "One reader ready to go, two readers ready to go, three readers ready to go." Kristi told the students to put their name and the number 1 on the first post-it. "Guess what's going on the second post-it... your name and the number "2," a kid shouts out. I love how elementary teachers make even sitting down at the carpet fun!

The students first instruction was to "stop & jot." Kristi explained that  when she asks students to stop and jot about a question she asks them, they need to write or draw a response on the post-it notes. While managing the class, she tells students to tuck their pencils away and put their clipboards on their laps and get ready for "the best story of all time." She continues, "if you've heard this story before give me a thumbs up." [I need to remember this with Mo Willems books ; )] She's reading "Leonardo and the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems."

She wants the students to think of the word "terrible" in the title. "Terrible can mean BLAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH in a scary way like something kind of scary. Leonardo the Scary Monster... Show me terrible that way." The kids scream. And laugh. "That's one thing that terrible can mean. A second thing that terrible can mean is not very good," she demonstrates  the concept visually by crossing her arms and shaking her head. Terrible can be confusing because it might mean Leonardo is scary or he is mean. "We want to find out right away which one it is," she says. "Are you ready to figure it out with me?"

She reads the title of the book and tells the kids to look at the monster on the cover. What does he look like? Show me with your body, sad. "Even before I begin I'm thinking this is not the kind of monster who eats people but the kind who is not very good [at being a monster]. How many agree with me?"Next, she begins reading the story. She has spent 6 minutes with management and setup. The first page of the book is "Leonardo was a terrible monster and I'm wondering what is a terrible monster." Look at how tall he is. He is so cute and little. Do monsters want to be cute?

She reads to pages 6-7 and asks students to stop and jot (teachers need to think about their dream response to the questions asked). On post-it number 1, she says, "I want you to stop and jot what the character might be feeling or thinking or how they are behaving. You can write or draw. Post-it number 1...go." She told kids to use the letter "L" for Leonardo. Teachers can walk around and if someone is drawing they can ask them to tell them what they are drawing. She gave them 2 minutes, told them to put their last thoughts down., and jumped right back into reading the story.  

On page 9-10 Kristie had the students turn and talk to their partner to tell what their thoughts were about Sam. She is listening for predictions when she does this. She points out what is happening with the illustrations. On the next page she talks about how Sam looks unsuspecting and explains that the word means "you don't know." She has someone come up and act out Sam. They have to be unsuspecting and act like they don't know Leonardo is not there. What is Sam thinking? If no one is around him he's thinking he doesn't have any friends. Sam says, "I don't have any friends!" The student actor says this. She gets another student volunteer to be Leonardo and tells them to put out their tongue and freeze. She talks about being brave to help students get over their nervousness. Next the whole class makes music; scary music, "da dum... da dum..." Then Leonardo gave it all he got. Students loved the build up then the volunteers were told to go back to seats. "What did Leonardo want to do?" she asks. "Scare Sam," says a student. "Did he?" "No," replies the class.

After Leonardo's scare attempt, Sam has a conniption and everything that has gone wrong. Kristie has  the students turn and talk about what Leonardo is thinking. She starts to read again and explains the word, "decision." She asks students to think of one thing Leonardo can do? One student says, Leonardo can help Sam. She prompts the students for another idea and tells them they can't say help Sam because that is idea number one.  Another student says he can scare Sam again. "Leonardo wants to scare people so you would think he would do that again, right? But look at what he does. He wants to be a friend," she says. On post-it #2, she says, show how Leonardo has changed. She helps them start with, "I used to think... but now I think..."Tells them to finish their thought and finishes the book. 

Some people think this is just a book about a monster being a friend, but I think Mo Willems wants us to think about something more. On post-it number 3 can you write what the author was trying to teach us about the world or about people (synthesis and interpretation). Put your clipboard behind you and put your pencil behind you. All I should see is your faces and hands in your lap if comfortable there.

Whole Class Conversation Modeled

Next she has a whole class conversation. "Let me explain what that is...the main rule is that you get to be the grownups. You don't even want to look at me. The second rule is you don't have to raise your hand. This is a like a conversation where you talk without raising your hand. You have to take turns. When one person is talking you wait for them to finish before you start talking. The main thing to remember is to look at each other.  We're going to practice. Are you ready? Do you watch Scooby Doo? Do you ever watch Mickey Mouse? Which one do you think is better?" She asks. Scooby Doo the students shout. "Now we are going to have a whole class conversation just to practice. I'm going to let one person start and you'll take it from there." Silence. Students respond with, "Scooby Doo is better because he always got into trouble. Scooby Doo is ... funny. "

She stops them and explains to the teachers to start with pop culture as a way to practice the behaviors of whole class conversations. She will begin with what is better this lunch or that lunch or what do you like more at recess? In the beginning she is casual and doesn't use the talk prompts of "I agree" and "I disagree" but uses them if students are struggling or she is teaching a different way to talk.

She then goes back to the class and asks them to think about Leonardo and the terrible monster. "Are there any ideas you want to talk about in the circle?" Then she has them turn and talk. Listen for a student who is ready to start the conversation. "Back to the circle. Who wants to start our conversation off? Who's feeling brave?" Students talk away until she stops and says, "A couple of different ideas came up and I want to talk about them. One question is did Leonardo become friends with Sam because he couldn't be scary? Or is it okay for monsters to not be scary and be other things?" Turn and talk to your neighbor about that.

Then she recaps the two things they learned in a whole conversation 1) you don't have to raise hands 2) look at each other, NOT at each other . Last the students get instructions as to what to do with post-its. I am always struck by how often KA-2 teachers repeat instructions to students. I don't repeat enough. I was not able to see what the teachers did with the post-it notes because I had classes to teach. Next year I'll have to catch that part.

You probably have a crick in your neck just from finishing this post. Thanks for sticking with it!



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Character Education and Laptops in the Library

Karen Newman, curriculum director at Montclair Kimberly Academy, came to our school to talk about character education and technology. We met with the librarians and IT teachers to discuss what we are doing and what we can do differently to improve our practices as educators. When reflecting on how students use technology in the lower school library, I realized that I can improve our after school check out of laptops for students in grades 3-5. Starting in grade 4 (1:1 begins then)  Montclair Kimberly requires students to go through their driver's manual,, which is a technology manual that basically gets students to think responsibly about how they are using their laptops. The videos are produced by students and there are a set of questions that students must answer.

I have a video that I have students watch before they can check out and use laptops in the fall. The character SpongeBob tells students how to care for their laptops and check them out but I like the idea of having students answering 5 questions about how they use the laptops in a responsible way. Rather than spitting out a list of rules, this forces them to think about how they use them. I also like how Montclair Kimberly has students make the videos such as those found under Good Habits & FAQ. For instance, students always ask about Cisco Agent, how to save to the mainshare, how to use the wireless. Grade 5 students could put together a how-to video. Or better yet I could tie it in with a nonfiction curriculum unit. I thought about doing it this year but we are getting new laptops next year and the issues will be completely different than this year.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Top 10 Collaborative Book Project

Grade 4 students compared their top 10 books with students at the International School of Bangkok. I created a Google doc for students to survey and put the link to it on the Follett Home Page. Students logged on and voted for their 10 three books. There was a total of 150 students. We discussed what influences us when choosing books for the enjoyment of reading. Students said they were influenced by the cover, summary on the back, title, series, subheading for nonfiction, genre, reviews, author, artwork, recommendations. They discovered that students in Bangkok choose books in the same way such as the blurb, book covers appealing, series, recommendations (from various people), and popularity.

I took the top 10 books and created another survey where 4th graders ranked their favorite books. They discovered that new book releases or movies based on books had a big impact on people's top 10 book choices. Diary of a Wimpy Kid had just released Cabin Fever, Big Nate had a new release, and so did the Heroe's of Olympus and Warriors. ISB had more graphic novels on their top 10 and Roald Dahl books.






One thing I would do differently is make sure there were no holiday breaks when doing this project. It got a little stretched out because of Christmas and Chinese New Year. It might be nice to do it at the end of the year to get students excited about summer reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Storytelling with iTouch


After reading the story, I Wanna New Room, to grade 2 and kindergarten I asked if anyone wanted to do a book talk on the book using the iRig microphone connected to the iTouch. Two girls from grade 2 volunteered and while students found books they did a book talk. I didn't help them. The girl in the video did it on her own three times and kept adding details with each practice. She also noticed that if she had the microphone too close to her mouth the sound wasn't clear. With each new attempt she improved on both those things. The other 2nd grader held the iTouch and would tell her to move the microphone down or hold up the book.

The next group was kindergarteners. They loved hamming it up using the microphone. While students looked for books about 6 girls decided to book talk on the book we read called, Zero. It is interesting seeing what kindergarteners remember about the book. I used Corel Studio and will put it on the LCD screen outside the library. The video buffers a lot and for the Internet so I redid it from a .wmv file to a .flv.

.wmv file


.flv file



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Garbage Barge

Fun read aloud with older students. It is a longer book so students need a good attention span. YouTube has an interesting video on how the book was made. I showed this first to the students. Make sure you use your New York accent when reading the story. There's one line where the New Yorker says, "forget-about-it" but the spelling is funky so I completely misread it. The kids laughed the hardest at that... I sounded like a baby gurgling. You can also use a crusty sailor voice so it is a fun read aloud. Make sure to tell students it's based on a real story.

I have had some interesting conversations about recycling because I live in Taiwan and their recycling program is incredible - about the only thing I throw away is tissue paper and tape. Everything else is recycled 6 days a week. Ironically, when the garbage truck in Taiwan shows up it plays a similar tune that the ice cream truck used to play when it came to my neighborhood in the U.S. in the 70s (Well maybe not a similar tune - I don't think the ice cream truck's tune was Beethoven like the Taiwan garbage truck but the dinging bells are similar.)

If you don't get into reading this book and ham it up, it will be a long, dull read aloud. You have to have fun with it. One teacher told me that the illustrations reminded her of the creepy Lady Elaine on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Ha! Do you remember her?



Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood Reader's Theater

Grade 1 students did a reader's theater of Little Red Riding Hood from a series called, Playtales, by Moira Butterfield. The books include ways to build costumes and props. I used some of them but the students mainly did backdrops. I also have a box of props that are odds and ends I've collected over the years and students took from the box whatever grabbed their fancy. I have done this holding the book in front of me and turning the pages for the students or as in the video I scanned the pages and had the story on the smartboard (or LCD projector) for students to read from. This way everyone reads along and I find the rest of the class is more engaged. The microphone helps project students voices that are too soft and lets others ham it up. I also have a student run the computer, a video camera, and regular camera. Usually the comment is, "My arm is sore!" by the time they finish the play. I also choose a have only one child read one narrator speech bubble. This way the entire class is included. You could also add two narrators per speech bubble if you run out of parts. The speech bubbles are color coded which helps students with reading their parts. Some of the vocabulary is hard for 1st grade.

Here's a short video:



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Trailer and Review of 2012 Newbery Medal winner


Here's a good book trailer for the 2012 Newbery Medal winner, Dead End in Norvelt.

Here's my review:

I finally finished this book and not because it was bad. Quite the opposite. I kept writing in my reading log all the one-liners I liked - inking up 13 pages.  Then I started to read the first chapter out loud to the grade 5 classes - many laughing hysterically at the outlandish behavior of the characters. There are 8 classes and it takes 10 days to see them all – throw in the fact I got bronchitis and it got dragged out another week - but voila, I am finally done with the 2012 Newbery Medal winner… and oh boy, is it a winner, from the nose-bleeding main character-named-after-the author, Jack Gantos, to the no-nonsense, unsqueamish, Norvelt historian, Miss Volker.

Gantos is grounded for the summer for shooting off his dad’s rifle and mowing down his mother’s cornfield. He acts first and thinks later – or doesn’t think at all in some cases. He’s like a Sherman tank. Plus, his chronic nose-bleeding problem makes it hard for him to hide any emotions; his nose becomes a geiser when he is frightened or lies or gets excited or sees dead people. And this is the summer of death. Death of a town. Death of his neighbors. Death of deer, rodents, corn and his summer vacation. When Gantos becomes  the “hired hands” for Miss Volker, little does he realize that his new job involves not only typing the obituaries for Miss Volker who writes for the newspaper, but it means donning his Grim Reaper costume from Halloween, and driving Miss Volker, who also happens to be the Norvelt Medical Examiner, to examine the bodies of people who have died in town. Things become suspicious after about half a dozen old ladies die in the town and whispers of murder spread like “air leaking out of a crypt.”

Miss Volker has arthritis that has transformed her hands into “talons of a hawk perched on a fence” and some funny images surround them throughout the story. She asks Gantos to line up her Girl Scout Thin Mints on the kitchen counter so she can sweep them off the edge and into her mouth like she is “scoring a goal in hockey.”  This will make a fine meal she claims and asks him to also leave a glass of milk with a straw. At one point Gantos who is on his way to play baseball gets stopped by Miss Volker who wants to write an obituary and he knows he’s going to miss the game because “Miss Volker always liked to take her time. The hands on her kitchen clock were just as useless to her as her own two hands.” Later when they examine a dead body, Miss Volker has to sign the death certificate but she can’t write so she has Gantos (whom she calls her hired hands) help her, “I pressed the pen between my hand and Miss Volker’s twisted palm and together we managed to slowly scrawl her name; letter by letter, as if we were receiving it from an Ouija board.” She drops the phone often when calling Gantos and one time hollers as the phone clatters on the floor, “Dang phone!” When she sees Gantos father hauling a Norvelt home out of town on a flatbed truck she “tried desperately to open the door handle but her fingers were so rusted together she gave up trying and leaned out the open window. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself! These are Norvelt homes,’ she shouted, “Mrs. Roosevelt said our homes should stay right in town and never, ever be destroyed!’”

Miss Volker talks to Gantos about how each of us carries history within ourselves. How “every living soul is a book of their own history which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories.” This is why Miss Volker always links the obituary of a townsperson to a famous story in history. This book did remind me of my own history growing up with five siblings in the suburbs and having a brother who had nose-bleeds that had to be cauterized by a doctor. But there’s more to the story than just a person’s history. It is the importance of learning from history and learning from past mistakes.

Some readers might find the nose-bleeding gross while others will find it funny. The dad is disrespectful toward other cultures calling the Russians “Commies” and the Japanese “Japs” and some might find it offensive. However, later in the story it is balanced by Miss Volker’s obituary that talks about being respectful and shows his dad was scarred by the war. While Ganto’s dad is a little crude, insensitive, funny, and sneaky; he’s more like an immature boy versus a cruel man. The reader can see where Jack gets his sneaky ways. The two are like conspirators as they defy his mom and plot behind her back to mow down a cornfield, build a bomb shelter, get out of punishment and fly an airplane.

Here are some of the great lines. Have a good laugh.

When Gantos learns to drive Miss Volker comments: “You’re a fast learner,” she remarked. “You’ve gone from slow poke to safety hazard in one day.”

“Something had to be wrong with me, but one advantage about being dirt-poor is that you can’t afford to go to the doctor and get bad news.”

Gantos dad bought a military plane at an auction that was cheaper than a car and joked that at the next auction he’d see what Sherman tanks were. “That would be so cool, I thought. I wouldn’t have to learn to steer – I could just drive in a straight line and run things over.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chinese New Year Lesson

I show students our Chinese lion puppet and we choose a name for it. My favorite so far is "Lena" although the boy who suggested "Hello Kitty" got lots of laughs.

Next we read the book, Chinatown by William Low, which is written in first person about a boy who travels through Chinatown with his Grandma. I have each student take a turn holding the puppet on each page. The story has the two walking so the students have to walk the puppet and do what is on the page. I insert the name the kids gave the lion so it sounds like Grandma, Lena, and I travel together through Chinatown. On the page where the main characters meet the cobbler I have the students say "hello" in Chinese and English. At the end we say "Happy New Year" in Chinese and Cantonese.

 The Chinese Librarian, Rose, overheard us and said she wants to expand on the story and do even more with Chinese words with the students connecting the story to the Mandarin curriculum. She explained that the students just had a guest puppeteer and are making puppets in Mandarin classes. Next they will tell stories using the puppet stage. She wants to connect with that lesson. I have quite a few hand puppets - maybe they can make up stories using the hand puppets. I'll have to talk to the kindergarten teachers. Let me know if you have a good puppet lesson. They sure love puppets!



Sunday, January 15, 2012

What to do with weeded books

Sometimes I'm not sure what to do with books I have weeded from the library. I'll let the teachers choose them but then I'm left with extras wondering who would appreciate them. The school that I worked at 10 years ago would have a reading night and students were given tickets and could "purchase" books based on the amount of tickets they received. Students received tickets by donating books to the library. There would be a mixture of weeded library books and books students had at home but didn't want any more. A pizza night was designated and kids would "shop" for books.

A middle school teacher has a teaching class he gives to 30 local Taiwanese teachers. We decided to partner and have them choose books at the end of class. They want English books for their classroom. It has been really wonderful seeing the books find a new home. What are you doing with your books?