Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week of Nov 11

Kindergarten- Today kinders heard How I Became a Pirate, authored by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon.  We talked about author jobs and illustrator jobs, and how in some books, David Shannon does both jobs.  We looked at a poster I have hanging of No David, so they could compare the pictures from the books and decide if they thought they were similar.  Then, students who were showing good whole body listening got to choose a card from a deck and we answered comprehension questions from the book together. 

Extra Kinder- In keeping with our Pirate Theme, I read Shiver Me Letters, by June Sobel.  Students had so much fun trying to find the hidden letters on each of the pages, and also in letting me know what the next letter would be!  Then each student drew a big foam letter of the alphabet from a bag and we made a circle in ABC order and sang the ABC’s. 

First Grade- We changed out routine a little this week! Instead of hearing the story first, we went to the tables first.  I displayed (using the document camera and the Epson interactive board) the cover of the book that I would be reading- Me First! by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger.  Students were asked to predict what the story would be about in a picture.  When they were done, we moved to the story area, they shared their predictions and we read the story.  Students cracked up when they realized the sandwich was really a sand-witch!  It is also a really great lesson about how always needing to be first, to the point of pushing and shoving, is being a bucket- dipper.

Second Grade- I read one of the Anansi stories by Eric Kimmel and Janet Stevens, Anansi and the Talking Melon.  His stories are so funny and the illustrations are perfect!  After, the students went up to the tables and sequenced six events from the story, working in small teams of three and four.

Extra Second Grade- Students heard another Anansi story from the same author/illustrator team- Anansi Goes Fishing.  After, we did a large group Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two Anansi stories.  I took the opportunity to introduce the term “trickster tale” to them.

Third Grade- I read Thank You, Sarah Hale, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  For older students, I have been trying to focus on non-fiction this month, and this book is a funny, engaging true story of how “Thanksgiving was saved!”  I love the way it is written!  Students then worked on completing their exploration of the non-fiction part of the library, finding one book from each of the 10 Dewey areas, and writing the title and call number.  I am using a modified version of Assessment 3.1, from the Empire State Fluency Continuum. 

Extra Third Grade- I have starting seeing a new group of third graders on the “extra” day, and the last group had so much fun with the colAR app, that I decided to do it again.  I read I am Here, and The Dot, both by Peter Reynolds.  The first is a good book to encourage bucket filling, and the second is what International Dot Day is based on- and encourages creativity.  After we read, students colored their page to get ready for the app.  They focused on creating products that were an I Read theme.  Next week, I will show them the app.

Fourth Grade- Last week students heard the somewhat lengthy non-fcition book, Giving Thanks: the 1621 Harvest, by Kate Waters.  This week, we explored an electronic version from Plimouth Plantation, a “living history museum” with an excellent interactive website.  Students became historians and learned about some myths surrounding the First Thanksgiving, as well as being introduced to the idea of what a primary document is. 

Second Fourth grade- (done by a sub while I was at a Curriculum Pull Out day)- Read Thank You, Sarah Hale (non-fiction), by Laurie Halse Anderson, and explored an online resource called FactMonster.  This website in an online almanac, dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaraus and homework helper all rolled into one!  Students were asked to use keyword searches to find the answer to five questions.

Fifth Grade- Students heard How Many Days to America?  This is a Thanksgiving story  by Eve Bunting.  Then students completed their online encyclopedia research of Veterans Day, using Grolier, a paid for database our district provides.  If students finished early, I encouraged them to explore Wonderopolis, a website/app/widget that has a new topic of the day everyday. 

Sixth Grade- Students have begun exploring ancient civilizations in class, so I read excerpts from Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, by Lynn Curlee, focusing on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  Then students explored a new paid-for database called TrueFlix.  I wanted students to know about this resource, and how to best use it (for this project and others coming up), but I also used this as an opportunity to review non-fiction terminology such as caption, glossary, Table of Contents, etc.

Extra Sixth Grade- This was the first week of a new quarter, and I will be going over internet safety on these extra days for sixth.  New York State passed a law last year, stating that students must be taught inter-net safety.  In our district, this was taken on by the librarians, and we adopted the Common Sense Media curriculum.  To kick things off, students explored what Digital Life means, and what theirs is like.  They created a simile comparing their digital life and posted them as comments on my blog.  See their fantastic responses here:,40093

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week of Nov. 4

Kindergarten- This week I read Splat Says Thank you, by Rob Scotton.  The students loved the pictures!  They also did a really great job of remembering all the things that Splat thanked Seymour for.  After, we created giant class lists of all the things we wanted to thank our classmates for.  All of my classes were great bucket fillers!

Extra kindergarten- (done by a sub)- Students were read No Dinner, by Jessica Souhami.  This is a retelling of the Indian fold tale of the old woman and the pumpkin.  Students then practiced writing capital letters into pumpkins and got books out.

First Grade- I read the fall classic Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper.  Students then chose one sentence descriptions of story events and aligned themselves physically so they were in order of the events in the story. 

Extra First Grade- (done by a sub)- Students were read Red Sings From Treetops, by Joyce Sidman.  They then completed a cut and paste activity of season matching.

Second Grade- I read Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh.  Students then completed a Venn Diagram of themselves and their best friend, to compare and contrast and to make a self to text connection. 

Extra Second Grade- I read Tara and Bella, by Carol Buckley, to continue our theme about unusual animal friendships.  We then watched a short video about Tara and Bella, found on National Geographic, under unusual animal friendships.  Students not only need to know that nonfiction material can come in more than one format (Common Core discusses multi-media resources extensively), but that the internet can be used in seeking high quality informational resources.

Third grade- I shared another of my favorite books- Nubs, by Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.  I love to share this book around the time of Veterans Day, as it reflects a very positive and human side of our soldiers.  Some classes then began to work on finding an interesting title and call number from one of each of the ten Dewey categories.  Some classes did not have time, as they had so many questions about Nubs.  These classes will work on the Dewey choices next week. 

Extra Third Grade- I shared a second book by the Larson and Nethery- The Two Bobbies, a true story about two animals that survived Hurricane Katrina.  Students are always fascinated to learn more about the two and can hardly believe the story is true.  We then explored a little more about hurricanes on Pebble Go, and learned that according to the text, Hurricane Katrina was at the high end of a Category 2 storm.

Fourth Grade- Fourth grade heard the nonfiction text of Giving Thanks: 1621 Harvest Feast, by Kate Waters.  This is written in conjunction with Plimouth Plantation, which is a place where people dress up and re-enact the real events of the first harvest feast.  The book is lengthy, and I want students to be able to fully explore the Plimouth Plantation website, so this lesson will be continued next week!

Extra Fourth Grade (done by sub)- This class is going to continue reading the Monster’s Ring, by Bruce Coville, in class, so they spent some time exploring the author’s website for the period. 

Fifth Grade- Students heard the book The Wall, by Eve Bunting, a Veterans Day classic.  I encouraged them to see some of the deeper meanings in the author’s word choice, and understand that picture books can have so much more to them than the surface meaning.  We then practiced accessing our database page, and looked up Veterans Day using the online encyclopedia Grolier, a paid for database our district subscribes to.  Students answered questions both about Veterans Day, and about how to properly cite the database.

Sixth Grade- Students finished up their mystery webquest (Carl Hiaasen has been a huge hit!).  If they finished early enough, I showed them a fantastic online site called Wonderopolis.  This is a website that can also be an app, or a widget and offers a fascinating subject of the day to learn more about.  Students were encouraged to pick a topic of interest and learn more about it, answering a few questions for me afterwards. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week of October 28

Kinder- This week we quickly reviewed all the characters and the things they did from last week’s book, Little Goblins Ten, in preparation of the next book.  Then we read Over in the Hollow, by Rebecca Dickinson.  As we read, we compared and contrasted the two books.  Students did an excellent job of remembering what characters were in both (monsters, ghosts, etc) and which were not.  They also remembered key words like cackle and swoop.  The noticed that the second book counted past ten, and were always able to remember what number we were on.  Overall, both the students and I love these two books!  The students were also very excited to be choosing from the Everybody shelves now, and I have also included a new shelf of “Everybody Non-Fiction” as I know I have lots of students wanting true books about everything from dinosaurs and puppies to cars and trains and holidays. 

Extra Kinder class- I read two books in this lesson, both of them from the Five Little Monkeys series by Eileen Christelow.  The first was Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed (it was pajama day for this class), and the second was Five Little Monkeys Trick or Treat.  Students really loved both books- those silly monkeys!!

First Grade- We had so much fun reading Hallo-wiener, by Dav Pilkey.  It is a great funny story, but also an opportunity to remind students to be bucket fillers and not bucket dippers.  After we read the book, students made “hot dog buns” of the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and glued it onto their weiner dog!  This lesson was a great idea from

Extra First Grade- I read the book The Little Scarecrow Boy, by Margaret Wise Brown.  The students really enjoyed the faces that the little scarecrow made as he was learning to become fierce, like his father.  Then we watched a Brainpop Junior video about fall, and took the hard quiz together.  They did a great job picking up on details from the video!

Second Grade- First we read through the predictions students made last week about what they thought would happen (but only if the student wanted theirs shared) in Orange You Glad It’s Halloween, Amber Brown? By Paula Danziger.  They had written sentences and drawn pictures so I also shared their pictures.  Many were quite intuitive!  Afterwards, we finished the book.  It was so fun seeing students on the edge of their seats waiting to find out what Amber and Justin’s costumes were going to be!

Extra Second- Today I introduced students to a fantastic website called Storyline Online (  I told them that instead of me reading, we were having a “guest reader.”  This website is put together by the Screen Actor’s Guild, and each book is read by a famous actor or actress.  They also animate the pages of the books a bit and set it to music.  The end result is a really great product. We listened to Wilfred Gordon McDonald Patridge, written by Mem Fox, and read by Bradley Whitford.  This is a really beautiful story about a boy and his friend, an older woman, and how he helps her to remember.   Then we completed an activity where students wrote about and drew a picture that was about a memory that made them laugh.  This is an excerpt from  The full lesson includes creating a book of memories based on all the different types of memories found in the book, but due to time constraints, I only did one. 

Third Grade- Earlier in the year, I had read a Miss Smith book, by Michael Garland.  Students really enjoyed it, so this week I read Miss Smith and the Haunted Library. Students had a great time trying to be the first to remember what book the characters came from.  Marley’s Ghost was the most challenging for them!  After we read, students did a review of book parts.  Though most terms were really easy, I found a few gaps that I am glad we filled (like ISBN and the difference between illustrator and illustration).  For this we used a worksheet from

Extra Third Grade- We started class off reading Creepy Carrots, by Aaron Reynolds.  This is a really fun story that was a Caldecott runner up last year.  After the story, some students created displays of their colAR app productions, while others finished making the pictures with the apps.  Students really enjoyed using the iPads for this!

Fourth Grade-  We read through student predictions of what would happen after chapter 2 in the Monster’s Ring, by Bruce Coville (only with student permission to share).  Then we read Chapter 3 (one class talked me into reading Chapter 4 too!).  After reading, students went on Alexandria, our online catalog, and practiced searching by topic for Halloween terms like Frankenstein and ghost.  Students filled out a Haunted House sheet with the call numbers for each search term. 

Extra Fourth Grade- We started off reading Banshee, by Eve Bunting.  A good on-the-edge-of-your-seat story, but nothing too scary!  Then we had fun playing boys against the girls Genre Jeopardy, to review some of our genre terminology.

Fifth Grade- I started the class off reading on online encyclopedia entry about Day of the Dead, and then I read a Scholastic Magazine article on the same topic.  After the readings, I gave students hard copies of both articles and they worked in pairs to compare and contrast the information they found in the articles, recording their results in a Venn diagram.  Not only does this encourage cultural diversity, but it is aligned with the Common Core emphasis on nonfiction, close reading, and citing from the source.  We all compared notes as a large group at the end.  Students have such a great eye for detail, they picked out some really good details!

Sixth Grade- Students worked on their mystery genre webquest.  When I started this project, I pulled in LOTS of Carl Hiaasen and Wendelin Van Draanen books from other schools, in case students became interested in reading them after doing the research.  Those books have been going like hot cakes!  Unfortunately, I was not able to get in any extra Eric Berlin books, but our two copies of his books are out now too.  Overall, I think students are really enjoying the webquest and the opportunity to explore some new authors