Friday, March 14, 2014
Currently, our 4th grade is working on a Body Systems unit and our 5th grade is researching the American Colonies. I was looking for something to spark interest in these units before the formal research began. This seemed like the time to try this strategy. For the Body Systems unit, I found an article about exercise benefits from Time for Kids, a diagram with an explanation about the new My Plate, and two short chapters from our library books about the digestive system and how the brain sends nerve signals throughout the body. With the American Colony unit, I found a political cartoon that shows the Native American view point, an article about the lost colony of Roanoke, an article of how a colonial kitchen was set up and run, an article describing African Americans being sold as slaves and a time line from Jamestown to the Revolutionary War. I pasted each text on large bulletin board paper that span our library tables.
The children in 4th and 5th grade needed more guidance with their discussion than Buffy's high school students. I am in love with the Fountas and Pinell prompting guides and use them to help create open ended discussion questions for my book clubs and my lessons. I selected four discussion questions and displayed them on the Promethean board. The questions focused on author's message, text features, prior knowledge and any new questions the text may have raised.
The directions were simply...
1. Read the text at your table as a group.
2. Write about one of the discussion question prompts.
3. Read and respond to any table's article or any comment that a classmate wrote.
Each class was different. Some needed more guidance with which question to respond to while other classes jumped right in. Some groups chose to have one person read while other groups wanted to break up the articles so everyone would get a chance to read. The discussion questions did seem to focus the student's responses.
I will definitely use this strategy again. My goal of sparking interest in a topic was obtained. The children also seem to dig deeper in the text and enjoyed commenting on classmates answers.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Three weeks of library lessons focused on the background of the Olympics, the contest rules, the town of Sochi and all they did to make their winter games unique and biographies from some of the Olympic athletes representing Team USA. The students truly enjoyed learning about the symbols, traditions and especially the athletes stories.
This is a movie from our closing ceremony at Allen.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Here is the link to the film that showcases the pumpkins and the joy the kids had coming back to the library at night.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This film was made by NJEA Classroom Close Up about the Literature Links program that we created to help parents read with their children strategically. The producer, Adam Bauser, wrote his thoughts about the Literature Links program and how it changed his own reading time with his kids in a post entitled, Unlocking the Keys to Reading with Your Child. His post was the "ripple effect" I was hoping for when I sought out the Target grant over a year ago!
Friday, February 11, 2011
A large part of the movie was devoted to the research that did not support hours and hours of homework. Yet, homework seemed to be the single thread that was stressing the kids out and causing them to take stimulants, not sleep and cheat. The film also looked at what these kids were learning. Many kids pointed out they can't remember what information they learned on tests or homework because they just needed to "cram it in and then let it out". Doctors and lawyers spoke about how the young adults coming into their profession can't think. They are so used to being "coached". This was a scary thought for them because who will be the leaders in their professions if no one is thinking.
I took a lot away from this film as a Mommy. "What homework do you have tonight?", will not be the first thing out of my mouth when I greet my 2nd grader anymore! As a teacher, I am looking into my homework practices. Two books about the homework topic in the film.
Librarians have a role in adding inquiry into their collaborative projects. Leading the way to show the importance of critical thinking for our students not simple recall.
It was quite a powerful film. Please leave a comment if you have seen the film and it moved you as well.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The MHA library was the recipient of an Early Childhood Reading Grant from Target stores this summer. Whoo hoo! With budgets shrinking and programs being cut, the grant was welcomed news. The grant allowed me to create a program called Literature Links. The goal of the program was simple: To Help Parents and Kids Connect with Books through Strategic Reading. Research shows that when parents become involved in their children reading their children reading achievement grows and stronger families of readers are built. (Darling, Westberg 2004)
The Literature Links parent book club studied the book 7 Keys to Comprehension by Susan Zimmermann. In the book, 7 comprehension strategies were examined to help readers make meaning from the texts. At the Literature Links Book Club, parents learned about these strategies each week. Through interactive activities parents were encouraged to “Try It!” with their own children.
In order to help parents continue to utilize the strategies they learned in the book club and to reach out to other families unable to attend, a library backpack program was developed. The MHA library now offers 30 backpacks to circulate among K-2 students. Each of the 30 backpacks contain two library books based on a theme. The backpacks also include a prompt sheet that should be used when families are reading and discussing the theme’s literature. Parents are able to use these prompts before, during or after the reading of the literature.
The program has been so successful at our school. Parents have been quite vocal of how much they have learned from this program. Literature Links will even be featured on an upcoming segment of the NJEA show Classroom Close Up! I am presenting this idea to other NJ librarians this Thursday at our local Barnes and Noble. I have included the website that I will be sharing with them. It contains resources that librarians could use to begin a similar program in their library.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I will be honest and say it was wonderful to collaborate with other librarians and to participate in conversations surrounding the happenings of school libraries again. I am looking forward to a great conference. At the top of my NJASL list is getting the opportunity to hear and meet Buffy Hamilton finally! My former professor and friend Shayne Russell will be presenting “New Technologies for Program, Promotion & Productivity @ Your Library.” Look for my tweets!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I love the idea of the annual report. It allows me to look back and see all the learning that has taken place not only by the students and teachers, but myself! The library in my school has made such a transformation in the last two years and I feel honored to have been a part of it. The administration, teachers, parents and students have been so willing to allow change to happen!
This year will be my last year in the library. Due to the dramatic funding cuts in New Jersey my district will not have a full time librarian in each building. I am fortunate that I will be returning to the classroom. (2nd grade!) Although I am embracing this new opportunity, I will miss this position terribly! I have only been a librarian for two years, but it has been the most rewarding two years of my 16 year career.
This is the link to the report. As always, I welcome any feedback.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We thought it would be a great visual to go along with the oral information the children would provided the visiting classes. We had her class be creative with their art supplies and decorate the front with the factual information they learned. The back was to be an advertisement to encourage children in other classes to approach them. We decided to just invite the other 5th grade students due to limited time. Mrs. Demski's class was positioned around the library ready for the approaching students. It was amazing listening to the students explain their research and answer questions from the other classes. The visiting classes were impressed with the knowledge of their friends. Some even checked out books about topics that were discussed because they wanted to learn more! How exciting! This text is our teacher book club choice for next year, so stay tuned for more posts about this great book.