Monthly Archives: January 2016

Snowflake Meets the Digital Age

Again this year, I have used snow as a theme to review library skills and incorporate some fun!  We read  Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s biography, Snowflake Bentley, then students research snow using the dictionary and encyclopedia (all on-line sources

Snowflakes cut out from paper. The only type of snow we see

Snowflakes cut out from paper. The only type of snow we see in south Georgia!

this year, World Book Online and Merriam-Webster online).

Paper Snowflakes

The second time we meet the students share the information they gathered and I record it for a later session.  Then the students cut snowflakes out of paper.  Growing up I spent many hours cutting out snowflakes from paper and magazines, but for nearly every 3rd grader, this was their first experience.  They were so excited when they unfolded their creations!

Digital Snowflakes

This year when we meet for the third time, I have the students bring their tablets.   We have just completed our school districts 1:1 initiative and each student has a Dell Pro Venue 11.  I used to shorten the Thinglink URL ( I created to curate various websites about Bentley, his photographs, snow photos and sites used for creating digital snowflakes.  I color code the links so that students can explore at least one website (yellow dots) before going to the websites where they start making digital snowflakes (red dots), because once they start making digital snow they can’t stop!

My Thinglink for the 3rd grade multi-week snow instruction.

My Thinglink for the 3rd grade multi-week snow instruction:

I bet you won’t be able to stop either; it’s rather addictive.  Check them out: Make-a-Flake ( and SnowDays (  It was more fun for the students this year as they didn’t have to share the 8 computers I have in the library.  Each student brought their tablet and so were able to work individually.

3rd grade student using tablet to create a digital snowflake.

3rd grade student using tablet to create a digital snowflake.

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World Read Aloud Day-Friendship Week

Have you ever had one of those special moments when the stars seem to align (maybe it’s the lining up of the 5 planets this week)?  On Tuesday morning I was looking for a good title to read to 5th grade students the next day (yeah, I know, but sometimes that is as far in advance as I can plan) for Friendship Week.  Over the long weekend I had looked through the WorldLit suggested titles and nothing really grabbed me.  I was looking at a box from Junior Literary Guild that had been beside for my desk for a week or two and just decided to finally open it up and catalog the books that were inside (I had no idea what was in there).  I pulled out, Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco.  Read the blurb on the inside cover and BINGO!  A story of friendship set in

Tucky Jo and Little Heart

Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco was the perfect read aloud for Friendship Week

the Philippines during World War II.  The 5th grade students had just started studying World War I and will soon be covering WWII.  A match made in heaven and what a touching story.  Just the right length for a read aloud to older students.

Read Aloud then Student Response Using Padlet

I used an atlas to orient the students to the location of the Philippines and then read the book.  I’ll admit that each of the three times I read it, I choked up at the end where…well, I don’t want to spoil the story if you haven’t read it.  You just have to check it out for yourself.

I then had the students answer the question: “What book would you recommend to a friend?  Include the reason why.”  I had our students bring their Dell Venue tablets with them so they could each respond without having to wait for a computer.  I used Linoit for the first two classes, but I had a problem with the stickies all piling up on top of each other.  I then turned to Padlet for the third class (I did go back and copy and paste all of the responses from the first two classes into Padlet).  The students really enjoyed reading each other’s responses.  This was the first time they had used this type of technology and I think we will do it again.

Padlet completed by 5th grade students on book recommendations.

Padlet completed by 5th grade students on book recommendations.

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World Read Aloud Day-Curiosity Week

Boy, has it been a long time since I posted anything to this blog!  Our school system has been implementing a 1:1 device since this fall and it has eaten into my time quite a bit (on and off since September).  I have mostly been delivering instruction and doing activities that are repeats from last year, so nothing new really to write about.  Now I’m just trouble shooting 5-10 tablets everyday, but enough whining about that!

We decided that we would participate in World Read Aloud Day this year.  WRAD culminates on February 24th, with a “7 Strengths Countdown” to the date (a theme for each of the 7 weeks, beginning January 4th).  Well, I missed out on the first week, “Belonging Week” January 4-9 as our students did not return from the holidays until that Thursday.  Just as well that I didn’t plan anything as I worked on a record number of tablets as students booted them up for the first time since leaving for the holidays in December.


We used Aaron Becker's wordless picture book, Journey, to open our minds to being curious and wondering.

We used Aaron Becker’s wordless picture book, Journey, to open our minds to being curious and wondering.

 WRAD’s Curiosity Week: “What kind of reading makes you curious and fills you with wonder?”

I did finally get it together for “Curiosity Week”, January 11-15!  I choose a book from the WorldLit’s suggested titles, Aaron Becker’s Journey, a beautiful wordless picture book.

I read Journey to some 5th grade classes.  I began by asking them what the word journey meant to them and the students came up with a wide variety of ideas.  Then I “read” it to them and let them comment on what they thought was happening in the illustrations.  They enjoyed it more than I had hoped.  I then showed the book trailer for the book.

I didn’t show the trailer before reading the book, because I think it gives away too much of the book; I didn’t want the students to have seen all the gorgeous illustrations before we discovered the book together.  However, I do like the text from the trailer which asks: What if there was something magic that could take you far away?  What would you do? Where would you go?

I asked the students to answer these questions, using index cards and will have them record their responses on Flipgrid.  I wanted them to use their new Dell Venue tablets and as soon as I can figure out how to get the camera to turn around in Flipgrid I will send the teachers the link!!


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