Category Archives: Books

International Day of Peace and The Chickens Build a Wall

I recognized International Day of Peace with most of the grades this year and for the fourth grade classes I read Jean-Francois Dumont’s book, The Chickens Build a Wall.  After reading the book, I posed several questions about the book and asked them to respond to one of them.

Padlet: Student Writing

I introduced Padlet to these students.  The questions were posted in columns and the students used their tablets (we are a 1:1 school) to access Padlet and write a reflection.  Time did not allow for the students to respond to their classmates ideas, but I hope the teachers will take this digital tool and use it in the classroom where they have more time.  They did enjoy reading what other students wrote.

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Making a Connection with the Real World

One of our students made a connection with the central idea of the book to something they heard was happening in the United States today.  Check out Kate’s response:

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International Day of Peace and The Enemy

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We recognized the United Nation’s International Day of Peace during the week of September 18-22.  I wanted the students to be aware of and reflect on the concepts surrounding IDP, but I also wanted to introduce/use a digital tool to 5th grade students.

I read the book, The Enemy: A Book About Peace by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch.   I think  some the students were a little surprised by the simplicity of the illustrations and text.  But, for the most part they really got into the story and had definite opinions about it.

Padlet as Response Method

We are a 1:1 school so I had the students bring their tablets with their keyboard and mouse so that the students could share their ideas on Padlet.   (I attempted to use Padlet once in the past without a keyboard and mouse and it was a disaster.  The tablet case’s covering bounced as the student typed and Padlet kept opening up multiple windows!).

I handed out the questions after I read the book and we went over them as a group and they chose one question to respond to. Screen capture of Padlet

My time with each class is limited so the students did not have the opportunity to respond to each other, although they did enjoy reading their classmate’s writings.  I will use Padlet again with this grade and as they have been exposed to it, time will likely permit a more interactive experience.

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3rd Grade, St. Patrick’s Day and Flipgrid

I wanted the 3rd grade students to have another opportunity to write while in the library, as this will be their first time taking the Georgia Milestones (our state standardized test), which has a portion for open-ended response.  Last week they used Padlet to respond, but I checked with one of the teachers and gave her a choice of Padlet or Flipgrid for this week.  She opted for Flipgrid, as bringing the tablets with keyboards and mouses can be time consuming. Most of our 3rd grade students have had at least 2 experiences using Flipgrid since I have used it with 1st and 2nd grades in the past.

First we read Tomie de Paola’s Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale.

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Then I asked them what they would wish for if they caught a leprechaun.  After writing their responses on index cards, they recorded them on Flipgrid.

These students have become very independent users of Flipgrid.  I set my laptop up on a chair and showed them how to place their index card up against the screen.  I had one or two students in a line observing the student who was recording and off they went!

Student recording on Flipgrid.

These 3rd grade students are pretty independent now when using Flipgrid.

Amongst the usual wishes (lots of money, a pot of gold, magical cars, etc.) there were a couple that tugged at my heart.  Hannah wished for world peace and Kyrique who wanted money to pay homeless people.  Check out the 3rd grade responses.  What would you wish for?

Mrs. Orme’s class (Hannah is a student in this class) flipgrid.com/36ca5f

Ms. Cook’s class (Kyrique is in this class) flipgrid.com/f7d65f

Mrs. Cambron’s class  flipgrid.com/7732bf

 

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Read Across America Day 2017

I have organized, planned and executed 12 Read Across America Days at my school.  It’s always the most exhausting but rewarding day (and only 5 more to do before I retire-but who’s counting?).  Lots of walking (to and fro from the office, to classrooms to take photos); excited members of the community coming to read; random parents and volunteer readers showing up unannounced,etc.

Additional Student Involvement: Including Student Readers

This year we involved our students more in RAAD.  I asked some of the 4th grade students who had recently read to fellow students and staff for World Read Aloud Day if they would be interested in reading to Kindergarten and 1st grade classes.  I tried to match up a couple with younger siblings’ classrooms.  I gave them some choices on book titles and we went over how to read aloud to a group.

I will definitely keep this student involvement for next year’s RAAD, but I will spend more time training them and have them practice with me.  They enjoyed reading to the classes and I think it helped build their self-confidence.

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Fourth grade student reading to a kindergarten class.

Further Student Involvement: Official Escorts

At the suggestion of our International Baccalaureate: PYP Coordinator, we added student escorts.  These members of our school’s United Nations Club took the readers to their classroom, guided them to a second classroom if necessary, and escorted them to the front office to sign out of the building.  The students basked in this responsibility and it gave the readers (mostly community members) a chance to further interact with our students. I will definitely continue this next year as well.

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3rd Grade United Nations Club member escort and RAAD reader.

Read Across the World Day: A New Experience

One of our kindergarten teachers came to me a week or so ago with an idea proposed by a parent of one of her students.  The father of the student is in the Army currently stationed in Kuwait.  The mom thought maybe we could Skype and have the dad read a book to the class.  After discussions back and forth, the mom came up with the idea of dad recording himself reading.  She uploaded the video to YouTube and sent me the link so that I could project it on the big screen in the library.  She arranged to come to school and the class came to the library for a “special reader” who was going to share a story.

I had the teacher sitting in a chair with the book as dad (and 3 fellow Army members) read the book from his phone. It took the student a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and then he said, “That’s my dad!”. The teacher turned the pages while the soldiers read the book and the students were very engaged.  As the class was leaving the boy asked his mom if he could call his dad!

The soldiers did a very energetic reading and singing!

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Our long distance reader, a kindergarten student’s father reading from Kuwait via YouTube!

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The kindergarten class after they finished watching the video from the soldiers in Kuwait, with mom and teacher.

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We had 4 news reporters from our local Fox television stations read to the students.  One class of 5th graders asked the young reporter for her autograph!

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World Read Aloud Day 2017

We are participating in World Read Aloud Day again this year and fourth grade classes are my target once again.  We have had a crazy start back after winter break with 2 winter storms.  January 2 brought a severe storm with 90 mph straight-line winds with large sections of the city without power (in many cases for up to a week) and many streets blocked for days by fallen trees.  Nine schools were without power for days.  Sooooo, our students did not go back to school on January 6th as planned, but on January 17th.

Curiosity Week-WRAD

So after readjusting library visits and curriculum, I read Journey by Aaron Becker for Curiosity Week.  They really enthralled by this wordless picture book. I showed the students the trailer after sharing the book and then we used Flipgrid to respond to that book.  They loved all parts of that activity.

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https://flipgrid.com/07d9e3

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And then….our city was hit by a tornado on January 22, with 5 deaths and hundreds of homes blown away or destroyed.  Again, our students were out of school for a week. All that to explain why my schedule for celebrating and leading up to World Read Aloud Day has been a bit loosey-goosey.  These storms were playing havoc on any continuity!

Kindness Week-WRAD

Again, I didn’t follow the recommended weeks due to our extremely interrupted school schedule due to the 2 storms.  Next, I read Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig to the 4th grade students. They really enjoyed this book and I thought that kindness was a timely topic as many of the students were impacted by the storms and had been on the receiving end of kindness.  After reading the story I had them respond using Padlet. Padlet was a new experience for most of them and they especially enjoyed seeing their classmates’ responses.  I try to expose students (and their teachers) to different digital technologies hoping that the teachers will pick up on these various ways to use technology with their classes.

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Made with Padlet

Their responses were not as deep or thoughtful as I would have liked, but as this was the first time they used Padlet, they are usually so enamored with the technology that it overshadows the actual writing.  But, hey, anytime I can get them to practice writing and typing on their tablets I figure I am helping prepare them for their state standardized writing test.  The Georgia Milestones will be administered to all 4th grade students online this year and the more often they use these technologies the more comfortable they will be with them.

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3rd Grade, Snowflake Bentley and Snowflakes

I am repeating this project for the third year with 3rd grade students. We start out reading the biography of Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Marian Azarian and follow (the next week) with the students researching snow using atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias (online). The third week we review the information they gathered about snow and go on to cutting out paper snowflakes.

Cutting Paper Snowflakes

The first time I did this activity with students I was amazed that not one student had ever cut out paper snow flakes.  I spent hours as a child cutting snowflakes out of white paper, pages from magazines, any kind of paper I could get my hands on.  So it is so much fun watching them unfold their snowflakes and almost universally gasp when they see their creation!

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Exploring Websites with Thinglink

I revised my Thinglink image and attempted to have the students use their tablets (we are a 1:1 device school).  https://www.thinglink.com/scene/479319938847211522captureI tried out the Thinglink on a tablet and the links all worked, so I had the first class  bring their tablets.  However, the best laid plans…only 2 out of 21 tablets displayed the website correctly! So, plan B was to use the 8 desktops in the library.  This meant the students had to share, but otherwise it was smooth.  I figured out that I could use Livebinders as I have used it successfully in the past; it’s just doesn’t look as cool as Thinglink!

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=2164842

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Reflection Component

I designed a graphic organizer to guide the students as they used the Thinglink (or Livebinder) and explored the various websites.  I think it helped the students stay on task.  It also gave the students a way to think about what they were watching, reading or exploring.

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Students creating digital snowflakes! It’s very addictive.

 

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1st Grade and Jon Klassen

Shout out to Jennifer Reed who inspired me to do this activity.  Check out her blog post on Reederama- “ReedALOUD: The Many Hats of Jon Klassen”( https://goo.gl/HMzc4G).  She worked with 2nd grade students, but I decided to do this with 1st grade.  Our school is emphasizing writing across all grade levels and I was pretty sure the 1st grade students could do this.img_0670

Session One-This Is Not My Hat

Jennifer used a trifolded piece of paper, which I also did.  I had pencils and crayons on the table.  After reading This Is Not My Hat, I asked the students what they thought happened in the place “where the plants are big and tall and close together.”  I instructed them to write a sentence to describe what happened and illustrate it.

Students reflecting on what they thought happened in the place where the plants grow close.

Students reflecting on what they thought happened in the place where the plants grow close.

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Session Two-I Want My Hat Back

I have about 30 minutes with each class when they visit.  This allows me about 15-20 minutes max to do instruction and activity, so I decided to do one Klassen book each week.  In the book, I Want My Hat Back, we see the bear seating on crumpled grass and saying “I would not eat a rabbit” although, I told the students, we don’t really know if he did eat the rabbit.  So I asked what they think happened to the rabbit.

Students writing and drawing how they think the bear got his hat back.

Students writing and drawing how they think the bear got his hat back from the rabbit.

The bear asked "nice lee."

The bear asked “nice lee.”

Session Three-We Found a Hat

For the last Klassen hat book, I asked the students what they thought happened the next day.  Lots of different explanations from the positive (they share the hat) to the not-so positive (they fight over the hat)!  Really the point of this 3 week activity was to practice writing sentances, ensuring that the sentances started with a capital letter and had some sort of puncuation at the end.

The turtles share (ser) the hat.

The turtles share (ser) the hat.

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The Klassen books were very popular and it was funny that they got the humor of them and usually laughed in the same places.

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UPDATE: Today after reading the book, Swap! by Steve Light to a first grade class and the students were getting up and going to check out books, one of the students asked, “Are we going to write today?”  I was stumped for a minute.  Write?  Then the light bulb went off.  For the past 3 weeks these students had been writing and drawing each time after reading a Jon Klassen book.  Ah, so maybe some of them were really enjoying that part of their library visit!

 

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