Category Archives: Books

Third Grade-Book Character Poems

Third grade students used picture book characters as inspiration for their poetry writing in celebration of National Poetry Month.  I selected picture books with strong characters and randomly assigned them to small groups of students.  Using a template, the students read the book and decided who would be the subject of their poem.

Book Character Poem

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We emphasized using text evidence for their writing.  If you are going to say the character “sees” something, be sure that you can point to the evidence.  This template could also be used as book report.

The second library visit was used to finish up with those groups who hadn’t filled in all the lines or who needed some help editing.

Recording the Poems and Uploading to YouTube

The third library visit I video taped the groups reading their poems and I used Windows Movie Maker to create a movie, which I uploaded to YouTube.  Shared the links with the teachers so that the students could view the finished product.

One more class needs to be taped and now that the craziness of state testing is over, I might get to it!

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Class watching their video of poems on YouTube.

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Science in the Library

I have been reading  Roald Dahl’s The BFG to my fourth grade classes trying to encourage them to read (and finish) chapter books. After several weeks and realizing that I wouldn’t finish before the end of the year, I bought 3 copies of the book from the bookstore and gave them to the teachers after they promised they would read everyday until they finished it (I will be checking with the students and ask for my book back if they aren’t holding to their promise).

Hands-On Activities in the Library: Science Meets Literature

Sooooo…what to do next?  I was thinking of some sort of hands-on, maker space sort of activity and with our school system’s science olympiad coming up soon, I looked at the state science performance standards.  As a judge for the science olympiad I know a laser light relay is one of the events and decided to set it up in the library.  This would also give the students going to the olympiad some practice. The Georgia Standard of Excellence: Science: “S4P1 b. Plan and carry out investigations to describe the path light travels from a light source to a mirror and how it is reflected by the mirror using different angles.”  I borrowed most of the supplies from our science lab, but did have to scrounge up 7 flashlights!

Linda Sue Park’s Firekeeper’s Son

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I remembered reading a book that had something to do with fires being lit in a relay along mountain tops and after some key word searching in our school library catalog and came up with Linda Sue Park’s book.  I read her book, Firekeeper’s Son, which tells the story set in Korea in the 1800’s which relied on a series of firekeepers atop mountains who lit fires from the coast to the king inland at his palace. If the fires were lit, then there were no enemies invading from the sea.  The students became “firekeepers” using a flashlight.

A Temporary Science Lab

Students worked in small groups and each had 3 mirrors, a flashlight and a photo of a Korean palace (where the king lives).  They had to use all three mirrors to aim a beam of light onto the palace. So they were “firekeepers” relaying the message via mirror to the “palace” so the king would know all was well, no enemies in the land.

It really wasn’t a science lesson, but I just wanted to give the students an opportunity to play around and figure things out for themselves. I don’t think they have enough time with hands-on activities.  After they were successful with the mirrors, they had three prisms to work with. This was also another chance for them to practice team work and social skills. They were so excited and had a great time and they might just have learned something!

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Third Grade-My Teacher Is a Monster

I really like Peter Brown’s book, My Teacher Is a Monster and one night in the early hours I woke up and was mulling over how could I come up with an activity that would go along with the book.  All of a sudden I thought “What is the opposite of a monster teacher?”  Answer: a perfect teacher!  I wanted to combine several concepts: the IB’s Approaches to Learning-Social Skills (formerly known as Transdisciplinary Skills), IB-PYP Profiles, writing practice and art work.

I read the book to the classes and it was very popular with the third grade students.  Some students noticed that the teacher gradually changed from a monster to a more human form.  This gave us the opportunity to make a connection with a IB concept-perspective.  They decided that she didn’t really physically change, but Robert’s view of her did change.

I told the students that they would work in groups to create a “perfect” teacher.

Graphic Organizer: Brainstorming Individually

I created a graphic organizer which combined the IB-PYP Profiles and Attitudes, adjectives, verbs and activities.  Each student received a copy of the graphic organizer and were instructed to brainstorm independently.  I also placed thesauri on the tables and reminded them that if they needed a more interesting word they could find a synonym in these books. This is as far as we got the first week.

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Good review of thesaurus!

IB’s Approaches to Learning: Social Skills

I downloaded a PYP Transdisciplinary Skills Toolkit from Mary’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers (free) as it had each group of skills contained on one page with student-friendly font and text.  I made copies of the Social Skills and laminated them.

The second week we started by reading the Social Skills of the IB’s Approaches to Learning.  I filled up my tables (which seat six) and each student had a copy of the Social Skills in front of them. They did a round robin reading of the skills and had an opportunity to discuss and ask questions.

I divided each class into small groups of three groups, adjusting for personality conflicts or behavior.  After reading the Social Skills I moved the students so they were seated with their group and they began comparing the attributes of a perfect teacher.  This gave them the opportunity to practice those Social Skills!

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Social Skills

From Mary’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers

Creating “My Perfect Teacher” Begins

In week three the students finally got to what they called “fun.”  I gave each group a length (about 36″) of white butcher paper and a container of crayons. I drew a head, two hands and two feet on each sheet to give them a starting point for their drawing.  They were reminded of the Social Skills that were reviewed the week before to encourage a positive group experience.  I told them that all of the words on their graphic organizer had to appear on their creation.

Several students said after this session that it was so “fun.”  Judging by the conversation and energy in the room, it was a positive beginning.

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Week Four: Completion!

I gave the students about 20-25 more minutes on their fourth visit to complete their drawings.  They were having such a good time and for the most part working well in groups.  IMG_4437v2IMG_4451v2jpgIMG_4452v2IMG_4434

 

 

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First Grade-Jon Klassen Author Study

 

 

IMG_2713I did this series of lessons last year and the students and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do it again!  I “borrowed” the idea from Jennifer Reed.  I read about it on her blog, Reedarama (https://goo.gl/HMzc4G).

I like to give students as many opportunities to write when they visit the library as possible.  With first graders just reinforcing the idea that “sentences start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark” is good practice.

This Is Not My Hat: Week One

I love this book and so do the students.  When I read the line, “I just stole it”  there are usually several children who just gasp. They are so innocent.  After reading the book I ask them how they think the big fish got his hat back, after all we don’t see the action amongst the plants.

I fold copy paper into thirds and have them write their response on the top one-third.  They use colored pencils, which they really like.  The directions are to first write your sentence and then illustrate it.  I find that some students need a lot of prompting to think creatively.  Perhaps that is because we don’t give them as many opportunities to think outside the box as we should.  There are no right answers here, just your own opinion.

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I Want My Hat Back: Week Two

We read this book and I ask them what they think happened to the rabbit. They write their response in the middle third and most write that they think the bear did eat the rabbit.

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Translation: The bear “snatched” it off.

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We Found a Hat: Week Three

After reading this title I ask the children how the turtles resolve the problem of having only one hat.  This really stumped a few students.  One girl (bless her heart) just kept repeating, “There are two turtles and they have one hat.”  After much discussion I desperately grabbed two pencils and said, “Let’s pretend there are two girls and they only have one bike (I used a book to represent the bike).  How will they solve this problem?”  Finally the light bulb went off and she said something like, “They take turns.”  Break through!  This just reinforces my idea that we don’t let students problem-solve like we should.

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AnswerGarden, Third Grade and Same, Same but Different

I’m not sure how I came across AnswerGarden (https://answergarden.ch) but I’m glad I did.  I have used it with two grades so far and hope to use it again.  On their website they describe it as tool for real time feedback.  I thought of it as a short cut to creating a Wordle.  I love to create Wordles (or Tagxedos) with students responses but I don’t like typing in all their words!unnamed (1)

Same, Same but Different

I read Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s book, Same, Same but Different to third graders.  This books works so beautifully in our IB/PYP school.  It can be tied in with our Learner Profile and Attitudes or our focus on being internationally minded.

After reading the book, I asked the students to reflect on the book; what were words, details or big ideas they got from the book?  With AnswerGarden you can have the responses limited to 20 or 40 characters and this time I chose 20.  I suggested they could use words or phrases.  Sentences get a little tricky if you only have 20 characters.

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AnswerGarden

With AnswerGarden, which is free and very easy to use, the students can type in their feedback and can see in real-time other student’s words.  They like seeing their responses as well as their classmates.

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This is what the finished AnswerGarden looked like.

Export to Wordle and Tagxedo

The AnswerGarden can easily be exported to both Wordle and Tagxedo, which gives you more options to be creative visually.

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The AnswerGarden can be exported to Tagxedo.

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The AnswerGarden can also be exported to Wordle.

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Third Grade Opinion Writing and Padlet

I wanted to give the third grade students another opportunity to practice typing on their tablets and wanted to have another go at using Padlet.  I choose to read Hannah and Phillip Hoose’s book, Hey, Little Ant (illustrated by Debbie Tilley) and we focused on the International Baccalaureate concept, perspective.  The last sentence of the book is, “What do you think the kid should do?”

Padlet

I created a Padlet using the “shelf” template so that I could create two columns, one headed “Squish the ant” and the other “Ant goes free.”  I instructed the students to choose one opinion and write a response citing two reasons to support your opinion.

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Technology Set-Up

The first time I introduced Padlet to this grade level a couple of weeks ago, I had them bring their Dell tablets with their keyboards and mouse.  They have to have an external keyboard as our tablet case cover “bounces” as they use the on-screen keyboard and that keeps opening up response windows.  That didn’t go so well; tablets weren’t charged, keyboards were forgotten, they couldn’t type the shortened URL in correctly, etc.  So this time I logged into 6 of our library desktops in advance and had the website pulled up.  This went much more smoothly.  It wasn’t a whole group activity, but I just kept rotating the students through.

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This second time around they were more focused on their writing and less on trying to read other students’ responses.  I think this is partially because they weren’t seeing so many boxes popping up in real time, which really distracted them.

I also encouraged the students to type with two hands (even if they are only using their index finger).  This speeds up their typing and this is important on the state test where they have to do several extended responses.  Unfortunately, we don’t have structured keyboarding instruction.

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I do have one iPad which also worked. 

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One student who was responding later in the visit noticed that more of his classmates had decided that the ant should go free.  Interesting that he noticed and heartening to see that more of them are respectful of the ant!

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First Grade Reflects Using Flipgrid

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First grade classes are learning about plants and animals.  I read Steve Jenkins’ book, What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?  which is about how prey animals try to avoid getting eaten.  I had the students respond to the last sentence in the book, “What would you do if an animal wanted to eat you?” and they recorded their response by taping a video on Flipgrid.

When I use Flipgrid with older students (second grade and older) I have the students write their reflection before having them record their video.  However, with first grade students I felt it would be more of a barrier if they had to write sentences before hand.  At the least it would have made this activity take two library visits to complete and I didn’t think it would be worth dragging it out.

The students sure did enjoy seeing themselves!  Check out one of the classes responses.

https://flipgrid.com/ef4ede

1st grade

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