Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Picture Book Month!

Wow. Is anyone else feeling like time is flying by? For all of November, we have been celebrating Picture Book Month - reading, sharing and creating all things picture book. There has been Skyping, reader's theater, story sharing, book trailer watching and bookmark creating.  I'm hoping the students are having as much fun as I am reading, sharing and tracking some amazing books.  Here's a little peek at what's been happening:
Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger - you've GOT to watch this. Booktrailers ROCK.
4th graders Skyped with 2/3rd graders in Sharon, MA. Thanks Ms. Drew! (@erinlibrary)

2nd graders answer the question "Why read picture books?"

5th graders rank their TOP TEN picture books via google form

Our community picture book reads!

1st graders wrote sentences from "found" words - based on a word hunt inspired by Rocket!
5th graders create a VoiceThread to verbalize thoughts about picture books.

Picture books are... AWESOME!

2nd graders Skype with 4th graders in Onalaska, WI. Thanks Ms. Brunelle! (@librarygirl2)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our first Mystery Skype!

This past Wednesday, one class of 5th graders came into the library to find they had a puzzle to solve. With just 10 minutes of planning and prep time, we called a classroom in an unknown location via Skype, with the intention of figuring out where they were. At the same time, that classroom would be trying to locate us!  The students stepped right up to the challenge. We established roles and jobs to make sure we were successful.  Here's what we came up with:
The big picture!
Google Earth and Google Maps provided instant updates
  • Researchers: Students ready to analyze clues on Google maps and Google Earth, along with students manning print atlases and looking at globes and printed out maps.
Note taking in action
  • Note-takers and Clue Trackers: Students took notes on each question and answer asked, with special focus on the clues.
  • Runners: Students literally ran between groups, synthesizing answers to questions, passing these on to the Researchers and sharing ideas with the Questioners. 
  • Questioners: Students presented strategic questions to the mystery classroom to try to narrow down their location and answered the questions that were posed to us.  We took turns - they asked us a question, then we asked one back!
  • Photographer: Documenting the event with photos and perspective. (Evidence here! Pics by Eliza and Olivia)
  • Videographer: Documenting the well-oiled machine we became! Complete with insider interviews :)
  • Greeter: Introduced our class at the beginning of the Skype call (without revealing our location!) and answered follow up questions after each class located the other!

A view into our mystery classroom - see any clues?
Notes were taken via Google Docs and shared with me

Students poured over atlases & maps!
The final question to determine our city!

We had such a great time! I basically stood back and watched the students work together as a TEAM. Everyone had a job, and when we finally figured out their state (Missouri!) and town, there were cheers and fist pumps. The 5th graders totally rocked this! I was so impressed with the questions each group came up with to narrow down the mystery locations. It was definitely an experience I'm hoping to replicate across the upper grade levels! Thanks to Mrs. Venosdale (@ktvee) for guiding us through our first Mystery Skype! It was wonderful to meet and connect with such an enthusiastic group of 5th graders!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We're going on a Word Hunt!

First graders extended their connections with Tad Hill and his Rocket books today by going on a word hunt!  We first brainstormed WHERE we could go (and outside was a popular choice, but it was a little too chilly without sweatshirts), HOW we would find inspiring words (and about what inspiring even means!) and WHAT our word hunt would look like and sound like (so as to not disturb other classes!) The kids grabbed a clipboard, a pencil and some sticky notes and we were on our way!  Some wonderful words were hunted and gathered, and finally shared over a projection of Rocket's word tree! Next up - can we make a story from these words?  Stay tuned!

Writing and walking!

Comparing found words
Walking and sharing!

Some of the word gems we found

Our very own word tree!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stephen McCranie Skype Visit!

On Friday, two 4th grade classes had a special visit from cartoonist Stephen McCranie!  He is the author/illustrator of the graphic novel series Mal and Chad (click on the link to find out more about his books and comics!)  Stephen started out by introducing himself and showing the students the computer he uses to create his art.  
Cartoonist Stephen McCranie!
He then shared his screen with us, so we saw him creating as he talked! Stephen shared drawing tips and story ideas. He took ideas from our classes and created a story starter and a custom drawing!  Zervas 4th graders had many questions for Stephen and he answered them all while drawing away for us. It was an experience the students will remember! I had borrowed some Mal and Chad books from the public library and those went home with eager readers. I already have holds on the books that I've ordered that haven't even come in yet. We were able to video some of the visit (with Stephen's permission!) to share with Mr. West's class who couldn't make it to the presentation. It was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon in the library. Thanks for a great visit Stephen!
The students all wanted to know about the program he used to draw for us!
Our character, Kate, who built a cupcake eating robot to help her win a music competition!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The 5 Best Things...

....About TODAY!

(This is a copy of the post I just sent to the staff at my elementary school - it was sparked by the idea of sending out a monthly? weekly? 5 Best Things... tech tips email or post and then was overrun by all of the wonderful things that happened during my day. Skip to the bottom for the pictorial evidence.)

1. I got to meet Newbery Award winning author Sharon Creech. She is lovely and talented and one of the best storytellers I know. Love. That. Author. She hugged me and asked me to write down my Twitter name (SEE?!) - OK, that was just bragging.  The message I really wanted to send is: Want to connect with authors? Talk to me about Twitter.

2. In the hallway after my 2nd grade classes, a boy walked by and asked if I had seen the joke book he had checked out in library.  I told him I hadn't, but I HAD heard him laughing, so he should remember some to tell me later.  As he walked away he said (and I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP) "I have quite a crush on that book!".  Message: Our students are AWESOME and I need to get that quote on a poster, stat.

3. After school I sat in 45 minutes of traffic to get to an Educator Appreciation event at Wellesley Booksmith.  I got to hear about a whole bunch of new books, AND I left with a bag full of free books and book-related swag.  Message: Independent bookstores rule and often give teachers free stuff. And, if you're looking for a Captain Underpants temporary tattoo, I'm your lady.

4. While I was there, I was finally able to purchase 2 copies of The One and Only Ivan and use my nifty random number generator to choose the winners.  Drum roll please....... The two lucky staff members to win a copy of this amazing story are Lisa McLellan and Jen Toran!  Message: Zervas staff rocks and I love to give stuff away. I'm already plotting my next raffle.

5. Tip of the Day: You can send pictures from your phone to your computer via the Bump app.  It is ridiculously easy.  You literally tap your phone on the spacebar. And - DONE! I heard about it yesterday and I just did it.  Message: Learning about this made me want to pass it on to all of you, which made me think of doing a "regular" 5 best things... for Tech Tips, which then made me think of all of the other highlights of the day and I coudn't stop typing.  Sorry! 

These are in no particular order because at any given moment that was the BEST part of the day.  You know those days that you really love your job and it makes up for all of the frustrating times? This was literally like a 10 star day (because I didn't even mention meeting Peter H. Reynolds and him signing his new book Sky Color for us, OR the awesome Skype session 2nd graders had with 2nd graders in Maryland about The Dot (also Peter H. Reynolds)).  Message: Do you want to try Skype in your classroom? Talk to me!  Do you think you would read/benefit from a 5 Best Things.... post? Talk to me!

Your nerdybookclub representative,
Skyping with @MatthewWinner's class in Maryland!
How would YOU make your mark?
Dot creation!

Happy Dot Day-ish!
Love that Author!

The Great Unexpected - a picture with Sharon Creech!

Where all the magic happened... An amazing store!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy International Dot Day!

In honor of The Dot by Peter Reynolds and International Dot Day, different grades celebrated the idea of "making your mark" and embracing creativity around Zervas.  Ms. Toran's 5th grade class was able to Skype with a 5th grade class in Waunakee, WI.  During our online connection, Zervas 5th graders shared the dots they had created as they thought of words having to do with library and then performed a reader's theater script of The Dot with the Wisconsin 5th graders.  Finally, both classes shared book recommendations with the theme of being creative and standing up for being different.  Here are some of the dots that were shared:

 And here's us skyping!

Finally, Ms. Hurworth's Kindergarten class celebrated Dot Day on Friday by reading The Dot and then using watercolors to create their own dots!  Ms. Hurworth will be cutting them in half and then matching up halves with other dots to create combo-dots!  The K's also thought up names for their dots.  I can't wait to see the final products!

Next week we will be experimenting with electronic dots and connecting with other classes around the US! Happy Dot Day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

'Twas the night before Zervas...

It's the night before the first day of school for students.  I think I'm ready!  I get to see all of the 3rd graders tomorrow for library, and will try to welcome back as many students as possible.  I've put a lot of energy into prepping for the first day of school and wanted to share some of my favorite parts.  There are pictures, a poem (at the very bottom), and signs.  I can't wait to keep adding to my library space with student work and book displays! 
Ms. Hurworth,  I stole the Pigeon!

Amazing wood cut words I found!  Will disperse these around the room.

The MOST fun I had last week - a Call Me, Maybe inspired bulletin board.

An idea I saw on a classroom tour posted on Twitter - check out her blog !

Mr. B wins the photo contest (for the Call Me, Maybe board). Trampoline, bball and reading The Eleventh Hour, the night before school. Perfect!

Here's a poem I wrote when I should have been planning. Alas. Saw the idea online and thought - "I HAVE to do this!"  Have I mentioned that I love my school? Happy first day everyone!

Twas the night before school started, and all through the halls
The linoleum was sparkling, names hung neatly on walls
The classrooms were perfect (though still, no cell service)
And ready to welcome our students to Zervas

The teachers were knee deep in last minute plans
As all of the pigments drained out of their tans
Though teachers West, Fater, and Gacicia, up for 2am feeds
Had a slightly different focus, just on their children’s needs

The rest of us prepped with vigor and flair,
Knowing that students soon would there.
Mrs. Joe-Yen and Ms. Torres, details set for the day
All ready to show the K kids the right way

Oh, and Ms. Hurworth too, since I can’t get it right
that it’s K, not Grade 1 she’s in (try as I might)
Ms. Williamson has a special year-long dream,
That the water will stay out of her room (or she’ll scream)

Mrs. McLellan might still be in school, standing upright
By the copier, though hopefully Ms. DeLuca kicked her out this night
Ms. Bernier and Ms. Peca are tossing and turning,
So excited to be in charge of their students' learning

Somewhere in dreamland we hear “That wasn’t expected!”
And breathe easier knowing Mrs. Gorman hasn’t neglected
Practicing phrases to turn a student’s attention
To positive feedback (since we don’t have detention)

Ms. Eakin’s clothes are laid out and accessories stacked
Lunch made and, of course, utensils are packed
Ms. Arkin has gone out for one last long run,
3rd graders are in for a year of such fun!

Mr. B has his guitar and is strumming some tunes
In preparation for Friday sing-along afternoons
While Mr. O’Rourke and Ms. Riley perfect their duet
This year in 4th grade will be the most rockin’ one yet.

The 5th graders have a big year up ahead
Avoiding not one, but TWO holes, no you haven’t misread
The architecture of Zervas, is certainly not Romanesque
And Ms. Toran’s students won’t dare to tap pencils on desks

Mrs. Deeks counts up her change for her lunch-time Cokes
While Mr. Stern polishes up his best crowd pleasing jokes.
Mrs. Lasky considers new sneakers for travelling,
As the known layout of classrooms is constantly unraveling

The Learning Center is as far as Cold Spring park
Mrs. Zernike wonders if it isn’t a lark
Perched outside of her window, so she calls Mr. Griffin
Who doesn’t answer, as he’s busy enjoying a tiffin (seriously. look it up :)

IEPs are in place, accommodations set up with ease
for Ms. Lindley and Ms. Michel this is such a breeze
The language needs of all, Mrs. Alvarez-Bradley is here to decipher
And Ms. Pollenz and Ms. Keehn wonder who’s more of a lifer.

And back in the bookroom, Mrs. Bauer can find an M, C, or J
Just make sure you put all of the books back that way.
Ms. Vaswani is poring over access to the math moodle
While the PTO is pondering serving us strudel.

Mrs. Mirabito has ordered and organized lunch
for this new year of students, a wild, fanciful bunch,
Who will be kept in high spirits with good will and cheer
By Dr. Kaplan and Ms. Mazur for the entire year.

New door knobs were installed (does that mean brand new locks?)
Mr. Boles has polished the floors in his socks.
Mrs. Dietz drifts off with visions of technology collaboration
The first day will bring us all endless inspiration.

Mr. Mignone, Ms. Gilbert, Ms. Simkins and I
Are feeling quite SPECIAL, we can’t tell a lie
And are ready to sing, play, craft and read our way through
A wonderful year, helped mainly by YOU

Epi-pens are organized and ice has been made
Ms. Garvin will never run out of Band-aids
Ms. Hadley is wondering if the phone message was set
And if there are enough crackers and pretzels (you bet!)

Dr. Beck knows she’s ready to greet all families and faces
a year full of smiles at the best of all places
And as she tucks into bed (though it’s starting to get light)
We can hear her proclaim “Hope your anxiety dreams don’t keep you up all night!”

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    RIP Ivan

    This past year, with my student teacher, we hosted our very first Zervas 5th Grade Book Club in the library. We read books in different genres, recommended books to each other, and finally, we all read the same book together. The book we read as a group was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Thanks to our generous PTO, I was able to purchase the books so each student could have a hardcover to keep.  (Isn't that #bookstack amazing?!)

    If this wasn't exciting enough, through the wonder that is Twitter, I was able to connect with the author, and she graciously offered to Skype with us after we finished the book.  I am not exaggerating when I say there was excited screaming and jumping up and down over this news.  The day of our Ivan book club meeting, I had 25 giddy 5th grade boys and girls, all eager to talk about The One and Only Ivan with author Katherine Applegate.  She wowed them with her view and her bookshelves (and her dogs!) but really won them over with her thoughtful answers to each and EVERY question that they had.  Never has 30 minutes gone by so quickly!

    I will never forget that day, and the joy in my young reader's eyes as they asked question after question about Ivan the gorilla.  They LOVED him, and the book (even though it was sad, they qualified).  Our book clubbers even took the time to write notes of thanks to Katherine Applegate - for her time with us AND her heartwarming story.

    Well, I'm now even more sad about Ivan and his story, as the 50-year-old gorilla that The One And Only Ivan was based on passed away this week.  What tugs at my heart even more is that I won't be able to gather that particular group of students to share a moment of his passing together - as they are all starting middle school next week.  I'm still trying to figure out how to pass the news along - I feel like we all shared something special by reading this book together.

    Thank you Katherine Applegate for sharing Ivan's story with us, and for taking the time to make an AMAZING memory for all of us (and for posing in our picture, too!)

    Check out some student reviews at our library blog:

    And head over to Mr. Schu's blog to read all about how he got to meet Ivan this summer:

    Can't wait to book talk this title next week!