Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Summer Already

Wow.  I cannot believe that this year went by so quickly!  I also can't believe, though I shouldn't be surprised, that I haven't posted ANYTHING since October 2016!  Here's a quick, catch-up of relevant events with captions.  :)

Third grade's CultureGrams projects turned out really well.  They worked feverishly, even when we were displaced into the multi-purpose room.

They loved learning about a different country and its similarities and differences with their own.  

Second grade finished learning about the different periods of the Dewey Decimal system, and shared some of their work for our library bulletin board.

Fun bulletin board idea from Pinterest for the start of second semester
Kindergarten through fourth graders then listened to me read aloud 20 different Georgia Picture Book Award Nominees, over many weeks, so that they would be able to vote for their one favorite book.  I worked in "28 Days:  Moments in Black History that Changed the World" by Charles R. Smith, Jr. by incorporating the biographies included in his book, into the morning news, for Black History Month.  Students heard about a variety of different famous, black Americans.  

The most votes at our school went to "Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower" by Greg Pizzoli and "Gaston" by Kelly DiPucchio.
"Gaston" won for the state of Georgia.
Kindergarten's "Sidewalk Flower" creations
Kindergarten's Anna Pavlova's, "The Swan"
First graders using CultureGrams to locate countries where Anna Pavlova danced. 
Practice with pen strokes, like in "My Pen" by Christopher Myers
Coloring psyanka eggs for "P. Zonka Lays an Egg" by Julie Paschkis
Bulletin board of student work

Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade Battle of the Books teams continued to meet once a month to discuss the books that they read and to use practice quizzing each other in anticipation of the school competition.


I incorporated a couple more passive, library activities this year, like this one, where students wrote down what they loved about the library and our school, and then their opinions were posted where everyone could read them.

It helped that we had just gotten in a shipment of lots of new books!

One of my professional goals this year was to add more, culturally diverse titles to our school's collection based on the shift in demographics.  :)  

 I tried to keep this (pictured below) section full of new books, even if it meant spending hours in 2nd&Charles to locate relevant, up-to-date fiction and nonfiction, and then purchasing it with my own money.  I also picked up and catalogued as many free books as I could get my hands on at county professional media specialist meetings.  AND, I entered and won 2 different free, book giveaways this year.  
We won that "TIME: Presidents of the United States" book and we also won a paperback copy of "The Sundown Kid:  A Southwestern Shabbat" by Barbara Bietz.  :D
Did you know that teachers get a 20% discount off of anything at 2nd&Charles?  
Just show them your i.d.
Found these while cleaning up the Professional Resources Closet.  Made a section for them.

I attended the Georgia Children's Book Awards & Conference on Children's Literature this year at UGA!  I hadn't been since I was in graduate school.  I got to hear Natalie Lloyd, Duncan Tontiuh, and David Biedrzycki speak about their books and book illustrations.

Natalie Lloyd - last year's novel winner for "A Snicker of Magic"

Duncan Tonatiuh and his codex-like illustrations

David Biedrzycki and his digital illustrations
Susan Grigsby, Carrie Hilliard, me, Jennifer Canavan

For Read Across America Week this year, to incorporate the 7 Mindsets, I did "Make a Difference" for Monday of that week.  Students donated gently, used books.  I had been collecting books, in case our school was able to build a "Little Free Library".   

As we finished out the school year, students continued to utilize all the donations that had been contributed to our library Makerspace.

Kindergarten created their own collages like those they had seen in Leo Lionni's "Pezzettino"
More Makerspace choices!  And, some independent reading!

Fifth graders using Makerspace and the library
 To finish out the school year, I emailed teachers that for whatever great book they read this summer, they should share it on Twitter - #SharonSummerRead.  That way we can leverage our leisure reading time, so that we can all learn about great literature for our students and/or for our own personal enjoyment.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


We enjoyed a rather summery October this year with highs in the mid-80s.  Whew!  Hot! However, I went ahead and pulled all the fall books and eventually sipped on a pumpkin spiced latte.  :)

Our "Fall" display of books, made its way into the window, since we'd been running out of space on top of our book shelves.  I had to turn down 5th grade for displaying their Civil War projects, because PTA's Reflections (student art) were already going to be using the space.

I made some new shelf labels to replace old ones and to help students locate books on their own.  These also assist me when I shelve books during my classes.  After 3 years, I've almost memorized where everything is located, but these visual clues are quite helpful.

(On my "to-do" list are visual clues for the "E" and Non-fiction sections.)

I did do a fiction lesson with first grade on different series found within the "E" for everybody section on the first grade readability level.  Some were to focus on series that students didn't naturally gravitate toward, or weren't aware existed.

These yellow "1st grade" labels were on the shelves, temporarily. 

It was also good to review how to choose a "just right" book, as I've noticed that students aren't attempting to read the first page before deciding if a book is one they could read independently.  Lots of judging a book by its cover and size instead of content or first page appeal.

Kindergarten lessons had been focused on story elements.  We first did a lesson on characters, defining them as "who or what the story is about".  We then did a lesson on settings, defining them as "where and when the story takes place". 

Students got to practice applying these concepts by using PicCollage on iPad.  They did a wonderful job learning to use this app.  

In the picture to the right, students photographed and identified a pond, "gras" (grass), an "oshen" (ocean), and a "frist" (forest) as different settings in a book, since settings can change in a story.  Their reward for taking a picture walk through the entire story was to add a background and digital stickers.  

Kindergarten students just recently started working on plot, defining it as "all the events, or things, that happen in the story".  This, of course, is a newer/more challenging concept, but exposure to the correct terminology is vital in growing as a reader. We worked on a story map together as we listened for the main characters in the introduction, what they wanted, the conflict or problem that they had, how they tried to and eventually solved their problem.  We will continue to work on these story elements as we delve into the Georgia Picture Book Award Nominees for 2016-2017.  

At home, I worked furiously on creating different centers for each of the Georgia Picture Book Award nominees, not only so that I could use them with students, but also so that I could post them to My Dear Watson.

My favorite creation was this lap book (pictured left) for 28 Days:  Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr.  My husband, Michael, was happy to draw and create the shuttle foldable.  I love it when he makes items for our TpT store!

Second grade started learning about the different topics in each of the Dewey Decimal periods.  Then we started rotating through 10 Dewey centers.  Each center had two different activities, so students could choose what they wanted to do.  Many gravitated toward the 100s where they read a book about thankfulness and created a thank you card for either an adult at school or an adult at home.  (I tried to tie in "Attitude of Gratitude" since our school just started 7 Mindsets Academy.)  They also loved the 300s, where they read books about holidays, preferably one they don't currently celebrate, in an effort to learn more about another culture.  Then they used items in the Makerspace to create a decoration for that holiday.  (The other option at that center was to record facts about a holiday, but no one yet has opted for that!)

Above left, students created flags for Memorial Day, and above right, a student created a candle for Diwali.  LOVE their ingenuity!

In a fourth grade lesson I taught, students learned about the "Architecture & Construction Career Cluster", and had started drafting and planning a building/structure of their own.  I created a worksheet where groups of 6 students were each assigned a job.  I provided structural requirements and items in the Makerspace, and they planned accordingly. After I approved their plans, they began working, each contributing his/her own part to the project.  As supplies dwindled, or plans went awry, students had to re-think, persist, and create different solutions.  They loved this activity and have asked that they have more time!  It makes this librarian's heart happy to see them critical think and use the library for more than a place to get books.

Third graders had started a project with a partner or small group to choose a country and formulate some guiding research questions.  Loved seeing them explore places all over the world through CultureGrams!  I even tweeted about the group (pictured right), as I overheard them saying, "Dude! Did you know there was a country named Hungary?!?"  CultureGrams replied and retweeted!  #socool

Lastly, I wanted to share this quote from my teacher calendar.  It's a good one!  It comes at a perfect time, as book fair started this week.  I'm so fortunate that even though I'm teaching all day, the parents at our school support the library by running the book fair.  We wouldn't have books without them!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Look at that shelf.

Such disarray.  That's kind of how I felt around mid-August.  Pulled in too many directions.  On overload.  In need of a bookend to hold me up and set me straight.  (or, in need of more time in my day)  One week, I tried staying no later than 4 PM, and leaving undone what I couldn't accomplish, but that was stressful, too!

I currently spend around 30 minutes everyday, either during classes, during planning, or after, afternoon car duty, to keep all of the books shelved.  I'm doing a better job of preventing the shelves from looking like the one pictured above.  (We've had 3 different moms come a collective six times to volunteer to help with shelving. Yay for Mrs. Stratton, who has come back multiple times!)  I implemented a new change this year, to allow 4th and 5th graders to re-shelve their own fiction or everybody/picture books.  That has helped!

I also started a 5th grade program called "Castle Apprentice" (since our library is painted to look like a castle) in which three to four 5th graders come during the morning to help younger students with check out, to sharpen pencils, and to turn on all 32 computers in the computer lab.  Fifth grade teachers were wonderful to support this and allow students to come help between 7:10 - 7:50 a.m. Students have been a TREMENDOUS help to me, since I'm also trying to co-run the morning news during that time with our school's ITS, Angela Wilson.  That's one of our peak circulation times, so having reliable, extra help has been wonderful!

This year I set up a "New Books" area for our (JLG) Junior Library Guild books that arrive monthly.   I already called our book representative, because I don't know that we can continue to fund that option, though I have loved that new books come in every month instead of only from our twice-a-year book orders.  It's hard to wait until mid-November to see how much money is raised through the Scholastic Book Fair.  Our current Follett book wish list is hovering just above $3,000 - SO many good titles that teachers, students, and I want for our library!  Here's hoping the book fair goes well...

 This easy "Author Spotlight" is definitely a lesson I need to work in again this school year.  I just need to find time to start it sooner.  It might become part of a choice board...time will tell.

I publicized all of our awesome summer readers again this year! Kids loved seeing their names up on the board!
First through fourth graders got to fold an origami bookmark, as an introduction to our new Makerspace, and as part of a review for how to care for our library books.

Kindergarteners learned about book care by working on creating their own book jackets, similar to the one in The Jacket by Kirsten Hall.  I also started a book bin that I keep under our ActivPanel, and I rotate out different titles.  Kindergarten students who don't want to do the activity, or who finish early, can simply go to the bin to get a book to read.  We've worked on how picture books have a picture on every page, so even if they can't yet read, they can read the story by looking at and thinking about the pictures.

I've started using the career lessons that I made this summer to sell on My Dear Watson.  Second grade did some writing about their favorite "Health Science" career,
Students looked back through the PowerPoint to find how to spell different careers.
 and they categorized "Arts, AV/Technology, and Communications" careers into categories of their own choosing.

Fourth graders have been crafting something "useful" or "beautiful" for an activity for the "Manufacturing" career cluster.  They each had access to the same amount and types of materials, and they worked in small groups to plan and create their idea.  We utilized materials from our Makerspace.  The kids took to it so easily, and really seemed to love it!  The very best ones from each class are on display.  

Third graders have been working on one of 4 choices as an extension activity in the "Hospitality & Tourism" career cluster.  Students could choose one of the following:
  • Plan and design a roller coaster model
  • Plan and design a museum exhibit
  • Plan and advertise a party event
  • Plan and advertise a travel destination

Most of them have been building a roller coaster or a museum exhibit.  One teacher's kid even brought his mom into the library to see his project - that's how excited he was about his Makerspace project!

And, just this last week in celebration of The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, kindergarten through fourth grade experienced the Quiver app to "make their mark", be brave, dream big, embrace creativity, and have fun!  (Unfortunately, as part of my six period, fixed rotations, I see 5th graders significantly less times than K-4th, so we have to focus all of our time on the Georgia Career Portfolio.  Hopefully this year, with our writing coach's help, 5th graders may be able to finish their projects earlier and utilize the Makerspace or something fun before the school year's end!)

It's been a whirlwind.  But, if I stay focused on successes and the growth of 'trying something new', even if my lesson looks like a bedraggled shelf of books, I always end up with a smile.