Topical / Thematic Checkout & Book Memory

Hello! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. I’m excited to share a resource with you’ve I’ve made to help solve the situation of…   …Students are familiar with the library and have been checking out materials for a few months. They even check out their items with the same group of friend. While this is not a problem, there are times when it’s good to be pushed outside of comfort zones. The library is a great place for this. Therefore… Topical / Thematic Checkout (let me know if you come up with a better title for this) Basically… The amount of cards necessary will depend on the amount of students per class. I get my stacks ready the day before (or have a student do it) and binder clip them onto that classroom’s clipboard so it’s all ready to go. To account for classes larger than 24 I simply print 2 sets with the same book as the opposite side. When it’s time for students to checkout you hand a card to each student and use something similar to the directions I’ve included below. The cards are collected as students checkout their items. No card = no checkout (so […]

Quality Resource: First 5 California

Talk. Read. Sing. It changes everything. Many states have initiatives geared towards early literacy however few are as interactive and easy-to-use as First 5 California. Plus, they link to the national site of zerotothree.org when their resources fit into the three categories of babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. First 5 uses three birds to encourage families to talk (Franco the talking parrot), read (Orson the reading owl), and sing (Melody the singing songbird) with their children. However, literacy is not their only focus as you’ll see by the menu options listed on the home page of learning center, activity center, health center, services + support, and free resources. Some of the resources I found most useful in a library or educational setting include: Downloadable books a First 5 CA playlist on Pandora Songs, rhymes, and fingerplays in English and Spanish If you’re looking for a specific activity for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers, be sure to choose the group you’re interested in listed under “activities.” Comment below with any other state or national sites you enjoy using for early literacy activities! Happy learning! Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Between the World and Me

I recently read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates. This book not only won the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction but was hailed by Toni Morrison as, “required reading.” After finishing this book, I can see why! Page after page Between the World and Me reminded me of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, in the very best of ways. Both of these authors write beautifully as they address contemporary and historical American society (if those two are in fact different), in the context of their personal experiences as well as the communities in which they belong. A few selections that stood out to me: “I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself.” (page 48) “The writer, and that was what I was becoming, must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, precisely because it was his own.” (page 53) “The robbery of time is not measured in lifespans but in moments. It is the last bottle of wine that you have just uncorked but do not have […]

Quality Resource: Cursive Logic

Cursive handwriting is something that is in and out of the news due to people’s conflicting opinions on its usefulness. I was able to attend a seminar at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2015. It was there I learned about CursiveLogic. CursiveLogic is a simple, fun, and intelligent new way to teach cursive handwriting. First of all, the letters are grouped by shape in order for the entire lowercase alphabet to be learned. Expanding upon these shapes create letter strings to capture the flow of cursive handwriting. There are also visual and auditory cues using theme colors and verbal task analysis. If you’re asking yourself why cursive, what’s the method, and/or what does the workbook look like? Simply use the links and learn more at CursiveLogic!  

Library Trivia

Library trivia is something I began mid-year in the library unannounced as a passive activity for students. In the beginning it was a reward for students who read signage. After some time it became a popular activity, especially within 3rd-5th grade students. Every Monday a new question was posted. This question could be answered by using the signage and resources available within the library. All students who stopped by the library had the ability to try and answer the question until the end of the school day on Friday. The level of difficulty of the question varied in order to cater to all students (2nd -6th grade). There were pencils and scrap pieces of paper available for students to submit their: answer name grade level Every Friday after school (or Monday before school) I went through student responses. Every student who wrote a correct answer received a scented, scratch-and-sniff, bookmark. Among the correct answers one student was selected (randomly) to receive a free book. All prizes were delivered on Mondays to the student’s classrooms. The student who won the free book had their choice from at least three options (at least one of these was nonfiction). These books were purchased through Scholastic […]

Door Displays

Doors are a great place for door displays! At the last school I was working, there were three sets of double doors with windows covering half of each door. During my second year there I began door displays. There was an informational sheet about the doors that remained the same for the length of the year while the other side changed every Monday school was in session.All pages were printed double-sided and kept in a three-ring binder. I used sheet protectors so I could keep track of when the sheet was last on display. This was done by simply place a post-it note on each page after it was used with the date(s) it was up. The three topics were: Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (People) The first week of the school year started with the most recent winner. Proverbs This set was in no particular order. U.S. Presidents The first week of the school year started with the 1st U.S. President. I used Core Knowledge for the basis of the proverbs display and plan to create more using their Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. It’s a great resource for background knowledge absent to many students. All images and information is cited and I plan […]

Literacy and Legos: Changes and Future Plans

I’m always interested in trying new things while keeping what’s working. So is the case for Literacy and Legos. Year one and year two both taught me a lot about using the Lego StoryStarter curriculum. I’m very interested in continuing this at the next school I’m at. These lists are in no particular order. What works Groups of 2 or 3 students One StoryStarter kit per group Organizing the fairy tale expansion packs into the regular StoryStarter Kits. These provided much desired character traits. Having a fast warm-up activity to get student’s brains thinking before starting their main activity. The format of year one of working off of a book was a great way to focus on textual evidence and the structure of scenes. I would continue this as the basis for the beginning sessions. Blending students from different grade levels into the same group. Working with 3rd-5th grade students. Requiring a specific type of character, setting, or time period for an original story. This way two groups can focus their discussion and constructively assess one another’s stories. Eighteen students at a time. This allows for six groups of three, a manageable number for one person to be able to visit each of them […]

Literacy & Legos: Year 2

During year two of the Literacy & Legos program at Fairmont Elementary I’m happy to report I was able to receive more funding to purchase additional Lego StoryStarter Kits. There were several changes from year 1 to year 2. The biggest included: meeting during school hours using the StoryStarter curriculum lessons having two groups of students What stayed the same? focus on literacy additional opportunities for 3rd-5th grade students who could use an extra opportunity to work on their storytelling and writing skills use of Lego StoryStarter kits I decided to create two different opportunities for year two because there were so few girls nominated for Legos & Literacy during year one. Legos are useful to everyone and I wanted to provide more students the opportunity to participate. Third through fifth grade girls could be nominated and would meet during the month of March. Third through fifth grade boys could be nominated and would meet during the month of April. I had never separated students this way however I’m pleased to report it worked extremely well. Two of my hopes were that more girls would be able to participate and all students would become more confident in working with new peers. Both […]

Literacy & Legos: Year 1

Using the Lego StoryStarter curriculum for an extracurricular program (those I wish was a part of the regular curriculum) has been one of the highlights of my past two years. This post will focus on the first year of this program, the next post will focus on the second year of the program, and the third will compare both while giving suggestions for the future. I was pleased to be invited to present to the school board about this program with several of the students who participated. For an overview and photos, check out our presentation below. It ended with several of the board members asking the students questions about what they had done and their thoughts about the program. If you’re interested in a slightly more detailed account, here you are: After applying for funding, ordering the Lego StoryStarter kits, ordering book sets (which later were put into the library collection), and figuring out a few logistics, teachers were asked to nominate students who they felt had the ability to work cooperatively and independently creativity leadership potential These nominations were able to be done in print or via email. After I had a list of students, permission slips were sent home as this […]

Book Awards

Since the last post was about book clubs and book discussions, this one features some great awards to give you more resources in selecting and curating the books in your home, classroom, or library. These are also great lists to consider when gifting books to young readers!   State Awards  First of all, make sure to look into whether or not your state has a “student’s choice” book award. Minnesota has the Minnesota Youth Reading Association (MYRA) which is home to the Maud Hart Lovelace and Star of the North Awards. The Maud Hart Lovelace Award is separated into two divisions: Division 1 – For 3rd through 5th grade students Division 2 – For 6th through 8th grade students To vote for their favorite book students must read at least three of the twelve nominees within their division. One thing a few classroom teachers I worked with did was to choose three of the titles and use them as read alouds. This way all their students were able to vote. It’s easy to become a member of the Minnesota Youth Reading Association as it’s only $15/year. Being a member means you have access to more resources and can submit student votes. I […]