Friday, April 26, 2019

Making Connections with Kindergarten

I absolutely cherish my time with kindergarten! They are so eager to learn, read, write, and be at school. We recently started an author study over Mo Willems with the kindergarten classes. In their classroom reading times, they were working on text-to-text and text-to-self connections. So, we worked it into the library time as well.

This week, we read KNUFFLE BUNNY by Mo Willems, and I had the students make a text-to-self connections. We compared Trixie at the beginning of the story, not being able to tell dad what was wrong, to the end of the story when she finally speaks words that are understandable.

Students made connections by thinking of something they could not do when they were as young as Trixie, but that they can do now that they are 'big' kindergartners.

Could not talk, but now can talk

I could not walk, now I can walk. 

Could not walk, but now I can READ! YAY! 

I had enough books written by Mo Willems, that most of the students were able to check one out. They are having a great time finding the pigeon, Piggy, and Elephant in the other books. We are also comparing the books and how Mo Willems uses speech bubbles in his books. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

4th Grade Theme and Main Idea

The past few weeks have been lots of collaboration with the 4th grade ELA teachers. Our latest co-teaching endeavor has been over main idea and theme. We started with main idea, reviewing how to find the main idea of a selection.

At each table, I placed a short passage that had the title cut off. Students were given post-it notes and were asked to write the main idea in a sentence, and to give the passage a title. When the time limit was up, they covered their answers and moved to the next table. At the next table, they did the same with another passage.

On the last rotation, students then uncovered all the other answers and chose what they thought was the best written main idea.  It helped them to see that the main idea is not copied straight from the passage, but is in your own words.

The next week, we read SNEETCHES AND OTHER STORIES, by Dr. Seuss, which is a great book for comparing themes. I read the first story, SNEETCHES, to the whole group. We came up with a theme all together, then found the text evidence. At their table groups, students made a chart with each story, the theme, and the text evidence. They had the other stories from the book at their tables. This collaborative lesson took two days of 4th grade coming in. This is one reason why it is so important to be on a flexible schedule if you are collaborating with the teachers. 

On the second day, after groups found the theme of each story, students had to compare the themes of all 4 stories. This led to a discussion of the events that were happening during the time period that this book was published. We had some very thoughtful discussions. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

TLA Recap

The TLA annual conference always refreshes me. I love being around other library professionals, authors, and book lovers. The love of literacy is contagious at this conference!

This year, I had the privilege of attending with two of my library BFF's.


Characters of Color 

The first session I went to was lead by Louie T. McClain of Melanin Origins. He spoke about the importance of children being able to see themselves in books. His message was really eye opening about how black history does not have to be about slavery and struggle, especially at the young age. It made me really think about my collection, and if I have characters of color represented, not just in books about civil rights movement and slavery. I really appreciated his message about being age appropriate and how young children need to see their race portrayed in a happy, appealing manner. 

Speed Dating the Bluebonnets 

This was my first time to be a part of the Speed Dating the Bluebonnets. It was amazing being able to meet the authors and illustrators of the Bluebonnet lists. If I could change one thing, I would like to have more activity ideas to use the books with the students, but I especially enjoyed listening to the author talk about how they got their idea for the book and how the illustrator created the illustrations. 

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is a fabulous book!

Angela Cervantes, author of ME, FRIDA, AND THE SECRET OF THE PEACOCK RING, was super nice! 
AND, she let me wear the peacock ring!! 

The illustrator of THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD talked about adding his family to several of the illustrations. 

Confessions of a School Librarian

This was probably one of my favorite sessions, and by some of my favorite library leaders. It was a fun, fast paced session where the presenters and audience members played "Never Have I Ever". It truly made you assess your library practices, and if they are in the best interest of the students. Sometimes, we get so caught up in protecting the books, we don't always do what is best for our students. 
  • Have you ever forced kinder to check out from an assigned shelf or table all year long?
  • Kept a child from getting a book because they owe a fine?
  • Dressed unprofessionally?
We've all been there! Be aware of your strengths AND weaknesses, and surround yourself with people that will help you grow. 

I Survived! 

This year, I was honored to have been chosen to present two of my passions to TLA attendees. My first session was over using Google Apps with Little Learners. Then my second session was over being an instructional partner. Both went very well, and I had several attendees asking quesitons afterwards. It gave me ideas on what to present next year as well. 

Meeting the Authors 

Don't get me wrong, I love learning from all the other amazing presenters, but I also truly love going to the vendor floor! Particularly the author area!! Meeting the authors and getting the books signed for the students is the highlight of my week. The students love to see the pictures of me getting to meet the authors, especially if it is one of their favorites! 

Game Changer

Another favorite session was by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. If you have not read any of their books or follow their blogs, YOU SHOULD! They are huge advocates for children reading and having librarians in their schools. I recently purchased their book GAME CHANGER, so I was extremely excited to be in this session with them. 

Now it is back to my regular schedule. I missed my students like crazy, but I've learned so much during my week away. Now it is time to reflect on the school year, along with my new learnings, and begin to plan for next school year. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Shapes in Kinder with Google

If you have been following my blog, you are aware of my Chromebook Academy that the teachers and I teach every year to kinder and first graders. If not, you can read more about it on this previous post.

Kindergarten had started their math unit over shapes.  I had seen an idea on twitter by @MLTumlty where she used the book TRIANGLE by Mac Barnett and had the students sort shapes in a google slide. I loved the idea, and had to try with my students! 

Barnett, Mac. TRIANGLE. illustraed by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press, 2017.

After reading the book, students logged onto their Chromebooks and then to Google Classroom. They are getting so good at logging in!!! 

We did a quick review over how to open an assignment and how to click and drag, then they got started. They had tons of fun! 

It is always nice to be able to incorporate technology into our lessons, and collaborate with the teachers. As an instructional partner, I was able to bring math to life in the library. Students need to be able to learn many different ways: hands on, written, visual, and technology. Putting our heads together, the teachers and I were able to come up with a lesson that students were engaged in and will remember. 

Read Across America Recap

Read Across America is one of my favorite weeks of the entire school year! This year our school wide theme for the week was "Make the World a Better Place". Each day we had fun dress days, guest readers, and fun activites! 

A retired assistant superintendent came to read GREEN EGGS AND HAM to our students. He talked about reading this book to his granddaugter every night that she came to visit. Then he told us about how his granddaughter is now in college. 

Mr. Washington reads GREEN EGGS AND HAM
We had two firefighter crews from the Garland firestation visit our students. They read to us and talked to us about their jobs. They told the students that even though their job is a physical job, they have to use math, reading, and writing every day.

Garland Firefighters read to students. 
Garland firefighters 

Two of our amazing school board members came to read with our students this week as well. Mrs. Griffin even dressed as the Cat in the Hat for the students. It was lots of fun. Both school board members talked to the students about their roles as school board members, and discussed how reading helped them be successful in their jobs, personal lives, and get elected as board members. 

Mrs. Griffin dresses up and reads to our students. 

Mr. Selders came to visit, read, and take pictures. 
One of our parents came to read to several classes. She read FOX IN SOCKS, which was her daughters' favorite when they were really little. She also wore her crazy socks just like our students.

Parent reads to students. 

Crazy socks day! 

One of the best parts of this week was the bench that was donated to our school by a nearby retirement home. The bench was built and painted by the residents of the retirement home, and now the bench has a forever home in our library. Isn't that AMAZING!! 

We had several other activities going that week. Their was a Seuss trivia on the announcements each morning with prizes for the winning classes. The students voted on their favorite Seuss book, and the winner was THE LORAX this year. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Kindergarten Engineers

Last week in the Hillside library our kindergarten academy scholars were researchers and engineers. Kindergarten is in the middle of our NonFiction unit where students learn the difference between fiction and nonfiction. They also learn how the nonfiction, or dewey, section is organized in the library. My youngest students are not limited to a certain shelf like many other libraries have, but instead learn to make good choices about the right book for them. They learn to use the entire library.

This past week, we went further into our unit and learned how to extract information from nonfiction books. We started with penguins. I mean, who doesn't love penguins?! I read a nonfiction book, and students took turns telling me facts to add to our chart. 

After reading the book and taking down facts, we discussed interesting facts about penguins. The students mostly found the fact that penguins slide on their belly most interesting. I set out different materials at each table, and asked the students to come up with a slide for the penguin. A slide that the penguin could slide on his belly into the water. 

Each table has a different set of materials. I received these materials from a grant recently. 

The penguins are just images I printed out, then taped to a block. The kindergarteners had so much fun sliding their penguins down their slides. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Text Structure with 4th Grade

Informational text structure is one of my favorite lessons to teach. There are so many activities that you can have students to in order to learn about informational text structure.

What are text structures?

Text structure is the way that an author organizes the information in a book. Is the author comparing two topics, describing a topic, etc... The message that the author is trying to get across goes hand in hand with the text structure the author is using.
  • Description
  • Sequence
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Problem/Solution
  • Cause/Effect
Students have heard these words over and over throughout the school years, but have been asked to identify the sequence or identify the problem/solution, for example. Today, we took it farther and asked students to identify the way the author is organizing the information. 


First, the teacher had been going over one text structure a day for the past week. The lesson in the library started as a review. I used these free images created by Deb Hansen to create a slide show for students. You can get these posters on TPT for free. 

I hung the text structure posters around the library, similar to 4 corner, but we had 5 corners. Each table group received a paragraph and had to decide which text structure the author was using. Once the group decided on a text structure, they moved to their corner with the matching poster. 

Once everyone was in their place, about 3 - 4 minutes, groups had the opportunity to read their paragraph while the rest of the class agreed or disagreed with their decision. Students had to say "I agree because..." or "I disagree because.... I think the author uses this text structure..." 

Students observed that all the paragraphs I gave the groups had something to do with ice cream. So, then it was their turn. Students chose their own topic, then wrote a paragraph using each text structure. I placed a Google Slides template in their Google Classroom, then they started writing. After writing students were given the option to add pictures.