This is the final post in a series for lessons in October 2017. To read the previous post, click HERE. To read the initial post, click HERE.
Where has the time gone? October has flown as fast as a goblin on Halloween night! This week wraps up (no mummy pun intended) the final week of not-so-scary library lessons and it was a great week! There will be two days of lessons next week to get us through Halloween, so I'll be sure to include those plans at the end of this post. Hope you have enjoyed the series and have gained some inspiration for some spooky fun in your library!
You must be living under a rock if you've not heard of The Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds. It has been all the rage on Instagram and when it showed up in our Fall Book Fair, I knew it would be a big hit for this month. With the fantastically ghoulish, greenish glow in the illustrations by Peter Brown, this book was a HUGE hit with students of all ages! Just look at their faces!
I started the week by reading this story to my 1st and 2nd graders during story time and they loved it so much that I took the chance to use it with older students later in the week. Remembering that I have only 30 minutes with my younger students, I only read to them and then did book checkout. With my older students, grades 3 and 4, I chose to include a creative writing and art activity.
I found a great little packet on TpT by Moonlight Crafter that was both cost effective and simple to access. I decided that I like the handout that included both the blank undies to color and a writing section. For the writing, students described an imaginary pair of underwear that would scare them and told how they would "get rid of" them! This opened the door for lots of discussion about describing words (adjectives have been a big topic for 3rd grade this month) and for making connections to the story (I gave students the opportunity to make predictions as I read the story aloud to them).
With the illustration part of the worksheet, students were only allowed to use pencil and a green crayon or green colored pencil. We talked about Peter Brown's choices in using black and white illustrations with the neon green accents and how those choices increased the "creepiness" of the underwear. We had such a blast sharing our thoughts about these illustrations!!! I just love anything Peter Brown does....right?!
The students were so creative with this worksheet....I was tickled by how clever the illustrations and descriptions turned out. And when I overheard one student saying, "This is the best thing ever!" as he worked on his drawing, I knew I had a hit. Days like this are what make my job the best job in the school!
To wrap us this week, I can't forget to include my Kindergarten and PreK students. I brought back a favorite character from the beginning of the school year....Splat the Cat! His adventure with his Halloween costume and jack-o-lantern turned out to be just right for the younger students....lots of giggles with this read-aloud. Once we finished our story, students practiced reading a library book of their choosing (from a pre-selected table display) in a space of their choosing.
Another little side note that made this lesson work really well is that it was Red Ribbon Week and we had a "Crazy Sock and Crazy Hair" dress up day. I took full advantage and wore my eyeball socks, Halloween librarian shirt, and googly eyes headband. It really made the Splat lesson more festive.
As promised, I want to share what I will be doing on Monday and Tuesday of next week since they are the last two days of October and one of them is Halloween. Students who come into the library on these days will get to do a Flashlight Fun Day....I will cover the windows with black paper, have inexpensive flashlights at the ready, and greet students in a dark library. I'm thinking I will hang a few string lights around our story carpet to keep things Not-So-Scary. I plan to read I Want to be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor and then will have the students get their own flashlights to do book selection and silent reading. I will post pictures to my social media accounts, so if you aren't following those, look for the links in the right-sidebar of the blog.
Last but not least, my 5th graders did not have library with me this week because I was attending a conference....so, they will present their Monster Buncees on Wednesday. We might turn the lights out for that lesson too! Happy Halloween!
Hamlet pondered the big question of his own existence. School librarians are pondering the big question of labeling. At the core of the question is the type of labeling being done. Under pressure to improve test scores and student growth percentiles in reading, many schools are now asking librarians to level the library or to place labels on books indicating a variety of reading levels, tests, or word count. School librarians are overwhelmingly against this sort of labeling. But on the other hand, librarians are embracing more readily the genre label. Many school librarians are making the leap into genrefication of their library collections without apology.
In my former position as a high school librarian, I genrefied a collection with huge success. It enabled me to weed the collection thoroughly, as well as identify needs in terms of collection development. It also reignited some interest in our library collection, as students were more easily able to locate the types of books they wanted to read. The biggest hit was creating a section for the graphic novels, the fastest growing genre in popularity among teens and elementary students alike.
Now I find myself only three months into my new position in an elementary school and I have the bug. I want to genrefy. But there are a few hurdles to overcome. I want to share my own journey. That's it. And so it begins with labels.
I have mentioned before that the books in my library are covered in labels. There are:
1. Is the book on my reading level? The kids are told what letter to look for and that is what they seek out. "You are an H, so only get an H book," said a teacher to a student just this week.
2. Is the book a Reading Counts book? The kids are told to test over every single book they read. If a book doesn't have a quiz, many teachers make students return the book and select one that does. Some teachers go as far as requiring students to pass the quiz over a book before allowing them to select a new book.
I cannot even begin to explain the frustration I feel with this. And the AASL's position on this type of labeling is clear:
One of the realities some school librarians face in their jobs is pressure by administrators and classroom teachers to label and arrange library collections according to reading levels. Student browsing behaviors can be profoundly altered with the addition of external reading level labels. With reading level labels often closely tied to reward points, student browsing becomes mainly a search for books that must be read and tests completed for individual or classroom point goals and/or grades. School library collections are not merely extensions of classroom book collections or classroom teaching methods, but rather places where children can explore interests safely and without restrictions. A minor’s right to access resources freely and without restriction has long been and continues to be the position of the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians.
Although I feel encouraged by the position statement, it doesn't ease the burden of the battle with the mindset at my school. It can be overwhelming to think about being the sole person trying to change this type of culture within a school. But a wise colleague reminded me "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." This is sage advise. And so...I begin with the labels.
I first went in to my book vendor websites and changed my labeling preferences for future book orders. I only want Reading Counts labels on the inside-cover (verso) of any new books. That way, the information is still available to teachers and students, but hopefully it won't be driving book selection, as it is no longer on the outside of the books.
The second thing is that I have decided to jump into genrefication a little sooner that I might normally would. By choosing to begin genrefying our fiction section, I can justify the removal of certain labels. But, it does mean adding new labels in the form of genre labels.
I first pulled all of my graphic novels from the fiction section of the library. I personally like that Dewey catalogs graphic novels as 741.5 and not fiction, however the previous librarian in my school had all of the graphic novels shelved as fiction with FIC call numbers. I worked to pull these as they were being checked back in by students and quickly added a "sub-location" category within Destiny. It was quick and easy. I then removed the guided reading letter labels, yellow reading counts labels, and any Lexile labels that were at the top of the spine of the book. I wanted to remove the Lexile dots at the base of the spine, but many of these are attached to the call number labels and I didn't want to commit to re-making all of those at this point in time. So, they will have to stay for now.
Once I had the former labels removed, I then could clean the book and add the new genre label. I ordered these from Demco, but many librarians are making their own custom labels. I liked the look of the Demco modern labels and for now, they have the categories I need.
I have completed most of the graphic novels at this point and they have been moved to a new section of the library, complete with new signage above the section that was ordered through Vista Print. I have these same signs above my other sections (Fiction, E Fiction, Nonfiction, Help desk) of the library and can share them in a future blog post if you guys are interested.
Last Friday I began working on the As and Bs in the fiction section of our collection. I have a good bit of those books weeded, cleaned, and ready for new genre labels. I will share pictures and more commentary as I work through this process. I will also share reaction from teachers and students.
I expect to get some push-back from teachers who are dedicated to the guided reading levels or RC tests as a method of student book selection, but I think that students will have a sense of freedom and empowerment when they can see the genres grouped together and can choose books based on their reading interests. This is a culture in our school and it will take time, patience, education, and open conversation to change it. But, the labels are a start.
If you want to see what others are doing or saying about genrefication and/or labels in the library, check out these resources:
Fountas and Pinnell article on leveling
Fountas and Pinnell statement in School Library Journal
Genre Signage compilation by Nikki D. Roberston
Expect the Miraculous blog
Mrs. Reader Pants blog
Mighty Little Librarian blog series on Ditching Dewey
Rhonda Jenkins article for Future Ready Libraries
Ideas for Labeling from Demco
AASL Position Statement on Leveling (labeling books with reading levels)
This is the fourth post in a series on library lessons for October 2017. Read the previous post HERE.
It's hard to believe we've already arrived at the middle of the month! This post will be somewhat abbreviated, as this week included two days out of school for our district's fall break. Without Monday and Tuesday classes, I didn't see any Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd graders and I also missed two of my 3rd grade groups. Then, we had Georgia Power presentations (energy conservation) on Thursday morning in the library, so I didn't get to host my regular 4th grade lessons this week either! So, what to do with a "messed-up" week? READ, of course!
In keeping with the monster theme, the 3rd grade classes that I did see this week listened to Bone Soup by Cambria Evans. The main character is not really a monster, but a skeleton. However, there is a monster in the story so I felt like it was a good fit. The book is such a treat! Ms. Evans was inspired by the soup her mother made for her each Halloween season. She took this inspiration to write a new version of the stone soup story and it was a big hit with the kids! The story also features fabulous vocabulary, so it tied right in to the previous lessons I've done with 3rd graders on adjectives. They really did love this story and reacted with lots of "ooo...gross!" and "yucky" commentary as I read aloud. After the read aloud, we did book check-out and silent sustained reading...the kids and the teachers really enjoyed this. Sometimes I forget how much everyone just wants some quiet time to enjoy their books.
The only other group I was able to see this week were my sweet PreK students. They come on Fridays for a short story time, so the crazy schedule didn't interfere with their regular library time. I read aloud Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin and we had fun naming all of the colors in the story. I also found a plush red crayon doll while cleaning out a back storage space and thought it was the perfect compliment to the lesson. We asked "RED" to join us for the story and we waited patiently to get to the page in the story that features the red crayon. I forgot to take a picture of the crayon I have, but it is very similar to the one pictured below.
This book was fun and I will certainly use it again. I also introduced the concept of an illustrator and used the "scribble" pictures in the book to talk a little about book care....."we don't scribble in our library books with crayons do we?" and "the illustrator is the person who chooses what to draw in the book" and so forth.
So that's a wrap on a 3-day week of quick lessons. I'll be back next week to finish out the series with our 4th week of activities. It is sure to be a busy week and we will be gearing up to announce our winners for the Eye Candy Contest (eyeballs in a jar) for the month! Our school also hosts a Monster Mash dance for the students next week, so that will be the perfect ending to this month of monster-themed fun.
UPDATE: If you want more information about joining the Picture Book Smackdown, click HERE
I'm still knee-deep in monster lessons for October, but I'm planning ahead for November. November is National Picture Book Month and I want to focus on these books. As I searched for ideas and inspiration, I returned to one of my favorite blogs Expect the Miraculous written by my friend and colleague Andy Plemmons. If you don't know Andy or have never read his blog, stop right now and head over there! He is amazing! And his ideas for Picture Book Month do not disappoint.
I am not ashamed to admit that I'm stealing from Andy. (Don't worry, he encourages this.) I am going to attempt to host a Picture Book Smackdown in November! I have no idea if any other school will join me, but here's to hoping! Basically, the premise is that you and your students read and share picture books all month long. Then, students are selected to share their picture book favs during a smackdown. Obviously, time will limit the number of students who share, but students who may not want to speak or don't get the opportunity to speak will still enjoy participating! I've also started a Pinterest board to brainstorm ideas of books I could promote and share with students to get their interest in picture books going....especially our older students. Many of them think that picture books are "easy" books!
So, if your elementary library is interested in participating, please use the contact form on The Happy Library website to email me. I will need the librarian's name, the school name, and eventually a list of picture books your students will be sharing. (We don't want to duplicate titles.) Space is limited, so take the plunge with me! I've never done this before...so, we can all learn together!
This is the third post in a series on library lessons for October 2017. You can read the previous post HERE.
This week was such fun as we continued our monster-themed lessons for the month! The week started out with another fun read-aloud with Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students. Claire Freedman's Monsters Love Underpants had kids in stitches and they had fun spying their favorite undies throughout the book.
With kindergarten students, I highlighted the letter M. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher give me a tip last week that the students had just learned the letter. How perfect is that?! I made a little foam monster letter by cutting out the letter and attaching googly eyes and a silly mouth. (I regret I didn't take a photo, but I'll fix that when I'm back at school and will post in the comments so that you can see it.) We talked about the letter M, looked for it in the story, and then I gave students an "Mm is for Monster" creative commons coloring sheet that I downloaded HERE. The students had fun and it reinforced what they are learning in the classroom.
I did the same book with 1st and 2nd graders, but we weren't able to do an activity. Book check-out with these students takes 15 minutes of our 30 minute library time, so I often feel at a loss of what to do with these students. After a read-aloud, we don't have time for much else. I hope this can change in the future, but for now we just focus on a read-aloud and book circulation. I'm open for suggestions!
Third graders got a real treat this week, as we continued to build on the I Need My Monster lesson from last week. I reviewed our discussion about our "perfect monster" from our writing activity from last week and then I told them that they now would be making their monsters. They were super stoked! I have to admit that this fun idea came from a blog post from Sandy Liptak. She used a different book (which I have just recently purchased and plan to use in the future), but the basic idea of lesson came from her blog post. She has fabulous ideas on her blog, so be sure to check them all out!
I made a little assembly line with signs telling students how many of each item they were allowed to take, similar to Sandy's lesson. We used a hole punch to create holes for attaching pipe cleaners which students used for arms, legs, tails, or antennae. Once the students had created their monster bodies, they came to my special station for the eyes. I didn't want glue in the library carpet, so I assisted with the glue application. It worked great.
After the students completed the monsters, I had them gather at the carpet area for a group photo. We took a few with their smiling faces for the yearbook and then a few with their monsters covering their faces for social media and website use. They loved posing with their creatures! It was so much fun and the perfect activity for 3rd graders.
4th graders also did the monster writing activity last week, so this week they made their monsters come to life, but not using the assembly line as the 3rd graders did. I had 4th graders review how to use the basics of Buncee (they haven't used all of the features the way the 5th graders have). The 4th grade students then began creating their "perfect monsters" using Buncee. They came up with some really great ideas and we will continue this project next week. I hope to share some of the final projects with you in the next post.
That brings me to the 5th graders who continued researching their monsters and creating a presentation on their research using Buncee. I was happy to see that they are still really enjoying the project. They are pretty close to being done, so I imagine that next week we will finish up and then I have some fun plans for student sharing.
So, that's a wrap! We are about half way through our October lessons and with a four-day weekend for our fall break, I'm looking forward to a little R-n-R and time to prep for our next batch of lessons!
This is the second post in a series for October 2017 library lessons. Read the previous post HERE.
I have my first week of "Not-So-Scary" lessons under my belt and wanted to share them with you! My week starts with all first and second grade classes on Monday. I only see these students for 30 minutes, so when you include book circulation, that leaves me about 15 minutes for a lesson...not a lot of time!!! I decided to use a video recording from Storyline Online to kick off our monster month. The book is I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. It is a cute story about a boy who requires a monster under his bed so that he can sleep. He is visited by substitute monsters when his very own perfect monster goes fishing. It is such a cute story and all of the students really loved it! If you've never used Storyline Online, I highly recommend it. Since this particular story video lasts 12 minutes, that was it for the lesson for 1st and 2nd grades. But I connected it to the book check-out time by telling students that we needed to search out monstrously good books just like the little boy searched out the perfect monster. It worked.
Kindergarten classes visit on Tuesdays and I decided against reading a book this week. I was inspired by the "Five Little Pumpkins" poem that many students learn this time of year. I re-wrote the lyrics and created my own poem "Five Silly Monsters," complete with hand motions. I created a Google Slide using the same free monster clip art I mentioned in the preparation post and had it up on the interactive board. Students learned the words and motions and we had such fun! It got them moving around and that was great.
Since I am only in my fourth week with kinders, I am still focusing on basic library procedures. I spread books about fall, scarecrows, apples, and the like on a big table. After we did the poem, I told them that just like the silly monsters went looking for a library book, we were going to do the same thing. We practiced walking with our hands behind our backs and looking with our best googly monster eyes first. Then, students were allowed to select a book and find a carpet area to read. Obviously they were reading the pictures, but it was a great way to practice book selection and book care.
My third and fourth grade students are in the library for 45 minutes, so I can do so much more with them. I shared the same Storyline Online video with them as I did with first and second graders, but we followed it with a writing activity. We brainstormed adjectives and adverbs we heard in the story describing the different monsters that visit the main character. Then, I posted the directions for our writing activity on the interactive board.
The third graders had trouble getting started, so upon the suggestion from a teacher, I also gave them some sentence starters and typed up the words they offered up. I placed those on an additional slide and we used them during the writing activity. I think the fourth graders enjoyed the creative writing more than third graders did...not sure why.
And finally, the fifth graders....I mentioned a few posts back that I spent two weeks teaching these students how to use Buncee. I introduced their first Buncee assignment this week...monster research! They viewed my instructional Buncee presentation and asked questions. (I have posted it below so that you can see the directions and also so that you can see how versatile Buncee is! Flip through the slides to see the list of monsters we are using, as well.) Then, they spent the rest of our lesson time (45 minutes) deciding which monster they wanted to research. The kids are so excited about this project!
So, that's the first week recap. Basically, I was able to use the same story for all grades and then do little spin-off projects from there. It worked pretty well. The only grades that didn't get the story were kindergarten and fifth. And I was able to share the eyeball guessing game guidelines with each class. Kids are already making their predictions about how many eyeballs are in the jar! Now to work on next week's lessons...
This is the first post in a series for October 2017 library lessons.
October is here and I can hardly believe how fast the school year seems to be flying! I had dinner with a colleague this week and we talked non-stop about how overwhelmed we both feel being in new positions. Both of us shared the feeling that we just can't seem to get in a groove. Well, I'm hoping my lessons for the month of October will help me find that groove!
I decided awhile back that I would do a "not-so-scary" theme for October. I know a lot of folks go with the spider webs, bats, and spooky type decorations for Halloween, but I didn't want to bring that vibe into The Happy Library. I just felt like it would't fit. So after some brainstorming, I came up with the idea that the library could be "not-so-scary" and have a more lighthearted approach to the season.
I switched out the lettering on the bulletin board in the back of the library for starters. I didn't want to remove all my dots and lanterns, so using a similar color scheme, I printed new letters and created some fun monsters. These were a breeze to make, as I just bought a pack of pre-cut poster board (like those you make yard sale signs with) and added some arms, legs and mouths from a TpT download that was free. Then, I bought some different sized googly eyes from a craft store and hot glued them on! That's it! I was able to print, cut, laminate, and post this little bulletin board in about an hour.
The next step in creating a "Not-So-Scary" theme was to select my books for story time. I will go into more depth as I share the lessons I've done each week, but here are the books I pre-selected for the month. I have pulled them all and placed them in my story time area. I made the cute, over-sized bookmarks by printing free monster clip art on cardstock, laminating, and then taping to some of my shelf markers. I think it makes the little display really cute and the monsters may become props for lessons with kindergarten and first graders. I'd really like to buy some other monster titles....this could become a tradition every year if all goes well.
The final thing I did to get the monster theme going was to create a little guessing game that will last all month long. I bought some very cheap, plastic eyeballs (these are easy to find during Halloween season) and placed them in a glass jar I got at Hobby Lobby for less than $10 after the coupon. I used that same free monster clip art to make a little sign and I plan to share the contest "rules" with students during the first week of lessons. Basically, they cannot touch the jar, open the jar, spin the jar or anything like that. No touching. They can only guess once. The students who get closest in number for each grade level will win a free book. I plan on using the left over paperbacks that Scholastic sent with my book fair chairperson's kit. I'll let the kids choose from those.
So, that is how I got started....I had big plans to decorate the end caps of my shelves as monsters and to make monsters from old boxes and spread around the library, but as always, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. But, I think the theme is cute and it is a start. I have taught my first week of lessons and will be reflecting on that in the next installment!
This is a brief post and shameless plug for a product that I have praised over the last year or so. Buncee is an interactive presentation tool that can be accessed for free online. After using the free version for professional flyers and a teaching tool, I finally made the decision to purchase the classroom version to use in the library. It cost about $200 and I have enough accounts for all students in grades 4 and 5 at the moment.
Over the course of two weeks, I have helped students create their accounts (I probably could have done this as an import, but chose to have them set it up), learn the basics of choosing backgrounds, stickers, animations, etc., and I let them play around with the fun stuff like fidget spinners and slime. It has been a marvelously fun time and the teachers have been raving about it too!
The point has been to teach the kids how to use the tool in hopes of assigning them some cool library projects to complete with it. Enter monsters. I will be doing a blog post later today about my "Not-so-Scary Library" lessons for the month of October. For the 5th graders, they will be using Buncee to present research on monsters. I will save that project for a detailed post later, but just needed to share with you (and document for myself) that teaching Buncee was a two week process that proceeded the monstrously fun project.
If you've never used Buncee, I encourage you to give it a try! It is so flexible and you can totally get by with the free version for yourself. If you want to be able to give assignments and have students submit them, then look into the classroom version on their website. Also follow them HERE on Twitter. They are super supportive of classroom teachers and librarians. And if you are in the Northwest Georgia area on October 21, 2017, you could attend EdCamp Whitfield and hear about Buncee from me! I'll be sharing the tool that day.....and it is totally FREE to attend.
Like I said....shameless plug.
Who to follow: