Saturday, 26 February 2011

Celebrating Characters We Love--Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I've held the 5th graders off long enough--they were ready for their own Celebrating Characters Day back in December, but I asked them to wait just a bit for me to catch my breath after Star Wars. What I love about the big kids is that they already formed an organizing group and came ready with ideas for our Diary of a Wimpy Kid Celebration that will take place on March 18. We're making advertisements this week, and we have written a letter/plea to Jeff Kinney to tape a short message that we could play at the celebration. It's a long shot, but they feel strongly that I should send it (we're including the photo of us with our Greg and Holly masks on).

One big change we are making this time is to not have food at the event. It was simply too crazy, and the kids had no problem with this. Instead, it's shaping up to be a pretty creative afternoon. Another change is that the organizers want to run a center instead of simply attending the event. Here are some of our centers thus far:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid website in the tech zone
2. Drawing tutorials in the Smartboard area--one girl is filming herself drawing Greg and Holly and will also wander around to help others
3. Cheese Touch game--this will be a version of the traditional Heads-Up 7Up game, but with the cheese touch
4. Trivia tests, both easy and hard
5. Unfinished Comics from the Do It Yourself Wimpy Kid book

The only bummer is that there are no costumes this time. I do love a good excuse to dress up!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Skype an Author--Todd Parr

Every now and then, I peruse the Skype an Author network to see if there are any new contributors. Imagine my utter joy to find one of my very favorite authors, Todd Parr, on the list. We are huge fans of his work at ISB, so we arranged a time to have him meet with our kindergarteners. The whole experience was nothing short of magical.
Todd is one of those people who is a natural with kids, and he had them howling with laughter at just the right times. I mean, how can you not when you read a book about Underwear?! He read us two books and then showed us how he does his drawings (very cool Skype feature!). This part was great because we are going to use Todd's books as mentor texts for our kindergarten illustration unit next year. Actually, the whole experience made me smile all day long.

And the icing on the cake? We made his Facebook page!
Now onto finding a way to get Todd Parr to come visit us in Thailand next year...

Monday, 21 February 2011

Youblisher & Keith Baker

My friend Chrissy shared this cool tool called Youblisher with me, which allows you to take PDF files and read them like an online magazine. One of our 4th grade teachers is sharing her class magazine this way with parents, and I loved the idea. Easy storage, better for the environment and quick delivery. But, how to use it in the library?

Enter our class letters to our upcoming visiting author and illustrator, Keith Baker. Our Pre-K through second grade classes did a shared writing lesson with me and we wrote about how much we are loving Keith's books. Youblisher is a perfect way for me to share these letters with him, and I love seeing their work displayed in this format! Already picturing Keith leafing through our words over a cup of coffee and getting excited for his visit to Thailand in March.

Please Add a Title
Just click on the link and then drag a bit to turn the page.

One quick note about Youblisher...

You can only upload one time, so I made a word document with all the pictures of the letters we wrote and then turned it into a PDF document.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Online Reading Subscriptions

Finding online subscription sites that teachers and students actually love using is not always easy. Just recently, through blogs and recommendations, I've come across three sites that are working very well for us at ISB. The first two have free trials, and I highly recommend giving them a go.

PebbleGo has been amazingly successful at our school, and we are just now finishing our 2-week trial period. I've had the computers booked often in the last few weeks for classes to use this, and it's perfect for supplementing our non-fiction units of study. Plus, it's incredibly engaging with short text, a video component and very relevant but fun games. Thanks, Franki, for the tip!

Since PebbleGo was so successful, I decided to trial Capstone's site for older readers called Capstone Digital. The feedback I have from 4th grade students was very positive: they said it was easy to find something that interested them, they loved the choice of having it read to you, and the scary books and graphic novels were their favorites. Personally, I can never seem to have enough scary books to meet the demands of readers. The only negative feedback, from only a few kids, was that they thought it went too slowly when they turned the page. That being said, a good test of anything, in my opinion, is if it hooks the reluctant readers. One of the kids I always have an eye on could not stop reading the graphic novel on Pearl Harbor. That sold me!

The last one is called Our Little Earth, a current event site that a 5th grade teacher told me about it. For $40.00 US a year, it is definitely worth trying. I will get an email once every two weeks, which I will then forward on to the teams in our upper elementary. The samples on the website looked interesting, relevant and at a good reading level.

Anyone have any other suggestions of sites that are super successful?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Connecting in a Big School

Working in a big school sometimes makes it tricky to connect with kids as quickly as I'd like about new books or new websites to try. So, when our mid-year book order arrived yesterday with all these titles I knew the kids were waiting for, I decided to make a quick movie of me just talking to them like I would if I had them all in the same room.
I also added the movie to my Destiny homepage (love the Destiny homepage for advertising!) and I only have 4 new chapter books left out of the 20 I had yesterday. Not too shabby!