Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kazu Kibuishi and Amulet

Our grades 4 and 5 students are suffering (in a good way!) with a serious case of Amulet fever! The books are always on hold, and personal copies are being loaned as well. Personally, this series was the turning point for me with graphic novels. I now get the beauty, the engagement and the near-obsession that some readers have with this genre. Reading Amulet is like watching a stunning movie unfold in front of your eyes.

After some months of trying to put it all together, we had our final skype chat of the year with Kazu Kibuishi and Jason Caffoe. These guys were so cool, so accessible and so down-to-earth that our 30 minutes flew by, and we could have talked for hours. The kids were talking about it all day long, and we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of #5 in the series to come out.

This was the year I was not only sold on graphic novels, but my love of skyping with authors was solidified. More and more authors are willing to do it (this was Kazu's first skype call), and it's such a great way for students to feel enpowered. Twice now, they have written a persuasive letter to an author that resulted in a skype call. Love that!

Here's the trailer to Amulet--an awesome addition to any library.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

AUP Ups & Downs

Most unfortunately, we have been having some issues with students hacking into Destiny Quest accounts and being unkind to others. Grrrr! This coupled with various other infractions have led Chrissy and I to do some major technology triage! We spent one class period in the library reviewing the AUP terms of agreement with all second and third graders and re-signed a huge poster version of the AUP. This now hangs in the Hub as a reminder.

But I wanted to take something negative and turn it into something fun and positive where they could teach other students how to behave appropriately. I searched for some easy cartoon sites and stumbled upon Go Animate. It's my new favorite site for kids as it is so easy and fun.

In our second lesson, we spoke about what our message would be in the video, and it had to be one of the terms of the AUP that we were struggling with. We then did a shared writing exercise that included the dialogue. It was so cute because #1 character was the cheeky one and #2 was the wise one. Cheeky person had to be cheeky twice before realizing the error of his/her way and making a better choice. And for some really bizarre reason that only second graders would do (one of the reasons I love this age), the first class decided they would end it with going to get some "computer flavored ice cream." This led to every class ending with going to get some item of food that tasted like a computer. Funny how none of them thought that eating something that tasted like a computer might not be delicious. Suffice it to say there was a lot of laughing in the last few days.

Here are a few samples of videos we made. Please note in this one that the characters go to get an "electric special cappucino" at Starbucks after making this grave mistake. Not+following+Directions by Ms. Tara

And one more just because they are pretty adorable. Don%27t+Destroy+Computers by Ms. Tara

There is an innocence in their dialogues that is so precious.  Almost like their recent Destiny Quest cheekiness was just because they all forgot. Forgiven.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Fabulous Animal Books x 2

There is this lovely little sub-genre of animal nonfiction books with photos and a real story woven through it. I don't know what it's called, but I love them and so do the kids. Recently, I received a new book that I am sharing with everyone from PreK to 5th grade. At every age level, there is equal enthusiasm and fascination.

The cuteness of this book is astounding!

And more cuteness with this one! Wait until you see the end of the book.
I paired it with Little Pink Pup that I discovered on We Give Books last year, and I like the 'real' copy even more than the online version. The story is about a dog who is kind enough to take care of a piglet that need a mom, and it is a big hit with the students.

On the lookout for more titles like these to make a list of great book titles for those who love this type of book!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Father/Son Beauty


The father/son book club turned out to be one of the highlights of my time at ISB. The intro activity of choosing our characteristics was simple yet special enough to get the night started on a great note. But it was the conversation that had me in awe--it was deep and thoughtful and insightful and so incredibly mature. This book has so many things to talk about that we never even got to the questions I had written ahead of time, plus the boys touched on many of them in their organic talk. What struck me was how the minute we started talking, we were all just people--not dads, kids and a teacher--just people. I chuckled when one boy said, "Um, I have to disagree with Nick in his last statement" and Nick was another boy's dad. The boys were book club rock stars.

All dads in my group, except for one, admitted freely that they cried at the end of the book. One dad even bought six copies of the book for adult friends because he felt it was that important.

On a reflective note, I love that I took enough time to find the right book and thankfully did not choose a fluff book just to get boys on board. This book felt perfect.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Father/Son Book Club, Part One

After the success of our mother/daughter book club in the fall, I knew I wanted to do a father/son book club as well. The original plan was to have the title chosen by December so everyone could buy the book over break. Well, January came and no title. February came, and still no title. I was completely stuck. After tons of reflection, I realized while trying to find the perfect "sporty-yet-funny-while-grabbing-everyone-including-the-one-reluctant-reader-who-might-join-the-book-club" title, what I was really doing was selling boys short. Why on earth wouldn't I choose a quality, thought-provoking novel for boys like I automatically did for the girls?

This epiphany led me to choosing what was the most perfect title for our club: Wonder by RJ Palacios. I read it the moment it was released (literally the moment), and the feedback I have received from the boys and dads thus far has been nothing short of amazing. I even had one email from a dad that said he was up until 1:00 a.m. finishing the books with tears streaming down his face.
Here's the plan for the evening:

1. After getting food, the boys and dads will take sticky notes and write down two adjectives that describe them. They will add these to our mural and then write one adjective about each other. I'll add their photos to the mural as the finishing touch.

2. We are going to watch the video Kindness Thought Bubble by Amy Krouse Rosenthal as a starter.

3. We'll divide into two groups and use some questions I made as guiding questions. I'm so curious to see where the conversation goes, though, as this book is so rich with things to talk about.

4. We'll finish up with a few questions we might ask the author if we had that opportunity.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Personality Predicting + Wordle = Cool!

We have been immersing ourselves in Amy Krouse Rosenthal's work, both book and video format, in anticipation of her upcoming visit. Many of us feel like we have a sense of who she is from her work. So...we started brainstorming adjectives to describe what we predict will be Amy's personality. Such a cool exercise. We then popped the adjectives into Wordle and created a piece of art.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Glogster Late Adopter

I don't know what it was about Glogster, but when I tried it last, I found myself frustrated. If things are not intuitive, I tend to go on to something else that is easier to use. That being said, I loved the Glogster poster our HS librarian made for a visiting author, so I asked for a tutorial to get my head around it.

And what do you know? Maybe it was just having someone sit next to me while I worked (that is always so nice, isn't it? just in case you have questions...), but I now LOVE Glogster. L.O.V.E.

And this poster for our upcoming visit from Amy Krouse Rosenthal--it's the coolest thing I've seen in a while! I've printed them out and am hanging them around the school to get us all pumped for her upcoming visit.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Student Empowerment

We've been on a Skype frenzy this year. Between using the Skype an Author website to meet with John Himmelman and Jean Marzollo to booking a meeting with Avi as part of our 4th grade author study unit, our kids are making deep, meaningful connections to the books they are reading.

Lately, there has been a surge of empowerment among our older students. First, a group of 4th graders approached me about meeting with their author, Bruce Coville, from the author study unit. We sat down and crafted a persuasive email to him. And then a group of 5th grade boys wrote a persuasive letter to Kazu Kibuishi of Amulet fame, convincing him to skype with their class since the book love of Amulet has gone viral. They even included their "spread like wildfire" chart to show just how much they have made the book popular at ISB. I received an email from his agent that said they loved the persuasive writing and that Kazu would love to meet with us. Just imagine the excitement at seeing that response.

My hope is that we have lots more Skype calls in our future. And lots more of that authentic persuasive writing.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cheesy Librarians & Big Huge Labs

We ISB librarians love a good photo shoot.* Feeling quite lucky as a local theatre is allowing us to rent the place for our middle school students and any teachers on the night before the US opening of the movie!

*We used the always awesome Big Huge Labs for our movie poster.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Follett Shelf for iPads

Coming back after a blogging hiatus is always a bit awkward, so I'll just dive right in and skip the excuses. Lots of good stuff going on!

After months and months of waiting (somewhat patiently on my part), Follett has released their iPad app for virtual checkout using Follett Shelf. We had a sneak peek at how it works with our Follett rep, and I'm pretty pleased with how smooth it is. There is a tiny lag in the page turning, but it is swipe technology, and that was the selling point for me. Today I received my order of a few trial books.

Next steps are practicing with our trial books and then launching into parent and student education. The only downside I see right now is that patrons cannot put books on hold. My fear is that our market for virtual checkout will fade if patrons have to go back again and again to see what is in. With Overdrive, I put lots of books on hold and then have that nice treat of receiving an email notification that my book is in. If not, I would forget to go back.

More soon! There has been lots of tech/library/classroom teacher collaborating in the last few months with digital book trailers and grade 5 students. I'd love to share all the steps of how we made it work.