Tuesday, May 7, 2013

15-17 Rotation Musings

I'm going all iPads next year and no laptops.

Kindergarten-grade 2: We read new books. Next rotation grade 2 will use Destiny Quest on the iPad and be introduced to searching. One unique feature with the iPads is students can carry it to the shelf when looking for books. So far they've been careful and I've had no one leave them on the floor. I'm going to also have grade 1 use them. This summer I think I'll create a video that shows how to walk to the shelf and look for the book based on the call number. I want it customized to my library.

 Grade 3 and 4: I need to create a curriculum that is better with grade 3 and drop the Photostory book trailer. I feel like I'm trying to shove an elephant through a donut hole. The quality just isn't there. Grade 4 I need to start pulling books for students based on interests.

  Grade 5: I really liked how I focused on reading strategies and getting students excited in grade 5. I did a survey to see what students liked and if my strategies helped sustain reading throughout the year. I found that 75% of the low readers sustained or increased their reading while 100% of the middle and high readers sustained or increased their reading over the course of the school year. My goal was actually reversed with 75% sustained reading of middle to high readers and 100% sustained reading for low readers throughout the entire school year. I was noticing a drop off in grade 5 reading in the spring and was trying to address that issue.

The strategies and lessons were: 1) pulling books individually, 2) showing professional book trailers, 3) writing reviews on Goodreads and getting a virtual badge, 4) using iMovie to make book trailers, 5)using the Kindle, and 6) using eBooks. Low readers liked using the Kindle because of the notetaking feature and writing reviews on Goodreads in order to get a badge. High readers liked the iMovie. All of the students liked it when I pulled "just right" books for them and quickly told them what the book was about. Honestly, I was surprised that they all liked this. I thought I had spread myself too thin (pulling books for 160 students) and wasn't giving them enough attention, but I guess not.

I liked having a skeleton of reading strategies for grade 5 that were separate from the curriculum. That way I could slip them in when I wasn't doing an author study or integrated lesson. It gave me a thread to work in my library skills and get kids excited about reading. The last rotation I have grade 5 go to the middle school and meet the librarian. They can check out books for the summer.

Some of My Favorite Book Bloggers

Betsy Bird is my go-to blogger for picture books and middle grade books. I've ordered a bundle of books based on her reviews all the while laughing. If you join Goodreads her 4 and 5 star ratings are never a let-down.

Ben Babcock is an English teacher in the UK, I believe. I read his reviews on Goodreads. He's a tougher critic than Betsy and gives great insight into the literary process. Who are your favorite bloggers? Betsy Bird posted this video of kids telling illustrators their imaginary characters and the artists rending pictures.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

14th Rotation - that time of year

My schedule turns topsy-turvy this time of year. Between camp Taiwan, field trips, CPT4 - er... or is it the CTP4 ...or the CPR4? and the WRAP... (is there another P in there?) combine those and you have (drum roll) the CRAP4, but that's kind of gross isn't it? Blame my crudeness on a hysterical book I'm reading called, "The Templeton Twins" (or the letter "P" triggering the toilet bowl humor); it pokes fun at acronyms as well as writing and everything else under the literary sun. Yup, it is that time of year. My mashed potato brain is completely randomized to the point of making up nonsensical words and sentences. Let's move on, shall we? (I borrowed that line from the Templeton Twins where the narrator is more of a main character than the Templeton kids - the asides are funny and constant - pick it up if you need a chuckle). Again... LET'S MOVE ON.

 Kindergarten - No idea what we did. JK. We read "Sleep Like a Tiger." Gorgeous, surreal-type artwork that resembles a dreamlike state. It's about a kiddo who won't sleep. I couldn't figure out the wheel thingys on each page and said to the kids in a scholarly voice, "Ohhh... I think it is that Native American dream weaver thingamajig." Har-har. "Dream Weaver" is a song they loved to play at roller skating rinks in the 70s. "Ooooh-hoo-hoo, dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night..." (What's that? Okay, I'll move on.) Once I dropped off the dream weaver train and remembered the Native Americans dream catcher thingy, the idea made more sense. Dream catchers hung by the bed to catch nightmares and let only good dreams come through. I can see why this book won a Caldecott Honor in 2012.  

Grade 1 - Pooh - I missed the weather unit with the kids. I have a great lesson to go with it. There's always next year. We read, "Red Riding Hood," a Prairietale twist. Their next unit is plants... maybe Jack and the Beanstalk is in order.

 Grade 2 - We read "Fly Guy." Buzzzz.... (FLY ON, PLEASE)

 Grade 3 - We began our book trailers on Photostory. Details are under Grade 3 lessons. (My class is here. Gotta pick up the pace.)

 Grade 4 - They were at camp. I read "The Widow's Broom" by Chris Van Allsburg to those around. (I twirl my imaginary mustache.) We discussed Salem witch trials, tolerance and bullies. (Mwa-ha-ha... I had their attention). Got one kid to read "Witch of Blackbird Pond" and another to read, "You wouldn't want to be a Salem Witch."  

Grade 5 - I book talked with the kids and they took a survey on reading habits to let me know what lessons they liked this year. I'll adjust according to the results which of course, have been quite positively positive. (Here's a sample question: True or False (choose one). I am a great librarian 1. True 2. True)

Just one more aside - I just had a first grader tell me the character in the book I read sounded like Elmer Fudd. That set me off... all the w's became v's. Vell, it's been a fun morning... THAT's ALL FOLKS.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Virtual Badges

I taught grade 5 students how to use Goodreads and told them if they wrote book reviews on their own I would award them a badge using Edmodo, a social network out school uses. I've had a torrent of reviews and am surprised that 72 of 158 students have responded by writing a review. Several have written 12-15 reviews in four months. I know there is an app called, Foursquare, and I don't know if it could be used in the same way as Edmodo, but I think so. Obviously, you could use this in many different ways as a librarian. I think it is hard as a specialist to make a connection with students because of the time constraints and this is just one tool to help bridge that gap.

Hyperlink to this great article that presents the pros and cons to badges. Make sure you read the comments - it's a terrific discussion!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Checking Out Kindles Like Books

Getting new book releases in English overseas, and in a timely fashion, can be a real challenge for international schools. Our school has purchased Kindles for student check out from grades 5 and up so we can buy new eBooks from Amazon as a way to tackle the problem. While our school uses Overdrive as an eBook lending library, publishers have restricted the available books for many reasons. Books in Overdrive can't be downloaded in Kindle format overseas but they can from U.S. public libraries. The eBook controversy is complex and has disrupted the traditional publishing business model in many ways. I don't have the time nor the desire to delve into it, but the result is a mishmash of eBook offerings at our library in an attempt to get new books to patrons without the usual 2 month delay. Here's an interesting article that touches on the issues: http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/dec11/Hamaker.shtml. I'm willing to pay for whatever service agreed upon and desperately wish the parties could agree on something that satisfies the creators, publishers, and libraries. In the meantime, I'll keep watching and waiting.

13th Rotation

Kindergarten - We did the All About Me unit which I was supposed to do in the fall. Better late than never? They like this lesson and this was the easiest time I had with them doing it.  
Grade 1 - We read, "Yoon and the Jade Bracelet." It is somewhat didactic but we discussed getting along with each other and respecting each others property. We also talked about what it is like when someone is new to a school and how to treat them. 
Grade 2 - We read, "Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth!" by Sarah Weeks. It shows character voice and persuasive writing. Students laughed hard but didn't understand all of the jokes - it is better for older students. 
Grade 3- Added photos for book trailers  
Grade 4 - Follett and Overdrive. Students login is now the same as their network login so we used the iPads to see who could and couldn't login and I went over how to use Overdrive which has a new interface. We requested our interface be like public libraries because we were frustrated with the lack of features on the new one and students having problems figuring out how to log off. We also imported Overdrive eBooks and audiobooks from a .cvs MARC file format into our catalog, which is much better than the search feature on Overdrive. I put the call number as eBook or audiobook. Below is an example with MARC tags. Remember the 856 tag to connect to Overdrive. I had to request the records from my Overdrive rep. Grade 5 Same as above.

Digital Libraries

We just got back from a trip to the Taichung National Library with an amazing array of technologies put to use from an electronic book sorting system to a robot that shelves books. They use RFID technology or radio-frequency identification. They used a company called, Claridy, at and I know 3M offers this type of technology in the U.S. The video below shows the robot moving and the background noise is the hammering of staple guns from carpenters finishing the room.