We are ready! My library classes have been reading and thinking critically about many different pictures books and this week, we join some very special committees as we select our own winners. It is not going to be easy. Have you read these books yet? Many of us are agonizing over the decision. And this is just for the few books we read together. We cannot even imagine what each committee has gone through! Monday, January 23, the ALA Youth Media awards will be announced. Woo hoo!
Mr. Schu has a terrific list of Mock Caldecott titles so that is what we used. Take a look!
There's still time to share student voices! Read Melissa Stewart's blog post to get title ideas. Then check out our #sibertsmackdown page and the Flipgrid (on the Flipgrid app use code: 30fa9c) on which your students can record which Mock Sibert title they chose and why. We can't wait to hear what you think!
I think that my sketchnotes sum up what I felt were key features of each of the 4 tools, but here are a few more thoughts.
Troubleshooting! We can learn from the authors’ experiences here!
Finally - the wrap up: Helpful tools are better than beautiful ones and once again, be sure you are involving students in their creation in order to get that ownership and creativity!!!
Here are my reflections and things that just caught my eye while reading these chapters!
I just loved the reminder about the massive amount that kids have to think about and process every day in school (and out) and all of it is “important”. I have long wanted to do what Kate did and follow a student for a day. I think all teachers and administrators should do this once in awhile. I believe it would be very eye opening.
Love these authors! Carol Dweck, Daniel Pink, Kylene Beers! Pink tells us that autonomy leads to engagement. So true! Given the right tools, they can do it on their own and will actually want to do so, not just to please their teacher, but so they can accomplish something.
Make clear what the hard work looks like through micro-progressions.
The teaching tool is not there forever!
Chap. 3: Timing, behavioral cues, and rigor all help you know when to move students away from the tool. Setting goals and challenging students reminds me of gamifying their learning. If they aren’t ready yet, no big deal. I also love how the authors state that if the student isn’t ready, to set a future date to try again without the tool.
Chap. 4: Working overtime, reflections on growth, helping others - 3 more signs kids are ready to move away from the teaching tool.
Rigor and 5 ways to Culture Intrinsic Motivation - these were new to me, but how awesome! My school district is really taking a look at whether students are truly engaged or not and I think these 5 ways are good reminders of how to reach every child. Maybe you are good at one or two of these areas, but working to include more of them would be valuable.
Carl Anderson’s reminder (p. 69) that we should not be more tired than the students. There has been a lot of buzz lately about who is doing the work? That could be a tricky thing I suppose, but I understand the point. This happens with my son and I when I am helping him practice soccer - he should be doing more than me. I have to be planned out and know what skills he needs to work on, but when it’s practice time, he needs to be practicing the moves. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris's book Who's Doing the Work: How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More is going to be another one of my summer reads.
As an elementary librarian, I love reading professional books with both an eye for how I can use these ideas in the library, as well as sharing with my colleagues. I am particularly excited this year, because we are going to be using the Reading Units of Study and I believe that this book will be a wonderful way to support teachers and student learning.
Here are my takeaways from this week’s chapters:
How to find strategies:
What stands out for me is the focus on creating and supporting students as they become more and more independent. I am fascinated by Burkins & Yaris’s book, Who’s Doing the Work? I haven’t read it yet, but I think this is an important shift. In the library, there are many areas that these tools can help my students learn. Immediately strategies for notetaking, for reading informational text, for selecting books, for using technology tools come to mind.
Since going to ISTE last week, I have been trying out Sketch noting. Thanks to Matt Miller for a terrific session getting me started! It is something I've wanted to do for a long time and now I am really excited to bring this strategy back to support the learning of students and teachers. The brain research is really interesting and I think Sketch noting makes a lot of sense. I think my Sketch is still way too wordy, but I'm working on that.
Here is a link to my Amazon Professional Book list with a number of Sketch note/Doodle books.
Summer reading time is almost here! I don't want to forget about LISTENING to reading too! There are huge benefits such as enhanced vocabulary, fluency, and listening skills. Snuggle up and read aloud with someone. Here's something else to try: Brewster School has a subscription to Tales2Go - an audiobook service with some terrific titles. All Brewster students have used Tales2Go in their library classes this spring.
Use Tales2Go in the car or plane if you are traveling this summer or curl up with someone and listen.
For further information:
Kindergarten parents, your child will be coming home with a letter which includes their login information. First and second grade parents, your child should know their login information, but if they don't, please email me.
"The most engaging learning tool on the planet." --Flocabulary.com
They aren't kidding. Really. I have been hearing about how amazing Flocabulary was for a while and so I finally checked it out. There is so much to talk about, it is hard to know where to begin. What is it? Using rap and video, students K-12 are presented with content on a wide variety of topics, from your traditional subject areas to ones such as current events and computational thinking (yes videos about coding)! There are tons of additional resources for each video which can be used for both learning and assessment. Want to take it further? There are activities, lessons and games too. But my favorite is when the students write their own academic rhymes and can even perform them!
Interested yet? Want to learn more?
Use this How-it-works video to see it all in action or click on the image below for your free trial.
What do the kids think?
It's fun! It's poppy and energetic!
Makes you want to get up and move!
The raps are fun, but still give you information and explain!
We love singing along with the main parts.
It helps us get started understanding a topic.
Teachers, read more here!
Teachers, with Flocabulary, you have many, many resources right at your fingertips. Videos are organized by subject area, but you can also search by Common Core Standards which makes it so easy to find just the right resource. Graphic organizers are provided too, along with everything needed for each lesson. Use as much or as little as you want. The academic rhyme writing begins with basic couplet writing and adds figurative language, storytelling and song creation. Your students' raps can be even be shared, increasing the power of student voice. One of my favorite sections is the Week in Rap Junior which is perfect for students K-5. For example, this week I will use the latest video which raps about Groundhog Day and Chinese New Year in library class to engage my students and get them asking questions. Using a variety of different media, both print and digital, is essential and Flocabulary gives us an easy-access, high-quality way to do it.
Thank you Flocabulary, for giving us a chance to try out your site! Sign up for a free trial by February 29!
The summer of 2015 brought a chance to participate in the Finch Loan Program which I thought would be an excellent challenge for my students. To add a different twist to the application, my friend Donna Macdonald from Vermont and John Ferrero from a nearby city in Connecticut decided to have collaborative challenges be a part of our plan for using the Finches. We were thrilled when we were told we would have the Finches for two months in January and February. In addition, Donna and her students also had other robots such as Dot and Dash, Spheros and the BB8. Librarian Andy Plemmons from Georgia also was part of the Finch Loan Program and after reading some of our tweets wanted to share challenges too! Last week, some folks from EdCampGlobal saw the tweets about the robots and asked if we would want to do a session! Of course we said yes! It has been awesome!
Being a part of EdCampGlobal was really fun! The schedule had so many awesome things to learn about and I loved that a real variety of platforms were being used, from Google Hangout on Air (which is what we used) to Periscope to Twitter chats and more. My learning began when I had to create a Google Hangout on Air event, which I had never done before. It didn't take more than 2 minutes. I shared the wrong link with Donna and Andy, but we figured that out too. Probably the hardest thing for me was remembering about all the time zones - I never get that straight! But by 8:30EST we were set!
Donna had a class ready to share and Andy had a couple of students who took the time to show us what they had been learning. I was ready to introduce us, so at 9am, I clicked Broadcast and immediately our announcements came on! I clicked mute fast and Donna jumped right in. Her students shared about the different robots they had been using and showed them to us. Andy's students shared different things they had been trying with the Finches. My class of 1st/2nd graders came in and began to share some of the things they had been learning, such as how to change the color of the beak and how they created a song and danced along with the Finch. The students listened and learned from one another. Classes came in and out. And while adults were there to ask questions sometimes, the majority of the voices were students. After hearing about using Scratch from someone, some of my students began to try using it and actually got their Finch to move! They were so excited they came right up and shared that moment live on the air. I think we could have shared all day long, but after an hour it was time to go.
The conversation continued through the comment section of the Google Hangout, as viewers made comments and asked questions too! Thank you so much to Donna and Andy who love trying new things with me and to all the students for everything they bring each and every day! We still have 1 more month with the Finches and I can't wait to see where we go next!
Would you like to read more?
Andy wrote a terrific blog post about our experience and included the video of our Google Hangout on Air. Take a look at it here.
Robots, coding, and kids! Throughout January and February 2016, students at Brewster and John Lyman Elementary Schools, along with students at Macdonough School in Middletown, CT and Orchard School in South Burlington, VT will be thinking critically, communicating, collaborating and creating. Our first week was filled with excitement!
What will they be using as they learn and grow? Finch robots from Birdbrain technologies. These robots are pretty amazing! Deceptively simple looking, there is a ton they can do. In the summer of 2015, I learned about the Finch Loan program. They loan you finch robots for two months and then they are sent to the next school. I shared with RSD13 Tech Specialist Lindsay Petroski and colleagues John Ferrero and Donna MacDonald, we applied and the waiting began! We wanted to do something a little different, so we really thought about how students could collaborate and learn long distance. Finally, at the beginning of October, we heard that we would get the Finches in the winter!
The first Finch arrived right after Thanksgiving! So exciting! This is the Finch that we will keep. The box of 10 Finches arrived just before our Christmas break. I got a chance to check them out a little bit before we came back to school, but didn't want to do too much. I really wanted this to be about the students exploring and learning.
You should see their smiles!
"This is awesome!" "I love my finchy!" "So cool!" These are just a few of the comments I heard over the past week. I was a little nervous and a lot excited to introduce the finches, but I shouldn't have worried. I had the chromebooks set up when the students came in to the library. The finches were plugged in and waiting. To use the finches on chromebooks, you need to add a Chrome Extension called Finch Connection. I logged in to all the chromebooks simply to save time. When the Finch window comes up, it lets you know if your robot is connected or not. Once it is, you choose the level that you want to start at - Level 1 - and click Open Snap! Snap is the coding language we are using. It is a block-based code very similar to Scratch, so the students were familiar with it already. The right-hand picture is the screen all the kids started with.
The students came in and sat down and of course were buzzing wanting to know what these things were! I explained how the Finches had come via the Loan Program and that we would be using them for 2 months! I told them that I didn't know very much about them and that we would be learning together. By the end of the first day, I gave only 3 pieces of advice: be sure you have a control block or it's not going to do anything, explained what the lightning bolt symbol was (sound), and showed them how to change levels. That's it. They found their partners and off they went.
At the end of the 25ish minutes, we gathered back on the rug together and shared the learning that had happened. Most every group moved on to level 2 and some of the 3rd/4th grade classes tried some of Level 3. Everyone learned something and we recorded this learning on the chart stand. Next time I would use a Google doc or Padlet.
We will check in on our teammates in Middletown and South Burlington to see how they are doing. We can't wait to create some challenges for them to solve.
Final thoughts for now . . .
I loved watching them figure things out. The curiosity, the perseverance, the collaboration I saw was truly awesome. I love it when kids shine, especially kids who don't always find success at school. I am so grateful to Birdbrain Tech for helping make this happen.
Inspired by the beautiful leaves that are all around us, in library today we asked lots of questions about leaves and then read a book called My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington. We had fun creating some leaf art too: digital leaf creatures! Thank you to my friend Mrs. Martellino for sharing these with me!
Mrs. Lussier is a Library Media Specialist at Brewster and John Lyman Elementary Schools in Durham & Middlefield, CT. I am passionate about getting kids reading (ok, everyone!), using technology and having FUN!
The Nonfiction Detectives
A Year of Reading
Great Kid Books
Free Technology for Teachers
The Styling Librarian
The Book Whisperer
The Busy Librarian
Barrow Library Media Center
Watch. Connect. Read.
Kid Lit Frenzy
The Daring Librarian
Librarian in Cute Shoes
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