Thursday, January 28, 2016

Public and School Libraries Working Together

         When public and school libraries work together it fosters a love of reading that will carry past the doors of the school. It ensures that even when the school doors are closed the students still have a place to find the resources they need for educational and personal needs.
           This year I wanted to take an active step in making that connection between the school and public library. I invited our local librarians to attend our school's second PreK-2nd Grade Family Reading Afternoon Session. They were going to be our guest readers. The students and parents really loved seeing them at the school.
             At each of these events we focus it around skills that parents can work with their children on. Today's focus was fluency and reading with expression.  What better character to pick than Pigeon, from Mo Willems, who is well known for his crazy emotional outburst.
             The afternoon started out with Tammy, our local librarian, reading "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!", "My Friend is Sad", and "Waiting is Not Easy!". She is such a wonderful storyteller that she had all the children from ages 3 to 10 eagerly listening to find out what was going to happen next. It was a perfect introduction to our afternoon.
              After this, the parents moved around the media center to the different stations with their children. We had a puppet theater station where the students made puppets of the characters from the book in order to retell the story to their parents using the voice of the characters. They can use this theater box with other stories later.

               Another station was where the students could come up with ideas for another story. They could decide what they didn't want Pigeon to drive. 

          Our third station was a fluency station where the parents would read a line from the story with different emotions and then have their child to read the line with the same expression they did. They then created their own pigeon book. The students had to look at the emotions of the characters to write the book. 
          Our last station was the Public Library Station where the students could sign up for their very own library card, while learning about the programs that they offer.  Donna and Tammy also had some We Read Together books that the parents could explore since this was one of the strategies that we suggested to help with reading fluently.  

            Our afternoon was a success thanks to the support from our local public librarians. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Underground Railroad Lessons

I wanted to create lessons that helped our students think critically about the Underground Railroad. These lessons incorporate reading, writing, social studies and technology. They can be modify to fit the needs of your classroom.

Day 1 Introduction

Use Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole  to the begin to see how the Underground Railroad works.  The first time “reading” the book just show the students the pictures and ask what they think is happening. The second time walk them through what is happening. Have them think about what each character might be feeling.

Visit and search Underground Railroad to introduce the concept of the Underground Railroad. Watch the video and read the article then have the student complete the activity.

Activity: Have students write a blog in the perspective of one of the characters from the story. Have them make sure to explain why they were doing what they were doing and the emotions they were feeling.

You could spend 4 days on this part of the lesson, one for each step in “The Road to Freedom”.

Use the website - to explore the life of slave and how they escaped through the Underground Railroad. The Activities and Resources in the For Teachers section at the bottom of the page gives you several activities to do related to each part. Be sure to check out the primary sources provided so the students can have an authentic look at the people and events that shaped this period.

This part will take two days at least   “Tell the Story”

After the Reach Freedom tab is the Tab that says “Tell the story”. Have students answer the questions based on what they have learned and by reading the excerpts from interviews of freed slaves. Explain they need to write in first person and make sure to add the emotions that go with what they experience.

Introduce students to Google Maps in the Google Drive section of their account and teach them how to pin locations and write about each location. Here is an example of the one that I started.

Explain that they are going to complete a “map” scrapbook of their road to freedom. They can use the Scholastic website to help  them complete the map or they can create their own using the knowledge they have gained through this study.

Other activities to show what they learned:
Wax museums
Write a newspaper article

Friday, January 8, 2016

Explore with Google My Maps

          I discovered a feature of Google today that I can't wait to try out with my students. It is called Google My Maps. Google My Maps can be used across the curriculum. With the sharing feature of Google, students can work together. While I know that Google Earth takes you down to street view and gives the student a wonderful view of places that they may never see; I feel that this is a safe alternative and you don't have to worry about the pictures that may have been uploaded to Google Earth.  Google Earth is a great teacher led activity at the elementary level. Google My Maps can easily be a student centered activity.
Here is how to access this feature:


Students can use this feature to take people on a virtual tour of a character's life. This could be used in both fiction and biographies. It could be a like a timeline/diary so to speak. The students can put a pin in a location and then write about what happened to that person during their stay/life at this location. 

It could also be used as a reading incentive: Read around the world - Pick a picture/chapter book from a different country and then pin the location of the book and write a short summary about the book in the pin. See how long it takes you to read around the world. 

Social Studies: 

Students could explore the different states/countries and use the map as a way to present the information to classmates or to take notes on for the project. 


You could label different types of land forms and body of waters and write about each type in the pin. This helps provide a visual representation for the student. 

Here is a Project Based Learning Activity that you could use with this feature.

Give them several picture/chapter books across the United States, a limited budget, and have them plan a trip that would cover as many states as possible so they can meet the characters. They have to think about what type of car they will be traveling in and how many miles per gallon the car gets. They have to plan out the trip including where they will stop for gas and the order they will visit each location.  At each stop they put the name of the book, short summary, how many miles traveled, money spent and location in the pin.  The only mandate on this project is that they have to make this a round trip. Then after the trip they could also create word problems based on their map for their friends to solve.  You would need to create a rubric that will help guide the students as they work to help them complete their travel journal.  

These are just a few ways to use this feature. I am looking forward to hearing more. Please share in the comments below on how you could use this feature in your setting. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Promoting Reading

To start 2016 off I decided to do something new to showcase the books that the media center has to offer. I want to hook the students before they come in, so I decided to create two "New Releases" doors with the cover of the new books on them. I can't wait to see the students responses tomorrow.

This is the main entrance to the media center that everyone sees as they enter the door.

This is the opposite door of the media center. 

Wonder how long my "Read Box" will stay full?