Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring break - BLAH

Ok, Spring break for me starts in about 2 hours , so I am sitting in the media center right now, which is across from the main office, watching half our student body being checked out by their parents. No doubt being checked out to go to fun places,....

places with sand and pools and food that someone else cooks.

As for me, I will be spending spring break with my 3 kids at home. They will be whining that we didn't go somewhere fun and they will be making huge messes in my house. They will complain every 10 seconds of the day how BORED they are and then they will whine when I suggest a trip to the zoo or the mall or the movies. I am also pretty sure that I will hear about every 20 seconds that we have no food in the house, which might be true, because the kids eat their weight in food about every 3 hours (or so it seems, and why can't I do that and be as skinny as my kids are???)

I guess I should get a better attitude, think of all the fun things we can do here in Atlanta. But right now all I want is sand between my toes and a drink with an umbrella and rum in it.

On a more upbeat note, I do hope to read a few books - I have Rules by Cynthia Lord in my bag, and I have the Nora Ephron book that a friend gave me, plus at least one other is waiting for me at the public library. The Red Sox start their season on Monday and hopefully we'll get to catch the game on tv.. maybe this week won't be SO bad.....At least I don't have to go to work, unlike my husband who will be working all week and not only working, but having to navigate downtown Atlanta traffic Monday night during the final four game

Maybe what I need is just to buy some rum and little umbrellas - sit on my deck with a book and a fruity drink... I think that might help alot!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Kindergarten's Reading: Moe The Dog in Tropical Paradise

There are some weeks when I just don't know what I want to read to Kindergarten. This is the week before spring break here and our schedule is crazy (events for religious education, field trips etc..). Many of the teachers have been reading my good Easter and Spring books, so I didn't want to repeat them to the students, so I went shelf surfing. This is where I look through the shelves to find something different to read to the kids, something that they wouldn't normally read themselves, or even have had a teacher read to them. And usually, I find something "new" that I hadn't seen before in the collection.

My shelf surfing led me to Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Elise Primavera.

This is the story of two dogs, Moe and Arlene. They are on vacation for the week, but are stuck in their snowy, cold town. So Moe gets inspired and creates a tropical paradise in his house, complete with pool and sand! He invites Arlene over and the two of them have a grand vacation, without getting a sunburn.

I chose this book because, although many of my students are lucky enough to be going away for spring break, their media specialist is NOT, so this story is making ME feel better about not spending my week sitting on a beach sipping a fruity drink. Instead I will be playing crowd control to my own 3 kids, and maybe getting a little sand and a wading pool for my backyard to create my own paradise (at least here in Atlanta it is warm and hopefully the weather will stay warm and sunny next week.)

I wish I had found this book earlier (don't I say this every week!) and had thought to bring in my beach chair and pool toys to liven up the atmosphere in the media center - oh well, maybe next year!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Diary Day

Another non-library/kidlit post, but something interesting.

Lady Speed Stick (never thought I would see those words in my blog!) and the National Day Diary project are having a National Day Diary project on March 27th (TOMORROW). Here is what they have up on their website:

Record a day diary in whatever format you are comfortable. Write down everything that occurs in a 24-hour period, from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Itineraries, activities, thoughts, and feelings are all fair game for a diary. For more help, see How to Day Diary, or read some diary submissions.
Submit your day diary online and share your 24/7 life with other women!
Submissions with a March 27, 2007 date may also qualify for a chance to be published in Joni Cole's upcoming book, This Day in the Life of Working Women. Joni's new book will celebrate the lives of working women, whether that work comes with a paycheck or not.
Submissions for the March 27 diary date can be entered online from March 27-April 6, 2007 to qualify for a chance at publication.
Read the full
contest rules.

I am thinking of trying this out - just need to find the time during the day to actually write down what I am doing. Kind of wish it was today, Monday's at our house are CRAZY - baseball for both boys, dance class for my daughter and for me and there is usually something else mixed in there. Plus it is a busy day at work, I teach 4 classes on Monday plus our check in box is usually full to the gills.

If I decide to do this I will post my diary entry here also. Anyone else up for this?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Caldecott Meme

Tricia over at Miss Rumphiuse Effect has a meme about the Caldecott in honor of Randolph Caldecott's birthday yesterday.

In honor of Ralph Caldecott's birthday, I propose this new meme. Review the list of Caldecott winners from 1938 to the present and list your five favorite titles (based on illustrations, not the text), whether Medal winners or honorees. Then, name one book that didn't make this list that you feel was deserving of the nod.

so here are mine (in no particular order):

1. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg 1986
2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak 1964
3. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky 1942
4. Snowflake Bentley by Mary Azarian 1999
5. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (honor book) 2004

I can't think of any "books that should have won" off the top of my head right now, but I am sure as soon as I hit publish I will remember at least one!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Podcasts and 5th grade

I started off this school year by starting a project with my 5th graders (3 classes) focusing on research. Last year I did a similar year long project with a PowerPoint slide show as the final result. This year I thought I would change it up a bit and have the final project be a podcast.

So the project started out in September. I gave the students a person in the arts to use as their research subject (I think that not enough is done with the arts in our school, so I thought I would kill 2 birds with one stone, so to speak!) Each class (I have them for 30 minutes once a week) we would go over some kind of research tool, such as the encyclopedia, biography books, almanacs, digital databases (such as Grolier and Ebsco) and websites. I would then give them an assignment (most of which we did in class) to take notes using the research tool and write a bibliography entry for the tool used. The research would be used to conduct an interview type podcast, where I am the interviewer and the student takes on the persona of their research subject.

I am still in the middle of recording the podcast, but our first efforts are up on our blog here.

They are a little rough, and if you listen to more than one at a time you get REALLY sick of my voice, especially since it is SO much more prominent than the students voices (I need an audio mixer!)

Overall I think the project was a success. I do think that because of my class not being a "graded" class the students did not do any more than the minimum required, you can definitely hear that in how short the podcasts are. If I attempt to do this again in my new school next year I think there are things I will change, grading being one and I think I will have to work a little more closely with the classroom teachers to get more support from them in order for this to be successful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Red Sox, Bon Jovi OH MY!

Although most of my posts on this blog are about library stuff and children's lit, I do have to acknowledge some of my other passions here, well because, it' s my blog :)

Jen, from Jen Robinson's Book page reminded me that I haven't posted about another passion in my life - baseball - or more specifically, the Boston Red Sox, as of this moment, 12 days, 18 hours and 12 minutes until opening day - woohoo! Of course baseball season also means crazy scheduling in my house, I have 2 baseball players and baseball in the south, while professional loyalty is something almost unheard of (although Atlanta Braves fans for years have been telling me their PAIN of being a Braves fan - ah, lets just say Bucky F'ing Dent - Bill Buckner anyone? Don't talk to a Red Sox fan about PAIN) youth baseball in the south is an intense thing, even for my youngest son at the age of 6 - we have baseball practice almost every night of the week for one of my boys and games during the week and almost every Saturday. If I didn't love the game so much, I'm not sure I could survive youth baseball!

Another passion of mine - Jon Bon Jovi - ok, this has to do with the group Bon Jovi, but ah, lets just have a mental image of the man for a moment... ok that was nice --- they released a single today from their new album, Lost Highway, which won't be available until JUNE! You can hear the single(You Want) To Make a Memory here, but I can't seem to find it ANYWHERE to download - on a side note, I do LOVE their new song, but I have heard they won't be touring for this album - bummer, their live shows are AWESOME, brings me back to high school and big hair and the 80's (ok, I could do without the reminders of big hair!)

OK, I promise, back to regularly scheduled Library Stew tomorrow!

You Go Girl: Women's History Month

Sometimes in my world, Women's History month gets a little buried, what with my high holy day (St. Patrick's Day) and Spring and this year Easter (well, it is April 8th, but since we'll be on Spring Break, I am celebrating it now) in March, I sometimes forget about it. But this year I decided I wanted to do a display of books and read something FABULOUS to my K & 1st grade students. The problem I found when I went looking is, that I have nothing FABULOUS about women in history. Sure, I have biographies and books about the first ladies, but nothing that is a good read aloud. I checked out Carol Hurst's site and she does have a list of Women's History month books, and there are a few that look good, but of course I do not have them in my collection.

So, I decided to look through what I have and see if I could make SOMETHING fit for Women's history month. So I found a great little story about a teacher, no she isn't famous, but she sounds fun and exciting and, well, she is a women, who teaches, can't be bad, right! The book is My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb. It is a true story about Houston's Great Aunt Arizona, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in, what looks to be the late 1800's. She grows up to be a teacher and continues to teach for FIFTY-SEVEN years (WOW!) It is a sweet book that looks at frontier life in that era and also how hard life could be (Arizona must leave school when her mother dies).

Of course, in looking and not finding much in my collection about strong women, I think I need to do a little collection building. If anyone has a great picture book that would qualify as a good read aloud about women in history or even a fictionalized account of a woman in history, PLEASE leave your suggestions in the comments - my library thanks you!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!- Limericks!

As promised, a few of my students' limericks that we wrote this week. We wrote them as a class and the kids really had a great time coming up with rhyming words.


St. Patrick’s Day in the city
My brother found a kitty
He thought it was a bat
But it really was a hat
And a girl thought it was pretty

1st grade

St. Patrick’s Day in Atlanta
We’re hoping to see Hannah Montana
She’s a big star
And rides in a limo car
She’s almost as old as my nana

2nd grade

A Leprechaun I met from the Emerald Isle
Had to walk a million miles
To get to his gold
Before it got cold
And that really made him smile

Slainte (cheers in Gaelic) to hear how to pronounce this and other Gaelic words, click here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Men's NCAA Final Four Geography Challenge

For four years now I have run a geography challenge contest for my students with the NCAA men's Final Four as the tie in.

Basically, I take a BIG map and on the Monday after the brackets are announced I type out the names of the schools and where they are located (city and state) and I print them on labels. Then I take map pins and put a map pin with a piece of string attached to it leading to the sticker, which I put on the map. So right now, I have a pretty crowded map, with 64 teams represented. On Monday I will take off the teams that lost this weekend and start with new questions.

A picture of the board outside the media center

I had to show this, my Dad's Alma Mater, Holy Cross in Worcester, MA made the tournament!

I ask a new question every other day and the students answer the question and put the answer in a box in the media center. I choose two winners and they get a small prize from my prize box.

I got this idea from the media specialist I did my internship with. She was young and from Indiana, home of college basketball and the year she started this challenge, her alma mater, Butler University, was in the Tournament (they are this year too!) So, when I got this job, like all good media specialists, I borrowed her idea to use at my school, and I have been doing it ever since.

My question today is, How many teams are located in states that border a Great Lake?

Do you have the answer??

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

There once was a librarian in Dacula

who really loved to hula
she spun around wild
like she was a child
but then she ran into a doula

ok, so it isn't very good, but it is a LIMERICK. That is what is on the plate here in the library stew media center this week in honor of ol' ST. Paddy's day.

I am reading to my younger kids the book by John Ciardi The Hopeful Trout and other Limericks. While the book is not specifically "Irish" limericks, they are cute limericks geared toward kids (many Irish limericks are better left at the Pub!) Susan Meddaugh has some great b/w illustrations to go along with the nonsense limericks, my favorite is on page 21, the illustration to The Halloween House.

After I read the students some of the limericks and explain the rhyme of a limerick, we are going to try and write a few collaboratively.

There is also a great article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today in the News For Kids section about Limericks.

I will post some of our limericks later this week, they should be interesting (and hopefully better than what I came up with above!)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Count Down to St. Patrick's Day

I love St. Patrick's Day, as an Irish Catholic, it is MY holiday - and who doesn't like tales about leprechauns and pots full of gold (not to mention some bangers and mash and a pint of Guinness!)

This week I started reading to some of my classes an Irish folk tale by Tomie dePaola, Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato. My students love this tale of ol' Jamie O'Rourke, the "laziest man in Ireland". When Jamie's wife injures herself and can't dig up the potatoes for the winter, Jamie rushes off to confession, sure that he is about to meet his demise from hunger and he stumbles upon a leprechaun. The leprechaun, smarter then Jamie, offers him a potato seed instead of giving him his gold, promising Jamie that the potato seed will give him the biggest potato he has even seen. When his bed-ridden wife hears of the potato seed, she thinks he is a fool for accepting it, instead of getting a hold of the leprechaun’s gold, but Jamie plants it anyways and what do you know, a potato the size of a house grows up out of the ground. There is some deliberation by Jamie and the townspeople as to how to get the potato out of the ground and then with an idea from Jamie's wise wife, the potato somehow seems to save the day, for Jamie and his wife, while making everyone else in town SICK of potatoes (I though everyone in Ireland was sick of potatoes!)

Jamie also appears in another one of dePaola's books, Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka and another Irish folk tale from dePaola is Fin M'Coul the Giant of Knockmany Hill.

Next week I will be reading to my younger students a cute little St. Patrick's Day story by Eve Bunting (a native of Ireland) called St. Patrick's Day in the Morning. Another tale in which the main character is named Jamie (must be a popular nickname in Ireland). Jamie is the youngest of 3 boys and he wants to be in the towns St. Patrick's Day Parade, but he has been told that he is too young. So he gets up early and stages his own parade through the town as the town wakes up.

In the past when I have read this book to my kids classes (as a mom) and I have made Irish soda bread (I have a great recipe from my family that is a little sweeter than most, and I sometimes add chocolate chips instead of raisins) and I pass out little Irish flags. This year with my students I think I will just have the Irish Flag on display and if it gets cold enough I will wear my Irish sweater from Ireland, just like Jamie in the book. I also play some Irish music in the background while the students are checking out books.

Erin Go Bragh! (that means Ireland Forever!)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mo Willems Doodles: HOT DOG! Fan Mail! (March edition)

Mo Willems Doodles: HOT DOG! Fan Mail! (March edition)

A few months ago I did a project with my Kindergarten and 1st grade students, I read Mo Willems Pigeon books (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog) and then I had the kids come up with a NEW adventure for the pigeon and draw a picture about what the pigeon was going to do (or NOT going to do) next. Some of the kids came up with some GREAT things. I was going to send these to Mr. Willems, but the kids liked them So much that they wanted to take them home. SO I scanned a few in and printed them out and sent them to Mo.

Yesterday he posted some of his fan mail on his blog (see the link above) and 2 of my kids pictures made it in (my kids drawings are the 2nd pictures on the blog.)

I can't wait to show the kids next week what Mo thought about their pictures.

I think I might just have to challenge Mother Reader for being the biggest Mo Willems fan after this!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Reading V. Eating

A Fuse #8 Production: Reading V. Eating

Thanks to Fuse #8 for alerting me to this article on CNN about the Pizza Hut Book It Program.

My school currently does not use this program, but they have in the past. My children's school uses this program, and I have to admit to having at least 3 of the pizza certificates on my fridge right now. (I love pizza, but Pizza Hut is not my favorite!)

I never participated in the program as a kid, but I do have VERY fond memories of participating in the public library's summer reading program, which offered prizes for reading a certain number of books. While, I did love to read, and would have read books over the summer anyway, the prizes were kind of nice and made it something FUN to do. At the school I teach at we have sponsored reading programs from our local minor league hockey team, where the kids read a certain number of books over a period of time and get a free ticket to a game and from Six Flags Amusement parks , in which you read 6 hours and receive a free ticket to a Six Flags park. I think that most of the kids who have participated in these programs are either heavily encouraged by their parents/teachers or they just love to read and would have read anyways, the prize is a nice little bonus. Plus, isn't it fun when you get recognized for something like reading at school. We recognize all the kids who excel in sports and other pursuits, isn't it great when we get to reward kids for doing something like reading! When you walk into most elementary schools these days you will see some kind of reading incentive program, whether it be Pizza Hut or some other corporate company offering a prize for reading books or a school sponsored program where they offer prizes or ice cream parties or pizza parties to the "winners". I hate to say this, but kids have SO many choices on recreational activities, from being over scheduled with soccer and piano and dance classes to playing video games and computer games and checking their e-mail that sometimes I think the kids NEED a reason to do something like reading and if it takes a pizza, then, well I am all for it. (note: I am making these statements not only as a media specialist, but also as a mom who has a 5th grader who HATES to read, although even the promise of pizza is niot an incentive to him, sigh.)

I think that as long as a school/teacher does not make this a MANDATORY program that the student has to participate in, then it can be a good thing. If a parent has an objection to taking their child to Pizza Hut, then don't have the child participate, simple as that. Do I think that a child is going to be encouraged to eat unhealthy all because of ONE personal pan pizza that was given to them as a prize - NO. I do have to wonder though, what will come under fire next, I am waiting for some "well meaning" parent to want to outlaw books in schools because of the threat of paper cuts - hey it could happen!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What are the odds...

Last night the husband and I were out with another couple at a local bar/restaurant. We were sitting at the bar eating and listening to this guy play the guitar. Somewhere along the way our friend made a comment to the guy playing the guitar and the guy called our friend "Scrotum Head" - what is the universe coming to - first a children's book debate on the word and now this - what are the odds!

I think the word is making a come back!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Today is the official day for Read Across America, but my school celebrated it yesterday in grand style.

After spying the new Melinda Long & David Shannon book, Pirates Don't Change Diapers, I was inspired to dress like this book character yesterday...
yes, although I look a little like Johnny Depp, I am really Braid Beard from the books How I became a Pirate and it's sequel I mentioned above.
I had some other teachers also dress up for my 2nd annual Dress Like a book Character day. I had Professor Trelauny from Harry Potter, I had the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland and I had a group of 1st & 2nd grade teachers dress as different colored crayons to represent the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.
I had a sheriff deputy (in full uniform), a local tv reporter, the assistant principal, the cafeteria manager, the priest from the church and the church youth leader all come in and read to different classes.
Many of the classes held D.E.A.R. day (drop everything and read) and the highlight of that was a picture I took of one of the kindergarten teachers lying on the floor with a group of first grade girls reading to her.
And after wearing facial hair for the 2nd time in two weeks, all I have to say is, I am glad I am not a man, that stuff just gets in the way when you are trying to read!