Friday, November 30, 2007

Gingerbread Baby FUN!

I read the Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett as my storytime book this week. After the story we decorated paper gingerbread babies (cut from a die cut) and then I gave the kids a gingerbread cookie to eat. We decorated the media center with their gingerbread baby creations. Here are some pictures from the week:

Bulletin Board in the media center

a gingerbread baby masterpiece!

Gingerbread house I made with my son last weekend

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Time in the Media Center

I know, it is still November, but in my book, the Monday after Thanksgiving officially starts HOLIDAY TIME in the media center. I always have SO many ideas and so little time, but this year we have almost four full weeks in school before vacation! Here is the e-mail I sent out to my teachers describing what I will be doing in the media center this holiday season:
Research Skills Lessons

Grades 4 & 5
Winter Holiday Web Quest: Bring your students down to the media center for some holiday research using our GCPS databases. I will pair them in groups of 2 and I will send them on a hunt through our databases for information on winter holidays. They will need to find the answers to specific questions using the GCPS databases.

Grades 2-5
Holiday Dictionary Dash: Holiday words are highlighted in this FUN dictionary game.

Story Time all grade levels welcome!
Week of November 26 – Holiday Kick off with a Sweet Treat
Story time: Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
We’ll decorate paper gingerbread babies after the story (and maybe even have a gingerbread treat).

Week of December 3 – Hanukkah
Story time: The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel
We will play a round of the dreidel game after the story.

Week of December 10 – Going Green For the Holidays
Story time: Night Tree by Eve Bunting
We will make a Christmas ornament for the student to take home and hang on an outside tree for an animal. I will also have handouts for having a “green” Holiday.

Week of December 17 – Kwanzaa
Story time: Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis

I am still looking for an activity for my Kwanzaa book, so if you have any ideas out there, PLEASE leave a comment - this is a holiday I am not too familiar with!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have been a little down this Thanksgiving season. We are not going to be with family this year, my husband has to work the holiday and we weren't even invited to spend the day with friends. I actually considered not even having a "real" dinner with a turkey etc.. because, why bother with all the effort when no one will eat it (the kids only eat turkey and rolls on the thanksgiving feast table). But I bought a turkey at the supermarket on Saturday and I decided that maybe I have to look at the positive this Thanksgiving and be thankful, instead of resentful of the bad things that have happened to my family this year. So here goes.

I'm Thankful for:
My family
my friends
our health
my new job
dark chocolate M&M's
Starbucks white chocolate mocha (non-fat milk no whip)
tap dancing class
my ipod
mu just re-soled red cowboy boots
red wine (a nice Pinot)
good books
the blogosphere
and last but not least, the Red Sox winning the World Series!!!

And I am jumping ahead a little, but while I am at it, here are things I have to look forward to in 2008

seeing Bon Jovi in concert in April
seeing Mo Willems in March at the GA Children's Lit Conference
my new niece or nephew being born in June
hopefully a new job for my husband (something that he likes AND he makes money at)
watching another great season of Red Sox baseball
hopefully watching my oldest son pass 6th grade
discovering great new books to share with my students (and blogging about them too!)

Happy Turkey day everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My blog's reading ability

cash advance

I always knew I could be a college professor!

thanks to monica at educating alice for the link.

Get a Cash Advance

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

This is another book by the young adult author duo of Cohn and Levithan who brought us Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. This is the story of neighbors and best friends Naomi and Ely. One is gay (Ely) and one is hopelessly in love with the other (Naomi). They are cool, hip NYC kids who are going to the local university (NYU) and trying to figure out life. When one of them kisses the others boyfriend, the gloves come off on their friendship and also on how they view their lives, which up to this point, were tied together in so many ways that without each other they are not sure who they really are.

I loved Nick and Norah for the his and hers chapters and different voices that Cohn and Levithan gave to each character. This book has the same, except that there are more characters to keep track of and more character voices to wrap your head around. As in Nick and Norah, you have the hip lives of cool New Yorkers. I love NYC and sometimes wish we had moved to NYC instead of Atlanta way back in '91, so maybe that is why I love books set in the "naked city". I loved that Naomi is a bit of a bitch and that Ely is your typical gay college student (I pictured about 3 guys I knew in college whenever I read Ely's dialogue.)

I was just glad that I had a weekend free enough to actually sit down and get through a whole book - and this one was worth reading!

Liz at Tea Cozy
Mindy at Proper Noun
2nd gen librarian

and Rachel's website and David's website

** on Rachel's website she tells us that Nick and Norah will be made into a movie - WOOHOO!**

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to teach about Biography Books

In my first year of being a media specialist I was asked to teach a lesson on what a biography is to some 4th graders. The assignment for the students was to read a biography and then do a report on it and then they also had to write an autobiography (this was the teachers assignment, not mine). So I set out looking for a way to make biographies seem interesting. I found in an old Judy Freeman seminar book (one of those BER seminars) that someone had given me, a lesson for biography hash. It seemed like a good lesson that I could tweek a little for my purposes and time constraints.

The result was Biography Stew. SO each year I dress in a chef hat and apron, call myself Chef Schmidt (say that 5x fast) and we cook up a biography stew. I have listed the ingredients below that we add to a big pot one by one, with me explaining why this ingredient goes into a biography. I also explain to the kids that not all the ingredients go into all biographies. The best part of the lesson for the kids is that they get to EAT the stew (which looks surprisingly like a trail mix). The best part of the lesson for me is that after this, the kids actually seek out biographies to read.

Biography Stew Ingredients

Yellow Raisins: Represent the person’s birth date and place
Corn Chex: Represent family members, because some family members can be a bit corny sometimes
Goldfish Crackers: Represent childhood and school life, because fish gather in schools
Bugles: Represent hobbies, interests and activities, because sometimes we like to blow our own horns
Pretzels: Represent anecdotes, because all people have interesting stories in their lives, with twists and turns, ups and downs, just like a pretzel.
Chocolate chips: Represents career, because when a person makes a lot of money or has good fortune, we say that he/she is “in the chips”
Cheerios: Represent the reasons for fame, because we cheer a famous person’s successes.
M&M’s : Represents later life/old age, because the M&M’s stand for More Mature
Black Raisins: Represents death, because we become shriveled and then the lights go out.

I guess I should also mention, I like this lesson SO much, it contributed to the name of this blog!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Marcus Zusak

I had the pleasure of attending a MJCCA Book Festival event last night with author Marcus Zusak. I finally got a chance to read his book, The Book Thief a few weeks ago and - WOW - it is such a thought provoking, beautiful book and I am even more enchanted with it after hearing Mr. Zusak speak about it.

As he was introduced and walked up to the podium, my friend's mother who was with us whispered "ooh he is SO cute!" and he was. Oh and he has that FABULOUS Australian accent! He started off his talk with a personal story and then he turned the tables on us as he described what the story illustrated and how he did it using details. He talked a bit about writing The Book Thief and then took questions. He answered the questions in such detail. In answering some of the questions, he told us that he does not think Max and Liesel get married, but had more of a brother-sister relationship (I agree) and that the book has been optioned for a movie, but if it does get made he will not have ANY part of it. He also told us that the characters from the book may show up in other works of his, but he will NEVER write a sequel to the book. I have to agree, although it was SUCH a powerful book, I think he got it right this time and there really is no more to say.

I did get my book signed and he drew a little smiling person next to his signature - not something you expect from a YA author!

If you have not had the chance to read the book, I will tell you, it is LONG but well worth it. See a great video book trailer for this book here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jack Gantos

Check out the interview that 7imp has up on Jack Gantos (this is for the Winter Blog Blast Tour).

He was a professor at Emerson College when I was there (although I never could get into his Children's Literature class!!) and I he is a truly gifted speaker as well as gifted writer. How can you not love Joey Pigza!

Also, if all you have read is his children's books, you need to go out RIGHT NOW and get Hole in My Life, his autobiography.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

World Book Fun

My school district subscribes to a number of online databases for our students (in addition to the State of Georgia sponsored database system called Galileo) and World Book Online is one of the databases we subscribe to. I am a HUGE proponent of databases in schools and I promote them heavily - the kids usually know me as NO GOOGLE girl (although, Google, I LOVE you so, I really do, but for educational purposes, databases rule, you'll forgive me, Google, right?)

Anyway, as I was preparing for a lesson today on using World Book Online with 3rd graders I found this contest and this HILARIOUS video by two guys named Rhett and Link. The video describes the contest, which is asking students to make a 2 minute video on evaluating websites but the video also helps describe some aspects of evaluating websites. The contest deadline is November 30th, so not that much time, but the video is a great teaching tool in and of itself. I used it today with a group of 5th graders and they loved the video and I think they really "got" what the guys were saying about evaluating websites. I hope that World Book keeps the video by Rhett and Link up even after the contest is over, or even better, that they have these two guys come up with some more videos on research topics! You can watch the video without having a subscription to World Book online, but to have access to the database your school (or district) must subscribe.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

19 more days until Turkey Day

Because Thanksgiving is so early this year I feel like I have to jump right into the season in the media center. This week I will be reading the story Thank You Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, a picture book biography of Sarah Hale, the woman who lobbied to have Thanksgiving made a national holiday. This also plays into the fact that the genre of the month at my school is the biography. I am going to have the 1st & 2nd graders who come in for story time write a persuasive letter to our principal asking her to do something (whatever the kids want) and with kindergarten we will write a letter together. With some 3rd & 4th grade classes this week I will be doing one of my FAVORITE lessons, biography stew. More to come on that lesson.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here are some great FREE downlodable projects. One of a turkey and another feathered friend here. Thanks to SegaTech blog for the links. I must admit I have not tried either one of these, but I am planning on having my 9 year old help me!