Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Kindergaten's Reading: Dr. Seuss

It is Dr. Seuss Week here in our neck of the woods in honor of Read Across America Day so, big surprise, I am reading a Dr. Seuss book to kindergarten this week. I chose a book that teachers might not necessarily read to the kids, Horton Hatches The Egg. I also realized why it is a book that teachers don't read to their students, it is LONG - I am EXHAUSTED after I get through reading this to the kids!

This is the story of Horton, he is a nice elephant, always stays true to his word and when he decides to help out Mayzie the bird sit on her egg so she can get a vacation, nothing, NOTHING will stop Horton from sitting on that egg. It is typical Dr. Seuss rhyme and classic Dr. Seuss illustrations. As with most of his books, it does have a message in there that most adults get but it skips right over the kids. The kids enjoy it when I read Dr. Seuss because I tend to do it very quickly and with a lot of energy, something about the way he writes makes me think that his books were meant to be read this way. This is also why I am exhausted and froggy voiced after reading this book, especially when I have to read it 3 times in a row to different classes.

Tomorrow is the big day here at my school. Check back tomorrow and I will have some pictures of what people dressed up as for Read Across America day - and I will unveil my costume (I think I finally have a decision made!)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Oscars

How many of you stayed up to watch the WHOLE Oscar telecast? - Not me, I made it to about 11pm, I think the last thing I remember seeing was Jerry Seinfeld. I love movies, but these days I don't get to watch too many, even when I rent them, there just never seems to be the time to watch them, especially if they are not kid friendly and I have to wait until the kids are in bed to watch them. But I do enjoy watching the stars all dressed up and I thought Ellen was funny as a host, but what is with the production numbers - do we really need to see Will Ferrell and Jack Black singing???? And while I appreciate the awards for the "behind the scenes" things like costume design and art direction (we have many friends from college, Emerson College in Boston, who are in the behind the scenes business) but, do we need to see these awards, do most of us care?? I guess that is why they don't televise the announcement of the Newbery awards, not enough people care, and I guess because at the awards announcement there is no red carpet, gee, maybe that is an idea for next years award breakfast!

If you are interested in film, a middle school here in Georgia is fostering the interest in movie making with its' students by sponsoring an annual film festival. These short documentary films are AMAZING, especially when you realize that these are made by 11-14 year olds. The school is Mabry Middle School and here is the link to watch some of the winners from last year. Also, if you ever have the chance to hear the schools Principal, Dr. Tim Tyson speak, take it, he is FABULOUS, he has the right idea about mixing technology and traditional education methods and he has some really inspiring stories from the land of middle school.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Count Down to Read Across America Day

I am home with a sick child today so I am catching up on some things and trying to narrow down my choices of what children's book character I am going to dress up as next week for my annual celebration of NEA's Read Across America day (RAA Day). At my school because of some scheduling issues, we are actually going to celebrate on Thursday March 1st instead of the actual day on Friday March 2nd. This year RAA Day is celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Cat In The Hat!

The first year I was a media specialist (4 years ago) I started this celebration at my school and I invited different people in our community to come and read to our students. I wore a cat in the hat, hat and I decorated the media center in Dr. Seuss gear. I did this for two years and it worked out ok, scheduling teachers and guest readers became a nightmare and I had teachers who were unhappy with their assigned reader or their assigned reader time, it was just too stressful and not FUN. SO last year I asked each teacher to find their own guest reader and I sponsored a contest for the teachers, dress as a children's book character. I had about 9 teachers participate last year. I took their pictures as they came in the building in the morning, then I set the pictures out in the hallway near the media center and the students could vote for their favorite. The winner was awarded a $25 gift certificate (I know how to bribe!) and once again, it was a FUN day. I dressed up as Lilly (see my FLickr photos) from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes last year, now how do I top that?

I had a few thoughts, Angelina Ballerina (because I already have a tutu) or the girl from David Shannon's A Bad Case of Stripes, but having all that face paint on my face all day will wreak havoc on my face. For a few minutes I thought of Captain Underpants, but I do still need to keep this job until May, so that might be out. I want something that the kids will recognize, but that is fairly easy to make the costume and comfortable to wear most of the day. If you have any suggestions, I need them!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just Like Abe Lincoln

Just Like Abe Lincoln
Originally uploaded by Kathyfs.

I DID find a costume yesterday, my Kindergarten students have enjoyed this today!

Another reason to love my job, where else can you dress up like Abe Lincoln!

Of course it is also Fat Tuesday, so I have some cool beads to go along with the Abe outfit!

Monday, February 19, 2007

What Kindergarten's Reading

Just Like Abraham Lincoln by Bernard Waber (1964)

This is an oldie (I couldn't even find a picture of it on the net) but I think a funny read for President's day.

A boy tells us about his neighbor, Mr. Potts, who looks just like Abraham Lincoln. He describes some of Mr. Potts traits and, coincidentally, he acts just like Abraham Lincoln too. The boy talks about how he is learning about the REAL Abraham Lincoln in class and gives a little historical information about ol' Abe. At the school's Lincoln Birthday celebration, there is a special visitor, none other than Mr. Potts. At the end of the book there is a little twist of fate, so to speak, when a new neighbor moves in and looks like... George Washington.

I am a big Bernard Waber fan, for me it started with Ira Sleeps Over, one of my favorite books as a kid.

I am actually looking for a stove pipe hat to wear this week while I read the story, I just wish these ideas came to be a few weeks in advance so I could order a hat, rather than trying to find one today at my local party store/costume store. I guess I could always make one!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

NY Times has gotten into the debate

what's next, the Today show tomorrow morning?

here is the link to the NYT article today.

I think the thing that gets me upset when there are issues like this is that it makes the sterotype of the school librarian (or really librarians in general) ring true. Although in the online version of the Times article, there is only a picture of the author, with the comments that many of the school librarians make in the article, I can just picture a gray-haired woman in her mid-fifties with glasses and a smart looking skirt and sensible shoes saying that she feels uncomfortable putting a book in her collection with the word "scrotum" in it.

sigh, maybe that is why I bought the book, I am not the sterotypical school librarian, I actually see myself as something of a rebel most days, of course I always thought that was because of my streaked highlighted hair and the red cowgirl boots that I wear to school, not because I put a book with the word "scrotum" in my collection!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Censorship, the Newbery and those darn parents!

A Fuse #8 Production: Oh, Doggone It

Thanks to Fuse #8 for pointing me in the direction of this article from Publisher's Weekly about some discussions on the LM_Net list serve of school librarians choosing not to buy this years Newbery winner the Higher Power of Lucky because the word "scrotum" is used in the story.

Stories of censorship and book challenges really RILE me up. The recent craziness of a mother in the area where I live (and in the school district I will be working in next year) who tried to get Harry Potter books taken off the shelves of the school libraries in our district, just makes my skin crawl! Thankfully, she lost on the school level, lost on the local school board level and lost on the State school board level, but is STILL going. I think this woman needs a job or something!

I believe that parents need to monitor what their child reads and if they deem any book inappropriate for THEIR child, whether due to subject matter, or reading level or maturity level of the child, then it is the PARENTS decision to make and also the parents responsibility to explain to their child why they deem a certain book or books inappropriate for them. As a parent, I do this with my children not only with books, but with movies and tv shows and toys, isn't that my JOB as a parent?

BUT.. with that said, if you have ever been in a situation where a parent is involved and wants something taken out of your collection , things can get ugly, especially if you do not have support from your administrators. Luckily, I have had only a few minor run-ins with parents about books, most of the parents did not want to go through the process of officially challenging a book and the issue was dropped and for the most part my administrators were supportive. I rewrote my schools collection development policy and materials challenge policy three years ago and I think that has helped this school to have a clear cut set of steps to follow when a parent makes a formal complaint about a book. I have had fellow media specialists go through full blown book challenges and it is not pretty. I think that these media specialists on the LM_Net list serve (of which I used to be a member of, but the amount of mail everyday was overwhelming) went about protesting this book in the wrong way. It is one thing to say that because of your population (be it student population or parent population) you choose NOT to buy this book for your collection, it is another to say you are not buying the book because of one word in the book. I will admit, that I have chosen NOT to buy some titles because I know that if we put the book in our media center, I will have a pack of parents by months end banging on my door demanding the book be removed. To me, that is not so much as censorship, as understanding my population that I am purchasing materials for (a Catholic K-8 school). Does it make me mad that I don't have Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in my collection because I know that some of my parents would hang me by my toes if their middle school student checked it out, YES, but that is a decision I have had to make for MY particular school and my school population.

I think part of the reason that I am so picky in choosing what I will add to my collection (other than the money aspect) is that once I buy a book for my collection, I want to feel that I can defend this books place in the schools collection, no matter what parent or administrator comes in and complains about it. I think the article gets it right, in that school libraries are under a much tighter microscope than public libraries and it is because these days parents feel that THEY have the right to determine what their child learns and what should be in THEIR school libraries. Earlier this year my Principal actually had a request from a parent to preview EVERY BOOK that I bought before I put it into the collection. Luckily, the Principal told the parent he could not do that, but it amazes me that a parent would even ask that in the first place.

boy, this is too heavy of a topic for a Friday!

Oh and by the way, I HAVE bought Higher Power of Lucky for my collection and actually have it in my bag to read this weekend, I can't wait!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Announcing: The Cybil WINNERS!!

I am a day late, but I want to give a shout out to all the Cybil winners and also to the Cybil organizers. What a great idea this was and I think VERY well executed.

I just finished reading Nick & Norah's Infinate Playlist and I loved it, I'm so glad it got the nod! I can't wait to pick up Amelia's Rules, the winner in the under 12 graphic novel category. My students have been going CRAZY about Graphic Novels this year and I have been scrambling to add some new ones to the collection.

Again, Congratulations to all the winners and to all the organizers - job well done!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Kindergarten's reading this week

Going Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

I am continuing with stories related to Black History Month this week with a fictional tale about a young girl taking a trip through a southern town in the 1950's in the midst of Jim Crow laws. The girl, Tricia Ann, encounters having to sit in the back of the bus in the colored section, a sign on a bench in a park that demands "Whites Only" and being swept by a crowd into a hotel lobby and then yelled at by the manager for being a colored girl in a hotel that does not allow blacks.
The story has a happy ending when Tricia Ann makes it to her "someplace special", the public library.
The book has an afterward from the author, which is a little too involved to read to my kindergarten kids, but explains that this story is based on her life in Nashville, TN in the 1950's.

I use this book to explain segregation and Jim Crow laws to the kids. Since they recently read books in the media center and in their classrooms about Dr. Martin Luther King , I was able to tie together what we had read about him and his work to repeal these laws and what life was actually like for someone their age living with these laws (although the girl in the story is older than my kindergarten kids, she is still a kid).

I have also suggested this book to my middle school teachers to use when they are studying segregation and Jim Crow laws, again it helps to tie together the facts and the feelings of what it was like to live during segregation.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pop Goes the Library: CJRLC Tech Challenge#links

Pop Goes the Library: CJRLC Tech Challenge#links

What a GREAT challenge - I wish I could do this for the teachers in my building! Many of the teachers in my school are technology challenged, they can do it, but either just don't want to or don't have the confidence to try something new. I have really tried in the 4 years I have been at this school to change their attitudes about technology, some teachers have gotten on board and some teachers never will until forced by the administration. oh well!

So far here is what I have done with the challenge:

1. Start a blog relating to your library interests; post once a month, including photos! check, I guess starting this blog last week qualifies!

2. Start a Flickr photo account. check, actually I had a flickr account for awhile (I had a blog about my family that I took down about a year ago) but I just re-established it.

3. Subscribe to an aggregator like bloglines and set up RSS feeds from blogs or websites. I have sort of done this, I set up an RSS account but really haven't figured out how to use it.

4. Read about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0; post some comments on your blog. I have read many things and even gone to a conference presentation about this, I will have to think about some comments to post about this in the future.

5. Learn to use at least one of the following: LibraryThing, Google Maps;; or Squidoo. I use Google maps and all the time, guess I will have to get familiar with the other two.

6. Teach someone else how to use one of the technologies described above! I plan on putting directions on setting up a account and adding it to your google homepage in my next newsleter to the teachers.

Pop Culture and Sports

Well, although I do want this blog to reflect my life as a media specialist, I did say that I would HAVE to post about some other fun things once in awhile.

Well the 49th annual Grammy Awards were last night and my man, Jon Bon Jovi won for best country collaboration (CONGRATS BON JOVI) and some great strong women, Mary J. Blige and The Dixie Chicks won BIG last night. I am not a country music fan, but I do like *some* of the Dixie Chick's songs and I was especially happy about their wins last night because of the controversy that has surrounded them in recent years. In a connection to the media center, maybe with the Grammy's happening this past week, highlight some musician biographies or music books in your library (see, there can ALWYS be a connection to POP culture in the library!)

In sports news - BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING STARTS THIS WEEK - woohoo! The Red Sox start reporting this week, with their first practice on Friday. Hopefully we can make the playoffs this year, last fall was a disappointment with us not even making the playoffs, but as a life-long Red Sox fan, it isn't as if we aren't used to disappointing season ending games. My sons' also start their baseball season next week, it just kills me that at the ages of 6 & almost 11 that they will be braving cold temps. to practice 4x a week, and this is suppose to be FUN - handling a metal bat in 40 degree weather is not FUN to me, but I guess to the boys it is, they can't wait to get back out on the field - brrrr!

I am getting some work done at home today since I have a sick child, I just hope that my other 2 don't come down with whatever my oldest has.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Website: Poetry & Black History Month

I feel that one of my jobs as a media specialist is to search out websites for the teachers at my school that will make their jobs easier. One of my suggestions to them this month was for a website from Target (or Tar-jay as my daughter calls it) called Dream in Color

Target has always been a big supporter of Black History Month in the schools (how many of you got the posters of famous African Americans they provided a few years ago?) and this year they teamed up with Dr. Maya Angelou for a program that includes lesson plans, an interview with Dr. Angelou and an interactive poetry writing game called Poetry Play. The thing I liked about the lesson plans is that it takes something that teachers need to teach (poetry) and used African American Poets (such as Langston Hughes and Dr. Angelou) to facilitate the lessons. They have a PDF book of lesson plans to download for grades K-12 and also a glossary and a recommended reading list to go along with the lesson plans. Even if you are not getting to a poetry lesson until later this year, the website is worth checking out and using the lessons at a later date.

Who knew Target was good for something other than spending half my paycheck at their store!

Friday, February 9, 2007

What Kindergarten's Reading This Week

Lookin' For Bird In The Big City
by Robert Burleigh illustrated by Marek Los

In honor of Black History month I like to read some different stories to my younger students. I discovered this book my first year as a media specialist (4 years ago) and have been reading it ever since. It is a fictional story of a young Miles Davis, traveling the streets of New York City searching for his idol Charlie "Bird" Parker. The watercolor artwork by Marek Los seems to be almost smoky and vibrant at the same time and it really reflects the tone of the story. While reading this story, I put on a Miles Davis CD and turn up the music at key points in the story. The students really enjoy not only the story, but the mix of listening to music with a story. The afterward in the book provides some information on Miles Davis' life and on the back cover is a photograph of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.

After I read the story, I keep the music on while the students check out books. For many of my students, it is the first time they have ever listened to Jazz music and certainly the first time they have ever heard of Miles Davis or Charlie Parker.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Welcome to My World

I have been thinking about doing a blog for awhile, but two things were delaying my decision:

a. what to blog about. Did I want to jump into the world of Kidlit bloggers or get on the band wagon of the mommy bloggers?
b. what I wanted to name said blog - something fun, something wild, something sexy, something not so boring.

Well, as you can see by the title of the blog, I decided to start a blog in the kidlitosphere (thanks to Elizabeth Burns for that term from her article in School Library Journal this month) but as you can tell by the title of this blog, I did not achieve a something wild, something fun, something sexy title. Instead the title comes from a lesson I do every year with my 4th grade students about biographies titled Biography Stew (which is a very fun lesson, which involves food and me dressing up, but I digress...) So for now, that's the title of the blog. Maybe someday when inspiration hits me in the shower (where it always does!) I will change it to something more fun, more wild and not so boring.

One of the reasons I decided to join the ranks of the already crowded kiddie lit blogging field is that I noticed that many of the bloggers out there are public librarians and not so many school librarians (or as we like to be called, media specialists or as I prefer, media goddess). My blog will not be as much about book reviews, but what books I am buying, what books I am reading (myself and to my students) and also technology news, tools and websites that might help the school media specialist or anyone teaching or raising children. Of course I might have to include from time to time a snippet or two about my kids, the Boston Red Sox and Jon Bon Jovi because, well it's fun!

Thanks for joining me at my table, lets get cooking.