Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Ready for Read Across America Day (week!)

As most of you know, Read Across America Day is next Tuesday, March 2nd. Due to some school scheduling conflicts, our school is celebrating it on Monday, March 1st, but here in the Media Center we are celebrating it all week.

Today, I am starting a collaborative lesson with a fourth grade class. We will be learning about how to write a book review with a little research thrown in. The class is divided up into 5 groups (about 5 students in each group), each group will choose a Dr. Seuss book to write a review of. All the students will read the book, then the students will write a review of the book. One student will be the researcher and will be in charge of finding one or two interesting facts about Dr. Seuss. The kids will then film a short book trailer (using the written review) using our new FLIP video cameras. The students will also include the cool fact about Dr. Seuss at the end of the review. I will then take the videos, clean them up a bit and we will air them, one per day, on our morning news show every day next week. I have done a quick little Google site to organize the project.

I am a little nervous that it will all get done by Friday, but I know that the kids are going to be SO excited to use the cameras and to have their work shown on the announcements.

My spring book fair is next week, so we will be very busy in here with that. On Monday, the literacy coach and myself have set up some guest readers (mainly, people in our school, such as the custodians, cafeteria ladies, school secretary, the principal, etc..) to read to each class. I am also sponsoring my 3rd annual faculty Dress Like a Book Character day (which reminds me, I need to figure out some prizes for that!) We are also encouraging all the teachers to include some special reading time in their day on Monday (but wouldn't it be nice if they did this EVERY DAY!)

Speaking of Dr. Seuss, Amy at Time to Renew has a cool Prezi presentation on the life of Dr. Seuss.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


For the 2nd time this winter our area has been blanketed by snow. Luckily for us, it happened on a Friday afternoon so there will be no snow day and even better, no snow make up day (we were suppose to have yesterday and Monday off, but instead we have school due to flood and snow make up days - BLAH!)
Here are some pictures of the snow in Georgia yesterday and today. I just hope it melts on the roads today, I have plans tonight!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reading Log

I have actually gotten in some good reading time lately, which is amazing considering how crazy my life has been of late. There is a mix of middle grade, picture books, YA and adult titles, something for everyone!

Picture Book
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares
I have known about this book for sometime (Matt is going to be my guest author in May) and it was worth the wait. It is not only a beautifully illustrated book, but the story about Aaron’s journey to the major leagues (it ends with Hank’s first major league at bat) is inspirational and something that my baseball fanatic students will love. For elementary schools in Georgia, this will be a must purchase for the study of famous Georgians (2nd grade). Check out Matt’s website for a REALLY cool story that he uncovered while doing the research for this book. Also, if you are local, Matt will be at Little Shop of Stories on May 2nd and he will be doing a signing at the Gwinnet Braves game on May 4th (against the Pawtucket Red Sox!!) I will be at both!!

Middle Grade/YA
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner
I bought this book for my media center and read it over the weekend. It is a great story of a middle school girl who is grappling with passing science (by finishing a MONSTER leaf project), going to the sectionals for cross country, the aging of her grandmother who lives with her family, her feelings for her best friend , who happens to be a guy and dealing with your typical middle school group of mean girls. With a 6th grade daughter of my own, I thought this book was so true about many of the things that girls this age are dealing with. I think it is a great title for fifth graders (and middle schoolers) who will be dealing with all these issues all too soon!

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
As luck would have it, I had this book checked out from the public library when the announcement was made that it had WON the Newberry! I LOVED this book! There have been LOTS of reviews, and you can read one here and here, but I will say this, I wonder how much kids who read this book will understand the 25,000 Pyramid storyline – or even, for that matter the talk about Dick Clark. Monica at Educating Alice is reading this to her fourth grade class and I think it would make a great read aloud, and in that case, you could explain (and maybe even show a clip) of the show. And I just LOVE how the book ends (you willhave to read it to find out!)

My Life the Musical by Maryrose Wood
I gave this book to my daughter, the budding Radio City Rockette, for Christmas. If you have a middle school age girl (or her mom) who loves musicals and Broadway, they will LOVE this book. It is about two teenagers ( Phillip and Emily) who live on Long Island and they are in LOVE with the musical Aurora. When they find out that the musical is closing, they are on a quest to find tickets for the last performance and also the identity of the elusive author of the musical. The book is peppered with lots of musical trivia and lyrics and sub story lines of family, identity and usual teenage issues of fitting in. This made me want to go out and see a musical!

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir by Elna Baker
This book was HYSTERICAL! This is a memoir of Elna Baker trying to grip with the fact that she lives in NYC, is young, an aspiring actress and Mormon. She tells of how she deals with dating or rather trying to date in NYC and keep her Mormon values. Her one tale of meeting a famous older actor is hysterical and I have spent WAY too much time trying to figure out WHO it is (she does not reveal his identity, but tells us he is as famous as Newman, Redford, Beaty). It was a quick read, but one worth the laughs!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Story Time This Week: A Tribute to Coleen Salley and Mardi Gras

This week in honor of one of my FAVORITE people of all time, Coleen Salley and as a warm up to Mardi Gras my story time combined a Louisiana folk tale by Ms. Salley and the making of Mardi Gras masks!

I love Ms. Salley's Epossumondas books, even if I STILL can't the Lousiana accent right when I read them! Coleen's last book (published in October, a year after she passed away) Epossumondas Plays Possum , was my choice to read this week. This is the story of little Epossumondas, he once again goes into the swamp, forgetting that his Mama had warned him of the terrible loup-garou who live in the swamp and will swoop a nice little possum right up with his nasty claws. So Epossumondas gets lost and encounters all sorts of nasty swamp creatures, but isn't scared at all because they are not the loup-garou. In the end, his Mama finds him i the swamp and she is surprised because he DID indeed use the "sense he was born with" in dealing with the nasty swamp creatures.

This book NEEDS to be read in a southern accent, I try to summon my best, Steel Magnolias accent when I read this book, and I think for a good ol' girl from Massachusetts, I think I do ok with the accent. If you ever want to hear how the Epossumondas books SHOULD be read, get a copy of the audio book for any of Coleen's other Epossumondas books, she read them and is FABULOUS.

For our craft this week, I am having the kids make Mardi Gras masks, the kids are LOVING this, the bad part, I am having to cut out the eyes of the mask before the kids come in - I need a mask die cut if I ever do this again!

Check out some pictures from our story time this week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear Mr. President....

As many of you know, President Obama's 2011 education budget does NOT include any additional funding for libraries or specific funding to put certified school librarians (that is what we are suppose to call ourselves these days, right?) in schools.

Buffy Hamilton of the Unquiet Librarian wrote an AWESOME letter, which I shared with all the media specialists in my county. AASL also has a sample letter that you can use to write to your local paper and your local congressional delegates. One last thing you can do, at 5:45 today, Organizing for America will be hosting a conversation with President Obama. You can submit your questions for him at their site here. If we flood the site with questions about why he has excluded libraries and school librarians in his 2011 education budget, maybe he will realize how important this issue is to schools across the country.

If any legislator has any questions about how important it is to have a certified school librarian in a school, I would like to invite them to come out and spend the day with me and see what I do for my school and I am sure that any school librarian would extend the same invitation! (just please don't come during book fair!) President Obama, I have the welcome mat out for you!

Monday, February 1, 2010


I found this TED video from Amy Bowllan of the SLJ blog, Bowllans blog. This video is a talk by story teller Chimamanda Adichie from the 2009 TED International conference. Adichie talks about how people can have stereotypes just from the stories that they read and hear. This REALLY made me think about what kind of books I use for story time and how I need to diversify what I read to the students. Our school population is increasingly becoming more diverse, not just more Hispanics and African Americans, but more Asian students and we have quite a few students from Slavic countries as well. It is worth it to take 20 minutes to watch this.