"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ReedALOUD: Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang

Fenway is back!  

This week, the fourth graders and I read an excerpt from Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang byVictoria CoeVictoria visited with these students last spring, so I wanted them to be the first to be introduced to the new book. The students' recall of her visit was impressive. They remembered her doing the visualizing exercises with them and they remembered her sharing how she get into perspective to write from a dog's point-of-view.
I loved the first Fenway and Hattie and this new adventure matches its predecessor in appeal and engagement. Fenway is back and he has a lot on his plate...

"The lovable little dog with a GIANT personality is back—battling something that may be worse than squirrels!  Life is pretty much a bag of treats when you’re an endlessly energetic Jack Russell Terrier. For Fenway, days are filled with important things like defending the Dog Park from wicked squirrels, snuggling with Hattie, and catching up on the neighborhood gossip with the next-door dogs Goldie and Patches. But that all changes the day a fiendish new intruder enters Fenway’s turf: he’s fluffy, he twitches evilly, and he smells worse than squirrels… 

He’s a bunny. An evil bunny. And Fenway can’t fathom why, but Hattie ADORES him. Goldie and Patches warn him that short humans are fickle: sometimes they love a new pet more than an old one. Fenway can’t believe his own Hattie would choose another pet over him. But taking matters into his own paws just makes everything worse. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet too–and is he tough enough to take on an entire gang of evil bunnies?"

Victoria Coe knows how to write from a dog's point-of-view. We readers quickly get lost in the world of Fenway, a lovable and often misunderstood Jack Russell Terrier. I wish I could spend time visiting with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and Hattie and play in the dog park behind their house. 

The students used Padlet to try their hands at point-of-view writing. They could choose the animal and, using their five senses, try to capture a scene. This can be hard, especially in such a short time period, but they were so inspired by what they heard, they dove right in!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hour of Code: Unplugged: Every day Algorithms: Paper Airplanes

Today, third graders participated in Hour of Code, in an unplugged activity, which had them learning about ALGORITHMS. After watching a brief video, the students and I talked about the definition of algorithm: a list of steps you can follow to finish a task. They shared algorithms they use every day to get ready for school: getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, taking the bus, etc.  We focused on the tooth brushing algorithm because it is a universal activity, it is a tangible way to talk about the algorithms, and some of the steps can be switched around. For instance, one can wet the toothbrush and then add paste or add paste and then wet the toothbrush, but one cannot add the toothpaste after brushing.  
It was a fabulous activity and the reflections by the students were thoughtful. The complete lesson is here. Since we reflected on the learning as a group, I sent home the assessment as a tool for the students to share with parents what they learned today.  Have a look and a listen at the collaborative learning and coding happening in the library and today:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Micro Mini Research on Sharks

The fifth graders are getting ready to begin their Research on Native American peoples. They will embark upon a micro mini shark research project to refresh their memories about crafting researchable questions, choosing resources, taking notes, citing sources, and presenting information. Each student will create one Google slide, like the example above, with their information.

I will share what they learned next week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ReedALOUD: We Found a Hat

The existential hat journey continues! Jon Klassen finishes the trilogy in classic Klassen style with with We Found a Hat
Were we expecting answers? Of course not. Were we expecting another book that would get us thinking? Of course we were!
I am eager to read all three stories with my second graders and have them react/reflect/respond. I would love to know what these students think happens after the last page, taking advantage of that emotional and imaginative space that Jon Klassen leaves for readers' imaginations. That will have to wait though. Today, my kindergarten students and I read We Found a Hat.
This hat story is presented in three chapters. This format adds to the story arc. It also puts emphasis on the time of day and this is a day that I would like to be a part of! Not only are these turtles best friends, they are partaking in some of my favorite activities: exploring nature, watching a sunset, and sleeping under the stars. This is a perfect day in my books! Klassen uses a color palate that perfectly captures the mood of and moments in the story. What stands out is that incredible sunset. It is serene and stunning. 

A dilemma ensues. Two friends. One hat. 

They decide to leave it where they found it.
But... one friend is having a hard time not thinking about that hat.
Those eyes are glued to that hat. 

What will they do? I don't know, but my kindergarten students have some fabulous ideas.

If fan art is any indication, my kindergarten students completely understood the importance of those eyes.

Kindergarten students find answers to their wondering questions: I learned that...

Kindergarten students share what they learned from their Wonder Wall books

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ReedALOUD: Du Iz Tak?

This week, the second and fourth grade students and I read Du Iz Tak?, written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. This book is nothing short of brilliant. I could gush for the next few sentences, but I will refrain and just say, "Buy this book for everyone you know."

I don't really know where to begin explaining this book. The gorgeous illustrations? The crazy creative use of a made up language? The celebration of the natural world?  It is all just lyrical and lovely.

Carson Ellis has done something incredibly special. She has created characters with delicate features and imbued them with fabulous personalities. Each page encourages careful exploration, lest you miss some important and beautiful detail, as with the subtle side-bar story lines (keep an eye out for the stick bug and slug, and don't forget about that cocoon). The use of color is effective and reinforces the sense of time as the seasons pass gently by. Did we talk about that invented language yet?!

I can tell you that four classes of fourth graders had the same mind-blown reaction I had when reading the book. The four classes of second graders were also impressed. You will find examples of the students' work and reactions following a brief dive into this amazing book. The library was filled with the new-found language during browsing and borrowing.

The inside flap of the book let's the reader know that "Du Iz Tak?" means "What is that?" Since we did not have Carson Ellis in our midst, the rest of what you see here is how my students and I translated the language.

Our story begins...

"What is that?" By reading "Ma nazoot" with expression, the students guessed it might mean, "No clue," or "I don't know."

The plant grows and our protagonists can't reach the next branches. I read the next four pages through and then went back to this page. The students quickly decided that Ru=we, badda=need unk=a ribble=ladder. We now knew the meaning of several more words!

All is going along swimmingly for our friends until the voobeck (spider) came along. 

All I needed to do was point out the body language of the two insects to the bottom left -  hands raised in fists- and the students knew the frustration of our characters. 

That poor slumping moth let's us know how disappointing this situation is. 

To embody this beautifully-wrought characters with such personality and expression is incredible.

The spider doesn't last long. (I'll not spoil the story for you, but it went over very well with the students.)  

Imagine the surprise and awe felt when this "scrivadelly gladdenboot" blooms!

I asked the students to translate this, which they did easily!

The seasons change and so all good things must come to an end, but not without one last little surprise. I'll not spoil it for you here. You will have to read it yourself!

I used this book a little differently with each class that I worked with. Here's a peak at what it looked like and sounded like. More detail on the way I used the book with students is below.
In a nutshell:

Class 1 - I made a copy of parts of a few pages and asked the students to do their best to decode/translate the language using the picture and context clues. We then read the story and talked about the language and the book. As I listened to students working, many were trying to use their knowledge of other languages to figure out what language this was.
Class 2 - I revered this lesson and read the book first and then had the students work in groups to decode/translate some of the language. We then read the book a second time.
Class 3 - I repeated the lesson with class one, but saved time for students to add to the story.
Class 4 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. We built a word bank at the end, which the students used to write in new scenes and new characters. They also made up their own vocabulary to add to the story.

Class 1 and 2 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. The students added to the story with new words and new characters. 

Class 3 and 4 - I explained that the language was made up from the beginning and explained that we would still be able to translate it based upon picture clues and context. We used what we knew to translate the book as we went along. They also made up their own vocabulary to add to the story.

I hope this is only the beginning and that more things will be popping up in this garden soon!