Saturday, May 31, 2014

Part 2 of Classroom Library Reorganization!

 Now to discuss the checkout process in my library.  I had a sign out sheet on a clipboard.  Students remembered to checkout the books, when I reminded them otherwise not so much.  So first solution for that is mini lesson on classroom library prodigal. Here's how I am considering handling this.  My students will have color coded reading response journals.  Their journals will be do on certain days of the week.  The day your journal is due will be your book shopping day.  This will cut down on the number of students in the classroom library and at the checkout computers at any given time. Students will be able to check out 2 books from my classroom library at a time for a 2 week period for their book baskets.  Other books will come from our school library.

 Computers, you say? That is the next mini lesson I will be teaching.  I found this website called Booksource.  They offer a free classroom organizer. When I found the site a year or so ago they offered an app for Apple only. This app scans the bar codes on your books and puts them into a database. You can use that database for your students to check out books via your classroom computers and do a short review upon returning them.  The database will display guided reading level or AR level just to name a few.  This display is customizable by you.  

 Upon revisiting the site on Thursday I was elated to see that they now have an app for Android.  I have began bringing my books home from school, 1 box at a time, to scan them.  My goal is to have them all scanned, so that my database is up and running on the first day of school.  Wish me luck!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Reorganizing My Classroom Library

  Confession time:  My classroom library has always been an entity in my classroom, make that an unused entity in my classroom. After reading The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser, I decided it was past time for this to change. The million dollar question was were to begin?  So I visited The Daily Cafe where I found a video about organizing your classroom library.  It clicked, made total sense.  
  At that time my library was a sad attempt at organizing books according to AR levels.  This organization or lack thereof lead to major frustration on my part, because the books where never were they were supposed to be.  Since no one including myself knew where they were supposed to be, this was not a surprising issue.
 I began making the change by visiting my local dollar store and purchasing plastic baskets.  Then I spent 4 hours sorting out my books by author, topic, or genre and created categories. Some sample categories that I created are Magic Treehouse, Sports, and Beverly Cleary.  I labeled the baskets and matching books with a number and sorted them into their proper place.  
 This all done, my goal is for my library to be the focus entity in my classroom not the unused entity.

Five Books Done!

  The fifth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens. Kevin and his dog Cromwell are classic couch potatoes until Cromwell sees a dog agility contest on TV.  Read on to find out how life changes for Kevin, Cromwell, and their family!
  This book would work well for practicing  identifying cause and effect, summarizing, and identifying main ideas and supporting details.  Students could also compare and contrast beginning of the book Kevin and Cromwell to ending of the book Kevin and Cromwell.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Four Books Done!

   The fourth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Hiss-s-s-s! by Eric A. Kimmel. Omar wants a snake, but his mom is less than thrilled.  Read to find out how the adventure unfolds and how Omar and mom grow and change from their adventure. 
  Scattered throughout this book are some examples of onomatopoeia.  Other skills you could teach using this book might be make a picture or mental image.  The descriptions of certain events in the book are well written and certainly help the reader create a mental image.  
  I am considering using this as a read aloud in my class.  Our basal has an excerpt from the story Dear Mr. Winston by Ken Roberts and an informational text piece about snakes. I am thinking that I will read this to my class shortly before we get to that story and then we will compare and contrast the two fiction stories and use the nonfiction along with those to look at author's purpose. 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Three Books Down

  The third Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee I chose to read was Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. William and Elinor's father left for "a while".  Their mom decides to cope by adopting four dogs and a cat.  Their new "family" members help them see how important they are to each other.
  This story would be a good fit for many skills off the CAFE menu. The fact that it contains some illustrations makes is work for the skill cross checking.  It would also work for students working on summarizing, identifying literary elements, and voracious reading.

Two Books Down

  The second Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee I chose to read was The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki. Neil and Bree are spending the summer with their aunts, who just happen to live by an abandoned, haunted state hospital named Graylock. Being typical kids Neil and Bree go explore Graylock. This is when the spooky twists and turns of the book begin to appear. 
  This story would be a good fit for students working on any number of skills of the CAFE menu.  Here are a few I thought would work well with it:  making predictions, inferring, asking questions as you read, and identifying literary elements.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

One Book Down!

  I began working on my goal of reading the Iowa Children's Choice Award nominees with the book Hold Fast by Blue Balliet.
       This is a fast, moving mystery about a father who disappears and his family who ends up living in a homeless shelter.  The story unfolds as Early Pearl, the daughter of the missing man,works to solve the mystery and bring her father home. 
  Shortly into the book, I decided to use it as my first chapter book read aloud in August. Upon making this decision I consulted my copy of the Iowa Core, the Daily 5 and The CAFE Book to see what skills I could use this book to teach.
  First off this book is filled with the love of words. Each chapter begins with a highlighted word or two which the author shares the origin and definition of the highlighted words with the reader. This makes it a great way to introduce your class word collector and the skill tune into interesting words.  
  To go along with this I am thinking about doing Wonderful Word Wednesday. Each Wednesday we would begin our day sharing in our community circle any wonderful words we have found in our reading during the prior week. This idea is not completely original, I saw a similar idea but can not recall where I saw it!
  There are any number of spots in this story where you could use the check for understanding and backup and reread skills. This book could also be used to teach using prior knowledge. You could read the inside of the front cover and discuss the genre. Then have students share what they know about the mystery genre. You could discuss what you and your students know about the author. For information about the author check out her website "Blue Balliet"  After reading page 5, you could have students share with an elbow partner what experience they have had with family pictures.  These are just a few ideas for teaching skills using Hold Fast.  If you have others chime in!  

Summer Goals

  One of my goals this summer is to read the Iowa Children's Choice Award nominees for the 2014-2015 school year.
  Being a fan of Blue Balliet's book Chasing Vermeer, I decided to start with Hold Fast.  I am almost finished. When I am finished I will do a short review and share some ways I think it could be used to introduce those early comprehension skills from the CAFE menu.