Saturday, November 6, 2010

Welcome back from vacation!

Week Ten

Welcoming everyone back from vacation is always lots of fun. Our students are so lucky to be able to travel and know the world as well as they do at such young ages. We all have lots of stories to tell! 

This week the focus for all classes was getting back on track with previous units since we had the interruption of the author visit and Halloween festivities during the two previous weeks. 

PreK 3 and PreK 4
Guiding Question: How do we stay safe now that it's getting dark and cold?

Nurse Chris came to start our new health unit: safety. Now that it's getting darker and colder, she talked about ways to stay safe: keeping warm, using flashlights if walking at night, being careful with candles, and more.

Night Lights, by Susan Gal
This quiet book shows young children all of the different types of lights that help us in the dark. From streetlights to porch lights outside, to reading lights and bedroom night-lights: lots of types of lights help us through those dark evening hours. This is a peaceful calming look at night time.

Guiding Question: What are the qualities of a friend? What are some of the top 100 picture books?

Amos & Boris, by William Steig
This "Top 100" picture book details the friendship of Amos, the mouse, and Boris, the whale. Amos is sailing the great blue ocean when he falls overboard and is rescued by the giant friendly whale, Boris. During their journey back to Amos' home, they become good friends - finding much to admire and respect about each other. They part with Amos promising to help Boris someday, too. But how could a mouse ever help a whale? With friends as close as these two, he'll find a way!

Grade 1 
Guiding Question: How does knowing the alphabet help us find library books?

We use the alphabet to find books by an author's last name. After reading two alphabet stories to warm up, we played a game of locating different lettered sections in the picture book (E) stacks.

Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel
Poor Puppy wants to play with Kitty, but she's not interested today.  So, Puppy has to find other ways to entertain himself.  He finds things starting with every letter of the alphabet, and when he's finished playing (with Airplanes, Balls, and Cars...) he dreams of doing activities with Kitty in far-off locations (like Apple bobbing in Antarctia)!  This is a counting, alphabet, and geography book all in one! 

Matthew ABC by Peter Catalanotto
This clever teacher has no problem telling her students apart, even though all 26 are named Matthew!  She notices something special about each one: Matthew A. is Affectionate, Matthew B. loves Band-Aids, and Matthew C. has Cowlicks (funny spots where his hair sticks up).  We learned lots of new words with this story.  Personal favorite: Matthew N. is Nearly Naked!

Grade 2
Guiding Question: What is a personal narrative? Who are some famous authors who write personal narratives?

This is the last lesson in the personal narrative unit, so we reviewed the concepts: personal narratives tell the story of a memory, usually from childhood, that uses strong details and is just a slice of the person's life (as compared to a biography which is about someone's whole life).  We have read personal narratives by Cynthia Rylant, Tomi dePaola, Patricia Polacco, and this week: Allen Say. These and other authors' websites can be found on the Authors tab of the library site.

Allen Say is a special author/illustrator for international school students since he often writes stories about the third culture experience. This week, we looked at several of his stories and read one: Tree of Cranes.

Tree of Cranes, by Allen Say
A young boy in Japan notices his mother acting strangely and doesn't understand why. Only after she has completed all of the preparations for a US-style Christmas, does she reveal that she once lived in the US and has been homesick for its holiday spirit and festivities. She has longed for a Christmas tree and finally creates one, sharing its magic with her son.

Grade 3
Guiding Question: How does knowing the alphabet help us locate library books?

We read a story to warm up our alphabet skills, then began the first of several alphabetizing activities that we'll do over the next few weeks. By the winter holiday, all grade 3 students will complete a performance assessment to show that they can find E, I, and jF books independently. 

Agent A to Agent Z, by Andy Rash
Each agent goes by a letter of the alphabet and uses that letter to describe some kind of spying activity. But one agent is not following the rules, not using his or her alphabet letter. The illustrations here are fun and there's a bit of a mystery, too - who is the misbehaving agent?

Grade 4 & Grade 5
Classes used their library time in various ways this week. Most classes gave students time to review the use of Library Thing and add more books to their collections. Some had a review of call numbers. Others gave chunks of time for silent reading and choosing new books. Everyone had a chance to check-out some new titles for pleasure reading, too!

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