Saturday, March 5, 2011

Questioning, Creativity, and Website Evaluation

Week 23

PreK 3 and PreK 4 - Guiding Question: What is "nonsense"?
We learned that nonsense applies to stories and poems that are so silly they don't make any sense. We also learned the difference between good, better, and best because we read and watched different versions of the Mother Goose classic "Hey Diddle Diddle" and ranked our favorites.

We started with reading from Mother Goose Remembers, an anthology illustrated with embroidery and applique by Clare Beaton, then watched two video clips, found on the Early Childhood page of our library website. After talking about which was good, better, and best, we voted. The Sesame Street video clip seemed to "win."

Kindergarten - Guiding Question: How does questioning help us be better readers?
"Reading" by Manet (

Asking questions while we read is a strategy that keeps our minds active and engaged. It gives us a purpose: we want some answers! We learned that questions start with words such as who, what, where, why, when, and how. Using this projected image, we brainstormed questions about the painting. As always, kinders amaze me with their depth: asking questions such as, "Why is she sad?" and "How can there be so many kinds of white?"

Next we moved to the classic picture book Grandfather Twilight, by Barbara Berger, and applied our questioning strategy as we read. Again, we focused on just asking, not answering, and talked at the end about how some of our questions were answered and some weren't. Finally, we practiced some silent questioning with the story The Forest, by Claire Nivola. Students tapped their temples as we read, showing me that they had a question in their minds. Thank you to the Mosaic listserve for the idea of using art in this lesson. 

Grade 1 - Guiding Question: What is "creativity"?

During our Caldecott unit, we examine winning picture books and discuss why each was chosen. This week, we looked at examples of creativity. We defined creativity as "doing something in a new way" and talked about how we can be creative in many areas (even math!)  We looked at two illustrators' work to talk about two kinds of creativity: Simms Taback and David Wiesner.

Taback retells traditional stories but uses art materials and paper in unusual ways: he mixes paint, fabric, and photographs; uses cut-out pages; and layers images. We read his Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott winner) and sang There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Caldecott honor book). David Wiesner, however, uses a straightforward watercolor technique, but creates surreal images that tell stories loaded with unusual ideas. We watched a Reading Rainbow video of Wiesner's June 29, 1999. 

Grade 2 - Guiding Question: What are examples of exaggeration?
We continued talking about Tall Tales this week with a focus on finding examples of exaggeration. Exaggerated events start with a bit of truth and then become completely wild and crazy! We watched a video about Paul Bunyan for examples and added the exaggerated events to our MindMeister cluster map. This map is a work in progress that we will add to throughout our unit about traditional literature.  

Grade 3 - Guiding Question: How can we "sell" a Dewey section?
We're kicked off a new project this week. Students are working in pairs to create video advertisements promoting one Dewey section of the library. In this first class, I explained the project (see "Dewey" then "Dewey on TV") and students started choosing the books and websites that they thought would be the most cool, interesting, and appealing to their classmates. We used Kids Click, a search engine with resources pre-approved by teachers and librarians. This is a great place to start since it's possible to search for websites by Dewey range. 

Grades 4 and 5 - Guiding Question: How can we tell which websites have good information?
This week we learned about questions to ask ourselves when looking at an unfamiliar website. We used this handout "Examining Electronic Resources" from read.write.think and this Web Quest from a school in Avon, CT to practice evaluating websites. We'll continue with this next takes lots of practice! More website evaluation tools from my diigo bookmarks here.

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