Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alphabet Guessing, Personal Narratives with Tomie, and Book-choosing tools

Week 7

PreK 3: Guiding Question - What are some words associated with Halloween?

We will have our fall vacation during Halloween this year, which means we only have a few weeks to enjoy all of the Halloween stories in our library! PreK 3 has the most to learn, so they got an early start this week with some simple stories that introduce the key vocabulary.

What is Halloween? by Harriet Ziefert

Little girl mouse learns about Halloween from her parents, and we learn alongside her. We learn about dressing up in costume, carving a pumpkin, and trick-or-treating. The treats may be candy, baked goods, or fruit - a refreshing change from the focus on sweets. As she learns about each new concept, we lift a flap to reveal the rest of the picture: trick-or-treaters behind the door, or a closet that opens to show costume ideas, or a pumpkin that goes from whole to cut with decorations. This is an ideal starter for young children who are just learning about Halloween. Thick pages and flaps are perfect for toddlers and up.

Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-flip Book, by Joan Holub

This small square book introduces Halloween vocabulary in a fun way. We're asked questions such as "Who is that in the pointy hat?" and we lift the flap to see a picture and text of the answer. A few of the words are tricky to explain to our littlest ones: mummies, for example, but we can at least describe the costume if not the full details.

The rhyming questions create a pleasing rhythm. Double spread watercolors have a friendly cartoony style. Geared to a preschool audience, the sturdy pages are another bonus.

PreK 4: Guiding Question - What colors do we know? What's the story of Elmer?

We learned the story of Elmer last week and retold it this week based on what we remembered. Our key point seemed to stick: Elmer is unique and his friends appreciate that about him. 

This week we read another Elmer story about a time when he and his friend played a joke on the herd. When we look at Elmer (also in plush toy form) we try to name all of his colors.

Elmer and the Wind, by David McKee

Elmer and his friend Wilbur play a joke on their friends by pretending to blow away on a windy day. When the joke is revealed everyone has a good laugh, but will Wilbur regret the prank? 

Later, he actually does blow away, and no one comes to his rescue because they think he's joking again. Happily he lands safely and makes it back home. This is would pair well with any version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

We all agreed that Elmer's joke did not show kindness to his friends.

Kindergarten: Guiding Question - What is a series? What is "character"?

We have read different series books each week to emphasize the concept "character". A character is the main person (or animal) in the story and s/he has a set of characteristics, a personality!

This week, we met Elephant and Piggie, two characters who are very different from each other. Elephant is a grumpy and paranoid, while Piggie is a happy and positive.

After learning about each character, we played "Elephant and Piggie Dance" on the computer. We chose three dances for each character to perform, started the music, and watched their moves. To play at home, click here or see the Early Childhood page on the library website.

Grade 1: Guiding Question - How can our background knowledge help us guess words? How can we indicate we're having a "text-to-self" connection?

We're continuing to enjoy fun alphabet books. The two we read this week both involved some guessing. We talked about how guessing requires us to search our minds for something we remember, something we've done or seen.

Grade 1 students excel in making text-to-self connections. Every two minutes we have someone who wants to tell about something the story reminds them of. This week, we introduced a signal to indicate when we're having that urge. We tap our temples like we're thinking hard; this tells me that the student is having a good connection to something we've read without stopping the flow of the story for others.

Tomorrow's Alphabet, by George Shannon

The simplest concepts are the best: what we see today may turn into something new tomorrow. So we can say "A" is for seed when we understand that later on it will become an APPLE. 

So, "B" is for egg...can you guess why?

Close-up realistic watercolor illustrations and large block text make this a good choice for a read-aloud since children can see and read the words themselves. Each letter is introduced on the left page, so we can hide the right page to see if students can guess the answer.

Look Once, Look Twice, by Janet Marshall

This is another simple concept book, done well. Each letter is shown as a pattern in nature. We need to guess the object or animal that starts with that letter. For example, letter "B" has the colors and designs of a butterfly wing. Letter "H" has the pattern of honeycomb.

This is a vocabulary builder since some of the objects are difficult (kingfisher, macaw, iris, asparagus...) Still the bold style of the book is appealing and guessing keeps kiddos engaged.

Grade 2: Guiding Question - What is a personal narrative? Who is Tomie de Poala?

After last week's tear-jerkers, I promised something more upbeat this week.

We read one of my favorite Tomie dePaola stories about his desire to become an artist very early in his childhood. Afterward, we looked at his wonderful website, found here and on the "authors" tab of the library website.

The Art Lesson, by Tomie dePaola

Young Tomie anxiously awaits the chance to have art lessons when he begins school. Although the art teacher comes infrequently, and he's heard she only gives students one piece of paper, he figures it's got to be a better experience than art with his regular teacher. With his regular teacher, he can't use his own 64-color box of crayons, and he has to use paint so cheap it flakes off the page!

Details like these amaze our students who are used to having regular art classes and plenty of materials to use. They also support our understanding of a personal narrative as a story that zooms into a particular moment in time and uses strong details to create an image for the reader.

Grade 3: Guiding Question - What can we tell about a book from its call number? 

Zig - Zag - Zoop along the shelves
Grade 3's are making the match between the call number listed for a book on the catalog and the book's location in the library. 

We practiced identifiying types of books based on their call numbers, practiced matching the first part of the call number to its section in the library, and practiced the zig-zag-zoop motion we use as we look for books alphabetically on the shelves. 

It goes like this:
zig = read across to the right
zag = drop down to next shelf
zoop = move UP to the next row

I think next week we'll make up a little dance to show this motion (along the lines of "Staying Alive!") 

Grade 4 & 5: Guiding Question - What tools can we use to select books on our own?
Read, Kiddos, Read!

Here's a scenario that happens at least weekly:

Student: Mrs. Ducharme, do you know any good books?
Me: (laughing) Yes, I know about 24,000. What kind of book would you like?

In an effort to give students more strategies to self-select their next book, we reviewed four tools this week. All of these are found on our library home page.

1) Our own catalog. Try Visual Search which gives pictures to follow to help spark ideas. OR, type in the name of a book you know you've enjoyed and see what other titles are listed under "You Might Also Like." OR, type a genre or topic into the search bar and then use narrowing tools like Interest Level and Genre to find titles.

2) Read Kiddo Read. Choose one of four main categories, then choose a genre. The list we get shows book covers and short summaries> Click each book for more information and often a trailer. 

3) Guys Read. A massive website geared toward boy readers. We love the categories to choose from ("Books with at least one explosion", anyone?) But we wish it showed more covers. Still a fun place to explore.

4) Book Adventure. A database that lets us tick off topics we're interested in and then generates a list of books that matches. It can return some strange results if we check too many items but can also lead to some new ideas.

With these last three tools, we MUST check the catalog as well to be sure our library has the book we want. If not, ask for it here (also found on the library home page via the link "Buy This Book (Please)"

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mrs. Ducharme,
    I always enjoy reading your posts! You have such great ideas for lessons. I wish you were a bit closer because it would be so much fun to brainstorm lesson ideas with you!
    I especially liked your lesson on using tools to find books independently. I learned about Book Adventure, a database I've never used before.
    I will be back again soon to see what's happening in your library!
    Mrs. Hembree