Week 1, y’all! New year, new school…even new country!
This week, I channeled Tim Gunn from Project Runway. “Make it work!”, he says. So I did.
There was a lot of newness for the children, from self checkout to library passes to assigned seats to visible daily learnings. And there was a lot of newness for me: teaching SIX grade levels (PreK-4), learning names, answering book questions like where to find horse fiction books (Wonder Horse worked for the student) and are there any Stuart Gibbs books (no), and more. Here we go!
(PS: Read this if you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes work and decisions that went in to making Week 1 happen.)
Learning moment: the PreK children need a lot of stories, movement, songs, and activities…and 40 minutes is a LONG class for 4 year olds. I pulled a lot of tricks from the years of Read Aloud Tuesday at the Montessori preschool and my first library job doing Preschool Storytimes at the public library.
It’s not on the white board, but we warmed up with a name song. Borrowed from my favorite music teacher Stephanie, it’s an echo song: As we sit down – name cards are placed around the story area, helping with name recognition – I start to sing: “Hello PreK, Hello Ms. Arika”. I change the pitch and volume during the singing, inviting them to sing along with me. Once they’re seated, students hold their name cards in front of them and the song is sung: teacher – “Hello (name)”, student – “Hello Ms. Arika”. We’ll do this for months.
CATS were our first theme, if only because we have a Library Lion who joins us for our lessons. He was found after we read Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle (more about how I use stuffed animals with young students is here). Pre-reading questions include: What kinds of cats to you know? What sounds do cats make? During the story, questions included: Where do you think the cat could be?
With the Library Lion found, I shared how he was being KIND by staying quiet during the story and being SAFE by keeping his paws and tail to himself. SEL starts early!
Pete the Cat was the 2nd story, giving us more opportunities to sing. Lots of prediction questions in this one. We brought up SEL again: Pete DOES HIS BEST by keeping cool when he dirties up his shoes. No fits from Pete!
PreK did check out, though they selected from books on display or from book boxes. They also learned the beginning parts of self checkout: having their library pass ready to be scanned first.
Kindergarten / Grade 1
Even though I used the Library Lion with the K/1st grades, the story Library Lion was too long for our first library class. Otto the Book Bear was, however, the perfect length and full of opportunities for critical thinking.
Note that the K and 1 children also warmed up with the name song (described above), though it isn’t on our white board. This helps with learning student names and is a nice way to transition into the library.
During Otto, students were asked: How might Otto feel after his family moved away? What other places might Otto like to visit?
Students also observed how the end papers changed from the beginning of the book to the end. That they noticed this week 1 was great!
Self-checkout happened this week, too: I modeled how to use the library pass as a shelf marker, how to find the sticker barcode on the book, and how to go to the circ computer. Once there, more modeling/teaching was done to help children check out their own book(s).
One of my very favorites – School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson. This was an apt choice, as our building is undergoing some serious construction. Every day, there is a cacophony as jack hammers, saws and more are worked in the room above the library (we’re in the basement).
This story gave us some great conversation regarding feelings: the building has emotion, and it changes depending on the situation. How very human! We worked on recognizing how the building felt and what may have caused the feeling.
Notice #4: Who are YOU? In building a community of learners, students were asked to send in a picture of their family or who they live with. We are all more than “just” a student or a teacher or a librarian: we are the product of our lives outside of school. On the same sheet, an overview of the library program was given for all grades, PreK-4th. The photos sent in will be on display for Back to School Night.
Self-checkout happened, and students were informed of the new “take what you need” circulation policy. No limits on books, merely a request that children take what they’ll use in a week’s time.
Two stories: one fun, one serious, both which give opportunities to bring SEL into the library.
One self-centered rabbit who wants undivided attention, until something better comes along. One boy who feels invisible, until a new kid gives him the courage to reach out and feel valuable. Two different stories, two great conversations.
In You’re Finally Here, students were asked: What’s one word you’d use to describe the rabbit? Why?
In The Invisible Boy, students were asked: What do you think is worse – feeling invisible or being laughed at? Did Brian (the invisible boy) do anything to make himself invisible? Did he do anything to help become visible? What choices do we have when we feel certain ways?
In future lessons, I hope to use these two titles to springboard Destiny book reviews.
At checkout time, students were pumped to utilize self checkout and the new “take what you need” library policy. Interestingly, most children chose 2-3 books – though one chose 8, all on reptiles. There’s always one 🙂
With a new-to-me 60 minute library class (new for them, too), I decided to take a page from Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer and build in dedicated time for independent reading. Under consideration is the 40 Book Challenge (if I can figure out a good way for 3 classes to track their work). Children had 15 minutes of silent reading time. Win!
Cheers, y’all! –arika