Category Archives: Poetry

Library Lessons: Oct 9-13, 2017

Week 8.  It’s great!  Routines are mostly set.  Expectations, too.  It was a short week (2 days of conferences AND book fair).

NO PreK / K / Grade 1…due to conference days.

Grade 2:

Week 1 in a research unit, designed to fuse PebbleGo, note-taking, citation, and video creation with haiku poetry.  And while this book was a bit young for the 2nd graders, it worked really well with Claim-Evidence-Reasoning…which was the goal of today’s lesson.  Next week: RESEARCH with our newest database, PebbleGo!

Grades 3/4:

So, the Destiny home screen is in need of an update. When  a handful of students per class  don’t realize they’re on the wrong catalog because most of the 11 in our school group look identical, there is an issue.  Step 1: survey the students to see what they think of the current set-up. They are the end-user, so their voice and opinions are the most valuable!  Using their iPads (we are 1:1), they could work independently or with a small group to answer 3 questions: what is GOOD, what SHOULD be here, how should it LOOK?   Following the discussion, three options for a Destiny home page were shared:  one from Van Meter in Iowa (thanks Shannon McClintock Miller), one from my former school (thanks, Nanette!), and our current screen (a list of links).  With little fanfare but much enthusiasm, they were most impressed with a home screen setup like at Van Meter.  Next: a redesign using Symbaloo!

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Hitting a home run with primary source research using databases

It’s no secret that I love baseball. And kidlit. Evidence? Check.

I also love teaching library skills. And guiding students to new learning. You’ll have to imagine photos for these…but trust me, I do.

So, since April was National Poetry Month as well as the beginning of baseball season – it was only natural to create a 3 week unit combining kidlit, baseball, and teaching library skills, focusing on using evidence.  There were lots of goals here. Lots. Of. Goals.

Student learning goals:  

  • Define primary source
  • Identify needed primary source
  • Understand what a database is (and how it’s different from google)
  • Select appropriate database
  • Log in / access database using account
  • Use multiple primary sources to assist in identifying a piece of literature as nonfiction or historical fiction
  • Reflect and respond to literature in a variety of genres (poetry & biography)

Goals aligned to the AASL 21st Century Learner standards:

  • 1.2, 1.1.3, 1.1.4, 1.1.5, 1.1.8, 1.2.4, 1.4.1, 2.4.3, 3.1.1, 4.1.1, 4.1.2

And my personal, informal goal: to make research, primary sources, and database access interesting by connecting each to sports

Now, to do this in 3 40 minute library classes with my 4th graders.

Week 1: last week of April

  • Read Casey at the Bat, the classic baseball narrative poem written in 1888
  • During reading, have students retell at various points what has happened (after the first stanza and fourth stanza worked for me)
  • After stanzas 6-8, have students infer and describe Casey in a word or two. Our favorites: boastful, not humble, confident, cocky (which, we discussed, is very different than confident).
  • After stanza 12, have students make a claim about what they think happened at Casey’s at-bat and use evidence from the text to support/refute the claim.
  • After poem: have students think about famous historical baseball players. Jot down a list of who they know. Possible HW: have students ask someone at home about famous baseball players from history.

Week 2: first week of May

  • Begin by reviewing/adding to list of famous baseball players. Explain that one or more will appear in today’s story (allowing students to understand at least part of it is fact-based).
  • Read Mighty Jackie: strike out queen by Marissa Moss
    • BEFORE READING: explain that this story is either nonfiction or historical fiction They need to listen for details that can be proven TRUE or FALSE as written in the story.
    • During reading, pause and ask students to remember details that could possibly be TRUE or FALSE. Good stopping spots include: after 2nd page, after Jackie is taught by Dazzy Vance, end of story. They can turn/talk, then share to the group. Write down their statements, and be prepared to guide them back to the text if needed.
    • DO NOT read/show final page of book with Jackie’s photograph.
  • At end, ask students if there is a way to prove the story details as FACT or FICTION. (They’ll tell you “Google”…and you’ll have some Google Jackie Mitchell after class [I do every year]. Which is fine – Google has a lot of answers…but not easily located primary sources.) Who would we trust? Was someone at the game that day…and did they give an account of the day’s events?
    • (side note – at this point in the year, my 4th graders are studying primary sources in their classroom. This ties in beautifully.)
  • Define primary source (first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation)
  • Ask: what type of person is at a baseball game that writes down exactly what happened? (reporter) Where can we find their article? (newspaper) Which one? (NY Times, as Jackie pitched against the NY Yankees)
  • State that next week, the students will be creating their own search to locate evidence to VERIFY or REFUTE the statements made in Mighty Jackie.

Week 3: 2nd week in May

  • Begin with a review of student-generated statements from Mighty Jackie that they thought could be either TRUE or FALSE.

At this point, depending on access to technology and databases (and the abilities of your students), the lesson can go a few ways and still be successful.

Limited tech and/or limited access to NYT historical database: (most years)

  • teacher guides the lesson as whole-class experience in locating/accessing/searching databases (see below…)
  • once articles are located, there are two options:
  1. hand out copies of two NYT primary source articles after locating as a class, having students work individually/in pairs to locate evidence proving story is FACT or FICTION
  2. read/skim projected articles together, locating evidence proving story is FACT / FICTION

Good tech, but limited access to NYT historical database: (one year)

  • email families, requesting students to bring in public library cards to use at school, as they’re learning to access and utilize databases for research. Depending on response, have students work in pairs.

Good tech, equal access to NYT historical database: (this year!)

Each student in the district has their school ID linked to KCLS. Every single child can use the electronic resources of KCLS – including databases – for free!

  • Teacher asks students which newspaper would have recounting of the baseball game (NYTimes). What date? (1931, as given in the story)
  • Search using the database tab from the public library – locate newspapers, then NYTimes.
    • NOTE: lesson in reading – be sure to choose the right NYTimes link!
  • Reteach/demonstrate how to log in to the database using their KCLS library info.
    • Side note: great time to remind group about online privacy/saving passwords!
  • Once logged in, ask group what they think we should type in the search box. (Someone will say Mighty Jackie, others will say Jackie Mitchell, and still other terms will come up. Great modeling potential here…).
  • Search jackie mitchell (without quotes). Notice the number of hits – over 4,000!
    • Note: capitalization doesn’t matter…
  • Ask students how they could limit the number of articles. Lots of right answers: you want to generate a quick list. DON’T MODEL. They’ll use these limiters in their own search!
  • As no student knew this strategy, I taught limiting using quotation marks – that putting “ “ around two or more words will keep them together in the search query. This works on almost every Internet search, including Google!
    • Side note: to reinforce this – search Steph Curry (NBA player) without quotes, there could be a chef named Steph who makes Curry. With quotes, and only the NBA player shows up
  • Student work time! In 15 minutes, they will:
    • Independently access
    • Locate and log in to NYTimes database
    • Create search query
    • Successfully limit search results using one or more tools
    • Locate 1-2 primary sources on Jackie Mitchell, baseball player
    • Read/skim and identify if story details are FACT or FICTION
    • Identify Mighty Jackie as either nonfiction (biography) or historical fiction

Much of student reflection/reaction was done as they lined up to leave the library, as 40 minutes wasn’t enough time (including 7min for check-out). Not all students found two articles, though all who logged in found and read one. Most could name a new way to limit search results in a database. Many were fascinated with Jackie’s real-life story.  But let’s be honest: a handful in one class didn’t get past step 1…evidence that I still have work to do as a teacher. How do I reach all students? How do I identify students who need more support…and give it to them?

#AMonthOfReading: March 2015

A Month of Reading (#amonthofreading) is just that: the YA & kidlit books I read each month.  You can also find my lists on Goodreads.  To be fair, the books in this list are new-to-me reads – because like every reader, I do a LOT of rereading!

 March 2015 FICTION (including YA)





Library Lessons: April 13-17 – SUB WEEK

The week after Spring Break, and I was off for professional development 2,000 miles away at TXLA.

Kindergarten plans:  April is National Poetry Month.  Read: Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka


  • This book combines poetry with Nursery Rhymes, which we’ve read all year
  • At the end of the story, ask students which character was their favorite and to explain WHY. Make a chart using the rolling white board.

2nd grade plans:  April is National Poetry Month.  Read: Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest


  • Goals: understand features of free-verse poetry, use claim evidence reasoning after reading different poems to answer the question “Would you like to own this dog?”
  • PowerPoint slides to display are here: G2-freeversepoetry
  • My two favorite poems in the book to use for claim evidence reasoning are “Darla” and “Louis”.  Darla rings a bell all-night-long, while Louis BARKs at everything and anything.  Asking the students to make a claim – Darla/Louis is the better dog to own – then back it up with evidence generates enthusiastic conversation.

Due to the conversational aspect of this lesson, it is OKAY not to finish the whole book…please note where you stop for each class.


4th grade plans: Feature Genre: BIOGRAPHY.  Read: Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoosixteen-years-in-sixteen-seconds-sammy-lee-story

  • This read-aloud coordinates with the 4th grade Biography project, where they are asked to identify virtues and important life events of a person.
  • As you read, make a list of FIVE significant events in Sammy Lee’s life.
  • If time, identify three of Sammy’s virtue.  Please have students give support their virtue claim using evidence from the text.

Library Lessons: April 20-24 – Folklore, Free-verse poetry, Biographies

Kindergarten:  Week 1 in our Folklore Around the World unit

Each week, we use the world carpet map to identify the continents of the world, where we live, and the origin of the continent in the folktale.

2nd grade: Week 2 of our Free Verse Poetry unit

4th grade: 2nd week focusing on biographies, in correlation with the Wax Museum project happening in classrooms.

Library Lessons: Apr 27-May1 – Folktales, Poetry!

Kindergarten: Week 2 in our Folktales Around the World unit

2nd grade: Culminating activity of our free-verse poetry unit

4th grade: Book spine poetry!  Here’s the PowerPoint I used to introduce Book Spine Poetry:


This can be tricky.  Students worked hard to create these poems:

2015 Poem in Your Pocket Day

image006…was a success!

With emails to parents and reminders to staff & students, we had about 200 students participate in 2015 PIYP Day.

K’s had copies of “Poem In Your Pocket” in their pockets, a handful of 4th graders made their own pockets at home, multiple students wrote (and shared) their own poems, I handed out hundreds of copies of Lee Bennett Hopkins’s Good Books, Good Times!…and that’s just what I remember.

Thursdays are super-busy, but here are a few pics of kids and the poems they brought from home: