Tag Archives: PebbleGo

Library Lessons: Nov 12-16, 2018

A short week, as we were off Monday for Veteran’s Day AND I was off to London to meet my husband and wrap up our first expat adventure (because we hope there will be more!).


Connecting books to the electronic resources in library class is a win-win.  The goal was to introduce PebbleGo (and our library Symbaloo, which makes it easy to access the link for all learners).  No research, only a quick highlight of what we had available to use.

Grade 1:

Talk about bringing the fun into the library – Dinovember is something most of my grade 1 students got excited about, and it makes for an awesome 4-6 week unit.  Share dinosaur stories, do dinosaur coding, research dinosaurs on PebbleGo (when we have iPads available), create dinosaur creations with pattern blocks…the ideas are endless.  

Grade 2/3:

With Veterans Day this week, it was the ideal time to highlight the WCCPBA website on our library Symbaloo and read Patricia McCormack’s SERGEANT RECKLESS.  This nonfiction story engaged and fascinated students.  Bonus: I’d already created extension activities when working with the 2019 WCCPBA books over the summer!

Grade 4/5:

Books as Windows, books as Mirrors.  This idea – that we can see both ourselves/our beliefs/our experiences in books as well as the lives/beliefs/experiences of people not like ourselves – is one of my big goals when working with grade 4/5 this year.  This week: THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts.

Knowing that I have students in 4th / 5th grade who do shop at thrift stores, I did not want to embarrass them.  I did want to teach their classmates, though, that not everyone can drop $$ on shoes / clothes / vacations with little thought.  Interestingly, a number of students did not know the phrase ‘thrift shop’.  Further evidence that reading widely and sharing windows/mirrors stories allows all our students to either grow as citizens of the world or to feel represented in books.

Cheers, y’all! –arika

PS: Week 12 will be different, as it’s a sub week.

Library Lessons: Oct 23-27, 2017

Week 9!  All should be fine…but this is real life.  See 3rd grade!


We kicked off our BEARS unit with two of my favorites that I brought to London from the USA.  The good: the stories were well received. The bad: they need more movement, and the riddles weren’t the best for this group.  Hmm…  Reflection and revision is needed.

Grades K/1:

The final week in our Peter Brown author study!  Being that it was the week before Halloween, we read the 2017 release Creepy Pair of Underwear.  The goal? To compare/contrast it with Creepy Carrots using a Venn Diagram.  Result?  Success, even though they’d never used a Venn Diagram before!

Grade 2:

Week 3 of our Haiku Animals unit.  This week: accessing PebbleGo and writing 3 bullet-point notes on a chosen animal. And citation, in limited form.  Students had a mostly-complete citation on their note-taking form, and they had to discern the part missing…then fill in the blank.  It was a developmentally appropriate way to introduce citing sources.

The 2nd graders are across the board in their ability to read/write/note-take.  This was a surprisingly successful lesson which had everyone engaged and focused.  Next week: videos with ChatterPix Kids!

Grade 3:

Okay.  So, these were the best laid plans.  Students were going to use Destiny and write reviews using SWBST.  BUT.  Destiny was being a bear (not its fault…something deeper).  Passwords and usernames were changing overnight, and I didn’t know why.  When 25% of the class can’t log in, it doesn’t matter how many students there are – the lesson still goes to pot in under 30 seconds.  Suffice to say, of my two 3rd grade classes, we only attempted logging in with one.  The 2nd did this lesson orally.

Grade 4:

You know those moments when a one-off lesson turns into something more?  That’s what happened here.  Last week, students gave feedback and input regarding our library home page in Destiny.  Little did we realize that the SINGLE link every student chose as a “good” link to keep was this one:  Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children

Click the link.  What do you notice?  As we shared in class, the list was created by the NEA, which is trustworthy organization.  However…when was it published?  Not one child noticed this little detail: the list was 18 years old! This was the perfect way to teach copyright and checking to see when a website was created.  I absolutely love when lessons like this create themselves!

This is going to lead into our next unit: FAKE NEWS, using Laurie Thompson & Ammi-Joan Paquette’s Two Truths and a Lie, where looking at a site’s author is a key skill.

Until then…

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Library Lessons: Oct 30-Nov 3, 2017

Week 10!


Week 2 of the BEARS unit.

Two stories, one set of riddles, a giant bear walk around the library…and I should have had more.  Note to self: 40 minutes with 4 year olds requires a LOT of activities, especially when they take less than 5 minutes to select books and check out!

Grades K/1:

Week 1 of a new author study with MAC BARNETT.  Mac is one of my favorite

Each week in this study, I’ll be teaching how to read a spine label on a book. With LEO, the 2 questions listed are WRONG! (I saved the wrong slide…oops!). Students reacted to what they wondered about the story.

Grade 2:

Week 4 in our Haiku Animals study.  Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 are here.  (note: this would be a 3 week unit if students are already familiar with PebbleGo. Mine were not.)

This week, students used their notes to share information learned.  They created short videos using ChatterPix.

Here were the directions, made using ChatterPix:

And here was a sample video I made using the notes I took during one of the classes:

At the end of the lesson, students uploaded their videos to Seesaw.  Want to know more about how I use Seesaw in the library?  INFO TO COME!

Grade 3:

Goal: students will brainstorm wonder questions following a reading of Katherine Applegate’s Ivan: the remarkably true story of a shopping mall gorilla.

Why are we doing this?  Well, Destiny has been a beast, and not all students are able to access it at this point (I’m working on discovering WHY this is).  Until Destiny allows all students equal, successful access, we are taking a break. A mini-unit on nonfiction and research is just what the librarian ordered!

Next week, we’ll do a group research lesson on identifying trustworthy websites and using keywords as we search online for answers to the questions.

Grade 4:

Week 1 of a 5 week unit on FAKE NEWS!

This week, prior knowledge of fake news kicked off our discussion.  Students knew A LOT and kept bringing up certain US-based examples – even in an international school!  We played a short game of “two truths and a lie” to get them prepared for the 3 stories we read in Ammi-Joan Paquette & Laurie Ann Thompson’s book, as most had never heard of it.  Interestingly, two students were able to correctly identify my LIE using nothing but reasoning.  Hint: it involves knowledge of history!

As a class, I read aloud Chapter 5 from Two Truths and a Lie. Recognizing the challenge of reading a book like this aloud, I scanned the pages into a PPT so that children could read along (another idea: use a doc camera…I don’t have one, so scanning worked).  This lesson allowed discussion on how nonfiction books are read (one can skip and choose) and text features in nonfiction (captions, bold words, photographs, etc). We talked about keywords to search, which we’ll be doing next week.

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer

A favorite book from 2016 was Jon Agee’s Lion Lessons. Agee’s crisp cover, showcasing a lion and boy in lion garb, delivered a witty tale (tale?) of a boy who wanted to become a lion.  The best way to learn is, of course, by taking lessons and learning the steps from an expert in the field.  This read-aloud beautifully and begged for some creative dramatics.

Now, in 2017, comes Tammi Sauer’s clever Caring for Your Lion, taking the lion-learning to the next level. How, exactly does one care for a lion? Let’s find out.

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer

A young boy is expecting a new pet; however, expecting a kitten, he is surprised to receive a lion (a lion is, after all, a slightly larger version of a cat).  Now he is tasked to learn how one cares for a lion – it’s bound to be different than a kitten.  Step by step, humorous details of life with a lion unfold.  Feeding, litter-box training, and creating a space for play are integral to lion-care, as is a feather – it comes in handy to escape unexpected situations!  Sauer’s witty text is enhanced with Cummings’s (The Notebook of Doom) bold, graphic illustrations.  Case in point: the case cover, a pizza box, covered with toppings a lion would choose (veggie or meat?)  A brilliant choice for working on sequencing, it can also springboard into research lessons using primary sources and databases.  Imagine, after reading aloud, a lesson using the PebbleGo database to discover the actual needs and living environment of lions. Or taking notes observing lion behaviors as seen in a primary source: a lion webcam (does this one work? I can’t tell here in London!)  Share with ages 4-8.

Caring for Your Lion releases May 2, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Sterling booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Out of this world research with Kindergarteners

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Mc stopped by the library for a casual chat. Five minutes later, a plan was hatched, fusing library research, databases, and technology to in-class curriculum.

I love chatting. And I’m a big fan of Mrs. Mc. 🙂

See, during our impromptu chat, she mentioned an upcoming literacy unit on outer space. Tentatively, I threw out an idea: could we team up and research about planets using PebbleGo, then make learning videos with ChatterPix Kids to share new knowledge with others? She was on board (!!), and this is what’s happened so far.

(NOTE: Our school is on a fixed specialist schedule, and the K’s come to library 1x/week for 40 minutes. Our library has 18 desktops and 10 iPads.)

Week 1:  After we settled down with Rhyme Time, I explained the next 3-4 weeks would be devoted to a library/classroom unit on outer space. Prior to class, I’d printed out photos of the eight planets and our sun…and Pluto. Arranging them on the floor as an intro, a handful of students knew that Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore but didn’t know why…the perfect lead-in to the story Pluto Visits Earth by Steve Metzger.

After reading, students were asked to think about which planet they would most like to learn about while watching a BrainPop Jr video on the planets. Post-viewing, each student selected a planet.  It was awesome seeing their authentic energy and excitement. Some asked if they could research TWO planets!

Between week 1 and 2:  Planning time -creating a note-template for the K’s, checking to be sure it’s accessible and K-appropriate for all the students, emailing parents to request help for the research lesson, preparing clipboards with pencils and personalized note-templates (student name/planet filled in). One thing I should’ve included on the note template: a space for citing PebbleGo. Argh!

During open library periods in weeks 1 and 2: visiting the K classrooms during Friday Fun to share/show/teach the ChatterPix Kids app. Knowing that we have 10 iPads and 24 students who have never used the app, giving them more hands-on playtime is important.

Week 2:  A quick review of the planets to start our lesson, followed by a refresher in accessing/using PebbleGo. Students had experience with it earlier in the year, having completed an in-class animal project. Now, they’d use a new area of the database: SCIENCE. My sample was Pluto, as it was not a planet they would research. After modeling how to navigate/read/listen to the information about Pluto, I showed them how to write what was learned in your own words (not PebbleGo’s words). Paraphrasing was a goal, but not a requirement.

Students then received clipboards with their personalized planet note-template and a pencil and went to work at desktops/iPads. Two parents were on hand to assist with PebbleGo navigation and note-taking (a VERY good thing, as there is no aide or para help).  At the end of our lesson, each student had written down (either by themselves or with the help of an adult) at least one fact about their planet. Including check out and the whole-group lesson, it was 40 fast minutes!

Between weeks 2-3: reading and deciphering the K notes, emailing parents to request help for the iPad recordings, testing ChatterPix on the iPads (does the camera/mic work?). By rewriting the student notes, it’ll help a nearby adult prompt them if needed. No changes are being made…just legible handwriting on sticky notes.

Weeks 3-4:  The current plan is to create – then share – our learning using ChatterPix Kids to make videos. Here are samples made using my Pluto notes:

How this’ll all get pulled off is still TBD. Given that it’s right before/after Spring Break, many students will be absent.  With only 10 iPads and 24 students, there is no fair sharing (which is a BIG concern for 5/6 year olds).  And what about when they’re not making their video…what will they do then?  Ack!  Food for thought…

Once the mini-movies are made, I’m not sure what application to use to gather them into one large video…iMovie, Sway, or something else…but there is still time to figure that out.  Updates to come!

Moral of this post: all it takes is one conversation at the right time with the right teacher. Take a minute. Get up. Chat. Connect. Because what you learn may lead to some great teaching and learning for you…and your students.

Library Lessons: Jan 19-23, 2015 – Ezra Jack Keats, PebbleGo+communities, digital citizenship

Week 19!  Oh, yeah!

Kindergarten: Our penultimate week featuring stories from author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats.  Classes read Hi, Cat! and, if time, Pet Show.

For the last 2 weeks, students have been working on putting Keats’s stories featuring Peter in chronological order.  Lots of Claim-Evidence-Reasoning happening with this activity, along with revisiting stories and examining illustrations.  This discussion has been an absolute joy to facilitate, as the K’s have definitive views!

Next week: Ezra Jack Keats + DVD = movie week!

2nd grade: Week 2 in our mini-unit on Communities.

A quick review of last week’s BrainPop led to modeling how to access PebbleGo’s Social Studies information.  With a note-taking guide, students chose to research either a RURAL or URBAN community, understanding that the purpose of the research would be to persuade a kid to move from the suburbs to their choice community.  A brief talk about using one’s own words in research set students in motion.  Most completed the task in 10-15 minutes.  Those who didn’t due to time management issues: no time for check-out.

4th grade:  Week 1 of a Common Sense Media lesson on being a Super Digital Citizen.  The goal was to look at choices being made by users of the Internet and how they, the student, can make choices that are SAFE, RESPONSIBLE, and RESPECTFUL.  The white boards show their thoughts on what happens when someone chooses not to be a Super Digital Citizen.

FYI: Prior to teaching, I watched the videos attached to the CSM lesson (above).  They were inspiring, though frustrating (the very cool comic website used is $$$…which is never mentioned).  I created a Powerpoint based on the videos to walk my students through the steps needed to think about using the Internet in a safe, respectful, responsible way.

Library Lessons: Jan. 27-31, 2014

Kindergarten: feature author – Candace Fleming  story – Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!  Goals: introduce feature author, critical thinking questioning, basic TAG strategy, spine label review

Fact: I love – LOVE – Candace Fleming’s picture books.  LOVE THEM.  I’ve highlighted her – and her books – every year for the K’s since becoming a school librarian.  The titles never disappoint, either.  With great storylines, memorable characters, and opportunities to engage in thoughtful discussion, her books are always in demand.

Critical thinking questions:

  • How could the bunnies get past Mr. McGreely’s garden gate?  The wooden fence?  The wet trench?  The huge concrete wall? (any ideas are allowed!)
  • Imagine you are Mr. McGreely.  What would you do to keep the bunnies out of your garden?

Tricky vocab for K’s: trench, furious

Listening to students’ share what part of the book is their favorite (using clear guidelines adapted from TAG) is always a highlight.  So many great ideas anchored to the story!

2nd grade: Only 1 of 3 classes had library class this week due to a whole-school performance, so I adapted the 3rd grade lesson below.  (note to self: don’t forget to research bridges next year as part of the STEM science unit!)

WCCPBA Story: Pluto Visits Earth! by Steve Metzger.  Goals: read a WCCPBA nominee, fact vs. fiction, finding facts in fictional writing, group letter-writing

Fictional books aren’t usually considered to have factual information, yet they often do (see: historical fiction).  Today’s title helped us gain scientific information in a low-key setting.  Rather than doing independent / group work, I modeled letter-writing as a way to share our learning.   The students dictated the letter (with guidance when needed), sharing what they learned using a fictional title.  By typing it as they spoke (via SmartBoard) and sending it immediately (via email to the teacher and principal), I modeled how important their learning was outside of the library setting.

3rd grade: With too many long-term subs in this grade, I’ve been slack in keeping the communication lines open.  In short, I found out about a project too late and needed to give students information about citing sources – the why’s and how’s – ASAP.  Specifically, that citing a source as “google” or “the internet” isn’t acceptable. (I’ll soapbox on this topic another day.)   Rather than a lecture-based lesson, I tied it in to a WCCPBA title that had to do with outer space (the topic of the class projects) to keep the tone of the lesson open and meaningful.

WCCPBA Story: Pluto Visits Earth! by Steve Metzger.  Goals: citing sources – why it’s important and how to do it, accessing and using PebbleGo for additional space research (in-class project)

At the end of the lesson, I modeled accessing and using PebbleGo to gain information about topics related to outer space.  Rather than an in-class assignment, I used an at home learning opportunity featuring PebbleGo (read: not homework) for three main reasons.  Students need to understand that citing sources is something that happens whenever they research, not just in the library.  I know all my students have access to computers at home, so this would be doable.  And parents should know that this is a skill / concept being taught during library.  As it was an “opportunity”, I’ll be curious to see how many I receive back this week with no prize/reward offered.  Learning for the sake of learning is what I was after.

Library Lessons: Oct 21-25, 2013

Kindergarten:  The author study of Arthur Howard continued.  This week’s goals included highlighting the differences between author / illustrator, reviewing information found on a spine label, and locating books by an author in the E (Everybody) section of the library.  Oh – and guiding the K students in creating their one word / short phrase book review of this week’s read aloud: Kathi Appelt’s Bubba and Beau: best friends.  I *love* this book for many reasons: the short chapters, the darling illustrations (yay, Arthur Howard!), and the opportunities for vocabulary development.  Great words included keen and distain.  Giving the K’s an opportunity to talk about things they are keen about – and things they have a distain for – is worthy of the few minutes that it takes.


 2nd Grade:  We continued our work with A Place for Bats by using the PebbleGo database to do a one-class research assignment on bats.  Goals included accessing the database independently, using the organizational features of PebbleGo to locate specific information, and writing down brief notes without copying.  Prior to sending the students to the computers, I modeled paraphrasing – writing someone else’s words in your own way – and bulleted notes – writing short phrases, not complete sentences.  Students were informally assessed as to how they met the 3 goals.  One of this week’s highlights included listening to two students debate how to write a bit of information down without copying it word for word.  Yes!



Modeling how to paraphrase information found in a database.

Modeling how to paraphrase information found in a database.

To make this project more visually stimulating, I gave students bats as note-taking templates.  I also included the citation for PebbleGo on the bat, as 40 minutes just isn’t long enough to teach a lesson AND expect students to get everything done.



Parent helpers graciously helped cut out the bats, which were then displayed in the library.


3rd Grade: This was week 1 of a 3+ week journey into utilizing the library catalog.  There was a huge amount of information to get across, as well as a need to allow each student ample time to practice skills on their own computers.  This week’s goals included: logging in to the library catalog (Destiny), placing a hold on a book or writing a review for a book, and logging off of the catalog.


The majority of students were able to log on / off, and over half placed a hold or wrote a review.  About 30% figured out how to write a recommendation, and a handful exceeded expectations by discovering the “friending” option in the library catalog.  More on this in the next couple of weeks 🙂

This week’s 3rd grade booktalks: