Tag Archives: WCCPBA 2014

Library Lessons: Mar 17-21, 2014


2nd grade:  Book project of the month for most classes is on biographies.  I pulled a load of great titles to have ready for the students.  What is a “great biography”?  Age appropriate, at-level or very close, people that are interesting but not super well-known by everyone.  I left most of the sports stars on the shelves, for what it’s worth.  The “Who Was…?” series was in high demand.


With only one week until we vote for the WCCPBA, it was time to read the autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.  This title fit in perfectly with our school’s STEM focus this year.

After reading, we watched this short video on William and his windmills in Malawi.  Suffice to say, the video really deepened understanding and expanded empathy toward William’s achievement and background.

3rd grade:  More booktalks!  I have many, MANY students who aren’t checking out books for myriad reasons (they lose books, they have an e-reader, they own too many books, they are using their classroom library, they just got a book order in…seriously, I hear it all).  This is my way to encourage use of the titles I choose especially for my student population.  Here are a few of the popular titles from this week’s booktalks:

These students had the same lesson as the 2nd graders, without the biography focus.  William Kamkwamba’s story is a must-read for all elementary students, and the video above is truly inspiring.  William graduates this spring from Dartmouth, which is not so hard to believe: he is the boy who built a windmill to provide electricity and water using a photo from a book as his inspiration, after all.

For more on William, check out Moving Windmills and William and the Windmill.

Library Lessons: Mar 10 – 14, 2014

Kindergarten: No library this week due to district meetings.  Fact: I’d rather teach than go to the majority of the district meetings I have to attend.

2nd grade:  Goals:  listen to WCCPBA title, answer critical thinking question, review how to access Flipgrid, learn account password,  access Flipgrid on desktops/laptops.

With voting for our state picture book award less than 3 weeks away, I squeezed in Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley.  Note: if your students can’t handle the bare bottom illustrations in No, David!, then be wary of reading this aloud.  My students handled themselves appropriately, though they were prepped for the silly before reading.

I read *fast* this week (Flipgrid was calling!), but wanted to give students the chance to answer the question “How old is Kel?  How do you know?”  We had great discussion, and most students inferred that he must be between the ages of 3-4.  They used lots of schema when answering this question.

After reading, I reviewed how to access our Flipgrid.  I had password-protected the account as soon as student videos were live, so I modeled how to enter the secure password.  (30 sec side talk: secure passwords).  Students were then able to spend 5-7 minutes watching the Flipgrid response videos from the Candace Fleming visit.  I have plans to use this technology over Spring Break to interactively connect with my readers.  Stay tuned!

3rd grade:  Goals: motivate readers with student-selected booktalks, review how to access Flipgrid, learn account password,  access Flipgrid on desktops/laptops.

The 3rd grade checkout has been lacking, so I pulled a dozen or so books that either I love or other students love…but that haven’t really been moving among these students.  I laid 9 of them down on the floor, gave each a number, and asked students to show me – using their fingers – which book they’d like to hear about.  Books that had big interest included Herbert’s Wormhole, Poppy, Young Fredle, Timmy Failure, and the Goddess Girls series.  I booktalked 2-3 titles per class.  There was only one book I chose to include had no student interest, but is one that is an amazing sci-fi adventure…with a terribly misleading cover: The Magic Half by Annie Barrows.  Whenever I talk this title, I won’t show the cover until I have finished the (tantalizing) booktalk.  I’ve always got boys who are eager to read this after the talk, too!

After 10min of booktalks, it was Flipgrid time!  They were pumped to see what they’d created, and I gave them a new idea – if they had a question or comment to someone after watching their video clip, they could create a video response.  Their photo should be a paper with the student’s name, so that they’d know to watch the video.  I had one student choose to do this, and it worked beautifully (she had a connection with his comments on Candy’s visit).  Yay for connecting students, Flipgrid!

Library Lessons: Feb 3-7, 2014

Since I never posted from early February, here are the pictures. They do tell a thousand words, I’ve been told… 🙂


2nd grade:

3rd grade:

Printable Clever Jack Takes the Cake activity is HERE!

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.

Elementary Library Lessons: Dec 9-13, 2013

Kindergarten: Week 2 of our Peter Brown author study.  This week: Chowder.  I wanted to include my K’s in thinking thoughtfully about books, so I scaffolded the 2nd/3rd lesson for them. (see below)  Goals: review author / illustrator, fill in spine label information as a class, fill in a sentence stem: “I like how ___” after the story.  Oh, and Rhyme Time!

Wow!  The sentence stems really got them to think about the story in a different way, as one of their challenges is thoughtfully responding to a book.  In other words, not always saying that they like it because it’s cute/funny/awesome/etc.  This sentence starter really worked.  My evidence:  I had 1 student who couldn’t complete the sentence in a manner that made sense.  The other 26 could – pretty good!

A management tip I have for using sentence starters: have students think silently, then show a thumbs-up when they are ready to share their response.  I wait until all thumbs are up, then have them turn and share with their neighbor.   I always migrate toward the students I think may need additional guidance and/or support at this time.

2nd grade: Book: a WCCPBA nominee – Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems.   Goals:  motivate check-out via nonfiction booktalk, teach T=Tell what you like, share orally in class TAG discussion.

This book was a winner.  In short, they loved it.  As it was a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I could’ve done a number of lessons with the book (Venn Diagram, our own class retelling, etc)…but I was focusing on the TAG strategy this week.  They had plenty of reasons why they liked this book.  I created sentence stems to aid in their replies: “I like how”, “I like when”, and “I like that”.  These solved their tendency to begin with “I like it…” and encouraged deeper thinking.

3rd grade: Book: a WCCPBA nominee- Larf by Ashley Spires.  Goals: motivate check-out with fiction booktalks, teach T=Tell what you like, share orally in class TAG discussion.

Another popular book.  They had great discussion about the purpose of the newspaper announcement of a Sasquatch’s visit to a city near Larf (was it a trick to lure Larf out?) and the visual clues included by Spires of another “real” Sasquatch.   This discussion as we read led into wonderfully rich sharing in our TAG discussion.  Again, the sentence stems were very useful!

Elementary Library Lessons: Nov 11-15, 2013

Wow.  Time did escape – hard to believe I taught these lessons over 3 weeks ago!  Glad I have pictures to remember what I taught 🙂

Kindergarten:  The last week of our Arthur Howard author / illustrator study.  Goals: to build off last week’s introduction to the I Can Read section of our library, to compare/contrast a single character.  This was the perfect time to share another story featuring Mr. Putter and Tabby (I do love this series!): Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold.  Before reading, students would come up with one word/phrase to describe Zeke the dog from last week’s story using the sentence stem “Zeke is…”.  After the story, students would use the same sentence stem and compare/contrast Zeke’s behavior.  This is how it looked:

What a great job of coming up with words and phrases to describe Zeke!  I love using these two books specifically because they allow for a great comparison of how a single character can change.

2nd Grade:  This was our last lesson before a two-week library lesson break (bookfair + Thanksgiving).  Goals: give a book show and share, and review/reinforce last week’s introduction to the 000’s in non-fiction via a WCCPBA picture book.  I shared Larf by Ashley Spires, which gave a wonderful chance to talk about purpose: what is the purpose of announcing that a Sasquatch has been sighted?  Is it to bring in an audience…or lure an unsuspecting Sasquatch out of hiding?  Larf is a Sasquatch, it fit right in with the 000’s!  A non-fiction pairing that works great with this book is Tales of the Cryptids by Kelly Milner Halls.

3rd Grade:  Again, this was the last lesson for students before a two-week break.  After 3 weeks learning to access and utilize Destiny, I decided to use this week as a review and assessment (with some digital citizenship talk thrown in).  Goals: informal assessment of login / purpose of friending, introduce privacy settings in Destiny, instruct on lasting footprint of digital decisions.   Oh!  And booktalks!  Especially before break!

WP_20131114_002I informally assessed students with thumbs up/sideways/down. It works like this: I have students listen to my question (“Can you log on to Destiny all by yourself, with no help from Ms. Arika or a friend?”), then have students show me a fist when they have their answer.  When I say GO, students show either a thumbs-up (YES!), thumbs-sideways (SOMETIMES), or thumbs-down (NO).  I have them show me their thumbs for about 3 seconds.  Having them hold their thumb in their fist while the rest of the class decides how to answer has given more honest, truthful answers.  The big question this week was on the purpose of friends – we had a reteaching opportunity after only 50% of each class could say they knew why having friends was useful in Destiny.

And since we had a bit of time…during the last 5+ minutes of our learning time, I shared a clip from the Scholastic Book Fairs video, as next week the book fair would be in the library.  Fun!

Library Lessons: Nov 4- 8, 2013

Kindergarten: Week 4 in the Arthur Howard author / illustrator study.  We began with 2 new rhymes in our weekly Rhyme Time.  Have I mentioned Rhyme Time?  Hmm.  Well…


Ready for K library!

Rhyme Time is the warm-up activity I do to get the K’s ready for lesson.  I have a chart of rhymes, and the students and I chant 2-4 rhymes each week.  I will teach the rhymes one week, then we’ll repeat them for the next 6 weeks or until they learn them.  The students get ready with “rhyme time fingers” (wiggling spirit fingers) and pat the beat of the rhyme on their legs as we chant.  I tell the students that good rhymers become great readers, which is true (check here, here, and here).  I use a mix of basic rhymes – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Hickory Dickory Dock, Hey Diddle Diddle – as well as more esoteric yet fun rhymes – Dickery Dickery Dare, Horsie Horsie Don’t You Stop, To Market To Market.  Many weeks, I’ll ask the students to do a quick-rhyme: “In Hickory Dickory, the word ‘dock’ rhymes with…”.  At that point, any word that fits the bill is correct: clock, rock, stock, smock, tock, mock…  This has proven to be a successful way to start a K lesson.  Depending on the class dynamics, I usually use rhymes up until the halfway point of the year.


This week’s white board

Back to the lesson.   Goals: reconnect the 600’s = pets, introduce the I Can Read (beginner reader) section of the library, identify the job of an author / illustrator, identify the information on the spine label.  I chose Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog as it fit with most of the goals: it’s from the I Can Read section, it’s illustrated by Arthur Howard, and it features a pet cat and dog.  There are some great opportunities for questions during this story.  This week the 40 minutes flew by!

2nd grade:  2014 WCCPBA Nominee The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell.  Goals: connect to the 000’s (monsters) in nonfiction, opinions/facts about Monster prior to/after reading.


Don’t you just love the list of words to describe Monster based on the cover illustration?  And the 2nd list is populated with words from our school’s Virtues curriculum.  We had a brief – yet powerful – talk about not judging others based on appearances.  Who knew a simple book about monsters could foster that big discussion?

3rd grade:  Destiny, part 3.  Goals: answer the questions from last week’s stoplight assessment, review weeks 1&2, introduce friending, define purpose of friending, discuss cyberbullying.  Wow – all that in 40 minutes.  No sweat.


Making friends in Destiny Quest is, without a doubt, the most popular feature that students can access.  As such, I must be clear about the purpose of having friends: to easily make book recommendations to a large group of people.  Allowing 3rd graders this power has its pros and cons.  Pros: they make lovely recommendations to their friends – including me.  (Side note: all students must friend me first.)  Cons: cyberbullying.  Simply put, these students aren’t dumb.  They know if someone is avoiding them in Destiny.  They know if someone “defriends” them.  They know if a group friends them just to be funny.  And I know it, too.  These behaviors are bullying using an Internet-based tool – it is cyberbullying.  I am very up-front with the students regarding this topic, and I explain that under no circumstances is it acceptable.  Get caught cyberbullying using the library catalog and the student forfeits the login privilege.  Students have this week and next week to “friend” classmates at school.  After that, the catalog may only be used to manage their account, write reviews, make recommendations, and place holds.  Next week: your online footprint and an assessment of student reviews in Destiny.

No formal booktalks this week, but I used Destiny to batch-recommend this book to all my student friends.  I wonder how many holds it’ll have by next week?!