Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingerbread- second grade

My December activity for second grade had to be short and sweet.  Since we lost two weeks with Hurricane Sandy, we had fallen behind on projects and were running out of time before break.

I loved the idea of adding culture to my activites in the third grade so I tried to do it with second graders too.  We started by reading "The Gingerbread Man" by Jim Aylesworth. The students love to read along and I love when they do.
Then the students created Gingerbread Glyphs on the computer.

The next week we read "The Matzo Ball Boy" by Lisa Shulman and compared the two books.  We also kept a list of all the Yiddush words and their definitions on the SMART Board.  After the story students began using a program called The Graph Club. (I really wanted to introduce Excel but time constraints prevented it.)  We began graphing the students answers to the glyph about the activities they like to do.

In the third week we read "The Runaway Rice Cake" by Ying Chang and compared the cultures.  The story is a bit different from the gingerbread man but it was great for the students to recognize that.  This story is very cultural. Students completed their graphs.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Owls- fourth grade

While studying ecosystems the fourth graders complete a research project on Owls.  Students worked in groups to research one of six owls found in New Jersey.

This project is great because of the vast amount of resources used to complete the project. 

The students use:
  1. information text to learn traits and behaviors of the owls
  2. dictionaries to define words such as habitat
  3. World Book Online to learn the traits of all owls in general
  4. websites for additional research
  5. PowerPoint to create a presentations
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A bonus allows students to take a field trip see the owls live.

To complete the project students I teach students how to speak to their classmates while having their PowerPoint up the SmartBoard.  Student's love having their projects projects onto the board while they practice standing at "the angle" where they can see the both the board and talk to the audience. 

This year was tough.  With 2 weeks off for Hurricane Sandy it felt like this project went on forever.  I'm proud of my students for hanging in there.

A link for the files will be here soon.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Winter Theme

This winter the media center's theme is to help encourage students to reccomend books to each other.

"Warm Up With A Good Book"

It's hard to see in the photo but the mug in the middle says "Ms. Goldstein recommends The Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Sczieska".  There were mugs in the library for students to fill out and hang up.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holidays Around the World- Third Grade

Every December I try and do a month long holiday related project with each grade.  This year the third graders were traveling around the world.  Each pair of students received a plan ticket and got to researching.

Using the websites:
students took notes about what holiday is celebrated in the country assigned to them, how they celebrate that holiday, and details about the celebration. Groups will take their notes, type up a paragraph, and draw an image to display on their computer screen.

Once complete students will travel around the room with the passport below.  Each student will visit each country, read the paragraph, view the picture, and write a note about what they found to be the most interesting onto the passport.

 We will vote for the discuss the most interesting celebrations.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. 

Postcards From Pluto -Third Grade

The first science unit in first grade is the Solar System.  To correlate with the classroom curriculum the students completed a library and computer skills project related to the Solar System.

First we read "Postcards From Pluto" by Loreen Leedy.  Students I and discussed the mix if fiction and non-fiction as well as the outdated facts due to this books copyright date.

After students worked in pairs to research a planet using two books. Since books have different copyright dates students must compare the information they are getting.

Once we completed our research the students moved to the computer lab and learned some new skills in MS Word.  They learned about Page Orientation, adding a border to ClipArt, and inserting a text box.  The final product was a postcard to a person of their choosing mimicking the writing from Loreen Leedy's book.

Sample Postcard:

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.9 Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Ocean Animals- second grade

This is the first time second graders are doing a real research project.  It starts out with encyclopedia skills and this is the second year I felt the students did not really need it.  Thanks to technology, students do not need to use the index to figure out which encyclopedia volume they need, they have a library automation system to search for topics.  If lucky enough, which my district is, students have a subscription to an online encyclopedia which requires an entire new set of skills.  My final decision is to teach students how to use the online encyclopedia first and look for books on their topic to support their research after.

This year though my students used the encyclopedias.  They each researched a different ocean animal to match the science unit in their classroom. Students completed the worksheet below and met a couple of of the common core standards:

After students opened Word and first time typed two paragraphs.  They learned about the tab key and how to import an image they drew.  It is one of my favorite projects because they learn so much.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.2 Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.5 Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evaluating Websites- fourth grade

The fourth grade students are in the middle of a big research project.  They are going to be allowed to use websites to fill finish finding facts but first they must learn how to evaluate websites.

The first thing I did was go over the ABC's of Website Evaluation. I cannot recall where I orginally saw this but I would like to give credit where credit is due:

Students and I evaluating a website together so they can learn some of the new vocabulary such as "bias" and "coverage".

Then I let them go on their own assigning each group one of the following websites below. Take a look, they are great:


Students present their findings to the class in the end.

I have since found a few more haox sites 
- (to advanced for my 4th graders I think) -(love it! because it has links, a how to, and more) (this too has pictures and links. Great!)
- (You just want to believe it is true as a dog lover) 

And All About Explorers is full of lessons on how to evaluate sites, compare websites to book, and much more. Be sure to check out the teachers' page first.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The Problem:

Looking at old records, the last time the books were weeded was 7 years ago.  Looking at the books in the non-fiction it is safe to assume that 7 years ago the only books that were weeded were probably broken or had inaccurate information.  The average age of the non-fiction collection is 1990, sadly 13 years old.  Fiction chapter books had the average copyright date of 1978 and Easy Fiction books 1982. 
These books are what was weeded from the 000s, 100s,  200s, and beginning of the 300s. Some of our smallest section in the library


 The Need:

Common Core requires students to read more information text.  The selection of non-fiction books is vast but of little quality.  Staff and students need a smaller better quality selection of non-fiction books.

The Solution:

First I analyzed the collection and choose the maximum age of books I wanted in each collection area.  This is a personal preference and as I weeded I learned it does not work for every book.

Maximum Age (yrs)
Easy Fiction

Once I learned the number of books I needed to pull knew my funding could not rebuild my collection so I wrote a grant for $5,000 to purchase books. ::Fingers Crossed::

  After pulling all the books the fun comes, BUYING! I cannot wait.

The Books:

Once I pull all the books, I will have boxes, and boxes, and boxes of books.  The last thing I want is for them is to take up space in my library.  Classroom teachers will have first grabs but then what...

Recently I have been sending my books to Better World Books. They currently do not pay school libraries for the books but they do pay all shipping costs.
Other options are Blogistics . This company will sort your books, sell them, and split the profits with you. 
Got Library Books also offers no out of pocket expenses but a return.  The big bonus is that you do not have to pre-scan your books.
ALA created a Delicious list for like resources:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome, the first week in the library

It is September and I am happy to be back.  My first lessons with the students are the ones I hate the most.  These lessons are going over the rules and reminding students of the routines.  It is hard to keep the students interested yet the information is important.

Last year I showed a video:

This year:

Fourth graders used the iPads to scan QR codes and write down rules and routines.  I used Kaywa to create the codes and hung them all around the library.  Students kept track on a chart to make sure they scanned each code. The students had so much fun and we were able to learn about new technology.  The following week students brought QR codes from all over the place.  One student took a ketchup bottle fro a restaurant to show the code.  I cannot wait to use QR codes again.

Third graders brainstormed the rules and routines with me.  They were then assigned a rule and created posters to hang around the library and computer lab.  Students were excited that their posters were going to be the poster rules this year.

Second graders I read "Stella Louella's Runaway Book" by Lisa Campbell Ernst. This is not a book I've read before but the students LOVED it. Classes were able to identify the stress and sadness that Stella the main character felt when she couldn't find her book.  Every students came up with a spot in their house to put their library books.
We read it over two sessions because we also color coded our library with the different sections as an introduction to the year.

The first graders came in and I read "Its A Book" by Jane Smith.  This is the first year they are having library and computers together so the book is extremely appropriate.  After, they completed a worksheet game called "No, No, Never, Never and Yes". You can download it here. Every students came up with a spot in their house to put their library books that was not near food, younger siblings, or going to get mixed in with their own books. 

To the Kindergarteners I read the story "Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing" by Judi Barrett.  After I showed the PowerPoint below about animals not borrowing books. Download the PowerPoint here