A Real Life Genre Study

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Discussing and identifying literary genres is a significant component of 4th and 5th grade’s reading standards.  When considering how best to incorporate this into the library curriculum, I realized that in here, the students are immersed in a constant genre study as they browse and choose which books to bring home each week, and as they listen to my variety of read-alouds.  What better classroom than the library to analyze literary genres, and what an opportunity to make real-life applications to their work!

And so, this week fourth and fifth graders identified six genres to analyze and determined the characteristics of each.  Next, in groups, students will be assigned a specific genre and analyze our current library catalog of that genre, identifying the age of the books, the number of choices, diversity of authors, etc.  Lastly, the students will research reputable sites for book reviews and recommend books for Mrs. Whitney to purchase in their genre.  Imagine their excitement when I really do make some purchases, and they can see their books in the library, with a label dedicating them to their class!  Research with an element of real world application!

Maybe this will inspire me to reorganize the fiction by genre as well!

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Piggie & Gerald Comics

After reading lots of books by the beloved Mo Willems, including everyone’s favorite Piggie and Gerald the Elephant, the students were thrilled to apply what they noticed about his effective and hilarious illustrations in their very own Piggie and Gerald comic strips!

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I’m still waiting for a few more to come in from students who wanted to perfect theirs at home, but I love how the bulletin board is coming along because books definitely bring me joy!

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A Time Out For Tolerance

At a time when it is unclear how much of the tumultuous political atmosphere is reaching our students, regardless of their points of view, it is important to take a time out of the curriculum to focus on things that matter above all else: tolerance, kindness, empathy, unity.  So that’s just what 4th and 5th grade will be doing this week: reading books that touch upon the value of the human experience and how we are more alike than we are unalike.

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No big discussion, no political grandstanding.  Just sharing and enjoying stories worth reading and ideas worth remembering, peacefully.

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Mo Willems & An Introduction to the Caldecott Medal

January is going to be a very fun month for preK, kindergarten and 1st graders!  We are doing an author study of the great Mo Willems and learning all about some pretty delightful characters: Piggie, Gerald, Knuffle Bunny, and of course, the Pigeon!

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This week we are focusing on The Pigeon and reading his books.  We are discussing how Mr. Willems using his seemingly simple illustrations to convey his ideas, and how he uses them to get his purpose across.

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It doesn’t take the students long to realize that many of Willems’s books have big shiny medals on them, mostly Caldecott, Red Clover, and Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards. This led to a natural discussion of past Caldecott Medal winners and throughout the day, I had to keep restocking my display as students happily took them off my hands!

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1T begged me to keep reading Pigeon books during class yesterday until I read all five that I had left in the library!  They loved his expressions and his sarcasm and especially when he yells!  I know Mo Willems month is going to be a huge success!

Snow Day!

1F has been so stupendous this year in the library that they earned their second reward day already!  They decided they wanted to spend a class outside playing in the snow, so they arrived in the library in all their winter gear and we read a quick winter book: Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner.

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It was “snow” much fun!

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They wanted to get together for a group shot and leap.  Ready?

One…

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two…img_0686

three…img_0687

Go!img_0688

(We’ll have to work on their synchronicity.)

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It was a wonderful way to kick off snow season and end a busy day at school.

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I hope more reward days end this way!

Shape Shifters

Pre-kindergarten through first grade spent last week enjoying books exploring colors and shapes.  I also promoted one of my favorite picture book authors, Michael Hall, author of My Heart Is Like A Zoo and Perfect Square, in addition to Shape Shift by Joyce Hasselberth.

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After enjoying the illustrator’s masterful and playful use of shapes throughout these books, the students chose 2-3 shapes of their own to create their own works of art.  I gave them zero instructions other than to use the shapes to create a picture, inspired by the concept in Hasselberth’s book.
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Examples from Hasselberth: Creating an angry bull or a diving fish from a trapezoid and a crescent.

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That was all the encouragement they needed!img_7196

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A symmetrical face

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A man with a beard

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A tree with a bird flying

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A snow man

The younger students just love doing art projects that extend what we are reading about, and I love to see their talent and creativity!  On to historical picture books next!

Hour of Code

Last week was national Computer Science Week and the grades 2-5 teachers were kind enough to allow me an extra 15 minutes so all students could participate in an Hour of Code! Listening to them persevere through challenges and their pride and excitement when they completed a task was so thrilling.  It was an awesome week!

img_7173img_7174img_7172 Writing in code is basically learning to speak computer language.  Students dragged blocks into particular sequences to get the computer program to do what they wanted.  The Hour of Code website features characters like Moana, Anna and Elsa, Minecraft, Star Wars, and more!  Have your students show you what they learned and create an account so they can save their progress at home!
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As it said in the Hour of Code’s video explaining the rationale behind learning coding that we watched, computer programmers are the rock stars and wizards of tomorrow!  Encourage your students to show you their magic powers!