Category Archives: Nonfiction

Talk at home about…authors’ journeys via @steverswinburne

“Libraries are filled with authors’ journeys.” This was something that Vermont author Steve Swinburne shared with my students last week. We are so fortunate to have authors like Steve who share those journeys with students!

Hands-up, lean in!

Hands-up, lean in!

I’ve said before that Steve’s books prompt the “lean-in” effect when read aloud. He weaves the power of story into all of his books, fiction and nonfiction alike. Even facts have a story to tell!  You may read Steve’s thoughts on this yourself on this blog post “How to tell the story of sea turtles?” Seeing him in action, interacting with my students, made me realize that it’s really his words that have that effect, because he completely captivated his audience.

A little help from a friend!

A little help from a friend!

He incorporated movement and music while teaching students about his research and writing process. He encouraged students to think like scientists as he talked about how he researched his books, highlighting Turtle Tide and Sea Turtle Scientist. They were participants, not just listeners.

He left them with five reasons to love nonfiction. My favorite? “You may discover your passion.”

Signing our sea turtle!

Signing our sea turtle!

High fives for everyone as they left the library after the presentation left my students feeling connected and kept them thinking as they went through the rest of their day.

photo

Thumbs-up selfie!

The best part of this story is that Steve not only got my students thinking, he motivated them to take action. By the end of the day, I had a teacher telling me to expect persuasive letters from her 3rd graders. They were making the case for CCS to support the conservation efforts of  WIDECAST, The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Now that’s passion!I met Steve at a conference the following day, and he donated the first dollar toward the students’ efforts.

A huge THANKYOU to our PTO group for making this author visit possible. This event provided the opportunity for  an author’s journey to inspire our students’ journeys. I couldn’t make this happen without their continuous support!

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Authors, Books, Kindergarten, Learning, Nonfiction, reading, Research, Writing

Talk at home about…collections, curation, and #shelfchallenge

SwinburneDo you know how teacher librarians spend their time? My time is filled with so much more than just checking books in and out. The major part of my day is, of course, my students! This week alone, lots of learning is happening. Classes of K-4 students are learning all about the author Steve Swinburne, who will be visiting with them in a few weeks. His books are providing fuel for the minds of CCS young writers and scientists. They prompt what I call “the lean-in effect”. I know a book is a winner when I see their little bodies lean in to just get closer to the words and pictures. It’s a good thing. We are busy collecting our connections and questions to share with Mr. Swinburne on the day of his visit. And his website? Totally awesome and kid-friendly!

6th graders are getting ready to embark on a new integrated unit of study on the Industrial Revolution. Reading, writing, research and media literacy skills will combine in this unit inspired by the book Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop. In addition to collecting enough copies of the book for each student, I also prepared a pathfinder to help students gain some background knowledge and explore materials for research. Curating resources for students and teachers is a part of my job that is not easily seen, but it is so crucial. I couldn’t do that part of my job without having classroom teachers and administrators who see me as an instructional partner. I can’t wait to visit classrooms next week to begin teaching about primary sources!

7th graders are also practicing their media literacy skills! Yesterday’s activity in the classroom allowed for conversation about media resources, particularly those that abound via social media. My favorite part of the visit was overhearing pairs of students investigating websites using their critical thinking skills and using some pretty great language while doing so:

“This site has adds, it’s distracting”
“Oh look! This one has citations – three of them, right here!”
“I can’t tell who the author is, only who edited it last.”
“This one is a .com. That might be bad. We might need a .org.”
“What’s a site map?”
“This is pretty one-sided.”

So that covers my week in direct services to students. shelf challengeNow I’d like to talk about something else that teacher librarians are ALWAYS doing in the background for our students. We’re like ninjas, really; sneaking around all quiet-like in the before and after school hours. We are constantly assessing our collections and determining where we need to add, refresh, or take away. That nonfiction book from 1963? That’s just gotta go. Every year during School Library Month, I participate in the Shelf Challenge. I found this through my twitter PLN a couple of years ago, and have used it ever since to keep me motivated to always be thinking about what resources will best meet the needs of my school community. This year my challenge was the 973 section. U.S. History. I found some things that really had to go. I found some that just needed a little refreshing; new covers perhaps. I began looking at this collection and comparing it to what I have available for students in a digital format. Do we need both? Not necessarily. Finally, I touched every book in this section! I found myself saying “Oh yea, I forgot about this one!  I’ll need to remember to share that the next time that unit happens.” I’m happy to say I made it all the way through the 973s and my students are better for it, whether they realize it or not. All these little things that happen in the background lend strength to their learning.

Oh, and we’ve got our Arbor Day celebration coming up, so I couldn’t forget to build a display for easy access to those books celebrating the goodness of trees. And hey…the week isn’t over yet!

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, Authors, Book Groups, booklists, Books, Collaboration, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, Middle School, Nonfiction, Pathfinders, reading, Research, ShelfChallenge

Talk at home about… “Think, Create, Share, Grow”

Here are a few highlights from our week so far framed in keywords from the Vermont School Library Association…

Think

3rd graders used Venn diagrams this week to compare 3 nonfiction books about cycles. Practice in the library comparing books can build a foundation for comparing things like rocks in a science lab in the classroom. Oh, and did I mention they were Red Clover books as well? It’s all connected!

Create

This week, we helped middle school teachers build a multicultural “recommended reads” list for their students. We love GoogleDocs for creation and collaboration!

Share

More nonfiction book talks were shared with 5th graders this week. Our favorite part was taking quick “feature walks” through the books.

Grow

We are growing and nurturing curious minds on a daily basis. Some of our favorite quotes so far are…

“Girls CAN do anything boys can do!”
“Can you help me get that book on the top shelf? I don’t know what it’s about, but I know I want to look inside!”
“I just made a connection!”

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, booklists, Books, Booktalks, Collaboration, Kindergarten, Learning, Nonfiction, Red Clover

Talk at home about the first day!

What do an Elvis-impersonating chicken and an impatient pigeon have to do with the first day of school? Students in Mrs. Brady’s and Miss Leach’s classes should be able to tell you! I’ll give you a hint…It has a little something to do with patience, working together, persistence, and bravery.

Take a peek at some of our great new books! 6th graders heard book talks on fantastic new nonfiction titles. Ask them what I said they should always pay attention to when reading a nonfiction book. Thanks to Mrs. Little and Miss Eaton for helping to get great new books into students’ hands on the first day of school.

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Filed under 1st Grade, 3rd Grade, 6th Grade, Books, Booktalks, Collaboration, InformationLiteracy, Nonfiction, reading