Summer Reading Challenge

It is almost summer and that means it is time for our 8th Summer Reading Challenge.  We partner with Scholastic to participate in their reading challenge.  Our goal this year is 200,000 minutes.  It is the same goal as last year because we did not meet that goal.

At our kick off assembly last Wednesday, I asked our two top readers from last year, Cora and Bella, who read over 22,000 minutes, to introduce our challenge this year.  As part of our incentive to read over 200,000 minutes Mrs Wright will play the pie face game with Mrs. Henry, the assistant principal, if we meet our goal.  The students were able to exert a little bit of pressure on Mrs. Wright, and she will ALSO dye her hair rainbow colors if the school reaches 200,000 minutes.  It was awesome to hear all the students begging her to do both stunts- and it worked!

The added incentive must have worked because in the last five days our students have logged 1,988 minutes!  All this week in library, students will be given time to learn how to access the Summer Reading Challenge website and start logging those minutes.  Check back in September to see if our goal was met!


TJ Connor Reads

Every year our school chooses one book for the whole school to read.  Over the three weeks, students and their families read specific chapters, complete a weekly challenge and enjoy the reading time together as a family.  This year I am excited to announce that the book we chose is The Summer According To Humphrey by Betty Birney.

We began our kick-off with an assembly to introduce the book.  Several of our teachers were given one character’s dialogue as a teaser for the book.  Our principal, Mrs. Wright, was, of course, Humphrey.  I was selected to be Mrs. Finch, the librarian, naturally!

One of our kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Farrell, introduced the reading log.  Students color in one s’more for each night they read for 20 minutes.  Students hand in the reading log along with the weekly challenge sheets to be entered into a drawing for the principal’s surprise.  One lucky student will get to complete an activity with Mrs. Wright.  It could be a Principal Tuck-in, shadow the principal for a day, attend an extra-curricular event of the student, or something else!

We have three exciting weeks ahead of us!


First Graders Sequence With Dash

First grade students have been learning the concept of sequencing by programming Dash robots.  Students first learned how to take care of Dash and handle him so he won’t break.  Then we dived into the definition of sequence and why it is important to program Dash in a specific order.  We used examples of making a jelly sandwich, brushing our teeth, and retelling a story to understand sequence.   While Dash will run any program the students created, the focus of the lesson was continue to progress along a path and earn more widgets.  Students have been enjoying the Dash very much and after a few classes they are very good at programming Dash.


Bedtime Stories

Students returned to school Friday night to listen to bedtimes stories in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  We originally planned to host Bedtime Stories on Dr. Seuss’ actual birthday, March 2.  The weather did not cooperate, and we happily had a snow day!  We had several teachers, including Mrs. Wright, our principal, read some of their favorite stories to the students.  The students came in their pajamas, all ready for bed with blankets and pillows, too.  Students listened to some oldies like Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan.  Some books became new favorites such as Elmore by Holly Hobbie and Happy Dreamer by Peter Reynolds.  It is fun to share stories with students at all times of the day and night.

Mock Newbery Club Concludes

Our fourth Mock Newbery has come to a close.  The students, read all six books, discussed them online using Schoology, and voted.  We gathered together today for the grand finale.  Students met each other in person, shared snacks (including cake and Tang!) and learned which book they voted to win.  And the winner is…. I Love You Michael Collins with 19 votes.  Hello Universe (the ALA Newbery award winner) garnered 17 votes.  It was a very close race until the final vote was tallied.

The students enjoyed everything about the Mock Newbery.  Well almost everything.  Some students had strong feelings against a few books.  And that is what the Mock Newbery is all about- reading books you might not have chosen on your own.  Some students found new genres to read.  Other students found new friends at the celebration.  All students had a great time throughout.  We are already thinking and planning how to continue the inspiration for reading this year and which books we might consider for next year.

Santa Makerspace

This week my kindergarten and first graders had a lot of fun creating traps for Santa.  We started by reading How To Catch a Santa by Jean Reagan last week (a personal favorite because the story has such great voice!).  Students talked about what they would ask, tell, and give Santa just like in the book.  Then this week students got busy making their own creations.

Students had some choices:

  1. work with a partner or alone
  2. what supplies to use (among those provided)
  3. What the trap would look like

Some things students did not have choice on.  All students were given the same set of supplies- mostly donated recyclable items and leftover craft supplies.  A quick trip to the dollar store yielded the cute Santa paper cups and more chenille stems.

  1. 1 tube
  2. 1 paper cup
  3. 1 egg carton
  4. 18 inches of aluminum foil
  5. 1 yard of curling ribbon
  6. 3 sheets of construction paper
  7. 5 pipe chenille stems
  8. 3 yards of masking tape

Students could trade me for additional supplies needed.  A frequent request was more masking tape.  Some would give up a chenille stem, others a curling ribbon for more tape.  Students were also given only 15 minutes and most students finished before that time.

Then came the sharing, and that was the most enjoyable part for me.  Listening to these young children talk about how they would catch Santa was so fun.  Many ideas involved catching Santa’s hand or foot in a trap that includes a pipe cleaner.  And, of course, cookies figured into a lot of traps!

Students learned how to barter or trade when they wanted additional supplies.  They collaborated with others while sharing supplies.  They created their own idea and had a great time.  Students were so proud of their Santa traps.

The Gift Of Reading

This holiday season I thought I would try something new to generate excitement about reading.  I chose 50 new library books and wrapped them up and put barcodes on them.  I also added two labels to help students remember to save the unwrapping for home and to return the book.  I put them in boxes identified for grades kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade.  Then, at the beginning of each class I explained the box of books to students.

  1. Students may choose to take a wrapped book as one of their checkout items
  2. The student has to wait until they get home to unwrap the book (to add to the anticipation)
  3. The book must be returned after Christmas

The response has been overwhelming!  I have already replenished the K-2 box after only two days.  (We have had half days for the last few days for parent/teacher conferences so the older students have not been in for class).  Students’ responses ranged from hoping they did not get a princess book (from a boy) to they can’t wait to get home to unwrap the book.  My hope is that the wrapped book with start a conversation with the child’s parents about the joy of reading and the joy of gift giving (and receiving).


What an Amazing Book Fair!

We just completed our first book fairs today.  What an exciting time the students had previewing books and shopping all week long!  We held two very successful family events as well.  One was last Thursday evening, and the other was today to coincide with the PTA Science Fair.  Our families, faculty and staff, and community purchased over 930 books from our book fair which translates into over 178,000 minutes that students will read.  We are so grateful for our generous community that recognizes the value of books in the home and classroom.  Thank you to everyone who supported our fair.  Here are a few pictures from the week.

Students Read, Dogs Listen

We have dogs from Therapy Dogs International (TDI) visiting our library again this year, and we are so excited!  TDI has a reading program called Tail Waggin’ Tutors. The first visit with the dogs was on Thursday, September 28, and the second was just last Thursday.  These dogs listen to some of our students read books to them.  This program encourages student reading confidence, generates positive feelings about reading, and is just so awesome!  Students visit dogs individually so they have one on one time with the dog and bring their own book that they are reading with them.  The students are so excited about reading to the dogs and the dogs are excellent listeners. Students have been selected to read to dogs every fourth Thursday of the month.  We look forward to more visits from our dog friends this year and thank the dog owners for volunteering their time to be with us.



Mock Newbery Club Returns

Fifth grade students at TJ Connor are participating in our 4th Mock Newbery Club.  Students were invited to join the club early in October, and I am so pleased that 30 students have decided to join! We are working with three other schools this year:  Hill Elementary in Brockport, Terry Taylor in Spencerport, and we welcome Village Elementary in Hilton this year.  The other three librarians and I have been working since early this year choosing the books we think have Newbery criteria.

The books we chose for this year are Undefeated:

  1. Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
  2. Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
  3. I Love You Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
  4. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
  5. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
  6. First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

Students will read the six books from now until the end of January.  They will discuss their thoughts on the book with the other three schools using Schoology, an online course management tool and vote on which book they thought was best in early February.  We will have a celebration where all the students will be able to come together to find out which book they chose as well as which book the ALA Newbery Committee chose.  It is a very exciting time for all of us.  Stay tuned as we read the books and check back for the winners!