TJ Connor Reads Flora and Ulysses… continued

Fifth grade Ambassadors Amaar, Cayla, Mrs. Wright (the principal), Brittney, Preasia, Jacob

Fifth grade Ambassadors Amaar, Cayla, Mrs. Wright (the principal), Brittney, Preasia, Jacob

Our fifth grade ambassadors, Jacob, Preasia, Brittney, Amaar, and Cayla, presented our Board of Education members with copies of Flora and Ulysses, the book we chose for TJ Connor Reads.  We have been reading the book at home with our families.  In case students were not able to read together, we had some of our past and current faculty create podcasts of the chapters for students to listen to at school.

Our first Fun Friday activity was also last Friday.  Each class wrote a poem about Flora and Ulysses.  Some wrote the poem as a class (younger grades) and others wrote their own poems (older grades).  Students were encouraged to display their poems in the halls.  As we continue to read our book as a school community, we have more Fun Friday activities planned.

Board of Education receive their copy of Flora and Ulysses

Board of Education receive their copy of Flora and Ulysses

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Second Graders Begin Research

Second Grade research

Second graders comparing information on their animals for research

Our second graders are learning how to find answers to questions.  Finding answers (and knowing where to go to find the answers!) is a  very important skill for research.  Second graders have been paired up with a partner to learn about an animal.  Each student began by learning how to navigate the National Geographic Kids website to select three animals.  Then with their table partner, they decided which animal they would learn about.  Each student has divided up the questions they need to answer, and they will compare notes along the way.  Students are excited to be using the computer to research thier animals and to work with a partner.  In addition the the National Geographic Kids website, students are also used a paid-subscription database called PebbleGo Animals.  This website is perfect for younger readers.

The second graders are also taking what they are learning about animals in the library back to their classrooms.  Mrs. Wallace’s class has already begun creating a nonficiton book about the same animals being researched in the library.  Their book will have all the features of a nonfiction book including a table of contents, glossary, and index!  Mrs. Hotaling’s and Mrs. Greene’s classes will also be creating a nonfiction text on the animal research.  And what are we going to do with all the animal information we collected in the library?  We will be presenting our information using Haikudeck– an online presentation tool that is simple and easy to use.  Stay tuned for more information about the presentations they will be creating.

SEcond graders use PebbleGo Animals and National Geographic Kids to research animals.

Second graders use PebbleGo Animals and National Geographic Kids to research animals.

A Book is the Greatest Gift of All: TJ Connor Reads

Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Meyer, and Mrs. Richmond perform.

Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Meyer, and Mrs. Richmond perform.

imageMove over Hollywood, TJ Connor can put on a show!  As we wrap up our three weeks of reading incentive “Paws for Reading”, we embark upon a new adventure:  TJ Connor Reads.

To kick off this event, some of our teachers and our principal put on a skit of Flora and Ulysses.  We wanted to give the students a teaser of the story so they acted out the first few pages of the book, leaving students wondering what will happen to the squirrel, Ulysses.  Our very own principal, Mrs. Wright, played Ulysses and Mrs. Richmond played Flora, the main character who saves Ulysses from the vacuum cleaner.

Each family received a copy of Flora and Ulysses (which is also the Newbery Winner this year) by Kate DiCamillo to read together.  We chose the book a few months before it won the prestigious award, but we are very excited that the book we chose to read won.  We hope to inspire the shared reading experience by having each family read the book together.  There will be several fun Friday activities for the students to do in the classrooms to extend the reading of the text.  Stay tuned for what the Friday events are- don’t want to give away too much too soon!  While you are waiting, check out some happy faces getting their copy of Flora and Ulysses.

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Therapy Dogs Visit!

Fiarra

Fiarra

This has been an exciting week at TJ Connor!  Yesterday was our author visit, and today is a dog visit  I was so excited to see Fiarra, a therapy dog, today!  Fiarra’s visit is part of our reading incentive theme “Paws for Reading”  She went to each classroom for a brief Q & A and lots of petting! Our students learned what a therapy dogs is, what training is needed to be a therapy dog, and what jobs therapy dogs have.

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Kindergarteners get up close and personal with Fiarra

Therapy dog often visit hospitals, nursing homes, VA Centers, Developmental Centers, and even libraries!  That’s right!  Fiarra loves to have stories read to her, and when she visits libraries, that is what the children do.  After the students learned about therapy dogs, students were able to get up close and personal petting Fiarra and getting a little dog drool, too!  Fiarra is a Cane Corso mastiff and is one of ten dogs owned by Jessica Caster.  We are very thankful to Ms. Caster for taking the time from her day job to share her time and her dog with us.

Jessica Caster explains what therapy dogs do and how they are trained.

Jessica Caster explains what therapy dogs do and how they are trained.

It’s Author Visit Day!

Today was a special day for our students.  Shella Shubuck, a local author and illustrator, visited our school to share her books, her writing process, and her art with us.  Shella has four published picture books, three of which are stories based on animals from local Stokoe Farms.  Ms. Shubuck has a unique illustrative style that I noticed immediately.

Shella Shubuck's artwork

Shella Shubuck’s artwork

Ms. Shubuck creates some of the characters out of paper mache, then she photographs the characters in different settings. Finally she then paints the scenery around the photo.

Ms. Shubuck talked with all of our students as well as worked with some second and third graders to create a watercolor painting around a photograph.  She also did a paper mache craft with some fourth and fifth graders.

Shella Shubuck helps a students illustrate their pictures.

Shella Shubuck helps a students illustrate their pictures.

Shella read stories to our kindergarten through second grades and talked about where she gets her ideas and how she creates her work for third through fifth graders.  Our fifth graders were particularly interested in her art, asking lots of good questions!  Ms. Shubuck’s most important advice for students is not to give up.  She received 80 rejection letters before her first book was published! That is good advice for all our students, whether it is writing, illustrating, playing sports, or any other activity that is important to you.  We are very happy that Ms. Shubuck was able to spend the day with us!

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Our fifth graders has lots of questions for our author!

Caught “Paws-ing” for Reading

Our school had its first “Paws for Reading” on Friday.  On designated days students need to carry a book with them everywhere; a “paws for reading” could be announced at any time.  Mrs. Morrison’s third graders were just about to leave the library at the end of class when we heard the call!  Everyone sat down where they were and started reading!

Students "paws for reading" as they were leaving the library

Students “paws for reading” as they were leaving the library