Summer Is Here (almost) and the Reading is… Easy

As the school year winds down (only five weeks left!), it is time to think about Summer Reading.  We all know about the “Summer Slide”.  We hear it every year.  We try all kinds of activities to encourage students to read over the summer:  suggested reading lists, mandatory reading requirements, incentives, summer reading programs, etc.  I spend time talking about books to students to get them excited to read over the summer.  I host a book fair the last week of school to get new books into students’ hands for the summer.  We have librarians from the public library come in to talk about their summer reading programs.  We even participate in Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge…  Is it enough?  Is it too much?

This is our fourth year participating in Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge, and our school goal is 200,000 minutes.  Will we reach our goal?  Only time and logging minutes will tell.  This year the students have an added incentive (and yes, it is like dangling a carrot):  Our school principal will dress up like a chicken and dance for us at our first assembly in September if  we reach our goal.  How am I encouraging our students to reach our goal?  I registered each of our 300+ students for the summer reading challenge.  Then, I took the time during library to edencourage students to set a reading goal, show them how to log in the first time, how to log their minutes, and even where to go after logging minutes to find great books and activities. Reading needs to be fun for students to want to read. There is also something to be said for the feeling of accomplishment when you reach a goal.

Sure, I talk about the summer slide to my students, but then I tell the the best reason to read this summer:  It’s fun!  What can you do on a rainy day?  Read!  Looking for  a new friend?  Read!  Want to travel?  Read!  Want to learn something new?  Read!  Want to get smarter?  Read!  There are so many reasons to read and so many books to choose from.  Let’s work at showing students the fun side of reading and let the smart side of reading fall into place on its own.  Happy Reading!

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Second Graders Present Animals Using Haiku Deck

Working together to create presentation

Working together to create presentation

The second grade classes finished up their animal research and last week shared what they learned using Haiku Deck.  Working with a partner (or two!), students chose an animal to research, then searched for information using PebbleGo and National Geographic Kids.  Students were asked to share information about the animal’s body, habitat, lifespan, adaptations, life cycle, food, and endangered status.  After they gathered all the information, they got started creating their presentation.  Haiku Deck is an easy-to-use presentation tool that worked very well for this age group.

 

Adding color backgrounds and pictures to Haiku Deck.

Adding color backgrounds and pictures to Haiku Deck.

They created a slide for each category of information.  After the text was added, students then chose pictures to add.  Pictures are already incorporated into the app and website making it quick and easy for students.  Students needed to think about which picture would best relate to a slide, encouraging them to show some critical thinking.  Students will show their classmates what they learned about their animals and the presentations they made during an upcoming library class.  You can check out one of the second graders’ presentations here.

 

1st Grade Researchers Make a Book

First graders create artwork for their book on sloths.

First graders create artwork for their book on sloths.

The first graders have finished researching all about sloths.  They learned a lot of interesting facts:  where they live, how many babies they have, what they eat, why they may look green, even their bathroom habits!  They spent time listening to A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke, read about sloths in PebbleGo’s database, and watched some videos on sloths from National Geographic Kids.  Research happens in many different formats!  The final piece of the project was creating a book using Bookemon.  Each student chose one fact to share about sloths and drew a picture about that fact.  I scanned all the artwork from the students and uploaded them into the book.  Together we created the title and chose a picture for the cover.  This was a great project for everyone.  Check out the books the students created here and here.

First graders create artwork for their book on sloths.

First graders create artwork for their book on sloths.

 

Research Teaches Resilience

The fifth graders have been working on a research project in the library.  Each fifth grade student selected a topic of their choice to research.  Their topics range from pop culture to careers in engineering to endangered animals.   Students needed to write three questions that they wanted to find answers to about their topic.  We reviewed the available subscription databases to see if any would be an appropriate fit for each students’ topic.  After students exhausted the databases, they were encouraged to use a search engine; most chose Google.  And here is where most of the problems started.

Before we began this research project, we spent several weeks in the library learning the skills the students will need to complete this project:  comparing a variety of search engines, choosing keywords to use in a search, and using Boolean operators to improve search results.  What we didn’t learn, and is very difficult to teach, is resilience.  Students are finding it difficult to find information on their topic.  Sure, they all know how to surf the web, but surfing is not researching.  There is something to be said for motivation, but there is something more important to be said for sticking it out and continuing to try even when we hit a wall.