The third graders have finished their research on Australian animals! Since there are three third grade classes, there are three separate books to share. They spent many weeks learning facts about their animal: their habitat, how they adapt to their environment, endangered status, and how they depend on other animals. They gathered all their research to create a book for each class. Using Bookeman the students created two page spreads. They created text boxes, added pictures, chose background colors, and worked on a layout that presented their information in a logical order. When all that work was done, they brainstormed possible titles and voted on one that best reflected their topic. Overall, it was a very successful project. Please look at the books the students created by clicking on the pictures.
Field Trip! Steve Sheinkin visited the Central Branch of the Rochester Public Library today, and my fifth grade students, along with the 5th grade teachers and myself went! There is nothing more exciting, I think, than to hear an author talk about their work: their ideas, their process, their challenges. Some people get excited when they see a famous actor; I get excited when I see an author.
Steve talked to a large group of students about four of his recent titles: The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery; Bomb: The Race to Build- and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon; Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight For Civil Rights; and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. Steve captivated the students with details from the books without giving too much away. He had just enough creepy/grossness factor to entertain a large group of 10-11 year olds and shared how he started writing, mostly by accident. He wanted to create films when he grew up, then started writing textbooks, then moved on to his fascinating narrative nonfiction books. He patiently answered questions from many students, autographed a book for a student, and even posed for a picture with me.
After the fifth graders listened to Steve talk, they had lunch in the courtyard on a beautiful sunny day. Then, we took the students to the children’s section to check out books! Some students were getting their own library card, others had brought their library cards from home. The students had an awesome time judging by the pictures below.
The second graders have finished their backyard animal research! Usually we research the wilder animals, but they were digging deep into endangered animals in the classroom. Clearly, I needed a new topic. My inspiration came when I was watching our resident skunk in early January eat seed that fell from our bird feeder. I realized it would be great to learn more about the animals we see up close.
The students used PebbleGo and a nonfiction text to find information about their animal. Questions ranged from more basic (what they look like, what they eat) to more complex (how their feet/tracks help them, how they adapt to their environment). The thinking questions were harder for students to answer; they were afraid to get the answer wrong! I explained many times that if they can support their answer with information they have gathered, then their answer won’t be wrong.
When all the information was gathered, we started creating our presentations. Sharing what we learned with others is the best part of research. Each pair of students created their own Haikudeck. Students worked hard to type in the text on each slide, but were very excited to be able to add pictures! I kept that part a secret until the hard work of typing was done.
The first grade students have finished their research on hedgehogs and published their books using www.bookemon.com. The students enjoyed finding out new facts about the animal, discussing the facts learned, and drawing pictures to illustrate the facts. The students even chose the titles for their books! Below are links to the books each of the three first grade classes created. Click on each book to open in a new window. Happy Reading!
Last week I took the plunge that many other school libraries have already done. I reorganized the fiction section into genres. Scary to some, but I am liking it. So are the students.
The reason for this change is to help our students find the books they are interested in. Students think like people, not like librarians. They want to know where the scary books are, or the mysteries, or the sports. And they don’t spend a lot of time checking the catalog. Even though I had genre stickers on those books already, it was not easy for students to find the books they wanted on the shelves. The stickers sort of all blended in together. What a difference the reorganization made. It is so much easier for students to see the books when they are organized by genre. As I told each class this week about the change, their eyes lit up. They ran right to the genre they wanted to read and began browsing for books.
I ultimately chose 8 genres for our library based on what is most popular with our students: Adventure, Animal, Fantasy, History, Humor, Mystery, Scary, and Sports. I also created a general fiction section for those books that do not fit in with a genre. I created mini posters to help students locate the sections more quickly and to help them understand what is included in each section. Sometimes I combined a few genres due to a lack of books to justify its own genre (science fiction was added to fantasy, war was added to history, realistic fiction was grouped into general fiction).
I found it very interesting that as I grouped books, I could easily see which subjects were lacking in material (scary, sports), and which subjects were the largest (fantasy, history). As I prepare orders for next year, I will be looking for more titles to add to these groups.
The final change was updating the catalog. I added a three letter code after FIC (for fiction) to help know where the books were located on the shelves ADV, ANI, FAN, HIS, HUM, MYS, SCA, SPO). I left the general fiction as FIC. I have to thank our BOCES school library system for their assistance on this. I sent them the list of bar codes, and they did batch edits for me. So much quicker that touching each individual record (again- a librarian concern) This way, as the librarian, I can still find the books easily, but should the students choose to search for books that way, they can find them as well.
It has only been one week, but I am already seeing how the students find it easier to look for books. After all, isn’t that what the library organization should be all about?