TJ Connor Reads

Today we kicked off our fourth TJ Connor Reads.   We selected The Contract by Derek Jeter.  We kicked off our exciting event with an assembly that included Dan Mason, General Manager of the Rochester Red Wings, Spike, the mascot, and Paige Pye from Scholastic.  Mr. Mason spoke of the importance of reading and being a team player.  Ms. Pye spoke to students about our upcoming summer reading challenge (more on that in another post).

Students were given teasers on the announcements earlier this week to try to guess the book, but the book was not revealed until the end of the assembly.  Students then came to the library to get one copy of The Contract for their family.  Older siblings gathered their younger siblings to come together to receive the book.

Students will read a specified number of chapters each week and we will close our TJ Connor Reads with an assembly on June 2.  Students have chances to win prizes by answering trivia questions, getting caught reading, and filling in their reading log for reading each night the our three week celebration.  We are very excited about the book and the activities planned.



Student Organized Book Clubs

A few weeks ago two fourth graders, Emma and Anna, approached me about starting a scary book club. We created a flyer together.  Then they talked to both fourth grade classes to invite them to joint the club if interested.

Then two days after the scary book club got organized two more fourth  graders, Christopher and Dillon, approached me about a fantasy reading club.  And so the fourth grade book clubs were born. I had two different groups of excited students in the library today during recess talking about the books they are reading in their favorite genre, looking at the shelves to find new book, and making lists for future reading.  The enthusiasm of these kids reminds me of why I am a school librarian. 🙂 

The students will continue to meet periodically from March to May to share their favorite books and find new ones to read.  I am so impressed with the initiative of these students to organize these clubs.


Student Book Budget Crew

For the second year, students at TJ Connor Elementary are helping choose books for the library.  Third and fourth grade students were invited to participate this year and many accepted the challenge.  We start by reviewing the survey we used last year and made some changes. Then we surveyed students in grades K-2.  The 3rd through 5th grades completed the survey online during the same week K-2 students were surveyed.  You can see our survey here.

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While we did not get every student in the school surveyed, we have a good representation of grade levels.  We now have survey results and when we return from holiday break, we will begin looking at the results to create lists of books to order.  We plan to meet with two vendors this year:  Gumdrop Books and PermaBound.  Take a look at our students in action and our survey results.

Here are the survey results in full color!  book-budget-crew-survey-results

We are excited to meet with our vendors in January and will post another post when we do.



Mock Newbery Guest Post

I asked fifth grader, Olivia, to write a blog post about our Mock Newbery Club.  Here is what she has to say:


Olivia and her favorite Mock Newbery book

Hi, my name is Olivia and I am in the Mock Newbery Club! I am going to be talking about what I like and dislike and what is easy and hard.  What is hard for me is to read the big books.  I love the books that we read.  They are amazing.  My favorite book is Some Kind Of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart.

I don’t like reading the long books because I am busy.  I have two brothers who both do two or three sports.  Currently I am reading All Rise For the Honorable Perry T. Cook.  I am very happy I joined Mock Newbery.  I am on my fourth book (4/5).  I hope you enjoyed my blog post. Stay tuned  to find out what book we chose win.

Mock Newbery Club

For the third year, TJ Connor fifth graders have been invited to participate in the Mock Newbery Club.  This club has quite a task:

  1. Read five books published this year
  2. Discuss the books online using Edmodo and Kidblog,
  3. Vote for the best book using the ALA Newbery Criteria
  4. Celebrate with the other two schools where the winner chosen by the students and by the ALA Newbery Committee are revealed.

We are working again this year with Fred Hill Elementary in Brockport, NY and Terry Taylor Elementary in Spencerport, NY.  The other two librarians, Cathy Manga and Linda Paul, and myself met several times during the year to review books with Newbery potential.  The list was challenging.  We finally narrowed it down to the following five titles:

  1. All Rise For the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  2. Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
  3. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
  4. Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
  5. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The students are excited and have started reading their first books.  Some are already to read book 2.  Check back with us in late January to find out which book our students chose and if our book was also the ALA Newbery winner!

Student Book Budget Crew

For several years now, since I read about Andy Plemmons Book Budget that he does in Georgia, I have wanted to get students involved in purchasing books for the library.  After attending my first AASL conference in November, and running into Andy Plemmons while waiting in a line there, I was finally ready.   It helped that my building principal, Margaret Wright, was with me at the conference and encouraged me on every idea!

I started with inviting fourth graders to join the crew.  And I had to stop there!  Almost every fourth grader was interested!  Wanting to keep the group small and magaeable for my first time, I randomly picked 21 students from the list.  These students were invited to come to our first meeting on January 19.  We have met several times since then and are preparing to meet with our first vendor soon.  But let me tell you what we have accomplished in the mean time.

We surveyed students from January 26 through February 5. Third through fifth graders were invited to complete an online survey during a library class. The fourth graders surveyed students in grades K-2.  The students were so excited to be working with the younger students!  We had almost 200 responses to our survey out of just over 300 students. I learned a few things about surveying doing this project:  keep it simple!  Collecting extended responses can be difficult to aggregate.  Checkboxes work better when wanting to create charts and graphs.  Here is a our Book Budget Survey.

After the survey results were compiled, students took a copy of the results with them to determine which topics were most often requested.  Topics that kept appearing were: animals, fairy tales, dinosaurs, mine craft, and sports.  Fortunately for us, we were also hosting a book fair during this project.  Students shopped the book fair for some books that would appeal to students.  I set a budget of $200 for the book fair and naturally, we went over it.  It was interesting listening to students talk about which books we should keep and which books we could pass on to keep us within our budget.  Ultimately, we found and agreed on some great titles.

We are meeting with a vendor from Bound to Stay Bound books on Tuesday to look at more titles.  Our remaining book budget is $800.  I am looking forward to seeing what additional titles these students select for our library.

The Mock Newbery Club Begins

newberry club copyOur second Mock Newbery Club began last week.  The Newbery Medal is “awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children by the American Library Association”.  Fifth graders were invited to join this group and agreed to read five books selected by myself and the two other librarians working with me, Cathy Mangan from Fred Hill Elementary in Brockport and Linda Paul at Terry Taylor Elementary in Spencerport.  The books we selected for students to read are:  Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Like a River:  A Civil War Novel by Kathy Canon Weichman, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, and Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar.  There was a lot of discussion involved in choosing the books to read- there were so many great new titles to choose from.  We vary the genres and like to include a graphic novel to mix up the reading.

We will be talking about these books using Edmodo.  The students are very excited and are such avid readers!  Two of my students have already finished four of the five books!


Mock Newbery Group 2015

Students take notes on each book so they will be able recall details from the book as they discuss them online.  The Newbery Club will continue until January 8, 2016.  While students are discussing the books as they read them (leaving out any spoilers!) students will discuss the specific criteria of each book according to the same Newbery criteria used by the ALA during the final week (January 4-8) and vote online by January 10.  Students from all three schools will gather mid-Janaury to celebrate our club and to find out which book our students chose to win the Mock Newbery award.  It is always fun to see if the book we chose also wins the ALA Newbery Award.

Stay tuned to find out the winner!