Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Reader

Today's library visit with Mrs. Proudman's class seemed to go by a bit too quickly!  We spent time checking in with our partner school, then we read this week's book.

We first looked at the Padlet page we share with Mrs. Jerabek's class at the Carol Stream School.  This page displayed our "All About Me" assignments where we were able to learn a bit about the students in each school.  When we read the "All About Me" pages aloud, we discovered that there are many similarities and differences between the students in our classes.

Today's book was The Reader by Amy Hest.  The book was illustrated by Lauren Castillo, who is the focus of our book study for The Global Read Aloud.  We made a prediction about the book based on its cover.  Since the cover showed a snowy scene, we thought the book would take place in winter.

The Reader is set in winter.

Our prediction about the book was correct!  The Reader is definitely set during winter.  This story talks about a boy (the reader) and how he finds a special spot to read with his friend (an adorable dog).  The book got us thinking about winter and the different places where we like to read.

Although we aren't quite ready for another snowy winter in Western New York, we agreed that there are many fun winter activities to do in our area.  We made a list of the activities our class likes to participate in during winter.

Our favorite winter activities.

We also had a discussion about the places where we like to read.  The Reader in today's story picked kind of an unusual spot for reading.  It turns out that the students in our class had some unusual places for reading, too!

Mrs. Proudman's students find some interesting places for reading.

Next week, we are looking forward to reading Twenty Yawns.  It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through this year's Global Read Aloud!  It has been wonderful to read these stories.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Troublemaker

Mrs. Proudman's class visited the library on October 13, 2016 for our second official Global Read Aloud session.  It is very exciting to be reading Lauren Castillo's books alongside other classrooms around the world.

We began our library visit by reading the mail we received from other GRA classrooms.  Our class received postcards from W. S. Boardman Elementary School in Oceanside, NY and Calvin Coolidge School in Shrewsbury, MA. 

It was great to receive postcards from other schools!

Next, we checked our Padlet page to see if we received any messages there.  Mrs. Jerabek's class at Carol Stream School left us lots of material to read!  First, they shared what their class would do if they had a bravery cape like the boy in Nana in the City.  It was interesting to see that many of the students in their class had similar answers to what we discussed in our class.

After reading their Nana in the City responses, we then looked at the All About Me pages for each of Mrs. Jerabek's students.  There are 18 students in the class, so we did not have time to read all of the pages during our library visit.  We plan to read more of their responses next week.  We noticed that there were similarities and differences between Mrs. Jerabek and Mrs. Proudman's students.  Some of the food that Mrs. Jerabek's students enjoy (such as Pozole) is food that we are unfamiliar with in our area of Western New York.  We plan to make some of the foods listed in the All About Me pages so we can try it out!

We were then able to get into reading The Troublemaker, our Lauren Castillo book for the week.  This story focused on a boy who was bored and then made a bad choice by stealing his sister's stuffed bunny.  After the boy was exposed as the bunny-kidnapper, strange things start to happen to him.  A real raccoon then steals the bunny, as well as a number of items belonging to the boy!  We discussed similarities between this story and the tale of the boy who cried wolf.

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo was this week's book.

Once we were finished with the story, we discussed some times where we could have made a better choice.  We wanted to make sure that we didn't have the same experience as the boy in the book!  Mrs. Proudman's students came up with excellent answers as to behaviors we should try to avoid.  Our list evolved into ideas for behaviors we should exhibit.

Our class's ideas after reading The Troublemaker.

We were all ready to work on a craft activity when we discovered our library class was almost over!  Students had just enough time to select their library books before the bell rang.  Mrs. Proudman took the craft activity back to the classroom for students to work on during their Fun Friday time.

Students will make paper hats like the one the boy in The Troublmaker wore.

Next week's class will be spend responding to our partner schools and reading The Reader, our third Global Read Aloud selection.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

September 2016 Highlights

It is hard to believe that we are so far into the 2016-2017 school year.  September flew by, and there were many exciting things taking place in our library.  There were 68 scheduled visits to our library in September alone!  Here are some of the highlights from our first month:

The Pioneer Middle School community loves to read.  During the first month of school, 2,257 books were checked out by students and staff!  Our Graphic Novel section continues to be very popular.  In fact, Amulet 1: The Stonekeeper was the library's most frequently checked out book in September.

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi was September's most popular book.

In addition to book checkouts, the library was also busy checking out equipment.  Pioneer Middle School provides student tablets for each student in grades 5, 6, and 7.  Students came down to the library to receive a brief introduction about the tablets from Mrs. Wright prior to checking out their tablets for the year.  Although we experienced some growing pains with the roll-out of this technology, it is wonderful that our students have access to these resources.

Every fifth grade class visited the library for a brief library orientation and checkout.  It was necessary to go over some of the expectations that we have in the library.  Most importantly, students were excited about coming down to the library during the day (without a teacher!) and having over 14,000 books available for checkout.  Mrs. Izzo's fifth grade reading class has made Thursday their designated library day.  They visit the library for book recommendations, then find a comfortable place to read a book.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students also visited the library for a brief orientation review, a book talk on the latest titles available in the library, and information about the OverDrive service.  The OverDrive platform for ebooks and audiobooks continues to be popular at Pioneer, with a number of students signing up for this service on their own personal device.  The audiobooks are particularly helpful if you want to listen to a book as you follow along with the paper copy.

Ms. McKenzie's seventh grade Spanish class also had their first visit to the library in September.  Throughout this year, the Spanish students will be exploring the relationship between computer coding and learning a new spoken language.  During the visit, students used the Bee Bot coding tools in order to learn the letters of the Spanish alphabet.

After school clubs have also began in the library!  We recruited amazing students for two First LEGO League teams.  Maker Club also held its first meeting in September.  Many familiar faces, as well as many newcomers, plan to stay after school to work on their own creative projects.

Working with the Lego Mindstorms during Maker Club.

Using found materials to create art projects.

A duct tape pin created during Maker Club.

The focus of October's library activities will be participation in The Global Read Aloud.  We will keep you posted about October's updates.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Nana in the City

The Global Read Aloud is officially here!  Last week, Mrs. Proudman's group was introduced to the event and learned a little about Lauren Castillo, the author/illustrator we are studying.  This week we were ready to dive into the books.

Before reading, we spent a moment looking at our Padlet page for this project.  This is a page where we will be sharing our thoughts and ideas with other students that are reading Lauren Castillo's books.  We can't wait to read messages from new friends!

A sneak peek into our Padlet page for The Global Read Aloud.

This week's book was Nana in the City, which was both written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.  The story talked about how a grandson initially did not like visiting his Nana in the scary.  To help fix this problem, his Nana made him a cape that made him brave.  While wearing his cape, the grandson realized that the city can be a fun place to visit.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo

Our school is located in a very rural area in Western New York.  Where we live is very different than what people would find in the city.  As a group we discussed differences between cities and the country.

Our ideas about the differences between the city and the country.

We then thought about all of the things we would do if we had a bravery cape like the boy in the story.  It was interesting to hear about all of the scary things we would face when we were feeling brave!  We worked on an illustration and sentence to show our ideas.

Our group working on our illustrations.

 Here are some of the ideas that our class generated.  We used a great worksheet provided by Erin Kramer, another teacher participating in the Global Read Aloud.

Hannah would face a wild coyote.

David would try driving his tractor.

Evan would face a bad guy.

Logan would face his brother Owen.
Ty would not be scared of being injured.

Nicholas would not be scared of bad guys.

We will be updating our Padlet to reflect the work done by the class this week.  We can't wait to read the next story!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Global Read Aloud Kick Off!

On Wednesday, September 27th, Mrs. Proudman's class came down for their first scheduled library visit.  It was wonderful to catch up with last year's students and meet some new students as well.  I can already tell that it is going to be an excellent year!

Over the next few weeks, Mrs. Proudman's students will be participating in the Global Read Aloud.  This will be our second year participating in this exciting opportunity.  During the Global Read Aloud, we will be reading the same books at the same time as thousands of other students around the world.  We are looking forward to the opportunity to make new friends around the world!

In order to kick off our participation in the Global Read Aloud, we chose to read Friendshape, a book about friendship by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  She was last year's Global Read Aloud author.  This book included many funny (and punny!) observations about friendship.

Reading Friendshape with Mrs. Proudman's students.

If you like puns, Friendshape is a must-read!
After laughing our way through Friendshape, we were all eager to learn more about the focus of this year's Global Read Aloud project.  This year we will be reading books from Lauren Castillo.  Ms. Castillo is both an author and an illustrator.  To learn a little more about her, we watched a video on YouTube.

We learned about Lauren Castillo by watching a video.
Next week we will begin reading Lauren Castillo's books.  In order to prepare to meet our new friends through the Global Read Aloud, we worked on a short activity to introduce ourselves to other students.  Below are the introductions from the students in Mrs. Proudman's class:

During our next library visit, we will be reading Nana in the City and making connections with our other partner schools around the world.  We're eager to share our thoughts about what we're reading and even make some new friends along the way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summer Reading Roundup

Before we get too far into the school year, I wanted to highlight some of the AMAZING reads that I found this summer.  Although summer always seems to go by too quickly, I was able to fit in time to read/listen to many great books this summer.  I will highlight these books in the order in which I read them (it is impossible to play favorites with this bunch).

A selection of books I read this summer. 
I couldn't get them all in the picture because so many are already checked out!

When I was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
I have heard so many great things about Jason Reynolds.  This is the first book of his that I have read.  This story discusses the fate of three young boys growing up in New York City.  The boys have previously done a decent job of staying out of trouble, but all of that changes after they attend a party one fateful night.  What I like best about this story is the characterization.  By the end of the story, you really feel like you know all of these characters personally!  It is great to see friendships evolve and people change as the book progresses.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
This is also the first book I have read by author Natalie Lloyd, although we have many of her books in our library.  A Snicker of Magic is a perfect read for those that enjoy fantasy and quirky characters.  At the heart of this book is the story of a family, but it is so much more.  Throughout the book, the Pickle family looks to make the mysterious Midnight Gulch their home.  Along the way, they encounter magic, humor, and so many unforgettable people.

The War that Saved by Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Historical fiction tends to be one of my favorite genres.  There is something wonderful about having a book transport you back in time!  This book is set in England during World War II.  In this story, a disabled girl and her younger brother live in the city with their abusive mother.  The city officials decide that the war has made it too dangerous to live in the city, so children are sent to live with new families in the countryside.  When the children leave their abusive setting, their lives begin to change for the better--but with a war going on, it won't be easy.

The Living by Matt de la Pena
I loved reading The Last Stop on Market Street, so I was happy to get another chance to read a book by Matt de la Pena.  This book was not what I expected, but it did not disappoint!  Shy, the book's main character, is an employee on board a cruise ship when a natural disaster strikes.  Just when you think things can't get any worse, the story takes an unexpected and chilling turn.  This book is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
I am a big fan of Jennifer L. Holm's novels, so I was interested to read one of her graphic novels.  This book describes a summer in the life of a girl named Sunny.  One summer, Sunny is shipped off to Florida to stay with her grandfather.  Although she is initially excited to stay in Florida, she quickly finds out that living in a retirement community isn't the adventure she was hoping for.  At the end of the story, the reason for her trip to Florida is finally revealed.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
The Global Read Aloud will be beginning in October and Pax is one of this year's selections.  The books picked by The Global Read Aloud committee are always top-notch and Pax is no exception.  This story talks about a boy and his pet fox, Pax.  Pax and his boy are separated.  They spend the rest of the story going through many difficult feats in order to be reunited.  This is a must-read for animal lovers!

Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin
Nightingale's Nest is truly one of the most unique books I have ever read.  Although the book is realistic fiction, it contains many elements also associated with fantasy or even fairy tales.  The main character, Little John, is trying to cope with the death of his younger sister.  A foster child with a beautiful voice moves to Little John's neighborhood.  He does the best he can to protect her, but will he succeed?

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
While on vacation in Saratoga Springs, NY, I was able to stop at one of my favorite bookstores and pick up a copy of The Seventh Wish.  Although it had already been ordered for the library, I couldn't wait until fall to read it!  Charlie, the book's protagonist, lives in New York State and enjoys ice fishing.  While ice fishing one day, Charlie catches a magical fish that is capable of granting wishes.  As the story progresses, Charlie learns that her sister is struggling with a problem.  She is hopeful that the fish can help with the problem.

George by Alex Gino
A young student named George is facing a large struggle.  Although the world sees him as a boy, George knows that he's really a girl.  To make matters even worse, George's teacher won't allow him to try out for the role of Charlotte in Charlotte's Web, the classroom play.  With the help of a spunky and trusted friend, George hatches a daring plan.  This is a kind and accessible story dealing with an important topic.

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
I had the great pleasure of meeting author Jo Knowles at the Rochester Teen Book Festival a few years ago.  Her book See You at Harry's is a great read.  Read Between the Lines is an interesting story told from the multiple perspectives of people living in a small town.  At first, it seems as though the stories are not related.  By the end of the book, all of the story lines come together in an intriguing way.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Get the tissues out!  This book had me tearing up at multiple points throughout the story.  Orbiting Jupiter, another Global Read Aloud book pick, discusses Joseph, a foster child living with Jack and his family.  Joseph is labeled a "bad kid," which is an unfair assessment.  As Jack and Joseph begin to get to know each other, Jack learns that there are events from the past that Joseph is determined to resolve.  Jack finds himself on a mission to help Joseph at all costs.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
This book came highly recommended by other librarians.  I was glad to add it to my summer reading list.  The story follows the lives of Lily and Dunkin, two very different middle schoolers who are facing some difficult problems.  For reasons that are revealed during the course of the story, Lily and Dunkin are both carrying secrets.  Although rocky, their friendship is the strength that they need to overcome their obstacles and experience true acceptance.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
While I was reading the rest of the summer selections, I was listening to the audiobook version of How It Went Down in my car.  I usually love audiobooks, but I was particularly pleased with this recording.  This story follows the aftermath of the shooting of Tariq Johnson.  Each chapter of this book was told from the perspective of someone who was involved by the shooting.  The audiobook really lent itself well to hearing the distinct voices of the book's many characters.  This is a powerful story that is sure to get you thinking.

As classes have begun to visit the library for book selection, I am happy to have so many exciting titles to add to my arsenal of recommendations.  I am looking forward to getting these books in the hands of our Pioneer Middle School readers and am anxiously awaiting their feedback on these titles!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Trailers: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Mrs. Proudman's students certainly have a reason to be PROUD!  For the last several library classes, students participated in an extensive book trailer project.  During their time in the classroom, students listened to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  This 2010 Newbery Honor Book is set in China.  Minli, the book's protagonist, embarks on a journey to see if she can achieve good fortune for her family.  The book melds together tradition, fantasy, history, and family values into a beautifully crafted and wonderfully illustrated story.

While in library class, students were introduced to the concept of a book trailer.  Much like a movie trailer, book trailers are designed to generate interest around the book in question.  Students were very excited to get the opportunity to promote Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  It was their favorite read aloud from this school year!

We then looked at other student-generated book trailers for inspiration.  Mrs. Rice's fifth grade students had already completed a book trailer project, so we viewed their trailers before beginning.

The students also learned that lots of planning goes into the creation of book trailers.  You certainly can't "wing it" - all groups needed to be prepared with a script and storyboard prior to recording.  Students spent many library visits working on their book trailer scripts.  As part of the script, students sketched ideas for the artwork they would want to include within their book trailers.

A graphic organizer that students used to prepare for the project.

On the last slide, students gave their recommendations of the book.

Mrs. Proudman's class is full of creative students.  In order to best flex their creative muscles, it was decided that all of the book trailers would contain original artwork created by the students.  To get an idea of different styles of art, Mrs. Proudman took her students on an art walk through the building.  Students learned about different artistic styles and used this information to decide which style to use for the book trailer.  The groups decided to use paint, watercolors/sketching, and clay sculptures.

Now the fun really began!  Students used the rough sketches from their scripts as the basis for book trailers' art pieces.  Since all of the book trailers contain five slides of information, each group was responsible for making five works of art.

The class made a supply list so they remembered what they needed to bring to the library.

Play Doh was perfect for modeling clay sculptures.

The artists in action!

Many different artistic styles were used.

It was very interesting to see the wide variety of art pieces made by the students.  The finished pieces were all unique and extremely well done.  Here are some examples of artwork:

Minli and the Man in the Moon (watercolor).

Minli's village (clay).

Dragons and Minli (tempera paint).

We then uploaded all of the artwork into Voicethread.  The Voicethread software is provided through CA BOCES.  It allows students to upload images then record their own voice over the images.  Students were able to record over and over again until they were happy with the way their recordings sounded.

A group finds a quiet corner in which to record.

A Braille script was helpful for recording the audio for the book trailers.

The completed book trailers were nothing short of amazing!  It was wonderful to see the artwork and hear each student. View all three completed book trailers by clicking here.

On Wednesday, June 22nd, we will be holding a reception in the library to honor the great work done by Mrs. Proudman's students.  We're looking forward to many more library projects next year!