Book reviewer extraordinaire!

Posts tagged ‘Students’

ASL for Pre-K

So, I am teaching my students sign language. Not the “normal” job of the ‘library media specialist’? In the world of education today library teachers, teacher-librarians, media specialists, librarians, whatever-you-call-us do not just check out books and read to students any more.

I begin each school year with six lesson plans; PK, K, 1-4 level. As the weeks progress the lessons adjust to meet the scheduling issues, students issues, and whatever else that may interfere with out plans. In my case, and many others’, I only see my classes once a week. If they miss a class we are behind. By the end of the school year each of my 26 classes could have a different lesson being taught in one week. Crazy but true.

So, why ASL? Because my Prekindergarten students are not on top of their alphabet this year. I have tried working with PK teachers to get the list of letters they cover each week – no, they do not start at A and end at Z, this would be too easy. So I am conducting an experiment to use a different portion of their brains to identify the alphabet. It is working! I had a couple of little ones’ say good morning to me, as they got off the bus, in ASL. AWESOME!!!!

I put up a letter, they sign in back to me. We are moving onto colors and basics like thank you and good morning. Next week we will practice alphabet with words (A is for Apple) and have them sign along as well. I love having them show off for others to build their confidence. They are reciprocating with initiating the signing to me. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

I will be signing to my pre-k from the get-go next year! This year, I am tired. Thankfully, only two more weeks and we will not be seeing each other for much of it as I proctor state exams. Crazy as it seems, the library closes in many schools across the US so we can watch teachers to make sure they don’t cheat. This must happen a lot right? Teachers cheating on state exams? Actually, no. We don’t. I’d venture to say less that .001% of teachers assist or out-right cheat on state exams … but that is another rant. I won’t see my PK students for the next 30 days – well, hit or miss. Wish me luck as we keep moving on.


Another Challenge

I love my students. I really do. You would think they would learn; however, not to challenge me to a reading competition. Ms. Jones’ fourth grade class has challenged me to read and take AR quizzes on the Carole Marsh Mysteries: Real Kids, Real Places Series (the US cities set), which currently encompasses forty books. We do not have that many in our library at school but we have a great many of them; twenty three in all. If this was the school beginning instead of ending they might have a chance, but as it stands … I am clearly going to kick some fourth grade bum.

Oh, the kicker is, after they challenged me I let them know they only had until the 30th of the month to get it done as all books are due back in the library at that time. I am on my third book … if I don’t do anything else I will finish the remaining three I brought home tonight. Fortunately, I do have a life that consists of a family, a home, a garden, and a few other priorities!

I have read so far:
The Mystery at Kill Devil Hills
The Mystery on the Mighty Mississippi
The Ghost of the Grand Canyon (reading now)

So, why do I do it? My students need a taste of other cultures. They need an understanding of US history outside of the “four walls” of their small community. This is why I like these books. Students get to learn a little about other places. I might challenge another group to read the other series that focuses on places around the world.

The kids love Geronimo Stilton so maybe these will encourage them to learn about what lies beyond their minute boarders.

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

via Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

I love the passion of this article. I plan to share it with my teaching staff and ask their opinion as to whether or not we should keep it and eventually ask to have it removed. Kids need to read and not test. Our students are so tired of being tested. I would love to reward the time and effort put into reading. I hate telling students they cannot check out books that aren’t on their “level” but, for now, it is expected of me. I do not require students in PK-1 to take AR quizzes. I use it as a means for me to help students monitor their own reading but do not push 2nd grade. I use it to print awards for those who are intrinsically motivated to “get to the next level” and those who wish to challenge me, or any number of teachers involved in the library reading program. Frankly, I would rather have the money they spend on AR to buy more books and create better plans and events around reading. When I came to my current school, my students did. It read “chapter books” (aka novels). They were burnt out on AR.

Now, my kids read one book in each genre every nine weeks so they can explore what is in the library. I have number of students who have finished their 3rd nine weeks required genre reading and a couple who have finished their 4th nine weeks. They can read whatever they want when they are finished. What has this achieved? Students now tell me they like different kinds of books. They know where to find their own materials. They discover we have a lot of books on all kinds of things. They help each other find materials and have even started suggesting materials to their classmates.

Next year, I will add a couple of other genres not included this year. Next year, I will include 2nd grade. Next year, I will let students check out whatever they want and compare the growth in reading of those students. Maybe, for this last nine weeks, I will let them choose books based on genre alone and not levels … . My hypothesis? Students will experience greater growth when checking out materials based upon genre and personal desire than genre and level. Radical? I hope not!


HELP!! My library is OLD!!!

I have just taken over a school library in a rural area. The first thing I did was run a collection analysis to see where were. I am so saddened to find my students’ lack of reading desire is due to the age of the collection. I am not sure where some of the books came from but even in the 1980s when the school was built the books were outdated.

The average age of my collection is 1985. Almost 35 years old. The problem with that is there are books in the collection from the 50s. No, not classics that can transcend time. The collection has been added to sparingly over the years so there are a few newer items. However, there are no Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z Mysteries, and I am certain that in my library Pluto is still a planet.

If any publisher wishes to have reviews posted here please send me your books and I will gladly review them and add them to my collection. If any bookseller wishes to be kind and donate relevant materials to my students, I will gladly make it known here! Yes, I am begging … for my students. My library reaches PK through 4th grade and I have a few upper level readers who are borrowing books from my personal collection. Please help!

No Talking! by Andrew Clements

Goodness! Do I know a group of unshushables! I am reading this book to a group of third and fourth graders with the hope and desire they will get the idea to try the same contest with similar outcomes!

So, boys against girls…no talking for two whole days…who will win? Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Not really, the lessons learned by both students and faculty alike are refreshing. Andrew Clements has a way of getting to the core of the issues and in this book it is the incessant desire of a fifth grade class to talk, constantly, non-stop, they probably even talk in their sleep kind of yakkers.

My third and fourth grade classes are loving the book. Partially because of the cooties and trash talking involved but I do’t care, THEY ASK ME TO READ IT!!! For a group of kids wit the attention span of the 5 minute commercial break I will take it!

Thanks Mr. Clements, you may have helped me spark a desire in these kids to read on their own. Great read for kids and adults. Short chapters allow students to feel as though they are moving through the book quickly and silly enough they remember where we left off from week to week. If you have a reluctant reader, this will help get them motivated. The kids are even asking me if they can read it when I am done!!!!!

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