Thursday, January 2, 2020

What to read next?

"Mrs. Anderson, do you have any book recommendations for me?" This is a common question in our library!  My goal is to get to know each student enough, their passions and their reading preferences, so that I can help them find books that they might enjoy. Sometimes we are successful in their quest to find a new favorite book and sometimes not so much. 

As we head back to school next week, many students will need an extra boost to find a book to read. Some students will have read over winter break, but not all of them. I want to help them find interesting books to jump start their reading year.

Of course, many students will be drawn to their old favorites. Here is a list of the top 25 books checked out in 2019 from the Harrison Library. 

Almost all of these books are graphic novels or heavily illustrated chapter books (like Wimpy Kid).  Graphic novels are wonderful and I fully support our students' right to choose what books they want to read.  However, I also want to challenge our students to find new books and expand their reading lives.  

In 2020, my goal is to do more book talking to introduce students to new books that they might not know about.  I'll begin with some of my favorites of 2019:

As well as several books that I read over winter break:

Dry By Neal And Jarrod Shusterman - Book Review - Walker ... Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors, Barbara Fisinger ... Book Review: The Ambrose Deception - Look Both Ways | Book by Jason Reynolds, Alexander Nabaum ... 

We will discuss the importance of setting reading goals and how to find more time to read outside of school.  What is your reading goal this year?

We'll also begin 2020 with several library activities that will introduce students to new books.  Students will participate in book tastings and book walks during their first few visits to the library in January.  They will watch book talks that our students and staff recorded on Flipgrid last year and many will record their own book talks to share.  I will ask our older readers if they have suggestions for other ways to promote reading with our junior high students.  We will do whatever we can to find new books for students to become interested in.

Hopefully 2020 will be the year that our students find their NEXT favorite book!  Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Nature Kids Book Club

We just wrapped up our Nature Kids Book Club and it was such a fun way to run a book club!  

For the past several years, Ms. Sturgis and I ran an after school book club with various themes.  The past two years, we met once per week after school and read a book out loud together (last year was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the year before that we read Wonder).  While the students enjoyed our time together, many had a difficult time staying focused on the book after a long school day.  We also found that we wanted to do more activities related to the books but we never had enough time.

This year, Ms. Sturgis is teaching science and she had the wonderful idea of combining books with nature/science.  I was excited because there are so many wonderful, interesting picture books related to nature!  

Our Nature Kids Book Club met once per week (10 times) for 45 minutes and we had 20 3rd/4th grade students. Each week, we started by reading a picture book out loud to the club.  Then, we did an activity related to the topic of the book.  Here were some of our meetings!

Book: Our Tree Named Steve
Activity: made paper out of recycled paper

Book: Me...Jane
Activity: made nature journals and went outside to observe with our senses

Book: Thanku
Activity: went on a nature scavenger hunt

Book: The Reader
Activity: made snowflake catchers and looked at snowflakes outside

Book: Owl Moon
Activity: dissected owl pellets

Book: In the Snow, Who's Been Here?
Activity: made animal tracks with plaster

Book: One Plastic Bag
Activity: made friendship bracelets/bookmarks out of recycled plastic grocery bags

We tried to get outside as much as possible and we are so fortunate to have a natural area (benwell) right next to our building.  After our first meeting, we realized that we needed to keep our activities short and hands-on because we had several students in the club with special needs.  We'd like to give a special shout-out to the McHenry County Conservation District for helping us make paper and make animal tracks!

I loved sharing picture books with the students and then combining them with related activities.  This format could be used with so many other themes such as art, STEM, poetry, animals, biographies, and more!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Coding Children's Literature

This week, schools around the world celebrated #HourOfCode!  We are a Code to the Future school so our students practice coding every week.  However, I wanted to show students how coding can be combined with literature and used in any setting.  Coding is a form of storytelling so my idea was to read a book and then have the students using coding to retell the story.

Image result for big mooncake for little star

We started by reading the book A Big Mooncake for Little Star.  This book is on the 2020 Monarch Award list (Illinois).  In this book, Little Star and her mama bake a mooncake and put it in the sky to cool.  Each night, Little Star flies up to the moon, takes a little nibble, and then flies back to bed.  On one double-page spread, we see the different phases of the moon as Little Star eats away at it.  In the end, Mama notices the mooncake is gone and the two make another one.  This is a perfect book to use for retelling using coding because there is lots of repetition!

Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
After reading the book, we talked about the important story elements in the book: a moon, a character, and a night sky.  Our students are very familiar with ScratchJr.  I showed them an example of what was expected and we talked about the "loop" block, which would be helpful with this project.  Then, students got to work!


They did an amazing job remembering the story and coding it! Some students even added extra elements such as Little Star's mama and a moon getting smaller and smaller.  Here is a video of a few of our 1st grade students explaining how they created their code.

2nd Grade
All week I've been waiting for a student to figure out how to make the moon get smaller each time Little Star goes up to take a bite.  Finally on Friday, Dante was the first to figure it out!  

Coding promotes important skills such as critical thinking, sequencing, and creativity...and it's so much fun!!  The students were so engaged during this activity and we can't wait to combine literature and coding more in the future!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Author Visit with Barb Rosenstock

This week, we were so lucky to have author Barb Rosenstock visit Harrison School!  She was with us all day on Thursday and it was so fascinating to hear her speak!

To get ready for her visit, all of our students in grades K-5 heard one or more of her books.  Our amazing art teacher, Mrs. Ryan, read The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock to most of our students.  

The Noisy Paint Box

This interesting historical fiction book is about the life of artist Vasya Kandinsky.  Kandinsky had synesthesia, an extra sense that allowed him to hear the colors that he saw.  Kandinsky was one of the first abstract artists who believed that art should be "felt" by its viewers.  After reading the book, Mrs. Ryan invited students to create their own abstract art while listening to music. You can see some of their artwork in this picture on the wall behind Mrs. Rosenstock.

During library time, I read other books by Mrs. Rosenstock to our students.  Some of our students heard Ben Franklin's Big Splash, Otis and Will Discover the Deep, and The Camping Trip That Changed America.  We also learned background information about Mrs. Rosenstock by visiting her website.  Finally, we made posters to welcome Mrs. Rosenstock to Harrison School.  Students also had the opportunity to preorder several of her books for her to sign while at Harrison School.

The Big Day Arrives!

During our author visit day, Mrs. Rosenstock presented at 4 different assemblies.  We started with a 5th grade assembly where she focused on her book The Camping Trip That Changed America.  She talked about the importance of character development and the steps to writing a true story.  I love how she demonstrated the enormous size of sequoia trees by having the students form a circle!  She advocated for students to use their voice to help the world!

Next was our assembly for grades 1 and 2.  Here, she invited students to help read the book The Noisy Paint Box.  She also demonstrated what synesthesia might feel like to those who have it.  Finally, she shared the steps of how a book is made from the initial author's writing all the way to the final copies being printed.

After that, we had a lunch break.  Several students in grades 3 and 4 were lucky to have lunch with Mrs. Rosenstock.  We talked about all sorts of things including snakes, ice cream, books, and more.  It was so much fun!

After lunch, we had our 3rd/4th grade assembly where Mrs. Rosenstock talked about her fascinating book Otis and Will Discover the Deep.  During this presentation, she shared the difference between surface questions vs deep questions and she talked about how she did some of her research for this book.  Students learned that all stories need problems in order to make them interesting.

The final daytime presentation was with students in grades PK-K.  During this presentation, Mrs. Rosenstock also read The Noisy Paint Box.  Our littles were so engaged and they did a great job asking questions at the end!

Family Reading Night

We capped off our author visit by having Mrs. Rosenstock join us for our annual Family Reading Night.  She began the evening by reading her newest book Prairie Boy: Frank Lloyd Wright Turns the Heartland into a Home.  Mrs. Rosenstock shared the importance of family stories as well as talked about the shapes and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright designs.  Afterwards, families participated in several stations involving building, architecture, and shapes.  Anna from the McHenry Public Library was also there to tell about their shoebox float program and she signed a new family up for a public library card. 

I highly recommend Mrs. Rosenstock for school author visits!  Her presentations were interactive, educational, and fun!

Thank you to Barb Rosenstock for such an inspiring day!  Thank you to our Harrison administration and staff who are so supportive and understand the importance of inspiring our students to become lifelong readers and writers!!

Friday, November 8, 2019

1st Trimester Newsletter

It's so hard to believe we are finishing up our first trimester! 

Here is a snapshot of all that has been happening in the library! (If the newsletter does not load below, please click this link to a Google version).  Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Global Read Aloud: Viva Frida

This week for Global Read Aloud, we read the book Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales.  

This beautiful book uses strong verbs to tell what makes Frida "live".  Our second grade students have already been introduced to Frida in art class and several weeks ago, they created artistic self portraits with Mrs. Ryan (our art teacher). 

After reading the book in library this week, students created a more simple self portrait.  Then, the students used the Chatterpix app to make their drawings tell what they enjoy doing.  The Chatterpix app is very simple to use and is perfect for this activity! Here are two of their videos:

After saving their short Chatterpix video, most students uploaded their videos to our Global Read Aloud Flipgrid board (a few students didn't have time to upload).  This is how we are able to share the videos with our Global Read Aloud friends.  Visit this Flipgrid link to see all of their cute videos.  If you are a Global Read Aloud 2019 participant, feel free to have your students add their own videos!

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Global Read Aloud

We recently kicked off Global Read Aloud at Harrison School!

Several of our grade levels are participating in their classrooms and every year I choose one grade level to participate in the Global Read Aloud picture book study during library time.  This year, I chose second grade and both classes are reading picture books by author/illustrator Yuyi Morales.


After introducing Global Read Aloud to our students, each class created a video to send to our Global Read Aloud partner classes in Canada.  The video tells our new friends about our school and our community.  I used Adobe Spark Video to create both videos because it is so simple to use!  One of our partner classes posted a video on Twitter showing their students watching and reacting to our video and it was so much fun to see!


Then, we jumped right in and read the first book: Dreamers.  This beautiful book is about the author's experience immigrating to the United States from Mexico.  She shows how important the public library was when they were first learning to navigate their new country.  After reading the book, we discussed why Ms. Morales named the book Dreamers.  Finally, students used Flipgrid to record videos introducing themselves to our partner classes and telling what they dream about.  One of our partner classes responded back with their own videos!

This week, the students in Mrs. Gieseke's class connected live with their partner classes!  We used Zoom to video chat while talking about our schools, our communities, and the book Dreamers.  It was so much fun!


Sadly, one of our two partner classes has backed out of the program.  Instead of connecting live, the students in Mrs. Hermann's class heard the author, Yuyi Morales, read her book Just a Minute.  Going forward, this class will participate by joining other group projects.

We can't wait to read the rest of the picture books and connect with others about the books!