Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4th Graders Go Shopping, Research, Evaluate and Recommend Books For Our Library!

Today I decided to try something new with my students. I decided to include them more actively in the selection choices for our library! I have always chatted with students about their "wish lists". Over time, like most librarians, I have developed a book "spidey" sense about what students will be most likely to grab from our shelves. I want nothing more than to purchase books that will find their way into the hearts of my students. 

So today I wanted to get students more involved! I wanted to let students in on the part of my job that is really fun, engaging, and at times really difficult!  Let me explain.

I, like most librarians, can't afford to buy all of the books that I would like to buy for our library. With over 10,000 children's books published each year, there aren't too many libraries that can afford all of the books that they want. So we must live within our budget and buy the most desirable books for the students we serve! When I buy books for our library, I research and I evaluate before I select. 

Wouldn't it be great for our students to research and evaluate! They are more vested in the books that are selected, so they should be naturals at it! 

I began by sharing links for students to go directly to the children's sections of and, both sites that I frequently look at to see what's new! I asked each student to read through the new books, select the one that "called" out to them and then recommend based on a criteria. They shared their recommendations on a Padlet wall!


Have you checked to see that the OHE library doesn't already own this book?

Is it age appropriate for an elementary library?  Find the age range for the book.

Does it have customer reviews?  How many stars?  Good?  Not so good?

Does the book seem to have "curb appeal" - meaning does it have appealing cover art?

What interests you about the book?  Be specific.

Do you feel other students will also want to read the books?

I learned a great deal by watching my students sift through their choices! Clearly I need more Minecraft and Gamer's Editions!  I also decided that my students are very motivated by new books, not that it was a big surpise! Finally, I loved how thoughtful they were to pick the very best that they could find for our library! They were good shoppers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flipping Over The Flipgrid App!!! First Graders Respond To Pete The Cat's Magic Sunglasses!!

First graders LOVE Pete the Cat written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean! He is groovy, hip, and oh so cool, and first graders love reading what he has to say!  Our library just added the latest Pete the Cat book entitled Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses.  This one is written and illustrated by Kimberly and James Dean.

For a glimpse of this latest book, check out this video from HarperCollins!

Once we read about Pete's magic sunglasses, I invited students to share what they would see if they could see through magic sunglasses like Pete the Cat!  I dug through all of my junk drawers at home and was shocked to find so many old pairs of sunglasses!  I thought it might add a bit of authenticity for students if they could actually wear sunglasses to respond to the question! First graders used the Flipgrid app to respond independently to the questions using their iPads! It was fantastic that they could be independent for their own response! As you might expect, with magic glasses, first graders can see lots of candy, cupcakes, puppies and kittens!!

There were several things that I loved about Flipgrid!  I loved the ease of use!  I also loved the fact that students can use it on their iPads and/or at one of our computers using the Flipgrid website!  We only hit one iPad snafu when some of the students were asked to "give flipgrid access to their microphone", several clicked no. Once I went through a few of the iPads and changed the access setting to the microphone, all went smoothly! I loved how independently my first graders could be using the app! Also, I had been focused on how great it would be for me to look at all of their videos because they were gathered in one spot. The thing that really added to the experience was how easy it was for students to see each other's response! They loved being able to see each other!! Finally, I love how visually engaging Flipgrid is!  It is so fun seeing all of my student's faces anxious to give their "magic sunglasses" answer! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

We Had A Fantastic Poem In Your Pocket Day 2014!!

They Arrived! Additional Chromebooks To Complete Our Class Set!!!

A big shout out to our FABULOUS PTO for their energy and their fundraising!  Teachers and students will be thrilled to have a full class set of Chromebooks! 

Winning Student Brackets From Our March Madness Tournament Of Books!

Once we determined that Diary of a Wimpy Kid was the winning book in our tournament last month, we tallied the points for every one of our student brackets.  We did not have a single bracket with a perfect score, but we did have three students that missed by only one!  Each of our winning students was invited to pick a book of their choice from our Scholastic BOGO sale on Tuesday! Congratulations to our three students for their excellent prediction skills!! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Poetry Month - Oak Hills Students Celebrate By Reading, Writing & Sharing Poetry!

April is National Poetry Month, and as I mentioned in earlier blogs posts, it is also School Library Month! What a great opportunity for students to read and write poetry about our inspirational school library!! We finished just in time for tomorrow's Poem in Your Pocket Day!! 

We had great resources to learn about writing poetry!  MyOn eBooks Picture Yourself Writing Poetry and You Can Write Cool Poems were fantastic guides as students prepared to write!

We had great examples of poetry from hard copy books in our library!  My newest favorite is Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth!  His book about the seasons gave students examples of poems that paint a picture for the reader!

First Graders took pictures of what they like most about the library!  Once they had their pictures, they used the PicCollage app to share their poems about the library! Students needed lots of help from me to spell the words they wanted to use in their poems, but the end result was wonderful!  I found their words inspiring!

Third graders wrote their cinquain poems using a cinquain graphic organizer from my Eastview Elementary colleague and friend Paula Hansen.  It was perfect for helping students organize their thoughts! When student finished writing their poems, they took pictures of the library, and then used the iPad app Pages to create poetic beauty! 

We also explored acrostic poems using the interactive tool from Read, Write, Think website!

2nd Grade Reporters Share Their Book Talk Videos!!

2nd Graders make great reporters! This week they are putting the finishing touches on their book talk videos! To read about the beginning of this project check out an earlier blog post - 2nd Grade Book Talk Video Project...Let The Writing Begin.  Check out their enthusiastic reports!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5th Graders Create Stop Motion Videos To Share Their "In Plain English" Style Digital Safety Tips!

Over the last month, 5th graders have been busy researching, planning and creating stop motion videos to demonstrate their learning about Digital Citizenship and Safety.  Read more about our Digital Citizenship research in an earlier blog post - 5th Graders Are Researching Digital citizenship And Planning Stop Motion Video Using The MyCreate App

Students used the MyCreate app to create their videos.  They followed the design style seen in the educational videos "In Plain English"by Common Craft to design their videos.  

We learned a great deal from our first attempt to create stop motion videos, and the results were great!!

Lesson 1.  The students loved having a chance to try out a new tech tool and technique that they hadn't tried before. It was fun exploring it together!

Lesson 2. We learned that stop motion video is incredibly time consuming and other techniques for sharing their learning may be more efficient.  It took students several hours to produce only a few seconds of video. I was excited that students were learning a new technique, and the MyCreate app is easy to use, but in the end, I think the Digital Citizenship content was a little lost in the journey to learn how to make stop motion video! 

MY TAKE AWAY - I would totally recommend the MyCreate App for creating stop motion video, and I value providing students an opportunity to learn how stop motion is made! In future, I might not pair the stop motion with digital citizenship research!  

Check out a few of our wonderful Digital Safety and Citizenship Videos!!

Fun In The Library Today!! It's Our Spring One Day BOGO Scholastic Book Fair!

Every Spring our library turns into a discount book store! It is the perfect time as students and parents are beginning to think about their summer reading! Thank you so much to our great volunteers.  A special shout out to my fantastic lead volunteer Kristen Bauer for doing such a great job of organizing this event with Scholastic!! There are so many details to organize and Kristen doesn't skip a beat as she plans, arranges and organizes!

Monday, April 21, 2014

4th Graders Celebrate School Library Month By Creating Animoto Videos!!

April is School Library Month, and today 4th grade students created short video clips using the Animoto app to celebrate our beautiful Oak Hills library! When I began planning this project for students, I really wondered what they would focus on as they created their videos. I tried not to guide their focus as I wanted their genuine responses.  I can't deny, I was hoping they would view our library as more than a collection of books. Don't get me wrong, if our library keeps students finding and reading good books, that is certainly a noble cause. But I was hoping my students would see it as a place for them to share their ideas and creatively demonstrate their learning.  Since fourth graders don't tend to use these lofty phrases to describe their learning, I knew there was a chance I was setting myself up for disappointment...but I was hoping.

I couldn't be more delighted with their videos! Check out a few examples of their creations!! My fourth graders are so insightful and funny, and the Animoto app gives their ideas such a beautiful voice!  I only wish I had guided them to make them a little longer...I was enjoying them so much!

On a quick side note, Jeff Kinney, New York Times bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was named the national spokesperson. His book also just won the Oak Hills Elementary March Madness Tournament of Books bracket!  What a year for Mr. Kinney!  Spokesperson for National School Library Month and our OHE March Madness winner!! Two great honors! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

3rd Graders Create Their Super Alter Egos Using The You Doodle App!

3rd graders recently began a Super Hero Project.  (Read about our early project research in an earlier blog post - SMASH! BOOM! KAPOW! 3rd Graders Are Researching and Planning Their Super Alter Egos!)

This week, having gathered the common elements shared by most super heros legends, students began creating their super hero personas using the iPad app You Doodle.

It was so exciting to watch students use their imaginations to hatch a plan to save the world from their evil arch nemeses! They put all of their effort into showing their super powers in their images.

Once students have their images completed, we will add the "comic book" look, speech bubble text, and required onomatopoeia!  Look for our final projects in a future blog post!!