Friday, December 20, 2013

Season's Readings from the Stone School Library!

Making our own candy-antlered friends after enjoying Olive, The Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold, and The Little Reindeer by Michael Foreman...

Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah by Sylvia Rouss gave us on occasion to explore the traditions of a holiday, and discuss how stories can be gifts from one culture to another...

The children loved our holiday cookie storytime, including The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone, Cookie Count:  A Tasty Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda, and Ginger Bear by Mini Grey, with a ginger bear cookie plate craft...

Be forewarned.  If Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack starts playing, we may have to abandon whatever we're working on for spontaneous dancing, or maybe the after-school Dance Club in the library will have a special routine prepared...

Season's readings, everyone!  Thank you for the gift of your children all year 'round. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rebecca Caudill Book Club and Student Run Clubs

New this fall:  student-run clubs in the library for grades 4 and up! The library has been hosting Manga/Animé club, Dance Club, Newspaper Club and the Rebecca Caudill book club Thursdays after school.  Thanks to all the children for their lively, focused participation and for their admirable initiative!

The Rebecca Caudill Book Club replaces our former "Battle of the Books" (BOB) participation.  I noticed BOB had been declining for older children because it requires a year-long commitment, and there are many other enticing activities in the spring such as the school musical, sports and Girls on the Run.  Additionally, our kids seemed to enjoy the reading more than the competing.  So this year we tried something new via The Rebecca Caudill Book Club, which encompasses a broader age range in one reading club (grades 4-8 in one club).  The program invites students to read as many books as possible from a given list and the group is authorized to come to a consensus and submit a vote for the winner of an Illinois Children's Choice Award (also known as the Caudill Young Readers' Book Award).  The winner our group chose this year was The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, and the reason given unanimously:  "magic, magic, magic!"  This club will be rejoining this spring for an awards celebration (a la the Oscars for bookworms) as we wait with bated breath to see if our pick wins on the state level!  (I like that a book wins or loses, instead of people....all readers are winners.) We also took a special after school  "field trip" of sorts to my private library, enjoying cocoa and cupcakes as we gathered as booklovers to celebrate and discuss the dozens of books read in a short span.  I'm very, very proud of this special group of dedicated readers, and looking forward to doing it again next year...the more, the merrier! Meanwhile, Rebecca Caudill Award contenders are now available for ALL our super Stone Bookworms, please come, check them out and decide on YOUR favorite!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reminder of projects due

Before winter break, please make sure these major projects are turned in to the library. I understand that especially for younger children, sometimes it's hard to remember to turn in assignments when library is once a week. Full credit may be earned by children who remember, but partial credit is still given to students who turn in late work before the next library session.   Children should feel free to stop by if they need another copy of any directions/rubric.

2nd grade:  Congratulations on your first book check-outs!  Practice "surprise book bags" were sent home.  Bags should be returned on the student's scheduled library day.  When two bags are returned, students may start independent check-out.  Replacement of bags is $10 a bag.   Please use the bags to practice proper book care, reading and remembering to return. 

4th grade:  Creative responses of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe are still being collected.  Congrats on finishing the book!  What a great adventure!

6th grade:  Team shadow puppet shows at the ready!  The first week of January will be absolutely the last week for performances.   

Middle school:  Media literacy notebooks for 8th grade should have advertisement tallies, ad collages and a sample print advertisement, sorry, late work for these cannot be accepted because then you have not fully participated in class.  All students from 6th-8th grade should have an example of an MLA citation used in the context of another class' assignment by mid-January.  Students in 6th and 7th grade should have their library folders with them in every library class, with ALL NOTES and handouts inside.  It is the student's responsibility to be keeping this folder organized and up-to-date. 

Thank you for always doing your best!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful for reading!

Wishing Stone families full horns-of-plenty for the Thanksgiving holiday! 

The third grade enjoyed a special video version of the wonderful story Molly's Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen.  They were especially excited to spot the crossing guard in the movie...played by the author herself!  There was a lot of thoughtful discussion afterward about making everyone feel welcome into our communities, a very nice segue into our next serial read-aloud, the classic Newbery honor-winning novella The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  Reading to grow our hearts and minds!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Netiquette in the Library

Social media can be a great resource for information, support and long-distance connection.  It can also be a medium for bullying, gossip and cowardice.  Some basic things I encourage students to keep in mind when utilizing social media (such as creating web posts, tweets or messaging online):
Never post ANYTHING online that you would not want on the front page of a newspaper, or that you would not want your family, community or future employer to see.
Never say ANYTHING online about someone that you would not say to his or her face.
Never post ANYTHING online anonymously.  Stone Eagles are accountable.
Never re-post ANYTHING that was sent to you privately in a public forum without asking permission first.
Also, nowadays people can spend a lot of time preening and cultivating an online "persona," but I try to remind kids to be real people first.  If you read on-line that someone is having a hard time, for instance, don't just write "(((hugs)))," give them a real hug when they need it, call them on the phone to express condolences with your real voice, bring them something to cheer them up!

As adults, the buzzword is that we are "digital immigrants," having grown up with little or no computers, as opposed to our kids, who are "digital natives."  But we as adults are not new to the shores of good manners, and we still have a lot to share with our kids by way of setting an example for awareness of cause-and effect, boundaries, discretion and compassion.  Thank you for all you do to model kind online choices; children see our Facebook accounts and other social networking activity, and are influenced by our examples.

I am not generally a big fan of acronyms, but I do like the THINK model (above), and use it myself sometimes as a little checklist before I post!

I also wanted to share with families this really interesting and somewhat scary article about digital privacy and children that I think definitely offers some food for thought.  Please click here.  I don't know if there's a lot we can do at this point to completely erase the slate and start from scratch, almost all of our children are digitally "on the grid" at this point.  But I do think in general we can afford to start being more conscious about it, being careful not to tag children by name unnecessarily (though face recognition technology will ultimately render that a bit moot as well), and we can certainly avoid posting anything that a child might find truly embarrassing later on.  Those bear-skin rug and kitchen-sink bathtub shots will have to stay in the old-fashioned photo albums, just like our grandmas kept, I suppose.  Or else, people will become so desensitized to a lack of privacy, and as the author suggests, that digital and real worlds will be merged, maybe to the extent that people will stop caring at all, or else, become homogenized in their behavior in a striving for safety...  recommended reading here:  Brave New World!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Refrigerator box wanted!

Does anybody have a huge cardboard refrigerator box they would be willing to donate to the school library?  One of our students wants to build a TARDIS (a time machine a la Dr. Who).  Time travel...what a great opportunity to experience nonfiction!  Your help is greatly appreciated. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cuteness on Parade!

The weather outside was frightful, but our 2013 Parade of Books indoors this year was sooo delightful, thanks to our readers in full regalia!  Big thanks to all the families, teachers and big kids who helped our littlest book-lovers get ready for our merry march, and our community for cheering them on!  This is just a very small sample of the creative costumes (and great taste in titles) on display on this wonderful day.  Please send me your photos so I can compile them into a digital file, and pass them along for our yearbook!

Thanks again, everyone!  Looking forward to more celebrations of our love of reading.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What will Grabby Bunny be for Halloween?

Inquiring rabbits want to know.  The kids had lots of ideas. 

We'll have to wait for the Parade of Books to see!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yes, Haunted/Autumn House Museum in the Library!

(* Looking for info on the Stone Parade of Books?  Please click here.)

The tradition continues, by popular demand...the Haunted House Museum in the school library!

Want to participate? Here's how:

Take a cardboard box and cut holes in it for windows.  Paint or otherwise completely cover the box with a seasonal color like orange, black, green or purple.  Decorate the outside of your house with ghosts, trick-or-treaters, rotting trees…use your imagination!   If you don’t celebrate Halloween, that’s fine!  We welcome fall houses and autumn scenes as well.  

Here are a few rules:

* No blood or gore or headless dolls, sorry!  We are celebrating imagination and folklore, not horror.

* Please do not attach any real food or leaves to your creation. This creates problems for people with allergies, and also attracts bugs (too scary even for Halloween).

* Please do not include or attach anything valuable to your creation.

* Yes, you can partner up with a friend or friends or family! Work should showcase student efforts.

* You can light it inside with a flashlight or battery-operated lights!

* You don’t have to make it a house.  It can be a haunted apartment building, or a haunted theater, or a haunted sports event, or a haunted pet shop, or a haunted fashion show, or a haunted toy factory or…whatever idea you have! Since we have been doing this for a few years now, we are looking to "up the ante" on creativity, and encouraging older kids to participate or help younger kids.

* Please ask for a grown-up’s help for cutting out windows or when using new or messy craft materials.

* This is not an assignment for a grade or for a contest.  This is extra credit, optional and for FUN! Everyone should just do their best, and know that working together, we make a great museum!

Haunted houses and fall houses are to be made at home.  They can be dropped off in the library any morning between October 21 and October 29.  Remember to put your name and room number on your monsterpiece! 

UPDATE 10/31:  Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year's haunted house museum! So very creative, and such great teamwork.  Next year, we may be thinking of a theme to inspire more grade levels to participate.  Your ideas are always welcome!  Here are just a few of the eerie abodes...and even a haunted Quidditch game!  Boo-tiful job, kids! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ms. Esme down for the count

Sorry, gang, I've had to take a few sick days.  I do not have access to Gradebook from home, and there are still some grades in the middle school that may need entering or changing.  If you see a grade that needs updating, please don't fret or worry for a minute!  It will be repaired toot-sweet when I get back.  (Don't forget, middle-schoolers, you can e-mail me your "What Is Science?" citation project, which counts for two grades, by Monday.  All the info should be in your library folders, extra copies available in the display in the library as needed.)  

While I am out, please also hold on to your books.  We will have book check-out and return up and running upon my return!

Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Great Debate: Banned Books!

(* Looking for information about Parade of Books?  Please click here.)

The subject of Banned Books Week was a lively topic for 7th graders.  Many students expressed great surprise that some of their favorite books have been removed from the shelves in some libraries; books like The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, Where the Wild Things Are, The Diary of Anne Frank, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh and The Wizard of Oz...even the dictionary!  We talked about the First Amendment in the context of the library, but our students wondered:  do kids have the same constitutional rights as adults?  Don't parents trump everyone else when it comes to the final say of what is allowed to be read?  Does a parent have the right to decide what other people's children read?  Can books harm us in their influence, or do they broaden us?  What happens if someone doesn't agree with content in a book, but the book represents a minority, and without that book, a group is not represented in the that fair? How do we know if a kid really is mature enough to handle the content in a book? Oh so many questions, and our favorite kind: ones with many possible answers. 

The kids were so stirred up by the topic that they asked to pay a game that clever Ms. Saternus taught them last year called "On the Fence."  We created a general question:  "should youth be allowed to read banned books?"  Some students made arguments for, and some against (and some argued sides they didn't necessarily agree with, just for the fun of it). I was so impressed at how articulate our students were, and what good listeners. In the middle of the room was an undecided group, and they could go and stand on either side of the room as the arguments progressed.  The interesting thing was that even after many impassioned and intelligent arguments, many undecideds remained "on the fence" at the end of the game.  I asked, why aren't you convinced?  Even though the arguments were good, they explained, they were opinions, and lacked credibility.  (Be still, my librarian heart.)  There was not enough hard evidence to sway.  Now, students will be doing research to give their arguments some teeth, and we will have a more formal debate in the near future. There was a student request for a podium. 

I love when learning happens organically, and is student-driven.  Yay, Stone 7th graders! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It's that time of year again...PARADE OF BOOKS!

Hooray, it's time for our 3rd Annual Parade of Books!  This year's parade, in which children dress up as their favorite book characters and carry the book to match, or create wearable book covers, will be held on Thursday, October 31st and grades K through 3 will be participating. (Read the 4-1-1 from super awesome parades past and hints for homemade costumes here).

You are welcome to watch the parade outside on the Stone playground at 1:45; bring little brothers and sisters to cheer, and don't forget the camera! This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate Stone as a community of readers, and to create home-school connections.  We still are asking if at all possible costumes should be book related, and that each student carry a book related to the costume they are wearing. Chefs can carry cookbooks, Cleopatra can carry a book about ancient Egypt, baseball players can carry sport biographies, for just a few examples...and for more inspiration, check out some costumes from parades past here, or some ambitious online costume leads here!

So! Checklist for K-3 parents on October 31st:
* Please send your child to school with the book-related costume (or poster) in a bag, to be changed into (or carried) in the afternoon. Please keep it simple. Mark all belongings with name and room number.
* Please send your child to school with the corresponding book to carry in the parade.
* Cheer and take pictures on the school playground at 1:45, if you are available. If you are not available, we love you just the same, and we'll take pictures.

Again, a gentle reminder:  this is not a Halloween parade, this is a reading celebration.  (For any details regarding Halloween, please contact your room parent or check your child's classroom newsletter/website for details.)   Children should not wear masks (which also present a safety challenge when small children march), any horror themes involving blood (zombies or vampires), or television characters/video game characters that were cartoons before they were books.  Please save those costumes for trick-or-treating after school!  As far as books to carry, there are some resources available in our school library and your child's classroom library, but this is also a perfect opportunity to visit the Chicago Public Library.

Additionally, We ask that this year parents please do not follow children back into the school after the parade, as this presents security issues. Thank you for your support and cooperation!  Can't wait to see what our creative community comes up with this year...every year has been so full of amazing surprises!

Illustration from Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.
Ms. Demonte sporting stripes a la A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Have you read it, read it?

From the Swansea Public Library blog:
A chicken walks into the library. It goes up to the circulation desk and says: "book, bok, bok, boook." The librarian hands the chicken a book. It tucks it under his wing and runs out. A while later, the chicken runs back in, throws the first book into the return bin and goes back to the librarian saying: "book, bok, bok, bok, boook." Again the librarian gives it a book, and the chicken runs out. The librarian shakes her head. Within a few minutes, the chicken is back, returns the book and starts all over again: "boook, book, bok bok boook." The librarian gives him yet a third book, but this time as the chicken is running out the door, she follows it. The chicken runs down the street, through the park and down to the riverbank. There, sitting on a lily pad is a big, green frog. The chicken holds up the book and shows it to the frog, saying: "Book, bok, bok, boook."  The frog blinks, and croaks: "read-it, read-it, read-it."
This same scenario is played out with more animals in Book!  Book!  Book! by Deborah Bruss and illustrated so cheerfully by Tiphanie Beeke, which we enjoyed as an anticipatory read-aloud for second grade check-out, right around the bend (be still my heart).  As good as that book is, it had nothing on the reenactment by students.  What a wonderfully grumpy and perplexed librarian dealt with the insistent barnyard.  Good gravy, our kids are FUNNY.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Aaaargh!  In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day,  The mateys be enjoyin' book larnin', with fun fiction like Pirate Pete's Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy, Pirates Go To School by Corrine Demas, Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum, Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker, and my favorite, The Skeleton Pirate by David Lucas (though many of the kids thought the ending was too mushy, but they liked the whale, so all was not lost). In honor of the popular pet of the high seas, we also met a very sweet parrot puppet who ate a lot of crackers, and we made our own pirate face puppets so we could keep practicing the swashbuckling vernacular ("shiver me timbers," "ahoy," "avast," etc.).   Thanks to fellow educator Ms. Star for getting me in the mood for this storytime...I actually don't much care for pirates, I think they probably weren't very nice people in real life (which I point out to older kids, when we study ballads and encounter Captain Kidd).  But I like treasure, and the library is full of that...I'm sure any pirate would find plenty to dig here!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Appleseed!

Eat an apple,
Save the core.
Plant the seeds
And grow some more!

Happy birthday, Johnny Appleseed (my personal hero)!  Primary students had a good time learning about the nonfiction behind an apple, looking at some amazing photographs by Melvin Berger in his book An Apple A Day, showing close ups of how a bee pollinates an apple blossom, and then the petals and stamen and pistil fall off, and up comes the apple under the sepal like a little rosy fist. We also learned how the ingredients for an apple pie come from all over the globe in How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman, and children were offered a recipe for their own easy apple pie...I make it often myself!  Extra copies are available in the library for families on request.  We also learned a funny little story with the help of some puppet and toy friends about a boy who went in search of a red house with no windows and doors and a star inside.  Grab an apple and ask the apple of your eye to retell it to you!