Library Ramblings

from an elementary school librarian

Cajun Stories January 30, 2010

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 5:46 pm

This was an incredibly busy week. Lots of exciting things are going on in the library.

For my Take One! lesson that I plan to video, I’m planning on using Cajun books. My third grade students are going to use the illustrations to make inferences and create their own readers theatre scripts. So this week, I read them a Cajun tale. I read one to my second graders too. They’re just so much fun! I read Petite Rouge and Three Little Cajun Pigs, both by Mike Artell and illustrated by Jim Harris.

   

I LOVE THESE BOOKS! If you have Cajun roots, then you need to buy these books for your children. They are so much fun to read – and they MUST be read aloud. It really captures the Cajun dialect and the rhyming scheme is great.  The characters are lovable and full of personality. The illustrations are so detailed and incredible. I cannot say enough good things about these books. They would be great for a compare/contrast lesson in a fairy tales unit.

Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming is another great Cajun retelling of a classic story. This one is a version of “The Little Red Hen,” but with a very different ending. I read this one to a few of my classes to mix things up, and they really liked it.

I bought this one for my niece, but haven’t been able to part with it yet – I need to buy another copy. There Was an Ol’ Cajun by Deborah Ousley Kadair is a spin-off on the old lady who swallowed a fly. The whole series of the lady who swallowed the ocean/pie/snow/etc. is very popular with my kids, so I know they will love this one as well.

Lu and the Swamp Ghost by James Carville is a cute, original Cajun story. This one comes with a CD of the author reading the book, which I really enjoy. This is a really great story with fun illustrations.

Feliciana Feydra LeRoux by Tynia Thomassie is another favorite of mine. I love it because it captures the Cajun lifestyle with the big family full of silly nicknames. The illustrations by Cat Bowman Smith are really great as well…even the pictures have a Cajun feel to them.

I laughed through this entire story! It’s another one that really caputres the spirit of ol’ Cajuns. Four Little Old Men by Burton Brodt tells the story of four old men who play bouree together. This one has more fun names, such as “Rigger Moritz.” Like so many of these books, only an adult who has really been exposed to the Cajun lifestyle will completely appreciate all of the humor — but I’m sure the kids would enjoy it, too. Especially if it were being read to them by a parent/grandparent who could guide them through the humor.

     

Here are some more staples to any collection of Cajun children’s books. Mary Alice Fontenot has written 19 tales of Clovis Crawfish and his friends since 1961. Cecilia Castrill Dartez has written four stories about Jenny Giraffe and her adventures in New Orleans. Elizabeth Moore and Alice Couvillion’s Mimi and Jean-Paul’s Cajun Mardi Gras is a good one, as well.

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Martin’s Big Words January 24, 2010

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 11:08 pm

Being an “ancillary” teacher, I am on the DIBELs team at my school. We DIBELed all of our students on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of this past week. And second grade had a grade level planning time on Wednesday afternoon, so us ancillary folk covered their classes so they could meet. So I taught a whopping three of my classes this week and had subs cover them on the other days. I wanted to do a lesson on Dr. Martin Luther King since we celebrated his birthday on Monday. I needed a lesson that would translate well for my subs. We read Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rapapport and AMAZINGLY illustrated by Bryan Collier. This is a great book that captures the essence of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This book has received many awards, including Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor.

After reading and discussing the story, we made a collage of words that come to mind when thinking of MLK.

It wraps all the way around my desk, and I really love it! They did a great job with their big words.

This is going to be a very busy week – really getting my Take One! lesson ready to video and the first week of our school Book Club.

 

Library Manners and AR Review January 8, 2010

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 3:44 pm

I’m blogging at home on a Friday morning because school is canceled today due to “potential severe weather.” I’m extrememly bummed out since this was going to be the only week that I would see all of my classes for the entire month of January, but I guess that’s life. I’m taking it as a chance to finish Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for Sunday’s book club meeting. I should really take this opportunity to get myself on the Take One! National Board train, but sushi lunch or dinner with my college BFF sounds more appealing. We shall see how the day goes!

Since this was our first week back from the holidays, I did a review lesson. I read Manners with a Library Book by Amanda Tourville.

It’s short and to the point, which is exactly what I needed for the quick review. It goes through a list of things that we do are considered “good manners” when handling library books.

Next, I spent a good chunk of time talking about AR and reviewing our goals. School wide silent reading time starts on Monday, so we needed to get pumped up! Then we did an activity that went extremely well. At each table, I had six books that had the exact same AR book level, but included picture books, a chapter book, nonfiction books, and a poetry book. First, the students had to find out how the books were similar, eventually discovering that they were all on the same level. Then they discussed differences and sorted them into fiction/nonfiction with their group. Finally, the group had to decide which they thought would be the easiest and most difficult books to read and take an AR quiz on. This lead to a really good discussion on how books on the same level can still vary. We talked about what makes a book more difficult (unfamiliar nonfiction topics, length of book, etc). Now getting those little guys to apply this knowledge when they look for their books is a whole different issue, but we’ll get there eventually!!

 

Yikes! December 13, 2009

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 12:56 am

For shame, it has been a month since I’ve posted! With Thankgiving break, then jury duty the week after, I’ve been frantically trying to catch up at work. And I’ve been working on the yearbook quite a bit. I’m determined not to have a break down in February when it’s due. After Christmas break, I’m going to start really focusing in on my “Take One!” for National Board Certification, so I’m trying to get as much other stuff accomplished as possible right now.

Let me give the run-down on my library lessons for the past month:

The week before Thanksgiving, I had my last order of books come in from The Cookin’ for Our Kids fundraiser that was done for the libraries in our district last spring. Since I had an enormous amount of work to do (and I knew I wasn’t going to be at school for the next two weeks), I did something I hate to do – I showed a video. I found a really good one, though – William Bradford: The First Thanksgiving. It made for some really good conversation with the kids. I was shocked at how little they knew about the first Thanksgiving feast. Example: before starting the video, I’d ask, “Who was at the first Thanksgiving feast?” I got lots of “Jesus” answers. One girl even told me her grandma was there! So showing this video ended up working out. And I was able to get all of the new books processed and on the shelf! Yeah for Perma-Bound processing and MARC records – I don’t know how libraries functioned before it! They even put my AR tags on for me.

The week of Thanksgiving, I went up to school one day and put up my tree. It’s so cute and I’ve gotten tons of compliments. It’s a book tree, and my mom made the ornaments for it.

The week after break, I had jury duty, but great subs! And I didn’t have to go all week – thankfully! We read Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars by Douglas Florian. This is a book of poems about outer space. My subs didn’t care for it, but I had fun with it when I incorporated lots of discussion about poetry in general (rhyme, lines and stanzas, etc.), as well as discussion about their prior knowledge about outer space. I think this would be GREAT to incorporate into a science unit on space – very cross-curricular.

This week, I did The Mitten by Jan Brett. Such a fun story that completely sucks the kids in. They can’t believe when that bear crawls into that mitten!

After the story (which is pretty short), we played “Nanna Bingo.” I used http://print-bingo.com/ to make the bingo cards with different names that grandmothers are called all over the world. The kids had a blast with this game. It was a good activity for right before Christmas, because they are full of energy at this point! Next week will be a challenge, that’s for sure.

 

Axle Annie & Alpha Betti November 11, 2009

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 11:11 pm

I’m doing another reader’s theatre from Read! Perform! Learn 2 with my third graders this week. I’m reading the story Axle Annie and the Speed Grump by Robin Pulver.

AxleAnnie

It’s a cute story that could lead to some good discussion about following the rules and consequences for breaking them, but doing the story, reader’s theatre PLUS book check out in 45 minutes doesn’t give any time for discussion. Ah, the joys of fixed schedules. But I digress! The kids love this story, they think it’s hilarious – especially since “Rush Hotfoot is plucking his nose hairs” and wearing “purple underwear.” (Insert hysterical fits of 8 year old laughter here). My third graders are really starting to get into their reading, showing some real feeling with their voices. I’m looking forward to the reader’s theater unit that I’m contemplating for my “Take One!” entry.

With second grade, I’m doing Alpha Betti byCharlene Morton.

AlphaBetti

This is another cute story that’s popular with the kids. The book came with a lesson guide that has some great ideas for activities use. But once again, there is no time for that this week. I’m reinforcing some things with AR, quiz taking, and finding books in their ZPD. After the conference last weekend, I’m really trying to see how we can get our program in the place that it needs to be.

We’ve almost made it to Thanksgiving Break!

 

I’m exhausted! November 10, 2009

Filed under: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction,Book Club,Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 3:52 am

I have not stopped since I’ve gotten back from Atlanta and the Renaissance Learning Symposium! I learned so much at the Symposium – bottom line is that Accelerated Reader MUST be a classroom program, not a library program. I’ve been trying to take as much of the program application upon myself because I don’t want the teachers to feel like I’m putting more work on them, but in doing this I have been doing the program an injustice. In order for this program to be implemented with fidelity, we must (1) have a minimum of 20 minutes of SSR time daily, school wide and (2) teachers have to use that time to monitor the reading of their students. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels. I have also been exposed to the incredible resources that STAR Reading presents for RTI. I think that if we can get everyone on board with the AR program, we will see some incredible benefits. It’s time to do it right!

A few hours after arriving home, I went to by book club meeting, where we discussed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

ThirteenthTale

I hadn’t read this book in several years, and I had completely forgotten the main points of the plot. I hadn’t forgotten how beautifully written it is. I savored the writting in this novel – it is absolutely beautiful. The various plot lines and many twists are woven together in a way that makes this book so easy to follow. I always recommend this book. If you haven’t read it, then you need to. And buy it, because it’s something you’ll want to keep so you can loan it to others and reread it yourself.

Immediately after book club, I went up to school for the Charette that is being held for the design of two new schools being built in my district. I’m so excited to be involved in this planning, even if it is not for my school. I’m so excited about what is taking place in my community! These new schools are going to be unlike anything our area (our state even, I believe) has ever seen.

Last week, I didn’t share what I was reading to my classes.

herbie

For second grade, I read The Most Unbelievable First Day of School. This is part of the Herbster Reader series by Herbie Thorpe, who is from Louisiana! I have the entire series (both sets) and my kids love it. This is a great series for 1st and 2nd grades, especially struggling readers. Last year, Herbie Thorpe came to my school and did a presentation about his books for my 2nd graders. It got them so excited about the books. My new 2nd graders needed to get excited, too, so I shared this book with them. They loved the story, and I know that Herbie Books will never stay on the shelf for long.

dolley

For my 3rd grade, I read Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown. This is one of the LYRC books. For me, it’s okay. It’s a great story, but some of it (particularly the quotes used) are over the heads of my students. My advanced classes tend to enjoy it more, but they also devour lots of nonfiction. I don’t think this will be the book voted as the state favorite, although it does have lots of possible uses in the classroom.

My Take One! box came in the mail today, but I don’t have it in me to dive into it tonight. Not after a 12 hour day at school (just one more evening of this charette, I don’t think I could handle any more).

I really am starting to ramble now, I believe, so it’s time for me to call it a night.

 

Book! Book! Book! October 22, 2009

Filed under: Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 10:46 pm

bookbookbook

This week, I’m doing a reader’s theatre for Book! Book! Book! with my second graders. This is a cute, quick story with bright illustrations. The kids really get into it. The reader’s theatre script comes from the first edition of Read! Perform! Learn! It’s a good intro to reader’s theatre for my second graders, and I used it last year as well. A lot of explaination has to go into how to read the script and such, and the first reading is pretty painful until they start to “get it.” The first few reader’s theatres that the struggle through are worth it when they finally become confident are really get into their parts.

Next week is Halloween, which means The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Stellaluna!!!

I’m thinking about doing National Board Certification for Library Media. Next December, I’ll have my 3 years of experience needed to begin the process. I may do Take One! in the spring, which lets you do one portion of the certification process.