AR Celebration

My school has come a very long way with our implementation of Accelerated Reader in the past year. I’m still not completely sure how I feel about the program — how it aligns with my philosophy of reading and all — but I’ve committed to helping my school implement it with fidelity. I attended the AR Symposium last November and learned a lot about how the program is designed to be implemented. I came back and we started taking steps to start pushing our program in the right direction. We started having school-wide silent reading time each day. Last year, the focus was put on having students earn 100% on quizzes. I gave incremental prizes for earning so many 100%s on quizzes (and just about lost my mind trying to keep up with that.

I went back to the drawing board this summer and thought about everything I’ve learned about AR. I decided that it was time for us to move toward goal setting. This would fall to the teachers, which I HATE to do, but it really is the way Renaissance Place wants you to do it. I just don’t like feeling like I’m piling more work on the teachers. So I laid out the plan and walked the teachers through goal setting. For this first nine weeks we set fairly modest goals because I wanted it to be achievable. Each student’s goal is based on their STAR results and they kept track of their progress in their AR folders.

The nine weeks ended the week before last and the kids were ready to CELEBRATE! I told them that if they met their nine weeks goal, they would be invited to a celebration. At the intermediate and middle schools, they use AR goals to give a reading grade. We didn’t want to go that route, so we decided a celebration would work best for our 2nd and 3rd graders. We had our celebration this afternoon — a coke float party. About half of the students at our school met their goal this time around, which is pretty good, I think! I think that even though we are bumping up our goals this nine weeks, we will still see progress.

Photo credit: ginnerobot
How do you use Accelerated Reader at your school? What are your feelings about the program?

Busy days and awesome reads

I’ve spent the last week writing my last big paper for the curriculum class I’m taking this semester, which I submitted yesterday afternoon. So, YAY! I cannot believe how quickly time is flying this year. It seems like every time I blink it’s Sunday night and I’m getting ready for a new week. It’s pretty scary!

Let me give you the run down on what went on at the library last week.

With my third graders, I read “Molly the Pony” by Pam Kaster. This was the third Louisiana Young Readers Choice book that we’ve read together. I think this is their favorite so far, even though I so so so love “Two Bobbies.” It’s a great story, though, and we even have a teacher at our school who has met Molly, so I think that won bonus points with the kids. I also showed this video, which had some really great footage of Molly walking in her cast after surgery and having her prosthetic leg being put on.

With second graders, I was planning on doing a Reader’s Theatre on “Book, Book, Book.” I did the activity with my Monday classes and it was painful. They were not yet ready for that activity. So for the rest of the week we read “The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin” and some really fun discussions about the word “FIERCE!”

We had a special guest performer on Friday afternoon, and he was AMAZING! Rick Kelly did an awesome job with his performance, “Don’t Just Sit There, READ!” We were able to have him visit through a program by the State Library of Louisiana.  He really knows what he’s doing and was entertaining (and hilarious) to both students and teachers (which says a lot). He also knows how to interact with the students well — getting them pumped up but not out of control. I can’t say enough good things about him and his program.

I’ve also been reading some great books. In my last update, I shared that I was loving Meg Cabot’s Mediator series. Well, I still am! I read the second book, “Ninth Key,” and it was great. Definitely a series that I’ll keep reading.

After reading two in a row, I needed a little variety. Plus I had an awesome stack of books I’d just picked up from the library. The first one I grabbed was “Mockingbird” by Kathryn Erskine and OMG it was awesome. Like REALLY awesome. It’s about a 10 year old girl with Aspergers who is dealing with the recent death of her brother. I sobbed for the entire second half of the book. Now, I may not exactly be emotionally stable right now, but it really was heartbreaking and eye opening at the same time. This was the first book I’ve read from the perspective with someone on the spectrum of autism. If you haven’t read this book — especially if you work with children — then put it on your list (near the top).

The next book I grabbed from the stack was “Th1rteen R3asons Why” by Jay Asher. I picked this book up after I finished writing my paper yesterday afternoon and read the entire thing in one sitting. Like Clay, the main character, I was COMPLETELY absorbed in following Hannah’s journey. The premise sounds awful — Clay receives a box of tapes that were recorded by Hannah, his crush who recently committed suicide — but the book is sooo good. This is an amazingly well written book and I highly recommend it.

So it’s a busy week ahead. Monday and Thursday classes will get my usual Halloween Week lessons (Legend of Sleepy Hallow for 3rd, Stellaluna for 2nd). Tuesday and Friday will be watching the Book Fair sneak peak video to pump them up since I won’t see them again before the fair begins on the 5th. Wednesday is a half day for kids since we have staff development, so I’ll only see them for long enough to exchange library books. More busy days ahead, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Last week…

I had such a busy weekend being a wonderful bridesmaid to my favorite cousin that I didn’t have the chance to blog about last week’s lessons. With my third graders, I read “Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman” by Marc Tyler Nobleman.

This is another one of the LYRC award nominees. As I’ve said before, the kids love true stories and this is one. They liked this one pretty well, but I think it was a little beyond some of them. They look for funny, sweet, or exciting and neither of those really describe this book. We did like the illustrations and the comic-style of the book.

With second grade, we read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff. This is one of those books that I can read over and over and over and never get tired of. We start by taking a picture walk and describing what we see in the pictures. After I read the story, we play the Mouse Memory Game in which the kids list all the things they can remember that the mouse asked for…a sparkly pencil for the winner! They love this lesson and will be asking me for weeks if we can do it again.

I’ve been doing some reading, too! Here are the books I’ve read and a quick comment/impression of each:

I absolutely adored this book! It’s one of the best multi-perspective stories that I’ve read. When I finished the first section, I had VERY strong feelings about the characters, but Mackler did an amazing job of really digging into the feelings of all the characters in ways that’s easy to relate to. This is a great book to recommend to kids who are having trouble relating to some of their peers — it could open up some great conversations on seeing things from a different perspective.

For some unknown reason, this is the first “Alice” book that I think I’ve ever read! The middle school librarian told me that she recommends this book frequently to girls that are reluctant readers. This story has lots of turbulent middle school relationship issues, which girls can definitely relate to. It also has enough sex talk to make a middle school reader feel like they’re getting away with something without being graphic. It’s a quick, easy read with lots going on to draw the reader in, so I can see why it’s a go-to rec for her!

This book by Meg Cabot was originally published under the pseudonym of Jenny Carroll. I was hesitant in picking up this book. Although I love my sci-fi, fantasy, and occasional vamp fiction I’m not generally into the paranormal genre. Namely because I’m extremely paranoid. But, hey, this is by Meg Cabot who was in the same fab Banned Books Week blog series by the Snoops with me (and don’t ask how many times I’ll bring that up, because the answer is as often as possible). I finished this book this morning and had to go to the library on my way home from work to get book two in the series. I loved it that much. Awesome characters and great storyline. I can’t wait to see what happens with Suze throughout the series!

At this point, that’s all I’ve got. Life is chaotic and I’ve got too much on my plate so my stress level is through the roof. Keeping up with things at the library ( & video announcements & yearbook & upcoming book fair). Grad school ( & endless homework). Car problems ( & my extreme disappointment with Audi). And life. It’s all very exhausting. It’s beyond me how people do everything AND have children. Yikes.

Dewey Readmore Books? Sure we do!

Kids love to hear stories about animals. They love it even more if they discover that it’s a story written that’s based on a real animal. Now, with the age that I work with it’s sometimes hard to convince them that it’s about a real animal if it’s an illustrated picture book. So I introduced Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library by explaining that it was written by a librarian, Vicki Myron, in memory of her library cat, Dewey. Before reading the story, I showed this video to get them excited and let them see actual photos of Dewey and Vicki:

It’s kind of a goofy video, but they like it and dance in their seats. It’s a good intro to the story, which is such a cute one. Then after reading it, I show this “interview” of Dewey and Vicki at the Spencer Public Library from 1998.

The looks on their faces when they hear that someone put Dewey in the book return and he nearly froze to death is heartbreaking. Then, of course, they all want to know if Dewey is still alive. I explain to them that he passed away in 2006 after a long and happy life with his friends in the library.

On the grad school front this week, I’ve been working on my School Climate presentation. I talked my professor into letting me use Prezi instead of PowerPoint, and I’m so proud of how it turned out! So, of course, I must share it!

AR Kickoff, Goldie Socks, and more!

Things are rockin’ and rollin’ at the library! I’ve had some technical difficulties with my blog for the last several days, but now it’s back up and running. I wasn’t able to write about the happenings in the library lastweek, so here goes…

Last week was the first week for book check out! It was a very busy week with putting our routines and procedures into practice. We have a lot invested in the Accelerated Reader program and it is a priority for our district, so AR was the topic for our lesson last week. All of our students had taken the STAR reading assessment. This year, their “library card” is their AR folder. They bring their folder with them each week when they visit the library. Inside their folder is their barcode sticker and an AR chart wherethey graph their quiz scores. Their ZPD range is highlighted across the top of the page. All of our AR books have color coded stickers on the spine, according to their level. They also have a sticker on the front with all of the book information, exact level number, points, and quiz number.

Teaching the new 2nd graders how to match their levels from their folders to their books was such a challenge last year, so I was really dreading it. I guess I learned a lot along the way last year, because things went MUCH more smoothly. We did some demonstrations, looked at the stickers, and went step by step through the process of looking for books. Our students are allowed to check out two books each week. One has to be an AR book that matches their ZPD level. The other “fun” book can be anything they want. We have AR Enterprise, so we have access to all AR quizzes. I’ve spent a great deal of time focusing our collection on the reading levels and interests of our students, and I’m quite proud of what we have. I can always help a student find an AR book that’s on their level and within their interests. My highest readers are my biggest challenge because they plow through everything I have. Plus it’s not easy finding a 6th grade level book that’s appropriate for a third grader.

All in all, things went VERY smoothly. By the end of the week, my 693 patrons (which includes teachers) had checked out 1349 books! And this week is the fun part, getting them to bring those books back so they can trade them in for new ones.

SO this week in the library, I’m kicking off the Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice program with my third graders. I always talk it up with the fact that in second grade you weren’t old enough to do this, but now that you’re in third grade you get to participate! I introduce all of the books on the list, then we read one of the selections. I always read at least three of the books aloud during library visits throughout the fall so everyone can vote on the REAL voting machines in January.

The book that I’m reading this week is Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Lawson and Mary Netherly, illustrated by Jean Cassels. Click the link to see a great book trailer for this amazing stories. This story could lead into so many conversations on hurricanes (Katrina specifically), pets, friendship…the list goes on. The kiddos I’m working with now were 3 or 4 at the time of Katrina. Similar to 9/11, it’s still so hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that they have no recollection of these events that were horrific and life changing for me. I think every classroom in Louisiana should have a copy of this book in their class library. And even if you aren’t from Louisiana, it’s still an amazing read aloud.

With my second graders I’m reading my FAVORITE fractured fairy tale: Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins. She’s also the author of the Shelf Elf books, which I to my third graders on week one. I adore Goldie Socks because I get to do my papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear voices. I think I love it more than the kids, and that’s A LOT! Last year, one of my second graders told her mom that she wanted to dress up as Goldie Socks for Halloween. Her mom was confused and thought she meant Goldilocks, and my precious angel had to set her straight! If you have not experienced this book, then you need to! Just for fun, here’s a picture from last year of me dressed up as Goldie Socks.

Amidst the School Climate paper I’ve been writing for my Curriculum class, I have spared a few moments for reading. I committed to reading three books, and I’m almost done with my second. I read My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr (WOW!) and will finish reading Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher tonight. I’m going to talk more about them in an upcoming post in honor of Banned Book Week. Oh, and have I mentioned that the fabulous Story Snoops will be blogging on an interview with me next week, too?!

Who dat?

I’m writing this post during the first game of the season! Who dat?! I still love the atmosphere here in Louisiana post-Superbowl win. And even though Brett Farve is my fantasy football league quarterback, I’m loving the Brees tonight 🙂

It’s one of those crazy weeks where no one knows what day it is because of the Labor Day holiday. This week is also DIBELs testing at our school, and I’m on the DIBELs team. That means that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, there is a library sub while I test students all. day. long. If you’ve ever DIBELed, I know you’re jealous about the three solid days of DIBELing that I get to experience. I did get to teach this week’s lesson on Tuesday, though. And of course Monday classes missed it from the holiday. This also meant that the first week of book check-out won’t take place until next week. But ya do what ya gotta do.

I look at all of this as a positive — it’s another week to prepare our students and teach them routines. I created a fabulous video for library procedures, but I used pictures of students modeling the things we do, so I can’t share it. After watching the video, I show several books that have been damaged (colored in, pages torn, dog chewed the cover, dog-earred corners, juice spilled on pages) and we discuss how the damage happened and what we can do to prevent it.

Then we read “Going on a Book Hunt” by Pat Miller. This is a precious book that can lead to great discussion on library routines. Also, it’s very fun if you read each line and have the students echo your chant. They loved it!

Next, I had a bag with a bookmark, shelf marker, bookend, display stand, library folder, and scanner. I pulled out each item and we discussed how that item was important to the library.

Finally, students decorated bookmarks with an illustration on something they can do to help books stay neat. I’ve seen some cute pictures (and some interesting spelling renditions). We’ve got our routines and book care down, now we will be ready to put it into practice next week when we begin checking out books!

I want to send out an email in the morning with an activity that teachers can do with “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” by Mordicai Gerstein in honor of September 11. I think this book is an excellent way to start a discussion about the 9/11 attacks, as it took place before most of our students were even born. Last year when I taught this lesson, I showed some photographs from google of Philippe Petite walking between the towers. Google it, the pictures are pretty incredible! When the kids find out that this is a true story, they go nuts. For kids who have no recollection of September 11, 2001, this is a good story to give them some background on the Twin Towers before discussing what actually happened on 9/11. I haven’t been able to find a good video to show 2nd & 3rd graders about the attacks, so if you know of one that could be appropriate, please let me know!

First Week Lessons

This was my first week to see classes. The first week is always full of new faces (and names to learn), lots of sharing, and procedures, procedures, procedures. It’s not the most fun week, but it is so necessary. I do make it fun with some really cute stories that are great conversation starters for library procedures and book care.

With my second graders, I read “Curious George Visits the Library.” The kids love this story, and I do too. In fact, I have the entire book memorized. It’s a neat trick and the kids are AMAZED that I can read the book without even looking at the words. What can I say? I’m pretty amazing. Really, though, it starts a great conversation when kids can share things that George did that we should never do in the library.

With my third graders, I read “The Shelf Elf” by Jackie Mims Hopkins. Love love love this book because it stresses library manners and book care. I also have lots of Shelf Elf posters that decorate the library with tips like, “Turn your pages with great care, leave them whole without a tear.” This one also leads to good conversation with my third graders, most of who I taught last year. It’s good for them to get a nice refresher after the long summer.

It’s been an exhausting week. I’m still trying to get back in the groove and work out the remaining textbook issues. Next week (after the long Labor Day weekend) I’ll have a sub Wednesday-Friday while I give the DIBELs (yuck yuck yuck) test. So I’ll be enjoying my weekend and hoping that it goes by S-L-O-W-L-Y. You do the same!