Thursday, March 21, 2013

Children's Choice Book Awards

It's that time again!  Time to promote to your kiddos a chance for them to vote for their favorite books!

Voting closes May 9th and winners will be announced May 13th.
There's a K-2nd 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, and 7th-12th grade category as well as Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year.  There are some really great nominees this year.

Go to to see the nominees and to cast your vote or to have your students vote.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This post is a few days late due to the storm earlier this week, but hopefully you will find something helpful in it so as to overlook my tardiness.  LOL

I've read several professional books this year which had  reading as their subject. My county has adopted CAFE and Daily 5 for all the elementary schools so I thought it might be good if I stayed in the loop on what was taking place in the classroom. It also helps for me to use the same vocabulary and language in the Media Center as what is being used in the classroom. So I started with these books at the beginning of the school year.

The first book I tackled was the CAFE book by "The Sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. Even before I had cracked open this book, I had already heard a lot about it through bloggy land. I even had a CAFE board made and up in the Media Center before reading this book, so it was nice to be able to understand the idea behind it. I also liked knowing some of the subheadings that go under each of the letters in CAFE. I try to use some of the same words when I am teaching the younger grades about choosing good fit books as well as when I am reading a story to them.

Next I read the Daily 5, also by "The Sisters". This was a bit more difficult for me to relate to as I can't really implement the Daily 5 in the Media Center. However, I do find myself talking about "read to self" or "read to someone" when students are waiting with the books they have just checked out for their other classmates to finish with check out.

Then I decided to read The Book Whisper by Donalyn Miller because it was also a book that had been going around bloggy land. I found this book more interesting than the last two. There were tons of great ideas for getting students interested in reading in the classroom which I can happily promote to classroom teachers through this book. I loved Miller's description of the "Dormant" reader and "Underground" reader, and her ideas for making the most of "wasted" time to waiting in line for school pictures.    She also promotes being a role model reader.  Let the students see you read.  Love that!  Included in the book are sample reading interest surveys and an end-of-year reading evaluation.

Then I read The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell. I didn't enjoy this one as much as The Book Whisperer, mostly because it seemed to be saying the same thing as The Book Whisperer.   Atwell is also big on teachers modeling reading, but she also supports talking about reading, both by students and teachers.  She recommends meeting with every student as often as possible to do a "status of the class" to see where every student is in a book and to help suggest new books if needed.  She shares how to implement her ideas as well as items you can copy and print.

I also read Igniting a Passion for Reading by Dr. Steven L. Layne. Again, I have not found much in the way of new ideas; mainly just echoings of the previous four books:  give students choice, be a good model, encourage students to read different genres, have students gove book chats, a.k.a. book talks. I guess that it is good that the "experts" are pretty much in agreement about how to get kids to read and like it. Some of the ideas that I liked in this book were

  • First Read Club-  Students who are the first to read a book get to add their name to a special sticker placed in the book, but they also must be willing to share about the book with others
  • Teacher's Hot Read-  Teachers can highlight a book in their classroom by using a special place in their room
  •  Create a Reading Lounge...not in the library- find a space at your school to create a Reading Lounge where students can go to just read and only writing utensils allowed in this room.  This will require funding as a lounge needs books (not library books) and comfy chairs or couches, but Layne gives ideas for funding this project.
  • Book Chat notebook- a place to keep book chat forms to refer back to in following years

I picked up Library Sparks: Library Lessons edited by Diane Findlay with some Book Fair funds.  I was hoping it would "spark" some great ideas for media/library lessons.  But it didn't do much for me.

Although I found it helpful to read these books and even got a few good ideas from them, by far my favorite professional read that I've come across in the last two years is Best Books for Boys. I originally purchased this book because of a question asked of me at my interview for this will you motivate our boys to read?  I wasn't happy with my answer and knew I needed to do some research. That's when I found this book.  And I have definitely gotten my money's worth.  Not only does the majority of this book give a listing of some fantastic books to get your boys (and girls) hooked into reading, but it also gives some fantastic ideas for fostering a love of reading. I think I underlined and highlighted just about every other sentence in the first 25 pages of this book. It really made me think about and change the way I view what reading is and how it looks for different readers.  I use the books listed in the last 125 pages to guide my book orders.  I always make sure to order at least 10 books that are recommended for every book order I make.  I love this book so much that I carry it around in my "teacher" bag and whenever the opportunity presents itself, I find a way to recommend this book to all my peers.

Source                                         Source

Two other professional reads that I've been enjoying are The Tibrarian Handbook by Christine Varachi and The Centered School Library by Cari Young (author of The Centered School Library blog).  I was able to purchase both of these books through Scholastic with Scholastic Dollars.  While Library Sparks didn't really do much for me, I am finding some great ideas in these books.  The Tibrarian Handbook gives lesson samples for grades K-5 as well as ideas for motivating reading, using technology and behavior management.  The Centered School Library gives ideas for using centers in your library with center examples ready to copy, cut, laminate, and use.  Both two good books for any elementary librarian to own.

Have you read any good professional books lately?

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Read for Your School with We Give Books

Update: As of January 1, 2016, the We Give Books website is no longer active.  =(

The power went out last night thanks to a lovely pre-Spring storm so I didn't have time to write my usual It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post, but I do have a quick, but fun post for you today.
I have posted about We Give Books before, so if you are a follower, you have probably heard about We Give Books.  I LOVE We Give Books, but, no, I am not paid to endorse it.  I just think the site is great. It is a free website that allows you to view children's books online for FREE.  The books are for kids ages 0-10. There are TONS of books to choose from, both fiction and non-fiction. And they are books that kids will enjoy reading, too.

Books like


I use We Give Books in the Media Center and encourage students to use it at home as well.  I even made bookmarks for it.  You can get the bookmarks here for free.

When you sign up for an account on We Give Books, you can choose a cause to read for. Every time you read a book on We Give Books, a free paperback book will be donated to the cause you have chosen.  And right now, We Give Books is having their Read For My School event. From now until April 5, 2013 (or until 150,000 free books have been given away), you can choose Read For My School as your cause and register your school to participate.  For every book that is read in your school's name, your school will receive a free paperback book from LeapFrog.  You can earn up to 250 free books.  (It was up to 500 last year, but this way more schools are able to receive books.)  All you have to do to qualify is have 25 books read online.  And if your school has more than 250 books read online, your school will be entered to win a visit from the ReadMobile.  You can read more about Read For My School here.

Last year my school earned 289 books through this program and the kids were soooo excited to receive their books.  If you haven't signed up to be a part of this great cause, I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Reference Sources Review

Our state testing is just around the corner so to help students feel better prepared, I have created a couple of reference sources review lessons.

In October, I went over several different types of reference sources: atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and glossary with second and third graders, almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia, and thesaurus with fourth and fifth grades.  Then I had students practice finding different information in these books.  You can read about that lesson here.

So for my review lesson, I will be reviewing each reference source and when to use them.  I will be using my Reference Sources PowerPoint to review.  You can get a copy of the 2nd-3rd grade Reference Sources PowerPoint here.  You can get a copy of the 4th-5th grade Reference Sources PowerPoint here.

Then I have created two different Reference Sources activities for students to complete as a review.  The 2nd-3rd grade version covers the atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and glossary.  The 4th-6th grade version covers the almanac, atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, and thesaurus.


Each activity includes a Reference Books definition sheet, 12 Reference Source question cards, a  Reference Source poster, and an answer sheet.  You can get the 2nd-3rd grade version here on my TpT store for $3.00 or the 4th-6th grade version here for $3.00.

Hopefully this little review will jog their memory and keep this info fresh in their minds for testing, but also for times when they need to use these resources in real life...which is really the point of this lesson, right?

Do you have any fun ideas for teaching reference sources?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Google Reader Going Bye Bye?

Yesterday Google announced that they will be doing away with Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.  I don't know about you, but I rely pretty heavily on Google Reader to keep up with all the blogs I follow.  I use it EVERY day.  I am really stressing about its departure.  I hope this doesn't mean that Blogger will be going away in the future, too.

I did find a petition on to keep Google Reader going.  5,000 signatures are needed and as of this post there are 4,371.  If you love Google Reader, you might consider signing this petition.  You can get to it here.

Anybody else out there upset about loosing Google Reader?  Do you have any suggestions for replacements?  I feel like crying.  :( 

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and A Conference Review

Whew!  I am exhausted!  No one warned me that a conference could be so tiring.  I feel like I need to take a few days vacation just to recuperate. But it was sooooooo much fun!  I can't wait to go back next year!  I might even be a presenter if I can get my act together enough to submit a proposal. 

While at the 44th Annual Conference for Children's Literature, I picked up a few new books and those are the books I will be reviewing for this week's

First up is a fun little book I found in the book store...

Miss Brooks Loves Books!  (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner
I must admit, I got this book because I liked it, although I am sure there are some kids who would enjoy it, too.  It's about a little girl named Missy who doesn't like to read, but Miss Brooks is determined to find something  she will like.  Nothing Miss Brooks suggests tickles Missy's fancy (isn't there always at least one student like this every year), until she finds the perfect book...about warts. It's actually her mom that finds the book, but I love that neither Miss Brooks, nor Missy's mom give up on Missy or tell her, well, I guess you just don't have to read, then.  Sometimes it does take a lot of digging to find what a patron is interested in.   Such a cute book. Loved it!  Would make a great gift for any librarian, too!

Next, I picked up a few books from some of the guest authors at the conference.

I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll
Such a cute story!  It's about a boy whose monster goes fishing so he is looking for a substitute monster for the evening, but he just can't find one as good as his monster.  I read this book to my three year old son when I got back from the conference.  He was mesmerized by the illustrations, which were created by Howard McWilliam. Both Ms. Noll and Mr. McWilliam were at the conference. They were the closing act, as it were.  It was so much fun to hear about how Amanda came up with the idea for I Need My Monster and to actually see the process Howard went through to create the pictures.  They didn't even meet in person until the first day of the conference, which they said is very typical of authors and illustrators. Everything goes through the editor.  I really learned a lot from listening to them speak.

Here are a few of the illustrations in the process that Mr. McWilliam shared.

 And I also picked up this little chapter book...

Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
This book is about a young girl, Ruby Lavender, who lives with her single mom and her grandmother, Miss Eula. Ruby has a very close relationship with her grandmother.  They write letters to each other every day and leave them in the knot hole of a tree. They even steal, or uh, rescue chickens together.  But one day, Miss Eula, decides to go to Hawaii to visit her other, new granddaughter.  Ruby feels abandoned, but as her grandmother would say "Life goes on."  While Miss Eula is away, one of three hens that Ruby and Miss Eula rescued lays some eggs. Ruby is very excited and can't wait for them to hatch.  A new neighbor also moves into town and Ruby befriends their niece who is staying with them for the summer.  Little does she know that by befriending Ruby, great adventures await her.  Such a good book, and I think I enjoyed it even more because I heard straight from the horse's mouth how this book was written, who the characters were designed after, and the meaning behind it all.  Deborah Wiles is such a friendly and funny woman.  She was actually the first guest author to speak at the conference and she kicked it off well.  I was pumped for the rest of the weekend after hearing her.  And I was so happy to have met her.  She actually lives in Atlanta so I might be able to have her come visit my school!  I also picked up 3 of her other chapter books, but I have not read them yet.  I expect they will be just as good.  You can follow Deborah on Pinterest by going here.  You can find her website here.

Not only did I get to hear some great guest authors speak, but I also attend some fabulous sessions conducted by other library media specialists and reading teachers. There were so many wonderful topics to choose from, it was difficult to narrow down my choices, but I finally settled on these four:

iCan with iMovie!
This sessions was presented by Cristina Dover of Midway Middle School.  I found out about some really cool iPad apps that can be used to make movie trailers.  I was excited to show my 10 year old when I got home.  He wasn't impressed, though because he said his friend had already showed him them. I am going to have him help me make some practice book trailers to show my students at my school, since he knows all about these apps.  I was exctied about them, anyway.  The apps demonstrated were Action Movie (free), Extreme FX (free), and iMovie ($4.99).  You can see a YouTube demo of Action Movie here.  

Motivate Me to Read.  I Dare You!  How to Motivate Boys to Engage in Reading
I choose this session because when I interviewed for my position, one of the things I was asked about was how I could get boys motivated to read.  I am always looking for new ideas since I know this is a concern at our school.  In this session, I heard the research of David W. Brown, Jr, a teacher at Murdock Elementary. He told of some ideas he used to get his boys to want to read and the research behind why he did what he did.  One of his successful ideas was holding an All Guys Reading Night where he invited boys and a significant male role model in their lives to come to school for a couple of hours one night and do nothing but read. They were encouraged to bring a tent, a blanket, and a bunch of books.  Mr. Brown provided snacks and beverages throughout the night for the participants.  He said it was a hit and the boys were begging to do it again.  Another idea he shared was that of the Male Mystery Readers Program where he invited males from the community to come read to classes, but the classes never knew who was going to show up. Some examples of readers he gave was a police officer who read Officer Buckle and Gloria, A pizza delivery guy who read the book Hi, Pizza, and a marine recruiter who read the book The Wall.  He had even more ideas like having students create a cooking show based on a recipe they read, creating a wax museum where students dress as historical figures and give biographical information about that person based on what they've read, book buddies where a higher grade student pairs with a lower grade student, and Fantastic Friday Reading Events which varied from week to week. He including reader's theater, poetry puppets (students read poetry using puppets), word wall raps (students rapped the meaning of words on their word wall) and news casts (giving a book report in the form of a character interview like on the news).  Tons of great ideas that not only I can use, but I can share with the teachers at my school to use in their classroom.

Dr. Seuss and Social Media:  Online Opportunities for Children's Literature
This session was presented by Brittany Cuenin of Lander University and Jeannette Tripplet of Van Plet Elementary School.  Brittany and Jeannette shared websites that could be used to get children excited about reading.  Some of the websites mentioned were Goodreads and Pinterest (for finding ideas), and many of the free book websites I mentioned in this post, like Storyline Online.  The main idea was to get educators to use online tools to get students motivated to read because that's what students This was the session that really got me thinking about being a presenter next year. There were so many websites that neither presenter had heard of (like Edmodo and We Give Books) that I knew of  which it made me think that maybe I had something worth sharing, too.  So, I am going to look into it.

Book Clubs:  Nuturing Life-long Readers
The final session I went to was about book clubs and it was presented by Heather Sitler of Chase Street Elementary. She made a Google Site with all kinds of information about running a book club.  She gave some great tips and tricks which are listed on the link as well.   You can find the link here.

And of course in between each session, there were the wonderful guest authors to enjoy.  In addition to Amanda Noll, Howard McWilliam, and Deborah Wiles, Angela Johnson, Molly Bang, and Pat Mora also spoke. They all gave some wonderful messages.  Here are some pictures of the day:

Yummy treats were served both days.  I was surprised to see a buffet of snacks and refrigerators of free juices, soft drinks and water...all for free.  I think I might have a gained a few pounds in those 2 days.  LOL

I was able to get seven library books autographed!

Deborah Wiles

Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam

Love this autograph!

What an awesome weekend!  I can't wait to do it again!

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Children's Literature Conference

I'm so excited!  All day today and tomorrow I will be at the 44th Annual Conference on Children's Literature in Athens, Georgia.  It's my first conference so I expect to learn a lot.  And I will be sure to share all the great info I pick up this weekend.

Do you have any conferences that you look forward to attending every year?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Genre Sort

This week we've been reviewing the genres we've covered so far with an activity I created called Genre Sort.

Students read book descriptions on cards and then placed the books under the name of the genre they felt the books fit into. 

They used the Genre Description page to help them if they got stuck.

Then they flipped the cards over and used the app i-nigma to check their answers or if the iPads were not avaiable, they could use the  answer sheet provided at their table.

I have made this activity available in my TpT store for $3.50.  If you're interested, you can get it here.

How do you teach genres?