Students Connect…Thanks to Good Books!

You’ve all been where I was this morning: caught underprepared (read that “woefully unprepared”) for my day’s classes! The days have been filled with TAKS testing, crazy schedules, and meeting upon meeting, library fund raising, blah, blah…and I had simply not prepared sufficiently for my big kids! Twitter network to the rescue! Before school, I saw a tweet about Betsy Bird’s 100 Best Children’s Books, and the Animoto video that Maggi Idzikowski prepared to go along with it. They saved my day!! What a great basis for a sort of wrap up session with our soon-to-graduate 5th graders!

I started off with the video, first relating to them something that a professor and mentor of mine, Dr. Ruth Cox Clark, used to tell us: everyone should read Charlotte’s Web once every ten years. As with most good literature, you will get something entirely new from it each time you read it! As they watched the books of their childhood flash across the screen, they exclaimed over and over again, “Oh! That was a good one!” or “I LOVED that one! Remember when Mrs. S read that to us?” All of the classes–even the ones peopled with some of our harder-to-engage students–had great discussions about the books they remembered and who they read them with! It was a great exemplar of the power of literature!

Since our last checkout is coming up soon, I challenged them all to try a book from the list that they have never read before. The books just about flew off the shelves! Hopefully many of them will be read, too! :/ All the classes certainly spent time reading and talking about their books and memories before they left–and without my directing it! It was a nice thing!

Before they went back to class, students entered the name of a children’s book that they’d enjoyed & that they thought every student should read before leaving our school. Then I used Tagxedo to make this word cloud for our web site!

I’m thankful for my Twitter network! I’m going to stop blogging and tweeting now though, and prepare for my next couple of weeks’ classes! I promise! ….is it summer yet?

Nearest Book Meme

“The sun was shining.” What a disappointing sentence to pull from such a wonderful book! One of my favorites!

Wonder what I am talking about? Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk blog encouraged us all to take part in this meme by Stephen Abrams of Stephen’s Lighthouse

Rules: * Get the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence – either here or on your blog.
* Copy these instructions as commentary of your sentence.
* Don’t look for your favorite

Great Book for Descriptive Language Lesson!

Each year at this time, my 4th grade teachers really start to hit writing skills hard with their students. In TX, 4th graders are tested on writing for the first time, so this is a major priority in the 4th grade curriculum.

Toad, by British author Ruth Brown is really wonderful piece of descriptive writing! It’s a very simple and short story, so it’s easy to fit into the short time frame that I have to work with as classes visit the library. I use Toad each year with my students–it’s accessible to them (nice, “gooey” descriptors that the boys really get into!) and the illustrations allow me to slip in a little art appreciation on the side! The elementary art curriculum in TX is all but nonexistent–in practice, anyway–so this book affords me a great opportunity!
Thanks Ruth Brown, for your wonderful work!!

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