Beginning our Caldecott Journey

Another week has zipped by before our eyes. And this one is a big one – today is the last day of the second nine weeks, marking the halfway point! It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through the 2013-2014 school year. To mark the occasion, I decided to give you a glimpse at our Number of Books We Have Checked Out This Year display. The last time we checked this display, before winter break, we were at 10,145 books checked out. And now, two weeks of school later, we have broken the 11,000 mark…and then some!

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Pre-schoolers this week read a new story from an old favorite, Pete the Cat. This time around, Pete has some magic sunglasses that help him to have a good attitude on grumpy days. Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses reminded us to try to see the best of every situation, and that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay! After sharing our story, we took turns passing around our pair of Miss Messham’s Magic Sunglasses (although mine are pink, not blue!) and talking about what makes us feel better after a bad day.

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Passing the sunglasses and taking turns talking one by one helped to reinforce positive behavior patterns that students are learning in their classrooms. Sharing our thoughts, feelings, and ideas also helps students to become more confident and vocal in front of their peers. And, of course, using props, songs, and real-life connections helps preschool students to understand books on a new level, hopefully setting the stage for a lifelong love of literacy.

We finished up our story time with a Pete the Cat creative movement activity, playing “storytime freeze tag” with audio track Pete the Cat I Love my White Shoes. There was a lot of giggling, dancing, and freezing – and a lot to be happy about!

Kindergarten, first, and second grade students got a glimpse into the upcoming Caldecott Award decision by reading one of the front-runners for this year’s award. Journey, a picture book by Aaron Becker, is the beautiful wordless story of a girl who uses her imagination (and a magic red crayon) to escape her city apartment and journey all over the world. Does this idea sound familiar? This updated, refreshing take on Harold and the Purple Crayon delighted all of our students. Journey is completely wordless, and each grade completed a different lesson plan allowing them to step in and become the authors of the story by adding their own words. From kindergarten’s magic crayon predictions to second grade’s discussion about the use of color and detail in illustrations, it was an educational and creative way to share a fun new story. We’ll see more of Aaron Becker’s Journey – and many of our other Caldecott frontrunners – in a couple of weeks when the Johnson Elementary School Library gets swept up in Caldecott fever!

Third grade students, having recently wrapped up their lessons on dictionary skills, continued working with the thesaurus. This week, we competed to see who would come Johnson Elementary School’s Next Top Library Idol. To compete, students had to use the thesaurus to re-write a beloved classic tune – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Using synonyms they looked up independently, students write a new version of the song with lots of colorful words and adjectives. In order to be named the Next Top Library Idol, finished students had to perform their tune for the class! This was a challenging and exciting activity, and some classes will continue their work on the project next week. We did, however,  have two Next Top Library Idol winners! And here they are, showing off their pop-star moves and reference skills.

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Fourth grade students began their unit on keyboarding skills, which will continue for the next few weeks. Keyboarding skills are critical to developing students for both personal, academic, and professional reasons. Although most elementary school students have the opportunity for significant screen time and educational technology, many of these students haven’t learned the basic skills needed for word processing. In library class this year, fourth grade students will spend a significant amount of time developing and honing these skills through an online program. Each student works independently, beginning with home row keys and adding new techniques as they go. Students can track their progress as they complete levels and stages. Our goal is to have each student successfully complete the program in their library time. Typing skills will not only help students to achieve better grades, but will also help to prepare them for future SOL testing. Solid, efficient typing skills will be beneficial for students throughout the rest of their lives.

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Although we are still collecting overdue books from winter break, many students checked out a new round of titles to read over the long weekend. Depending on their grade level, some students may not be able to bring a new book home until their overdue book is returned or accounted for via parent contact. Please keep an eye out for any overdue materials around the house, and send them back with your student on Wednesday!

Wishing everyone a warm and cozy long weekend, with lots of sunshine and relaxation. And, of course, a good story or two!

– Miss Messham

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