Wednesday, November 19, 2014

You Choose the Next Newbery Award - a reading challenge for 4th and 5th grade

You Choose the Next Newbury is an optional reading challenge for any and all interested 4th and 5th graders.

Ms. J. put together a list of new books that are being discussed as potential Newbery winners.

Students who accept the challenge need to read at least 5 of the books on Ms. J.'s list by February 2nd in order to be entered in the raffle.

On February 2nd we will meet in the library for:

  • lunch
  • vote on the best book
  • raffle off a gift certificate to Wellesley Books

The actual, official winner of the Newbery Award will be announced the morning of February 2nd and so we will have a chance to discuss if we think that was "the most distinguished contribution to children's literature" for 2014.

Flora & Ulysses by Cate DiCamillo won the Newbery Award last year.

Want to see which books have won in the past?  Here is a link to the ALA website with the official list: Newbery Medal and Honor Winners from 1922 to present

Some of my favorite books of all time have been Newbery Honor winners... those Honor books are worth checking out!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November is Picture Book Month

Read * Share * Celebrate

Aaron Becker, the author and illustrator of the stunning Journey and now Quest has these thoughts about why picture books are important:

"Why Picture Books Are Important by Aaron Becker
The picture book physically connects a child to their world through story. It provides an elemental platform in which storytelling can find its way into the newest members of our planet and provide a moral compass, or at the very least a subtle whisper: “You are not alone. You matter.” When we share a book with a child, an exchange is taking place: a passing-down of wisdom, adventure, joy, and even love. The pictures take on a special significance here. They become the vehicle of communication – the path upon which a young child can walk on, or better yet, to meander through, as they discover which way they want to go. As the world changes, we must ask ourselves what we’re losing in this transition from books to glowing entertainment devices. The fear here, I think, is that without the quieter paths of a shared book, we might all end up lazily building houses made of straw, or worse yet, turn into the big bad wolf himself, searching for the next best thing to eat up.
The picture book is a physical object that demands our engagement and attention. It does this without beeps or whistles or touch screens or promises of something faster, better, and more efficient. It tells us we can take our time. The pictures, within their bound pages, allow children to formulate their own stories; to find their own way. But the picture book also suggests something greater – that the world is a place we might have an actual connection to. In the arms of a parent, a child hears and touches and feels that connection through the simple gift of story. All they have to do – all WE have to do – is slow down and listen. I’ve yet to find an “app” that does this very well."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The End of the Beginning

So the question came up recently... when is the beginning of the school year over?
When are we in the middle?

I think by the time we get to October we are well into our academic year, but is the beginning really over?  Hard to say.

What I can say is that Upham Library activity is in full swing now.

Our theme for the year school-wide is:
Look for the Awesome!

That is also our theme for the year in the library as students and Ms. J. find fascinating things to share and talk about.

Follow your curiosity and see where it takes you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Look who is reading on their own...

The Upham Library's Book Buddies opened up a new copy of Gaston and as far as I can tell, they seem to be enjoying it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Working that Summer Reading Bingo...

Have you read in a hammock yet?  Ms. J. has. 
Check it off. 
It looks like she is reading a magazine. 
Have you read any good magazines this summer? 
How about a food and cooking magazine?
Or a sports magazine? 
Anyone read about the World Cup in a magazine? 
The only problem with reading in a hammock... it is so comfortable it is pretty easy to fall asleep.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reading on a boat?!

Here I am reading away on board our kayak.  I'm reading a graphic novel memoir about a women who grew up in Iran titled, Persepolis. It is fun to read outside, but it is very hard to paddle and steer while reading!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Caught reading in New York City

Ms. J. was recently visiting the Big Apple and in addition to eating dim sum in Chinatown and catching a show on Broadway she was caught reading in some interesting spots.  Can you guess where she is in each of these photos? She was reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It was 864 pages and it weighed over 2 pounds!  It was long and it was heavy to carry around but it was amazingly good which is why I managed to finish it.  Then I read a book by Carl Hiassen who wrote Chomp and Hoot and Scat.  He is a very funny writer.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reading at the beach

Ms. J. reads Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer on a nice quiet stretch of the beach at Walden Pond.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Buddies and Summer Reading

Don't worry about the Upham Library Book Buddies.   Today is the official 1st day of summer - the summer solstice - and they are already doing their summer reading. 

What are they reading?  A great new picture book, The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan.

As you can see Ms. J. has already checked off "Reading on the couch" on her summer reading bingo card.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Reading 2014

The Wellesley Public School library teachers have put together a summer reading list with suggestions for books from a wide variety of catagories and reading levels.

Follow this link to see the list we put together: WPS Summer Reading Lists, Logs and Bingo

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Centers in the Library

Beginning in April with poetry month the 1st and 2nd grades have had an opportunity to try out working in library centers.  Library Centers were such a great hit that I am continuing them until the end of the school year.

What are Library Centers anyway?

Library Centers means kids are doing, making, moving and making their own choices. 

Library Centers are activities that students can choose to do that help them work on a variety of literacy skills including writing, building words and sentences with letter tiles, reading and information seeking and research skills.  The best part of Library Centers is that students are able to select an activity that they want to do and they are fully engaged in working.

I have been delighted with the outcome of our library centers. I enjoy reading the poems students write or create with book spine labels. I love seeing the fantastic facts they find in our databases that they want to share with other students.

Next year I hope to have centers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades and to add new centers throughout the year that get kids excited about learning.

Here are some snapshots from our centers:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

4th Grade States Project

Finding useful 2010 U.S. Census Data for your state:

The United States Census has a website with a lot of information.  Sometimes it might be too much information.  Here is a link to the 2010 Census Quick Facts page where you can search by state or by a specific town or city within your state.

Here is a page just for students on the Census website: Student State Facts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April is National Poetry Month

I'm so excited about the fun possibilities of celebrating poetry in the library this month.

My goal is to have a good time with poetry.
To get students creating and collaborating as much as possible.

We have played with alliteration.
How long can you keep it up? "Oliver only octopus on ocean oleander oligarchy..."

We have created acrostic poems (picture coming soon).
(Some students started referring to these as "lacrosse stick" poems... hey, close enough)

We have made Table Top poetry
and spine label poetry
I Spy poetry
Storybird collaborative poetry
and my personal favorite
Haiku Book Reviews!

My goal: to help students experience the fun that can be had with painting with words and in puzzling out a meaningful collection of words that also happen to rhyme.

1st Grade Winter into Spring poems and pictures

5th Graders make Haiku (5-7-5) Book Reviews!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pi Day!

March 14th - 3/14 - 3.14

Today is National Pi Day (or is that International?)

This is a Kindergartener at Upham celebrating Pi day!
... and this it he back.
How cool is that?

So today in library we talked about National Pi Day and answered

What is Pi?

And why is Pi such a cool number? (it is actually quite cool).

Here is the funny movie we watched about measuring pi with PIE!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Booktalking: getting readers hooked on books

Booktalking is not just something that librarians do.
This week we are getting 5th graders signed up to do booktalks to each other.
Here are some of the things we are talking about to make the booktalks great.

What is a Book Talk anyway?

Booktalks can take many different forms, but their main job is to convince someone to read a book

How to create a great booktalk?

1. Find a book you want to tell people about.
2. Read the book closely:
  • Use stickies
    • to jot down questions, predictions, connections, insights about characters or themes
    • to note great passages to read aloud in your booktalk
  • Take notes
3. Ask yourself:
  • What makes this book stand out from others?
  • Why did you like it? (for example: the characters were believable and you related to them or the plot was fast-moving and made you want to find out what happened next)
  • Is there anything interesting about the author? (Many authors have websites you can check.)
  • What is your opening hook to get readers interested?

And never ever give away the ending!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PTO New Book Fair in the Library

This week in the library the PTO is running the new book fair.  The library has been transformed into a hip independent book store.  I have to say I totally love the selection of titles.  Believe it or not I love having the book fair in the library.  Students come to the book fair with their classes and get a chance to walk around and look at books.  And talk about books. And recommend books to each other.  I love hearing what students are recommending and I am having a blast recommending books to students.  This is a fun week to just be totally into books - whether it is Jonathan's Stroud's latest or a beautiful picture book like Journey or a super cool graphic novel of Rick Riordon's The Titan's Curse.  It is all good.  One of the best book sharing moments for me was sitting with a few students as they flipped through the big red hardcover copy of the latest Guinness Book of World Records.  I absolutely adored that book when I was in elementary school.  We had a fun time getting grossed out or amazed with every turn of the page.
-Ms. J.

Friday, January 24, 2014

And the Upcott Award goes to...

This year every student at Upham Elementary School had an opportunity to vote for our very own version of the Caldecott Award.  Over the last several weeks, students had an opportunity to read and look through 13 of the top picture books published in 2013.  This week the polls were open and voting was done on a Google forms ballot linked from the library website.

First off, here is a little bit about the real Caldecott Medal:

The Caldecott Award:

Every year since 1938, the Caldecott Medal is awarded to, "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children."

This year the Caldecott Medal will be announced at 8:00am on Monday, January 27th and can be viewed live on the web here:  Live ALA - Webcast 2014
(I'll be watching in the library of course!)

Now, on to what you have all been waiting for...

The Upcott Award:

This year was the first ever Upcott awards.  Students votes have been collected and tallied and the winner of the Upcott Medal goes to:

The two books that received Upcott Honors are:

Until next year...
Picture Books Rule!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Invention Convention + STEAM

This Friday in the Upham All School Assembly students were invited to participate in the 2014 Invention Convention scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 26th.  All students from all grades are eligible to participate.

For more information about the event here is a link to the website:  Invention Convention 

Three super cool videos about inventors, inventions and the White House Science Fair:

10 Accidental Inventions

White House Science Fair
The President of the United States Marshmallow Launcher:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bibliographies: the why.

I had a chance to talk with the 5th graders about bibliographies this week and I was excited. Perhaps bibliographies seem like dull stuff to you (and you may be correct in thinking that), but I had a pet peeve about bibliographies.

You see, I had to start creating bibliographies in elementary school too and my teachers were always very focused on getting all of the detailed formatting exactly correct. It was so very (very) stressful. I have been painstakingly creating bibliographies for years and yet never understood until I was in graduate school what a great and useful thing a good bibliography can be. I never grasped the why... why bibliographies are important. In fact, I honestly thought my teachers were requiring them simply as a means of tormenting their students.

So I was excited to get to talk with and ask the Upham 5th graders what their thoughts are about why a bibliography or a resource list might be a useful thing. These students came up with some great thoughts...
... bibliographies show your reader where you found your information
... bibliographies prove that you are not plagiarizing or pretending that someone else's ideas are your own
... bibliographies point a reader who is interested in finding out more about the topic to specific resources that will help them.
That last one is my favorite because once you realized that the whole purpose of a bibliography is to help someone find a specific book or magazine article or website then it begins to make more sense why you need to include all of these picky little bits of information in a picky format.

Moving forward these students will be learning how to use NoodleTools to create perfectly formatted bibliographies, but even with the 21st century tools we have available to help us it is still worthwhile taking a moment to understand why we need a bibliography in the first place.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Caldecotts Continued: nonfiction picture books

Happy New Year!

We are continuing our look at some of the best picture books for children published in 2013 in preparation for a school-wide vote for the book that Upham students think is the best illustrated book for this past year.

The official ALA Caldecott award will be announced on Monday, January 27th at 8:00am (and yes, I'll be in the library watching the live web broadcast if anyone wants to join me).  The Upham school vote will be done in library classes the week of January 20th.

We have started looking at some of the nonfiction picture books that were published in 2013 and discussing why an author would chose to tell a true story in a picture book.  We've had some interesting discussions about how pictures can make history more understandable and bring a true story to life.

With the fourth graders we read Brave Girl by Michelle Markel:

With the younger grades we've read Building Our House a memoir by Jonathan Bean about his parents building their own house when he was young.

and The Boy Who Loved Math about the famous Hungarian Mathematician Paul Erdos which was a surprisingly delightful read.

Here are a couple of VoiceThreads that the 2nd grade classes made as a response to reading The Boy Who Loved Math: