Friday, April 17, 2015

Do you have a summer reading suggestion?

Summer is fast approaching; by my count just 32 school days left. And then we will have a blissful three months off. But just because school is out doesn't meaning learning is over. There are tons of ways to learn and explore new things during the summer, and reading a new book (or two) is just one of them!
I would like to put together a recommended summer reading list for each building, highlighting some of the best books suggested by our community (staff, students, or parents!).

So if you have a suggestion for a great summer read, leave it in the comments below with title, author, and approximate grade recommendation.

I'll start - We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist for grades 8-12.

What's your suggestion?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Books of the Week, Apr 13

Elementary - Back to Front and Upside Down by Claire Alexander
While the rest of the class makes birthday cards for the principal, Stanley struggles with his words and letters.
E FIC ALE @ the Library

Middle - After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
Although Jeff and Tad, encouraged by a new friend, Lindsey, make a deal to help one another overcome aftereffects of their cancer treatments in preparation for eighth-grade graduation, Jeff still craves advice from his older brother Stephen, who is studying drums in Africa.
FIC SON @ the Library

High - Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates' popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.
FIC JOH @ the Library

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Books of the Week, Apr 7

Elementary - W Is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet by Pat Michaels and Melanie Rose
An A-Z pictorial for children including weather terms such as barometer, cloud, tornado, and sunshine introduced with poems accompanied by expository text to provide detailed information.
551.5 MIC @ the Library

Middle - Weather: Whipping up a Storm! by Simon Basher and Dan Green
Introduces weather-related topics, such as hurricanes, atmosphere, droughts, and more. Basher and Green turn each topic into a character with a drawing and personality profile.
551.6 GRE @ the Library

High - Weather: a Visual Guide by Bruce Buckley
An introductory guide to understanding weather and its effect on our lives. Using dramatic never-before-published aerial and satellite photography, this book provides up-to-the-minute information about a fascinating spectrum of natural phenomena.
551.5 BUC @ the Library

Monday, March 30, 2015

Books of the Week, March 30

High - Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times by Jim Wilson
An illustrated guide to growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, including information on preparing the soil, when and how much to plant, dealing with insects and other pests, and other topics.
635 WIL @ the Library

Middle - Grow Your Own Monsters by Nicola Davies and Simon Hickmott
Provides illustrated, step-by-step instructions for kids to grow eight "monster" plants, including the squirting cucumber, the walking stick cabbage, the Venus flytrap, and others, and discussing where to find seeds and good spots to keep plants.
635 DAV @ the Library

Elementary - Cool Stuff for Your Garden: Creative Projects for Kids by Pam Scheunemann
Provides step-by-step instructions for projects readers can make for a garden, such as garden markers, a beaded wind chime, and a double-decker birdbath.
635 SCH @ the Library

Friday, March 20, 2015

Connecting with Authors Beyond the Book

Reading the author blurb on the back flap of a book jacket doesn't give you much to go on when trying to get familiar with who an author is. Luckily, we don't have to rely on these pre-screened, publisher approved bios for information about our favorite authors. There are tons of ways to connect with authors online. Want to get in touch with your favorite author? Look for them in some of these places.
  • Do a web search to find their webpage or blog
  • Follow them on Twitter or Tumblr to see their daily thoughts
  • Like them on Facebook or add them to your circles in Google+
  • Subscribe to their YouTube channel to get video updates about them
  • And don't forget Instagram for pictures of their life and writing area
Who do I follow, like, and subscribe to?
  • John Green on Twitter and YouTube
  • Scott Westerfeld on Facebook
  • Maureen Johnson on Twitter
  • Libba Bray on her blog
Plus lots of authors will do virtual visits with schools and classrooms via Google Hangouts or Skype. So if you want to talk to an author in person, check their website and contact them if they are up for it!

Friday, March 13, 2015

7th Grade asks "Who Was?"

This week has been a busy one for me. Ms. Lombardo's seventh grade language students worked on answering the question "Who was (insert your historical figure here)?". Each student choose a significant individual from history and this week we spent time gathering facts about them. I was with them every day this week, pushing them towards reliable sources (and making them prove they were reliable), correcting citations for their resources, and prompting them over and over again to "FIND AS MANY FACTS AS POSSIBLE!". Boy is my voice horse no that it's Friday afternoon! Next week, Ms. Lombardo will help the students organize all of their facts into a five-paragraph essay.

Here at SCC we have been focusing our teaching for the past few years on learning targets (or I Can statements if you will). Here were the I Cans for this week:

  • I can apply the Big 6 to organize my research and learning.
  • I can use a set process for note taking.
  • I can evaluate resources for accuracy and validity.
  • I can recognize digital tools that can be used for note taking and creating citations.

Every day at the start of class and most days  at the end of class, I reminded the students of what the point of this week was. Today I asked them if they felt better able to do these things on their own; the answer - yes.

That's what my job is. It's teaching kids that memorizing facts, figures, dates, and rules isn't the be-all and end-all in learning. Learning should be about developing skills that allow you to find the facts, figures, dates, and rules when you don't remember what they are. Being able to find a reliable, credible source for information and take notes that make sense for someone else to read if need be. Doing things in an order that makes sense, instead of jumping in without a plan. Life skills that can be applied to any job, any challenge, any situation.

Thanks 7th grade students and Ms. Lombardo for inviting me into your class this week. It was awesome!

If you'd like to see more about the project, you can visit the SCC Middle School Library's "Learn" page. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Books of the Week, Mar 9

This week's theme is friendship in works of fiction.

--Cork & Fuzz : Finders Keepers by Dori Chaconas
Although Cork the muskrat is short and likes to find things and Fuzz the possum is tall and likes to keep things, the pair remain best friends even after Fuzz finds Cork's lost stone and decides to keep it.
E FIC CHA @ the Library

Middle -- Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills
Annika hopes to change her best friends' hatred of math by winning a Sudoku contest, but she does not realize how important their lack of mathematical ability is until they make a mistake at the school carnival.
FIC MIL @ the Library

High -- Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho
Althea and Oliver, who have been friends since age six and are now high school juniors, find their friendship changing because he has contracted Kleine-Levin Syndrome
FIC MOR @ the Library