Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kazu Kibuishi and Amulet

Our grades 4 and 5 students are suffering (in a good way!) with a serious case of Amulet fever! The books are always on hold, and personal copies are being loaned as well. Personally, this series was the turning point for me with graphic novels. I now get the beauty, the engagement and the near-obsession that some readers have with this genre. Reading Amulet is like watching a stunning movie unfold in front of your eyes.

After some months of trying to put it all together, we had our final skype chat of the year with Kazu Kibuishi and Jason Caffoe. These guys were so cool, so accessible and so down-to-earth that our 30 minutes flew by, and we could have talked for hours. The kids were talking about it all day long, and we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of #5 in the series to come out.

This was the year I was not only sold on graphic novels, but my love of skyping with authors was solidified. More and more authors are willing to do it (this was Kazu's first skype call), and it's such a great way for students to feel enpowered. Twice now, they have written a persuasive letter to an author that resulted in a skype call. Love that!

Here's the trailer to Amulet--an awesome addition to any library.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

AUP Ups & Downs

Most unfortunately, we have been having some issues with students hacking into Destiny Quest accounts and being unkind to others. Grrrr! This coupled with various other infractions have led Chrissy and I to do some major technology triage! We spent one class period in the library reviewing the AUP terms of agreement with all second and third graders and re-signed a huge poster version of the AUP. This now hangs in the Hub as a reminder.

But I wanted to take something negative and turn it into something fun and positive where they could teach other students how to behave appropriately. I searched for some easy cartoon sites and stumbled upon Go Animate. It's my new favorite site for kids as it is so easy and fun.

In our second lesson, we spoke about what our message would be in the video, and it had to be one of the terms of the AUP that we were struggling with. We then did a shared writing exercise that included the dialogue. It was so cute because #1 character was the cheeky one and #2 was the wise one. Cheeky person had to be cheeky twice before realizing the error of his/her way and making a better choice. And for some really bizarre reason that only second graders would do (one of the reasons I love this age), the first class decided they would end it with going to get some "computer flavored ice cream." This led to every class ending with going to get some item of food that tasted like a computer. Funny how none of them thought that eating something that tasted like a computer might not be delicious. Suffice it to say there was a lot of laughing in the last few days.

Here are a few samples of videos we made. Please note in this one that the characters go to get an "electric special cappucino" at Starbucks after making this grave mistake. Not+following+Directions by Ms. Tara

And one more just because they are pretty adorable. Don%27t+Destroy+Computers by Ms. Tara

There is an innocence in their dialogues that is so precious.  Almost like their recent Destiny Quest cheekiness was just because they all forgot. Forgiven.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Fabulous Animal Books x 2

There is this lovely little sub-genre of animal nonfiction books with photos and a real story woven through it. I don't know what it's called, but I love them and so do the kids. Recently, I received a new book that I am sharing with everyone from PreK to 5th grade. At every age level, there is equal enthusiasm and fascination.

The cuteness of this book is astounding!

And more cuteness with this one! Wait until you see the end of the book.
I paired it with Little Pink Pup that I discovered on We Give Books last year, and I like the 'real' copy even more than the online version. The story is about a dog who is kind enough to take care of a piglet that need a mom, and it is a big hit with the students.

On the lookout for more titles like these to make a list of great book titles for those who love this type of book!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Father/Son Beauty


The father/son book club turned out to be one of the highlights of my time at ISB. The intro activity of choosing our characteristics was simple yet special enough to get the night started on a great note. But it was the conversation that had me in awe--it was deep and thoughtful and insightful and so incredibly mature. This book has so many things to talk about that we never even got to the questions I had written ahead of time, plus the boys touched on many of them in their organic talk. What struck me was how the minute we started talking, we were all just people--not dads, kids and a teacher--just people. I chuckled when one boy said, "Um, I have to disagree with Nick in his last statement" and Nick was another boy's dad. The boys were book club rock stars.

All dads in my group, except for one, admitted freely that they cried at the end of the book. One dad even bought six copies of the book for adult friends because he felt it was that important.

On a reflective note, I love that I took enough time to find the right book and thankfully did not choose a fluff book just to get boys on board. This book felt perfect.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Father/Son Book Club, Part One

After the success of our mother/daughter book club in the fall, I knew I wanted to do a father/son book club as well. The original plan was to have the title chosen by December so everyone could buy the book over break. Well, January came and no title. February came, and still no title. I was completely stuck. After tons of reflection, I realized while trying to find the perfect "sporty-yet-funny-while-grabbing-everyone-including-the-one-reluctant-reader-who-might-join-the-book-club" title, what I was really doing was selling boys short. Why on earth wouldn't I choose a quality, thought-provoking novel for boys like I automatically did for the girls?

This epiphany led me to choosing what was the most perfect title for our club: Wonder by RJ Palacios. I read it the moment it was released (literally the moment), and the feedback I have received from the boys and dads thus far has been nothing short of amazing. I even had one email from a dad that said he was up until 1:00 a.m. finishing the books with tears streaming down his face.
Here's the plan for the evening:

1. After getting food, the boys and dads will take sticky notes and write down two adjectives that describe them. They will add these to our mural and then write one adjective about each other. I'll add their photos to the mural as the finishing touch.

2. We are going to watch the video Kindness Thought Bubble by Amy Krouse Rosenthal as a starter.

3. We'll divide into two groups and use some questions I made as guiding questions. I'm so curious to see where the conversation goes, though, as this book is so rich with things to talk about.

4. We'll finish up with a few questions we might ask the author if we had that opportunity.

Can't wait!