Sunday, December 28, 2014

Let's Design A New Space! Part Four! We're Designing!

Once the Third Graders had finished researching different Learning Commons, elements of a Learning Commons and children's furniture, they revisited their list of non-negotiables. The groups then   began to decide what they wanted to put into each of the five different zones. Some chose to write what they wanted to put into each zone, while others decided to draw it. They also had to figure out who was going to be responsible for the actual drawing of each zone. I loved walking amongst the groups and hearing the conversations that were going on as to why they wanted to put something in one space over another and negotiating their favorite elements into the design.

The children spread out all throughout the library and began to draw their designs. First in pencil so that if they wanted to move something they were able to and then in colored pencil, pen. or crayon. Coming soon....The final product!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Walking and Listening to "Hunt For the Bamboo Rat"

Salisbury, Graham. Hunt For the Bamboo Rat. 7 hours, 50 minutes. Listening Library. 2014. $29.99. ISBN: 9780553395631 Downloaded via Overdrive

Waiting....I had to do a lot of waiting to get my ears on the latest book by Graham Salisbury. I'm not going to hide the fact that I am fan of his. In my mind he can do no wrong in the world of historical fiction, he has the gift of making his reader feel as though they are smack dab in the middle of the action,that time period. It's not only that though, having grown up here he knows the islands, he gets the nuances of the islands, he knows what makes us unique. I appreciate those touches in his books.

Recent high school graduate Zenji Watanabe is approached by the Army about a job opportunity as a Japanese translator in the Philippines. Little does he know that translating documents or communique is only a small bit of what he will be doing. After taking on the code name, "Bamboo Rat," Zenji needs to befriend/spy on Japanese businessmen and report the information back to the military so they can try to figure out what Japan's next move may be. Taking residence in the Momo Hotel, where many of the Japanese businessmen are, Zenji becomes like a little brother to these men, gaining their trust and and learning quite a bit from them. However, when Pearl Harbor is bombed, Zenji's world is turned upside down, forcing him to take on new roles, hide his identity and stay true to what he believes in.

Greg Watanabe does a phenomenal job narrating this book. I loved his use of pidgin'. It wasn't so thick that people who weren't from Hawaii couldn't understand him, but it was still genuine and sounded like what I hear around me everyday. The intonation in his voice when he was spoke Japanese was such that even if you didn't understand a word of Japanese you could easily understand if what the character was saying was kind, cruel etc. His pacing kept the action moving right along and helped the listener grasp the urgency in certain situations.

Favorite Chapter Title: Yellow Ginger

My daily walking route goes through a beach that Graham Salisbury writes about in Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet. My favorite part to read aloud when I am book talking the book has to do with kiteboarders. So when I was walking windy day through that beach, I had to snap this picture.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December Bulletin Boards

Tis the season! The library is decorated in all its winter holiday glory! "Reading lights up your mind" is on large bulletin board this month with various Christmas lights really making it come to life. We saved the trees from last months bulletin board, however all the leaves fell off in the fall and all that we are left with are these bare trees.
Poor Greg, he must of just found out that he is on the naughty list this year.
The P.F.A. donated this gorgeous tree to the library this year. The kids had a blast decorating it.

Our back bulletin board celebrates Jolly Ole Saint Nick.
Happy Birthday to Author Illustrator David Macaulay!

Our side bulletin boards highlight winter celebrations around the world!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Let's Design A New Space Part Three! Getting Inspiration

In any design process it is important to see what is already out there, not only to show you what the possibilities are but to also draw inspiration from. For the last 2 cycles, the third graders have been doing just that. I created a Blendspace to help the students access a variety of different elementary Learning Commons around the world. They also looked at maker spaces, bookstores and furniture to get different ideas. They absolutely loved what they saw! I can not begin to count the number of times I heard them saying, "That is so cool!" or "Wow!" They were completely engaged in the process and having a blast.

They recorded what they saw, as well as their own ideas, through drawing or writing. Looking over what they found has been fascinating and it is very apparent they are going to design an amazing space.
Next Step: We start designing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Dolphins and Dragonflies Met Barney Saltzberg (via Skype that is)

"He is so funny!"
"He doesn't just make books, he makes songs too."
"I learned why he writes so many books."
"He's so creative!"

What an amazing time we had meeting and learning from Barney Saltzberg last week. We laughed, we sang, we learned how he writes books, we saw him illustrate and we got to ask him some questions about being and author and illustrator. We all had a blast!

One of the things we did to get ready for our Skype visit was to read as many of Barney Saltzberg's books as possible. The kids and I have been doing some amazing oil pastel illustrations of Arlo (see videos below) based on his book Arlo Needs Glasses. The kids were thrilled that they got to meet the real Arlo and see just how huge he is. We also got to hear how Barney got the idea for Arlo Needs Glasses.
The kids all love his book Beautiful Oops! and it was great to see how easily Barney could turn an "oops" into an amazing illustration like this one. We also learned that he carries a notebook with him at all times because you never know when an idea will come to you. He also sketches in his notebook and we got to see some of his sketches.
Sidenote: Celebrating Beautiful Oops! is being launched this January. It is a great opportunity for you and your students to turn something that you may have thought of as an "oops" and see it as something positive and something that can we can learn from. 
The kids also had a blast singing with him "Shopping With My Dog" and "Where Oh Where is My Underwear."
The kids love his book Crazy Hair Day so they all came to school that day with their hair as colorful and full of accessories as can be.
We are all so grateful for the time that we got to spend learning and having fun with Barney Saltzberg. It is an experience we all won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Walking and Listening to "Bad Magic"

Bosch, Psuedonymous. Bad Magic. 6 hours 35 minutes. Hachette Audio. 2014. $19.95 via Audible.

Having never been to summer camp I am not sure exactly sure what goes on there. However, I am quite positive that if I had received a packing list like the one Clay did for Earth Ranch, I wouldn't be going. A gas mask?! Life jacket?! A bag of carrot tops?! No thank you, I'll just stay home and watch TV.
Clay unfortunately doesn't have a choice in the matter. After an incident at school where the words he wrote in his journal, "Magic Sucks!" suddenly appear on his classroom wall, he is told that if he doesn't go to a camp for juvenile delinquents he won't be able to return to his school for 7th grade. Reluctantly he goes. From the moment the junk-a-lunka seaplane lands at Price Island, Clay's adventure begins complete with an active volcano, things that suddenly catch fire, objects appearing and then disappearing, a ghost and a llama that understands Spanish. Really, what more could you ask for?

Joshua Swanson does an amazing job narrating this book, differentiating his voice for each character which I thought matched their personalities quite well. I also appreciated how he paced the story, no long unnecessary pauses, he kept it moving right along. I loved the sharing of the "footnotes," which in all honesty I tend to overlook when reading.

Favorite Chapter Title: Volcano Surfing
Side Note: I LOVED the references to 70's TV shows. Who doesn't love Gilligan's Island and Fantasy Island?

I don't think Price Island looks anything like the island I live on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

November Bulletin Boards

It's November and time for new bulletin boards!
"Rake In A Good Book" is another amazing creation by Trudie. While we don't have fall in Hawaii, we have many amazing books about it, trees and the creatures that live in those trees.
Poor Greg, even with his new book coming out tomorrow he can't seem to be happy. It must be because some of the leaves from the tree flew off and landed on his head.
In honor of all the gobbling down of food people do at Thanksgiving, I put up this bulletin board full of Thanksgiving books.

One of my favorite books, Sweet Tooth, was written by Margie Palatini who celebrates her birthday this month
Did you know that November is National Sleep Comfort Month? In honor of that I am featuring books on sleeping, napping and snoring.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Walking and Listening to The Planet Thieves

Krokos, Dan. The Planet Thieves. 7 cds. 8 hours, 1 minute. Blackstone Audio. 2013. $69.0. ISBN 978-1-4708-7942-6.
Downloaded from OverDrive.

Thirteen year old Mason started his day by playing a prank on his older sister. He ended it as Captain of the SS Egypt, two total extremes that can only happen when things go terribly wrong, terribly quickly in the middle of space.
Just as Mason is removing the final bolt from his sisters officer chair, the SS Egypt goes into Code Red. The Tremists, enemies to humans, have gotten too close for comfort, attacking the SS Egypt, killing many of its soldiers and taking the others hostage. As the Tremist King boards the Egypt, he demands the "weapon" from Mason's sister Susan. After she reluctantly gives it to him, he takes her back to his ship and holds her hostage. With the commander being badly injured and no one left aboard the Egypt besides the cadets,  Mason is named Captain of the Egypt. Mason then has to depend on Marrin (whose appearance leads others to believe she is a Tremist) and Tom (whose mother has just been killed) and computer Elizabeth (who the Tremist are trying to takeover) to help him save his people.

To be honest, I am not a huge science fiction fan. I've never watched an episode of Star Trek, have only seen the original three Star Wars movies and don't typically pick up science fiction books to read. While this story was easy enough to follow, I found my mind wandering at times. Perhaps that was because of the reader, Kirby Heyborne. I found his reading of this book too slow and the pauses between chapters were so long that I often thought I had accidentally stopped playing the book. While Mason and his friends were in these intense scenes, Kirby's voice remained too flat for me, with no quickening of his reading or excitement in his voice. I enjoyed listening to the Tremist King because his voice had the perfect amount of slimy and evilness to it.

Carved pumpkins don't last more than a day to two here, so while I was out walking I thought I should snap a picture of this jovial one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let's Design A New Space Part 2! Interviewing Others

After determining what their non-negotiables were, the third graders had to come up with questions they wanted to ask the students they were interviewing. This was not an easy task, they were stumped at first but once the ball got rolling they did an amazing job. When a student suggested a question they were able to determine whether or not that was a question that was good for that age level. Since some of them were interviewing kindergarteners they realized that their questions had to be really clear and those who had older students had to make sure to take the question a bit deeper by asking the students why they felt a particular way. We also talked about what information they hoped to get by asking that question that they would then be able to put into their design.

Some of the questions were:
"What do you like about the library?"
"What comes to mind when you think of the library?"
"How do you feel when you walk into the library?"
"What would you change about the library and why?"
"What things do you need to help you to learn?"
"We will have 6 different sections in the library. What would you like to put in each section?"

Anyone have experience putting a teleporter into your Learning Commons? Where can I get one and how much is it going to set me back? It turns out our students really want one. Another idea that came up repeatedly was bringing more of the outdoors into the indoors. I can't wait to see how the kids incorporate that into their design. As you can see the answers ran the gamut, some were a tad on the wild or silly side while others were really very thoughtful.
Next step: I have gone through all the responses each class got and put them together on a Google doc. As we meet this week, students will be going through the answers, grouping items, looking for commonalities and determining what is important for each grade level. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Walking and Listening to "Al Capone Does My Homework"

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Homework. 6 hr. 4 min. Listening Library.  201, $40.00 ISBN 978-085361606
Downloaded from OverDrive

Ahhh..Alcatraz, who isn't fascinated by this prison? Tourist, including myself, have been visiting this prison for years. In fact the reason I really wanted to visit it a few years back was because of Gennifer Choldenko's book Al Capone Does My Shirts. Up to that point I had no idea that the prison employees and their families had lived there. I thought only prisoners resided on the island.

Moose's father has just been made Associate Warden at Alcatraz, putting him second in command. This puts additional pressure onto Moose's family and wanting to know more about what this means for him, Moose visits Piper, the Warden's daughter. Piper tells him how the prisoners target the guards and wardens and explains the point system they have in place for things done to guards i.e. 10 points for spitting on a guard and up to 5,000 points for killing a warden. One evening Moose's parents head out with the warden to celebrate his promotion leaving Moose in charge of his autistic sister Natalie. While Moose's parents are gone, their apartment erupts into flames. Some people who live on the island blame Natalie since they don't fully understand or accept her because she is different from them.  Others on the island find the fire and the timing of it rather suspicious. Moose and his friends decide to take matters into their own hands to see if they can determine what really happened and who was behind it all. From there the stories takes several unexpected twists and turns that involve a hidden note, money laundering, a message from Al Capone and a stabbing. I loved it all!
Side note: Make sure you stick around for the author's note, it is extremely informative and super interesting.

Kirby Heyborne has narrated all of the books in the Alcatraz series and while this was the first opportunity I had to listen to an Alcatraz book (I had read the others), I must say I enjoyed his narration. His pacing was nice and the desperation in Moose's voice both when calling the Warden's office to demand a meeting and his calling out to his father when he realized what Indiana was about to do to his father felt incredibly genuine and in the moment. While there was little differentiation between character voices, I must say his vocalization of loved Al Capone was my favorite.

As I was walking I was luckily able to escape this fierce rhino totally unscathed. Phew!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let's Design A New Space! Part One

Big changes are coming! As I have mentioned before big changes are taking place in libraries all over the world and that the library I work in is no exception. Over the next few years we will be transforming our current space by adding onto the existing building, welcoming additional grade levels into the space and building multiple maker spaces. The design, which unfortunately I can't unveil, is amazing.

When I announced to the 3rd grade students last cycle that they were going to be involved in the design of the new library space they were beside themselves and thought it was the coolest thing ever that their voices and ideas could be heard. I shared with them that this design process was going to take us quite some time, probably up to Christmas Break, and would involve a lot of different steps along the way.

Part One: What are your non-negotiables?
 Each class worked on creating a list of things that they could not live without in the new library space. It has been interesting to see not only what is important to them but the level of detail that they went into. These features that they discussed will need to be incorporated somehow in their design.

Next step: The space won't only be for the 3rd graders. They will need to go out and interview students in various grade levels and see what is important to them. Each class will be writing their own questions based on what they want to know, what is important to them. Stay tuned......