Monday, June 3, 2013

Beware These Evil Characters!

Grade 2 has finished their fairy tale unit both in the library and in class. In the library, students learned about the ingredients needed to cook up a good fairy tale. We then examined several fairy tales - Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, Snow White, and others and zeroed in on the "bad" or evil characters. We noticed that most evil characters were women - often stepmothers and witches and sometimes greedy Kings. After taking notes with Popplet on the iPads, students created WANTED POSTERs using another iPad app. Please enjoy their posters!

Wanted! These Fairy Tale Characters Are Dangerous! A 2nd Grade Library Project Using the iPads on PhotoPeach

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We're Getting 'Appy in the Library!

Last week the library was invaded by... iPads! I was lucky enough to present at and attend the Computers in Libraries Conference in Washington DC recently where I sat in a wonderful workshop on using iPads in the library. I couldn't wait to get back to work and start implementing some of the ideas I came away with.

One app that I asked to have installed on our iPads is called Felt Board. I introduced the iPads and Felt Board to our youngest students and they just flew with it.  I had them create stories on Feltboard; we then saved their felt board as an image. In our next class, we imported the image into another app called Screenchomp. The kindergartners just had to press the record button and - with absolutely no problem - they recorded their stories! You can hear some of their stories by clicking on Student Work K-2! I am so proud of how easily they mastered this app and even taught me a thing or two!

Meanwhile, in grade 2, I am ramping up my yearly fairy tale unit by having the students record their observations of fairy tale elements in another app called Popplet.  I allowed the students to sit with their iPads and take notes while I read them our first tale, Little Red Riding Hood, using the wonderful collection of fairy tales in Lucy Cousin's book, Yummy.

Popplet Fairy Tale Graphic Organizer

I don't want to give away the secret about what they will do to culminate our unit. For sure they will love using the app I have in mind!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Searingcott Winners!!

On Thursday, April 18th, Searingtown second-graders participated in our annual "Searingcott" vote! For the past several weeks, the 2nd graders became expert book reviewers, learning to recognize the characteristics of award-worthy book illustrations. Each student received his/her very own JUDGE'S NOTEBOOK, in which they scored each book nominee (our list of books came from a list of books that were most likely on the consideration list for the 2013 Caldecott Award). They learned about perspective, color, art mediums, and use of white space. They thought about how book illustrations can enhance the text or even --as in the case of This Is Not My Hat-- tell a completely different story than the text.

As we read each book together, I recorded the students' observations on the SmartBoard. As each week went by, I was more and more impressed with the depth of observations!

These are the books we evaluated ~

  • This Is Not My Hat (Jon Klassen)
  • Green (Laura Vaccaro Seeger)
  • Another Brother (Matthew Cordell)
  • Extra Yarn (Mac Barnett/Jon Klassen)
  • Nighttime Ninja (Barbara Da Costa/Ed Young
  • Sleep Like a Tiger (Pamela Zagerenski)
  • Bear Has a Story to Tell (Philip Stead/Erin Stead) 
Our gold medal went to: ANOTHER BROTHER! Students loved this very funny book. Our honor medals went to: THIS IS NOT MY HAT; GREEN; EXTRA YARN; and NIGHTTIME NINJA. 

Many students submitted designs for our Searingcott Medal. The theme this year was: Be a smart cookie and read! Congratulations to all students who submitted a design and especially to our winners, Ashish Jalwan (gold), Matthew Lora, Nicoletta Karras, Rocco DiGirolomo, and Halle Sacharoff!
Medal designed by Ashish Jalwan-Grade 2

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stephanie Calmenson Visits Searingtown!

On April 4th we had the pleasure of meeting prolific author, Stephanie Calmenson, author of more than 100 books. Stephanie engaged all grades with her stories about her dog Rosie, featured canine in the book, ROSIE - A VISITING DOG'S STORY.  Students learned so much about visiting dogs and even how to behave when confronting a strange dog, as described in the book MAY I PET YOUR DOG? Our younger students loved hearing her read BIRTHDAY AT THE PANDA PALACE.

Most of all, Stephanie talked about the writing process, including the different genres of writing. She described the "choices and challenges" she contemplates when starting a new book - should her book be fiction or nonfiction; prose or poetry? She emphasized the importance of having a plan that included doing research, talking to experts, and reading, reading, reading! She shared her writing drafts with the students, showing them the process of rejection, revision, and acceptance. She enthusiastically encouraged the students to follow their dreams, just as she did when she decided to become an author!

We are so grateful to our PTA for providing opportunities like this for our students. Mrs. Genara DiGirolomo and Mrs. Peggy Bosco both put so much effort into making the day a huge success! The library looks forward to working together next year to provide another fantastic learning experience.
Mrs. Genara DiGirolomo, Mrs. Karen Kliegman, Stephanie Camlenson, and  Principal Elizabeth Guercin

Students had tons of questions for the author!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Survivor MD 2013: A New Twist!

Survivor MD has been and continues to be the most liked project by my students. Now in it's fourth year, two of the fifth grade classes (Ms. Ruggiano's class and Mr. Soloway's class) are now deep into this project-based learning unit. Last week I added a new twist to it and the students are definitely psyched! I learned about a web 2.0 tool called ThingLink, a nifty little tool that allows you to make images interactive by tagging spots on the image with text, links, videos, and audio. Students now are working on Challenge 3 of Survivor MD -- "Your Gross and Cool Body" -- where they are researching the functions of the different parts and organs of the body system they are assigned. Originally, they were going to present their information as life-sized diagrams; however, I received an email from Rosen Publishing about a contest for K-12, announcing that Rosen Digital has joined ThingLink to host a contest that encourages creativity and 21st-century learning skills. SO... last week I presented this as an option for their final project. Most of the groups decided to give it a try and are pretty excited about it! Whether one of the groups wins the contest or not, this is a fabulous way to show what they learned while using technology.

Additionally, it hits the Common Core Standards (not to mention a slew of AASL Information Literacy Standards!):

Production and Distribution of Writing

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
I am so excited to see what my amazing fifth graders come up with over the next few weeks!! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2nd Graders Learn to Be Judges

My 2nd graders are in the midst of the judging process for our annual "Searingcott" Medal contest. This year I decided to have them review books that were actually being considered for the Caldecott. Other years I have chosen different themes, such as "Illustrators that never won a medal". They have their own judging notebooks and have become quite adept at analyzing illustrations and their interplay with text. They are pointing out things like the use of perspective, soft, quiet colors vs. bold and bright ones, and texture. I love it!

One book that they adored was the real Caldecott winner, This is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen. Students loved the contrast between the illustrations and what the main character was thinking.

They also loved the book, Another Brother, by Matthew Cordell. Looking forward to seeing which books wins!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Online Safety 4th Grade Presentations

In January, I was able to obtain a free trial to an Internet Safety interactive eBook from Rosen Publishing (I loved it and we will order it for next year). All three fourth grade classes read the book; in two of the classes, students  partnered up and took notes in a storyboard I created (thanks to Iowa librarian, Shannon McClintock-Miller, for the idea). Students were told that they would be creating presentations on online safety. They had to deduce what was most important from each section of the eBook, write it on their storyboard, and then find an image using the Virtual Library's Image Finder page to visually represent the idea.

I had Mr. Dugger/Ms. Soriento/Ms. Smythe's class create their presentations in Animoto. I created accounts for them and then let them fly. The computer lab was rocking with the sounds of excited kids having a blast while learning something that is so important in today's world. These kids also had the challenge of editing their text to fit the text limits in Animoto.

See the rest of their Animotos by going to Fourth Grade Student Work page.
Mrs. Taliercio's students created their presentations using our Herricks Google Apps accounts! Just as engaged as the other class, students mastered the art of creating collaborative slideshows in spite of browser and network glitches. Their presentations will be available shortly.

So, what exactly did all of these students accomplish? Here's a short list, drawn from the CCSS (ELA, Grade 4), AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, and ISTE Technology standards--
  • Determining the main idea of a text; summarizing the text; using precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about a topic.
  • Interpreting information from interactive elements on a web page (eBooks).
  • Using digital tools to gather, organize, synthesize and ethically use.
  • Collaborate and publish with peers in a digital environment. 

    At Least I'm Enjoying the Ride

    I love my library website; it's my child, one that I have nurtured through various incarnations for 13 years. However, I decided today that I need another virtual space to share the amazing things that happen on a day-to-day basis in my library. Wonderful things happen there - so, this is going to be the space that I give a shout-out to the incredible work done by my students as well as  talk about other cool stuff that goes on. I decided to name the blog Synthesize. I want this to be a space where I synthesize my own thoughts as well as show how my students have synthesized their learning. I find that both at work and at home that I am juggling so many things at once that I sometimes forget what I was just thinking about! I need a place like this blog to recall and reflect on the organized (and very often 'unorganized') chaos that encompasses a typical day at work. I hope you enjoy the ride with me!