Why I’m Excited about the Common Core

The more I delve into the Common Core State Standards the more I’m excited about the prospect for librarians.  Close reading of quality texts, the 4th R-research, reading across multiple texts, writing about what you read, etc. are areas where I know we can shine!  The timing for conversations around complex texts and  informational texts is perfect, too, with Candlewick’s “We Believe in Picture Books” campaign. I maintain that picture books are often the perfect choice for direct instruction of lots of literacy concepts, right up through middle school.  So if CCSS gives me more ammunition to “sell” picture books to my teachers I’m all over it!

(I have a feeling the CCSS will provide me with blogging ideas as well, and that’s another good thing!)  Please leave a comment and tell me how these new standards are impacting you.

October Bulletin Board Idea

Something I saw on Pinterest this summer inspired this bulletin board (I’m sorry–I don’t remember where I saw it!)  To launch our mini-unit about mysteries, we made silhouettes of enlarged pictures of some book characters we thought many of our K-3 students would recognize.

We have contest entry forms numbered 1-8, and all forms that have all eight answers correct will be entered into a random drawing for a prize at the end of the month.

We’ll also be having students put their arm into our mystery box (blindfolded) to see if they can guess what objects are inside (dice, emery board, etc.).  It’s amazing how the birthday party games of your youth can come in handy!

Newbery update: The Hero and the Crown

Still working my way through this challenge.  Fantasy/dragonslayers, etc. isn’t really my cup of tea, so this one was a bit of a stretch.  The verdict:  2 out of 5 stars for the writing. In terms of selling this book to my students, my population is still too young (K-3).  Even my most capable readers are probably not ready for Aerin and Luthe.

Grandpa Green and Seurat

Don’t you love it when things sort of collide in a good way?  This morning I was doing some web searches for a pinterest board I’d like to do for Vermont’s children’s choice award, the Red Clover Award.  One of this year’s titles is Lane Smith’s Grandpa Green, which you probably already know is about how a grandpa uses/creates topiary to capture the memories of his long life.  So in a search for “topiary” I discovered this marvel…and a close-up.  And what famous artist and painting did we study last year and re-create in caps?  You got it!

So this year when we talk about topiary and Grandpa Green we can also reflect back on what we learned last year.  And the students will appreciate the workmanship of the topiary, having re-created the painting in another way.  Cool times two!

Newbery Challenge: Ginger Pye

The fun, contemporary art work by Arthur Howard on the updated cover of Eleanor Estes’ book Ginger Pye had me all excited to read this one.  Sadly, I felt cheated!  Once inside the book, the illustrations were the original ones by the author and I’m sorry to say they missed the mark.  Very primitive by today’s standards.  Admittedly, perhaps not as much of a problem, though, for chapter book readers.

I so wanted to like this book.  And I did, basically, imagining myself back in elementary school.  This is the type of thing I did like to read on a summer afternoon under the tree in the front yard.  But there were too many things about it that today’s students simply can’t relate to.  Probably best if read with an adult who can appreciate its context and explain lots of the details (trolleys, tramps, etc.)  It does harken back to a simpler time….

Handy Lists for You!

For the past six weeks or so, Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 has been conducting a poll to determine the top 100 picture books and chapter books (according to her followers).   If you missed reading the daily posts describing each book in the top 100 countdowns, the folks at SLJ have promised to put them into some handy lists for us.  Register to receive the email with PDF here and then use the lists for parents and teachers and students for readers’ advisory.

It was nice to see Charlotte’s Web in the number one spot for chapter books, particularly since this October is the 60th anniversary of the book’s publication.  It’s been a favorite of mine for a long, long time.  Want to read another great book by E.B. White?  A book written for adults?  Try One Man’s MeatWhite’s collection of essays about being a gentleman farmer in Maine.  Excellent!

Image:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/11121568@N06/4446461866

Newbery Challenge Update: Onion John

Finally, summer’s here and I can get back to the Newbery Challenge.  I finished the 1960 winner recently (Onion John, by Joseph Krumgold) and here’s my rating:

3 of 5 stars for the writing

2 stars for relevance for today’s students and my ability to “sell” it to 3rd graders  (I’m in a K-3 school)

Up next:  Ginger Pye


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