Monday, February 3, 2014

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...How Does Your Library Grow?

Principal ponderings...

One of our goals this year is to focus on improving our classroom libraries and providing more independent reading time for our students.  I know recently grade level teams had the chance to have some conversation around classroom libraries with the reading coaches.  I have also had several conversations with teachers, and recently I spent some time conducting informal assessments of the lab teachers' classroom libraries.  It's great to see the progress we have made in just half a school year!  Mrs. Potter was just telling me the other day that her students have been reading non fiction during independent reading time, but they were asking her for more time in the day to read some of their fiction books.  Kids asking for more reading awesome is that?!  By developing their reading stamina, implementing a consistent reader's workshop model with significant time for independent reading, and allowing for lots of choice within the classroom library, those 4th grade students in Mrs. Potter's class have developed a love of reading.  Plus, they realize from the environment created in their classroom and their teacher's modeling, that reading is important and valued.  This isn't just happening in 4th grade.  I was in Mrs. Taylor's kindergarten class the other day, and several students were proud of their classroom library and excited to tell me about the different choices of books they had in their room.  Kindergarteners were choosing books and going up to other students and saying, "Hey, do you want to read this book with me?"  Again, awesome stuff happening with reading in our school.

Some of you have already made changes to your library.  Some of you have read articles I shared over the summer, and talked with your peers about your classroom library.  I encourage all of you to keep having those conversations with each other.  Come chat with me...I love to talk books!  Seek out Grace and ask her about ways to improve your classroom library.  Stop into one of the lab teachers' classrooms and take a look at their libraries.  Ask them about how they organized their bins.  Ask them about leveling some of the books.  (Did you know we have parent volunteers who are already eagerly helping some teachers level books using the Fountas and Pinnell website that I purchased for us?)  The lab teacher have done a lot of work to get their libraries organized and running smoothly, where students utilize the classroom library on a daily basis and take pride in their books.  They know that they still need to keep adding books to their libraries, but they all have a great start, so make sure to utilize their knowledge!

Here are a few short articles about the importance of classroom libraries and advice for what to include in them: (Did you know that by simply having a library in the classroom, close to the students, one study found that time spent reading increased by 60%!?)  Some great visuals on Pinterest!

"To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul."

Our classrooms are our students' homes for 6 hours a day.  Does your classroom have soul?

Currently reading:

This week I spent some time reading some of the great picture books that the PTA bought to add to classroom libraries and our school library.  One of the books is called Those Shoes.  It's a wonderful story about a young boy who learns that what he has in his life is worth much more than things that he wants.  Another great book I read was called Battle Bunny.  This book was supposed to be about a birthday bunny, but through the magic of writing over words and adding to the becomes a completely different story.  It's a book that will certainly motivate our young storytellers!
Check out this video where the illustrator explains how he put together the drawings in the book:
I also read a book called Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.  This is one of the those books that remind us it's ok to be different and the illustrations are awesome!  I can see our young students begging to have this story read aloud.  Here is the author talking about his book:

I picked a book back up this weekend, and I was glad I made myself finish it.  It was called Lighting Their Fires: How Parents and Teachers Can Raise Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World.  The author, Rafe Esquith, is a fifth grade teacher who has amazingly high expectations for his students.  The book is written about his trip to a Dodgers-Cardinals baseball game with some of his students, and throughout the innings, he shares terrific advice for teachers and parents on how to raise thoughtful, honorable, successful students.  I absolutely recommend this book!

Events this week:
Tuesday - 2nd grade public library trip (Miln and Benkley)
Wednesday - Kindergarten enrichment: Nashua River Animals in Winter, Grade 2 and Multi-age Chorus practice @2:20, Staff meeting @3:30, Dr. Bent will be attending
Thursday - Report Card Committee Meeting @ 3:30
Friday - Grade 2 and multi-age chorus practice @2:20

Great things I noticed last week:
  • Mrs. McEvoy's 2nd graders were enjoying the poem "How to Talk to Your Snowman."
  • Mrs. Wilkins was reading aloud a story about Chinese New Year to her class and discussing what a narrative non fiction book is like.
  • Mr. Coronis and Mrs. Smith were working with students on understanding the relationship between multiplication and division.  The room was buzzing with eager mathematicians!

  • Mrs. Wenz's students were starting the day off by having two confident students run the morning meeting.

Check it out:
Many of you know that I don't have cable at my house, and since we weren't rooting for anyone in particular, we did not watch the Super Bowl.  I discovered this little list and thought it would be perfect to share: 14 books you could have read in the time it takes to watch the Super Bowl.  My kind of list!

Read about what one teacher has done over her career to save students' lives:

Are we asking our students these powerful questions?

And here is a great reminder of why we teach...

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