Background from

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New Agriculture and Farming Books at DC Elementary

Earlier in the school year, the Dallas Center Elementary library was awarded a $200 grant from the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. This grant allowed for the purchase of several new farming and agriculture books to add to the collection and to use with units of study.

Recently, second graders completed a mini-unit that reinforced the main idea/detail note-taking work they had been doing in their classrooms throughout the year. Students could work individually, with a partner, or as a trio to read all or part of a new book, then complete the handout, identifying one main idea and two supporting details.
Access the handout HERE

Below are some of the things students learned in their work:

Once students had read and completed the handout, it was time to return to one of their favorite web tools, Flipgrid. This group of students has used Flipgrid several times and with very few reminders were able to record their learning. To access the full topic and listen to their responses, click HERE.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Awesome Octopuses

As an extension to our fiction/nonfiction work with kindergarten students, we turned to octopuses--an animal with which many students already had a fascination. We began with a quick review of the difference between fiction and nonfiction books, and then we were off with our octopus books.

Students quickly began sharing what they already knew about these sea creatures, and we referred to National Geographic Kids's website for additional information as well.
CLICK HERE to access the full article

With all of our octopus learning, we turned to creating our own octopuses. We used a template from The template reinforced scissor skills, and students were able to design their octopuses with camouflage elements as they chose. You can CLICK HERE for the template:

Check out some of the students' work:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

We've Been Busy!

It's been a long time since we've posted about our students' work and activities. What have we been doing? All sorts of things! Take a look!

Fourth and fifth graders are working on several things at once: accessing our AEA databases, reading nonfiction for main idea and details, and citing their sources. Eventually, their notetaking will lead to the creation of a Google Slides presentation.

Third graders have just wrapped up their look at mythology and myths from around the world using a Scholastic site.
Access the site HERE
Students read myths, identifying main characters, summarizing the plot, and determining the purpose of the myth.

Online catalog work is the focus for our second graders in the fourth quarter. Students learn about the visual and basic searches, then practice using the catalog to find books on the shelves.

First graders are busy using PebbleGO to browse for an animal of interest, then learn facts about their animal that they then combine with make-believe information. The facts, along with their added silliness pieces, come together in a storytelling activity on Flipgrid.

 Finally, kindergarteners take the last several cycles of the year to read and listen to a variety of themed books. For example, recently students read Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider, then created their own Diary... books featuring animals or objects of their choice.

Our year's not over yet--stay tuned for more work and activities!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Doin' Dewey

Fourth and fifth graders in several buildings have recently been learning about the Dewey Decimal System and practicing finding books in the nonfiction section of our libraries.  Here's a brief look at the DDS activities.

Day 1
Before starting our conversation about the DDS, we discussed various collections we already have at home, like DVDs, video games, clothes, and yes, even books! Students offered different ideas about how to arrange these collections: by gaming systems, popularity, release date, color, height, or no arrangement at all. We then talked about the arrangement in libraries--that Melville Dewey's system of arranging books became the way by which nearly all libraries arrange their nonfiction books. We followed up the conversation with the book Do You Know Dewey? by Brian Cleary.

We further explored the DDS with a Kahoot! It is a public Kahoot! so others who are interested can access it online.

Day 2
This day had students up and moving around in the nonfiction section of our libraries, searching for books that satisfied different task cards. On Teachers Pay Teachers, this particular bundle of DDS/nonfiction task cards was especially great--it's from Staying Cool in the Library and available for purchase at TPT.

Students worked in groups of 3-4 to search for the books in our catalogs, to find the books on the shelves, and to record their findings on an answer sheet.

Day 3
Finally, students demonstrated what they learned about the DDS on a Google Form quiz that they accessed through Google Classroom.

As they wrapped up with their, students could also visit a variety of sites to learn more about the DDS. Click on the caption to access the document and the links within.
LINK to document
Students found the rap quite entertaining and the concentration game much more challenging than the 16 cards led them to believe it would be!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Talking' about Traits

As part of our Iowa Goldfinch Award work, students spent some time talking about character traits. To help us understand the difference between a character trait and other traits (like appearance), we used everyone's favorite orange cat as an example.

We decided that a character trait had to do with a person's (or cat's!) personality. So, while we could all say that Garfield was a big, orange cat, we couldn't say those traits referred to his personality. Instead, we decided that he was lazy.

Then, it was on to more Goldfinch read-aloud books to practice talking about character traits in books. We used This a Moose and Meet the Dullards for this activity.

Students talked about two groups of characters from each book: Moose and Duck from This is a Moose and the parents and the kids from Meet the Dullards. Here are some of the descriptors they arrived at when talking about character traits:

Moose: determined, brave
Duck: angry, hypocritical
Parents: boring, surprised
Kids: bored, sneaky

Students then used Flipgrid to record their thinking. Using our lists of traits, students chose a character and trait, then said why they believed that character showed that trait. Click on the link in the caption to access the students' responses.
CLICK HERE to access the grid.
Stay tuned--we're not done yet with our Iowa Goldfinch Award nominees!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Goldfinch Work, Part II

It's busy times in the library during Goldfinch Award book "season." :) We've paired additional books and have had thoughtful, creative work from our students. Recently, we read The Little Shop of Monsters and Fright Club.

Students quickly picked up on the mood of the books and enjoyed the unexpected "scariness" of the cute little creatures in Fright Club and the silliness of the monsters in The Little Shop of Monsters

As an extension of the day's readings, students at South Prairie visited The Little Shop of Monsters website, where they watched a video first and then designed their own Pocket Monsters. 

Students at Heritage Elementary and Dallas Center Elementary used iPads to design their own monsters using the apps Doodle Buddy and Monster Moogle Maker.

Both apps allowed students to choose a background and design a monster, usually an animal that they then modified to include physical features and accessories to create the perfect, scary monster!

Another pairing of Goldfinch Award books has been The Night World and Sleep Like a Tiger.

Author Mordecai Gerstein's note at the end of The Night World is a great place to start with students as you prepare them for the read aloud, and the sleeping animals on the last page are a wonderful transition to Mary Logue's Sleep Like a Tiger. We also watched a video called Animals at Rest to gain some background knowledge or reinforce what we already know about sleeping animals.

Students then designed their own night worlds on black construction paper using light-colored crayons and colored pencils, or they wrote and illustrated a page showing the animal they most resemble when they sleep.

With Goldfinch Award voting not happening until March, stay tuned for more read aloud pairings and ideas! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Getting a Start on Goldfinch Books

We've recently begun reading some of our Iowa Goldfinch nominees and completing different follow-up or extension activities. We began with The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and Bear & Squirrel are Friends.

Before listening to the two stories, we watched a PebbleGO video about black bears. We learned that 2 of us kindergarteners lying head-to-toe are likely as long as a 7-foot black bear, and 4 or 5 kindergarteners in a group weigh about as much as one!

After the stories, students completed this handout, choosing two more animals that probably aren't "friends" in nature, but like Bear & Squirrel, maybe they could be friends!

Our look at Goldfinch nominees continued with "the crayon books"--The Day the Crayons Came Home and Frankencrayon.

Kindergarteners got creative and designed their own scribble "monsters" using an activity from Greenwillow Books.

First & second graders focused on two crayons from The Day the Crayons Came Home--Estaban and Neon Red. Acting like travel agents, first graders decided which world tourist destinations Estaban visited once he finally made it out of the house. After choosing destinations, students then wrote a postcard in Estaban's voice, describing something from his travels.

Finally, second graders helped Neon Red visit European landmarks that he may have missed as he made his way back to Duncan. Using Google Draw, students dragged an image of Neon Red to one of several destinations--check out a few of the class examples below:

Stay tuned for more activities and ideas related to our Goldfinch books!