Background from

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue--Our Revised 3rd Grade Myths & Legends Unit

Such great times in 3rd grade recently! Each spring in library classes we work with our 3rd grade teachers to address the reading standards regarding myths and legends. (That's our "something borrowed," as these aren't mentioned specifically in AASL library standards.) We began our work with Greek mythology, gaining background knowledge from Britannica Online articles related to different gods and goddesses.

Students used this handout in Google Classroom to record their work. We were looking for how the humans interacted with the gods and/or how the gods treated one another.
You can access the handout HERE.

We then read and shared different star stories using the TrueFLIX book Constellations, including the story about the constellation Scorpius.

A favorite assignment among third graders, designing their own constellation and creating the story behind it was next--our "something old." In this two-day activity, students plan their stories and stage a picture for their final projects. Students brainstorm possible constellations and stories using the handout below.
You can access the handout HERE.
Check out some of the students' work on their constellations and stories:

And now for our "something new"--a visit to Scholastic's website called Myths from Around the World. Again using Google Classroom, students accessed the site and read myths and legends of their choosing from a wide variety of cultures.

After reading myths and legends of their choice, students then accessed a world map on Google Maps--the "something new." Their work came full circle as we returned to our original conversation about the purpose of myths--to explain something in nature, to teach a lesson, or to celebrate a hero's story. On the map, students were to place a pin on the country from their reading and identify the purpose of the myth. You can see their work below:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We're Flipping Over Flipgrid!

Dallas Center Elementary K-2 students have been using Flipgrid with recent lessons, and we all love it! This website and app allow us to record students' work and hear their thinking in their own voices. Each of the grade levels focused on different lessons but ultimately recorded their work in Flipgrid. Check it out!

Students have been reviewing the differences between fiction and nonfiction text. We looked at examples both from our own library collection, as well as pairs of books featured on BookFLIX. As a final assessment, students looked at various books at their tables and determined whether the book was fiction or nonfiction. As groups, then, students recorded their responses using Flipgrid.
After talking about ABC order and the importance of alphabetical order in the library earlier in the year, we circled back to those concepts to write and illustrate our own ABC books. After some read aloud examples, students looked at different kinds of ABC books in their table groups.

Students then wrote and illustrated their own ABC books, taking inspiration from the many examples they saw. It was then time to record them reading from their own books.

You can access their Flipgrid videos by clicking on the caption below:

2nd Grade
Thanks to a fellow K-5 teacher librarian, we tried a new lesson looking at books that have had very few or zero checkouts in a year's time. Reading a book together, we talked about the story and the pictures, offering our opinions about why the book is one that we should recommend to students or one that we should maybe remove from the shelf. Students then looked through books at their tables to choose one that they then used to complete the handout below.

After making decisions about the books they'd chosen, students then recorded their responses on Flipgrid.
If you're looking for an engaging and user-friendly way to assess your students--and want your students' voices to be loud and clear!--Flipgrid is a wonderful tool to add to your toolbox! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Statewide Book Award Winners Announced

Earlier in March, K - 2nd grade students voted for the Iowa Goldfinch Award book winner after several weeks of read alouds and activities. Favorites like Ivan: The Remarkable Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole were contenders, but in the end, Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio was the DC Elementary building winner.

Students in Grades 3 - 5 also voted on the Iowa Children's Choice Award book after listening to read alouds of I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire, Dash, and Loot. If students had also read a second nominee, they were eligible to vote. Winning the Iowa Children's Choice Award at DC Elementary was Loot by Jude Watson.

Iowa teacher librarians met today for their annual conference and state-wide winners were announced. A drum roll please. . . the Iowa Goldfinch winner was The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak. Statewide, 152 elementary schools participated in the voting with almost 6,250 votes submitted!

And the Iowa Children's Choice winner was I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire by Lauren Tarshis. This book was the second place vote getter among DC Elementary students. Statewide, 218 schools participated in the voting with more than 17,100 votes submitted! 

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2017 - 2018 state award nominees. Remember, if you read two books on the list, you'll be eligible to vote. These great books make for some good summer reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More Goldfinch Books Activities

It's been a busy few weeks reading and talking about and working with our Iowa Goldfinch nominees! Two books that became quick favorites were Rosie Revere Engineer and The Most Magnificent Thing.

We talked about both main characters' struggles to make "just right" and magnificent things and how frustrated they became--either on their own or because other people made them feel as though their work wasn't their best. All of us could relate to the characters and could connect to their stories. We talked about times in our own lives when perseverance and a growth mindset paid off.

To celebrate our individual creations and show our own "magnificent things" at work, we folded paper airplanes. Students could fold the planes as they'd like, and we also had a pattern to follow if students wanted to use a template. We then stepped into the hallway to test our designs.

What "magnificent things" have you created recently? And, how have you shown a growth mindset with your work?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Getting to Know Ivan the Gorilla

One of the Iowa Goldfinch books nominated this year is Katherine Applegate's nonfiction children's book Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.

Based on her Newbery Award winning chapter book, The One and Only Ivan, this children's book introduces Ivan to a whole new generation of readers. We got to know Ivan through an older video segment recorded at the time that Ivan lived at the B & I Shopping Mall in Tacoma, Washington.

Next, we listened to author Katherine Applegate tell us about how she first came to know about Ivan and about writing the book. Students learned that it was children just like them who first brought attention to Ivan and rallied to have him moved from the mall.

After reading the book and talking about Ivan's amazing journey that ended at Zoo Atlanta, where he lived out his days, we then watched Ivan in footage from his Zoo Atlanta home.

The deadline to vote for the Iowa Goldfinch Award winner is quickly approaching; all votes need to be submitted by March 1. We'll continue to read and talk about as many of the nominees as we can--stay tuned!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Iowa Children's Choice Award Read-Aloud Recap

Third, fourth, and fifth graders have recently completed their work with an Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee. (You can read about our pre-reading activities in Google Classroom HERE.)

So what did students do with their read alouds? A whole lot of reading comprehension strategies! Each week we broke down the reading to focus one of five different areas: summarizing, visualizing, making connections, questioning, and determining importance. Each of these was applicable to that week's reading, regardless of the read aloud, which made planning all that much easier.

We started with a summarizing activity called Somebody Wanted...But...So...Then. 
You can access the handout HERE.
We followed up our summarizing work with visualization. Using large pieces of bulletin board paper on the tables, students could draw distinct scenes or images from that day's read aloud. Not surprisingly, papers from class to class depicted similar moments from the reading.

Our work took us back into Google Classroom for an activity related to making connections. As they listened to the reading, students typed connections into a Google doc and turned in their work prior to check out.
You can access the handout HERE.
For our questioning activity, students worked in their table groups to write thoughtful questions. Each table had question stems they could use as examples, and they could also draft their own original questions.
You can access the handout HERE.
Finally, we wrapped up our work with a determining importance activity. Students had the choice to draw or write about an important event from the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Below are samples from Dash and Loot.

Now that we're finished with our read alouds, students will be using the books to write sample book reviews in Destiny Quest before going ahead with their own book reviews on books of their choosing. And of course we'll be voting in late February for an Iowa Children's Choice Award winner. Stay tuned for our building winner!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Iowa Goldfinch Award Nominee Blackout by John Rocco

Based on author/illustrator John Rocco's experience as a 10-year-old boy in Rhode Island growing up, Blizzard tells the story of a blizzard that dumped 40" of snow in parts of the Northeast in February 1978.

Students loved following the boy's journey on "snow shoes" (tennis rackets on his feet!) to the local market for supplies for his own family, as well as many of his neighbors.

To accompany the read aloud, kindergarten students created their own blizzards in bags--refer to this Artsy Momma blog post. With Ziplocs already decorated with snowmen, students merely needed to add their "snowflakes" and blow!


Students in first grade also got into the snowy spirit by making their own snow! We started with a "field trip" to the cafeteria for our read aloud, and then we moved on to the snow making based on a blog post from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Stay tuned--more Iowa Goldfinch book activities and lessons to follow!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Starting Our Goldfinch Award Activities

With the change in the voting deadline for the Iowa Goldfinch Award (votes are now due by March 1), we began our Goldfinch work just ahead of the holiday break. Among our first books to read were Red: A Crayon's Story and If You Plant a Seed.

With both stories we talked about how our words and actions can have different effects on our friends and classmates--and kind words and actions are the things we ourselves like to hear and should probably use more often.

During check-out, students worked on a handout related to both stories, and they also recorded their thoughts about how we can show kindness to one another. Some of their ideas are below: