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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: