Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How to Be an Elephant

As Picture Book Month wraps up, I wanted to share another guest blog post by Leah and Izzy. If you have not seen or read this new book by Katherine Roy, you really need to.  It very well could medal Sibert and Caldecott.  It's gorgeous.  But enough from me, here is their review:

Have you ever wondered what elephants need to know to survive in the wild? In How To Be An Elephant: Growing up to be an Elephant in the African Wild by Katherine Roy, you learn everything you ever wanted to know about elephants from what an elephant needs to learn, to facts about the elephant family to how much space an elephant needs to live.

The illustrations are SPECTACULAR and detailed. Our favorite is the last page. All the illustrations are the best we have seen in our life. They all look realistic.  

“Every time I see an elephant on this page and all the pages, I just think about how elephants are my favorite animal.  I always liked them a lot but it kind of taught me more than I already knew.”-Leah

Reading the book makes learning about elephants fun. It teaches everyone about elephants. There are so many facts in the book that we didn’t know about elephants! Did you know herds only have female elephants (besides the young male elephants)? Also, did you know that young elephants use their trunks to smell things to figure out what they are because they don't have very good vision?

Want to learn more about elephants? If so then How To Be An Elephant is the perfect book for you!

Leah and Izzy chose to read this book to Mrs. Golden's first graders in honor of Picture Book Month. Here are a few extra facts they shared:
  1. Elephants need food to live. They eat many things. Their six sets of of molars help them chew food.
  2. The sound an elephant makes goes really far--2 - 6 miles!
  3. Elephants keep at the right temperature all the time. They use their ears to cool off and heat up.
  4. Elephants help change the land. They grow plants, strip bark and dig places for water.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Another step to being Future Ready? Collaborate with PE...

I dedicate this post to Dr. Jen Cannell, for without her nudge I never would have considered attending a PE conference be beneficial.

This year I am mentoring a PE teacher.  Seemed odd at first and honestly, I wasn't sure I was the best fit.  Library and PE?  How and what could I ever do to mentor him?  And yet, 10 weeks down, I think we make a pretty good pair.

Jen Cannell, my partner in our fondness of Texas, is now the School Library System Director for Capital Region BOCES.  Talking with her this summer, she told me that she was going to charge the librarians in her new region to attend a conference outside of the library world.  Even though she is no longer my system director, I took that to heart .  What could Eric and I do as a mentor/mentee team?  Of course! Attend the NYS AHPERD (Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) together! And last Thursday we did! If that isn't outside my discipline, I don't know what is!

The morning began with Dave Burgess, "Teach Like a Pirate."  Although he spoke faster than a leaping cheetah, I did get a few good ideas from him.

I walked in a tad late to my first workshop and nearly fainted.  One small group was talking about how they incorporate The Crossover in the health curriculum. Kwame is everywhere! But even though I have read that book many times, I never considered how it could be used outside of the library and ELA world.  Now my idea wheels are spinning almost as fast as Dave Burgess speaks!

The most beneficial workshop for me still has me thinking and brainstorming days afterwards.  It was called, "Research Partnerships in Physical Education: The Dos and Don'ts."  Although it was more about the research process, it got my gears going.  The presenters shared a study they conducted on integrating Common Core ELA Standards into a Middle School PE class. This is something teachers consider doing?! Although the results weren't earth shattering, the conversation is something we should all be thinking about as we move forward.  When Physical Education teachers integrate literacy in their class physical activity rates are impacted negatively.  I'm wasn't surprised so I spoke up.

"Hi! I'm a librarian." You could hear the gasps in the room.  Then I continued, "We don't want you to decrease your levels of physical activity at all.  I love that you want to integrate literacy with PE but it doesn't have to happen in the gym.  Have a conversation with your ELA teachers and librarians. Let's ALL collaborate!  If we read a book in the library and then you incorporate skills and themes from that book in your class, it's a win-win..." I went on and they agreed wholeheartedly. The next step is to make it happen!

Besides the aforementioned The Crossover, what else?  Ghost and Patina* by Jason Reynolds. Laura Shovan has a new book coming out in June called, Takedown, about wrestling. What about James Preller's Six Innings about a little league game? Last year, I loved Soar by Joan Bauer. Or any of the Matt Christopher, Tim Green and Dan Gutman books? Others?

Here's the question for "Future Ready Librarians"-- How do we convince our colleagues in Physical Education to collaborate?  And if you already are doing it, what's your secret to success?  Or if you are like me and on the cusp, let's support each other!  This could be the beginning of an incredibly worthwhile student-centered partnership.

*Without even knowing it, we're already in our infant stages of collaboration.  I asked my mentee, Eric, if he would be willing to lead one of our Mock Newbery book groups.  How could he say no to his mentor ;-)  so I gave him the perfect book. Patina.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Another week in review...

Of course, I wish I was in Phoenix right now at the AASL conference with all my national school librarian peeps. The exhibit hall just opened and I can almost feel the excitement all the way across the country.

However, I am home in Castleton reflecting on my week and thinking about the next couple of days that I will spend at the NYLA conference in Saratoga Springs:

I reunited with The Wild Robot.

Today I started a book group with five third graders.  I've done this for many years with this particular teacher but never with this book.  So far they love it and honestly so do I.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing kids excited about reading. Bonus--the sequel comes out SOON!

My Mock Caldecott has begun!

Our second grade "Committee" has met a few times already to discuss the award and examine books that have already won but on Tuesday we read our first contender, Dan Santat's After the Fall. They loved it.  We will evaluate it next week and then dive into all the other beautiful contenders out there.  

I attended my first official unofficial NYLA Council meeting.

In the spring I was elected to be a Councilor-at-Large for the New York Library Association (NYLA). All new Council members were invited to the meeting on Wednesday even though we don't become official until tomorrow night.  It feels good to be a voice of the school librarians in New York.  I asked everyone around the table to hug and embrace any school librarian they see at the conference this week.

Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth

This was our "book of the week" with Mrs. Yager's third graders.  Sandow's story definitely fits with our school wide theme of "reach for the stars."  Don Tate has some great resources on his website to go along with this book.  We even had time to watch this video:

And did you know that Don is a Texan?  All the more reason to be a fan!

We honored our local veterans and I exercised my right to vote.

Mr. Reischer is now calling this day his "favorite of the year." What a powerful presentation.  This year five local vets from four different foreign wars shared stories, feelings, knowledge and experiences on what it's like to be overseas, return home, 9/11, patriotism, taking a knee and more.

Happy Picture Book Month!

My fifth grade Reading Ambassadors have signed up for different time slots throughout the month to read to younger kids in honor of Picture Book Month.  So far Olivia and Sophia read The Chupacabra Ate the Candleabra to Mrs. Cook's kindergarteners and Zach and Olivia read Crown to Mrs. Longobardi's second graders.  We have many more classes to cover before the end of the month!

Pirates, Lemmings, Mochi and More!

Mrs. Kosinski's first graders and I were busy the first half of this week! We read Salina Yoon's newest Duck, Duck, Porcupine book has a chapter about "Dress-Like-A-Pirate" day. So we made pirate patches, "arrrrggghhhh" away and had fun!  Jasmine ToguchiWe're almost finished so next week we will make mochi!

The next day we celebrated the book birthday of Read the Book Lemmings.  After lunch we continued with our read aloud of

Tune in soon.

Last week Washington Post reporter, Jacob Bogage, video chatted with the fifth graders to give them interview tips.  This week students got their assignment:  interview a family member on the history of coming to this country OR an adult on what it means to be an American.  Wednesday is our "podcast party" as we begin listening to the interviews.  If they are going to be anything like last year's, we're all in for a treat.

The balloons didn't pop.

In fact, they did the exact opposite! Last week Mrs. Yager's book of the week was Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot. This totally became a cross curricular event lasting over a week.  On Thursday we conducted a science experiment and observed how adding baking soda to white vinegar in a two liter bottle can blow up balloons. The kids did math (measurement), science, spelling, predicting and database research. Pinch me for this project was what you want all collaborations to look like.

Looking ahead.

Newbery Kickoff is Monday with a special video chat hangout in the afternoon.  Yes! We are going to meet fifth graders from Fort Worth who have already begun their Mock Newbery project and can share what books they really love.  I have a feeling this will be awesome! Book groups start on Friday!

I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and into the world of Physical Education next week when my mentee, Coach Biehler, and I attend the Association for Physical Education Recreation and Dance conference.  I hear there's a lot going on between literacy and physical education. I look forward to wearing my yoga pants, meeting new people and learning A LOT!

Looking behind.

I've been busy.  A couple of Saturdays ago I went to the Bank Street Book Festival.  Well worth the drive from Albany to meet a listen to an incredible slate of fabulous authors and illustrators. Bonus: I had a bonding moment with Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann over Giant Squid and stories of my students.

Halloween was a blast dressing up as Stephen Savage's "Little Plane" and "READ Cloud" with Mrs. Kelliher.

I finished Allegedly.  It was one of those books I couldn't stop reading but was kind of fuming about the ending.  I'd love to chat with you about it.  I also finished Orphan Island. Can we talk about that one, too?  I have a ton of questions.

This post has gone on for too long. Sorry! I just like knowing that someone might read it and get ideas.  Please email or comment if you ever want clarification or more details.  Perhaps mochi or balloons are in your future...

Monday, November 6, 2017


Today my blog was taken over by fifth grade Reading Ambassadors, Macy and Brianna, to review the beautiful new picture book by Julia Denos and E.B. Goodale in honor of Picture Book Month.  This gorgeous book is definitely a Caldecott contender! And they didn't mention it, but there's a surprise under the case that you don't want to miss!

Windows by Julia Denos

Illustrated by E.B. Goodale

If you like creative, colorful and fun books this book is for you!  This book title is ‘Windows’. It has beautiful illustrations and color.  This book is great for people who like picture books and not a lot of words, but the words explain a lot.  I think it is a book for everyone.  There aren’t a lot of hard words so younger kids can read it.  This book is about a boy who looks out his window and notices people doing chores or learning how to do something. This book is Great!

-Macy L. and Brianna E.

Personally, the little details on every page are remarkable: the dog's leash, the screen door, the clothes on the line, a light switch, a bellybutton, a sewing machine, a grocery cart.  A story about a warm walk through the neighborhood and a final cozy cuddle comes alive with completely breathtaking illustrations .
-Ms. Rattner

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Chupacabra Ate The Candelabra

In celebration of Picture Book Month, I'm giving up my blog to my fifth grade Reading Ambassadors to review new picture books.  Here's the first one:

We read The Chupacabra Ate The Candelabra. The book was really funny because three goats named Jayna, Bumsie, and Pep feared they would run into a Chupacabra and it would eat them. The three goats went on a mission to find the Chupacabra before it found them.

We also enjoyed the illustrations by Ana Aranda. She made the illustrations come alive. Our favorite illustration was the house because it was so colorful we saw bright yellows, light blues, and dark greens. The sun was peeking out from behind a mountain. We also loved the pink clouds.

The book is really surprising because it led us through all the chupacabra's favorite foods. The lesson of the book is don't judge anyone by what they look like or act like. Read this amazing book to find out what his favorite food is and what happens. 

-Sophia G. and Olivia E.