Celebrations are in Order!

We are celebrating in the media center. Ms. Shelley Olin was just named the David C. Barrow Elementary Paraprofessional of the year and I, Mr. Andy Plemmons, was just named Teacher of the Year. This recognition means so much because it is one that is given by our peers. So many people have stopped by today to tell us what we mean to them and the school. We both love what we do and strive to create a welcoming and supportive space in our media center. Our job is made so much easier by the extraordinary teaching and learning that goes on at our school. Our teachers and students have innovative ideas that always lend themselves  to great media center projects.

Elbert’s Bad Word

Review of Elbert’s Bad Word by: Audrey Wood April 26, 2010

Some days I feel like I have a hard time brushing that bad behavior monster off of my shoulder. I just feel like giving in to conduct that I know is wrong but is so tempting. Maybe I feel rotten. Maybe somebody just made fun of me or something I spent a long time picking out to wear that day. Maybe I had a terrible time sleeping the night before, and now I’m just crabby. Whatever the reason, I find it harder on some days to not give in to the temptation of having inappropriate behavior. I’m a teacher. So that would be saying something to one of my students in a nasty voice or not being patient or just generally grumping around. I’m also a Mom. At home, my bad behavior is sometimes yelling at my sons or saying grumpy things to my husband, blaming my dog, Pearl for stuff she can’t even help doing (like eating my shoes-ugh!)

In this book, the bad behavior monster is an actual monster that sits on a little boy’s shoulder. He tempts the boy to copy some undesirable behavior. At a fancy garden party, Elbert sees some very unflattering behavior from an adult, blurting out a bad word. The word actually morphs into a small storm cloud, “ugly and covered with dark, bristly hairs.” Elbert stuffs the prickly creature into his back pocket. The word later turns itself into a gnat (as these monsters do to make things more convenient) and flies into Elbert’s mouth. Some very funny antics follow, but then, you may have guessed, Elbert lets that gnat out in its original form again as a bad word, shouted no less, as can easily happen in frustrating situations.
I won’t spoil any more of this great book for you. I’ll let you find the ending and the lessons in it on your own. You can find Elbert’s Bad Word now in the media center. I love it so much that I just donated it to our library! Check it out, and if you see me in the hall, tell me how you liked it, using nice words, of course.
Your Friend, Ms. Kelly (PreK)

Greetings from Nowhere

Barbara O’Connor has quickly become one of my favorite authors. After reading How to Steal a Dog, I began pulling all of her books together in a stack to read. I just finished Greetings from Nowhere and absolutely loved it.

It takes place in a rundown motel in North Carolina. One of the owners has passed away and it is up to an old woman named Aggie to keep the place running. However, with no new people coming to stay at the motel, she has trouble and needs to sell the place. As fate would have it, multiple families are being drawn to the motel for one reason or another. All of these characters lives weave together to tell a story that celebrates life and life’s challenges.

This book connected with my life because as a child, my family went to Cherokee North Carolina on a weekly basis. As I read, I could just picture the sleepy little motel, the places the characters visited, and the lifestyles that each character lived. I love books that celebrate everyday life. I love stories of everyday people who look at life as a journey and don’t worry about the challenges of money.

I thought I would never find an author that speaks to me in a similar way as Kate DiCamillo, but I’ve found one. Barbara O’Connor is a master storyteller and she has a connection with characters that are true to life. She holds nothing back.

Reviewed by Mr. Plemmons

More Book Spine Poetry

Classes have continued to come in to learn about book spine poetry. Yesterday Mrs. Boyle’s class came and explored a variety of poetry. We ended by creating a book spine poem together. I selected several books and passed them out to student volunteers. As I handed each book out, I said the title and the student repeated it. The students lined up in a straight line holding their books and we read the poem as it was. Then we talked about ways to rearrange it. I offered suggestions and students offered suggestions. With each suggestion, students would move in line to the appropriate place. Here is the poem that we ended up with.

How to Steal a Dog

How to Steal a Dog

By Barbara O’Connor

Published by Scholastic

I must now add Barbara O’Connor to my list of favorite authors.  I had read The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis and I had passed by How to Steal a Dog Many Times.  I must admit that I wasn’t drawn to the book because of its cover.  However, when someone told me about the plot, I knew I had to read it!

How to Steal a Dog is about Georgina, Toby, and their mother, a family who lives in their car.  Georgina wants more than anything to live in a real home so that she doesn’t have to wash up in gas stations and create a bedroom with a beach towel hanging from the car roof.  One day, she devises a plan to steal a dog and then bring the dog back to its owner once a reward is offered.  She thinks the reward will be just the amount of money her family needs to move out of the car and into an apartment.  Toby and Georgina seek out the perfect person to steal a dog from, but their plan doesn’t really going like they thought it was going to.

This book is filled with twists and turns, and just like always, Barbara O’Connor challenges us to think about economically disadvantaged people in our society.  She masterfully shines a light on them that breaks through stereotypes.  Each time I read Barbara O’Connor’s books, I connect in some way with the characters and my own life growing up in a trailer in the North Georgia mountains.

This book is a must read!

Reviewed by Mr. Plemmons

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2010

Our poetry cafe came to a close today after two very busy days of open mic poetry readings.  Today was our official Poem in Your Pocket Day.  We kicked off the day on BTV with a video of book spine poetry, a reading of “Pocket Poem” by Bobbi Katz, a poetry reading from a student, and our principal sharing a poem from his own pocket.

Our cafe opened at 8AM and stayed busy the entire day.  All students, teachers, and staff in the school carried poems in their pockets and wore a “Poem in Your Pocket Day 2010” sticker.  Students shared poems they had written as well as poems they found in books.  Several incredible moments happened during the day.  When Ms. Olin went to do lunch duty, she saw students asking each other to share their poems.  Our principal went outside to recess on both of our school playgrounds and heard students saying, “Do you have your poem?  Let me hear it”.  In the media center, we saw several students who hardly ever speak go up to the microphone and share their poem.  We saw students do some impromptu multiple voice poems and choral reading.  We also heard a beautiful reading of Eloise Greenfield’s “Honey, I Love” from a 3rd grader.  We had several adults who also shared at our open mic.  Our school secretary, aka “The Queen”, shared a poem about being a queen.  Our technology integration specialist, Steve Piazza, shared a poem he wrote about pockets.  Meg Inscoe, a first grade paraprofessional, shared a limerick about her class.  Our media paraprofessional, Shelley Olin, shared two poems that she wrote about things she loves and dreams.  Several teachers, including Ms. Em, shared their poetry as well.  The list could go on and on.  The day was just filled with wonderful moments.

It was sad to take down all of the cafe decorations after school, but we have these pictures to help us remember this wonderful day until next year’s Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Poem in your pocket day (preview)

National Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated at the end of every April, but due to CRCT testing, we are holding our day on April 15th.  Today, some classes already came to our poetry cafe and read poems at our open mic.  I’ll post pictures tomorrow of the 2-day event.

Until then, I hope you’ll enjoy some of the Teacher Tube poetry videos that students have created by looking at our poetry page on the media center webpage.

Battle of the Books Champions Again!

Today was the Clarke County School District Battle of the Books.  Thirteen elementary schools in the district sent their school champions to the Athens Public Library to battle one another in 3 small rounds of competition and one final round.  In each round, students answered 10 questions about the 10 books from the 5th/6th grade list.  The questions got more and more intense throughout the competition.

During round 3, 11 schools had to wait in the auditorium.  Kim James, children’s librarian, entertained everyone with a story.  After the 3 rounds, scores were totaled and Barrow Elementary and Timothy Road Elementary were the top scorers.  These teams battled one another in the auditorium while the other 11 schools watched.  After 20 questions and 1 challenged questions, our Barrow Elementary team won for the 2nd year in a row!  The students were thrilled.  We celebrated with pizza, salad, strawberries, cookies, and Capri sun back at school.  We were also greeted in the rotunda of Barrow by an enthusiastic crowd of teachers and students.

Congratulations to Geoffery, Caroline, Zach, Nathan, & Taqueria for their superb teamwork, communication, reading the fine details, and dedication.  They have been intensely studying these 10 books since December.  I know they will gladly move on to other books now.

We are extremely proud of them.  If you wish to offer any congratulations to the team, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll pass it along.

Book Trailers: The Next Phase of Sharing Media Center Books

Kate DiCamillo.

Over the past two years, we have explored writing reviews for our media center books in the form of reviews in our card catalog, student blog entries, podcasts, and guest reviews from teachers.  In a few weeks, our 4th grade students will create book trailers using Animoto.  Each year, our 4th grade holds an author fair for our 3rd grade students.  At the fair, 4th grade students share displays of books by various authors and promote those authors and their books to the 3rd graders.  The purpose is to inspire the 3rd grade students to explore some great books over the summer.  We kickoff this projectt in 2 weeks.  Fourth graders will read multiple books by one author.  They will work in small groups to learn about a particular author and his/her writing style.  Then, students will create a book trailer like the one shown above.  I can’t wait to see what happens!

Book Spine Poetry

Recently, I discovered an interesting kind of poetry called book spine poetry while reading the  100 Scope Notes blog.  This poetry is a type of found poem where you gather books that have titles that speak to you in some way as a poet.  You arrange the books in a stack and let the titles on the spines become your poem.

Recently, two classes gave this type of poetry a try.  As students photographed their poems, they imported the pictures into Photo Story and recorded themselves reading their poems.  Take a look at what they created.

Listen to Mrs. Freeman’s Class Poems

Listen to Mrs. Selleck’s Class Poems