PreK Weather Forecasters: a teacher’s perspective

Ms. Kelly Hocking just made a page on her website about the PreK weather forecasters in her classroom.  You can find more pictures of the project and a few of her own thoughts on what a great job these students did.

Ms. Hocking’s Website

Exemplary Elementary Media Program Open House

Mark your calendars.  On Thursday March 3, 2011, the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center will hold an open house in honor of its distinction as the Georgia exemplary elementary media program for 2010.  The event will last from 7:30AM-4:00PM with student showcases of work and opportunities to tour and explore the kinds of learning that take place inside the Barrow Media Center.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  RSVPs are greatly appreciated, but not necessary.  Stop by for a few minutes or spend the whole day!

If you plan to attend the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature on March 4-5, 2011, this is a great reason to head into Athens early and explore a media center that is just one block away from the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

David C. Barrow Elementary is located at 100 Pinecrest Drive Athens, GA 30605.  Parking is limited in Barrow’s upper and lower lots on Pinecrest Drive, but additional parking is available across Lumpkin Street at the Campus View Church of Christ.  Do not park on Rutherford Street or in any UGA lots.

We hope to see you in March.

Send RSVPs or questions to plemmonsa at or call (706) 543-2676 ext 38280

PreK Weather Forecasters

Over the past 2 months, Ms. Hocking’s PreK class has been studying weather.  In collaboration with the media center, students have participated in several learning activities to prepare for giving their own weather forecast.  Students have watched videos of meteorologists giving weather forecasts and made lists of words that the meteorologist used.  They have studied various weather words and what they each mean.  Students toured our broadcast room at school and learned about the different jobs that our 5th grade BTV crew performs each morning.  They learned about producers, assistant producers, video mixers, audio technicians, anchors, and camera crew.  Next, students worked with their teacher, paraprofessional, parent volunteers, and me (the media specialist) to write their own scripts for their weather forecast.  After scripts were written, these same adults guided students in creating cue cards for their weather reports.  Students then spent several days practicing their scripts and cue cards in class.

Finally, the big day arrived and the preK students came into the broadcast room buzzing with excitement.  Each one assumed a role in the weather forecast: 2 anchors, producer, camera, and cue card holder.  Each forecast was recorded and uploaded to Teacher Tube for the class to enjoy and share with the world.  Please take time to enjoy their weather forecasts.   What an amazing technology, science, and literacy project with such early learners!

Weather Forecast 1

Weather Forecast 2

Weather Forecast 3

Weather Forecast 4

4th Grade Colonial Wax Museum

Each year, the entire 4th grade works on a huge project called the Colonial Wax Museum.  This project incorporates all of the social studies standards related to Colonial America.  Students spend many sessions in the media center and in their classroom researching one historic figure from the Colonial period.  Some of these people are well-known, but some are very obscure, so it makes for a very interesting search online for information that is reliable.  Students used many search engines found on our research tools pathfinder that was created by the great Joyce Valenza.

The culminating project is to host  a wax museum.  Students dress up in costume and pose around the media center and in classrooms.  They place a construction paper “push” button in front of them.  Teachers, students, and community members come and step on the push buttons and the characters come to life and recite a short speech about themselves that comes from their extensive research.  This is always a fun project to be a part of in the media center.  The 4th grade teachers and students did an outstanding job in this year’s museum.

Check out a glimpse of what the museum looked like here.

Presenting Graphic Novels

Way back in September, a group of 2nd grade students began exploring graphic novels in their spectrum class.  Their journey started in the media center with an overview of the elements of a graphic novel and how to read a graphic novel.  The students then spent several weeks reading graphic novels and writing reviews.  During this time, students also heard from cartoon experts such as Chuck Cunningham.

Next, students typed their graphic novel reviews, recorded them in audacity, uploaded them to our online catalog, and posted their reviews as blogs on our student book blog.

Simultaneously, these students worked with their spectrum teachers to write and create their own graphic novels.  They used rubrics and checklists to ensure that their graphic novels contained the elements of published graphic novels.

Today, students held a showcase in our media center to share their graphic novels with teachers and classes of students.  As visitors sat down at tables, the students read their graphic novels and talked about the process that they’ve gone through over the past few months.  The media center was buzzing with noise.  What a joy to hear the noise of student work being validated and showcased in such a public space!  Bravo to these students for their hard work.

View a video of the event here.

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What a Media Center Looks Like

Today I offer you a glimpse into one moment in the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center.  I found myself stopping in my tracks today and just looking around at all that was going on in a moment in time.  Here’s what I saw simultaneously:

  • A group of fourth graders with their teacher making a list of books to read in the future
  • A group of early learners with their teacher in the computer lab using Headsprout software to practice reading
  • A group of 5th graders with their teacher at tables and the computer lab writing scenarios for future problem solving
  • A class of 2nd graders presenting graphic novels they had created and sharing the process they used to create them.  Parents, teachers, and other second grade classes were hearing their presentations.
  • A group of upper grade students was working with their teacher to find resources for a project in the media center while others in the group quietly read in the floor.
  • A small group of 3rd graders sat at a table with a timer and discussed their books for battle of the books.

In all, there were more than 125 learners in the media center fully-engaged in activities.  Those are the moments that I love in the media center.  Those are the moments that show the productivity and enthusiasm for reading and learning that can happen in a school library.  I wish that legislators, school board members, and community members could have paused and observed this moment with me!

Penny Dreadful

In my adult life, I’ve watched a few people wish for an “everything change” in their lives, make a complete change in their career and location, and fall on their face and not get back up.  Needless to say, it’s hard for me to imagine a completely successful “everything change” that turns out ok, but in my heart I know they can happen and DO happen.

In Laurel Snyder’s book, Penny Dreadful, Penelope Grey wishes for just that:  an everything change.  Penelope’s father is way too busy with his job and her mother is way too busy with her social life, so Penelope just wants some excitement and adventure for a change.  Here’s where Laurel Snyder brings in the magical power of wishes and dreams.  When Penelope makes a wish in a wishing well, everything changes.  Her father quits his job in order to work on becoming a writer and their bills quickly become too hard to handle.  Then, Penelope’s mother inherits a house in the country called the Whippoorwillows.  It seems their luck is changing, but the Whippoorwillows brings with it a whole other set of worries (along with a cast of unforgettable characters).  Will Penelope (Penny) and her family’s “everything change” turn out for the best or will they fall on their face like a few people you might know?  You’ll just have to go on the adventure to find out.

From page one of this book, I was hooked.  Penny is the kind of narrator that just draws you in, speaks to your heart, and makes you want to help her make her dreams come true.  Laurel Snyder weaves in just a bit of fantastical magic in the way of wish-making, but the majority of the book is about the simple, everyday magic that happens in adventures outdoors, conversations with people you would never dream of speaking to, and unexpected friendships that could last a lifetime.

Two books came to mind as I read.  Penny and the many other children that inhabit the Whippoorwillows make adventures out of their everyday interactions with one another.  They tromp around through the woods and caves (something that many kids seem to be missing out on these days) and create their own magic just like the sisters of Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks tales.  When I read The Penderwicks, I was overjoyed at what a wonderful story was created out of simple, everyday adventures between a group of sisters.  Laurel Snyder has captured that same magic here.  I was also reminded of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie.  In that book, a dog guides the main character Opal to all of the quirky characters of a community and Opal sees the uniqueness of each person and finds a way to connect them all together.  The residents of the Whippoorwillows reminded me of the community in Because of Winn-Dixie.  Laurel Snyder brings in so many personalities, lifestyles, and unusual hobbies and yet all of these people come together into a tightly connected community.  I love that kind of magic in a story.

Penny Dreadful is a delight and is not to be missed.  Check it out today in our media center or your local library (or at your favorite bookstore).

David C. Barrow Elementary is so fortunate to have Laurel Snyder coming to visit our PreK-5th grade students on February 24th.  I know that her talent as a writer will inspire our young scholars to dream up the most magical of stories when she leaves.