Meet Microsaurs: Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack By Dustin Hansen

Every year, I have a new group of students who become obsessed with dinosaurs and every informational and narrative book about them. I’m excited to introduce Dustin Hansen to my students. Dustin has been writing and creating art for the video game industry for over 20 years. He is the author and illustrator of the Microsaurs series. Follow That Tiny-Dactyl was released in January of this year, and Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack was released in July.  I happy to have him stop by my blog to show off this new book.

In Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack, Danny and Lin return as the expert secret keepers from book one. As they return in this second installment, they receive a mysterious package filled with tiny, hungry microsaurs along with a huge microsaur egg.  Students will love how they use the Mini-Maxitron Reduction Nozzle to shrink themselves down to the size of the tiny dinosaurs and interact with them in their microterium world.  There’s plenty of adventure as they try to keep the new egg safe until it hatches and the tiny-raptors happy with food. Throughout the book, Dustin has supported the story with black and white images that readers will love to look at and compare the full-size and micro worlds. This will also help readers who are looking for a longer story that still includes plenty of illustrations. At the back of the book, Dustin even includes some information to satisfy our non-fiction readers.

Fans of Jurassic Park, dinosaur informational books, and tiny adventures will enjoy reading this book.

Dustin has put together a great time-lapse video of how his dinosaurs come to life on the page. Check it out and share it with your readers.

I hope you’ll consider getting a copy of this series from your local bookshop or library vendor to add to your collection. Thanks to Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishing, we are giving away a copy of the book.  Click on the form below to add your name and email to the drawing by Tuesday August 22 at 5PM EST. One winner will be randomly selected for a free book.

Congratulations, Karen Tisdale, for winning the Microsaurs giveway!

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Be on the lookout as Dustin travels to other blogs during this whole week.  There will be more surprises and more giveaways on those blogs as well.  He also has a 3rd installment of Microsaurs coming in January 2018.

Monday, 8/21Mom-Spot
Tuesday, 8/22Kidlit Frenzy
Wednesday, 8/23Beyond the Car Seat
Thursday, 8/24Daddy Mojo
Friday, 8/25Meanest Look
Saturday, 8/26Pragmatic Mom

March Madness Global Book Talk Challenge (Final)

Many votes have been cast in our global book talk challenge and we are down to our final 2 students.  Will it be Evin?  Will it be Adaline?

Take a moment to watch (or rewatch) their videos and vote on your favorite.  Share with friends, family, and your own networks.  Voting will end on April 2.

 

Vote Here!

Be sure to take time to visit the full grid of videos to watch many other incredible book talks from around the world.  The competition is fun, but the real reward is hearing from so many student voices sharing their love of books.

 

Happy Book Birthday to Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

Today is a very special book birthday. Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness is now on bookstore shelves. This is Kate’s debut novel and we are so excited to have her coming to our school on the book’s birthday thanks to MacMillan and Avid Bookshop.

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About the Book

How would you feel if your mom lived just a few streets away yet had no interest in seeing you or talking to you? That’s Gertie Reece Foy’s situation. It doesn’t matter, though, because she has a plan, and Gertie never gives up on a plan. Gertie is a firecracker of a girl. She takes matters into her own hands and makes a plan to be the best 5th grader in the entire universe. She thinks that if she gives the best summer speech and become the best 5th grader in the universe, her mom will realize that Gertie is so awesome that she doesn’t need a mother anyway or possibly even come back into her life. Gertie has something standing in her way: a new girl named Mary Sue. Both of them have what it takes to be standout students, but their battle for the top results in even more struggles for Gertie to deal with.   This is a book filled with friendship, school and family challenges, and summer adventures.  You’ll be laughing out loud, cheering Gertie on, and crying along with her too.

Gertie is a character that I just want to hang out with. She is full of wit and adventure and can take just about any situation and make the best out of it. She does all of this even with a gloomy situation hanging over her. I think about my role in education and how a student like Gertie might slide by unnoticed as having a challenge to deal with. She isn’t one to reach out for help because she thinks she has to handle it all herself. How do I recognize those students? What opportunities can I give to students that allows them to shine and be the star that they are?  I love how even the stern Mrs. Stebbins recognized the potential in Gertie and gave her a moment to shine.

I’ve been reading the first two chapters of Gertie to our 3rd-5th graders, and it is pure magic to read aloud. Reading aloud is a sure way to see how a book connects with multiple readers.  It only took a few sentences into the book to have readers hanging on every word, laughing at the opening scenes in Aunt Rae’s kitchen, and begging to go on to the next chapter.  I know this book will become a favorite of many of our students.

 

Going Above and Beyond

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This book made all of my students think about people from their lives that are always giving their all.  Together, we thought about the many “great” people in our lives.  Students in 3rd-5th grade were able to write down their great person on a Gertie’s Leap to Greatness card and we displayed them in our library windows.

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I have so many great people in my life: family who are always there for me, volunteers who give their all to keep our library program running smoothly, and librarians who push me to be a better librarian.

One of those many librarians that I look up to is Nikki Robertson. She is the picture of perseverance, determination, and never giving up.  She is 100% awesome, not from concentrate just like Gertie Reece Foy.  I can’t really comprehensively name all of the things that Nikki does, but here are a few:

  • Co-founder of EdCamp Atlanta
  • Member of the EdSpeakers Group http://www.edspeakers.com/nikkidrobertson.html
  • Champion and producer TL News Night, a monthly internet program highlighting libraries
  • Moderator of #tlchat on Twitter
  • Nominee for numerous awards including Edublogs and Bammy Awards
  • Presenter at national and international conferences including ISTE and AASL

What stands out to me about Nikki is her willingness to go above and beyond for the good of all educators and students, not just herself.  Here’s an example.

Recently, Google Hangouts on Air transitioned to Youtube Live.  Many people in education use this tool and were really worried about how the changes would affect them. Nikki jumped right in to figure out the new tool.  She shared her frustrations, reached out to other people for ideas, and ultimately figured out how to easily use Youtube Live just like Hangouts on Air. She could have kept all of this new knowledge to herself, but instead she made a step by step visual tutorial on how to easily setup Youtube Live, and it saved me from agonizing over it another second.  I immediately used it to teach my BTV crew how to setup the new way of doing our morning broadcasts as well as assisted a fellow friend in a Youtube Live event we were doing for Dot Day.

Nikki also goes above and beyond for her students. Her high school library is buzzing with activity and it’s all about giving the students a voice. Nikki designed custom Snapchat filters for her library and had students and herself immediately having fun in the library and embracing the power of social media.  Her makerspace is a bustling place where she empowers her students to deeply explore specialized topics in making. She engages her students with creative interactive displays such as inviting students to spell out the word “hope” and share what hope means to them.  She does a personal shopper program to put the right books in the right readers’ hands.  All of these things are in addition to the fully packed schedule of classes that she teaches.  The list just goes on and on.  The bottom line is that Nikki Robertson never gives up on any mission she starts for her students, teachers, and network just like Gerite Reece Foy.

Get the Book

Who do you know that goes above and beyond?  I invite you to leave a comment, share on social media, or do your own blog post.  Be sure to get yourself a copy of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness at your local indie bookshop.  You can always order a copy from our local store, Avid Bookshop.

Leap with Gertie

While you’re at it, when you get your copy of Gertie, take a picture of yourself leaping with the book and post it to social media with the tag #leapwithgertie  Take a look at Kate & Cassie Beasley leaping along with students from our school.

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Kate & Cassie Beasley leaping with Gertie. Photo courtesy of Macmillan.

Wishes and Plans: Exploring Life Challenges Through Books

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Somehow, I’ve managed to read three books recently that all feature a main character grappling with the challenge of having an absent parent. I didn’t choose these books because of this fact, but reading about someone’s life challenges that are so different from my own has made me a better person. In his recent Newbery speech, Matt de la Pena referenced an encounter with a librarian where she said that she loved his books but didn’t stock them in her library because she didn’t have those kinds of kids at her school. Those kinds of thoughts make me cringe because books allow us to escape to magical worlds and do things we could only dream of doing and they can also allow us to step into someone else’s shoes for just a moment to get a brief perspective on the world through someone else’s eyes. While it can’t make you an expert on the struggle that the character is going through, it does allow you to see that we all face challenges and struggles and we don’t always wear those troubles on the outside for everyone to see.

One of these books is Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, which I already mentioned on the blog. Two of these books that I read are upcoming releases from Farrar Straus Giroux. Barbara O’Connor’s Wish comes out in late August.   It features an 11-year old girl named Charlie whose mother is having trouble keeping her life in order and whose father is in jail. She goes to live with her aunt and uncle in a small town. Every day of her life since fourth grade she makes the exact same wish and wonders if it will ever come true. Charlie’s list of ways to make a wish is pretty impressive, and I can’t help but wonder how many ways there are to make a wish after reading this book. What did Barbara O’Connor discover that she didn’t even include in the book? While Charlie is with her aunt and uncle, she meets a stray dog who she names Wishbone. Along with her new friend Howard, they craft a plan to catch Wishbone so Charlie can have a pet of her own.

Woven into this tale of longing for a pet is Charlie’s struggle with finding a place she belongs and her desire to have a mother and father who care enough about her to give her a stable home filled with love. That struggle affects how Charlie interacts with those around her. She lashes out at anyone who ruffles her feathers, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I would act if faced with a similar situation. I can’t say that I blame her for writing mean things to her teacher, giving kids a shove, or insulting her aunt.  What I was struck with the most was how her Aunt Bertha handled every incident of acting out. She offered nothing but love and understanding. I must admit that my own reaction might be to jump at the negativity with a punishment, but Bertha just offered a heap of love.  One of the quotes that still stands out to me after reading wish is:

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own drama and challenges that we lose sight of what others are going through. Instead of being quick to judge or react, I want to slow down and remember that love is a powerful gift.  Barbara O’Connor has once again masterfully written a southern tale that can speak to us all.

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In Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness coming in October, Gertie deals with an absent parent as well. However, this parent lives in the same town and still doesn’t have any interaction with her.  How would that feel to know that your mom lived just a few streets away yet had no interest in seeing you or talking to you? It’s certainly very far away from my own experience of having a mom and dad who are always there for me, wanting to know where I am at every second, and still want to talk to me every single day on the phone. Gertie is a firecracker of a girl. She takes matters into her own hands and makes a plan to be the best 5th grader in the entire universe. Gertie wrestles with her absent parent in a different way than Charlie does. She thinks that if she does enough then her mom will notice and want to be a part of her life or realize that Gertie is so awesome that she doesn’t need a mother anyway. Gertie has something standing in her way: a new girl named Mary Sue. Both of them have what it takes to be standout students, but their battle for the top results in even more struggles for Gertie to deal with.

Gertie is a character that I just want to hang out with. She is full of wit and adventure and can take just about any situation and make the best out of it. She does all of this even with a gloomy situation hanging over her. I think about my role in education and how a student like Gertie might slide by unnoticed as having a challenge to deal with. She isn’t one to reach out for help because she thinks she has to handle it all herself. How do I recognize those students? What opportunities can I give to students that allows them to shine and be the star that they are?  I love how even the stern Mrs. Stebbins recognized the potential in Gertie and gave her a moment to shine.

I highly recommend all three of the books mentioned in this post. Check them out at your local independent bookshop or library and add them to your collection.

Morning message #summerreading #literacy #librarian #thatsmycar

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I love to read books that I connect to, but I also love to read books that challenge my thinking and open my eyes to new cultures, perspectives, or challenges that are different from my own experience. I hope that I’ll keep finding books in my path that enrich my life in this way. As I’m looking toward the new school year, I am thinking about goals and what I hope for the students and families in our library. Right now, I hope that we can all step into the shoes of characters that we connect with but more importantly step into the shoes of characters that give us new perspectives to learn from and enrich our lives. I want to work as hard as I can to offer a collection of books to our readers that gives the opportunity to do this.

 

The Power of Words: Personal Connections to Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale

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When I was in high school, my great grandmother was placed into a nursing home. Almost weekly, my mom and I went to visit her.  She had Alzheimer’s so our visits weren’t filled with conversations. I paced the halls of the LifeCare Center holding my great grandmother’s hand, even though she seemed to have no idea who I was or why I was walking with her. Over those many visits, I came to know many of the residents at LifeCare and their many quirks. It was strange how even as an introvert I was drawn to certain people who maybe were some of the most risky of residents. One of those residents was Florence.  She was from New York, and you heard her before you ever saw her. She shouted out, “Hey!” over and over.  The workers at LifeCare seemed to have reached a point where her repeated shouting of the same word was tuned out, but I always heard it. While it scared me, I was also intrigued by her, and I remember many instances where despite my fear of being hit, grabbed, or pushed, I chatted with Florence. I think more than anything she just wanted someone to listen to her, to acknowledge that she existed in the world.

As I read Raymie Nightengale, I came to the scene in the Golden Glen retirement home where Raymie encounters a resident who repeatedly says, “Take my hand”, and I was thrust back in time to my own fears, curiosities, and empathy from my many days in the LifeCare Center. I don’t know how she does it, but Kate DiCamillo seems to always write words that speak to my soul. Her words are powerful and link to personal connections or goals in my own life.  As I read Raymie, I closed the book at the end of every chapter, hugged the book to my chest, and said, “How does she do it?”.

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I know what we hold in our hands is the final version of a story that has grown and morphed many times. I know there are probably many moments of intense thought, hair pulling, tears, joy, and time spent in the writing chair. Many eyes have looked at these words before they reach the reader, but the final words on the page are powerful. They are concise, yet they bring out the complexities of 3 girls and many unforgettable characters who are very different yet are connected to one another at the same time.

I love Ida Nee and her tell-it-like-it is attitude of not putting up with any nonsense

I love Beverly who is rough around the edges but has a kind heart inside.

I love Louisiana who is innocent and naive as she wrestles with the challenges of poverty.

I love Mrs. Borkowski and her ability to brush off just about anything with a “Phhhhtttt.”

I love Raymie and her strength in making a plan to bring her family back together yet recognizing when she needs to help others along the way.

Kate DiCamillo's words are powerful and honest. #Raymie #bookstagram #book #bookreview #bookrelease

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As I read Raymie, I took a pen and underlined words that spoke to my heart. It seems that no matter which Kate DiCamillo book I read, there’s a line that resonates with me that I tend to carry with me wherever I go. In Flora and Ulysses, it ended up being a line that inspired our library motto and blog title of expecting the miraculous.

There are many lines in Raymie.  I’ll leave them here without any interpretation for now.  These lines are still sitting with me, speaking to me, and finding their place in my life.

“She herself often felt to terrified to go on, but she had never admitted it out loud.” p. 2

“…this made everything she said seem ridiculous, but also possible–both things at the same time.” p. 10

“The sun is nothing but a dying star. Someday it will go out. Phhhhtttt.” p. 22

“Fear is a big waste of time. I’m not afraid of anything.” p. 79

“…stand as if you value yourself and your place in the world.” p. 82

“And I wanted to tell you that no matter what, I’m here and you’re here and we’re here together.” p. 154

I invite you to find your own lines that speak to your heart by picking up a copy of Raymie Nightingale starting Tuesday April 12th at your local bookstore.  My copy will be waiting for me at Avid Bookshop, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.  Even if this book isn’t the one that creates a personal connection for you, I hope you’ll keep searching for an author and a book that has lines that speak to your soul.

 

 

Flipgrid Book Reviews with 2nd Grade

Flipgrid. Relax and discuss. 2I have a new favorite tool:  Flipgrid.  This tools allows you to setup a grid with multiple questions and students can use webcams on computers or a free iPad app to record up to 90 second responses to the questions.

Our 2nd grade is currently working on response to literature writing.  They want to create book reviews to post onto their KidBlogs.  To kickoff the writing of book reviews, we looked at a book review written a few years ago by Kindergarten teacher, Kelly Hocking.  We decided after reading the review that it was made up of 4 parts:  A hook, a short & sweet summary, connections & opinions, and recommendations.

Flipgrid. Relax and discuss.Next, I read the book Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat.  I wanted students to have a chance to practice writing the parts of a book review, but rather than do it whole group, we used FlipGrid.  I created a grid with 3 questions:

  1. What would be a good hook for your book?
  2. What connections do you have for your book?
  3. What are your recommendations for your book?

Each question has a code for flipgrid.  I downloaded the app onto all of our iPads.  For the app, students just have to type in the code to access the question.  I printed each question with its corresponding code on paper to give to groups.  Students divided into groups of 4 and were assigned one of the 3 questions.  After doing this lesson with 2 different groups, I learned that for 2nd grade it was really important to write down what they were going to say, so students first wrote out their response to their question on an index card.  Then, they practiced reading the card and deciding who would say each part on the recording.  To record, students:

  • opened the app
  • typed in their code.
  • touched the plus sign
  • accepted terms
  • took a photo
  • recorded their response
  • uploaded their video by typing a name and email

The videos were all sent to our grid.  We gathered back on the floor to listen to some examples of hooks, connections, and recommendations.  I also sent the link to the teachers so that they can refer back to the hooks, connections, and recommendations that were made as they begin to write their own book reviews.  I imagine that these videos could become parts of mini-lessons about what makes a strong hook or how to write a stronger recommendation.

You can listen to their responses by visiting the grid.

I’m proud of these 2nd graders and their teachers for diving into an unknown tool.  They learned about writing book reviews, but they also learned from their failures in using a new tool and passed on their learning to the groups that come after them.  We had some great discussions about what we will remember the next time we use Flipgrid, and I know that the process will get smoother each time.   I think Flipgrid will be a tool I will come back to again and again.  In fact, I’m using it tomorrow with 4th graders to create a grid of book talks about civil rights leaders.

Cloning Myself: A Solution for Being Absent

It is so hard to be out sick with the busy media center schedule that we have.  Our schedule books up weeks in advance, so when I’m out it makes it really hard to reschedule things.  Although the solution I’m going to share won’t work every time, it does offer a way to still offer similar instruction that I would have done if I was here.

Mrs. Ramseyer and Mrs. Wright’s classes are blogging with students in Iowa.  Their next step is to write a book review post.  We were scheduled to do a model book review shared writing experience.  Since I will be out tomorrow, I made a screencast today for the teachers to play in their classrooms.  They can pause during the video and have students give ideas for the shared writing.  I also created a skeleton Google doc with the pieces of a book review:  hook, summary, opinions/connections, closing/recommendations.  They can add to this doc during the video as well.

Using Screencast-o-matic made this very quick and easy to do and upload to Youtube.  Now, we can move forward with our schedule after spring break without having to reschedule.