The 2021-22 student book budget team just completed their project for the year. Over 115 books were added to our library this year thanks to their work. We are so happy that this year’s books can be enjoyed for the second half of the school year. We are also happy that we were able to do this project in-person this year. We had to make a few changes such as not going on a field trip to Avid Bookshop and making sure students from the same class sat together.
I ordered the student selections for this project back in November, so supply chain and the holidays delayed the book arrivals until the first couple of weeks of January. I picked up our books from Avid Bookshop and cataloged them for students. Our Capstone books shipped to our school and included processing labels already attached. Each grade level of students helped unpack books, cross check with the packing slip, inspect for damage, label with genre stickers, and scan books into their genre categories. Students also helped display the books on the tables in the library.
Each student on the book budget team got to select one book to check out before anyone else. The remaining books were quickly checked out by classes visiting the library. I’m sure they will continue to be enjoyed many times this year and beyond.
This year we had many students try out this project for the very first time. At our final meeting, I asked for some feedback to see what students enjoyed and encouraged our 3rd and 4th graders to join the project again next year. No one really had any thoughts for improvements for the project, but I asked them to think about it. As usual, getting to survey students throughout the school, meeting with Jim Boon from Capstone, and prepping the books for checkout were at the top of the list of favorite moments. Hopefully next year, we will be able to go on our field trip again because that is always a rewarding experience for students and a connection to our community.
For now, we’ll enjoy these new additions to our library and build up our funds from book fair for next year’s project.
Our student book budget team has been hard at work preparing their order for this school year. To read more about their first steps, check out this post.
Once the book budget team had surveyed students in grades K-5, they took time to analyze their data in Google forms. Students made a list of their noticings and reached consensus on what book categories we would focus our budget on. It was hard to reach consensus with 70 kids, but each grade made a list of noticings and we looked for commonalities between those lists.
This year, students decided to focus on these categories.
Picture books: scary, humor, graphic novels, & SOME princess/transportation/sports
Chapter books: scary, mystery
Information: fun facts, ghosts, space
Other focus: jokes
With our categories ready, students started looking for books to add to our consideration list. In our Google Classroom, I added several resources for students to use. I linked books that were publishing in October, November, and December according to Publisher’s Weekly. I linked Here Wee Read‘s Bookshop site which has many highly reviewed books sorted into several categories. Our state Galileo database has Novelist K-8, so students also used this to search for books based on their goals.
As students found books for consideration, they searched for them at Avid Bookshop’s website and then filled out this Google form. The Google form populated a spreadsheet that made it easy for us to see all of our books for consideration so we could easily cut books from the list if needed. It took a lot of time to add a book to the list, but we were glad we did it when we got to our next steps.
We also asked Jim Boon, our rep with Capstone Press, to meet with us in person. Jim brought sample books that matched student goals. Students always enjoy getting to hold the actual books in their hands. He also brought catalogs for students to look through and scan books into our Capstone consideration list. Jim is really great about sitting with kids and showing them how to use the catalog index or how to look for books from the same series. We are thankful he continues to support this project.
The hardest part of the project is taking our consideration lists and cutting them down until we meet our budget. I originally had a budget of $2,000 for us this year, but our fall book fair did better than usual, so I raised our budget to $3,000. Between our Capstone list and Avid list, students had about $7,000 worth of books to look at. Each grade level took a look at both lists on their own computers and we also looked at the lists on the projector screen. The easiest books to cut were the ones that didn’t match our goals at all. Other times there might be a full set of a series and students made a decision to only purchase part of the set. As always, this is a time where I see students speak up on behalf of students that they had conversations with. Book budget students became advocates for the voices of our younger readers and made sure that some books remained on the list even if it was a book they didn’t personally want to read.
After lots of passes through our lists by each grade level group, our budget was finally met. I sent the lists to Capstone and Avid, and the books are currently being ordered. The book budget team is taking a well-deserved break while the books arrive. We started this year with a large group, but as the weeks went on, our numbers dropped a bit. I really wanted to see all students follow through with their commitments, but it’s still a tough time in a pandemic. It’s hard to follow through sometimes, especially now. I am proud of each student and what they were able to contribute. I am proud of the students who stuck with it and look forward to seeing them unpack and enjoy the books when they arrive.
It has been several years since our library was reorganized by genre. Having books grouped together by genre has helped many readers browse our library shelves and discover new books based on their interests. Each November, we typically celebrate Picture Book Month by highlighting the picture book section and hosting a reading challenge. The challenge has ranged from having students read 1 picture book from each genre section to students setting their own goal and working toward that goal in November. Some past feedback from students and teachers was a hope for challenges that stretched beyond just the picture book section. Since the past year has put some barriers in place for book access, I thought it was a great time to introduce a new reading challenge and get students exploring all of our library genres throughout the whole year and rediscovering where sections are located.
For this year’s challenge, students choose between 3 challenges: picture books, chapter books, and informational books. They receive a bookmark for their challenge that has pictures of each genre section. This picture matches the signs and labels in each area of the library. As students read a book from each section, they get a sticker on their bookmark. When the bookmark is full, that part of the challenge is finished and they can move on to a 2nd or 3rd challenge. Students read at their own pace. There is no deadline to finish.
The bookmarks were created in Canva. Educators can sign up for free access to Canva. I’ll be honest. I’m terrible at graphic design. I’m also not that great at using Canva, but they have added so many tools that make it easier to use. Canva has templates for so many types of projects, including bookmarks. You can print the bookmarks just as they are, or you can choose a template and make some edits. I ordered the bookmarks online rather than dealing with printing and cutting them myself.
I’m not a huge fan of prizes for reading, but I gathered some feedback from students about what some good “rewards” could be for finishing the challenge. We tried to keep things connected to reading, and we might make some adjustments as we go. For now, if students complete one challenge they get a shout out on our morning news show and a choice of bookmark. For completing 2 challenges, students get another shout out and a “Barrow Reads” backpack clip that was made on our 3D printer. The backpack clip was designed in Tinkercad by me with some input from students. Students also get their name entered into a drawing for several prize packs of books. For completing all 3 challenges, students get one more shout out and get entered into a drawing for an autographed book.
I introduced the challenge to the whole school on our morning news show.
Right now students are mostly coming as a class for lessons and checkout so I’m explaining the challenge again and letting students pick their first bookmark if they want to start. Grades 2-5 are starting with any challenge they want. K/1st are starting with picture books or informational books. As students check out their books, me or the teacher help them get their name on their bookmark and add stickers for the books they are checking out. When they return to the library, they have to bring their bookmark back to get their next stickers. The trickiest part of this challenge is going to be keeping up with that bookmark. I can look back a student’s history if they lose the bookmark, but hopefully that won’t happen too much.
When students finish a bookmark, they fill out a quick Google form that can be reached on an iPad through a QR code. This will help me keep track of who has finished 1, 2, or all 3 challenges so I can track any shout outs or other rewards.
What has happened so far this week?
Most students who have visited have been excited to start the challenge.
I’ve seen that students are confused about the difference between picture books, chapter books, and informational. Also there has been confusion about sections that have the same name in each of those areas. It has been a chance for me to clarify misunderstandings and also think about changes I could potentially make to sections.
Students have discovered sections that they didn’t realize existed. This has helped me see sections I might need to teach more about.
Books that haven’t been checked out in a long time are getting checked out.
Some students aren’t interested in the challenge. They want to read what they love the most from just a few sections. That is ok because this challenge is a choice and not a requirement.
Some students have been frustrated that they can’t do all 3 challenges at the same time. I’m thinking more about this.
As I’ve been sharing the challenge with students, we’ve talked about stretching ourselves as readers to try new things. I remind students that they can still get books from their favorite sections while also doing the challenge. The main purpose is to try sections you may not visit often in order to see if you find a new favorite book, author, or genre. I never want to discourage kids from reading what they love.
It has only been a week, so we’ll see where the challenge takes us.
It’s a new year in the Barrow Media Center. We are fully in-person and trying to get checkout, lessons, collaborations, and special projects rolling. Our makerspace collaboration with UGA is on hold, but that gives us a new opportunity to begin our student book budget project early.
The student book budget team is a group of 3rd-5th graders who use our book fair profits to purchase new books for the library. Their purchases are based on survey feedback from students throughout the school. This project has been a yearly project since 2008 and each year it changes a bit. Last year brought our biggest change since most of our work had to be done virtually. This year, we have almost 70 students in 3rd-5th grade participating and I’m having to structure our project in new ways to keep everyone engaged and safe.
To begin our project, I created a Google form application and students had one week to apply. The survey asked them if they were willing to work during portions of recess time, whether they could think beyond just themselves when selecting books, and why they wanted to be on the team. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many new students interested in the project this year and I once again contemplated being selective since over 70 students applied. Every student agreed to all the terms and gave a genuine reason for being in the group, so I chose to keep everyone. Since we meet during recess, the biggest group I have at a time is 25. We meet on Tuesdays & Thursdays as needed from 11:45-1:20, switching groups every 30 minutes.
With a larger group, I had to think of new ways to make sure all voices were heard. Our first meeting was an overview of the project and to allow students to walk around the library and make observations about the sections of the library. I asked them to notice sections that seemed empty, sections that were overflowing, sections that were missing completely, or anything else. They wrote these noticings down on paper and we saved them for our next meeting.
Before meeting 2, I made a Google Classroom and added all the students. Under classwork, I added a list of resources that we would need. The purpose of our 2nd meeting was to create the survey that we would use with all students in the school to get thoughts on what new books were needed in the library. Rather than try to write the survey together during the meeting, I had them look at last year’s survey to see the types of questions. I also had them look at the noticings that we had all written on paper. Using Padlet, student answered 3 questions: 1. What do you like about last year’s survey? 2. What should be changed about last year’s survey? 3. Based on what you learned from walking around the library, what new questions should be added?
I took all of the feedback from our discussions and Padlet and edited our survey. During meeting 3, students learned how to scan a QR code to pull up the survey on an iPad and answered the survey themselves. Book budget students survey students in grade K-2 with iPads and grades 3-5 answer the survey in Google Classroom. Normally, we just go to lunch and recess and ask the survey, but I didn’t want students to have to survey maskless students at lunch. Instead, book budget students filled out a form to select which classes they wanted to survey. I also asked teachers when the best survey times were, and I tried to match teachers and students. I scheduled email reminders to teachers and students and also posted the schedule in our Google classroom and crossed my fingers that everyone showed up to survey at the right time. For the most part, they did.
Across 5 days, the book budget team surveyed students in grade K-2 while teachers shared the survey with grades 3-5. The data poured into Google forms so that we can analyze the data and set goals at our next meeting.
This project is one of my favorite student voice projects each year because I believe that the library collection is “our collection”. We develop it together. I can’t wait to see what decisions are made this year.
Since 2010, Barrow students have been a part of a project called our “student book budget”. It’s had a few different names over the years but the idea has remained the same: students having total control over how a portion of the budget is spent to buy books for the library.
This school year provided us with extra challenges. We have been virtual for most of this year with just a few weeks in person in November, December, and March-May. I had to figure out how we would take so many of the pieces that we do in person in the library and throughout the school and transition them to online. Here’s a look at how our project went this year.
In January, students in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to apply to be in the book budget group by filling out a simple Google form. They had to include their name & teacher plus answer some questions about their commitment to meeting online and making decisions for the whole school rather than just for themselves. Finally, students wrote a short explanation about why they wanted to be in the group. As usual, I took every student who answered all the questions and had a genuine interest in the group. This year’s group had 15 students.
I created a Google Classroom where I could share links to our resources and Zoom as well as communicate with families. We met each Monday on Zoom to talk about our ideas for each step of the project. One of the first parts of the project is always to survey the whole school about reading interests. In our first Zoom, we looked at past Google form surveys to see what we wanted to keep, change, or add. Based on their discussion, I made a copy of the previous year’s Google form and made edits. The book budget team wanted students to pick 2 genre categories in picture books, chapter books, and informational books that they thought needed more books. They also gave space for specific suggestions.
Normally, students in grades 3-5 answer the survey via email. The book budget students go into the lunchroom, classrooms, and recess to survey PreK-2nd grade on iPads. This year, we still sent the survey to 3rd-5th graders in email. Then, we assigned each student in book budget to follow up with a Prek-2nd grade teacher via email to ask if they could share the survey with their students or if a book budget student could come to their class Zoom to talk about the survey. Overall, our number of completed surveys went way down this year but we still had a good representation of voices at each grade level.
Once the survey results came in, the book budget students set some purchasing goals. This year, they decided to focus on graphic novels, humor, ghosts, fun facts, gaming, and a few transportation books. Normally our budget comes from our fall book fair. However, this year our fall book fair was online and only made about $400 in Scholastic Dollars. Luckily, I was conservative in my spending last year with book fair profits so we still were able to have a budget of $2,000.
One vendor we always work with is Jim Boon at Capstone. Jim has always taken the student goals and curated a selection of books to bring in for students to look through. He also gives each student a catalog and shows them how to scan into a list. This year, Jim met with students on Zoom. Amy Cox at Capstone also helped us think through how we might easily put together a list. We decided to create a new account on the Capstone site that students could login to and collaborate on a list without messing with any of my regular Capstone account. I shared Capstone’s online catalogs with students in Google Classroom and they quickly discovered that they could click on a book in the catalog to get to the book on the website and add it to the list. Jim showed students how to navigate the catalog and also pointed out books that matched the student goals.
Another vendor we use is our local bookstore, Avid Bookshop. We usually walk to Avid and select books in person. This year Avid is closed to in-person shopping, so instead, I linked the website in our Google Classroom and created a Google form where students could submit the title, author, price, ISBN number, and link of the book. We took a Zoom session to go over all this and then students added books on their own. This book list went into a spreadsheet that I could easily share with Ian McCord at Avid Bookshop for ordering.
We took about 2 weeks to add books to the list and then we were able to have one in-person meeting just as in-person school started back up.
We used this meeting to look over our lists together and see what was missing. Normally, we have to cut lots of books from the list, but this time we were actually able to add more because students hadn’t spent all the money yet. It was more difficult for us to add books to our lists during virtual. Once the budget was met, I placed our orders.
When the books come in, we usually meet to unpack, add genre labels, and scan books into Destiny subcategories. With state testing, safety precautions, and the end of the year looming, I had to do some of this myself and use only a few of the book budget team to help.
We met one final time in person to take the books out of the boxes, double check that everything was here, and display the books on tables in the library. The book budget students got to pick 3 books to checkout and then the rest were available for anyone to checkout. Each class that visited the library immediately went to look at the new books and it didn’t take long for them to disappear into the hands of readers.
We do our best to expect the miraculous, and it definitely took the miraculous to pull this project off this year. Overall, I think it was still a great experience that still gave students a voice in the decision making of the library. While I love technology and virtual connections, I can’t wait to get this project back to in-person soon.
It has been a rainy week in Georgia, which means kids haven’t had recess in a while. Pair that with the full moon, and you have a group of high energy kids. We were already excited about our upcoming author visit with Nathan Hale, but this added an extra layer. If I had known what students were about to experience during the visit, I wouldn’t have worried at all. Nathan Hale is a top-notch author & illustrator and his school presentation is a sight to behold. I don’t want to give too much away about the content, but I will say that he had almost 300 high energy 3rd-5th graders laughing, gasping, and hanging on every word.
Once we got him setup, he worked on a drawing of Hangman. He continued working on this as kids arrived and then moved over to draw on his iPad.
I loved that this immediately hooked kids in as they sat down. There was a buzz of excitement as kids chatted and watched Nathan draw.
All Nathan uses for his presentation is an iPad connected to the projector, but don’t let that simple setup fool you. After my quick intro, which included a huge thank you to Abrams Books and Avid Bookshop, Nathan launched right in to his presentation which is a combination of storytelling and drawing on his projected iPad. He introduced the Hazardous Tales books and then crossed them all out.
Since kids can just read those on their own, Nathan told us a new Hazardous Tale about Lewis & Clark. Since some people say that this story is too weird, too gross, and too dumb to be published, it can only be heard in school presentations. And, of course, the students were dying to hear it.
Nathan proceeded to tell us the story of Lewis & Clark and the corps of discovery. His story introduced an evil doctor, York-an African American explorer, and Sacagawea. His story was filled with sarcasm, danger, gruesome details, and of course laugh-out-loud humor.
As Nathan told the story, he drew everything out on the iPad. He would zoom in at just the right moment, just like we were zooming in to a panel of a comic.
The storytelling introduced students to parts of the Lewis and Clark expedition that they most likely hadn’t heard before. It explained the “Lewis and Clark” is really referring to a whole group of people, and Nathan was sure to give credit to the individuals who played big roles in the expedition.
The story built up to a huge comedic finish that I can’t give away. What I will say about it is that it was so much fun to look around the room and see so many students and adults laughing to the point of tears. No matter what we were carrying with us as we came to the visit, we had 45 minutes of storytelling and laughter. You couldn’t help but feel good after laughing that much.
One of the things I loved about Nathan’s presentation was that he went around the library before the presentation and pulled books about Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, York, and Sacajawea. He repeatedly reminded students that the story he was telling them was true and that he learned about the facts by reading books from the library.
He showed each one with his iPad and even turned this book presentation into a comedic event by always zooming in to show Baby Pomp on Sacajawea’s back.
Nathan chatted with students as they left, and then signed a huge stack of books. Every student who bought a book got a signature and a drawing of Hangman.
Before he left, Nathan took time to look at all of the comics that kids had made for the library windows. I loved that he took a moment to see how each one was different and what kids did with a blank piece of paper.
After an author/illustrator leaves our school, they don’t always get to see the miraculous things that happen back in classrooms and home. Kids returned to class buzzing with ideas and retelling the Hazardous Tale they heard. I had reports back from parents that their child couldn’t stop talking about the visit. Some students made their parents take them to hear Nathan again at the public library. Several parents reported back to me that their kids couldn’t put Major Impossible down and some finished it that night.
The next day, I put out a new set of Hazardous Tales and 5 copies of Major Impossible along with the other books Nathan showed at his visit. All were immediately checked out and there’s already a list of holds on each book. Before Nathan’s visit, we already had some Hazardous Tales fans, but now that students know him, he has developed a much bigger fan base at our school.
Thank you again to Abrams Books for sending Nathan Hale on a tour of bookshops and schools. Thank you Avid Bookshop for supporting our schools with author visits and allowing us to have this opportunity. Thank you Nathan Hale for sharing your talents with us all.
What happens after the cover of a library book has been closed? What thoughts and connections does the reader continue to think about? How many people have experienced this story and what would they say to one another? These are the questions that a group of 3rd and 4th graders asked as we continued to think about how we share books with one another and build a reading community in our school.
We’ve tried several ways of sharing books this year, and this time we decided to create a digital way for people to continue the story after the pages of the book are closed. Using Flipgrid, we would create a topic for a book and leave the link & QR code in the front cover of the book for other readers to share their thoughts and experiences with the book. Since we were just coming to the end of November and Picture Book Month, we decided that we would focus on picture books for this project.
Each 3rd and 4th grader in the group chose one book from our picture book section to read. They spread out around the library and had time to enjoy their book by themselves. As they finished, they began to think about what they might say to someone about the book beyond just a summary. We talked about how in a book club there would be discussion questions where people would share wonderings about the book, connections to their own lives, and books that this book reminded them of.
Some students began to write out a script of everything they would say while other students decided to just make a list of talking points. I also made an example video for them to watch to see one way they might talk about the book they read.
As students finished their script/talking points, they practiced what they might say.
Since we wanted each book to have its own Flipgrid topic, it meant that students had to create the topic within the admin panel of my Flipgrid account. They certainly could have created the video in the camera app on the iPad and then let me upload the video myself, but I wanted them to have ownership of starting the conversation. Ahead of students arriving, I logged into my Flipgrid account on multiple computers and pulled up the “Living Books” grid in the admin panel.
On the big screen, I modeled for students how they would click on “Add new topic”, fill out the details such as title/prompt/recording time, and how they would click “record a video” to make the opening video for their book. I also told them they could not go anywhere else in my account other than this screen.
Students picked up their books and continued where they left off in session 1. When they were ready to record, they got a computer with my Flipgrid account already pulled up, filled out the prompts, and then lined up at various rooms around the library for their turn to record in a quiet space. We used my office, makerspace storage, equipment storage, and a workroom for recording.
As students finished, they finalized their topic. If there was time, I went into the topic and turned on a guest QR code and link that we could paste into Word and print. Most of this step happened after students left. As each QR code and link were printed, we taped them into the inside cover of the book using book tape.
During our final session, students brainstormed how we might advertise this collection of 30 books to the rest of the school so that Flipgrid conversations begin. Our hope is that this space will become a digital conversation about the book between its numerous readers. There were many ideas for advertising the project: BTV announcement, a special display, shelf talkers to show where books were located, posters with pictures of the books, a flyer to send home, and more. When we return from winter break, we will implement some of these ideas.
With the rest of our time, students had an opportunity to test out the QR codes to make sure they were working. They also really wanted to hear about the other books. After they listened to 4-5 different topic videos, they chose one book to read and record a response.
You can listen to a few of the topics here and here and here.
I love watching this group grow as readers. The 4th graders that began this book club community last year have come up with so many ideas and they aren’t done. When we return from winter break, we will get the conversations started with these living books and hopefully encourage other students to create topics for even more books.
They are also very curious about starting a podcast about authors, illustrators, and the books they are reading. I went to a podcasting session at AASL so we have some ideas brewing.
Our 4th grade is currently reading poetry in their reading block and writing poetry during writer’s workshop. To support their work, they asked me to create a lesson to give their students an opportunity to read multiple kinds of poetry to inform their work back in class.
I love working on poetry with students and many times this doesn’t happen until April, so I was so glad to see poetry being studied earlier in the year too. To prepare for this lesson, I spent a lot of time in our poetry section of the library looking for a variety of poetry. I of course looked for forms of poetry but I also looked for groups of books that explored a certain theme or idea. As I found possibilities, I placed them in stacks for consideration as I narrowed down our final choices.
Next I wrote a short description of each stack of books so these could be printed and placed with each table.
For students, I created a list of the types of poetry the would visit. The list had an empty box by each type so students could check the kinds of poetry they liked. There was also a line for them to write any notes or the titles of the books if they wanted to revisit them later.
To begin our time, I shared with students how I had a hard time coming up with a definition of poetry that I really liked. I asked them to think with me about how we might describe a poem. Students shared amazing ideas:
a description of your thoughts
capturing an emotion on paper
feelings in words
Each time a definition was offered we agreed with it but we always felt like it didn’t completely capture all the things a poem could be. I asked them to continue thinking about this as they explored the kinds of poetry around our library. I encouraged them to read their poetry aloud so they could hear the rhythm and sounds the poets included.
Students sat alone or in pairs at tables and began their exploration. They started by reading the short description of the type of poetry. Then, they read as many of the poems as they could. Since I wanted them to experience lots of poetry, I kept us moving every 3-4 minutes.
As students sat and read, the teacher and I walked around and chatted with students about the poetry. Sometimes this was an explanation of the kind of poetry they were looking at. Other times we were making observations about the poetry and sharing our own learning with the students. I saw the teachers do this multiple times. They discovered poetry they had never heard of and shared their excitement with students as they learned something new.
Here’s a look at the tables students visited:
The Friendly Four by Eloise Greenfield
Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! By Carole Gerber
Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco
These poems are meant to be read with a partner or group. Each person has a part they speak. Sometime you speak together and sometimes you speak alone.
Sijo & Haiku
Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park
Dogku by Andrew Clements
Guyku by Bob Raczka
Stone Bench in an Empty Park by Paul B. Janeczko
The Cuckoo’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen
One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis
Sijo poems are Korean poems that have 3 lines with 14-16 syllables each. Or…they have 6 shorter lines. Haiku poems are Japanese poems that have 3 lines with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables.
Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Brown
Black Magic by Dinah Johnson
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina
The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas
Experience poems showcase a group of people, animals, or objects and what they experience in the world. This collection of books is a sample of African American experience.
Single Word & Golden Shovel Poetry
Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka
One Last Word by Nikki Grimes
Single word poems use one word to create other words that form a meaningful poem. Golden Shovel poems take a line from another poem. The words are written down the right side of the page. A new poem is created with each line ending in one of these words.
Silver Seeds by Paul Paolilli & Dan Brewer
Amazing Apples by Consie Powell
Animal Stackers by Jennifer Belle
An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase.
Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman
Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman
Swirl by Swirl Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman
Nature poems use facts and observations from nature to create poetry. The facts and observations are often included beside the poem or in the back of the book.
Concrete Poetry (Shape Poetry)
A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco
Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham
Ode to a Commode by Brian P. Cleary
A concrete poem is a poem that takes on the shape of whatever it is about.
List & Found Poetry
The Arrow Finds Its Mark by Georgia Heard
Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard
List poetry takes an ordinary list of things and makes it extraordinary with a few descriptive words. Found poetry is words found in places that aren’t meant to be poems and then turning those words into a poem with very few changes.
Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Follow, Follow by Marilyn Singer
When you read a reverso poem down, it is one poem. When you read it up, it is a different poem. However, the same words are used in both stanzas. The only changes are in punctuation and capitalization.
Dirty Laundry Pile by Paul B. Janeczko
If the Shoe Fits by Laura Whipple
Can I Touch Your Hair? By Irene Lathan & Charles Waters
Perspective poems invite you to think about the same topic from a different point of view. Sometimes they are written from the perspective of an object that you wouldn’t normally hear from like a shoe.
Pocket Poems by Bobbi Katz
Firefly July By Paul B. Janeczko
Pocket poems are short poems small enough to carry in your pocket.
Hip Hop Speak to Children by Nikki Giovanni
Imagine by John Lennon
America the Beautiful Together We Stand by Katharine Lee Bates
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pinkney
God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday
One Love by Bob Marley/Cedella Marley
Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan
Song lyrics are poetry. They have a structure and a rhythm.
At the end of our exploration, students took time to think about what there favorite types of poems to read are. They also thought about one kind of poem they wanted to try to write back in writing workshop. Now that all classes have visited, the poetry books they explored are available to check out as mentor texts back in the classroom. I look forward to seeing the types of poetry they create in the coming weeks.
Our 3rd grade is currently learning about the plants, animals, and habitats in the 5 regions of Georgia. The teachers wanted students to have an opportunity to gather some background knowledge prior to their lessons in the classroom, so I worked on a series of centers for students to rotate through and experience these standards in a variety of formats.
S3L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the similarities and differences between plants, animals, and habitats found within geographic regions (Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau) of Georgia.
a. Ask questions to differentiate between plants, animals, and habitats found within Georgia’s geographic regions.
b. Construct an explanation of how external features and adaptations (camouflage, hibernation, migration, mimicry) of animals allow them to survive in their habitat.
c. Use evidence to construct an explanation of why some organisms can thrive in one habitat and not in another.
S3E2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information on how fossils provide evidence of past organisms.
a. Construct an argument from observations of fossils (authentic or reproductions) to communicate how they serve as evidence of past organisms and the environments in which they lived.
b. Develop a model to describe the sequence and conditions required for an organism to become fossilized. (Clarification statement: Types of fossils (cast, mold, trace, and true) are not addressed in this standard.)
To make instructions easy to access, I put everything on a Google doc with a short link. As each class arrived to the library, I split the class into groups of 3-4 students by having them sit on color dots on the floor. We briefly talked about the main goal of the standards being to compare and contrast the plants, animals, and habitats of the 5 regions of Georgia, and then I sent color dot groups to centers. I kept a timer on my phone for 8-10 minutes per center and students rotated to the next center in number sequence.
Georgia Public Broadcasting has an amazing set of virtual tours on a whole range of science and social studies standards. For this center, students explored the physical features of Georgia including the Okefenokee Swamp, fall line, various mountains, Providence Canyon, and the Barrier Islands. The purpose of this center was for students to explore the physical features through pictures, maps, text, and video and think about what adaptations plants and animals might need in order to live in these areas of Georgia.
In addition to regions, students learn about fossils and how those fossils tell us about the past. At this station, I wanted students to see that fossils aren’t just about dinosaurs and that we have fossil discoveries right her in Georgia. Students visited a Georgia fossil site which includes a map of where fossils have been found and what time period they are from.
The site also included lots of text to skim and scan for details about what was learned from the fossils. Students also had access to several books from our library about fossils and how they teach us about the past.
This center featured another GPB virtual tour. This one focused on the 5 regions of Georgia. Students could visit as many regions as time allowed and read the text, look at pictures, and watch videos to identify animals and plants that live in each region. Students could also look at the land and see the possible habitats in each region.
Since a piece of the standard is about comparing and contrasting, this book featured print books about the regions and habitats of Georgia. Students chose 2 books, which were about 2 different areas of Georgia.
As they read and looked at photographs, they thought about what was the same and different about the 2 regions.
This center had the most pieces but the most popular part of this center was looking at various posters that featured groups of animals in Georgia. There was a poster for bats, snakes, salamanders, dragonflies, lizards, and butterflies as well as a poster of plants.
On the back of the poster, students could see a highlighted map for each plant or animal that showed where it could be found in Georgia. Students identified plants and animals found in specific regions as well as ones that could be found in all regions. If students found a particular animal they were interested, they could use the computer to research more info on that animal. I included links for various animal groups to get them started.
I also included some books about animal adaptations such as camouflage, hibernation, and migration.
In each session, the teachers and I rotated around to all the centers to have conversations with individuals or groups of students. We helped students focus on the question of each center and asked follow up questions as needed. I loved seeing what each student was discovering and having me plus a couple of teachers helped us have many conversations. This format had structure, but it also gave students freedom to choose what interested them at each center to spend the most time on. The timing was also fast-paced so there was no time to be bored or be “done”.
When students finished visiting all 5 centers, we came back together on the carpet and students had a chance to share some of the most interesting things that they discovered. Overall, this format served its purpose of gathering background information and it held closely to the wording of the standards. I loved that students were able to explore the standards in a variety of formats and there was variety from one center to the next. This is something I would definitely repeat, but I do wonder about what might be added to help students remember some of the interesting nuggets of information they learned along the way. I wouldn’t want to add too much writing because that slows down the gathering of background knowledge, but it would be nice to have some means for remembering a few facts.
If you have ideas or you try this and add something new, please leave a comment.
Thanks to Scholastic Book Fairs our fourth and fifth graders were introduced to debut author India Hill Brown. Her new book The Forgotten Girl releases in November, but it is a featured book on Scholastic’s fall book fair allowing readers to enjoy it well in advance of release day.
The Forgotten Girl is about 2 friends, Iris and Daniel, who leave their home one night to play in the first snowfall of the year. They sneak away into the woods to get to some fresh snow and to be out of sight. Iris decides to make a snow angel, and when she gets up, she realizes she has just made a snow angel on top of a forgotten grave. This action awakens a ghost named Avery, who needs help being remembered. Iris and Daniel launch into a research project to remember the deceased members of the segregated African American cemetery and to have the area cleaned up. However, Iris is put in some dangerous situations due to her new ghostly friend.
Our local Athens history has some interesting connections with this book. We invited local expert, Fred Smith Sr, to speak to students ahead of our visit with India. He shared the history of segregated cemeteries in Athens, including the slave burial grounds at the University of Georgia. He also shared how UGA moved some of the remains as well as built on top of the burial sites. Fred Smith Sr has been active in the process of acknowledging and honoring the forgotten graves.
He then shared about our 2 black cemeteries in Athens that were created after slavery ended. The Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery is where Harriet Powers is buried. She is well known for her Bible story quilts which now hang in the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Art. I brought in my replica of her quilt for students to see.
Scholastic sent books for pre-ordering ahead of the event, so we were also able to read the first chapter before the visit.
Our library windows transformed into the cover of the book with a the title sign, trees, and tombstones representing some of our Athens graveyard residents.
India Hill Brown spoke for about 30 minutes to our 4th and 5th graders. She shared some of her favorite books as a child as well as her love of writing from an early age. She also surprised us by sharing that she really doesn’t like scary stories. However, she said one way to get over your fear of something is by doing it or by turning it into art.
India showed us pictures of the cemetery in her own community that inspired her to write the book. She wanted to weave in the history of forgotten cemeteries with a ghost story. We always love it when authors share the creative process of a story, and India showed us how the story went through multiple revisions and edits to reach the final version. I loved how she explained the different kinds of changes she made from the content of the story to spelling mistakes. Students are always surprised how long the entire process takes. Even though the first draft was done in about a month, the entire process of creating the finished book took over a year.
Students had a chance to ask India lots of questions about writing and her favorite things in life. I even got to ask a questions about any ghostly happenings she has encountered in her own life. After her talk, India took time to greet students as they exited. I loved seeing students making connections with her and even doing chants and hand clapping games with her.
Many times when we host and author, they are in a hurry to get to their next event. We usually do signing without students and then deliver books. India wanted to greet her readers, so we had students wait in the library and get in line for greeting and signing. I loved watching students glow as they met her and shared their excitement about her book.
Now that the visit is over, we have 5 copies of the book in the library and all 5 have already been checked out. Every classroom also has a copy in the classroom thanks to our PTA. I have a feeling many students who missed out on pre-orders will want to purchase the book at our fall book fair.
Thank you Scholastic Book Fairs for bringing India to our school. Thank you India Hill Brown for sharing your historically important story with our readers. I can’t wait to hear the conversations that take place as students read this book.