Monday, April 25, 2011

What's going on in Kindergarten and 1st Grade?

Kindergarten and first graders have been enjoying our new unit on noodlehead stories! Noodlehead tales poke gentle fun at individuals - or sometimes entire villages, such as Chelm or Gotham - who behave in a silly manner.

In addition to providing a lot of good laughs, sharing these tales from around the world reinforces a bit of geography (we start every story with a look at the globe) and reminds students of some of the universalities of human culture. They are starting to notice commonalities between, for example, a noodlehead situation in a Goha story from the Middle East, a Cajun story from Louisiana and a story from England.

I am also combining reading books with storytelling - which of course is the way that stories were primarily transmitted from generation to generation long before the written word! Storytelling is enjoying something of a rebirth in popularity at the moment and I find that students respond eagerly to the immediacy and physicality of it.

If you'd like to enjoy more noodlehead stories at home, you can do a web search and find many sites that list them. Noodleheads: The Wisdom of Fools is a favorite of mine which lists many great books.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to use Goodreads

Goodreads is a social networking site for readers who want to keep track of what they've read and what they'd like to read, as well as share their opinions with others or just see what books other readers might recommend.

my Goodreads page, I have a number of books (almost 900!) sorted by genre, age level, theme, etc. If you are interested in checking out some of my recommendations - and you do not have to be a Goodreads member to do so - simply click on the link to get to my page.

Once you are there, choose a virtual bookshelf to explore - let's say, Australia. Click on that label and you will see a list of the books I categorized as having a connection to Australia. Wondering what exactly they are about or what ages they are recommended for? Just click on "view" in the far right column.

Let's say you pick Diary of a Wombat. If you click on "view" you will see that I added it to the following bookshelves: animals, australia, humor, picture-books. If you click on the title of the book at the top of the page, you will see a summary of the plot, other users' ratings, and more book information.

However, if you clicked on "view" next to Does My Head Look Big in This? you would see that it was on these bookshelves: australia, cross-cultural, high-school, middle-school-fiction, muslim, palestine, religion.

I generally update my Goodreads listings on a weekly basis and I hope they will prove useful to anyone looking for something fun to read!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 2011 Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award Winner!

This year's results for the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award are in.... and the state-wide winner is Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery! This is a heartwarming true story about a dog in the deserts of Iraq who formed a special bond with a Marine and ended up starting a new life in California. Larson, a local author, has written some other student favorites, including Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival.

Meanwhile, the winner at Open Window School (where Nubs came in second place) was Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, an incredibly clever offering by the beloved author of Little Pea and Spoon. You can even see an animated version of the book on YouTube!