Monday, October 29, 2012

It's almost NaNoWriMo time again!

November will bring more than just a presidential election: it's the month when thousands of eager writers around the world set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, more likely) and participate in National Novel Writing Month!

There is even a version for young people with word limits you select yourself. Every year a number of our middle school students choose to participate. Why not you?

November book presentation for 5th grade: historical fiction!

Historical fiction is a fun genre because it is so broad. You can choose to go on an adventure in medieval England or 1930s New York City or 1970s Vietnam. The possibilities are endless! With so much variety, there is truly something for everyone - even readers who are sure they "don't like history."

Two authors in this genre that I especially love are Christopher Paul Curtis and Jennifer Holm. Both create characters so vivid and plots so engaging that you are drawn into the story. Nothing is more jarring than the sort of historical fiction where it feels like the author is trying to cram as many facts into your brain as possible. That is NOT going to happen with these two!

But my hands down, all-time favorite historical fiction novel of all time is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. It's got humor, intrigue, suspense and some of the most appealing and memorable  characters you'll ever meet. In fact, it's far too good just for middle schoolers - if you're a parent reading this, do yourself a favor and read it too (or listen to the wonderfully performed audio version). Here I am with the author at a library conference in New Orleans in 2010!

We have dozens of books available in the library learning commons just for 5th graders to choose from. Stop by anytime to choose your book!
Here are some reading lists for more ideas:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Your reading brain

A recent NPR article, A Lively Mind: Your Brain On Jane Austen, described a researcher who put subjects into an fMRI machine and had them either dip into Jane Austen novels in a casual, browsing way, or else read them carefully and closely, as they would for an academic class. She wondered which parts of the brain would be activated when the way they read changed. The results were surprising! "Phillips found that close reading activated unexpected areas: parts of the brain that are involved in movement and touch. It was as though readers were physically placing themselves within the story as they analyzed it."

Check out this Stanford University article for a more in-depth discussion of this unique and fascinating study! Curious to learn more about how the brain responds to reading? Proust and the Squid is a wonderfully accessible and entertaining book that I can highly recommend!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Learning & growing

Students are not the only ones who get to learn interesting new things! I feel very fortunate to work in a school where professional development for teachers is so strongly supported. In the past 10 days I've had exposure to a number of incredible, inspirational minds!

I got to spend the first weekend in October at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee. Thousands of people from all over the US and abroad showed up to hear an incredible line-up of diverse storytellers sharing everything from traditional Lakota tales to memories of Okinawans who survived the second World War to family stories from rural 1950s North Carolina. Storytelling is a wonderful vehicle for instruction in the classroom - as well as being an activity that teaches students a variety of skills connected to those all-important executive function traits. I do storytelling with students regularly in addition to reading books, and in the upper elementary grades also give them opportunities to practice these skills themselves. Attending the festival gave me the chance to learn at the feet of masters and gain inspiration for my program here at OWS.

This past Friday was the PNAIS Fall Educators' Conference at Annie Wright School in Tacoma. It was a day packed with incredible speakers! I was especially impressed by Kathryn Schulz, who spoke about her book Being Wrong; Rob Evans, an entertaining and engaging speaker who talked about risk and resilience; and Ashley Merryman, whose writing I have enjoyed for some time and whose work always challenges me to reconsider my "obvious" assumptions.

I highly recommend all of the above authors! And if you are interested in storytelling, check out events sponsored by the Seattle Storytellers Guild, or do a keyword search of the public library catalog for "storytelling" with "book on CD" as your material type.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Library conferences next week!

Have questions about what goes on in library classes? Need recommendations for good children's or teen literature? Having trouble accessing databases or guiding your student in safe online searching? Want suggestions on how to encourage your child to read more or break out of a reading rut? Just curious to see what's on our shelves?

I hope you will stop by to see me and look at our space! I am available on a drop-in basis between 8am-4pm on Thursday and Friday, October 18th and 19th (parent/teacher conference days).

Students in all-day EDEP will be dropping in for an hour on Thursday morning, but please come in anyway - you are welcome at any time. I look forward to meeting with you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our children's wishes

We begin every school year in grades K-3 library classes by learning in depth about one part of the world. In previous years we have studied West Africa, Scandinavia and Latin America among other locations. This year we are learning about Japan! Recently students heard a kamishibai story about tanabata, a Japanese summer festival. They had the chance to write their own tanzaku, wishes written on strips of colorful paper, that we have hung from bamboo branches. Your child's tanzaku will be sent home soon, but for now we are enjoying them on display in the library! Here is a selection of what they wished for in their own words (and charming spelling)!

I wish to hav a pet dragin
I wish to be a princess
I wish for good book
Theat I went to the top uf the tollist scickrap
I wsh to bkme Harry Paddtr
I wish to go to India
I want to be a super hero
I hope flowers bloom any day
I wish that I grow a lollipop tree
I wish for I livd in Hwie
I wish the world was covered with water

First grade:
I wish I could be invisible
I rile hop that it is tro that I will get my on dog wen I am nin
I wish all the dogs in my family will come back to life
I wish to have more Calvin and Hoddes
I wish I cod be a krote mastr
To never die
I wish I cod have a mes or a rat or a pone

Second grade:
I want to be faster than my brother
I wish I could help my fish Bonie with her eye
I wish my fish wode stay aliv fore more then a year
I wish I was a person with a really cool superpower
I wish I can shoot lightning out of my hands
I wish for another dragon
Be a good prason

Third grade:
I wish to have a real wand
I wish that money would fall from the sky instead of rain
I wish that I will save endangered animals
I wish to solve mustries
I wish I could have a pet shark
I wish that I can like homework
To fly without wings
I wish to be world chess champion