Sunday, November 8, 2015

Jurassic Park Sources of Information


I recently collaborated with my second grade teachers on a dino-mite lesson to teach sources of information! We were inspired by Hope and Wade King, who used Jurassic Park as the setting of an integrated lesson they taught their sixth graders.  Our main goal was to teach students about different sources of information they will be using in research projects this year.  However, we also learned reading, deductive reasoning, and group work skills!

A few days before the lesson, I sent each class an invitation to the grand opening of Jurassic Park.  the invitation stated the date and time each class was to report.  Along with the invitation were tickets for each student.

When students arrived, they found the lights in the media center out and a table with hairnets (cheap shower caps) and headlamps (Wal-Mart tap lights with elastic under the battery cover).  I told students that I was so excited for them to be one of the first classes to see Jurassic Park because our paleontologists had been working around the clock to identify the four new dinosaur fossils they were about to see.  Before we entered the park, though, students had to put on a hairnet to protect our priceless fossils and a headlamp to see.

Then I scanned their tickets and they entered the park.  They were greeted inside the media center with a bus (chairs arranged in rows), a picture of the Jurassic Park gate on the Promethean board, and the sounds of dinosaurs roaring.

As we loaded the bus, I received a phone call from our head paleontologist (the collaborating teacher called my phone without the kids noticing).  I told him that I was about to take a group of second graders on the tour but was shocked to find out that his team had lost all of their research and we couldn't take our tour because he didn't know the names of the dinosaur fossils we were about to see.  I told the students that our only option was to do the research for the scientists so that we could see the fossils and save the park.  The kids cheered and were excited to get started.

We divided the kids into four groups and sent them to different stations with a card to write the names of the dinosaurs on as they were uncovered.  The stations were set up in advance.  Each station contained a dinosaur fossil in a pan, partially covered with dirt.  There was also a triboard that had the number of the station, five clues about the dinosaur, and five possible choices.  We told the students that our scientists had narrowed it down to those five dinosaurs because they were indigenous to the area in which our fossils was found.  There was a different source of information at each station that students used to locate information about each of these five dinosaurs so that they could match up the clues and determine which dinosaur fossil was in the pan.  Our sources of information included Pebble Go, Encyclopedia Britannica, media center books, and the PBS Kids Dinosaur Train website.

Students were given ten minutes at each station.  There was a parent or teacher at each station to help guide students toward the information if needed.  As students completed the last station, we gathered back on the bus.  I told students that I had received another call from our head paleontologist, and that he had good news and bad news.  The good news was that the research had been found!  We would be able to compare our answers with his.  The bad news was that a stegosaurus had eaten the research.  Fortunately, the scientists had saved the dinosaur dung  for us!  The collaborating teacher dramatically put on a yellow rubber glove and reached into a bucket of dung (flour, chocolate syrup, and dirt) and pulled out a laminated card with the answers.  The teacher called out the dinosaur names and the kids cheered as they learned they had completed the research correctly.

What a fun lesson!  The teachers and parents enjoyed it as much as the kids.  And our students will never forget what they learned because they were immersed in Jurassic Park as the setting of the lesson.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tomie dePaola Author Study Centers

I was so inspired by Nancy Jo Lambert's post about the Tomie dePaola author study centers she created for her second graders.  I love Tomie dePaola's books and decided to do something similar for my first graders!  This lesson took about an hour for each class.  For the first ten minutes, we talked about how having favorite authors means we can always find a good book to read!  I also gave students directions for each center.  Then I numbered the students and they spent ten minutes at each center.  Last, we cleaned up, returned to the carpet, and talked about our favorite Tomie books and where we can find them in our library.

Here are each of the centers that our students rotated through.

Center 1: Meet Tomie on PebbleGo
Center 2: Read Tomie's books
Center 3: View Tomie's books (Choose a book from this Blendspace lesson.)
Center 4: Meet Strega Nona (Watch the Barnes and Noble Strega Nona video, narrated by Tomie himself, and color a Strega Nona puppet.)

Download the checklist that students used as they completed each center here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monster Book Fair

We recently wrapped up our fall book fair.  Scholastic's fall theme is Monster Book Fair.  We transformed the media center into the Monsters University campus!  And added lots of little monsters everywhere.  The materials for decorations were very inexpensive.  We made monsters out of copy paper boxes and large cans donated by the cafeteria.  After setting up the books and decorations, I held a teacher preview after school.  Teachers snacked on pizza and monster cupcakes.  They also created wish lists of books they would like to have donated to their classroom libraries.  During this book fair, we held four family events: an All Pro Dads breakfast, two grandparent celebrations, and Family Fitness Night.  One of the most popular features of this book fair was the photo booth!  I purchased a Monsters University backdrop from Party City and put a table full of props next to it. I couldn't see the photo booth from inside the media center, but I know it was used because I saw the pictures on Facebook all week!  This was by far our most profitable book fair ever!  I'm looking forward to spending the money we earned on new books for the library, an upcoming author visit, and materials for our Makerspace!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Top Ten Books of 2014-2015

Here are the top ten circulated titles during the 2014 - 2015 school year at my K-6 elementary school.

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

9. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

8. Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle

7. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

6. Ungifted by Gordon Korman

5. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

4. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

3. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

2. Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

1. Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Previewing the Georgia Children's Book Award Nominees with Aurasma

Each spring, my fourth, fifth, and sixth graders eagerly anticipate the announcement of next year's Georgia Children's Book Award nominees. I love how my students swap copies of the books, discuss their favorite parts, and debate the best titles. To generate excitement for next year's books and promote the titles for summer reading, I created a preview activity.

I used cover images as the trigger images. For the overlays, I used book trailers that I created or downloaded from You Tube. Using Aurasma Studio, I combined the trigger images and overlays into auras so that when the book covers are scanned, the trailer appears and plays. To prepare the media center for this activity, I placed a copy of each title on book stands around the media center. I also created and copied a list of the books.

When students arrived in the media center, we talked about how movie trailers get us excited about movies that are coming out soon. I told them that they would be viewing book trailers that would tell them about next year's Georgia Children's Book Award nominees. I gave each student a pencil and list of books to make notes on. Students shared iPads in pairs. They were then encouraged to scan the book covers and watch the previews for as many books as time allowed. Before students left, we met again as a whole group where students shared the books they were most excited about and why.  My students are now anxious to being reading next year's book list!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Under the Sea Book Fair


We are currently hosting our spring book fair.  Scholastic's spring theme is Under the Sea: Explore an Ocean of Books.  The media center has been transformed into an underwater sanctuary!  The decorations include a complete ocean wall outside the media center and a submarine, scuba diver, and jellyfish inside the media center.  My fabulous art teacher also contributed a beautiful mermaid and a shark made from a laundry basket, foam, and duct tape.  After setting up the books and decorations, I held a teacher preview after school.  Teachers snacked on submarine sandwiches, seashell pasta salad, seaweed (spinach) dip, shark teeth (cheese triangles), and sponge cake.  They also created wish lists of books that they would like to have donated to their classroom libraries.  The first day we were open, we held two family events: an All Pro Dads breakfast and Cultural Arts Night.  It was a long day (7:00 A.M. - 8:30 P.M.) but it was our most profitable single day ever!


Download a sign I created to display ocean themed books here.