Currently Reading: Crossed by Ally Condie
Tuesday, March 12
Today I returned to Madison Elementary. I was excited to be part of the Read-Around which Ms. Hefner put together for second graders. Students heard book talks about ten different biographies from ten different adults (teachers, school staff, administrators, and myself) as part of their biography unit. I did a 3-minute book talk on Boss of the Plains: The Hat that Won the West by Laurie Winn Carlson, which is a biography about John Stetson. I really enjoyed doing the book talks, and felt more and more comfortable with each group (we split up the students in order to make the groups small). I was able to incorporate some classroom management skills as I made sure they were listening and paying attention to me, and practiced keeping their attention by leaning in, making eye contact, asking questions, and using different voices. I’m not sure John Stetson was the most popular biography today, but the read-around was a fun activity and I was happy to be a part of it!
Later this morning, I observed Ms. Hefner doing a story time with preschool students. They were all so adorable and I loved the activity they did following the story-Ms. Hefner had them build a pizza on the chalkboard and create a diagram by labeling the various parts. I love that Ms. Hefner uses these times to expand kids’ vocabularies, especially before they start kindergarten!
Something else I’ve realized about working in an elementary school is that activities involve more preparation as far as cutting things out, gathering paper, etc. To prepare for a sorting activity Ms. Hefner is doing later this week as part of a trees and seeds unit, I cut out pictures of trees and seeds and created tables for students to paste the pictures into. Ms. Hefner always has something to cut out, glue, and create in order to prepare for a lesson!
I was excited to hear that Ms. Hefner was doing “Literary Lunch” today with third graders. Students can bring in their lunch and listen as she reads a novel (right now it is Freaky Fast Frankie Joe). She reads a bit each day for a couple of weeks, until she finishes the novel. Students are not required to turn in a reflection or do an assignment-it is purely a fun activity! Of course, it is a great way to increase these students’ fluency as well. I would love to do my own “literary lunches” in the future!
Thursday, March 14
I worked with Buffy Edwards again today, and had the opportunity to visit multiple sites with her. We started our day at the Instructional Services Center, where we talked about the barcodes the school district uses for each of its schools, and how the district works with publishers and each librarian to purchase books and materials such as spine labels, Mylar covers, etc.
Next we visited Wilson Elementary. The librarian, who I recognized from one of my classes, is in her first year. Buffy thought it would be a good idea to hear from a brand-new librarian how to adjust to a new school and library program. The librarian has made a lot of positive changes to the library at Wilson Elementary, including rearranging furniture to improve the look, feel, and function of the space, weeding and updating the collection, and changing some of the operations of the library in order to make it a warmer and more welcoming place for students (this involved increasing the number of books students could check out, etc.) She shared many ideas with me-her rationale for making changes to the current checkout policies, how she handles overdue and lost books, etc. One idea I really like: having students bring a bead with them to the library from their classroom and dropping it in a fishbowl when they enter the library. This tells the librarian “I have permission to be here right now” and helps the students feel empowered to move around the library and look for books as they please.
I also had the opportunity to visit Dimensions, which is the alternative high school in Norman. Buffy is the librarian there, and was excited to unveil the newly arrived Google Chrome books to the students. The kids were so excited and loved looking at their email from the Chrome books, checking out the apps, and setting their personal profile preferences. I hope to be able to return to Dimensions later this semester in order to see how Buffy does instruction with the students there. It is a small and close-knit community, and I can tell that the teachers are really passionate about these kids!
Next week is Spring Break, but I will back at Madison the week after the break.