Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Books with a Bonus!

I stumbled across We Give Books tonight through a friend's Pinterest post on Facebook. (Can you follow that string of social media?) I have spent a little time looking through it and it looks like a great site! There are some wonderful e-books available for FREE including titles such as Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, See How They Grow, Llama Llama Red Pajama, The Snowy Day, and so many more. These are the full books online. In addition to access to tons of great books, the website says it has this added benefit:

We Give Books Read a Book

Choose from our growing library of great children's books

Choose a Campaign

Choose one of our literacy partner campaigns to support with your reading


The more you read, the more books we share with children who need them
So, check it out and use the ebooks while helping others!

Cats and Dogs

I have been working on the Super 3 with my K-2 students, and am doing a different type of animal that they are interested in with each group. First grade is currently doing a small cat project, and second is doing dogs. These books just fly off our shelf so I thought they would be interested in doing them, plus they are short, simple books so any reading level should work with this. They are working with a partner to read about and take notes on a certain type of cat or dog, depending on the grade level. We talked first about the Plan stage and brainstormed questions and information sources, and now they are in the Do stage of reading and taking notes. Next time, they will finish notes and create a project from the information and then Review them. Here are some shots of the first graders working on their cat research.

How do you use the Super 3?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Spring has sprung around here lately, we supposedly had the warmest March on record, and we are starting to see lots of robins outside! Continuing on the review of Super 3 with my Kinders, we talked about robins this time. I created a smartboard notebook with pictures of robins from Flickr Creative Commons along with each step of the Super 3. We again brainstormed questions of things we might want to learn and ways we could get information. They really had clearer ideas this time. I liked that some of the ideas for the sources of information included observation of a nest, my brain, and owners of birds in addition to all the usual suspects like books, websites, etc. After talking about the Plan step, we moved on to Do and used this website for information. Then, the students drew a robin using the descriptions and pictures we saw and wrote sentences about what they learned. We ran out of time before the Review step though. I hate that that step often gets left off. Here are some of their works in progress, some of their pictures showed even more information like nests with 3-4 blue eggs and eating worms.

Robins eat berries. Babies eat worms. They lay 3 or 4 eggs.

Robins eat worms. Robins eat berries.

Robins eat berries and worms. Robins have up to two sets. (We talked about how robins lay two clutches of eggs each spring.)

Robins eat berries. Robins lay their eggs in a nest.

Robins lay eggs in a nest. Robins eat worms.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Break the Code

A class recently started reading The Egypt Game which has some information about Hieroglyphics in it, so we decided to do something on secret codes to get the students interested. I created a livebinder with sites about ciphers, the enigma, underground railroad quilt squares, Navajo codes used in WWII, and more. It was fun to pull together! I didn't end up being able to help them with the project in the end due to book fair, but they had enough experience with livebinders by then that the students did it on their own! They even had a sub the first day and told her how to get to them from the Destiny homepage. It made me proud! They created these flip books with information about different types of secret codes that they will share in small groups. They seemed to have a lot of fun with it too and get excited telling each other things they learned.

What other secret codes in history can you think of?

They Can Do More Than You Think!

I often hear from people that projects or technology sounds great, but that little ones can't do it. (Not from teachers here of course - our teachers have wonderful expectations of the kids!) This week, a Kindergarten teacher brought her class to the media center to create their first PowerPoint presentation. They did great! They brought their plant journals and we created a slide for each page. Then they went back and were told to add clip art that fit with what they wrote on each page. Now, I know PowerPoint is not a teaching tool in itself and is not the newest thing, but the kids had a lot of fun and it was a fantastic way for them to edit because many of them found as they were typing the words into the slides that they had forgotten words or that they needed to spell something differently. The teacher commented how much they don't really like to edit on paper, but doing this helped them do it in a painless way that made it more relevant with a real life reason why it is important to edit your writing. It might take them a little longer to get it finished than older kids, but they can definitely do it! Of course, that was not news to this teacher since they send emails to their parents using ipod touches in the classroom already! Here are some pictures of the kids working on their presentations.

How do you use PowerPoint in your school?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Super (3) Rabbits!

Continuing to discuss the Super 3, I have each grade level K-2 doing a Super 3 investigation currently. 2nd is doing a bigger project on dogs, and 1st the same on cats since they all love the dog and cat books so much. For my Kinders though, we followed the Spring session with an investigation on rabbits! We followed the same procedure brainstorming questions we had and how we could find information for the first step, PLAN. They had some interesting questions such as how do they dig so well and how long do they live. I was impressed with some of the information sources they thought of this time also - the regular suspects of course like books and internet, but they also thought of the vet and the pet store as information sources which I thought was rather smart!

Next was the DO step. We read pieces of a nonfiction rabbit book and looked for answers to the questions they had brainstormed using the table of contents, headings, etc. Then, the students were to write something they learned about rabbits and could add a picture of a rabbit. We learned that young and baby rabbits stay together with a couple of adult rabbits until they get bigger. They are called kits or kittens as babies. Rabbits have long claws to dig with and long ears to hear danger coming. (I translated the Kinder writing for you in the captions.) I think they did a good job remembering important information we talked about.

They stay with other rabbits.

If rabbits are sick, bring them to the vet.

Rabbits have long claws. I learned that.

Rabbits have long ears. They are scared of people.

Claws help them dig.

I learned about rabbits that they eat corn and they hop. I like rabbits.

Rabbits are called kits when they are babies. 
The final step is REVIEW. This is hard for Kinders to get. They want to just repeat information they learned when you ask what they did well, but we are working on it!

How do you teach or use Super 3?

Tea Time

A second grade reading group just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the teacher asked if they could use the media center for a tea party as a concluding activity to discuss the book. So, a small group got to use real tea cups, talk about literature, and listen to classical music - and they loved it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Last week was our Spring Break, so to welcome kids back and practice the Super 3 a little, I decided to do a lesson on spring with my Kinders. We started by talking about spring and what they did over break, but then talked about the 3 steps of the Super 3. (I took some slide shots of my SMART notebook using Jing which I love and is a free download by the way.)
 After talking about the 3 steps and why it is thus called the Super 3, we talked about the questions you might ask yourself for the steps. I went to a slide with the question What do we want to know about Spring? and let the kids tell me some things they wanted to know. We got some good questions, I really liked the question about why snakes come out because it showed some of their prior knowledge about hibernation ending, cold blooded animals, etc. These are worded the way they asked them. I just wrote them on the SMART board.
 Next, for the DO step of the Super 3, we talked about ways we could learn more about Spring to try to answer some of our questions. Here are the answers I got from the kids. I asked about what kinds of people could you find out information from and that is where the answer of the Easter Bunny came in! I especially liked that one, but I also thought it seemed like a good answer - he would probably know about Spring! We did talk about the fact that it might be hard to get to talk to him since you don't usually get to see him though. We started to go off course a little here though because once the Easter Bunny came up, several kids wanted to add Santa Claus, but we talked about how Santa comes in the Winter during Christmas so he would know more about that season instead of Spring. I also thought the idea about checking the weather was clever, it again shows some prior knowledge of that understanding that weather changes with the seasons.
 After brainstorming, we read this book about Spring and talked about using books to gather information. Then we also looked at a couple of short clips about Spring from the site WatchKnowLearn. This one is a time lapse of a forest area over all four seasons, this one is a silly song about Spring sung by animals (but they love it and it does have some discussion points like baby animals and waking from hibernation), and this one that is a song to guess each of the four seasons.
 After we looked at and discussed the information from our sources, we talked about how we could show what we learned and here is what they came up with.
 Then, we went back to the original questions and talked about how we could apply things we learned to answer the questions we had to start with and what we still needed to find out more about. I had planned to also do a quick SMARTboard sort with signs of Spring or not, but we ran out of time for it!
This was a lesson that kept the kids engaged and interested which is hard with Kinders. I will definately do more of lessons like this to keep exposing them to the Super 3 so that when they get to third grade it is not a leap to get to the Big 6.

Any lessons you love with Super 3 or for Kinders?