Wednesday, December 29, 2010

4th Grade Cereal Commercials

For the past few years, I have had 4th graders get involved in a library unit on media literacy. We discuss advertising and persuasive techniques, including target audiences, "food styling" and Photoshop. (If you haven't seen an amazing video revealing "behind the scenes" of a beauty shoot, see the "Dove Evolution" video here.)

4th graders are then paired up and asked to create a new cereal box for a specific target audience. After Mrs. Eley helps them use PowerPoint to create their cereal box, they are to create and film a short commercial!

Our 2010 Commercials will be available soon on the video section of the Mt. Laurel Schools Family Portal (password required), but below is a preview of some of the students' creations. Can you figure out the target audience for each?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3rd Grade Video: What We Love about Books, Reading and the Library

3rd grade students filmed themselves this past week using our school's Flip Video Cameras. (We have 4 "2nd generation" Flip Ultra Cams.) They were asked to tell 1-2 sentences about what they love about books, the library, or reading.

The video can be viewed soon on our Mt. Laurel Schools Family Portal (password protected).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Fair a Big Success!

Thank you to all of the students and families who supported our December book fair! It was a great success, thanks to you, and the library will soon have some wonderful new books as a result of the fair.

Monday, November 29, 2010

3rd Graders Read about Weather and figure out "Keywords"

3rd graders are completing a "devastating weather" unit that incorporates two strategies that good readers use:1) making connections to what we know already, and 2) determining importance. How do good readers determine what's important when they read, especially nonfiction?

We practice the first strategy - making connections - by looking at an image on the board, such as this one. We discuss with our tablemates what we think we know about it, and then I help the students share their thoughts. 3rd graders LOVE to talk about weather, and a lot of them are experts already.

To practice the second strategy - determining importance - I begin the lesson by emptying the contents of my purse. I tell the students I am going for a walk after school, and I don't want to take my whole heavy bag. I ask the students to take a look at all the items, and tell me what they think is the most important thing I should take with me on my walk. They usually come up with my keys and my cell phone as the most important items. I tell them that they just "determined importance!"

We then apply the skill to our reading, and I show students how to pick out "keywords" - the important words, just like my keys were important - from a nonfiction passage about the weather we're studying. Then they learn how to use the keywords in a summary of no more than 30 words.

When we have practiced for several weeks, we choose one of our summaries and create a bookmark using a Powerpoint template. This helps students understand how to just get the main point across in their summaries since their is a limited amount of space!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scholastic Book Fair Dec. 6-10: "Here's to Our Heroes"

"Here's to Our Heroes: Reading Saves the Day!" is the theme for our annual Scholastic Book Fair, which will be held in the library from December 6-10. Students may shop during their class’s library time or during lunch. Proceeds from the fair (about 30-40% of sales) go directly to support our library and our annual author visit. Flyers (with a list of some of the books available at the fair) will go home with students in late November.

Click on the image below to visit our book fair homepage:

Mark your calendar for the Book Fair Family Night on Monday, Dec. 6 from 6-8 p.m. At Family Night, students will have the opportunity to enter contests to win gift certificates for the fair. This is a great time to shop for gifts and pick up some hot new books. Hillside teachers’ “wish lists” will also be on display at the fair!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!
Mrs. Eley

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go Phillies!

Students at Hillside were so excited today to participate in a Phillies pep rally organized by one of our wonderful dads who works for Comcast SportsNet, a regional TV sports program! Staff and students alike were encouraged to wear their Phillies red, and we listened to Ricky Battalico speak of his ups and downs and his forecast for the Phillies this year.

The Phanatic

The biggest surprise of all, however, was when the Phanatic emerged from behind the curtain on the stage!

Mrs. Donia and Mrs. Winkel

Go Phillies!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Farewell Mrs. Kinsey

Hillside School bid farewell to a beloved 4th grade teacher on Friday, October 1st. Ms. Frances Kinsey, Fran to all her friends, has retired after over 30 years in teaching. The faculty gathered for a surprise luncheon on her last day to celebrate Fran and all her achievements. Fran was a teacher who never failed to inspire her students, to make them hang on her every word during a read-aloud of the newest chapter book, to discuss "bigger issues" of character during her morning meetings, to hold onto every little piece of treasure (read: someone else's junk) in case it was needed in the classroom, to pass on her love of nature and the outdoors, and to make enduring memories in the minds of her students.

Fran's goodbye cake:

Mrs. Hanks, Mrs. Lucerna, and Ms. Fran Kinsey:

Mrs. Kinsey, we will dearly miss you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

3rd and 4th Graders Write Online Book Reviews!

Our third and fourth graders have been thoughtful reviewers this week. Their task was to search in our online catalog for a book that they would like to review. They learned how to login to the system and write a review of at least 2 sentences, 1 stating why they liked or didn't like the book and 1 stating some summary information about the characters or plot.

When their review is saved, Mrs. Eley will check it for spelling and then approve it. Then it is available for all students in the district (and the rest of the world) to see when they view the record for that book!

Example by Sean L.:

Monday, October 11, 2010

3rd and 4th Grade "Back to School Survey"

After viewing Keisa Williams' back to school survey that she created for her elementary library learners at the Monarch Academy in California, I decided to use Google Forms to create a survey for our 3rd and 4th graders. I wanted to know about their reading habits and technology use, in order to plan some things for the library.

Our students used our school's iPod touches to complete the survey, since the laptops were not available during the first week of school.

Click here to view the survey
(and please - give no more responses at this time!).

Here are the results, with 185 responses. It seems about half our students want audio books, so I will have to do some thinking about that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Movie Opens September 24

Our 4th grade students should be super-excited that Kathryn Lasky's series "The Guardians of Ga'Hoole" is coming to the big screen on Friday, September 24th. A futuristic world in which Soren, a barn owl, is captured by a group of evil owls intent on taking over the world.

The Hillside Library has multiple copies of the first 7 books. There are 15 total.

Click here to see a movie preview and visit the official movie site.
Click here to view a "book trailer" on YouTube.
Click here to visit the author's site.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome Back Teacher Newsletter

Have you ever tried as a fun way to create comics out of your own pictures? I used it for the first time to create a teacher newsletter. I found pictures I had taken of teachers last year, and then used superlame to create 'comics' of them asking questions about the library. I used these 'comics' in my back-to-school teacher newsletter. Hopefully these are more interesting to read!

Welcome Back Teacher Goodie Bags

Welcome back Hillside teachers! Thanks to Amy King of Medford's Milton H. Allen School, I got the idea for teacher "welcome back" goodie bags! She got the idea from Buffy Hamilton, another amazing school librarian. It's just a little way to welcome everyone back to school and start the year off with a little fun.

Each bag contains:
library brochure
2 chocolates
fruit snacks
pack of tissues
tattoo (PebbleGo or 'Very Hungry Caterpillar')
front pocket with invitation to "BAM" Books and Munchies library book browse event in September

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 10 Books of 2009-2010

Our online library catalog, Follett Destiny, allows users to view the "Top 10" titles at any given time. Here are the top 10 books of the end of the 2009-2010 school year (click to enlarge):

Diary of a Wimpy Kid books continue to be so popular - I can't keep the multiple copies on the shelves!

4th Grade Mini-Inquiry Projects

Earlier this year, I read the book "Inquiry Circles: Comprehension and Collaboration" by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels. It is an EXCELLENT book that details the concept of mini-inquiry to larger inquiry projects for K-8 students.

I decided to try a 'mini-inquiry' project with 4th graders. After getting them 'wondering' about the world and modeling my own inquiry process - What is a stinkbug and how do I get rid of it in NJ? - I set them off to work, supporting them along the way. I gave them a choice between finally creating a video or a mini-flip book or a mini-diorama. I used the awesome minibook template and diorama Powerpoint template from the authors of the 'Digital Goonies' blog, Jim Holland and Susan Anderson, tech integration specialists who I first saw at ISTE 2009.

Then they presented their work to the entire class using the IPEVO document camera acquired early in the year.
Great job 4th graders!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

3 Things I Learned... and If I Ran the Library

As an end-of-year reflection, I asked the fourth graders to jot down three things they learned and complete the sentence "If I Ran the Library..." We discussed our many memories, since I've had them since first grade, and had fun reminiscing and I loved learning what was a "lasting connection" for them.

Enjoy reading some of our students' comments (click to enlarge).

And to wrap it all up, I showed two videos from YouTube - "Party in the Library" and "Gotta Keep Reading."
The kids loved them - and we talked about what a 'parody' is too - still got some learning in at the end of the year.

Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hillside Top 10 Fiction Children's Books Poll Results

I am a follower of Betsy Bird's Fuse Number 8 blog. She is a NY Public Library children's librarian and over the past year, she has conducted two polls in which I have participated. She asked her readers to send in their votes for the Top 100 Middle-Grade Chapter Books of All Time and Top 100 Picture Books of All Time. You can find the final results for the Top 100 picture books here. The top 100 middle-grade chapter books are listed here.

I gave fourth graders a printed list of the winners and these directions:
Blogger Betsy Bird of the NY Public Library recently listed readers’ favorite children’s books of all time. Now it’s time for you to recreate the same poll! You and other 4th graders will vote for your favorites, and collect and organize the data using a spreadsheet. Mrs. Eley will be helping you in library class. At the end we’ll have a list of the “top 10” books chosen by the 4th grade!

I created a Google Form (see image below) to allow the students to type in their responses and comments. Google Forms automatically puts their typed responses in a spreadsheet. Then I used that data to calculate the winning results! Their first choice receives 10 points, second choice 9 points, etc.

The Top 10 Children's Fiction Books chosen by the Hillside Fourth Graders of 2009-2010 are:

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone 108 points
DIARY of a wimpy kid: Dog days 81 points
A Wrinkle in Time 71 points
No Talking 55 points
Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban 50 points
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 48 points
Fablehaven 47 points
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 46 points
Because of Winn Dixie 45 points
Deep and Dark and Dangerous 44 points

For the complete list of results and comments, click here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

1st Grade Mo Willems Activities

One of my absolute most favorite authors is MO WILLEMS! His "Elephant and Piggie" books are big hits for early readers in our library, and we also love Knuffle Bunny (one AND Too). But his "Pigeon" books are, hands down, the most popular of his books. "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" is a must-read, if you haven't read it, about a crazy pigeon who wants to drive a bus. He begs, pleads, and cajoles the reader, leading to a chorus of screamed "NO!"s in the library! Lots of fun.

I love the Pigeon so much I created a video called "The Pigeon Finds a Library" using IMovie, student help, and my husband's silly voice, to help our students know the library rules.

Here are some of our own "Knuffle Bunny" collages and ideas for Mo Willems' next pigeon books! Our "Knuffle Bunny" collages were inspired by the thought: What if Knuffle Bunny was lost at Hillside School? I took pictures around the school, printed them in black and white, and the students imagined a scene.