Help Me, Mr. Mutt!

Found another great source for many topics in Help Me, Mr. Mutt by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel.

In this story, dogs write to Mr. Mutt for advice, and he replies thoughtfully, with follow-ups by The Queen, a somewhat maligned cat in Mr. Mutt’s household.  I had the students write their own letters to Mr. Mutt, but they had to change their perspective and become a dog writing a dog problem.  It could be used in general for letter writing, problem solving, PLUS it has great math connections in that it shows how to present information using various types of graphs.

Another Great Source to Find Books — ABookandAHug

Thanks to one of my librarian peers out there, I discovered today.  It has:

  • Categories for browsing — like “Good for Reluctant Readers” plus other standards (i.e. fantasy, action/adventure)
  • Browse by age option
  • Special suggestions for middle readers — those who are advanced but not quite ready for middle school fiction
  • A special tab “Books for Boys”, with suggestions on how to find out what kind of a boy you have in front of you, and how you can match that boy to good reads.

It also has video author interviews, including Avi, Shannon Hale, Jon Scieszka and many others.  Take a look!

I Wonder Research

4th and 5th grade students have been working on I Wonder research projects.  They came up with their own ideas or wonderings and are exploring some websites to see what they can find, journaling their results each week.  This week, we’ll be starting our PowerPoint presentations, adding this skill to their technology bag of tricks. Surprisingly, they’re really excited to see that they can change backgrounds and colors.  Just wait until I teach them the text effects.

The I Wonder – Basic Internet Research page can be found at our media center website ( under the pathfinders tab.  Some good sources for students starting out looking for information on a topic, without resorting to “just use Google”.

Picture Books for Teaching

I have seen a few blog posts lately that examine picture books for teaching.  One was in School Library Journal.  The online article can be found here:

One example is Bats on Parade, where students can learn concepts of addition, multiplication and square numbers as the parade goes by, first 2 by 2, then 3 by 3, up to 10 by 10 bats.

Another example is Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.  The blog post suggests that after reading the book, students could search the library to find inch long things, adding them to a list.

Both are great ways the media program can collaborate with your classroom instruction.  When you as the classroom teacher teach a concept, I might be able to find a great read that can extend what you’ve begun.  I’ll be exploring this list to find more additions to the media center.

Another great source is Teach with Picture Books, a blog with a wealth of ideas for curriculum connections.  I have just begun to explore this resource myself.  Here’s the banner for the blog:

Teach with Picture Books

U. S. Census

If you’re planning to teach about the U.S. Census, we have a copy of Tricking the Tallyman by Jacqueline Davies here in the media center.  Here’s the School Library Journal’s starred review:

Gr 1-4–This lively, engaging picture book is an outstanding introduction to the concept of census taking and its role in the implementation of the new United States Constitution. One day in 1790, Phineus Bump rides into Tunbridge, VT. He is an honorable man who takes his duties seriously, yet he wishes to return home to his loved ones, whom he hasn’t seen in three months. His job is to count every man, woman, and child in town and report back to the government. But folks are skeptical: Will the numbers be used to establish taxation or conscription, or, as rumors are saying, representation in the new government? They aren’t taking any chances and set out to trick the Tallyman, going from one extreme to the other and delaying his completion of the task. Finally, a real understanding of the man’s mission allows them to be counted “fair and true.” Schindler’s exceptional illustrations, mainly in earth tones, depict indoor and outdoor scenes that are full of activity. Children will delight in finding hidden treasures in the pages. Especially noticeable is a look of consternation on a turkey whose feathers have recently been turned into writing quills. Charming and humorous, this book is certain to appeal to children–and to educators.


April Is School Library Month

Sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians, we celebrate our library media programs in April.  Here in Fitzgerald Public Schools, we are fortunate to have library media specialists in every building, elementary, middle and high school.  Pat Pulis, my esteemed predecessor, wrote the article which follows the wonderful picture of the five of us:


We are very fortunate in the Fitzgerald Public School District to have a full-time librarian in each of our schools.  Libraries are at the heart of the learning experience for almost 44 million elementary, middle and high school students in schools with library media centers nationwide.1

Each April marks the celebration of school libraries.  Now in its 25th year, the focus is on the importance of the contributions made by school library programs and staff to the overall education and achievement of students.

At the elementary level, our media specialists promote reading by taking part in activities such as March is Reading Month, sponsor book fair(s) each year, teach keyboarding skills to students and much more.

At the middle and high school levels, the media specialists also provide activities to encourage reading for enjoyment.  In addition, they manage the school-wide reading test program and help students with projects and homework.

All of our media specialists are involved with collaborating with teachers to instruct students in research skills and the in use of all of the valuable resources that the media centers have to offer.  Also, our media specialists have worked with parents who have provided additional support to our programs.

Whether it is the Bag-a-Book program, sponsoring a visiting author/illustrator, Accelerated Reader, assistance with Google Docs and cloud computing, or recommending the latest “must-read” books, our trained and certified media specialists provide a wealth of educational experiences for Fitzgerald students!

1 U.S. Department of Education, Center for Education Statistics, The Status of Public and Private School Library Media Centers in the United States:  1999-2000, March 2004.

Adding Reviews to Our Library Catalog

Our 4th grade students at Schofield have been writing book reviews as part of our March is Reading Month lessons.  I was trying to get them to understand the basics of book reviews, expose them to our beginning chapter book collection, and to get them excited about using the online catalog.

I asked them to :

  • Include the title and author
  • Give a brief description of the story
  • Choose an audience for the book – who would like to read it
  • Come up with a catchy ending to make the review reader want to read the book.

Here’s an example for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, reviewed by two students.

Widgets Can Be Fun

LibraryThing offers great widgets which you can add to a blog to show what you’re reading, new books, recommended books, whatever floats your boat. I set up a LibraryThing library of new books added here at Schofield, and then put a widget, which you can see on the right (and maybe up a little – look for the bookcovers) ——————————————————————————->.

If you want to know how to do this, just ask. And, if you’ve never been to LibraryThing or Goodreads or Shelfari, they’re social networking sites (sort of) for avid readers – well, they’re really online libraries you can create with your own books, with social networking applications.  I’m a longtime LibraryThing member under mikitchenlady.

Helping Kids Find Good Reads

I’ve updated the pages of my school media center website with other websites they can go to to find good ideas for reading.  After spending much time teaching them how to use the library catalog, now I think it’s time for them to think  beyond what we have to what’s out there.  Maybe we can get some of it in the media center if there’s great interest.  Or perhaps this might just encourage a few to get a library card, and visit their local branch over the summer.  As a teacher and a librarian, I can only hope.

Here are a few I’ve added:

Guys Read – Jon Scieszka’s website, though no just for guys in my opinion.

Kidsreads – fun to explore, including links to books made into movies, links to author sites, plus what’s cool and new (with all the old “cool and new” stuff linked to explore).

ReadKiddoRead – James Patterson’s site with categories like illustrated, transitional, pageturners and advanced readers (those words are for us grown-ups, the real big print breakdown is by age, so easy to follow).

We’ll probably add some of our favorite author and book sites to the mix – think I’ll let the students inspire those.