Thursday, May 30, 2019

Flexible Schedule and Starting Over

So here's to keeping up with my blog (again)!  Next year, I'll be leaving our resource rotation and going to a flexible schedule.  I'm excited, but a little nervous about it.  I had to wait to announce it, so I haven't had too much time to work on teacher buy-in before the end of our school year.  So, I'm compiling a list of questions and ideas on a Google Doc to talk to my administrator as well as keeping all my ideas in one place (and not on various sticky notes that can get lost!).  I have the wonderful help of a Facebook Group - Learning Librarians - which is super helpful!  Out of our four elementary schools in our district, only two of us are going to the flex schedule, so we'll also be planning together.

That leads me to looking through lessons that I've done this past year and either tweaking them to include in my "presentations" to grade levels or in the case of Kindergarten and First, I'll be doing a weekly 30 minute read aloud/activity/check out with them.  We also have a preschool and autism self-contained classes in our building, so I'll be looking at those as well (although not "fixed" they've indicated to me they will want a weekly time slot!).

So, I decided why not review by blogging about it?  This way, I can share my ideas with you as well as "talk aloud" about it because who doesn't talk through their thoughts, right?

So, first up is my first "unit" with Kindergarten:  Introduction to the Library (which includes book care).  Most of these little rascals have never been in a public school setting before and not used to sitting for long periods of time at the beginning of the year (when I say long periods, I'm talking maybe 5 minutes).  We have steps we sit on in a "story room" in my library and yes, they have actually tried to roll down them before!  Yes, the beginning of the year with them (and strangely, also the end of the year), is truly like "herding cats."

So, to keep them engaged, I stick to a pattern I keep up all year.  We have a welcome song we sing when they enter, I introduce what we're doing to them (for the first days of course I introduce myself), we talk about what the library is, read a story, and then go to the tables to do an activity while I call individuals to check out.  My first year in the library, I learned VERY quickly to create name cards because they hardly know their last name, let alone their first!  However, if you call it, they will come!  We check out by "lunch number" (which is their student number) so I have that on their card as well.  This coming year, I will be doing self-checkout and in an attempt to get ahead, created cards during Spring Break which, unfortunately, came late and it was my last week of checkout so we didn't get the practice in I wanted!  But, they're all created and ready for next year (except for new students and incoming Kindergarteners), so it wasn't too much time wasted.  I'm still not sure if this is what I want to introduce to my Kinders, but I might use them so they can at least see them so hopefully by the second semester of first grade, they'll be able to come and check out books on their own!

So, back to the schedule.  We sing our song (I can't remember where I got it from but if you Google library songs, it'll come up I'm sure) which they love (and I do the same song for first grade) that I call "Clap and Sing Hello" (to the tune of "Farmer in the Dell").  It's a good way to settle them down.
I also have a "get ready to read" song but somehow made it too wild over the years so by the last month of school, I "forget" to sing it with them, but it's "If You're Ready for a Story".  Again, Google it but I don't think those are the names, just the first lines.  They love it, though!

So, my first unit:  Introduction to the Library
Week One:  What Is a Library?
Featuring:  Mr. Wiggles Book (sometimes I "edit" as I read depending on their reactions or attention span); and The Library by Julie Murray; Book Care Boo Boos (mentioned below)
*Note:  I sometimes change these books up over the years, depending on what I get in my collection but these are the two I used this past year*
We read the book The Library and discuss what we do at a library, if you've ever been to a public library, how we choose one book at our school library (because we have to share), how we bring books back, etc.
We then read a somewhat shortened version of Mr. Wiggles' Book (because they're starting to get squirmy) and I usually use a stuffed caterpillar (TY has one off of Amazon) to "tell" the story to keep their attention.  I shorten it because (of course) attention span and honestly, sometimes the book is downright depressing! 
We go over our "Book Boo Boos" poster and I talk to them about what will happen next (activity; check out).  They then work together on a sort about treating books "happy" or "sad" (based on the poster), and then color bookmarks to take home.  If we have time, they also cut them.  I created the Book Care Packet several years ago and put it up on TPT if you're interested.

Week Two:  A Perfectly Messed Up Story
Featuring:  A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell, vocabulary cards you can find free on TPT
I LOVE this book!  Even at this age, the kids get the humor in it although many want to touch the pages to make sure it's not real.  I always have a few who think I messed up the book as a lesson, but I tell them the author/illustrator made it that way to teach about how the characters feel about their stories being messed up.
As an activity for this one, students play a matching game with the vocabulary cards.  They have pictures on them of different parts of a book and library terms.  I like to use them because even though they're matching the pictures, at least they're being exposed to the words, right?  After, they are able to choose activities off a cart I have that I change over every once in a while that include things like puzzles, Hi Ho Cherry O (they love that), playdoh, Legos, other building blocks, Viewmasters, etc.

Week Three:  The Library Doors
Featuring:  The Library Doors by Toni Buzzeo
By now, it's a review for students and they're guessing the routine - welcome song, introduction, story, activity/check out.
For this lesson, we sing the "Wheels on the Bus" song together.  I then tell them I have a "musical" story for them and it uses the same tune but different words, all about the library!  I read it to them first, then we go back through and sing it together doing kind of an echo reading/singing.  If my voice is up for it, I'll sing it the first time (I do not have the greatest voice, but the kids don't complain!).
After, we head to our seats for our activity and checkout.  I also use the cart again this week, but I do explain to students that sometimes, we'll be doing other activities as well. 

Well, I hope you liked the first three weeks (our first unit) in Kindergarten.  I hope there's something you can use!  I'm off to pick up my son from graduation practice (ugh, how is he a senior and 18???) so next time, hopefully soon, I'll post our friendship unit - the second unit I did with K this past year - which honestly was sorely needed!  My plan is to share by grade levels what we did all year so hopefully by the end of the summer, if not before, I'll have K-5 done with maybe some PreK and Autism thrown in!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Google Certified Training And a Few Surprises

So, wow, it's been almost a year since I last posted - no excuses, right?  I'm currently taking training to be a Level 1 and 2 Google Certified Teacher and when Blogger came up as one of the assignments, I was a little ashamed that I had to blow the dust off my Blog! 

Have you been certified as a teacher or trainer?  I honestly thought I knew a lot about Google - how to use everything with it - but whoah, it has surprised me how much I DIDN'T KNOW! 

So what have I done with some of this newfound knowledge?

Well, being the end of the year and our poor 3rd-5th graders testing (state mandated), I let them discover, as I had, the more playful side of  Google.  Have you ever played Google Mystery Animal?  It's a 20-questions format where students ask yes or no questions in order to guess the animal Google is thinking of.  Warning:  Google WILL get a little snarky if it doesn't quite understand you, so speak clearly!  The kids had a lot of fun with this (although some thought it was more fun to argue with Google and insult it).  Be careful though - you can't just guess "snake" you have to be more specific, like "rattlesnake."

Another fun Google game we played was Google Quick Draw.  Think Pictionary, but with a computerized voice shouting out guesses.  You have 20 seconds to draw what they suggest - anything from a golf club to asparagus (yeah, I had trouble with that one!).

It was a great way for my kids to destress and just show a fun side to something that they use all the time.

Oh, and the links were all in Google Classroom, so there's a plus too!  I'm a big fan of QR codes but when their chromebooks don't have the app added, it's good ol' GC to the rescue! 

Stay tuned to hear more of what I've been doing this year.  I've been okay with updating my Facebook page with events so if you haven't joined, feel free to look me up!