Saturday, February 25, 2012


Last year my school's student council used some of their money to buy my library some Dr. Seuss bookmarks to hand out on his birthday.  They featured some illustrations from his books.  The idea, which came from my fifth and sixth graders, absolutely BOMBED.  The kids thought that they were too babyish.  Yet the kids still like the idea of honoring Dr. Seuss. 

Other free stuff I added to my store today includes eleven meaty "Hound of the Baskervilles" discussion questions that I used with a classic book club at my school.  


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cyberbullying Smart Notebook slides for upper elementary and intermediate grades

I work at a 5th and 6th grade school that has a weekly class meeting time where we are working on character education and our anti-bullying curriculum.  This week I'm in charge of the cyberbullying lessons.  What I found to use on the Web was either way too young for my savvy 6th graders or felt too old for them.

So I created a SmartNotebook lesson for our teachers to use. It includes three scenarios to help the kids identify what cyberbullying is and a special "Cyber Cruel or Cyber Kind" self assessment quiz that helps the students identify which online behaviors are positive (like e-mailing a friend with a "Put UP" rather than a "Put DOWN") and which are negative (choosing to log into someone else's mail account because you know their password).

I'm really happy with the way that it turned out because I tried to make sure that it was very positive and oriented on equipping each student with an action plan that they can use when they feel that they are being cyberbullied.

It's available for a buck on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who writes YOUR information? Getting students to quickly reflect on sources

In my library for the past two weeks we've been focusing on the mandatory 5th grade science fair, gearing up for our annual Japanese Internment history day where we invite members of our community to share their stories of the time of internment... and raising over 1,000 chum salmon in a tank.  I really love my job.

We've also been sneaking other research projects into the schedule whenever we can and this Jamestown themed information literacy idea grew out of my HUGE FRUSTRATION over trying to get students to spend time reflecting on who wrote their information.  They can talk the talk when I make suggestions about NOT using information written by other students but they actually don't walk the walk when they are out surfing the Web.

Now I don't want to make research more onerous but I would love to see students giving more attention to identifying the author behind their sources, without having to drag out a Web site evaluation rubric (OH! How I hate those!)

So here's my new thought.  It's an incentive chart.

I created a chart with markers that were themed for their Jamestown research project.  Before starting their research we quickly discussed the positives and drawbacks to certain types of information.  Students were then divided into teams.  Each team wrote their team's name next to one of the marker colors on the right.  As they researched their topics independently they identified the type of resource they used and dragged a marker over into the graph. 

At the end of the research session, we talked about which resources received the most users.
You can download my FREE SmartBoard Notebook slide that I used for Jamestown from my Teachers Pay Teachers store but I'm really trying to throw out the idea that we need to find quick and creative ways of giving students more of an incentive to reflect on who writes the information that they choose to use for a project.

Since I was uploading this Jamestown activity, I also uploaded the mini-novel study that I created a few years ago to help my teachers use three different Jamestown novels in their classroom. It focuses on the real historic character, Samuel Collier.  TWO authors used him as the basis for their historical fiction novels and their takes on his personality were very different.  This novel study is linked up at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Google Earth -- Japanese Internment Camp Locations

This week in my library I've been introducing my sixth graders to our annual Japanese Internment novel study.  This is a lesson that is central to the heart of my school: my school is named after a man who's family of eight had to go to Manzanar during World War II.   We call our novel study "Leaving Our Island" and the entire unit culminates in the students having an opportunity to visit with some of our neighbors who went "to Camp." The oldest lady who comes back every year to visit is 101 this year.   Her name is Fumiko Hayashida and this is a historic photo of her carrying her youngest daughter:

This is the second year that I've introduced the students to their book choices by giving them a book talk guided by Google Earth.  I put placemarks on the locations of former Japanese internment camps like Manzanar, Minidoka, and Topaz.  This year, I decided to make it a student centered assignment. 

Instead of listening to me talk for the thirty minutes that it took for me to explain all of the books, I put an "in-flight" magazine for them to read as their Google Earth globe spins.  This is the in-flight magazine that is layered above Topaz in the Utah desert.  From above, you can easily see how the blocks and the barracks were structured around a central field.  While some of the sites have been turned into farms again, Topaz certainly has not.

I provided students with this two-page note-taking sheet so that they could stay on task and check their understanding, as well as give stars to the books that they were most interested in reading. 

This lesson integrates well into any novel study on Japanese Internment and is available for purchase on my Teachers Pay Teachers site.