Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rain School by James Rumford

What it's about: In the country of Chad, Tomas arrives for the first day of school, and the the teacher says their first lesson is to build the school.

The Kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders at my school recently read this book as part of the 15 Book Student Choice Picture Book Award (fifteenbooks.blogspot.com). 

Here is what they thought:

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Book Week 2011

A big fall celebration in my library is
New Book Week!

I buy new books throughout the year, but I tend to purchase a larger order in the spring which arrives close to the end of the school year. That order combined with new books I purchase over the summer and at the start of school, are the items I use for New Book Week in early October.

This does mean that I don't put out a new book displays for the first weeks of school. But it also means that my assistant and I have a little time as school is starting to finish processing the many new books we have, allowing us to give a little more attention to some of the many other details of getting up and running for the first weeks.

This fall was my 9th year of running a new book week celebration, and it has become a big deal for students at my school.

The core idea is that every student in the school has a chance to come and browse all of the new books before they get checked out. 

For the week I set up 5 big tables with a mix of books (nonfiction, fiction, picture books, comics, etc.) If I have multiple copies, I spread them over a few tables.

My school is a K-8 school of around 750 students. I schedule times for each class to visit and browse. For the younger grades, students spread out at the tables, and we treat them like stations, rotating every few minutes so that they get to browse at all the tables by the time they are finished. The oldest grades do fine with milling about on their own (but many have "grown up" with New Book Week and understand the expectations). 

For grades 3 and up I ask them to bring pencils, and I provide bookmarks for them to keep. They are extremely un-fancy and really just a place for them to write down books that they are interested in for the future. Some students have told me that they keep them all year as a to-read list.

Lots of Booktalks:
My tables are next to a projector and Smartboard. Over the years I have tried a variety of ways to enhance the speed book talking I do while the students are browsing. This year I made a youtube playlist of book trailers for books that were on the tables. I was able to quickly sort the order of the videos based on what grade was visiting next. I had the trailers playing in the background - and kids held up the book if it was at their table when the video played. Then I was able to go around and give more personal book talks at the tables. A side benefit to playing the trailers was they also acted as a management tool. The videos were my timer for when to switch tables, and they also helped to keep the noise (from excitement about books) down to a more appropriate level.

The Finale:
The very last day of New Book Week, after everyone has had a chance to browse, check out starts! 
We have two bells at the end of the day, and after the first bell students may come to check out a new book from the tables. It is wild and crazy excitement in the library that needs staff for traffic management and multiple check out stations, but it is so worth it.

New Book Week 2011

Teacher Event:
Many teachers browse when their classes visit, but I also plan a New Book Week Open House after school one day during the week. I have snacks and "hold lists" for teachers. I pull items from the hold list for teachers to use in their classroom before students start checking out with the idea that if a teacher is sharing it, a whole classroom gets to enjoy it. This is also a time for me to share items I have purchased specifically to connect to certain curricular areas.

Other Tips & Things I have learned:

  • Before New Book Week, especially with my younger students, I pre-teach about how to browse. I also create an awareness of what the library staff does to get a book ready for check out.

  • Have students put their bookmarks on the table (not on top of a book) to write down the title. My first year all of our new books had indentations of writing all over them making them look not so new anymore.

  • Since I have such an age range from Kindergarten to 8th grade, I see my youngest browsers on the same day and pull the books intended for my oldest readers off the tables for that time. That way Kindergartners don't have to dig through lots of things that are really not appropriate for them to get at what they would like to look at. I often have the last group of older students before those primary browsing times put things on carts at the end of their visit. This saves me from putting my hands on every book again.

  • New Book Week has really created motivation for students to put books they want on hold. Last school year we had over 2,300 holds placed by students - that's an average of over 3 holds per student during the year.

If you are interested in more logistics of how I run my New Book Week - please don't hesitate to comment, email or DM on twitter.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AASL 2011 in Minneapolis!

I am thrilled to be attending AASL in Minneapolis (http://www.aasl11.org/) - truly spitting distance from my house, were I a better spitter.

There are so many places around the Twin Cities that make me happy to live here. 

Here are just a few that you may want to explore if you are coming to the conference from out of town.

Books and Comics
Children's Book Stores
Minneapolis and St Paul are known as the Twin Cities, and we are so lucky to have an amazing children's bookstore in each one.

Minneapolis: http://www.wildrumpusbooks.com/ (around the corner from a Sebastian Joe's location and next to Linden Hills Yarn shop - see below)

Big Brain Comics
I cannot tell you enough how much I love this shop. The owner Michael Drivas is so wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful. He was instrumental in helping me develop a core collection of comics and graphic novels in my library back when reviews were scarce and it seemed like uncharted territory for an elementary library. Don't let the lack of online presence fool you - this is an amazing store.

While you are there, be sure to stop next door to the Open Book: http://www.openbookmn.org/
And if the weather is nice... take a walk over the river on the Stone Arch Bridge: http://stonearchbridge.com/

Pizza, Beer & Ice Cream
Three very important parts of life!
Multiple locations around town - until recently only available in the Twin Cites (a new site just opened in Duluth). 
Favorite Pizza: Ruby Rae - a delicious upside down pizza pie with the red sauce on top. Spinach, bruschetta tomatoes, Italian sausage, and extra mozzarella cheese. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spicy crushed red pepper.
Great local beer on tap: Surly - http://www.surlybrewing.com/

My new local favorite brewery. 
Sample the beers when they are open - check their website to see when they are open for growler sales.

Or visit http://www.thefourfirkins.com/ for an unbelievable selection of craft beers, both local (Steel Toe & Surly) and from around the world. 

Ice Cream flavors change daily!
A few local favorites, like Pavaroti (Caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips), are always available. 
So many interestingly wonderful flavors like Roasted Garlic Almond Chip.
Ask for samples!

Sculpture Gardens
The Spoon Bridge and Cherry has become a symbol of Minneapolis. 
Included in the same sculpture park are many other fabulous sculptures along with the amazing http://www.walkerart.org/ right next door. 

A bit out of the city, but totally worth the drive for fans of outdoor sculpture.

Classical Music
I play viola with a wonderful group of string players called the Roseville String Ensemble.
If you are still in town Sunday at 3:30, I cordially invite you to join us for an afternoon of Handel, Britten, and Bartok.

Some of you may know me not only as LibLaura5, but also as my alter ego Orinda5, knitter and lapsed knit-blogger (http://orinda5.blogspot.com). I can't post this list without mentioning the many fabulous yarn shops around the Twin Cities.
If you are a fiber enthusiast, search ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/yarns) for yarn shops near Minneapolis for a list. (When I search my zip code, there are 14 shops within 10 miles of my house!)

This is my go to yarn store - great selection of all types of yarns and notions.

The closest to walking distance from the Convention Center.
Simple and beautiful store - filled with lovely, luxurious yarns displayed to make a yarn lover sigh upon entering.

Next Door to Wild Rumpus (Children's Bookstore from above), and around the corner from Sebastian Joe's (Ice Cream from above)

That Really Big Mall
The Mall of America seems to be a big draw for many who visit... if you go, bring your school badge. The Aquarium (http://www.visitsealife.com/Minnesota/) is free for teachers (technically your badge gets you a free single membership for the year). From downtown you are able to take the light rail all the way there: http://metrotransit.org/light-rail.aspx

Google Map of all the places mentioned above: Liblaura5's Favorites for AASL 2011

I know I am leaving out all sorts of fabulous local places.
Locals, I would love to know your favorite haunts that you would recommend.
Out of towners, I hope to get a chance to say hello next week!