Monday, October 20, 2014

October 27 is Raina Telgemeier Day!

Award-winning author-illustrator Raina Telgemeier is meeting with my fourth and fifth graders on October 27th. Everyone is SOOOOOO excited to spend time with her. 

 I created the following Blendspace lesson for my students to review everything we've learned about Raina. Perhaps some of you will find it useful. Happy watching and exploring! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Week Told Through Vines


Eureka! Which book do you want to read first?


I love supporting local independent bookshops. 


Happy book birthday to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole!


This cake looks too good to eat. 


Three items for a display about Raina Telgemeier.


What did first graders check out today? 


The Game's Afoot at Drury Lane Theatre. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I know that we're taking a break from the Newbery Honor Challenge, but I wanted to take you on a quick tour of my school library. I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend. 

Your friend,


Friday, October 17, 2014

Video of the Week: Five Questions (Plus One) With Two-Time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo

Author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you had a SUPER week! I am celebrating Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos with author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Stephanie! 

Did you know that Carl Sagan was an excellent basketball player in high school?

Science is a way of thinking about and looking at the world. 

The illustrations for Star Stuff were done with mixed media: traditional drawings on paper, acrylic paint and digital collage.

Nonfiction picture books are becoming  more fun and innovative-  not like the non-fiction picture books I grew up with. 

School libraries are a great place to discover and explore new ideas. When I go to the library I try to go to a new section every time and pull books off the shelf at random. This way I learn about things that are outside of my comfort zone. 

Reading is magic. Carl Sagan once said “What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”

Here is a YouTube snippet from Cosmos with the quote: 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why did you write a book about Carl Sagan? When I was a kid, science was a dull subject to me. It seemed distant and unrelatable. Then, in 1980, something happened that changed how I thought about science: Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage aired on TV.  Cosmos changed everything- Carl Sagan was able to ignite imagination and wonder and pull science out of the the antiseptic staleness it existed in in my classroom and make it relevant to me and millions of people around the globe.  In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained that the stars in the night sky are related to us- that we too are made of the same stuff- star stuff.  Carl Sagan forever change the way that I experience the world.  I think of  STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos,  as an introduction to the life of this great man and as a thank you from a grateful kid.

Borrow Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Wonderful Wednesday with Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

My first and second graders have been preparing for Mac Barnett and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen's visit to our library since the first day of school. We declared today Barnett-Klassen Day! 

My students did everything they could to become Mac and Jon experts. They read their books, watched videos, created art, and participated in activities that extended and made their books more real. All of these activities made Barnett-Klassen Day extremely meaningful and memorable. Take a look...

Special water bottles for two special guys. 

This is what everyone saw as they entered the school. 

Every student wore a sticker to the author visit. 

Isn't this the coolest cake? 

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. 

Mac read aloud Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

I taught three first-grade classes in the afternoon. I asked them to share their thoughts about Barnett-Klassen Day. I typed exactly what they said. No editing. 

"I think Mac Barnett is very funny." 

"I learned that you become a better writer by reading a lot of books. Mac even reads books that he does not like." 

"I think Mac and Jon were really funny." 

"Jon was wearing a hat." 

"They are friends in real life. The make funny books together."

"I think Mac and Jon are very smart."

"Jon is hilarious. "

"Mac is a good writer."

"Sam and Dig dig a huge hole.

"Many people had different ideas about the ending of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. I'm going to re-read it tonight." 

"I like when Sam and Dave dig a hole. My favorite part is when they fall from the sky. "

"We saw so many different changes at the end of the book."

"I liked in Sam and Dave Dig a Hole how you can see differences at the end of the book from the beginning of the book."

"I like the part when Mac went crazy on the drawing pad."

"Sam and Dave Dig a Hole has a surprise ending. I loved it." 

"Mac is the one who writes the words. Jon draws the pictures." 

"I love your books, Mac and Jon!. Thank you!"

"My favorite part of the visit was when Jon drew a turtle and a dog." 

"The reader knows more about what is happening than Sam and Dave do. We could see where the diamond was."

"We noticed that the dog never falls asleep during the book."

"There is a different house at the end of the book." 

"Mac went crazy."

"I really liked the part when they read us their new book." 

"My favorite part was when we sang 'Happy Birthday' to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole." 

"I liked the part when Mac was writing on the board. He drew a person. He kept going around and around and around and around. It was very funny."

"Mac and Jon were nice." 

"I drew a city with glasses in my spiral notebook. I made a big circle and kept going around just like Mac did." 

"I love your books. Thank you for coming to my school." 

"I liked when Jon and Mac answered our questions." 

2014 National Book Award Finalists

Even though today is Barnett-Klassen Day in my school library, my phone started buzzing at 7:40 a.m. CDT. Why? Because I didn't want to miss the announcement of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists for Young People's Literature. I've read four of the five nominees. I know what I'm reading next. Great job, committee!

Eliot SchreferThreatened (Scholastic Press)

Steve SheinkinThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights (Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Publishers)

John Corey WhaleyNoggin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)

Deborah WilesRevolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic Press)

Jacqueline WoodsonBrown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group (USA))