Sunday, April 21, 2013

An inquiry key

We are working on making very clear links between our ideas and practice, especial;ly for the lower grades. When it comes to searching for information we all use KEY words. For our grades 1 and 2 we made colourful keys and laminated them. The students can use whiteboard markers to write their key words on the keys. They write the main search word on the large line and then alternative words on the lines along side the main word. Then if their main word is not found in our catalogue, Destiny,  or search engine or index then they have alternative words to search. 

Here a student is searching for "hummingbirds" and he alternative word is "birds". There were no books on "hummingbirds" in our library but many books about birds. Once she had found a book about birds she used her KEY once more to search the index for "hummingbirds. Using the KEY brought success in her search and helped to teach her the importance of using synonyms when using key words. 

A simple idea which seems to be working well for our students. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tipping Point 302 GLA

This book is all about libraries and librarians. We are agents of change in  our communities and we need to be aware and leverage the three agents of change to create tipping points: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

Librarians must embody the three persona Gladwell speaks of in the Law of the Few we have to be Connectors, Mavens and Persuaders. Today at my work I was a Maven, bringing information to colleagues and students alike. I connected people with ideas, tools, resources and one another. I persuaded a student to read a novel version of a graphic novel he had read and enjoyed.

This is a great read for all and especially affirming for librarians....

Malcolm Gladwell's website

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A little mystery is just what we need... and like.

All wrapped up with a message clue..
 Last week we created our version of "Blind date with a book". We saw other libraries around the world doing this for their patrons - images are on pinterest and in blog posts like this one from Rockville Library

Sharing the surprises
We were amazed at the response from our students. We chose YA fiction with International settings and issues to encourage not only the risk taking element but also international mindedness. We limited the books to students in grades 5 - 12 because they are Young Adult books. We set up the display on Thursday morning and by Friday morning the entire display was decimated. 

The sign of a successful display - many gaps to fill.
Unwrapping the surprise
Word got out and students came in specially to choose one of the mystery books. The challenge we gave to the students was to choose a book based on the message and then commit to read it. What impressed me was the willingness on the part of the student to participate. Boys were opening books that had covers that were a little 'feminine' but they were not put off, in fact they were more willing to take a risk to read something very different to what they would usually choose. Girls were unwrapping books about war and instead of saying they weren't interested they were checking more details by reading the blurb and then starting the book. 

Most of the books came from my "Round the World in 80 books" adventure last year - reading 80 YA fiction books meant I knew what to choose. It was so much fun to watch the students unwrap their books and then excitedly share them with their friends.

We have now had a delegation from the lower grades to make blind dates for them too. Next week...

Lost boy, lost girl 962.404 DAU

Grade 5 are enjoying listening to Pavarna's Journey by Deborah Ellis - their teacher is reading it to them. I am delighted, not only because they are enjoying the book but also because their teacher has downloaded this eBook to her i-pad and that is the version she is reading. More on eBooks in a later post. She has however, had to ban the students from accessing the other books in this series until they have finished Parvana's Journey

Fortunately I had just finished reading Lost boy, lost girl  by John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech and was able to enlist one of the avid readers in this class to help me make an important decision. At the moment we have the book in the MYP/DP nonfiction section but I am wondering if it could be a good fit in the PYP nonfiction area. I asked her to read this book, on a similar topic to Parvana's Journey but nonfiction and help me make the decision.

The account is written in first person by both John and Martha and alternates chapter by chapter between the two of them. They were both fairly young when the war broke out and for a short time their lives were untouched by it. I like the way they described 'normal' life before the war. Their lives were simple and while John's was a village life and very different from the experiences of our students, Martha's life was in the city and much the same as many of our students.

When the war over took them the suddenness and violence was shocking. It is well written. Simply told from the perspectives of the children that they were at the time. Both John aged around 12 - 13 and Martha aged around 8 - 9  took responsibility for others younger than themselves. The adults that were in their lives had either been killed or had run away in a different direction and so were separated from them. They walked miles, they foraged for food, they hid, they ran for their lives - they survived.

The book is divided into sections - Peace - War - Refugees and so on. The daunting thing is how often the section war appears. There are photos of John and Martha and their lives. John Bul Dau is the man in the documentary "The lost Boys". Martha's story brings to light that there were lost girls as well. The whole account is a powerful and memorable account of the terrible realities faced by so many children in the Sudan.

Below is a Book Trailer for the book. A great review from Helen's Book Blog.