Friday, March 25, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-five: Revisiting the Book Nook

Testing days throw off my library schedule.  We normally see twenty-nine classes in the library on Tuesday and Wednesday (this is our schedule!), and there is no way I could reschedule that many classes.

I also don't like to start a new lesson with a grade level that's going to be interrupted; it makes it hard to keep up with who's been taught what. (One of these days, I'll make use of the neat lesson template I made for myself, so I can keep track...but that's another story.)  Next week, the library will be closed for Tuesday and Wednesday for state testing.

So I emailed the teachers in the "testing grades" on Monday, and told them that for the next couple of weeks we would skip cross-grade lessons in the library.  If there was a class-specific need they wanted me to support in a lesson, or if they would like a read-aloud, I would be happy to accommodate them.  Third and fifth grade teachers requested read-alouds!  Fourth grade was in writing camp, so they would just be coming in small groups to get books.

I took a quick look at our district curriculum calendar, and saw that both grades were working on ecosystems and food chains/ webs in science.  In language arts, third grade has been working on sensory language.  I chose What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre, illustrated by Beverly Doyle, for that grade.
What the Sea Saw
The poetic language focused on visual images was a perfect fit for their read-aloud.  We talked about strong verbs, adjectives that help to make sharper mental images, alliteration, and repeated phrases that bring the story to a full circle closure. The illustration of an oceanic food web and ecosystem was a bonus.

There are so many great picture books in our library that don't get checked out because the littlest readers see too much text in them, and the upper grades forget about our "everybody section".  For the fifth graders, I was delighted to pick The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
I had great fun changing my voice to suit the animal characters who state their case for saving their Kapok tree--and the fifth graders had great fun listening to the story.  Using open-ended questioning, I focused on the persuasive nature of the text; Cherry is making a plea to save the rain forests, but does not explicitly state that until her author's note at the end.  The interdependency of the plants and animals in the book tied in nicely with their science unit.

It was great to have the big kids in the Book Nook again; smiles from the students and teachers told me they enjoyed it, too.


  1. Very nice.
    Love Ya, Dad.

  2. What a schedule you have, & I bet the teachers are so grateful to you! Lynne Cherry books are wonderful. I'm glad to see you using The Great Kapok Tree. The other one is new to me, will certainly look for it, Chris.

    1. It is a hectic schedule, Linda, with a campus of 1100 students! I love that they strongly support our program and want to come in every week; it speaks volumes about their attitudes toward reading and keeping books in kids' hands. As for the books--you'll have to look hard for the sea one, I think; B&N only had used copies available. :-\