Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Each Kindness

I was so excited to share Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson with our Ready, Set, Teach students. This is a class for aspiring  teachers, in which students are placed at our feeder elementary schools to observe, help, and teach lessons.

The instructor of this class came to the library to check out some picture books to share with her students as examples of emerging literacy. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to share a picture book, so I offered to visit the class to model a read-aloud and give these future teachers some tips. Reading aloud to elementary kids is harder than it looks; believe me, I learned this the hard way! When I first became an elementary librarian, I thought, "How hard is it to read to kids? I read to my own daughters all of the time." Well, I soon learned that reading aloud EFFECTIVELY to a group of children is much different than reading to your kids at bed time. To get children (and teens!) truly engaged in the story, there are some tricks to the trade.

I used Each Kindness with this class because it packs a powerful punch. I not only wanted these students to learn read-aloud tips, but I also wanted them to realize that picture books have intended audiences. For example, this book might not go over well with a class of Kinders because of its heavy theme of bullying and the way that the power of kindness is revealed through symbolism. But I knew that older audiences would "get it" it and truly connect with the story, and I was right. I stressed that you have to know your audience before you choose a read aloud, and you need to read it first with them in mind before you share it.

I passed out copies of Ten Tips for Reading Aloud by Matt Renwick, which I got from the Nerdy Book Club Blog. I love these tips because they come from an elementary principal who makes time to do read-alouds at his school. I thought it was important that our future teachers know that principals value read-alouds, as well they should.

The students LOVED this book, and we had a wonderful, thought-provoking discussion. They all agreed that picture books can "be DEEP" (their words) and aren't just for the little kids.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Professor Aesop's The Crow and the Pitcher

Last week, I used Professor Aesop's the Crow and the Pitcher by Stephanie Gwyn Brown to help an IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) class review the steps in the Scientific Method.

They had been talking about the steps in class and were getting ready for the six weeks exams, so we used the story and activity for a simple, quick review that we hoped would stay with them in the weeks to come.

After reading the story, we completed the same experiment the crow did in the book, adding two more variables. The students recorded their information, drew conclusions and then wrote a paragraph about their experience.

It wasn't the best lesson (my feelings), but I'm also not a science teacher. Unfortunately for me, the teacher I had planned with, had to leave that day and I worked with her partner who had not been in on our planning. I think if the teacher had been there, it would have gone better because she knows the content, and I supplied the story. The students did seems to enjoy the exercise, so I hope the next time we do it, it will be a stronger lesson.

I have to remind myself they can't all go exactly like I want them to! :)