Friday, July 18, 2014

Treasures of the Week!

On August 21, 2014, I will officially be employed as the school media specialist at Pomperaug Elementary School and I could not be more excited and grateful for this opportunity.  To teach in the community in which I reside is a gift.  I promise to never take it for granted.

I wanted to create a blog for my students and families which will promote the treasures and gems I find throughout the year. 

So, I will begin with some of the exciting books and tech tools I discovered while in Las Vegas at the ALA (American Association of Librarians) Conference.

TECH TOOLS: This past year, I taught the 5th and 6th graders at James Morris School in Morris, CT how to use INSTAGROK for research.  I was THRILLED to hear it announced at the AASL workshop on the "Best Tools for Teaching and Learning 2014."  instaGrok is an innovative educational search engine that combines sophisticated semantic technology with an interactive user interface to make learning more engaging, personalized and fun for everyone. instaGrok is used by hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and everyday people every month.  Pomperaug students... get ready to use instaGrok this year!

Also announced at ALA was this tool:
I was not previously familiar with this tool, but oh, how I saw countless possibilities for integrating this tool into my instruction and student learning.
Here's one way I plan to use this tool with my new students this year.  When I recently read Flora & Ulysses written by Kate DiCamillo (my favorite author, by the way) and the winner of this year's Newbery Award, I simply could not get one line of text out of my head.  I so very much connected to this particular line because each time I leave my parents house in MA, as I pull away, I always look back knowing either my mother or father will be standing at the door or looking out a window waiting for me to glance back for one more wave goodbye.

Using, in just 5 seconds, I created this poster of my favorite line from Flora & Ulysses!
Imagine using this tool as a way for students to share profound lines from a text they are reading independently.  Or use these posters as a way to inspire creative writing especially for those reluctant writers. Or use this tool to create a hook for your next read aloud.  Use it to kickoff discussion about a significant scene or event in a text or in history.  Exciting tool for sure! @recitethis will be one of my favorite tools this year guaranteed!  Also, you must read Flora and Ulysses.  To "meet" Kate DiCamillo, take a look at these videos. Kate is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Read her acceptance speech for the Newbery Award-It's a delight!

NEW BOOKS:  Take a look at just a sampling of some of the "advance reviewer copies" I received FREE while at ALA.
 The first book from this pile that I want to share with you is: I am Amelia Earhart written by Brad Meltzer (@bradmeltzer), a New York Times Best Selling Author and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. This biographical account, told in a fun, conversational style, is part of a series called "Ordinary People Change the World."  Each book focuses on a particular character trait which was exemplified through the life of the hero. The illustrations are reminiscent of characters like Charlie Brown by Charles Schultz and the illustrations with "thought bubbles" add to the text. 

Check out Brad's website to learn why he chose to write this series. Plan to borrow this book from our school library when school resumes or if you can't wait, check to see if Southbury Public Library has a copy.  The series is written for K-3 students, however, all ages will be motivated by the message of the text and will appreciate the photographs of Amelia included in the supplemental pages.

The next book I received FREE of charge at ALA is: Unlikely Friendships.

Who doesn't enjoy reading about the power of friendships and bonds especially in the most unexpected ways!  The author of this text, Jennifer S. Holland (@jsholland36) was present at the conference and autographed this copy for our students!  She is a science and nature journalist - we need to skype her this year!  The text grabs you as a reader right from the first line in the introduction: "My husband John's best friend was a raccoon."  Readers will discover scientific explanations for some of the friendships, and other times, the reader will be left with a lovely mystery. Students will delight in the relationship between Albert the sheep and Themba the African Elephant and be stunned that a spaniel named Sophie will actually ignore her natural instincts and not only befriend an Owl named Bramble, but kiss and spoon with him!  And that's just two of over 40 fascinating tales of Unlikely Friendships! Borrow this copy at our school library or visit Southbury Public Library and start reading it today!

So, just a little taste of what's to come this year as I commit to sharing my gems and treasures with you.

Keep reading and creating,
Mrs. "M"

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