Recently @ Hills Elementary Library

November 2015

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Kindergarten students have been enjoying a unit on folktales - traditional stories that are told over and over again throughout the generations. By reading many versions of familiar stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, kindergarten students are able to practice comparing and contrasting the plot, characters, and illustrations, supporting growth for the Common Core literacy standard RLK9. Ask your kindergartner to tell you about Pretty Salma (a Little Red story from Africa), and Lon PoPo (a Little Red story from China) - we decided we liked these versions better than the original because the girls solved their own problems with the tricky wolves!

First grade students have continued reading Goldfinch Award books, and are learning how to locate the parts of a book - a skill that will eventually allow students to be able to properly cite information they use. To practice, students first took turns labeling the parts of a book on the SMART Board, and later worked in teams to label big books with sticky notes. Working in groups can be challenging, so this process required compromise, and strategies to make sure everyone got a turn and was respectful about the ideas of others.

Second grade students have been learning how a library is organized and why - because information that is organized is easier to locate and use! Most libraries have sections that are organized in alphabetical order by the author's last name, so we have been working on practicing putting books in order with a game called Mrs. Lodge's Library, created by a Teacher Librarian. After individual practice in the computer lab, students were "magically" transformed into books themselves! I challenged them to put themselves in alphabetical order without talking - it took practice, but we got it!

Third and Fourth grade students were thrilled to meet author/illustrator Grace Lin at Weber Elementary on November 6th. Since then, we've only had two classes due to the end of the trimester, but we've been using our time to thank those made this visit possible - Hills Bank, the ICCSD Foundation and the Teacher Librarians who worked hard to invite Grace Lin to our schools and to write a curriculum for teachers to make the most out of her visit!

Fifth and Sixth grade students have been focusing on sharing their knowledge of Digital Citizenship while also learning how to navigate a shared collaborative document in Google Slides. For each letter of the alphabet, students brainstormed a word related to being safe, responsible, and respectful online. Because we were all editing one document at once, things got a little chaotic - sometimes two students would want to write in the same place. We had to learn to be aware of the cursors of others, and to use Undo, and the Revision History frequently. When we were ready to create our books, we made sure to only use images with a Creative Common license - this means that the creator has given permission for others to use it. We've started to cite our images using EasyBib, as part of using Creative Commons images requires attribution! See our progress here and here.

Creating a Culture of Readers

The Visiting Author program in the Iowa Community School District has been a tradition since 1988. Each year, a notable children’s author and/or illustrator spends a week in Iowa City, doing presentations to students at a targeted grade level. This year, the 3rd and 4th grade students were very pleased to meet Grace Lin!

Students loved Grace's interactive presentation, which included real life pictures and stories from her childhood, a skit acted out by students from the audience, and a tutorial on how to draw a lucky tiger! Hills students asked Grace Lin some great questions - did her best friend in the book move away in real life like she did in the Year of the Rat? What is the title of her next book going to be? They really enjoyed the skit and loved seeing the photo of the time Grace's big sister, Lissy, put Grace in a trash can!

Author visits like these not only make reading more enjoyable for students, but also open up a world of possibilities. When students see that real people just like them have become writers and illustrators, it helps them to consider new opportunities in their own lives!


Thanks to the generous support of the Fall Book Fair from students, parents, teachers, and our community, the library was able to purchase 43 new books!

A special thank you to all of the adult and student volunteers who helped to set up, run, and tear down the book fair! We couldn't do it without you!

Technology Supporting the Curriculum

Using technology in the classroom is best when it is relevant to what students are already learning. For example, just learning how to use Word or Google Docs is less meaningful if a student doesn't have a real reason to use the program.

Students in 3rd and 4th grade are practicing writing in and sharing a Google Doc in connection with their author visit. During library class, students logged into their accounts, created a new document, and composed a friendly letter thanking Grace Lin for her visit. We reviewed how to start a new line (the enter key), how to capitalize a letter (shift, not caps lock!), and how to indent (tab, not space bar). Students then shared their letters with me, so they can be compiled and sent to Grace Lin!

Encourage your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to write letters, make lists, or compose stories using Google Docs over their break!

Joke of the Month

When the cold wind blows, what does a book do?

It puts on a book jacket!

Thanks for supporting your students and their library program!