Thursday, June 4, 2015

Great New Database for Elementary Students

I have been using the Beta release of the new DK Find Out database for a few months now.  The students love it!  The interface is intuitive, the graphics and images engaging and the information accessible for elementary students.  Links from general information pages take students to more specific information.  The format is perfect for inquiry!  We have been using it on the SmartBoard as an 'open' activity for inquiry projects with primary students to peek their interest in a topic and as an part of a 'question' exercise to get students asking deeper questions.  Then classroom teachers can make the site available in the classroom for individual or group research.  The pages include photos, diagrams, videos, and even Q&A pages with video questions from children and answers from experts. If this site included some read aloud features to further support struggling readers, it would be perfect! So far we have explored space and ocean creatures.  There are so many other features to explore.  I am looking forward to finding out what else this site offers. 

New Nature Resources in May

My most recent order included these primary research books from Seedlings (thanks again to the Times Colonist Raise-a-Reader grant).


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The photos are beautiful!  The books include table of contents, index, glossary and labelled diagrams and the text is very simple.  Although these books will not provide answers to in depth "I wonder" questions, they are great for fostering independence for early primary researchers.  The grade ones and twos at my school are already using them for animal research and to help create simple posters or reports to share with their classes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pink Shirt Day Feb. 25, 2015.

As Pink Shirt Day approaches, I have been thinking about resources to really touch and inspire students.  I returned to one of my favourites from last year: Each Kindness.  I also updated my Pink Shirt Day Glogster which includes videos, testimonials from children's authors, and a touching flash mob in a Vancouver mall.

7 Sacred Teachings

Image from Winnipeg School Division
Our school is involved in a project to teach students about the 7 Sacred Teachings basic to many North American First Nations' cultures. Karen Whetung-Bermeo, of the Ojibwa Nation, has been visiting our classrooms to tell stories and facilitate activities around each of the 7 Sacred Teachings: Respect, Honesty, Courage, Wisdom, Humility, Truth and Love.  I have found it difficult to find a lot of age appropriate resources to follow up on these lessons in our classrooms.  I did find two excellent resources, though.  If you know of others, please comment below.

Seven Gifts for Cedar by Cherie Dimaline available from Ningwakwe Learning Press (or our library).

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The Vision Seeker by James Whetung

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Family Literacy Day 2015: Literacy is Not Just Reading

Tuesday, January 27th will be Family Literacy Day.  The role of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings - families - is integral to developing not only children's technical reading and writing abilities, but their ability to interpret, analyze, create and appreciate communication of all types.  Literacy is not only reading and writing, but talking, listening, viewing and creating.  In the 21st century we have created many distinctions within literacy - visual literacy, digital literacy, social literacy, and, finally, transliteracy.  Transliteracy includes all forms of communication.  In order to be critical, creative, contributing citizens our children need to be transliterate.  Families provide children with experiences that help them not only to gain communication skills, but to develop the sense of joy that comes with competence and, later, mastery.  ABC Life Literacy Canada  has some great ideas for adding a little fun to your usual family literacy activities: 15 Minutes of Fun, and Family Literacy Fun booklet full of activities to download.  Here is a video from ABC Life Literacy Canada to give you some inspiration too - literacy is not just reading!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Interrupting Chicken

Today I read 'Interrupting Chicken' by David Ezra Stein to the grade 1/2 classes.  They LOVED it! The depth of colour in the illustrations of the little red chicken's bedroom contrasted with pages of less colourful, more traditional looking fairy tale pages,  the endearing little chicken, the use of speech bubbles, and (of course) the interrupting, won them over immediately. Stein's little red chicken captures the impulsive young interrupter perfectly.  The group of 6 and 7 year olds were grinning right away when the father asked his little one not to interrupt the story right on the cover of the book. Asked what they thought might happen, the children immediately said "He is going to interrupt" with broad smiles. They could all relate. This is a fun read aloud for both the audience and the reader. Jumping in with the excited interruptions made my day. It would be a fun book to practice and read together as a reader's theater with your child reading the little red chicken's part. I have some writing ideas too: perhaps a little red chicken's "I will not interrupt" pledge - could be hilarious, or a version with spoilers for different fairy tales (what are your favourites), a book review or a trailer. When I 'Googled' for a cover photo, I found David Ezra Stein's webpage including this video of him talking about the book...


and this great book trailer (with a real chicken)...


 I was also reminded of one of Stein's other books that is a wonderful lesson about what a smile can do:

You can borrow both of these books from our school library.  Drop in and visit for more recommendations any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday after school. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A New Pete the Cat - Fabulous!!

I have long been a fan of Pete the Cat.  I read Pete the Cat : I Love My White Shoes every year to the incoming kindergarten class than then place my Pete doll prominently on the classroom shelf to remind students that "it's all groovy" and there is no need to cry over little (or not so little) surprises. We read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons as we begin to learn about subtraction (and remember that even if we lose something - "it's all cool"). The simple, brightly coloured illustrations combined with a handwritten style font appeal to readers young and old bringing the unassuming, cheerful, Pete the Cat to life.
Now Pete has returned to remind us that we have control over how we perceive the world and how our preceptions colour our day. Rather than rose coloured glasses, Pete gets a set of cool blue glasses from his friend Grumpy Toad.  Pete finds himself experiencing the cat 'blues' for the first time in his life and doesn't know what to do until he bumps into Grumpy Toad - who is NOT grumpy. The magic sunglasses are the key, helping each animal Pete meets along the way to "see things in a whole new way" - until the glasses break. Pete discovers that he doesn't need the glasses after all and that he has control over his own outlook. I can't wait to share this one with the class on one of our 'grumpy' days. Pete reminded me that sometimes I need to cross over to the sunny side of the street too!