Saturday, July 17, 2010

Great Summer Reads!

I have been enjoying a lot of kids books this summer and wanted to share some great titles.

Just finished Peak by Roland Smith and Steel Trappe: The Academy. My boys are going to eat these up in the fall. Lots of suspense and action!

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor is one of the best books I've read in awhile. Sell it to fans of So B. It or Ann Martin fans. Also for So B. It fans (we have a lot at the Creek), Jumping the Scratch was short and sweet---save it for your pre-teens though.

Heading to the Keystone Technology Summit in a few weeks---can't wait to blog about all of my new discoveries. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Off to the Races!

My second graders have been learning about search engines. We have been learning about choosing smarter keywords and using Google's cached (color-coded) search. Today, we had a horse race. I cut out 14 clipart horses and numbered them 1-14. Then, I lines them up on a long set of tables. I wrote 4 Kentucky Derby questions for each team:

1. When was the first Kentucky Derby?
2. What is the date of the 2010 Kentucky Derby?
3. Which horse won the 2009 Kentucky Derby?
4. What do women wear at the Kentucky Derby?

Each team took their question sheet to the computers. They used the skills we had been learning to try to find the answer to their question. For each correct answer, they were allowed to move their paper horse to the next position of the table (I had 4 marked spots). The first three teams to get their horses to the finish line received a sticker that said "I Placed at the Mill Creek Google Derby." It was a blast, and the students were really using the cached search to help them locate their answers faster.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keystone Technology Integrator

I was just nominated to be a Keystone Technology Integrator. Now, I have to put together some work samples to see if I am eligible to attend the Keystone TI Summit this summer. I am really hopeful about being accepted to the Summit---then I could share everything I've learned on the blog. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Animals of the Rainforest

Animals of the Rainforest

Here is my first Animoto. LOVE this program! Free for short films (30 seconds or less). $30 for 1 year subscription. I am using this as my "topic list" for my first grade rain forest animals research project. They have a matching sheet where they circle which animals they are most interested in studying. The kiddos seemed more pumped about about research than ever before!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sweet Search

Losing funding for Netrekker was tough, because it was a great tool when teaching about reliability. is a student search engine that searches a small collection of websites, but only finds librarian/teacher approved websites. I am going to test it out with my younger friends. I'll let you all know how it goes :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Citing Across the Curriculum

There are always new initiatives...Writing Across the Content Areas, Reading Across the Curriculum...I propose a new one called Citing Across the Curriculum. For years, my ears would burn as students told me, "My teacher said I did not need to do a bibliography for this project." It is like librarian blasphemy!
I decided to take the bull by the horns two years ago. During staff development sessions, I implored that this could not go on. It is like saying to your students that it is okay to steal sometimes, but not other times. Students need not do a formal bibliography every time they complete a project, but they need to cite their sources, even if it is just a hand-written attachment to their paper.
Well, like Oprah says, "When you know better, you do better." By just bringing this issue to our staff's attention, things have improved. I've even deputized my students to "gently" point out to their teachers that it is not right to take something without crediting the source. If the teacher replies that we don't need to do it "this time," I've told my students it is okay to say, "With all due respect, that is not correct." My teachers must love me :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

My First Book Trailer

I took my love of book trailers to the next level. Here is my first book trailer for the book So B. It by Sarah Weeks. I used Movie Maker and a site called Freeplay Music. Had so much fun! Can't wait to make another :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Podcasting---not just for your upper grades

I started a podcasting project with my third graders, and they are VERY excited. They are going to create a mini book review. So far, they have planned their script, following a template that I created. Next week, they will record using Audacity and they will save it to the network. We are not going to do editing or music, but I think they are so proud that their voices will be on my website. I really believe that to get kids to read more, you have to meet them on their level. What is their level, you ask? TECHNOLOGY!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Found a New Book Trailer!

Loved the book trailer for Wendy Mass' book, Every Soul a Star! The kids are eating these up.

In other news, I am starting my Creeker Bookcasts this week. My first delving into Audacity. So excited, but a bit nervous. If anyone knows good sources of free podcast sounds and/or music, please let me know :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Changed Woman--I Heart Book Trailers

We teach our 5th and 6th graders about the Newbery Medal. Usually, I booktalk Newbery Award winners and my "readers" rush the table for the picks. This year, I used book trailers that I found on both YouTube and TeacherTube to introduce the topic.

TeacherTube has a beautiful book trailer for Savvy. YouTube has awesome trailers for Rules, The Westing Game, Al Capone Does My Shirts, The Graveyard Book, among others. My 6th graders, some of whom never want to check out a book (too cool), ALL rushed over to get the books from the table. Using current media to charge them up about "old-school" media seems to be the way to go. This girl is a changed librarian. Bring on more book trailers!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Evaluating POWER!

With my third graders, we use the 3 R's (Readable, Relevant, Reliable) for determining whether a website is "just right" for them. I think a lot of librarians teach "just right" books, but finding appropriate websites is just as valuable.

For READABLE websites, I tell the kids to type the word "kids" as one of their search terms. This increases the likliehood of finding a website on their level.

For RELIABLE websites, I used to have students use Nettrekker, but we no longer have access. Now, I try to show them the kids version of or how to use a subject directory like Kids Click, where you don't have to worry about reliability.

For RELEVANT websites, I teach the kids how to read the description in their results list to try to figure out whether that website is even worth opening. I also model changing search terms to find more relevant results.

After the mini-lesson, I give each child a bracelet, which I ask for them to keep in their desks until they go to the computer lab. The bracelet has three questions:

"Is is READABLE? Can I read and understand it?
Is it RELIABLE? Can I trust it?
Is it RELEVANT? Does it have what I need?"

This bracelet gives them Evaluating Power! By asking these three questions, they have the power to find the best websites available.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Read, Think, Write, Cite

Teaching note taking is tough. I think I finally have nailed it with my kids. They are really getting it, as early on as 4th grade.

First, we watch the free Brainpop (awesome) on Plagiarism. Then I have the kids identify plagiarism by reading an article exerpt from World Book and then comparing good and bad attempts at paraphrasing. If they can't do the simplest task of identify plagiarism, they won't have any hope of avoiding it.

Then, I have them practice paraphrasing a single sentence like: Mrs. Keegan is the most magnanimous educator in this fine institution.

Next, we work in pairs to learn the following note taking process:


After working with a partner to take good notes, they are ready to write new sentences. I tell them they will need to THINK AGAIN, then WRITE AGAIN.

They are producing better notecards and better paraphrased sentences, by following this pattern. It is easy for them to remember and easy to implement. Happy note taking!