Settling into the New Year

Now that we’re back in our first full week of school since break, things are feeling normal. The end of last week felt kind of like a dream!

Over the course of Friday and yesterday, we had almost the entire 5th grade come (in class-sized groups) to check out a nonfiction book. They are starting a nonfiction unit, and each kid has to read at least one book cover to cover–no length or topic requirements, just a nonfiction book that interests them. I had pulled out a ton of books and spread them out on tables all through the back half of the library. Some kids chose really short books with a lot of pictures; some chose longer narrative works with hardly any illustrations. Both (and everything in between) were celebrated, because the idea was for kids to find something that clicked with them. Books about sports! About history! About fashion! Science! Music! Dance! Disgusting things! Beautiful things! Weird things!

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It was a ton of fun. The kids were excited, as evidenced by their conversations with each other as they picked books and their immersion when they sat down to start reading their chosen texts. I had a good time pulling the books, but the real joy came in seeing the kids so engaged. Out of about 100 kids, only one said they were having a hard time finding something. I’m grateful for the collection we have and the teachers’ willingness to partner with the library on this unit. Next up, in a few weeks, will be a writing project on a topic of each kid’s choice, where I hope to help some teachers with employing Visible Thinking routines during the research process. More on that if/when it happens!

With 6th grade, I’m continuing the Windows and Mirrors lesson, but I’ve added Jason Reynolds to the mix of what I talk about, showing clips from interviews where he talks about his disinterest in reading as a kid; how rap is like poetry; and how he wants to write books for kids like him. It’s interesting to contrast the heaviness of a book like Long Way Down with the overall optimism and lightness of Front Desk. Both titles really served as window books for me, but Long Way Down gutted me in a way that few books ever have.


In other news (and maybe a separate blog post soon?), I’m playing around with Scratch 3.0 and having a ton of fun with the translation and text-to-speech extensions. I’ve ordered some Microbits as well and hope to have time to goof around with those extensions soon, as time allows.


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