Dust from the Book Fairy

Archive for April 2008

This Sunday was very sleepy for my husband and me. Today is Pascha, so we were up until 4 a.m. at church. Pascha is Easter in the Orthodox Church. I am not Orthodox yet, but I attend with my husband. Even if you are not Orthodox, you should attend Pascha liturgy at least once in your lifetime. It is beautiful, and indescribable. Today was the second time for me, as we’ve only been married a bit less than a year. After the service, everyone EATS, and tries to crack each others’ red eggs.

Our priest posted this beautiful youtube video on his blog today. I don’t understand most of the words, but you can hear them saying Christ is Risen! in it. It sounds like Christos A-less-ti.


A Kindergarten student came in this morning on an errand for her teacher.

“Mrs. wants to know if her lemonade is done.”

I sent her back to class, her teacher’s laminating (lemonade-ing) in tow.

My library’s got a lot of ugly picture books.  If you’ve worked in a library, I’m sure you can relate–Unless you’ve lucked into a brand-new library, complete with brand-new books.  If you have, don’t tell.  It’ll just make me jealous.

I know I could, and in some cases should, drastically weed them.

BUT (WHINE ALERT) It’s only my second year.  I’ve already caused some heart attacks with my weeding of duplicates and literally moldy-oldies.  Some of them are classics.  Good stories, just unloved because the kids can’t get past the ugly, plain covers.

So, my 3rd-5th graders are picking out one of these unloved orphans.  They’re giving them a makeover with new covers.  We’re going to laminate the new, improved covers put them on the books. Students started this week by selecting a book to adopt, reading it, and thinking about ideas for the book cover.

And the best part of all: They’re excited about it!

From a Student: “Can we check it out first when we’re done?”

From a Teacher: “My kids came in from recess today and asked me if they’re going to get to adopt an ugly book in their library class this week.”

Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of rejuvenated books soon.

I don’t assign grades for library.  I don’t do much work with the kids where they produce a written, tangible product.  So how do I assess them? How do I figure out if they’re learning? This is something I’ve struggled with a bit, especially coming from a classroom teacher position, where I DID assign grades, give exams, assign papers and projects.  How do I know if we’re actually accomplishing anything?  I want them to enjoy coming to the library and to enjoy reading and hearing stories for their intrinsic value, but is there a way to measure that quantitatively? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (if there’s anybody out there!)

So here’s one thing I sometimes do to see if they’re getting it:

After reading a story, I pass out my tiny whiteboards and some markers, and ask questions about the story we’ve just read.

Some lower level ones, like:

  1. Who’s the main character?
  2. What’s the setting of this story?

Some higher ones, like:

  1. What genre is this story?
  2. How can you tell it’s a mystery (or historical fiction, or whatever)?
  3. Tell me one way it’s similar to story X we read last week.

I can glance around at the answers, discuss them a bit with the kids, and see if they’re getting something out of it.  I do this with other things too, sometimes.  Like which reference book would be best for a topic.  I like the whiteboards because they don’t generate paper for me to toss, and because they force everyone to participate.  Does anybody else do something cool in their libraries to see if their kids are getting what they’re trying to teach?

P.S. I so understand the value of just letting the kids enjoy a story, with no questions afterwards or huge analysis of the plot, so I by no means to all this every week!

Came across this on the teachers.net chatboard

WAYCROSS, GA — It’s the type of news you don’t expect to hear coming out of an elementary school.

Nine third grade students suspended at Center Elementary in Waycross for an alleged plot to attack their teacher. (read the rest)

I work with 3rd graders.  I can imagine certain individuals plotting to hurt their teacher.  But an entire class?

They seem to have been pretty organized, even.  Certain students assigned to cover up the windows.

What would you be thinking as a teacher at that school?  Apparently, this was in reaction to their teacher fussing at them.  If this happened every time I’ve fussed at a class, I’d have been dead long ago!