Creating Spine Poetry

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form made popular by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!
I’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) DID NOT result in a stack of books that formed a poem.

Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.

book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge

Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  I am getting a jump on National Poetry Month and trying this with my 5th graders this week.  Here are some photos of some of the students stacking and arranging their books:

spinepoetry2      spinepoetry1

Have you done spine poetry with your students?  Please leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about it!

Images:
SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on flickrcc.net
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on flickrcc.net

 

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Reflecting on 2014-2015

I often use this blog as a place to “think on paper” and reflect on different aspects of my job.  As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I’m scratching my head and wondering where the year went!  Robert Browning tells us that our reach should exceed our grasp, so I suppose it’s okay that I had more plans than I was able to implement this year.  But in looking back over the ideas that did come to fruition, here are some of my favorites:

  • Our annual Comic Book Read-In is always a hit with students, and this year I was able to help teachers connect it to the curriculum with my companion workshop Comics in the Classroom.  I went on to share those resources at the S.C. Association of School Librarians conference in March of this year.
    Boys on Beanbags
  • This year I celebrated International Dot Day: Make Your Mark with all of our 5th graders.  I shared the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds on the Promethean board via Tumblebooks, and we discussed the importance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to experiment with new things.  We then used Microsoft Paint to create digital dot art, which I displayed in the library and online.
    Dot Art
  • Our 2nd graders practiced their research skills and their technology skills with our African American Biography Timelines.  They learned how to use Encyclopedia Britannica Elementary (part of the SC DISCUS suite of databases) to gather facts and photos, then synthesized their information into an online timeline using the ReadWriteThink timeline tool.
    Timeline
  • We discovered some budding poets through our Found Poetry project with 4th grade.  We examined various nonfiction print sources to create word banks of important facts, then used the elements of poetry to communicate the information in more lyrical ways.
    Down Deep in the Ocean
  • The Quest teacher asked me to lead an Hour of Code with the gifted and talented students at my school and the other elementary school she serves.  We used a Scratch project, and the kids astounded themselves with their results!  “Wow, I’m really good at this!”  (Those types of comments are music to my ears!)
    scratch animate your name
  • My LOOK! NEW BOOKS! new book preview for teachers this year included a QR Code twist!  Many of the new books on display in the library contained bookmarks with QR codes that teachers could scan to access additional teaching resources for using the books in the classroom.  I created the codes with QR Code Monkey, which I really like because it allows you to upload a logo or photo as part of your code.
    How to Write an Ad QR Code
  • I created several technology tutorials for teachers using the free screencasting tool ScreencastOMatic.  When I can’t provide assistance in person, a screencast video is the next best thing!
    Promethean Timer

What did you try this year that was a hit with students or teachers?  Tell us about it in the comments!

 

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The WWW is Back!

One of the ways I’ve shared technology with my teachers in the past is to email them a WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) to share an online resource that might be useful in the classroom.  Starting today I’m resuming those emails, and I’ll be sharing the sites here as well.  I’ve also created an archive of all the sites I’ve shared so far so that teachers can find a particular website without having to search through a list of emails.

Today’s WWW is…

discuskids    DISCUS Kids

The South Carolina State Library provides access to $2.2 million worth of research, reference, and learning resources for students in our state via the DISCUS website.
These resources include:

  • Britannica Elementary (general encyclopedia)
  • BrainPop Jr.  (early elementary lessons and online activities)
  • CultureGrams (social studies resources)
  • Kids InfoBits  (general encyclopedia, with magazine and newspaper articles)
  • NovelList K-8 Plus  (fiction and nonfiction book recommendations)
  • Searchasaurus  (kid-friendly search engine)
  • Biography in Context (biographical information, including photos and videos)

If you don’t live in South Carolina, I’m sorry to say that you can’t access these databases.  If you do live in South Carolina, I hope you’ll take advantage of them!

Discus Kids   http://scdiscus.org/discus-kids

 

 

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Book Spine Poetry = Library Skills Practice

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form invented by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!

stack of booksI’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) did not result in a stack of books that formed a poem.

 

Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.

 

book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge

 

Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  Thank goodness Travis Jonker is a benevolent genius who shares his great poetry ideas, and not an evil genius who keeps them to himself.

I plan to try this with my 5th graders next month; I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Maybe you’d like to try it with your students too, in which case you can leave a comment and let me know how it turns out!

 

Images:
SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on flickrcc.net
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on flickrcc.net

 

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Citations for Elementary Students

My 4th and 5th grade teachers have been collaborating with me over the last two months to plan research projects for their students, and to my great surprise our biggest sticking point has been what citation format to use!

I was prepared to share my handy list of online citation creation sites with teachers (see below), and explain how using a “citation machine” would help beginning researchers learn the proper format by seeing it in action.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the teachers not knowing which “proper format” they wanted their students to use.  None of the student textbooks or teacher guides they are using provide any instructions for creating entries for a Works Cited page!

We finally decided to go with a modified (aka, simplified) format that would provide title, author (or for encyclopedias, Vol #), date, and URL for web resources.  I’m still not sure whether starting them off slowly with just the basic information is a good idea or not.  I know that when they hit middle school they’ll need to provide the full citation for every resource they use in a research project, so should we be teaching that now?  Or is it okay to ease them into it?

I’d love to hear how other elementary schools are teaching citations, and why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it.  Please leave a comment if you are willing to share!

My Top 3 Free Citation Websites for Students:

  1. Bibme
    This is the easiest way to build a works cited page.  Search for a book, article, or website, or type in the information yourself. Once you add it to your bibliography, you can continue adding more resources to build your works cited list. Then download your bibliography in either the MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian formats. Unfortunately the site includes ads.
  2. Son of Citation Machine
    This site not only enables students to properly give credit for the information that they use, it helps them understand why it’s important to do so. It also provides great step-by-step instructions for users.
  3. Easy Bib
    Free MLA formatting. (Other styles cost.)  Just type in a title or website URL and click on the correct source from the list of results. This tool also allows users to type in their own info in each field, which takes helps students move toward citing sources independently.

 

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Boolification

A recent blog post by Cathy Nelson shared the way she has remixed her DISCUS and web evaluation presentation to be more engaging and relevant to her students.  That reminded me how hard it can be to hold kids’ interest as we teach research skills that can often be confusing at best and boring at worst.  

One example of such a skill is boolean searching, which was why I was intrigued when I heard about Boolify.

 

Boolify takes takes a hands-on approach to learning boolean through an interactive  process of  Continue reading

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