Thursday, September 28, 2017

Time to Celebrate our Freedom to Read, Students Weigh In

Every year, I conduct a lesson for the English I students to celebrate ALA's Banned Book Week. This lesson has grown over the years, and I am very proud with what the English teachers and I have done with the topic.

I will introduce the lesson using the slide presentation below. Please feel free to make a copy and adapt it for your own library. 

We want the students to take a stance by writing a well constructed paragraph using the resources that I pulled together for them as concrete evidence to support their stand. We also want this to be a real world experience. Meaning we want their responses to be published on the web for anyone to read. Last year, we had the students post their paragraph in the comment section of the BBW post on this blog. This proved to be an issue because some of the students' comments were posted immediately while others were sent to me to be moderated before posting. Students were frustrated not knowing where their paragraph had gone so some submitted multiple times. On the positive side, all comments are time stamped so the teachers knew if the students completed the task by the deadline. This time around the students will post on a Padlet created for the period in which they have English. The posts will not have a time stamp, but I can stop accepting anymore entries when the deadline hits. See the padlets below. I hope that you enjoy reading the students paragraphs and feel free to add a comment  of your own in the comments section of the blog or even the Padlet if it is still accepting comments. . 
Made with Padlet
Made with Padlet
Made with Padlet
Made with Padlet

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Nancy Cavanaugh Gets Students Excited about Historical Fiction

On Monday, September 25th, we had our first author visit of the school year. Author and former 3rd grade teacher and librarian, Nancy Cavanaugh, came to talk about her newest book, Elsie Mae has Something to Say. The book is set in 1933 in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Nancy explained to the students how she was inspired to write the story--a television documentary. However, it was a trip that she took to the swamp 20 years ago that gave her the push to write a book about a place and time that doesn't exist anymore. 

It took her a long time to get the story right because she started her research two decades ago, and the book was published in early September 2017. At first, she was going to try and write a non-fiction picture book about the swamp because her inspiration began with a documentary and book called Okefenokee Album by Francis Harper. When that didn't work she tried her hand at a book called. Henry James and the Hog Bandits. That never got published either. When she created Elsie Mae, she hit on a character with such spunk and sassiness that she became the main character in her book about the swamp. Henry James made it into the book, too, as Elsie's cousin. Yes, there are hog bandits on the loose, too. This is a book filled with adventure, mystery, and humor. The author's attention to detail about the swampers' lives paint a picture in your mind that made all of us want to take a trip to see the alligators of the Okefenokee.

After her visit, the students had lots to say about the program. They didn't know that it took so much effort to get a book written including both research and experience. They really liked hearing about her trip to the swamp to see it in person and how what she experienced there made it directly into the book. Much of the action takes place on the front porch of Elsie Mae's grandparents' house and that porch looks just like the front porches of the cabins that Cavanaugh saw on her visit. Also, some of the swamp is made up of islands that are dry land where the swampers built their homes, but there is also lots of boggy land that has to be tread on carefully. Swampers would use the pole that helped propel the boat as a plank to walk on when they encountered marshland. Cavanaugh explained how this trick worked when Elsie Mae did it in the book. Not only did she write a good story, but she also gives the readers a glimpse into what life was like almost a 100 years ago on the islands of the Okefenokee. 

You can visit the PFTSTA Library to check out the book or your own local school or public library. We want to thank local booksellers Octavia Books and the publisher Source Books for making this author visit possible. You can find lots more pictures of Cavanaugh's trip to PFTSTA on the library website.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Need a Tech Tool for Formative Assessment?

I write regularly here on this blog, but several times a year I write a post for the Whooo's Reading Blog. Every post on their blog consists of lists of apps or websites that teachers can use to assist in their teaching or aid in student learning. They have a section just for librarians, but this time around you will find my post in the edtech section. If you use other tools that could be used for assessment, please list them in the comment section below. 

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