Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Top Ten Reasons to Visit...

Sharing their speeches and note-taking sheets with grandparents!
Presenting Idaho!
Back in December, 3rd graders began brainstorming "I wonder..." questions about their states.  They organized these questions into categories which became the categories on their note-taking sheets.  Next, they turned their most interesting facts into reasons to visit their states.   Their final lists are amazing!  Did you know  that 90% of the popcorn in the US comes from Indiana? How about that there are more hogs in Iowa than people? Or that Alabama is home to the National Women's Football League?

Beginning last week, the 3rd graders started presenting their findings in their "Top 10 Reasons to Visit My State" speeches.  These children have worked hard to convince their classmates to visit their states.  I am not sure how they will choose which one is the most convincing in their class.  The winner in each class will receive a letter from someone who lives or used to live in their state!
Practicing speeches with a partner before the final presentation.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Digging Deep into Biographies

Every year students in second grade are exposed to our biography collection in the library. Sometimes that exposure happens explicitly, but sometimes the exposure will happen through other units. For example, a biography might be a book on our Mock Caldecott reading list or a part of an author study. This year I wanted to create an experience where students would learn about biographies and be pushed to dive deeper creating an experience that showed more than the definition of a biography. I wanted students to learn about people in our history that they may have not known about.

As in past years, I explained to students what a biography is, but this year I also read two to three biographies during library class. We then chose one of the people from the three biographies we read, and then we gathered information about that person. The person students chose was Ernest "Ernie" Barnes; the first official artist of the National Football League. 


We discussed important information that should be included in our research and what information qualified as "jaw dropping or mind blowing information". Students then chose their own biography to read and gather information from. 



I was blown away by my second graders's hard work, creative practices and the information they chose to share out. These projects are on display in the story room and I encourage you to stop in during your free time and see them. Along with their biographies their fables will also be on display for your reading pleasure. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The 30th Annual Battle of the Books!!!


(video credit: Jon Green)

Yes.  The heading is true!  We held  our 30th Annual Battle of the Books Thursday night April 25 at the Lincoln School.  We also honored the retirement of two people who have participated in the Battle from the very beginning:  Mrs. Simpson and Mrs. Hahn. Thank you for your 30 years of support for this event.

Students from Wheeler/Hamilton, Lincoln, Gordon and St. Michael's answered quiz-show-like questions about the 30 books on the Battle List.  They competed collaboratively on teams that included students from all four schools.  Each school also performed a cheer. As you can see from the video, not only did our 4th graders create a fun cheer they also performed it with a ton of enthusiasm.  For those of you who haven't attended the Battle in the past, you would be amazed by the palpable excitement in the room.  One fourth grader put it best, "That was the best night of my life!"

Friday, March 1, 2019

Before We Go...

Spring break is always a time to press the reset button. It is a time for relaxation, reflections and reading. All around the Lower School you can find children in all grades reading and sharing their of joy of reading. Just last week fifth grade students spread their joy around campus when they competed in the annual Rooster Games. Our hope is  that their love for books and reading will never die. With that in mind here's a few reading lists and challenges for students and families to enjoy over the break. We look forward to hearing about books and characters students have enjoyed over the break when we come back on March 25th.

I have compiled a list of of great reads for students in  Early Childhood. This list includes books that are fiction, nonfiction, books about the alphabet, numbers and books about colors.

Lastly, we leave you with a few reading challenges for the month of March. We hope you find some time over break to complete one or two of these challenges.

  • Read a book written and/or illustrated by a female
  • Read a nonfiction book about a female who has made a difference or a great contribution to our world 
  • Read a book to your pet or favorite stuffed animals 
Here is a list of suggestions to help you complete some of these challenges. Simply click on the tab that says 2018-2019 Reading Challenges. 



Monday, February 25, 2019

The Rooster Games

Excited 5th graders decked out in their team colors
On Thursday, February 21st the 5th graders participated in our 17th Rooster Games along with the students from Lincoln School.  They have been reading from the Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee list since the summer.  The list consists of 20 books chosen by librarians and teachers around the state.   The 5th graders must read at least 10.  The kids then play a variety of games focused on the books. They match the title and authors and titles and first lines of the books. They also answer 40 multiple choice questions in just 10 minutes (We've never had a team not complete it!). They match an object to each book, make a poster based on the books without using words or symbols and finally they just have 20 minutes to create a cheer for their team.

We end the event with a celebratory pizza lunch and a beautiful rooster cake.  It really is one of the highlights of 5th grade and so fun to see this level of excitement over reading.  As one 5th grader put it, " It will be one of my favorite 5th grade memories!"









Monday, February 11, 2019

2019 Youth Media Awards

On January 28th the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards were announce. I talked about some predictions on my podcast with Wheeler Voices. Additionally students in second grade have studied one of the awards; the Caldecott Award and they have made their own predictions.

Here's a link to all the winners. These award winning titles serve as a great recommended reading list for children, teens and adults. Many of these titles can be found in our libraries here on campus.


Monday, February 4, 2019

4th grade FlipGrid Vlogs

Last year, Megan O'Hara's class began using FlipGrid to keep track of the Battle Books they read.  This year the whole 4th grade has joined in.  The students have a great time recording short videos that include a summary and the star rating they give their books. The kids then record responses to their classmates videos.   Several students have enjoyed it so much that they have recorded book recommendations at home!  On Wheeler Day Ms. O'Hara's 4th graders showed their parents the FlipGrid videos they previously recorded. The parents and kids then recorded videos together. 


Friday, January 25, 2019

Calling Caldecott

Every year my second grade classes participate in a Mock Caldecott. Students choose the best picture book of the preceding year based on these four essential questions;

1. Are the illustrations well done?
2. Do the illustrations match the mood and the theme of the story?
3. Are the illustrations important to understanding the story?
4. Does the illustrations make me want to pick up the book and read it?

Three out of the four of the answers to theses questions must be yes to keep a title on our list of considerations.

The Randolph Caldecott Award is given every year to an illustrator, who's work is distinguished. One gold medal is given and three to four silver medals are given. Last year's winner was Wolf In Snow by Matthew Cordell. Last year's Mock Caldecott winner was The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney.

Check out this link on Monday February 4th to see the second grade class' Mock Caldecott winner and the actual winners of the annual Randolph Caldecott Award.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Using SORA

Overdrive has a new kid-friendly app for you to use to download audiobooks and ebooks from our library's collection for free.  First, you will need to download the free app to your device.  Click on the link below to view a tutorial of how to use the app.  Please let us know if you have any questions about it!  Happy Reading (and listening!!!)



Wednesday, January 9, 2019

January's Reading Challenge

Happy New Year and welcome back! We are so excited to be back for the second half of the school year. We are starting 2019  with a reading challenge and our hope is that many of our students in the Lower School will participate.

We are challenging students to read a book about the following three subjects. Students can read a book on each subject or choose one or two subjects to read about.


  • Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day on January 21st
  • Polar Bears; a fascinating animal to learn about in the winter season
  • Choose a book that has a snow setting


There will be books on display in the library or you can ask one of the Lower School librarians. Share your experiences through photos or a written response with one or two sentences that tells what you learned or enjoyed about each subject. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Prescott Library's Best of 2018 Book List


At the end of every year the librarians at Wheeler come together and think about all the books we have read, discussed and heard about. We usually create a holiday list to share with the Wheeler Community.

This year the Head of the Library Department, Christine Smith suggested we create a Best of 2018 list to be more inclusive and aware of those who may not celebrate these particular holidays.

Below you will find the link to our Best of 2018 Book List. This list includes picture books, beginner readers, chapter books, non fiction, books for young adults and adults. Most of the titles on the list can be found in the libraries here on campus and/or easily purchased through Amazon.

Best of 2018

From the Library Department,

Friday, December 14, 2018

Reader's Theater

Performing for Nursery and Kindergarten
Each year, I work with the kids who choose not to be part of the play to create a Readers' Theater.   Not only do I want the kids to have a low-stakes performance experience, I also want them to take ownership of the creation of the script.  First, the kids did a run through of a Reader's Theater based on the book The Great Fuzz Frenzy.  They used this script to come up with criteria for how they would choose a book for their Reader's Theater.  They decided that they wanted one that was funny; of interest to Early Childhood students (since they planned on presenting it to them); and  included good narrator and character roles.  After reading 12+ books, the kids chose the book Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Scott Magoon.
I divided the students into three groups and they each wrote a section of the script.  When they finished, we read through it to look for errors.  Once we had the script finalized,  we picked names out of a bowl to determine parts.  During this week of play rehearsals, we practiced our script multiple times and  performed it twice--once to Nursery and K and once to 3rd grade.  This year the kids wanted to make sure the audience could see the pictures in the book since a bunch of the humor relates to the illustrations.  So we projected the book on the screen during the presentations.  The audiences were fantastic and the Kindergarten liked it so well that they sparkled us with Gratitude Glitter!

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Experience at the People of Color Conference

Last week I traveled with eleven of my colleagues and six students from the Upper School to Nashville, Tennessee. We were in the heart of the city in the downtown area. We walked daily to the People of Color Conference held at the Music City Center.

Over the course of three days I attended six workshops, participated in my affinity group twice and heard some amazing speakers. I vigorously took notes each day and upon my return I have been spending a lot of time reflecting, reviewing and thinking about the best way I can incorporate what I learned into what it is I do here at Wheeler.

Here's what I have come up with so far....

 1. I plan to share my identity and culture with my students and encourage them to do the same.

2. In one of the workshops I attended a kindergarten teacher shared how she writes good morning in a different language every two weeks. During those two weeks students work on pronunciation and learning about the country or countries where the language is spoken. I plan to incorporate that idea in to my  class greeting as well. I will use the library databases to help students learn about the language and countries. Through this tactic I can expose our youngest students to the world beyond what they see in their everyday lives.

3. Luz Santana an advocate for minority women spoke to an audience of over 6,000 people myself included. She spoke at length  about the idea of encouraging students to continue to ask questions. She presented studies that had showed over time our children are not asking questions once they reach a certain age. This may be caused by fear and  a lack of confidence in their abilities.  She encouraged us as educators to create space for children to ask questions daily. Their ability to ask will empower our students to be advocates for themselves and others in the present and in the future. I am currently restructuring my curriculum so that I can provide my students the opportunity to ask questions and to seek answers.