We’re about to wrap up our first week of class visits in the library, and what a week it has been!

Our lessons this week have involved lots of reflection on how we will be reading, writing, and learning in the library.

Later in the year, when we’re working on research or writing, we’ll usually sit here:

But for this week’s visits, all our classes gathered together on the reading rug:

Once we got there, what did we do?

Well, first we said our three rules of concentration.

(I can’t take credit for these–they came from the martial arts school where I trained with my family throughout high school and college.)

These are the three rules:

  1. Focus your eyes. (Point at your eyes.)
  2. Focus your mind. (Point at your head.)
  3. Focus your body. (Make muscles!)

We practiced the words and hand motions, but more importantly, we talked about what they mean. By the end of the conversation, the students had explained to me where they should be looking, what they should be thinking about during a lesson, and how they should sit to show me they’re paying attention.

Now that we were all focused and ready to learn, the next thing we talked about was what we’ll be doing in the library this year.

First, I asked the kids to take a quiet look around. “What’s all around us in the library?” I asked. (The answer was obvious–books!)

“So,” I asked, “what do you think we’ll be doing a lot of in the library?”

“Reading!” they said.

Then we talked about what this means: I’ll read books to them, but they’ll also read with each other and check out books to read independently.

“Is there anything else you think we might do?”

At this point, kids who were with me last year were full of ideas:

  • interacting with activities on the SMARTBoard
  • writing poems
  • doing research
  • writing reports
  • writing letters
  • writing stories
  • coloring and making things

Wow! I love that the kids have remembered so many of the creative things they’ve done in the library, and that so many of their responses involved writing. I told them we would do lots of writing in the library this year, too. 🙂

Now, classes in the older grades (3rd, 4th, and 5th) were ready for the next question: what does it mean to be a reader and a writer?

Here are what some of the classes came up with during our brainstorming sessions this week:

Mrs. Barrett’s 4th grade class saw a clear relationship between reading and writing, and they also made a lot of connections between reading and writing in the library and how they read and write in their classroom. These 4th graders are excited about reading and writing all kinds of texts this year!
Mr. Brooks’ 3rd grade class also made great connections between reading and writing.
One insightful student even suggested, “It’s like reading and writing are married.” Nicely put!

(Y’all have to pardon my not-so-neat handwriting on the board and any minor typos I’ve made. I write ideas down about as quickly as the kids share them, so things can get a little sloppy if I’m not careful. The kids said they’d forgive me. :))

Now, it was time for a read-aloud.

(Read-alouds are one of my very favorite things to do in the library. They’re fun, they’re great vehicles for discussing bigger ideas like description or theme, they spark tons of creative writing ideas, and… did I mention they’re fun?)

In PreK through 2nd grade, we read We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems:

image from indiebound.org

In this hilarious story from Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie series, Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig realize that someone is looking at them. Is it a monster? No! It’s a reader!

This is a great book for illustrating different ways that we can read: reading words, reading pictures, listening to someone read, and retelling what we’ve read. Not only that, but it’s so funny and encourages plenty of audience participation. 🙂

In 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, we read Mordicai Gerstein’s A Book:

image from indiebound.org

This book features a fascinating family: Dad is a clown, Mom is a firefighter, their son is an aspiring astronaut, and even the pets are sure what they want to do and where their stories are going.

Enter the main character, the girl, who spends the book navigating a dizzying array of fairy tales, historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and even pirate adventures on the high seas–as she searches for a story she can call her own.

This book is great for reviewing different genres and talking about the relationship between reading other people’s stories and writing your own.

It’s also tons of fun. Every class who’s read it with me this week has loved recognizing the different fairy tales and characteristics of familiar genres, and it’s so packed with fast-paced action, jokes, and detailed illustrations that it’ll be great to return to again and again.

Once we finished reading and talking about these great books, it was time for the students to check out their own books for the week. All the kids have been thrilled about that!

Of course, the best part of this week for me has been seeing so many excited Tree Frogs in the library! It’s going to be a great year. 🙂