Tag Archives: children

Teaching Our Children the Foundations of Research

img_1484For the four grade levels I teach, my current unit for all students is a research project.  I selected four different topics and grouped my students into pairs or threes; they are to conduct proper research and create a Google Slides presentation.  The topics are as follows:

  • Grade 3–origin of a holiday
  • Grade 4–significant person or group in Black History
  • Grade 5–exploration of  a specific science topic
  • Grade 6–background and historical information about a state

In a previous lesson based around plagiarism and bibliographies, I reviewed with all of my students what exactly constitutes plagiarism and how to conduct responsible research.  They also learned how to give credit to their sources through a bibliography.  We are now bringing these learned ideas into practice through this project.  I am allowing my students to explore (with certain guidelines) and create a slideshow presentation reviewing their findings.

For the third and fourth grades, they are asked to use Kidtopia and Infotopia–simply to ensure their search results are safe and appropriate.  For the fifth and sixth grade, they are asked to utilize PebbleGo Next, which our district had purchased in the summer.  This basic database designed for children has ‘science’ and ‘states’ sections, so it works wonderfully with their respective projects.

Of course they are learning about their topics through their research and work, but the skills I want them to truly perfect are responsible research and proper citation.  These are educational building blocks that will stay with them through high school and higher education.  And, within the first day of creating their Google Slideshows, most of my students already have a bibliography slide on which they are posting their resources.  I am happy to see them become responsible students and researchers.

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Banned Books Week is coming to a close…

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am only a month into my first ever position as an ELEMENTARY educator.  And as most educators know, at least in the literacy realm, this week is Banned Books Week.  I really wanted to make sure I included this “holiday” into at least some of my classes’ curriculum, so I decided to test the waters with my fourth and six graders (about 200 students), and it went wonderfully!  We started off using Mentimeter, which is a wonderful online instant survey tool–I highly recommend it!  I laid out various banned books onto the tables, but did not tell them why they were there and that they were banned.  My Mentimeter question was “What do all of these books have in common?”  Of course, all of them at once gave me and each other puzzled looks because they couldn’t see a connection between a picture book like And Tango Makes Three and a very popular series like Harry Potter.  I encouraged them to discuss with their groups and get creative with their answers.  The end product was interesting to see because they stated things such as “fiction,” “hard cover,” and “illustrations.”

Once we did that I told them their answers were great, but unfortunately none of them was the one answer I was looking for.  And once again, I got puzzled looks across the board.  When I explained to them that the one major commonality of all of these books was that they were banned, the students immediately started calling out questions and groaning.  I loved it!  This meant they were questioning that idea, and were curious to learn more.

We then segued into it being Banned Books Week and the celebration of literacy and the First Amendment.  Some may think that free speech may be too complicated of an issue for children that are only no more than eleven or twelve years old, but it most certainly was not.  Some classes sparked debates about the validity of banning a book, while others wanted to learn the reasoning behind each banning.  It was such a spectacular moment as an educator to witness.  And I truly couldn’t have been more pleased by how the lessons played out!

To wrap up the lesson, I allowed my students to take “mugshots” to celebrate Banned Books Week, and I had more than enough volunteers.  As you can see (below), they got very creative and had a fun time producing their own representation of what banning a book means to them.  It has been a wonderful week, and I plan on spreading the wealth to the third and fifth graders next year!

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New York Public Library’s List of the Top 100 Children’s Books

100YearsChildBks strip1 NYPL Unveils 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 Years

http://www.slj.com/2013/09/books-media/nypl-unveils-list-of-100-top-childrens-books-of-the-last-100-years/

The New York Public Library compiled its first ever list of the best 100 children’s books.  Their coordinator or Youth Collections, Jeanne Lamb, and their supervising librarian, Elizabeth Bird, selected the books, all of which are from the past century of literature.  

The list features favorites such as:  Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Lowry’s The Giver, and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.  All of the titles are wonderful examples of children’s books and the NYPL is of course a wonderful beacon of literature, but I would like to know a bit more about how exactly they selected these books.  Was there a certain criteria?  How did they go about eliminating books from this list?  

With that said, are there any books that you adored as a child (or even reading to your child) that was not featured on the NYPL list?  For example, I would have definitely included:  Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Were you disappointed to not find your favorite on the list?

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Children Reading Going Down…

http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/27/study-children-reading-fewer-books-down-8-from-2012/

There’s a new study out that has compared the number of hours children read this year to last year, and the results aren’t good.  The study has shown that children read 8% less than they did in 2012.  

Activities such as game apps, YouTube and texting have gone significantly up, however.  So, why have these technology-based habits overridden the act of reading?  Is parenting to blame?  Is education?  Or this is simply the age of technology, in which reading has become archaic?  

As an avid reader myself, I remember adoring the library and visiting it on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis.  I loved reading and my parents would even tell me I’m reading too much and that I should focus more on my homework than on the novel in my hand!  So what has changed between my childhood (which isn’t that long ago) to today’s state of childhood?  

Looking at this issue through the educator lens (with a background in teaching, and now, working as a school librarian), this disinterest in reading frightens me.  If the assumption is true–that the fast-paced developments in technology are more alluring to children than books, then will reading cease to exist in 20, 30, 40 years?  As technology becomes faster, better, greater, will books (in any form) become extinct?

These are questions we must pause and ponder, because reading, does make a HUGE difference in a person’s development.  Reading empowers an individual in so many ways.  It allows one to speak strongly, think clearly, and write beautifully.  Reading is a gateway to wonderful expressions of oneself.  

But with this study, it can be assumed that this simple, yet amazing activity can possibly die out one day.  

What is the future of reading?

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