Monday, December 26, 2016

BAM! Comics, Graphic Novels? You Name It, We Got It!

Do you hear that?!  No, you don't?  It's because there is no noise... students are so into making their own comics, they aren't speaking.  Ok, not completely true, the silence is broken by "Mrs. Ehll, come here!...Look at my comic!"  All of November before Thanksgiving Break, ALL grades studied comics and graphic novels.  This was the first time I taught this unit and I feel it went quite successful. 

 I LOVE hearing students ask where the graphic novels are so they can check them out considering at the very beginning of the unit the majority of students had never heard the term "graphic novel" and only about half the students in classes had heard the term, "comics".

I used the following resources with students: 
Toon Books provided the younger students with read aloud comics that I projected on the board.  It also has online templates for their own 1 and 3 panel comics.  Students used these paper templates to draw their own comics.
I used this resource from Tracy Edmunds to teach 3rd-5th gr students vocabulary and the directional movement of reading a comic.  They used Make Beliefs Comix to craft comics after they played Professor Garfield's Reading Ring,  but Scholastic Graphix was by far the older students favorite comic creator based on votes.

Students were so excited to study this type of book--I'm glad I was able to shed a positive light on this fantastic form of visual literacy!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Not My Library, but OUR Library"

I noticed people in my school using the term "your library" or "Mrs. Ehll's library" and it didn't feel quite right.  I want everyone--especially the students--to feel like it is their library media center, too.  I'm a big believer in the students having ownership and responsibility of the library media center.  

One simple step...

Right above the library media center's door are large painted letters that say "Library".  It took some thinking, but an idea sprang to mind where I would simply put the letters "OUR" in front of the sign.  Well, the idea grew and I decided to let students sign the letters to really make it personalized.

I took butcher paper and cut out the letters then had them laminated.  During Back to School night, I put out the letters for students to sign with wet erase markers.  I even put out the letters the first two weeks of school for students to sign. 

I couldn't wait anymore after that and HAD to put the letters up!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Before One Can Code, One Must Understand the Computer

"Is this the correct spot for the hard drive?"  No joke, phrases like that issued from my elementary students mouths this past week.  I was geeking out while students worked together to build pretend computers.  

The "My First Computer" activity came from the author of the book, Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas.  The book focuses on a girl named Ruby who is a very independent and imaginative spirit.  For example, when she is told to get dressed, she puts her outfit over her pajamas because she was never told to take her pajamas off.  

Ruby's adventure begins when she receives a postcard from her father letting her know there are gems hidden around their neighborhood for her to find.  Ruby decides to make a plan which includes finding clues (which she does in her father's office) to make a map of where the gems are located.

Once Ruby begins her adventure--she meets penguins, foxes, a snow leopard, robots, and Django with his pet Python.  Ruby's planning and hunt for the gems teach skills related to coding--breaking big problems into small ones, sequencing, algorithm, looping, etc.  

The back of the book has quite the selection of activities to help kids practice computational thinking.  

Back to the "My First Computer" activity...I adapted this for multiple classes by printing out only enough color copies for students to work in pairs.  The pieces were laminated and cut out so that they could be reused.  Students used tacky putty to place items together and that made it easy to remove them.  

The students LOVED this activity and some were disappointed that they didn't get to take the computer home.  Once I told them that they could visit the Hello Ruby website they were so excited!