Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bluebonnet Fun Night: Postcards From Camp

Thursday will mark our third BLUEBONNET FUN NIGHT this fall. We've already celebrated Under the Mambo Moon at Sommer in September, and Play, Louis, Play! at Jollyville in October. Tomorrow night, we will celebrate Postcards from Camp at the brand new England Elementary. We've been advertising this event on our morning announcements with a British accent in honor of England Elementary... and also because our anchor Jack just loves to speak with a British accent.

Postcards from Camp: a Postal Story, by Simms Taback, is an awesome interactive tale between a boy and his father. Michael isn't so sure about summer camp, but his dad keeps insisting he'll have fun. Will Michael start to like it? Either way, he and his dad send the coolest letters and postcards back and forth.

Simms Taback, winner of the Caldecott Award, even includes real envelopes for taking the letters in and out, and Michael even writes one scary campfire tale that's in an envelope. The scary book is my favorite part- it has an owl on the cover.

From Forest North, on Broadmeade Avenue, turn right onto the 45 frontage road for 1 mile. Turn left on Parmer. After 1.7 miles, take a right on Avery Ranch Road. After 1.5 miles, you'll turn right onto Pearson Ranch Road. England is at 8801 Pearson Ranch Road.

We'll meet at jolly old England Elementary in the Cafeteria at 6:00. I would recommend to park in the back for the quickest walk to the Cafeteria, which is also in the back of the school. England students will read this wonderful book to us, we'll learn some fun campfire songs, and eat delicious s'mores, the classic campfire treat!

All Forest North 3rd-5th graders who attend this event will receive 2 genuine Fournier bucks, which are pretend money with Mrs. Fournier's face on it. Each buck is worth one extra checkout! Check in with Mrs. Fournier at England to redeem your Fournier bucks!
See you there, Eagles!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Barnes & Noble Book Fair 12/1/12 10AM-10PM

If you haven't heard the news, the place to be this Saturday is our local Barnes & Noble! We're having our 2nd annual Book Fair on 12/1, from 10AM-10PM. Our Barnes & Noble is located right near Lakeline Mall at the Homestead Shopping Center. The address is 14010 U.S. 183, Austin, TX 78717.

Students are invited to shop with their families, because Barnes & Noble has agreed to donate 25% of all sales from FNE supporters back to our school. Last year we made over $3100 in the 12 hours we were there, which was three times as much as usually make with a book fair in the library, where we have to shut the library down for a week, make our own decorations, and cancel all lessons and checkout for 5 days.
Purchases made in the cafe (like the special Forest North vanilla coffee-free frappuccino, colored red or blue special for our Eagles!), holiday cheesecakes pre-ordered, books, Nooks and any other merchandise will apply towards our total. Every little bit helps!

We've got hours of fun entertainment planned for Eagles and their families. The key to our success last time was the involvement of our faculty, staff, students and their families. Here's our schedule of events:

10:00-10:00 Art Gallery featuring PreK-5th Student Work
10:00-10:00 Free Faculty Gift Wrap - get your teacher to wrap your holiday gifts!
12:00-1:00 Free Face Painting in the Children's Area
12:30-1:00 Kindergarten Flash Mob to "Ice Cream and Cake"
1:00 -1:30 Cup Stacking Tournament
1:30-2:00 Fourth Grade Poetry Slam
2:00-2:30 Jump “In” Eagles 3rd-5th Jump Rope Team Performance
2:30-3:00 Third Grade Comedy Show
3:00-3:30 Teacher Dog Parade- come pet your teacher's puppy!
3:30-4:00 First Grade Read Alouds
4:00-4:30 Jump “In” Eagles 1st-2nd Jump Rope Team Performance
4:30-5:00 Forest North Choir Sing Multicultural Holiday Music
5:00-5:30 Second Grade Holiday Book Commercials
5:30-6:00 Kindergarten Flash Mob to "Thriller"

Fournier's Friends, our special 3rd-5th student library volunteer crew, will be helping Mrs. Fournier work the front door. We will hold a sign that says "no donations required," and students will be asking patrons whether they're here to support Forest North. If they say "yes," we'll give them a sticker. All customers who are wearing a sticker get 25% of their purchase donated back to the FNE Library! All funds will be used to purchase new library books for our students, so we can all share the fruits of our labor!

Please email Mrs. Fournier if you have any ideas about how to make the Book Fair a success, if you would like to get involved, or if you need more information about the event. It's a great way for our community to have fun, show off our academic and extracurricular successes, and work together towards a common goal.

Thank you so much for your support. Here's hoping we have another successful Barnes & Noble Book Fair. See you on Saturday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Multiplication Bee

Third grade was excited to show off their math skills in a Multiplication Bee right before we left for Thanksgiving break. All students were invited to compete one-on-one in a race to answer single digit multiplication problems up to 12x12. Students were encouraged to practice their facts and improve efficient strategies in problem solving ahead of time, and many students used a variety of different techniques to improve their efficiency at solving multiplication facts.
Students competed in a double-elimination bracket tournament style similar to the NCAA March Madness bracket. We kept the special names of the NCAA tournament to show our finalists. Here are 7 of our ELITE 8 CONTESTANTS! Congratulations to Ethan (not pictured), Bhavana, Ashwati, Cameron, Ryan, Dylan, Sebastian & Isaiah! They were cool under pressure as they multiplied their way through the competition.
After we got to the Elite 8, students competed another round to get to the Final 4. Here were our Final 4. At this point, the competition was so intense, the first student to answer was sometimes only a fraction of a second ahead of the other student. It was great to watch and set a great example for other students. Great work, Eagles. Our Final 4 were Bhavana, Ashwati, Cameron and Sebastian.
Our final two competitors left for the Championship round were Cameron and Ashwati. At this point, there were already murmurs in the crowd among students and teachers of a second bee this spring to try again for the championship. Cameron and Ashwati weren't intimidated- their quick math skills and mental repeated addition were ready for the challenge!
Our final champion was Ashwati. Ashwati, I was personally amazed at your dedication, and so proud of you. Your practice clearly paid off, and you prepared so well for this competition! Hard work is its own reward. Way to multiply! Ashwati will be defending her title later this spring against her grade level again. Other students will need to practice, practice, practice their strategies to get as efficient as Ashwati in solving these math problems as quickly as her. She's up to the challenge- it's going to be a great rematch. See you in the Spring, Eagles, and until then, keep multiplying!

Monday, November 12, 2012

First Grade Book Club

The Library is excited to announce 1st grade book club! A fantastic group of ten first graders, recommended by their teachers, come to the library twice a week to discuss our books. I'm amazed at how insightful these students are about their reading and how deep their connections, predictions, inferences, and observations are! Our first reading choice was Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. We zoomed through our first title, and many of the participants already put the newly released sequel on hold. We loved comparing our two protagonists, learned new words like "bonanza" and "compromise" and discussed the choice of spot color in Tony Fucile.

Now, we've split into two groups, according to which book we were interested in, and are reading either Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg and Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows. We watched a short book trailer online to give us a preview of the books. We've got our special supplies ready- pencils, notebooks, sticky notes, and bookmarks to remind us of how we can categorize our thinking.
We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and students read their books between meetings, showing their thinking so they'll remember what they want to say when we meet next to talk about our books. Groups will change flexibly depending on what titles students are interested in reading. These ten students are deepening their understanding of literature, and their responses to it. Great job, first graders, and thank you to the first grade team for helping me help their students in the most meangingful way possible!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Forest North 2012 Mock Presidential Election

Let freedom ring! The Forest North Library & TAG programs were pleased to bring a mock presidential election to Forest North on 11/6/12, Election Day. While citizens around the country lined up to vote (even on campus) we had our own voting lines here at school!
Students Kindergarten through 5th grade registered to vote in previous weeks. They were told that they must register ahead of time by the deadline to be eligible to vote in the election, just like grownups do.
They each brought their voter registration card to our voting precinct, and were checked against a master list of students to determine their identity and to prevent voter fraud.
After this, they were led into the voting booth area, and chose their votes privately. On the ballots, students voted for their presidential candidate, and teachers were also asked beforehand if they'd like to answer any other questions. We asked questions about students' favorite Special Areas classes (PE beat Library by one vote- I demanded a run off but was denied, sadly. Next time I'll have to campaign more), whether students would be interested in learning another language like Spanish (yes, our voters said!) and to assess questions like whether students participated in running club before school, or if they prefer recess after lunch.
Students submitted their votes into our ballot box. After voting, I asked second grader La'darius at the ballot box how he felt now that he was a real voter. "Better," he replied with a smile. After voting, each student received a "I voted!" sticker.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Stewart's TAG students finished their long day as pollworkers by counting and recounting the votes. We triple checked our scores, and the votes are in.
Check out this graph made by Jack in 5th grade for the results. In a landslide victory, Forest North students re-elected President Obama for 4 more years.

A special thanks to our pollworkers, Mrs. Stewart's students. They were excellent citizens, great role models, and very helpful to all of our students.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Phil Bildner's Writing Camp

Forest North was thrilled to receive Texas Bluebonnet Award winning author Phil Bildner direct from Brooklyn, New York, in the library. Phil led an intensive writing camp for 4th and 5th graders in two separate sessions. These smaller sessions allowed for a lot more individual attention from our honored guest. Phil encouraged the students to read to become better writers, and suggested some of his favorite recent books. He showed his progression as a writer from his childhood.
He showed how important it is to focus on getting things right, and how editing can make a huge difference. He then gave detailed examples on how students should visualize the scenes they're writing, focusing on tiny details and exploding the moment. His characteristic energy and charisma absolutely engrossed the students, as always. Phil was a school teacher in New York before he was a writer, and it shows. He has amazing technique in working with 21st century kids. Some students chose to buy a Phil Bildner book, and got it autographed by Phil and got a photo print from Mrs. Fournier.
All 4th and 5th graders were encouraged to submit a persuasive essay outlining why they should be chosen to receive a free signed book and eat lunch with Phil himself. It took many hours of careful study to find the top 4 winners of the essay contest. These well-written persuasive essays were read by 4 judges, and the winners were Rishi from 4th grade, and Cameron, Malikai & Mackenzie, all from 5th grade.
Since his visits, 4th grade teachers have employed his techniques and exercises and have continued them with their students. They've noticed a marked increased use of vivid, sensory imagery since his visit. Thanks so much for sharing your skills with us, Phil! We learned a lot, and had a lot of fun. Phil- if you keep writing, we'll keep reading. Deal?