Thursday, February 27, 2014

RRISD Battle of the Bluebonnets 3/20 @ England Elementary

After THREE tiebreakers, the final team for the RRISD Battle of the Bluebonnets has been determined.  Thank goodness, because I was running out of things I could ask questions about! These readers have far surpassed my personal knowledge of these twenty 2013-2014 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees! Their studying and re-reading has really paid off. I am hoping they can bring the traveling trophy back to Forest North for a second year in a row.  We'd be the first school to ever achieve a two year win!

2013-2014 BATTLE TEAM:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jane Goodall from "The Watcher" by Jeannette Winter, an Armadillo Readers Choice book

Hey, Kindergarten through second graders!  Remember the Armadillo Readers Choice book The Watcher by Jeanette Winter?  It was a biography of Jane Goodall- how she was interested in animals and science even as a child, and how she eventually came to work with chimps and discovered many things previously unknown to man about them!  Her dedication, patience and compassion has made a big difference to chimps around the world, and she's still making a difference. Check out this video of the real Jane Goodall at work.

Many K-2 classes are already done reading our 10 Armadillo Readers Choice books, and the library is in the midst of hosting Armadillo Voting Dance Parties!  Mrs. Fournier has already boogied down with 1st grade classes and many Kindergarten classes too.  Which book will win?  Only time will tell!  Check out all ten of our Armadillo Readers Choice books this year here.

Campus Battle of the Bluebonnets

Today is the Forest North Battle of the Bluebonnets!  My 10 amazing, dedicated, superstar readers will be competing for a chance to represent FNE (and hopefully bring the traveling trophy BACK to FNE for a second year in a row - an unprecedented feat!) Wish them luck- see you in the cafeteria today 1:40-2:40, Eagles.  The top 5 finishers will move onto the RRISD Battle on 3/20 at England Elementary.  Are are welcome to attend both events- parents included! If you see Ashlyn, Joeun, Abhigna, Deepak, Archita, Abiha, Madison, Ava, Natalie or Emory, please congratulate them on a job well done.  I'm so impressed with each of them and their commitment to hard work!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rainbow Reader Celebration

At the Forest North Library, students in Kindergarten and first grade check out books from the Everybody section- that includes picture books, “readers” that have limited vocabularies perfect for newly independent readers, and a selection of nonfiction books.
In first or second grade, students start focusing on these “readers” to increase reading comprehension, vocabulary and stamina.  These books are marked in the forest north library with dots on their spine.  

Green dot books are meant for the earliest of independent readers. They use picture clues and repetition to help new readers. They have lots of blank space to make words clearer, and simple vocabulary.  Examples are books by Dr. Seuss, or the “Elephant and Piggie” series by mo willems.

Blue dot books are still readers, with limited vocabulary, but are longer and more difficult versions of green dot books.  These readers usually have 3 chapters in each book, more complex words and concepts, have more words per page, and the words are in a smaller font.
Yellow dot books are readers but are real books (nonfiction).  The most popular yellow dot books are about animals (as pictured) or graphic novels, which are like extended comics, and are shelved as 741.5 according to the dewey decimal system.

In order to motivate our students to read books that are just right for them, and to meet each student’s varying reading needs, the rainbow reading challenge customizes a reading experience for each student.  Students will complete colored bookmarks (green, blue, yellow, and also red, which are chapter books novels written on a 2nd/3rd grade reading level).

Students have been oriented on the rainbow reading challenge in the library and have started checking out books already.  Students who finish 3 different bookmarks attend a rainbow reading challenge party, and are able to check out books anywhere in the library, because once they are able to read these kinds of books, they will be ready for more difficult fiction & nonfiction texts.

Please encourage your child to accomplish their reading rainbow challenge goals to increase their reading comprehension, vocabulary & stamina. The rainbow reading challenge also helps students learn how to find books in a library, how books are organized in a library, and how to use the dewey decimal system. It also exposes them to books they may have not noticed or read before. 

First grade has just started their challenge, but many second graders have already completed the challenge and are checking out books anywhere in the library.  Students that finished 3 or 4 bookmarks were invited to a special celebration in the library!  We ate rainbow sherbet, received prize packs with crazy straws, "gold coins" (the treasure at the end of the rainbow!), bracelets, and students who completed all 4 bookmarks received a free paperback book to keep! We had a blast at our Rainbow Celebration- hope to see many more students at the party next year as well.

VIP Bluebonnet Breakfast

We had 30 students attend the VIP Bluebonnet Breakfast this morning before school.  This was for 3rd graders who read 10 or more Bluebonnet nominees, and 4th & 5th graders who read 15 or more Bluebonnet nominees.  We made smoothies, enjoyed homemade muffins (Thanks Mrs. Vetter!), a granola bar & string cheese. It was delicious- special thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Conboy, and two Ms. Sandlers (Ryan's mom & grandmother!) for helping out.  Those fresh from the blender smoothies were delicious!

Congratulations. readers! Hope you had as much fun as I did at Cafe Bluebonnet.  Those of you who are in 3rd or 4th grade, I hope we have many more VIP Bluebonnet Breakfasts together! I will also miss those who had their third and final breakfast with me this year- can't believe how fast time flies.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Forest North Library was thrilled to present Lucas Miller, the Singing Zoologist, on Wednesday, 2/19, for all students, with financial assistance from the PTA & a grant from the Texas Commission of the Arts.

Lucas did two shows, for our younger and older students, that tied to our Science TEKs and entertained us all.  The show for the older students featured an amusing quiz show with questions about wetlands, endangered turtles, and the Texas Bluebonnet, our state flower.

After the performances, Mrs. Albin brought to me her students' Science writings, where they wrote about their favorite part of the Singing Zoologist's performance, and what they learned.  Mrs. Albin said there was much discussion on the spelling of the word "metamorphosis" among the students as it appeared in many of their essays.  What bravery!

Check out the video for general information on Lucas Miller, and give his YouTube channel a try for some songs we heard at our performances, but also some new material as well!  Thanks for a great day, Lucas Miller!

Texas Bluebonnet Award Announcements!

I'm proud to say we had 136 voters this year at Forest North for the Texas Bluebonnet Award!  In third place, with 17 votes was Ghetto Cowboy.  

Our 2nd place winner was Giants Beware with 21 voters. 

And our runaway winner at Forest North was Wonder by R.J. Palacio with 41 votes!

Our votes did not match up with the state!  We watched the special announcement (check it out here) when the winning books were announced, and I had to work hard at keeping a secret for over a week- I only knew because I'm on the Selection Committee.  My students were surprised but thrilled.  They love the nominees and enjoyed the winner.  Across the state, here's how things ended up.  With 19352 votes, Giants Beware was the 3rd place winner across Texas.  Wonder (our winner) won 2nd overall with 21,662 votes, and the winner... with 28,398 whopping votes was Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus.  Congratulations to John Grandits- I look forward to hearing you speak at the Texas Bluebonnet Award Luncheon in San Antonio in April!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Library News!

Hello Eagles.  I hope your fall semester was wonderful!  I had a great fall- Mrs. Vetter joined Team Library in September, and then we had our Reading Oasis Book Fair.  We had record breaking profits, and earned almost $1,400!  It was a big week for me- I was about ready to have a baby (you can probably tell that from the photo!)

Sure enough, shortly after, Harper Belle was born! I had a wonderful time at home with her and was so happy to know my library was in good hands with Mrs. Vetter.  It's not easy to go to work every day without her, but I love my job, and coming back to the students and staff I missed so much made it much easier.

I am now back in the library and hit the ground running.  Already we have finished our Texas Bluebonnet Award voting, and had a fun voting party on January 31st for 125 3rd-5th graders.  That's almost every student in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades participating! At our school, the winner was Wonder by RJ Palacio.  The statewide winner will be announced next Wednesday!

Earlier this week, 50 lucky Forest North readers, chosen from a random drawing, got to go to the brand new Round Rock Sports Center to hear R.J. Palacio, the author of Wonder, speak to us. What fun to have a library sponsored field trip & a great culmination of our yearlong initiative for this amazing book. It was a wonderful experience that reminded us all why we need to "choose kind," as the book teaches, and a great start to "Choose Kind" week here at FNE.

To kick off our Kindness Week, everyone on campus started this week by wearing blue - just like our special book Wonder.  Yesterday, we wore our pajamas as we dreamed of friendship, and today, everyone is wearing the same outfit as a friend for Twin Day!  I am dressed to match Mrs. Lajaunie!

I am currently in the middle of lots of projects, as always! The Armadillo Readers Choice Voting Parties with Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade are underway, the 2nd grade Rainbow Reading Challenge finale party is on 2/21, and I am starting book clubs with many grade levels. The VIP Bluebonnet breakfast, for students who read 10+ books in 3rd grade, or 15+ books in 14th or 5th grade, is on 2/21. The FNE Battle of the Bluebonnets is 2/25, and our RRISD Battle (where we will hopefully bring the traveling trophy back home!) is 3/20.

Many classes are coming in daily to get lessons - today I've already taught about coins to Kindergarten, homophones to third grade, technology then & now to 2nd grade (I love showing them old phones & computers!) and the Itsy Bitsy Spider to PreK.  Just another day in the library.  Thanks for welcoming me back with open arms, Eagles!  I missed you!