Monday, June 25, 2012

Gamifying Dewey

Yeah! Using manipulatives, technology, and their brains, my fourth graders investigated Dewey categories, made their argument for when they disagreed with the system, and had fun.

Step 1: Investigate Categories

I set the students loose in the 500s, 600s, 700s, and 900s, the sections with the most books and the most nonfiction circulations. Working in groups, they selected a variety of books on different topics from their assigned 100s ... and then tried to figure out just what their category was. We entered some of the topics into Wordle for visual hints.

Step 2:  Assign Categories to Topics

The next week, we reversed the process. Each table received a stack of cards* with information like "You want to find crafts to make at your birthday party" and "You want to find a map of Japan." Students worked together to figure out where they'd go to find the information and paste them into the correct column of their "gameboard."

There were some heated discussions. Where would cats go versus tigers and lions? What about the history of dinosaurs? Even if students didn't put a card in the right column, they got credit for having a good reason for choosing the one they selected. We don't all think the same way as Melvil Dewey!

Step 3: Review and Learn the Rest 

The final week of the unit, students played a variety of games to test their knowledge and stretch to learn more 100s categories. The name the numbers game, pictured below, was scored and timed, which spurred the kids to try and beat other people's scores. One student came back the following week and asked if he could try and make up for his "epic fail" the time before. Another student remarked, "If you're going to fail, you might as well do it epically." I am happy to say that T. blew away everyone else's stats his second time around. I wonder if he was practicing at home??
Review Quiz


Matching Books to 100s - Easy
Matching Books to 100s - Medium
MatchingBooks to 100s - Hard

Name the numbers

Multiple Choice

* Sources: Anne Oelke via LMNet for the cards in Step 2 and for some of the links in Step 3.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's Good to Be Curious

This makes me so happy. If I end up with elementary students again in the fall, I may use it to kick off the year.

Added to test from school computer and see if it will play:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kids' Graphic Novels 101

The Mock Newbery group is taking a break from 2013 contenders this time around, and we're getting a crash course in kid-friendly (with a couple YA thrown in) graphic novels from Emily Brown. I'll be adding to the list below as I get through her list; favorites are at the top.

Bake SaleBake Sale by Sara Varon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH I CRIED. I was so proud of Cupcake's entrepreneurship and so touched by his sacrifice for his friend. And then his little blueberry hat ...

Fangbone! Third-Grade BarbarianFangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My students would LOVE this ... fresh words, fighting, camel gloobers, poop. I enjoyed it myself. Laughed out loud at the "magic word," "It's my culture," and "Evil is stupid."

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated CartoonistsNursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists by Chris Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This will now be the book that every new baby I know receives as a gift. I loved the variety of art styles.

Binky the Space CatBinky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the graphic style right off ... it was kind of Goreyesque. And the onomatopoeia on every page was awesome. Super cute story, although my logical brain was hurt by the fact that Binky's little box was just NOT big enough to hold a rocket! There is some disbelief I cannot suspend.

The Flying Beaver Brothers And The Evil Penguin PlanThe Flying Beaver Brothers And The Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very cute ... I felt like I was watching a silly cartoon. The sound effects are the best: Flarp! Boosk!

MeanwhileMeanwhile by Jason Shiga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would have liked it better if I didn't keep getting stuck in infinite loops!

SidekicksSidekicks by Dan Santat
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dan Santat, have you seen the movie "Mystery Men"? Because your plot makes me think so. I was yet again confused by fight scenes, and I am not sure where that peanut came from, but I did enjoy this RICBA nominee. Predict that I will need to buy extra copies in the fall to keep up with demand.

Hamster and CheeseHamster and Cheese by Colleen AF Venable
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I guess I do better with early elementary graphic novels! This was easy to follow, dialogue-driven, and funny. The fish were my favorite characters. Or were they zebras? I did find Mr. V's complete lack of animal knowledge kind of unnecessary.

The Shark KingThe Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say the story itself is a little creepy. But I loved the art ... it looked "Hawaiian" ... and I look forward to checking out more Toon Books. Thanks, Candlewick!

Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians)Hades: Lord of the Dead by George O'Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

O'Connor packed in A LOT ... maybe too much? Or maybe not ... it lends itself to rereading, especially after you go through the notes at the end. Very well researched with interesting back matter. And a twist that I kind of liked but also found slightly distasteful. But not as gross as all of the incest! I kind of wish I hadn't studied the family tree in the front. I will definitely read other volumes in the series.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside ShortyYummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have trouble appreciating graphic novels, because I find the graphics distracting, and this one was especially so. I couldn't tell who was who in some of the panels.

The topic is sobering. I learned that because at the time (1990s) kids couldn't be convicted of felonies, gangs would send their youngest members out to do a lot of the dirty work. Kids. Like 10 year olds. Kids who slept with teddy bears at night. And of course, a lot of those kids came from shitty homes, and joined the gangs because they wanted to have some semblance of a family.

I wasn't crazy about the book, but I do think it has value and could lead to some interesting classroom discussions, especially the part where different people around the neighborhood gave their different opinions based on what they knew about Yummy. That aspect reminded me of the testimony in "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers.

Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the EarthLeo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth by Jon Chad
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The layout was "groundbreaking" (get it?), but overall this book is an odd mix of random science facts and monsters.

Zita the SpacegirlZita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reminded me of both The Wizard of Oz and Doctor Who. I have trouble following graphic novels ... the fight scenes were very confusing.

Around the WorldAround the World by Matt Phelan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kind of dry and detached. Unclear where he was using verbatim quotes ... I would have liked some more notes at the end. The last story was the most unfocused; the wife dreams were too conceptual for me. But randomness was everywhere. For example, on p. 135, Nellie Bly went to a leper colony and then had a headache. WTF?

One thing I learned: bikes costs #110 in the 1880s! That's crazy!

Giants Beware!Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

In the words of Blaine and Antoine ... HATED IT! Claudette is a bloodthirsty liar. There is too much dog mess and foot stinkiness ... Fangbone did grossout humor way better. I was not charmed. I was not amused. I want to know more about Juliette the mom, how Augustine knew the hag, and where Zubair came from ... but not enough to read any more of the Chronicles of Claudette.

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