Friday, March 29, 2019

New Pinterest Board

This is sort of a Public Service Announcement, letting those of you who frequent the Pinterest page for the Doucette Library, that I’ve added one more.

The latest addition is for Social and Emotional Learning, K-3.  Both Paula (co-worker) and I have been fielding a few more questions and requests for picture books that touch on these topics.  We’ve also noticed a few more lists of picture books focused on these areas appearing lately, too.

The Pinterest boards that I’ve set up, typically are of books and resources found in the Doucette Library. This ensures that student-teachers will be able to track down those resources, specifically.

I went to Alberta Education’s website to see how they were defining this kind of learning and decided to base my selection of books on this. The Overview framed social-emotional learning as working with others, building resiliency, achieving goals, and reducing bullying.  They’ve highlighted five competencies that connect to social-emotional learning, too and include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.  There are many concepts that fall into these competencies as well such as empathy, mindfulness, managing stress, communication skills, and conflict resolution to name a few.  These are some of the terms that helped me frame my selection of picture books for this board.

Here’s the link for this board

Pinterest : Social and Emotional Learning, K-3

Let me know what you think or if you have some recommendations. I'm adding to this daily as new titles pop into my head.  I'd love to have some input.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spinning, flipping and popping to learn

A couple of nonfiction books that recently caught my eye are from the publisher 360 degrees. What I liked their approach to lift-the-flap books for older kids. 

In Focus: Close-ups, Cutaways, Cross Sections, 10 Illustrators created by Libby Walden is a general information book that covers a range of topics from both the natural and human-made worlds in a unique way.  Each double spread focuses on a theme providing a random but interesting selection of facts about the creatures or things represented. These two pages then fold out to a four page spread to take the reader even deeper into the facts.

For example, the first spread is about the ocean. Featured are various sea creatures such as the blue whale, sea horse, puffer fish, swordfish, jellyfish and starfish, to name a few. We learn a pertinent fact or two about the animals from the front pages such as the blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on the planet and typically lives between 80 to 90 years.  Or that starfish are not fish and though commonly seen with 5 arms they can have as many as 40. Or that jellyfish have been around more than 650 million years!  Flipping open the top pages, we see cross sections of the animals exposing their skeletons and internal organs. From here, there is more detailed information. Did you know that the heart of the blue whale is the size of a small car weighing in at 770 kg or 1550 lbs? Amazing.

Topics covered are: the physical structure of homes found worldwide, space and space vehicles, international landmarks, various plants, animals and geological features, everyday objects, well-known buildings from around the world, fruits and vegetables, land animals and modes of transportation.  Wide ranging, indeed.

The second book is Wilderness: an Interactive Atlas of Animals by Hannah Pang. This one also uses flaps, pop ups and spinning wheels to engage readers about an array of animals from all continents both land and water.

The formats are the draw here and there are many of these kinds of trivia/random information books out there.  The illustrations are well done and support the informational tidbits.

I see these as interesting resources for classrooms but not necessarily crucial.  These books will appeal to some kids  and could be used in centres or for individual reading time. Elementary and middle grade students are the best audience for these books.

Monday, March 18, 2019

What Goes Around Comes Around

I’ve just been working my way through a cart of new books to be added to the Doucette Library’s collection and really enjoyed, Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper.

It’s a wonderful example of a circular story that leaves the reader feeling content that everything has a time and place and things will end up as they should.

So, there’s a little boy named Boo with a little blue chair that is very much part everything he does in a day – sitting for reading and eating both inside and out, playing and even sleeping.  But when he out grows his chair, his mother places the chair on the curb with a note to offering it to someone else.

We follow the chair’s journey to various homes, having varying purposes and living with several people who make use of the chair.  It has a very rich and varied life, if chairs have lives, from the exotic to the mundane, traveling over land, sea and air, ‘working’ in a carnival, as a seat for riding an elephant, a bird feeder, a plant stand and a child’s chair.

But, circumstances allow for the chair to serendipitously arrive at the door of a man named Boo who thinks this chair looks kind of familiar.

The illustrations have a simple, old-fashion feel to it with a muted palette of colours. The book conveys a more practical sensibility rather than nostalgic about the ever changing purpose of this particular chair. It's a good thing that this chair changes hands and remains useful rather than being discarded or kept to become clutter.

This would make a great read aloud for grades Kindergarten to grade 2 or 3. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Animals + Technology = Perfect STEM Connections

Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals
by Nancy Furstinger is the perfect book for middle grade STEM classes.

It combines true stories of animals of varying species with mobility issues with stories of technology and science that provide second chances for these same animals.
Typically, the reader is given a quick synopsis of how the animal came to have their problem and then a much more detailed description of how people have figured out ways to make the animals mobile once more.

The stories focus on a range of typical farm animals including sheep, goats, cows, horses, pigs to family pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs to much more exotic creatures such as elephants, an eagle, a llama, dolphins, an alligator, a Sandhill crane and turtles. Some have been born with impediments, and others subjected to human cruelty or an accident that left them physically impaired.

With the help of many kind people who take in these animals their lives are greatly improved when doctors, vets, scientists, engineers, companies that design mobility devices for pets become involved.  It’s fascinating to hear what goes into making these kinds of devices, everything from leg and feet/hoof prosthetics and orthotics to wheelchairs, mobile slings, moving tails, beaks, and shells. As you would expect, technology plays a huge part in this from basic designs and DIY supplies all the way up to high tech solutions like 3D printing and implants.

This is an inspiring book as we learn about the indomitable spirits of impaired and hurt animals to the loving people who take them in to the creative people who come up with the myriad of ways to improve their quality of life.

Recommended for middle grade animal lovers and STEM-based learners.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Guest blogger - Coding, Ed Tech and Making: Some new reads

Today's blog is written by my colleague, Paula Hollohan, the Doucette Library's Instructional Technologies and Information Specialist.  She's just refreshed herself by browsing through some of the Doucette Library's recent additions. Her focus is on books with a strong connection to STEM topics.

By Paula Hollohan

Even though I work full time in a library, it seems the minutes I get to spend with new books must be intentional and sometimes a bit rushed.  I would love to curl up in a chair with a cart of books beside me to savour new samplings for the collection.

As things are unusually quiet on the desk today, I can take a moment to look at what is new and cool in the areas that I spend the most time with.

My favourite book of the new batch is The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague, written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley.  

The subject of this nonfiction picture book is Raye Montague, one of the many hidden figures whose innovation changed the way navy ships are built.  She overcame exceptional odds being a black woman in the 1950s to design, in 1971, the FFG-7 Frigate.  Using her own computer programs, she completed the design of the frigate in 18 hours and 26 minutes.  The accompanying notes, bibliography and time line, all contribute to the wealth of information in this book.  The big problem I have with it is that it is written in verse.  What a shame.  The story would stand better is some well-written prose to showcase the power of her accomplishments.  This book can be included in classrooms up to grade 6 as students learn how to write biographical information, consider time lines of famous people, and collect biographic research about historical figures and just for students to ponder the strength and tenaciousness of this intelligent woman.

Doll-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey would be a great book to have in your classroom.

From grades K-3, girls will recognize the pressure (sometimes from parents) to play with dolls but our main character, Charlotte, incorporates her “making” into traditional play.  Charlotte is a maker and a tinkerer.  Although her house seems full of opportunities for her to indulge her maker imagination, Charlotte’s mother gives her a doll.  Just a doll.  It says “mama.”  As Charlotte puts her mind to it, knowing that a doll who talks must also have a power supply, she unleashes her “making” and inventions and innovations ensue.

Two books have recently come in that would be great “browsers” to have in your classroom to spur students on to learn about innovative ideas.

Engineered!Engineering Design at Work: A fun exploration of nine amazing feats by Shannon Hunt and James Gulliver Hancock looks at 9 different amazing feats of engineering from the following fields: aerospace, biomedical, chemical, mechanical, electrical, civil, geomatics, computer and environmental engineering.  Examples like the Millau Viaduct, a traffic problem solving bridge that was built on time and on budget and solved a major traffic issue in France.  The innovative design is an engineering feat and a work of art. 

InnovationNation: How Canadian innovators made the world …smarter, smaller, kinder,safer, healthier, wealthier, happier by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins, illustrated by Josh Holinaty would also provide a great browsing experience in any classroom.  Pages 124-125 give a two page spread on “How you can be an innovator,”  listing ways to inquire, ideate, incubate and implement ideas and what steps to take within each action to be the best innovator ever.  I also loved reading about the invention and pick up of JAVA script and the plastic garbage bad and something known as the “shrouded tuyere,” a way to stir steel invented by Robert Lee who came up with the idea after tooting in the bathtub.  Innovation is everywhere.  Both these books would be valuable in middle grades.

And now about that edict to have your students coding from k-12.  There are some easy ways to get students coding in your classroom but what if one of the ways was to read a picture book.  How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios is not an excellent picture book but does present the ideas and vocabulary that are foundational in coding and anchors it to a familiar activity, building a sandcastle.  Look for working definitions of sequence, loops, and “if-then-else” statements.  Having one of these books in your collection is plenty and this one does the job.  Keep this one to the early grades.

Get Coding! LearnHTML, CSS, and JAVAscript and build a website, app and game by Young Rewired State is an attractive sort of book of challenges where you work through various coding recipes to make a website, app and a game.  This book would be great in a classroom where every year now you will be able to reach some of your students through these coding challenges.  Now, keep in mind, that coding books like this are awesome usually for a short time so buy it now and use it.  In September Get Coding2 is coming out and will be full of new challenges. I would say to start kids in grade 3 with these tasks and use this book through grade 9 or 10.

Sometimes when I am looking for a new approach to educational technology I fall back on an old library habit.  See what the new books look like and how can they be used to engage students in new ed tech challenges.  This list has a little something for everyone.  They will be included in the Doucette collection later this week for your use.  And I do feel a sense of renewal now that I have touched a few new books.

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