June 27, 2016

Building A Community of Readers with ThingLink

https://www.thinglink.com/edu

Have you used ThingLink?  Oh my goodness...it is the coolest and easiest tool for teachers. I just started playing around with it this summer and I have fallen in love. I'm still learning, but I wanted to share one project that I can't wait to use in my classroom.

What is ThingLink?

  • ThingLink is an interactive media platform that allows YOU to make an image interactive by adding video, links, comments, images, and more!
  • ThingLink works on the computer,  iPads, iPhones, and Androids.
  • ThingLink offers free education accounts for teachers and students!

 

Why do I love ThingLink?

  • It is super easy to use and fast!
  • You can create your own image in PowerPoint, upload, and add media anyway you want.
  • Teachers can quickly create an image embedded with all kinds of links and media clips. 
  • It's perfect for activities in Google Classroom. Just add your ThingLink and let kids click away.
  • Kids can explore a topic online in a safe (already approved by you) and fun way.
  • Easily embeds on webpages and blogs.  :)

https://www.thinglink.com/eduWhen you log in to your account, there are a ton of tutorial videos right at your fingertips. Literally, they are scrolling across the bottom of the screen.  There are, of course, endless possibilities for using this in the classroom, however, I want to focus on building my classroom reading community!

Building a community of readers is a top priority for me each year. One of the best ways to build a community of readers to talk, share, and generally be excited about books all the time. And what better way to get kids excited about books then incorporating a little bit of technology.

The librarian at my school does an incredible job promoting the Texas Bluebonnet Books each year and I love to jump on board. One of the things I love about this program is the variety of books that make the list. Because the list includes picture books, graphic novels, and chapter books on a range of levels, there really is a good for everyone.

To help my students learn more about the books, I created my first ThingLink. I linked each book to the book trailer.  This way students can watch 1-2 minute video to see if they are interested in reading that book.




I plan on making this one of my first assignments in Google Classroom. Students will be given some time to watch trailers and find 2-3 Bluebonnet Books they would be interested in reading.  I may even let them vote on one for a read aloud.

You could do this for any list of award books, your favorites, or have your students create a ThingLink with their favorites. You could add video, a 1-2 sentence summary, or quick review of the book. You could include videos from the author or a link to the author's website. Endless possibilities. All of which will spark conversation and sharing of books in your classroom.

Now that I am familiar with ThingLink, I can't wait to incorporate it in my classroom.

I used it to streamline my Fiction Friday Archive and I love it.



How would you or do you use ThingLink in the classroom? 

Teacher only creations or student creations too?  I'm sticking with teacher creations right now. Baby steps.

In addition to promoting reading and talking books, I have plans for a poetry Thinglink, an Alamo Thinglink, and an Author's Study Thinglink and some kind of biography project Thinglink. :)

Check out the ThingLink blog to learn more.

Oh...the possibilities...

June 24, 2016

Fiction Friday: Chapter 3

Welcome back to the third installment of Fiction Friday 2016 

The Chicken Edition



Normally, I share Children's Literature with you, but today I'm going to focus on Chicken Literature. That's right... chickens. It turns out there are an amazing amount of great books written for children involving chickens, two of which are on the Texas Bluebonnet list for the upcoming year, so I've been reading a lot of Chicken Lit lately.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

by Kelly Jones
https://www.amazon.com/Unusual-Chickens-Exceptional-Poultry-Farmer/dp/0385755554/ref=pd_sim_14_8?ie=UTF8&dpID=61gjlfEXo5L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR108%2C160_&refRID=ZEZEKB6E1PVJSR356KNB
Isn't that a terrific title? Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer -I  love it. Between the bright colors and intriguing title, this book is begging you to judge it by it's cover. You won't be disappointed.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has just moved to her deceased great uncle's farm and is disappointed with farm life.  There is not very much to do on the barren farm and being in a new place is isolating and lonely, especially when you don't look like everyone else. Then as luck would have it, Sophie discovers a rather unique chicken, who she names Henrietta.  Henrietta appears to have talents well beyond that of a normal chicken. She is indeed both unusual and exceptional and she's not the only one. As Great Uncle Jim's unusual chickens slowly return to the farm, Sophie takes them under her care. What she didn't expect was for someone to try and steal them! In her effort to protect her flock, Sophie finds her voice, makes new friends, and discovers she is part of the chicken community.

Written entirely through letters, quizzes, to-do lists, and a chicken care correspondence course this novel is an engaging and quick read. You will love Sophie from the beginning. She is refreshingly honest, smart, witty, and always true to herself.  The different styles of text help keep each new chapter fresh and the illustrations are perfect. They compliment the writing, both enhancing and bringing the story to life. This book would make a fun read aloud grades 2-4 and a great book club read for grades 4-6.  There is a lot of "meat" to this story.  It's not simply a book about a girl and her chickens.  I can't wait to see what my 4th graders make of it in the fall. I'm sure Sophie will steal their heart just like she stole mine.

Book Information:
  • Realistic Fiction (mostly)
  • Grades 3-6
  • 224 pages

The Chicken Squad

by Doreen Cornin

https://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Squad-First-Misadventure/dp/1442496770/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466718519&sr=1-1&keywords=the+chicken+squad+the+first+misadventure

I was thrilled to see that another Doreen Cronin novel made the Texas Bluebonnet list this year. She is GREAT and these crazy chickens are a hoot and a half. I love that it has developed into a whole series.

The Chicken Squad falls right in with this quirky fun series. Dirt, Sweetie, Poppy, and Sugar are solving their own mystery this time. What the heck is the not-so-brave squirrel afraid of??  Told through hilarious dialogue and illustrations, this lightning fast read will leave you with a huge smile on your face.  

Meant as an emerging chapter book for young readers, everyone will enjoy it and older readers will get all the well-timed humor. It would make a great read aloud and with only 92 pages you will be done in no time at all.  You can read about another great chicken adventure, the book that started it all, The Trouble with Chickens here. Also, look out for more books in this series. Into the Wild and The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken both came out in paperback in May 2016.

Book Information:
  • Mystery
  • Grades K-5
  • 92 pages
  • Lexile Measure 410L

Love, Ruby Lavender

by Deborah Wiles

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Ruby-Lavender-Deborah-Wiles/dp/0152054782/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466719217&sr=1-1&keywords=love+ruby+lavender+by+deborah+wiles
Love, Ruby Lavender is an older book (published 2005), but a wonderful book that I simply couldn't leave off the list. Have you already read it? It's another chicken lit book filled with chicken thieves, letters, friendship, forgiveness, and hope.

Ruby Lavender and Miss Eula are a dynamic grandmother and granddaughter team who also happen to be chicken thieves. Of course, it was more of a rescue mission than a chicken-napping. :) These two are the best of friends, but when Miss Eula leaves for Hawaii to see her new grand baby and mourn the loss of her husband, Ruby is all by herself in the small town of Halleluia, Mississippi.  In a story of loss, friendship, growing up, and letting go and moving on, Love, Ruby Lavender will stick with you long after you have put the book down. A great independent read or book club selection for grades 4-6.


Book Information:
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Grades 4-7
  • 228 pages
  • Lexile Level 570L
  • Guided Reading Level U

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken

by Kate DiCamillo & Harry Bliss

https://www.amazon.com/Louise-Adventures-Chicken-Kate-DiCamillo/dp/0060755547
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you already know that I have a soft spot in my heart for Kate DiCamillo. She is my writing hero and Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken did not disappoint. Beautifully crafted and illustrated, I love this book!

Louise is not your ordinary chicken.  She longs for adventure and leaves home to venture out into the world. She finds a boat full of pirates and a big top with a high wire. She meets a mysterious stranger in a bazaar and always seems to find herself in a little bit of trouble. However, imminently brave and a little bit clueless, Louise finds her way home where she dreams the dream of a true adventure. Bursting with themes of courage, perseverance, the warmth of home and the power of storytelling, this a picture book every teacher should have on their shelves.

Book Information:
  • Picture Book
  • Grades K and up
  • 56 pages
  • Lexile Level AD620L

 

Finally, I couldn't wrap up a Chicken Lit post without at least mentioning these next two books. They are great for all ages and fun for teachers and parents to read aloud.


https://www.amazon.com/Interrupting-Chicken-David-Ezra-Stein/dp/0763641685

Little Chicken is ready for his bed time story, but Papa Chicken has a hard time getting through a story without Little Chicken interrupting. Just Hilarious!

https://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Big-Keith-Graves/dp/1452131465

On a tiny little farm, one chicken lays a very big egg and out hatches...well, something, but it couldn't be a chicken, could it? Chicken Big follows the story of a group of clueless chickens that try to figure out their new family member. Great illustrations that are bursting with personality and speech bubbles. Fun book!

**********

I guess I had never thought about the sheer number of incredible books written about chickens. What are some of your favorites? Have you read any of the ones above?  Please share your thoughts and recommendations!

Don't forget to click through all the links to discover more great books or link up to add your own favorites and new discoveries to the list. They do not have to be chicken related. :)

http://theteachingthief.blogspot.com/p/fiction-friday_6.html

When linking up, please remember to grab the Fiction Friday button and link back to my blog. Also, please choose an image of a book you blogged about for the link.

Thank you and happy reading!