Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday Book Review: The Glassmaker's Daughter by Dianne Hofmeyr

Book Review: The Glassmaker's Daughter by Dianne Hofmeyr

Hofmeyr, Dianne, and Jane Ray. The Glassmaker's Daughter. Frances Lincoln Childrens Books, 2017.

Recommended age: 5 - 8 years old

This is a beautifully illustrated book, about Daniela, who is always grumpy. 

The story is based in 16th-century Venice, and tells of prominent glassmakers of the time. It includes a short note at the beginning about glassmaking in 16th-century Venice. 

Her father decides to build a palace out of glass for the one who can make her smile. 

Many from far and wide try to build her glass objects to make her smile. 

And still she is not happy! 

One succeeds and makes a very special type of glass. Read to find out! 

This book is gorgeous, however, I did not like the ending where the type of glass that makes her smile is a mirror. As I teach children and have a daughter of my own, I don't like perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are only what they look like. Other reviewers see it as finding joy from within, and I think that would have to be directly pointed out for most children to understand. 

I think it might be a good addition to an art project on glassmaking, as it does show different items that can be made of glass. I would also have the students write alternate endings, and let the students share their own creativity. Perhaps the alternate ending could be a project with the librarian or language arts teacher, the glass making could be with the art teacher; and a collaborative gallery walk could be the culminating project. 

Thanks for reading! Share your ideas in the comments!

Keep researching,
Mrs. Thakkar

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Take Note: How do you teach note taking?

How do you teach note taking? 

I usually don't teach it very well, assuming many things from the students. And then getting bogged down in: "but I don't know how to spell/read/ can I take notes?" 

As I was reading through the new AASL Standards, I was using post-its and underlining. I was going to have a Kindergarten class and wanted to start using my learning ASAP...whether I had really thought it through or not...

As I read, I made this table:

School Librarian Professional
School Libraries Space
Prior and background knowledge

Generate products

Feedback on products

Seek and engage knowledge
Real world connections

Of course, then I found this: AASL Learner Framework Spread. Way prettier, but only learners. I will be working on mine, but onward and upward. I wanted to start students on questioning and SLOWING down when reading. I knew note-taking would help with this. 

In my kindergarten class, I showed them my actual book - with all my post-its, flags, underlines, etc. 

Then I opened to one of the post-its, and read it to them. 

I read several to show how I took notes on my thinking - what I wondered, what I needed to go back to, etc.  

This is what this whole lesson is based on - they know how to formulate questions - talk to any Kindergartener and they will exhaust you with their questions. 

But, how to find the answers, how to share those answers, how to grow from that and apply it to their learning and understanding of the world? 

Big questions for little people.

I explained that I was going to give them 2 post-its when they checked out. Once they checked out, they were to read their book and write down EITHER a question they wondered or a word they didn't know. I modeled questions versus words. 

Then they were to copy *the exact same thing* onto the other post-it. One post-it stayed in the book, one post-it went on our Take Note poster. 

The next week, I asked them to do the same thing, but this time we would organize our thoughts. I showed them my standards book again, and I explained that I had a "code" - different post-its/colors/types meant different things. 

My code:
if it was red, that meant STOP and think, find out more. 
If it was yellow - SLOW down, reflect.
If it was green - GO, try / use this idea!

I explained to the kids that I would have 2 colors of post-its out this time - pink and yellow. Pink was for questions and yellow was for words. Then I took one of each color - on the pink post-it I drew a question mark. On the yellow post-it, I wrote the word "Words." I took 2 poster papers and labelled each. Now when they checked out, they started reading first. Then they chose a post-it to write on. Of course, some kids did yellow and pink, some did 2 pink, etc., but that's the point right? We don't just take one note! They also did it twice again - one to keep and one to put on their poster. 
Note: If they had not brought their book, they STILL got to do the activity, they knew to return the book at the end in the designated place. They still fully get to check out, read, and take part, but still take responsibility and have to return at the end of the class period.

When we come back from the holidays, my plan is to give them a bookmark - one side will say Words and the other side will have a ? at the top. They can take notes as they go along and then we can try to find out answers to our questions and look up our words in dictionaries. We'll see how it goes! 

Thanks for reading! Share your ideas in the comments!

Keep researching,
Mrs. Thakkar

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Monarch 2018 Nominee: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Barnett, Mac, and Jon Klassen. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole. Somerville, Candlewick Press, 2014.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is one of the nominees for the Monarch Award this year. Somehow, I had NEVER read this book!

I decided to read it to my 2nd group students, and had a great time learning the story with the kids. I also want to encourage them to read for pleasure, so the first time, we simply read the story and talked about it.

The next library class, I asked students to retell the story, we watched a video of a child reading the story, and then I had students write how they felt / what they thought when they heard the story. Were there any connections to their own life? Had they ever dug a hole before?

I really wasn't sure what to expect, and wanted to give students time to absorb and reflect on the story. They gave me all kinds of connections and we put up their writing around the library!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monarch 2018 Nominee: I'm Trying to Love Spiders

Barton, Bethany. I'm Trying to Love Spiders: (it Isn't Easy). New York, Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2015.

I'm Trying to Love Spiders is one of the nominees for the Monarch Award this year.

To continue our learning about the Monarch Awards, I read it to my 2nd group students, and had a great time learning the story with the kids. I also want to encourage them to read for pleasure, so the first time, we simply read the story and talked about it.

The next library class, I asked students to retell the story, and explained that we were going to research different types of spiders. I had pulled about 15 books on spiders and put 2 or 3 at each table. After reading and explaining each part of the report form, I gave each student a report form and let them look through the books and find facts. Of course, one book was probably not enough to find all the facts they needed! So the following week, we discussed sources.

On the board, I had the following questions:
What is a source?
Is the iPad a source?

We discussed each and then we searched in our  subscribed databases, GoGrolier and DK Find Out to try and find the missing facts. We also then discussed that sometimes I can't find it in the source, and I need to go find others. The discussion and subsequent research was so interesting!

I am thinking about reading Give Bees a Chance, also by Bethany Barton, along with Thank You Bees to start some November Thankful activities! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Welcome back 2017-2018!

It has been an exciting summer and I have started at my new school! I am now the school librarian at The Avery Coonley School, an independent, private, gifted school in the suburbs of Chicago. I have been busy introducing myself and learning about the school, students, staff, and curriculum, along with the parents and the things that make ACS special!

To share about myself and have a quick display, I am having my students make this: I show them my ABC book and we learn about some of my favorites, including how much I love hugs! I now get hugs every time I walk down the hall, how can you beat that?

To get my Kinders started in checking out, we are exploring and practicing.

Starting in October, we will checkout, and I will send home a bookmark for the kids to color and help remind themselves and their families to be kind to their library book.

Want the printable?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What a Busy Year in the Library!

If you haven't already, be sure to advocate for your library and library program! A quick and fun way to advocate is using an infographic! I used to make an infographic. Go to, click on Create a design. Then scroll down to Blogging and eBooks. Click Infographic. Change/add how you like! Check mine out: What a Busy Year in the Library! You can also click use as template and change my library's info to yours! Be sure to send it to your principal and parent leaders to remind them all the wonderful things you do!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Using Primary Sources: On the right track... NYT is doing something similar to build Visual Thinking Skills!

Have you seen the New York Times new feature? It's called  What’s Going On in This Picture? 

It has people look at a photo, guess what's going on, and comment. Then NYT posts what it really is and they all discuss how the lack of captions or background knowledge hurts our overall understanding of the picture. They call it Visual Thinking Strategies, or VTS

It looks something like this:

Funnily enough, on May 7th, my Google Classroom Assignment was: What Happened to Tara? 

The students are shown a picture of my daughter and are given a list of questions to help them Observe, Reflect, and Question. This is to help them think critically about what they see and what the picture may be. These questions are from the Library of Congress Primary Sources Analysis Tool. If you have not used this tool with students, I highly recommend you try it. I actually learned about it 3 years ago, but still go to it as a great way to break down being thoughtful and giving students a framework to break down details and look at sources (visual and otherwise) through different lenses. I also think the inclusion of my daughter gave them the motivation to look closely. 

Then I am planning on sharing an old advertisement I found on the LOC Primary Sources site, to connect to their current curriculum unit on advertising! Can't wait to see what they come up with! 

What happened to Tara?

Think about the following (Observe, Reflect, and Question):
Where does your eye go first?
What are the key details?
What do you notice first?
Find something small but interesting. 
What do you notice that you didn’t expect? 
What do you notice that you can’t explain? 
What do you notice that you didn’t earlier?

Why do you think she is dressed like this?
What do you think was happening when she got ready?
What would you do differently? 

What do you wonder about... who? • what? • when? • where? • why? • how?

Be creative! I can't wait to read more!

They were given a choice:
Look at the picture. Write your own story, Powtoon, or Slides eBook - what happened to Tara? 

Then I listed out the Observe, Reflect, and Question prompts, and gave them time to work on it. I now have some of their work! 

These are students who made Slides:


This great story beginning...garlic bread trees?? This kid may know me...

And finally, maybe this student knows me too well? =)

The Powtoons are taking a bit longer, but I'll post them if they finish soon! 

Next week: Book Fair! Ahhhhh!!!

Then I am planning on sharing an old advertisement I found on the LOC Primary Sources site, to connect to their current curriculum unit on advertising! Can't wait to see what they come up with! Don't forget, try it out with primary grades too!

Source: Ramsey & Brother. [Advertisement. 18]. 1800. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed May 17, 2017.)

Thanks for reading!
Want more info on the Primary Sources? Let me know in the comments! 

I would love to hear how it's going and would love to hear your wonderful ideas also! 

Keep reading!

Mrs. Thakkar