Thank You Energy United!

We were just awarded our third grant this year! Thank you to Energy United for our Bright Ideas grant. In addition to the grant (as if that is not enough!), we were also honored at a nice luncheon and even got the awesome big check! We will be using this to expand our Bag of Books program into grades 3-5! Here is a photo of me with the big check just because it is fun, (but I can’t for the life of me get it to turn the right way even though it is the right way in the file, so just tilt your head!)

grant 2015

Infographics Rock!

Our district held a conference this summer and one of the sessions I attended was about infographics. We learned about several different sites but the first one that I was able to confirm was ok to use with elementary students and figure out how to use was We have just used the free portion, but are looking into purchasing the pro version (if I get the grant I wrote)! The first class I used it with was 4th grade AIG working on various natural disasters. I was amazed at how fast they picked it up and how different each one turned out. We did have a few glitches and some trouble with logging in one day, but other than that it was great. The kids loved it and have been asking about using it again. I hung up printouts of the finished product and have had teachers already asking me about doing something with it with their classes and have a 5th grade already signed up to use it in conjunction with Native American research. Here are some of them working on it. (We used Britannica’s Image Quest for the photos and it was such a good resource as well.)

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Thank you Grants for Innovative Teaching!

We received a $500 Clinard grant to help us move our Bag of Books program forward. Thank you to the folks at the Forsyth Educational Partnership for helping us bring literacy home to the kids! Congrats to the other recipients as well!

Snip Snap

In starting off the year with 1st graders, I wanted to combine some fiction/nonfiction discussions with some research. Our school mascot is the crocodile, but I had more alligator fiction books that I wanted to use, so we did alligators because it was pretty close. (We did talk about how alligators and crocodiles are different animals though!)

The first week, we read Snip Snap What’s That and A Girl and Her Gator. After talking about the different points of view between the two books, the students chose if they would want an alligator or not and why. Then, they wrote why and drew a picture to support their answer.


The books we read.


I would like an alligator. Because I would watch tv with her.


I would not like an alligator. Alligators look weird.


I would like an alligator because it will help me read a book. And I get to name him Joanna.


I would like an alligator. Because he would be my friend.

The following week, we reviewed the Super 3 and read about real alligators. I modeled and then they wrote three things they learned about alligators with pictures to support their statements. We have been talking a lot about how the pictures need to show what the words say, so if you are talking about their teeth, your picture needs to show their teeth.


Alligators have sharp teeth. Alligators can swim. Alligators can walk.


They have sharp teeth. They have scales. They have look like logs.


Alligators sharp teeth. Alligators eat fish and turtles. Alligators have long tails.

Bees Super 3

I wanted to go ahead and do a little bee research with my Kinders in preperation for pumpkin research in a few weeks so I can tie the two together. This year I decided to try something a little different with the “do” step of the Super 3, and had the students draw and label a bee after we read a nonfiction book about bees. We talked about how you can gather information from pictures as well as the text, then we drew and labeled the bee together as we talked about the different parts. As usual, here are some of their bees!


This is the one I did with them to model.

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About Me Text Features

I needed a lesson that could only last one class period with 3rd graders at the beginning of the year. I was covering a class for guidance, so I couldn’t make it a more involved project. In 2nd grade last year, we talked a lot about text features and I wanted to review it with them this year in 3rd grade. An About Me text feature portrait is what I came up with. I asked them for various text features like labels, a fact box, and a timeline, and then let them be creative with it. Here are some of the results:


This was my example for the students.

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Welcome Library Sparks readers!

Welcome to all my regular readers and an extra hello to anyone visiting after reading my article in Library Sparks! Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you will keep reading! (You can find some of my earlier ideas at my first blog at as well.)

Some of you that subscribe to Library Sparks may have noticed my name in the table of contents starting in the August/September issueIn that issue, I had an article about technology you can do today without much fancy equipment, just plain computers. It also had the first Tips from the Trenches that I wrote. I will be writing the Tips from the Trenches section for the foreseeable future, so be sure you check out that section! If you don’t already subscribe but have thought about it, you might want to take advantage of the free issue offer and try it out. 

Let me know what you think of my tips and if you have any great tips you would like to share!