Yikes! It’s already here, the first week of school in the new year! It’s on Sunday mornings like these that I’m glad I have recorded my lesson plans and arranged them to be accessed weekly, because I sure need to be on autopilot when I get into work tomorrow. It seems that no matter how busy we’ve been during the fall and the weeks leading up to Christmas, when we get back from vacation teachers have a finite sense of what curricular objectives we have to meet before the end of the school year.
In the library, it’s a One-Two Punch because media specialists have their own curricular objectives and we’re often slammed with requests from a variety of sources. I’m not complaining because I’m glad that teachers and administrators come to us to support them. During the time that my district had librarians scheduled in each school only one day each week, librarians were off people’s radars. Now that I’m back at a high school four days each week, people are coming to the library more for resources and that’s a very good thing, as Our Lady of Domesticity, Martha Stewart, would say.
In the elementary school this week I’ll read the books I typically use when we start school in January and all of them are snow-related, which may not work for folks who live in areas with balmy weather. Too bad, really. The first book, “Snow,” by Roy McKie, is one of my favorite read-alouds because the first line on the first page of text is, “SNOW!” When I shout it, I usually shock the monkey poop out of at least a few kids who are mentally asleep in each class. This starts the entire reading off with kids paying attention, engaged and giggling. It also doesn’t hurt to have snow on the ground for the young ones to use to make personal connections with the text.
The last bit of the book describes the two main characters grabbing snowballs and loading them in their refrigerator to save for another day. I touch on some cross-curricular science by asking the classes to posit what would happen if we save our snowballs and took them out of the refrigerator next week? How about if we took them out in July? There’s a little part of me that wonders if one day someone will do just that and slam his older brother with a well-packed snowball in July when he’s least expecting it. So far, no complaints from parents.
One more point about the lesson plans: I use a SIOP template which contains a section to list Key Vocabulary words for each lesson. During the past several years that I’ve used this method of teaching, I have found that students learn about using the library much more quickly and are more comfortable with the language of books and the library. It’s so simple, and obvious in hindsight, but it really is a remarkable tool to focus students on what they are expected to learn in each lesson. I highly recommend it for all students, not only those who are English Language Learners (ELL).
To read more about SIOP, try this link as a starting point. For lesson plan templates and for more information, try this link to Pearson.