Friday, April 25, 2008

Extra! Extra!

By far the most popular book that we've read so far during National Poetry Month festivities has been Yael Schy and David M. Schwartz's Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed... and Revealed. This engrossing book pairs poems about different animals with gorgeous photographs of each animal camouflaged in its habitat. Emerson students have loved the challenge of guessing the animal using clues from the poems, spotting the clever camouflage, and then learning neat facts about the animals. (Did you know that weasels eat half their weight daily and that crab spiders change their colors based on the flowers of the season?)

It was hard to surpass the thrill of this book, but we managed... with amazing news! David M. Schwartz will be coming to Emerson on May 16th! Want to know more?

Schwartz is the author of How Much is a Million? and almost 50 other books, including If You Made a Million, G is for Googol, Q Is for Quark, If You Hopped Like a Frog, and the “Look Once, Look Again” science series. His latest book is Where In the Wild? A popular speaker for children and educators, Schwartz emphasizes the importance of mathematics in everyone’s life, and the many connections between math, science and literacy.

“Children love numbers,” Schwartz says, “and when they see how numbers connect to their everyday lives, they can get really excited about math.” At schools, he uses amusing props to make mathematical concepts come alive as he leads his audience on a fascinating journey through a world where mathematics opens doors to understanding the world.

In his presentations, as in his books, Schwartz is both entertaining and educational. His assembly programs often leave children laughing, even screaming, with excitement. Teachers comment that students are inspired in both math and writing. With his insights on linking math and science with literature, Schwartz has often been invited to be a keynote speaker at conferences for teachers, librarians and other educators all over the United States. He has spoken at hundreds of schools around the world.

Since its publication in 1985, Schwartz’s first book, How Much Is A Million?, has become a classic of children’s mathematical literature. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg, it has won many awards and was featured on Public Television’s “Reading Rainbow.” It was a main selection of the Children’s Book of the Month Club. Inspired by Schwartz’s book, children in hundreds of schools have undertaken projects based on the number 1,000,000 (one million). At some schools and public libraries, children have attempted to read a million pages and have gained local or national fame along the way. Other schools have collected a million pennies and used the money to buy books for the school library.

A New York native and a graduate of Cornell University, Schwartz now lives in Oakland, CA.

We can't wait for Mr. Schwartz's visit!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April is National Poetry Month!

Poetry comes in all forms, shapes, languages, and sizes; from rollicking and rhyming to slow and thoughtful, from narrative to imagistic. In April, we will be celebrating the glorious world of poetry by reading poems during library time.

Here are some of the wonderful poetry books that we've been reading during library this month:Touch the Poem by Arnold Adoff is a collection of poems and photographs about the pieces of our everyday lives, including bathtime, gardening, and lying down after a big meal. Kindergarten and first grade really enjoyed this collection of poems about things we all enjoy.
Second and third graders sat close up to see the concrete poems in A Poke in the I, collected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka. Concrete poems are poems that take the shape of an aspect of the poem, and we had a great time thinking about the shapes while listening to the words.

The third grade and first grade heard Verla Kay's Rough, Tough Charley, a poem-biography. Charley Parkhurst was a "rough, tough" 19th-century stagecoach driver who dressed and passed as a man until her death. Charley Parkhurst was also the inspiration for Pam Munoz Ryan's fictionalized biography, Riding Freedom. We had a great discussion about equal rights and gender stereotypes.

Third,fourth, and fifth graders also got to see and compare two very different versions of Lewis Carroll's classic Jabberwocky: one traditional version illustrated by Joel Stewart, and an exciting new re-imagined version illustrated by the awesome Christopher Myers.

In fourth and fifth grade, we've been loving Chess Rumble, a novel in verse by G. Neri. (Mr. Neri, we can't WAIT for your next book to come out!!)

Some fourth and fifth graders have also heard Cool Melons Turn to Frogs!: the life and poems of Issa and Jon Scieszka's hilarious (and scientifically accurate!) Science Verse.

Yes, April is full of poetry excitement. In fact, we've enjoyed all this poetry so much that next year Ms. Claire plans to read a poetry book at least once a month.

What's your favorite way to celebrate National Poetry Month?

Monday, April 7, 2008

And the nominee is...

All of Berkeley is in the midst of election fever... including the students of Emerson School! In March, K-3 students cast their votes for the book that they thought should win the California Young Reader Medal.

Now that Spring Break is over, the results are in!

The Emerson School favorite nominee is...

Dex: The Heart of a Hero, with 64 votes!

Close behind...
Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies
-- 55 votes
Traction Man
-- 44 votes
The Giant Hug
-- 22 votes
I Wanna Iguana
-- 14 votes

We've mailed our official school ballot to the California Young Reader Medal Committee. Now we wait while our votes are added to the votes from thousands of other students in California! The official winner will be announced in May.