Monday, April 4, 2022

Spring is Finally (maybe) Here

The weather swings back and forth between freezing, cold, and warm, snow, sleet, and rain during March and even into April here in Wisconsin. But things are finally starting to level out just a bit. It has me thinking about our school gardens. Want to learn about our biofilter? These students can tell you all about it. 

You might be wondering why the library was involved with the biofilters. A few years ago, the fifth grade students and I did some research and had a landscape architect come work with us and we wrote a grant to improve the gardens. You can find out more about some of our lessons and activities in this video.

We also got a grant and community partners to help us install an excellent sign that helps teach others about our gardens and about the fact that our school is on the ancestral land of the Ho-Chunk people. To read an article and see more photos, visit this link.

Photo with teacher standing and reading a book to students who are sitting on the ground in front of the garden. A large informational sign is to the left of the teacher. There is an article below the photo in the screen shot. Click the link to get to the page with the article.

We also learned a lot about the Onalaska area by watching portions of a very informative documentary called Decoding the Driftless. 

Trailer for Decoding the Driftless documentary film from Tim Jacobson on Vimeo.

To learn even more about what we do outside, visit our Outdoor Learning page. 

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 1, 2022

Book Review: Stacey Abrams (Level 2)

Book cover features a photo of Stacey Abrams standing behind several media microphones. She has a smile on her face and is holding up one hand and pointing up.

Stacey Abrams (Level 2)

Author: Melissa H. Mwai

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Pages: 32

Review copy: Final copy via publisher

Availability: On shelves now

Publisher's summary: Learn about the voting rights advocate and politician Stacey Abrams and her groundbreaking achievements in this appealing Level 2 reader. Young readers will find out about Abram’s childhood and her early career as a city attorney and as minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. The reader also explores her run in Georgia as the first Black woman to be nominated by a major party for governor, and how losing that race inspired her to devote her life to making elections and the voting process more equitable for everyone. The level 2 text provides accessible, yet wide-ranging information for independent readers. Explore Abrams’s life, achievements, and the challenges she faced along the way to leading the fight against voter suppression and becoming a champion for change.

My thoughts: One of the challenges for teachers is finding quality biographies at a wide variety of reading levels. When teaching about biographies and nonfiction text features, it is extremely helpful to have resources for readers of all skill levels. I was excited to find out about this series. As one would expect, the visuals are eye-catching and support the text well. Information is presented in a nice mix of formats and is engaging. Since it is presented for developing readers, the biography is not extremely extensive, but does provide basic information about her life in addition to a lot of interesting details or "cool facts" about her life.

The author provides context for some of the things that have happened in her life and connects historical events to current events. There is also a quiz and visual glossary included at the end.

Recommendation: This is a helpful addition to any biography collection, but particularly for any set of resources serving young readers. I will be adding this to our school library and look forward to seeing more of this series.