Friday, April 17, 2009

Woolbur: Book-of-the-Month April 2009

Today was one of those days that reminded me of why I LOVE being a teacher at the Creek! The morning started as I entered the Media Center with each grade level table decorated with a yarn filled sheep-shaped container and a specially selected April Book-of-the-Month. Our Principal, Susan Phillips, has a special appreciation for funny farm animals and Woolbur was no exception! Susan was a kindergarten teacher so she can read a story- I mean, she can REALLY read a story! - and she had the teachers rolling in the floor all through the story as she read about the little sheep who had a mind of his own - always thinking outside of the box. Finally when his parents laid down the law and insisted that he do what the other sheep do, he became the leader! I so connected with this story, because it is the story of our class this year. We have so many quirky little personalities - so many students who think and act differently, but who have such incredible potential to make a difference in this world. the key is to make sure they have a chance to lead the way! I also connected with it as a school. At Chets Creek we are often doing things differently and there are always people that are scratching their heads and telling us to just join or follow the crowd. I think a long time ago we decided that if we were going to be forced to do as the crowd does, then we were at least going to be in the lead! Woolbur would be in good company at Chets Creek!

After Susan's rousing storytelling, Melanie Holtsman, our instructional technologist, used the book to teach us to use glogster. She will have a "sandbox" set up (a place to play) every morning next week. In other words, she will have computers set up so we can play with glogster until we feel comfortable enough for a project of our own. More about that later, after I 've had time to learn this fun new application!

As Melanie and Susan pulled the morning to a close, Susan introduced us to Leslie Helakoski, the author of Woolbur! Can you imagine reading a book while the author of the book is sitting there watching? That's exactly what Susan and Melanie did. Leslie Helakowski, the author was visiting our school today. We already felt like we knew Leslie because we had enjoyed another of her books, Big Chickens, earlier in the year. Big Chickens was illustrated by one of our favorite illustrators, Henry Cole, who has also visited Chets Creek several times before.

After spending time with the teachers, Leslie entertained each grade level of children. The first graders thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her training as an artist and then hearing about her taking her first story and art work to a publisher in NYC and having them want her story but reject her art work! It was nice for the children to hear that rejection can actually make you try harder. I am sure they learned a lesson about her persistence as a writer and illustrator. She also entertained the group with her farmyard version of "Going on a Bear Hunt." Later Leslie signed books for all the children who bought them and engaged in delightful conversation, answering their questions and smiling at their comments.

One of the things about activities at Chets Creek is that there is always a "village" of people working behind the scenes to make things happen. Susan is the master designer and today Melanie was our professional developer, but behind every great event at Chets Creek, our Media Specialist, KK Cherney is at the center. It was KK who chose the author and made the arrangements. It was KK that made sure the author's books had been ordered and that children and teachers alike were familiar with her work. It was KK and her little elves that made sure there was a welcoming sign when the author entered the building. It was KK that made sure that the author had a basket of kid-made welcoming cards, letters and pictures. It was KK that made sure the Media Center was decorated for the morning events. It was KK who played hostess all day. Of course, KK has a group of Media elves to help her, but without her enthusiasm, her love and dedication to the children of Chets Creek and her ability to always say "yes," our days just wouldn't have the same joy and fun! Thank you to the host of people who worked so hard to make a truly memorable day for the children and teachers at Chets Creek!

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