Gather in the Library

I have been busy in my new room, and yesterday I made a breakthrough! Have been working on getting the library–which is all around our meeting area rug–put together and the rough draft of it is pretty much done. I’m so excited to share what’s starting to take shape. There are many small details I have to fix, but I am so excited for our new class to gather in the library every day for learning!

Check it out! And I’d love to know what you think–leave a comment below! 🙂

#FDOFG2017–Readers Gonna Read (Part 1)

Oh goodness.  Reading.  It’s one of the most important (and one of my favorite!) things that happens in first grade. Ok, well, in any grade, but the beginning of the life long journey often starts in first grade, and I want to make sure it starts out in a positive way. 🙂

We do that in a number of ways, and one of those is by starting the #classroombookaday challenge.  Listening to, talking about and enjoying LOADS OF BOOKS is such an important piece of the literacy puzzle.  Reading (and lots of choice inside that reading) is another one.  And so we begin to read, read, read early in the year, and provide many positive experiences around books.

Almost on the first day of school, we have a conversation about how our classroom library is organized, and what they notice about how it looks, as well as how we will use it.  We talk about the kinds of things we like to read, and begin to fill our book boxes early on.  I always enjoy putting the library together when I’m setting up the room…

…but there’s nothing better than when there are actually READERS in it!

Besides being able to read during choice time and actual reader’s workshop, we’ve also begun our year with some necessary “quiet time” after lunch and recess.  During this time, kiddos can make a choice to read/write/draw or rest quietly.  Really it’s a chance for kids to be alone (which is hard but also necessary for many–me included!), as well as wind down a little after a busy morning.  It’s a time of day that many kiddos have a chance to finish up work or a project (usually of their choice) that they started earlier in the day.  Eventually this time will fade away, as we get more into our “real” schedule, but for now it’s a nice brain break before we get into hard thinking again with math.

One more exciting place first grade readers got to visit was the ROBINSON LIBRARY!!  We have library in our specials rotation now, so it took until we got to an “E” day before it was our turn.  Kiddos only go for 25 minutes and normally wouldn’t have been able to check out until the 2nd visit, but GOODNESS that would not have been fair so we stayed a little later so we get our hands on some new books!!  Kiddos got to meet our new Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Davis, and also hear a good story.  Before we went, I also read a library themed book. 🙂

It was SUPER fun to watch the kiddos work their way through the library and see what treasures they would find.  Finding out what kids like to read is just one more way of building community and getting to know them as readers and as little people. 🙂

Looking forward to TONS more fun and learning happening in the library this year!

Location Lessons and a Human Bookshelf!

This week during our visit to the library learning commons with Mrs. Meihaus, we had a lesson on how to find things in the library.

She taught us how to find things in the library, using call numbers.  We learned the difference between FIC books (chapter books), E books (everybody picture books), and books that have PB in front of the FIC and E (which means that they are paperback).  We also learned (or were reminded) that nonfiction books have numbers along with the first three letters of the author’s last name.

Then, she had us create our own call numbers–because we are all authors, after all!  Some kiddos had blue cards that were for FIC books and yellow cards that meant we were E book authors.  Kiddos wrote their call number on the sheet.

Then, we created HUMAN BOOKSHELVES, ordering ourselves based on our names on the shelf.  This was really tricky, but since we are Roadrunners, and show our GRIT all the time, we did it!

Book Shopping 101 in Rm. 202: Author Love

I’ve shared a couple of versions of the Recipe for a Good Book lesson I’ve taught in the past.  As far as I can remember, I hadn’t yet taught this whole deal with first graders.  I’m thinking it’s because the focus for so long has been on the definition of “just-right” books being focused on the level of the book (and less on the reader, I’d say).  I do agree that being in a book that you can read is important, but I would propose that being in a book at all–and a book that you LOVE–sets the stage as importantly as kiddos start their reading journey.

So this year, I’ve decided that the first lesson I taught would NOT be on “just-right” books in terms of knowing the words and understanding the story (but again, don’t hear me saying those things aren’t important, just not first), but would instead be on understanding and identifying what we like as readers.  And since we’re 105 books into #classroombookaday and have shared so many great texts together, I thought it would be a great place to start to zoom in on authors.

I started our conversation telling my kiddos about my past recipe lessons (and about recipes in general so they had a context), and then about my librarian pal Ms. Cobb who even dressed up as a chef to teach it to her 4th and 5th graders!  They were impressed, and I think a little sad that I didn’t have a costume. LOL

Then I asked a question: Why is it important to know an author’s name?  They had some great ideas and already came with a lot of knowledge of writers from kindergarten.  They were able to name some great ones (from this year’s books, from books previous teachers had read, and also some from their at-home reading) like Jeff Kinney, Dav Pilkey, our favorite right now Mo Willems, and Ame Dyckman (another new favorite!).  I added in another important reason, too, related to just respecting the writer for the hard work it is to write a book!


After our initial talk, I got kids thinking about the kinds of books they like to read and told them an unbelievable story about someone I know who went to the library and didn’t have any idea what they were looking for, and about someone else who didn’t know the author’s name and asked the library for “a green book with a dog on the front that’s about this big.”  Crazy, right?  Well, yes, of course, some first graders (and much older students, too!) book shop like that, and I think it my duty to help change that (both for their “now” reading lives and their future selves).

Next step was to create a visual that they could use to remind themselves once they were in a shopping situation (in our classroom library, our school library, and heck, even Barnes and Noble!) of what they were looking for, rather than just roam around aimlessly or worse yet, get themselves into trouble because they didn’t know what to do.

I used the format of the Recipe for a Good Book as I had with previous classes, but instead of making it into a bookmark (which works best for kiddos that are primarily shopping for and reading chapter books), we made ours with pictures and words on full sheets of paper.

Kiddos could write or draw anything they knew they liked about books, including authors, titles, genres (if they knew this info) and even topics.  And since we had already read over 100 great titles together, kiddos were able to use our display to help them with their visuals.  I’m amazed every day about what a great idea that door display of our reading continues to be.  We keep finding different ways to use it!

Kids were very engaged, excited about what they put on their lists and spent the whole time talking about books!  We’re excited to take our new recipes to the library with us to help us with our choices tomorrow.  I am sure we’ll be glad we have them there! 🙂

Mr. Schu in the Lou!

Sometimes I write in order, partly so the stories make sense, but also so I don’t forget anything.  Sometimes, though, things happen that you just have to tell about.  Today was one of those days!

Yeah, did you hear?  Mr. Schu was in the Lou!!  Oh, come on.  Lou, like St. Louis!  YES–HE WAS IN ST. LOUIS, AND HE WAS IN OUR SCHOOL! AND HE READ TO US!

Ok, sorry, I’ll stop yelling.  I just LOVE that librarians and teachers and authors can be celebrities.  And he is definitely a celebrity to me Mrs. Sisul our principalour fabulous librarian, Mrs. Meihaus;our fabulous librarian, Mrs. Meihaus; and lots of teachers who know him from Scholastic (Mrs. Scanlon!) and Twitter (loads more wonderful people I don’t want to mention so I don’t forget anyone. 🙂 ).

Mr. Schumacher (which is his real name), was in town for something with Scholastic (I am guessing…he’s the Ambassador for Libraries so he’s all around talking to kids about books.  Yeah, I’m kind of jealous of that job!), and was kind enough to take an invitation from many Kirkwood Schools (along with many other places from the way everyone’s talking about him, too!).  We were one of the grade levels that was lucky enough to meet him.  Our turn was this afternoon, and we visited with our friends Ms. Lewis’ class.

Much of Mr. Schu’s job includes sharing book talks as a means of getting books in kids’ hands, and that’s what I expected him to do; I knew our class would lean LOADS of new titles we wanted to read.  But then he stopped telling us about a good book and started READING a good book to us.  Amazing.

The book he shared with us was this one (which none of us had ever heard of before):


This book is much like our favorite Pete the Cat books, and we loved how it had reading and SINGING!  Oh, and we added in dancing, too!

I didn’t catch the whole thing, but here’s a highlight of the awesome Mr. Schu with some even more awesome first grade listeners:

And then, what do you do when you meet a celebrity, but take a picture with them??  We had to, of course. 🙂


And then take a silly one, just for fun. 🙂


We love you and the books you share, Mr. Schu!  Thanks for coming to St. Louis!!  Come again soon?  If not, we’ll have to schedule a Skype call! 🙂

Fall Book Fair Preview

We went to the library again today, so that Mrs. Meihaus could give us a preview of the Scholastic Book Fair that’s coming in a couple of weeks.  We watched a video, and talked a a little about what we saw, and then checked out the library commons again in order to check out some new books.

It can sometimes really be annoying  entertaining to watch movies with small children, as they usually say everything that is in their head out loud in the room (this happens in many part of our days right now…).  Well, since the movie they were watching was about books, I listened even closer to what they were saying.

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.39.21About Dog Man by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame: “I’m gonna look for that!”

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.40.28About Magic Puppy: “Aww, that’s so cute!  I’m gonna get that!”

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.41.21Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.42.01About Lego Dino Safari and Lego Knights and Castles: “YEAH!!!!!!!!!” (yes, they were that excited. 🙂  (On a side note, so was I.  These were kind of a cross between Lego, non-fiction, humor and graphic novel.  I want to read one!)

So no one really said anything about these last few, but I was interested in them for our classroom!


After we finished up with our lesson, and had a reminder about how to use the library respectfully, we were off!  And YES, I got pictures this time.  Please check out Rm. 202 kids at work as well as the new Library Commons layout.  It’s a GREAT place to be. 🙂

I saved these last two pictures because they are definitely where the energy is with reading in our room right now:


I LOVE that Callahan chose this new classroom favorite as his check out today.  I shared it on one of our very first days, and he thought his brother would like it, too!  Great idea, Cal!


I read My New Friend is So Fun! the other day and WE LOVED IT and since there we’ve ready at least 3 or 4 more, and have now made the goal of READING THEM ALL!!  Um, yeah, we’re kind of Elephant and Piggie fans in Rm. 202–but it’s kind of hard not to be, I guess. 🙂

Ok, one more…well, two more.  See what I mean…

I took this picture of our friend Josh today in the library:


Ok, and check this one out from August 26, 2015.  Yep, same day last year:

Screenshot 2016-08-26 20.25.35

WHAT???  It was cute enough that the brothers took the same picture on the same big ‘ole bear, but on the same date???  That’s even better!  Well at least to me.  And to their mom. LOL 🙂

Thanks for reading!  Leave us a note about your thoughts, will ya?  Kids LOVE to know you are reading their stories. 🙂

#FDOFG–Library Learning Commons

Ok, so this post feels a little like a tease, but I wanted to at least share the story (so I don’t forget and therefore never post it because I don’t have the right pictures.  I’ve made that mistake before. 🙂 ).

This year, our librarian, Mrs. Meihaus, made the jump to turn our library in a learning commons, taking time and care to recreate the space by moving furniture, adding “soft things” like more stuffed animals, bean bags and pillows, and rethinking how we’ll use the communal space for learning.  Kiddos were SO excited when we finally got a chance to visit and see the new space for ourselves last week.

First graders got to spend the first few minutes exploring the new space on their own, and then we met Mrs. Meihaus in the storytelling area for some fun, a story (of course!) and conversation.

Mrs. Meihaus shared Kate Messner’s How to Read a Story, which is a great tool for any aged reader on what readers really do with a book.  I love that Mrs. Meihaus even said it should be a manual that all teachers should read for how to do ELA (she probably said it way more eloquently than that, but I concur. It was pretty great!).

After we read, we played a game to help remind us of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” things to do in the library or with books…

…and then we had time to check out….the rest of the library AND new books!!  BUT…that’s the part I don’t have pictures of.  As you can imagine, first graders need lots of support as they navigate a giant library and figure out what to read.  I don’t have pictures of the great new layout, or the cozy soft stuff where kiddos snuggled in to read, or the ZERO ZONE, a new space where kids can go if they need absolute silence to work/read, but believe me: it’s awesome!  We’re going back again to visit on Friday, so maybe I’ll have time to snap some then.

I do actually have some pictures of us reading our new books, though….just not in what would be considered a typical place.  We took a bathroom break after our library visit and took full advantage of the time to sit and enjoy our new gems!  It was such a great sight–had to share!  It was so great to watch them dig in and get busy with a book!

Students: What was your favorite part of our new Learning Commons?  What was different from last year?  What was still the same?  What books did you check out?

Parents:  What did your kiddos tell you about their visit?  What do you know about a Learning Commons v. a “regular” library?  What questions do you have?

Teachers:  What does the Library Learning Commons look like in your school?  How is it utilized by students? by teachers? by administration? by families?  What advice do you have as we transition to a new learning space?

Library Redo

Remember last year when we worked on organizing our classroom library?  You might not, because I couldn’t find it on the blog….:(  Maybe the post I thought I wrote got lost in the “it-has-to-be-finished-and-perfect” list I told you about yesterday.  Well, since my pledge is to tell all the stories, not just the finished ones, I’ll share the parts of this story that we have finished (and that I have pictures of!).

We left at the end of 1st grade with a (mostly) organized library, which we had worked on together little-by-little last year.  We packed it away in that same way, which always helps when I put the classroom back together the next fall.  We figured out, though, that we had never gotten the boxes fully labeled, and so as we started using the books again this year, they got all mixed up.  We decided we should probably just start over; I was the only one who knew what most of the categories were supposed to be.

We started by pairing up, and first going through the boxes we already had established.  I gave each pair a box, and their job was 1) to figure out what their books had in common, 2) decide if they had any that didn’t match that category, 3) and then make a label that matched their newly decided-upon category.  All of the extras got piled up in the middle of the room for later.

The second year together has been a great learning process in many ways.  Of course, for many reasons, we’re doing many things differently, but there are also some things that are the same that they are doing differently.  This is a perfect example.  The understanding they have of genre and the difference between fiction/non-fiction, as well as the ability to see similarities and differences is deeper than when they did the library sort as first graders, so the same activity is even more meaningful than the first time.  Even the way they “get” why we did it, why we did it together (as opposed to just having ME take care of it), and why we should keep it organized is different than last year.


Second Grade Read Around–Part 2

I recently posted about how Mrs. Meihaus made Read Around super for second grade.  That wasn’t the whole story….:)

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the Read Around came after the Read Around, and it looked like this:


Isn’t that great? She saved all of our favorites from our Read Around for us until we could come back and check them out. It felt a little special that this display was right in front of the circulation desk.

Just a few more pictures that show our library fabulousness.  It’s one of our favorite places to be, and I LOVE that that’s the case.  Readers are made here. 🙂

Ok, one more.  These are new this year and can be seen all over the library (no, they’re not all pictures of me–every teacher took one LOL).


And in true Mrs. Bearden form, I was told to choose my favorite and I couldn’t do it! There are just too many great books to choose just one! Thanks Mrs. Meihaus for letting me choose 3. 🙂

Second Grade Read Around

The Read Around is a procedure that our librarian learned about several years ago, and I have used a couple of times with my classes (in all grade levels).  This year was no different. 🙂

The big idea for the read around is that readers get a short time to preview (we use the word “peruse!”) a book, so that they can then see what they might be interested in checking out (ha ha, library pun) later.  The best part is that as long as you match the books to the readers, you can do this with anyone of any age!

So….Mrs. Meihaus set it all up and helped us get started by reminding us of the directions:

We spent the next 30 minutes or so (this part varies depending on how many “rounds” you do and how long you spend at each spot) perusing new books that might be interesting to us now that we’re 2nd graders.

Check out some of our favorites.  Mrs. Meihaus had each table choose their top 3 and place them in the middle of the table.  Then, when kiddos traded tables, that was the first place many of them started looking.