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Wolfsnail Classroom Visits

The lush green days of Spring are here and I’ve been talking about wolfsnails. I visited Spencer Loomis Elementary School in Hawthorne Woods, IL, very near Chicago. Alex D., the daughter of my college roommate, Sarita, goes to Spencer Loomis. We had a great time with private eyes and some garden snails and slugs. Some of the snails were reluctant to move around, but we nudged them with water. The slugs seemed more eager to move; we wondered whether that’s because they have no shells to hid under.
visit to Spencer Loomis
Also, my former neighbor, Shirlene Phillips, found a wolfsnail in her yard so I brought my book to The Redeemer’s School to talk with her students. It was pretty much the same size as the snail I photographed for the book. The 4-year-olds, kindergartners, and first graders had really good questions.

Earlier this month, I spent a few days at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival with Julie Owen. We presented a session titled Photography and Place: Engaging Projects for Libraries. We pulled together materials related to our presentation on Pinterest here.

 

Fibonacci Folding Book Project – iPad App

One of the things that got lost in the shuffle of my extra busy summer was the news that Richard developed a brand new version of the Fibonacci Folding Book Project App for the iPad. Back when Apple introduced a new operating system, it knocked out the original App out of action.

Fib Book

The brand new Fibonacci Folding Book Project App is formatted like a magazine and includes step-by-step instructions on making the Fibonacci Folding Book with your students. It’s free from iTunes!!

The version for Android tablets remains available on Google Play.

The photograph above shows an example of a first grader’s work, making the Fibonacci Folding Book Project. See more about this project here.

International Reading Association 2014

I am finally home after a long road stretch. For the next few posts, I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been. I started with a trip to New Orleans to present a session and sign books at the International Reading Association National Conference.
Jess Sarah IRA

My sister, Jessica, and I presented a session with Dr. Amy Broemmel titled, “Reading and Writing Science Books: Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.” Our session drew on our experience with a bookmaking project earlier this year at Girls Prep Charter School – Bronx, which is where Jessica is the reading specialist.

Amy Broemmel

Here is Amy, who teaches at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, talking about a list she developed of good mentor texts for specific types of writing.
looking at the girls' books

Jessica brought along some examples of the books published by the students at Girls Prep.

IRA 2014 Session-0376

I began my presentation, as I almost always do, with a reading of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. It was the first time my editor, Sarah Zhang, had heard me present. She took these photographs.
Sarah with QAL
I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace growing on the side of the interstate so I stopped to pick some for Sarah. We used it to decorate the table at my signing.
IRA 2014 signing-0387
Our signing was a success.
cousins
I learned through Facebook that my cousin, Meg Sanford, a first grade teacher, was also in town for IRA. So, we met up for dinner along with Jessica and her husband JC, my friend, Julie, and some of Meg’s colleagues. It was a fun way to end the day.

Girls Prep Public Charter Visit

Last month, I visited Girls Prep Public Charter School in the Bronx, New York, to work with second grade students for a unit on writing nonfiction books. While I was there, I also spent an hour with the fourth grade writing club. With second grade, I worked with the students for three days. I was testing some ideas for a presentation I am slated to give at the International Reading Association annual conference in New Orleans in May.

Girls Prep WS group

The first day, I presented my “Love a Critter? Make a Book” session to all three classes in one big group. It was Read Across America Day so some of the girls and teachers were dressed as characters in books.

jess in background
The reason I chose Girls Prep is that my sister, Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo (pictured in the center dressed as the tree in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom), works there as a reading specialist. Jessica will join me and Dr. Amy Broemmel, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, to present “Reading and Writing Science Books? Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.”
teacher gp small group
In the second and third days at Girls Prep, I led each class in a mini-lesson and then the girls did some guided practice. On the first day, my topic was “Taking information from research and writing in my own words to suit my purpose,” and the second day, it was “Making a plan for my writing, keeping my purpose in mind.”
lady bug girl
julie
sarah w stu
During the mini-lesson on planning, I showed the students how I make a book dummy when I am deciding the order of things in my books. I led them in making an instant book.
folding
star
numbering
book
girl writing
The feedback from the second grade writing unit has been good. One teacher said she believes the girls really understand author’s purpose in a much deeper way. One student told her teacher: “This is the most fun I’ve had while learning!” That’s exactly what writing should be. Fun, while learning!
I’ll post photographs of my session with the fourth grade writing club next.

Visit to New York

Next week Sarah will be traveling to New York to make a few school visits.  The first visit she’ll be making will be to The Dalton School, where she will be speaking to first graders about Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.  The First Graders at The Dalton School are actually familiar with Sarah’s work already because Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature is a part of their curriculum! Last year, some first graders did the Fibonacci Folding Book project.

Sarah will then be at the Girls Prep Charter School in the Bronx. She’ll be spending a few days there working with second graders on writing non-fiction books.  They will be exploring the work of an author, specifically tying in how authors and illustrators choose their topics, how to write with a purpose in mind, and how to put one’s research into their own words. For this presentation Sarah will be highlighting Wolfsnail. Also at Girls Prep, Sarah will also be working with the fourth grade writing club, doing the fractal pop-up book project we taught at St. Luke’s in Baton Rouge.

We’ll certainly miss Sarah here down South, but it will be exciting to hear about her time in New York!

Finding Fractals in the Classroom

St. Lukes Fractal Pop up Books--16Hello! My name is Mary Schmidt, and I’m Sarah’s intern for the Spring. I’m a senior at Millsaps College, and while I don’t know much about children’s literature I’ve enjoyed my first month learning about it!

On February 5 Sarah and I left for Baton Rouge, LA to make a visit to St. Luke’s Episcopal School. While there Sarah presented her newest book, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature, to Mrs. McIlwain’s fifth grade classes. The classes were both very welcoming and enjoyed learning about fractals (as well as some side facts about the wolfsnail!).

We arrived in Baton Rouge late Wednesday afternoon, just in time for a great dinner prepared by Julie Owen. After dinner Sarah showed me the ins and outs of the cameras that I would be using to film and take pictures with the next day. I’ve always appreciated photography, but I honestly did not know how much work went into the process (not to mention just setting the cameras up!). Thanks to Sarah’s husband Richard’s notes, though, I was able to set the camera up and even get a few good shots.

Sarah read the book from the F&Gs (folded and gathered, meaning the pages of the book without binding or a spine) to explain fractals to the classes. Each class had great questions about fractals — they were certainly a smart group of students. After reading the book Sarah led them through a fractal activity, one that she and Julie Owen will be presenting at the Fay B Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg, MS on April 10. The classes had great fun with the project, and we found that it was a great way for them to express their creativity and use their imaginations while engaging in math and science.mysterious patterns cover

Sarah also showed the classes some of the different drafts of the book, starting with the very first draft (see photo above). The classes were perhaps most interested in the process of writing a book, as they just finished a unit in which they wrote their own books. Based on their fractal projects I would not be surprised if there were a few potential authors in the class!

The visit was a huge hit (according to Julie’s son, Hobson), and Sarah, Julie, and I are all grateful to Mrs. McIlwain’s class for allowing us to visit! And a huge thanks to Julie and her family for hosting Sarah and me (an even bigger thanks for the delicious meals). We certainly appreciated it!

 

First Graders Use Fibonacci Folding Book App

growing patterns over

First graders at The Dalton School in New York City did a recent reading, writing, and art project using our Fibonacci Folding Book App for the iPad. They took photographs, wrote Fibonacci poems, and made Fibonacci Folding Books. You can see their work here.

Regular readers of the blog may remember that Julie Owen and I developed the Fibonacci Folding Book Project, and that Richard turned it into an app for iPads and Android tablets.

The Fibonacci Folding Book project is also available on my website in the section labeled For Teachers. I love hearing about it when teachers and librarians use the educational materials we’ve created for Growing Patterns and Wolfsnail.

Visiting Bailey Middle

Today I visited an advanced 8th grade English class at Bailey Middle School. Mrs. Camille Magee, the teacher, taught my three sons at Chastain Middle School.

Bailey Magee's classWe made instant books and talked about the steps in the publishing process. We started with Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and spent some time on the new fractal book.

More than a few hands went up when I asked if any of them liked to write. What a great group!

 

Photography and Bookmaking After School

I spent a delightful hour with the Poindexter Park After School Club. I read my books, guided the students in making an instant book, and turned them loose to take macro photographs.

Sarah Campbell with Poindexter Park After School Club members

After just a few minutes of “practice” with private eye jewelers loupes, the students took turns taking photographs using the macro setting on my Canon elph. These are some of the best images. Others were blurry, but most of us have to take many, many images to get any useable ones. I look forward to seeing how the photography improves and to reading the books they’ll make.

ferns and crown of thorn blossoms

gumball

crown of thorns

Growing Patterns Featured in Book on Mathematical Literacy

I contributed a short essay to a book published this month that encourages teachers to use trade books in mathematics instruction. I wrote about how I conceived of, wrote, photographed, and designed Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.

cover art for math litTitled Mathematical Literacy in the Middle and High School Grades: A Modern Approach to Sparking Student Interest, it was written by Dr. Faith Wallace and Mary Anna Evans and published by Pearson. (ISBN: 9780132180979)

My essay appears in a box in Chapter 5, titled “Picture Books: Where Math, Text, and Illustrations Collide.”

The authors contacted me in the summer of 2010, a few months after Growing Patterns was published and asked me to contribute. I am thrilled to be included in this book. The inside cover includes a chart showing how teachers can use material and activities in the book to meet Common Core standards for grades 6-12.

It’s particularly satisfying to have this book come out a month after I co-presented a workshop on Visualizing Math Stories at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference.