Easy Peasy Parts of Speech

As part of our writing instruction for our 8th graders, we decided a refresher on Parts of Speech might be needed. A little research uncovered two delightful Easy book series on the individual parts of speech. Although I didn’t have these books in our school library, it only took a few minutes to locate them in our wonderful Memphis Public Library‘s online catalog and place them on hold to be picked up that very afternoon. What an incredible resource!


One series by Brian P. Cleary is called the Words Are CATegorical series. ClearyInsideEach book is about a specific part of speech and features Nickelodeon-style cartoons and vivid rhymes that are full of examples of the part of speech depicted.

Another series on parts of speech is by Ruth Heller. HellerCover

HellerInsideHeller’s books are bigger and the pictures are colorful and beautiful. The parts of speech in her books are explained in more detail and some of the examples used are uncommon (e.g. “and it also describes a place – MYSTERIOUS, STAR-SPANGLED, ASTEROIDAL outer space…”).

As you can see, these two series would likely appeal to different types of students. I loved them both and plan to order both complete series to add to our library collection.

In case you’re wondering, the Parts of Speech lesson with our 8th graders was a big hit. The students split into groups, with each group assigned a different Part of Speech. The groups were given time to read through their designated parts of speech books and list examples on huge sheets of paper. A representative from each group presented their part of speech to the rest of the class. The culminating activity was for each student to write a sentence that included all eight of the parts of speech. We had some very creative submissions. Fun!

Keep reading and keep learning!

It’s Decimals…, DEWEY Decimals…


Math?  In the Library?  Hey, if it gets teachers to bring their students to the library, I’ll help teach Math.

The library can be integrated into every subject in the school, but teaching math in the library is actually fairly easy and fun.  Think decimals…, DEWEY decimals.  A “Library Review” Powerpoint presentation, with heavy emphasis on the Dewey Decimal System, leads very well into a Library Scavenger Hunt where students find library books on the shelf, using only the corresponding Dewey Decimal numbers.  Students learn to compare numbers with decimals in the tenths, hundredths, and thousandths places and put them in sequential order.  After this lesson, not only do the students understand decimals better, they are more likely to put the library books back in the proper place.  It’s a WIN-WIN!

Below are a few of the slides in the Decimal Lesson “Library Review” Powerpoint…


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Suitcase Exhibit: Dinosaurs!

Our great local museum, The Pink Palace, has a wonderful resource for teachers and librarians:  their suitcase exhibits.  These exhibits of artifacts and hands-on activities are delivered to your school for a two week period.  The sixteen suitcase topics currently available range from the Civil War to Electricity to Fossils to Weather, and yes, include a very popular exhibit on Dinosaurs.

I encourage all librarians in Memphis to consider reserving at least one suitcase exhibit during the next school year.  You’ll be hooked!  The students (and teachers) love the opportunity to explore a topic outside their classroom without having to leave the building!

Here is a short slideshow of pictures from our recent Dinosaur exhibit.  All of our sixth through eighth graders loved it!

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

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News We Can Use: The Learning Network


I stumbled on this blog as I was preparing to teach 8th graders how to research current events. The Learning Network, an educational site using New York Times content, has been around since 1998 but it was just transformed into a blog last October. I’m somewhat of a news junkie now but as a teenager I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the world. You’d think students today, with global internet access and hundreds of cable channels, would be much more aware of current events. Surprisingly (or not), I’ve found that most teenagers I know aren’t too sure what is happening outside of their circle of 643 facebook friends. That’s why I was excited to find The Learning Network blog. It’s for older middle school/high school students (and teachers and parents) and includes current news items, related activities, quizzes, and even lesson plans. I’ve probably just scratched the surface. You need to check it out for yourself. I particularly like the 6 Q’s About the News activities, the Daily News Quizzes, and the Word of the Day (today’s was “dupe”… haha). I’m going to start quizzing my 16 year-old about current events each weekend. I’m sure she’ll love me for it… …later… …much later.

Keep reading and keep learning!

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then…

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s a video worth? I think when you’re trying to engage middle school students in a review about how to use the school library, a video example is priceless. If you’re able to get their classmates to be the actors in your little library drama, all the better! The following clip is one of several filmed for this year’s library orientation. Our students, and even the teachers, got a chuckle out of it and it spurred a lively discussion about how to properly return a book to the shelf.

Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers

At our district’s Library Inservice last week, I hosted a breakout session called “Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers:  Using the Internet to Promote your Library”.  If you missed it, I’m including the PowerPoint below (there’s not much to it, I tend to talk more than “present”), along with these links to three cool web tools we discussed:  LogoEase (to make unique logos for your library and its programs), Wordle (a fun, eye-catching way to get your point across), and Animoto (slick little videos of your uploaded pictures).

Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers