ELA in the middle

Middle School English, Language Arts

Scholastic 2016 reading bingo

Setting reading goals for yourself and the children in your world is a fun way to open a world of possible each year. The reading challenge that I tried in 2015 pushed me to read more adult books and genres that I don’t hit that often. This year, OOMers’ reading resolutions cover our reading habits, genres, and methods, as well as how some of us will track our progress using checklists, spreadsheets, or websites.

We are making the challenge of achieving your reading goals even more fun in 2016 by turning it into a game –the Scholastic 2016 Reading Bingo!

How to play:

  1. Download the PDF for the Scholastic 2016 Reading Bingo board.
  2. Read a book.
  3. See which descriptions/squares the book matches.
  4. Write the name of the book in the square or, for a fun visual, print out a small image of the book’s cover and paste it in the box.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 several times.
  6. Once you fill in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally – yell “BINGO!” nice and loud.

If you really want to challenge yourself, read 49 unique books and complete the whole board!

I already got started with Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s 2016 Newbery medal winning picture book Last Stop on Market Street in the center square and Laura Resau’s middle grade novel The Lightning Queen in the top row.

We’d love to follow your progress if you want to share your reading bingos on social media; just use the hashtag #ScholasticReadingBingo !

Challenge your students and library patrons to play!

Happy reading.

Source: http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/scholastic-2016-reading-bingo

SC Study Shows Link Between School Librarians and Higher Test Scores


The members of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) have always known how important school librarians and library programs are to student achievement in their state; however, they needed a way to prove it to administrators, teachers, parents, and legislators who were yet to be convinced. To develop their case, in 2013, the SCASL board commissioned a study conducted by Keith Curry Lance, consulting with RSL Research Group president Marcia J. Rodney and vice president Bill Schwarz. The group had previously conducted 17 school library impact studies in 14 states. As with those studies, data from How Libraries Transform Schools by Contributing to Student Success: Evidence Linking South Carolina School Libraries and PASS & HSAP Results revealed that school library programs contribute to student success. “We have known in the past how important our role is, but this groundbreaking study proves that and validates what we already know: The school librarian and the library program help make schools stronger,” says Diana Carr, president of SCASL at the time of the study.

Our South Carolina study is the first to document the contribution of school librarians to student success through the use of test results for specific English language arts (ELA) and writing standards. The study links data to detailed test results for three ELA standards—literary text, informational text, and research—and two writing standards—content and organization. The data was drawn from test results from South Carolina Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) for elementary and middle school students and South Carolina High School Assessment Program (HSAP).

Seven school library characteristics were associated with these measures of student achievement. The links could not be explained away by demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and subsidized or free meals eligibility.


The South Carolina study supports the findings of previous state studies that better test results tend to be associated with the presence of professional school librarians and library support staff. In South Carolina, all students were more likely to show strengths and less likely to show weaknesses on PASS writing standards, both overall and on content and organization, if their school libraries were staffed by at least one full-time librarian and at least one full- or part-time assistant, than if their libraries were staffed otherwise.

Table 1


Studies in more than a dozen states have shown that higher spending on school library programs has been linked to better results on achievement tests. This relationship was further confirmed in the South Carolina study, as indicated by PASS writing and ELA test results. For all students, higher total library spending was associated with more students showing strengths and fewer showing weaknesses on the PASS writing standards, both overall and on content and organization. Higher spending on school libraries was also associated with more students having exemplary results on PASS ELA standards, and fewer students not meeting those standards.


Effective school librarians collaborate with classroom teachers to help students develop information literacy skills across the curriculum.

Librarians at schools that responded to the South Carolina School Library Survey, and for which PASS results were available, reported spending about 20 hours per week on teaching activities. The top 25 percent spent 25 or more hours, while the bottom 25 percent spent less than 10 hours. Generally, where librarians spent 20 or more hours per week teaching, all students were more likely to have exemplary results on PASS ELA standards and less likely not to meet those standards.



Students and teachers alike rely on information obtained via the Internet, whether from free websites or licensed databases. The role of ebooks is also expanding. Nonetheless, books and other traditional print and non-print materials are still responsible for the majority of library circulation transactions, particularly those associated with reading and those used for writing assignments.

In South Carolina, for the 2012–2013 school year, the median circulation of library materials among elementary and middle schools that responded to the South Carolina School Library Survey and for which PASS test results were available was approximately 20,000 checkouts. On a per-student basis, the median was 36 checkouts. Findings from the study revealed that all students were more likely to show strengths on the PASS writing standards if their libraries circulated at least 20,000 items. Similarly, for all students higher total circulation was associated with exemplary results on ELA standards. Further, per-student circulation was associated with an even broader array of student cohorts for ELA results. All students were more likely to have exemplary ELA results and less likely to fail to meet these standards where per-student circulation was higher.

Table 3

Circulation at high school libraries is typically lower than at elementary and middle school libraries. For schools that responded to the 2013 South Carolina School Library Survey, and for which HSAP results were available, the median for total circulation was approximately 7,500 checkouts for the 2012–13 school year. All students were more likely to meet HSAP standards if their school libraries circulated more materials. Similarly, all students were also more likely to have proficient or better results on HSAP standards.


Elementary and middle schools that responded to the South Carolina School Library Survey and for which PASS results were available had a median print collection of approximately 10,000 items. The top quarter had around 13,000 items or more, and the bottom quarter have fewer than 7,500 items. Both male and female students were more likely to show strengths on writing and to have exemplary results on ELA if their libraries had larger print collections.

Although ebooks are gaining in popularity nationwide, they are still relative newcomers to South Carolina’s school libraries. The median size of an ebook collection was 40 titles. Female and male students with access to larger ebook collections were more likely to show strengths and less likely to show weaknesses on PASS writing standards. In addition, poorer students, those eligible for subsidized or free meals, were more likely to show writing strengths.


Results demonstrated that access to computers in the school library, and library-networked computers in other school locations, facilitate student achievement. All students, especially male, Hispanic, those who speak limited English, and those eligible for free meals, were more likely to show strengths and less likely to show weaknesses on PASS Writing standards, and have exemplary ELA results, if their school libraries had computers.


As demonstrated in previous state studies, the number of times classes visited the school library each week boosted student learning in integral ways. The large majority of South Carolina school administrators reported that they felt it was essential that access to the school library was based on instructional needs, rather than on a fixed schedule. For elementary and middle schools that responded to the South Carolina School Library Survey and for which PASS results were available, the average number of weekly group library visits was four. As displayed in below, all students were more likely to show strengths and less likely to show weaknesses on PASS writing standards when they had four or more group visits per week.


For high schools that responded to the South Carolina School Library Survey and for which HSAP results were available, the average number of group visits per week was 15. This is a dramatically higher number than the four for elementary and middle schools, where flexibly scheduled access to school libraries tends to be less common. The study revealed that all high-school students were more likely to meet HSAP standards if they had 15 or more group visits per week.


In addition to the previous data that was collected for the study, the survey responses of South Carolina school administrators (273), teachers (917) and school librarians (321) were obtained and compared to test results from PASS for elementary and middle schools.

Notably, as a result of the availability of standard-level test results, South Carolina is the first state in which such a study has been conducted with this type of detailed analysis. Furthermore, over 430 of the survey respondents shared their comments about the library programs and librarians in their schools.

One of the key findings from the survey results, test scores, and success stories is that the majority of school administrators value library policies and practices, as well as the leadership roles that school librarians play in their schools. In the words of a district director of planning and development, “Our librarians are leaders in our district. … It is so wonderful to see (them) share their passion for reading and learning not only with our students, but with our teachers! No longer are the libraries in our district a place where our students go to quietly pull a dusty encyclopedia off of the shelf. .. (they) serve as the hub of the school. … are exciting places, and our students are benefiting from it.”

The findings from this study provide evidence that South Carolina’s school librarians and school library programs make a difference in student achievement. Further, these findings are consistent with previous studies revealing associations between the academic performance of students and a variety of school library characteristics.


Coloring Page Poems


Coloring Page Poems Wallace Stevens The Snow Man snowfall against trees

We’ve heard that coloring pages can be a good way to alleviate stress. And of course, we know that poetry is also a fine way to reduce stress. So what could be better than putting the two together? This year, we’re introducing a series of fun Coloring Page Poems that you can print, color, and doodle your way to relaxation and stress relief. Today, we offer “The Snow Man” byWallace Stevens.

Download The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens Coloring Page Poem


The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

—Wallace Stevens, public domain

Poetry from Calvin and Hobbes


Top 10  Calvin & Hobbes Poems - boy reading Calvin & Hobbes comic
It is no secret that the beloved characters in Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin & Hobbes shed an amusing (and often poignant) light on the creative imagination of a child. But Watterson also generously included poetry in the narrative, from Calvin’s poetic means of dealing with his fear to using haiku to irritate his furry friend. We’ve gathered up 10 great Calvin & Hobbes poems and poetic moments.


Calvin tries to stir a slumbering Hobbes with a fire alarm from Blake.

“Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright,
In the forests of the night.”

Blake wrote that. Apparently the tiger was on fire. Maybe his tail got struck by lightning or something.

Flammable felines — what a subject for poetry


Clearly he didn’t know that cat poems were all the rage. Still, he seems to find his voice in feline verse.

Still and quite feline form,
In the sun, asleep and warm.
His tail is limp, his
Whiskers drooped.
Man, what could make
This cat so pooped?


And yet another:

My tiger, it seems, is running ’round nude.
This fur coat must have made him perspire.
It lies on the floor — should this be construed
As a permanent change of attire?
Perhaps he considers its colors passé,
Or maybe it fit him too snug.
Will he want it back? Should I put it away?
Or use it right here as a rug?


Unsuccessful in waking his friend, Calvin turns to alliteration.

Twitching tufted tail,
A toasted, tawny tummy:
A tired tiger.

…An alliterative haiku by Calvin. Thank you, thank you.


Add to your collection of winter poems this little ode to the snowball:

Oh lovely snowball,
Packed with care
Smack a head that’s

Then with freezing
Ice to spare,
Melt and soak through

Fly straight and true,
Hit hard and square!
This, oh snowball,
Is my prayer.


Juxtaposition is one of the Calvin’s greatest arts, no more poignantly illustrated than when he waxes poetic about the beauty of a spider web and how such a beautiful web is used.

Like delicate lace,
So the threads intertwine,
Oh, gossamer web,
Of wond’rous design!
Such beauty and grace
Wild nature produces …

Ughh, look at the spider
Suck out that bug’s juices!


When he’s not writing poems to wake the tiger, Calvin writes stanzas about his parents, who he believes are aliens disguised as dull humans:

They landed on earth in spaceships humongus.
Posing as grownups, they now walk among us.
My parents deny this, but I know the truth.
They’re here to enslave me and spoil my youth.


Young Calvin may have had some ties to Edgar Allan Poe, as is evident in these stanzas from one of his poems about the monster in his closet, A Nauseous Nocturne:

Another night deprived of slumber,
Hours passing without number,
My eyes trace ’round the room. I lay
Dripping sweat and now quite certain
That tonight the final curtain
Drops upon my short life’s precious play.

From the darkness by the closet
Comes a noise, much like a faucet
Makes: a maddening drip-drip-dripping sound.
It seems some ill-proportioned beast,
Anticipating me deceased,
Is drooling poison puddles on the ground.


And even Hobbes had a little bit of a poetic streak, writing his own version of cat poetry (which also served as password to their clubhouse):

Tigers are perfect,
The E-Pit-O-Me
Of good looks and grace
And quiet dignity.


You might wonder how Calvin was able to write such compelling verse. He had a little bit to say about creativity:

Calvin: You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

Hobbes: What mood is that?

Calvin: Last-minute panic.

Photo by Tim Pierce, Creative Commons license via Flickr.


Source: http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2016/02/04/top-10-calvin-hobbes-poems-quotes/

NPR Created A Searchable Catalog With 8 Years’ Worth Of The Best Kids’ Books

f you’re bored with the latest remix of the same old kids’ book characters, confused about which indie publisher to trust, fed up with celebrities trying to infiltrate bedtime, or simply desperate to find something — anything — your kid hasn’t already made you read a thousand times, rejoice! NPR’s Book Concierge is a searchable repository of the year’s best books, sortable by both dad- and kid-friendly categories.

Now in its eighth year, the Book Concierge allows you to explore more than 260 of the year’s top titles, as reviewed by the NPR staff and national book critics. Categories range from “Staff Picks” and “Book Club Ideas” to “Family Matters,” “Love Stories,” “The Dark Side,” and of course ” Kids’ Books.” Clicking a title provides a review, notes on appropriate ages, and links to purchase. It eliminates a ton of the guesswork, and unless you and your kid are the world’s most prolific readers, has enough content to keep your bedtime stories fresh for a long time.


Source: https://www.fatherly.com/npr-book-concierge-is-a-searchable-catalog-of-the-best-kids-books-1544959672.html