Cambodian visitors to our school, Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Next Tuesday two young Cambodian men, Chamroeun and Sovann, will be visiting our school for the day.  Both are weekend employees at Open Book, one of our Cambodian Global Concerns, which has sponsored them to come to Singapore for a week of professional development, which includes visiting a few international school libraries.

They are available to speak to any classes about Cambodia in general, literacy and reading in Cambodia, and/or the history and politics of Cambodia, e.g., during the week Chamroeun works with the French organization  Avocats sans Frontieres (Lawyers without Frontiers) on the Khmer Rouge trials, while Sovann is from Preah Vihar, where the fighting with Thailand is happening.

They will be based in the library and are willing to tell some Cambodian stories to those classes visiting for borrowing.  They will also be spending time with Kalimah and Ernie, learning how we manage our book collection.

Open Book (Au Livre Ouvert in the original French –if you go to the page,  just ask Google to translate the page for you), is the project of Catherine Cousins who runs an open library (Reading Room) for children on Street 240 in Phnom Penh.  The charity also publishes children’s books in Khmer, French, and English (e.g., Frederick Lipp’s books) which our Grade 3 students are selling at the Family Breakfasts and other school events — and in the library.

Below is a photo of Margot in Open Book over Chinese New Year, picking up books for our Global Concerns projects.

Categories: Special events

Easy ways to suggest library resources

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment
Reading List by KJGarbutt, on Flickr

It’s that time of year when we are submitting orders for new books and resources for next year.  There are several ways to do it.

The old-fashioned way would be to create a list of titles/authors and send it to me via email (

You can also click here to use a Google Form to submit information to a Google Spreadsheet for me:

Suggest a Library Resource!


But if you want to give me more information, including an ISBN and book cover image, there are quite a few online tools that make it easy.

NB: you have to register first — at no cost — but then you are free to create all kinds of booklists.

The beauty of such tools is that you enter the minimal search terms needed to identify the book (key words from the title, the author’s name) and it looks for different editions for you to choose from.

Feel free to use any of them and send me the link.

Want to search for titles/prices?  Try these book sites…

For hard-to-find books – whether new or out-of-print

Singapore Suppliers

Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License by KJGarbutt

Categories: Books Tags: ,

Book Week: March 14-18, 2011

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, the next-to-last week of term — March 14-18 – is Book Week.

I need a committee of teachers to help me generate ideas and activities for grades to use in planning their week.

If you’re interested, please drop me an email (  My goal will be to have a meeting within the week.

Here’s the page of ideas/activities from last year:  Book Week Ideas

For you new teachers, what you need to know is:

  • there is usually an overall theme to the week, e.g., last year’s was “Reading Opens Doors”.  See these photos of how classrooms decorated their doors last year.
  • There is usually a Book Character Dress-Up Day on the Friday — with a whole school assembly.  (Tampines could easily do it on a different day.)  See these photos from last year’s dress-up day.
  • Each grade comes up with their own activities – you can all do different things – NB: there is no budget available apart from your regular budgets.
  • In the past the library has worked with daily themes, e.g., Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day, Nonfiction Day, etc., which classes are welcome to join in with or not.
  • Book Week coincides with the voting period for the Red Dot Book Awards (ballots close on Wed, March 16th) — which I will be heavily promoting (watch for more info)….
  • Author visits are definitely possible.  See this list of local authors & illustrators, many of whom are inexpensive and/or free (e.g., how much do you think Ben Morley will charge us?)
  • Skype visits with authors are also possible.  I have already arranged with Frederick Lipp for him to do Skype visits with us that week (watch for more info).
  • eBooks / iPods / iPads — I will definitely be looking to incorporate digital texts as part of Book Week.

Categories: Special events

Kids keeping up with the news… online…

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Want your students to explore news and non-fiction online?

For example, what do they know about Egypt, which has been in the news for the past week?

Try some online newspapers and magazines for kids.

We just subscribed to a new biweekly one called “Our Little Earth“.

Read the January 28th edition here.  The lead story is about people rising against governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

CCBC – the BBC newsite for kids – also has a lead story on protests in Egypt.

For background information, try Qwiki. It’s a kid-friendly visual wikipedia that reads the information aloud.

Click here to see the basic Qwiki entry on Egypt.

Categories: Resources Tags: , ,

Award-winning blogs by educators….

January 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Have you been meaning to start reading more blogs about education?  Might as well start with the best.

An easy way to follow blogs is to set up an RSS reader acount, e.g., a Google Reader one.  (NB: although we have Google Apps in school, that educational package doesn’t have a Reader component — so you would need to create an outside (regular) Google account and then sign up for Google Reader).

Categories: Blogs, RSS

Poetry resources

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Grade 3 has just finished a poetry unit and both K2 and Grade 1 are about to start units on it.

So I’d like to share a Poetry Resources page I put together for all of you:  Poetry Resources.

Poetry…. There are so many links I want to highlight for you.

— among our students, the most popular YouTube video is Michael Rosen performing his “No Breathing in Class” (though this is probably more Junior than Infant….)

— A3/A4 downloads – free – of poems to display — Poems For… a UK initiative –some bi-lingual – poems for … waiting, poems for … one world, poems for … all ages… (registration required before downloading) — but wonderful for display purposes….

— TextFlows — a program that displays a poem with stylistic pauses on your computer screen….  Here’s the list of all the poems available as Textflows – e.g., click here for  Emily Dickinson’s I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Re poetry and teaching…..

A teacher shared this poem online — “Fetch” — about sending a dog off to retrieve a snowball which disappears upon impact  — and he commented on it thus:

I was thinking about this poem at lunch time today.  It reminded me of how we send students off on assignments and how important it is that we are clear about the requirements of the task, its purpose, and our expectations about quality.

It also reminded me of the times the administration here sends us out to fetch information or to complete a task without a clear definition of terms, process, or purpose.

I’ll end with a link to my favorite poem about teaching… by the Canadian poet, Tom Wayland:  Did I miss anything?

Categories: Poetry

Christmas holiday resources

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

photo via Flickr -- Kimbrough Library

Want some online Christmas fun? (e.g., Elf-Yourself videos, games for kids to play, etc.)

Here’s a Diigo list thanks to Colin Gallagher:  Christmas-Related Online Fun

And I saw Louise (LPh) having great fun with the Portable North Pole website today.  Go create a personalized video message from Santa for your loved ones.

For more literary humor, read James Thurber’s version of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” — in the manner of Ernest Hemingway.

We have a beautiful pop-up book of that poem by Clement Moore — “Twas the Night Before Christmas” — created by Robert Sabuda — available for teachers to borrow.  (In fact, we have a good small collection of pop-up books for classes to explore.  Ask Kalimah if you want to check them out….)

For more holiday books in the library, see the “Christmas” Resource List here.   There’s a basket in front of Kalimah’s desk in the library for you to choose from.

Next week I’ll also bring in some Christmas picture books from my home collection — just for teachers to borrow on a one-period basis.

How about an environmental Santa tale?  Try “When Santa Turned Green” (see accompanying website with green ideas)

Want a funny read-aloud?

Anne Fine (the former UK Children’s Laureate and author of such classics as “Madame Doubtfire”) delivers up a first-person account of an extended family Christmas that you’ll be glad you only have to laugh about from a distance  — and not experience.  “The More the Merrier” is very funny and very British.

In another first-person chapter book  — “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — by Barbara Park, an American author — the humor depends upon some children in the book knowing the plot of the nativity story, while others are completely ignorant.  So not so great for a cultural group that isn’t familiar with the basics of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  But it has some of the best opening lines in children’s literature (in the Roald Dahl vein):

“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.  They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse.  The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans.  They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building.”

The picture book “Wombat Divine” by Mem Fox also gets its humor from some knowledge of the Biblical narrative of baby Jesus.  If you want, I have a cheap plastic nativity set at home, which I could bring in,  for kids to set up and play with.

As for picture books, my favorite has to be John Burningham’s “Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present”.

Other Christmas books available in the library
Image of book art Xmas tree: Kimbrough Library via Flickr
Categories: Books