Summer Reading Begins….

How is your summer reading going?  Have you visited the public library yet?  How about reading book online?  Have you stopped by a yard sale or thrift store to find some great used books?  How about browsing the shelves at your local bookstore?

Well…my summer reading is off to a great start.  I’ve been reading a chapter book by Polly Horvath called Northward to the Moon. I checked it out from the Watkinsville library.  I also visited the Winterville library and the Athens library with my 5-month old daughter, Alora.  She signed up for the summer reading program and has already earned her first prize, her name on the wall for reading 10 books.  Stop by the Athens Library and see if you can find her name.  Here’s a clue….it’s on a frog.

If you’re a Barrow parent, I would love to hear how your summer reading is going with your child.  Leave a comment and tell us.  If you’re not a Barrow family, tell us how your summer reading is going.  Especially tell us if you have any great resources for summer reading or incentives.

Before I go, I wanted to share one more reading incentive you might take advantage of this summer.  Borders has a reading challenge to earn a free book.  All you have to do is read 10 books and you get a free book.  Why not take advantage of all these great prizes?  You’re already reading anyway!  Happy summer!

Author Trailers with Animoto

Today, 4th grade presented their author studies to 3rd grade at our summer reading fair. Each 4th grader was a part of a group reading books by one author. The authors were presented to them in a power point fast-paced book talk. The students then signed up for the author they were interested in and read as many books as possible over the past 3 weeks. Next, students worked in their classrooms to create displays for their table at the summer reading fair. These tri-boards featured summaries of books, vocabulary, and more. One of the new and popular features of each table was an Animoto author trailer. Students created these as an intro to their author during a 90-minutes session with me in the media center.

During the Animoto lesson, students saw a model example and then learned about finding photographs online under the creative commons licensing. Students then planned their author trailer using a graphic organizer at tables. Finally, students went to the computer lab and used Animoto to create their final products. You can view all of their author trailers here.  You can also hear a group of students speak about using Animoto here.

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Collaboration: Performance Poetry

Today, 3rd grade visited the media center for performance poetry centers. These centers were a collaborative project planned by Shelley Olin (media paraprofessional), Glennda Shealey (3rd grade teacher), Laura Glenn (parent), and myself (Andy Plemmons, media specialist). These centers follow the huge kickoff we had last Thursday with Ishues.

During three 45-minute blocks, the third grade classes rotated through 3 out of 4 centers. Students chose the 3 centers they most wanted to experience and teachers grouped them accordingly. At Laura Glenn’s center, students explored how movement can be incorporated into poetry. She had the students interpret various poems in movement as well as try out specific types of moves. At Ms. Olin’s center, students explored the poetry of hip hop. Ms. Olin brought in her laptop and played various tracks for students as well as used the collection of poetry called “Hip Hop Speaks”. With our student teacher, Ms. Frannie, students explored videos of performance poetry and crafted a list of “noticings” from what they saw. Videos included poets such as Jill Scott, Coleman Barks, Ben Harper, and Maya Angelou. With me, students explored poems for multiple voices and read poems from books such as Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, The Friendly Four, and Big Talk.

The students will now participate in writing workshops in their classrooms to craft their own performance poetry. They will perform these poems in their classrooms on Friday for their families.

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Ishues: Performance Poetry

Today launched another collaborative project in the media center. The entire third grade is studying performance poetry. Glennda Shealey, a third grade teacher, and Shelley Olin, the media center paraprofessional, were the lead collaborators in this project. I also collaborated in a smaller role with the project.

In today’s kickoff, Ishues, a local hip-hop artist, came to share his spoken word, poetry in motion, and rap with students. He was accompanied by his manager, Life, who also offered his own spoken word and drumming to the students. Every poem, rap, and spoken word that these men offer students features a positive tone with no foul language. They delivered a message of positivity to students asking them to always believe in themselves even when others try to put you down. Ishues and Life had students participating in making sounds, drumming, interpreting movements, and speaking poetry during their presentation. The student energy was on fire by the time they left the media center.

On Monday, students will rotate through 4 centers in the media center: hip-hop lyrics, poetry & motion, poems for multiple voices, and performance poetry. The centers will be led by a parent, the media paraprofessional, one 3rd grade teacher, and myself. After these centers, students will write their own performance poetry in writing workshops and perform their poems for their families on May 14th.

View our teacher tube video of the performance

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Coleman Barks: Rumi Poetry Expert

Today, our 5th grade students had an incredible poetry session with Coleman Barks.  Mr. Barks is a leading translator of Rumi poetry.  His grandson attends our school, and we were fortunate enough to have him come in and speak with our 5th grade.

Coleman spent about 45 minutes sharing poetry, reflections on poetry, and inspirations for writing poetry.  When he reads, he takes his time and savors and considers each word as it is spoken into the air.  He asked us to just listen to each word and how the sound of the word “is what it is”.  As a boy, Coleman kept a black notebook of writing.  He collected words that were interesting to him.  With our 5th grade, he shared some lists of words and had them consider why the words were put together or how the words just sounded like what they were.

At the conclusion of his talk, Coleman  invited students to take what inspired them and write free verse poetry.  He even offered a prompt of writing praises about something:  praises of the computer or praises of peanut butter or praises of scissors.  One teacher shared with me after school that her students immediately went back to class and wrote thank you’s to Mr. Barks.  Their thank you’s where in the form of poems.

If you ever have a chance to listen to Coleman Barks share poetry, I highly encourage you to do so.  He will make you look at words, their arrangement, and their sounds in a whole new way.  You can also listen to him on Youtube here and here.

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Planning for Summer

Yes…you read that title right.  It’s almost the end of April, but how can you not already start thinking about summer?  Especially with CRCT coming to a close and the media center calendar filled with lessons and events that will lead us right into the last day of school.  It’s always important to start thinking:  What will I read this summer?  How will I read this summer?  What questions will I explore? Think of the summer as your opportunity to go on a journey that you’ve been waiting to take, but you just haven’t had time yet.  Here are a few things you might consider:

If you have other great reading or researching ideas for the summer, post a comment and share.