Usually around this time of year I post about Barrow Storybook Parade. However, this year we revised the name a bit to “Storybook Celebration”. After tons of feedback from teachers and meeting with my media technology committee, we began to craft a new plan for this annual event. A major concern from teachers was that there seemed to be less of a focus on reading and more focus on dressing up in a costume that wasn’t related to books.
This year, we decided to speak to this concern by making the entire day a focus on reading. The morning started out in our traditional way with an assembly in the gym. Each class had a chance to walk across the stage to show off their books and costumes. Some classes had a class theme such as “heroes inside of us” or “Chicka Chicka 123” or “Folktales and Fairy Tales” while other classes had students dressed as characters such as Willow Smith, Despereaux, the Grouchy Ladybug, and Where’s Waldo. After the assembly, we continued our yearly tradition of walking to 5 points and back shouting “Read More Books!”.
When we returned to school, classroom teachers planned rotations within their grade level or planned a day of literature activities within their own classrooms. Each class also signed up for one specials class in art, music, PE, social emotional learning, or health. The media center isn’t typically part of the specials rotation, but we were also one of the options to sign up for. Each of these specials planned a literature-based lesson that focused on their subject area.
In the media center, we had skype guest readers. A HUGE “thank you” goes out to all of these volunteers who took time to read exciting stories and interact with our students. Author Laurel Snyder skyped with 4th grade and read Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman. Linda Martin, media specialist at Sugar Hill Elementary in Hall County, skyped with Kindergarten and read Shake Dem Halloween Bones. Kathy Schmidt, media specialist at Rock Springs Elementary in Gwinnett County, skyped with 3rd grade and shared her “boo bubbles” science experiment. Laura Landstrom, former Barrow teacher, skyped from Washington DC with many of her former students who are now in 5th grade. Marsha West, former Barrow media specialist, skyped with 2nd grade from her new home in Nebraska. For many of our students, it was the first time to use Skype, and they were amazed by how it worked. After each author’s session, we brainstormed ways Skype might be used at school and I encouraged the students to share their ideas with their teachers so that we can continue to reach beyond our school walls into the world. For the second half of the media center time, students used the Sock Puppet app on the iPads to create 30-second stories with a partner. Some students also chose to use this time to read on our e-readers. There were some very imaginative and hilarious sock puppet shows that students created in a matter of minutes. It is amazing what students can create and figure out when they have the space to explore.
I’m awaiting feedback from teachers and students about how the day went, but from my perspective, it seemed to be a success.