Little Free Library Progress Update

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Very exciting news! We just heard from Home Depot in Athens that our 2 Little Free Libraries are almost ready for delivery to the school. Kenneth Simms, Operations Manager, sent us a photo of the progress late last night. We can’t wait to get these libraries to our school to begin decorating them in art!  We can’t thank Home Depot enough for all they are doing!

Second Little Free Library

Joel typed his letter, conference with me and his teachers, addressed his envelope, and dropped it in the mail

Joel typed his letter, conference with me and his teachers, addressed his envelope, and dropped it in the mail

We are currently looking for a home for our 2nd Little Free Library that is being built by Home Depot.  Our school attendance zone stretches from Five Points into downtown Athens, so the students wanted a library to go in each end of our zone.  Many of our students live near Lay Park, Lyndon House, and the downtown fire department so they really want our 2nd library to go near that area.  Today, a letter was mailed out to Lay Park by a student who goes to Lay Park a lot.  Many of our students use this space during the summer and after school, so it really would be a perfect spot for our 2nd library.  Students who live in that area could take books from our school donation site and make sure the library stays full.  It would be a great source of community service and responsibility for our students.  I’m sure that there will be many steps to get approval to put a library in a spot like this.  Now, we will wait and see what the response is from the county and Lay Park, but we are going o think positive thoughts for now.

Joel's letter explains LFL and makes a personal connection

Joel’s letter explains LFL and makes a personal connection


Little Free Library Update

A display is ready to inform shoppers at our book fair about our Little Free Library project

A display is ready to inform shoppers at our book fair about our Little Free Library project

We have very exciting news in our 5th grade Little Free Library project.  Before spring break about 14 kids mailed letters to Home Depot in Athens to ask if they could support our project with some materials.  Kenneth Sims, operation manager, emailed me back to ask for a specific list of what we needed.  After some more research on the Little Free Library site and consulting with my talented Dad, I sent him a list of what we would need.  I knew the list was a lot to ask for, so I told him that we would appreciate anything that they could do.

He emailed me back with great news.  Home Depot is donating all of the materials we need to build the libraries, building both libraries for us, delivering them to our school for the kids to decorate, and helping us install them when the time comes.  I was absolutely floored.  I even got a call from the builder before he started the project to just make sure that all of the plans that they were doing fit with what we needed.  I can’t wait to share pictures with you of our project.

We went into this project with a lot of faith that our community would come through for us to make this project happen.  It is so great to know that a major business in the community is so giving of their resources in the name of children, community, and literacy.

Now, we have a lot of work to do, but one major weight is lifted off our shoulders.  The kids were beaming when I went to their classes to share the news with them.  One student in particular was very excited because we realized that she included my email address in her letter in order for the manager to contact us.  She was the only student to do this.

Our next steps include:

  • Painting the designs on our libraries
  • Nailing down our second location with some more persuasive letters
  • Raising money for the registration of the libraries
  • Doing a book drive to fill the libraries and have a stock pile of books to replenish the libraries
  • Writing speeches to present the libraries at the Moving On Ceremony.
  • Installing the downtown library in its location
  • Probably some things we haven’t thought of!

If you would love to help us with our project, we are wide open for help.  One way you could help us is by purchasing a book at our book fair next week or shopping our wishlist at our online book fair through April 5th.  Here’s info on our online fair:

It’s Book Fair time at our school! I’ve created a classroom wish list to add new books to our classroom library. You can view my classroom wish list and purchase books from our school Book Fair website. These books will be treasured by students for years to come.

You can visit our online Book Fair anytime until 04/05/2013. All books purchased will be shipped directly to me at school with no shipping charge. Thanks for getting our class excited about reading.

Your support is appreciated,

Andy Plemmons

Scholastic Book Fairs inspire a lifetime love of reading. A percentage of the total proceeds raised during the Book Fair will stay with the school and help get more kids reading, kids reading more! Visit the Book Fair Web site for detailed information.


Student Book Budget 2012-2013 Finale

IMG_0331 IMG_0332 IMG_0333 IMG_0334 IMG_0335Today was an exciting day.  The 105 books purchased by the students in this year’s book budget groups went into circulation.  I announced on BTV that the books were ready.  Teachers played this video in class.

IMG_0337It didn’t take long until students began pouring into the library on their own and in classes to checkout the books.  Almost every student who visited the library got one of the new books, and by lunch, there were only 5 books left!

Only 5 books remained at Noon.

Only 5 books remained at Noon.

It was also an exciting day for the book budget students because they got to see their hard work pay off with students getting excited about reading their selections and they were surprised with superhero bags donated by Capstone Press.  As always, I was amazed by the customer service of Capstone and how they responded to the work of these students.  They featured the students’ on their blog, sent us 4 new princess books, and gave all of the students a Capstone bag.IMG_0336 IMG_0339 IMG_0338

Once again, this process has proved to be very effective in matching books to student interests.  I think the participatory aspect of this along with the student ownership is what drives this to be so successful each year.  It’s a great way to give back to the students what they put into the library program each year through lessons, reading, contests, and book fairs.  It will be interesting to see if student interests change through the coming years as our books on princesses, sports, superheroes, etc continue to grow.


Transmedia Poetry with Thinglink

Fourth graders have been working on a poetry project for a few weeks now.  The goal was to write poem based in the science standards of light and sound and incorporate figurative language.  The teachers also wanted students to use some kind of technology for the project.  I decided to use a tool called Thinglink because it allows you to take an image and make it interactive.  You can put multiple related links on one image to create a transmedia experience, which means that the poem is experienced across multiple platforms.  We thought students could explore their poem in different ways:  informational text, video, image, and poetry text.  Other options could have included song, online games, and ebooks related to the poem’s topic.


The sequence of lessons looked something like this:

  • Lesson 1:  Look at onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, and personification in several mentor poems and then do a poetry dig in poetry books to find more examples of that figurative language.


  • Lesson 2:  Look at specific poems that focus on light and sound.  Examine the science standards and the idea of “found poetry” so that students might incorporate language from the standard in their poem.  Begin writing poems.


  • Lesson 3:  Finish writing poems in Google doc and begin Thinglink project.  This lesson took longer than we expected because students had to setup a Youtube Channel, create a Thinglink account, search for a creative commons image, and change the privacy setting on their Google Doc.  We did this step by step together.


  • Lesson 4:  Create a Thinglink.  The goal was to have an image with links to the Google doc, a video of the student reading the poem, and links to informational sites about the topic of the poem.

This was a fun project, but because there were so many accounts to log in to, it made the progress slow down significantly.  Students had a hard time remembering all of the steps that it took to login to multiple accounts at the same time and navigate back and forth between multiple tabs to get the links that they needed.  I think it really opened our eyes to some skills we need to focus on at the beginning of the year in order to make projects like this successful.

As students finished their work, they submitted their poem in a Google form and I added it to our Smore webpage of interactive poetry images.  Smore was very easy to use and a great way to collect and display a whole grade level’s work.  As students submitted their links, I copied the link and then embedded it on the Smore page with one click.  Then, on the Google spreadsheet, I highlighted the student’s name so that I knew I had already added their work.

I encourage you to take a look at the students’ work on our Smore page.  We could have made this project much more complex, but it was a great first step.  I think a second round of Thinglink would be much smoother.

Student Book Budgets (Part 3): The Books are Here!

IMG_0306After lots of surveying and ordering, the books that 27 third-fifth graders ordered for the library are finally here.  Today the students came to the library to unpack the boxes.  The process followed these steps:

  • Unpack the box
  • Highlight the books on the back slip
  • Inspect the books for damage or imperfections
  • Stamp the books with our library stamp
  • Take pictures of the books
  • Pack them back into the box until the records are downloaded into Destiny

IMG_0252The students formed an assembly line and worked through these steps.  The fourth grade group was a bit larger, so some of those students split off to create window displays and signs advertising the new books.  All of the pictures were put into an Animoto that will be played on BTV after spring break.

The students are eager to see the books get checked out.  I have a feeling that these books will fly off of the shelf just like in past years.  Great work students!IMG_0309


Cloning Myself: A Solution for Being Absent

It is so hard to be out sick with the busy media center schedule that we have.  Our schedule books up weeks in advance, so when I’m out it makes it really hard to reschedule things.  Although the solution I’m going to share won’t work every time, it does offer a way to still offer similar instruction that I would have done if I was here.

Mrs. Ramseyer and Mrs. Wright’s classes are blogging with students in Iowa.  Their next step is to write a book review post.  We were scheduled to do a model book review shared writing experience.  Since I will be out tomorrow, I made a screencast today for the teachers to play in their classrooms.  They can pause during the video and have students give ideas for the shared writing.  I also created a skeleton Google doc with the pieces of a book review:  hook, summary, opinions/connections, closing/recommendations.  They can add to this doc during the video as well.

Using Screencast-o-matic made this very quick and easy to do and upload to Youtube.  Now, we can move forward with our schedule after spring break without having to reschedule.

World Read Aloud Day 2013

Wow!  Even though a major snowstorm was making its way across the country, we celebrated World Read Aloud Day with multiple authors and classrooms around the country.  Educators around the world have been orchestrating this day for quite some time through multiple social networks.  Through Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, Skype in the Classroom, and Kate Messner’s excellent author website  we have planned day-long and even week-long reading events for our students.IMG_0148IMG_0138

Twitter was buzzing this morning with authors and librarians having to reschedule due to the snow, but here at Barrow most of our scheduled stayed secure.  Matthew Winner had to cancel due to snow impacting his flight to NC, so Kathy Schmidt and her students stepped in for us.  Anne Marie Pace, author of Vamperina Ballerina, had to reschedule since the Virginia snow shut off her power.  It’s pretty amazing that we were able to pull off so many connections even with bad weather.

Highlights from the day included:

  • Okle Miller, librarian in Tampa Florida, and I read We Are In A Book.  Okle was Piggie and I was Elephant.  Kindergarten students loved it!  We tried to play into the cameras in order to look at our audiences.
  • Kathy Schmidt in Gwinnett County, GA had students listen to me read Same, Same but Different and talk about what was the same and different about living just 48 miles from each other.
  • The amazing Laurel Snyder shared a favorite picture book with 2 fourth grade classes and then gave them a sneak peak of a new chapter book.
  • Jesse Klausmeier, author of Open This Little Book, skyped with our students and Shannon Miller’s students in Van Meter, IA at the same time.  A favorite question from one of our students for Jesse was “Did it make your family happy when you wrote your book?”  We all almost teared up.  So sweet!
  • I shared a favorite story by Colleen Sally called Epposumondas Saves the Day with Mary Priske’s 4th grade in Mt. Vernon, IA and Mrs. Griffith’s 3rd grade joined in too.  Students in both states chanted “sody, sody, sody sallyratus” as I read.
  • Laura D’Elia, librarian in Massachusetts, and I read Same, Same but Different and compared living in GA with living in Massachusetts.  Students in Massachusetts had 1:1 iPads while we have 1:1 netbooks.
  • Lisa Waggett at GoForth Elementary in League City, TX and I read Same Same but Different to 1st grade classes and compared our 2 states.
  • Mrs. Brink & Mrs. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade students read poems in 2 voices with Jeff McHugh’s 4th grade students in Arlington Heights, IL.  Our students had a lot of energy and it was fun to combine our voices across the miles to read poetry.
  • Jody Feldman, author of the Gollywhopper Games, read aloud to our 5th graders and allowed them to ask questions.  She also gave them a preview of the sequel.

IMG_0182What a packed day filled with releasing words into the air across the country.  Skype is such a powerful tool to connect us beyond the walls of our school.  It was so interesting to see how much our students don’t know about  beyond the boundaries of Athens.  I predict that the work that we did today will lead to many long-distance collaborations with libraries around the country.  Let’s continue to share the power of reading, connect our students, and understand what it truly means to be part of a global community!