El dia de los ninos: Connecting Libraries and Making Connections

IMG_0570Over the weekend, an opportunity popped up on Twitter.  Mrs. Crook, elementary librarian in Gastonia NC, tweeted that she wanted to connect with some class in honor of El dia de los ninos.  This day, celebrated on April 30, honors many cultures, children, and books.  It’s a day to celebrate reading, celebrate our uniqueness, and celebrate the joy of reading in many languages.  Mrs. Crook had many great ideas for celebrating the day.

Athens, GA to Gastonia, NC

Athens, GA to Gastonia, NC

 

IMG_0578We chose to celebrate with her by connecting 2 Kindergarten classes through Skype and doing a shared reading of Book Fiesta by Pat Mora.  Before our Skype, I showed Mrs. Li’s Kindergarten class a Google map of the distance from Athens, GA to Gastonia, NC.  We learned it was about 181 miles away and would take about 2 hours 50 minutes to drive there.  In our connection, I read the English pages of the book, and one of Mrs. Crook’s students read the Spanish pages.  It was so much fun to hear the pages spoken in 2 languages.  Mrs. Crook had several students who spoke Spanish and many of them began sharing their words in a chorus of voices.  Mrs. Li had 2 students who spoke Chinese.  I was so happy when Mrs. Li stepped up to the camera and said hello in Chinese to all of Mrs. Crook’s students.  She even taught them a few words and had them repeat them back.  We said “adios” to one another and disconnected.IMG_0569

After our Skype, we talked about several other books in our library collection that are bilingual.  We also listened to this Dia Day song.

IMG_0576Later in the day, Ms. Spurgeon’s 3rd grade class came to read the book Tomas and the Library Lady.  This book had a wonderful connection with Ms. Spurgeon’s work this year with diverse literature and literature that raises discussions about poverty and still achieving your dreams.  The book also connected with their discussions of Cesar Chavez and migrant workers.  I have my own connection to the book because I am friends with Tomas Rivera’s daughter.  As I read the story, I couldn’t help but think of Ileana on every page and how grateful I was to the library lady in Iowa that gave her dad access to books no matter what the circumstance.  I was also grateful to Tomas Rivera for persevering to bring new stories to his family and becoming such a leader in education.  This story gave many of our students a positive example of someone striving for their dreams in life no matter their background, living conditions, or social status.  We read the book to celebrate Dia and to talk about the importance of summer reading, but I think we left the lesson with many more conversations flowing in our minds that could not have been predicted in advance.

Tomas Rivera's daughter, Ileana Liberatore signed this copy of the book.

Tomas Rivera’s daughter, Ileana Liberatore signed this copy of the book.

 

Kindergarten Tux Paint Consultants

Today Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten students had so much fun Skyping with Shannon Miller’s Kindergarten and 1st Grade students in Van Meter, IA.  Shannon’s students are planning to embark on a similar project as Kelly’s students by making their own stories in Tux Paint and recording them with a screencasting tool.  The purpose of today’s Skype session was for Shannon’s students to ask Kelly’s students about what they did.

Shannon's students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Shannon’s students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Before our connection, Shannon showed her students our Tux Paint videos made in Screencast-o-matic, including the instructional video.  She let me know on Twitter that they were ready.

When we connected, Shannon’s students applauded Kelly’s students’ great work on their stories.  Then she guided them in asking questions about the process.  They asked questions like:

  • How did you decide what to write about?
  • How did you work together?
  • How did you learn to use Tux Paint?
  • What screencasting tool did you use?
  • How long did your story have to be?
  • and more

Each time a question was asked, Mrs. Kelly called on a student to answer, and sometimes she answered the question or added additional insight.  We had a computer ready with Tux Paint in case we needed it to show something.  The students also had their planning paper, which they showed to answer one of the questions.  I had a USB webcam plugged in so that I could move the camera closer to students as they talked.  Although, my camera skills weren’t great, I think the kids enjoyed seeing themselves closeup on the screen.

Now, Shannon’s K and 1st grade students plan to use Tux Paint to make their own stories and use a new screencasting tool to record them.  We ended our time by agreeing to come back together to Skype and share our work with one another before the end of the year.

Shannon, Kelly, and I could have all easily just done the teaching of Tux Paint on our own, but giving the students this ownership of the project and sharing of expertise between schools means so much more.  I think that they now look at themselves as experts with knowledge to share.  Not only do they have the knowledge, they have the support that it is ok to take a leadership role in the classroom and teach alongside the adult teacher.  They also know that they have an authentic audience that their work immediately impacts.  I hope that this idea blossoms into other opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and become leaders in technology and learning for our school and beyond.

World Book Night 2013

In the bag:  A letter about World Book Night, discussion guide, Wimpy Kid bookmark, and Middle School the Worst Years of My Life

In the bag: A letter about World Book Night, discussion guide, Wimpy Kid bookmark, and Middle School the Worst Years of My Life

Today is World Book Night.  This year, our library was chosen to be “a giver” for this special annual celebration.  Our selected book was Middle School the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson.  My original plan was to target a specific group of our 5th graders who will be transitioning to middle school very soon.  However, after reading the book, I really thought that it was a book that all of our 5th graders should get the chance to enjoy.  With support from PTA and some book fair profits, I was able to buy extra copies of the book to add to the 20 copies given to me by World Book Night.  Our local independent bookstore, Avid Bookshop, was incredibly fast in getting the books to us and they even had them shipped to our school.  Avid was also the pickup spot for our box of books from the World Book Night organization.  Our family engagement specialist, Mimi Elliott-Gower, helped me plan a special time for our 5th graders.  She even made them all a bookworm snack.

Today at 1:45, all 5th graders gathered in the library.  We skyped with Shawn Hinger, media specialist extraordinaire at Clarke Middle School.  She answered a lot of questions that students had about the middle school library.  She had several of her students join her, and many of them answered questions about the library too.  I loved the participatory feel of our Skype.

Next, Tad MacMillan, Clarke Middle School principal, spoke to our 5th graders in person.  He discussed the summer learning slide and how reading could help deter that slide.  He encouraged kids to think beyond reading 15 minutes per day and instead think about how many minutes they actually had in their summer.  Wouldn’t a goal of 45-60 minutes per day be even better?  He ended his time by reading from one of the other World Book Night selections, The House on Mango Street.

IMG_0526Then, it was time for the big reveal.  I told the kids about World Book Night.  Some of the kids had already asked me if I was going to be a giver, so I book talked my book to them and let them guess which book I was giving away.  Once they guessed the title, I told them about how I wanted to give more than just 20 copies of the book away and with the help of PTA and book fair that was exactly what I was going to do right now!  I went over the discussion guide with the kids and urged them to read the book with their families and begin to talk about their goals and worries about middle school.  Then, we passed out bags to all students in 5th grade.  Each bag contained a letter to families about World Book Night, a bookmark, a discussion guide, a bag of bookworms, and the book.  IMG_0504

Even though I deviated from my original plan for World Book Night and even though I didn’t really randomly pass out the books like WBN suggests doing, I feel like this was the right thing to do.  Fifty two copies of the book were distributed, and I feel like there will be at least 52 excited kids who will possibly have some great conversations with their families based in a humorous, yet gripping book.  So many of the kids came up and thanked me for the books, and when I went into their classrooms to check on them, I saw several of them already reading.  What an exciting day!IMG_0547

WHAT IS WORLD BOOK NIGHT?
World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading,
person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their
communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and nonreaders. In 2013, World Book Night will be celebrated in the U.S., the UK, and Ireland.
World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t
regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and
connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—
through the sharing of stories.
World Book Night is a nonprofit organization. We exist because of the support of
thousands of book givers, booksellers, librarians, and financial supporters who believe in
our mission. Set for April 23 each year to honor Shakespeare’s birthday, World Book
Night was successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, and World Book Night was first
celebrated in the U.S. in 2012. Thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea!
WHY IS WORLD BOOK NIGHT IMPORTANT?
Why does World Book Night exist? Reading for pleasure improves literacy, actively
engaging emerging readers in their desire to read. Reading changes lives, improves
employability, social interaction, enfranchisement, and can have a positive effect on
mental health and happiness. Book readers of all ages are more likely to participate in
positive activities such as volunteering, attending cultural events, and even physical
exercise.
Or more simply put, books are fun—and they can be life-changing.

Kindergarten Experts: A Tux Paint Instructional Video

Students gathered around the netbook to plan out what they would share on the screencast.

Students gathered around the netbook to plan out what they would share on the screencast.

I was so impressed by the work that Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten students did on their Tux Paint stories.  You can read more about that adventure here.  We wanted to continue their work in some way so that it might inspire and support other classes in trying Tux Paint.  After some planning, we decided to have the kids make an instructional video.  Mrs. Hocking brought her whole class to the library.  We talked about how instructional videos are a kind of informational text just like they are reading in their classrooms.  We also talked about being a leader and sharing expertise.  I made a screencast to show how to make an Animoto and we watched a part of that.

Along the way, I paused and had students talk about things that they noticed.  They shared things like

  • You clicked on things.
  • You talked about what you were clicking on.
  • You didn’t use a silly voice.  You used a serious voice.

We continued this pattern of watching and sharing for a few minutes.  Mrs. Hocking and I both added our own observations of what to include in an instructional video, too.  I told the students that they had to take themselves all the way back to the beginning and think about what they did first, second, third, etc.  Then they had to think about what they would say and what they would click.

Our Google doc captured what students would talk about on the screencast.

Our Google doc captured what students would talk about on the screencast.

A small group of 5 students stayed behind in the media center while Mrs. Hocking took the rest of the class back to Kindergarten to talk some more.  The small group and I took a netbook and started looking at Tux Paint.  I had them show me things they knew how to do.  As they did that, I started typing their words and expertise into a Google doc.  I also started pushing them to think about order.  What would someone do first? second? third?  I rearranged our doc to have a better sequence and put student names by each piece of tux paint that they would demo.  Then, we practiced.  Each student showed his/her knowledge of a certain aspect of Tux Paint.  Their tendency was to just click without talking.  I had them start again and say what they were doing as they clicked.  They also all wanted to talk while someone was clicking, so we had to discuss one person being allowed to speak without being interrupted.

On a separate day, the small group came back and we recorded their screencast using Screecast-o-matic.  In between each speaker, we paused the screencast and prepared the screen for the next student.  It was a challenge to stay quiet while someone was recording, but they did so much better after our practice in the 1st lesson.  Here’s what they created:

Our next step will be to send this video to Shannon Miller in Van Meter, Iowa so that her students can watch it and learn how to use Tux Paint.  Then, we will Skype with her students for them to ask follow-up questions about using Tux Paint.  The video will also be shared with teachers at our school so that they might consider using Tux Paint with their own classes.

I love the potential of this.  It is empowering for students to be able to share their expertise with the world, become leaders and teachers, and take time to reflect back on what they have actually learned about a particular technology tool.  I want to do more of this in the coming year, especially now that our students have access to Youtube.  Imagine the possibilities of students creating videos about what they have expertise in and sharing that with other students in the school.  The collaboration potential is mind-boggling!

Tux Paint Digital Stories with Kindergarten

A few months ago, Mrs. Kelly Hocking, Kindergarten teacher, emailed me with an idea.  She wanted to modify an idea that she found online that used KidPix.  Since we don’t have KidPix, our first step was to find an alternative.  The one that we liked the best was Tux Paint.

I met with Mrs. Hocking to talk about the logistics of installing Tux Paint on all of her netbooks and what that might look like in her center time.  She took this and ran with it as usual.  In centers, students explored Tux Paint and developed some expertise with the tool.  They figured out what worked and what didn’t.

Then, she put the students into work groups.  Each group used long rolls of paper to plan out a story and did quick sketches of their illustrations.  They used these planning sheets to draw their digital pictures in Tux Paint and type the text.  Students practiced their stories in class.

Mrs. Rockholt, the paraprofessional, brought small groups of students to the library to use Screencast-o-matic to record their stories.  We saved each screencast on a flash drive and then I uploaed them to Youtube to share with the world.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two groups of students also took some time to talk about the process of the project.  Here are there thoughts.

 

Next, we plan to share these with our friends at Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, IA.  We are hoping that some of these students can show the students in Iowa how to use Tux Paint.

 

Poem In Your Pocket Days 2013 (Part 2)

IMG_0498Yesterday, we had a great day celebrating poetry in our poetry cafe.  It is truly amazing that almost every student in the school takes the time to get up in front of their peers (and the world) and read an original or favorite poem.  Also, more amazing things happened today.  Students volunteered to read poems for students who were too nervous to get up.  A group of students logged into our Adobe Connect from their own devices and started leaving encouraging comments for peers.  A student read  a poem from a cell phone.  A student made up a poem on the spot about not having a poem in his pocket.  It was so much fun!

We had guests joining us online from:  Athens GA, Valdosta GA, Randolph OH, Milton FL, Tucson AZ, Indiana, Richmond VA, Lexington KY, Kirkland WA, Belvidere IL, Fremont IA, Lawrenceville GA, Germany, Blue Ridge GA, Jasper GA, New London WI, Tampa FL, Vermont, Baton Rouge LA, New Mexico, and more.

You can enjoy all of the poetry sessions again by viewing the recordings below.

Today’s Recordings:

Cross 5th grade

Carney Kindergarten

Boyle Kindergarten

Li Kindergarten

Doneda PreK

Spurgeon 3rd grade

Olin 4th grade

Vertus Kindergarten

Slongo 5th grade

Clarke PreK

Ramseyer 2nd grade

Griffith 3rd grade

Poem in Your Pocket Days 2013 (Part 1)

IMG_0428 IMG_0431Today, the first classes came to read their poems in our poetry cafe.  We broadcast the poetry readings via Adobe Connect.  The room was setup with paper tablecloths, paper confetti, lanterns, and flowers in vases.  The microphone was surrounded by fabric and lights with a poet step & stool to read from.  Students read their poems and snapped to celebrate each reader.  Each student got a lollipop when they left.  We had online visitors from: Athens GA, Lexington KY, Buffalo NY, Hinsdale IL, UGA, Jasper GA, Cook County IL, Mason City IA, West Central MN, Bogart GA, Dacula GA, Hall County GA, Colbert GA, Gowrie IA, Fremont IA, and more.

As in the past, the comments from an authentic audience fueled the energy of the students.  They loved hearing shout-outs about their poetry.  An interesting thing that happened was that classes within our school were watching and students in those classes sent shout-outs to brothers and sisters.  It was so sweet to hear words of encouragement between siblings.  Thank you teachers for making that happen.  Each year unexpected, wonderful things happen.  This has become a day we all look forward to.

You can enjoy all of the readings again at the following links:

Shealey 3rd grade

 

Wyatt 1st grade

 

Watson 1st grade

 

Hart 1st grade

 

Selleck 4th grade

 

Wright 2nd grade

 

Freeman 4th grade

 

Stuckey 1st grade

 

Em 1st grade

 

Brink 2nd grade

 

Hocking Kindergarten

 

Yawn 2nd grade

Join us tomorrow, too.

Friday April 12, 2013

Time Class
8:00 5th Cross
8:30 K Carney
9:00 K Boyle
9:30 K Li
10:00 PreK Doneda
10:30 3rd Spurgeon
11:00 4th Olin
11:30 K Vertus
12:00 5th Slongo
12:30 PreK Clarke
1:00 2nd Ramseyer
1:30 3rd Griffith

To login to Adobe Connect, follow these instructions: