Storybook Celebration 2013

Storybook RouteStorybook Parade has been a Barrow tradition for many years.  Over the past couple of years, we transistioned from a morning parade to a day-long event.  Our schedule now looks something like this:

  • 8:00 Guest readers in every classroom.  These readers are parents, family members, community members, and local celebrities.
  • 8:30 Classrooms prep for an assembly where we get to see all of the great costumes.  Every child dresses as a character from a book.
  • 9:00 Assembly.  All classes walk across the stage to be seen.
  • 10:00 Parade.  We march in a single file line out of the front doors of the school and parade down the sidewalks surrounding the UGA Athletic Department, UGA practice fields, and the UGA track.
  • 10:30-2:30 Classes continue to hold literature-related activities and sign up for special classes offered throughout the school.

I organize most of the day’s events,  but it couldn’t all be done alone.  There are just too many pieces to do by myself.  This year for guest readers, I created a Signup Genius.  I emailed all of our volunteers and former readers, shared the link on Facebook and Twitter, and put it in my newsletter.  Camilla Bracewell, Barrow grandparent, also made some phone calls and emails to recruite readers.  It didn’t take very long to schedule enough readers for every class, but as usual, during the days leading up to the event, we started getting cancellations.  Rather than scramble to find more readers, I had our administrators and specials teachers on standby to read in the event that we needed them.

storybook (32)For the assembly, I wanted to speed up every class walking across the stage.  In the past, every class has written a blurb about their class for me to read.  Some classes write a short blurb while others feel the need to describe every costume.  This year, Mimi Elliot-Gower, our family engagement specialist, had an idea to use quotes about reading.  I made a Google doc of reading quotes and let teachers sign up for a quote that represented her class.  I read these quotes as classes went across the stage and we tried to keep a constant flow of traffic.

For the parade, we changed our route this year.  We used to parade up to Five Points and back, but Lumpkin Street has gotten so busy that we wanted to move most of the parade to some streets that were a bit less congested.  Our 5th graders got to make a special stop at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and have some hot chocolate.  Our family engagement specialist, Mimi Elliot-Gower and counselor, Lauren McElhannon, setup this special treat.

storybook (10)Back at Barrow, teachers had lots of options for what their classes might do the rest of the day.  Every specials, EIP, special education, and gifted teacher offered sessions for classes to sign up for.  I created a Google spreadsheet schedule and teachers could sign up for up to 2 thirty minute sessions.  Examples included:

It was a fantastic day with so many books represented.  Each year this day grows a little more and includes a few new ideas.  Who knows where it will go next year.

storybook (51)We would like to thank all of our guest readers who came out today to celebrate with us:

  • Brenda Moon
  • Dr. Lanoue
  • Kim Ness
  • Ralph Stephens
  • Alicia Battle
  • Paula Shilton
  • Carol Williams
  • Denise Sims
  • Selby Merritt & Isabel
  • Bryn Adamson
  • Leslye Queen
  • Debra Lassiter
  • Terry Nestor
  • Paul Lee
  • Matt Winston
  • Chis Stutz
  • Josh Miles
  • Gail Schrader
  • David Meyers
  • Kathy Hoard
  • Ken Mauldin
  • Robert Miles
  • Alex Patterson
  • Utevia Tolbert


2nd Grade Monster Stories

Brink Every year our 2nd graders write monster stories leading up to the end of October and a PACT time called Monster Mash where families come into the classrooms to engage in what students are learning.

The project has many hands involved.  In art, Ms. Foretich works with the students to create their own monsters.  She then takes digital photographs or scans of those monsters and prints out mini versions of each student’s monster.

In class, students create scenes where their monster might live, where they might terrorize, or where they might go on an adventure.  They use their monster and scene to write a story.  Through several writing workshops, students develop their pieces, revise/edit, and publish.

IMG_1251In the media center, students come to me to film their monster story with our iPads.  Some students come with one scene and one monster, while others come with multiple scenes, multiple monsters, and pages and pages of story.  This year, we created a huge recording schedule that was quite ambitious.  Over almost 2 weeks, I would have 3 students every 15 minutes during a 90 minute time frame.  During this 15 minute window, we had to film the movie, upload it to an iMac, check the volume, add a title slide, and export the movie to a flash drive for Youtube uploading at a later time.  It took quite a while to get a flow going, but by the final few days, we were getting really efficient in our 15 minute window.  With a few students at the beginning, we made an opening slide with footsteps and a creaking door.  This same slide was used for every student, so we just had to change the title and author each time.  I set this up on 2 iMacs so that we could double up on uploads.  Some students filmed by themselves by using the iPad on a tripod.  Other students were filmed by Ms. Maher, a gifted teacher, or Mrs. McGee, a grad assistant.  If enough students were available and ready, students filmed for each other.  My role was to walk students through the steps of creating the video.  With every student, I talked through what we were doing on the screen.  Students approved the volume on their videos, added their title, and stayed with me through the export process.  I uploaded the video to Youtube after they left.

Teachers showed the videos during the Monster Mash PACT time.  To make sharing and viewing the videos easy, the teachers took all of the links to student videos and put them on a Thinglink.  To make these, we put all of the student monsters on a table, took a picture of them, uploaded the picture to thinglink, and attached each student video to his/her monster.  Now, when parents ask how to get to the videos, it is very easy to just share the thinglink with them.

RamseyerNext year, I want to think about how to give students even more ownership in the process.  Because of the tight time frame, it was hard to let students do all of the work of filming and uploading, but I know there has to be another way.  I’m going to reflect on that and suggest some improvement for next year.  For now, we can enjoy the amazing creations of these students in art, the classroom, and the media center.





A Visit to the High Museum of Art: Witness…The Art of Jerry Pinkney

high museum (31)Today was step 2 of our 3rd grade folktale project, and it was a big step.  We traveled to the High Museum of Art to see the exhibit Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney.  Prior to going, we spent time exploring all of Pinkney’s books in our library collection.  Mrs. Foretich, the art teacher, also did a lesson on museum etiquette.

On the way to the High, students explored Pinkney’s books some more.  As we neared our destination, I asked a few students to think about what they might like to tweet about the books or their excitement for the exhibit.  bus convo Our plan was to use twitter throughout the trip to document some of the things we saw and the things we learned.  We used our school hashtag #barrowbuddies to tag our posts.

After arriving, our groups  split in half.  Some toured the exhibit, whiles other ate lunch.  Then we switched.  Some of us were also able to explore some of the permanent collection before our tour began.

The tour of Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney was done by a docent.  We received a brief history of the museum before entering the exhibit.  Our docent had us sit in front of collections of paintings and told us about the stories that the paintings came from.  We saw paintings from historical books such as Minty and Black Cowboy Wild Horses, folktales such as Three Little KittensRikki Tikki Tavi, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Little Match Girl, and biblical stories such as Noah’s Ark.  Our docent had the kids work together to retell some of the familiar folktales as she pointed out things in the paintings.  We noticed how Pinkney set The Little Match Girl in New York City rather than in Europe where the tale came from.  We noticed how Pinkney set Little Red Riding Hood in a wintry woods so that it made sense for her to wear the kind of cloak she was wearing.  Along the way, we also learned about Pinkney’s childhood and how he always had access to a pencil and art supplies.  As we studied the watercolor paintings, we were reminded of the difficulty of working with this medium and the need to work quickly before the colors run together.  At the close of the exhibit, we looked at The Lion and the Mouse.  Along with looking at the paintings, students got to do some impromptu storytelling of their own using puppets.

The finale of our visit was getting to hear some of Pinkney’s folktales come to life through the storytelling talents of a rambler from the Wren’s Nest.  We heard 2 folktales, and the students were heavily involved in the performance.  He had them hanging on every word.

Our field trip allowed us time to do a brief second stop at the Georgia State Capitol rotunda.  Although students didn’t get to tour the entire Capitol, they at least got a frame of reference for the Capitol as we study it back at school.  We plan to use the Georgia Capitol Tour App on our iPads to do a more in-depth look at this landmark.

Once again on the way home, students took another look at Pinkney’s books with a new appreciation for the artwork that spans the pages of this books.  It was truly awesome to stand in a room surrounded by the collective work of Pinkney.  We did not have enough time to truly appreciate the years of work that went into this collection, but we will return to our school with a new appreciation of his art.

Our next steps will be to:

  • Continue reading folktales and studying their elements
  • Identify one folktale for each class to read without seeing the illustrations
  • Create the illustrations for the folktale in art
  • Put illustrations and text together with our iPads

Studying Illustrations with Jerry Pinkey

Pinkey art (8)Third grade is beginning a folktale project that is a collaboration between classroom teachers, the art teacher, and the media center.  This week, we kicked the project off with a lesson in the media center to explore the artwork of Jerry Pinkney, who writes and illustrates many folktales.

Students came to the library during art.  The purpose of this time was to get familiar with Pinkney’s illustrations before students take a field trip to the High Museum of Art  in Atlanta to see an exhibit of Jerry Pinkney’s art.  We wanted students to think about 2 questions.

  • What clues does the illustrator give us about the setting of the story?
  • What clues does the illustrator give us about what the characters are doing in the story?

We started with this video of Jerry Pinkney discussing The Lion and the Mouse.

After the video, I asked the students how Jerry Pinkney started working on the book and what he realized once he made those first steps.  This took our conversation to focus on the importance of illustrations and how they can tell the whole story or how they can work with the text to tell the story.

Next, we looked at this slideshare that showed Caldecott honor and medal winners along with the criteria used to decide the winners.

The purpose of this part was to highlight the many ways you can look at an illustration and how it interacts with the text or tells the story.  Jerry Pinkney has received several Caldecott Honor Awards along with the Caldecott Medal.

Pinkey art (10)Finally, we modeled how someone might study one illustration in a book very carefully and consider our 2 focusing questions.  I used We Give Books to display the book Big Red Lollipop.  Students in each class noticed things such as the red cross as a symbol for a hospital, an envelope on the side of a building to show a post office, the number of buildings close together to show a town, etc.  They also noticed how the character’s hair was blowing in the wind and how her leg was lifted high to show that she was running.  They noticed how she was carrying a letter and smiling to indicate that she was probably going home to show her family something she was excited about.

For the last part of the lesson, students split into groups of 4-5 students.  Each group received 4-5 books by Jerry Pinkney to examine.  Their job was to study the illustrations using the 2 questions just like we did in our model illustration.  As groups talked, the art teacher, art student teacher, and I walked around and chatted with students about what they saw in the illustrations.  We then asked groups to choose one illustration that they wanted to show to another group and discuss.  They used iPads to take a photograph of the illustration.  When they shared with another group, they could zoom in and out of the illustration on the iPads to show the fine details.

In art, students will now have a lesson on museum etiquette  where they will practice the skills it will take to visit a fine art museum.

On the trip to the High on October 23, we will tweet our observations using the hashtag #barrowbuddies.

Next steps will include:

  • Learning elements of folktales.
  • Reading multiple folktales and using a Google form to track the most common elements.
  • Choosing a folktale to read in class without seeing the illustrations.
  • In Art, developing illustrations for that folktale.
  • In the media center, put the illustrations and folktale version together with technology.
  • Share the new creation with the world

We can’t wait to see how this project develops and how Jerry Pinkney’s art inspires what the students create.

Georgia COMO 2013 Keynote

keynote 2Today I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Georgia Council of Media Organizations Conference in Macon, GA.  My hope was to open the conference by inviting conference members to give themselves permission to imagine and dream possibilities for their programs.  I hope that today’s keynote sparked some conversations that will carry people through the 2 days of the conference and beyond.  Putting together these slides and presentation allowed me to spend a lot of time reflecting on my library program and the many participatory opportunities for the members of our library.  Thank you to Diane Grffin, COMO chair, for the invitation to speak.  

Many thanks to CCSD librarians Shannon Thompson and Shawn Hinger who sat at the front table and cheered me on.  


Kindergarten Storybirds

Two Kindergarten classes just finished a writing project using Storybird.  Storybird allows a user to select illustrations for a story, sequence them, and add text to create a book.  Any time we plan a project like this, we consider what the barriers are to artistic expression.  For Kindergarten, some of the barriers included:

  • limited knowledge of technology use due to lack of technology in that grade
  • the ability to read the text of stories that could be mentor texts
  • writing the story vs. telling the story orally

To lower the barriers, the teachers and I planned a series of lessons and opportunities to support the students.

Lesson 1:  Spend time revisiting the 3 ways to read a story:  read the words, read the pictures, retell.  Focus on reading the pictures by looking at a wordless book together.

In between lessons:  In class, students practiced telling stories from wordless books in small groups, alone, and at centers.

Lesson 2:  Look at a sequence of 3 pictures and think about a beginning, middle, and end for those pictures.

Lesson 3 (or part of lesson 2):  Look at Storybird.  Choose a topic  of pictures, like pumpkins, and choose 3 pictures to sequence that could be the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  Write the story together as a class with time to pair share ideas.

Lesson 4:  In small groups with adult support, students created a group Storybird project.  We made as many groups as we had adults.  For one class this was 4 groups and for the other it was 5 groups.  The adult’s role was to facilitate the conversation of the students and make sure each voice was heard in the group.  The adult also typed the story for the students as they told the story.  The students were supposed to show the adult what to click on at each step of the project.

In between lesson:  One group at a time came to the library and used Screencastomatic to record the audio of their story.  If students had difficulty reading the words, we whispered the words to them and they repeated them.   Videos were uploaded to Youtube.

Lesson 5:  The whole class came to the library for a premiere of their audio ebooks!


You can enjoy all of their books here!













Read for the Record 2013

read for record (2)What fun!  Today we participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.   Since 2006, Jumpstart has been encouraging people around the world to break the record for the most people reading aloud the same book.  This year, the book was Otis by Loren Long.  We Give Books provided free access to this book for anyone who wanted to read it online.  At the same time you were reading for the record, you were also supporting book donations around the world.

Today, 4 classes at Barrow participated in the media center, while some others read the book in their own classrooms.  Each class was a bit different in what we did with the book.

Mrs. Clarke’s PreK class is studying cooperation.  We used Capstone’s PebbleGo Social Studies database to learn about the word cooperation.  Then, we gave examples from our own lives and classroom of how to cooperate.  As we read Otis aloud, we talked about how cooperation was shown in the book.  We also talked about how we were cooperating with people all around the world to read for the record.

Read for the Record through the years.

In Mrs. Watson’s 1st grade, we looked at the data  from Read for the Record through the years.  We also read about tornadoes on PebbleGo and made connections to Otis and the Tornado.  1st grade is studying weather along with their study of The Wizard of Oz so Otis and Otis and the Tornado were a perfect fit.

In Mrs. Wright’s 2nd grade class, we Skyped with Mrs. Lussier in Connecticut.  We had also connected with her 4th grade students during Talk Like a Pirate Day, so it was fun to reconnect.  We took turns reading pages in the book and then added to a friendship padlet.  Since October is bullying awareness month, we used Otis to talk about being kind and showing friendship rather than bullying.

Showing pictures to Mrs. Techman's students.

Showing pictures to Mrs. Techman’s students.

In Mrs. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class, we Skyped with Mrs. Techman in Charlottesville, VA.  I read the entire book to both classes and shared the pictures on the camera.  Our students stopped along the way and made predictions for one another.  We also took some time to tell about our own communities.  We looked at a map of how far away VA is and how long it would take to walk or drive.  Students wanted to know how long it would take to fly, so we pulled up a travel website and searched for a flight.  We also took time to add to the Padlet in this class, and Mrs. Techman’s class will add to it tomorrow.  Friendship Wall

While all of this was going on, I also tweeted the link to the padlet.  It was retweeted numerous times, so hopefully others will add to it.  Shawn Hinger and her students at Clarke Middle in Athens took time to add their own thoughts on friendship.  It was nice to have a middle school voice among the elementary ideas.  Andy Plemmons (plemmonsa) on Twitter

Once again, I was amazed by the power of connecting and how many standards can be woven into an event such as this.  I can’t wait to see what the record was set at today!



Interactive Ebook Station

interactive screenWe finally have another piece of our new library put together.  Our touchscreen computer was just setup in our display case just inside the doors of the library.  This screen can be used for multiple functions, but our primary function is to allow it to be a space where students browse our Capstone Interactive Ebook Collection.  When you purchase Capstone Interactive Ebooks, you get a direct link to the ebooks that automatically logs you in.  This is in addition to a unique username and password for the whole school to use.  The home screen of this computer will be directed to that specific link.  Students can spend time listening or reading an entire book at this station or they can browse the collection for books that they might read later.  Also, when students are asking for specific kinds of books, I can easily show them the ebooks that fit their requests without having to pull up the ebooks on a computer where students are also trying to look for books in Destiny.

Tomorrow on our morning broadcast, students will get to see a video advertising this new feature.  I look forward to seeing how students use this new feature in our library.