Ms. Tesler’s 4th grade class has been exploring how they can be leaders within our school community. Back in the fall, they started writing shelf talkers and displaying them on shelves at the front of our library. After all of their suggested books were quickly checked out, they are looking for ways to expand their leadership. They have decided to take the “7 Strengths of Reading” challenge leading up to World Read Aloud Day and explore each week’s question. They have also decided to take their shelf talkers and make them digital.
Across 2 days, the class came to the library to work on their next steps of this project. We began by talking about our memories of being read aloud to. I shared about my 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Deloache, and how she read Brer Rabbit stories to us with so many voices that I can still hear in my head today. Ms. Tesler shared an experience of being read aloud to in college and how that stuck with her even as an adult. Many other students began to share their own memories of being read aloud to.
We used this to launch into a new purpose of exploring the read aloud. We are thinking about books that others might enjoy reading aloud. We are also thinking about books we might read aloud to our buddies in other classrooms. Along with this, we started discussing how reading aloud builds community and how certain books help us feel connected with a community. To close, I shared my own example of a book talk and a reflection on the #belongingweek #wrad16 question on Flipgrid.
The first task was for students to select a book or books to read. We wanted them to choose a picture book for this first book talk and question. I pre-selected some books that had a theme of belonging, but students were welcome to choose any picture book. Once students chose a book, they sat down to read it. If they finished, they could start writing their shelf talker or their reflection on this week’s #WRAD16 question: “When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?”
In class, students continued to work on their reflections and they returned to the library with their completed writing. I’ve been sharing the belonging week Flipgrid a lot on social media in the hopes that other schools would contribute. When the students arrived to record their own, I was happy to share with them that Donna MacDonald in Vermont and Kathy Schmidt in Georgia had students who contributed to the Flipgrid. We started by taking time to listen to them.
We used these contributions to consider pieces that were included as well as what we needed to do when we recorded our own. Students pointed out things like speaking clearly and loud enough to hear. They pointed out how there wasn’t a lot of movement behind the students who were recording, and that they introduced themselves.
Students spread out all over our library and recorded two Flipgrids. One Flipgrid was a digital book talk sharing a new book. This set of answers will be displayed on a monitor in the library and put in slideshow mode. This will cause the videos to constantly scroll through and advertise books in our library. We also hope that other schools will contribute their own book talks. Renee Cunningham in North Carolina is already planning to do this with her students.
Finally, our students reflected on the belonging week question for World Read Aloud Day. I loved hearing students make connections to their own lives and the sense of belonging. I also loved hearing students pick out parts of a book and how a character felt like he belonged to a community. It was a natural way to collect some analysis of text from students.
I hope you will take a moment to listen to some of their thoughts.
We are just getting started, but I hope to see many more schools contribute to both our book talk Flipgrid as well as our weekly 7 Strengths of Reading grids. If you are interested, feel free to add your students’ voices!