Happy World Read Aloud Week!

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We have been planning and building excitement for World Read Aloud Day for the past 2 months, and it is finally here!  It’s just too much fum to pack into one day, so we connect with classes around the world on several days.  Monday and Tuesday of this week, we had 8 connections via Skype and Google Hangouts.

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On Monday, Ms. Haley’s 3rd grade class connected with Ms. Word’s 2nd grade class at Episcopal School in Baton Rouge.  We read the book Snappsy the Alligator. We learned that they wear uniforms at their school and have a salad bar at lunch.

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Ms Em’s 3rd grade class connected with Ms. Dickerson’s 6th grade students in Missouri. We read aloud The Day the Crayons Came Home. Ms. Dickerson’s students took turns reading the voices of the different crayons.  We learned that they have unpredictable weather in the winter.  We also learned that their school only has 300 students and only 6th grade.  We had a great time sharing weird places we have found our own crayons including an underwear drawer, the pantry, and melted in the car cup holder.

Mr. Weaver’s 4th grade connected with Ms. McCoy’s 1st graders in Kansas.  We shared the books Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask to Be in This Book.  We learned that they start school much later than us at 8:40AM.

Ms. Brink’s 2nd grade class connected with Ms. Potter’s 3rd grade class in Maine to read Snappsy the Alligator.

On Tuesday, Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten connected with Ms. Mendrinos and her Kindergarten in North Carolina to read the book Snappsy the Alligator. We had fun learning that there school has science and computers as specials.

Ms. Wisz’s PreK connect with Ms. Dawson and her 2nd grade in Maryland to read Same Same but Different.  They greated us in multiple languages. After reading, we made some connections to what is the same but different about our schools. For example, we both have breakfast but we had yogurt and granola and they had chocolate bars and juice.

5th grade ELT class connected with Ms. Stepp’s 1st grade class in South Carolina to read Snappsy the Alligator.

Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class connected with Ms. Cook’s 1st grade class in Missouri to read How to Read a Story. We loved sharing some of our own strategies for choosing stories and reading them. We even had a chance to share some favorite titles of books in the hopes of finding some new reads.

Snappsy the Alligator has been our favorite read aloud of this year’s World Read Aloud. It is fun to have one of the schools be Snappsy and the other be the narrator. I particularly liked being Snappsy because of his humorous personality.  If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to try it out for one of your own Skype’s.

As we connected, we made a map and summary of our connections in Google Tour Builder so we can revisit all of the places that we connected with.

We have many more connections to go this week and next.  Happy World Read Aloud Week and Read Across America.

 

A Visit with the Amazing Henry Cole

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When I saw that Henry Cole was coming to Avid Bookshop for a special storytime, I knew that we just had to get him to our school. I started chatting with the Avid and Peachtree Publishers teams to see how we could make it happen.

Henry Cole (2)Henry Cole is the author and illustrator of more books than I can list here. A few of the books he illustrated include:

  • Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • I Know a Wee Piggy by Kimberly Norman

Books he has written and illustrated include:

  • A Nest for Celeste
  • Unspoken
  • Big Bug
  • On a Meadowview Street

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Henry Cole’s newest book comes out in April. The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine is a tale of a mouse who is sent into the air in a remote control airplane that crashes into the woods. There his adventure begins as he goes on a quest to find his way home and meets many helpful friends along the way. As a part of his special visit, the publisher allowed our students to purchase the book before it comes out in April. Our fabulous PTA purchased 3 copies of the book for each classroom n grades 2-4.

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During Henry’s visit, he told stories from his childhood, which revealed to us the many places that where he gets his ideas. Rather than taking questions from the audience, he anticipated the typical questions that authors and illustrators often get and wove those into his presentation through storytelling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a speaker quite as animated as Henry Cole. He yelled, whispered, shrieked, danced, and leaped across the front of the library as he told stories of being pushed off the roof in a makeshift airplane and getting giddy with excitement at art assignments in school. Across the course of his presentation, we knew where Sammy Shine came from, where the inspiration for A Nest for Celeste originated, and how grueling it is to get boxes upon boxes of questions from editors to improve writing. He connected this to the same process that students go through when they get feedback from their teachers. We heard how many revisions a single illustration in a book can go through and that when something isn’t quite right, you just do it again.

For a solid hour, our students rolled in floor from laughing but then hooked right back in to Henry’s presentation. It was magical. He closed his time by illustrating two pieces of art choreographed to a soundtrack.

We are so excited to have these two pieces on display in our library now.

We want to thank Peachtree Publishers and Avid Bookshop for making this happen. Please take a moment to check out Henry Cole’s website. His new book can be purchased at Avid Bookshop. If you don’t get it now, then look for it in April and purchase it from your local bookstore.

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Flipgrid Rolled Out the Red Carpet for the Barrow Peace Prize

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For the past 2 weeks, people from around the world have been viewing and voting on our 2nd graders’ Barrow Peace Prize project. Across the course of the project, students have:

  • researched one of 6 people from history using PebbleGo, Encyclopedia Britannica, books, and other resources
  • developed criteria for a peace prize
  • written a persuasive piece about why someone should vote for their person from history
  • created a piece of art to accompany their writing
  • recorded their writing using Flipgrid
  • skyped with the creators of PebbleGo to learn about how this important research tool was made

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All of the student work was pulled together onto a Smore so that it could easily be shared with the world, and people voted for the Barrow Peace Prize via a Google form.  Across 2 weeks, the student videos had 3,413 views, 1,161 likes, and visits from over 165 different locations around the world.

A very special ceremony was held at our school to announce the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize winner. We typically Skype with the Flipgrid team to announce he winners, but this year when I called to plan our Skype, I was surprised to learn that the Flipgrid team had much bigger plans for this year’s ceremony.  Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack, the creators of Flipgrid, flew down from Minnesota to join the celebration. They wanted the celebration to be like a mini Academy Awards. They rented a red carpet to roll out at the entrance to the library. They also bought enough pizza and drinks for all the kids, teachers, and families. In addition to the Barrow Peace Prize, we handed out special certificates to students which were chosen by teachers. The Flipgrid team also designed their own 3D printed award and gave it to 5 students chose by the entire Flipgrid team.

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Ahead of the event, the teachers sent out an RSVP invite to families so that we could get an estimate for chairs and pizza. We didn’t tell the kids very much about the ceremony except that they might want to dress up. The teachers all decided that they would dress for the Academy Awards, so I of course had to pull out my tux and red vest for the event.  I printed out all of the certificates to hand to students and shared the doc with the Flipgrid team so that they could announce the winners. The day before the event, Charlie and Brad flew down. They took care of the red carpet, balloons, pizza, and drinks.  Mr. Jordan, our student support technician, and I prepped the library.  When Charlie and Brad arrived, we setup the red carpet with some spotlights and put out the balloons.

The ceremony was the most special ceremony I’ve ever been a part of. The teachers, students, and families entered the library with movie theme music playing and took time to strike a pose on the red carpet for pictures. We also had many other special guests including Carol Williams for the CCSD Board of Education and Gretchen Thomas from UGA.

We connected with the Flipgrid team in Minnesota via Skype so that they could be a part of the entire ceremony. I gave a quick overview of the project for families to hear, and then we launched into awards.  Our awards were presented by two very special Minion guests, since Charlie and Brad weren’t quite ready 🙂

The Flipgrid team gave students all of the statistics of their videos so that they heard the impact that their work was having around the world. Team members took turns announcing student winners in 5 categories, and students came up to receive their awards from the Minions with the help of my wife, Denise Plemmons.

  • Outstanding Opener: For creating an opening statement that hooks your audience into your writing. Congratulations to Daly, Makenzie, Penn, Martavius, and Morgan
  • Prolific Persuader: For using multiple strategies to persuade your audience to vote for your person from history. Congratulations to Joshua, Ben, Kate, Copeland, and Cara.
  • Radical Researcher: For combing through multiple resources to find the most accurate facts to include in your writing. Congratulations to Isobel, KP, Kenderrious, Josie, and Terry
  • Dynamic  Designer: For creating a dynamic image to represent your person from history and engage your audience. Congratulations to Janae, Julian, Tad, Katherine, and Jeffrey
  • Powerful Presenter: For speaking confidently and powerfully as you shared your person from history with the world. Congratulations to Oriana, Ava, JD, Huda, and Blake

The Flipgrid Team handed out their unique 3D printed awards to Eli, Maggie, Iayah, and Zykurea.

The thing that I loved the most is how excited kids were for one another as they received an award. Each winning name brought on a round of cheers and applause almost to the point that we couldn’t hear the next name being read. I love that this project brings students from multiple classrooms together through the common goal of celebrating a person from history. That teamwork that was a part of the entire project, we still evident as we celebrated one another at the ceremony.

Students had a chance to ask the Flipgrid team questions. I always cherish this chance for students to step up to the camera and speak directly to the people who created the tools that they use. Students had such awesome questions such as “How do the videos we record get onto Flipgrid?” and “What are all of the jobs at Flipgrid?” The team took time to fully answer each question in the most personal and age-appropriate way.

Jim Leslie, co-founder of Vidku, talked to the kids about how they were all as much a part of Flipgrid as the people who created it. He stressed the importance of student voice and how much of an impact these students have had on the people who work at Vidku and Flipgrid.

Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack were able to arrive after the Minions left the building. Charlie talked to the kids about how tools like Flipgrid give every person an equal voice. He emphasized to students how many thousands of people had viewed their videos and they are only 7 or 8 years old. He stressed that if you can have that kind of impact at such an early age, then imagine the impact you can have as you grow. The messages shared by Charlie, Brad, Jim, and the whole team are something that I stress to our kids every single day, but it was so powerful for students, teachers, families, board members, and other special guests to be in the same room together hearing this message from a company who truly cares about its users.

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At the very end of our ceremony, we announced the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize. We would like to give a big congratulations to Ruby Bridges for winning the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize. The 18 students who researched her received a copy of a 3D printed medal that was designed by 3 second grade students. Each classroom also received a copy of the medal along with Charlie and Brad of Flipgrid.

Afterward, I had several families come up to me and say that they had no idea what to expect at this ceremony, but they were blown away by the generosity of Flipgrid and the work of the students. So many students were celebrated, and families and students couldn’t help but smile and get excited. We enjoyed celebrating the winning videos by eating pizza. Students returned to their classrooms to watch more of the winning videos, which Brad pulled onto one grid for us.

We can’t thank Charlie, Brad, and all of the Flipgrid and Vidku team for making our 2016 Barrow Peace Prize project the most memorable one so far. You are a company who listens to your users, celebrates their stories, and amplifies the impact students have on the world. Thank you.

 

 

Paper Circuits Popup Project with 4th Grade

 

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I’ve been wanting to explore paper circuits for quite awhile, but I haven’ taken the plunge to do it. We got many supplies for paper circuitry through a Donors Choose project. We’ve tinkered with the LEDs, conductive tape, and coin cell batteries some in our makerspace, but a class has not used it for a project….until now.

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4th grade is studying light as a part of their science standards, so the art teacher and I started talking together with the 4th grade team about a possible collaboration between all of us where students could create a piece of popup art and light it up using an LED. We jumped into the planning and the project without fully knowing how to make a paper circuit, but we had faith that we could figure it out together with our students.

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We knew some basics. Students would design a piece of popup art and plan for one part of the popup to light up. This was enough for the art teacher to start working with students on their pieces in art class. There were some basic requirements from her such as the piece had to include movement and a 3D element. The content of the popup was completely student choice. Some chose animals such as sea turtles following the moon while others chose to create a popup basketball goal. Each popup brought out the unique interests of each student.

While this series of work sessions was going on in art, the art teacher and I met after school to do a bit of tinkering. I had already done just a bit of tinkering on my own before she arrived, so I was able to show her a few things I knew. For example, I knew the positive post of the LED had to connect to the positive side of the battery.  This could be done by touching the battery directly or creating a circuit with conductive tape.  The part we were uncertain about was how students would open and close their circuit so that the light didn’t stay on all the time. We wanted to have some possibilities for students but we also wanted them to create some ways to open and close the circuit. As we tinkered, she took pictures of our steps to incorporate into some slides to share with the students.

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When students were ready for their LED component, the art classes were held in the library. We introduced the lesson with a series of slides to show the basic of an open and closed circuit. We also showed them some options for how to open and close the circuit.

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Students moved to tables where they found their art folder, their popup art, an LED, a coin cell battery, and some masking tape waiting for them.

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Before any students got conductive tape, we wanted them to plan out how their led and battery would connect. Students identified the positive and negative side of the battery and the LED and drew a path where the tape would eventually go. When they had a plan, students received conductive tape. They placed the tape along their path and tested to see if the LED lit up.  Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. Actually, more often it didn’t.

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This was frustrating for many students, but we went back to our many conversations about failure and how you have to back up, take a look at what you’ve done, make a change, and try again. Some students discovered that there were parts of the positive or negative path touching one another. Some students realized they had labeled their paths incorrectly. Some students couldn’t figure out what was happening. All of that was ok, but what we saw in the end was that students were problem solving. They were trying something they had never done before, were having some success, and were sharing the process with others.

It was a crunched amount of time to get everyone finished, so the art teacher plans to continue the work back in her classroom by having students revisit their work and see what adjustments can be made. The biggest thing we saw was that many students had a circuit created, but they had no way to open or close it. I took several students back to the board to see the slides with options of how to fold the paper so that it opened or closed the circuit and then invited them to go back and see what they could figure out.

We had a lot of hands helping with this project. There was me, the art teacher, the art student teacher, and sometimes a resource teacher or even the classroom teacher.  It was messy. We had paper all over the place by the time we were done, but there was a buzz of excitement and problem solving in the air.

Now that we have one shaky project under our belt, I hope we will take some additional risks with paper circuits and see where we can go next. I love seeing a teacher leap into a project with me without really knowing what’s really going to happen. We learn so much along the way as educators, but our students are also given an opportunity to trust themselves too.

What Are Your Stories of Hope? Add Your Voice to Our #WRAD16 Flipgrid

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Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  During the week of February 14-21, we celebrate how reading helps us foster hope for our world. Many students have already contributed their voices to talk about Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, and Courage.

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We have created a Flipgrid for you to share your responses to the following question:

If you could share a message of hope, what would you read aloud to the whole world?

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  By sharing our stories of hope, we are inspiring one another to find inspiration in the pages of books and share those pages with the world.

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In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might post about books you hope for this year or characters you would love to meet.  You might post a picture of yourself with a book that gives you hope and encourage others to do the same. Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Hope Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #hopeweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

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At our school, we’ll be sharing many stories of hope. A few of our picks will be Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull, Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, and many more.  What books will you share?

It’s not too late to share your schedule for World Read Aloud Week on our shared Google Doc and find someone to connect with around the world.

WRAD 16 Doc

Let’s encourage one another this week with stories of hope throughout our global community.

Connecting with Capstone and the PebbleGo Team through Skype

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Our 2nd graders have been thrilled by all of the people voting for their Barrow Peace Prize project.  Voting will continue until February 17th, so there’s still time to take a look at their project and vote.

Today, we were fortunate to have a Skype session with the PebbleGo team at Capstone. PebbleGo is a set of databases with informational text focused on social studies, biographies, science, animals, and dinosaurs. The text is geared to students in lower elementary grades, but it is useful for students at all grades as a starting place for research. Our teachers love the accessibility of the text, how the text is broken into consistent  headings, and that it reads the text to students in a human voice. Our 2nd graders used PebbleGo as the first resource in their Barrow Peace Prize research on Jesse Owen, Bessie Coleman, Ruby Bridges, Charles Drew, Langston Hughes, and Wilma Rudolph.

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During our Skype, we connected with:

  • Tom Zemlin, Director of Software Development
  • Rachel Wallwork & Stephanie Miller, Senior Product Planning Managers
  • Amy Cox, Director of Library Marketing

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Before our session, we sent some questions to PebbleGo and they sent some questions to us.

For PebbleGo:

  • How are PebbleGo articles written?
  • What do you know about the number of people who use PebbleGo?
  • How do you decide what topics to include in PebbleGo?

For us, the Capstone team asked in advance:

  • What do you like about PebbleGo?
  • What do you wish were different?
  • What seems to be missing or what did you have trouble finding the answer to?

We opened our Skype by giving an update on the statistics from our Barrow Peace Prize Projects. At the time of our Skype, our work had been viewed in 121 different locations around the world, according to our Smore page.

The Capstone team introduced themselves and then launched into telling students the process that the team goes through to decide on and create articles. We learned that PebbleGo has been used by over 260,000,000 students around the world.

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Our students took turns lining up at the computer to offer answers to the questions from Capstone, and those comments and questions sparked additional conversation.

Our students expressed their love for how PebbleGo reads to them, has videos, is broken up into sections, and has info on lots of people.

Some of the wishes they had were to have a comprehension check at the end of an article and to include information on character traits for the people in biographies. The character trait comment launched an additional conversation with the Capstone team. We told them how our social studies curriculum includes a study of character traits woven into the people in history. This was hard for our research because we felt like character traits were a bit of an opinion based on facts. The Capstone team had great wonderings for us. They wanted to know if we thought character traits should be separate articles in PebbleGo or if they should be embedded in the biography articles. Our students overwhelmingly responded that they wanted them embedded.

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This then took us to the question about what Capstone does with all of the wishes that it gets from its users. We learned about how they keep lists of wishes and start to notice patterns of requests. When something is requested enough, it might be put into PebbleGo or it might even come up for a vote from PebbleGo users. Within this conversation, we learned that it takes several months for an article to go from an idea to the final piece we see in PebbleGo and the work happens in multiple locations including New York and India.

I loved how the Capstone team listened to our students and how flexible the conversation was with over 100 students. We were well prepared with our student comments and questions, but there was plenty of space to find tangents that revealed more information for our students.

One of the things that I heard from Capstone is that they go through the same kind of research that we are asking our students to go through. They gather their information from multiple sources, create many drafts, and review their work before it is sent out to an audience. It was important for our students to hear this from a major company and see the connections to what we are doing in school.

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Thank you so much to Amy Cox and the Capstone team for making this Skype happen for our students today. It was a wonderful addition to a project that has meant a lot to our students.

Be Courageous and Share Your Voice on our Courage Week Flipgrid

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Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  During the week of February 7-13, we celebrate how reading helps us have the courage to stand up for our beliefs. Many students have already contributed their voices to talk about Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, and Confidence.

LitWorld 7 Strengths

We have created a Flipgrid for you to share your responses to the following question:

When did reading give you the courage to stand up for something you believe in?

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  By sharing our stories of courage, we are supporting one another’s courage to read aloud the books we love all around the world

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In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might have the courage to speak up this week and share something that you believe in with your followers and ask them to do the same. You might post a video of yourself talking about a character who gives you courage. You might be courageous enough to dress as a character for a day and share the experience through social media.  Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Courage Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #courageweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

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At our school, we’ll be sharing many stories that demonstrate courage. A few of our picks will be Testing the Ice by Sharon Robinson, Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Max the Brave by Ed Vere, Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia McKissak, and Nana in the City by Laura Castillo.

It’s not too late to share your schedule for World Read Aloud Week on our shared Google Doc and find someone to connect with around the world.

Let’s empower one another this week by having the courage to stand up for our reading beliefs throughout our global community.