The Winner of the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize Is…

Quarantine put a big hold on the announcement of our Barrow Peace Prize. However, we finally were able to come together in a different way to celebrate the end of this special project. We wanted to still have a live announcement as we usually do, but we knew that all students would not be able to join us in person. I reached out to our friends at Flipgrid and we came up with a plan to record our individual parts of the announcement using Flipgrid and adding the videos for easy viewing and sharing in a Flipgrid mixtape.

I had already brought the awards home to work on over spring break, so I tracked down some envelopes and addressed them all to the award winners.  On the day of the announcement, I visited the Post Office and mailed all the awards so that I could let students know to be on the lookout for them.

At 2PM on April 29, we met together on Zoom. The 2nd grade classroom teachers, art teacher, principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, counselor, family engagement specialist, and over 30 2nd grade students came together via Zoom to celebrate the announcement.

We looked at where our voices had reached on an analytics map. Student voices were heard in over 210 locations around the world and 6 different continents.

We recognized:

Prolific Persuaders – 

-For using your persuasive techniques to encourage an authentic audience to vote for your civil rights leader. 

 Outstanding Openers – 

-For using a creative hook to capture your audience’s attention from the very beginning of your persuasive writing.

Dynamic Designers – 

-For creating an inspiring piece of art to accompany your persuasive writing and visually engage your audience.

We also recognized the designers of the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize.  Before spring break, these 7 students met together to come to an agreement on the 2020 Peace Prize design. They looked at their individual designs and found common elements that could be combined into one award.

This 3D-printed award was given to all of the designers plus all of the students who researched the winner of the 2020 Peace Prize.

Finally, we came to the moment students had been waiting for.  After more than, 1,000 votes from over 210 locations around the world, the winner of the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize is………….

Jackie Robinson!

 

I’m so glad we were able to come together to close out this project and I hope that students enjoy getting awards in the mail.  You can watch the virtual announcement on our Flipgrid Mixtape.

Vote for the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize

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Each year our 2nd graders work on a project called the Barrow Peace Prize. Every student researches one of four people from black history and gathers facts from PebbleGo, Britannica, books, and a few other online resources. They use these facts to write a persuasive essay asking people to vote for their person to win the Barrow Peace Prize. The criteria for the prize is also determined by the students after learning about character traits. These essays are recorded in Flipgrid and are now ready for viewing. We ask people all over the world to watch these videos, listen to these student voices, and vote on which of the four people from Black History should win this year’s award: Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., or Harriet Tubman.

You can vote as many times as you like and you are welcome to share this link with everyone you know.  If you choose to tweet about our project and share pictures of you or your class of students watching our videos, we hope you will tag @plemmonsa in your tweets so they can be shared with our Barrow students. If you use Instagram, please tag @barrowmediacenter  We love to see how this project spreads around the world.

Voting is open now through March 13 at 12PM EST. Simply visit our Smore page, watch several videos, and then click the link to vote.  We can’t wait to see who will win this year’s award.

2020 Barrow Peace Prize Smore Newsletters for Education

Follow this link to vote!

Rubiks Cube Mosaic Makerspace

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We love trying new things in our makerspace, so this February we decided to leap into Rubiks cubes. At AASL in Louisville, I visited the You Can Do the Cube booth and checked out their Rubiks cube lending program. You can check out sets of Rubiks cubes to create Rubiks cubes mosaics and simply pay for the shipping and handling each way.

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I shared this idea for our makerspace with Gretchen Thomas at UGA and she was excited to give it a try.  We collaborate with Gretchen and her students every Tuesday and Thursday in our open makerspace time. Instead of waiting on an available kit in the lending program, she decided she could use some funds to purchase some inexpensive cubes on Amazon. She ordered 120 3×3 cubes and 50 2×2 cubes.

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In class at UGA, Gretchen’s students watched multiple videos on how to solve Rubiks cubes and worked to learn some strategies that would be helpful to our Barrow students. They also practiced designing their own small mosaics using the 3×3 cubes.

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At Barrow, we selected some prepared mosaics from the You Can Do the Cube site. We chose Rosa Parks for our 3×3 and a flower for our 2×2. I measured out a grid on a piece of butcher paper and taped the individual mosaic pieces into the grid and numbered them.  I made a second set of pieces that we numbered and cut out and put into an envelope. Students could select a picture out of the envelope, solve that picture, and place it onto the correct square in the grid.

For our open makerspace, teachers sign up students for a 30-minute slot on a Google document. They are signing up for all 6 Tuesday/Thursday sessions of Rubiks Cube. For this first session, students spent time exploring the cubes.  I made a QR code for students to scan to watch tutorial videos about solving. Some followed these videos, while others learned from the strategies of friends and UGA students.

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It was amazing to see how many students already knew some tips about solving Rubiks cubes because of their own practicing at home.  We also downloaded an app on the iPads called Cube Solver that allows you to put in the colors on the cube and it shows you all the steps to solve the entire cube. Some students used this as a tool for learning more about the different turns required to solve.

Once students felt comfortable with the cube, they started solving actual pieces of the mosaic and adding it to our grid located on a large table in the back corner of the library. With so many students working on cubes during one makerspace and with so many students already talented in solving cubes, the mosaic started to take shape pretty quickly. By the end of the 2nd day of working on the mosaics, we had the Rosa Parks and flower mosaic done.

I had already prepared additional mosaics to work on: a dinosaur and Mona Lisa.  We celebrated our achievement of solving the first mosaics and took some pictures. Then, it was time to start dismantling the mosaics and solving a new one.

Once we created 2 additional mosaics, I gave the students the option of designing their own small mosaics.  They could do this alone or with a group.  They sketched out their mosaic on grid paper first and then worked to solve and assemble the mosaic at tables.  This would be a great way to extend this experience in future sessions because there wasn’t much time left.

The thing I loved most about this makerspace project was being able to see students bringing in a talent and passion they had outside of school and making it something for school.  There are lots of ways this could be incorporated into grade level curriculum so I hope that this is not the end of the Rubiks cube. We have so many students who enjoyed this that I’m sure we could even just make this a center in the library for people to work on over time.

Presenting Our 2019-20 Student Book Budget Purchases

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Since December our student book budget team has been working to make selections for our library.  They have used profits from our fall book fair along with Capstone Rewards to order books from both Avid Bookshop and Capstone.  With rewards and dollars, their budget was about $3500.  When you consider that our list of possible books totaled over $7,000, you know that they had to make some tough decisions about which books to include and which ones to cut.

We are still awaiting just a few books from Avid, but most books are here.  The students have spent 2 days unpacking the boxes.  As books were unpacked, they were checked off on the packing slip. Then, students sorted the books onto tables by genre. Once stacks were created, students put the genre stickers on the spines and then a label protector was put over the sticker. Finally, the books had to be scanned into the genre categories in Destiny.

Once all the books were processed, they were ready to be put out on display. Students came one final time to display the books on tables in the windows of the library and anywhere else they could find a spot. Another bonus was that book budget students get to be the first to checkout a book. Capstone Publishers lets each student choose a bonus title that is their personal pick and the choice does not have to follow our purchasing goals. Students were able to checkout their personal pick along with a couple of other titles.

The remaining books were up for grabs just before our busy checkout time of 12:15-1:30. It’s always fun to see which books get checked out first and how fast all of the books disappear.

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This project is a core part of our library each year. The library collection belongs to everyone and I love that students have a voice in adding titles to our library each year. As always, we thank Capstone and Avid Bookshop for their collaboration in this important work.

An Exploration of Lewis & Clark with 4th Grade

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Our 4th grade is currently exploring Lewis & Clark, the Corps of Discovery, the impact on Native Lands, and westward expansion. To support their study, they asked me to put together some ideas for students to build some background information on the topics. I loved that our author visit with Nathan Hale really served as a starting place for this unit of study because he told an entire Hazardous Tale about Lewis and Clark.
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After looking over the 4th grade social studies standards, resources in the library, and online resources, I decided to create 4 centers that students would rotate through.

SS4H3 Explain westward expansion in America.

    1. Describe the impact of westward expansion on American Indians; include the Trail of Tears, Battle of Little Bighorn and the forced relocation of American Indians to reservations. 
  • Describe territorial expansion with emphasis on the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the acquisitions of Texas (the Alamo and independence), Oregon (Oregon Trail), and California (Gold Rush and the development of mining towns).

I created a brief organizer for students to gather some information as they visited each center.

Center 1

Students visited an interactive map of westward expansion. The map allowed them to select Native Lands and Trail Routes as features and then look at those across time. The main purpose of this station was for students to see how Native Lands disappeared or moved from 1790-1850 and to speculate why they thought there was a change. Students had not studied this time in history yet so they were making predictions or using previous knowledge of events such as the Trail of Tears.U S  Westward Expansion 1790-1850.png

While students were at this center, I walked around and helped them select the most helpful features before they explored clicking lots of map features. The teacher and I also got to listen to their ideas of why Native Lands moved or changed over time.

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This center had a part 2 that most students weren’t able to get to.  It included another interactive map where students could match primary documents to locations on a map.

Center 2

At this center, students traveled to the Library of Congress through a virtual Lewis and Clark exhibit called “Rivers, Edens, & Empires“. Students could start at any point in the tour and look at the many artifacts from Lewis & Clarke and Westward Expansion. The artifacts included lots of maps, but students were most interested in clothing, tools, and weapons used.

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Students read about any artifacts that interested them the most and gathered those artifacts onto their organizer.

Center 3

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I gathered books from our library on the California Gold Rush, Westward Expansion, York and the Corps of Discovery, and Sacagawea. We also have a Capstone Interactive ebook of Lewis and Clark. At this center, students could read about any of the topics that interested them.  Most students chose the interactive ebook, but a few spent time reading about other topics like Sacagawea. Whichever person or topic they chose to read, students gathered some facts that they discovered.

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Center 4

For the final center, I wanted students to have an opportunity to look at the journals and sketches of Lewis & Clark as well as the animals that the Corps of Discovery saw along their travels. Students visited 3 sites to view the journals, see some more artifacts, learn about the animals, and even hear some of the animal sounds. Students created a list of animals that were interesting or that they had not heard of.

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Management & Next Steps

I split the class up between the 4 centers with about 6 students at each center. Students had 8-10 minutes per center, which took us right up to time to leave. We didn’t have time to come back together for a closing, but I decided since this was a lesson on building background info that the knowledge gained could go back into the classroom for the next lessons and we could use our full time for exploring. Students also spent time talking and sharing at the tables so it seemed repetitive to have them share information one more time.

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Teachers will now continue to add information to expand on the topics students scratched the surface of in the library. I’m sharing a bit.ly with teachers so students can revisit any of the resources we explored in the library.

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I loved doing this type of exploration at the beginning of the unit because it really gives students control of their learning and is more interactive than just presenting information on slides or a shared text. I hope more opportunities will arise where we can explore topics in this way in the library.

 

 

World Read Aloud 2020

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Each year we look forward to connecting with authors and classrooms around the US for Litworld’s World Read Aloud Day.

LitWorld founded World Read Aloud Day in 2010 as an opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud, and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone. Over the last ten years, World Read Aloud Day has evolved into a global movement of millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all across the world coming together to honor the joy and power of reading and sharing stories, and continue expanding the definition and scope of global literacy. ~Litworld World Read Aloud Day

Back in November, I began using a collaborative Google document to find classrooms, libraries, and authors for us to connect with. In each connection, we chose a book to read aloud together. Sometimes we would have a specific kind of discussion planned for our students after the book and other times we just let students ask one another questions to make a connection to another group of learners.

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This year, we made connections with classes in Georgia, Vermont, Maine, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia, We also connected with authors Laura Murray, Jess Redman, and Liz Garton Scanlon.

We shared several books with our connecting classes. One favorite was the book Truman by Jean Reidy & Lucy Ruth Cummins. This book tales the story of a brave and small tortoise named Truman who sets out on an adventure in his apartment while he awaits the return of his Sarah. When we connected with Donna MacDonald and her students in Vermont, we got to meet their pet tortoise, Milo.

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We shared the book Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor with a few connecting classes too. This book is filled with students who learn in many different ways and each page ends with a question. Students in each connecting class shared answers to questions such as “what frustrates you?” and “how will you use your powers in the world?”.

Another thing I love about connections is being introduced to new books.  Two books that were new to us this time were the hilarious Grownups Never Do That by Benjamin Chaude and Davide Cali & Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg. Both of these made great read alouds for a connection. Seagull and Sea Dragon had two voices so each librarian could choose a character to read. Grownups Never Do That riled up students and made them want to share all the things they had seen grownups do that children are told not to do.

Our author connections were fantastic this year. Laura Murray involved the students in reading Gingerbread Man Loose in the School and shared how the book came to be. Jess Redman told us about her upcoming book Quintessence and read a chapter from The Miraculous. Liz Garton Scanlon showed us several of her books and did an interactive reading of Bob, Not Bob.  One of the most special things about connecting with authors is that they answer student questions.  We get to learn about where they get their ideas, how long it takes them to write their books, what the revising process is like, and more. Since they are in their homes, they also can reach over and grab artifacts to go along with their answers.  For example, a student asked Jess Redman what her favorite books were as a kid and she was able to reach over and get the actual copies of the books from her childhood.

As we met new friends via Skype, we always looked at map to see where they were in relation to us. Many of our northeastern friends were experiencing snow, so we got to hear about how they go to school in the snow.  Our Kansas friends were very close to Missouri, so we got to learn about the Super Bowl excitement and how school might be canceled for a parade. We got to share a tornado warning with a connecting class during our week of crazy Georgia weather.

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World Read Aloud always brings great connections to people in the world, shared stories across the miles, and interesting conversation between learners.  We look forward to next year.

 

2019-20 Student Book Budget: The Final Order

This year’s student book budget group has worked super hard. It was our largest group ever, which brought us some challenges we haven’t faced. I’ve learned a lot about how I might organize the group better next year. Even with our new challenges, we finally reached our goal of narrowing our consideration lists to match our budget.

As students sat down with our lists we had about $6000 worth of books picked out, but a budget of only $2500.  I usually surprise them with some bonus money if they have done a good job. This bonus money comes from our Capstone Rewards dollars. Students had a hard time narrowing down our Capstone list because there were so many high interest topics in Capstone’s catalog. The bonus dollars really helped them not have to cut so much from the list.

The process for narrowing the lists was that we split into 2 groups. At one library screen, we pulled up our Capstone list. At the other screen, we pulled up Avid. Each group chose one person to stand at the computer and click books to consider for deletion from the list.  They took turns with this role.

To decide on a book, students thought about many factors. They pulled the book up on the screen and read what it was about. They thought about how many of that type of book we already have in the library and how many of that type were already on the list. They considered if the book actually matched the goals from our student survey and whether students would really read it. Students took a vote and majority ruled. Sometimes the vote was close and the students would have a discussion about why the book should stay or go. Then, students would vote again.

It wasn’t the most fun part of our project, but the group that work on narrowing our list was committed and got it finished. It certainly was an important life skill to develop in our group.

I took over at the this point because I needed to make sure our lists were all ready to send to our 2 vendors. Both Avid and Capstone turned our list into a quote for our accounting system. I got them put in and approved and now both lists of books have officially been ordered.

Now, we wait. When the books arrive, a whole new fun process will begin to get the books ready for readers. We can’t wait!

Facing Barriers in the Library: Self Check Out

Most people know of my motto of expecting the miraculous, but even when you expect the miraculous, it doesn’t mean that you don’t face frustrations, challenges, and barriers. What it does mean is that you don’t give up in the face of a challenge.

Several years ago, our library assistants were cut when education funding was cut due to the economy, and they’ve not been added back. When that happened, I had to examine our library and think about what I could let go of and what I wouldn’t compromise. One of the things I let go of was worrying about whether every book was checked in or checked out correctly. I also somewhat let go of library checkout limits since I really couldn’t watch that closely.

Since students in grades 2-5 visit the library alone in addition to their library lessons, I focused on those students to learn how to do self check in and self check out.  I setup a computer dedicated to check in and a computer dedicated to check out. I also recorded sounds such as “stop. check screen.” and “hold shelf please” to prompt students to look to see if there was an error message on the screen or to put the book aside for the next student.

When students check in their books, they simply scan them and then put them on a return cart in any order. When students check out, they type in their student id, press enter, scan their books, and scan a reset barcode. I have instructions printed and taped on each screen if students forget the steps.

When assistants were cut, I also had to start a volunteer program. The main job of volunteers was to shelve books, process books I cataloged, repair damaged books, and help prep for special events. It was slow to start and then grew. Some years we have many volunteers and others are a struggle. This year some of our most dedicated and dependable volunteers have faced some hardships in their lives, which means that there are days where no volunteers come in to do any of the things I’ve counted on in the past.

All of this is to say, I’ve hit a wall. I’ve found myself running back and forth in the library trying to juggle all the library circulation pieces in the air while teaching classes, but they just keep crashing around me. I often have to stop and take a deep breath and try to not pull my hair out. Here are a few of the things that have been happening:

  • students who return books, scan them and try to put them in the closest part of the return cart rather than find an empty space. Books pile up and end up spilling all over the floor.
  • students get in a frenzy of grabbing books off the shelves (a good problem) but as space opens up, entire shelves of books fall out in the floor multiple times per day.
  • large groups of students come to check out books, have trouble taking turns at computers, and end up logging the computer out or closing Destiny.
  • these same groups of students are yelling across the library for my help at the same time and again I’m running back and forth trying to put out fires about logistics

I won’t keep going with this list because I don’t want to complain, but the thing that is truly frustrating me, is that I haven’t been able to have quality conversations about books because I spend so much time just trying to keep the library running. That’s what really made me pause and reflect about what I could do to support students with the logistics of check out so that I could have more meaningful conversations with them about books.

The first thing I tried was sending out a short Google form to students for ideas of how to improve the check in experience. Many students responded with how students needed to be more responsible. This helped me realize this wasn’t just something that was about me. I had some amazing insights about changing the way students return books. One of those was returning the books in stacks rather than standing them vertically since many students were trying to do that anyway. We tried this one out for a week but when a student wanted a book in the middle of a return stack, it just resulted in even more books in the floor.

Next, I decided to make myself an observer and stand back and watch what was getting in our way. I made a list that I add to as I see new things. Flipgrid now has a feature called “Shorts” where you can use Flipgrid’s camera to record a video up to 3 minutes and upload it with its own link without actually creating a Flipgrid topic. I love this because it saves me the hassle of creating a video and then having to upload it to Youtube and also allows me take advantage of the camera tools such as whiteboard, stickers, text, and filters if I need them.

I used Flipgrid shorts to make a video for each “problem” or “clarification” that I identified. At first, I was sharing these in our daily announcements and encouraging teachers to show them in class as they came out, but I quickly saw that there was a need for them all to be in a central spot. I used Smore to put each link on the same page as a question. I shared this Smore with teachers. Many teachers have been sharing the videos in class and discussing them before that day’s check out time. Others have shared the Smore in Google Classroom and encourage students to watch them on their own.

In the library, I have the Smore pulled up on a computer right next to our circulation area. If a student has a question and I can easily and quickly help them, I do.  However, if I’m assisting multiple people or teaching a class, I can essentially clone myself by sending the student to the computer to watch the video in the library. This has already saved me a lot of time with library holds.

This isn’t magically fixing our problems. When you have up to 20 kids coming to check out books at the same time while also teaching a class, things aren’t going to be perfectly smooth. However, I’m trying to not compromise student access to books just because of some logistics we can work out.  Within a week of rolling this out, I’ve already seen students working together to stand up books on the return cart. They even use language directly from the video when explaining to the other student what to do. Lining those books up is super helpful, because with limited shelving help at the moment, I need students to be able to see those books on the return carts so they can pull choices from there too.

There have been several instances where I’ve been able to direct a student to a video while I have a conversation with someone about their reading. I’ve also been able to help situations quickly by saying something like “did you watch the disappearing cursor video”, and then they immediately know how to fix the problem.

Teachers have also been amazing. Some have spent a good amount of time watching the videos. Others have designated kids within their check out groups to be a leader and remind members of their group what to do to help the library stay user-friendly.

This is something I’m going to continue to focus on and find ways to make small improvements. I’m not stopping self checkout or limiting students coming to the library. I have to remember to keep involving students in ways to take ownership of our library and remind myself that I am not really alone in the library (plus remind myself to take plenty of deep breaths throughout the day).

 

 

Major Impossible: An Author Visit with Nathan Hale

It has been a rainy week in Georgia, which means kids haven’t had recess in a while. Pair that with the full moon, and you have a group of high energy kids. We were already excited about our upcoming author visit with Nathan Hale, but this added an extra layer. If I had known what students were about to experience during the visit, I wouldn’t have worried at all. Nathan Hale is a top-notch author & illustrator and his school presentation is a sight to behold. I don’t want to give too much away about the content, but I will say that he had almost 300 high energy 3rd-5th graders laughing, gasping, and hanging on every word.

We’ve known about our visit since November, which gave us a bit of time to build some excitement. When Nathan Hale arrived at our school, two of our 5th grade ambassadors welcomed him and walked him to the library to get setup.

Once we got him setup, he worked on a drawing of Hangman. He continued working on this as kids arrived and then moved over to draw on his iPad.

I loved that this immediately hooked kids in as they sat down. There was a buzz of excitement as kids chatted and watched Nathan draw.

All Nathan uses for his presentation is an iPad connected to the projector, but don’t let that simple setup fool you. After my quick intro, which included a huge thank you to Abrams Books and Avid Bookshop, Nathan launched right in to his presentation which is a combination of storytelling and drawing on his projected iPad. He introduced the Hazardous Tales books and then crossed them all out.

Since kids can just read those on their own, Nathan told us a new Hazardous Tale about Lewis & Clark. Since some people say that this story is too weird, too gross, and too dumb to be published, it can only be heard in school presentations. And, of course, the students were dying to hear it.

Nathan proceeded to tell us the story of Lewis & Clark and the corps of discovery. His story introduced an evil doctor, York-an African American explorer, and Sacagawea. His story was filled with  sarcasm, danger, gruesome details, and of course laugh-out-loud humor.

As Nathan told the story, he drew everything out on the iPad. He would zoom in at just the right moment, just like we were zooming in to a panel of a comic.

The storytelling introduced students to parts of the Lewis and Clark expedition that they most likely hadn’t heard before. It explained the “Lewis and Clark” is really referring to a whole group of people, and Nathan was sure to give credit to the individuals who played big roles in the expedition.

The story built up to a huge comedic finish that I can’t give away. What I will say about it is that it was so much fun to look around the room and see so many students and adults laughing to the point of tears. No matter what we were carrying with us as we came to the visit, we had 45 minutes of storytelling and laughter.  You couldn’t help but feel good after laughing that much.

One of the things I loved about Nathan’s presentation was that he went around the library before the presentation and pulled books about Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, York, and Sacajawea. He repeatedly reminded students that the story he was telling them was true and that he learned about the facts by reading books from the library.

He showed each one with his iPad and even turned this book presentation into a comedic event by always zooming in to show Baby Pomp on Sacajawea’s back.

Nathan chatted with students as they left, and then signed a huge stack of books. Every student who bought a book got a signature and a drawing of Hangman.

Before he left, Nathan took time to look at all of the comics that kids had made for the library windows. I loved that he took a moment to see how each one was different and what kids did with a blank piece of paper.

After an author/illustrator leaves our school, they don’t always get to see the miraculous things that happen back in classrooms and home. Kids returned to class buzzing with ideas and retelling the Hazardous Tale they heard. I had reports back from parents that their child couldn’t stop talking about the visit. Some students made their parents take them to hear Nathan again at the public library. Several parents reported back to me that their kids couldn’t put Major Impossible down and some finished it that night.

The next day, I put out a new set of Hazardous Tales and 5 copies of Major Impossible along with the other books Nathan showed at his visit.  All were immediately checked out and there’s already a list of holds on each book. Before Nathan’s visit, we already had some Hazardous Tales fans, but now that students know him, he has developed a much bigger fan base at our school.

Thank you again to Abrams Books for sending Nathan Hale on a tour of bookshops and schools. Thank you Avid Bookshop for supporting our schools with author visits and allowing us to have this opportunity. Thank you Nathan Hale for sharing your talents with us all.

Preparing for An Author Visit with Nathan Hale

One of the biggest blessings of having an award-winning independent bookshop in your community is having authors and illustrators visit our school as they tour to promote new books. Avid Bookshop is our local indie bookstore and even before they opened as a store, they supported the author visits that I arranged at our school. Now, Avid Bookshop pitches to publishers to have authors and illustrators visit their bookshop. Sometimes those visits happen in store and sometimes they happen at our public library. In addition to visiting the store, authors & illustrators usually visit a couple of schools, too.

The Setup

These visits are for one presentation and sometimes have requirements for the minimum or maximum number of students in attendance or are sometimes targeted at specific age groups. We also have a minimum number of books that we need to sell for each visit. Typically this is 40-60 books.  Ahead of the visit, I send home a pre-order form for students to purchase the new book. I have also worked with our PTA to include a line item in the budget for buying books for classroom libraries and students. I use this budget to supplement the number of books to ensure that we meet the minimum number.

We normally have the visits in our library, which requires me to move our shelves, tables, and chairs to accommodate 250ish students on the carpet. I book time on our library calendar to make sure there’s time to setup and clean up.

Introducing the Author

When we know about the visit in enough time, I make sure that all students have been introduced to the author. On January 14th, we will host author Nathan Hale for his new book, Major Impossible. We learned about the visit in November, so that gave me time to work on introductions before winter break. The visit will be for grades 3-5.

Our 5th grade was studying WWII at the time, so I worked with the art teacher and 5th grade teachers to put together a project around their Social Studies curriculum and Nathan Hale.

For day 1 of our project, we looked at all of Nathan Hale’s books and read the first chapter of One Dead Spy in order to meet the characters and learn the setup of the Hazardous Tales series.  Next, students had time to browse all of the Hazardous Tales, Rapunzel’s Revenge, Apocalypse Taco, and One Trick Pony. Their job was to enjoy the books but also to notice the style of illustrations, the dialogue, the humor, and anything else that caught their eye. They shared these noticings with partners and the whole group in our closing.

For day 2, students selected a topic from WWII to research. Examples included D-Day, Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, Rosie the Riveter, VE Day, Iwo Jima, and more. They used resources from our state Galileo database. Students gathered facts onto Google docs in Google Classroom to use in art with Ms. Foretich.

In art, students used their research to create Nathan Hale-inspired one-page comics. These comics would be used to display at the front of our library for Nathan’s visit.

For grades 3-4, I offered an opportunity to come to the library for the same intro that 5th grade had. I also knew that they were overwhelmed with assessments and finishing up units before winter break, so I made a short intro video and uploaded to Youtube for them to watch at their convenience in class.

Contests

Ahead of Nathan’s visit, we held a big reveal on our morning broadcast. I gave one clue each day about the author/illustrator visiting our school and students could make a guess and drop it in a box in the library. I pulled out all the correct answers and held a drawing the give away copies of Major Impossible.

We also held a one-page comic contest for anyone in the school.  5th grade was automatically working on this, but I wanted to extend the opportunity to any students.  The rules were to create a one-page comic in the style of Nathan Hale. Students had to incorporate some event from history.  I provided various blank comic strip pages or students could create their own. Once the deadline came, Ms. Allie, our student support technician, and I went through the entries to select some winners. Again, these students received a copy of Major Impossible.  Every entry was used to add to our window display at the front of the library.

The Visit

Now, we are awaiting the big visit. I made a banner to put above the library door. The window display is created.  Books have been ordered. I’ve created post-it notes to put inside each book for autographing and delivery to students.  Students have been checking out all the Nathan Hale books, so hopefully we will get a few back to have signed at the visit. I love the excitement that an author visit brings. They are a lot of work, but they are so rewarding.