March Madness Global Book Talk Challenge (Final)

Many votes have been cast in our global book talk challenge and we are down to our final 2 students.  Will it be Evin?  Will it be Adaline?

Take a moment to watch (or rewatch) their videos and vote on your favorite.  Share with friends, family, and your own networks.  Voting will end on April 2.

 

Vote Here!

Be sure to take time to visit the full grid of videos to watch many other incredible book talks from around the world.  The competition is fun, but the real reward is hearing from so many student voices sharing their love of books.

 

AASL Social Media Superstars

Social media has connected me with so many amazing educators since I started using it many years ago.  I had no idea when I started using Twitter at a conference that it would connect me with so many people who I consider to be great friends as well as colleagues.  Today, I can’t imagine what it would be like to not share on social media. Showing our work on social media allows us to define for the world what happens in school libraries. Through social media we inspire one another, push one another’s thinking, and connect the voices of our students.  Social media has developed strong relationships with authors, developers, and vendors as well, and each connection means more opportunities to empower student voices around the globe.

I was surprised to learn on Sunday that I was nominated for the American Association of School Librarians Social Media Superstar Award in the category of Sensational Student Voice. Not only was I nominated, I was one of the three finalists.  The other two superstars are Stony Evans and Beth Redford, who both doing amazing work with their students.  Student voice is a main foundation of our library program.  I want students to have opportunities in our library to know that their ideas and creations matter in the world.  I want them to see that their work can have an impact within our school but far beyond as well.  To be nominated in this particular category is a huge honor to me.

One of the most exciting things about this particular award is that it showcases to the world many individual leaders in the world of school libraries.  These are people who share out of the goodness of their hearts to show their work, inspire others, collaborate beyond walls, advocate for libraries, and get student work out to an authentic audience.

If you are looking for some people to follow on various platforms of social media, this is one great place to start.  Many of you will probably find people on this list who are already inspiring you.  AASL is asking that people give public testimonies for the nominees on this list.  This is a great opportunity for you to share stories about these individuals that they might not even know about. Many times I’m inspired by someone’s work, but I forget to tell them in detail about what their social media post caused me to do.

There are many names that are missing from this list, but I’m hopeful to see many of those names as this tradition continues in future years.  Thank you AASL for this highlight of some of the important work happening in libraries.

I’m slowly making my way through the list to leave comments, and I invite you to do the same.  You have until April 14th.  The final “winners” in each category will be announced in a webinar on April 27 for School Library Month.

 

You can visit all of the superstars at this link.

When Vendors Listen to Students

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Student voice is important to me. I love to find opportunities where students’ voices are listened to, and even more than that, acted upon.  Recently, during a student book budget meeting, we met with Jim Boon from Capstone.  Jim always listens to students and makes sure they have what they need in order to purchase books for the library.  He lets them guide the conversation and answers any questions they have rather than pushing certain titles that they aren’t interested in.

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During his recent visit, he gave students posters at the end as a thank you, and Adaline, a 5th grade student book budget member, asked if there were ever any World War I posters.  Rather than just saying “no”, Jim listened to her reasoning that war and military books are popular in our school and that she had a personal interest in them herself. He suggested that she send an email to Amy Cox, Capstone Library Marketing Manager.

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Adaline immediately crafted an email to Amy, and the conversation began.  Not only did Amy respond to Adaline, she also asked her follow-up questions and genuinely wanted to know the answers.  In the busy world of businesses, this kind of personal interaction says a lot to me about the vision and mission of a company.  Capstone isn’t just about selling books. They are community and customer focused and want to listen to the very people who they are trying to support.

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Here’s how the conversation started:

Dear Amy Cox,
When Jim Boone came to my schools “Book Budget” we got posters with hedgehogs on them. While I was looking at the poster I had an idea! Since I like to read about World War 2 maybe you could make a World War 2 poster! If you take this into consideration please email Mr.Plemmons  so he can tell me! Thank You!
From,
    Adaline
Then Amy responded:

Dear Adaline,

We would be very happy to consider a poster with a World War II theme. When we make a poster, we try to have it do one of two things:

1)      They feature a specific series of books that we think students would like to know about so that they can read them, or

2)      Like the hedgehog posters, they don’t talk about a specific book but rather try to show how much fun it is to find something you like to read

Do you have any thoughts about which direction we should take for a World War II poster? I’m always happy to hear ideas from other people. When everyone shares ideas, the final project always turns out so much better.

I was so proud of Adaline continuing the conversation in addition to all of her other school responsibilities.

Dear Amy Cox,
I  think the books that the poster could be about could be the series Heroes of World War 2 !  I think that the poster should have something related to the Nazis or maybe even Anne Frank! And yes I have seen the new graphic novels! They look amazing!
                        Adaline
Amy moved the conversation to the Capstone team.

Dear Adaline,

Thank you for your response. I’m so happy that you like the Heroes of World War II books. I think those stories are fascinating.

The idea of World War II heroes got us thinking here at  Capstone—perhaps in a different direction than you would expect, but that is the fun of brainstorming, right? Give us several days and we’ll see if we can come up with something interesting. Can you search your library catalog and see if you already have this book? It has a tiny clue about our idea!

Finally, Amy let us know to expect something in the mail.  When the box arrived, I couldn’t wait to see what was inside.  To my surprise, Amy had sent 3 custom signs that incorporated history as well as the mission of the student book budget group to get the right books in student hands.

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I immediately sent a note down to Adaline so that she could come up and see how Capstone had listened to her ideas and given us something completely based upon her request.  She was all smiles.  I also loved that her grandmother was here to celebrate the moment with her.  Even though she might not want the attention, I think it’s important to celebrate this moment.  Now her efforts will be on display as our student book budget books arrive.  These signs will be a part of our student book budget display.

This is not the first time that Capstone has reached out and supported a specific student.  Last year, Amy supported Ajacea in her marketing interests.

I hope other students will see this as an opportunity to speak up and make their voices heard when they have an idea, and I hope educators and companies will see this as an opportunity to amplify student voice and make a difference in our world no matter how small.

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Thank you Amy Cox and Capstone for always supporting the student book budget project and always listening to (and acting upon) the voices of students.

Let’s Show Our Work with the #PowerOfPublicSchools

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Created by Kristina Holzweiss

When I speak at conferences or lead workshops, one of the ideas that I try to stress to educators is the importance of showing our work.  It’s something I’ve always believed in but my belief has strengthened each year.

One of the books that I got a lot of encouragement from is Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work.

So many of his ideas resonate with me. As educators, we truly have an opportunity to show the world what is happening within the walls of our schools.  I share at least one thing every single day on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook about the work that is going on in our public school library.

Kazoo parade #librariesofinstagram #steam #makerspace #ccsdmaker

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I do this for many reasons.  The biggest reason is that it amplifies the work of my students, teachers, and families.  It shows that the work that they are doing matters and deserves to be seen and heard by a global audience.

Another reason I share is to inspire other educators to take risks and try something new.  I’ve gained so much from reading the tweets, pictures, and blog posts of fellow educators around the world. People like Jennifer LaGarde, Tiffany Whitehead, Matthew Winner, Sherry Gick, Kathy Burnette, Nikki Robertson, George Couros, Todd Nesloney (and many more than I can list) inspire my thinking.  They push me to innovate, to try something new, and to offer more opportunities to my community.  By sharing my work, someone else out there will see something we are doing and twist that idea into something new.  Someone out there will try something they weren’t even thinking about.

Finally, I share my work because it defines for the world what is happening in a public school library.  Without sharing, many assumptions are made about what happens in public schools.  It shouldn’t be a mystery to the public.  You can look through my blog posts, Instagram pictures, and Tweets and see that our library and school are filled with miraculous things.  Everything isn’t perfect, but it has value.

Usually, when I share my work, I add hashtags like #edchat, #edtech, #studentvoice, #tlchat, #istelib, #makered, and more.  This sends our work to specific audiences.  This week, a new Secretary of Education was sworn in. There has been a lot of controversy around Betsy DeVos and her views of public education.  There has been a lot of controversy about her lack of experience with what actually happens within public schools. So…I decided to occasionally share with her on social media some of the things happening in our public school library.

When I did this, several people in my professional learning network started having a conversation around showing the great work of public schools. Sherry Gick, Rebecca Flowers, and more started brainstorming a hashtag.  Many suggestions were offered but the brilliant author/illustrator Matthew Cordell offered this one #PowerOfPublicSchools

 

Kristina Holzweiss created a graphic, and we all started sharing it along with our posts of the great work of public schools.

 

I hope that you will join us.  Show the powerful things that are happening in your school and use the hashtag #PowerOfPublicSchools

 

Use our graphic within your networks to encourage others to share.

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Also, consider tagging people who need to see the power of public schools.  Perhaps it’s local, state, and federal government.  Perhaps it’s businesses in your community.  Perhaps it’s someone else.

Regardless of who you might tag, show your work.  You never know who it might inspire, influence, or change.

 

 

Wishes and Plans: Exploring Life Challenges Through Books

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Somehow, I’ve managed to read three books recently that all feature a main character grappling with the challenge of having an absent parent. I didn’t choose these books because of this fact, but reading about someone’s life challenges that are so different from my own has made me a better person. In his recent Newbery speech, Matt de la Pena referenced an encounter with a librarian where she said that she loved his books but didn’t stock them in her library because she didn’t have those kinds of kids at her school. Those kinds of thoughts make me cringe because books allow us to escape to magical worlds and do things we could only dream of doing and they can also allow us to step into someone else’s shoes for just a moment to get a brief perspective on the world through someone else’s eyes. While it can’t make you an expert on the struggle that the character is going through, it does allow you to see that we all face challenges and struggles and we don’t always wear those troubles on the outside for everyone to see.

One of these books is Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, which I already mentioned on the blog. Two of these books that I read are upcoming releases from Farrar Straus Giroux. Barbara O’Connor’s Wish comes out in late August.   It features an 11-year old girl named Charlie whose mother is having trouble keeping her life in order and whose father is in jail. She goes to live with her aunt and uncle in a small town. Every day of her life since fourth grade she makes the exact same wish and wonders if it will ever come true. Charlie’s list of ways to make a wish is pretty impressive, and I can’t help but wonder how many ways there are to make a wish after reading this book. What did Barbara O’Connor discover that she didn’t even include in the book? While Charlie is with her aunt and uncle, she meets a stray dog who she names Wishbone. Along with her new friend Howard, they craft a plan to catch Wishbone so Charlie can have a pet of her own.

Woven into this tale of longing for a pet is Charlie’s struggle with finding a place she belongs and her desire to have a mother and father who care enough about her to give her a stable home filled with love. That struggle affects how Charlie interacts with those around her. She lashes out at anyone who ruffles her feathers, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I would act if faced with a similar situation. I can’t say that I blame her for writing mean things to her teacher, giving kids a shove, or insulting her aunt.  What I was struck with the most was how her Aunt Bertha handled every incident of acting out. She offered nothing but love and understanding. I must admit that my own reaction might be to jump at the negativity with a punishment, but Bertha just offered a heap of love.  One of the quotes that still stands out to me after reading wish is:

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own drama and challenges that we lose sight of what others are going through. Instead of being quick to judge or react, I want to slow down and remember that love is a powerful gift.  Barbara O’Connor has once again masterfully written a southern tale that can speak to us all.

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In Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness coming in October, Gertie deals with an absent parent as well. However, this parent lives in the same town and still doesn’t have any interaction with her.  How would that feel to know that your mom lived just a few streets away yet had no interest in seeing you or talking to you? It’s certainly very far away from my own experience of having a mom and dad who are always there for me, wanting to know where I am at every second, and still want to talk to me every single day on the phone. Gertie is a firecracker of a girl. She takes matters into her own hands and makes a plan to be the best 5th grader in the entire universe. Gertie wrestles with her absent parent in a different way than Charlie does. She thinks that if she does enough then her mom will notice and want to be a part of her life or realize that Gertie is so awesome that she doesn’t need a mother anyway. Gertie has something standing in her way: a new girl named Mary Sue. Both of them have what it takes to be standout students, but their battle for the top results in even more struggles for Gertie to deal with.

Gertie is a character that I just want to hang out with. She is full of wit and adventure and can take just about any situation and make the best out of it. She does all of this even with a gloomy situation hanging over her. I think about my role in education and how a student like Gertie might slide by unnoticed as having a challenge to deal with. She isn’t one to reach out for help because she thinks she has to handle it all herself. How do I recognize those students? What opportunities can I give to students that allows them to shine and be the star that they are?  I love how even the stern Mrs. Stebbins recognized the potential in Gertie and gave her a moment to shine.

I highly recommend all three of the books mentioned in this post. Check them out at your local independent bookshop or library and add them to your collection.

Morning message #summerreading #literacy #librarian #thatsmycar

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I love to read books that I connect to, but I also love to read books that challenge my thinking and open my eyes to new cultures, perspectives, or challenges that are different from my own experience. I hope that I’ll keep finding books in my path that enrich my life in this way. As I’m looking toward the new school year, I am thinking about goals and what I hope for the students and families in our library. Right now, I hope that we can all step into the shoes of characters that we connect with but more importantly step into the shoes of characters that give us new perspectives to learn from and enrich our lives. I want to work as hard as I can to offer a collection of books to our readers that gives the opportunity to do this.

 

West Georgia RESA Summer Camp for Library Media Specialists

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It’s summer. Educators have the summer off, right? While on paper it may seem that educators have two months off, most of us continue to develop our professional lives and dream and plan for the upcoming school year. I’m excited to join media specialists from around Georgia and neighboring states at West Georgia RESA on June 20 from 8:30-3:30 for a summer camp for media specialists.  I’m so thankful to West Georgia RESA for providing this opportunity to librarians around the state who often don’t have professional learning targeted directly at them. Registration is still open and costs $65 for RESA members and $85 for non-members.

What will we do together? Here’s a look at our approximate schedule for the day.

8:30-9:30 Opening presentation/Q&A Empowering Student Voice.  We will set the stage for what it means to empower the voices of our students as well as think beyond the walls of our own schools.

9:30-9:45Break

9:45-11:00 Tools for collaborating, crowdsourcing and sharing. Disruptus game. sharing tools crowdsourced by us all and thinking about how to disrupt their uses.  There are so many amazing tools out there, but we will use this time to think about tools that will allow us to crowdsource information and collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously to create classrooms that are part of a global community.

11:00-11:30 Harness social media and develop your own PLN.  We’ll answer any questions about social media and look at how social media allows us to show our work, connect to opportunities, and empower all the voices in our library community.

11:30-12:30 Lunch

12:30-2:00 Makerspace Exploration. Hands-on exploration and a look at my own makerspace, how it’s funded, and how it functions

2:00-2:15 Break

2:15-3:15 Goals that Matter. Time to talk about goals and set some short and long-term goals

3:15 Final Q&A

We will of course be flexible and take into consideration the needs and requests of the group as we spend time together. Join us in Grantville, GA and bring your wisdom to share with the room. See you there!

Home Libraries and Summer Reading

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We are quickly approaching summer at our school, so we have been winding down activities in the library and looking ahead to what we might read this summer. There are many pieces that go into encouraging students to read over the summer, and I love that we are always trying new ideas to encourage our students to read.

Our family engagement specialist, some teachers, and the Junior League of Athens went into the community center of one of the communities we serve to host a family literacy workshop. Families decorated book boxes, learned some reading strategies, and talked about the importance of a home library. The Junior League will be putting 6 books in each of those boxes to go to families who participated.

Our Athens Clarke County Public Library came into the school and met with Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade to talk about the summer reading program. Evan Bush, head children’s librarian, sang songs, told stories, and highlighted the numerous events happening at the public library this summer.

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Those include puppet shows, Minecraft crafts, live animals, a real life mermaid and pirate, and more. For the summer reading incentive, students earn a button for every 10 books or 5 hours that they read. Each button corresponds with a different land that students imagine traveling to over the summer such as the Hundred Acre Wood, Wonderland, and Hogwarts.

Love the button incentive for the @athens_regional_libraries summer reading. #summerreading #literacy #prizes

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Those buttons will go onto a lanyard as students earn them.  Also, the elementary school with the most students to complete the summer reading challenge will earn a trophy to keep at the school for the year.

Another project I’ve been working on is proving books to an additional community within our school to build up home libraries. This project was funded through a grant from First Book UGA and donations from a GoFundMe campaign I created.  Approximately 78 students are a part of this project, I surveyed the students to learn more about their reading interests and then ordered books through First Book to give them for summer reading.

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The students came to the library in small groups to decorate a box to put their books in. The boxes were reused boxes that I found at our local recycling facility and spray painted. Students chose from a variety of stickers to personalize their boxes.

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It was great to see that students of every age got excited about using stickers to personalize their box. My hope is that a personal touch will create a connection to the box and encourage them to use it to store books.

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When the books arrived, Camilla Bracewell, volunteer extraordinaire, came and helped me unbox them all onto tables. I printed out the spreadsheets I had created with each student’s personal order.

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Since I was more familiar with what the books looked liked, Camilla helped read off names of students and filled the boxes as I pointed out the books or handed them to her. Because of the wonderful prices through First Book, I was able to give each student 7 books for summer reading. I even have a few books left over that teachers will use to give to additional students who might need some books for the summer.

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Next week, I’m hosting two sessions for families to stop by and pick up the book boxes, but any remaining boxes will go home with students throughout the week.

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Thanks to Get Georgia Reading, all students in Georgia also have access to MyOn from Capstone for the summer. I’m taking time to show this to families, individual students, small groups, and whole classes. This is a great way to have unlimited access to thousands of books for summer reading and they are never checked out.

Summer reading is a special time because it’s a chance for students to read things that really interest them. It’s a chance to take a break from the “requirements” of school and just read for the fun of it. I hope that we have shown students and families enough options as well as provided some tangible materials that all readers in our school have an idea of the reading they will do over the summer.

Happy reading!