The 2018 Barrow Peace Prize Goes To…

Our 2nd graders have been working on our annual Barrow Peace Prize project since January, and for the past few weeks you have been voting on which person from history will win the award.

On February 28, we all gathered in the library for the big announcement.  Prior to this day, students researched a civil rights leader, wrote a persuasive piece of writing, created artwork to accompany their writing, and recorded themselves in Flipgrid. We asked people around the world to view and vote on which civil rights leader should win.

People in 160 different locations around the world cast their votes.

During the Barrow Peace Prize Ceremony, we connected with Flipgrid via Skype. Brad Hosack set the stage for our ceremony by reminding us of the history of this project that has gone on for many years since Flipgrid was an emerging edtech tool.

Then, we launched into student recognitions. Each teacher selected 3 students to recognize for Prolific Persuader, Outstanding Opener, and Dynamic Designer.

A member of the Flipgrid team announced the winners in each category and I handed out certificates to rounds of applause.

Awards are all ready for tomorrow’s Peace Prize announcement. #studentvoice

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Next, we recognized our Barrow Peace Prize designers. A few years ago, a student said that we needed an actual prize for the peace prize. Since then, a group of students designs the peace prize using Tinkercad and we 3D print it.  Every student who researches the winning civil rights leader receives a medal.

Finally, it was the moment we had been waiting for. Nate from Flipgrid announced the 2018 Barrow Peace Prize winner………………Martin Luther King Jr. The votes were super close and this was the first year that MLK was one of our finalists for the peace prize.¬† Every student who researched him received their peace prize medal and we also gave a medal to each classroom to share with all students in 2nd grade.

This ceremony really is a celebration of the collective work of 2nd grade. Yes, several students hear their names called, but we all celebrate knowing that our work has reached well beyond the walls of our school to inspire others.

Thank you to every person who watched the student videos, voted, and shared this project. It means the world to the students to know that their videos have been seen.

 

Follow the Bookstagram Choice Awards Nov 27-Dec 17

Instagram has become one of my favorite places. I’ll admit that I was late to the Instagram craze, but now it is probably my favorite place to be. I love the visuals of classrooms, libraries, bookstores, and books. I get so many ideas for new projects in the library as well as new books to add to the collection.

There are numerous bookstagrammers who post pictures and reviews of new and upcoming books. A personal goal of mine has been to be critical of our library collection and be constantly aware of the voices represented in the books on our shelves. Instagram has helped me see many more books than I could ever find alone.

One of the people I started following is Charnaie Gordon @hereweeread¬† Her posts about the diverse books that she reads with her son and daughter always keep me up to date on books that need to be added to our library.¬† The great thing is that she isn’t the only one. As I follow one person, I discover someone else and suddenly I’m surrounded by people who are passionate about books and diverse voices.

I was so excited when I learned that Charnaie was brainstorming a new Instagram book award list selected by many of the “bookstagrammers” that I admired.¬† I was in disbelief that she wanted to include me as one of the members of the first award selection group.¬† I was honored, intimidated, but mostly inspired.¬† This group of people has poured their hearts into what has become the Bookstagram Choice Awards.¬† Each person chose one winner along with honorable mentions in a variety of categories.¬† The hope is that these categories will represent a diverse collection of voices and communities that serve a wide age range of readers.

Starting on November 27th, there will be one category announced each day. This will include the winner and any honorable mentions.  You can follow along on the newly created Bookstagram Choice Awards Instagram account as well as by following all of the contributors who will post on their individual pages on their assigned day.

Be sure to follow:

 

I hope you will take time to follow all these wonderful people, celebrate the books that were chosen, and suggest books you would have selected.¬† It’s all in the name of amplifying the wonderful books that exist in the world. Through books, we can better understand and connect with one another in the world. Through books, we can have conversations about what matters and help our world be a better place.

Let the Bookstagram Choice Awards begin!

P.S. Stay tuned on December 17th for some special giveaways where you’ll have a chance to enter to win some of the books featured in the awards.

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.

March Madness Global Book Talk Challenge (Round 1)

Back in January, we were inspired by Jennifer LaGarde and Brad Gustafson’s 30-second book talk challenge. ¬†Our 5th graders all worked on scripts and recorded 30-second book talks on Flipgrid. ¬†Thanks to Flipgrid’s new Global Connections feature, our grid was shared with other users of Flipgrid. ¬†I also shared it widely on social media. Over time, students from around the globe started adding their voices to our grid. ¬†Thanks to views, likes, and judge’s choice, we now have a top 16 out of over 90 videos on the grid.

Using Google Drawing, I made a bracket for us to use over the month of March.  Round 1 is now open.  Students were placed into groups of four to compete against one another to move onto the next round.

I also embedded the drawing onto a Google Site with a form for voting.

This is my first attempt at a March Madness style reading incentive.  It is truly amazing to look at all 90+ videos and see how passionate and creative the kids were in their talk.  The real winners in all of this are the students who made the videos and every viewer who takes time to listen to their voices.  The March Madness event is just a little icing on top to celebrate our hard work.

We invite you to join in round 1.  Voting is open through the end of the night on March 17th.  Then, round 2 will be announced.  Please feel free to vote more than once and share with your own networks.

https://sites.google.com/clarke.k12.ga.us/epicbooktalk/ 

I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker!

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I’m beyond excited to finally announce that I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. This has been a very hard secret to keep for so long. I’m extremely honored to represent the power of libraries in our world along with the many other talented individuals on this year’s list. ¬†I have so much respect for the other librarians who have been on this prestigious list through the years, and it’s surreal to see my name alongside people who are my mentors and friends along with new inspiring people¬†to discover. ¬†I’m taking time to read each person’s profile and be inspired with each and every story.

To look at the map of movers, and see the number in Georgia bump up to 17 movers and shakers was a special moment. I’m honored to be one of the 17 Georgians across the 15 years of this award and 1 of about 750 movers and shakers around the globe. ¬†Out of the 17 Georgians, only 3 of those are school librarians. This year’s list of 54 movers and shakers included only 5 school librarians. ¬†Theses 5 librarians include the amazing Colleen Graves, whose makerspace leadership always inspire me to try something new. Also included is Sue Kowalski, who empowers her students to take charge in the library and is always thinking about how to grow the library program in the community.

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When I found out that I made the 2016 list, I immediately started wondering which category I would be placed in. That is one detail that you don’t find out until the very end. Now that I know I’m in the “community builder” category, I couldn’t be happier.

When I really look at the heart of what I do, it’s about creating communities of learners, dreamers, innovators, creators, and leaders. The library has never been just mine. I’m always looking for opportunities to increase access to resources and experiences¬†for all of the members of our library. Whether it’s collaborating with Gretchen Thomas at the University of Georgia, Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack at Fliprgrid, Lindsey Hill at Evanced, Janet Geddis and the bookseller team at Avid Bookshop, Jim Boon and Amy Cox at Capstone Press, authors and illustrators, or my librarian colleagues around the country, miraculous things happen for the students, educators, and collaborators involved. We realize that we are never alone. Every time we connect in person or virtually, we realize that we are part of one big community and the words of Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw’s¬†Same, Same but Different¬† ring true for us all. ¬†I feel like I have so much more to learn about building community within the walls of our school and beyond, and I can’t wait to see where we go in the coming years.

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I do want to pull back the curtain just a bit on what it was like to go through the process of being on the Movers and Shakers list. First, you are nominated. I am fortunate to know several people who nominated me, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to thank Charlie Miller, Lindsey Hill, Gretchen Thomas, Sherry Gick, and Ellen Sabatini for their nominations along with anyone else who may have submitted my name.

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In December, I got the email with an invitation to come to ALA Midwinter in Boston for the photo shoot and first time meeting several of the 2016 Movers and Shakers. I was so excited to attend my first Midwinter and get to tour the massive exhibit hall.  I arrived a little before registration started, so I had a chance to tour a little of Boston.

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One of my favorite spots was the public library. I loved touring the old and new spaces and thinking about what libraries have done for communities throughout the years and how the spaces are always evolving to meet the needs of the library members.

I of course also had to visit the Make Way for Ducklings ducks in the Public Garden.

As soon as I went to registration, I saw several librarians I knew, and it was so hard not to talk about why I was really at midwinter. Luckily, I did have a meeting to talk about transforming libraries with Miguel Figueroa, so I had that to talk about. I got to meet some superstar authors and illustrators like Jeff Kinney, Herve Tullet, Mac Barnett, and Jory John.

The night before the photo shoot, I went to the Candlewick party at Fenway Park. Being in this historic stadium at night and completely empty was unbelievable. We dined on ballpark food along with about 20 authors and illustrators including Peter & Paul Reynolds and Gregory Maguire.

On the morning of the photo shoot, I made my way to the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. I wore my red shirt, Dr Seuss Converse shoes, “expect the miraculous” bracelet, and carried my copy of Flora and Ulysses.¬†The lobby was breathtaking and I was extremely nervous, so I took a few moments to look around before heading up to the suite.

When I finally decided to go to the room, I was relieved to see other movers in the room so it made the shoot less intimidating. There were two rooms setup with backdrops, and the photographer and other staff were very helpful in making the shoot fun and special. We took many different group shots along with our individual pictures. While we waited, we got to learn a bit about one another and make some connections.  I got to chat with fellow teacher librarian Sue Kowalski and snap a quick selfie too.

I also met Stephanie Anderson, and after chatting, we realized we had a mutual connection with Janet Geddis and Avid Bookshop.

The rest of the conference was filled with great conversations about libraries and celebrating up and coming books. I was glad that I flew Southwest just so I could pack books into my two checked bags.

Also, within this same time frame, I had a long phone interview with Carly Okyle, the writer for my profile. It was fun to chat with her again since she also wrote the article for my SLJ School Librarian of the Year finalist profile. She’s a big fan of our library program, Check out how the final article¬†turned out.

mover and shaker issue

The print copies have arrived!

Waiting on announcement day was really hard, and it was a huge relief to finally have the secret out and celebrate with people who care about my work. I can’t even begin to list all of the social media posts that I received from friends in my PLN and people who have found some inspiration I’ve done.

My wife brought me red flowers to school and snuck up behind me playing 100% by Mariah Carey. ¬†It was my own singing telegram. ¬†The work we do is hard, and it is rare that we get thanked or celebrated. ¬†However, anything someone did for me or said on release day was special to me, and reminded me how we really need to stop and celebrate educators more often. ¬†On March 28th, my school is having an “Andy Plemmons Day” where all are encouraged to wear red! ¬†I look forward to that special day of celebrating with you Barrow community.

In June, I will travel to my first ALA annual in Orlando. There will be a Movers and Shakers luncheon that will reunite Movers and Shakers from previous years along with the 2016 winners.

As always, it is incredible to be recognized for your work, but these awards are really a celebration of libraries and the members who make up each of these libraries represented.  There are many more school and public librarians out there that need to be on this list, and I hope we see even more of those people on this list in years to come. Thank you for following along with me in this journey. Now, forward we go to the next adventure expecting the miraculous the whole way.IMG_8827

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 ūüôā

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.

 

 

Celebrating Reading and Learning Styles with Bookapalooza

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This year, the school library media specialists in our district decided to start a new reading competition called Bookapalooza. In the past, we have participated in Battle of the Books, where students read a set list of books and compete on teams to answer questions about specific details from the books. We had lots of discussion about trying a reading competition that offered students more choice in the books that they read as well as gave students a chance to show off their creativity and interests in a variety of categories rather than just answering factual questions about books.

A subcommittee of our group met to work out some logistics of how a new reading competition might work, and a new Bookapalooza website was created.

Students in 3rd-5th grade could compete in the competition. They could choose any book, author, or genre to read and create a project around. Five categories were created to give students a variety of choices to celebrate their own learning preferences: Art, Performance, Trifold, Writing, and Technology.

In the past, teams of students have worked together in Battle of the Books. Bookapalooza did allow for some collaboration but most projects were meant to be done by individuals. I had to think about organizing our school competition in a whole new way. I’m not sure that I really did the best job, but it definitely was a great first try. In November, I started sharing with students about what Bookapalooza was all about. Some teachers brought their whole class to the library while others just showed a short intro video.

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I created a Google form where students could sign up for Bookapalooza and indicate the category they were most likely going to enter along with the title of the book. This could of course change, but the form allowed me to get a good ideas of how many students were going to enter the contest and to make sure we had projects in all of the 5 categories. I was also able to make an email list from this form so that I could email the participants with updates on the competition.

In the past, I’ve held practices for Battle of the Books during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this type of competition really didn’t lend itself to that structure. Instead, I blocked off various times on the library calendar for Bookapalooza help sessions. Teachers could sign students up to come during these times or they were welcome to just drop by to ask questions or work. Some teachers chose to the do the competition with their whole class so they scheduled time on the library calendar specifically for their class.

I also contacted our collaborating teachers to ask if they would help each grade level with projects. Natalie Hicks, Jan Mullins, and Heather Carlson were instrumental in making sure that each grade level had representation in the competition.

As the deadline approached, I checked in via email with students and teachers and the projects started to come in. I cleared off the library shelves for projects to be displayed. As they came in, I numbered the projects for judging.  For digital projects, I created another Google form for students to submit links to projects. I put all of these links on a Google doc that could be displayed on each of our projection boards for viewing. The day after the deadline, we held our school competition, which meant that classes were welcome to come through and look at all of the projects and a team of 5 judges used rubrics to judge and rank the projects. We had to select one project from each category to move on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County Library.

Some of our technology projects included:

Some of our performance projects included:

Some of our art projects included:

Some of our trifolds included:

Since we had so many outstanding projects, I asked judges to write notes about things that stood out about various projects and we awarded many special certificates and bookmarks to students who didn’t necessarily place “first” in their category.

Congratulations to the following projects for moving forward:

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Our school level winners moved on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County library where we were able to enjoy projects from most of the elementary schools in our district. Our school technology project placed 3rd n the district and our school art project placed 1st in the district.  Congratulations to all of the students in Clarke County who took time to share their love of books, their personal talents, and their creativity through numerous Bookapalooza projects.  We look forward to growing this celebration next year.