The Winner of Our Global Book Talk Challenge

For several weeks, people around the world have been contributing to our 30-second book talk Flipgrid.  In March, we narrowed the videos to 16 and have been inviting a global audience to listen to the videos and vote on the brackets each week.

After many, many votes, we have a winner!  Congratulations to Evin for her book talk of It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton.  Adaline’s book talk of I Dissent by Debbie Levy was a very close 2nd place.  Both of these students will receive a special recognition on our morning broadcast as well as gift certificates to our local bookshop, Avid Bookshop.  Please help me in congratulating our winners, but more importantly, continue to share great books with one another!

2016 Picture Book Smackdown

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Picture Book Month came to a close and we once again hosted a Picture Book Smackdown with schools around the country.  All month long, students have been celebrating Picture Book Month by reading picture books from every genre section of our library. As they read a book from a section, they earned a stamp on a challenge sheet. Once students collected all 12 stamps, they turned their sheet in for a bookmark, certificate, and to be entered into a drawing to win a new picture book.

Another piece of Picture Book Month was preparing for the Picture Book Smackdown.  Since 2013, I’ve been hosting and organizing a Google Hangout to bring together students from multiple states along with authors & illustrators to celebrate the power of the picture book.  For one hour, students and authors take turns stepping up to the microphone, book talking a favorite picture book, and saying why picture books matter in the world.

We advertised our event using Smore.

This year, we were joined by author Dianne de Las Casas, the founder of Picture Book Month.  We had students from 4 states: Maine, Vermont, Texas, and Georgia.

 

We broadcasted through Youtube Live and had a full hour of sharing favorite picture books.  Dianne de Las Casas opened and closed our event.

 

I loved that at the end she reflected on what had been shared.  There was such a mix of classic picture books with current picture books.  There were books about Star Wars and books about difficult topics like hurricanes.  There were new twists on fairy tales like Little Red and books in made up languages like Du Iz Tak?

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As students shared, I had a wonderful parent volunteer who kept a list of the books that were shared during the hangout. We need to go back now and clean up the doc, but you can view its progress here.  I also had a volunteer who helped get students up to the microphone while I made sure our technology was all running smoothly.

We had multiple viewers from around the country during the event and it was fun to see tweets from different perspectives.

 

It was also fun to look at the Smore analytics to see where people were from who at least visited our page about the event.

I think one of the things I enjoy most is seeing students and authors share with the world with one voice.  They come together around a love of picture books and each take time to speak about why picture books matter to them.  Each student had a different take on the importance of picture books and they all brought something for us to consider.

You can view our entire Picture Book Smackdown here:

As you view, I hope you’ll consider tweeting about your own favorite picture books using the hashtag #pbsmkdwn

Another incredible thing that happened this year is that I heard from a group of librarians in Alabama led by Bonnie Howard who wanted to host their own picture book smackdown gaining inspiration from the smackdown we started in 2013.  I of course encouraged them to go for it.  Their smackdown gained a lot of community attention and because of that, we get a chance to see the smackdown in action as well as hear some students talk about what they loved about the event.  One of the things I love about the video is how a principal and librarians got excited about the future of connections beyond their state and even country.  When you start connecting with other schools, you see the miraculous things that happen as students and adults collaborate with one another. I can’t wait to see how the work of Bonnie Howard, Kris Gray, Lisa D, and Dixie Paschal continues to grow.

If you are interested in starting your own picture book smackdown, I encourage you to go for it too.  Whether it’s within your own school, with other schools in your district, or reaching beyond state boundaries, you and your students will be rewarded by sharing your work with one another.

Add Your Voice to the Friendship Week Flipgrid for World Read Aloud

LitWorld 7 Strengths

Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  During the week of January 17-24, we celebrate how reading connects us and makes the world a friendlier place

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

How does reading help us connect and make the world friendlier?

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  Can we find a new friend by contributing our voice?

http://flipgrid.com/#25c255a6

In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might read aloud a book with a friend and post about it on your blog or other social media. You might post a book of your best book friends which might be actual people or covers of books. Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Friendship Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #friendshipweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

I know one of the stories we will read during Friendship Week is Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, but we will read many other friendship stories during the week as well.

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

Let’s share how we are all friends who are part of a global community.

Digital Book Talks and Exploring How We Belong for #WRAD16

Belonging Week (8)Ms. Tesler’s 4th grade class has been exploring how they can be leaders within our school community.  Back in the fall, they started writing shelf talkers and displaying them on shelves at the front of our library. After all of their suggested books were quickly checked out, they are looking for ways to expand their leadership.  They have decided to take the “7 Strengths of Reading” challenge leading up to World Read Aloud Day and explore each week’s question.  They have also decided to take their shelf talkers and make them digital.

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Across 2 days, the class came to the library to work on their next steps of this project.  We began by talking about our memories of being read aloud to.  I shared about my 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Deloache, and how she read Brer Rabbit stories to us with so many voices that I can still hear in my head today.  Ms. Tesler shared an experience of being read aloud to in college and how that stuck with her even as an adult.  Many other students began to share their own memories of being read aloud to.

We used this to launch into a new purpose of exploring the read aloud.  We are thinking about books that others might enjoy reading aloud.  We are also thinking about books we might read aloud to our buddies in other classrooms. Along with this, we started discussing how reading aloud builds community and how certain books help us feel connected with a community. To close, I shared my own example of a book talk and a reflection on the #belongingweek #wrad16 question on Flipgrid.

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The first task was for students to select a book or books to read.  We wanted them to choose a picture book for this first book talk and question.  I pre-selected some books that had a theme of belonging, but students were welcome to choose any picture book.  Once students chose a book, they sat down to read it.  If they finished, they could start writing their shelf talker or their reflection on this week’s #WRAD16 question: “When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?”

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In class, students continued to work on their reflections and they returned to the library with their completed writing.  I’ve been sharing the belonging week Flipgrid a lot on social media in the hopes that other schools would contribute.  When the students arrived to record their own, I was happy to share with them that Donna MacDonald in Vermont and Kathy Schmidt in Georgia had students who contributed to the Flipgrid.  We started by taking time to listen to them.

We used these contributions to consider pieces that were included as well as what we needed to do when we recorded our own.  Students pointed out things like speaking clearly and loud enough to hear.  They pointed out how there wasn’t a lot of movement behind the students who were recording, and that they introduced themselves.

Students spread out all over our library and recorded two Flipgrids.  One Flipgrid was a digital book talk sharing a new book.  This set of answers will be displayed on a monitor in the library and put in slideshow mode.  This will cause the videos to constantly scroll through and advertise books in our library.  We also hope that other schools will contribute their own book talks.  Renee Cunningham in North Carolina is already planning to do this with her students.

http://flipgrid.com/#b9bd04f0 

Finally, our students reflected on the belonging week question for World Read Aloud Day.  I loved hearing students make connections to their own lives and the sense of belonging.  I also loved hearing students pick out parts of a book and how a character felt like he belonged to a community.  It was a natural way to collect some analysis of text from students.

I hope you will take a moment to listen to some of their thoughts.

http://flipgrid.com/#8e21e4e6

We are just getting started, but I hope to see many more schools contribute to both our book talk Flipgrid as well as our weekly 7 Strengths of Reading grids.  If you are interested, feel free to add your students’ voices!

Picture Book Smackdown 2015 is a Wrap!

smackdown (8)Wow!  We had the most students ever participate in our 3rd annual picture book smackdown.  Even sickness and technical difficulties didn’t stop our students in 5 states sharing favorite books along with author, Laurie Thompson.

Here are a few behind the scenes notes:

  • There were multiple emails and tweets sent between the participating schools in this smackdown. We established etiquette for the hangout such as keeping things moving, muting microphones when we weren’t speaking, and only having about 5 students at a time share
  • We all prepared our students in advance of the smackdown but we each did it in our own way.  My own students had a basic script that they filled out.

  • The amazing Cathy Potter helped organize Laurie Thompson to join us. Unfortunately, Picture Book Month founder, Dianne de Las Casas wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t join us.  She was with us in spirit, though!
  • I had a group of 50 students!  Luckily 2 volunteers and a teacher helped me keep them organized in chairs and a parent frantically wrote down as many titles of shared picture books as she could.

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  • We all came into the Google Hangout early to test our cameras and microphones.  We communicated with one another through the chat in Hangouts as well as through text messaging if needed.

All of our Picture Book Smackdown content can be found on our Smore.

I would like to thank all of the schools who participated, Laurie Thompson, our volunteers, and all of the people who viewed and sent out tweets.  Thanks for celebrating Picture Book Month with us!

We’ll see you next year for our 4th annual smackdown!

Get Ready for Picture Book Smackdown 2015! #pbsmkdwn

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For 3 years, I have organized an online picture book smackdown in honor of Picture Book Month.  Over those 3 years, our Google Hangout event has grown stronger thanks to the collaboration of librarians, students, and authors around the country.  We are busily planning this year’s event, but you can go ahead and put it on your calendar now!  It will be November 19th from 1:30-2:30PM EST.

We made a Smore to host all of the content of the event:

During the smackdown, you can expect to hear:

  • An introduction and welcome from Picture Book Month founder, Dianne de Las Casas
  • Students from at least 5 states share favorite picture books and why picture books matter in a fast-paced format
  • Authors such as Laurie Ann Thompson share her favorite picture books along with our students
  • An ongoing doc of picture books that we share!

Everything will broadcast through a Youtube link:

We would love for you to watch the event with your students or share with classrooms.  You can even participate by tweet about the event or tweeting your own picture book recommendations during the event using the hashtag #pbsmkdwn

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Even if you can’t join us, we hope you are inspired by our event and consider having your own Picture Book Smackdown online or in your own space.  Feel free to use our hashtag to connect our events together. Happy Picture Book Month!

P.S.  If you can’t wait for this year’s event, here’s a little taste of what we did last year:

Library Orientation for Third through Fifth Grade

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Just as I did for the early grades, I pondered what message I wanted our upper grades to take away from library orientation.  I wanted to of course give them some reminders about routines and procedures, but I wanted them to leave with a sense that the library was a place for all readers to connect with books.  I wanted them to know that if they had never found a book that they connected with that I wanted to help them find that book.  If we didn’t have the book or topic in our library, then I wanted us to make sure that we did.

Over the summer, I saw John Schu post on his blog about a new site from Scholastic with the motto “Open a World of Possible”. On the site, there are several videos and resources about how reading opens possibilities for us all.  One of the best videos is the one asking kids of all ages to talk about why they read.

I asked students to first think about what their answer to the question “Why do you read?” would be.  I didn’t take any answers from them since I felt like it was a personal question at that moment in time and that some students may have never thought of the answer.  Then, we watched the video to see if we connected to anything the students said or if their ideas sparked some of our own.  At that point, instead of asking students to share aloud, I gave them an opportunity.  I created a Flipgrid with that same question and told them it would be available for the next two weeks.  I hoped they would think about their answer and share their voice with others in our school.  I loved that some of them did this before they even left the library.

I shared with students that one of the reasons that I read is to walk in other people’s shoes, especially people who are different from me. I also love to experience things in a book that I know I would never do in real life.  Books are my safe place to go into the spooky unknown, the thrill of the Hunger Games, or the magic of a schools for wizards.

Next, I shared a bit of a book that I connected with this summer called Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley.  These grades will all have an author visit with Cassie in September, so this lesson was also a way for us to start diving into her text.  I chose to read aloud starting on p. 65, which is the part where Ephraim first visits the circus as a young boy.  He is a believer, so he is able to find the circus.  However, he still needs a ticket to get in.  It is on these pages that Ephraim discovers that every person’s ticket into Circus Mirandus is different.  You can’t pay to get in but instead must offer something to the ticket taker that has a connection with who you are or simply what you have to offer.  For one boy, it’s a spool of thread and for Ephraim it’s a fish.

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I loved seeing so many students connect to this part of the story and want to read on.  I knew they wouldn’t all connect because it’s so hard for us all to connect with the exact same book.  However, this part of the story helped us talk about how we are each different.  We each have interests that we bring into the library when we search for a book, and those interests are our tickets into the books on the shelves.

Beyond “why I read” and connecting through interests, students have an opportunity to explore the library and refresh their memory on checking out books, using Destiny, and finding the various sections.  As in the past, I made some videos connected to QR codes.  Students used iPads to watch these videos and then start checking out books when they were ready.  I was able to talk to students about their interests rather than focusing on how to check out books.

I hope that students continue to think about why they read and that I can think of more ways to find out their interests and showcase their voices in the library.