Family Book Club: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Over the summer, a group of librarians in Clarke County began brainstorming a quarterly book club at our schools using some of the Georgia Book Award nominees.  Our hope was to have in-person book clubs at our schools but also to connect our elementary schools virtually through Flipgrid and Google Hangouts/Skype.  We selected 4 of the 20 books on the book award list based on a variety of themes and interests.

We also invited other elementary schools to join us and we now have at least 10 of the CCSD elementary schools reading and connecting about the same books.

At school, I have a group of 10 fourth graders who meet during lunch to read the first quarter selection: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall.  During lunch, I read aloud while they eat and follow along.  We pause along the way to chat and also make an agreement about what page we will all read to before the next meeting.  I also made a Flipgrid where we can chat about collections of chapters during the times we aren’t meeting as well as hear thoughts from other schools reading the book too.

Because there’s so much interest in the book, I wanted to extend the opportunity to read the book to our families.  Through a Donors Choose project, I secured additional copies of each quarter’s book.  I’m sending home a form to invite families to sign up to read The Seventh Most Important Thing.  By signing up, they agree to read the book, add to our Flipgrid, and attend an in-person book club on October 19th after school where families can sit together and chat about the book as well as read aloud favorite parts.

I can’t wait to see the discussions we have around this book and future book club selections.  I can’t wait to see how families come together around the same book.  This is a new piece of building our reading community, and we’re expecting the miraculous as we go.

If you are a Barrow family who wants to participate, download the form above or look in your Monday folder.

If you are someone also reading The Seventh Most Important Thing, please feel free to add to our conversation on Flipgrid.  https://flipgrid.com/sevenththing

 

 

 

Meet Microsaurs: Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack By Dustin Hansen

Every year, I have a new group of students who become obsessed with dinosaurs and every informational and narrative book about them. I’m excited to introduce Dustin Hansen to my students. Dustin has been writing and creating art for the video game industry for over 20 years. He is the author and illustrator of the Microsaurs series. Follow That Tiny-Dactyl was released in January of this year, and Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack was released in July.  I happy to have him stop by my blog to show off this new book.

In Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack, Danny and Lin return as the expert secret keepers from book one. As they return in this second installment, they receive a mysterious package filled with tiny, hungry microsaurs along with a huge microsaur egg.  Students will love how they use the Mini-Maxitron Reduction Nozzle to shrink themselves down to the size of the tiny dinosaurs and interact with them in their microterium world.  There’s plenty of adventure as they try to keep the new egg safe until it hatches and the tiny-raptors happy with food. Throughout the book, Dustin has supported the story with black and white images that readers will love to look at and compare the full-size and micro worlds. This will also help readers who are looking for a longer story that still includes plenty of illustrations. At the back of the book, Dustin even includes some information to satisfy our non-fiction readers.

Fans of Jurassic Park, dinosaur informational books, and tiny adventures will enjoy reading this book.

Dustin has put together a great time-lapse video of how his dinosaurs come to life on the page. Check it out and share it with your readers.

I hope you’ll consider getting a copy of this series from your local bookshop or library vendor to add to your collection. Thanks to Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishing, we are giving away a copy of the book.  Click on the form below to add your name and email to the drawing by Tuesday August 22 at 5PM EST. One winner will be randomly selected for a free book.

Congratulations, Karen Tisdale, for winning the Microsaurs giveway!

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Be on the lookout as Dustin travels to other blogs during this whole week.  There will be more surprises and more giveaways on those blogs as well.  He also has a 3rd installment of Microsaurs coming in January 2018.

Monday, 8/21Mom-Spot
Tuesday, 8/22Kidlit Frenzy
Wednesday, 8/23Beyond the Car Seat
Thursday, 8/24Daddy Mojo
Friday, 8/25Meanest Look
Saturday, 8/26Pragmatic Mom

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

alora

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?

picture-book-smackdown-9

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

WRAD16

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.

Belonging Week (7)

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.

Belonging Week (15)

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?”

Belonging Week (13)

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.

smackdown (9) smackdown (15)

  • 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!