Celebrating Seuss & Read Across America

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Every year, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with guest readers reading his words in every classroom in our school.  This year, we had enough readers to send 2 guests to every class.  Many brought their own books, but we also had a big collection to choose from in the library.

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We thank so many members of our Barrow and local community for coming into our school to share stories with kids.  It’s important to see people sharing the power of words at every grade level.  Days like these remind us that you are never too old to enjoy a great picture book, have fun with words, and laugh out loud with friends when you get all tongue-tied.

Some of our readers this year came from UGA’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.  This was the fraternity that Dr. Seuss was a member of at Dartmouth.

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In addition to being readers, the fraternity brothers brought us some Elephant and Piggie books to add to our collection.  Each copy they donated was a Geisel Honor Book.  What a great way to honor Seuss and support literacy.  Thank you!

In addition to readers and having lots of Seuss books available to kids, I unboxed our latest book order from Bound to Stay Bound.  It was packed with graphic novels and many other fantastic books.  It didn’t take long for our ravenous readers to check out pretty much every graphic novel I ordered.  Some kids even returned a 2nd time to check out more.  Happy Read Across America!

New graphic novels #newbooks #bookstagram #librariesofinstagram

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More new graphic novels #librariesofinstagram #bookstagram #newbooks

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World Read Aloud Day 2017

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Each year we looking forward to celebrating the joy of reading aloud during LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day.  This year’s official date was February 16, but we celebrated the entire week.

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It takes a lot of organization to pull off a week full of Skypes and Google Hangouts.  Planning began back in December.  Shannon Miller and I created a Google doc where people could share their World Read Aloud schedules.  Kate Messner also did a great blog post with a list of authors willing to do Skypes during the week.

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I got my teachers to sign up for slots, and then I started looking for connections on the Google doc.  Other librarians also signed up on my schedule.  Once all of the slots were full, our connecting authors and schools started communicating to decide which books to read.  I made a separate spreadsheet for myself to keep times, books, Skype names, and email addresses organized.

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Of course, weather and illness was a factor and caused a few cancellations during the week. Even with some cancellations, we still had a full week of connections.

We also experienced many technical difficulties with our internet filter and I had to communicate with our technology director on a daily basis to make sure that Skype and Google Hangouts was not being blocked by the filter.  A growth mindset and perseverance really helped push through the issues.

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Over the course of the week, we connected with schools in Georgia, Washington state, Missouri, Vermont, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and Illinois.  We also connected with authors Dee Garretson (Boxcar Children), Hannah Barnaby (Bad Guy), Paul Fleischman (Seedfolks & Joyful Noise), and Jason Chin (Gravity & Grand Canyon).

The week was filled with many special moments.  Students were able to ask one another questions about their lives and make connections to students in another location.  Each connection helps us realize we are all part of the same world and have more in common than we realize.

Fun reading The Day the Crayons Came Home with students in Kansas. #powerofpublicschools #wrad17 #readaloud

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We wove in a lot of map skills my looking at Google maps to see distances from Athens, Georgia to our connecting schools.  Students were able to talk directly with authors and ask them questions about the writing process.

Authors like Paul Fleischman turned around and open his filing cabinets to show us the original version of poems like Whirligig Beetles.  We had fun performing stories with students in two schools and hearing special songs performed by PreK students.

We were entertained by middle school students reading Ballet Cat and chanting out the text of Yo! Yes! with students in Seattle.  We also got to connect with Caitlin Ramseyer who was a teacher at our school last year and moved to Maryland.  It was fun to reconnect with her and her Kindergarten students.

If you’ve never tried Skype or Google connections, I highly encourage you to do it.  These events lead you to collaborative partners around the world and help our students step outside the bubble of their everyday lives.

Polar Express 2016

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Every year that we have our Polar Express Day, I’m reminded of the power of community. School-wide events are so rewarding, but they take a lot of work to pull off.  The library hosts multiple school-wide events every year.  A team of special elves come together to make Polar Express Day a special event for every child in our school.  It is often one of the big memories that students have about their year and their experience at Barrow.

Scenes from Polar Express Day #polarexpress #librariesofinstagram #alwaysbelieve

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Many schools ask us what goes into our Polar Express Day, so here’s a little peek:

  • Our principal creates a schedule so that every class in the school gets a time to come to the library to hear the Polar Express. Most 30-minute sessions 2-3 classes at a time
  • Janice Flory, our library volunteer coordinator (a PTA role) buys bells, string, hot chocolate, cups, and candy canes through PTA.  She also organizes volunteers to help each Polar Express session during the day
  • A group of volunteers works on stringing 600 bells so that every student in the school gets a bell.  This year it was a wonderful troop of Girl Scouts
  • I work on setting up the library with special decorations, chairs, and banners.  I make sure the technical side of Polar Express is working such as the train sounds, read aloud, and special music.  I also work with our volunteer coordinator to make sure all of the pieces are running smoothly.
  • A team of teachers come overnight the night before Polar Express Day and create special hallway decorations such as a train track, ticket booth, and ornaments
  • Our lunchroom makes huge batches of hot chocolate
  • On the day of the event, teams of volunteers help pour and serve hot chocolate as well as hang bells around each student and whisper “Always Believe”.  Kim Ness, parent volunteer extraordinaire & Janice Flory, library volunteer coordinator, help keep the volunteers organized all day.
  • Teachers do special activities in their classrooms such as making Polar Express tickets. They also hold the book as we listen to the story over the library speakers
  • Our family engagement specialist organizes a nighttime Polar Express for Barrow alumni
  • On the day of the event, there’s always lots of odd and ends that have to be done and we all work together to get it done. It is a tight schedule and takes quick moving in between sessions to reset everything for the next group
  • This year we added a green screen photo booth to take a picture with the book as the background. Teachers helped a lot with this as well as our principal.  Next year, we’ll need to have someone stationed here to help it run smoothly

Yummy hot chocolate #polarexpress #librariesofinstagram #alwaysbelieve

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Hot chocolate #polarexpress #librariesofinstagram #alwaysbelieve

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Bells #alwaysbelieve #polarexpress #librariesofinstagram

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The journey continues #librariesofinstagram #alwaysbelieve #polarexpress

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Prek enthusiasm #polarexpress #alwaysbelieve #bells

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Our green screen was a favorite activity this year.  Many teachers jumped in to help with this one because it was a little bit tricky if the app stopped working.  We’ll keep thinking how to make this station a little bit better next year.  Even with some glitches, we got some fun pictures of classes.

Each year holds special memories for Polar Express.  There are special little moments from students all throughout the day. I’m so thankful to have  community who comes together to create this magical event of always believing.

 

 

Storybook Celebration 2016

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Traditions. We have many. The annual storybook parade is one that has been around for a long time. Each year we try a few new things, but the hear of the storybook parade is celebrating books by dressing as our favorite characters, carrying the book, and showing off our costume and book to the community.

Trying to document the day. (Photo Credit: Paul Lee)

Trying to document the day. (Photo Credit: Paul Lee)

Storybook family #barrowbuddies #storybook #parade

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The day begins with guest readers in every classroom. Janice Flory, our volunteer coordinator, sets up a Signup Genius to recruit 2 readers for each classroom. They gather in the library, select a book, take a group picture, and then get escorted to a classroom by a 5th grade BTV crew member.

I was really excited about the selection of books they had to choose from this year.

Can't wait to see what guest readers choose to read to students tomorrow. #storytime #guestreader #community #athensga

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Next, the whole school gathered in the lunchroom for an assembly.  Since October 27 was Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, I read aloud The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and recorded approximately 675 listeners to the story.

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When we were a smaller school, we took time to walk across the stage and show off our costumes, but it is a challenge as we have grown. Now, we simply stand by row, do a little twirl, and then sit down facing the back of the cafeteria.  The costumes this year were amazing. I really pushed for students to think about characters they connected with and dress as that character.

At this point, we head out on our parade. Our route this year was the entire block of our school.

Storybook parade #barrowbuddies #parade #storybook #librariesofinstagram

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Students chant “read more books” as they walk down the sidewalk and parents and community members watch and blow their horns as they pass by.

Our Prek-4th grade classes return to school and begin literacy activities in their classrooms. Our 5th grade walks to the nearby Georgia Center to have hot chocolate and spend some time together.

Upon returning to school, our specials teachers, resource teachers, and media center offer special 30-minute sessions that classrooms can sign up to attend.

In the library, I offered a couple of experiences. Lower grades designed their own Halloween pumpkins using the Quiver augmented reality app.

Pumpkin carving #ar #librariesofinstagram

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Augmented reality pumpkins. #ar #librariesofinstagram #barrowbuddies

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Upper grades used littlebits to make something spooky.  Both of these activities were connected to spooky stories we have in the library.

Spooky effects @littlebits #storybook #barrowbuddies #librariesofinstagram

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What is within these haunted houses. #spooky #librariesofinstagram #barrowbuddies

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Are you afraid of this @littlebits ghost? #librariesofinstagram #barrowbuddies #storybook

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I loved seeing the designs that students came up with in both experiences.  It was a fast-paced session that pushed students to be creative, work together, problem solve, and innovate.  I hope that many will continue to explore littlebits beyond this fast session.

#barrowbuddies #storybookparade Love seeing our buddies showing their love for reading! #readmorebooks

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As always, this day was tons of fun but exhausting. It takes the whole community to make the event successful. Thank you to every student, teacher, family member, and community member who helped us make this day a success.

2016 Poem In Your Pocket Day 2

Today we wrapped up our 2016 Poem In Your Pocket poetry cafe with 13 more classes reading poetry into our open microphone. It was another day of many special moments.

5th graders wrote many original and powerful poems.

 

Students read poems written by other students.

It's always special when students share poems by other students. #barrowpoems

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Memorized Sylvia Plath

Memorized Sylvia Plath poetry. Impressive! #barrowpoems

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Awesome costumes were worn.

So many awesome props and costumes in Ms Tesler's class. #barrowpoems #pocketpoem

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Teachers and families helped us document the day.

 

Take a moment to watch today’s archives.  You can still Tweet about our poems using the hashtag #barrowpoems

 

Here’s a collection of scenes from today:

Until next year…

Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day with Us!

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Poem in Your Pocket Day is a national celebration of poetry where everyone is encouraged to carry an original or a favorite poem in their pocket and share the poem with friends, family, and even strangers during the day. The official day is April 21 this year, but due to state testing we celebrate early and use this celebration to kickoff Poetry Month and National School Library Month.

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On April 7th and 8th, every class in the school will come to the library for a special poetry cafe. We’ll have special seating, special lighting, an open microphone, and a poet’s stool.  Students and teachers are welcome to come to the open microphone during their time slot and share poetry until time runs out.  No one is forced to come to the microphone, but what we’ve found is that almost every students and teacher in the school shares a poem on this special day.

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Family and community are welcome to attend in person, but we know that not everyone can join us in person.  For the past several years, we have broadcast our poetry readings live and encouraged people to leave comments for the poets.  Last year, we tried Google Hangouts for our event and encouraged people to tweet comments to our poets using a hashtag.

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This year, we are once again broadcasting our poetry and we would love for it to be the best year yet.  We would love for you to tune in to any of our poetry readings taking place throughout the day on April 7 and 8.  You can even tune in late by watching the archives.  Everything you need to know is housed on a special Smore page.

Everything you need to know about our event is here!

During the event, I will have a special “wall of social” displayed on our projection screen so that students can see any comments that you leave for them on social media such as Twitter and Instagram.  Be sure to use the hashtag #barrowpoems so that we see your comments.

Happy Poetry Month and School Library Month!  We hope to see you online!

Schedule:

Thursday April 7, 2016

9:40 2nd grade- Brink

10:00 2nd grade – Yawn

10:20 2nd grade- VanderWall

10:40 2nd grade- Hutcherson

11:00 Lunch

11:20 PreK-Trina

11:40 PreK-Wisz

12:00 Kindergarten-Hocking

12:20 Kindergarten – Sandifer

12:40 Boyle

1:00 1st grade Skinner

1:20 1st grade Wyatt

1:40 1st grade Stuckey

2:00 1st grade Cunningham

2:20 1st grade Seeling

Friday April 8, 2016

8:00 2nd grade Ramseyer

8:30 5th grade language arts

9:00 3rd grade- Clarke

9:30 5th grade language arts

10:00 3rd grade- Haley

10:30 3rd grade- Hart

11:00 3rd grade – Em

11:30 5th grade language arts

12:00 Kindergarten- Ms. Choate

12:20 Kindergarten-Ms. Lauren

12:40 Lunch

1:00 4th grade Coleman

1:30 4th grade Tesler

2:00 4th grade Weaver

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 🙂

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.