Vote for the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize

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Each year our 2nd graders work on a project called the Barrow Peace Prize. Every student researches one of four people from black history and gathers facts from PebbleGo, Britannica, books, and a few other online resources. They use these facts to write a persuasive essay asking people to vote for their person to win the Barrow Peace Prize. The criteria for the prize is also determined by the students after learning about character traits. These essays are recorded in Flipgrid and are now ready for viewing. We ask people all over the world to watch these videos, listen to these student voices, and vote on which of the four people from Black History should win this year’s award: Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., or Harriet Tubman.

You can vote as many times as you like and you are welcome to share this link with everyone you know.  If you choose to tweet about our project and share pictures of you or your class of students watching our videos, we hope you will tag @plemmonsa in your tweets so they can be shared with our Barrow students. If you use Instagram, please tag @barrowmediacenter  We love to see how this project spreads around the world.

Voting is open now through March 13 at 12PM EST. Simply visit our Smore page, watch several videos, and then click the link to vote.  We can’t wait to see who will win this year’s award.

2020 Barrow Peace Prize Smore Newsletters for Education

Follow this link to vote!

Rubiks Cube Mosaic Makerspace

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We love trying new things in our makerspace, so this February we decided to leap into Rubiks cubes. At AASL in Louisville, I visited the You Can Do the Cube booth and checked out their Rubiks cube lending program. You can check out sets of Rubiks cubes to create Rubiks cubes mosaics and simply pay for the shipping and handling each way.

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I shared this idea for our makerspace with Gretchen Thomas at UGA and she was excited to give it a try.  We collaborate with Gretchen and her students every Tuesday and Thursday in our open makerspace time. Instead of waiting on an available kit in the lending program, she decided she could use some funds to purchase some inexpensive cubes on Amazon. She ordered 120 3×3 cubes and 50 2×2 cubes.

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In class at UGA, Gretchen’s students watched multiple videos on how to solve Rubiks cubes and worked to learn some strategies that would be helpful to our Barrow students. They also practiced designing their own small mosaics using the 3×3 cubes.

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At Barrow, we selected some prepared mosaics from the You Can Do the Cube site. We chose Rosa Parks for our 3×3 and a flower for our 2×2. I measured out a grid on a piece of butcher paper and taped the individual mosaic pieces into the grid and numbered them.  I made a second set of pieces that we numbered and cut out and put into an envelope. Students could select a picture out of the envelope, solve that picture, and place it onto the correct square in the grid.

For our open makerspace, teachers sign up students for a 30-minute slot on a Google document. They are signing up for all 6 Tuesday/Thursday sessions of Rubiks Cube. For this first session, students spent time exploring the cubes.  I made a QR code for students to scan to watch tutorial videos about solving. Some followed these videos, while others learned from the strategies of friends and UGA students.

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It was amazing to see how many students already knew some tips about solving Rubiks cubes because of their own practicing at home.  We also downloaded an app on the iPads called Cube Solver that allows you to put in the colors on the cube and it shows you all the steps to solve the entire cube. Some students used this as a tool for learning more about the different turns required to solve.

Once students felt comfortable with the cube, they started solving actual pieces of the mosaic and adding it to our grid located on a large table in the back corner of the library. With so many students working on cubes during one makerspace and with so many students already talented in solving cubes, the mosaic started to take shape pretty quickly. By the end of the 2nd day of working on the mosaics, we had the Rosa Parks and flower mosaic done.

I had already prepared additional mosaics to work on: a dinosaur and Mona Lisa.  We celebrated our achievement of solving the first mosaics and took some pictures. Then, it was time to start dismantling the mosaics and solving a new one.

Once we created 2 additional mosaics, I gave the students the option of designing their own small mosaics.  They could do this alone or with a group.  They sketched out their mosaic on grid paper first and then worked to solve and assemble the mosaic at tables.  This would be a great way to extend this experience in future sessions because there wasn’t much time left.

The thing I loved most about this makerspace project was being able to see students bringing in a talent and passion they had outside of school and making it something for school.  There are lots of ways this could be incorporated into grade level curriculum so I hope that this is not the end of the Rubiks cube. We have so many students who enjoyed this that I’m sure we could even just make this a center in the library for people to work on over time.

Presenting Our 2019-20 Student Book Budget Purchases

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Since December our student book budget team has been working to make selections for our library.  They have used profits from our fall book fair along with Capstone Rewards to order books from both Avid Bookshop and Capstone.  With rewards and dollars, their budget was about $3500.  When you consider that our list of possible books totaled over $7,000, you know that they had to make some tough decisions about which books to include and which ones to cut.

We are still awaiting just a few books from Avid, but most books are here.  The students have spent 2 days unpacking the boxes.  As books were unpacked, they were checked off on the packing slip. Then, students sorted the books onto tables by genre. Once stacks were created, students put the genre stickers on the spines and then a label protector was put over the sticker. Finally, the books had to be scanned into the genre categories in Destiny.

Once all the books were processed, they were ready to be put out on display. Students came one final time to display the books on tables in the windows of the library and anywhere else they could find a spot. Another bonus was that book budget students get to be the first to checkout a book. Capstone Publishers lets each student choose a bonus title that is their personal pick and the choice does not have to follow our purchasing goals. Students were able to checkout their personal pick along with a couple of other titles.

The remaining books were up for grabs just before our busy checkout time of 12:15-1:30. It’s always fun to see which books get checked out first and how fast all of the books disappear.

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This project is a core part of our library each year. The library collection belongs to everyone and I love that students have a voice in adding titles to our library each year. As always, we thank Capstone and Avid Bookshop for their collaboration in this important work.

An Exploration of Lewis & Clark with 4th Grade

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Our 4th grade is currently exploring Lewis & Clark, the Corps of Discovery, the impact on Native Lands, and westward expansion. To support their study, they asked me to put together some ideas for students to build some background information on the topics. I loved that our author visit with Nathan Hale really served as a starting place for this unit of study because he told an entire Hazardous Tale about Lewis and Clark.
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After looking over the 4th grade social studies standards, resources in the library, and online resources, I decided to create 4 centers that students would rotate through.

SS4H3 Explain westward expansion in America.

    1. Describe the impact of westward expansion on American Indians; include the Trail of Tears, Battle of Little Bighorn and the forced relocation of American Indians to reservations. 
  • Describe territorial expansion with emphasis on the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the acquisitions of Texas (the Alamo and independence), Oregon (Oregon Trail), and California (Gold Rush and the development of mining towns).

I created a brief organizer for students to gather some information as they visited each center.

Center 1

Students visited an interactive map of westward expansion. The map allowed them to select Native Lands and Trail Routes as features and then look at those across time. The main purpose of this station was for students to see how Native Lands disappeared or moved from 1790-1850 and to speculate why they thought there was a change. Students had not studied this time in history yet so they were making predictions or using previous knowledge of events such as the Trail of Tears.U S  Westward Expansion 1790-1850.png

While students were at this center, I walked around and helped them select the most helpful features before they explored clicking lots of map features. The teacher and I also got to listen to their ideas of why Native Lands moved or changed over time.

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This center had a part 2 that most students weren’t able to get to.  It included another interactive map where students could match primary documents to locations on a map.

Center 2

At this center, students traveled to the Library of Congress through a virtual Lewis and Clark exhibit called “Rivers, Edens, & Empires“. Students could start at any point in the tour and look at the many artifacts from Lewis & Clarke and Westward Expansion. The artifacts included lots of maps, but students were most interested in clothing, tools, and weapons used.

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Students read about any artifacts that interested them the most and gathered those artifacts onto their organizer.

Center 3

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I gathered books from our library on the California Gold Rush, Westward Expansion, York and the Corps of Discovery, and Sacagawea. We also have a Capstone Interactive ebook of Lewis and Clark. At this center, students could read about any of the topics that interested them.  Most students chose the interactive ebook, but a few spent time reading about other topics like Sacagawea. Whichever person or topic they chose to read, students gathered some facts that they discovered.

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Center 4

For the final center, I wanted students to have an opportunity to look at the journals and sketches of Lewis & Clark as well as the animals that the Corps of Discovery saw along their travels. Students visited 3 sites to view the journals, see some more artifacts, learn about the animals, and even hear some of the animal sounds. Students created a list of animals that were interesting or that they had not heard of.

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Management & Next Steps

I split the class up between the 4 centers with about 6 students at each center. Students had 8-10 minutes per center, which took us right up to time to leave. We didn’t have time to come back together for a closing, but I decided since this was a lesson on building background info that the knowledge gained could go back into the classroom for the next lessons and we could use our full time for exploring. Students also spent time talking and sharing at the tables so it seemed repetitive to have them share information one more time.

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Teachers will now continue to add information to expand on the topics students scratched the surface of in the library. I’m sharing a bit.ly with teachers so students can revisit any of the resources we explored in the library.

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I loved doing this type of exploration at the beginning of the unit because it really gives students control of their learning and is more interactive than just presenting information on slides or a shared text. I hope more opportunities will arise where we can explore topics in this way in the library.

 

 

World Read Aloud 2020

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Each year we look forward to connecting with authors and classrooms around the US for Litworld’s World Read Aloud Day.

LitWorld founded World Read Aloud Day in 2010 as an opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud, and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone. Over the last ten years, World Read Aloud Day has evolved into a global movement of millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all across the world coming together to honor the joy and power of reading and sharing stories, and continue expanding the definition and scope of global literacy. ~Litworld World Read Aloud Day

Back in November, I began using a collaborative Google document to find classrooms, libraries, and authors for us to connect with. In each connection, we chose a book to read aloud together. Sometimes we would have a specific kind of discussion planned for our students after the book and other times we just let students ask one another questions to make a connection to another group of learners.

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This year, we made connections with classes in Georgia, Vermont, Maine, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia, We also connected with authors Laura Murray, Jess Redman, and Liz Garton Scanlon.

We shared several books with our connecting classes. One favorite was the book Truman by Jean Reidy & Lucy Ruth Cummins. This book tales the story of a brave and small tortoise named Truman who sets out on an adventure in his apartment while he awaits the return of his Sarah. When we connected with Donna MacDonald and her students in Vermont, we got to meet their pet tortoise, Milo.

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We shared the book Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor with a few connecting classes too. This book is filled with students who learn in many different ways and each page ends with a question. Students in each connecting class shared answers to questions such as “what frustrates you?” and “how will you use your powers in the world?”.

Another thing I love about connections is being introduced to new books.  Two books that were new to us this time were the hilarious Grownups Never Do That by Benjamin Chaude and Davide Cali & Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg. Both of these made great read alouds for a connection. Seagull and Sea Dragon had two voices so each librarian could choose a character to read. Grownups Never Do That riled up students and made them want to share all the things they had seen grownups do that children are told not to do.

Our author connections were fantastic this year. Laura Murray involved the students in reading Gingerbread Man Loose in the School and shared how the book came to be. Jess Redman told us about her upcoming book Quintessence and read a chapter from The Miraculous. Liz Garton Scanlon showed us several of her books and did an interactive reading of Bob, Not Bob.  One of the most special things about connecting with authors is that they answer student questions.  We get to learn about where they get their ideas, how long it takes them to write their books, what the revising process is like, and more. Since they are in their homes, they also can reach over and grab artifacts to go along with their answers.  For example, a student asked Jess Redman what her favorite books were as a kid and she was able to reach over and get the actual copies of the books from her childhood.

As we met new friends via Skype, we always looked at map to see where they were in relation to us. Many of our northeastern friends were experiencing snow, so we got to hear about how they go to school in the snow.  Our Kansas friends were very close to Missouri, so we got to learn about the Super Bowl excitement and how school might be canceled for a parade. We got to share a tornado warning with a connecting class during our week of crazy Georgia weather.

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World Read Aloud always brings great connections to people in the world, shared stories across the miles, and interesting conversation between learners.  We look forward to next year.

 

Major Impossible: An Author Visit with Nathan Hale

It has been a rainy week in Georgia, which means kids haven’t had recess in a while. Pair that with the full moon, and you have a group of high energy kids. We were already excited about our upcoming author visit with Nathan Hale, but this added an extra layer. If I had known what students were about to experience during the visit, I wouldn’t have worried at all. Nathan Hale is a top-notch author & illustrator and his school presentation is a sight to behold. I don’t want to give too much away about the content, but I will say that he had almost 300 high energy 3rd-5th graders laughing, gasping, and hanging on every word.

We’ve known about our visit since November, which gave us a bit of time to build some excitement. When Nathan Hale arrived at our school, two of our 5th grade ambassadors welcomed him and walked him to the library to get setup.

Once we got him setup, he worked on a drawing of Hangman. He continued working on this as kids arrived and then moved over to draw on his iPad.

I loved that this immediately hooked kids in as they sat down. There was a buzz of excitement as kids chatted and watched Nathan draw.

All Nathan uses for his presentation is an iPad connected to the projector, but don’t let that simple setup fool you. After my quick intro, which included a huge thank you to Abrams Books and Avid Bookshop, Nathan launched right in to his presentation which is a combination of storytelling and drawing on his projected iPad. He introduced the Hazardous Tales books and then crossed them all out.

Since kids can just read those on their own, Nathan told us a new Hazardous Tale about Lewis & Clark. Since some people say that this story is too weird, too gross, and too dumb to be published, it can only be heard in school presentations. And, of course, the students were dying to hear it.

Nathan proceeded to tell us the story of Lewis & Clark and the corps of discovery. His story introduced an evil doctor, York-an African American explorer, and Sacagawea. His story was filled with  sarcasm, danger, gruesome details, and of course laugh-out-loud humor.

As Nathan told the story, he drew everything out on the iPad. He would zoom in at just the right moment, just like we were zooming in to a panel of a comic.

The storytelling introduced students to parts of the Lewis and Clark expedition that they most likely hadn’t heard before. It explained the “Lewis and Clark” is really referring to a whole group of people, and Nathan was sure to give credit to the individuals who played big roles in the expedition.

The story built up to a huge comedic finish that I can’t give away. What I will say about it is that it was so much fun to look around the room and see so many students and adults laughing to the point of tears. No matter what we were carrying with us as we came to the visit, we had 45 minutes of storytelling and laughter.  You couldn’t help but feel good after laughing that much.

One of the things I loved about Nathan’s presentation was that he went around the library before the presentation and pulled books about Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, York, and Sacajawea. He repeatedly reminded students that the story he was telling them was true and that he learned about the facts by reading books from the library.

He showed each one with his iPad and even turned this book presentation into a comedic event by always zooming in to show Baby Pomp on Sacajawea’s back.

Nathan chatted with students as they left, and then signed a huge stack of books. Every student who bought a book got a signature and a drawing of Hangman.

Before he left, Nathan took time to look at all of the comics that kids had made for the library windows. I loved that he took a moment to see how each one was different and what kids did with a blank piece of paper.

After an author/illustrator leaves our school, they don’t always get to see the miraculous things that happen back in classrooms and home. Kids returned to class buzzing with ideas and retelling the Hazardous Tale they heard. I had reports back from parents that their child couldn’t stop talking about the visit. Some students made their parents take them to hear Nathan again at the public library. Several parents reported back to me that their kids couldn’t put Major Impossible down and some finished it that night.

The next day, I put out a new set of Hazardous Tales and 5 copies of Major Impossible along with the other books Nathan showed at his visit.  All were immediately checked out and there’s already a list of holds on each book. Before Nathan’s visit, we already had some Hazardous Tales fans, but now that students know him, he has developed a much bigger fan base at our school.

Thank you again to Abrams Books for sending Nathan Hale on a tour of bookshops and schools. Thank you Avid Bookshop for supporting our schools with author visits and allowing us to have this opportunity. Thank you Nathan Hale for sharing your talents with us all.

2019-20 Student Book Budget First Steps

It’s that time of year again when I hand over the profits from our book fair to a group of 3rd-5th graders. These students work together through a process to purchase new books for our library that are based on the interests and requests of students in our school. Each year, this project grows and changes and this year brought some of the biggest changes we’ve had in a while.

Application

To apply to be in the group, students watch a short introductory video in class and then fill out a Google form that asks for their name, why they want to be in the group, and whether or not they are willing to make the commitment to finishing the project if they start it. I keep the application open for one week and then have responses automatically turn off.

Here’s a look at the application.

This year over 60 students applied to be in the group. This is the most I’ve ever had, and I truly try each year to include every student who applies as long as they are willing to make the commitment to being in the group. Even if I met with groups separately by grade level, there would be moments where I might have 40 students trying to make decisions about books.

I really stressed over what to do because I really didn’t want to choose some students and turn others away. I decided to put the dilemma back to the students by giving them a list of all the tasks that needed to be done across the entire project. I asked them to select which ones they were most interested in. They could certainly check every box but they could also just choose 1 or 2 that interested them.  This decision really helped because it dropped the number of students I would have at one time to a more manageable amount.

Here’s a look at the follow-up application.

The tricky part for me was organizing the students so that I could easily let them know what days to come as well as remind their teachers.  I made a spreadsheet with each task and copied student email addresses and teachers into the sheet. As we approach each task, I can just copy of paste the emails to send a message to students and teachers to remind them when to come to the library. Students come during their recess time on these select days which means 10:45-11:15 for 3rd grade, 11:00-11:30 for 4th grade, and 11:45-12:15 for 5th grade. The overlap of grades 3 & 4 is another tricky piece this year but we are going to do our best to make it work.

Meeting 1: Creating a Survey

Our 1st group of students agreed to work on a survey to ask students in our school what kinds of books they want to see more of in the library. To begin, students spent some time walking around our library to see what they noticed about the sections.  For example, which sections were packed with books? Which shelves looked empty?

Next, I made a copy of last year’s student interest survey and quickly went through all of the questions asked last year.  In pairs or small groups, students talked about what they liked and didn’t like about the survey as well as what new ideas they had. I tried to listen in to their discussions and then we had a discussion as a whole group.

I was really impressed with their conversations and ideas. They talked about the length of the survey and how they could make it more concise. They asked me questions about how last year’s survey worked out. One of my noticings from previous years was how some of our younger students tend to say that they like every section of the library. The book budget students had a long discussion of how they might limit the responses to get students to focus more on what they really wanted to add to the library. After much debate, they finally agreed to break the survey into our picture book, chapter book, and information sections and select 2 genres in each section that needs more books.  This was a very different take on the survey from what we’ve done in the past and I look forward to seeing how it impacts our final results. The students also wanted better pictures of each genre section so the younger students could see the genre sign and some example books from each section rather than a picture of the whole section from far away.

I took all of the student ideas and modified our Google Form survey. I emailed the survey to 3rd-5th grade teachers to share with students in Google Classroom. Then, I created a QR code for our book budget team to scan in order to survey our younger grades with iPads.

Here’s a look at this year’s survey.

Meeting 2 & 3: Surveying

About 30 students signed up to help survey younger students in our school. They came to the library and scanned the QR code using the camera app. Students went to the lunchroom and surveyed K-2 students while they ate lunch. The book budget students asked the questions, showed the genre pictures on the iPad, and typed out any short answers students had for questions. Each survey was submitted and then students pulled up a fresh survey to ask the next student.

On our first day, we had already surpassed 200 students surveyed through email and iPads. We continued this same process on day 2 by making a BTV announcement to remind grades 3-5 to complete the survey and again visiting lunch to survey the lower grades.

I loved watching the professionalism of our book budget students. They asked permission to survey students, focused on listening to and inputting all of their answers, and thanked them for their thoughts. The lunchroom monitors even commented on how much more peaceful the lunchroom was having something for the students to do while they ate.  I was worried we would add a layer of chaos to lunch, so it was great to hear that it actually helped.

It was also fun to see the book budget students interact with our younger learners. Some of our younger students had trouble verbalizing what they wanted more of in the library, and the book budget students naturally altered the questions to try to make them easier to understand. This surprised me. I was worried that I didn’t spend enough time talking about how to be professional and flexible, but students naturally adjusted and rolled with any challenges they faced in surveying.

As survey results roll in, we can check our Google charts to see how many of each grade level we have surveyed.  This helps us know if we need to focus more on a specific grade so that there is a relatively equal number of data from each grade level.

Next Week:

Our next steps will involve analyzing the data we have and setting some goals for the kinds of books we want to purchase.  So far we are off to a busy but great start and many more students are adding their voices to the project.