March Madness Global Book Talk Challenge (Final)

Many votes have been cast in our global book talk challenge and we are down to our final 2 students.  Will it be Evin?  Will it be Adaline?

Take a moment to watch (or rewatch) their videos and vote on your favorite.  Share with friends, family, and your own networks.  Voting will end on April 2.

 

Vote Here!

Be sure to take time to visit the full grid of videos to watch many other incredible book talks from around the world.  The competition is fun, but the real reward is hearing from so many student voices sharing their love of books.

 

Flipgrid Global Connections & the Epic 30-second Book Talk

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Flipgrid continues to be one of my favorite tools for getting student voice out into the world.  They are constantly listening to users and working to improve the functionality of this tool.  Now, in the paid version of Flipgrid Classroom, there is a section called “Global Grid Connections”.  You can establish any of your grids to be accessible to other members of the Flipgrid Classroom community. As an administrator, I can browse the available grids and look for opportunities for my students to connect and collaborate with other students around the world as well as offer my grids for students around the world to contribute to.

 

Prior to this release, I would use social media and online communities to seek out collaborating classrooms.  I’ll of course still do this, but I love that Flipgrid is taking one of the big barriers to global collaboration and trying out a solution. They are helping me push my grid out to more users so that my students have a chance to have a larger audience as well as hear from other perspectives around the world.  They’ve made it so simple to reach out and communicate with classrooms around the world.

Prepping 30-second book talks #epic #booktalk #librariesofinstagram

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Right as all of this update was being announced, Jennifer LaGarde and Brad Gustafson launched the 30-second book talk challenge.  Lead Learners and Literacy Legends submitted their 30-second book talks and a competition brackets was setup for voting.

At the bottom of the post, they offered resources for creating your own 30-second book talk challenge.  I thought this would make a perfect global connection question on my grid.  I started collaborating with Melissa Freeman in 5th grade, and all of her language arts classes came to the library to select books, read, and create 30-second epic book talks.

We started by listening to some book talks, including some vintage Reading Rainbow!

We looked at Jennifer & Brad’s tips for book talks.

Then students identified some important pieces of an epic book talk.  We constructed this sheet as a framework for our talks.

Next students chose a book that they recently finished or selected a book from the library to read.  I pulled a diverse collection of picture books, especially ones that our 5th graders might overlook because so many feel the pull to read only chapter books.  They spent the first day reading and writing their script.  Ms. Freeman, Ms. Mullins, and I all walked around and read with students as well as conferenced with them on book talks.

On day 2, students continued working on their scripts, practiced, and recorded.  We reminded them that Flipgrid has a feature to pause the recording along the way so that they could pick up a prop, turn to a page in the book, etc.  We didn’t want them to waste any of their 30 seconds with transitions.  As they submitted their videos, they began watching other people’s videos.

Now, it’s your turn!  We hope you will join us on our 30-second book talk grid.

You are welcome to add your own student voices alongside our students sharing favorite books in 30 seconds or less.  Let’s unite our student voices through Flipgrid and inspire a global community of readers.

Building Home Libraries: A Community Collaboration

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One of the goals of the Barrow Elementary Media Center is to support the reading habits and curiosities of students, teachers, and families.  During the school year, our library is a huge source of reading, but I often wonder what I can do to continue to support reading during the summer months when students are at home.  What do their home libraries look like? What can we do as a school to support the idea of building a home library?

Many schools in Clarke County are supported by an incredible program called Books for Keeps where every student in the school receives 12 books for summer reading. Our school will eventually be served by this organization, but at the moment, we are not. Since we can’t really raise enough money to buy books for every child in the school, I decided to start with 2 communities of students in our school.

This year, I am working with our community, writing grants, and raising funds to support families in building home libraries in their communities. The Junior League of Athens is purchasing 6 books for each student from the Bethel Homes community who attends our school.   These books are for the students to keep and share with their family. There will be a family day of learning about home libraries, creating a plan for a home library, and adding these 6 books to the home library.  We hope by taking this step, we are supporting a culture in each home of having a dedicated place to keep books that are purchased, borrowed, or donated.

Through First Book UGA, we have a $750 grant to replicate the Junior League’s program in the Parkview community. This will provide approximately 3 books per student through First Book.  In order to replicate the same program we are offering at Bethel, we needed to raise some additional funds.  After getting approval from our superintendent, I created a GoFundMe campaign to raise an additional $1,000. I began sharing the campaign through many avenues of social media as well as personal emails. Camilla Bracewell, a Barrow grandparent and huge library supporter, also shared the project through her own networks. In just over 24 hours, we raised the funds needed.

I’m notorious for jumping into a project before I really know exactly what it’s going to look like, but I always leap in with the faith of expecting the miraculous and knowing that things will work out. Now that the funds are in place, some logistics must be worked out.

Logistic 1:  If students are going to create home libraries, what will I actually use for the home library container?

I didn’t want to assume that every student had a home library at home or that they knew that a home library could be any place you keep books, so I wanted them to have a container to take home with their books. I started pricing containers at Walmart and Target and seeing what Dollar Tree had. Along the way, I posted Instagram pictures of my journey and invited people to chime in with suggestions.

People chimed in with ideas:

Then, my wife suggested that I contact Suki Janssen with the Athens Clarke County Recycling Division, so I did.  She invited me to come and check out the warehouse where the Teacher Reuse Store items are kept. This CHARM facility houses items that are difficult to recycle.  I met with Chris Griffin and he let me browse the building and see what I could find.

bins at recycling

Miraculously, I found  3 different stacks of trays in varying shapes, sizes, and conditions and was fortunate enough to take them all home with me.

Rescued from the recycling facility. Soon to become home libraries. #upcycle #recycle #reuse #library #homelibrary #community

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Logistic #2: Getting all of these trays ready to become home libraries.

I took all of the trays home and started cleaning a few of them and brainstorming exactly what to do to the trays to decorate them.

Operation home libraries step 2. Wash off the grime. #homelibrary #library #upcycle #reuse #community

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Again, I reached out to the community for ideas. Gretchen Thomas, my collaborative partner from UGA, suggested lots and lots of spray paint.

I went out and bought some cans to do a paint test.

Project home libraries step 3: the spray paint test. #library #homelibrary #craft #upcycle #reuse

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It was a time consuming process to clean and paint the trays and I quickly realized I couldn’t do it alone.

Logistic #3: Who can clean and paint all of these trays?

I brought all of the trays to school.

Home libraries before and after. #upcycle #reuse #spraypaint #homelibrary #library #project

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I called upon my wonderful volunteer coordinator Courtney Tobin as well as Gretchen Thomas to send out emails and ask for volunteers. Once again, the community didn’t disappoint. Camilla Bracewell came in along with Margaret Christ and her librarian mom came in to clean trays.

Volunteers in action prepping home libraries for painting. #project #cleaning #upcycle #reuse #homelibrary #library

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I also have volunteers scheduled to come in and start spray painting the trays outside.

Logistic #4: How will I order the right books for students?

Since we have a First Book account and grant, I can order books directly from First Book for a great price. I really wanted to go back to my student book budget model and give each student a certain amount of money to spend in the First Book marketplace.

However, I don’t think I have enough time to pull that off.  Instead, I created a short reading interest survey so that I can do interviews with each student and find out some of their interests in order to get the books they really want to read. Again, this isn’t something I can do alone since there’s 75 kids in this project, so volunteers are helping me interview students with printed copies of the survey.

Interviewing students about reading interests for home libraries. #community #reader #interview #homelibrary #library

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Logistic #5: How will I get the order done?

As we interview students, I’m searching the First Book Marketplace for books that match what students are asking for. I’m adding these to a wish list that I can pull from when it’s time to order.  I’ve blocked off times on the library calendar next week to work on the actual order.  I plan to take each student survey sheet and personally search for books to meet the needs of the student request and age.  Then, I’ll use the donated funds and grant to pay the bill.

Logistic #6: How will students take ownership of the libraries?

Rather than just hand over the books and trays to students, I want them to have some investment in the project. In two weeks, we are going to hold some decorating sessions where students can come and decorate their libraries with personal touches. During that time, we’ll talk about what it means to have a home library as well as talk about sharing books between home libraries. Since these students are in the same community, there is an opportunity for students to be able to exchange books with one another if they want to.

I know that I have many more logistics to work out in this project, but it is amazing to look at where this seed of an idea has grown into a blossoming project.  I can’t wait to see where the project takes us, how it impacts students, and what we all learn about one another along the way. Having a community that pulls together around a common project makes such a difference.

 

 

 

Join Your Voices for Confidence Week Leading Up to #WRAD16

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.  Many students have already contributed their voices to talk about Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, and Kindness.

LitWorld 7 Strengths

During the week of January 31-February 6, we celebrate how reading helps us be confident and proud to be who we are. Reading the world empowers us to own our strengths.

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

What stories make you confident and proud to be you?

FireShot Capture 10 - Flipgrid. Relax and discuss. - http___flipgrid.com_#d6716a6b

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.  By sharing our stories of confidence, we are supporting one another’s confidence in the power to read aloud.

http://flipgrid.com/#d6716a6b

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 write or record about a book or character that feels personal to you.  You might strike a confident pose with a book that gives you strength and post that picture to social media. You might read in a place that you normally wouldn’t and take a picture to share.  You could dare others to do the same.  Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Confidence Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #confidenceweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

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At our school, we’ll be sharing many stories that demonstrate confidence. A few of our picks will be One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, Ish by Peter Reynolds, Star of the Week by Barney Saltzberg, Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen, Firebird by Misty Copeland, and Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld.

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 empower one another’s confidence this week throughout our global community.

Happy International Ninja Day!

Did you know there was a day dedicated to ninjas?  Well, I didn’t either until my friend, Matthew Winner, pointed it out.  International Ninja Day is December 5th, and even though it’s a Saturday this year, it doesn’t mean you have to pass by the opportunity to read some ninja stories in December! Over at All the Wonders, you’ll find a whole toolkit to celebrate the day at home, in your classroom, or in your library.

International Ninja Day is December 5th! Celebrate at All the Wonders.

Yesterday, I had 4 Kindergarten classes in the library who wanted to have a storytime and checkout, so it was the perfect opportunity to talk about ninjas.  We started by sharing all the things we know about ninjas.  Words like sneaky, training, ninja moves, and fighting were of course brought up.  Then, we thought about characters we knew who were ninjas.  The overwhelming favorites were Ninja Turtles and Lego Ninjago.

This connected us to our read aloud of choice for the day which was Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Scwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat.  Since we were already talking about characters, we took some time to talk about Red Riding Hood and what we knew about most Red Riding Hood stories.  We held onto these ninja and Red Riding Hood ideas to see how they unfolded in the book.  Once the book was complete, students picked out some of their noticings.  They were so observant, and there were many memorable moments.  I think my favorite was when a student talked about how Ninja Red Riding Hood didn’t need a woodsman to help her.  She saved the day with her ninja grandma.

After our quick but rich conversation, we hurried to tables to make our own ninja masks.  I printed off an online template and students used crayons to decorate their masks in any way they wanted.  Some chose the Ninja Turtle route and colored with their favorite character colors.  Others chose to create patterns on their mask like a rainbow ninja.

This was a whirlwind time in the library because all of this along with a checkout happened in 30 minutes, but I guess that goes with the ninja theme.  We didn’t have time to finish our masks, so the teachers were gracious to take the masks back to class to finish.  As I was in the halls during dismissal, I spotted a student who was proudly carrying her finished mask to take home for the weekend.  She stopped me and said, “Mr. Plemmons…I forgot my backpack at home, but I’m carrying my mask home.”

I’m often asked if I do “traditional storytime” because I do so much with technology.  The answer is a huge YES!  It’s not about print vs digital.  It’s about how all of the tools we have available to us come together to help us experience the world.  Sometimes it’s an iPad, and sometimes it’s a box of crayons, a paper mask, the power of our imagination, and our curiosities about becoming a ninja.  Happy International Ninja Day!

Celebrating Stories with Our Annual Storybook Parade

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The day before fall break is always a special day at our school.  It is our annual Storybook Celebration.  Organizing this day takes a tremendous amount of work, but the students have such a great day. Students and teachers are encouraged to dress as any storybook character.

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We spent about 2 weeks ahead of the event advertising various costume ideas on our morning broadcast.  I wanted to encourage students to think about how they could use things they already had around their house or things they could make in order to create an awesome costume.  Some of my BTV crew chose books and shared some simple ideas for creating an awesome costume.  An example was Max from Max the Brave where you could just dress in black and tie a red cape, blanket, sheet, or towel around your neck.

Students poured into the library for the past 2 weeks to ask for assistance finding a book for the parade and costume ideas.  We had students coming in right up until the parade actually started, which was definitely a little crazy without much help.

Also ahead of the event, I sent out a Google spreadsheet to all of our resource and specials teachers to offer special opportunities during the day for classes to have literature-focused activities and a chance for teachers to have a planning time.  Resource and specials teachers blacked out times that they weren’t available and teachers signed up for the rest.

My volunteer coordinator, Courtney Tobin, created a Signup Genius to recruit 2 guest readers for every classroom to kickoff the day. This was sent out to grade level parent representatives who encouraged people to sign up.  I also shared the link with my own list of past guest readers as well as CCSD board members and district leaders.  I also published it on our library Facebook page.  We didn’t quite reach our goal of 2 readers per class, but every class had someone to share a great story with them at the start of the day.  These readers gathered in the library, chose from a selection of books, took a photo, and were off to classes to read.

After guest readers, we gathered in the cafeteria for an assembly.  We broadcast students onto the big screen as they entered using Google Hangouts.

Evan Bush from the Athens Clarke County Public Library came and told several interactive fall stories to almost 600 students.  I loved how he took the energy of the crowd and got them all snapping, clapping, and sharing parts of the stories.  It kept them focused.  I reached out to Evan about 2 weeks before our event, and he graciously agreed to come.  I love that he gave our students a great storytelling experience and also one more connection to the public library and what it can offer.

After Evan, each class stood up twirled around to show off costumes, and sat facing the back of the cafeteria.  This prepared us to go out on our actual parade as well as gave students a chance to show one another their costumes.

It was during this time that I found out all my preparation for the parade route suddenly had to be changed.  I was so organized this year and provided maps of the parade route to families and community ahead of time.  However, Georgia Power had to do some work and closed part of the sidewalk on our route.  I had to make a last minute change, but it all worked out.

We took off into the community shouting “Read More Books!” and showing off our costumes.  It was fun to see community members, families, UGA students, construction workers, and more cheering us on along the way.  Our 1st-5th grade took a longer route and our Prek/K took a shorter route around the school.

Our 5th graders have a tradition of stopping along the parade route for a special treat, and for the past few years we have stopped at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education for hot chocolate.  Mimi, our family engagement specialist, organizes this piece for us by having the cafeteria prep the hot chocolate and taking the hot chocolate to setup.  Students have some time to just hangout, talk, and enjoy their treats before heading back to school.

Finally, back at school we go to our special classes as well as do more literature activities in class.  In the library, we focused on pirate stories since I was dressed as Captain Hook.  I also used the great pirate video from All the Wonders.

Students moved to tables and colored a pirate sheet or designed their own pirate using Chromville augmented reality.

Somehow in all the craziness, we also organized a big book giveaway.  In the back corner of the library, there were tables of books that had been donated or weeded out of various collections and needed a good home. Courtney Tobin and other volunteers helped get the books put out, and teachers brought classes or small groups of students to pick out new books.  It was fun to glance over and see so many students excited to add books to their home libraries.  We will keep these tables going next week since there are still books left.

It seems that each year something new comes along for storybook celebration that makes it a little more special.  This year I loved seeing so many creative costumes: Little Elliot, the Bird Woman from Circus Mirandus, Minecraft creepers, Martin Luther King, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and more.

I loved seeing our reflection in the glass of the UGA coliseum.

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I also loved that our public library was involved in the day and I want to think even more about how community is represented on this day.

Until next year…

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World Read Aloud Day: Final Connections and Final Thoughts (Part 5)

WRAD map

 

We closed out Read Across America and World Read Aloud week with even more connections.

Our day began with a Georgia connection with Misti Sikes.  We shared Beekle together.  I loved when her students said that Beekle reminded them of Baymax from Big Hero 6.

Next, Ms. Choate’s Kindergarten class connected with Donna MacDonald and her 5th grade students in Vermont.  Donna’s students passed the book around the group and took a turn read Piggie’s part in Waiting is Not Easy and Elephant’s part in I’m a Frog.

 

Ms. Seeling’s 1st grade class got to connect with author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.  She is the author of many books including Duck, Duck Moose.  Her son joined us  in the Skype and we learned that he was the inspiration for Moose.  We learned a lot about her writing process and how it takes many people to create a book that we see on our shelves.

Ms. Stuckey’s 1st grade class connected with Jeanne Cook’s students in Missouri to read Beekle.   We had a lot of fun sharing some of our favorite books with one another and seeing what connections we had to favorite books even though we were in different grades.

I can’t think of a more perfect way to close out our World Read Aloud week than Skyping with the amazing Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw.  We have enjoyed reading Same, Same but Different in so many Skype connections with other schools.  Jenny Sue has a new book coming out in May called Luna and Me.  It is the story about a woman who lived in a tree called Luna in order to save the tree and the surrounding forest.  I’ve watched this book coming together through the posts that Jenny Sue has shared over the past couple of years, and I’ve been eager to hear it.  Our students were fortunate enough to be the very first students to hear a book read out loud.  This is the 2nd time this week that our students have heard words from a book read by the author for the very first time.  It is magical!  The students were hanging on every word, and you could tell that this is a book that is going to speak to students.  It is a fascinating and engaging topic, and it shows the power of how one person can truly make a difference.  I can tell that this is a book that will lead to some inspiring conversations and postive action in our world.

When Jenny Sue finished reading the book, our students gave her a huge round of applause.

Then, they had a chance to ask her several questions about writing.  We saw the very first versions of the book and learned that there were over 40 drafts of the book.  We learned about the salt technique that Jenny Sue used throughout the paintings in the book.  We also had lots of side notes from Jenny Sue’s daughter, Tulsi, which made the Skype even more special.

Thank you to each and ever school and author who connected with us this week.  Your reading, conversation, time, and inspiring thoughts have connected us to so many new and old stories.  I’ve seen library books flying off the shelves this week into the hands of readers, and it’s all because of the connections we have made this week.

I hope you will all take a moment to look at our map of connections and walk back through our week through our  Google Tour.  If you haven’t ever tried connecting for World Read Aloud, you can really do it at any time.  You can be sure that our school will be connecting next year during the 1st week of March.

View our Google Tour Builder Map.

Read about our other World Read Aloud connections, too.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4