Fostering Digital Leadership: A Next Step

chromville1I recently rolled out our 1 to 1 devices to grades 3-5.  During this orientation, I talked with students about digital leadership.  Since then, our oldest grades have started taking their computers home, but our 3rd graders are still waiting.  It’s their first year with their own computer and we are trying to do a better job of helping them understand what kinds of things they can do with their computer when they take it home.

The third grade teachers chatted with me about digital leadership and digital citizenship and we thought about what would be the most important thing to explore next.  We looked at Common Sense Media and their scope and sequence.  We also talked about ideas that I planted during the orientation.

Based on our discussions, I decided to focus on our digital snapshots.  What are we currently doing with technology?  What do we want to strive to do with technology?  What is ok to share?  What do we keep private?

I created a short set of slides to guide our conversation, and I’m fascinated by some of the things that came up.  I started with a small piece of my own digital snapshot.

It contained my blog as well as a screenshot of my home screen on my iPhone.  I asked students to look at this one piece of my digital life and see what they could learn about how I use technology.  They had conversations with partners and I eavesdropped.  I heard things like:

  • He misses a lot of calls and doesn’t answer his text messages
  • He likes to share things
  • He takes a lot of pictures
  • He likes to travel
  • He is very organized with his apps
  • He uses his phone to look up books in the library
  • He has 2 kids

The list continued to grow with each class, and each class inferred something more than the last class.  I was actually amazed about how much they could learn from me just by focusing on my phone.  In fact, that’s all they focused on.  Not a single student talked about the picture of my blog.  There focus was completely on the apps on my phone, which was also interesting to me.

I used their noticings to connect to some of the decisions I make as a user of technology.  I talked about how I know when I share a picture or a blog post that it is going to be seen around the world.  I once again shared our blog map to remind students where people are looking at our work.

Next, I had students talk with partners about what their digital snapshots look like.  How are they using technology in their everyday lives?  We started adding some of these ideas to a doc.  We didn’t capture everything, but I at least wanted a list we could refer to.

All of this was leading up to us spending more time talking about using our devices in school and at home for educational purposes.  I loved having this list because most students thought it was bad for them to go onto Youtube.  Many were surprised when I talked about all of the great things Youtube is for.  In most classes, we spent a bit of time brainstorming why we might use Youtube.  This list also gave me some insight into what students are doing at home that I haven’t even heard of.

After students reflected on their own digital snapshot, I showed students what other students have already done at our school with technology.  I couldn’t show everything, but I gave them a quick look at pictures to show some of the awesome ways we’ve used technology to connect, collaborate, create, and share.

Finally, I asked students to spend time brainstorming how they might use their 1:1 technology.  This was only a starting place.  Many students focused on videos, games, or websites they might visit, so we have some work to do in regards to thinking about our devices as creation tools and tools that connect us to opportunities.  Students added their ideas for how to use technology at home and keep it connected with learning and appropriate use for an elementary student to a padlet.

Some students were also able to move on to a wonderful coloring page from the augmented reality app, Chromville.  This coloring page features Zoe and a computer screen.

Students can draw or write about a digital citizenship message on the screen.

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Using the Chromville app, Zoe comes to life on the screen displaying the students’ digital citizenship message and you can even click the mouse to display additional messages about staying safe online.  I want to make sure all of the students get to try this out, but only a few made it this far during our hour together.

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We will continue to revisit these topics in classrooms and during library projects and lessons throughout the year.  If you have an innovative way to have these conversations with your students, I would love to hear them.

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Kicking Off Summer Reading with a Visit from Author Sarah Weeks

A few weeks ago our local independent bookshop, Avid Bookshop, emailed me with an opportunity.  Sarah Weeks, author of Pie and many other great books, was coming to Athens, and they wanted her to visit our school.  Hooray!  I try to jump at every author visit I can get.  For the visit, I needed to presale some books, which I always do, but this time we wanted to try something new and crazy. I’ve always wanted to do a school wide read, but I have never gotten the idea off the ground.  I saw this as a perfect chance to try it with a smaller number of students rather than the whole school. This author visit focused on upper grades. Our 5th graders would be gone to Skidaway on a field trip, so 3rd and 4th grade would be the classes coming to the visit. Rather than asking every student to buy a copy of the book, I decided to try a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money to give every 3rd and 4th grader a copy of Pie as well as buy a few copies of Honey to give away to a few students.

Summer Reading w Author Sarah Weeks by Andy Plemmons   GoFundMe

In just under 1 month, 28 donors funded our project.  These donors included community members, grandparents, families, and friends from around the country.  Thank you to each one of these donors who made this crazy idea a reality.

When Sarah Weeks came to visit our school, I got to make the exciting announcement and tell them about the 28 people who took time to donate money to the project.  I also told them that the deal from me is that I want each one of them to read Pie.  I want them to share it with families and spend time talking about it.  I also want them to make things together like family recipes or even pies.  My hope is that they will document this over the summer on a Padlet.

Sarah Weeks was phenomenal in her visit and I highly recommend her to any schools looking for a great author visit. She built so many frequently asked questions into her talk such as “What was your first book?”, “What is your current book?”, “Do you get writer’s block?”, etc.  Each question was answered with slides filled with great photographs, personal stories, and lots of funny moments.  The students laughed so much at Sarah’s stories about boys painting their fingernails, kids doing puppets shows through the shirts, and dogs joining.

She talked about a story arc and had students moving their hands to show the flow of a story through beginning, middle, and end.  She also told them a story about a cowboy on a horse in the airport and paused along the way to point out what part of the arc she was in during the story. What a great connection to what they are learning in writing class!

She showed them the many revisions that her work goes through and how important it is to listen to her editor. She connected this to all of the notes that students see on their writing papers and stressed how they needed to listen to their teachers’ comments because it helps make the writing better.

Sarah has so many books that she couldn’t talk about them all.  She started with books like the Oggie Cooder books and how he charves cheese into the shapes of states.

We had one student who knew every state she showed a picture of!

Sarah’s two new books are Glamourpuss and Honey.  She treated the students to a full reading of Glamourpuss and the high-energy students were mesmerized.  I loved how she showed Honey to the students.  She showed several slides with single words that helped students know some things the books was about, but then she showed students several characters from the book along with text from the book that gave the students a taste of the character.

Then, she showed the students how she had to do research to learn about how nail polish is made.  This story connected with a great story about how some girls in a library were painting their nails and several boys were very curious.  The librarian at the school hosted a nails at noon session in the library and it was attended by mostly boys who painted their nails and posed for some fierce pictures.

I couldn’t believe how much Sarah packed into an hour long presentation.  There was even time for Q & A.  She was engaging, funny, and a pro at keeping the student’s attention.  I loved getting to hang out with Sarah Weeks even for a brief time.  She is a fun person and a talented writer.

Thank you Avid Bookshop and Scholastic for bringing her to our school. Thank you to all of the donors who got Pie into the hands of all of our kids.

As I went to car riders today, I saw several students in the hallway already reading their books while they waited.  That’s what it’s all about!

It was a really fun day!

 

 

Students Meeting with Vendors: Book Talking with Avid Bookshop

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One of my favorite steps in the student book budget process is when the students get to meet real vendors and talk with them.  This year at the School Library Leadership Summit someone asked me if I ever used an independent bookshop as one of my vendors for student book budgets.  The answer was no, but this year we changed that.

I email Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, and asked if she would like to be a part of this year’s project.  It was refreshing to hear that community outreach is actually a big part of her business plan, so she definitely wanted to be a part.  When our students had their purchasing goals created, I sent them to Will Walton at Avid Bookshop.  Will is an awesome bookseller and has his first novel coming out in May called Anything Could Happen.

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Will pulled several books from the shop and brought them to our book budget meeting.

I made a Google spreadsheet and shared it with all of the students.  The spreadsheet included a spot for title, author, price, and which goal the book matched.  Will put the books into various categories and started talking about each one.  If the book sounded interesting, then the students worked together to capture the details in the document.

I learned pretty fast that they needed to see the title, author, etc so I pulled Avid’s website up on the board and typed in each book as he talked.  The students could easily copy down the info while he talked.

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After talking through several titles, the students had lots of questions for him.  They had a great time just talking books with Will.  Several students branched off to do their own thing, so I decided to add another layer onto what they could do.

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We used our state database, Galileo, to pull up Novelist K-8 Plus.  I showed students how they could look at books by age range and genre.  Then, Novelist shows books that are similar to books that you have read and liked.  I suggested that they use Novelist to find books that sounded good and matched our goals, and then use Avid’s site to find the price and add to our spreadsheet.

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Mr. Coleman’s ELT group is joining us in this project and they plan to continue this process this week before we meet again on Monday.

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We are very grateful to Avid Bookshop for their support of students.  I loved how Will talked directly to them.  He asked them questions about books but also questions about how they planned to spend their money.  He posed interesting questions such as “Have you thought about paperback versus hardback?  The cost difference can be about $10.”  Students were shocked by the price difference but most agreed that they wanted hardback for durability in the library.  That was without any prepping or pushing from me.  I was amazed.  They said the extra $10 was worth it if the book lasted longer.

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I love how these types of conversations naturally surface.  You can’t force plan each one, but they usually come up at some point.  Soon, the students will meet with another vendor and start the hard process of cutting their wishlist to meet our budget.

Give Our Students Some Pie (by Sarah Weeks)

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We have a wonderful opportunity at our school.  Author Sarah Weeks is coming to visit on May 8th to promote her two new books Glamourpuss and Honey.  She is also author of the amazing book Pie.  

From the book Pie:

From the award-winning author of SO B. IT, a story about family, friendship, and…pie!

When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of donig something for the right reason.

With Pie, acclaimed author Sarah Weeks has baked up a sweet and satisfying delight, as inviting as warm pie on a cold day. You’ll enjoy every last bite

Some schools in our district benefit from the amazing Books for Keeps, which gives 12 books to every student in the school to read over the summer.  We don’t benefit from this program, and I have always wanted to give students something to read over the summer.

We have never done an “On the Same Page” or “One Book” event at Barrow, but this seems like a great time to try getting lots of our students reading the same pages over the summer.  We would love to give every student in 3rd and 4th grade (rising 4th & 5th graders) a copy of Pie to read over the summer.  We will have lots of online ways to talk about the book over the summer and a celebration of the book when we return in August.

For now, we have a bit of urgency.  We need to raise enough money to purchase these books from our local independent bookstore, Avid Bookshop. We have created a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1000 over the next month.  We expect the miraculous, so we truly believe that this opportunity will be miraculous for our students and we will miraculously raise the funds.

Any amount helps.  Please consider donating a few dollars to get books into the hands of our summer readers.  Click the picture below to visit our GoFundMe campaign.

2015 World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge Week 2

It’s time once again for the World Read Aloud Day blogging challenge as we count down the days to this special week-long event of sharing stories with one another across the miles.  My friend and super librarian, Matthew Winner, has outlined the challenge on his blog.

The World Read Aloud Day “Speak Your Story” Blogging Challenge begins February 9 and runs through March 8. If you choose to take the challenge, each week you will be asked to write a post in response to a prompt or question (outlined below), for a total of 4 posts counting down to World Read Aloud Day.

Each of the prompts addresses the WRAD theme “Speak Your Story.” Speak Your Story encapsulates that simple yet effective way that we connect with others by sharing our stories aloud. Your voice is powerful and when a story is shared a bond is made.

For week 2, we have been exploring these stems:

Pick a question to answer with a partner. 1. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…2. I think everyone should read… 3. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

Barrow students used Flipgrid to respond to this question:

Week 2 WRAD Challenge

For this week’s challenge, I interviewed my Facebook friends to see what they would say about these stems.  I love the idea of crowdsourcing content and how technology can pull together so many voices. This has been especially helpful since I’ve been sick most of this week and losing my voice by the end of the week.  It was so interesting to see various friends take time to respond to these stems and learn something new about them that I didn’t know before.  Thank you to all who responded or paused to reflect!

I think everyone in the world should read…

Me:  Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  I love that this story is about making connections in your community, listening to each person’s story, and finding the magic in your everday life.  Each time I read this book, it makes me feel good and makes me want to go out and explore my community.

Facebook:

  • El Deafo by CeCe Bell (Matthew Winner)
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Kaycie Rogers)
  • Wonder by R J Palacio (Julie Moon)
  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Shannon Thompson)
  • Austin Kleon (Carolyn Foote)
  • Anything that sets your imagination on fire! (Amy Fowler James)
  • Whatever, whenever, and wherever they can! (Diane Cordell & Judy Serritella)
  • As many books as you can (Lee Rogers)
  • Anything, everything! (Frances Hensley)
  • Everyday (Em Tendo)

If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me, it would be:

Me:  My daughter.  She is just now learning how to read, so it is truly amazing to see how she has gone from a baby staring up at my face reading aloud to her to a reader who is working hard to figure out those letter and picture combinations on the page.

On a celebrity note though, it would have to be Jessica Tandy.  There is something about her voice that is calming and peaceful to me.  Listening to her characters in Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes makes me want to hang out with her all day and just listen to stories.  Her voice and her way of bringing stories to life through spoken word exemplify what it means for me to get lost in a story and suspend time.

Facebook:

  • Alec Baldwin (Lizzie Faville Payne)
  • Morgan Freeman (Jennifer Biddle)
  • My Grandmother (Ashlee Hembree)
  • My Grandchildren (Sherry Horton Jones)
  • Christopher Walken (Matthew Winner)  Read Matthew’s post on the Busy Librarian
  • Anthony Hopkins (Dera Weaver)
  • Shelby Foote (Amber Dawn Suman)
  • Andy Plemmons (my mom!)  She says that I make the story come to life 🙂
  • Hemingway (Beverly Hembree)
  • Sarah Koenig (Amy Fowler James)
  • Maya Angelou, Lauren Bacall, William Hurt, Antonio Banderas…(Deborah Bambino)
  • The struggling reader with a good fit book. (Em Tendo)
  • Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Billy Collins (Frances Hensley)
  • James Earl Jones and Mel Blanc together (George Webber)

When I read aloud my favorite character to impersonate is:

Me:  I absolutely love to read aloud Epposumondas.  I love making the southern voices in the story and watching kids’ reactions to the voice changes.  Sometimes I struggle to find the right voice for certain characters, but the characters in that book just come to life for me.

Facebook:

  • Skippyjon Jones and Pigeon (Frannie McClester)
  • Eeyore (Lizze Faville Payne
  • The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk and the Big Bad Wolf from Three Little Pigs (Amy Fowler James)
  • Emma from a made up story (Cindy Plemmons)
  • The Dump Truck from Little Blue Truck (Amber Dawn Suman)
  • Junie B. Jones (Amber Pace)
  • Pruella the Boo Hag (Dera Weaver)
  • Violet Beauregard (Laura Smith)
  • Veruca Salt (Holly Wolfe)
  • Pigeon (Donna Carney)
  • Any villain (Em Tendo)

The genre or author that takes up most of my bookshelf is:

Me:  It’s no surprise to people who know me that it’s Kate DiCamillo.  I have every book she has written and most of them are autographed.

Facebook:

  • Stephen King (Lizzie Faville Payne)
  • Poetry (Dera Weaver)
  • Harry Potter and Kathy Reichs (Frannie McClester)
  • Female authors Toni Morrison & Anne Pachett (Frances Hensley)
  • Cookbooks & Crafts (Em Tendo)
  • mo willems and michel foucault (Sarah Bridges-Rhoads)

My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is:

Me:  I love reading aloud because it brings the story to life in a different way.  When a story is spoken into the air and heard by an audience, we all experience it together in many different ways.  We laugh.  We gasp, We question. We discuss.  Reading alone is fun, but when you read aloud, the story comes to life.

Facebook:

  • Listening to how my daughter’s R sound evolves and becomes more developed. I can listen to her mature, and it’s amazing! (Dawn Jameson)
  • Getting to share the private experience of a story with someone else. (Lizzie Faville Payne)
  • Watching the faces of my first graders as I read to them, and then watching THEIR faces as they read to me! (Laura Smith)
  • I loved working with first graders @ the beginning they could not read then by the end they were reading a book! I miss those days! I love for Jacob to read to us! Read the Christmas story out of his bible Christmas Eve (Sandra Williams)
  • Seeing the expressions on the faces of my students when they get lost in a story…all kids deserve to be read to…even the older ones! (Tiffany Whitehead)
  • moving all around and acting out the characters! (Sarah Bridges-Rhoads)
  • My favorite part of reading aloud is doing funny voices. (Shannon Thompson)
  • The students’ interactions with the story and disappointment when the story is over that can be replaced with excitement when another is read. (Frannie McClester)
  • Becoming part of the story and “reeling” the kids in. I believe reading to children is the first step to helping them love to read. (Amber Pace)
  • Getting lost in a story, whether I’m reader or listener. (Dera Weaver)

Join me and countless others as we celebrate LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day on March 4th, 2015 and throughout that entire week.  Check out the shared Google Doc to find a connecting class or post your own schedule.

Crowdsourced Rockology with Blendspace and Thinglink

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A group 3rd graders have been working for several weeks on a project in Blendspace.  They are using this tool to combine their notes and photographs from class along with research and instructional videos they are finding online.  They are also creating their own pretests and post tests within the Blendspace lessons as well.

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Ms. Hicks, the Spectrum teacher, and I wanted their projects to be crowdsourced into one location so that an audience could easily access all of their lessons on rocks and minerals.  Crowdsourcing the Blendspace lessons would also make it efficient when sharing their work with one another for peer review as well as sharing with families.  There’s even potential to share this work with other schools who might use their content or offer feedback to improve the work even more.

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To crowdsource, we used Thinglink.  Ms. Hicks selected an image of rocks and minerals positioned in rows.  Then, she assigned students to the various rocks or minerals.  I uploaded the image to Thinkglink and made it unlisted.  Then, I allowed anyone to be able to edit it.

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Ms. Hicks emailed the link to the image to all of the students.  They went to their Blendspace lessons and selected all of the privacy permissions that they wanted to.  Then, they copied the link to their Blendspace lessons and connected them to the Thinglink image.  We did run into a problem with several students trying to edit the image at the same time, but as long as they kept retrying, they eventually were able to edit the image.

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Now, students are looking at the image to access all of the projects in their class. They are viewing the work and offering feedback to their peers.  Since the links are active, any changes they make to their Blendspace is automatically connected to the Thinglink.

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I love this way of getting student work out to an authentic audience and I invite you to take a look at their work.  Feel free to leave them a comment here on the blog.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014

Our pirate map of connections

Our pirate map of connections

September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  There are so many fun pirate stories out there, and each year we seem to discover a few more thanks to the connections we make around the globe through Google Hangouts and Skype.  Planning a day of connections like this definitely takes some time but students love talking with people around the globe, sharing a story, and learning a bit about one another.  It always seems to reinforce the idea that we aren’t alone in our bubble of routines of day to day life.  There are other people out there doing the same things that we are and quite possibly they are doing those things in different ways.  I love the spontaneous conversations that take place on days like this that you could never plan through a standard or a lesson plan.  Students always bring up a question or a comment that makes the day special.

This year, 8 classes came to the library for Talk Like a Pirate Day and we connected with 6 different schools in 5 different states.

  • We connected with Edie Crook in Gastonia North Carolina to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We had a great conversation about “treasure” and students took turns stepping up to say what treasure meant to them.  We were delighted with words such as being kind, family, friends, Skylanders, and baseball.
  • We connected with Jan Pelias through Google Hangouts in Frisco Texas to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  It was fun to connect with someone in another time zone because we could talk about how time is different at the same moment around the world.
  • We connected with Melanie Thompson in Jefferson City, Missouri to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  Melanie’s students had researched pirates and they took time to share all of their facts.  This made our students very curious about pirates as well.  I have a feeling all of our nonfiction pirate books will be checked out for a long time.  I also love how Melanie embraced her inner pirate as we chatted with each other through Skype chat prior to our connection!

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  • We connected with Okle Miller in Tampa, Florida to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  Tampa has a pirate festival called Gasparilla .  Students loved hearing how pirates take over Tampa during this festival and kidnap the mayor (all for fun).  The class we connected with even called themselves pirates and used the word “pirate” as an acronym for their classroom expectations and beliefs.
  • Both of our PreK classes came to the library for their first visit of the year.  In class, they made pirate hats and hooks as well as added some pirate mustaches to their faces.  We read the book Pirates Go to School and made a class video chanting the pirate chant at the end of the book.
  • We connected with Carol Scrimgeour in Essex Town, Vermont to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We noticed that all of the kids were wearing warm clothes, so we had a great conversation about how cold it had been in the northeast.  It was sunny in both places but with a very different temperature.
  • Finally, we connected with Shawna Ford in Texas and she read a new pirate book we had not heard before: No Bath No Cake Polly’s Pirate Party.  Now the students want to get it for our library.

Before each connection, we looked at a map from our school to the school we were connecting with.  We talked about distance, travel time, and also all of the decisions that go into choosing your route for a trip.  We also created a Google tour of our trip using Google Tour Builder.  After each connection, we wrote a summary together.

We also created a Padlet to write pirate sentences.  This was shared with our friends around the country and became a place to crowdsource our words.

Finally, we spent a lot of time creating pirate sentences, phrases, and even conversations and practicing them aloud.  Students had access to a list of pirate vocabulary words as well as multiple pirate stories to get ideas.

We used Flipgrid as a place to record our favorite pirate expressions.  Students also had a great time trying to imitate a pirate voice and pirate faces and gestures.  Take a moment to listen to them because they are quite entertaining!  I loved how this evolved from a sentence writing activity into a practice of fluency, oral speaking, and performance.  Again, Flipgrid became a place for us to crowdsource our voices with the voices of our connecting schools.

I love how these events connect us with new people around the world.  This year we connected with some old friends, but we also met some new teachers, librarians, and students we hope to connect with again.  I also want to continue to think about days like this to build long term collaborative relationships.