The 2018 Barrow Storybook Celebration

This year, I shook things up by moving our annual storybook parade and celebration to the week of Read Across America.  Traditions are hard to change, but it’s fun to try something new every now and then to see what we can learn from it.

The storybook parade has always been a favorite activity at our school.  It’s a day to dress up as a favorite book character and celebrate that book for all to see.

We begin our day with 2 guest readers in every classroom.  These are organized by amazing parent volunteer, Kim Ness.  I pull a variety of books for them to choose from or they are welcome to bring their own. Students escort the readers to classrooms.  We love having these community readers in our school.  Many are parents, athletes, and leaders in our community.

Next, we have our storybook assembly. I try to keep this brief but meaningful.  Sometimes we have a storyteller, skit, or shared reading. This year, I was listening to Matthew Winner’s Children’s Book Podcast, and heard the authors of the book Festival of Colors talk about the Indian celebration of Holi.

I loved the themes of this celebration where hate goes out and love comes in. This year Holi was on the same day as our storybook celebration, so I knew it was the perfect fit for our assembly.  Our ESOL teacher, Ms. Childs, helped me reach out to families in our school who celebrate Holi to see if they would be part of our celebration.  Two families agreed to help.

One family read the book and shared examples of the powders used in Holi. Another family, including a Barrow student, spoke about how they celebrate Holi here in Athens and the many meanings behind the festival.

I loved that we were able to learn from families right here in our school and discover a festival that many of us don’t celebrate or know about.

Following this, we formed into a line and marched down the sidewalk, around the school, and around the UGA practice facilities chanting “Read more books” while we showed off our costumes and books. Our 5th graders enjoyed some lemonade in the Dooley Garden across the street.

Many teachers in the school including gifted, early intervention, and specials all offered literacy-focused sessions for teachers to sign up.

I can’t wait to hear feedback from students, teachers, and families about the new time of year for storybook celebration. We’ll use this feedback to make decisions about next year.

What remained the same was that it was a day filled with celebrating stories in their many forms.  Hooray for books.

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.

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.

read-for-the-record

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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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.

 

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.

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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Storybook Celebration 2014

 

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Our annual storybook celebration was another huge success.  I often get questions about how our storybook celebration is organized and what we do throughout the day.

Planning for this day begins in early October.  It takes multiple steps and multiple people for this day to be successful.

Storybook celebration begins with guest readers in every classroom.  To organize readers, we create a Signup Genius to easily share the signup as well as send out updates and reminders to those who have signed up.  My volunteer coordinator, Courtney Tobin, from PTA helped with this.  She created the signup and she and I began sharing it.  She contacted parent representatives at each grade level to also send out the link to families.

Barrow Media Center  Storybook Celebration Guest Readers

On the morning of storybook celebration, guest readers arrive in the library between 7:30-7:50.  They sign in at the counter and select a book from 2 tables that are organized by books for PreK-2 and 3-5.  All of these books are pulled by me ahead of time.  Some readers bring their own book.

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While readers wait to go to classes, they mingle, pre-read their books, and find a place to sit in the chairs that are ready for a group photo.

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At 7:55, we all gather and I give a quick welcome.

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Then we take a group photo.

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My morning BTV crew escorts readers to classrooms by grade level, so I have a sheet with all of the readers and their assigned classes that I give to each crew member.

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Once all readers make it to their rooms, I race around the school to take pictures of as many readers as I can.  There are about 2 readers for every classroom.  They read and talk with the kids about their book.  Some even leave the book in the room so that kids can keep enjoying it during the day, but most bring the book back to the library.

At 9:00, we gather in the cafeteria for the assembly.  This year, we tried some new things in the assembly, which required some organization in advance.  We had an assembly guest reader.  Our family engagement specialist helped a lot with the assembly.  She contacted and organized Dan Coenen, a UGA professor and community member.  He read The Book with No Pictures and had the kids laughing and engaged.

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We also had a skit performed by teachers.  It was written by the teachers and reviewed many of the Daily 5 strategies that kids use in class.  One again, Mimi Elliott-Gower, our family engagement specialist, got this organized along with Carrie Yawn, 2nd grade teacher.

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In the past, all students have walked across the stage to show off their costume.  This has been very time consuming, so this year we tried something new.  Each row of students stood, twirled, and sat down facing the back of the cafeteria.  We did this until every student was facing the back.

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Then we were ready for a parade!  The parade is outside on the sidewalks of our community.  I send out the parade route to families in my newsletter and via facebook.  Our principal emails UGA and lets them know so that they can come out of their buildngs and wave.

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Taking almost 600 kids on a walk is a big task, and safety is one our biggest concerns.  I drive around to make sure that the route we plan to take is all clear before we decide the way to go.  Our family engagement specialist contacts the police and they help us cross streets and watch for unsafe drivers to pull over.  We talk to the kids about staying away from the road while they are on the sidewalk and we want them to walk in a single line.

I lead the parade so that we make the right turns, but I communicate the route to all of the teachers as well so that they know where we are going.

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The kids chant “Read more books!” as we go down the sidewalks and we usually get lots of waves and honks as we walk.

Our 5th graders break off of the parade route and stop at the GA Center for hot chocolate while the rest of the parade returns to Barrow.  Once again, several people help with buying, prepping, and pouring the hot chocolate.  This is a special treat for our 5th graders’ final storybook parade.

Once we are all back at school, classes carry on with their normal lunch schedule and literature activities in their classrooms.  We also have a specials schedule that teachers sign up for.  Because teachers miss their planning period, we create some 30-minute segments that they sign up for.  Art, music, PE, resource teachers, and I all offer literature-based activities.  I create a Google spreadsheet with times and each teacher posts what he/she will be offering.  This is done a few weeks before storybook celebration.  The week before, I send out the schedule for people to signup.

2014 15 Barrow Elem Storybook Celebration Specials

This year I read the book Ol’ Clip Clop to some classes and Precious and the Boo Hag to other classes.  Then, we used the Puppet Pals app on the iPad to create our own stories.

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Days like these are filled with learning opportunities, collaboration, tinkering, dreaming, and community.  It is a difficult kind of event to pull off by yourself.  It can be done, but I’m very thankful to have the support that I do to create days like these for our students.

 

Storybook Celebration 2013

Storybook RouteStorybook Parade has been a Barrow tradition for many years.  Over the past couple of years, we transistioned from a morning parade to a day-long event.  Our schedule now looks something like this:

  • 8:00 Guest readers in every classroom.  These readers are parents, family members, community members, and local celebrities.
  • 8:30 Classrooms prep for an assembly where we get to see all of the great costumes.  Every child dresses as a character from a book.
  • 9:00 Assembly.  All classes walk across the stage to be seen.
  • 10:00 Parade.  We march in a single file line out of the front doors of the school and parade down the sidewalks surrounding the UGA Athletic Department, UGA practice fields, and the UGA track.
  • 10:30-2:30 Classes continue to hold literature-related activities and sign up for special classes offered throughout the school.

I organize most of the day’s events,  but it couldn’t all be done alone.  There are just too many pieces to do by myself.  This year for guest readers, I created a Signup Genius.  I emailed all of our volunteers and former readers, shared the link on Facebook and Twitter, and put it in my newsletter.  Camilla Bracewell, Barrow grandparent, also made some phone calls and emails to recruite readers.  It didn’t take very long to schedule enough readers for every class, but as usual, during the days leading up to the event, we started getting cancellations.  Rather than scramble to find more readers, I had our administrators and specials teachers on standby to read in the event that we needed them.

storybook (32)For the assembly, I wanted to speed up every class walking across the stage.  In the past, every class has written a blurb about their class for me to read.  Some classes write a short blurb while others feel the need to describe every costume.  This year, Mimi Elliot-Gower, our family engagement specialist, had an idea to use quotes about reading.  I made a Google doc of reading quotes and let teachers sign up for a quote that represented her class.  I read these quotes as classes went across the stage and we tried to keep a constant flow of traffic.

For the parade, we changed our route this year.  We used to parade up to Five Points and back, but Lumpkin Street has gotten so busy that we wanted to move most of the parade to some streets that were a bit less congested.  Our 5th graders got to make a special stop at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and have some hot chocolate.  Our family engagement specialist, Mimi Elliot-Gower and counselor, Lauren McElhannon, setup this special treat.

storybook (10)Back at Barrow, teachers had lots of options for what their classes might do the rest of the day.  Every specials, EIP, special education, and gifted teacher offered sessions for classes to sign up for.  I created a Google spreadsheet schedule and teachers could sign up for up to 2 thirty minute sessions.  Examples included:

It was a fantastic day with so many books represented.  Each year this day grows a little more and includes a few new ideas.  Who knows where it will go next year.

storybook (51)We would like to thank all of our guest readers who came out today to celebrate with us:

  • Brenda Moon
  • Dr. Lanoue
  • Kim Ness
  • Ralph Stephens
  • Alicia Battle
  • Paula Shilton
  • Carol Williams
  • Denise Sims
  • Selby Merritt & Isabel
  • Bryn Adamson
  • Leslye Queen
  • Debra Lassiter
  • Terry Nestor
  • Paul Lee
  • Matt Winston
  • Chis Stutz
  • Josh Miles
  • Gail Schrader
  • David Meyers
  • Kathy Hoard
  • Ken Mauldin
  • Robert Miles
  • Alex Patterson
  • Utevia Tolbert

 

Storybook Celebration 2012

Today was our annual Storybook Parade now renamed as “Storybook Celebration”.  The name change comes because we have expanded what this day means for our school.  Rather than just have an assembly and a parade dressed as storybook characters, we used the entire day to celebrate the joy of reading.

Students began the day with guest readers arriving in their room to read  story.  We’ve never done guest readers as a part of storybook celebration, and it was a challenge to find people.  Many of my regular guest readers were unavailable, and I found myself struggling for readers.  The power of digital communication and social networking came through for me though.  Many thanks to Jen McDowell, David Ragsdale, Ellen Sabatini, and several other unnamed parents who willingly recruited readers for our classrooms.  We ended up having 2 readers in almost every room.  Here are a few of the reactions & reflections from some of our high school readers this morning:

My experience with reading to the Kindergarten students at Barrow Elementary today was very fulfilling. The kids interacted and seem to respond to me asking them question that related to the book. And it made me day to be asked out by a kindergarten student today. Seeing their faces light up while reading to one my personal favorite child hood stories was absolutely amazing.
– Jackie Gordon
 
The reading was fun. I think the kids were excited. A lot of them already knew the story and wanted to help me read it. The teachers were very nice, too. 
-Jada Haynes
Reading to younger kids has always been an uplifting experience for me.  Reading to the kindergartners at Barrow Elementary was no exception.  The kids engaged in the story, were respectful, and were very cute.  I had a great time and really enjoyed sharing books with elementary school students.
-Henry Siebentritt
 
I had such a great time reading with the kindergardeners! I went to Barrow for seven years and it brought back so many good memories. The class I read to was the cutest ever and it seemed like they were interested in what we were reading to them. I want to go back next time there is an opportunity like this! 
-Chloe Alexander
 
I really enjoyed reading at Barrow this morning. I was in a 2nd grade class and I read A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. It was a fun and cute story and the students seemed to enjoy it. One girl was especially enthusiastic about the pirates. A parent read a story about a square pumpkin before me and I enjoyed listening to him. This was a great experience overall. I loved getting to share such a fun book with kids and getting to be back in an elementary school again. 
– Katie Googe
 
My experience at Barrow Elementary was fantastic and very nostalgic. I had a lot of fun reading to the second graders and seeing my old teachers. I hope my other classmates enjoyed this experience as much as I did.
-Michelle Legette
 
There is a kind of magic that pervades the classrooms, offices, and halls of an elementary school, Barrow in particular. Upon entering the school, it is impossible not to be enveloped in a kind of warmth. When we went to read, I was immediately drawn to the bright decorations adorning the school, crafted by students, and the enthusiastic, costume-clad staff ready for the wonderful Storybook Parade. Although in a different building, this day, this atmosphere, this school is exactly the way I remember– it is as joyful as it ever was. Seeing children at this age is so special, because there is so much excitement for everything–to read a book, to dress up, to walk in the halls. The love for learning in this school is nearly tangible. I loved getting to come back and enjoy stories together, focusing on appreciating each next sentence and page. Thanks for setting this up! 
–Dory MacMillan
 
I had a fantastic time reading to the children.They were good listeners and I was happy to be there. It brought back good memories of my time at Barrow Elementary. 
-Patrick Humphrey
 
It was nice to go back to elementary school and read to kids. I enjoyed their costumes and appreciated their interest in the book I read. 
-Nida Javaid
Today, volunteers were given the opportunity to read at Barrow Elementary. I read a book by Lemony Snicket, 13 Words, That taught the kids words like “despondent.” Reading to the costumed kids was an enjoyable –experience, and more people should do it.
– Alanna Pierce

Following the readers, we enjoyed our huge outdoor space at our temporary school by going out to the fitness loop (track).  Grade levels sat together along the inside perimeter of the loop.  Parents and guests sat on the outside of the loop.  Each grade level stood and paraded around the fitness loop while the whole school cheered them on.  I served as the announcer and read blurbs from each grade level and some individual classes.

After the parade, 5th graders enjoyed some hot chocolate while the rest of the school went back inside to begin reading activities for the rest of the day.  Grade levels individually planned how they would spend the day.  All of the specials teachers and the library offered literature-related activities for classes to sign up in the place of their specials.  For a 30-minute block, teachers had common planning time while their class was at a “special”.

In the library, I read election-related books such as Grace for President, Duck for President, My Teacher for President, Babymouse for President, and Otto for President.  After reading some of these (and looking at a few others), students used our 10 iPads and a Google form to vote for which storybook character should be president.  Once voting was complete, we analyzed the results on the smart board and saw who was taking the lead throughout the day.  The students and I used my phone to tweet the live election results via our media center twitter account and facebook page.

It was a busy day with many kinds of reading taking place across the day.  Now, we’re ready for a 3-day weekend!

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Storybook Celebration 2011

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Usually around this time of year I post about Barrow Storybook Parade.  However, this year we revised the name a bit to “Storybook Celebration”.  After tons of feedback from teachers and meeting with my media technology committee, we began to craft a new plan for this annual event.  A major concern from teachers was that there seemed to be less of a focus on reading and more focus on dressing up in a costume that wasn’t related to books.

This year, we decided to speak to this concern by making the entire day a focus on reading.  The morning started out in our traditional way with an assembly in the gym.  Each class had a chance to walk across the stage to show off their books and costumes.  Some classes had a class theme such as “heroes inside of us” or “Chicka Chicka 123” or “Folktales and Fairy Tales” while other classes had students dressed as characters such as Willow Smith, Despereaux, the Grouchy Ladybug, and Where’s Waldo.  After the assembly, we continued our yearly tradition of walking to 5 points and back shouting “Read More Books!”.

When we returned to school, classroom teachers planned rotations within their grade level or planned a day of literature activities within their own classrooms.  Each class also signed up for one specials class in art, music, PE, social emotional learning, or health.  The media center isn’t typically part of the specials rotation, but we were also one of the options to sign up for.  Each of these specials planned a literature-based lesson that focused on their subject area.

In the media center, we had skype guest readers.  A HUGE “thank you” goes out to all of these volunteers who took time to read exciting stories and interact with our students.  Author Laurel Snyder skyped with 4th grade and read Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman.  Linda Martin, media specialist at Sugar Hill Elementary in Hall County, skyped with Kindergarten and read Shake Dem Halloween Bones.  Kathy Schmidt, media specialist at Rock Springs Elementary in Gwinnett County, skyped with 3rd grade and shared her “boo bubbles” science experiment.  Laura Landstrom, former Barrow teacher, skyped from Washington DC with many of her former students who are now in 5th grade.  Marsha West, former Barrow media specialist, skyped with 2nd grade from her new home in Nebraska.  For many of our students, it was the first time to use Skype, and they were amazed by how it worked.  After each author’s session, we brainstormed ways Skype might be used at school and I encouraged the students to share their ideas with their teachers so that we can continue to reach beyond our school walls into the world.  For the second half of the media center time, students used the Sock Puppet app on the iPads to create 30-second stories with a partner.  Some students also chose to use this time to read on our e-readers.  There were some very imaginative and hilarious sock puppet shows that students created in a matter of minutes.  It is amazing what students can create and figure out when they have the space to explore.

I’m awaiting feedback from teachers and students about how the day went, but from my perspective, it seemed to be a success.