Catch the #FlipgridFever

 

It’s no secret if you follow my posts that I’m a huge fan of Flipgrid. It is a tool that has amplified our student voices all around the globe.  It most recently was named a  2017 AASL Best App and AASL Best Website.  The Flipgrid team is constantly listening to the rapidly growing community of users and improving the tool to meet the needs of all users.  As a company, they celebrate the passion of educators, the wisdom of students, and the curiosity of families.  Flipgrid is continuously celebrating the innovative uses of their tool by further amplifying student and educator voices on social media and presentations. They are simply an amazing group of people.

If you’ve never tried Flipgrid or you are already using it, now is the perfect time to get more active with this award-winning tool and supportive community.  Here are some things you should do right now.

  1. Setup a free account.  Create a grid. Post your first topic.
  2. Share your topic link on Twitter with the hashtag #FlipgridFever  You might also add some other hashtags like #studentvoice #k12 #futureready or #edtech  Why hashtags? They are what connect you to communities of conversation and amplify the voices of the people on your topic.  
  3. Continue to work toward being a Flipgrid Certified Educator.  If you did step 1 & 2, you are almost there.  You’ll earn a cool badge, new bragging rights on your resume, and you’ll be a part of an active community of Flipgrid users.
  4. Follow the #FlipgridFever hashtag and participate in the conversations.  This hashtag is on fire.  The last Twitter chat was so active that you could barely keep up.  This hashtag will connect you with a global community of Flipgrid users at all levels of education and beyond. You’ll get countless ideas for how to use Flipgrid in your own work, and you’ll be supported with questions you have.
  5. Look for people who are posting their Flipgrid links and respond to their topics.  You’ll become a better Flipgrid user, hear from many perspectives, and become a support in the Flipgrid community. If you respond to at least 10 topics and keep a spreadsheet of your response links, you’ll get a Flipgrid Community Builder badge.                     
  6. Finally, sign up to view the big Flipgrid announcement coming on August 10 at 7PM CT.  As an ambassador, I’ve seen a teaser of some of the upcoming features, and you don’t want to miss this opportunity to hear about them in detail.  Flipgrid rolls out updates quite often and it’s important to stay in the loop on what is new. Just when you think Flipgrid couldn’t be better, the team comes up with new ways to engage users and amplify voice.  I’m so excited to be heading to Flipgrid HQ to be at the announcement in person, but there are also some viewing parties happening around the country. You could even host one yourself.

During the upcoming school year, I plan to support all of my teachers in using Flipgrid in their classrooms. It’s one of those tools that can apply to so many projects and experiences in education.  Users are continuously coming up with innovative ways to amplify voice with this tool and combine it with other tech tools we are already using. I look forward to connecting with so many inspiring educators through the #FlipgridFever community and probably creating some globally connected projects along the way.

 

What Do You Do with Those Advance Reading Copies?: A Summer Reading Project

It never fails that I overload on Advance Reading Copies of books at conferences I attend, and then I just can’t manage to get to all of them to read.  I do in fact read many of them, but then I’m left with a stack of books sitting in my office. As we approach summer, I’m always wondering how to get more books in kids’ hands for summer reading. We promote our incredible public library summer reading programs, but I know that even with talking it up, some kids just won’t make it over there.

I decided to give our 4th graders (rising 5th graders) an opportunity for the summer.  I took all of those ARCs I had read as well as some that I hadn’t read and spread them out on tables.  Each class came to the library and I gave a quick spiel to them about how I really needed to hear their voices about some books that we might purchase for the library.  I encouraged students that even if they didn’t find a book that jumped out at them they should try something new and stretch themselves as readers.  This is something I’m wanting to do more of next year because I think it’s so important for students to help build the collection in the library.  By allowing them to read the ARCs and give their opinions, they are owning the collection and will also be more likely to recommend books to their friends if they have chosen them.

Each student had a chance to go to the tables and select a book. I book talked ones that I had read and listened in as students made their decisions. I loved that every student took a book. Then, they filled out a paper with their name, book title, and author so that I could keep up with who got which book.  Finally, students moved to another area where they put a label inside their book with a place for their name as well as a link to a Flipgrid where they can record their thoughts over the summer.

I’ve never tried this as a summer opportunity, so it’s a bit of an experiment. I’m curious to see how many students follow through with recording their Flipgrids. Even if they don’t, I have a record of their books so that I can at least check in with them in the fall to see if they read their book.

If they liked the experience, then perhaps these students will want to take this on as a project next year when I get ARCs in the mail or at conferences.

Surprise summer book giveaway for our @fourthgradebarrow #athensga #barrowbuddies #summerreading #arc #reading #librariesofinstagram

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Happy Summer Reading!

Letters for Justice: Empowering Young Voices on Topics that Matter

There’s a lot going on in the world right now and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many current issues being debated and decided on in our country and around the world.  As a teacher librarian, it’s challenging because I want to support all students and families knowing that I might not personally agree with their perspectives.  I make sure that I step back and listen to the students, support their research and perspectives, and check my own beliefs.

Recently, Ms. Olin, 5th grade social studies teacher, came to me with an idea. She wanted to get students thinking about current US & World issues and considering what their own perspectives were based on the facts of the issues. She also wanted them to know that their voices mattered in the world and that they could get their thoughts out to local, state, and national representatives as well as the general public to have an influence on decisions being made.

Ms. Olin started this project in her classroom by sharing the book I Have  a Right to Be a Child by Alain Serres. This sparked discussion about basic human rights and current issues in the world. She also shared news sites with them so that they could start reading current articles about various trending topics, especially if they weren’t familiar with the current topics being debated. Through these sites, students began to choose a topic that they were interested in, curious about, or passionate for. Sites included Newsela, CNN Student News, PBS News Hour, and Time for Kids.

After two days of exploring, students selected their topic.

In the library, we focused on the importance of raising our voices when we have concerns. I read excerpts from Be A Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson.

“Don’t wait. Don’t wait to be powerful, to change the lives and communities around you significantly.”

I also read excerpts from It’s Your World by Chelsea Clinton.

“We can–and should–respectfully disagree with others who have reached different answers from ours” and “Even if we disagree with one another, it’s important to recognize what the facts are”.

Ms. Olin and I both encouraged students to look at issues from all sides and to gather as many facts as possible. With those facts, they could form their own opinions on the issues and brainstorm some possible actions they hope are taken.

We took some time to look at the Letters to the Next President project to see letters that were written by students from many location about a variety of topics. Students could sort the letters by their own topic and see what other students were saying.

As students looked at example opinions and continued to gather facts, they started filling out organizers to get their own thoughts together.  In class, they began writing letters, protest signs, and editorial cartoons to express the facts and their own views.

5th grader's editorial cartoon #editorialcartoon #cartoon #politicalcartoon #studentvoice

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5th grader's editorial cartoon. #studentvoice #politicalcartoon #cartoon #editorialcartoon

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Finally, students came to the library to begin sharing their voice.  We spent some time talking about how we can make our voice visible. We could of course mail the letters and artwork to their intended recipients, but how else could we share our voice? I was able to talk to the students about my recent recognition as an AASL Social Media Superstar for Sensational Student Voice and how social media and collaborative tools like Flipgrid allow us to spread our voices to an even larger audience.

We hope our voices are heard by our local, state, and national representatives, but even if they aren’t, we can share our voices with others and offer perspectives and actions that might encourage them to support our cause or make the world a better place.  As students finished their work, they recorded their voices in a Flipgrid so that others can consider their perspectives and possibly join their collective voice.

We hope you will take time to listen to each student. If one of the voices speaks to you, give them a response.  Better yet, if they inspire you, consider writing your own letter and adding your voice to our grid.  We invite your students to join our voices as well.

As we were closing our time in the library, some of the students spoke up and said, “I bet Mr. Trump won’t even read our letters.” This was a great opportunity for Ms Olin and I to repeatedly say to the students, “Your voice matters”. We talked about collective voice, and how sometimes a single voice isn’t heard by someone like the president. However, that single voice can inspire other voices who come together collectively around a common cause. This was a great closing because even as an adult I sometimes wonder why I should even take time to call or write my representatives. However, I was reminded that our individual voices do matter and collectively they make impact.

 

The Meaning of Home: A 5th Grade Art Project

For the past month of our 5th graders have been exploring the meaning of home through art. They began their journey by reading Home by Carson Ellis and watching a video of Carson in her home.

They brainstormed what symbolized home for each of them. It is more than the physical building. It’s what you miss when you leave. It’s what comforts you.  It’s what makes you feel at home.

Using a variety of materials such as tissue paper, cardboard, construction paper, paint, and more, they began to construct a scene.  A portion of every student’s scene was made using a 3Doodler pen. These pens warm filament into a steady flow of material to 3D design in a freeform style. It took some tinkering to get used to these pens, but once students figured out the best strategies, they were designing swings, trampolines, bedrooms, trees, and more objects that symbolized home.  This work began in the library and continued in art until students finished.

As students finished their work, we began to construct an exhibit on the shelves of the library. Students filled out an artist statement to accompany each piece so that people touring the exhibit could learn more about each representation of home.  They also took time to record a Flipgrid to show and talk about their art.  This allowed people who aren’t at our school to also take a tour and meet the artists.

Click to hear the voices of our artists

We also wanted to inspire our youngest artists with our project, so once the project was on full display, we invited Kindergarten classes to come to art class with each 5th grade class.  The 5th graders were in charge of the lesson and tour (with the facilitation of Ms. Foretich, art teacher).

5th grade is reading Home to Kindergarten and sharing their art projects #art #home #librariesofinstagram

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The Kindergarten classes started on the carpet. A 5th grader read Home by Carson Ellis and students viewed a few of the Flipgrid videos. Ms. Foretich invited students to think about some questions they might ask the artists as they toured the exhibit. During this time, the rest of the 5th grade class was making sure their art pieces were ready and waited on the Kindergarten to begin touring.

Kindergarten is hearing all about our 5th grade Home exhibit. #librariesofinstagram #home #art #studentvoice

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Classes began wandering through the exhibit and listening to 5th graders talk about the process and materials of their art. One of the special things was when a student would make a connection to a piece of art and share a special moment about “home” from their own life.

The Kindergarten students left the library buzzing with excitement and talking about a project that they hoped they got to do in 5th grade. I’m sure Ms. Foretich is already brainstorming what these students might do next year so they don’t have to wait until 5th grade to do a project like this one.

This project was filled with student voice and ownership, and we learned something about each student that we might not know. It was also filled with perseverance and creativity. We were so impressed with what the students created. When we take time to get to know our students, it leads to connection, understanding, and new conversations. I would love to think about more opportunities to make these connections, especially earlier in students’ elementary years so that we can grow together through the year.

What represents home for you?

Poem In Your Pocket: Connecting Our Voices Through Poetry

For 2 solid days, students in every class have been visiting the library to share poetry into our open microphone for poem in your pocket day.  As always, this was a special day where every single student in our school had an opportunity to step up and share their voice through poetry that they carried in their pockets.  Many students shared original poems which ranged from silly to humorous to scary to sentimental to observant.  Many students also shared favorite poems that they copied from our large poetry collection in the library.  Sometimes it takes a lot to get up in front of your peers and read aloud, but I love the accessibility of poetry. It can be short but powerful.  It can give you a chance to shine before your nerves kick in.  It can quickly create reactions from your audience. It creates moments.

As usual, there were many special moments.  Teachers shared poems from their phones in their pockets.

5th grade shares a big variety of poetry #poeminyourpocketday #barrowpoems #poetrymonth #librariesofinstagram

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A student who spoke limited English, broke out of her comfort zone to share a poem all in English with a friend standing by her side.  PreK poets recited their very first poems of their school career as their teachers whispered the words into their ears.

My airplane poet #prouddaddy #poetry #poetrymonth #prek

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5th graders filled up their poetry slot by repeatedly going to the microphone to share poems from the books displayed on our poetry tables.  Families who couldn’t be here with us in the room were able to watch their children perform via our live Google Hangout.  Sweet poems about brothers were shared.

A sweet brother poem #poeminyourpocketday #barrowpoems #poetrymonth #poetry #librariesofinstagram

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Tweets rolled in via our Twitterfall wall.

Poems, snaps, and claps #librariesofinstagram #poetry #poetrymonth #barrowpoems #poeminyourpocketday

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A retiring paraprofessional shared her final Poem In Your Pocket moment.

Poetry readings all day long! #poeminyourpocketday #poetry #poetrymonth #librariesofinstagram

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If you missed any of our poetry readings live, you can watch any of the archives by visiting our Smore.  Take a moment to look at all of the poets in the gallery below.

 

Join Us for Poem In Your Pocket April 6 & 7, 2017

One of our newer traditions at Barrow is to participate each year in Poem In Your Pocket Day.  This national event takes place on April 27 this year, but due to our state testing, we will celebrate a bit early.

Prek poets prepping for poem in Your Pocket #studentvoice #prek #writing #poetrymonth #poeminyourpocketday

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On these days, all students carry an original or favorite poem throughout the day and come to the library for a 20-30 minute slot to share poems on our open microphone. I setup a poetry atmosphere with decorations, and each student has a moment to share poems.  We celebrate with rounds of snaps and quiet claps.

We also broadcast this live on Youtube Live(Google Hangouts On Air) so that other schools, family, and community can join in the 2 days of fun.  If you watch live, you are highly encouraged to tweet your snaps of celebration for students so that they can see your tweets on our media center projector.  They love to get shout outs.

Visit our Smore page for a full schedule as well as links to every live feed.  As each feed ends, it is automatically archived to Youtube for your future enjoyment.

 

https://www.smore.com/x4hh5

It’s already amazing to see where in the world people are taking a look at our event.

 

The Winner of Our Global Book Talk Challenge

For several weeks, people around the world have been contributing to our 30-second book talk Flipgrid.  In March, we narrowed the videos to 16 and have been inviting a global audience to listen to the videos and vote on the brackets each week.

After many, many votes, we have a winner!  Congratulations to Evin for her book talk of It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton.  Adaline’s book talk of I Dissent by Debbie Levy was a very close 2nd place.  Both of these students will receive a special recognition on our morning broadcast as well as gift certificates to our local bookshop, Avid Bookshop.  Please help me in congratulating our winners, but more importantly, continue to share great books with one another!