Taking Time to Say Thank You

Thank You (1)As a teacher librarian, I give a lot of my time to students, teachers, and families just as every educator does.  The rewards of teaching for me are seeing the brilliant work that students create and watching that work reach out and connect to a global audience.  I love seeing the excitement from kids as they meet an author in person or over Skype and how that one moment inspires them to read a new book or to write a new story.

When you actually get a verbal or a written thank you, it means a lot.  Those thank you’s are a reminder of how much students appreciate the opportunities that they have in the library, and they are a great pick-me-up on days where you feel like nothing is going right.  Thank you’s also give me an insight into what kids take away from the experiences in the library and what they are curious about.  This kind of feedback informs future planning to create experiences that kids are excited to be a part of.

This year during Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day, we held 36 skype sessions connecting with 50 locations, 22 states, 2 countries, and 9 authors.  I received a whole pack of thank you letters from Caitlin Ramseyer’s class at our school.  I put all of those letters up on the windows of the library for everyone to see and to validate the students’ hard work in writing the letters.

Yesterday, I got a big pack of thank you’s from Sherry Gick’s 6th graders in Rossville, Indiana.  These students shared a Skype session with us and author, Barbara O’Connor.  I loved seeing 6th grade writing, and it was so interesting to see what they valued in the skype experience.

  • I love when we get to skype with classes because it is a cool experience to meet other kids and classes in different states.
  • It was fun to see the author in real life
  • That was the best reading class ever
  • Even though I don’t like writing, I LOVE reading.  After that skype, I now like writing better.
  • We just finished Chapter 1 of How to Steal a Dog so hearing Chapter 2 was a bonus.
  • I wish we could do this again.
  • If we could skype again, it would be even better.
  • Your class had some interesting questions to ask the author.
  • I’ve always wanted to Skype with an author.  I finally did!
  • Since you are in a different state, it is awesome to see the differences in our classes and the similarities too.

There were also several sentences that made me smile

  • You class looked very nice and it seemed like they are good kids
  • Thank you again for giving us your time to Skype because it was probably hard to find time during your day since you’re a librarian.
  • I think it would be fun to live in Georgia.
  • Thank you for skyping with us.  I think we should meet in person next time!
  • So, I hear you are a librarian.  Mrs. Gick is too!
  • Once again I want to thank you for everything you have done!  Since you are a librarian, this must have been hard enough!
  • I love your library setup (from what I could see)
  • It’s always frun skying with another class because we get to see what kind of weather you guys are having.
  • You seem like a nice teacher.
  • You seem like a cool teacher.

 

They also asked me some questions:

  • What book are you reading now?  Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age: How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species
  • What is the name of your school? David C. Barrow Elementary
  • How big is your library?  Big.  I don’t know the square footage, but right now we have the book fair in half of the library and there is still room to have all of the books and spaces to work on the other side.
  • What is your favorite book?  Anything by Kate DiCamillo
  • Do you have swamps?  Not in Athens, but we have the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia
  • Did you like Mrs. O’Connor’s book?  I love her writing, especially How to Steal a Dog
  • Do you like animals?  Yes.  I have a dog and 3 cats.  My favorite animal is a killer whale.
  • What kind of books do you like to read?  Love realistic fiction with a bit of magic in them.  Also fantasy and poetry.
  • Do you eat gator?  Not on a regular basis.  I have tasted gator but don’t really like it.  
  • Do you know any good biographies?  I love Tanya Lee Stone’s biographies, especially Almost Astronauts
  • Wasn’t Barbara O’Connor awesome?  Yes!

This experience reminded me of the importance of slowing down to say thank you. Our school felt so connected to so many people during the week of World Read Aloud Day.  I truly do thank each librarian, author, and student that we connected to that week.  You enriched our lives in so many ways.  Thank you!

 

World Read Aloud Day 2014 (Day 5): Final Thoughts

Our final day of Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day was once again filled with special memories.

We read Crankee Doodle with Meghan Nels and her students.

Meghan Nels (19) Meghan Nels (4)

Matthew Winner and I got creative about how to read Open This Little Book with our students.

Matthew Winner (6) Matthew Winner (2)

Cathy Potter and I had fun reading I’m Bored and letting our students show the many ways you can say “boring”.

Cathy Potter (3) Cathy Potter (2)

Shawna Ford, Shannon Hyman, and I all found students to read parts of a reader’s theater of One Cool Friend.  We loved hearing voices in 3 states reading the story.

Shawna & Shannon (5) Shawna & Shannon (1)

Stacy Ford and I had a great time being Elephant and Piggie with our students as we read I’m a Frog.

Stacy Ford (5)

Randie Groden and I had some impromptu skyping as I had a class cancel!  Several 5th graders who were checking out books gathered around the projection area to meet her first graders and read Same, Same but Different.  Sometimes the unexpected is fun!

Randie Groden (4) Randie Groden (2) Randie Groden (1)

We ended our WRAD week with a connections between Shannon Miller and Barbara Terracciano along with author, Tom Angleberger.  He read aloud the part of Crankee in Crankee Doodle, and it was the perfect ending to our week.

Tom Angelberger (7) Tom Angelberger (2) Tom Angelberger (1)

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read aloud.  Every day is read aloud day.

When I think of World Read Aloud Day, I think of connections.

Kate DiCamillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and 2-time Newbery winner, says “Stories Connect Us”.  In Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, all of the characters are connected to one another through strands of yarn as the main character knits sweaters for everything and everyone in sight.  In Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, we learn that we really are all connected in the world by common strands of life even if those strands might look a bit different based on our cultures, locations, and beliefs.

World Read Aloud Day is about all of these things.  Even though we should read aloud every day, World Read Aloud Day raises our awareness of the importance of reading aloud.  It reminds us that when we read aloud, we connect.  When we read aloud, we expand our world.  When we read aloud, we learn that the world really isn’t as big as it seems.  We are all united through power of story and spoken word.

This year, our planning for World Read Aloud Day/Week began in December.  My wonderful friend and collaborator, Shannon Miller, created a Google Doc for educators around the world to use as a space to share their schedules and ideas.  The two of us shared the doc through blog posts, twitter, facebook, and conversations.  Over 3 months later, the doc is filled with conversations that each tell a story of a connection between multiple groups of students.  When you look at this single document, you know that students, teachers, teacher librarians, and families around the world are being impacted by powerful experiences of hearing stories read aloud, participating in conversations about books, and building connections to new friends around the world.

Our school:

  • engaged in 36 skype sessions
  • made 50 connections in these sessions
  • met new friends in 22 states and 2 other countries

Along the way, we built a Google Earth Tour using Google’s tour builder.  This tool allowed us to quickly add pins to a world map, add photographs and videos, and write a summary of each skype session and what we loved and learned.  I love how at the end of the week, we instantly have documentation that allows us to remember, reflect, and celebrate the fun that we have had during this week.

Google Tour

View our Google Tour Here!

Today, I received several thank you letters from students.  Organizing this many Skype sessions is exhausting.  I won’t lie about that, but the rewards that come from the hard work make up for all of the time I spent organizing this week.  Receiving these letters reminded me why I advocate for World Read Aloud Day and why I believe in the power of connecting with one another through story.  Thank you Litworld for creating such an amazing world-wide event.

World Read Aloud Day 2014 (Day 4)

Our skype connections continued today with 7 more fun read aloud experiences for our students.

Edie Crook Gastonia, NC
Okle Miller Tampa Fl
Cherie Smeltzer  New Hampshire
Shawna Ford  Texas
Jenny Lussier  e Connecticutt
Wendy Garland  Massachussetts
Shannon Miller Iowa

We started our day connecting with Edie Crook and her students in Gastonia, NC.  We had fund reading I’m Bored and then saying the word “boring” in different ways.

edie crook (1) edie crook (2) edie crook (3) edie crook (4) edie crook (5)

Next, Okle Miller and I read aloud Same, Same but Different.  Our kids had fun talking about what was the same but different about life in Athens and Tampa.

Okle Miller (5) Okle Miller (3) Okle Miller (1)

We did our very first skype with PreK today when we connected with Cherie Smeltzer and her students.  They read Yes Day to us and we had fun thinking of what we would ask for on our own yes day.

Cherie Smeltzer (1) Cherie Smeltzer (2) Cherie Smeltzer (3) Cherie Smeltzer (7)

Shawna Ford’s students read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild to us, and I read Same, Same but Different to them.  We had a great discussion about the importance of reading picture books at every age.  Shawna compared it to how Disney movies have something that kids understand but some deeper meaning that mostly adults understand.  My kids really grabbed onto the idea.

Shawna Ford (3) Shawna Ford (2) Shawna Ford (1)

Jenny Lussier and I had a blast reading aloud Crankee Doodle to our students.  It is a hard book to read without cracking up!  I loved how our students suggested great books to read.

Jenny Lussier (3)

Wendy Garland and I read aloud This is Not My Hat.  Our students had a lot of opinions about what happened at the end.  We had a great discussion about the term “just right” and how this book was chosen as a “just right” book for our skype.

Wendy Garland (6) Wendy Garland (1)

I loved ending the day by reading aloud Flora & Ulysses to Shannon Miller’s students.  We had to get a bit creative on how to show the comics since Shannon’s copy was checked out, but we made it work.  The kids are all excited about the book and our copy that just arrived today was immediately checked out.

I can’t believe there’s only one day of connections left.  Tomorrow has several fun and surprising moments in store.  I can’t wait t end our week with some more great stories, authors, students, and librarians.

World Read Aloud Day 2014 (Day 3): The Official Day

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014

Today is officially World Read Aloud Day.  We have been celebrating all week and will continue on Thursday and Friday.  Today can only be described as miraculous!  Here’s a look at our day.

We started by connecting with Donna MacDonald and her students in South Burlington, Vermont.  Our students did a reader’s theater of One Cool Friend.  We divided the parts up between our students so that voices in both states were helping to tell the story.  Students got a chance to find out about state symbols and the weather, but we loved meeting all of Mrs. MacDonald’s library pets!

Donna MacDonald (1) Donna MacDonald (5) Donna MacDonald (7) Donna MacDonald (9)

 

Next, we connected with Matthew Winner and his students in Elkridge, MD.  We shared the book The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman.  We took turn reading pages.  He had 1st graders who read the pages with him, while I had Kindergarten where I read the pages.  Our students also had a chance to ask once another questions.

Matthew Winner (16) Matthew Winner (14) Matthew Winner (7) Matthew Winner (3) Matthew Winner (1)

 

Next, we began connecting with several authors.  Our first connection was with Anne Marie Pace.  She is the author of Vampirina Ballerina and Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover.  During our connection, she taught the kids a great song about how a book is made and had them sing along.

Then, she read Vampirina Ballerina.  It has so many interesting vocabulary words.  On one page, she had the students stand up and dance with her to practice one of the ballet moves.

Another thing I love is when authors point out details in the illustrations and how they connect with the rest of the story.  Anne Marie pointed out Vampirina’s final pose and how it was the same pose as her ballet idol posted in her bedroom.

Anne Marie Pace (10) Anne Marie Pace (7) Anne Marie Pace (4) Anne Marie Pace (1) Anne Marie Pace (3)

 

Next, a very miraculous thing happened.  We skyped with Kate DiCamillo!  As you know, she has won 2 Newbery medals and has just been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  A few weeks ago we were contacted by the amazing people at LitWorld with an opportunity to be in a multi-school Skype.  I immediately said yes and the planning began.  Most of our 2nd grade attended with a few 3rd graders.  It was so inspiring.  We started with a roll call of schools.

Kate shared a poem from one of my favorite poets, Joyce Sidman.  Then, she started taking questions from schools.  This was followed by some reading from Flora & Ulysses.  The moderator also read aloud part of Kate’s first draft of Because of Winn Dixie, and I loved how Kate covered her ears because she didn’t want to hear how it sounded.

Kate DiCamillo (5)

 

Kate took some more questions from schools and ended by having the adults at each school share what they were reading to students.  When it came to me, I just had to tell Kate how I have read p. 130 of Flora & Ulysses numerous times to the students of Barrow and how “Expect the Miraculous” has become a mantra in our library and throughout our school.  She turned to p. 130, found the part, and read it aloud.  It was such a special moment (as you can see from my reaction at the end).

This was an amazing experience for our students.  They were hanging on every word and sat attentively for 1 hour and 15 minutes!  Our local newspaper was also in attendance to document the event.  I can’t thank LitWorld and Candlewick Press enough for this opportunity.  It was inspiring and definitely connected us with so many people through stories, which is Kate DiCamillo’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature platfrom.  During this call, we connected with the following schools along with Kate DiCamillo:

  • Mason-Rice Elementary School Newton, MA
  • Minnetonka Middle School West Minnetonka, MN
  • Van Meter Community School Van Meter, IA
  • Saint Mary Catholic School Paw Paw, MI
  •  Ducketts Lane Elementary School Elkridge, MD 
  • American School Foundation Mexico – ASFM Monterrey, Mexico
  • Roosevelt Elementary Jamestown, ND

Kate DiCamillo (12) Kate DiCamillo (6) Kate DiCamillo (2) Kate DiCamillo (3) Kate DiCamillo (4)

 

Later in the day, we connected with author Barbara O’Connor along with Sherry Gick and her students in Rossville, Indiana.  Barbara read aloud from How to Steal a Dog.

Then, students in each state had a chance to ask her some questions.  We learned about her 2 dogs, Martha & Ruby, as well as where the inspiration for the book came from.  Mrs. Wright’s 2nd grade class loved connecting since they had just finished the book as a class read aloud.

Barbara O'Connor (9) Barbara O'Connor (7) Barbara O'Connor (1)

 

Mrs. Stuckey’s class connected with author Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw and Shannon Miller’s students in Van Meter, IA.  She read her book Same, Same But Different.  We loved hearing her sing Kailash’s alphabet.

Then, she gave us a peek inside her art studio where we saw some paintings from her new book Luna and Me, which will be out in spring.  We can’t wait to see this book in print!  Students also got to ask her questions about her work.  It was fun to see her thought process as the author and illustrator of the book, and we learned that she does both together.

Jenny Sue (2)

 

We ended our day with the entire 5th grade skyping with author Tanya Lee Stone.  She read to us from Almost Astronauts.

This was followed by a chance for students to ask her questions.  They had several specific questions about the book, but we also learned how thorough Tanya is when she researches.  I loved that she included that she uses the Internet to research, but that she makes sure she is using reliable sources.  It was also fascinating to hear that books like Courage Has No Color took 10 years to write!  That was a powerful statement after students were complaining about a 2 hour writing test.

Tanya Lee Stone (6) Tanya Lee Stone (3) Tanya Lee Stone (1)

 

I love World Read Aloud Day.  I love sharing stories aloud, but even more than that, I love knowing that words are filling the air all around the world on this day and across this week.  I love that people are using social media to publicly profess their love of reading, their favorite books, and their celebrations of their freedom and right to read.  I love that stories really are connecting us to one another on this day and every time we share a story out loud.

Our celebration will continue for the next 2 days before we are off for spring break.  We will continue working on a Google Tour that will show all of our connections with a summary of each one.  Look for that in Friday’s post!  Happy World Read Aloud Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Read Aloud Day 2014 (Day 2)

We had another incredible day of connecting with classrooms and authors.  At the end of the week, I will share our Google Earth tour that summarizes our entire week.  For now, here are some pictures and videos from our connections today.

Erika Victor 3rd grade Berlin, Germany
Jennifer Reed Kindergarten Massachussetts
Heather Temske 4th Roswell, GA
Laura D’Elia 3rd Massachussetts
Christy Brennan 5th Pennsylvania
Shanon Miller Iowa
Shannon Miller 4th/5th grade Iowa & Author Deborah Freedman!

Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day 1

What a way to start the week for Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day.  Our morning kicked off with about 40 guest readers (2 in every classroom PreK-5th).  First, these readers gathered in the library to select books.  Many thanks to Kim Ness for checking all of the readers in and Julie Moon for setting up our Signup Genius which kept us organized.  They were full of energy and spent time connecting with one another, sharing stories, and getting pumped up to read to classrooms.

Seuss (11)

 

After a group picture, our 5th grade BTV crew escorted readers to classrooms and they got started sharing Dr. Seuss books, laughing, and learning with our students.  It was so much fun to go around the school and hear Seuss words filling the air, seeing kids smiling, and hearing their laughter.

Following this, we started the first of 36 Skype sessions to celebrate Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day.  We are creating a Google Earth Tour as we connect, so I will post that at the end of the week.  For now, I’ll share some images and video from our week.  Today, we connected with:

Okle Miller 2nd grade, Tampa FL
Crystal Hendrix Asheville, NC
Wendy Garland 4th grade Massachussetts
Jennifer Reed 3rd grade Massachussetts & Peter Reynolds
Jenny Lussier 2nd grade Connecticut & Ame Dyckman
Nancy Edwards 6th grade, Seattle
Shannon Miller K/1 Iowa
Kathy Schmidt Gwinnett GA 1st

 

World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge Week 4: Raising Our Voices with Flipgrid

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014

I’m participating in the World Read Aloud Day blogging challenge.  Each week, I will respond to a question along with many other bloggers participating in this global celebration of reading aloud.  Our students, teachers, and families will also be involved with these questions each week as I invite them to respond through Flipgrids, Thinglinks, and more.

For the final week, I’m asking students, teachers, and families to raise their voices by reading aloud parts of their favorite books.  We are using a Flipgrid to capture these read alouds because it gives students 90 seconds to read aloud.  To get them ready, I made a Youtube video of myself reading my favorite part of this year’s Newbery-winning book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuninated Adventures.

Kate DiCamillo’s writing speaks to me in so many ways, but this particular part of Flora & Ulysses has proven to be inspiration for our whole school this year as well as our library.  We are expecting the miraculous every day!

Flipgrid Read Aloud

Visit our Flipgrid to hear more readers share their favorite stories, and feel free to try out Flipgrid by adding your own.

http://flipgrid.com/#f4ad9b3e

For more information on World Read Aloud Day visit http://litworld.org/worldreadaloudday 

To connect with other libraries and classrooms, visit our shared Google Doc.