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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LL8 Virtual Comic Workshop with Jarrett Krosoczka

I have long been a fan of Jarrett Krosoczka’s illustrations and writing.  His Lunch Lady comics are among the most popular comics in our library.  I was thrilled to learn that he was doing a virtual comic workshop today via Ustream for free!  I advertised this to teachers a few weeks ago so that they could watch in their classroom or in the media center.

Today a small group of 3 students and their teacher came for the 10:00 session.

My largest group came for the 12:00 session.  In this group, I had 2nd grade Spectrum students who will be studying graphic novels very soon.  Last week, I did an exploration lesson with their class to identify some of the elements of graphic novels.  They began constructing some of their questions for Jarrett.  Later, they will read multiple graphic novels before constructing their own.  Another group that came at 12:00 came by choice.  One of Jarrett’s biggest fans, Marquavious, is a 5th grader at our school.  Marquavious re-read all of the Lunch Lady books to gear up for today’s webcast.  His teacher gave him permission to leave class to come, but he did some detective work and found several other 5th graders who wanted to participate in the workshop, too.  All of these students brought their lunch to the library and ate while they watched.  I also put drawing materials out on tables for them to draw their own comics along with Jarrett.  

All of this setup really helped us when Jarrett had technical difficulties at the 12:00 session.  Since the session was delayed until 12:30PM, I had time to have the students eat lunch, create mini-comics, and read some of Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta.  Even though the food ended up all over the tables and carpet, it just seemed appropriate to have lunchroom food during our virtual comic workshop.

Jarrett showed the kids some pages from his newest book, a sneak peak of the cover of his book coming out in April, and ended by creating a comic using ideas from all of the viewers tuning in.  The kids had a great time, and they were thrilled when they heard their suggestions read aloud by Jarrett and were even more over-the-top with excitement when he used one of their ideas in his comic.  Thanks for a great FREE event, Jarrett Krosoczka!

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Digital Alphabet Books

 

 

Two Kindergarten classes have been collaborating with me in the library to support their study of the alphabet.  First students came to the library for a lesson on alphabet books.  We explored numerous alphabet books, upper/lowercase letters, and the sounds letters make.  I used LMNO Peas by Keith Baker to look specifically at upper/lowercase letters.  Next, we used Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans to continue looking at upper and lowercase letters, but in an animal format.  We put each illustration under the document camera, guessed what letter the animal was making, looked at the standard upper/lowercase letter, and talked about how the animal’s name started with the letter.  We ended with Alphabet Explosion: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra by John Nickle.  We put a few illustrations under the document camera and had students identify as many things as they could find that started with the letter of the alphabet represented on the page.  At the close, students checked out an alphabet book from our wide selection.

In class, students were each assigned a letter of the alphabet.  They decorated an uppercase & lowercase letter, added an illustration that represented that letter, and wrote the word for the illustration.  They also began practicing saying the letter, the sound it makes, and the word for their illustration.  In small groups, they brought their finished illustrations to the library to use the scanner to scan their images.  While students waited to scan, they continued practicing their scripts.  After 2 days of scanning, I imported all of their pictures into Photo Story.  Then, in small groups they came back to record their scripts for their assigned letter(s).  Once again, while students waited, they practiced.  After all students recorded their voices, I finalized the Photo Story and uploaded it to Youtube.  The students will come back to the library the next time they check out books for a premiere of their video, but you can get a sneak peek of one class below.

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2012 (Part 1)

Today, 14 classes came to our poetry cafe to read their original and favorite poems.  Many people attended via Adobe Connect:  parents, grandparents, other Barrow classrooms, and more.  If you missed the day or want to relive it, you can view the archives below.

Mrs. Sheppard’s 2nd Grade

Mrs. Hart’s 1st Grade

Mrs. Wyatt’s 1st Grade

Mrs. Em’s Kindergarten

Mrs. Li’s Kindergarten

Mrs. Watson’s 1st Grade

Mrs. Stuckey’s 1st Grade

Mrs. Shealey’s 3rd Grade

Mrs. Brink’s 2nd Grade

Mrs. Brewer’s 2nd Grade

Mrs. Yawn’s 2nd Grade

Ms. O’Prey’s 5th Grade

Mrs. Boyle’s Kindergarten

Mrs. Vertus’s Kindergarten

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Battle of the Books 2012

Our all-girl 5th grade team competed today in the Clarke County Battle of the Books.  It was a tough competition with many outstanding teams.  Although our team did not win this year, we are extremely proud of their hard work and dedication to reading.  Congratulations to Hanna, Ana, Avery, Molly, and Caroline for representing Barrow well.  We also would like to congratulate Alps Road Elementary who won this year’s battle.  I had the opportunity to hear their team compete, and they were very impressive.  Their all-boy team knew the books forward and backward and could locate info in a book in a matter of seconds.  I was very proud of the level of reading in our district that was represented at Clarke Central High School today.  Bravo Clarke County students for your achievements.

Wonder is Truly Wonderful!

I started hearing about the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio a few months ago thanks to Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.  The more I heard him (and others) begin to talk about the power of this book, the more I wanted to read it.  I was very excited when Mr. Schu gave away some Advanced Reader Copies of the book on his blog.  I’m not usually a lucky person, but apparently I was meant to get a copy of this book because I won the drawing.  Also, as luck would have it, I got sick on my birthday and got to stay home from school.  During my day of silence, I finished the whole book.

I don’t even know how to begin describing this book.  It’s so much more than a book; it’s an experience of immersing yourself in the shoes of someone so unlike yourself.  It’s an adventure, a journey.  The main character August Pullman (Auggie) is born with a facial deformity, and as he says, “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  Up until now, Auggie has been homeschooled, but he’s taking the leap of moving into a new school and all of the challenges that come with making friends, attending a formal school, and more, but he faces all with this with a major difference that he was born with.

R.J. Palacio tells this story from multiple perspectives.  I’ve come to realize that these kinds of books are among my favorites.  I love how the same situations are viewed completely different when seen through the eyes of several people and how individual stories weave together to tell a whole story.  The story starts from Auggie’s perspective, and I couldn’t help but want to reach out and give Auggie a hug.  All of my problems in life seemed so small and insignificant after viewing the world through Auggie.  He’s brave, smart, and funny.  I found myself wanting to spend more time with him, so I was a little sad when the book switched perspectives, but it didn’t take long for me to be glad that it did.  I liked getting inside the other characters’ heads and understanding why they made the choices that they made.  I easily made connections with them when I’ve been in similar situations where someone had a facial deformity.  I was reminded of when my wife and I were seated with a man who had a facial deformity on our 7 day cruise.  Every night, we sat with him and his wife and enjoyed some great conversation, and we didn’t once talk about the deformity.  It was a challenge, but I couldn’t help but think how he probably had to explain his face to every person he came in contact with and how nice it might be to just sit and have some normal conversation.  I was glad that Auggie met some of these kinds of characters in the book.

I know great things are ahead for this book.  It’s early in the year, but this is a standout book that is a must-read.  I’ve already ordered our copy for the media center and can’t wait to share it with students.  In the spirit of Mr. Schu and others who are paying this book forward, I’m giving away my copy to a teacher in our school.  I can’t wait to hear what the class has to say about the book!

Buddy iPad Math: A First Grade & Fifth Grade Collaboration

Our 5th grade and 1st grade buddies returned to the media center today for another round of media center collaboration on math standards.  Now the 1st graders are working on fractions.  The 5th graders worked with their own teacher ahead of time to view the 1st grade fraction standards and familiarize themselves with what was expected of 1st graders.  Their teacher encouraged them to stretch the 1st graders thinking within reason.

Today, we started on the carpet in the media center.  I used the document camera to display the book Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy.  I only showed pieces of the book at a time because I paused and allowed the students to work with their buddies to draw representations of the various fractions from the book on the iPad.  They used any of the drawing apps that were installed.  Once they drew their representation, students closed iPads and we looked at the representations in the book before moving to another fraction.  We looked at 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 in the book.

Next, the groups split.  Half of the students used a pizza fraction app on the iPads while the other half went to the computer lab and used several fraction websites that were compiled by the teachers.  I stayed with the students on the iPads and had conversations with them about the fraction app.  When they reached a point where they were getting bored with the app, we moved to other math apps to practice basic 1st grade math facts.

We plan to continue the fraction lesson on another day by incorporating some fractions that move beyond the 1st grade fractions.

Simultaneous Learning in an Elementary Library Media Center

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.schooltube.com/embed/29b463bcb37c4365ba49

 

After seeing a video posted by Buffy Hamilton showing the buzz of energy as multiple classes worked simultaneously in the library, I decided to take a moment to capture a snapshot of the Barrow Media Center.  In this video clip, you will see simultaneous classes doing very separate things.  Our space and collaboration allow for multiple lessons to happen at different times taught by the media specialist, teachers, and paraprofessionals.  While all of this learning is taking place, students are also still able to come to the library to checkout books by themselves.

 

 

 

Raindrops are Falling on Our Heads

Usually on our blog, I share reflections on lessons, exciting new resources, or news of great books. Today, however, I share a leak. Over the summer, our media center experienced multiple leaks. These leaks were not new. In fact, they were leaks that we asked multiple times last year to be fixed. Each time they are “fixed” within a few hours they start again. They typically happen in the warmer months when the air conditioning is working overtime. Over the summer, the leaks damaged several books along with our ceiling above the circulation desk.

Upon our return to school, we started the year with no air conditioning. Then we learned that we needed to set the air at a high temperature in order to keep the leaks from starting, which was like not having air conditioning at all. Finally, even this stopped working, and now the air conditioner just leaks no matter what the temperature is. The worst area is in front of the Smartboard where we have increased the number of buckets on a daily basis. We have 14 buckets so far and even those aren’t catching all the water that has now made a wet ring on the carpet. Two ceiling tiles have been removed and one is on the verge of falling. Due to budget cuts, there aren’t enough maintenance to come frequently to work on the problem and when they do come, they tell us there is no way to fix it.

So…we make the most out of it. I’ve invited students as they sit on the rug to take themselves to a swamp after a rainstorm and imagine the drops of water clinging to the Spanish moss before lightly plopping into the murky waters. I’ve invited students to imagine they are in the rain forest under a canopy of bright green trees enjoying a story from afar. We’ve welcomed the drops of water that hit us in the face and head during the lesson and are thankful for the cool, dirty drops of water that refresh us from the heat. We laugh when I trip over the buckets full of water and almost take my second bath of the day. We brainstorm ways we could use the water that is collecting in the buckets.

I have no idea when or if the leak will be fixed. I want it to be fixed so badly, but I try to be thankful for what we have. As the water drips, I think of the classroom I visited in Mexico where sunlight poured through the cracks in the tin sides of the building and rain water rushed across the dirt floor creating a muddy mess for the students and teacher. On this 5th anniversary of Katrina, I think of the many classrooms and libraries that lost everything and had to have classes in inconvenient places. I try to be thankful for what I have.

What physical obstacles do you face in your classrooms or libraries? How do you handle them?

We’re an App!

Thanks to fellow media specialist, Buffy Hamilton, I found out how to make our library an app for Iphone/Ipod touch.  Our library can be found in the  LibraryThing Local Books app.  It’s free, so download it today!  You can search for our library by name (David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center, zip code, or address.  You can even search our card catalog and view our blog/website from the app.  I hope this helps some of you gain even more access to our collection of materials.