The topic this week for the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge is: What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?
It’s hard for me to remember my earliest read-aloud experiences, because my mom and dad read aloud to me from the time I was a baby. I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by books all my life, and to have parents who were readers themselves. As a young child, I read aloud to my dolls, my cat, and my baby brother. I was raised in a home where sharing books was an everyday part of life.
A more specific memory is of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Holden, reading aloud to our class. I loved Mrs. Holden; she was young and pretty, she wore fashionable clothes and shoes, and she was so kind and funny! She read many books to us, but the one that stands out in my mind is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Every day after lunch she would perch on her stool, facing us as we sat in our desks, and read to us about Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte and that nasty yet strangely fascinating rat, Templeton. When Wilbur received his special award at the fair, we all rejoiced; and when Charlotte died alone, we all cried together. I don’t remember any of the phonics worksheets I completed that year, but I will never forget that special reading time.
As teachers we need to remember that it’s not enough just to teach kids how to read; we need to teach, model, and promote a love reading as well, because there may not be anyone at home who is doing that for our students!
It just so happens that World Read Aloud Day is on March 5 this year, which is the day that our school is celebrating Read Across America Day. Therefore, our read-alouds will all be Dr. Seuss books! In addition to teachers reading, we’ll be bringing in guest readers from the community, and we hope to bring in some middle school students to share books with some of our elementary kids. It’s a half day of school for us, and we plan to make it a pajama day for our students and have read-in sessions throughout the school. What could be more fun?!?
I posted a few days ago about a creative writing project that a 4th grade teacher at my school initiated using wordless picture books. When she asked me for resources to use, I realized I have fewer than thirty “stories without words” (to give them their proper Dewey subject heading) in my library!
Therefore, I’ve created a Google Doc to collect recommendations for more wordless titles to add to my collection. If you have any favorites, I hope you’ll add them. You can also leave your suggestions in the comments here. Thanks!
A 4th grade teacher at my school has been using wordless pictures books with her ELA students. They are examining the details in the illustrations and writing descriptive paragraphs to tell the same stories with words. (Yay visual literacy skills!) She came to me asking where to find more artwork that students could use for individual writing projects, so of course I thought of Storybird!
Storybird allows anyone to “make gorgeous, art-inspired stories in seconds.” (Or, more realistically, minutes.) The site has a huge collection of searchable and browse-able artwork, and a simple drag-and-drop format for creating online books.
Once students have chosen the artwork they want to use, they add the pictures to their book pages (as many or as few as they want) and type in their text. Students can save their work and continue to edit it, until they are ready to publish. Published works can be shared or kept private.
The basic features of the site are free, and education accounts allow teacher to create classes and assign user names and passwords to their students. This makes it easy to monitor their progress. Premium accounts offer additional features for a small yearly subscription fee, and printed copies of finished books can be ordered from the site.
We are planning this as a two-day project. On Day 1 I will give students a brief tutorial on logging in and using the site, followed by 20 minutes to explore and select their artwork. For homework, students will do some pre-writing based on the illustrations they chose. On Day 2, they will create and publish their stories.
Here’s the Storybird book I created in preparation for working with the students. It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
I hope our students enjoy creating with Storybird as much as I did! If you’ve used Storybird and have any suggestions for us, please share them in the comments!
Whew, it’s been awhile since I took time to reflect on what’s going on in my library!
My principal put my library on a flexible schedule last year, after five years on a fixed schedule, and I’m thrilled with her commitment to keeping it that way. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find that nine weeks into year two, I’m still figuring out how to squeeze in everything I want to do! In the past, I planned six projects per week (one for each grade level at my K-5 school) and out of necessity ran the library on autopilot while I taught six Library classes daily. Now, I’m usually working on six projects PER DAY as I collaborate with teachers, plan special library events, manage our school website, provide technology training, and continue to see classes for story time and research projects as needed!
Having the freedom to try new things with teachers and students is both exhilarating (so many ideas!) and frustrating (still not enough time!) in equal measures. My primary concern right now is making sure that the activities I’m scheduling are not just cute and fun, but are providing real interactive learning opportunities for the students. Working with teachers is crucial in supporting the classroom curriculum and addressing the common core standards, and planning time is something they don’t have enough of, either. Fortunately we were able to add a Curriculum Coach to our staff this year, and she and I have been putting out heads together to figure out how we can best help teachers align their content with the standards, and integrate more technology into their lesson plans.
Frankly, I blame a lot of my problems on social media. My PLN has expanded in the last two years from just reading blogs to following tweeps on Twitter and pinners on Pinterest, and participating in monthly webinars hosted by TL Cafe, School Library Journal, and various other providers. Consequently, I’m exposed to more great ideas than I have time to try! Curse you, PLN, for thinking so creatively and sharing so generously!
So, how do I eat the elephant? One bite at a time! When I’m discouraged at the end of each day by how many things didn’t get done, I have to remind myself of all the things I did accomplish. Toward that end, I started a Project 365 photo journal, but I have to admit that I’ve been too busy to keep up with it. Do you have any tips for staying positive when things get hectic? Please share them in the comments!
Thursday, Oct 11, is International Day of the Girl, described as “a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights everywhere.”
The LitWorld website has added a literacy twist to the campaign with their Stand Up for Girls program, which “advocates for every girl’s right to a quality education. By learning to read and write, all girls in the world can protect themselves against poverty, poor health outcomes and lifelong struggle. Literacy is a skill that once learned, is hers forever.”
To encourage my teachers to raise awareness of this issue in their classrooms, I put together an annotated list of Girl Power biographies available in my library that not only highlight the accomplishments of girls and women in history, but are very read-aloudable. The list also includes a baker’s dozen of fiction titles featuring spunky heroines. I’ve included the first line or two from each fiction book in italics below the summary
Spread the word!
So thrilled to have my 2013-2014 Library Advisory Team in place!
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I can best keep the lines of communication open with the teachers in my school, and I believe that an advocacy team will be the most effective way to do that.
I shared my main reading goals for the year in a previous post, and next Monday I’ll be discussing some of those plans with my new team so that we can decide on the best ways to implement (or modify) them.
Thinking about starting your own advisory group? Click here for more details about my program.
I’d love to hear how you are working with teachers in your school. Please leave a note in the comments sharing your advocacy program!
p.s. There were codes inside the bags of candy bars I bought to enter online so that the candy company will make a donation to RIF! How cool is it that?!
Have you ever gone to Pinterest to look for a specific idea, and then two hours later looked up from your computer screen wondering where the time went? Of course you have! That’s what Pinterest does to people! It sucks them into a beautiful fantasy world where anything is possible if you only have the right kind of glue.
Well, this year I’m getting the right kind of glue, and I’m putting some of these fabulous ideas to work in my library! I spent some time yesterday creating a new Pinterest account solely for my professional pins using the name LibraryLoriJune, which is also my Twitter handle, and made a new board for each type of pin I’ve saved. Categories include Library Management, Book Extenders, Book Displays, Tech Tools, and (as of this writing) fourteen others.
I have been using Delicious for over five years to organize websites (2,312 links as of this morning!), and it’s still my go-to bookmarking resource, mainly because 1) I can assign searchable tags to my bookmarks and 2) Delicious is not blocked at school by our extremely tight filters. But Delicious does not have the visual appeal of Pinterest, nor is it as widely used by the kinds of people I want to get ideas from, so now that Pinterest has been unblocked for teachers in my district (yay!) I want to start using it more.
Are you on Pinterest? If so, please leave a link to your boards in the comments so that I can follow you!
It’s that time again when I begin to feel a tingly excitement about the all the possibilities of a brand new school year!
Last year, with the support of my principal and a new flexible library schedule, I focused heavily on collaborating with teachers and supporting them in implementing the Common Core curriculum. I will certainly continue that this year, but I also want to spend devote more time and effort to building a school-wide culture of reading. One of my most important roles as a school librarian is to be a “reading cheerleader” and I have several new ideas for doing that.
I have already noted a variety of local, national, and international reading events on my school library calendar (you will see them in red), and I will spend the next two weeks rounding up teacher and parent volunteers to help with planning and execution of these programs. Ideas that aren’t scheduled yet but that I’m working on creating include:
I also want to encourage students to participate more in online book discussions via my Book Buzz blog. I’m thinking about asking students to write guest posts for the blog to talk about their favorite books and authors. I’d also like to see more teacher participation in the blog, so maybe I’ll ask for some guest posts from them too.
What innovative ideas are you using to build excitement for reading at your school? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Our topic is Back To School, and we want to hear your best ideas for getting the new year off to a good start!
Our chat will focus on:
Newbies are always welcome at our chats; be sure to introduce yourself and make some new friends! Those of you who are experienced chatters know that Twitter is all about SHOW and tell, so I expect you to have your photos and web links ready to share!
Remember to use the hashtag #tlelem for your tweets. I have registered this hashtag at Twubs in the hopes that it will make it easier for participants to follow the chat, and to archive the tweets. If you have never used Twubs, you may want to take a look at it ahead of time.
See you Monday!
p.s. You can find archives of this and all our past chats at the TLElem Wiki.
To prepare for the Putting the “Tech” in Poetic workshop, my assistant and I spent the afternoon setting up displays of poetry books for teachers to browse through before and after the presentation.
I pulled about a hundred poetry books and sorted them into categories (Concrete, Haiku, Novels in Verse, Themed Poetry, Art and Music in Poetry, etc) to make book selection easier, and Mrs. Jordan printed signs for each.
We also put out a display of books by our current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, and featured a collection of eight Langston Hughes titles designed to inspire a Poet Study.
In addition, I had one of our document cameras set up as an example of how you could give students a close-up view of a collection of objects to inspire poetry writing, using a poetry book like Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems by John Frank, or a nonfiction book like Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.
I also had a FLIP camera and a digital camera on display near a computer with a microphone plugged in.
When teachers arrived, they signed in to receive technology re-certification credit and to win a door prize. We had snacks out – after a long day of teaching you need something to keep you going! – as well as some discount coupons for our local bookstore.
Once everyone was settled, the real resource-sharing began! I spent the last two weeks in March adding websites to a Poetry LiveBinder that I created for the teachers. Resources in the Binder include links to lesson ideas for some of the poetry books in our school library (hosted at ThingLink), websites featuring free online poetry for children, poetry lesson plans from Read/Write/Think, web tools for interactive poetry writing, and sites that facilitate sharing and responding to poetry.
Most of the resources I included are ones that teachers can explore on their own according to their individual needs, so I focused my presentation on the technology tools that they might need more assistance with.
For example, I showed them how they could use Padlet to upload student poetry and have other students respond to it. (I especially like that Padlet doesn’t require an account to leave a comment, and keeps your links private until you share them.) Click here and here for examples.
I also demonstrated how student poetry could be shared both visually and orally via VoiceThread, and how viewers can leave an audio or text comment on a poem, provided they are logged into VoiceThread. Click here for an example.
As a bonus, these tools can also be used to share other types of writing, as well as photos and videos. I’m sure that some of the teachers who don’t use them for poetry will incorporate them in other areas of instruction.
At the end of the session, I encouraged everyone to share their best student-written poetry with me so that we can feature it on our Poem in Your Pocket bulletin board over the next few weeks. We’ll have multiple copies of these poems available for library visitors to read and take with them.
The workshop attendees left the library with a whole new set of possibilities for using poetry with their students, I’m confident that they will share them with the teachers who could not be there.
If you have a great poetry resource that I need to add to my collection, please leave a comment and tell me about it!