I may work with elementary students, by my reader's heart is satisfied with YA lit. Fortunately, I have a buddy at my school (school nurse!) who is my reading soulmate and she jumped on this crazy idea to go to a YA book festival in Charleston... so Veteran's weekend, we headed to YALLfest! It. Was. Awesome. So many of my favorite authors were there to sign books, talk on panels, and run into on the streets of downtown Charleston. I had never been before, but fell in love with the 5 blocks of Charleston I got to see :) The slogan for YALLfest is "Where the writers are rock stars" and it's so true - seeing some of my literature heroes in person, chat with them about their books, or where I bought my tee shirt, or congratulating them on a recent movie deal... Just mind blowing. Most of my time was spent cruising the many stops to get books signed and time to talk to them, but I did go to a panel where authors talked about the impact of family on their narratives, a chat with Sarah Dessen (my fave) and Ally Condie (Matched series), and a "smack down" that turned out to have some interesting content (see the new 'Mockingjay cover!") Below is just a mix of some of the fun we had, authors we saw, and general nerding-out (QUIDDITCH! in person!) !
I spent the short week after returning from Charleston prepping our library for hosing our first local book fair! I need to write a thorough post about how it all panned out, One of the biggest changes from the Scholastic drill is having to use your own space/shelves/surfaces for the materials versus those convenient traveling cases. I spent 3 long days prepping my space, and waiting until late Friday to close the library and get the whole thing set up. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the library assistant, Terri (who found some of the books interesting enough to preview....) and an 'intern' who is finishing her MLS degree, Lora. They stayed late on a Friday evening to make it all come together! It was worth the hard work though knowing how much thought and time I had already invested in selecting the books, and the risk and investment Downtown books had made on this event. Our students did a great job promoting the event, we had posters made and hung them around the school, and I even made a few promo videos to show on the morning news show. Terri suggested we do a virtual tour of the fair once it was set up, so I pulled together a video that showcased the set up and selections that would be awaiting our shoppers, and it was distributed on both our school website, and through social media. It's amazing how fast word got out in our community! Below are some prep pictures, as well as the promo video. More on how the book fair unfolded... coming soon... but for now - REST!
I LOVE books and will be blogging all about our local book fair (and my trip to YALLfest in Charleston!) but want to catch up on some awesome technology lessons and special things that have been going on these last busy weeks!
5th Graders invited their parents to school in early November so they could show them WHAT they learn and HOW they do it. I teamed up with one of my favorites, Helen, to help students demo our "Augmented Reality Book Reviews" - this is one of my favorite new techy tools because it works like magic (really). The students interviewed each other on which book they were currently reading, then matched the video to the cover of the book. When using the app, Aurasma, the camera captures the cover of the book and plays the book review video atop of the image. I've loaded a video before (see "Flexing my Library Muscles" to view a tutorial) but here are some photos of students in action - with parents watching on! I think the parents were blown away by the technology, but more so, how creatively their students were learning how to use it as a literacy tool. My favorite comments (much like the Destiny Quest comments) were "I can't wait to read more so I can do another book review"
Another new technology adventure I went on was doing my first Google Hang Out with 4th graders. At our Summer 2014 DCS Technology Conference, I attended an awesome presentation by a HS media coordinator & English teacher about how they use The Book Whisperer method and the impact it has had on their students. I've been inspired to try and adapt the self-selection/reading for pleasure model at our elementary school and have built a great relationship with the media coordinator who presented it, thanks to social media! We knew we wanted to get our kids connected somehow, and we decided to kick it off by doing a casual chat about what both groups of students like to read, how they pick their books, and what to do if they end up not liking what they picked. It went surprisingly well considering we had some audio issues, and the age gap between students! Our next Hang Out will be students doing Book Commercials to plug some of their favorite books :)
Talking live on a Google Hang Out is pretty awesome - but hard to coordinate all day every day... so we found a pre-recorded book talk/hang out with Taylor Swift and invited a group of 5th graders to have lunch in a classroom as a reward. They loved hearing her talk about what inspires her to write and why reading books has always been important to her. This was such an easy thing to set-up, but very rewarding for us and the students - we never had to tell the students to pay attention because all of them (boys included!) were engaged in listening to what she had to say! I appreciated hearing her suggestions on how to address bullying - they were realistic and its important for students to hear that even adults (and superstars!) have had to battle insecurities and bullying. If you want to watch the video in its entirety: scholastic.com/taylorswift/
Last thing - but SO cool!!!! I love Twitter because it makes authors so accessible (just one reason why...) and I thought I would plug one of my all time favorites while reading her book to students. Laurie Halse Anderson writes books for all ages of kids - I was first inspired by her when I read "Speak" in high school. Just a warning: it's a very high school book. Over the years, I've read her Young Adult work, but also some amazing books for younger ages. There is a great trilogy called "Seeds of America" and both Chains and Forge take place during the American Revolution and give readers a very personal perspective of what it would be like to be a child during that time in History. She also wrote Fever, 1793 which is rooted in the facts of the yellow fever epidemic. On a more positive note, she has written the extremely popular "Vet Volunteers" series that my animal-loving students can't get enough of, and a great historical informational text about Sarah Hale, titled: Thank You, Sarah! The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving. Since I was reading the book to get students amped up for the holiday (and teach them something cool that they could share around the dinner table), I posted on Twitter that my 4th graders were really loving it. Guess what: she retweeted it! My students were floored that not only did the author know we were reading her book, so did 28,000 of her followers! Connected world = connecting readers! I also happened to love seeing my name on her feed up there with prominent authors Margaret Atwood & Linda Sue Park - crazy!