Saturday, September 10, 2011

Next Up....."DOT DOT" Celebration!

This post is from John Schu and Shannon Miller's Two Libraries One Voice blog. 
We are so excited! 

This week we will be celebrating "International DOT Day" together. DOT Day is on September 15th, which is when The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds was first published in 2003. On this day, Peter and FableVision Learning challenges people all over the world to "make your own mark and see where it takes you."  

We have been doing a lot at our schools to get ready for this super fun day.  
The students are welcomed into John's library at Brook Forest Elementary with this amazing display.  
And can learn more about Peter and FableVision here.  
Shannon and her students created this new display in the Van Meter Elementary Library and they are enjoying all of the new books they added to their collection too.  
Last week, a big group of Shannon's 7th and 8th graders created beautiful DOT art work outside.  She wrote about this day on the Van Meter VOICE blog.... Today The Students Made Their Mark....On Each Other, The World, and ME!
She created signs for DOT DAY on the library and art room doors.  The students created signs throughout the school with the banners.  
And John's students started decorating paper with their DOTS too.

To celebrate in the libraries this week, we have planned a lot of literacy and art activities for the students. We are going to be painting and drawing with watercolors, finger paints, crayons, colored pencils, and sidewalk chalk.  There is even an activity involving coffee filters, markers, and water bottles...Oh my.  
Our kids are going to create DOTS using the iPads and drawing apps.  We will be sharing these creations with each other over Skype.  
John had a great idea today.....ROLL OUT the "Read" carpet for the week and have our students add dots throughout the week.
And even our students are planning Alissa.  
We will be sharing The Dot and other special books like Dotty by Erica Perl
and Dot by Patricia Intriago over Skype with our students.  

And of course a DOT Day celebration would not be complete without DOTS for everyone.  :) 
So just as the sweet character Vashti learns in The Dot, anyone can make a mark on the world.  

This week in Oak Brook, Illinois and Van Meter, Iowa, we will celebrate the marks of every single person in our schools and the uniqueness of them all. 

We cannot wait to hear how you are going to celebrate DOT Day too!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Today The Students Made Their Mark....On Each Other, The World, and ME!

Today I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds to the 5th graders in the elementary library. 

John Schu, my teaching partner in Oak Brook, Illinois, and I are getting ready to celebrate International Dot Day  on September 15th.  I have been sharing The Dot with the students by reading it aloud and watching the video on BookFlix.  We have had wonderful conversations about leaving your mark on the world, being unique, creative, and having a VOICE.  

I had been thinking about ways to decorate for Dot Day.  I put up the new display in the library and taped up the Dot Day image from above, but I needed something really "WOW" in the hallways.  

I needed to make my mark for this event.  

Suddenly,  I had an idea!  

Why was I just reading The Dot to just the elementary students?  What about all of the young people upstairs?  If they were to also hear The Dot, then I could have them create their own mark and help me decorate for this very special day.  
So when my seventh grade advisory group came in before lunch (and my She's the First chapter....and of course the several other kids that trickle into the library each day), I had them sit down on the floor as I read The Dot to all of them.  

We had a meaningful conversation about being ourselves, being proud of what we create, and how to make our mark on the world.  

They agreed!  It would be very fun to create their marks and celebrate Dot Day by sharing their work in the hallways of Van Meter.  
We quickly gathered up paints, brushes, and bowls from the art room.  I tore off really long pieces of white paper from the roll in the office.

And we headed outside for a space big enough to make this happen.  
They took the paper and formed three groups as they painted dots.  

I loved seeing them work in groups that were not only different in age, but also with people they usually didn't hang out with.  In this project, it didn't matter if they were working next to their best friend or the person they usually sat by in class.  

In this project, the only thing that mattered was they were working together to make their mark. 

When it was time for lunch, they carried the art work into the elementary library to dry.
After lunch, I had a group of girls in 7th and 8th grade come back to find me.  I had told them we needed to really make our mark on the library doors and art room.

They decided to create huge, beautiful dots which turned out to be unbelievable pieces of art work.  Twelve girls worked together to create these dots that will hang on the doors tomorrow celebrating Dot Day.

Together with the amazing banners, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate not only Dot Day, but the uniqueness, creativity, and VOICE of our students at Van Meter.  

This is not what I had planned to do today.  I didn't have it on my Google Calendar.  I didn't gather the supplies beforehand.

But you know what, this was one of those days that aren't planned, that aren't laid out step by step.

It was one of those moments that happens to every teacher.  Those moments that we take just as much, if not more, from our students and learn a valuable lesson from what is happening around us.  It was so much fun for me to stand back and see this happen today.  Within 25 minutes, a group of kids who met in the library everyday from 11:30 to 11:55am opened up, worked together and created something that they were proud of.

They made their mark.  Not just on the paper or in Van Meter.  But on each other.

And most of all, on the world.

I hope you join all of us to celebrate Dot Day and make your mark too!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Kids Caught the Gingerbread Man With a Little Help From a QR Code

To start off the year, I read Laura Murray's new book The Gingerbread Loose in the School to the kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade students.  

Laura did an amazing job writing this book and the illustrations created by Mike Lowery are perfect! .
This adorable story takes the readers on a journey through the school with a newly baked Gingerbread Man.  I had lots of friends (including 8th graders Ben Trent and Isaac Benton) come to the elementary library to read this story to the little ones.  It was a book that we all laughed out loud as it was read.  

After we read the book, I thought that it would be fun to create a scavenger hunt and find some of our own special people at Van Meter School.  I decided to create one using QR Codes (quick response codes).  
The first thing I did was decide which locations I would have the children search.  I took photographs of these people and uploaded them to Flickr.  

Then I used the site Kaywa  to create the QR codes.  For each image, I created a QR code using the url for that image from Flickr.  Once the QR code was created, I took a screen shot of each one.  
I then pasted each QR code into a Google Doc that I opened just for this project.  I labeled each code at the top of the page, copied it six times in the Google Doc, and ran the entire document off when it was complete.  This was very helpful because you need to make sure you know which code goes to each unique location.....or it will be a lot of extra work when hanging up the clues around the school.  
I cut out each set of QR codes and pasted them onto copies of the cover and little pieces of black paper.  I made sure each location had six scanning sites so the children could spread out during the scavenger hunt.  
When they came for library time, I explained to them what QR codes were and how they can hold all kinds of information, images, music, and other things.  A few of the students raised their hands to tell us how they had seen them at stores or in magazines.  One little boy even scanned a QR code before on a pop can.  

I showed them how to open up the scanning app and place the camera over the QR code.  They were so excited to see a photograph of me pop up on the screen of the iTouch.  
Next, it was time to put the iTouches into the hands of the students.  For a lot of the little ones, this was the very first time they had even held an iTouch.  I loved watching their faces and listening to the excitement in the library.
We went to the different locations and took turns scanning the QR codes and looking at the clues.  They all did such an amazing job working together and sharing the iTouches.  
To find out who the children had to find on the scavenger hunt, please watch this Animoto entitled A Fun QR Code Scavenger Hunt at Van Meter .  It is so fun to watch their faces and the excitement that happened during this activity.  
Two of our student bloggers also wrote about the Gingerbread Man QR code project.

MacKenzie Roberts, who is an 8th grader, wrote a post entitled The Gingerbread Man Lost in the School  on her new blog Music To My Life. MacKenzie and her friends helped me take the students around the school on the hunt.  It was so great having them there to help me with the younger ones....everyone enjoyed this.
And first grader Hagan Miller wrote about the fun he had participating in the scavenger hunt last week on his blog, Hagan's World of Awesome.  

We will definitely be searching for the Gingerbread Man again at Van Meter School.  

School Library Journal's Trailee Awards....Nomination Deadline Extended to 9/15

Did you miss the August 31 deadline to nominate your favorite book trailer? Fear not! The deadline has been extended. You have until September 15 to submit your favorite book trailer in any of these six categories:

  • Publisher/Author for elementary readers (PreK-6)
  • Publisher/Author for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Student created for elementary readers (PreK-6 grade)
  • Student created for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Adult (anyone over 18) created for PreK-12 grade
  • Educator/Librarian created for PreK-12 grade
According to School Library Journal's website, anyone is eligible to suggest a video for consideration that was originally posted between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011.
To recommend a trailer, send an email to in a mp4 format. Please do not send actual video files via email-they will not be acceptedInclude the name of the video, the url of where the video is available online, the video's creator(s), the book's author and the title of the book featured in the video, along with publisher and copyright date. Also describe in no more than 150 words how the trailer draws in potential readers.
Submissions will be judged by a committee of six librarians who will verify that the entry meets the all the necessary criteria