Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Connecting Our Two Libraries in Georgia and Iowa With A Little "Extra Yarn"

A few weeks ago I went to my friend Ty Burns school district in Texas to work with the secondary teacher librarians of his district for the day.  The elementary teacher librarians were with Andy Plemmons, a super awesome elementary teacher librarian from Georgia.

Andy and I left Texas as new friends and within hours we were talking about connecting our students.
It is so exciting to see how the collaboration between two teacher librarians 978 miles apart turns into something really meaningful, special, and fun for all of those involved.
Andy and I decided our first connection would be with our kindergarteners.  I would connect Christa McClintock and Brooke Gadberry's students to Andy and Ms. Hockling's students in Georgia.  Through Twitter, a collaborative Google Doc, and email we planned our connection.  Our other kindergarten class and their teacher Lynne Caltrider will connect with Andy's second kindergarten class next week too.
Andy and I chose to share the beautiful book Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.  Klassen just received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Extra Yarn. It is a favorite in our library.

And today was the day!  Our first connection!  We were all very excited.
When my kindergarten students arrived, I told them all about the Skype (their teachers had filled them in too).  We looked at the Google Map (pictured above) to see where our new friends lived.  We spoke about Extra Yarn, the author and illustrator.  This was also the perfect time to go over being responsible and respectful when we Skype and connect with other classrooms.
Andy and I had decided that it would be fun to create "Extra Yarn" bookmarks and then send them to one another.  We took cardstock and tied yarn at the top.  My little ones had so much fun making bookmarks for their new friends.

I just love how their sweet little "Extra Yarn" bookmarks turned out.
They are now in a big brown envelope heading to our new friends in Georgia.  I can't wait until Andy shares them with all of his students. And we can't wait to get theirs too.
Then it was time to Skype!   They all loved seeing everyone and saying "Hi".  
Andy and I took turns reading Extra Yarn back and forth.  We both had the book with us so we were sharing the illustrations with our own group.
After we read the book, Andy and I asked them a few questions about the book.  

They did a nice job taking turns and listening to the conversation from the other school library.  We also showed Andy's students our bookmarks we created because they were creating them after our Skype.  I loved seeing how proud they were showing their bookmarks.  
Andy wrote about our day in the post "Connecting Libraries Through Some 'Extra Yarn'" on his blog Barrow Media Center.  
I also had so much fun seeing our tweets after the Skype connection.  I can't wait to share these with the kindergarteners and their teachers.
Our next connection will be on March 6th when we will celebrate LitWorld's World Read Aloud Day with several schools and authors throughout the day.  All of the kindergardeners will be Skyping with author Jesse Klausmeier.  She wrote the book Open This Little Book and we will be creating our very own "Little Books" to share with our new friends, Jesse, and within our library.   
Even though our connection was as simple as reading a book together and making bookmarks, this was very special to all of the children and teachers it touched. 

Thank you Mr. Plemmons, Ms. Hockings, and the kindergardeners at Barrow Media Center in Athens, Georgia. 

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