Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Just Love What One Student Voice Brought To The West-Central Iowa Tech Institute Today

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of the West-Central Iowa Tech Institute at Coon-Rapids Ballard School.  There was a great line up of speakers and presentations...I wish I could have stayed for the entire day to learn from everyone.

To make it even more special, I presented with my 4th grade student and friend, Meridan Boyd.

When my friend and Coon-Rapids Ballard high school principal Brent Jorth asked me to keynote the conference I knew I wanted to include the voice of students.  After presenting with Meridan for the K12 Online Conference two weeks ago, I just knew I had to bring her to share the story of our students and the voice of students everywhere.
This is the opening keynote, Transforming Education...One Voice At A Time.  
And the Animoto we used at the beginning.
We also did a session right after the opening keynote called Empowering Young People To Have A Global Voice Through Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools
I can't wait to look through the tweets found at #wciti and from all of the West-Central Iowa Tech Institute speakers.  The resources they were sharing throughout the day were wonderful so I encourage you to take a look too.  
As Meridan told all of us today....

Let our students be heard. Let them do the things that they are passionate about. Let them create and collaborate.   Let them try things out.
And most of all....

Let them have a voice.

There is nothing more powerful as the voice of our students.  Take the time to listen to all of them around you this week.  They will make a difference.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Very Special Visit From One Of Our Favorite Authors....Drew Daywalt....And A Few Awesome Crayons Too!

One of my new all time favorite picture books is The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

I love this little book talk from Amazon....  
How could you now love finding out about what is going to happen to Duncan's crayons? 

And the illustrations created by another one of our favorites, Oliver Jeffers, make the story come to life! 
Last week we were so excited to invite Drew to our library to visit with the Van Meter first graders! What a special visit!  
We were very happy when Drew said he would read The Day The Crayons Quit to us and loved the story even more this time.
Afterwards, the first graders asked Drew awesome questions about writing, crayons, and the most popular questions....

"Why did the crayon not have any clothes on in the crayon box?" 

"Why was he naked?"  
The first graders couldn't wait to draw their own crayon pictures and send them to Drew.  I loved watching them pick their favorite colors and use the book to give them ideas.
He is going to love these!
Especially the story their crayons told in our library.
We wanted to do something super special for Drew so we took all of the pictures they created and the photographs from our Skype visit to put them all together in this FlipSnack eBook Thank You.

Enjoy your new book Drew.....We can't wait until you come visit us again.

Technical Difficulties Library Club.....First Meeting Of The Year, October 30 at 3:30pm

Last year was the first year of the "Technical Difficulties" Library Club.....a name and mission the group came up with all by themselves.  You can read about the first meeting here.

This week is our first meeting of this school year.....and we cannot wait!

You can read all about "Technical Difficulties" and the meeting in the Smore below.

We hope to see you there Van Meter!

Don't forget to follow us on the Van Meter Voice Facebook page, @vmlibraryvoice on Twitter, and Van Meter Library Voice on Instagram.  They will have so much to share and learn from this year.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Special Google Hangout Event.....Friday at 12:00pm CST With Ms. Jenaia Reading "Poco a Poco"

We have a very special guest coming to our library tomorrow!

Ms. Jenaia (aka Jena Ball) is going to visit our first graders at Van Meter in a Google Hangout which we are going to make public to invite all of you too!  

Over the last week I have gotten to know Jena through email, Skype, and Google Hangout.  I just love when connections like this happen.  Jena and I have been collaborating on how we can do something very special with our students at Van Meter.   And to make it even better we have become friends. 
Before our Google Hangout I wanted to introduce Ms. Jenaia to all of you.   

I have been a freelance writer and illustrator for almost 35 years. During that time I focused primarily on environmental, food, and memoir writing. I also wrote two syndicated columns and wrestled with more technical copy than I care to admit.

Then in 2010 two things changed. I made the decision to focus on creative writing, as opposed to fact-based journalism, and I had a conversation with some close friends who were considering "buying" a dog for their kids. "Why not adopt?" I asked. This led to a fascinating discussion about purebreds versus mutts, puppies versus adult dogs, and most importantly what kids could learn from having a pet in their lives.

I came away from that discussion with three important insights. First,I wanted to write stories that encouraged and nurtured children's natural love for and fascination with animals. Second, I wanted to write stories that mirrored children's lives, creating characters with personality quirks, annoying habits and difficult circumstances that they needed to overcome. Finally, I wanted kids to fall in love with the goofy bunch of mixed breed pups I was already drawing. I wanted them to feel and know that animals (critters) were family (kin) - CritterKin!

The original concept for Critterkin is rooted in the wonderful relationships I enjoyed with some very special pets I had as a kid. But as the project evolved through conversations with the Startled Cat team, humane educators and organizations involved in animal protection, the vision grew. We are now collaborating with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), local SPCAs, humane educators, teachers and parents to bring our stories and characters to kids. We believe that CritterKin's mixed-breed pups are both lovable playmates and an ideal way for kids to learn empathy, compassion and respect.

Ms. Jenaia also wrote about her visit to Van Meter on her blog.
Please go to CritterKin to read and find more information too. You can also find CritterKin on Twitter.

I am very excited about having Ms. Jenaia visit, read, and learn with us tomorrow in our library. I will be posting the Google Hangout link around 12:00pm CST so you can join our fun too.

Don't Forget To Give Them Time To Create On Their Own Too!

This amazing video titled Stop The Bullying! was created by one of our 4th graders, Shae.  You just have to watch it!  It is awesome.

She wasn't given this as an assignment or asked to create this video.  Instead she created this on her own time.  She was done with the September Book Project in which they created iMovie book trailers so she decided to use what she learned in the project and create something she was passionate about.
Shae came to me two days ago and had a wonderful start already.

She first showed me what she had started in iMovie.  I was so happy to see that she was creating a video about stopping all bullying.  With Governor Branstad's Bullying Prevention Summit coming up in two weeks, this was perfect timing.
Shae not only perfected the iMovie before we uploaded it into YouTube, she also shared and encouraged others to be creative with their work and schedule too.

She was given something really simple.....A little time to create something meaningful and connected, something that truly brings light to her passions and voice.

I encourage you to remember this and look for opportunities of time and passion like this one.

7 Easy Ways For Educators To Connect To Students, Teachers, & Parents....Pearson OLE Community Webinar

Today I had the honor of presenting for Pearson's OLE (Online Learning Exchange) Community webinar series. The presentation was also part of the Connected Educator's line up for the month.  
As the OLE site states, "We highlight current educational trends, provide classroom activities, and promote best practices for teachers and education enthusiasts."  

The webinar series that they provide free of charge is just one way that they are supporting their online learning environment.  
The name of my presentation is 7 Easy Ways For Librarians (Teachers) To Connect To Students, Teachers, and Parents. 
To view the archive of the presentation, please go to the webinar page in the OLE Community.
You can also view the entire webinar here.
Also, the slide presentation can be viewed and downloaded at this link.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  I hope that you spend some time checking out the webinars in the OLE Community.

I promise you will love them....there is always something for everyone.  It is one more way to get connected with amazing educators, students, school communities, and the world.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our Kindergarteners Get "All Mixed Up" With Eric Carle And New Friends In Alabama For Global Read Aloud

The kindergarteners and I have been celebrating Eric Carle by participating in Global Read Aloud for the last three weeks.  In the classrooms, with their teachers Christa McClintock and Lynne Caltrider, they have been celebrating the author and books we all love too.  
Last week the book that everyone participating in GRA read was The Mixed-Up Chameleon.  What a FUN book about a very mixed up chameleon who thinks he just wants to look like all of the other animals in the zoo.
To make reading and celebrating Global Read Aloud even more fun, we connected with my friend Kelli Etheridge, an amazing educator from Alabama.  When we started talking about connecting for GRA, Kelli introduced me to Sara Gross and Patti Norris, who are both kindergarten teachers in her school, and Kim McDonald, their teacher librarian.  

We decided to connect the students by reading the Eric Carle books together over Skype.  The kindergarteners absolutely loved this connection and listening to us read the book back and forth.  

Before that day, we also brainstormed ways to create a project focused around Eric Carle and the connections we were making through Skype and by reading the Eric Carle books for Global Read Aloud. 
As we were reading to our two classes it came to me!  

We could use the website "Build Your Wild Self" from the New York Zoos and  Aquarium. With this website, you can choose if you are a boy or girl and then all of the things that makes you,, eyes, mouth, and clothes.  Once you have a little person created, it is time to "wild yourself" by adding on things like head gear, backsides, and tails.  
I quickly added a tile for "Build Your Wild Self" to the kindergarten Symbaloo webmix so they would be able to find it easily as they went to their laptops. They also like knowing that they will be able to get to this new site when they are in the classroom and at home too.  
Before they started, I reminded them about how the chameleon felt in the book we read.  We laid the book out on the tables so they could look at the illustrations to make these connections and picture what the mixed up chameleon felt and looked like.   
The kindergarteners had such a fun time creating themselves WILD!  I loved seeing how creative they were. They were having a great time talking to their friends about their creations too. 
When they were finished, I had them let me know so I could share their wild things with my email.  It is very easy to do and can be found at the bottom of the page.  
This is what the "wild thing" looks like when they are emailed.  I really love how their names can be added to the top of the "wild thing" they created.
The kindergarteners and I talked about what we should do with all of their "wild things". We decided to put them together in an eBook again.  Our first project of the year was creating the "Just Me and Little Critter" eBook using FlipSnack as we get ready for our visit with Mercer Mayer in a few weeks. They loved this project and wanted to make another eBook to read and share with their families. 

We first made a front cover using ReciteThis.  This is one of my new favorite digital tools and something that is so easy to create posters, pages of a book, cards, and more.  
Since we used FlipSnack to create our first eBook I wanted to use a new digital tool with the kindergarteners this time. 

Another one of my favorite digital storytelling tools is Little Bird Tales.  You can create your very own book to share online with pictures, text, and even illustrations that are drawn right in Little Bird Tale.  

And the BEST thing about Little Bird Tales is that once the pages are added to your book, you can add voice to each page!  

I took all of the "wild things" that the kindergarteners emailed to me, saved them onto my desktop, and then uploaded each one into "The Mixed Up Kindergarteners At Van Meter" tale.  Next week they will record their voices over the top of their page and we will type a sentence underneath describing what themselves all mixed up......just like the chameleon in Eric Carle's book. 
We can't wait to share our new eBook with everyone at Van Meter....and especially with our new friends in Alabama.  Maybe they will even add their very own mixed up kindergarteners to our book too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reading Aloud Together Over Skype and Through Edmodo

The 5th graders have been participating in the Global Read Aloud project over the last three weeks with our friends, Steve Gagnon and his awesome 5th graders, in New Hampshire. 
Our two amazing 5th grade teachers, Kate Goodwin and Aubrey Stafford, have done a wonderful job incorporating this book and Global Read Aloud into their classrooms.  This is the first year we have participated in GRA and I just love what it has brought to our students and school.
Last week Steve had the idea for me to read a chapter to both classes over Skype.  I loved the idea...especially since they were going to use their Edmodo Van Meter Stratham Group for a back channel while I was reading.  This was a new experience for us. 
On Wednesday, all of our 5th graders, Kate, and Aubrey came together in the library.  Our 5th graders logged into their Global Read Aloud Small Group in Edmodo on their iPads. 
 Steve's students used their Chrome Books.  
I had such a great time reading chapter 15......and then chapter 16.  
I have never seen a group of students so engaged in not only listening to a book, but also in the discussion that was happening online.  They didn't want to stop.
The discussion that took place within Edmodo really showed how the relationship between these two classes is growing too.  I can't wait to see where we go with them this year. 

And next week, they have invited me back to read again.  I am so looking forward to it.  

We all need to take a look at how our students are engaged in reading, listening, and writing.  Bringing experiences like this to our young people truly brings excitement, engagement, and real life connections.