Monday, December 30, 2013

Let's Get Connected For LitWorld's World Read Aloud Day During The Week Of March 5th

On March 5th, we will celebrate World Read Aloud Day with LitWorld again.  

We will actually celebrate all week long....March 3rd through the 7th.

My dear friend Andy Plemmons and I have been planning our collaboration and teaching plans for 2014 so of course World Read Aloud Day was a very important part of this. We decided to write this post and start planning, connecting, and sharing the excitement for this day.

This is always such a special day for celebrating the power of literacy….and one of the best for our libraries, schools, and students too.
Over the past few years it has been so much fun coming together to read and collaborate together with other students, teacher librarians, teachers, schools, and communities.  

You can read about all of our connections at Van Meter at the post from last year, Our World Read Aloud Day Celebration Connected Us 21 Times During The Week That Made A Difference.

And here is Andy's post World Read Aloud Day 2013 too.

This year we are excited for even more of these special connections.  
If you are interested in connecting with others on this day, please add your name, schedule, and ideas to the information in the Google Doc that we started. This will begin to fill up with others around the world as they want to connect their students and schools too.

We plan to celebrate throughout that entire week….March 3-7th.
On March 3, it is also NEA’s Read Across America Day so we will tie this together with World Read Aloud Day too.  
Also, check out all the wonderful activity ideas and resources that LitWorld has included on their website here. 
The classroom kit is great! We love how it contains suggestions for read-aloud, suggestions for group activities, and a fundraising guide to support LitWorld and their programs.

Let us know if you have any questions on how this works. One of the fun parts is collaborating and throwing around ideas with each other.

Have fun and get connected for World Read Aloud Day this year too.

Sharing The Most Important Pieces Of Us With Each Other

The best thing I have ever done you can see in these faces.

My three children. Brianna, who is 19; Brady, who is almost 17; and little Hagan, who is 8 years old.

They are beautiful, caring, friendly, smart, funny, witty, and strong.  I love all of them more than anything for so many reasons of their very own.
The sweetest thing about the holidays, any break, or even any day for me is the time I get to spend with them.  Time to just take them in by talking, laughing, hanging out, playing, listening, helping, taking care of of them, cooking for them, reading, and doing things together.

As we all go through the holiday, I have loved seeing all of the photographs and messages about your families too....on Twitter, Facebook, through texts, and when we get together or see each other out and about.  It makes me happy and smile to see how we all share these very special little pieces of ourselves....the parts that make us who we are.
It is through the holidays, births, deaths, vacations, birthdays, and all of life events that we really get to know one another.  Through the best times, the ordinary good times, the sad and scary times, and all the times in between.

We get to share those special times with everyone which makes our friendships and connections even stronger.  I love how this happens.  I am always thankful when I get to know all of you in these ways because my family and friends are so very important to me too.

The most important pieces of me.

Thank you friends for sharing this part of you with all of us.  I am happy everyone is enjoying the holiday season and hope you all have a blessed and amazing new year too.
And remember....

The things that mean the most are the little moments, the little pieces.....the sweet, real things we share about us.  Just as in all of these photographs of my family Christmas at my parents farm, the farm I grew up on, where my family has lived forever.

By sharing these pieces it makes us more connected as we make a difference in the world we all live in.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Paul Zelinsky Visits The Van Meter 2nd Graders and Shares "Rapunzel" From His Art Studio

Our second graders have been reading, studying, acting out, watching, and creating fairy tales for the last few months.  We have done several activities with literacy and technology between the classrooms, library, and other related arts classes. 

One of our projects can be read about on the Van Meter Library Voice at Our First Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt Through A Fairy Tale eBooks With The Second Graders. 

As they just love fairy tales, I next wanted to find an illustrator or author of fairy tales to connect with the second graders.  As always, bringing in authors and illustrators enriches our projects and units so very much.  They just love this connection.  

One of our favorite books to read and look at in the library is Paul Zelinsky's Rapunzel, which he adapted and illustrated. Paul was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1998.  
So, I invited him to come visit all of the second graders, their teachers, and the art teacher through Skype one afternoon.
He read Rapunzel to us......which we all loved hearing Paul read the story he had created.  
Paul also showed us around his studio.  We loved seeing all of his paints that he uses to created the beautiful illustrations from his books.  He is one of the best illustrators.....and one of my all time favorites.  When I was in college, I remember discovering his books and looking at the illustrations forever.  Now to see the children in our library look at them the same way makes me smile.  
We were very excited when Paul asked us if we wanted to see the original paintings from Rapunzel. We couldn't believe it!  
He told us all about how he protects them with tracing paper that is laid over the top of each painting.They were beautiful.  
He also told us how he created the different colors in the paintings too.  When he wanted to find out what a certain plants color actually was he grew it so he could match it to the painting.  
At the end of his visit to Van Meter, our second graders asked him all kinds of wonderful questions. They loved talking with Paul about fairy tales, books, and art.  
It was so special listening to one of my favorite illustrators and that I have admired for many years and now share with my students and own children too.
You just have to visit Paul's website here.
And on Twitter too.

Thank you Paul for visiting our 2nd graders and all of the teachers who were with us in the library too. We just loved visiting your studio as we heard about illustrations, painting, colors, and projects that related to the beautiful books that you share with us.  

We are honored you came to the Van Meter School library and can't wait until you visit us again.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Technology Contract Cards and Coupons for Your Family This Holiday From "A Platform for Good"

My friends at "A Platform for Good" have something very special for all of us this holiday season. 

They have created a wonderful way to spread good ways to promote digital citizenship and online safety with our families, students, and communities during this time of year.  

From their blog,

Are you planning on buying your teen a new piece of technology this holiday season? Perhaps they asked for their first smartphone, the latest gaming system, or a new tablet. Whatever the device, make sure you include the gift of safe and responsible use with our family technology contract cards.
From establishing house rules like phone-free time to understanding privacy settings, these cards are a great way to get the conversation started with your teen about how they should be using their new device.
But they aren’t just for kids. For each contract, parents will have to make a set of promises, too. After all, online safety is a partnership and it works better when you’re in it together.
Here is the link to their Holiday Contract Cards for Families.  You can get the Contract Card PDF's here.

In addition to family contract cards, we’ve got a great gift idea for you – coupons to help you share your technology knowledge with others!
The idea is simple: All you have to do is download your favorite coupon and give it to a family member or friend. Then, they can cash it in for two hours of your time and know-how.
Whether it’s assisting with setting up their new mobile phone or laptop, or if they’re just looking to spend a few tech-free hours with you, these six coupons are a great addition to holiday giving.
Here is a link to their Holiday Technology Coupons.  You can get the Coupon Card PDF's here too.

We can all use a little help when it comes to keeping our children and students safe and responsible online and when using technology.  Please check out these easy and fun ways to do this from "A Platform for Good" too.

You can also connect with them and the great things they are doing on Twitter at @platformforgood and their Facebook page.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

10 Digital Tools For Your Library and Classroom.....My EasyBib Webinar

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a webinar for EasyBib Professional Development Series.  I had a great time sharing several different digital tools and ideas on how to integrate these tools into the library and classroom.

My webinar was called 10 Digital Tools For Your Library and Classroom.  You can find the recording above or at this link.
You can also view the presentation slides at this link.
Caity Seeleck, the in-house library for EasyBib and ResearchReady, wrote this nice post yesterday on the EasyBib Blog too.
Earlier in the fall I did another webinar called There's A Digital Tool For That! 

Thank you Caity, Emily Gover, and all my wonderful friends at EasyBib for these opportunities to work with all of you.  I love what EasyBib brings to all of our young people at Van Meter and to all of us.  

Check out EasyBib online and on Twitter at @EasyBib.

Loren Long Reads Us Our Favorite Christmas Story....."An Otis Christmas"

We have a favorite author at our school who is known for drawing the cutest little tractor ever.  The little people ask me to read his books over and over in the library.  They are always checked out and asked to be held more than any other picture books. Our guidance counselor, Eldonna Skahill, reads them to our elementary students as she talks about friendship, people, and "bucket fillers."
That's right.....I am talking about Otis and his wonderful creator, author and illustrator, Loren Long.
As we got his new book An Otis Christmas in the library, our students asked me over and over if we could Skype with Loren again. 
We first joined Loren and a few other schools in a Google Hangout for Read for the Record this fall. You can read about it at Otis and Loren Long Visits Van Meter To Celebrate "Read for the Record" With All Of Us.  It was great fun.  
This week after Loren showed us around his studio and told us about the book he is working on, he read to Lynne Caltrider's kindergarteners and Ann Volk's third graders.
 We all loved listening to the beautiful Christmas story.
 The illustration on this page is one of my favorites of all time.
It was fun to see all of the children so happy and excited about Loren being there with them.
After he read, it was time for them to ask Loren questions.  They always have the best ones to share.  
 This is my son Hagan who couldn't wait to ask Loren a question again.
They told Loren all about how Otis is a "bucket filler".  
When asked what his favorite book that he wrote was Loren told us the story about The Little Engine That Could
Having it be one of his favorites when he was little, it meant a lot to him when he got to create his very own version.
Thank you Loren for joining all of us to read our new favorite Christmas story.  It means a lot to us when you connect and share your stories and art work.  
On Loren's website, the kids love going to this page from An Otis Christmas.  
And there are a few games on Loren's just happens to be an Otis Puzzle Game featuring An Otis Christmas too.
You can also find all of Loren's books on his website.  And find him on Twitter at @LorenLong