Sunday, June 22, 2014

How A Student's Voice One Saturday Night Opened Another Window & Changed My Life Again

Yesterday I was driving to Indianapolis with my son Hagan to meet up with my friends for the Wandoo Planet Think Tank event.  There was a few bad storms, some crazy directions, and a couple other little detours so Hagan and I were so very ready to get to Indianapolis.

When we were about a hour away, at 7:30pm, one of my students Shae called my cell phone.

She was so excited that I answered.  Shae said, "Mrs. Miller, this is Shae.  I have an idea that I'd like to talk to you about."

I told her how nice it was to hear from her and that I couldn't wait for her idea.

Shae said, "You know how you have the Van Meter Voice blog. Well, I would like to take my newspaper and put it online, like you do with your blog."

For the last few years, Shae has created this wonderful newspaper filled with news, events, and fun stories she collects from her friends and teachers at school. Then by using word processing tools on her computer at home she puts it together, prints it off, and brings it to school to share.  It is amazing and I love how much pride she takes in her very own newspaper.

And now she wanted to take it one step further...I couldn't wait to help her do this!

Shae and I made plans to get together on Tuesday morning and start her new blogging adventure.  I can't wait to be able to share this with all of you.
After we hung up, I started thinking about her call.  I thought about Shae and all of the students I have been blessed to work with.  I thought about Hagan sitting next to me and all of the things we learned on our road trip across three states on our way to meet up with a few of my favorite teacher librarians.

I grabbed my phone and opened up Voice Notes so I could make sure I remembered Shae's conversation and all of these thoughts.

This is the big overall thought..... We know that our young people need and want someone to support and lift up their passions.  We all see this need when they are in school.....what about when they are outside of school?  What about weekends and summers?  As an educator and someone who loves the voice that our children have, I want to give them opportunities to learn, create, connect, and teach anytime they want in the best possible environments we can provide for them.

We are so fortunate to live in a world with social media and online networks that allow our young people to connect with each other and the world.  They have amazing digital tools and devices that will allow them be creative and collaborate.

I want to make sure we are giving them not only the resources that they need, but also the people and support they need.  We need to make sure they know that their voice matters all year long....not just during the hours that we have within our libraries and classrooms.
One of the stops that Hagan and I made on our road trip was to President Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois.  It was so powerful walking through the beautiful old home and listening to the stories being told by the park rangers.  

I especially loved the stories about how President Lincoln helped the children in his town....all of the children.  He loved giving them opportunities and a chance for education.  He entertained differences and advocated for their voices.  

As we listened, I saw this window open above the stairway.  I thought about how he always made sure windows were open, never closed, for new thinking, relationships, and hope.  

I thought about this window and these stories again after Shae called.  

It made me think about new windows being opened from all my thoughts and what this could mean to Shae, Hagan, and all of our young people.  It made me think about how we are inspired to open windows and bring in new ideas and opportunities to change education.  It made me think about the voice they have and how we must be there to give them a chance to change things too.  

Their voice will change education.  We need to listen, support, and most of all.....we need to give them the chance to be heard.  

Once again their voice will change my life.   

Just like Shae's did on Saturday night. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Unite For Literacy.....Brings Our Young Readers Free eBooks In 15 Different Languages

Last week I visited Eagle County School District in Colorado.  I had such a wonderful time visiting several schools and library programs in their district.  

My dear friend Barbara Romersheuser, who is the district library media coordinator, and I had a great time learning and working together during my visit. 
Barbara and I were talking about eBooks, books, and other online resources.  She was super excited to show me a website with dozens of free eBooks about different subjects and topics, illustrations and photographs.

It is called Unite For Literacy.
The books can be read in 15 different languages...
and children will find the voices very engaging and pleasant to listen to as they read each eBook.
When I checked out the website a little more, I loved reading their vision and what they want to accomplish with their website.

It is one that everyone will want to check out and share with your school community too.

Especially with the summer is perfect for summer reading!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Inspire Kids To Go Out Into The World And Be Noble With "Be A Noble Kid"

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Kati Robins, one of the founders of Be A Noble Kid.  I just love what I learned about their mission and how they are empowering kids to be noble.

I can't wait to get my students involved in this organization next year, but I couldn't wait to share more about Be A Noble Kid with all of you.

I asked Kati to write up a post for my blog and here it is....
Be A Noble Kid is a provider of content to help inspire children to go out in the world and be noble!

Our goal at Be A Noble Kid is to cultivate character, values, and a sense of responsibility in elementary aged children by providing resources, lessons, activities, volunteer opportunities, support, and inspiration to parents, teachers, and all adults who are active in a child’s upbringing. 

Our website provides lessons, resources, and activities to aid in developing social skills and life lessons that will empower children to develop into leaders through communication, reflection, and service. Our hope is that our resources open the lines of communication and opportunity between adults, children, and their communities.

We’ve gotten a great deal of support from our constituents, and are continuing to drive interaction with our newsletters, website, book clubs and partnerships with community and educational organizations. We want you to join our Noble movement!  

Here are some ways to get involved:
Visit us at and check out all that we have to offer. As you do the different character building activities with your children, take pictures and email us your feedback.  We would love your input!

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. We provide a manageable amount of character education resources, delivered straight to your inbox, that you can incorporate throughout the month.

Like Us on Facebook to receive daily character building activities and ideas, helpful articles and resources, and inspirational stories and quotes.

Let's work together to create a generation of Noble leaders!

The Bammy Awards.....Honored To Be One Of The School Librarians Award Finalists for 2014

Last week, The Bammy Awards announced the award finalists for 2014.  

I am honored and excited to be one of the finalists in the School Librarian category.  

And to make it even more special my dear friends Elissa Malespina, Jennifer LaGarde, Laura Fleming, and Jonathan Werner are included in this group as well.   
On September 27th, the finalists and so many others will be honored in Washington D.C. at Bammy Awards ceremony.  It will be another beautiful night surrounded by educators, friends, and others who are making a difference in education and the lives of our young people.  

Thank you to everyone who nominated me for this award.  Once again, this is a wonderful honor and group to be included in.  I am very thankful for all of you.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"In This Together Media" Is Making A Difference With Their Young Adult Books About Real Teens

Last week I had one of the best times with my dear new friends Saira, Rebekah, and Sand.
I am lucky enough to have met them through my connection with Saira and her business partner Carey when they asked me to be part of the educational advisory board for their publishing company In This Together Media
Shortly after connecting with Saira and Carey, we also joined together with the third graders and young people all over the world to form "Banding Together", which is making a difference in orphanages and children's lives in India and other places.
You can read all about "Banding Together" and learn how to get involved on our Smore that we created.  Please reach out to me at @shannonmmiller on Twitter or if you are interested in joining us in making a difference in the world too.  We would love to have you be part of "Banding Together".

Not only do I think Saira and Carey, and the authors of the books they have published, like my friend Rebekah Crane, are amazing for what they have created with In This Together Media, the magazine Fast Company released a wonderful article this week shouting their praises too!
In the article The Stars Of These Young Adult Books Swear, Struggle, and Generally Act Like Real Teens, Fast Company has captured the essence and importance of the young adult books they publish such as Aspen by Rebekah.
As Carey states,

"The mom is a flawed character--she had Aspen under a tree at a Widespread Panic concert at 16," says Carey Albertine, cofounder of the book's Denver-based publisher In This Together Media. "There's a parade of men through the house, and she smokes pot, which is not great--Aspen will mention that her mom hasn't gotten off the couch for a while. But their relationship is also funny and warm, and for all her flaws you also see how loving and nurturing she is to Aspen."

I know you will love reading this article to find out what the books being published by In This Together Media hold for all of our young people and us.  

Thank you Saira and Carey for bringing us such beautiful stories and for making a difference in the world with the books you are publishing.