Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Wonder of Books and Stories That Matter....Please Read This Post!

Two weeks ago, my friend Sharisse and her husband TJ went through an event that will change their lives forever.  I was so happy to see them at a football game a few days after the accident and to hear things would be okay.  

That night after we were home from Hagan's game, Sharisse, who was also one of my students several years ago, 
texted me this message.  

I have never been so moved by any other message.  I know that books and stories matter to everyone in unique and special ways.  And this story was one that I will never forget. 

She went on to share more of their story, 

While my daughter was lying hopeless after a near-drowning incident, my husband and I were grasping for anything to comfort our lifeless, sweet girl! Though she was revived, we were supposed to wait 72 hours to see if she would come back. After that we would assess the brain damage that we assumed would inevitably be present. Reading her very favorite book, which she reads multiple times a day, seemed the obvious choice to pass the time. 
Her Daddy went home that night, to stay and comfort our 3 other kids, and as soon as he got the other kids tucked safely in bed, he recorded himself reading "her" book! As I held up the recording to show our heavily sedated girl, Be a Star Wonder Woman, I sobbed and pleaded that she could be our very own Wonder Woman! 
She was prepared, she was kind, she was brave, she was honest, she was strong, she was our hero!

No book has ever described our little hero more perfectly. She had to be OKAY! We needed her in our family. She made us all better! 

As her Daddy finished and tears streamed down my face, she opened her beautiful, brown eyes for the first time since the accident! Our baby girl was ALIVE! Not only was she alive, but she had recognized these wonderful, familiar words! She opened her eyes as a request to read those words again. I played it again for her over and over that long, sleepless night (for me) as she peacefully rested. She rested peacefully knowing that she was all those things; I rested peacefully knowing that not only was she, but that she IS all those things.

Though the days were long and hard, those special words gave us hope in our darkest moments those 72 hours! This book matters! It gave a special 2 year old girl the courage to fight for her life. 

We are humbled! Only through the grace of God was our baby allowed to live with no brain damage! 
We rest easier knowing our girl IS prepared, 
she IS kind, 
she IS brave, 
she IS honest, she IS strong, 
she IS a hero! 

Thank you Michael Dahl for your inspired words. God used many people as instruments and living angels to save a precious child that dreadful day. 

You were one of them. 

Your creation helped create a real life Wonder Woman, and she is a wonder!
At the time Sharisse shared this story, she didn't know that my husband, Eric Fitzgerald, is the Vice President of Capstone.  
Michael Dahl is a close friends of ours. I shared their story with Michael and Eric.  They have shared it with our friends at Capstone, who truly does make a difference with the books they write, illustrated and publish every single day.  
And Michael, who sent me this message on Facebook, can't wait to give this to Sharisse's little girl. 

Our readers are wonders.

And to Sharisee, TJ and Rai, you taught us about being the wonder too!  

Skyping With Brianna In Her Library In Belgium & Other Libraries Around The World....Our 4th Graders Are Making Global Connections!

Last week, Kate Lamoureux, one of our fourth grade teachers reached out to me with a special request. Her class was reading a text all about libraries and how children get their books around the world and she wondered if I could help them make some global connections. 
We reached out to friends and colleagues in Hong Kong, India, Oman, Dubai, Amsterdam, Australia, many in the United States, and other places around the world.  We asked them to share pictures, video tours and any other information they want to share about their library and books.

If you would like to share your library, please go to our Padlet that you can find here.
So far, they have heard from two schools in Hong Kong and one in India. I love how Kate and her students mark where they are making this connections on this map in their classroom.
One of the best connections we made was with my daughter, Brianna, who lives in Belgium where her husband, Jaden, is stationed in the United States Army. 
Jaden is stationed on the Chievres Airbase in Belgium.  
The Chievres Library is the library they go to on base.  As they love to read, they go there often to check out books and ask the librarian for help. 
 Brianna couldn't wait to show our 4th graders around the library too. 
As we Skyped with her, she showed....
...the different areas of the library and....
...where they get their resources such as books, audiobooks, movies and more. 
Next, she introduced us to their librarian, who shared different library events such as....
...Banned Book Week and...
...special events the library sponsors throughout the year. 
Kate's students did a wonderful job asking him lots of questions about their library, books,
the children in Belgium, living on an Army base,
food, weather and more.  
It was such a fantastic experience for our students....and for Brianna too.  

We can't wait to see where their global connections will take them next! 

TOP DOG, Student Librarian of the Day...A New Program For Our Library!

Tomorrow, we are going to kick off a new program in our library for our students!  

It is called TOP DOG, Student Librarian of the Day and will feature a new student each day from every classroom during their library rotation.  
Since we are on a 4-week, week long rotation with every grade levels in the library, this will mean that we will have 4 to 5 TOP DOG's from each class per week when it is their library rotation.  

By giving all of our students in kindergarten through fifth grade this opportunity, we will empower and give them an even bigger voice within the library through pride of our space, program and most of all, of themselves.  
To get started, we needed a badge for our TOP DOGS to wear. 

We found these nice lanyards and plastic holders on Amazon.  
We decided on the horizontal ones with the black lanyard.  As you can see, there are lots of colors to choose from.  We ordered 25 so each of our classrooms will have their own for the TOP DOG Student Librarian of the Day in their room.
Next, we created the little card to go inside the badge.  We wanted it to fit the theme of the Van Meter Bulldogs, so we went with TOP DOG, Student Librarian of the Day! 

It is easy to create these by looking at the size on the package and setting the dimensions specifically to that.  That way there is no guessing when you go to print and cut the badges out.
On the back of the badge, the TOP DOG JOBS will be listed.  Instead of Jessica and I deciding and writing these out, we are going to let our students decide on these.  Again, we want them to have ownership and pride in this job and for our library.

To manage this, we are going to give every classroom their own TOP DOG badge.  We will rotate through their class list in alphabetical order throughout the year giving all students an equal opportunity to be the TOP DOG! 

We can't wait to see what being the TOP DOG will mean to our students and community within the library.  We will report back on the jobs they come up with and how our TOP DOG, Student Librarian of the Day program goes this week.  

There is a bulletin board outside of our library that we will turn into the TOP DOG LIBRARY too. 

I can't help but wonder....will they want to wear their TOP DOG badge all day long!  :) 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Digital Citizenship Word Clouds From Van Meter!

As we wrapped our first week of talking about and putting our digital citizenship skills into play,
our elementary students brainstormed words that described what they knew about digital citizenship and leadership to create word clouds.
Not only would they learn about word clouds and different digital tools to create them,
this project would give our students an authentic way to practice keyboarding by typing the words...
...and coming up with words of their own to include in the word clouds.

Let's look at how we did this with our little ones! 

For this project, we used...., Word Clouds! 
After we discussed digital citizenship and brainstormed words that described us as digital citizens, we passed out the sheets with words and phrases which would help guide them in this project. 
We would be using the Word Cloud site, so we added it to our kindergarten through third grade Symbaloo.  This is what we do with all of the resources that we use.  They can always get to these sites and resources easily
Once they clicked on Word Cloud, they typed in words that described digital them and those they learned too.
After the words were all typed in, they click on CREATE and it gave them several options... make their word cloud unique and special. 
They can select several color combinations, 
fonts, word limit, 
and can even randomize the words, fonts and layout.
It is easy for them to save their word clouds by clicking on Menu.  This also gives them the option to Edit, Print and create a New word cloud too. 
It was so much fun listening to the conversations, 
taking in the creating, and...
...seeing the creating that was happening from our youngest digital citizens. 
 They were all so proud of the voice they had in this project and we all loved seeing....
 ...all of the word clouds they created.
Every one was special....
 ...and unique.

Just like each one of our students and the voice they have as digital citizens too.