World Read Aloud Day: A Blog Post from Two Perspectives

This blog post is about a collaborative project between a high school librarian and an elementary school librarian. Since the project was collaborative, we thought the blog post should be too! Enjoy a blog from two perspectives: written by Michelle Shiles, elementary librarian (in blue) and Kristen Mattson, high school librarian (in green).


Tomorrow is World Read Aloud Day? It would be so fun to work in an elementary school and be able to participate in something like that. I wish high school kids would let me read aloud to them. Oh well….

Wait, a minute! I have an idea!

What do you do when a last minute opportunity to collaborate with another librarian appears?  I say, “Jump on it!”  

This is exactly what happened to me on February 15th, the day before World Read Aloud Day.

Sure, it was less than 24 hours from the official World Read Aloud Day when the idea came to me, but I knew there had to be at least one librarian as crazy as I am who would be willing to try something radically different and totally last minute. So I sent out a quick email and waited to see what would happen.

Before February 15th, there was a passionate effort among the district librarians to organize a World Read Aloud celebration. I was asked to participate but passed on these opportunities due to workload, and my perception that our staff wasn’t looking for an additional library event.

So, when Kristen Mattson reached out to the elementary libraries about possibly connecting through Google hangouts to celebrate World Read Aloud Day with high schoolers, I lazily forwarded the e-mail.

Within five minutes, I had teachers at my office door and e-mails crowding my inbox. Boy, was I mistaken! There was definitely interest and excitement about this possible collaboration.

Michelle was the first to reply to my email and said she had several teachers interested in having one of our students read to their class. Now the pressure was on to find a bunch of high school kids who would be willing to spend part of their lunch hour doing a read aloud to a classroom of elementary school students via Google Hangout.

In the end, we had six classes sign up to participate, which equated to roughly 140 students who would experience a read-aloud from a high school student.

It turns out that the teachers at Michelle’s school were not the only ones interested in participating in the Global Read Aloud. By the end of the afternoon, I had classrooms from six different elementary schools on our schedule and 22 high school students EXCITED about missing part of their lunch to read books aloud in front of a webcam. I had a feeling we might actually pull off something awesome!

Teachers were enthusiastic, but a little nervous about the technology demands. Kristen ran a test hangout with me the day before, and we were all ready for the students to “hang out” with the high schoolers on the actual day. In the end, I was only there for moral support. Several teachers mentioned that they were impressed with the technology and how simple things worked during the event.

On the day of the event, every high school student that promised to show up actually did. They shuffled through the pile of picture books I had brought along from home, and got excited as they recognized titles from their own elementary school days. One student from an AP Spanish class even agreed to read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” in Spanish to a class of English language learners!

Not only did our students see the high school readers, but they also got to see other classroom audiences across the district. Students exhibited positive behaviors during the reading and asked thoughtful questions to the readers. My favorite part was when the students silently showed excitement, through waves or silent cheers. It was fun to see other audiences bopping with delight, too.

It was really cute to see the high schoolers embrace their position as role models. They read with enthusiasm and showed the pictures to the camera. After the books were over, the students agreed to answer some questions from the audience. My favorite part of the day was when a tiny kindergartner came up to the microphone and asked, “how do you even read so good, anyway?”

This day became the perfect event. All the stars aligned and the experience exceeded everyone’s expectations. I am thankful for colleagues willing to organize spontaneous collaborations and for teachers willing to take last minute detours into celebrating fun and reading.

Who says World Read Aloud Day isn’t for high school students? I think this event might become a new yearly tradition at Waubonsie Valley High School!

 

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Our event – pictures from two perspectives!

Girls

 

Selfies and Sneak Attacks

Contributed by Rhonda Jenkins, elementary librarian

Something that I love doing is taking pictures of my students in action in the library. I catch them reading alone, with others, or just having a fun time in the library. Most of the photos I take are “sneak attacks,” so I can catch them unprepared instead of posing. When I come across a particularly precious moment, I’ll forward it to their parents in an email with a subject of “Today in the LMC.” Parents respond with a huge thank you! I try to send photos to different families each month. I pick a Friday night to stay at work and flip through the photos and choose families to send them out to.

This year I also added a selfie-station in the LMC. It’s a counter-mounted iPad with a Bluetooth clicker. It’s designed for students to take a picture of themselves with the books they check out. You can only imagine the selfies that I see: serious, goofy, extremely goofy, single shots, group shots, etc. I Tweet out the photos using #KendallReaders. Many times I’ll also include the author’s name in the Tweet. When the author responds, I share that Tweet with my students. They are very excited to know that the author of their favorite books “Like” the Tweets and respond!

Using “sneak-attacks” and selfies has been one more way for me to connect to the families that I serve, keep my students excited about reading, and model the types of connections students can make through digital platforms like Twitter.

Happy reading (and photographing!)

Oh, For the Love of Reading

Contributed by Rhonda Jenkins, elementary librarian

Meet Asha, one fierce 5th grade reader.

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Last year she was one of my top readers. In fact, she read 314 books during her 4th grade year. So far this year, she’s read 87! Ahsa can check out five books on a Friday and return them all read on Monday. Not only that, she remembers details from each book that would boggle your mind!

When asked, “Why do you read?” Asha responded:

Ms. Jenkins, you asked me, “Why do I read?” I read because it brings me comfort. I love the feeling of when I find a good book.

When I read, it distracts me from what is going on in the world. When I read, sometimes it is like time stops. And I like the feeling when you get to that one moment in the book where everything in the story makes sense, and I just don’t want to put the book down.

Also I love all of the information that a book can give you even if it is a fictional book. There are so many books that I enjoy  reading. I like the Maximum Ride books,and the I.Q series. With those books I felt like I had to read and finish each book!

So I will say that I mostly read just for the fun it and not because I have to for school. I do it for the enjoyment!

Asha D., 5th Grader

Future Ready Librarians – Continue building relationships with kids, telling their stories, and celebrating their accomplishments alongside them!

A Celebration of Picture Books

Contributed by Rhonda Jenkins, elementary librarian

November was National Picture Book Month; my school celebrated it with a challenge!

Students and teachers were challenged to read as many picture books as possible during the month of November! They diligently tracked, tallied, and turned in their numbers each week.

What students read individually was included on the tracking sheet, but also…

  • If families read together, each child in the family could count it.
  • If brothers and sisters read together, they both tracked it.
  • If friends read with each other, both of them put it on their tracking sheets.
  • If any non-classroom teacher read to the whole class in the LMC, each child in the class could count it.

Any type of picture book could be read: storybook, biography, nonfiction, wordless, graphic novels, etc.

We had some special events for the month:

  • November 10 (parent-teacher conference night) – Digital Connections were made with a relative. We used Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout to have a relative read a picture book or two.
  • We made connections with schools in Texas, New Jersey and New York to see how many we could read together!
  • We encouraged students to Read the Author Alphabet – They read a picture book by an author’s last name for every letter of the alphabet!

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The winners . . .

We are all winners because  we read!

But, the classroom that read the most picture books for the month won $250 in Scholastic Dollars to enhance their classroom library. The winning 3rd grade class read  1,859 picture books!

Third grade was also the grade level that read the most, so they won a grandparent read-in event.  They read 3,080 picture books!

It was a lot of fun! Check out our statistics:

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After all tally sheets were completely turned in, we actually read 12,001 picture books as a school! Amazing!!! This means students were exposed to at least 12,001,000 words!

The best part of this challenge was the feedback I received from families. One parent wrote regarding her 2nd grader:

Ms. Jenkins,

The Picture Book Challenge is the greatest idea! Annabelle’s been reading like crazy since, and we need not remind her to read at all!


What a joy it was to connect with great picture books.