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!