Category Archives: Activities
Gail Giles, a YA author that has appeal to guys, girls, high and low level readers, Skyped into Collins Hill HS a few weeks ago. I was a nervous wreck, anticipating the many things that could go wrong when you combine teenagers, technology, and the first attempt at something new. However, it was a resounding success! Gail Giles was witty and fun, and our students did a wonderful job asking questions and keeping the conversation going. If you want to see the highlights, see our short video here. If you want more details, keep reading…
Amy Golemme, my co-media specialist, and I brainstormed authors that would have mass appeal. Gail Giles was our first thought, so I took a shot in the dark and emailed her. She emailed back quickly and we got the details planned out – one test session a few days before, then 2 sessions during our 2nd and 3rd periods. We decided to use the media center to keep it cozy and inviting, rather than a larger space like the commons area or theater. I made signs for the hallways and classrooms and the media center. I went into all the 9th and 10th grade LA classes to promote it. Students that wanted to participate had to read at least one of her books, answer a few questions, and write a few questions they’d like to ask her. For those students, I gave them a pass out of class during 2nd or 3rd period and they were our VIPs. I also invited two language arts classes per session and any media specialists from the around the county that could come.
In Gwinnett, we aren’t allowed to use Skype, but we do have an alternative – Polycom and the Blue Jeans network. We use those tools and the author uses Skype. Kevin Tomlinson from the county was excellent technical support for us and helped put my technology fears to rest. On the day of the event, we set up about 80 chairs in the media center, created VIP seats, put out a breakfast spread, set up the technology, and hoped for the best! Gail came on, introduced herself, and then we had the students come up to the computer to ask questions. We had a webcam and external mic hooked up to my laptop. The students asked good questions, and Gail was entertaining, funny, and informative. When I polled the students after the event, they all said they had a positive experience and many expressed interest in doing it again. One student even turned in a top ten list of authors she’d like to Skype with!
If you have any questions or want templates for signs, the handout students filled out, or any other details, don’t hestitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 770.682.4126. It was a lot of work, but a great experience for us and for the students.
Holly Frilot, Collins Hill High School
Next month, the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers winner and two honor books will be announced at the Kennesaw State University’s Annual Conference on Literature for Young Adults. Just a reminder that the voting for this year’s award ends on March 15. Teens vote online at the Peach Award website:
The committee is now accepting applications for the 2012 -2013 Committee. If you currently work with teens at the library, love YA books, and love to read (and get tons of free books) then this is the committee for you!!! This 12 member committee reads and reviews over 100 YA novels and non-fiction texts each year. In February, the committee selects the 20 nominees for the upcoming award; then Georgia teens vote for their top three titles. Comprised of both high school media specialists and public library staff who work with teens, this committee provides insight into current YA literature trends and the opportunity to review the best of the best titles available.
If you are interested in becoming a committee member, please take a look at the website for more information about the Peach Award and to complete your application. And if you have any questions or need additional details about the committee, please do not hesitate to email or call me–I am happy to help!
Mary K. Donovan
Mill Creek High School
Vice-Chair, GA Peach Book Award for Teens
Until September 28th, I am hosting the Ashley Bryan Traveling Exhibit of Illustrated Africana Children’s Literature featuring the artwork of Shadra Strickland. This exhibit showcases 8 works of art from the books White Water, Bird, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, Our Children Can Soar, and Eliza’s Freedom Road. There is also a curriculum guide that incorporates the art and books into lessons about making text to text and text to self connections, response to literature, and more. I took these lessons and wondered how I might adapt them to various kinds of learning that I try to support in my media center.
One of lessons invites students to write “Where I’m From” poems from the perspective of a character in the story or artwork. I wondered how I might support students in writing a collaborative “where I’m from” poem rather than individual poems, so I turned to Poll Everywhere
Poll everywhere allows you to create an open ended or multiple choice questions that students can respond to in a variety of ways: poll everywhere website, texting, tweeting. With a free educator account, you can receive up to 40 responses per poll and the responses feed into a real-time screen. The responses can be downloaded into an Excel file, used in a word cloud, or scrolled through on the poll everywhere site.
For my lesson, I shared George Ella Lyon’s original “Where I’m From” poem as well as a template that pointed out pieces of the poem such as phrases, everyday items, foods, etc. Then, students thought of lines that might be in their own poems and shared them with partners or with the whole group. We moved into reading White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland. This book details an African American boy’s curiosity with what it might be like to drink water from the “whites only” fountain during segregation. All along the way, we paused and thought about possible lines that the main character in the story might write in his own “Where I’m From” poem.
Students then moved to computers where I had the Poll Everywhere site pulled up with the question “My line in our where I’m from poem is…”. Each student thought of one line for the poem. The teacher and I conferenced with students about their lines to look for spelling and repetition, and then each student submitted their response. We reconvened in front of the smart board to read our poem, which was already waiting for us on the screen. Finally, we took the words of our poem and pasted them into Tagxedo to make another version of our collaborative poem as well as to look for the words that we used the most and least.
There are numerous uses for Poll Everywhere, but I loved the fact that it could support a collaborative writing effort with a class. The whole process took us less than 45 minutes to complete.
Here is a final poem from a 2nd grade class:
Where I’m From: A Response Poem to the book White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Mrs. Brink’s Class
I am from I know everything from tricking my grandma. from White Water at a water fountain in town. from 6 blocks away from the bus stop. I’m from drinking out of a colored water fountain. from telling a lie to the bus driver. from I can do anything from drinking lots of water because fresh water is good. I AM FROM I’m from not being able to drink the white water from pretending to be sick. from that good ol’ time of riding the bus to town, waiting to drink water. from boy you better not do that I’m from white people sitting in the front seat from going to town with my grandma from trying to get white water because I thought it was fresh and cool. from nasty muddy gritty yuck! from I can do anything I’m from I’m from a water fountain I’m from I can do anything
David C. Barrow Elementary
National Poetry Month doesn’t begin until April 1st, but it’s not too early to start planning (or even celebrating! Why wait?)
Here are a few ideas and resources as we think ahead to Poetry Month, when we celebrate one of the often underutilized sections of our collections.
Read Poetry Aloud
One of the simplest things we can do with poetry is to read it aloud. Many students, especially those in high school, may think of poetry as primarily something to be analyzed. When I hear resistance to poetry, I try to remind students that poetry is experimentation with language. Sometimes playful, sometimes poignant, poetry is meant to be enjoyed.
I read poetry aloud in my classes every time we meet. It seems strange to many of my students at first, but they quickly come to anticipate the experience of listening to poetry read aloud.
Here are a few books I’ve read aloud from recently:
Animal Poems by Valerie Worth (with excellent collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins)
- I read each poem but leave out the name of the animal. Students can guess the animal, based on the wonderfully descriptive words in each poem.
This is Just To Say, Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman
- This book is written as a riff on the famous (some might say infamous) poem by William Carlos William entitled “This is Just To Say.” From the silly to the deeply painful, this book of apologies (and responses) strikes a chord with many students.
The Blacker The Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas
- This book celebrates all the different shades of blackness through lush descriptive verses and beautiful illustrations.
Poetrees by Douglas Florian
- Simple, enchanting poems about all kinds of trees and their virtues. Florian also wrote the delightful Dinothesaurus, Insectlopedia, and many others.
In addition to reading aloud from published books, there will likely be many students writing poetry throughout the month of April. Why not invite a student to read their poem aloud during the daily newscast, or set up a recording station in the library and have students create poetry podcasts?
Speaking of writing poems, there are a number of online tools that connect to poetry. One of my favorites is piclits.com, which features striking pictures and your choice of drag-and-drop words or a freestyle “type your own” option. Strong words are an important part of poetry, and pairing them with images add another layer of meaning. (Note: some of the images provided on piclits.com may be better suited for older students, but this idea would be fairly easy to adapt to a younger age group with some creative commons images and a bank of clever words).
Tagxedo is a site familiar to many of us, but we may not think of word clouds as poems. Tagxedo reminds me of concrete poetry. Concrete poems are great fun to write by hand or online, once again using the visual as a layer of meaning for the writer to consider. (Check out Paul Janeczko’s A Poke In The I for a great collection of concrete poems). As students create concrete poems, we can help them think about what image would work best to share their ideas with an audience. These poems would be easy to collect and post on a website.
For More Ideas…
These are just a few ideas I’ve used to inspire the reading and writing of poetry. There are many other resources you can look to for inspiration.
I hope this post gets you thinking about all the different ways you might celebrate National Poetry Month in your library. Please share your own favorite ideas and resources in the comments!
Department of Language and Literacy Education
The University of Georgia
Mark your calendars. On Thursday March 3, 2011, the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center will hold an open house in honor of its distinction as the Georgia exemplary elementary media program for 2010. The event will last from 7:30AM-4:00PM with student showcases of work and opportunities to tour and explore the kinds of learning that take place inside the Barrow Media Center. Please view the attached schedule to preview the day’s events. Everyone is welcome to attend. RSVPs are greatly appreciated, but not necessary. Stop by for a few minutes or spend the whole day!
If you plan to attend the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature on March 4-5, 2011, this is a great reason to head into Athens early and explore a media center that is just one block away from the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.
David C. Barrow Elementary is located at 100 Pinecrest Drive Athens, GA 30605. Parking is limited in Barrow’s upper and lower lots on Pinecrest Drive, but additional parking is available across Lumpkin Street at the Campus View Church of Christ. Do not park on Rutherford Street or in any UGA lots.
We hope to see you in March.
Send RSVPs or questions to plemmonsa at clarke.k12.ga.us or call (706) 543-2676 ext 38280
David C. Barrow Elementary