Category Archives: Reading

Skype author visit

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 holly_frilot@gwinnett.k12.ga.us 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

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In Defense of E-Reading

Call it a backlash.  This holiday season increased the world of e-books and e-readers by something like a jillion fold according to my highly scientific sources.  So in January we had a couple of e-book grouches unload on this new budding trend.

Travis Jonker had an article in the School Library Journal (of all places) called snippily enough, “Fine. I Got an E-Reader. Now What?”  I already responded to him on my own blog.  Doug Johnson took it even further in a post on his blog, calling Mr. Jonker “reactionary” and in the comments said that the SLJ promoting his views was “detrimental to the profession.”  Ouch.

Now we have Jonathan Franzen, the world’s grumpiest writer, getting into the fray.  Not only does he not like e-readers, he fears “it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence [like printed books]. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”  Link to the whole grump here.

Huh?  E-readers are somehow going to lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it?

Science writer Carl Zimmer steps ups to defend e-readers in a wonderful article from Discover magazine.  In Franzen’s diatribe he uses The Great Gatsby as an example of a text that “doesn’t need to be refreshed.”  This leads Zimmer to muse of the differences of Fitzgerald’s minor masterpiece in print and digital formats.  “It’s certainly true that ebooks are an awkward young format that’s still sloppy and hard to manage,” he says.  Then he goes on to speculate, “I expect ebooks will follow much the same trajectory as paperbacks. They will start out being frowned upon as shabby, and then they will deliver literature conveniently to millions of people who might not otherwise have read it.”  To hear more of Mr. Zimmer’s cogent thoughts, listen to him interviewed on this topic (and answering callers) on a podcast from Wisconsin Public Radio.

Jonathan Segura has a defense on NPR’s Monkey See blog called, No More E-Books Vs. Print Books Arguments, OK?  The gist of his argument is similar to one I’ve made before: “It’s not an either/or proposition. You can choose to have your text delivered on paper with a pretty cover, or you can choose to have it delivered over the air to your sleek little device…We should worry less about how people get their books and — say it with me now! — just be glad that people are reading.”

Committee Members Needed: Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers

Good afternoon,

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:

http://georgiapeachaward.org/2011-2012-vote-voting-ends-midnight-march-15-2012
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!

http://georgiapeachaward.org/reading-committee

 
Mary K. Donovan

Mary_Kay_Donovan@gwinnett.k12.ga.us

Media Specialist

Mill Creek High School

678-714-5846

Vice-Chair, GA Peach Book Award for Teens

Celebrating Literacy in the Library and Inviting Participation

How do you invite a participatory culture in your library?  For me, this is a term that is an embedded part of my philosophy.  I strive to find ways for students to have multiple opportunities to connect, participate, collaborate, and create in the media center throughout the year.  All students don’t participate every time, which is fine, but my goal is to offer enough variety of experiences through collaborative lessons, resource promotions, and incentives/contests that every student has a chance to find a place to participate during the year.

After several impromptu conversations with parents and teachers recently, I’ve come to value the power of library sponsored literacy contests and reading promotions.  Teachers have mentioned that they love the “choice” that is a part of these contests and promotions because they see such a variety of students who participate.  Parents have commented to me that their child had no interest in writing poetry or essays until a contest came along.  Multiple parents have mentioned the motivating power of these contests.  My parapro and I have seen how the simple interactive component of stamping a box on a piece of paper can give direction in choosing new books outside of comfort zones and motivation to try something new.

What have I done this year?

  • In September/October, students had sheets where they were asked to read books from different categories of the library such as biographies, informational, graphic novel, fiction, etc.  Each time they read one of these books, they earned a stamp, and they stamped their papers themselves.  When they completed their sheets, they had their name displayed in the media center on our book fair decorations and had their name entered into a drawing for a book fair gift certificate.  Requirements for the sheets were different for each grade level.
  • In October, we partnered with a few other schools in the district and Avid Bookshop, a local independent bookstore, and held a Mysteries of Harris Burdick writing contest.  Students in every grade wrote stories based on the images of the book by Chris Van Allsburg.  We judged the final pieces at the school level to choose the best pieces and sent those on to Avid Bookshop for a local competition.  Avid recruited authors and other community members to select several finalists who were honored at a celebration at the bookshop.  One winner was chosen to enter a national competition.  All students who entered the contest received a certificate of participation.
  • In November, we celebrated National Picture Book Month.  Picture books were promoted all month long on our morning broadcast, and students kept a record of all of the picture books they read for the month, no matter where they came from or whether they were read to them or by themselves.  Depending on how many books students read they earned a bookmark, picture book month certificate, and their name in a drawing for free picture books.  We had about 180 students turn in sheets out of 500 students and over 3,500 picture books were logged during November.

What else is coming this year?

  • In January and February, we will sponsor a persuasive writing contest.  At the moment, we think this will be a spin-off of picture book month.  The picture book month site has several essays by authors about the importance of picture books that could serve as mentor texts for students.  I have already promoted this in collaborative meetings with teachers as a possible project I might work on with whole classes or groups of students.  Students will write pieces about the importance of picture books.
  • In March, we will hold another reading promotion leading up to our spring book fair where students earn stamps.
  • In April, our 2nd annual poetry contest will be held.  This was a huge success last year with over 150 entries from students.  Poems can be written in any form (rhyming, list poetry, free verse, acrostic, etc) and any platform (a napkin, hand written on paper, typed and printed, Animoto, Photo Story, etc).  This year we may partner with Avid Bookshop to extend the contest beyond our school.  The contest will culminate in our annual Poem in Your Pocket Day open mic cafe where all students share poetry into a microphone in the media center.  This event will be broadcast live on the web through Adobe Connect.

These contests and promotions are just one layer of the participatory culture of the Barrow Media Center, but they have come to be a piece that students, teachers, and families appreciate and expect.  These promotions and contests run simultaneously with the multiple collaborative lessons and projects that take place in the library and by no means replace other purposes of the library.  I will continue to evaluate their relevance to our program and always look to give even more students opportunities to connect and create in our library.  How are you celebrating literacy and inviting participation in your library?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Using Poll Everywhere to Craft Poetry

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

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons