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Student Poetry Webcasts

Amazing! Global!  Collaborative!  Snap!  I’m overjoyed by how today’s Poem In Your Pocket Day went.  For the past 3 years, we’ve been observing national poem in your pocket day by carrying poems in our pockets, wearing stickers to promote the day, and holding a day of poetry reading in the media center where every child (and adult) has a chance to read poems into our open microphone.  This year, we tried something new:  a live webcast.  Using Clarke County’s new purchase of Adobe Connect, Joel Frey setup a room for the Barrow Media Center.  The link was sent directly to the PTA listserve and an online registration was setup via Google Forms for anyone else interested.  Registrants on Google Forms were emailed the room link.

Today, 18 classes came to the media center for 20-minute poetry reading sessions.  Students came up one at a time and read their poems.  We all celebrated with snaps.  At the same time via Adobe Connect, parents, media specialists, classrooms within our school, classrooms across the district, and family members in other parts of the United States and the world were watching, listening, and making comments about the student poetry.  As online participants made comments, I shared the comments with the students in between poets.

Amazing things started to happen.  Students started huddling around the computer waiting for the next comment to come in.  They got excited when they saw that someone was typing.  They wondered why someone didn’t make a comment about their poem.  They kept asking, “You mean people can really see us?  They’re watching us right now?”  Students took over the computer while I got up to make announcements and when I read my own poem.  In a matter of minutes, they discovered multiple functions of the Adobe Connect software just by watching it in action.  It was electric.

Online, participants made comments about how much they appreciated being able to connect with their child, nephew, cousin, etc.  People joined us from multiple locations:  Mrs. Marsha West, Barrow’s former media specialist, joined us from Lincoln, Nebraska.  One student had family members join us from Chicago, Illinois, Cohutta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Another student had an uncle tune in from Afghanistan.  Parents explored a technology that many had never tried, and they appreciated this opportunity to think about learning and connecting globally in a new way.

At the same time, every teacher in the school got to see a new technology in action, and now the ideas are beginning to spark about how this can be used in the future.  At least two teachers have already approached me with ideas for future events or lessons.

Did everything work perfectly? Well……no.  However, I learned many things along the way.  Think about how to market your event.  I posted on my blog, facebook, PTA listserve, and sent some personal invitations.  This opportunity to webcast came only one week before my event, so I didn’t have a lot of time.  I would have tried other avenues of invitation if time had allowed.  It is a good idea to have someone who can login and monitor sound quality while you manage the chat, camera, audio, and recording.  If you have a registration process, it’s good to have that same person managing audio also watch for new registrants so the link can quickly be sent out.  Using a wired connection is better than using wireless.  My wireless dropped me off the network twice, and I had to get back into the room.  It was quick to fix and not a big deal, but I wish it could have been avoided.  The great thing about Adobe Connect is that even though I was dropped from the room all of the people were still in the room when I got back and everything was just as I had left it.  You should also think about what part of your session you want to record.  I pressed record at the beginning of each session and stopped at the end of each session so that separate archive links were created for each class.  Also, think about what your users need to see on their screen.  For the first few sessions, Joel Frey, my technology integration specialist, helped me arrange the chat, webcam, participant list, and power point on the screen so that it could be seen by all in a logical way.  Originally, I made the video full screen, but participants weren’t really sure which class was reading poems.  By putting the slide with the class name, grade, and time beside the video, it was easy for users to stay informed.  Finally, I had to periodically remind people in the chat to participate.  For many, this was a new experience, so it was important to give them reminders and tools on how to connect with students through their comments, snaps, and virtual applause button.

This afternoon, as I walked down the halls, a student stopped me and said, “Mr. Plemmons, did anyone else make a comment about my poem?”  Kids want authentic audiences beyond their classroom walls.  Thank you, Clarke County for giving us this tool.  Now, our task is to keep using it, seeking out authentic audiences, connecting with experts around the globe, and collaborating with classrooms in our own district and beyond.

You can listen to every class recording on Adobe Connect below.  At each link, you will hear and see the students reading poetry.  You will also see the chat comments that took place during the webcast and hear my announcements to the students each time a comment came in.  I hope you will take some time to see what an important day this was for us in the media center and consider how this might work in your own media center or classroom.

You are also invited to tune in on Monday April 18th, where several PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st grade classes will read their poems between 8:00AM-12:20PM EST.

Hart 1st Grade

Sheppard 2nd Grade

Watson 1st Grade

Brewer 1st Grade

O’Prey 5th Grade

Beshara 5th Grade

Slongo 5th Grade

Freeman 4th Grade

Selleck 4th Grade

Landstrom 4th Grade

Em Kindergarten

Brink 2nd Grade

Sitler 2nd Grade

Yawn 2nd Grade

Cantrell 3rd Grade

Griffith 3rd Grade

Rogers 3rd Grade

Shealey 3rd Grade

Andy Plemmons
School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA

Poem In Your Pocket Day: LIVE!

Tomorrow is National Poem in Your Pocket Day.  For 3 years, I’ve been celebrating this day in my media center but not always on the official day.  Last year, I shared the details of this event on the GLMA blog.  This year, my students will celebrate on Friday April 15 and into Monday April 18th.

I’ve added two new pieces this year.  For the first time, we held an original poetry contest in grades Prek-5th grade and 156 students turned in poetry.  This contest was to encourage students to prepare original poetry to carry in their pockets instead of only poems written by others.

The second exciting new addition is that our poetry readings will be broadcast online via Adobe Connect.  I would like to invite any of you to join our event throughout the day on April 15th or 18th.  You might broadcast this live in your media center, share it with teachers who might want to see other students sharing poetry, or simply tune in to see what a live poetry reading might look like.

Please register at the following link and I will email you the link to the Adobe Connect room.  I hope to “see” many of you on Friday and Monday as we do some virtual snaps and celebrations for poetry.

Here is our schedule of events:

Poem in Your Pocket Schedule Friday April 15th (Times are EST)

Time Class
8:00 AM Hart 1st
8:20 Sheppard 2nd
8:40 Watson 1st
9:00 Brewer 1st
9:20 O’Prey 5th
9:40 Beshara 5th
10:00 Slongo 5th
10:20 Freeman 4th
10:40 Selleck 4th
11:00 Landstrom 4th
11:20 Em K
12:00 PM Brink 2nd
12:20 Sitler 2nd
12:40 Yawn 2nd
1:00 Cantrell 3rd
1:20 Griffith 3rd
1:40 Rogers 3rd
2:00 Shealey 3rd

Poem in Your Pocket Schedule Monday April 18th (Times are EST)

Time Class
8:00 AM
8:20 Boyle K
8:40 Li K
9:00 Carney K
9:20 Hocking PreK
9:40 Spurgeon PreK
11:00 Stuckey 1st
12:00 PM Wyatt 1st


Andy Plemmons
School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA


Happy Poetry Month 2011

Poetry month is here!  We’ve already seen some great posts on the GLMA blog to get us thinking about this creative month:

Poetry Resources in Galileo

Looking Ahead to National Poetry Month

Later this month, I’ll share some of the products we’ve made and celebrations we’ve had in the Barrow Media Center, but I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a Happy National Poetry Month and to pose some questions for thought:

  • In what ways are you incorporating poetry into the lessons you are already teaching in your libraries?
  • What kinds of poetry are your students creating in the media center?
  • How are you celebrating the joy of reading and writing poems in your library?
  • How are you honoring student work?
  • How are you incorporating technology for both inspiration and creation of poetry?
  • What special poetry events have you planned in your school (poetry picnics, poem in your pocket day, contests, etc.)?
  • How are you sharing poetry beyond the walls of your library?

Here are a few of the things that we will be doing over the next month in the Barrow Media Center.  Some things are already underway while others are still be fleshed out.

  • PreK Poetry:  PreK students are writing their own shape poems on large cut-outs of symbols from their classroom and will video record their final poems to upload to Teacher Tube.
  • Joyce Sidman collaboration:  A few groups of students will be studying the poems of Joyce Sidman and writing poems inspired by her writing.  These poems will be created in multiple ways from using Photo Story to simply writing them on paper.  The poems will be featured at Joyce Sidman’s keynote speech at the NCTE conference in November.
  • List Poetry:  Using Georgia Heard’s collection, Falling Down the Page, students will study list poetry, write list poems as a whole class, and write individual list poems in a variety of ways.  A first grade class is planning to use Photo Story for this project.
  • Book Spine Poetry:  Students in various grades will create a kind of found poem using books from the library shelves arranged in a stack to write poems using the titles on the spines.  Classes will photograph their stacks and record themselves reading their new poems.
  • Poetry Display:  5th grade has an autobiographical poetry and photography display on the media center shelves.  This project was a collaboration between the art teacher and the media center.
  • Poem in Your Pocket Day:  The official national poem in your pocket day is April 14th this year.  We’ll be celebrating on April 15th.  The media center will be transformed into a poetry cafe with tablecloths, special lighting, and an open mic for all classes to read both original poetry and favorite poems.
  • 1st Annual Poetry Contest:  Students in all grades PreK-5th can submit poems to our media center poetry contest.  A panel of judges will read and select the most creative poems at PreK-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th grades.  Top poets will receive autographed books that I had autographed at the Decatur Book Festival, and other special poets will receive things such as pens, bookmarks, and other special trinkets donated from Borders.


  • Poetry Tag Time:  For $0.99, you can download a creative e-book called Poetry Tag Time. The book features unpublished poems by top children’s poets.  Each poem is somehow connected to the one before it as each poet tags the next poet to write a new poem.  There is also a blog connected with the book.  You can also follow the Gotta Book Blog and Poetry for Children Blog, where free poems will be posted each day of poetry month.  This would also be a fun way to start a poetry project in your school among students or teachers.

Have fun this poetry month and feel free to share the exciting things going on in your library in the comments section of this post so that we can all continue to learn from one another about how to honor this genre of our collections.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA

Start Planning for National Poem in Your Pocket Day and Poetry Month 2009

One of my favorite months of the year is April because it is National Poetry Month! We celebrated poetry in many ways last year in our media center with special book displays, posters of student poems, student poetry podcasts, a guest poet, and of course, Poem in Your Pocket Day! Read more about how I celebrated this day last year in my media center.

National Poem in Your Pocket Day will be Thursday, April 30, 2009 this year! Now is the time to start planning for this date and your National Poetry Month 2009 festivities!  Please consider adding your photos for this day to the Flickr Group, Poem in Your Pocket.  You will also want to check out how the Academy of American Poets celebrated this day last year in New York City.

You can visit the home page of National Poetry Month at  Be sure to check out the Teacher Resource page and Librarian Resource page for super ideas on ways to integrate poetry into your program and celebration activities.  You will also want to check out the resource page for organizing a poetry read-a-thon—this is an activity I am planning on this year for my library!


Last, you may want to check out my resources for tapping into the power of Web 2.0 to celebrate and integrate poetry in your library.  Take a peek at my recent presentation on Poetry 2.0!