Monday, April 29, 2013

Little Bird Tales From Our First Graders......They Are Published and Ready To Share!

In the beginning of April I wrote a blog post entitled Sweet Little Bird Tales From Our First Graders....."Poems About Me!" Our students were using wonderful "I Am" poems they wrote in their classroom to create a collaborative Little Bird Tale.
 Each of the students had a turn to read and record the words that they created.  
I especially loved how they were so confident and helpful with one another. 
You can view "Mrs. Bertman's Fancy First Graders" by clicking on the picture above or link here. 

We are all very proud of your first graders, Mrs. Bertman....Their story was beautiful.  

One we will listen to again and again. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spreading The Love For Reading On World Book Night With The Van Meter NHS

I was a Book Giver at my very first World Book Night last night.  

I put books into the hands of others every single day but at World Book Night these books are given to others to keep....or even pass onto someone else when finished reading them.  These books were given to others to encourage and inspire them to read.  
On this night we were giving books to others and "Spreading the love of reading, person to person".
                                     
Just as our banner says.  

And as the World Book Night US website says, 

"World Book Night is a celebration of books and reading held on April 23, when 25,000 passionate volunteers across America give a total of half a million books within their communities to those who don’t regularly read. In 2012, World Book Night was celebrated in the U.S., the UK, Ireland, and Germany and saw over 80,000 people gift more than 2.5 million books."

The Van Meter National Honor Society and I were the givers, the ones spreading the love of reading at the Barnes & Noble in Jordan Creek Mall....not too far from Van Meter.  

We had about a dozen of our members meet at B & N to pass out the book we received for World Book Night.  
                                        
When we received word that our group was selected to be "Givers" for this years World Book Night, we were so excited.  Especially when we found out we would be giving John Green's Looking For Alaska.  One of my all-time favorite YA novels and one that I think every young person should read....and even have their very own copy too.  

This is the book that I have had more copies come up missing from our library shelves.  I know the impact that it has on young people so to give Looking For Alaska to others meant something to me.
 We created handmade bookmarks and flyers to put inside of the books.....I love the message,

"Brought to you by the Van Meter NHS.  Please continue to read and encourage others as well.  Pass it on."  

That is what it is all about.
They had a fun time walking around Jordan Creek Mall talking to people about reading and World Book Night.  They were encouraging, listened to stories and most of all shared their love for reading by sharing the Looking For Alaska with 20 people they met.
It was fun to listen to their stories after they came back from giving out the books.  

They caught some people off guard and even got turned away from a few.  But the overwhelming presence in their stories was the happiness they brought by giving others the book.  

They brought smiles, thanks, curiosity, generosity, and most of all.....

Kindness and love in sharing something wonderful with someone else to make a difference in their lives.  
You can read more about World Book Night US on their website.   I love the map on the homepage that shows several places who gave books too.
It has also been a lot of fun reading through the tweets on World Book Night, USA Twitter page @wbnamerica and visiting the World Book Night USA Facebook page.

This is the best quote that I heard....and one that really sums up what World Book Night is all about.

"I always think to myself that I should read more.  And not just read, but read books.....really good books.  Now I even get to pass this really good book onto someone else too."

I love that.  It is so true.

So if it is World Book Night or even just an ordinary day or night....pass it on.  Pass on a book....when you finish find someone to give it to.

Pass on the love that you have for reading.  It will make a difference in the lives of so many.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How One Amazing Movie Created By Our New Kindergarten Friends In LA Made A Difference At Our School

Last week I received a little tweet about a kindergarten movie.  I wasn't sure what it was at first, so I didn't open it right away.  

Then my son Hagan and I saw the tweet again and decided to open go to the movie link on my iPhone.  
You are not going to want to miss this!  

Please take a few minutes and watch "Miss Nelson Is Missing" by the kindergarteners at Olympic Primary School before I go any further. 

I promise....You will love it.  
After Hagan and I watched the amazing video by Arturo Avina's kindergarteners I got back on Twitter.

I just had to tell Art how much I loved the video and his students. I love how he used creativity, passion for music and acting, and an amazing gift for working with children to create such a wonderful project to share with the world.  I couldn't wait to learn more about Art and his students. 
Art and his kids can be found at Olympic Primary School which is part of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  Their school and city is so very different from our little, rural town of Van Meter in the middle of Iowa.  We knew that they would have a lot to share and learn from one another.  
A few days later Art and I Skyped with each other.  Before the Skype I showed Mindy Dogget's second graders their movie.  The kids laughed out loud and wanted to watch it over again.  They loved everything about it.
After the movie was over, we called Art and his students.  It was so sweet when our students clapped and cheered when his kindergarteners answered.  They were so proud of what the other students had created.
Two of our second graders then read Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw....This is a book that my dear friend Andy Plemmons introduced to us when we connected our students too.  
I love this picture as you can see Art's little ones peering through the screen from California into our library in Iowa to listen to a story being read to them by two new friends.
Even though the two classes were 1669 miles apart on this day their classrooms came together as they asked questions, listened, smiled, waved, learned, and had fun talking to one another. 
I love seeing the pictures Art took from his classroom too.  
As you can see in our tweets, we were very excited about the connection.....There are connections that you have that you just know will lead to other things very special.  And this was one of those.  
                           
Art's principal was there with him and the kindergarteners too.  She was so excited about the connection and told him it was like "watching man walk on the moon."  

This connection brought something very special to both places, to all the students, and to the educators involved. 
                               
After our Skype, Mindy's class wanted to created a movie too.  They brainstormed with me about what book we would use and how we would organize ourselves.  One of the first things we did was tell the other second grade teacher, Tracey Ferguson, about the movie and idea.  She was super excited too.  

So the next day her class came to the library to Skype with Art and his students too.  We included the first graders as well on this Skype connection.
This time after watching their movie, we spent more time talking about the two places we live.  The students had fantastic questions about houses, school transportation, what their schools and classrooms looked like, weather, and lots of other things.
We just loved getting to know our new friends far, far away but so very close too thanks to technology such as Skype, YouTube, Twitter, email and texting.

Art and I, along with the other teachers and administrators, would take down the walls that hold our classrooms in and connect no matter how many miles were between us.  

This connection with Art and his beautiful students made a really special memory in my heart. 

And not just for me but for all of us.  

When I received this email from Art after our first Skype connection, I just sat there with tears in my eyes as I thought about this connection and all of the others we have had over the last several years.  They have brought something to our students they will never forget.  

Art wrote, 

"Hi Shannon! This may sound silly, but I've kept going back to these pictures over and over again today.  I almost gives me chills that our kids connected this way.  It's ironic that living in LA, the rest of the world is so closed off to my students.....It somewhat limits what they are exposed to.  Having downtown LA in our backyard does not translate into multicultural experiences for them.  They don't venture out of their neighborhood much and their world is pretty much school and home.  For them to talk to kids that "same, same but different" (pun intended) in another part of the country is groundbreaking for them." 

We are thankful we can bring such rich experiences to others and blessed that we can receive them just as much. 

You and your students have left an imprint on us by bringing an experience very special and unique.
Three days later I saw this first hand, in my own home.

As I walked into the kitchen on Sunday morning I heard the little ones singing one of the Madonna songs from the movie.  I walked over to the couch to find my son Hagan and his friends Easton and Will watching Miss Nelson Is Missing.  They were singing along and talking about how many people around the world have seen their "little California friends" movie.

That is the power of these connections.  To bring something very special and unique, to bring them into one another lives in creative ways, and to teach each other something they will never forget.

Thank you Art and to all of the amazing little people you have the pleasure of working with every single day.
We are so excited to create our own movies of children's books we love.  Thank you for being our mentors and for encouraging us to do the same.

We can't wait to share them with you someday soon too.

A Little Poetry Slam With Our Kindergarteners and Mrs. P To Celebrate Poetry Month!

We have this very very special friend who we love inviting to our library.  She lives on an island; has hundreds of animals; and is best friends with the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and even the Easter Bunny.

Her name is Mrs. P and she is the best!  Mrs. P visited our library last week to celebrate poetry month with our kindergarteners for a little Poetry Slam.

All of the kindergarteners created acrostic poems with their names.  The kindergarten teachers Christa McClintock, Brooke Gadberry and Lynne Caltrider helped their students write them in the classroom. They wrote their name down the side of a piece of paper and then thought of words or statements that described themselves for each letter.  On the day Mrs. P came to the library, the students brought their poems with them.
The kindergarteners took turns reading their poems to Mrs. P and their friends in the library.  It was so much fun to listen to other rhymes she had for their names.  What a GREAT job they all did.  We all learned a lot about each other as they read their poems. 

She loved every single one and we decided that EVERY ONE of them were winners for our poetry slam. 
Mrs. P then told us a couple of stories.....a couple of very TALL TALE type stories.
When she is telling us stories, they don't even move.  They get so wrapped up in her storytelling. She is a wonderful storyteller and we are so lucky to be part of her stories.

They then asked Mrs. P a few questions. They are always very curious about her newest animals, her friends, her house, and even the goats that drive the jeep around her property.  It is so much fun......for the teachers in the library too.
Please make sure you check out Mrs. P's amazing website....Mrs. P's Storytime!  Our kids at Van Meter just love going to her website where they can play interactive games, find fun activities, and read all about what Mrs. P has been up to on her blog.
Also, the Magic Library will take you to Mrs. P's YouTube channel where you can listen to her read several stories.  We love having Mrs. P read to all of us in our library....and the kids also go to Mrs. P's Magic Library and website at home too.

You can find Mrs. P on Twitter at @mrspstorytime and on Facebook.
We are also very honored and excited to announce that Mrs. P will be one of our special guest star judges for our Poetry Summit on May 17th. We will have more information about this event very soon....Everyone will be able to join us by watching the Google Hangout and using #PoetrySummit.

Thank you Mrs. P.....We think you are just amazing and we always LOVE when you come to visit us at Van Meter.  You are one terrific friend and mentor.

We are putting all of the kindergarteners acrostic poems together into a FlipSnack and can't wait to share this with all of you too.

Love, The Van Meter Students, Teachers and Me

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Look Mrs. Miller....We Our Researching Our Iowa Animals In The Library Today!"

On Friday as soon as the kindergarteners walked into the library they quickly made their way to the shelves holding all of our animal books.  
                       
When I asked them what they were doing all of the kids held up the white index cards they had in their hands.  I asked what their cards said and one little boy said, 

"We are finding books for our animal research."  

I asked them who picked their animals out for them and they all said, 

"We did!"  

It was very obvious that they had animals they loved and that they wanted to research to learn more about them.  Mrs. Gadberry and Miss McClintock encouraged them to wonder and make connections as they thought about which Iowa animal they wanted to research.  

In the blog post Our Kindergarteners Are Starting Their Animal Research Projects...The First Steps That We Are Taking This Week, I shared the resources that I would teach them about in the library.  That was one of our Learning Targets for this first day on the research project during library and technology time. 
The first thing most of the students wanted to do was go to the shelves and find books about their animal.  I showed them how to use Destiny and we searched for their animal together.  

Diana was there at the shelves to then help them find the book we found within Destiny.  
Some of the students went straight to the shelves and looked for their animals.  With our new category based organizational system within our nonfiction books, the students can use these categories to find their books so easily.  
As I mentioned in the first post about their research project, I put a few online resources on the Kindergarten Symbaloo. The kindergarteners and I spent time looking at the new tiles on their webmix and going to the websites.  We also talked about encyclopedias and I showed them around "Animal Kingdom" in Britannica Online.
They were excited to see that they could go to these neat places online and find out information about their Iowa animal....and others too.
My friend Keith was super excited to find a book about his Iowa animal.  I love how he took his notecard and matched it up with the title on the front.
When I walked by Keith a few minutes later, I found him here....
on the National Geographic Kids website.  He even used the images and words to find beavers.  Keith loved how he could play a video and listen to what they sounded like.  He even found them on the map.  
Then I reminded him on the eBooks that we have in MackinVIA.  They are very good at going to MackinVIA and finding the eBooks they want to read.  I told the class that there was a new Group called "K Animal eBooks and Databases".  Keith found an eBook about beavers!

He couldn't have been happier. He was so curious as he investigated all of the resources he had gathered about his Iowa animal.  It was so great seeing how happy he was sitting there learning new things.
Nathan is researching a wild turkey.  We couldn't find a video on the sites, so I used YouTube to find him one.  He could have watched videos of them all day....He thought wild turkeys are very very funny.
As I walked around the library, I loved hearing them share with one another.  They were all learning so many new things about Iowa animals.  And also learning new things about the research process.  By working together, they learned different styles of researching.  They learned to talk about and process the information, as well as listen to their friends as they gained new knowledge too.
My little friend Grace has an owl for her Iowa animal research project.  At the end of the class she came up to me with the pages open and said,

"Mrs. Miller, this owls face is just like an apple."  

This was definitely one of the best days we have had in the library this year.  Filled with curious, sweet, smart words.

I can't wait to see what this week holds as we work through more of the research process.