Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Summer Reading Update 2018

You can read all about our summer reading program here. We just had our freshmen summer reading discussion this afternoon and they went well. A few quotes from teachers:

"I LOVED LOVED my group today.  They were AWESOME!  They ALL read the book, had great insight, and asked if we could do more of that this year.  They liked that they got the books before they started state testing because most of them read the book when they finished testing.  AND....they re-checked it out to get a refresher before the meeting.  I was super impressed!  Thanks for coordinating!"

"My girls LOVED the book."

"Today was great...I needed to be able to do something positive with students and today happened at the perfect time."

A few quotes from students:

"I like how the teacher read the book as well and could talk about it."

"I (liked this format) because all I did was talk and I had to do no work."

"it was very easy to use and not stressful"

"it was fun talking about the book"


A few stats from the student survey they answered after the meeting:

90% read all or part of their book

97% gave their book a 3, 4, or 5 star rating

The vast majority liked that I came over to the middle school to show book trailers and have them select and get the book before the year ended.




Our sophomore book groups required some adjustment. We could not figure out a way to meet face to face with the various schedules so we used Flipgrid to record videos and have the students respond in the topic for their book. Classes have been coming this week and I grossly underestimated how self-conscious the students would be to record themselves, even though the responses are not very personal. I'm going to have to meet with the teacher and re-evaluate before we plan for summer reading next year. I also had a hard time getting teachers to come in and record their initial video so I had to step in and do several myself. Not what I was hoping for!



Expedition Everest

One of my teachers is using the article, Blind to Failure, in her classes and she wanted to build some prior knowledge before they read. I thought a hyperdoc might do the trick so I made this one using Google Drawings.

You can see the full Drawing with instructions and links to the side here. You'll need to make and link your own Fligrid if you use this with students.
The teacher will be assigning this in Google Classroom and making a copy for each student so that they can type the 3-5 things that they learned about Mt. Everest.

Wren Read Book Club Service Project Update

The service projects for our book club have been going very well.

We had 9 haircuts donated for our Books and Barbers program. Seven went to one of our Title 1 elementary schools, where the guidance counselor gave them to families in need. Two stayed in our school, where they were given to students that wanted to participate in ROTC, but were unable to pay for a required haircut.


We handed out hundreds of books during our summer lunch program.


Our first visit for Books and Braids was also a success.


It was so much fun to read to the little ones and give them some one-on-one time and let them practice their read aloud skills. Our plan is to visit monthly.

Another idea in the works for next semester is working with the 5th grade at the elementary school across the street. We hope to read Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, discuss the book with the 5th graders using Flipgrid, and culminate with planting a wishtree of our own.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Reading to Be a Better Writer


My administration requested that I put together a professional development session on how reading can help with writing skills. Writing is our focus this year so I was happy to help out.

This is what I put together.

For our activity, I purchased picture books that relate to the content of each department. You can see my notes and list here. Using the BHH strategy from Disrupting Thinking, the teachers are asked to use these sticky notes that I ordered from the Dollar Tree and respond to each category.

I hope to show them that incorporating reading and writing will not take away from teaching their content, it doesn't have to be time-consuming, and it can be fun. I also made this chart showing the many options for reading assignments (more than novels/textbooks) and writing assignments (more than essays).

Our instructional technologist is going to co-teach this with me and show them how to take a photo on the Chromebook, save it in Drive, and upload it to a Google Slides presentation. And possibly a few more Google tricks if we have time.

We have this scheduled for October. I'll let you know how it goes.


Library 101 Courses

At the request of my Freshman Academy, I created 5 lessons for our newest students. These lessons are to introduce them to library services and policies and help address some of the most common mistakes seen by our teachers during research projects.

Lesson One: Introduction

This is my "orientation", although really it is just me introducing myself, library programs and lessons, and information about our book club. The lesson ends with a genre quiz so that students can easily navigate our genrified fiction section.

Lesson Two: Plagiarism

This lesson was inspired by this post on Cult of Pedagogy. I saved an article from NewsELA called "How do owls see in the dark?". Each student is asked to read the article then take this Google Quiz.
We will review those questions after the quiz. Students will pair up and read another article from NewsELA and practice using the paraphrasing techniques in the Slides. I selected easy, non-controversial articles so that the focus was on plagiarism and paraphrasing and not reading ability.

Lesson Three: MLA Citation
I turned my MLA citation into a Goosechase game. You can find all of my clues here. This lesson should make citation a little more fun. If you have more questions about Goosechase, contact me.

Lesson Four: Research Tools
Students will learn about tools that should make research easier, like Destiny Resource lists and SC DISCUS. Students will use our state databases to research a topic of their choosing, practice paraphrasing techniques, and complete this template in Docs.

Lesson Five: Fake News
Students will complete this Fake News Digital Breakout that I made with the help of my instructional technologist. They'll use sites like Factitious, Edpuzzle, and a news bias chart to solve the clues and break out. Contact me if you'd like to see all of the parts and pieces so you can make your own.

We've already started these lessons and they are going well so far. I'd love to hear how you help your freshmen adjust to high school.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Banned Books Week 2018

This year I put together a lesson for Banned Books Week. Luckily, teachers enjoyed the lesson last year so I already have some classes signed up for the lesson at the end of September.

The lesson starts with watching this short video.

Then students create a book selfie with a banned or challenged book (from a cart that I prepulled). I created a template in Slides to make it easy.
The second activity asks students to write a thank you tweet to an author of a banned or challenged book. Again, a template was made in Slides to speed up the activity.

Finally, students are asked to read this article about a SC issue with censorship. Using Kami on their Chromebooks students will highlight important details. 

Censorship is such an important issue and I look forward to these lessons each year.


District Teacher of the Year

I was thrilled to find out that I was chosen as the Teacher of the Year for my entire school district.
At our opening ceremony, the award was announced and I was able to give a short speech to all of our teachers and staff.
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We were also honored with a luncheon where I was asked to speak to our school teachers of the year and support staff of the year.
I started that speech off by reading I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino and sharing a bit of my own teaching story.
Image result for i am a story by dan yaccarino

I asked that each teacher share a story. I made this with a few recommendations and encouraged them to share the stories they selected on this Padlet.
A focus of both speeches is a quote I modified to fit the teaching profession. I made it into an image using Canva and Adobe Spark. I shared these with my school and all of our school teachers of the year so that they could share with all of their faculty as well.


It is an honor to be selected and I will do my best to represent my school, district, and all school librarians in our competition for the state Teacher of the Year.