Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day One - Celebrating The Dot

Last week we dipped into a wonderful book called The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It's a powerful story of a young girl who is discouraged because, as she puts it, "I just can't draw!" Her art teacher gives her the teensy-weensiest bit of encouragement, and what unfolds is a story of discovery, joy, and growth. It's a great story to use to inspire our young learners as they start to shape and develop their own mindset. The message is a strong one: don't believe you can't, just try! So strong that schools across the globe are connecting with each other all week long. "Make your mark and see where it takes you" is the gentle wisdom from Vashti's art teacher.

Connection 1:
     Our first connection was Mrs. Epstein's class with another 2nd grade class with librarian Heather Tucker at Richmond Hill Elementary in Richmond Hill, Georgia, right near Savannah. Their school has only 2nd and 3rd graders!
     Together we looked at a map that showed how far apart we are; more than 1,100 miles! Wow!

Together we took turns reading aloud The Dot to our students.


Students took turns asking each other questions, such as what kind of animals do you have in your state, do you live near the ocean, do you have sharks, and what kinds of books do you like to read. We learned that some of the other children like to read nonfiction, too! The ocean waters have smaller sharks in their area, such as hammerheads, but the children know to stay away from them.

Connection 2:
Our second connection brought Mrs. Meehan's 2nd graders together with Amanda McCoy's 3rd graders from Pauline Central Primary School in Topeka, Kansas.

They are more than 1,400 miles away from us and are one hour behind us. Their school has grades PreK through 3rd grade, with the jaguar as their mascot.

Together, Amanda McCoy and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds, the second book in the Creatrilogy series.

They showed us a few of the dots they had created and then demonstrated what happens when they open an app named Quiver over each dot. We were astonished when a seemingly flat dot on paper became a 3-D sphere that rotated like a spinning planet. We'll have to try that in our school! It was very cool!

Connection 3:
Mrs. Robbins' 3rd graders connected with Catherine Word's 2nd graders from Episcopal School of Baton Rouge in Louisiana. We did a mini-mystery skype with them, where we gave each other some clues to help us guess which states we are from. Their clues to us were: they have lots of alligators, the state is shaped like a boot, they have lots of seafood, and the state starts with the letter L :  Louisiana.

 We noticed their computer lab behind the children. They have new touch-screen computers this year. Lucky!

Catherine's class had just finished their book choosing, so we asked what are some of their favorite books. Bad Kitty, Flat Stanley, Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones were mentioned. We have these books, too, in our library, and are some of our favorites!
We were able to share with them a signal that we use to indicate we share a connection with someone else. Extending your pinky and your thumb out and curling your remaining fingers down (looks like you're about to hold a phone to your ear), rock your hand forward and backward between you and the other person. If your friend says he likes the Bad Kitty books, you can silently show him you do too by using this special hand signal.

We actually ran out of time to read to each other, we were so busy asking questions.

Connection 4:
After lunch, Mrs. Clark's kindergarten class connected with another group of kindergartners at Chamberlin School in South Burlington with Cally Flickinger in her library. Their school has grades K through 5, and they have about 250 students.

We noticed when we shared the map that their school is very near the airport. They said the planes are loud at times. We also noticed that we are close enough to each other's school that it would take only 19 minutes to get there by car.

Together, Cally Flickinger and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds aloud to our kindergartners. 

Connection 5:
In the afternoon, Mrs. Day's class got to connect with Sherell Stepp's kindergartners from Gilbert Primary School in Gilbert, South Carolina, which is more than 1000 miles away from us. They started school a week earlier than we did, and their school day runs from 7:20 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

                                                                                Librarian Sherell Stepp and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds aloud to our kindergartners.  After enjoying the story, we took turns asking each other questions about where we live. They don't usually get snow in the winter time the way we do. They can drive to the beach at the ocean in about 1 and a half hours.

Connection 6:
Our last group of the day, Mrs. Heppner's kindergartners skyped with Mary Priske's 1st graders of Washington Elementary in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Their school is more than 1,150 miles away from ours!

Their school has about 600 students from PreK through 4th grade. Their mascot is a mustang. Their school has a Bernese Mountain therapy dog named Joy.                             

During our time together Mary Priske and I shared the reading of Ish to our students.

It was so much fun to visit them, so friendly and fun!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Celebrating World Read Aloud Day all week long - Day 2

Visit the home page for World Read Aloud Day.

Tuesday... Day 2

Mrs. Thayer's 2nd grade class connected with Andy Plemmons 2nd grade kids. We took turns reading to each other from Peter Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Each group formed a line in their own library, and read alternate pages to their cyber guests.

photo from Andy Plemmons, David C. Barrow Elementary


We learned that their school day is longer than ours by about 30 minutes. We joked that they should be smarter than us.

Mrs. Snedeker's 1st grade skyped simultaneously with two other classes: Angie Dickerson's 6th graders from Hillcrest School in Lebanon, Missouri, and Sherell Stepp's 1st grade class of Gilbert Primary School in Gilbert, South Carolina. The 6th graders read Mo Willems' Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! to our two first grade classes. It's so cool to hear the older kids read to the younger ones! Go Readers!

It was the first time any of us had ever connected as a threesome on skype, and we had no problems, fortunately.

Flower Hill is an elementary school in Gaithersburg, Maryland. That's where Mrs. Meehan's 2nd grade class met Melissa McDonald's 1st graders. We took turns reading together Mo Willems' Watch Me Throw the Ball. We also compared a few state symbols, and our weather.

Next, Mrs. Synnott's kindergarten class connected with another kindergarten class with Shannon Hyman at Kaechele Elementary School in Glen Allen, Virginia. Shannon did a fantastic reading of Oh No! by Candace Fleming and had both groups of kindergartners chiming in on the "oh no" part.

Librarian Alice Harwood skyped for her first World Read Aloud Day with Mrs. McNeish's kindergartners. Union Street Elementary is in the southern part of our state in Springfield, Vermont. Three 4th grade students treated us to a read-aloud of Mo Willems' There's a Bird on Your Head!  We loved it!

We looked at a map to see how far apart we are. It would take us about 2.5 hours to drive to their school. 

For Mrs. Seligman's 1st grade class we traveled very far from Essex Elementary to connect with Meghan Nels 2nd and 3rd graders at Turtle River Montessori School in Jupiter, Florida. We read Bob Shea's Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great!

Their school is a PreK through 8th grade and is located just north of West Palm Beach. They were very impressed with our snow (I brought the webcam to the doorway looking outside.).

The week goes on. Read more about Day 1.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Celebrating Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day all week long - Day 1

March started off with two special celebrations. The first one was Dr. Seuss's birthday on Monday, March 2nd, our first day back from the February vacation. This prolific author now has a national event in his honor, which is called Read Across America Day.
March 2, 1904 - September 24, 1991

March 3rd is World Read Aloud Day. What better way to celebrate reading than by sharing our love of stories with other classrooms around the country!?! So began Day 1 of a full week of reading and connecting.

Mrs. Rotach's 1st grade class connected with Mary Hundt's 5th graders at West Salem Elementary in West Salem, Wisconsin. The 5th graders read aloud Drew Daywalt's The Day the Crayons Quit. We noticed how well the older children read, with lots of expression.

Our next connection was with Mrs. Tracy's 1st graders and Sherell Stepp's kindergartners at Gilbert Primary School in Gilbert, South Carolina. Together we read to each other Mo Willems' story That is Not a Good Idea! The children loved chanting the part, "that is not a good idea!"
We learned that their school has exactly the same grade levels as we do, and that is why their school is called a primary school.

Mrs. Yandell's 2nd grade paired up with Crystal Hendrix's kindergartners of Isaac Dickson Elementary in Asheville, North Carolina. Peter Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! was our read-aloud choice.

In the afternoon Mrs. Rowley's kindergarten class skyped with Misti Sikes's kindergarten children in her school library at K.B. Sutton Elementary School in Forsyth, Georgia. Together we enjoyed Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great! by Bob Shea. We shared information about our schools and our weather.Their school has about the same number of students (511) as ours (475ish), but their grade level range is from PreK-5. Our webcam had an extra long cord, so we were able to bring the camera over to the open door and show the children all our snow. They liked that! Their mascot is the knight.

Fifth graders from our sister school, Founders Memorial, took turns reading aloud from Mo Willems' A Big Guy Took My Ball to Mrs. Day's kindergartners. That was a lot of fun, especially since many of these children used to be students here at EES. Thanks to librarian Sara Jablonski for setting it up at short notice. Our original contact had to cancel because of weather issues, but Sara's 5th graders rose to the occasion and created a fun read-aloud for our kindergarten class.