June 2, 2014
I recently had the best time of my teaching career. I was able to arrange visits to our library by an eggcelebrity, a group of rescued mutts and two skunks! This may not seem strange to you but as a Technology Instructional Specialist, it is most unusual! Usually our Librarian, Dominque Corpus does it. We had been talking about ways to use technology in a more innovative way than the normal let me show you the book via document camera or Website! The author visits were setup. It has been a great learning opportunity for all of us. Each one has been as different as the crayons in a color box!
I first met Woody Kuon online in an Author chat online. I knew he was funny and very animated. He appeared to be a quick thinker and quite witty! I was so excited to have him be the first author to visit at PH Greene Elementary. Woody Kuon came in with even more energy and excitement than he had in the chat. He is the author of Humpty Dumpty After the Fall and Elmer the Dog and many more books. He was very engaging with his excitement and energy from his drawing or during his dramatic book-reading, and his heart warming story about a Cambodian refugee who comes to America to overcome insurmountable odds. Kuon’s enthusiastic performance and ability to keep kids spellbound inpsired all to believe that there is nothing they cannot do! The students and teachers loved him. The highlight of his visit was when he drew eggcredible drawings of our teachers. The students will be helping Mr. Kuon with his next project, “The Humpty Writing Project” to create the world’s longest nursery rhyme and have it published online.
Mr. Kuon and I had a great visit as he was setting up for the autograph session. He shared more stories of his travels and gave me some pointers on how to start a writing/illustrating career of my own! It has been fun to get to know such a talented man! We can’t wait for his next visit to our school.
Our next author would be the CritterKins via Google Hangout! The connection to CritterKins was my idea because of how it tied in with our Character School lessons and the “No Place for Hate” Lessons. I am not sure who was more nervous about the Google Hangout-the teachers,Mr. Corpus or me!!! Isn’t it funny, how you want to try something new but yet you sometimes just dont have enough faith to convince everyone it will work. Well, I was determined that there wouldnt be any problems! So, a couple of practice runs with the CritterKins folks and we were ready!! Oh…I forgot to explain something to the students. See….they had seen videos, even gone on a virtual trip to an egg farm but they really did not get the concept of seeing someone on the screen that would be able to talk with them. It proved to be as enjoyable as Mr. Kuon’s visit. Ms Jena was wonderful! After a few waves and silly faces, we were ready to begin our CritterKin adventure.
We were able to connect via a Google Hangout with Ms. Jena and the CritterKins!
How fun this was for the Kindergarteners and the First Graders!! After all, children love critters and especially Dogs!!
Ms Jena greeted them with a big wave! They were astounded that she was on the screen and talking with them. She chuckled when asked” if she lived in the computer?” She explained that she was at her home in North Carolina but could talk with them like she was on the phone. What a great experience to witness the first Google Hangout!! Ms Jena read the Kindergarteners her story about Ernest along with their help of making noises of the animals that he met along his adventure. She talked about being following directions and doing what you are told. She taught them the Wiggle Waggle Dance! There were so many laughs and smiles as they were wigglewaggling!
She talked to the First Graders about Ricky Bobby and being Kind to animals. Ricky Bobby is a rescue dog who uses a cart to be able to run/walk due to being mistreated as he was growing up. The First Graders were so attentive during the story and video. Afterwards, they asked incredible questions that showed they were indeed paying attention to his story.The compassion for Ricky Bobby and his cart was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop during the story. They too learned to Wiggle Waggle! It was so much fun to watch the students WiggleWaggle out the door, in the hallway, down to their classes and to lunch!
Ms Jena and the CritterKins will be coming every month next year as part of our Character Building actitivity for every grade.The students are so excited that they will get to learn to draw the Critterkins, hear more of the adventures and do the Wiggle Waggle dance. Each gradelevel will be writing stories, learning what it means to be kind to all of the critters in the world and the Charqacter council will choose a service project for the school to do. Mr. Corpus and Mrs. Murray, our Counselor are looking forward to working with Ms Jena and the Critterkins next year!
Our next author was quite unusual, Stoosh & Skittles are therapy Skunks in Vancouver. I met them also on Twitter and was fascinated with them. After all, the only skunk I knew of was Pepe LePew! I discovered that the skunks were able to go and help children that were very sick or had been in very sad situations. Pau,l their helper was very interesting to talk with too. He wants to let people know that skunks are not stinky, creepy animals but sweet animals just like a dog or cat. Our Third Graders were in the middle of the their big animal research project. I thought ” what a perfect opportunity” to tie in how important research is in the world and in business not only in a class. The Third Graders wrote questions to Stoosh & Skittles based on what they knew and what they had discovered as they were learning about their animals. Mrs Sanders and Mrs Benavides were happy that their students used such great questioning skills. Now, they know more than most about skunks and they loved getting skunkified by Stoosh & Skittles.
Next year, we will have a Google Hangout with Ernest, RickyBobby and Stoosh & Skittles. It will be a fun time for sure!!
Upon reflecting on the visits, I want to make sure that we:
- let the students know what a GHO will look like-the author doesn’t live in the computer!
- let them wave, make silly faces before the GHO begins!
- let the teachers play a more activie role in the visits!
- promote the visits so that community people can visit too!
- invovle the principals more-the authors love to meet them too!
- let the parents know how well behaved the students are during the visit-Everyone was glued to the screen and very engaged!
- set up more GHO experiences because it is amazing!
I am for sure going to spend my summer connecting with other educators/authors and community people to share with the students at PH Greene Elementary!! So, if you are interested, please let me know either by firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @bobbic07. We can’t wait to see you on the screen in our library!!