Sharing our Dot Day Work with You!

We’re spending the week connecting with classrooms throughout the country in celebration of International Dot Day. Here’s a quick peak at some of the classes who we’ll get to meet this week.

In case I don’t get to see you, here’s what we’ll be sharing:

Kindergarten practiced writing letters and then decorated with some very colorful dots.

1st Grade made dots by sharing fractions of their own creations with their classmates in order to create something totally new.
(Sample shown above. Student work on the way!)

2nd Grade took inspiration from Herve Tullet’s Press Here to interact with readers through dots.

3rd Grade created and named all new paint colors thanks to inspiration from Peter H. Reynold’s Ish.

…and then they created special secret messages to share with our connecting classes based on an image we saw in Peter H. Reynold’s I’m Here.

4th Grade loved playing DOTS, the popular iOS game, so much that they created class awards with their own dot designs.

And 5th Grade made sets of trading cards to trade with the students in the classes we see throughout the week.

Happy International Dot Day, everybody!

- Matthew

via Blogger

Nominate for SLJ’s Buzz Award

Nominations close on September 15th for School Library Journal’s inaugural Buzz Award, ”recognizing K–12 school library programs that are developing innovative new ways to raise awareness of reading by bringing students digital learning activities that increase reading, improve engagement, spark social interaction, and inspire a lifelong love of reading to help kids reach their full potential.”

Reblogged from a May 14, 2014 post on, accompanying recognition among the school library  committee are the following awards:

"Winning programs will demonstrate a library program’s use of digital content to increase reading engagement in digital and print formats and improve literacy and learning. 
The winning library program will receive a $1,000 cash award, plus $1,500 in Brain Hive Bucks® for use during the 2014–15 school year. The head school librarian, or other lead librarian, will also receive a trip to the 2014 SLJ Leadership Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a guest of Brain Hive, and the winning program will be profiled in the December 2014 issue of School Library Journal. 
Two finalists will each receive $500 in Brain Hive Bucks® for use during the 2014–15 school year and be mentioned in the December issue of School Library Journal.”
Consider nominating yourself or someone from the community for this awesome award.

via Blogger

Let’s Get Busy with author Edith Cohn

Edith Cohn (@EdithCohn), author of Spirit’s Key (@fsgbooks), stops by to talk about her debut middle grade novel, the stories items hold, and becoming a more confident revisor.

Episode Notes
Edith Cohn's homepage
KidLit Summer School
Purchase Spirit’s Key from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.

via Blogger

Lowriders in Space (Book Trailer)

Ballpoint pen art. Aliens. Lowriders.

It’s fair to say that Cathy Camper has a graphic novel coming out through Chronicle Books that has my interest piqued.

From the press release:
Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.
The art looks like nothing I’ve seen before, which instantly draws my attention. And the story goes beyond strange to loop back to being awesome. I can already see the kids who will be fighting over holds order in our library for this one. Check it out and share you thoughts in the comments.

via Blogger

Let’s Get Busy with cartoonist Kelly Light

Kelly Light (@Kelly Light), author of Louise Loves Art (@BalzerandBray), stops by to talk about her outstanding picture book debut, spotting a cartoonist by their style, and always signing your artwork.

Episode Notes
Kelly Light's homepage
Animotion, Inc
Joanna Davidovich’s blog
Louise Loves Art book trailer
Purchase Louise Loves Art from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.

Louise Loves Art Book Trailer from Louise Light on Vimeo.

via Blogger

Let’s Get Busy with author Drew Daywalt

Drew Daywalt (@DrewDaywalt), author of The Day the Crayons Quit (@PenguinKids), stops by to talk about encouragement from Jack Gantos, the relationship between hope and fear, and giving voice to found objects.

Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes
The Day the Crayons Quit (Oliver Jeffers’ homepage)
Purchase The Day the Crayons Quit from your local independent bookstore
Purchase locally whenever possible.

via Blogger

El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet Books)

Cece Bell invites readers to experience childhood through her eyes (and ears) in her new autobiographical graphic novel.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
At the age of four, Cece contracts meningitis, permanently resulting in total hearing loss. After realizing that Cece can no longer hear, her parents bring her to the audiologist who, through a series of tests, determines that Cece needs to be fitted for hearing aids. By the time she starts first grade, Cece’s hearing aids have been upgraded to the Phonic Ear, giving Cece the superpower-like ability to hear what her teacher was saying no matter where the teacher was in the building, provided that the teacher continue to wear the receiver. In a series of friendships made and challenged, deferred and restored, Cece triumphs over childhood arm-in-arm with a true friend.
Cece Bell’s work in El Deafo is a transformative experience for the reader and ideal for the graphic novel format. Readers see themselves as the main character, in this case a bunny who relies on the use of a cumbersome and difficult-to-conceal hearing device who cannot help but be noticed by nearly every single kid at her school. Of course, this isn’t surprising in a school of students who have never encountered another classmate with a hearing disability, but being able to step into the character and experience it, as a reader, for ourselves offers a different vantage point on the situation. This perspective is at times challenging and unsettling, but it’s through this vulnerability that readers connect so closely with Cece, the character.
One quality of Cece’s writing that I can’t shake is her ability to communicate her hearing experience through some clever speech bubble techniques. Words gradually fade to nothing at all over a series of panels, and with it we’re left with a series of wordless speech bubbles. Cleverer still is that Cece’s own speech bubbles are also wordless at the time, illuminating for the reader the fact the Cece couldn’t hear herself speak.

Is that something that has ever crossed your mind before?

I’m hearing myself think as I draft these words onto this post, and it’s profound to me that someone could experience not being able to hear her own words leaving her mouth. Or even know whether or not she was actually making any sound at all.

Cece also captures the muddled and nearly indistinguishable sounds of overhead speech through the inferior quality of the hearing aids. The result is a jarring if not altogether halting effect on the pace of the story, causing the reader to literally slow down and work to decipher the text. It’s brilliant and it’s used sparingly, allowing just enough of a taste for readers to grasp Cece’s frustration.
Cece (the character) turns what some might perceive as a weakness into something more than a strength: a superpower. At an opportunity that reveals a great deal of character, Cece’s reclaims the derogatory term, “deafo”, and allows herself to be transformed to the superhero alter ego, El Deafo. There may be times when it seems that even a superhero struggles to overcome the challenges placed before her, but the strength, intelligence, and bravery readers find in Cece are qualities that they will carry with them long after they’ve finished reading.

Read El Deafo for the giggles, for the challenges, for the universal life experiences, and for the opportunity to be changed, even just a little. And for those readers who, like Cece, discover ways to turn the things the world calls weakness into the qualities they own as strengths, make sure to have a couple of capes on hand.

And to make sure you leave with a smile on your face, here’s a line you can quote to your El Deafo reader compadres that won’t make a lick of sense to anyone else… making it one of the best lines ever!
I sure can’t lip-read a butt!
Additional Resources
Cece Bell's homepage
Author Cece Bell Talks About Her New Book, ‘El Deafo’ (video)
Purchase El Deafo from an independent book store near you

via Blogger

2014 School Librarian of the Year Award

The School Librarian of the Year Award honors a K–12 library professional for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies. This is the inaugural year for the award and School Library Journal, in partnership with Scholastic, named the 2014 School Librarian of the Year earlier this morning along with two finalists. 

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:
Library Media Specialist Michelle Colte is recognized for her innovative use of technology and exceptional community engagement at Hale Kula Elementary School  
 NEW YORK, NY – September 3, 2014 – School Library Journal today announced the winners of the first annual School Librarian of the Year Award, which honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st- century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI, was named the winner and will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of materials of her choosing from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s founding sponsor. Additionally, Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA and Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, were both recognized as finalists and will each receive $500 in Scholastic materials of their choice. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal, available now with winner Michelle Colte as the cover story, and on 
A panel of school librarians, School Library Journal editors and other industry professionals from Scholastic and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) determined the winners of the award. All nominations were judged based on several criteria, including creativity in programming, exemplary use of technology and integration of library resources with curricula.  
To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and its honorees, visit
Michelle Colte, 2014 School Librarian of the Year, stated, “I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy – it’s about helping people make connections and share knowledge within the community and beyond. I am honored to be named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, and I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools creatively.”

Michelle Colte, SLJ’s 2014 School Librarian of the Year,
will be featured along with the finalists
in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal.
The inception of this award is cause enough to celebrate, but the individuals School Library Journal and  the panel members selected to recognize are truly worthy of your attention.

@Michelle_Colte on Twitter
Award winner Michelle Colte (@Michelle_Colte) connects her students with the world and has made the school library the center of the school, if not the universe. From Dot Day and World Read Aloud Day celebrations over video conferencing, to innovative programming and community involvement including participation in the Hour of Code and the Cardboard Challenge, Michelle’s library is a voice for the student’s interests and curiosities and is truly a place where learning happens. Visit Michelle’s Hale Kula Library hompage.
@plemmonsa on Twitter
Finalist Andy Plemmons (@plemmonsa) is a powerhouse innovator, early technology adapter, children’s literature enthusiast, and constant advocate for his students. Visitors to Andy’s school library blog are treated to the daily goings on and needn’t visit long to realize what makes Mr. Plemmons such a special educator. Visit Andy’s Barrow Media Center blog.
@lamar_library on Twitter
Finalist Colleen Graves (@lamar_library) is a middle school librarian obsessed with Learning Commons, Makerspaces, and technology. She’s also a Certified Google Educator and Google Education Trainer. Visit Colleen’s Maker | Teacher | Librarian homepage.

Let’s raise a wild ruckus on Twitter and other social media outlets to celebrate this years winner and finalists! Use #SchoolLibOTY (the official hashtag) to congratulate the winners and help raise our voices for school libraries and the incredibly talented school librarians who help them soar!

via Blogger

Let’s Get Busy with Jenny Lussier

Jenny Lussier (@jluss), elementary school teacher librarian in CT, stops by to talk about amazing experiences you can share with students via Skype, celebrating worldwide literacy holidays, and staying student-centered at all costs.

Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes Read - Learn - Innovate! (Jenny’s library homepage)
Skype in the Classroom
International Dot Day

via Blogger

Dot Day Lesson Seeds 2014

(Encore post-ish)

I love International Dot Day! Love Love LOVE it!

I love that it’s a chance for our school to unite around a common celebration. I love that we get to connect with other educators from around the world. I love that it’s an opportunity for students to see the good in themselves and in one another.

If you’re new to Dot Day, I know you’re going to love it, too!

Get ideas from a jam-packed educator guide here. Connect with classrooms around the world here. Find tons of educators eager to Skype with your class for Dot Day here. Or take inspiration from what’s going on under our roof.

Our teachers are pulling great ideas from the Free Educators’ Handbook for Dot Day, so I wanted to make sure I tried something off-book in order to avoid duplicating lessons. Last year each grade did a special dot-inspired lesson in Library Media (check them out here). This year we’re in the second year at our brand new school and the building is already a buzz with Dot Day ideas. We’re going to pull ideas from the past two years in order to be as intentional with our projects and this year our big emphasis is making meaningful connections through collaborative projects. I’ve added some adaptations where necessary so that you can peek into where my brain is going with this whole meaningful connections thing. Enjoy!

We can’t wait to share our work with those classes with which we’re connecting via Skype the week of September 15th to celebrate Dot Day!

As always, feel free to borrow, improve on, collaborate with, or share any of these ideas. I can’t wait for you, too, to make your mark and see where it takes you!

(Encore 2012 Lesson) My Name in Dots (Kindergarten) - Kinders are working on letters and writing their names. So, why not do it in dots? Each student is going to write the first letter in his or her name in pencil, then decorate the lines in crayon dots. Using watercolors, the students will then paint dots over their letters to create a brightly colored crayon relief. (Using The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds)

Lots of dots in every color and shape make the final product really stand out.

(Encore 2013 LessonDots Made with Friends (Grade 1) - 1st graders are going to explore halves and quarters by creating dots, using scissors, and sharing dot sections. Each student will decorate a dot in his or her own unique way, then will cut the dot in half and cut one half in half again, resulting in one half and two quarter sections. Students will keep the half piece and will exchange their quarter pieces with classmates in order to form a complete dot. The pieces are glued onto a colored square of paper and can be decorated by glueing on more paper cut out dots. When all of the dot squares are pieced together, the result will be a mural of connections. (Using The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds)
NOTE: This activity can also be tied into the following 1st grade Common Core Math Standard:
CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.3 Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halvesfourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of,fourth of, and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.
Who will you meet to make your dot complete?

(Encore 2012 LessonPress the Dots eBook (Grade 2) - Focusing on cause and effect, students will take inspiration from a sensational picture book in order to create some magic of their own. Have you read Press Here? It’s amazing. We’re aiming to recreate some of the book’s magic through this project. We’ll make a plan using an organizer and incorporate action words to come up with some creative effects for our dots. But rather than sticking with dots on a white paper, we’re going to stick cut-out dots onto students and take before/after photos in order to recreate the effect from their plan. It’s an ambitious project, but it just might work. (Using Press Here by Herve Tullet)

Adaptation: This year instead of doing the art entirely on the iPad, we’re going to mimic Tullet’s style and bust out the acrylic paints. Each student will create two pages to contribute to a book that will be bound and mailed to a sister school. We want them to be able to enjoy a book that we made, well… for others to enjoy!

This book is really special and the Press Here app is amazing!

(Encore 2012 LessonDot Day-ish Paintings (Grade 3) - One of my colleagues at a neighboring school has students create their own paint mixes and name the paints in a process inspired by Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. Students create colors like sunset-ish, happy-ish, and goldfish-ish. The class’s swatch collection is always an easy go-to for smiles. Our students will take this project a step further by recording a recipe for their Ish color that a classmate could follow in order to create the color. The colors will then be used in original artworks inspired by things we love. (Using Ish by Peter H. Reynolds)

Grape-ish could end up being the color used to create a painting of
a ferocious dinosaur or, perhaps, some towering mountains. Who knows!
The end result should be something like this (Dot Dat blog post following this activity) and should be something the kiddos treasure for a long while.

(Encore 2013 LessonTrophy Dots (Grade 4) - Taking inspiration from the Dots: a Game About Connecting app (available free from iTunes here) our 4th graders will test their connecting skills in attempts to set a high score or earn a trophy on the popular iOS game. After familiarizing themselves with the game, students will make dots using highlighters and, with the help of a black pen, transform the dots into cool achievement trophies. It’s a chance to level up in school while making up some really awesome (and probably really silly) awards. (Using The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and Dots app)

Adaptation: I’ve played so much DOTS and TWO DOTS with friends, I can’t help but feel like these dots need to find a home with new friends who can appreciate them even more. That’s why this year, similar to the Dot Day Trading Cards below only without all of the trading) we’re going to mail these to a connecting class so that their students can have some awesome awards to share with one another. Should be pretty awesome!
I wonder who will create the Mr. Winner dot?

(Encore 2012 LessonDot Day Trading Cards (Grade 5) - This idea, adapted from the Free Educators’ Handbook, might be my favorite activity of all our Dot Day plans. This is mainly because it’s already revealed so much about my 5th graders and they’re so readily offering up their ideas and creativity to make it something awesome. The idea is that we’re creating trading cards that we look forward to actually trading (potentially with some of you!) Each student will create three original trading cards. Each card will contain a handmade dot and the artist’s signature on one side and a suggestion for the recipient to try on the other. The students are brainstorming things they love that they’d like others to try. We’re making three cards so that they can each trade one with me (yep… I’m making a whole bunch of cards!), one with a Skype school, and one with a classmate. Some kids are actually making four cards so that they have one to keep for themselves. Want to get your hands on some of these cards? I guess you’ll just have to Skype with us for Dot Day! (Using The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds)

Geeking out over these is no difficult task. We can’t wait to share our cards with our Skype classes!
So, that’s it for now. I’m really excited for the students to share their hard work with all of you, via this blog and Skype. I’m also excited to see what you come up with. Make sure you share!

Happy connecting!

via Blogger