The #classroombookaday Challenge: How to Share Your Class's Reading Progress

I'm so excited to join the #classroombookaday challenge! It is so important to read thought-provoking, engaging literature to our students everyday, especially for our students who may not get that opportunity at home.

I attended an IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment) training recently, and they talked about the importance of reading engagement. The first stage in their book leveling system is called 'Read to Me (RTM).' It states, "The RTM level represents the 2,000 hours of reading experiences (being read to, interactions with books) that is typical of the successful readiness reader to build the vocabulary, background knowledge, language experience, reading identity, attention span, genre exposure, and phonemic awareness to be ready to use the print on the page to read (iv)."

If students need 2,000 hours of experience with books to develop the readiness skills they need to understand how books work and begin to form their reading identity, then we need to be intentional  about making time for that in our classrooms. If students miss that foundational step, and instead we jump right into teaching students HOW to read the print on the page, we may end up teaching kids to hate reading because they have not yet had enough life experience to understand the purpose or enjoyment of reading.

The #classroombookaday challenge is a perfect opportunity to intentionally build that foundation, no matter what grade level you teach. "#classroombookaday was started by Jillian Heise (@heisereads) during the 2014-2015 school year, inspired by Donalyn Miller's (@donalynbooks) #bookaday challenge. With a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year for a #bookaday with her 7th & 8th grade students, 180 complete texts were shared that grew classroom community and reading engagement." Click here for even more information about the #classroombookaday challenge.

I've already started collecting books for the challenge, and I'm compiling a list of book recommendations using wakelet (check it out on the bottom of this post). I'll continue adding to it, so feel free to follow me on wakelet @estout and Instagram @teacherstuff4U if you want to see my collection of recommendations.

I've seen teachers post different variations of huge wall displays in which they make copies of the book covers they read and hang them on the wall to share what they are reading for the #classroombookaday challenge. While it looks really cute, that seems like A LOT of work for the teacher! I'd like to make it easier to share and give the students more buy-in by having them do more of the work. 😉

First, my plan is to have the student with the classroom job "photographer" take a picture of the book we read each day and post it on SeeSaw. I have enabled the SeeSaw classroom blog so we can collaborate with other students and talk about books. Please comment below if you are a SeeSaw user and you'd like to connect with my class through the SeeSaw blog this year and talk about books! Here are some quick resources on how to use the SeeSaw blog:

I'm sure some people are still thinking: But what about the students and adults walking by my classroom? I want them to see what we are reading too. I have a plan for that! I attended a training about innovation with guest speakers John Spencer, author of LAUNCH, and Dr. Robert Dillon, author of The Space: A Guide For Educators. Dr. Dillon talked about the power of the whole learning process, not just the products created by students. Gone are the days of showing off "perfect" products as proof of student learning. The real learning happens when students are problem solving, thinking critically, and iterating. He encouraged us to add pictures of those steps on bulletin boards so we are valuing the learning that happened through the work being done. That gave me the idea to use a digital picture frame!

I got a skylight digital picture frame for Christmas, and I'm going to hang it in the hallway this year to share the awesome work students are doing AND to share the books we are reading for our challenge! The skylight frame seemed like the perfect tool for the job because it is so easy to add new pictures. With this frame, you set up an email account through skylight and just email the pictures or videos that you want added to the digital picture frame. It's as easy as that! No uploading with thumb drives or cords. In fact, I shouldn't have to touch the picture frame at all to add new photos. I can't wait to give it a try!

So I'm ready to start our #classroombookaday challenge on the first day of school AND share our progress! I can't wait to see who else is going to take on this challenge this school year! 

Hands-On Learning With Green Screen

Kids today are expected to learn so much so fast and at a younger age than ever before, and both kids and teachers are exhausted! We have to cram so much learning in that there isn't enough time to let kids just play anymore.  But that is not healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article in September 2018 that stated, "Play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (ie, the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions." 

So how do we stay focused on learning, but still incorporate the creative and innovative elements of open-ended play? I think hands-on opportunities for students to create along with STEAM elements that increase problem solving and innovation is a great place to start in the classroom! This summer I went to #geekcamp19 and I was inspired by a green screen class I took from The Marvelous Ms. M! A lot of the green screen videos we do in the classroom involve kids standing in front of the green screen themselves. That is a great way to incorporate green screen, but I hadn't really considered using things like legos or little toy figures to retell a story, so I am inspired to try a whole new type of green screen experience!

Image result for the reading strategies book and the writing strategies book

Two professional books on my reading list this summer are from Jennifer Serravallo: The Reading Strategies Book and The Writing Strategies Book. I am SO excited about these resources! They are like giant cookbooks for literacy goals. They outline strategies (many of which I already use) and include a common language for the strategy, prompts, and tips. I can't wait to use them this year! I decided to try integrating hands-on learning with the green screen to support some of the strategies in these books. Here are a few examples of how that could look:
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1. Reading Goal: Fluency - Make Your Voice Match the Feeling 

(from The Reading Strategy Book by Jennifer Serravallo)

Thanks to my mom and dad who donated the book Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea that came with adorable Narwhal and Jellyfish puppets, my son (who just finished 1st grade) and I read the first chapter of this book using the puppets and green screen! A collapsible green cube was our background, a green lego baseplate was the floor, and we each wore a green latex dishwashing glove to hold the puppets. (We have since learned that if the lighting is better, you do not see the gloves in the video.) I used this tip from goodwinnovate to add a pastel colored background using pic collage so it looks like the book. We had a lot of fun creating this video and really trying to match the feeling of the characters with our voice. Narwhal and Jellyfish are funny, animated characters that are a great fit for this reading strategy.

I also have the stuffed animal characters from Mo Willems' Pigeon, Piggy and Gerald (from the Kohls Cares program), as well as characters from the books of Oliver Jeffers, Pete the Cat, and Eric Carle's Brown Bear Brown Bear. These would all be really fun options for using the green screen with this  fluency goal!

2. Writing Goal: Generating and Collecting Ideas--Writing to Change the World!

(from The Writing Strategy Book by Jennifer Serravallo)

Reading Goal: Strategies for Thinking About Characters- Role Playing Characters to Understand Them Better

(from The Reading Strategy Book by Jennifer Serravallo)

My son wrote this story and drew the character puppets in it. I love that his story was about how to be happy! What a great platform to let students create videos about social emotional vocabulary or concepts that you're teaching. This would support the writing strategy: Writing to Change the World! After he drew and cut out the characters, we taped green straws onto them and used the same green cube, green lego base plate, and green gloves to tell the story in front of the mini green screen. Next he chose a background on google images as his background, but students could also draw their own background. Then after their green screen telling of the story, they could glue their puppet to the background they drew and add it to the words they wrote to keep as a paper copy of their story.

The same idea can be used in reading. Jennifer Serravallo writes, "Sometimes the best way to get to know our characters is to stand in their shoes--to do what they do, say what they say, and act how they act. With a partner choose a scene. Using puppets or props, act out the scene (p.172)."  This is a great opportunity to have students create their own characters using crayons, markers, paper and glue. You could also throw in wiggle eyes, jewels, and patterned paper if you want to let them get really creative! I have A LOT of scrapbook paper that I will never use, so I put it in the writing center and let the kids use it to create. You can also use other mediums to let them tell their story. If you look closely, you can see that we used clear light blue glass stones as a pond and little toy turtles as part of the setting. You can get a lot of inexpensive props like this at the dollar store so students can add details to their setting and then go back and add those details into their writing too. This technique would support the writing strategy from Serravallo called: Add More to Your Pictures (Then, Maybe More to Your Words!)


3. Reading Goal: Strategies for Understanding Plot and Setting --

Summarizing What's Most Essential

(from The Reading Strategy Book by Jennifer Serravallo)

On  Amazon Prime day, I got the boxed set You Are (Not) Small which includes 3 books by Ana Kang with stickers from each of the 3 stories. I put the stickers on green Astrobright paper and cut them out. Then I glued on a green popsicle stick so we could use the stickers to retell the story. We used the same green cube, lego base plate, and green gloves as the green screen backdrop. I also used the same tip from goodwinnovate to add a pastel colored floor and white background using pic collage so it looks like the book.

While I love the creativity of kids using crayons, markers, scissors, and glue to create the characters, sometimes, you just don't want to take the time for that. This is another fun, novel way to work on summarizing what's most essential. It also provides a scaffold for kids who are struggling with this strategy. If you give them pictures that support the most essential parts in the beginning, middle, and end of the story, it will help them focus on the important parts to retell. If you do not have stickers for a story, you can make copies of pictures in the book, or cut out the pictures from favorite stories that are falling apart. This summer, I weeded my book collection, and I had several favorites that had pages falling out. Instead of throwing them away, I decided to cut out the characters for students to use when retelling a story, or even create their own stories with these pictures by standing on the shoulders of those authors and using the same characters to write a new story. David Shannon books are going to be another favorite series that we retell in this way this coming year!

4. Stop Motion Commercials

Image result for Doink green screenImage result for stop motion app
Lego stop motion movies can also be used with green screen! Using the same mini green screen set up with the green cube as the backdrop and a green lego baseplate for the ground, I moved the lego people a little bit at a time snapping pictures inside the free app, Stop Motion. Once the movie was complete, I saved it and uploaded it into the Doink Green Screen app and added a background. You can now use iMovie to create the green screen effect too, however, I still prefer the Doink Green Screen app. In my opinion, it's easier to edit. 

This stop motion movie is an example of a procedure we teach at the beginning of the year--line basics. (But I learned from now on, always use an iPad stand when snapping pictures for stop motion!) Having students create little commercials for beginning of the year procedures and rules is an engaging way for them to internalize it and teach others. After students create these little commercials, we will add them to a class book using book creator to remind students of the rules and procedures in our classroom. We can revisit this class created book when we get new students, after a long break, or when students seem to need a reminder. I use a variety of apps to create these commercials in the classroom. Stop motion and green screen are two great choices, and I also like the apps Superhero Comic Book Maker, Draw & Tell, and Princess Fairytale Maker for students to create easy animated videos that teach rules and procedures. This is so much more interactive than a boring lecture on rules!

Image result for book creator app Image result for superhero comic book maker app 
Image result for Draw & tell app Image result for princess fairytale maker app

Another cool new innovative way to use green screen is with the worm hole effect. Have you heard of it? Using green Play-doh, you can reveal just part of an image creating a worm hole effect. The blog post, Space Saving Green Screen Ideas for the Classroom from Erintegration shows some really innovative examples of how people created this worm hole green-screen effect. Of course, we had to try it! 

We created a monster using green Play-doh and a wiggle eye. Using the Stop Motion app, we made our monster walk forward. When the video was done, we uploaded it into the green screen app and added a video of blue flames to make it look like the monster was on fire. This step was more work than I would probably do in the classroom, but I'm thinking of a lot of ways to use the general idea in the classroom. Another blog post with more ideas about how to use this in the classroom will be coming soon!

How will you use academics, innovation, and the elements of open-ended play in the classroom this year?