This week our library hosted a SkypeAthon event through Skype to connect our classrooms with others around the world. We traveled almost 20,000 virtual miles this week! Because of this event, students were able to learn about different cultures, how others celebrate holidays, and learned to appreciate different perspectives, but also that we are all human and can enjoy the same things. This years SkypeAthon mission was to "open hearts, open minds." I think we succeeded! Highlights include traveling to Balatonboglár, Hungary to learn about holidays in Hungary as well as schools in their country, traveling to Ontario, Canada to have a dance off, and traveling to the Master School in India to learn about Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Thank you to all the classrooms that participated and we can't wait to host something like this again for our students!
When we talk about equitable access in the library, we are usually referring to access to books or to technology, but something I try to focus on in our library are learning experiences. That could mean a read aloud, a high tech STEM activity, or a virtual field trip, but it doesn't have to be. During this time of year, it's important for us to remember not all of our students have access to materials, time, resources, or a mentor at home to help create a "something" for that someone special in their life for the holidays.
Our county tends to be pretty affluent, but many of our families in our school are not. The poverty is partially hidden by living beyond means or by local organizations like the amazing United Way. I'm so glad we have been reading Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen with the staff this year. While I have taught in high poverty (100% free lunch) when I first started teaching and I grew up not knowing how our grocery bill would be paid, I still struggle with feeling removed from the poverty mindset as I have grown accustomed to teaching here. Understanding our students and their life experiences helps me be the best librarian I can be to offer authentic learning experiences for them. Jensen mentions that "for many students school is an obligation, not a joy or a privilege" and often it is because there is not a support system. I hope by doing something like this, I'm helping students take ownership of their space, that I'm showing empathy instead of pity, and even though I cannot change their bank accounts, I can help "fill their emotional account."
I've had these Chromebook boxes in the storage room for almost a year because I knew I wanted to use them for a MakerSpace project (honestly, thinking for Cardboard Challenge but that did not happen this year) and this was the perfect recycling project! My wonderful media clerk, Michelle, and I cut out the boxes and used our die cut machine to make sturdy, rustic looking ornaments for our kiddos. If we had older children, I would say let them create their own ornament from the cardboard but due to safety concerns and time constraints, we cut them out for our students. We gathered our markers, scrap paper, extra ribbon, and a hodgepodge of things I could find at the Dollar Tree in town.
I can't wait to have our kiddos come in to make something to take home or to give to a special friend!! I'll make sure to update with pictures as our students come in to create!
I think I will add this to my Future Ready Librarian goals outline as a project to do each holiday season.
Happy World Kindness Day!
What a wonderful day to talk about our similarities, differences, and spread kindness like confetti! I wish I could have done more this year, but it has been crazy busy over here in the library and I'm just getting back from an awesome, but lengthy, conference. I'm definitely making more of an effort next year.
Today, I celebrated by reading a wonderful book, The Bad Seed by Jory John, out loud to our students. Because we have over 700 students in our building, it would be hard for me to go around to each classroom in one day to read out loud so I recorded myself reading and then shared it with our teachers. This book is perfect for World Kindness Day because it talks about being kind to yourself and thinking positively. It's also nice to mention that sometimes we do not always understand what someone is going through or has gone through so treating others the way we would want to be treated is important.
Another good read aloud option would be We're All Wonders, but many of our teachers have already read it or they are currently reading Wonder. Isn't it awesome the movie is coming out this week?!?!
During brief glances on Twitter, I have seen where other teachers have used Flipgrid to start a Kindness Topic where students record positive messages about their classmates, teachers, or school workers. If I had more time this year, I would have loved to start one prior to today. But, I'll shoot for the stars next year! It would be an easy tie-in with the PBIS initiatives at our school.