For the second year in a row I am teaching a class through our Capital Region Teacher Center called, "Newbery and Beyond." It's mostly for classroom teachers and librarians who are interested in learning how I run my Mock Newbery project with tips on how to begin one in their buildings. Last year I pretty much kept it at Newbery but this year I am sprinkling in other awards like Caldecott and Geisel. The teachers range from elementary librarians and as young as first grade teachers to middle and high school librarians and classroom teachers so I'm working hard to keep them all engaged. I also have some repeat students so that keeps me on my toes to make it interesting for them, too.
Our first session was last month and we had the great pleasure of welcoming 2016 Caldecott winner, Sophie Blackall and her partner on the Benevento series, John Bemelmans Marciano. I invited my Reading Ambassadors to welcome them on our red carpet, which proved to be quite a thrill for Sophie and John. And then the class was honored with their extreme presence. If you ever have the opportunity to see them speak, drop everything and do it. They are such lovely and talented people.
|Sophie is a great leaper!|
|The Schodack crew with Sophie and John|
So how was I ever going to live up to that first class? I invited a local librarian who is a former member of a Caldecott Committee to speak about the process, picture books and more. Unfortunately, she became ill and will reschedule. What to do now? I let my fingers do the tapping and quickly sent emails to parents of former students asking if they were able and willing to speak to a group of adults about their experience on the Newbery project. I could not be more proud.
Nine kids showed up (some had as much as three hours notice and others as little as less than an hour!) and they were amazing (in my eyes, at least). They ranged from being in my very first Newbery group (a freshman in HS) to sixth grade. Eight boys and one girl. All love reading. All have something positive to share about the project. All loved the debating part of it. All still very attached to the book that they hoped would win. The freshman even said, "I don't remember much but I do remember wanting The One and Only Ivan to win a lot." And it did! And when it did, I remember he and his friend chest bumping one another screaming, "Our book won! Our book won!"
Thanks to some quick filming by Mrs. Kelliher, I can share a few snippets with you.
This one the audience is asking the students questions about their participation in the project, how their reading habits might have changed and what they remember about being in the project.
The beginning of this one you see Landon talking about when Kwame came to visit and how he got to "host" him on stage by interviewing him. A fond memory indeed.
|7th grader Ben won the debate in his class for The Crossover!|
|8th grader Peter was in my Doll Bones book group. I couldn't find it on the shelf for him to pose with.|
|9th grader Luc (far left) was in the very first group while Eli and Landon were huge Crossover fans!|
|8th grader Julia still remembers loving Zebra Forest|
|7th grader Ethan brought in ice cream for our Skype with Natalie Lloyd|
|6th grader Xavier won the grade wide debate with Lost in the Sun!|
|Yes! He did wear a tie and that's a very special tie from our MOST Gala in honor of Sarah Weeks.|
|When 8th grader, George, was in the project, Sage Blackwood wrote a personal letter to him in response to his letter requesting a Skype.|
If you ever have doubt that this project isn't worthwhile, it is! It may not be the Common Core modules, but it covers every Common Core standard you can think of and just look at the result! These kids came in at 6 pm on a very rainy evening to talk about a project one, two, three and four years ago that promotes reading, problem solving, public speaking and more! And guess what?! They are still reading! Dear, dear administrators--please support libraries, flexible if possible, so young people can have experiences like this all over our country.