James Cambell at Lee Street Elementary in Jonesboro is an awesome Media Specialist with a difficult situation who has come up with a great solution that does a whole lot of things on many different levels.
He is without a clerk or any regular volunteers and has to not only do Specials classes, but has many classes coming through. He decided he wanted to promote the GA Picture Book nominees but his voice gave out when he tried to read them over and over again. Also, that can get a bit mind-numbing as I’m sure you’re aware.
So he spends a couple of weeks over the summer with a pile of picture books, a scanner and some software and makes his own Reading Rainbow-style videos of all of the nominees. Sometimes he even gets other people to read the books. Examples can be seen on his website here. These videos engage the kids, save his voice, and allow him some breathing room to check books in and sorted before continuing with a great lesson.
He takes the time to write to each nominee and ask them or their publisher for permission to do this. Many times this is the first indication the authors and illustrators have that they’ve been nominated! He’s only posted the ones on his website that he’s gotten explicit permission for, but plays the rest in his media center. As you can see he also goes to the trouble of adding all kinds of great links for more information surrounding each nominee. It’s such a great idea that the official GA Children’s Book Award website has a link to Mr. Cambell on their Teacher Resources page.
One more short bit about the GCBA this year. On Friday afternoon I wasn’t really into any of the breakout sessions and thought I might check out the vendors while it was quiet. I crossed the autographing area and all the authors and illustrators were still there with no line! I ran to the bookstore, stocked up and went back to have some one-on-one time at the autographing table. I had my fancy new smartphone and thought about photos, but was inspired to try shooting some video. I asked each one if they would mind saying a greeting for my morning announcements show. They were all delighted to do it! Carole Boston Weatherford busted out with a poem! Mike Wimmer said some inspirational things about books. I also got Meghan McCarthy, Jody Feldman and Barbara O’Connor. They all said, “Good morning Partee Elementary, I’m _______ and I’m the author (or illustrator of) __________…” and then said whatever they felt like. It wasn’t the highest quality, obviously. I didn’t have a tripod and there was some background chatter, but the kids and teachers loved it when I showed a different one each morning for the following week. Now I will say, if you try to steal this idea, that’s fine but do make sure there’s no line behind you when you ask an author to do this. You would not make any friends holding up a line trying to shoot a video.
I think I might contact the conference organizers and urge them to set up a camera on a tripod in a corner with a backdrop and get them to do this same thing each year. They could say “to the students of Georgia” and the GCBA could post the videos on their website for all the media specialists to download and use in their morning shows. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Here’s a link to Barbara O’Connor’s greeting for an example. What were some of your conference stories?