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Celebrating Literature in a Virtual Environment – Part 1

This is the first in a two part series about Book Celebrations in the Virtual Learning Environment.  Both posts were written by Kate Merten and Ann Williams. Check back on 5/28/20 for part two!

At home learning is the new normal for the remainder of the school year,  and we are all working very hard to make it as engaging as possible for students and teachers alike.  Working with a team of teachers has been our saving grace these past weeks, and is a reflection of our team approach when we are in the building as well.  One of our favorite activities to participate in with each other is book celebrations.  At the end of an interactive read aloud, we celebrate the book with cross curricular activities to synthesize learning.  During a typical book celebration,  activities include Art, Music, Math, Reading, Writing and Physical Education.

When we began remote teaching, we knew we wanted to share an interactive read aloud with our students.  But how would we plan an interactive read aloud in this new learning environment? And were we crazy enough to plan a book celebration in a remote learning experience?  You bet we were!  

Fortunately, finding a book was not as difficult as we imagined.  We surveyed students for potential book options and determined that many students had a copy of Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, at home.  Those who did not were able to borrow one electronically from their public library, or download a pdf through openlibrary.org.

Once we all had a copy of the book, we did our best to recreate reader’s workshop for our students.  All students participated in our read aloud during Google Meets, which we had daily. In addition, all students also maintained an independent reading book. We experimented with a variety of questioning strategies, and students responded both orally and in writing through the use of Pear Deck, a Google Slides Add-on.  This add-on allows students to respond, and teachers to see their responses in real time.  We even tried reading using a Reader’s Theater model which was a great success!  All that was left was figuring out how we could plan the book celebration.

After much discussion, we decided that our celebration would be modeled after a county fair.   We created and organized a variety of cross curricular activities that could be completed over a two week time frame, and allowed students the option of choice.  We posted the menu to Google Classroom, and the students are in the process of making  choices for their individual learning.  Activities include writing, STEM,  math, music, art and a few others. Click here to see the student checklist.

Check back on May 28th to see our virtual county fair progress. We are excited to see what the students come up with!

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