Staying Connected from Afar

Image connection from afar

Randi Sather, NBCT Librarian and CIC at Perez Elementary

Our library plays a big part in community building and hosting special events at our school. This year, I’ve had the challenge of figuring out how to translate our many school-wide events to the virtual world. Here’s a little bit about what we’ve done this year to stay connected from afar!

Author/Illustrator Visits: We hosted 3 virtual author visits (Deborah Diesen, Emma Virjan, & Susan Verde) and 1 illustrator visit (Magdalena Mora) thanks to partnerships with BookPeople, Project WISE, and a personal connection. I hosted the events on my regular library zoom link so students & families would be able to easily access them. We made the visits extra special by inviting students to create a playlist of related songs to play as attendees entered the zoom and to submit questions for the authors/illustrator ahead of time.

Image: What if... I could tell more than one story?

Book Character Pumpkins: We typically have a book character dress-up day in October, but since many of our students wouldn’t be able to participate, this year we opted for a book character pumpkin decorating contest instead. Students & families designed a pumpkin to look like a favorite character and could then turn in the pumpkins for display at the school or submit a picture on a padlet. Then, students voted for their favorites and the top 3 won prizes.This new event was such a hit with students and families, we may decide to keep it going into the future.

Mock Election: For 2nd-5th graders, I hosted our mock election via BLEND, where students could learn about each candidate, the voting process, and then voted using a google form. For PreK-1st graders, I read Elephant & Piggie and Pete the Cat books to students during our zoom library lessons, and then they voted on a google form via SeeSaw for their favorite book character. This was an easy transition from our regular mock election format and allowed us to keep students engaged in civics.

Genius Hour: Thanks to a fantastic partnership with 4H Americorps, we have been able to offer virtual Genius Hour sessions for 1st & 2nd graders all year. Students have learned about circuitry, engineering, plants, optical illusions, and so much more through these enrichment sessions. This has been an especially great way for students both at school and at home to get to engage with each other in a fun way.

STEAM Night: This year we changed up our typical science fair and instead invited students and families to create a 3-5 minute video demonstrating a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Technology topic. I then collected the videos into a digital game board for STEAM Night and also offered live STEAM related zoom sessions. The video format really brought students’ projects to life and I hope we’ll continue to offer this option the next time around!

Guest Readers: Since we couldn’t have guest readers join us at school to celebrate reading this year, we invited readers to class zooms instead. Recently, we had community members, district staff, and parents join us to read aloud a diverse book to each class in celebration of “Día” Children’s Day/Book Day on April 30th. The added benefit was that guests didn’t even need to live nearby to easily join us for the fun!

As with everything this year, we’ve been adapting and innovating in order to keep our school community connected in new ways. This has benefited us this year and many of the changes are things we’ll likely continue into the future since they offered new opportunities for connection and learning.

Thanks for reading! Contact me on twitter @PerezReads & @biblio_teach.

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