The Gorham Middle School (GMS) library website is a rich resource for students to discover and access reading materials from their home or classroom using their MLTI iPads. Librarian Suzanne Liacos-Dix has created an extensive collection of Book Talk videos, a Google Classroom stream, and a selection of Google Forms to engage students in sharing their literary passions with others. This year, in collaboration with 7th grade teacher, Sherry Coyne and the GMS technology integrator, Terri Dawson, the library website has a new feature to help engage students in Silent Sustained Reading (SSR).
The GMS library website features a link to join a Google Classroom where Mrs. Dix streams library announcements like new book arrivals, book fair information, and author visit events. She has also created a Google Form where students can request a featured “Favorites Shelf” to display their top picks as well as a form to request new books to be added to the library. The forms are student-friendly and provide students an opportunity to have a voice in the library collection. The Google Classroom stream allows students across grade levels to have conversations that they might not otherwise from expressing excitement about a new book release or sharing thoughts on upcoming events with others. The stream is also an opportunity for Mrs. Dix to help students learn how to communicate effectively with others and become good digital citizens. Mrs. Dix says there is a long waiting list for the Favorites Shelf that just started this September. It has been extraordinarily popular with the students!
Like many middle schools, Gorham Middle School has a Silent Sustained Reading period during the day to allow students to dive into a book of their choice for a set amount of time. Sometimes getting students to actively engage in SSR can be a challenge. Sherry Coyne, a 7th grade teacher on the Little River team reached out to Mrs. Dix about an idea she had heard about that might help support students who have a difficult time with the SSR period. Mrs. Dix talked to the technology integrator and a new, creative solution was born: Meet a Book Mondays. Using Book Creator, an app for web browsers and tablets that “enables students to create and read multimodal digital books,” ¹ along with audio recording and image editing tools on the MLTI teacher MacBooks, Mrs. Dix and Mrs. Dawson created a comic book style book that is full of book previews, character descriptions, book release announcements, audio recordings of chapters and more. The book has a vibrant and fun design to grab student interest. The Meet a Book Mondays book is projected for the class all together during SSR. Students fill out a feedback form on their iPads and draw whatever comes to mind as they listen. The following day, students have the option to read the books that they learned about. Students can come back to Meet a Book Mondays any time as it is readily accessible via their iPads. Mrs. Coyne has seen a positive result since introducing the project to her students, they are more engaged and she feels like the SSR time is becoming more valuable to students. They are already exploring a new Google Maps project based on the response from students on a particular book that they learned about through Meet a Book Mondays. They plan to virtually follow and map out a character’s journey around the world. After hearing about the success on the Little River team, other teachers are beginning to use the Meet a Book Mondays book with their classes for SSR as well!
Mrs. Dix’s library website and the Meet a Book Mondays Book Creator Project are great examples of blending educational technology tools into every day learning to provide accessibility and actively engage students in a creative way. Using their MLTI devices to create and access content, both teachers and students are connecting and discovering new resources to support reading. You can see the Gorham Middle School Library website and the ongoing Meet a Book Mondays project here: https://sites.google.com/view/gorhammiddle/home
¹University of Massachusetts Amherst. (n.d.). Learner-Centered Tools, Book Creator. Online Tools for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved October 18, 2022 from https://blogs.umass.edu/onlinetools/learner-centered-tools/book-creator/.