Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Behold! I bring you tidings of Great Joy!"

The first Wednesday of each month, our principal, Susan Phillips, holds our monthly faculty meeting. Per teacher contract, she is able to call twelve ninety minute faculty meetings each year after school. She doesn't call any. Rather, she calls one monthly meeting, held on the clock, and it has nothing to do with the traditional dissemination of information. She uses her weekly Memo and Blog to communicate with staff, and face to face meetings are reserved for professional learning through the use of children's literature. Her meetings are not faculty meetings, rather they are Book of the Month meetings.

The Principal's Book of the Month has been happening at Chets Creek since 2001 when we became an America's Choice school. America's Choice uses Book of the Month to introduce all school stakeholders to the same piece of rich children's literature. The principal is then able to have dialogue with all learners and leaders surrounding this one common text.

From the beginning, our Principal has purchased a copy of the selected book for every teacher. Not only does she read teachers the text but she's taken it above and beyond by introducing a strategy with the text. For example, one year she took the reading strategies from Kylene Beer's professional text, When Kids Can't Read-- What Teachers Can Do and introduced each strategy at Book of the Month through the use of her selected children's text. Teachers leave Book of the Month with the text in tow and a strategy sheet which explains why she selected the text along with how to implement the strategy.

December's Book of the Month, Kate DiCamillo's first children's text, Great Joy was unveiled today using the strategy of Digital Storytelling. Susan began by walking staff through how she created the voice thread account, recorded her reading, and how she saved the pictures. Afterward, the final product, which took her only 20 minutes to create, was unveiled. The digital story of Great Joy left the learning leaders thinking about the possibilities.

In fact, it is not uncommon on a Book of the Month day to walk the building and see teachers rolling out the book or strategy that same day. Today was no exception. A 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Young, hustled back to her room and got busy having several students make a digital story from their published narratives. By the end of the day, they had the digital story posted on their class blog for students, parents, and other teachers to enjoy. Now that is rapid implementation!

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