Whenever possible, I love to collaborate with colleagues, friends, students…the fun of more brains than one just sparks a deeper imagination. Our professional organization, AISL, is another source of excellent teaching and learning partners. While many of us share our expertise at conferences and via the listserv – have you considered co-teaching with a fellow AISL member?
When I met Debbie Cushing, Lower School Librarian at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, last year at the AISL Conference during Dinner with a Librarian, I knew there was a project between us waiting to hatch.
While browsing the shelves at Little Shop of Stories, we began talking about Mock Caldecott and Newbery lists. We lamented ‘so many books, so little time,’ and outlets we seek out for guidance on narrowing our selections.
With that, the spark ignited. On the spot, we decided this year we would do a Mock Caldecott Collaboration: Westminster Schools Smythe Gambrell Library X The Bolles School, Ponte Vedra Library.
We both have Mock Caldecott programs in place with the Second Grades at our respective schools. We both are committed to children learning about the deeper purpose art plays in picture books. We both desired a fresh update to our programs. BAM!
We exchanged information and got right to it.
In May of last year, we shared a Google doc to keep notes, start book lists and develop timelines. In August, we connected both by phone and via our Google doc to work through the expressions of our programs and the timing of various classes, events and, of course, holidays. We laughed and found common ground while inspiring each other to reach higher.
In late October, we began our unit and announced it to our classes. My students were so excited to be sharing this experience with other kids their age! In another state! Imagine!
Through November, December and January, we read 13 picture books, analyzed all the art, debated merits of Caldecott guidelines, worked in Mock Caldecott Committees to [briefly] experience what it’s like to sit at a table with peers and opinions and choose a “winner” among a collection of winners.
Debbie and I shared photos, emails, and reflections along the way. We offered stationary to students to write pen pal letters around their reading experiences and Caldecott experiences. At the time of voting, we shared the unique results of both schools and compared notes. On the Big Day [YMA announcements] in January, when HELLO LIGHTHOUSE won, our students were jubilant!
Mock Caldecott 2019 Voting Results
Westminster Schools Lower School Library
Gold Medal: HELLO LIGHTHOUSE, Sophie Blackall
Honor Book: I AM A CAT, Galia Bernstein
Honor Book: DRAWN TOGETHER, Min Le (author) Dan Santat (illustrator)
Honor Book: OCEAN MEETS SKY, Terry Fan and Eric Fan
The Bolles School, Ponte Vedra Lower School Library
Gold Medal: I AM A CAT, Galia Bernstein
Honor Book: HELLO LIGHTHOUSE, Sophie Blackall
Honor Book: JULIAN IS A MERMAID, Jessica Love
Honor Book: IMAGINE, Raul Colon
Collaborating on Caldecott? You bet!
Developing curriculum? Starting a book club? Trying out a new website eval system? Reach out to fellow AISL colleagues as collaborators! Over the next few weeks, Debbie and I will debrief and make plans for next year. This experience offered a natural and enjoyable way to grow both professionally and personally. Let sparks fly!