From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Craig Seasholes. Craig is a Teacher Librarian at Sanislo Elementary School, in Seattle, Washington. He is also the past president of WLMA. You can read more from Craig on his blog or on Twitter where he especially encourages Seattle Public School librarians to follow #seattleTL.

Craig Seasholes
A  LIT-TL* Poetry Adventure

As April blooms each year, I celebrate my role as an elementary school  librarian with an open invitation to join in the joy of reading, writing and publishing poetry. 

This year a pair of enthusiastic student teachers have gathered “where I’m from” poems from our 5th graders into a print, ePub and audio anthology to kick off National Poetry Month with an after school family potluck and poetry celebration. 

Projects like this bloom quickly in our “small school with big ideas.” Here’s how this one grew during this March at Sanislo:

In late February, UW student-teachers Cai Wren Barber and Jared Cole asked me for suggestions of poems that might help inspire a poetry project. Big open questions like this are exactly the sort of  invitation that I love, and after a few moment’s pause (*sound of wheels turning*) we walked to our poet-tree collection and I started reaching for resources. 

Jared Cole, Craig Seasholes and Cai Wren Barber
standing at the Sanislo Poet-Tree

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Poetry Friday Anthology was the first book I pulled and Janet’s  You Have to Write practically jumped off the shelf and into the mix. “This is a perfect place to start.”  Cai and Jared were off and running, leading students with a mix of  inspiration, structure, writing, revision and illustration. 

(video insert? I have  video clip of Cai telling Janet thank you for this book, if you want to insert into blog?)

Helping teachers and students collect their poems into booklets is ever more fun with access to ePub tools. 

Crumpled and messy drafts lay scattered like leaves after 5th graders type their finished drafts onto computer in the library lab. Clever Mr. Cole whipped out his smartphone and photographed student’s drawings, edited and dropped them onto the facing pages of out quickly assembled electronic chapbook.  I had students create colorful electronic images using a Paint program, which Ms. Barber stitched together into a mosaic cover for the whole affair.  Desktop publishing let me upload the whole thing into an Issuu e-pub, and link it to the school website.

Meanwhile, back in the library tech lab, I had also introduced students to free and robust Audacity audio recording and editing software. The fifth graders each recorded their poems, clipped and adjusted volumes to get roughly consistent 40 second clips which I could then blend into a single audio file to accompany the anthology and eBook. 

Wow, Craig, this is an awesome way to celebrate Poetry month! I am sure your suggestions will inspire others to meld technology and poetry, too.

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