BY JANET K. OUTLAW
Experiencing online education is a completely different experience from in-person teaching and learning. Simply transferring what you would normally do to an online platform doesn’t offer the same kind of experience. During this time of social distancing, I’ve been particularly interested in thinking about platforms that still allow teachers and students to engage in literacy in socially participative ways.
One platform that is really interesting for students to share out responses to children’s literature is Flipgrid. It is a great way for all children, or college students, to share their experiences, their learning, and reflections! As the teacher, you can add members of your class to Flipgrid and ask them to share out about what they’re reading at home. Since children have varying accesses to high-speed internet or media devices, I also like Flipgrid because it can be used on a tablet or mobile phone. It’s free to create an account and join. It offers wonderful learning opportunities, where each student can highlight an amazing new book they read, what they may have personally connected to in the story, or how they felt while reading it.
I’m not a technologically savvy person at all, but Flipgrid is very user-friendly. I first used it a couple of years ago in an online graduate course. It helped the course to feel more socially engaged than typical online courses. Watching classmates’ videos and hearing about their experiences brought the class to life in a way online discussion boards just don’t. If it’s your first time using Flipgrid, below is a brief tutorial video to show you how to set it up as an instructor.
Once you have gotten your account and topic set up, you can share it with your students for a variety of different discussions. One great idea would be for every student to give a book talk of a new children’s book they read at home!
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are several resources for free access to children’s books right now:
Some of my favorite texts that are available on Epic are A Different Pond (by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui) and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac). A Different Pond touches on themes of immigration, loss from war, and family pride. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga prompts you to think again about all of the people and things in your life you are grateful for.
These are just a couple of books you can recommend to your students or allow them the choice to read a book of interest to them! Using Flipgrid, you can have discussion question prompts to guide students through their book talk, such as:
Janet K. Outlaw is a member of the CLA student committee. She is a doctoral candidate in Literacy and English Language Arts at North Carolina State University.
@Instagram’s #KidLit Community
LORA M. DEWALT
Instagram Inquiry Project
Children’s literature courses are material heavy and right now we are not able to guarantee our students have access to the books we would otherwise read and explore. However, through Instagram, students can have access directly to the book creators themselves.
One assignment could be an Instagram Inquiry. I envision that undergraduate or graduate students might inquire into their personal interests with a particular author or illustrator on Instagram. Possible topics might include “What can we learn about an illustrator’s process from watching their Instagram stories and posts?” or “What do I notice about the way an author crafts their captions, how does that reflect (or differ) from their writing in books?” Perhaps a student might ask “What did a particular author share prior to March 2020—what do they seem to be sharing now?”'
This inquiry assignment might be offered as a follow up to an author study, which Erika Thulin Dawes wrote about on the 3/24/2020 CLA Blog.
@aishacs (Aisha Saeed)
@andominguezzzz (Angela Dominguez)
@authorderrickdbarnes (Derrick Barnes)
@colleenaf (Coleen AF Venable)
@cordell_matthew (Matthew Cordell)
@erikalsanchez (Erika L. Sanchez)
@erinentrada (Erin Entrada Kelly)
@jessicalovedraws (Jessica Love)
@macbarnett (Mac Barnett)
@marlafrazee (Marla Frazee)
@nicolayoon (Nicola Yoon)
@oge_mora (Oge Mora)
@rainbowrowell (Rainbow Rowell)
@Sean_qualls (Sean G. Qualls)
@theartoffun (Christian Robinson)
Lo DeWalt is a CLA member. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Lo co-teaches an undergraduate children’s literature course and works as a district administrator in Manor, Texas.
BY ADAM CRAWLEY
For those unfamiliar with Epic, it provides a vast collection of children’s literature including picturebooks, chapter books, and graphic novels. As stated on the site’s homepage, users can “instantly access 35,000 eBooks, learning videos, quizzes and more for K-5.” Many of the books available are recent publications and award/honor recipients. The site includes books diverse in representation (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, social class, language, etc.) and genre. Just a few of the many books available include El Deafo (Bell, 2014), When Aidan Became a Brother (Lukoff, 2019), and The Princess and the Warrior (Tonatiuh, 2016). One of my particular favorites is the bilingual picturebook Sora and the Cloud (Hoshino, 2011), exquisite with its soft mixed media illustrations and Japanese translation.
In addition to digital versions of printed books, the site includes audiobooks and “read-to-me” books with the option to add text highlighting. I emphasize to the pre-service teachers the importance of such features for emergent readers.
There are numerous ways to explore what’s available in Epic. Users can type a title, author, illustrator, or topic into the search bar; hover over “Explore” in the menu to see options for various subject areas (such as “narrative nonfiction” in English Language Arts or “geometry” in Math); or browse curated collections by other users. Educators can also add their students – whether K-12 or beyond – and assign books to them within the site.
As I want the pre-service teachers to have access to and use this resource beyond our semester together, I encourage them to create their own free account as an educator. Educators can create an Epic! for Educators account.
Supporting PreK-12 and university teachers as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts.
The opinions and ideas posted in the individual entries are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of CLA or the Blog Editors.
Liz Thackeray Nelson
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