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Youngsters ‘hang out’ with books on Google

A student at Madison Elementary School shares his picture book and its interpretation with other Madison students using Google Hangout. CONTRIBUTED
A student at Madison Elementary School shares his picture book and its interpretation with other Madison students using Google Hangout. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – Nowadays, most children like ‘to just hang out’ in their spare time. Bonnie Howard at Madison Elementary School discovered a way to insert books into that ‘hanging out’ equation.
Howard, Madison elementary’s media specialist, was searching for activities to observe National Picture Book Month in November. She discovered an idea online (expectmiraculous.com) and contacted other Madison City Schools media specialists.
“The idea for our shared activity was born,” Howard said. MCS students used Google Hangout technology to share their favorite picture books. “This was an exciting opportunity for students to learn 21st-century collaboration skills and share their love of reading.”
Similar to Skype, Google Hangout allows multiple users to interact. Children from Heritage, Mill Creek, Rainbow and Madison elementaries participated.
“We wanted students … to learn that communication and collaboration can and do take place digitally. Our college and career readiness anchor standards for speaking and listening include comprehension and collaboration,” Howard said.
Students could choose any picture book. They discussed books in whole-group, read-aloud sessions, along with small-group collaboration. All four third-grade classes at Madison elementary chose five books for Google hangouts.
Madison elementary students realized their peers liked the same books and brand new stories. “This was exciting to discover because we learned there are many great picture books yet to discover,” Howard said.
Many students “discovered a new love for the books. They learned that, along with pictures, the books also include interesting and challenging text,” Howard said.
Students also were excited to connect with peers across town by using technology. “Many had ‘a-ha’ moments for other ways to use Google Hangouts. One suggestion was to share picture books with students from other countries and from other languages,” Howard said.
In addition, students want to use technology to contact subject experts, such as architects, astronauts and engineers, to help with projects.
“Not only did students develop new ideas for using technology, media specialists started brainstorming new ways to bring the global community into the classroom through activities, like mystery Skype and citizen science projects,” Howard said.
Other staff who participated are Lisa D’Antonio, Heritage; Kelly DesRochers, Debbi Marsh, Jennifer Mobley and Claire Stewart, Madison elementary; Kris Gray, Mill Creek; and Dixie Paschal, Rainbow.
For more information, visit picturebookmonth.com.

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