Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Putt Puff Puttedy Chuff...I Can't Believe What Arrived in the Mail!

Oh my goodness, I am still speechless, "on cloud nine," "flying high," and whatever "happy" or "excited" feeling to describe how I am still feeling about a special package that I received in the mail on Friday, February 21, 2014.  It is a package that means the world to me!  It is absolutely priceless!  Ever since I received the package on Friday, I have been searching for the right words to write about this package on my blog.  I almost have had "writer's block" because I am so mesmerized by the package!  Well, I have overcome "writer's block."  I just need to blog, and let the words flow from my mind and heart.  So, hear it goes...hopefully this blog post truly expresses how excited, proud, appreciative, thankful, grateful, and so much more I am feeling, on behalf on my students and the school library.

I received a package from the most amazing, talented, genuine author ever...New York Times Best Seller LOREN LONG!

Here is the package I received!

Soooo, just exactly what is in the package?!

Now that you have seen the package, I want to share the background of all this came about and how much this truly means to me...

Last year, for the first time, I decided to introduce and teach an Iowa Goldfinch Award unit in grades K-2.  You can read more about this award by clicking here to go to the IASL Goldfinch Award webpage.

Before I met Dallas Center Grimes K-8 teacher-librarian Sandi Ellis, I wasn't sure how to go about introducing the Iowa Goldfinch Book Award nominees, what order to read the books in, and what activities to do to support each book.  Thanks to Sandi Ellis, and her colleague Melissa White, I learned how to sequence the books in an order that makes sense, and how to pair the books to allow for compare and contrast opportunities, as well as support other reading strategies used in the general education classroom.

The very first book I read, as part of the 2012-2013 Iowa Goldfinch Book Award unit, was Otis by Loren Long to students in grades K-2.  It a 2012-2013 Iowa Goldfinch Award nominee.  Of course, this was the week prior to meeting Sandi and learning from her.  I chose Otis because I loved the illustrations, and I could immediately make connections between the book, my husband, who grew up on a farm, and as the mother of two boys, I can relate to my sons' interest in tractors, farm animals, and the farm.  Also, I was seeking a book that would serve as a grand "kick-off" and spark enthusiasm for the rest of the Iowa Goldfinch Book Award unit.  Well, Otis certainly sparked more than just enthusiasm.  It allowed students and myself to build and foster a genuine love for reading, as well as develop and foster positive teacher-student relationships.  I LOVE how the Iowa Goldfinch Book Award unit has opened the door for students to eagerly ask me what is the next book I will be reading from the nominee list for the next library skills class.  Then, after I read Otis, I wasn't sure what to read next from the nominee list.  Of course, then it's Sandi Ellis and Melissa White who come to the rescue, and help me figure out how to go about teaching the Iowa Goldfinch Book Award unit!

Last year, I served two elementary buildings in Mason City.  I served Harding Elementary and Jefferson Elementary.  I read the book Otis three times in a row for six days, making it that I read the 18 times in 6 days.  One would think that it would get awfully boring to read the same book over and over again, like I did, but actually I fell in love more and more with Otis the tractor each time I read the book, thanks to the wide variety of students' warm reactions to Otis the tractor.  Little did I know, at that time, just how much of a positive and major impact that Otis the tractor and the author Loren Long would make on my students, and me, as well, for the 2013-2014 school year.

This year, Sandi Ellis and I teamed up to connect our students via Google Hangout class sessions.  During our first connection, we read Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long.  You can read about our first special connection by clicking on this blog post by Sandi http://dcgelementarylibrary.blogspot.com/2013/11/otis-and-puppy-part-i.html . Sandi and I also continued to make more connections with Otis and Loren Long.  You can read more about it in Sandi's blog posts by clicking http://dcgelementarylibrary.blogspot.com/2013/11/otis-part-ii.html  and http://dcgelementarylibrary.blogspot.com/2013/11/our-technology-follow-up-with-otis-puppy.html .

Through all of this I have been in correspondence with Loren Long.   It started back in December, after the awesome things TL Sandi Ellis and I were doing with his books.  By the way, Sandi is also a HUGE fan of Loren Long. :)

Check out the first Facebook private message that Loren sent me...

After I received the package on Friday, February 21st, I wrote Loren a private Facebook message to thank him for the package.  He responded back with this, which is truly heart-warming and touching to read.

What does this package and the connection with Loren Long mean to me?!
As you can tell, this truly means a lot to me, but more importantly, this is for my students!  The Otis books, and many others, allow me to model my genuine love for reading.  Books, especially the Otis series allow me to create and foster positive teacher-student relationships.  I am able to connect with students, which allows them to be able to connect and relate with me.  This package is all because of my genuine fondness, passion, and excitement for Otis the tractor and the amazing New York Times Best Seller author and illustartor Loren Long.

Students are watching me and hearing me talk about how I connect with authors via social media on Twitter and Facebook.  Now they are able to see how real and genuine authors and illustrators are, like Loren.  This package makes it more real for them.  The students' reactions are priceless!  They see how excited I am, and in turn, they are just as excited!

What have a learned from this?!
I am a passionate, loyal, and committed teacher-librarian.  Everything I do as a teacher-librarian is done with love, passion, enthusiasm, excitement, and genuineness.  To think it all started with reading the book Otis, because I wanted to spark excitement, enthusiasm, and a love for reading and the Iowa Goldfinch award, and has now ended up with a special friendship and connection with author Loren Long, is incredibly heart-warming, touching, and fulfilling.  My intentions were, and are still not, to promote authors and illustrators and their books, with a selfish goal in mind to get expect or want something in return from these talented people.  I am just promoting out of a genuine love for books.  I was not at all expecting Loren Long to send me a package with true treasures.  I think that is why it means even more to me.

Where do I go from here?!
I am going to continue to "putt puff puttedy chuff" on to promote books I genuinely love and want to passionately share!  I also hope to connect with more authors and illustrators, so it can help my students create and foster a love for reading!  When students become adults, I hope my students can look back and recall special and fond memories of the school library, especially moments like this when an author sends a package with personalized items!

Thank you, again, Loren Long, for connecting and reaching out to me!  I am deeply appreciative!  Your package is priceless and a true treasure!  I am displaying the package of Otis items and your personal messages with pride, gratitude, and a love for reading in the Harding Elementary library!