Connecting with Authors: Snail Mail in the Digital Age

In an age of email, texting and blogging: is there a case for sending a letter?

It all started with my fourth and fifth grade students begging to set up class Skype sessions with some of their favorite authors. In the past, we had arranged teleconferencing with classrooms and students in other countries during World Read-Aloud Day, so why not invite the authors that we love?

“Okay,” I said. “If we’re going to contact authors, how do we reach them?” And thus began the Great Library Scavengimg_3514er Hunt to find contact information of favorite authors.   As a class we searched within author websites, looked in books for publishers, and then paired up for an online search. We discovered that most well-known authors prefer to be contacted by mail, via their publishers.

I set up a quick lesson in letter writing: the envelope, the stamp, the return address. About 25% of my students have sent letters by post, so we listened to their experiences. “I received a letter from my grandmother in India,” said one. “I wrote to my aunt in Colombia,” said another.

The class settled into a quiet hush, when I told them that when I was their age the internet as we know it didn’t exist, and neither did email. By the wide-eyed expressions on their faces, I might as well have said, “I am an alien from another planet.” They tried to imagine a world where a telephone phone call or postal mail was the only way to communicate with someone far away.

Fast forward to our present world: the autumn of 2016. Here we are at a school in Saudi Arabia, engaged and connected in a digital landscape of cell phones, Instagram and Facebook.  Today’s discovery? To reach most of the authors who we love, we must write a good, old-fashioned letter.

Creative Gatherings, Shared Space

It all began with the DEMS middle school students. They cracked open the puzzle box and formed the geometric outline. Later, when DBGS students came in during their break, they added their own contribution. img_2614

By the next morning, the DHS high school students had added even more pieces to the puzzle, forming the central image: a blue jay.

Three schools. Dozens of students. One simple, fun artifact evolving over time. These types of shared activities give students a chance to relax, socialize, and take a break from the academic rigor of school life.

Stop by the LRC before or after school, during break, or during lunchtime  to see students participating in creative game-playing, coloring in giant coloring books, or perhaps adding the final piece to a blue jay puzzle.

As the go-to meeting place for students from all three campus schools, the LRC will continue to add interactive games to our collection and offer shared activities that allow students to connect and collaborate in our open-access space.

ISG Students Make Connections: World Read-Aloud Day

Last week during library class, upper elementary students celebrated World Read-Aloud Day. Six different classes held teleconferences with students all over the world via Skype.

Students in Siberia read to us one of their favorite Ukrainian folktales, “The Old Man’s Mitten” while we read to them Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw ’s book “Same, Same But Different”.  ISG students played “Mystery Class” with a fourth-grade class in an unknown part of the world. After many failed attempts to guess where our mystery class might be located, even with their helpful clues, we finally guessed by entering the longitude/latitude coordinates via Google Maps.

The class was in Chennai, India! Students jumped up and down when they finally guessed correctly. As a student in India read to us a chapter from their class favorite book, “Wonder” , the  tens of thousands of miles that separated us  melted away and we were all together in one place, captivated by a story. In exchange,  one of our primary students read to them a section of Michael Morpurgo’s “War Horse”. You could have heard a bookmark drop as the two classes, thousands of miles away from each other, listened.

Then we moved on to Birminghan, UK, where we were surprised to find out that some of our very own DBGS students have hometowns not far away. Even closer to us, across The Kingdom near Jeddah, the energetic students in library class at The KAUST School informed us that they love reading some of the same books, and some of the same authors, as we do.

One of the most important parts of  World Read-Aloud Day is that it demonstrates, in practical, concrete ways, that out there in the big, vast world of schools and desks and books and learning, there are students everywhere who love to read. This love of reading connects us in tangible ways.  Thanks to LitWorld and World Read-Aloud Day , for setting up this forum for connecting our young readers to the world.

For more photos and details of the event, check out our LRC Library in Saudi Arabia: World Read-Aloud Day #WRAD16 padlet.

Happy Reading, everyone,  from the LRC library!

~ Katrina Lehman, Library Media Specialist~

LRC Library’s Annual Book Fair January 24th-28th.

2016- Book Fair Poster Image  (1) copy


The LRC Library is pleased to announce that the annual Book Fair will be held January 24th – 28th. Over 1,400 high-quality books from UK and USA publishers will be on display. Every student will have the opportunity to attend with their teacher or during break for the older students. Parents are also welcome to attend on Tuesday, January 26th from 2:30 – 4:00.

Facebook Book Cover Photo Contest

2130 (1) copyThanks to everyone who participated and voted in our Facebook Book Cover Photo Contest!  DEMS and DBGS students in Grades 4/5 and Years 5/6 participated in a book scavenger hunt and were photographed with their books. Here are the winners!

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Matthew, 4R (Mr. Rider) “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”

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Most Realistic

Thayviana  5D (Ms. Duncan) “Faith: Five Religions and What They Share”



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Best Cover Drawing

Faisal  4J (Ms. Johnson) “Boy 21”

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Best Non-Human Face

David Y5 (Ms. Liptrot) “Sloths”





Best Symmetry: a tie!



Best Symmetry #1 :

Yasmin, 6R (Mr. McMahon) “Shabanu”

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Best Symmetry #2:

Muhammad Ali, 5H (Ms. Haas)” Muhammad Ali: The King of the Ring”




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Honorable Mention

Ahmed and Ahmed, Year 6R (Mr. McMahon)  “Face Relations”



New eBooks: Recommended by GAFE Presenters

Remember thogoogleappslogose exciting titles that presenters recommended at ISG’s GAFE Google Summit? You know: the ones that challenge us to expand our vision and thinking to what could be? The LRC has purchased seven of them in ebook form. They make great winter break reading and can be accessed anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

Look below for an overview of each title recommended by GAFE Google presenters. You can also read about other inspiring  ebooks available from the LRC here and here.  To access the ebook library, go to this link, and enter your user name and password. Forgotten how to access ebooks? No problem. Further information on how to download an ebook is found here.

Happy Winter Reading!

Here is a list of the new ebooks and their summaries.

The Courage to Teach: Audio Version By Parker J. Palmer

{4AAB12E5-5341-40C4-8201-EE9065DB646C}Img400This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. Good teaching takes myriad forms, but good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, in community with their students and their subject, weaving connections that help their students weave a world for themselves. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts—the place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and will converge in the human self—supported by the community that emerges among us when we choose to live authentic lives.

Growth Mindset Pocketbook by Barry Hymer

{14032CE9-E681-4F4A-91B2-3CAAC85F50DE}Img400People with fixed mindsets believe that fundamental qualities like intelligence are essentially stable; people with growth mindsets believe that such qualities can be developed and nurtured. As teachers, if we can foster growth mindsets in our students the results will be transformative. Barry Hymer and Mike Gershon begin by explaining how learners with growth mindsets are: more open to challenges and constructively critical feedback; resilient in the face of obstacles and initial failure; convinced that effort makes a difference; able to learn well with and from others; likely to rise to the top – and stay there.

{9D3B5379-B17B-45DB-98AB-F766C6FC70F4}Img400Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners by Ron Ritchhart

Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to teaching thinking, begun at Harvard’s Project Zero, that develops students’ thinking dispositions, while at the same time deepening their understanding of the topics they study. Rather than a set of fixed lessons, Visible Thinking is a varied collection of practices.

  • Helps direct student thinking and structure classroom discussion
  • Can be applied with students at all grade levels and in all content areas
  • Includes easy-to-implement classroom strategies

{4E6894C0-8BA2-4E43-8E3C-2887D91C26F1}Img400Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset.

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

{6050A358-E681-437A-9B2C-4FB6D9552D88}Img100It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd

What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens’ use of social media.


{FE5AF618-CA71-4D58-9F2E-64C21A7DA5F5}Img400Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

In his New York Times bestseller Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon showed readers how to unlock their creativity by “stealing” from the community of other movers and shakers. Now, in an even more forward-thinking and necessary book, he shows how to take that critical next step on a creative journey—getting known.
Show Your Work! is about why generosity trumps genius. It’s about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time “networking.” It’s not self-promotion, it’s self-discovery—let others into your process, then let them steal from you. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Show Your Work! offers ten transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, productive.

{D8AA66C1-D38B-4F22-B306-5CF34ADDC492}Img400Walk out Walk on: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now by Margaret J. Wheatley

At a time when most communities’ resources are stretched past the breaking point, how is it possible to deal with the enormous challenges that families, neighborhoods, cities, regions, and nations face today? This inspiring book takes readers to seven communities around the world where the people have walked out of limiting beliefs and practices that precluded solutions to major social problems, and walked on to discover bold new ways to meet their needs. This book is a true learning journey, filled with intimate stories and portraits of the people and places the authors came to know through years of working together to transform their communities. The journey begins in Mexico, then moves to Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Greece and the U.S. The authors’ lives and ways of thinking have been transformed by these experiences and relationships – an experience they hope to recreate for the reader through vivid prose and photos. The reader will experience first hand how a change of beliefs about people results in new capacities and the possibility of a more healthy future.

Forgotten how to access ebooks? No problem. All the information you need on how to download an ebook is found here.


Wednesday Student / Teacher Open Mic Poetry Readings

image Open Mic Poetry Readings in the LRCThe LRC will be hosting Open Mic Poetry Readings for secondary students (Grade 9-12 and KS 4-5) of DHS and DBGS and teachers campus-wide.

Readings will be held in the LRC Conference Room from 2:40 – 3:30 on

Wednesday, November 18 and 25th

Wednesday, December 2 and 9.

Come and read one, or two, of your favorite poems (either original or published) and share your love of poetry with others!

For those who plan to offer a poem, here is the link to the sign-up sheet.

Not feeling brave enough to read? Come on out and show your support to this week’s readers!

Questions? Please contact Ms. Lehman in the LRC or email katrina.lehman[at]

18 Professional Development Ebooks from the LRC

Greetings, teachers. Looking for an inspiring book to read? Check out any of the following ebooks, 24/7, all year long from the LRC digital library. If you have trouble accessing your account, please contact Ms. Lehman at lehma.k.04[at]

Happy Reading! 

bookmappinBook Mapping Lit Trips and Beyond by Terence W. Cavanaugh, Jerome Burg

In Bookmapping: Lit Trips and Beyond, Cavanaugh and Burg show you how this dynamic, interactive activity is a cross-curricular tool that helps students not only develop a better understanding of places, cultures, and the books they are reading, but also make connections among the subjects they learn in school.

Continue reading “18 Professional Development Ebooks from the LRC”