Voice of the Library: The “Little Things” That Make A Difference

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May 10th, 2011

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Week 3 with Shannon Miller!


Dressed For The Van Meter Wax Museum

All of us do this. 

We get caught up in the duties and tasks demanding our attention during the day.

There are projects to grade, emails to respond to, meetings to attend, and lesson plans to create.  We have responsibilities and people who are counting on us to be the best educators that we can be.  And most of all…we have students in our lives who are looking to us for guidance and support.

But what about those “little things”?  What about the moments that aren’t planned for days in advance or that unexpectedly work into our schedule perfectly?  Can they also make an impact on our children’s’ education?  Can they make a difference in their lives?  And what about our lives?

One of those “little things” happened at Van Meter last Friday.

The day before, our 4th graders participated in the annual Wax Museum.  In this incredible production, each student chooses a deceased person to portray.  They investigate, write a speech, create a costume, and prepare for their performance.  On presentation day, our students turn into the people they’ve researched, and we all learn more about the historical impact they had on the world.  This production is shared with our student body, parents, and the school community.  This time, we also wanted to share it globally, with a class that had become special to us.

Throughout this year, our 4th graders have been connecting with Stephen Gannon’s 4th graders  in New Hampshire.  Stephen and I met last fall on Twitter and he has become a great friend and colleague. We have played State Jeopardy, created Global Poems for Change,  and his students taught ours how to use the World Math Day site.  Every day his students, Tweeting from @mrgclass, report the weather in their town compared to that of Van Meter and describe special projects they are working on.  The relationship that we have formed is important to all of the students, and to the teachers, as well.

On Friday, one of the 4th grade teachers, Staci Braun, emailed me to see if we were going to be able to connect to Stephen’s class. At first we didn’t know if it would work due to the time difference and scheduling.  Then I thought, “What if I ask him if his students could stay after school for a bit to watch the Wax Museum?”  I emailed Stephen, and within minutes got the response, “I have several who are calling their parents right now. How long will this last?”  I couldn’t wait to tell Staci, ”And the show goes on!”

Van Meter 4th Graders Presenting To Our New Hampshire Friends

At 2:00pm, Staci brought her students to the secondary library.  They were dressed as their character, some carried props, and all of them had smiles on their faces.  My high school PLN class and several other secondary students pulled up chairs to watch as well.

Students and Parents In New Hampshire Watching The Wax Museum in Van Meter

When we called Stephen and his students, we were so thrilled to see a classroom full of students ready to watch a performance 1000 miles away.  In New Hampshire, 17 students stayed to watch.  As our students performed, his students took turns panning the room with their webcam.  I was happy to notice parents starting to fill the room as well, adding to the global audience that was watching the performance taking place in Van Meter. 

Just as Stephen’s tweet states below, it was pretty incredible to think that it was a sunny Friday afternoon and there was still a room full of people supporting and caring about our students in Van Meter  just as we care about them here.


This experience never would have taken place if we would have followed the lesson plan for the day or darted out of school when the bell rang.  It never would have happened if Stephen and I hadn’t taken the time to connect these students throughout the year through other activities and experiences.

It never would have happened if we all were caught up in all of the other things that we needed to accomplish that day.  We took a chance.  We had fun.  And we created a memory that will stay with all of our students and their parents for a long time.

This week I challenge you to take a look at everything that is happening around you and pay some attention to the “little things,” not just the expected and planned things.

The “little things” are not really so little.

For it is these “little things” that will make all the difference.

The “Little Things” At Van Meter Making A Difference In The World
Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian and technology specialist at Van Meter School in Iowa.  You can find her on Twitter at @shannonmmiller and blogging at Van Meter Library Voice


6 responses to “Voice of the Library: The “Little Things” That Make A Difference”

  1. @shannonmmiller I love your blog post on our connection. You know…my students are willing to do just about anything for Mrs Miller! Thanks

  2. Deven Black says:

    Wow. The wax museum is cool enough on its own, but it was taken to a huge new level by connecting with @twitter-15455986:disqus and his students. We New Yorkers like to think we know it all but you and your students continue to be an inspiration to this new middle school librarian.

  3. Zaneesha Llyragufu says:

     seems like any new service on the net is not able to gain much popularity if it cannot be linked with facebook and twitter

  4. BA7XvS0jT1 says:

    7712 993569Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great article. 388878

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