Like many kindergarten students, those at John Paulding express their love for cookies and ice cream, sports, and their family. At JP, students wrote their own books about who they are and what they like and then opened a virtual coffee shop, Starbooks, to share their stories. Last year, students presented their books to parents and administrators while serving up coffee and some delicious treats. This year, thanks to teachers Ms. Blueglass, Mrs. Mangiacotti, Mrs. Rodriguez and support from Technology Integration Specialist Jean O’Brien, Starbooks went virtual. The entire experience was delivered through an interactive slideshow in which visitors click on an icon to choose a treat before watching a video in which students read their book. Starbooks reflects the Teachers College Writing Project Show and Tell Unit.
Kindergarten student Avery, who likes the color pink, swimming and eating spaghetti, writes about her family and the kiss she gets before she walks each day. Lyle writes about a castle and the monster that lives there, while Gemma writes about a classroom with a smartboard and cubbies.
The Starbooks Writers Celebration is a way to celebrate our students’ writing and allow them to experience what it feels like to publish their writing like a professional author. Despite the changes to the classroom setting this year, the teachers did not want students to miss out on an opportunity to share their writing accomplishments simply because of restrictions or because they were learning from home.
“We know all of our students have been to a bookstore or cafe and wanted to recreate that for them in the classroom,” said Ms. Blueglass. “It was important to us to keep this tradition alive even through the complicated nature of learning in a hybrid and remote setting. We wanted to establish a sense of community among our three separate cohorts of students.”
Ms. Mangiacotti elaborated, saying: “Hosting the Starbooks Cafe, has not only created a positive culture in our classroom, but has also given our youngest learners a sense of pride and confidence in their writing. No pandemic should ever prevent or take away that feeling.”
“The ingenuity that Ms. Blueglass and Mrs. Mangiacotti have used via the Starbooks Cafe project gives students a real understanding that writers write for an audience,” said Principal Barnett. “What a wonderful platform for our students to showcase their hard work and to receive acknowledgement for the burgeoning authors that they are!”