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Birch LaneÕs ÔRead Around the WorldÕ rewarded

By September 21, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

Birch Lane Elementary School librarian Lynne Sundstrom has won a pair of awards from the California School Library Association for the 10-week multicultural reading program she created at the school last year.

One of the awards, the 2010 Leadership for Diversity Award, comes with $1,000 for library supplies and materials at Birch Lane.

With an annual budget of about $6,000 Ñ all of which comes from PTA grants and revenue raised at book fairs Ñ that $1,000 will make a difference.

ÒIt will help out a lot,Ó Sundstrom said of the award. ÒIt will definitely go to more books and technology.Ó

Sundstrom won the awards for the ÒRead Around the WorldÓ program she created last year in collaboration with Birch Lane Montessori teachers Carole Hughes and Sally Palow and library technician Katie Larson.

ÒThe awards were given for collaborating with both library and classroom teachers with the emphasis on how the two work together, and how necessary both are,Ó Sundstrom said.

The 10-week program featured components for both primary and intermediate grade levels and culminated in a schoolwide celebration on the quad in May.

During their weekly classroom visits to the library, students in grades K-3 would learn about a different country, then spend time on Google Earth finding that country and seeing the various sites, as well as hearing stories.

For each country, students would learn childrenÕs wishing traditions, how they celebrated their birthdays, and what they did when they lost a tooth.

Aborigine children, they learned, put their teeth in the shoot of a pandanus plant, while Native American Yubiks feed them to a female dog. In Mexico, children leave the teeth they lose in a little box on the bedside table, hoping ÒEl Raton,Ó a magic mouse, will take the teeth and leave some money

ÒWe also learned how to say ÔhelloÕ and ÔgoodbyeÕ in each countryÕs language and sometimes ÔpleaseÕ and Ôthank youÕ if we could pronounce them,Ó Sundstrom said.

Meanwhile, students in grades 4-6 were learning how to research countries Ñ how to search safely online and know what makes a website credible, as well as how to use an atlas and an almanac.

Then they focused on individual and group projects centered on their country of choice.

At the Read Around the World fair in May, the older students manned booths throughout the quad while the primary students traveled from booth to booth, passports in hand, learning the Irish jig, receiving lessons in Maori facepainting, sampling foods and collecting souvenirs.

The younger students had a ball, and the older students benefited in a different way.

ÒIt really helped my students hone their skills for research and plan for a long-term project,Ó Hughes said. ÒAnd it got them excited thinking about how they can communicate what they learned to primary kids. ItÕs not the same thing as writing a five-page paper and giving it to (their) teacher.Ó

For her part, Sundstrom was thrilled at news of the awards which she will receive at the associationÕs annual conference later this fall in Sacramento.

ÒI used to go to these conferences before and see people get these awards and think, ÔThatÕs so cool,Õ Ó Sundstrom said.

WhatÕs particularly special for her, she said, is that she came to this job rather late.

Sundstrom was a college counselor before her children were born, then later helped out in a school library before returning to school herself to earn both her teaching credential and her teacher-librarian credential in 2005.

ÒI worked so hard to get those credentials,Ó she said. ÒMy family can attest to that.Ó

And thereÕs more work ahead.

Sundstrom, Hughes and Larson will present a two-hour workshop at the conference, teaching other school librarians how to create Read Around the World programs of their own.

Ñ Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at (530) 747-8051 or [email protected] Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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