(Original Post March 23, 2020)
Literacy Initiative 2020
Blacklock's Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Event has hit a whole new level of library mischief and we are loving every minute of it!
In the spirit of creating a love of reading culture in our school this year, we have used the Carmen Sandiego Event to encourage on and offline reading, fiction and non-fiction texts, and shared literacy experiences. We took time to honour identity and diversity while integrating the whole experience through a fine arts lens.
I tried to mimic the themes of the old computer game/ TV show from the '80s and '90s. Recently, Netflix has resurrected Carmen and given her a "Robinhood" queen of thieves persona. While I love the artistry of the reboot, I prefer her old, mischievous ways.
I created our official website for the staff and students using Wix.com:
Lady Di and I decided there would be six locations where Carmen and her gang of crooks would hide with the button blanket.
Each location needed:
A picture book
1 -2 artefacts (to touch and hold)
Related dances, music, videos, artwork, and webpages for students to explore
An arrest video
A great deal of time was spent choosing the perfect picture books. It was important to us to have books that would be accessible for all of our grades (K - 5) while also honouring identity and diversity. We hoped siblings and families would talk about their personal connections and reflections to the picture books since everyone was reading the same books for the event.
We chose the following books:
Location #1: England: Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
Location #2: Paraguay: Ada's Violin by Susan Hood
Location #3: Malawi: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
Location #4: Syria: Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs
Location #5: Australia: Circle by Jeanne Baker
Location #6: Russia: The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss
The crooks' names were based on the original computer game and TV show with the exception of Eartha Brute's twin, Bertha. Lady Di wrote all of the biographies and the staff were in charge of finding their costumes.
The taping and head shots were filmed Friday after school. (If that's not teacher dedication, I don't know what is!)
2 Head shots: normal and jail (green screen)
Arrest Videos (green screen)
Burglary Scenes with button blanket (outside, hallway)
Custodial Scenes with button blanket and Mr. Pickles (gym)
Mr. Pickles Cameo (Green screen/hallway)
Detective Scenes (hallway)
My husband, Grade 3 and Music teacher, played Vic the Slick.
Here are his headshots:
Blacklock's classes are grouped in 3 pods (K/1 Pod, 2/3 Pod, and 4/5 Pod) so we purchased three file boxes for each pod from Staples.ca. The boxes were emptied and filled with items for each new location by a very supportive and helpful parent volunteer, Mrs. H.
Each box contained:
File Folder with QR Codes (enough for each student in a class)
1 - 2 Artifacts
Reminder Notice from Library (re: reading extra books for clues)
Evidence Tag and QR Code for the website (on the lid)
We wanted to encourage students to read books about different geographical locations and from various international authors.
We created a display of "Extra Clues Books" inside the library. Depending on the length of the book, students received 1 - 4 clues about Carmen Sandiego's final destination.
Luckily, I have access to a display case and a huge empty wall just outside the library.
The display case housed the crooks' biographies along with some fun decorations!
The empty wall held the giant blank map, the "Classes Guessing Board," and Mr. Pickles' Adventures Map. The giant blank map kept track of locations were the crooks were captured. The country's name and a picture of the crook in jail were pinned to the map.
Shared Reading Experiences: As it turns out, it was not just the students and families who enjoyed discussing the picture books! My heart burst with happiness as I listened to the staff discussing their personal responses to Finding Winnie in the staffroom at lunch time. It proves that adults need opportunities to share reflections about literature as much as children do.
Geography Skills: I witnessed parents and other family members pointing out specific places on Mr. Pickles' Adventure Map to the students. Connections to vacations, relatives overseas, and world events were made as people pointed out places on the world map. I even heard one of our Reading with Seniors volunteers pointing out to his reading buddy the places where he was stationed during his military career.
World Events: Students learned more about the places that have been in the news recently. Australia became more than just a country that was suffering from wildfires and a renewed interest in Syrian refugees prevented their plight from being forgotten by our school community.
Research Skills: It was exciting to walk by classrooms and eavesdrop on the learning that was taking place. I watched teachers help students find places on Google Earth, create class lists and eliminate possible places, and encourage students to search for additional information about artists and authors. One teacher even signed out an "Extra Clues Non-Fiction Book" to read aloud to her partner as a bedtime story as she wanted to know more about Machu Picchu.
Connecting with the Global Community: During our second week, a school in Salmon Arm, BC joined our pursuit of Carmen and her thugs. I added a short welcome video for the students and they are working through the books and clues right alongside us. We are hoping to set up Skype sessions between the two schools eventually.