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Book Selfies - A Peek Inside A Classroom of Literacy and Technology

Hanover schools are proud of our ability to offer 1:1 technology at Hanover Central High School, and the extension of that initiative into Hanover Central Middle School next year is truly exciting.  But, we are extremely proud of our elementary educators who are already bringing technology into their classrooms.  Their students will have a head start going forward and be able to seamlessly blend into a 1:1 environment.

It takes creative teaching and at Jane Ball Elementary School second grade teacher, Ashley Mitsch has transformed learning in her classroom with a recent and innovative literacy and technology initiative.  Mrs. Mitsch’s attended a professional development workshop last summer and was impressed with the idea of “book shelfies,” where students recorded book reviews on video.  She decided literacy and technology could be blended in a slightly different way in her classroom and introduced “book selfies,” to her students. 

“I wanted my students to get used to typing on Chromebooks, so I altered the original video idea and had my students write book reviews.”  Students select books to read, review them and then post their reviews on Padlet, an online bulletin board.   The ‘book selfies’ didn’t stop with a single post on Padlet, but have continued to grow and combine traditional reading with the use and excitement of technology.

Little boy named Nathan holding a book

"The book I read was Dogman. My favorite part was when he changed everybody's to be dumb. The genre my book was fiction. The author's purpose was entertain," says Reed's post.


Starting with very simple concepts, students posted the title of their chosen book and their favorite part.  As students continue to learn new skills, the ‘book selfies’ continue to grow.  Students can now add different components to their reviews, like determining if a book is fiction or nonfiction, or some other genre and what the author’s purpose might have been in writing the book.  Students also offer recommendations to their classmates.  As students continue to add skills, they will continue to add to their ‘book selfies.’

Grace holding a book

Grace holds her book choice, "A Maze Me" for her Padlet post.

There aren’t a lot of complicated rules in the imitative that might detract from absorbing literacy and technology skills.  “Students can pick any book they want and can change books out every morning or at the library,” explained Mrs. Mitsch.  “They do have to finish a book before they can participate in a selfie.  It encourages them to pick a ‘just right’ book and to read,” she added.

On Fridays, Mrs. Mitsch prints out the current week’s selfies and puts them up on the bulletin board in the classroom.  “Students can look at their friend’s recommendations for a book to read,” said Mrs. Mitsch.  “Second graders really enjoy fiction, and once the word is out that a couple of students have read a specific book and liked it, the book seems to rotate around the class for while,” she noted. Second graders also tend to gravitate toward books that have been described as ‘funny’ by their classmates.

Emily Hanrahan

Emily Hanrahan wrote an extensive review of "If You Give A Pig A Pancake" for her Padlet post.

Students really enjoy the project and they benefit by growing literacy and technology skills as they go along in a consistent and measurable way.  Mrs. Mitsch’s students aren’t the only ones to think book selfies are a great idea.  Recently, Rose Tomishima, Early Learning Specialist for the Indiana Department of Education tapped Mrs. Mitsch and her ‘book selfies’ to be spotlighted in the IDOE’s monthly newsletter for The Indiana Literacy Coach Cadre which provides educators and literacy coaches access to shared information and the latest news.

Mrs. Mitsch is currently on leave, but is excited to return and continue the initiative.  “I feel like the more material my students are exposed to and learn, the more they understand.”

We understand that it is never too early to point our students in the right direction and are always grateful for the creativity and positive impact of teachers like Mrs. Mitsch.