I decided to conduct a Mock Caldecott among the nine second grade classes in my school district. Valuable learning experience for students, or elaborate sham for me to gather enough data to finally nail my annual Caldecott predictions?
You be the judge.
Step 1: Grade Level
Who takes part? I knew going in we didn’t have the resources needed to mock Caldecott with every student K-2. I decided to go with second grade for two reasons.
1. I would be fairly certain that none of the books would be “over their heads”.
2. Second graders would be able to analyze and rate the books with a bit more depth than the K-1 crowd.
Step 2: Books
Selecting the books for students to read was difficult. What if I didn’t include any books that go on to win a Caldecott medal or honor? That’s a definite possibility. After some hashing and re-hashing, I settled on 16 titles that seemed to be strong contenders.
And with that, I do the washing my hands clean motion to signify – “these are the books – there is nothing more I can do, youngsters”.
Step 3: Advertising
2nd grade teacher and Twitter user @nikiohsbarnes and I collaborated on a board to display all the books. Bonus points if you can spot the two letters I had to cut out by hand¹. Aside from building interest, this is where we will post the results of the student vote.
¹The “D” and the second “O”.
Step 4: Grouping and Scheduling
I put the books into four groups of four and made a schedule for how they would circulate from class to class. While we already had many of the books in our system, I placed an order to fill the gaps and make sure we had two copies of each book. Included in every bag is information on the Caldecott Medal and how to go about rating the books. Each classroom gets a group of books to read and rate for one week. After that, I rotate them to the next class on the schedule.
Step 5: Reviewing
Have you seen the Caldecott criteria? Not exactly kid friendly (nor are they meant to be). I wanted a rating system that was simple for students to understand and execute, yet maintained ties to the spirit of the award. So I asked teachers to have students, as a class, rate each book on a scale of 1-5 for illustrations (5 is best), and 1-5 for story. In the information packet I reminded students that the Caldecott is an award for illustrations, but that the story also plays an important role.
This is where things get high tech – if you are a time traveller from the 1800s. Teachers write the scores on Post It notes and slap them on the inside cover of the book. This seemed like the most hassle-free way to go. When all the ratings are in, I’ll tabulate them, giving more weight to the illustration scores (see also: “I’m still figuring it out”).
Step 6: Circulating
That’s what’s happening right now. It’s been great to hear feedback from students and teachers about the books. The results are back in 2 weeks – I’ll let you know how things turn out.