Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 2 PBID Question

Here we go with week 2 of the PBID challenge. You might recognize the image and know the book immediately, but can you answer the question? Don't forget, it's not cheating to find the book and read it again. That's why you have a week to share your answer!


What does this animal see?

Share your answer by leaving a comment below. All comments are published the following Monday.
Sign up for email notifications, and follow #PBIDchallenge on Twitter for updates. Thanks!

Week 1 PBID Answer

Monday, September 10, 2018

Week 1 PBID Question

Welcome to Week 1 of the Picture Book Identification Challenge! We're going to start with a well known picture book, one many of you will recognize pretty quickly. Good luck, and here we go!


This character needs to leave and asks readers to watch things for him until he returns. Then he tells readers, "Oh, and remember..."
What does this character tell readers to remember?

Share your answer by leaving a comment below. All comments are published the following Monday.
Sign up for email notifications, and follow #PBIDchallenge on Twitter for updates. Thanks!

An Introduction to the PBID Challenge

Friday, September 7, 2018

The 2018-2019 Picture Book Identification Challenge

Last year, classrooms, teachers, and students in our school district were invited to participate in the Ultimate Character Tournament, an optional, district-wide program for all elementary classrooms to determine our students’ favorite children’s book characters. (There was also a public vote.) The character tournament is taking a hiatus this year, but another program is taking its place. And just like last year, it’s open to the public!

So to all you teachers, students, librarians, parents, book-lovers, and random website visitors, welcome to …

The Picture Book Identification (PBID) Challenge!

Here’s how it works: Every Monday, starting September 10, an image from a picture book will be posted here on Help Readers Love Reading along with a question. Here’s an example.


This boy thinks he should move to a new country. What country?*

Can you identify the book? The character? Can you remember why he has that grumpy look? Maybe you know all of that but just can’t remember that he wants to move to … that other country. That’s okay. Go look. Go get that book and find the answer.

Once you have the answer - or your best guess - share it by leaving a comment. Click “comments” below the post or use the comment form at the bottom of the page. However, all comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

The following Monday a video will be posted that reveals the answer, tells the title of the book, and includes a short talk about the book. At that time all the moderated comments will be approved, and everyone’s answers will appear in the order they were given. That way the answers stay hidden until the official answer is revealed.

That’s it! Check back every Monday for a new question, last week’s answer, and to see how well everyone is doing in the PBID Challenge.

To help keep track of new images and questions, sign up for email updates using the form on the right at the top of the page. Enter your address, check the “I’m not a robot” box in the new window that appears, and make sure to follow the directions in the verification email you will receive. (Teachers in my district, this is the only way I will contact you about the challenge, so if you want to participate, please sign up for email notifications.)

You can also follow @HelpReaders on Twitter and Instagram, and watch the #PBIDchallenge hashtag on social media. Just be sure to check back here every Monday morning during the 2018-2019 school year to see how you do in the PBID Challenge! 

*Answer: Australia. From the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Ultimate Character Tournament 2017-2018

The K-1 Public Vote Results.
If you follow me on Twitter, by now you will have seen tweets about #TheCharacterTournament. There have been brackets, voting updates, results, and even requests for your votes. Some people have asked questions about the "The Ultimate Character Tournament" as we're calling it for our students, and I realized I never explained what it's all about. Se let's give it a try...

The Idea: How It Started and Why
The character tournament started simply as a desire to increase engagement and excitement about reading with my elementary students. That sounds fancy and all, but basically, I just wanted something fun. At first I focused on my school, but the idea quickly expanded to include all kindergarten through fifth grade students in all eight elementary schools in our district. (And has since grown to include YOU! See below.)

The Ultimate Character Tournament, as the idea became, originally featured sixty-four characters from children's books in a seeded tournament bracket, but was eventually pared down to three divisions (K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) with sixteen characters each.

The Characters: How were they chosen?
Last May I asked elementary students and teachers in our district what characters from their reading really stood out to them from the school year. What characters were truly memorable or continued to come up in class conversations? I made some silly YouTube videos about characters, asked teachers to share them with their students, and then email me a brainstormed list from their class. I made a master character list from this straw poll including tallies of how many times each character was mentioned at each grade level.

The final list of characters came mostly from that list. Characters from popular series were given higher priority. After all, if my goal was to use characters to motivate readers, I wanted to make sure students had ample opportunity to spend time with those characters. Fly Guy, Elephant & Piggie, Jack & Annie, Greg Heffley, and Fone Bone are not only popular but are featured in multiple titles. Characters from books teachers used with students, especially read aloud titles, were also given higher priority.

The Process: Brackets and Voting
Characters were seeded based on how often they were mentioned in the straw poll, and special care was taken to ensure the best match-ups happened in later rounds. I also didn't want characters from the same book meeting too early. At the same time, some characters made perfect first round match-ups (I couldn't resist Poppleton vs. Mercy Watson in round one!).

Character lists were provided for teachers early in the year along with various promotional materials. Teachers were encouraged to introduce their students to the characters. In many cases this happened naturally. Most characters are from books that are popular year to year, and many are from books that teachers read aloud and use as mentor texts.

Voting started with K-1 after Christmas break and has progressed one round each week. Every Monday I record a video of the previous week's results and a preview of the current week's match-ups. Each week teachers take a class vote and then submit one classroom vote for each match-up. Voting is done via Google forms.

The Hope: Engaged readers
The goal of the character tournament was to create a buzz about books. By asking students and teachers which characters resonated with them, I hoped to capitalize on the reading that teachers and students were already doing.

Some teachers are using the tournament as the basis for persuasive writing. I've seen a class run out of Fly Guy books, and I negotiated a peace treaty that involved partner-reading an in-demand Ricky Ricotta book. I received a letter from a student, sent by his teacher through intercampus mail, complaining that his favorite character wasn't included. (He's a third grader, but Greg Heffley is in the 4-5 division.) Some first grade students were reading aloud to toy versions of the characters.

One might argue that students are reading the same as they were last year, but there's an added layer of engagement. There are discussions, books are being shared, and letters are being written. Students are becoming more aware of what they like to read, why, and are able to explain (and argue for) their preferences.

And Finally: I Need Your Votes!
As part of my professional development this year, I am running a public character tournament on Twitter that coincides with the one in our district. By asking for votes via Twitter, the majority of the public respondents will be teachers, librarians, and people who love children's books. Admittedly, this is an unscientific study, but the results should be interesting nonetheless. Who will our students choose? Who will adults choose? What are the differences? And how do our preferences affect the reading done in our classrooms?

Voting has already finished for the K-1 division, but the 2-3 division is just starting and 4-5 will start in April. Follow me on Twitter and watch #TheCharacterTournament for updates and weekly match-ups.

And don't forget to vote! Ballots are available on Twitter. Thanks, everyone!