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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mock Caldecott Voting

Last week, when the first class cast their ballots for the book they thought should win the Caldecott Medal I discovered a few things.

It was interesting to watch. Several boys had discussed their choice before class and spent the time trying to convince everyone to join them in voting for their favorite book. Meanwhile, one boy who came to a decision through much consideration and weighing of qualities convinced a group of girls to vote with him. Listening to these two groups debate the virtues of their choice left me speechless. These kids are 6 years old!

Now I do believe that the power of debate is a great thing, however, we wanted students to feel free to vote for the book they really thought was best. Need I explain peer pressure? Or the desire to be like others? So after the first go round I changed the rules a bit.

The contest we held earlier to create the most faithful representation of the Caldecott Medal yielded a good number of excellent entries. Frankly, it was harder to choose the winner than it was for me to choose the book I wanted to vote for. Finally, however, I applied criteria and found that one stuck out clearly to me.

Before the vote we took a book parade. Students were asked to walk in a path by the books so that they had a chance to look at them and start to think which one they wanted to vote for. Before I did this it took a long time to make decisions. This little parade gave them a chance to
1.    move their bodies before sitting and waiting for everyone to have their turn.
2.    View all the covers again
3.    Start thinking about which one they might like to vote for.

To vote, I called each student and checked their name off my list. They took a medal and had to put it in the plastic cup in front of the book they wished to select. The class faced away from the display of books to give them a modicum of privacy. After every student had voted we tallied the votes. I have been chasing down students who missed class using this list.

Students seemed to enjoy using the medals and it made voting clear and easy to do.

Some students got confused, however, and thought that they couldn’t put their medal in a cup if it already had one in it. It seems so easy to explain a task like this, but for young children who don’t really understand the concept of voting it is very important to explain the process in great detail.

Things I would explain:
1.    We don’t need to touch the books.
2.    You don’t have to put your hand in the cup
3.    Just drop the medal in the cup.
4.    You drop the medal in the cup which is in front of the book you want to vote for.
5.    It is ok if there is already a medal in that cup. You can put yours in there too.
6.    We are voting for the book with the finest illustrations
7.    Illustrations are pictures. (Just in case they have forgotten.)
8.    We are looking toward the front of the room, not at the person voting.
9.    When we give the person privacy to vote, they feel comfortable to choose the one they like. Not the one something they like likes.
This is exciting.

Voting will continue to the end of the week. I can’t wait to see what they choose.

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