I have many favorite author-musicians. However, when determining WHO this first year's winner would be, I wanted to choose someone who:
1. Knows how to connect with children, engaging them in a meaningful way
2. Has an obvious zest for life
3. Can engage every child as though they are the only child in the room
4. Helps children see the possibilities that are endless in their own lives
5. Engages even the most timid child in music and movement
6. Helps children to focus on the importance of education
7. Is well versed in early childhood and bases her work on proven research
8. Has many endorsements from other professionals in the early childhood field
9. Can make every child feel that he or she is valued in the lives of adults who care for them
10. Helps children reach that level of trust so that they feel confident in taking educational risks
11. And has reached national acclaim as she prepares to give the Keynote Speech at I Teach K in
Las Vegas this July! Woohoo!
For the above reasons, and many others, I wish to present the
Maggie's Kinder Corner 1st Annual Excellence in Early Childhood Education Award
Author and Musician Debbie Cement!
I wholeheartedly endorse this great lady as a top notch early childhood author, musician and presenter. She has woven the most beautiful stories using her beautiful quilts, and her artistic ability is without question. The books she has written to accompany her songs make them a hit with all students.
Recently, my students had the honor of test-driving Debbie's new Skype Presentation. The setup was incredibly easy, and total student engagement from the very start was obvious. So many things were learned...signing the songs, how to move to rhythm, listening and responding to verbal and visual prompts, thinking, wonder, surprise, delight, and appreciation. Every child responded to Debbie as though he or she were the only one in the "conversation" with her. Debbie spoke to the children with a true sense of curiosity, and they responded in kind because they sensed the caring in her voice. Debbie believes that in order for a child to learn, he or she needs to build trust with those in charge of their learning. I agree with this philosophy, and adhere to it as many others in my field do. Our kindergarten and first grade teams were so delighted with Debbie's presentation. I can state with certainty that we approve her methods of working with our students. My kiddos are wanting to know when she can come back!
Here is a silhouette video of my students from the back as they interacted with Debbie. They love her! My sweeties made a Red, White, and Blue cube train on their own while singing Debbie's award winning song, "Red, White, and Blue" (the one she wrote in response to 9-11)--and were so excited to have me send a video short to our guest author. :) Enjoy, and please consider contacting Debbie at http://RainbowsWithinReach.blogspot.com for information on how you too can have her to visit your school. You won't regret it!
Now, some logistics about how we went about hosting Debbie Clement at our school.
1. First of all, run it by your administrators, making sure to explain that Skype is a one-one
connection. In other words, only your students and staff and Debbie will be able to view this
call. It is not publicized in any way--it's just like calling a friend on your landline!
2. Contact Debbie about setting up a time for the call.
3. Decide on a location. For us it was easy! We have a multi-purpose room that seats up to 500
people. During Debbie's visit, we had approximately 200 K and 1st graders participating.
Our MPB has a large drop down screen, and we keep a projection screen, network cable (in case
our wireless was not connecting--which it wasn't), and a speaker system that can connect to the
microphone input on a laptop in a closet just off the stage. I was able to hook the projector cable,
speaker input cable, and network cable directly to my laptop and make a Skype call for a sound
test with Debbie in about five-ten minutes time. It was sooo simple!
4. Arrange for your staff to be ready on the day of the concert, and plan for about 40 minutes of
I hope your district will give it a try! Our district is in a rural setting, and the cost of hosting a
person as well known as Debbie is cost prohibitive. So you an imagine how I was chomping at the bit when she announced she would be giving Skype a test drive to help her reach a broader audience.
It was one of the best uses of our technology, and an opportunity that our students otherwise may not have had to "rub shoulders" via Skype with a REAL Author and Singer-Songwriter!