By: Kristen Griesmer, Product Support Specialist

In this recurring series, we’ll feature a different librarian, media specialist or educator who’s become a Sora champion at their school, impressing us with their innovative methods for implementing the reading app and engaging with their students. We’ve asked them to share their thoughts and ideas here so that we can all be inspired and identify new ways to reach students and help them fall in love with reading.

Today, we’ll hear from Caroline Carr, library media specialist at Parkwood Hill Intermediate School (PHI) in Fort Worth, Texas.

Educator Stats:

Name:

Caroline Carr

Describe your position and your school.

I’m lucky enough to be the library media specialist at Parkwood Hill Intermediate. We have 1,200 fifth and sixth graders at our school, and I get to teach them all! We have a big school in a big district, in the great state of Texas. It’s easy to feel a little lost. I try very hard to make the library a warm, welcoming environment where the kids know they are always wanted!

One of PHl’s strengths is our diversity, which I try to reflect in our collection. Ebooks have been a big help with that. I teach such great kids. They come from all walks of life but mainly are economically disadvantaged. Education is so important as a way for them to change their lives. I’ve been a librarian for 11 years now. Before that, I taught seventh grade English for three years. I’m also an adjunct professor of library science at the University of North Texas. I’m a single mom of four almost grown-up kids (my youngest is 16), and the love of my life is my dog Bob.

How many years have you been active with OverDrive?

7

What are you currently reading?

Just finished listening to Five Dark Fates – so good! Just starting Jim Henson. In hardbound I’m reading The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise.

Caroline’s Sora Story

Why do you love Sora?

This is my first year using Sora in school, but I have had Libby (OverDrive’s ebook and audiobook app for public libraries) for years. I love ebooks! I prefer them to regular books because they are so convenient. I always have my phone with me, and they let me read in the little snippets of free time I have. Plus, I really like that I can get my books immediately without having to go anywhere. Sora rocks!

What unique things have you done to help increase student engagement with Sora?

I’m just getting started with Sora, so the first step was showing my students how easy it is to use. In my classes, I had all the kids bring their tech and helped them download the app, create an account and log in. I advertised about this great, FREE service:

  • I talked about it on the morning announcements. A little blurb explaining the app was included in the weekly email my principal sends home.
  • I gave all the kids bookmarks that explained how to log in.
  • I talked it up to the teachers and sent them an email showing how they could create an account for themselves.

In what ways has this been successful?

I love the freedom it has provided for my students! It’s been awesome for my kids who don’t really have the family support to take them to the public library. Plus, they usually don’t have a lot of books at home. However, so many of them have phones! With the Sora app they have access to so many titles. They can get the ebooks from home and exchange them as often as they want. It has increased how many books they can check out from the library.

I haven’t gotten much parent feedback (I generally don’t), but what I have heard has been a lot of thanks from grateful parents. The kids LOVE it. I have had many kids thank me for introducing them to Sora, along with a lot of title requests. 🙂 It has been wonderful! I think it’s terrific the way Sora has opened up the world for a lot of my students.

Anything else you want readers to know about your implementation of Sora or your library/classroom?

I really appreciate that comics and graphic novels are included. It has been a great way to entice my reluctant readers to try reading out. Often, things they wouldn’t consider on paper take on new interest if the element of technology is added.

Get to know Caroline

The Benefits of Being an Octopus - cover imageIf you could have your students read one book and one book only, what would it be and why?

The Benefits of Being an Octopus – it teaches that everyone deserves love and respect. Often, we don’t know what a person is dealing with, so we should treat everyone with kindness. Each person is smart/good at something. We have to discover what that is in ourselves and others. We need to be bold and brave and speak up for ourselves and others. It’s a touch-your-heart book (like Wonder or Fish in a Tree) that makes you really think about what matters and how you treat others.

What is your favorite “reading” moment with a student? (One of those memorable teaching moments that has stuck with you)

Just last year, I got a letter from one of my students who had me as a seventh grade English teacher 13 years ago. She said she was a teacher herself now! In the letter, she said, “…the point of this is I just want to say thank you! You helped instill in me a love of learning and reading that made me want to pursue this career. That seventh grade English class was one of the only classes I felt comfortable in and the only class I could truly express myself in. Thank you for being an amazing role model and inspiring me to do the same.”

It made me cry and just reminded me that my job as a teacher really matters. I can have a lasting impact on the kids I teach and want to make sure it’s a positive one!

What is the most important thing you hope your students take away from reading/education?

That they matter! That each one of them has something important and valuable to contribute. And that the important thing in life is the relationships you form and to keep learning and keep trying.


If you want to be the next Sora Spotlight, please reach out to us with a brief explanation of what you’re doing in your school and how you’re making an impact with Sora!

About the Author:

Kristen Griesmer is a Product Support Specialist working with schools to integrate digital into their libraries and classrooms. She herself has experience as a history teacher working with students grades 8-12 focusing on U.S. history and government. She generally spends most of her free time chasing around her hyper-active pup Romeo, hiking, practicing yoga and trying out the best Cleveland restaurants.