Friday, January 27, 2017

Sibert Smackdown Wrap Up

Every year, we see lots of schools participating in Mock Caldecott and Newbery programs. But what about the Sibert? It deserves some love too.

In 2015, after Alyson Beecher posted a Mock Sibert list on her awesome blog, Kidlit Frenzy, I decided that creating a fun activity might convince some teachers to add nonfiction to their Mock programming, and the Sibert Smackdown was born.

This year, I used mock lists created by Alyson, Michelle Knott ,and Anderson’s Bookstore to develop my own Mock Sibert list. Almost immediately, teachers and librarians all over the country (and even one at an international school in Malaysia--Thanks, Mrs. Victor) got excited. I love how each educator added her own ideas to create a learning experience that was perfect for her particular students.
Jenny Lussier, a teacher-librarian in Connecticut, came up with the idea of having students at different schools create short Flipgrid videos and share them with one another. Five or six schools participated. Here are the results. Jenny wrote this blog post to get people excited and this blog post to report the results.

As an author, it’s so interesting to hear what the kids loved most about the books. I was delighted to see that many of the students selected my three favorite books--Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins, Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, and Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari.

Other schools celebrated the Sibert Smackdown with small, focused programs, and a few went whole hog. Look at these fun photos Mrs. Rench sent of her students discussing the books and voting in Illinois.

Here’s a blog post Mrs. Knott (who works at a different school in Illinois) wrote about her students’ experience midway through the project, and a fantastic wrap-up post you won't want to miss. The deep, rich instructional journey she developed included reading the books, closely considering the Sibert criteria, crafting written pieces that provided evidence  supporting students' ideas about the books, and creating padlet videos. Wow!

Mrs. Rattner’s students in New York did some unbelievably wonderful projects and then defended their book picks to classmates. Here’s a post she wrote when the Sibert Smackdown was just getting started. And here’s a second post that shows some of the students’ super cool projects.

And finally, here are a few students beaming from ear to ear when they realized the book they championed, Giant Squid, really did win a Sibert Honor.
These kids had so much fun. In the end, the biggest winners weren't the books or the authors and illustrators. The biggest winners were the students who learn to analyze fascinating, high-quality informational texts and discuss and debate their ideas with their peers.

I hope even more schools participate in Sibert Smackdown activities next year. Until then, keep on reading nonfiction!


  1. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot too!

  2. So many creative librarians/educators out there! And the kids are so engaged and are having fun while they learn--that's what it's all about!

    Thanks for sharing, Melissa, and thanks for your undying support for nonfiction. It's great to see the Sibert getting mock love too!

    And thanks for cheering on Coyote Moon :).

  3. I can't wait to do it again next year! I have some ideas on how to build on what I did to make it even better. Thank YOU for the inspiration!

  4. So sorry I missed this - have filed the idea away for next year!

  5. Joanne,
    Check back on my blog in early December. My initial post will vary depending on when ALA is.