Alyssa Medrano and Amy Marquez work together at Collegiate high school in Texas. Alyssa is a newer English teacher, full of energy, creativity, and enthusiasm for her work. Amy is an experienced librarian, always up for the next wonderful collaboration with her teachers. Together, they launched a digital literary food truck festival this year, and it was a huge success. They used the free curriculum I published this year (you can grab it below) and created a path to success for their students, then helped their students showcase their work online in an exciting final event for their community.
Amy is here on the podcast today, in episode 120, to represent this dynamic duo, and I’m so excited to share Amy and Alyssa’s story with you. I hope it will inspire you to try a digital literary food truck festival of your own, perhaps in collaboration with a teammate or two at your school.
You can listen in by clicking right here, or on your podcast player of choice, like Apple Podcasts, Google Air Play, Sticher, Blubrry, or Spotify. Or simply read on for some top takeaways.
Before we dive in, here’s an easy path to grabbing the free curriculum Amy and Alyssa used to host their digital literary food truck festival. Sign up below and I’ll email it to you. You’ll also hear from me once a week or so with creative ideas for your classroom. Subscribing is free and you can cancel anytime.
Meet Amy and Alyssa
Amy Marquez and Alyssa Medrano work together at Collegiate High School in Texas. They’re a wonderful example of how an English teacher and a librarian can work together to create compelling learning experiences for students!
A Little Bit of Background
Amy shared the results of her wonderful literary food truck festival with me several years ago, pre-COVID. Didn’t the kids’ final projects turn out beautifully? These were the results of another powerful collaboration with her English department.
So when she contacted me to share the results of the COVID reboot she put together with Alyssa, I was really excited to start exploring what they had created. So excited, in fact, that I wanted to share it with you!
Setting up the Idea with the Students
Alyssa and Amy began by meeting virtually a number of times to figure out how to chunk the project into manageable steps so students would have a clear path to success.
They set up a unit in which Alyssa’s students would read the book of their choice over the course of two weeks, then spend two weeks working step-by step through the process of digital food truck creation. For the project, students had the choice to work alone or in pairs.
Alyssa worked hard to create a really clear plan so the project would be successful, scaffolding the steps so students could achieve one goal at a time.
Amy’s Visits to Class
Throughout the unit, Amy visited Alyssa’s class (virtually) three different times.
In the early stages, she book talked different accessible books to the students, sharing high interest titles that she thought the students would enjoy. Then she showed them how to get access to the digital collections at the school so they could read it online or listen to it on audio. She and Alyssa also set up a time for students to stop by to pick up physical books if that’s what they wanted. This step was not only wonderful for helping kids find a book they would love for this project, it showed them a path toward repeating the process in the future, opening a more general conversation about how you find a great book to read.
Next, as the students moved into project mode, Amy visited to share the details of how to use the free online design tool, Canva, for taking their project design to the next level.
Finally, Amy visited to show students how to record videos for their project in Flipgrid. She showed them how to record their screen, as well as tricks like putting a sticker over their faces if they felt shy in front of the camera or focusing the attention on the book cover. Flipgrid helped the kids to easily create videos for their projects that they could share at the final event.
The Big Finale
Once the students had created their projects and made videos to explain their truck design, menu, and playlist, Alyssa put together a project website on Google Slides to showcase the students’ work. Head over to the digital showcase and check it out for yourself! Here are some screenshots from student videos to give you an idea.
Alyssa invited guest judges in to the final event to help choose the award winners.
And she created such fun special awards to honor the students who put a ton of effort into the project!
After the special class event with the guest judges, Alyssa and Amy decided to bring the projects to the community, making them a part of an online Literary Posada to which the wider community was invited. The school public relations team made a video about the project and shared it on social media, and the students felt prouder than ever of their work.
At the Posada, many school clubs had virtual stations where folks could do different activities, and of course, you’ve got to have food trucks at the Posada!
Now an expansion of the project is in the works, because the library director was one of their guest judges, and is now working with Amy to bring the literary food truck project into action across the whole district.
Amy’s Advice Looking Back
If you’re going to jump into this project, be sure to create clear and manageable steps to success for the students. By creating a fun and doable project to culminate the unit, you can use this type of unit to help students become passionate about reading again. How you market the project to the kids really matters to their attitude coming in. The whole unit will ideally be a creative, engaging opportunity to read a great book and then share about it in a way students can enjoy.
OK, are you ready to try it? Remember, you can sign up for the free curriculum set for the digital literary food truck project at the top of this post.
Thank you so so much to Amy, Alyssa, and all of their students for sharing their work and their story with us!