The Story Behind Spice it Up a Notch With Nutmeg

It all started when Donna received a call from a quite frustrated Willimantic children’s librarian. She had spent days planning a wonderful Trivia Night for the Intermediate Nutmeg Book Award nominees, but not many children had been taking them out of the library, especially the older children. She was concerned. Would there be enough children, who had read the books, to participate in the event? She had even recruited two elementary school librarians to help develop questions for the Trivia Night but getting the older students to read the books was proving to be somewhat difficult.

EASTCONN and the library had worked very successfully together on projects before, so the librarian was calling to find out…was there a way that they could collaborate now? The library needed more students to be reading the books, so Donna and the librarian thought of a plan to motivate students to read quality literature while promoting the Nutmeg Books. EASTCONN would develop some engaging lessons for teachers that connected the books to the CMT objectives and Connecticut State Standards. The librarian would go into classrooms and facilitate book talks about the Nutmeg nominees with students to get them "hooked". Together they would help get the Nutmeg Award books into schools and into the hands of the students. It was the beginning, but no one could have predicted what that seed of an idea would lead to…

As we were walking in the woods one day (we do get out of the office on occasion), chatting about the Nutmeg Book Awards, how great the books are, and how could we get better at motivating and engaging students to read and respond to the books, Rebecca turned to Donna and said “What if we make an Internet project that gives students the opportunity to discuss these books online?” So, the rest of the walk was spent planning how we could do just that.

Spice it Up a Notch with Nutmeg! was “born” on that day. 2007 was the first year implementing the project and it was met with great success. Teachers who participated in the project told us that their students didn’t want to stop reading and wanted more books! Students were excited about discussing the books online with students from other schools in Connecticut. Teachers were excited that their students loved reading the books. Students were “eating up” the books. As a result, the librarian was able to hold the Trivia Night and many children, both Intermediate and Teen readers, attended.

We learned a lot from 2007 and 2008 promises to be even better. We are excited about providing more resources and lessons for teachers to support their implementation of the project. We have new featuresPin 2008 such as wiki discussion boards, Foldable® activities, Nutmeg Wikiprojects, Persuasion Corner, Who said it?, Character Yearbook and more.

We look forward to many more years spicing up reading in classrooms with Spice it Up a Notch with Nutmeg!

Donna and Rebecca

About Us

Donna Drasch is a Service Learning Coordinator at EASTCONN. Rebecca Pilver is an Education Technology and Literacy Specialist at EASTCONN. Between the two of them, they have 40+ years of experience in the field of education. As staff developers, they are committed to providing authentic, meaningful learning experiences where children learn to problem solve, think critically, collaborate, communicate, and care.

Both Donna and Rebecca believe that Web 2.0 tools can be a way to change the level of student engagement, increase student satisfaction, and enable students to take responsibility for their own learning. They believe that while the old Web allowed us to be consumers of information, the new Web provides us with the opportunity to be information producers and collaborators on a global scale.

Some of the benefits that Donna and Rebecca foresee happening by using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom include:

  • Students write for a real audience.
  • Learning expands beyond the classroom walls
  • Parents can participate in the learning experiences.
  • Students are motivated by the authentic learning environments they
  • They allow for purposeful reading and writing across the curriculum.
  • They foster communication and collaboration.
  • Students have voice and a sense of ownership.


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