Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Technology Tues: Library Memes

I love collaborating (or in this case stealing) ideas from the librarians in my district.  One of my good friends and librarian at Canyon Ridge Elementary, Wendy Howk @whowk, sent an email in the summer to a few of her "tech-ie" friends" asking an innocent question about an idea she was working on.  She wanted to know if we knew of any kid appropriate meme generators because she wanted her 5th graders to make library rules memes for their orientation.  Our fabulous Terri Eichholz @terrieichholz, suggested that she download pictures that she wanted the students to use into google drive and work from there.  Well, before I could even reply, Wendy had already started created a folder in google drive with blank meme pictures,  I told her I loved the idea and would love to help in any way.  Well, then summer happened and neither of us really did much with it over the summer.

When we got back to school, I mentioned it to my 5th grade reading teachers and of course they loved it and signed up right away - yes, like the first week of school.  So over text messages one night, Wendy and I hammered and tested and retested and played and figured out how it might work through google classroom - which I had never really tried, nor have my teachers - that's right, I live on the edge.  Now, Wendy will say in her sweet way, that we "synergized" on this and that is how it came to fruition, but really it was all her idea and I just pushed her along because I needed to know how to do it to look good for my teachers.  

So anyway, here is how we created Library Rule Memes...

First, We(ndy) created a shared folder in google drive of a bunch of blank memes from a meme generator.

Then I made a google classroom for each of my 5th grade teachers.  

I made a template slide presentation with a title slide for each class and uploaded it into the assignments of the classroom.  

And then I uploaded the memes from my folder as "materials" on the "about" page of classroom.  (This was after I accidentally deleted the shared folder that Wendy had created with all the memes in it, had a huge panic attack and she talked me off a ledge and we figured out how to re-share the images - don't ya love those little "oopsies").

So once the students came for the lesson, I had a Slideshow about memes and some examples of just funny memes and other rule memes.  I also linked to the wikipedia definition of an Internet meme so I could point out to the students that they were intended to be humorous, shared and also the formatting of the meme.  Pointing out that this was not the time for fancy fonts and bright colors.  I also had on the slides how they should log into google classroom on the chromebooks and that is where the fun began.  

Luckily, I had the foresight to ask our instructional technology specialist, Laura Moore @learnmoorestuff, to be with me for at least the first class in case we had trouble.  It was the typical problems of student logins not working that she was able to troubleshoot, while I was explaining how to navigate through google classroom and actually make the meme.  

Each student was going to add a slide with a meme into the google slide presentation that I had assigned the class.  They each added a slide and put their name on it.  They were fascinated that they could all be working on the same presentation at the same time.  Once they had a slide, they looked through the pictures of the meme backgrounds and chose the one they wanted to use.  On the chromebook, they had to do a "two-finger puch" on the mouse pad in order to get the option to "copy".  They went back to their slide and CTRL-Vd to paste the image onto the slide.  They had to resize and then create text boxes with the correct formatting that we saw in wikipedia and added their text.  

And so here are their finished Library Memes.  Of course, these are the best of the best of 7 classess.  I wouldn't lead you on and say they were all this good.  I had kids who only got the picture pasted on and kids that totally missed the idea of "library" and just made a meme. But being that it was the first week of school and that we had never used google classroom before, I was pretty pleased with the results.  

I told the kids that I was going to be making laminated posters out of a "few" of the memes to hang on the wall in the library.  How do I choose?  I could use some help deciding!  Which ones do you like?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Makerspace... I got the OK... Now I'm Freaking Out!

Welcome back to another school year!  We finished the first week and I have finally come up for air. Over the summer, my district offers a "Librarian Re-Boot Camp" where we can attend PD and brainstorming sessions.  One of the sessions I went to this year was about makerspaces and it got my wheels turning again.

I have been intrigued by the idea of makerspaces for a while, and even tried a sort-of-makerspace last year with 5th grade (see post), but I have always struggled with the logistics of it at elementary school.
     When would students come?
     Who would come?
     How would I manage it?
     How would I keep it supplied?
     How would I monitor students and continue my regular lessons and checkouts?

I get the idea for middle and high schools where students have study halls or lunch periods, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it for elementary.

So after the session at Re-Boot Camp, I decided just to stop making excuses and just figure something out.  My school has school-wide interventions from 8:00-8:30 every morning starting in mid-September and while I have always had a 2nd grade reading group, I thought this might be the perfect time to implement the makerspace.  I could offer each grade level a week at a time and each class could send 4-6 students per morning.  By the end of the week, hopefully every student in the grade would have made it through for at least 30 minutes.  I am also going to give each teacher some sort of pass for 3 students to come down during the day if they have some time and want to continue working in the space.  

I wasn't sure what my principal would think so I wrote up a proposal and emailed it to her before we started back in August.  I also wanted to make sure this was going to be seen as a valuable addition to our school so I proposed that I would offer STEAM activities and supplies in the space.  

Well, she loved the idea and gave me the go ahead!  And while I am excited about it I am freaking out a little (ok, a lot) trying to get ready to really put it into action.  

I have been searching twitter, pinterest, blogs and any other sources I can find about makerspaces and it is starting to come together.  I will add more posts as I get more things figured out.  If anyone has resources or suggestions for activities that they love in the makerspaces, ways to manage the space, how to fund the space, or any other tips they want to provide, I would love to hear them!  

Monday, August 17, 2015

A True Librarian

Summer is over and it's back to school.  I've been reflecting for the last few days on my job as a librarian and what my goals and visions are for this school year.  As I have been thinking about this, a question popped into my head... What is a True Librarian?  I tried to think about the job description and how I would answer that.  I came to realize that there are many types of librarians and that I do not fall solely into any of these types.  At any given moment, I can be one kind and then the next moment be another type.  Many days I am a combination of more than one.  Sometimes I stay in the role for a while depending on my goals for the year but other roles sneak in and out depending on the moment.  And sometimes I can be all of these in the space of just one day.

Booky Barbara - Barbara is the book-lover of all book-lovers.  She knows every single picture book or chapter book in her library and has read them all.  She knows the exact book to point kids and teachers to at any given moment.  Her days are filled with classes coming in for story time and she is the ultimate read-alouder.  The students are mesmerized when she reads because of her changing voices and facial expressions.  Barbara is a true librarian.

Curriculum Cathy - Cathy knows the state standards for every grade level like the back of her hand and every lesson that she teaches supports at least one of those standards if not more.  She loves to create new and exciting ways to reach the students in whatever lesson she is teaching.  Teachers come to her for book suggestions for teaching certain ideas and she can point them to multiple titles in a matter of seconds.  Cathy is a true librarian.

Technology Tina - Tina is the technology-guru on her campus.  She can troubleshoot technology like nobody's business.  She just has to walk into the room and whatever technology problem was there is fixed, bam! just like that.  She also integrates technology seamlessly into her lessons and teachers come to her when they want an idea for integration.  She knows about the newest things going on probably because she tweets, skypes, follows blogs and participates in education chats. Tina is a true librarian.

Information Irene - Irene knows the answer to any question that is asked (and if she doesn't know she can find out).  She knows where to find answers and she loves to teach the students how to search for themselves.  You can often find Irene by the computers or on an iPad talking to students about keywords or directing them to the library databases to find their answers.  Irene is a true librarian. 

Programming Peggy - Peggy is the ultimate actress.  She loves to dress up and get "into character" for different activities happening in her library.  She loves planning for author visits and story-tellers and always has some kind of reading challenge going on.  She figures out how to interest kids in reading through her programming.  Peggy is a true librarian.

I know there are many more hats that librarians wear depending on their library, students, administration, etc.  Do you identify with these or do you have a different definition of a true librarian?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Emily's Blue Period

Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Lisa Brown is a sweet picture book on the Texas Bluebonnet List for 2015-16.

Emily is artist who finds out that even the best artists got through a "blue period" when things in their life make them sad.  Emily's blue period starts when her family gets mixed up and she has two houses to live in - one house for her mom and one house for her dad.  Which one is her "home"?  It isn't until her brother quotes a potholder... "Home is where the heart is"... that Emily gets an idea and her creative juices start flowing again.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Whispering

Over the weekend, I read the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. (I'm behind the curve in reading this, I know). But I am so glad I finally did.
It has taken me a while to write this post because this book spoke to me on so many levels- as a teacher, a librarian, a parent and as a reader.

My husband would call me an idealist and to me what Donalyn has accomplished in her classroom is perfect! Heaven! The epitome of reading class!  It sounds so simple... give them books and let them read!  Why don't more of us do it?

Twenty years ago when I began my teaching career in a third grade classroom, I read outloud to my students everyday and we always had silent reading.  I, like Donalyn, taught whole class novels.  I had been in college during the "whole language" teaching movement where topics were integrated in all subject areas for weeks of study.  My favorite of these was our Mr. Popper's Penguins unit.  We studied the heck out of penguins.  We researched the different kinds of penguins.  We did science experiments about blubber.  Every math problem was about penguins.  We capped off the unit with an overnight, YES OVERNIGHT with 100 3rd graders, trip to the penguin house at Sea World where we learned even more about penguins and observed them all night long.  I thought the kids were engaged and I thought I was doing it right, and to some extent I might have been.  I was at a pretty affluent school. We didn't even mention the "T" word until January.  Students came to us with a rich vocabulary and exposure to books at home.

Now, I cringe as see what miracles teachers are asked to perform.  They have a tremendous amount of curriculum to cover in less and less time every year as testing and benchmarks take over the classrooms.  I hate that they have to rush through skills or concept, just grazing the surface. There is no time to delve deeper or do the reteaching of some concepts that they know they need to do because they have to rush on to the next topic in time for the next benchmark where the students will be tested on it.  Things have to give and unfortunately, read alouds and silent reading have suffered.

Are there teachers, administrators and district leaders out there that still value reading in it's true form?  I sure hope so.  I hope that soon the pendulum will swing the other way and reading test questions will not be the reading that is taught in our schools.

Reflection 2014-2015

As this school year comes to a close tomorrow (Yea!!), I wanted to look back at the professional goals that I set for myself in August (see this post).  My 3 goals were professional development, technology and networking/professional learning community.

Professional Development - I did attend TCEA this year where my brain almost exploded from all the professional development (see this post), but I think I fell a little short of seeking out other professional development opportunities throughout the school year.  I did present two sessions at our Region 20 Resource Round Up in the fall and 2 Twitter sessions (one to other librarians in my district and one to teachers in my school).  I also co-presented a genrefying session to other librarians.

Technology - I received a whole class set of iPads from library bond money this year so I used those A LOT.  My SmartBoard area was under construction as I was transforming my space so that my teaching area will now BE at the SmartBoard.  So this goal will be continued for next year.

Networking and Professional Learning Community - I did MUCH better at blogging this year.  Still not where I want to be, but much better.  I took on Twitter this year and really expanded my PLN and networking abilities.  Twitter is amazing for connecting not only yourself, but students as well.  Through twitter, my students and I found out about opportunities to connect with other libraries via Skype for World Read Aloud Day and Poetry Month.  We also connected with authors and other students in chats on Twitter.  I am loving it and will for sure be looking for more opportunities next year.

My summer goals are to try the #bookaday challenge and blog or tweet about what I am reading, both children and adult books.  I am also trying a summer reading google classroom for my 3rd-5th graders - not sure how that is going to go, but I am hopeful.  And amid the baseball practices, games, tournaments, and strength and conditioning camps, we ARE going to my happy place this year - where I will be assuming THIS position for most of the 8 days we are there!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday "Wrap" Up

This is the last Friday of the school year!  While I can't believe this school year is over, it seems like these last two weeks will never end.  But the end is in sight.  

Besides hounding kids to turn in or pay for their books, we have actually been pretty busy.  

-3rd grade Battle of the books
-hosted a former student turned author, Megan Padalecki, for 1st and 2nd grade.  She has written, illustrated and self-published a book called Big Mo.  A story about an iguana who grows too large and threatens his environment.  
- I also met with our district battle of the books planning committee to debrief our battle from last Thursday.  
- We have also been changing all our genrification stickers to colored labels over the call number so that has been a lot of peeling and degunking with Goo Gone.  

My wraps this week... Mermaid Tales and Fountain of Youth