I’ve had a passing awareness of Flipboard for awhile, but I never really investigated it in depth until this week. Once I took a closer look at it, I realized that it definitely has a place in my Technology Toolkit.
Once you sign up for an account, you choose the broad topics you want to follow. Flipboard automatically curates collections of internet articles related to the interests you select. Admittedly, most of the preselected topics either aren’t Education-centric, or they’re too broad to really be useful. Yes, as an elementary librarian I’m interested in ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, but I don’t want to read articles about the lunch program, parent background checks, custodial strikes, etc.
Fortunately, you can also search for more specific terms and create your own “magazines” where you include resulting articles that are keepers. (Example: Suggested topic = CHILDREN’S BOOKS, Searched topic = CALDECOTT AWARD.) If an article is worthy of saving for future use, just click the plus sign to “flip it” into one of the magazines you created.
Flipboard also provides Share buttons that allow you to email or text links to articles to yourself or others, save them to a reading list for later, or (if you give Flipboard access to your Twitter and/or Facebook account) you can also tweet and/or share articles that you find. You can favorite them and comment on them within Flipboard as well.
Flipboard will also recommend other topics as well as magazines created by other users that you might want to follow, based on the articles you are reading. And you can email invitations to friends and colleagues offering them permission to add articles to magazines that you’ve created. Instant collaboration!
I have no idea what algorithms Flipboard is using to locate the articles they present you within their service, which makes the results seem rather serendipitous. This can be a good thing, in that you may come across something you would never have known to look for yourself. It can also be a drawback because you know you are missing a lot of good web content, which is unacceptable if you’re using Flipboard as your go-to resource for organizing all that internet information you want to keep track of. Enter the Flipboard bookmarklet, which allows you to save any webpage into Flipboard directly from your browser.
I’m mainly using this product on my iPad, and that’s where all the screenshots in this post were taken. Your interface will look different if you are using a different device. One thing I would change about the iOS app is the giant COVER STORIES box that takes up a double space on my Flipboard homepage and includes a jumble of pop culture articles that I have zero interest in mixed with the content I’ve chosen to follow. I can ignore it, but I’d prefer to delete it and use the home page for something more useful.
Being a brand new user, I haven’t started following anyone on Flipboard yet. If you’re a Flipboard user, please leave a comment and let me know! If you’re using a different tool to curate web content, I’d like to hear about that too.
I often use this blog as a place to “think on paper” and reflect on different aspects of my job. As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I’m scratching my head and wondering where the year went! Robert Browning tells us that our reach should exceed our grasp, so I suppose it’s okay that I had more plans than I was able to implement this year. But in looking back over the ideas that did come to fruition, here are some of my favorites:
This year I celebrated International Dot Day: Make Your Mark with all of our 5th graders. I shared the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds on the Promethean board via Tumblebooks, and we discussed the importance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to experiment with new things. We then used Microsoft Paint to create digital dot art, which I displayed in the library and online.
Our 2nd graders practiced their research skills and their technology skills with our African American Biography Timelines. They learned how to use Encyclopedia Britannica Elementary (part of the SC DISCUS suite of databases) to gather facts and photos, then synthesized their information into an online timeline using the ReadWriteThink timeline tool.
We discovered some budding poets through our Found Poetry project with 4th grade. We examined various nonfiction print sources to create word banks of important facts, then used the elements of poetry to communicate the information in more lyrical ways.
The Quest teacher asked me to lead an Hour of Code with the gifted and talented students at my school and the other elementary school she serves. We used a Scratch project, and the kids astounded themselves with their results! “Wow, I’m really good at this!” (Those types of comments are music to my ears!)
My LOOK! NEW BOOKS! new book preview for teachers this year included a QR Code twist! Many of the new books on display in the library contained bookmarks with QR codes that teachers could scan to access additional teaching resources for using the books in the classroom. I created the codes with QR Code Monkey, which I really like because it allows you to upload a logo or photo as part of your code.
I created several technology tutorials for teachers using the free screencasting tool ScreencastOMatic. When I can’t provide assistance in person, a screencast video is the next best thing!
What did you try this year that was a hit with students or teachers? Tell us about it in the comments!
If you are considering purchasing a Lego StoryStarter Kit for your school or library, you may want to take a look at a project that we are implementing at my elementary school. I’m working on getting extra components for our students to use, so if you’re feeling generous we could really use your help with our Donor’s Choose fundraiser!
I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed. So I’ve created a classroom project request at DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning charity.
I’m asking for donations of any size to help my kids. For the next 4 days, any donation you make to my project will be doubled (up to $100)! If you know anyone who is passionate about education, please pass this along. Your donation will brighten my students’ school year, and you’ll get photos and thank yous from our class.
Testing season can be stressful for students and their teachers! We asked teachers for their favorite positive, motivational, stress-reducing, hard-work-encouraging and just plain fun read-alouds for those bubble-test kind of days.
The author (Hannah Hudson) goes on to list 6 titles that teachers recommended, with an explanation of why each book was chosen. It got me thinking about which books I would want to hear if I had taken one bubble test too many. Here’s what I came up with:
Dex: The Heart of a Heroby Caralyn Buehner (Because no one epitomizes the importance of hard work and dedication to a goal than Dex!)
Dexter the dog is little but he has dreams — big dreams. He wants to be a superhero! So he reads all the comic books he can, works out to build his muscles, and even orders a hero suit. Dexter has determination, spirit, and heart. He proves that no matter how little you are, you can still do very big things.
Instructions for using this book:
Brainstorm ways that students can prepare themselves for standardized testing (getting a good night’s sleep, eating a nutritious breakfast, etc).
Allow students to design a Testing Hero Suit. Features might include a cape in case the testing room is chilly, pockets for mints and #2 pencils, a belt buckle with a built-in pencil sharpener, and a logo to represent some sort of testing motto. (A large question mark, for example, with the big red NO symbol over it.)
Grandpa’s Teethby Rod Clement (Because I LOVE the visual twist at the end!)
Grandpa’s teeth, which were handmade by the finest Swiss craftsmen, have been stolen! Officer Rate arrives on the crime scene to investigate. He puts up WANTED posters for the missing teeth and rounds up the usual subjects. Grandpa even goes on the famous TV show Unsolved Crimes. But the crime remains unsolved. What is Grandpa going to do? And why does everyone in town keep smiling all the time?
Instructions for using this book:
Athk all thtudenth to thpeak with a lithp ath though they were mithing thome teeth.
Have students smile continuously throughout the day, the way the townspeople in the book do.
Face the standardized tests with the same forced smile the townspeople in the book use.
Skippyjon Jones: Class Actionby Judy Schachner (Because any school story that can pack in Mo Willems’ pigeon, a woolly bully, The Mona Fleasa, a word of praise for the delicious scent of books waiting to be read, a jump rope rhyme, slipping on a banana peel, three different Mexican Hat Dance songs, and a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary words is worth sharing!!)
Skippyjon Jones, the little Siamese cat, really wants to go to school, but Mama Junebug Jones tells him school is where dogs go to get trained. So he goes inside his closet instead, where he finds himself in the school of his imagination, surrounded by dogs of all kinds enjoying reading, art, and music! It’s fun until a bully threatens total lunchroom destruction; then it’s up to Skippyjon to save the day.
Instructions for using this book:
Read it aloud to your students. Even better, play the audio version of the story (my book came with a CD) while you show the pictures.
Have the students speak with a Spanish accent throughout the day, the way Skippyjon does.
Write your own set of class lyrics for a Mexican Hat Dance with a testing theme. (“Oh we are the testing banditos Clap Clap, We bubble like lively mosquitos Clap Clap, We all do our best on the standardized test, We hope that our snack will be Fritos Clap Clap!) Use the song and dance during your testing breaks.
Let’s Do Nothing!by Tony Fucile (Because students may need to practice doing nothing, since once they finish the day’s testing they aren’t allowed to read or draw or move until everyone else has also finished the day’s testing.)
Practice doing nothing every time the kids get on your last nerve. These are high-stakes tests after all, so your students really can’t over-prepare for the strict testing environment they will encounter.
Big Bad Wolves at Schoolby Stephen Krensky (Because ya gotta love a book whose cover shows a wolf sitting in class with two pencils stuck up his nose! Thank you Brad Sneed, illustrator!)
Rufus is not like the other wolves. He spends his time rolling in the grass, running like the wind, and howling at the moon. His parents, feeling he needs a more structured existence, send him off to the Big Bad Wolf Academy. The curriculum is tough: learning to huff and puff, determining the best way to enter a henhouse, and coming up with disguises to fool little boys and girls. When it’s time for exams, Rufus is unprepared. Then hunters interrupt the testing, and it’s Rufus who has the necessary skills to successfully fend off the danger.
Instructions for Using This Book:
Discuss with your students how everyone has a unique set of talents and abilities, and that rather than trying to force everyone into the same mold and measure success through a single limited type of assessment, we should….we should….well…
Maybe you’d better just save this book until after the testing is over!
All kidding aside, are there any read-alouds you like to use during testing season? Please share your favorite titles – along with the reasons they make good testing read-alouds – in the comments for a chance to win your own copy of Dex: the Heart of a Hero. You have until midnight on Tuesday, May 12, to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on this blog post. Next Wednesday, May 13, I will choose an entry randomly and announce the winner here. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!
Only once a century do we experience Ultimate Pi Day: On March 14, XX15 at 9:26:53 (a.m. and p.m.) the date and time line up to 3.141592653 Awesome!
I can’t let Ultimate Pi Day go by without giving a shout out to a book by one of my favorite authors, Wendy Mass. Her novel Pi in the Sky takes us to outer space for a funny and informative science fiction adventure. With pie!
In Wendy’s own words:
“The germ of the idea for Pi in the Sky came from a quote a middle-schooler gave me. It was by astronomer Carl Sagan: ‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.’ My brain just started churning that quote over and over until a story started to form. I’ve always loved reading science fiction—starting with Ray Bradbury when I was younger—and I felt ready to take on the challenge.”
She actually started her career writing nonfiction for kids, so she’s no stranger to researching science and math. It actually took her three years to do the research for this book before she felt ready to write about astronomy, evolution, and astrophysics on a level that students could understand.
I always look forward to the Kindergarten unit on penguins. I especially enjoy using penguin webcams in the library so that we can watch them in action.
Screenshot of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cam. Feeding Time!
The Monterey Bay Aquarium web cam is turned on from 7 am to 5 pm Pacific time each day, and shows the rocky habitat of their African blackfooted penguin exhibit. (If you tune in at other times it won’t be live; you will see highlight videos playing instead.)
Screenshot of one of the SeaWorld Penguin Cam views.
TheSea World (Orlando) webcampage offers a choice of three different views of their penguin habitat: above ground, shallow underwater, and deep underwater. You can also use their camera tool to take a picture of the penguins and share it via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, email, or one of several other options. I shared one of our photos to my Book-Based Activities Pinterest Board.
After spending a few minutes watching the penguins, taking pictures of them, and discussing the penguin facts they’ve learned, I read the book Penguins by Liz Pichon. This is the perfect book to follow up our webcam viewing because in it (as the cover hints) a group of zoo penguins discovers a camera one of the visitors dropped. They have a wonderful time taking pictures with it (“Say FISH!”) until a zookeeper discovers it the next day and takes it to the Lost and Found. Once re-claimed, the owner discovers some very puzzling and unusual photos!
Last page of PENGUINS by Liz Pichon.
Although the book is a bit anachronistic (the extra photos are discovered when the pictures are developed) the kids love the surprise at the end: a foldout of the snapshots the penguins took of themselves! I just substitute the word “printed” for the word “developed” and the kids are none the wiser.
I also like to play the song “Rock Hopper Penguin” from the CD Fins And Grins by Johnette Downing. It’s a great uptempo song that we can dance to – and when I say “dance” I basically mean “hop up and down until we’re too worn out to move” – before we check out books. (Click here to listen to a sample.)
My favorite non-fiction penguin books to use with Kindergarten classes are:
Spearheaded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom, MCCBD is intended to “raise awareness of kid’s books that celebrate diversity and get more of those books into classrooms and libraries.”
I came up with a selection of titles from my school library that are perfect for this project, and I used Thinglink to add links to additional resources for the books and authors. Just hover over the book covers to see and click the links!
What books would you add to this collection? Please share in the comments!
I want to be sure my students know that I read. A LOT. So I’ve started creating a reading poster to hang outside of the library door each month. I use a sheet of 14″ x 22″ poster board. (I found some that come with a different color on each side in a 3-pack at my local Staples.)
Here’s the “before” picture for January; by the end of the month it will be filled with book covers.
My monthly reading poster. Click to enlarge.
I’ve been toying with the idea of adding a QR code for each title with a link to a book trailer, author website, etc. I’m not sure how useful it will be, since most students at the elem level do not have devices with QR code readers, and even if they did they wouldn’t be bringing them to school. But maybe some parents will try them out.
Do you share what you’re reading with your students? Do you use QR codes with students at the elementary level? Please share your ideas in the comments!
To celebrate my day off from school today, I visited a big bookstore to spend a few happy hours in the picture book section. (You did that too, right?) Among the many delightful titles I examined was one that immediately stood out as a great read-aloud for my library classes:
Little Louie is so excited about the story he wants to tell, but when first a jelly blob and then a peanut butter glob land on his beautiful pages, he is outraged that someone is being so careless with his book.
Page from A PERFECTLY MESSSED UP STORY by Patrick McDonnell
Orange juice stains, fingerprints,scribbles — keep calm, Librarians! — will no one respect Louie’s story? He eventually comes to realize that we can enjoy books (and life in general) in spite of any imperfections that intrude.
McDonnell (winner of a Caldecott Honor medal for Me . . . Jane) has created a thoroughly charming character in Louie, and there’s no doubt that as a librarian I have found a soul mate in him! In Louie’s own words: “We need to show some respect here. Books are important. They teach us stuff and they inspire us.”
And I love that I can use this book to share three different messages with my students: 1) Please take care of your library books!, 2) Even if someone else didn’t take such good care of a library book, you can still enjoy the story, and 3) Don’t let a little “jelly” spoil your good times. (In that respect it reminds me of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin!)
No wonder this book received a starred review from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly! And right now you can purchase it from Amazon at 30% off the cover price.
What book(s) do you use to emphasize book care with your students? Tell us about them in the comments!