I received an email from Donors Choose offering an exciting incentive for sponsoring a Google CS First Coding Club in my library: an opportunity to earn Donors Choose gift cards when students complete specific coding projects!
I’ve been providing coding experience for my students for many years, ever since I learned about Scratch at the S.C. EdTech conference in 2009. Last year I attended Code.org training in my district and enrolled my library classes in one of their formal courses, and I sponsored the annual Hour of Code for all of my students. This year our school is building on those experiences by offering additional mini courses in our computer lab (for all students) and in my library (for those who enjoy coding and want to pursue it more deeply).
I like the approach CS First takes by providing a structured learning environment yet still allowing kids to have some creative control over their projects. I’m especially excited about the Google Doodle activity, which has kids designing their own Google Logo, since that was one of the Genius Hourthemes in my library a couple of years ago.
We’re kicking off our next learning adventure on Thursday, so watch for updates in a couple of weeks! Are you using CS First in your school or library? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
There were five librarians from my district in attendance, and we were all taking furious notes to bring back to our colleagues at our March librarians meeting. Some of the things I found most interesting:
The S.C. Education Oversight Committee has partnered with Learning.com to create the Palmetto Digital Literacy Program, paid for by the S.C. General Assembly, to assist students in improving basic computer skills
40% of schools in S.C. have 1:1 learning programs
Lottery money provides $29,288,000.00 for S.C. schools
Because of the shortage of certified librarians in our state, Charleston has organized a cohort for those who are interested in pursuing their masters degree in Library and Information Science which includes tuition assistance and mentoring from librarians in their district. (This is something we feel our district should pursue as well to accommodate the needs in our own schools.)
After lunch we received a tour of the Richland Two Institute of Innovation, which hosts advanced technology classes for high school students, public concerts in its stateWe also-of-the-art auditorium, and meeting spaces for community groups. It also houses a public children’s library that is completely user-friendly, from the reconfigurable furniture to the well-lit makerspace area to the invitingly curvy bookshelves to the outdoor reading area.
Workshop attendees also had a choice of several break-out sessions, so we decided to divide and conquer so that we could get information from each presenter. I’ll do another post after gathering info and links from my fellow librarians to share what we all learned and how we can use it to improve our services to students and teachers.
If you were at the Regional Workshop please leave a comment and tell us about your experience!
It’s always interesting to see which students will cautiously follow the instructions to the letter, and which kids will use the tutorial as merely a suggestion of what can be done. I also enjoy watching them turn to one another asking “How did you do that?!?” Sometimes the most unlikely students become Scratch Masters, and it’s gratifying to watch them shine as they assist others.
If you haven’t tried Scratch yourself, it’s easy to get started with it. And I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to know everything about Scratch to use it with your students. Over the past week I’ve learned several new things about Scratch by watching the kids experimenting with it, and I’m quick to admit “Hey, I didn’t know you could do that!” That’s how we model learning for our students, right?
If you are using Scratch already, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune
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’ve heard a lot of buzz over the past year or two about using QR codes in various ways with students: linking to library scavenger hunts, online book request forms, book trailer videos, etc. What I haven’t heard much about is using QR codes with teachers.
QR Code sticker with link to an online lesson plan added to the book The Journey That Saved Curious George.
Our 5th grade teachers are covering World War II in social studies right now, and I offered to pull some additional fiction and nonfiction books for them to use in their classrooms. As I was mulling over follow up activities that I could recommend for some of the books, it occurred to me that I could give teachers a “twofer” by including a QR code with a link to an online resource for each book.
Click the photo to enlarge, and scan the QR Code with your smart device.
While exploring the best way to create the QR code stickers, I discovered that Avery allows you use an online template to create and print labels; you just type in the product code for the type of labels you’re using. What’s really nice about using their service is that in addition to adding text and graphics to a label, the software will generate QR codes for you! I’ve tried (and liked) a few different QR code sites, but I couldn’t beat the ease of copying-and-pasting a URL and having the QR code pop right up on the label. You can save your projects at the Avery website, or download them to your computer.
QR Code attached to the bottom of the inside of the back cover with a link to an online Teacher’s Guide to the book. A printed copy of a lesson plan was also slipped into the jacket flap.
I hope the teachers will enjoy the convenience of holding a book in one hand and a smart device in the other and previewing lesson plans, discussion guides, author information, YouTube videos, and related websites, no matter where they are.
How are you using QR Codes with your teachers? Please share in the comments!
I always appreciate the opportunity to share resources with teachers, and the poetry workshop I led last week gave me a chance to combine two of my favorite things: poetry and technology!
To prepare for the Putting the “Tech” in Poetic workshop, my assistant and I spent the afternoon setting up displays of poetry books for teachers to browse through before and after the presentation.
I pulled about a hundred poetry books and sorted them into categories (Concrete, Haiku, Novels in Verse, Themed Poetry, Art and Music in Poetry, etc) to make book selection easier, and Mrs. Jordan printed signs for each.
We also put out a display of books by our current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, and featured a collection of eight Langston Hughes titles designed to inspire a Poet Study.
In addition, I had one of our document cameras set up as an example of how you could give students a close-up view of a collection of objects to inspire poetry writing, using a poetry book like Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems by John Frank, or a nonfiction book like Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.
I also had a FLIP camera and a digital camera on display near a computer with a microphone plugged in.
When teachers arrived, they signed in to receive technology re-certification credit and to win a door prize. We had snacks out – after a long day of teaching you need something to keep you going! – as well as some discount coupons for our local bookstore.
Once everyone was settled, the real resource-sharing began! I spent the last two weeks in March adding websites to a Poetry LiveBinder that I created for the teachers. Resources in the Binder include links to lesson ideas for some of the poetry books in our school library (hosted at ThingLink), websites featuring free online poetry for children, poetry lesson plans from Read/Write/Think, web tools for interactive poetry writing, and sites that facilitate sharing and responding to poetry.
Most of the resources I included are ones that teachers can explore on their own according to their individual needs, so I focused my presentation on the technology tools that they might need more assistance with.
For example, I showed them how they could use Padlet to upload student poetry and have other students respond to it. (I especially like that Padlet doesn’t require an account to leave a comment, and keeps your links private until you share them.) Click here and here for examples.
I also demonstrated how student poetry could be shared both visually and orally via VoiceThread, and how viewers can leave an audio or text comment on a poem, provided they are logged into VoiceThread. Click here for an example.
As a bonus, these tools can also be used to share other types of writing, as well as photos and videos. I’m sure that some of the teachers who don’t use them for poetry will incorporate them in other areas of instruction.
At the end of the session, I encouraged everyone to share their best student-written poetry with me so that we can feature it on our Poem in Your Pocket bulletin board over the next few weeks. We’ll have multiple copies of these poems available for library visitors to read and take with them.
The workshop attendees left the library with a whole new set of possibilities for using poetry with their students, I’m confident that they will share them with the teachers who could not be there.
If you have a great poetry resource that I need to add to my collection, please leave a comment and tell me about it!