Hour of Code with Scratch

Scratch  Several of my library classes participated in the annual Hour of Code using Scratch, one of my favorite coding programs.

Hour of Code 1Why do I like it so much?

  • Detailed step-by-step tutorials for introductory projects
  • Color coded instructions and tools that make it easy for students to click on the right thing
  • Flexible project ideas that give students some freedom for self-expression within the boundaries of a structured activity
  • Printable activity cards so students can explore Scratch independently
  • An online community for educators

Hour of Code 2It’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.

Hour of Code 3If 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

 

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Finally Using Flipboard

flipboard logo  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.

Flipboard homepage

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.

Topic Results

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.

Recommendations

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!

Invitations

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.

 

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What is STEAM and How Can You Support It In Your Library?

I had the opportunity to participate in a great twitter chat Monday night dedicated to discussing ways librarians can support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in our schools.

Working at ComputersSome of the ideas that were shared include:

  • facilitating computer coding sessions for students
  • stocking library learning centers and Makerspace areas with building materials (Legos, K-nex, Little Bits, etc)
  • displaying student art in the library
  • providing “maker” books for students (Lego idea books, duct tape projects, Minecraft manuals, origami instructions, etc)
  • donating weeded library books for project components
  • hosting themed maker sessions that are tied to the curriculum
  • sharing creative writing tools like Storybird for non-fiction writing
  • designing 3-D printing projects tied to the curriculum (i.e., math students printing geometric shapes such cylinder, cone, etc)
  • using rap, hip hop, and other types of music to memorize facts
  • sponsoring a Minecraft club
  • offering creative writing workshops for students
  • creating a collection of nonfiction graphic novels
  • leading a themed Genius Hour project tied to the curriculum
  • using Skype or Google Hangouts to connect students with other classes or field experts

You can find an archive of the entire STEAM in the Library chat here.  Please follow #tlchat (TeacherLibrarianChat) and #tlelem (TeacherLibrarianElementary level) on Twitter for new inspiration every day, and tweet those hashtags to share your own library successes!

Are you doing something different to support STEAM in your school?  Please share it in the comments!

 

 

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QR Codes in Books for Teachers

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.

1-QR Codes 2

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.

 

1-QR Code Template

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.

1-QR Code and Guide

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!

 

p.s.  If you’re interested, you can find the books I’ve QR Coded so far on my WWII ThingLink Channel.

 

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Poetry Workshop Recap

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!Writing PoetryPoetry Books That Connect to the Curriculum

Poetry Book Display

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.

Sign-In StationWhen 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.

Workshop AttendeesMost 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.

Poem in Your Pocket Bulletin BoardAt 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!

 

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Putting the “Tech” in Poetic!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ve been pulling together some poetry resources to share with my teachers in an after-school workshop tomorrow.  (Click on the image to download the flier I sent out.)  The focus is on using technology to enhance poetry lessons.

I’ve created a Poetry LiveBinder to organize all the resources to make it easier for teachers to plan poetry lessons for their students.  I especially like the lessons at the Read/Write/Think website, so I’ve given them their own Tab in the binder.  I’ve also included several sites featuring online poetry, and sites that offer interactive poetry-writing tools.

I’m also excited about sharing my ThingLink Channel, which features links to resources for some of the poetry books we have in our school library.  These images are “re-mixable,” which means anyone can add links to any of the books I’ve uploaded.  This way teachers can share their own lesson plans and activity websites for these books.  It’s a great way for them to collaborate, even when they can’t meet together in person.

In addition to the web resources I’m sharing, I’ve also pulled about 75 poetry books to have on display for teachers to check out after the workshop.  The books will be grouped into categories such as Haiku, Curriculum Connections, Concrete Poetry, Novels in Verse, and more. 

Of course we’ll have snacks and door prizes as well, and I’ll have a few computer stations set up where teachers can play around with responding to poetry using VoiceThread and Padlet.

I’ll update this post later with photos and more resources.  In the meantime, please leave a comment sharing your favorite poetry site for elementary students so that I can add it to the collection!

 

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Tech or Treat in the Library

I’m really excited about the Tech or Treat event I hosted in the library this afternoon!

We had 7 different types of technology stations set up for teachers to explore; some were self-guided while others were manned by a presenter to provide demonstrations and/or answer questions.  (See the TECH OR TREAT flier for details.)  Each teacher was given a “trick or treat” bag to collect candy from each station, and we had pencils, bookmarks, and other goodies for them along with handouts and step-by-step guides for the different devices and resources that were featured.

The informal atmosphere kept everyone moving around at his/her own pace, with some teachers lingering to try out a tool or dig deeper into a website, and others gathering in a corner to discuss new ideas for using technology in the classroom.

From the verbal feedback I received, all of the teachers found at least one website or gadget they could see themselves using in the classroom.  (In fact, one teacher took a FLIP camera with her as she left!)  Since this was only intended to be a quick overview of resources, we will schedule more in-depth training sessions by request in the future.

I will be formally surveying teachers tomorrow to find out what they liked most/least about the event, what they’d like follow-up training on, and whether they’d like to make this an annual event, but based on the comments I heard from teachers as they were leaving, I’d say our Tech or Treat was a big success!

 

 

 

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