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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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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Pinterest Updates

PinterestHave you ever gone to Pinterest to look for a specific idea, and then two hours later looked up from your computer screen wondering where the time went?  Of course you have!  That’s what Pinterest does to people!  It sucks them into a beautiful fantasy world where anything is possible if you only have the right kind of glue.

Well, this year I’m getting the right kind of glue, and I’m putting some of these fabulous ideas to work in my library!  I spent some time yesterday creating a new Pinterest account solely for my professional pins using the name LibraryLoriJune, which is also my  Twitter handle, and made a new board for each type of pin I’ve saved.  Categories include Library Management, Book Extenders, Book Displays, Tech Tools, and (as of this writing) fourteen others.

I have been using Delicious for over five years to organize websites (2,312 links as of this morning!), and it’s still my go-to bookmarking resource, mainly because 1) I can assign searchable tags to my bookmarks and 2) Delicious is not blocked at school by our extremely tight filters.  But Delicious does not have the visual appeal of Pinterest, nor is it as widely used by the kinds of people I want to get ideas from, so now that Pinterest has been unblocked for teachers in my district (yay!) I want to start using it more.

Are you on Pinterest?  If so, please leave a link to your boards in the comments so that I can follow you!

 

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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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Poetry Books on ThingLink

Are you using ThingLink yet?

I was just introduced to it a few weeks ago by @AuntyTech on Twitter, and I quickly realized that it was the perfect free tool for my new poetry project!

I want to make it easy for teachers to use poetry books from our library in the classroom, and since I know they don’t have a lot of extra time to search for lesson plans and extension ideas, I’m happy to do it for them.  ThingLink works well for this because I can upload a photo of each book cover, provide a summary in the comment section, and add unlimited links (to lesson plans, author interviews, book trailer videos, printables, etc) to the image.  This allows teachers to quickly choose the perfect book for their classroom and put together an entire lesson plan without spending precious planning time surfing the web for resources.

I’ve included some sample images here, complete with links, to give you an idea of how ThingLink works.  (Just hover over the image to see the links.)  I love that the images can be embedded in a blog, wiki, or webpage, as well as shared via the most popular social media sites.  You can choose from an assortment of link icons, and you can add a brief description of each link.

Here is my Link Icon Key:

Blue Circle = Lesson Plan
i = Book Preview
Person = Author Info
Red Circle = Book Site
Play Button = Video/Audio
Green Circle = Discussion Guide
Yellow Circle = Extension Ideas
Black Circle = Misc. Resource

You can visit my Thinglink Channel to see all the books I’ve curated so far. All of my images are set to be “re-mixable” which means anyone can grab an image and edit the links for your own use.  I have also enabled editing on each book photo, so if you have created a lesson for any of these books, or you know of a good internet resource that I missed, please add it!

My goal is to upload all of the poetry books that I have in my school library by the end of the month, so you may want to follow me on ThingLink to see when I’ve added new photos.  I’ll also be encouraging my teachers to share their own lesson plans for these books, so I’ll be adding more links to existing titles as well.

If you’re using ThingLink yourself, please leave a comment to share what you’re doing and give us a link to your Channel!

 

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