Poetry Workshop Recap

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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!

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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

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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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Powerless

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Eeeek!  Five days without any internet access to speak of!  I left my bag of power cords and chargers at home on Tuesday as I headed out the door for the South Carolina EdTech Conference in Greenville this week!  I guess attending a technology conference and not being able to use any gadgets once the batteries died is just one of life’s little ironies!

I did soak up some fabulous information though, and thanks to old-fashioned pen and paper I was able to take notes on everything.  I’m working on my conference report now, which is not only a great way to share my experience with my principal, but also helps me to clarify what I learned.   (I should have it posted online tomorrow or Monday.)

I’m also catching up on some of the sessions I missed due to scheduling conflicts by visiting Edmodo.  Each presenter was asked to upload his/her presentations, handouts, links, etc to Edmodo, and attendees were given a list of codes to join any or all of the groups.  Big thanks to the presenters who have uploaded your resources already!

I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to “tweet” or “blog” the conference this year, but I’m excited about some of the ideas I’ve brought back with me, and I’m looking forward to sharing with my teachers and students.

 
Image: ‘Recharging
www.flickr.com/photos/44302262@N08/5461188253
 
 
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Unwired and Unplugged!

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I’m finally registered for the S. C. EdTech Conference (new policies presented a stumbling block this year, but my new principal really came through for me!) and I’m looking forward to an inspirational experience!

I’m excited about the wide variety of sessions being offered, and thrilled that so many will be led by South Carolina teacher-librarians, including Janet Boltjes, Betsy Long, Liz Hood, and Valerie Byrd-Fort!

The Keynote speaker is Will Richardson – educator, author, blogger, speaker, and change agent.

Will you be at the conference?  Let me know in the comments!

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Page Turning Tool

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I played with a fun new tool this past weekend called Page Flip-Flap.  It turns Word or PDF documents in online booklets, complete with a rustling sound when you turn the pages.  (And we book people sure do love us some paper rustling sounds!) 

Page Flip-Flap

All you do is upload your document and fill in your email address, which is used to email you the link to your online flipbook.  No registration or login necessary, and they promise not to use your email address for spam.  It’s free, so there are ads on your online booklet page, but you can banish them by clicking the “full-screen” button, which is at the bottom of the page next to the printer icon.

I used it to transform the S.C. EdTech Conference summary I created last year into a nice online report that my new principal could view.  (I’m requesting permission to attend as usual this year, and wanted to make sure she understands what a valuable experience it is for me.)  You can view it here.  Maybe. 

Or maybe the site is blocked where you are.  Like it is in my district.  As I found out this morning when I skipped to my school computer ready to copy and paste the link into an email to my principal.  And luckily tested the link first to make sure it was working.  And it wasn’t.  Sigh.

So there go my grand plans for Page Flip-Flap, such as converting our school newsletters into this nice online format for our parents to view, or publishing my policy and procedures manual as an online booklet, or anything else creative I might want to do but can’t because once again I’ve been thwarted by our filters.

Oh wait, this is supposed to be the happy sunshine blog where I celebrate good things.  Well, I guess I could request that the site be unblocked.  It could happen.  No, really, it could.  Right?

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Open Download Week at My School

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When our two school districts merged into one this year, our computers were all locked down by the Technology Department.  No control panel to manage your desktop settings, no installing your own printers or software, no downloads or updates from internet sites, etc. 

As of this week, many teachers were still without printers as our meager handful of techs struggled valiantly to get to each school and install the drivers, and many were still waiting for the installation of software (disks that accompany our textbooks, speech software, electronic microscope and document camera software, etc.).

This week the Tech Dept relented a bit and declared an Open Computer Week!  We’ve all been racing the clock grabbing programs like Google Earth and Photo Story 3, sending shortcuts to our desktop, and updating Adobe Reader and Flash.

Hooray for trusting teachers to manage their own computers!

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