Monday, March 2, 2015

Techno Expo - Student Style

First, I want to say that I was extremely proud of all students that participated in the district Techno Expo event.  As a selection committee member for our school, our student projects were not only creative but they exhibited the awesome technology integration by our staff.  I was fortunate to sponsor six groups that represented our school library program.  I proudly attended all six presentations and I was humbled by the honesty and passion from all students. Rooms were filled with parents, community members, other educators, friends, and siblings as students presented their projects.


Eight library aides presented their blogs during the evening event.  The students were split up into four presentations with two students per group.  As student leaders in our school, I have set an expectation that all student library aides blog.  I gave them the opportunity to set-up blogs through blogger, complete freedom on design, and student choice in picking a passionate topic for blogging.  Since I prefer to model blogging rather than have formal lessons, to hear students use terms such as posts, embed, iframe, and more during their presentations was incredible.  They passionately showcased their posts, pictures, and projects while indicating blogging has helped with their writing skills and made them think more about digital citizenship.  In one session another educator in the room asked injuring questions only for him to reply that the students had inspired him to try blogging in his classroom.  My hope is that I have inspired these students to continue to write and share their passions.

Hour of Code
The Pike Technology Club sponsored the Hour of Code this year in our 2nd annual celebration.  This was a completely student driven project with scaffolded lessons, student made certificates, and plans for continued marketing of coding in our school.  At the end of their presentation I publicly asked the students what they learned from this experience.  I was stunned to hear their responses that included managing people, making sure they met the needs of all learners, getting quality feedback, and follow through after the event. WOW, did they really come up with those answers on their own? I wasn't even offended when the students muted the video I produced from the event and narrated their version on the hour.  Projects such as these have convinced me to released and empower the students whenever possible.

Technology Club
Our Technology Club has been meeting for two years with an emphasis in coding.  The group is self motivated in learning programming and coding and is passionate to teach each other.  Officially we meet every Wednesday morning but the group has found a home in the library every morning and during lunch.  Since the group consists of mostly 8th graders I find this refreshing that I have an large 8th grade group that are avid users of the library.  Their presentation consists of examples of screencasts that they demonstrated with live narrations during the event.

The students had a great time and were proud of their presentations.  It brought the community into our program to see what our students have accomplished.  As I have said many times in the past, I will continue to host student lead projects in the school library program.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

February - Short But Busy Month

Here's an overview of some of the activities celebrated throughout the month of February in our library.  It was a busy month with a district-wide middle school interactive thinglink poster to many other celebrations of our LOVE to read in our school. All were done in collaboration with an emphasis to reach out to our community. Most were shared via our school social media accounts and on our school library Instagram.

Blind Date With a Book
This was the 2nd year we participated in Blind Date With a Book and again it was an exciting success.  My student library aides selected and wrapped the books, added clues, and maintained the display. Be prepared to wrap many books!

Hot Chocolate Bar
With the assistance of 2 other awesome teachers, we provided a hot chocolate bar during one of our faculty meetings.  This simple task of providing a warm sweet drink close to Valentine's Day was greatly appreciated by the staff.

Pike Loves to Read
This program began with a blank Google presentation (slides) shared with our faculty with the instructions to add their name, teaching assignment, and favorite book.  My student library aides volunteered to customize each slide.  Students were instructed to contact the teachers informing them they were working on their slide.  After the Google presentation was complete the students uploaded it into PowerPoint and saved it as a movie file.  They emailed me the movie file and I added the presentation on to our scrolling TV at the front entrance of our school for everyone to see.  Added bonuses to the program included students adding their own slides, students communicating with teachers via the comment option in Google presentation, both students and teachers becoming more comfortable with a shared Google presentation project, and a great promotion of our favorite books with the community.

Original Quotes 
This exciting program occurred during a school-wide Tech Tuesday lesson. Students were given the opportunity to design an original quote describing our school using I was able to make a Google presentation from the quotes emailed to me by our students. Five quotes were chosen to be displayed on our school marquee at the entrance of our building. This again, was a exciting format to share our passion with the community.

Get ready for our March celebrations.  Bring on the March Madness!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Collaboration

It has been a great project to collaborate with fellow district librarians.  It started with a Google document and turned into a district-wide interactive poster.  I am thankful for others who are open to collaboration.  Much can be accomplished in numbers. Watch for our next project.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

TCEA 2015

I just returned from TCEA 2015 and after getting out of the shower I came up with a rather strange analogy for this post.  I used the shampoo from the hotel because when I use the same shampoo day in and day out my hair becomes limp with "shampoo build-up" so I alternate with a new shampoo every so often to give my hair body.  As I evaluate my library programming I can see some dull "build-up" over the years that I continue because as many would say, "It's how we always have done it."  I actually detest that saying.  All I can say about TCEA 2015 is that it has given me some new and creative ideas to revitalize our library!  This year was not disappointing in the variety of sessions as I concentrated on makerspaces and coding.  I have uniquely implemented both on our campus but I was seeking that new shampoo to put some body back into our library environment and I was not disappointed in what TCEA 2015 had to offer.

The awesome sessions I attended included: Shawna Ford, Westherford ISD; Nancy Jo Lambert, Frisco ISD; Tina Beruman, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD; Colleen Graves and Leah Mann, Lewisville ISD; and Deanna Seigler, Little Elm ISD presentations on makerspaces and library environments.  There were many more sessions including fellow district librarian Christa Pospicil but time prevented me from attending all the sessions.  I love that TCEA included the handouts online because although I didn't get to attend some sessions I do get to see their handouts and have contact information.  Each library was very different with the development of their learning commons or makerspace implementation.  Libraries included everything from green screens to makerspace carts.  Some had set days and times after or before school while others hosted "tinker time" during scheduled circulation days.  

The most profound conclusion that I made from after listening to the variety of programs is that the makerspace movement has no specific handbook or formula.  Each and every program is different and specifically designed for each library program and student interests.  It is an awesome movement that reaches many reluctant students with "hands-on" activities along with making the library even more exciting and diverse.  

What may be stopping some to delve into this new and exciting programming?  Some may ask where will I get the funding?  Suggestions that came from the sessions were Donor's Choose grants (one of my favorites), PTA, get creative within your school such as hosting cardboard art day, and seek experts within your community and parents.  Another obstacle might be one's comfort zone.  I for example do not know how to code but I facilitate a coding club.  Learn to release and empower the students.  Give your students ownership in learning and teaching as I do with a 100% student driven technology club.  Network with others in your PLN and seek ideas and advice since many have paved the path.  

In conclusion, I have confirmed that what I call our makerspace is on track.  Although we are not designing and tinkering as many other movements, we are programming and coding.  I emptied an old small storage room for the student technology club and walked away.  They have made this space into a room where designing, planning, and teaching takes place.  They have hosted the Hour of Code for two years, teach coding every Wednesday morning to anyone interested, and have become the school's "Geek Squad" in helping with technology issues for both students and faculty. After listening to others I am ready to take our movement to another level with expanding the group and hosting a summer coding event.  

Whether you start small with a simple project or jump in with a fully funded program, I encourage everyone to pick up and try a new shampoo and include some makerspace activity in their library programming.  Thank you for the ideas TCEA 2015!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Student Driven Project and I'm Proud!

It could be a great collaboration post or it could be a great smashing post so you be the judge.  It’s part of my job as a school librarian to model, create, collaborate, teach, find and introduce new tools, and the list goes on.  So I try and blend many tasks into one project.  Sometimes they work wonderfully and sometimes they don’t.  I’m all over simple and successful library programing and I believe I have a hit with our recent student driven project.

I have 20 awesome 7th and 8th grade library aides throughout the day.  May I also add that I have probably 20 more student library aide wannabes.   We began from the beginning of the school year to work collaboratively and I believe all our hard work has paid off.  

For this project we adapted the theme for February “Pike Loves to Read”.  It all began with a shared Google presentation asking teachers to add a slide with their name, favorite book, and teaching assignment.  We stressed that the student library staff would do the rest and we gave the faculty one week to complete the task.  As the slides began to appear the student aides adopted a slide.  They were to choose teachers they knew, contact them formally indicating they would be customizing the slide, and ask if there was anything in particular that the teacher wanted added.

As the students worked on the slides lessons emerged on color and contrast, font size, graphics, and more.  We all critiqued each slide with recommendations for improvement and the live collaboration was exciting to watch.  I was especially amused one day when a teacher was changing the background theme on all the slides instead of just his slide.  Let’s just say the students were not intimidated about using the comment button.  After a few comments between teacher and students there was an agreement to snip the desired background and insert it for the teacher.  Yes, my students took on the how can I help you role.  The slides are not perfect but they were 100% customized by the students.

Next, they saved the Google presentation as a PowerPoint.  It’s recommended to check the slides with this transition because there can be some formatting changes.  Once in PowerPoint they saved it as a movie file.  Yup, than they uploaded into my YouTube account and used the copyright free music in YouTube to complete the video.  So now we have a video link that can be shared on the student news show and  posted on the school’s social media accounts.  I took the saved movie file and uploaded it onto our scrolling TV at the front entrance of the school for everyone to see the books we love to read.

This was a simple student driven multi-step process that showcased literacy, modeled tools and collaboration, and was shared with the entire learning community.  It's exciting to see teachers gaze at the TV watching for their slide to appear. I know in the future we will continue to host more programming using these same tools and techniques.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Surprise - 8th Graders Facilitate the Book Club!

I love surprises and over the years I have encountered  both positive and negative surprises.  But as the saying goes, we don’t learn unless we make mistakes.  Our new approach to host the 8th grade book club has been a welcome endeavor.  In the past our 8th grade reading participation has declined in comparison to our eager 6th and 7th graders.  That being the problem we embraced strategies to come up with a solution.  For those in middle school know that 6th and 7th graders are always eager to participate but as students prepare for high school they start to find less and less time to read for pleasure.  I spent 16 years as a high school librarian and I know first hand the problem continues.  The strategy is simple - we handed the book club over to our 8th graders.

It began with 3 students volunteering to host the discussion group on The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  A Google document was started and shared with the group and myself. Suggested discussion questions, book trailers, and activities were shared.  We met as a small lunch group to finalize our plans before the actual book club meeting.  The students produced fliers, made announcements during 8th grade lunch, wrote commercials for the student news, and enticed friends to read the book and participate.  Their marketing techniques worked wonderfully because the book club had over 25 eager participants with many others  wanting to join in on the fun.

The group decide to begin the discussion with a quick Plickers activity with five rather easy questions.  This gave the club some focus, settle down to eat, and introduced them to a new tool that could be modeled in the classrooms.  I believe if the students are comfortable with a tool that may ease the teacher’s anxiety of introducing a tool.  I actually pulled up the account and let the students drive the questions and answers.  

Our principal was so impressed with the success and participation he asked for feedback from some of the participants  on what can be done  to continued this enthusiasm school-wide.  If you want to know something about your school, just ask the students.  They were very honest with their responses  and I was honored to hear one of their answers was that I had been the librarian since their 6th grade year and they knew me.  Did that student just say relationships matter? WOW!  

The concept sounds so simple but we need to realize sometimes it’s the simple things we do as librarians that make the most impact.  In the future I will continue to empower the students to take charge of more programming.  Next stop - virtual book club!

Friday, January 9, 2015

12 Days of Twitter Challenge

In reflection to a prior post:

During a #TXLChat in December I read a tweet about another librarian sharing the 12 Days of Technology Challenge plus my IT Coach shared a 12 Days of Twitter Challenge from another district and this sparked our Twitter Challenge in December.  Many faculty members participated with over 200 tweets with #Pike_Proud.  The feedback that I received from many included they learned more about Twitter and it was fun.  It was an awesome program to showcase Twitter, model a collaborative tool, and present a fun activity just before the holidays.  I used canva, audioBoom, and thinglink for the presentation.  Each day I added a new Twitter challenge and at the end of the event gave out jeans passes to everyone who completed the tasks.  I also entered names into a drawing for Starbucks giftcards.  I noticed that a few remixed my thinglink and designed their own challenge using my basic format.  Now my thoughts are wandering to our next possible challenge in February.

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