Monday, December 15, 2014

Student Driven Hour of Code

It was our 2nd celebration for the Hour of Code and although we organized the event completely different from last year, we had extraordinary results this year.  First we advertised and invited all interested students to the morning event rather than limit it to the technology club.  Second, the student technology club facilitated the event rather than participate in the coding.  We were ecstatic that 30+ students  (including girls) came an hour before school for the Hour of Code. 

Here’s our basic structure of how we ran the event.

  •  Flyers were made, video commercials were produced for student announcements, and social media along with our school website were all used to advertise the event.
  • The meeting began with refreshments and viewing the official Hour of Code video along with a brief introduction of our student technology club.
  • A short student produced lesson on batch was taught.
  •  A second short lesson on coding to produce a simple calculator was taught.  We are very fortunate that not only does the student technology club know their content but they have good communication skills with teaching the lessons. As students had questions other members of the technology club circulated around the room answering individual questions.  At times it looked like an EdCamp with mini lessons and teaching going on simultaneously.
  • Finally, the students were given the option to continue to code or use one of many sites provided for the event.  As when you give students choice, the activity continued with varied possibilities. 
  • The technology club grouped participants by knowledge levels.  They had beginners (the largest group), intermediate, and advanced groups.  Lessons on each level were taught congruently. It was interesting to witness the students take charge of the teaching and change the groups as they discovered the need for modification.  
  • The student technology club took attendance and used the event to promote others to join the club.  They also produced and gave out certificates at the end of the event.  

In reflection everyone including the participants were extremely pleased with the Hour of Code celebration.  The feeling of accomplishment was experienced on both ends with some students excited about learning how to code and another student group pleased with teaching and sharing their passion.  As an educator I could not have planned a more perfect scenario then the student driven celebration.  At the next technology club meeting we will reflect on the event and come up with an action plan on how to move forward with this growing enthusiasm to code.  After all, isn't that the main purpose of the Hour of Code?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

12 Days of Twitter Challenge @Pike

I see many creative librarians offering 12 Days of Technology but I wanted to try the 12 Days of Twitter Challenge with my staff.  There are many tweeters on our campus but I wanted to expand the use of our hashtag as a school.  I worked with our administrative staff and aligned the Twitter Challenge with the 12 Days of Celebration that our administrators implement during this time of year.  So far the participation in the use of our hashtag #Pike_Proud has been awesome.  I plan on adding a new challenge each day, tweeting it out, and emailing it to my faculty members.  When I shared the event with my students I had 2 incredible young ladies volunteer to modify and sing for the challenge.

The 12 Days of Twitter Challenge visual was designed in:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Edublog Awards Voting - Open!

It's that time for us all to thank those that put countless hours into helping others learn. So please take the time and show your support and appreciation by voting for the many cutting edge educators and programs that make us all become better at our positions.  

Click here for the link to vote for your favorite Edublog Awards.

Here are all the categories:
    Best group blog
    Best new blog
    Best class blog
    Best mobile app

Voting will close at 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 15th. 

Curating Student Blogs

I have encouraged my student library aides to blog this year and here is the result. I am extremely proud of the time and effort some of the students have spent on designing and develpoing this platform.  I have curated the blog websites through a Google form so we may all easily view and give feedback to the blogs (including mine).  I love to see the students share the number of views, the  geographic locations of the views, and their posts with one another.  The students have taken extreme pride in their blogs and have included them on their ePortfolios.

In producing this thinglink, each student made and emailed me their own avatar.  I arranged the avatars in canva before uploading it into thinglink.  Students were able to view the final product through there individual thinkglink accounts even before I shared the link.   Blogging, creating, smashing, writing, reviewing.....what other lesson can incorporate all these task?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Edublog Awards Nominations 2014 Are Open.

It's that time of year to recognize and nominate those who have inspired you along your educational path.  The Edublog Awards #eddies14 is now open and accepting nominations.  The deadline for nominations is November 24th so take some time to thank those who give so much of their time and wisdom to many. Click here and fill out the form.

Here are just a few of my nominations:
Best Individual Blog
Best Group Blog
Best Student Blog
Best Ed Tech / Research Sharing Blog http://d97cooltools.blogspo
Best Teacher Blog
Best Hashtag / Twitter Chat #TXLChat
Best Free Web Tool
Best Mobile App voxer

It's difficult to choose when so many have made a difference in who I am as a librarian.  Please know I cherish my entire PLN.

Wii Day Tuesday - Sometimes It's the Simple Things

Our school has a solid group of 8th grade boys that are the core of our Technology/Coding Club.  They initiated the club and keep interest going through a variety of marketing techniques.  That in mind, they are always looking for exciting tools and projects eager to take on the next new challenge.  That takes us to a new marketing strategy.  Our principal bought a Wii that is used sporatically for special occasions.  The Wii is stored in the library and you all know the unwritten rule that if it's in the library, we can use it.  So with permission we started Wii Day Tuesday during 8th grade lunch.  The Technology Club showed in force and had the choice to play Mario or dance.  Yes, this group of high technology skilled 8th grade boys chose to dance.  Even after 34 years of educational experience students never cease to amaze me.  So the library and Technology Club will continue to host Wii Day Tuesday.  I must admit that I have many motives including: hosting a fun activity in  the library; expanding the Technology Club; getting to know more students; and the list goes on.  So Wii Day Tuesday has been another successful program in the library!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learn From Your Mistakes - I Did With New Book Club Successes!

Over the years I have learned to evaluate the successes and failures when it comes to our library programming. Interesting enough I came face-to-face with two situations that made me rethink how I was conducting the student book club.  Our first book club of the year was in simple terms a "flop".  Second, an article came through my Twitter PLN from an Edutopia article (one of my favorite blogs) It's a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes of the Learning Process. Merging the two events made me rethink what went wrong with this year's book club and how I could learn from these mistakes.  As stated in the article I am choosing #4, "Those I learned from and shared my new knowledge with others,"  as my plan of action.  

So after soul searching and reflection we have completely changed the book club process with an overwhelming success and here's a few tips of advice and strategies that might help others.

  1. Consistency - Choose a date and time and stick with it.  I was moving the times back and worth from morning to lunch and it was confusing to everyone.  Lunch seems to bring in a larger crowd so I'm sticking with the lunch time.  I may also choose a particular day of the month such as the first Thursday of the month is Book Club Day.  
  2. Marketing - As with any project marketing and advertising is crucial and cannot wait until the last minute.  Flyers (both paper and online), video advertisements, postings on Twitter and Facebook, and an announcement on the school marquee were some of our promotion strategies.  The video advertisement was produced by one of my student aides and played in the ELA classes which gave leadership and ownership to the students.
  3. Empower the Students - Although I feel I am late to this game, it's better late than never.  Since we had little interest in the librarian facilitated book club I changed strategies and released the entire process to the students.  A group of 8th graders picked The Book Thief to discuss, set the date, promoted the meeting, used a Google document to organize their discussion questions and book trailers, and completely ran the entire book club. Attendees included an excited 8th grade ELA teacher, our principal, an assistant principal whose favorite book is The Book Thief, and roughly 25 8th grade students during a lunch meeting. The 8th grade book club had never seen this many students in the past.  
  4. Choose a High Interest Book - In the past the book club books included newly released  high interest books.  This time the students picked an established novel that many had read thus enticing a larger audience.  I will take note that a few students who attended had not read the book and the conversation motivated them to add a new title to their must read list.  
  5. Let Them Be Heard - I was amazed at the student lead discussion and all I can say is, " WOW!"   I could not have planned a more perfect discussion if I had rehearsed the dialog.  Let the students drive the conversation.  
  6. Include a Treat - I'm always thrilled when students give up their 30 minutes of social time during lunch to talk about books so I try and bring a treat such as cookies to the event and it humbles me when they are appreciative of this simple gesture. 
  7. Invite the Faculty - Who said book clubs are just for the students?  You may find administrators and faculty members who will eagerly join the event to talk about books.  
  8. Be Enthusiastic - Enthusiam is congatious and promotes more enthusiasm.  No matter what library program you are trying to promote the students and faculty can quickly pick-up if you have your heart and sole into the event.  
It's been a week and I'm still getting positive feedback from those who attended that new book club format was a huge success.  It brought a diverse group of students and faculty together to discuss a mutually adored book.   The enthusiasm from the event has encouraged me to ask for more volunteers for the remainder of the year.  So each month, we will continue to have students volunteer and drive this event.  My role as the facilitator of the event is to help promote through our website and social media accounts, seek volunteers, and make sure the monthly event stays on the calendar.   

"It's a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes as Part of the Learning Process."Edutopia. N.p., n.d. Web. 02
            Nov. 2014.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't Miss These Exciting Events 10/28

I am a firm believer that we are all responsible for our own professional development and the days of sitting in nonproductive meetings are over with so many opportunities.  Here's 2 exciting virtual events that I don't plan on missing on Tuesday, November 28th.  

Interactive Image Slam With EdTech Superstars
Join Richard Byrne and Shelley Sanchez Terrell to learn about how these amazing educators are using ThingLink to transform teaching and learning.

Click on this link for more information on the free webinar.

Join the Event
Join us live for this informal webinar on October 28th at 7:00 PM CST, or sign up for the archive

Join #TXLChat
Join librarians Nancy Jo Lambert, Sonja Schulz, and Sharon Gullett to talk about New Tech Tools. The Twitter chat begins at 8:00 PM CST.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Collaboration? - that has been the question....

After attending my second EdCamp this fall, I keep hearing the same question resonate in my head from both events.  As librarians, how do we effectively collaborate with our students, teachers, and learning community?  How can we change from cooperating to true collaboration?  Even as a veteran librarian, these are questions that I struggle with daily.  Have I been cooperating rather than collaborating all these years?  In reflection I thought I would make a list of how I thought I was an effective collaborator.

First, I use Google Drive extensively.  Here is a list of how I use Google as a collaborative tool.
  • I share a Google calendar allowing teachers to sign up and view library time.  I know many others use it to allow teachers to sign up for computer labs, laptop carts, and other areas.
  • I share Google sites, presentations, and documents as Digital Research Kits for requesting research assignments.  This allows both input from the teacher and it can be shared virtually with students.  
  • Collaborative lesson plans are created in Google Drive and shared with teachers or staff members.  Some lessons are school-wide technology lessons while others are individual or departmental lessons. 
  • Google forms are used extensively in our library.  Students are encouraged to suggest books, sign-in at the circulation desk (for statistical information only), sign up for events, and more through these collaborative forms.  I curate website addresses for blogs and ePortfolios of my library student aides through forms and use the spreadsheet to visually visit both as a group. 
  • I also use Twitter as a communication tool.  When I see an idea or tool that might fit the need of a teacher, I’ll tag them on the retweet.  I follow up with a face-to-face conversation about the idea and offer assistance. 
  • Our student driven book clubs use Google Drive to communicate and plan the book discussions.  Student volunteers pick the book, date, and discussion questions on a collaborative document that is shared with everyone involved. 
  • Our student technology club uses email, Google Drive, and remind to communicate projects, lessons, and meeting times. 
  • I offer the library for meetings.  That way I am invited to the meetings and can offer suggestions when possible.
  • I offer my services to present at PLCs (department meetings).  I am always on the lookout for cool tools, ideas, and suggestions.
  • I am ready to offer professional development at faculty meetings, district opportunities, local, regional, and state level functions. 
  • I model collaboration with students, administrators, teachers, and parents when possible.
  • I make myself available after school hours, on weekends, and during the summer. 
  • Our library website has a virtual presence for users to access for a variety of reasons.  
  • I provide global opportunities for my school such as virtual poetry slams, global celebrations, and use tools such as Skype and Google hang outs to connect with other around the world. 
  • I am constantly seeking collaborative opportunities.
First and foremost I must remember that time is precious and limited with our classroom teachers.  Thus I must try and find the easiest way to truly collaborate.  Not everyone will come “on-board” but that should not deter myself or any of you from trying to seek quality collaborative opportunities.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kahoot Day for Teen Read Week 2014

It’s never too late to learn a new tool nor is the programming too simple to be a success.  That brings us to our Teen Read Week 2014 Kahoot Day.  I was introduced to this simple online gaming tool by my technology club last year. Kahoot is an easy online tool that is fun and provides quick assessment for student feedback.  

So here is how our Kahoot Day  was designed:

  • My student library aides (some are also in our technology club) had to create and share a Google document. Their task was to write 2-3 questions and answers about current young adult books that may be included in the Kahoot.
  • As a group of twenty we evaluated the questions on the Google document for accuracy.
  • 10 questions and answers were selected for the Kahoot Day event that were included in the gaming tool.
  • During Teen Read Week 2014 (#trw14) ELA teachers were invited into the library to participate in the event and we had as many as 3 classes per visit.
  • I loaded the Kahoot while my student aides manually started and ran the program.
  • After each question we asked students with the top scores to raise their hands so we could give recognition.
  • After the final results were displayed prizes were given to the top Kahoot players.
  • The Kahoot was shared with ELA teachers to be used at a later date if desired.  
  • It was simple but collaborative
  • The excitement was overwhelming at times which in my opinion was awesome.
  • I heard many positive student comments about books and reading.
  • The program encouraged enthusiasm in YA literature along with exposing students to books they have not read yet.  This had the potential for a “must read” list for the students.
  • We added a technology component with the activity which in turn helped our students become more comfortable with their new Windows 8 devices.
  • Students were able to easily use multiple devices including SmartPhones.
  • It was easy, fun, and enjoyed by all.
The most exciting part of the event was being approached by the entire 6th grade ELA teachers wanting to collaborate on Kahoot ideas to help students in the classroom with vocabulary activities.  As a librarian what more could I ask for than excitement over reading, students taking leadership roles in library programming, celebrating Teen Read Week, and inspiring others through modeling a cool tool.  Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that CAN make the most difference.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#NextgenLib TLA 5 & & Joint Virtual Conference

Let me begin by saying that presenting in a Google Hang Out virtual conference was both daunting and amazing.  Daunting in the fact that I was totally reliant on the success via the wifi and technology.  If the network went down all the viewers would see was a blank screen - yikes.  Amazing in that from any remote location (I happen to be in Denver at the time), I could connect with other librarians not only in Texas but across the world.  It was such a cool event and it all came off wonderfully.

Our keynote speaker was the amazing Andy Plemmons and those who watched were not disappointed in his programming and collaboration ideas.  Nancy Jo Lambert organized the virtual event with some last minute glitches but through Google documents, text messages, emails, phone calls, blog posts, Twitter, collaboration, and of course GHO it all came together for an epic first time event.  Thank you Nancy!

Here's the link to the full event and the best part is that if you missed it live, you can view it at your leisure.

Click here for the link.

The Smashing Thing was my presentation highlight a few of my favorite tools.  Full disclosure - I had no script.  The awesome part is you can see my passion for many of the tools.  

After watching the sessions, I know that my goal of taking my school beyond its walls into global communities is perfect for this year. Thank you to everyone who made this awesome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Connected Educator Month

Yes, October is Connected Educator Month and it's time to step-up the connected part in the celebration.  The emphasis seems to be lurking everywhere in social media and through the numerous  recent chats I've realized it's time to take my connections to a higher level.

The advice that seems to resonate the most is that connections are all around us and that we as professionals need to take full advantage of these opportunities.  In #TLChat and #TXLChat recently some examples of finding connections included Twitter, Google+, Skype, Google Hang Outs, blogging, conferences, face-to-face meetings, virtual conferences, online challenges, and more.

That takes me to my latest connection with Susan Oxnevad and the ThingLink Challenge I participated in this summer.  Had I known that I would connect with such an innovative community, I would take on more challenges as time allows.  To my surprise Susan wrote a Spotlight article on my ThingLink experience and this not only humbled me but offered me many more global connection opportunities.

Take the the first step and initiate a connection that takes you and your students outside the walls of your library and school community - connect globally.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October's Dare to Read

This time of year is always exciting as far as what books to recommend for our students to read. There seems to be a large appetite to read about vampires, zombies, ghosts, and supernatural events as the end of October approaches.  As a librarian I take full advantage of our students' thirst for these titles and put them on display, advertise through our student video announcements, and produce visuals such as the ThingLink below.  I will be the first to admit, it takes very little motivation to entice middle school students to read once they see an awesome book trailer.  So I truly thank the many talented individuals who continue to produce these quality trailers for others to share.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ThingLink + Google Drive Webinar

It has been a really exciting experience to have participated in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this past summer and I cannot even begin to tell you how much I learned. I am also proud to have achieved the ThingLink Expert Educator status through the process.  I will admit that I embarked on the Challenge purely to produce and "level-up" awesome professional development presentations that I had committed to during the summer and fall.  I was not disappointed and after viewing the incredible creatively within the Challenge community (click here to view projects), ThingLink has now become one of my "go-to" tools.  The versatility and possibilities of this tool allows presentations not only to be interactive but brings them to life.  My other "go-to" tool includes Google Drive and below is the opportunity to see an incredible blending of both.  I also had to include the new option for ThingLink video with our student produced Teen Read Week video.  I frequently challenge myself to "smash" tools and ideas.

Please join the awesome Susan Oxnevad on October 14 at 8:00 p.m. EDT on the webinar Transform Teaching Learning with ThingLink + Google Drive.  Susan's presentation will include a variety of project ideas that you can immediately take back to your school and library program.  

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