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.
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