Wednesday, April 23, 2014

School Library and Poetry Month

Besides being School Library Month, April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate School Library Month we have been creating green screen book reviews in the library. Then during one class a funny thing happened on our way to recording our book reviews. A fire drill. We did not have time to record our reviews but thanks to my friends at EdTech Chat 'n Chew my students had another option. I told them about a global poetry project they could take part in and they decided they were going to take part in the 60 Second Poet Project. My students used their book reviews and created and recorded short list poems found from the words within their book reviews (Found List Poems- a plan B that worked for my students and they enjoyed). Can't wait to see how those videos are weaved into those from around the world tomorrow in honor of Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In Library Flip... can it work?

My mind is officially blown! A member of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) posted this link from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning the other day but I have not had time to read it until this morning. It is about flipped learning. I have taken many trainings and read the authorative book (even got it signed by Aaron Sams) on the flipped learning concept and I am all for it. I have to deliver the same lecture 32-36 times in a cycle. I see 800 or more students in a 6 day cycle (give or take the ones going to music lessons, absent, leaving early, etc.) so I am all for recorded lectures or book readings for those that can't be in class. I have even recorded a few "how to use" videos so my students can go to them on our wiki whenever they are using the resources in question. But until today I did not see the full potential of the flipped concept in my library. I knew I wanted to introduce the idea of a maker space, make room for students to create (videos, podcasts, poetry, etc.) without driving myself crazy,  but in my mind there was no time to do this and still allow for book selection. But today my eyes were opened and I think I am going to try one or more of my units this way for next year. I just need the summer to figure it out and get excited about teaching again. Right now, like many other teachers I am burned out! Watch the video below from Cult of Pedagogy and please leave a comment to give me some ideas on how you use the flip and what you think about this idea!

This would also give me more time to help those struggling readers! I have been thinking of getting some Wilson training and indeed this library class configuration may help. I could even have one station where students come just to read when they are finished with everything else because they are given so little time to read anywhere else in the school day. I really think I am onto something here! Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dyslexia & Rewiring the Brain

I have Dyslexia. According to the Reading Rockets webpage I am like up to 15% (some 43 million) of Americans who suffer from this reading disorder. That is one of the big reasons I became a librarian. I want to help others like me know there is hope. Sometimes I need to listen to books rather than read them, other librarians have pointed out to me that listening to books is cheating. Some people have even called me lazy. It got so bad at one point that I stopped reading all together. Don't get me wrong, I can read but I read very slowly so that I can understand, and I re-read things several times for total comprehension. When I read, I actually hear the words in my head. Now Neurologists are using MRI's to watch people's brains as they read and are learning a lot about the brain and the sound centers of the brain.  For example one study showed that there are slow sound processing centers and fast sound processing centers in the brain and which part of the brain we use can determine if we have reading problems or not. Other studies are just starting showing that the brain can actually be re-wired and dyslexic children can improve their reading comprehension. Take a look at this video called Rewiring the brain and if you are dyslexic like me, have hope and don't let anyone put you down for listening to audio books! And, if you are a librarian, don't hesitate to offer an audio book to a student who just may need one to re-wire their brain and instill in them a love of reading!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Green Screen App by DoInk is Divergent!

This week and maybe next week too my students will be creating video book reviews of one of the books they read this school year. I found this wonderful new video creation app for the iPad called Green Screen by DoInk. It just the app I have been looking for for my library. I have several green shower curtains hung on my magnetic white boards with bulldog clips and have been waiting to use the screens all year. Now, thanks to DoInk we will be making green screen videos in the library. Since I was not sure how to use the app, I had to practice. This is my first feeble attempt but now when the kids ask questions I may have an answer!

Here is the video that comes with the app and I will have students play with this to get a feel for the app but not for too long because I only have the iPad cart signed out for 2 cycles and since I only see my students once a cycle this may be cutting it close! Enjoy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chicago River Being Turned Green for St. Patrick's Day

I am sitting here wearing my Divergent T-Shirt (the Divergent series takes place in the city of Chicago) when my friend posts the video below on YouTube. She and her son went down to the Chicago River this morning to watch it being turned green for St. Patrick's Day! Some day I will get there to see it but for those of you who like me want to see it now, live vicariously through my Plurk buddy Kim...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Teacher's Life for Me: A Few More PAEMST Pictures

Check out these pictures from the White House! And check out the link to the White House Press release. I am so proud of PA teacher Michael Soskil and I am proud to say he is part of my (as he describes us) tribe. This is a link to one of his blog posts about his recent experience in Washington, DC, getting to meet the president as part of his being selected as one of the winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).   A Teacher's Life for Me: A Few More PAEMST Pictures.

Sunday, March 02, 2014


I spent the last week nursing the last book in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, Allegiant.  I kept going back and re-reading not because I could not understand the book but because I didn't want the series to end. I have not been this invested in a series since I read Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin series or Suzanne Collins' Underland Chronicles.  Most people would include Collins' Hunger Games series but in my opinion the Divergent series is hands down better than the Hunger Games. Better moral dilemmas, more plausable futuristic society, and a more realistic and stronger female heroine. And, I am so looking forward to March 27's Divergent movie release! Every time I think of Tess and Tobias (the main characters) I think of this song by Sarah Bareille... Brave.
 And I can't wait to see the movie! Now the question is how many of my students can I get to read the book before they see the movie!

3D Printing ABS vs PLA... which is better to use?
I know it may be a very long time before I can afford an actual 3D printer in my library. However, ever since I attended Engadget Expand I have been excited about a product I saw there called the 3Doodler which extrudes a single strand of plastic and we can actually draw with it. I have been following the progress of the 3Doodler which is expected to ship in April and may be a good low cost option to get 3D Printing off the ground in the library. But I have not order one because I am so confused as to which type of plastic I should be using. I may only get one chance to make a choice and this video goes a long way to help in my decision.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yes we Do Know Dewey and we Create on iPads

The Dewey Decimal System is part of my curriculum. Every year I try to find a new, fun, innovative ways to help students find books in the non-fiction section of the library. Don’t tell them but I am also getting them to look at books they normally would not seek out for themselves. It is my sneaky way of exposing them to a broader selection of non-fiction that may spark their interest. But if they ask me if that’s what I’m doing I deny, deny, deny! Yet one of the outcomes of this lesson is an increase in non-fiction checkouts. I do believe in the Dewey Decimal System as a way of categorizing books and I have talked about Library of Congress subject headings in the past as being good for tagging on the Internet. I believe in order so that information is easy to find. But to most people the Dewey Decimal System is boring, and I can almost see the eyes of my students glaze over when I start the lesson each year. The major outcome of this lesson is students becoming independent library users, meaning they are able to locate the information they need on their own, the first step to becoming lifelong learners. When students can find information on their own, they become more confident library users. But worksheets and even library scavenger hunts are boring. I needed something new, something fun. The something new came as a burst of inspiration during an iPad introduction class I took through Eduspire. I was introduced to an app called Book Creator. What makes Book Creator interesting is that students can take pictures for their book pages right through the app, they don’t have to take the pictures first and then import them into the app (a step that sometimes is difficult for younger students to grasp). I wrote a lesson plan that was a combination of a scavenger hunt while creating an ePub document through the Book Creator App. It was an ambitious undertaking and it almost did not happen because of snow days. I signed out the iPad lab and it sat in the library for almost a week before students got to use it. Not everyone used the iPads to create a Dewey Decimal ePub. Students were given a choice between a traditional worksheet and the Book Creator project. It amazed me that some students chose a worksheet but when asked their reasons were valid. Most said they learned better when they wrote someting down, I was impressed by their knowledge of their learning styles. Those that created a book with the iPad also had nothing but good comments. I heard things like, "can I do another one?" And, "this is fun, can we do it again next week?" Some actually came back during their free 8th period time slot to do more work on their project. Enjoy this Anamoto of some of their great hard work. I am very proud of what they accomplished in such a short amount of time!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

My PLN is AWSOME!!!!

4 members of my PLN have begun a poscast that they record on their luck breaks each week. I am learning so much from people that are AWSOME Educators. All 4 are ed-tech specialists in their school districts and the program is called EdTech Chat 'n Chew.
Watch as they share some apps, technologies, tools, and passions they are going to incorporate with their students in the new year! Way to go Mike, Diane, Karen, and Andrea. This is so cool!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Fun School Closing Announcement

As I sit here for yet another snow day and watch June vacation getting further and further away I am buoyed by the rock star teachers in my Personal Learning Network that post fun stuff as well as educational gems. Wouldn't it be fun to work for a school district who's administration enjoys snow days as much as their students... check this out:

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What is a Scientist?

Our school has purchased multiple copies of the book What is a Scientist for every student in grade 2. Problem is every student in grade 2 can not read the book on their own so to help out the teachers I recorded the book so those students who can't read it on their own can have the book in front of them and hear the book being read to them at the same. In this librarian's opinion this is one way to improve student fluency.  I also love that this books makes science fun and gives students a foundation for following the scientific method.

Ground Hog Day and Dr. Seuss's Birthday!

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. In Pennsylvania it is a big deal as Punxsutawney Phil is awoken from his winter-slumber to three taps of the predisent of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's cane, ceremonously pulled out of his hollowed out stump, and paraded around Gobbler's Knob to the glare of television cameras. Who wouldn't see their shadow under those conditions (ha, ha). For the first time ever Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday are on the same day. Time will tell which will get the bigger play in the media tomorrow.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is already in Punxsutawney to report the big day! And while I get very excited about Groundhog Day it means we are just a month out from National Read Across America Day, Sunday March 2nd, also know as Dr. Seuss's Birthday! Which leads to the video I found this morning. Neil Gaiman reading Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham! Can't wait to share this favorite author with my upper elementary elementary students reading a clearly lower elementary book- Green Eggs and Ham!

It will be a fun Seuss's Birthday- too bad it's on a Sunday this year but my student's won't mind because it is also time for our Scholastic Bookfair! Nothing gets their hearts beating like a book fair for Dr. Seuss's birthday!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Robotic Snow Plow!

After the second snow day of the school year and the third time shoveling my driveway and getting plowed in again by the snow plow, I lamented on Plurk that iRobot should invent a Roomba type snow plow and low and behold one of my friends posted this video. Not exactly a Roomba but it gets the job done! Hope this is not something in the distant future because I would consider something like this right now! Can you tell I am getting tired of winter! Anyway, this got me to wondering which one of my students could invent something like this and what do I have to do to inspire those types of inventors? I hope my library is a research mecca for future inventors and I want to always make sure it is a welcoming place where students feel free and comfortable to come and get answers to their inquiries!
I also found out about National Robotics Week on the iRobot website. I had no idea I could get my students involved in something this cool. So, in an effort to encourage my students to be inventors I am planning to promote National Robotics Week and see what my students can do to make my snow plow robot reality! Some activities on the horion for the week of April 5-13, 2014 include a robotics lab open house at the University of Penn. Sounds like fun to me! Wonder how many of my students I can encourage to attend?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Neil Gaiman's New Blog Post

Neil Gaiman has not blogged much lately and while most of the time I am told don't apologize for not blogging when you do get around to it, he does apologize but his apology includes a catching up that inspired me to write my first blog post of 2014. Happy New Year! Find Neil's blogpost here. His new book Ocean at the End of the Lane  has been nominated for a National Book Award and is now available in the US. The audio version of the book won the Audiobook of the Year award. And then he sat down and interviews JJ Abrams about his new book S. While I love the concept of the book, it is a nightmare for librarians who need to make sure every person gets the same experience as the first reader of the book. How are we ever to keep track of all those bits and pieces? Enjoy the interview and if you have read S let me know what you think!