Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tech Tips of the Week from the JCHS Library

Collaboration: The Ultimate Hands On Professional Development

School librarians know that collaboration is an important if not vital role we play within the school learning environment.  However, a litany of factors can often cause collaboration to be sparse to nonexistent.  

Sarah Deringer, Head Editor, INALJ Mississippi points out in her article,

“Because of the many duties a school librarian has, collaboration with other teachers can be put off to the end of the list if not forgotten entirely.  Besides the time crunch, other factors can weigh in – cliques among teachers, lack of knowledge in collaboration, a undervaluing of the school librarian, and more.”

Sarah goes on to give some great tips that super busy librarians can use to encourage collaboration.

Sarah’s article is but one of many that address and readdress the topic of school librarians and collaboration.  

I propose looking at collaboration from a completely different point of view.  We all know the value derived from getting to visit other schools or to even just sit in the class of a colleague in your own school for a class period or two.  Observing and learning from others helps to make us better in our own educational fields.  

Let’s kick that up a notch and think about how our students learn best.  Do they learn better through passive observation or from active  engagement with peers to discuss, explore, learn, create and deliver what they have learned?  Yup. Hands on collaborative learning wins out every time.  So why are we not applying the same methods that work best for students to our professional learning as educators?

I propose that we look at collaboration as the ultimate professional development experience, not only collaboration with the school librarian but collaboration with other educators as well, whether in your school, your district, your state, nation, or around the world.  Through true educator collaboration great minds come together to formulate never before thought of lessons that ultimately enhance the student learning experience.  

This week I had the opportunity to work with and learn from four incredible colleagues.  On Monday Ms. Meleighsa McLaughlin brought her 9th and 10th grade English classes to the Harvard Room so that I could show them a few helpful tips and tricks for their upcoming research paper.  In Alabama we are fortunate to have the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) that supplies all Alabama students with access to a large variety of databases.  One thing the students like the most about the AVL is that the works cited information is already created for them to simply copy and paste to their research paper.  (Where was this when I was in school?!) Not all information students will use in their research papers will be accessed through the AVL so I also introduced students to the EasyBib Google Docs add on.  The students  absolutely LOVED this!  The last thing I showed to Ms. McLaughlin’s classes was the Goblin Threat Game.  This game was designed by the Snowden Library of Lycoming College.  It is a fun interactive game that teaches students about plagiarism and works cited.  

Wednesday is Story Time Day! YAY!  I look forward to Wednesdays every week.  This is the day that Ms. Shannon Humphrey  and Mr. G Watters bring their special education self contained students to the library!  This Wednesday we read the book, A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz.  This book is the true story of how Alan overcame stuttering and became know as  "the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation".  After reading the story we watched a video where Alan talks to the students about his journey and how it felt to have a disability.  While the kids love storytime their favorite part of coming to the library is the MakerSpace! The JCHS Library MakerSpace can be loud and overcrowded most days especially during Refuel Hour so Wednesdays a special day just for our storytime students.  I love that I have this opportunity to spend time working with such awesome students and their teachers.

Thursday I went to Ms. Leah McRae’s Biomed class to teach students how to make infographics using Canva for the data they are collecting on proteins.  We also explored Thingiverse so that students could create 3D models of their proteins in the JCHS Library MakerSpace 3D printer.  As I was getting ready to leave Ms. McRae’s class it occurred to me that we could make the projects even better by adding the element of augmented reality to them with Aurasma.  I am super excited about continuing to work with Ms. McRae and her students as they bring their projects to life.

Friday brought Ms. Laura Smith and her Career Prep students to the library to explore, discover, tinker, and create in the JCHS Library MakerSpace.  Believe it or not, many students in our school have yet to discover the changes that have taken place in the JCHS Library this year.  It was invigorating to get the opportunity to work with Ms. Smith’s students as they explored the robots, green screen, 3D printer and more.  I hope that more teachers will take some time to bring their students to discover the JCHS Library MakerSpace.  
If you have been inspired to collaborate why not get started with the Global Skype-a-Thon, December 3-4, 2015.  

“Amazingly Simple Graphic Design.” Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software – Canva. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“A Boy And a Jaguar | Alan Rabinowitz.” A Boy and a Jaguar | Alan Rabinowitz. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“Home.” Home. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“Inspire Collaboration: A Quick And Easy Guide for Super Busy School Librarians.” INALJ. N.p., 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“Methods And Tools for Information Literacy Assessment – a Collaborati...” Methods and tools for information literacy assessment – a collaborati... Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“Microsoft In Education Blog.” Join the Global Skype-a-Thon, December 3-4, 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>
“Plagiarism Game.” Lycoming College. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>

Friday, November 6, 2015

Library Displays: Do Yours Matter?

Earlier this month Jennifer LaGarde, aka Library Girl, wrote a timely blog post, Six Tips for Building Book Displays That Matter that made me take a second look at how I approach the book displays in the JCHS Library.  Out of the six tips Jennifer features it is tip number 5, Build Displays That Generate Meaningful Data, that will present the greatest challenge.  I'd love to see some examples of how others have achieved this type of data as related to displays.

After reading Jennifer's blog post I have since designed two new library displays.  The first is seasonal and will be taken down after Thanksgiving Break.  The title of this display is, What Are You Thankful For?.  Students and teachers can choose to either write what they are thankful for and why on a construction paper leaf and place it on the display wall in the JCHS Library OR they can add to this display virtually via a Padlet.

The other display created, READBox, is intended to stay up throughout the year. This display includes input from our Not Your Average Book Club members, other students, teachers, administration, parents and community members. We hope that our principal, Dr. Brian Clayton, our superintendent, Dr. Dee Fowler, Mayor Troy Trulock, school board members, city council members, parents and others will all contribute their top picks for students to enjoy.

To get feed back and book suggestions to add to the READBox display I created a Google Form and sent the link to the form out via a QR Code using

It will be exciting to watch this display grow and see how our students use it.

BTW: Students have already started checking out books from the display even though it just went up during the course of this week. It will mean so much to them to see their teachers and administrators names associated with books they have recommended!


OK Jennifer...I'm ready for your feedback! How have I done so far in meeting your 6 tips?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The School Library & SPED

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week in the JCHS Library.  Every Wednesday Ms. Humphrey brings her students to the library for story time, to check out books and to explore, tinker, discover & create in our MakerSpace.

Story time is all kinds of fun! To accommodate the visual needs of some students in Ms. Humphrey's class I take pictures of the book pages and turn the book into a Google Slide presentation.  We use the Harvard Room with it's three large projection screens to read the story.  Some days we will also do arts & crafts activities associated with our story time book.

My favorite books for story time so far this year are The Man Who Walked Between Two Towers and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The Man Who Walked Between Two Towers was so much fun to read because it was based on a true story and had just been made into a movie.  After reading the book I showed the students the movie trailer.  Everyone was enthralled...even those students that normally find story time to "baby" for them.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was a beautiful story based on an Academy Award winning Best Animated Short Film.  After reading the story we watched the animated short film on which the book was based, but the best part of the book was that it is an augmented reality book! I downloaded the app to my iPhone and then attached my phone to the system in the Harvard Room so students could see the pages of the book come to life on the three giant projection screens.  It was SO COOL!

This week we read Interrupting Chicken.  The kids thought it was so funny how Little Red Chicken kept interrupting the stories her Papa was reading to her.  Each student made their own Interrupting Chicken to take home with them.

My 4th Block student aide, Jonathan, always helps with story time....even getting into character!  Below is a picture of Jonathan as the main character in the book, Baghead.