Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Genre Dating Game Comes To The JCHS Library!

Created by Rebecca, Nebraska Public Librarian

Last year I stumbled across The Genre Dating Game, created and shared by the incredible Rebecca, a Nebraska Public Librarian.  I immediately pinned it to my school librarian Pinterest Board

This year turned out to be the PERFECT year to bring this idea to life as the JCHS Library ditched Dewey in favor of a genrefied collection.  Getting this February reading promotion off the ground was a group effort.  Rebecca had only used three genres in her dating game example.  We wanted a larger variety of genres to showcase our collection so, Ms. Kim Johnson, my amazing library aide and new best friend, worked with our student aides to create Bachelor/Bachelorette tag lines for eight of our genres.

We used Rebecca's game rules but decided that students would roll an 8 sided die made in our 3D Printer to determine which genre they would go on a date with.  

The next step was determining how we would set up our display.  We decided to pull five books from each of the eight genres that we knew were great reads.  We set these up in the entrance of the JCHS Library.  We also used our Cricut to create signage and decorations.  

We also decided that students should write a simple one or two sentence review about how their date with the book went.

To motivate students to participate we bought conversation heart candies and boxes of heart shaped chocolates from the Dollar Tree.  When a student plays the Genre Dating Game and checks out a book they get a box of conversation hearts.  When they return the book and write a review of their how their date went they get a heart shaped box chocolates.

Our plan was to kick off the game on Monday, February 1, 2016..... but the kids were so excited when they walked into the library Friday morning we just couldn't say no.  Before the first bell rang to start school we had five students hooked up with a date for the weekend. By the end of the day we had a total of 25 dates arranged! Below are just a few of our happy couples!

I'm looking forward to Monday and to date reviews! Be sure to follow us on SnapChat to see this and all of our other shenanigans in the JCHS Library!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Letting Students SHINE!

The thing that brings me the most happiness in my job are the kids.  Everyday I discover new things about students as they come in and out of the library and am consistently amazed by their talents and creativity.  

The JCHS Library MakerSpace is where I get to witness the blossoming of student brains and individual personalities without the constraints of curricular expectations, deadlines or grades.  It is a place where every kids SHINES in their own way.  

Recently I discovered that one student has been coming in the JCHS Library MakerSpace to compose music on the site, AudioTool.  Below is one of his most recent creations:

Today, another student showed me a poem he wrote that he said was triggered by all the cool things we have this year in the JCHS Library MakerSpace.  Read his original piece below:

The World Would be a Better Place if
We had Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR) Technology

A means of reaching out and feeling
a world beyond our reality.
if you could create virtual matter.

Touch it.
Feel it.
It’s not really there.
A disk,
smart device,
headset and
make your imagination
appear out of thin air.

Your kids could play ball indoors and
nothing gets broken.
Adults shoot guns in the living room
without a single hole in the wall.

You can
bend it
stretch it
squeeze it
hit it but
it doesn’t exist at all.

It’s your imagination
come to life.
Pick it up
and hold it.
holding and manipulating
a design before it has been built.
Applying microgravity is easy with this ability.  

After a quick conversation
Queen Elizabeth II could give you a kiss.
More revolutionary
than pen and paper,  
because you manufacture virtual paper
totally green.
Fight a war,
no one dies.
Any firearm can be shot,
any vehicle driven.
Insert yourself in your video games
until someone boxes your ears.
Play a card game with a friend across town.
As far as you can tell
your opponent is right in front of you.

Bestow a boy
With a bottomless bucket of Legos.
Place a pick-up order at a store
as if you were standing at the counter.  
This is an awesome tool.
Say otherwise and you are a fool.

With AVR nothing is impossible.
With AVR everything is possible.
And it’s likely to be here
in just a few years.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The NEW Google Hangouts On Air "How To" Guide

I absolutely LOVE using Google Hangouts on Air to make learning rewindable for students as well as connecting my students with experts and to bring authentic real world learning opportunities into the classroom.

Google recently separated Google Hangouts from its Google+ content and I had to rediscover all over again how to get my hangouts on air to work.  So that you don't have to flounder like I did, I have created a slide show (below) that will walk you through the steps to a successful Google Hangout on Air.

Need some ideas on how  you could use Google Hangouts on Air in your school?  See the slide show below for some suggestions!

Want to connect, share, learn & grow with other classes using Google Hangouts on Air?  Use the hashtag #gho4edu on social media and add your event to the Google Form on the Google Hangouts for Education website OR sign up below!

Use this link to find other events and classes to connect with:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Can Virtual Reality Be a Reality in Schools?

On December 31, 2015 I had the honor of being on the panel for the "2015 EdTech Year in Review" Google Hangout/Podcast with the amazing Dr. Wesley Fryer, Jason Neiffer,  and Dr. Eric Langhorst. We discussed a broad array of edtech topics during the hour and twenty minute broadcast, including Google Cardboard, virtual reality, and its viability in the school setting beyond just a cool gadget in the makerspace.

As Google Cardboard and other virtual reality devices currently stand I feel the ability for schools to embrace and fully utilize this technology is weak for two main reasons; funding and education related content.

Funding, funding, funding.  Schools have extremely limited resources. Many schools that jumped on the iPad bandwagon are now finding themselves needing to replace all of the iPads previously purchased as newer technologies simply will not work with the older iPad versions.  I ran into this issue when setting up the JCHS Library MakerSpace this year, mistakenly thinking I could use the existing school iPads for our robots.  Additionally, computer labs/computer carts are all on rotating cycles for upgrades.  While Google Cardboard itself is relatively cheap (depending on the version purchased) with some units as low as $6, the expense comes in to play with the device needed to access the virtual reality apps.  

SIDE NOTE: Google Cardboard is cheap ($6) because it is CARDBOARD.  After a week of use in the JCHS Library MakerSpace my cardboard was falling to pieces, not to mention the inability to wipe greasy forehead marks off the cardboard.  I "solved" this "problem" using decorative duct tape from our arts and crafts area and have been pleased with the results.   
Just a few days ago I learned about Virtual Reality Goggles that are basically Google Cardboard without the cardboard.  Of course I had to buy a pair and will most likely add one or two to our makerspace.

Google Cardboard needs a smartphone to work.  I simply can't see schools investing in smartphones, even a class set of 30, for Google Cardboard.  Perhaps a dedicated teacher in a high school BYOD school, willing to forge a new educational frontier could corral their students to all download virtual reality apps to their devices for a class lesson, but this will not work for most teachers...or students.

First, BYOD doesn't ensure that the device each student has is a smartphone. It could be a tablet or laptop.  Second, the majority of elementary and middle school students (from my personal experience) don't have personal smartphones that they carry with them to school.  Third, parents, even of my high school kids, have put parental restrictions on their children's smartphones to prevent downloading apps without their permission.  Fourth, students often do not have space on their smartphones to download the virtual reality apps and do not want to delete their music, photos, and videos to make room for the necessary apps.  Lastly, school wifi stinks when it comes to downloading apps.  Just image a whole class trying to download a virtual reality app all at the same time using your school wifi.... UGH!

Educational content.  Google is working on the educational content forefront with their Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.  If chosen, your school will receive “kits” containing everything a teacher needs to run a virtual trip for their class:ASUS smartphones, a tablet for the teacher to direct the tour, a router that allows Expeditions to run without an Internet connection, and Google Cardboard viewers or Mattel View-Masters that turn phones into virtual reality headsets.  

Starr Sackstein, a teacher at the World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, NY, was one of the the few lucky classes to be chosen to pilot a Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.  She wrote detailed blog post for Education Week about using Google Expeditions with her students.  Touted mostly as a cost effective alternative to field trips, Ms. Sackstein also shares other possible educational uses for Google Cardboard:
  • Science classes can now explore the world around them in 360 degree panoramas. Teachers can talk students through space and other points of interest to deepen understanding of classroom learning. From underwater, to high into the air, there are many options.
  • Travel is also possible in expedition. So if we want students to see the world of the texts or history we are studying, they can walk through the places we speak of. Imagine being able to actually transport students to literary London during a class period and talk about the specific sites that Dickens and other English authors discuss.
  • Historical events come to life as well as students can explore different aspects of the many wars throughout history.
  • For journalism the possibilities are limitless. This technology will give reporters the opportunity to amp up their stories by bringing readers to the actual location they are writing about. The New York Times capitalized on this recently, giving away the cardboard viewer to experience one of their stories. There is an app associated with it, where readers are now viewers of news adding another sense to the learning experience.
All of this sounds really great, but after the Pioneer Program ends how will Google offer schools the Google Expeditions "kit"?  Will they give it away or offer something "affordable" for the average school?  This remains to be seen.

I'm not quite willing to say yet that Google Cardboard will go the way of Google Glass.  I would love to see our BioMed students explore its uses.  Just last week Dr. Redmond Burke used Google Cardboard to virtual practice an extremely delicate heart surgery, ultimately saving a life.

I am also in love with Vrse, the New York Times virtual reality app that brings news stories to life. The applications for current event classes is obvious.

This is a technology I will keep my eye on.

Cross your fingers that my request to be part of the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will come through this year!  James Clemens High School is ready to run with this program!

*YouTube also offers 360 videos to be viewed with Google Cardboard.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Secret in the Library....Shhh...It's a 3D Printer!

Word of the 3D Printer in the JCHS Library MakerSpace is still getting out, but for those who have discovered it, cool creations have come to life!

We have printed Darth Vader rings, Deathly Hallows necklaces and earrings, cork pals, bookmarks and cell phone cases & more.  

Students who are "in the know" printed gifts for family members for just 20¢ per gram!  One student created a Barbie purse with his sister's initial on the front using the 3D printer.  I wasn't sure how to change the initial on the purse from the one that was on the sample so I reached out to the amazing Dr. Anna Wan (Columbus State University, GA) for assistance.  Via Google Hangout, Dr. Wan walked me through how to use TinkerCad to modify existing 3D models or build my own from scratch! Ms. Johnson and our 1st Block student aides added some bling to the purse using items from the MakerSpace Arts & Crafts area. 

Dr. Anna Wan & me!

Barbie purse with BLING!

Teachers have even gotten in on the fun of the JCHS Library 3D Printer.  Ms. McRae's BioMed students have been working on an extensive project researching protein and studying their effect on various diseases & disabilities.  To bring their project and data to life, students learned how to use Canva to create infographics for data representation and used the 3D printer to print models of the proteins they were researching.  A final level of technology is yet to be added but will use the Aurasma app to add the element of augmented reality to student's final projects.

Ms. McRae with a protein model


There have been a few glitches in the learning process but using sites like Thingiverse, TinkerCad and Morphi as well as picking the brains of my PLN friends who have forged ahead with 3D Printing the learning curve has been relatively painless.

Of course there was the tragic Cork-a-saurus incident.... but let's not discuss that here...

Here is how we operate and charge for 3D Printing:

Round And Round We Go!

The TL News Night Team is embracing 2016 with a new show format, inspired by Wesley Fryer, Ph.D. and his 2015 EdTech Year in Review Google Hangout. Wesley got the idea from @clockwisepod.

To inspire more of an atmosphere of conversation we will begin employing a "round table" method of discussion during the show.  Our special guests each month will get to determine the topic of conversation but each "on air" personality will get to pose at least one question/statement related to the topic.  Once the question/statement has been proposed each panelist will get a few minutes to respond to the prompt with the person initiating the question/statement having the last word.  This will continue throughout the hour until all panelists have had an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

To kick this up a notch and to provide our audience with the opportunity to "step up to the mic" we will have a special Audience Participation Show on Monday, April 18, 2016 at 8 pm ET.  Using the Google Form below, submit a topic/question/statement you would like to throw out to our panelists.
When your topic/question/statement is up to be discussed YOU will join the panel LIVE on air! 

Don't worry about needing to have a slide show or a full blown presentation. Don't even worry about not knowing how to use a Google Hangout.  We will take care of getting you prepared for your 5-10 minutes on air!

Make your New Years Resolution NOW to step out of your comfort zone and step up to the mic!