Saturday, February 24, 2018

Empowering Student Voice and Choice in the Library

Pictured above is how I use ClassroomScreen to keep kids on track with directions and how much time they have left to complete their learning goal.

My first school year in Texas and back in Elementary School after 12+ years at the high school level is more than half way over! It has been a fun yet challenging adventure. I started off the school year using a center rotation system so that I could work with smaller groups of students to teach a wide variety of skills. You can read more about how I run centers in an Elementary School library HERE.
Now that this routine has been established and the majority of "basic" skills I wanted students in grades 3-5 to master have been achieved it is time to switch things up to empower even more student voice and choice while also continuing to teach technology skills, digital citizenship, support the curriculum, and more.

While students K-2 will continue learning in center rotations, 3-5 students have begun their first steps towards creating digital portfolios. I have been presenting about digital portfolios for at least seven years after having discovered Dr. Helen Barrett's Electronic Portfolios website.

Then I was fortunate enough to work my last two years before retiring from Alabama in the Madison City School District with visionary and digital portfolio advocate, Daniel Whitt.  Daniel has successfully implemented digital portfolios for students 3-12 with the help of school librarians and others.  In fact, librarians & teachers Missy KingSara Baragona, and Ashley Strode are presenting at ISTE 2018 on Monday, June 25, at 9:00–10:00 am to share what Madison City Schools has been able to accomplish with their digital portfolio initiative.  You can access Daniel's digital portfolio files any time HERE.

Before jumping right into building our digital portfolio websites (we are using Google Sites) I wanted to give my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students a chance to reflect on themselves since their digital portfolio home page is their "introduction" to the world.  While I would encourage high school students to write an About Me introduction (example: Sean Neal) I felt that the age group I was working with could better express themselves through an "All About Me" assignment.  Rather than simply printing out the All About Me worksheet I found online, I created my own All About Me in Google Drawings.  Then I pushed this out to students using Google Classroom so that each student had their own copy to work on.  This way I wasn't only letting them reflect in preparation for their digital portfolio home page, I was also teaching kids how to use Google Drawing.  Since I would be out of town during this time I used YouTube Live to record my lesson for my substitute to play.

So far so good! I've been really pleased with the creativity students are showing in completing this task.  Take a look at this one done by a 3rd grader!

One motivator for students to work diligently on the tasks we will do while building or digital portfolios is the ability to have "free" time after successfully completing each task or goal.  "Free" time includes access to makerspace activities like our BB8 robot, games, LEGOs, arts & crafts, Bloxels, VR and AR, Merge Cube, OSMO, coding activities, working on homework, reading, relaxing and listening to music, socializing, etc.  In other words, as long as students are doing something school/library appropriate once they have completed their task they have the rest of their classroom time to do what they choose to do.

The reaction from kids has been extremely positive and it feels good to see the kids so excited about this change.  I also love that as we build our digital portfolios it will be something teachers can start using in their classrooms and with parents during parent/teacher conferences to highlight student accomplishments.

Be sure to follow the Winkley Library on social media to stay up to date with this new adventure!

ISTE Librarians Network Playground Sign Up Now OPEN!

ISTE Librarians Network Playground is happening on Monday, June 25, 8:00–11:30 am CDT.

This playground, hosted by ISTE's Librarians Network, is an opportunity to connect with school librarians and educators as they share their favorite tools and resources. Visitors will learn about innovative technologies and resources that support development of information literacy skills, research and information fluency, as well as creativity and innovation.

We will also have 9 total tables and two large screen presentation areas with 2-3 tables designated for vendors who would like to demonstrate how their products enhance libraries. FYI -  You will not be allowed to sell your products at the playground. If you would like to participate please fill out the form below.

Friday, February 2, 2018

World Read Aloud Day (Week) 2018

On Monday, January 29th the Winkley Library joined thousands of other students all across the world to bring attention to the importance of reading and writing by observing World Read Aloud Day by connecting with other schools across the United States to read and share our love of reading with each other.

For the past few years Shannon Miller and Andy Plemmons have teamed up to encourage educators to observe World Read Aloud Day and provide a way for educators to find each other to make connections using Skype and/or Google Hangouts.

This year was my first year to ever observe World Read Aloud Day as an Elementary School librarian.  Being on a fixed library schedule as part of the Specials rotation, finding coordinating times across varied time zones to connect with other libraries and/or classrooms proved to be a daunting task but with perseverance we were able to connect the majority of our library classes! YAY!

Our first connection was with Ms. Hincks' 2nd grade students from Bloomfield Hill, MI. We read Windows by Julia Draw.  I love that our students also had time share a "Window To Their World" by talking and sharing with each other after the book was read.

Our next connection was with Ms. Walterich's 2nd graders from Buffalo, NY.  kicked off our week long journey of introducing R. J. Palacio's book, We're All Wonders to many of our Winkley Elementary students.  

Then Sherron Gaughan's 5th graders from Minnesota blew us away with a spirited reading of 
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt. We absolutely loved the expressions they put into each characters voice!

The week continued on with many wonderful connections. I was thrilled to connect with my friend, April Wathen, and her amazing students as we partner read, We're All Wonders.

Then Angie Dickerson's 7th graders connected with our 5th graders to read We're All Wonders.  I was blown away by her students and our kids really enjoyed listening to the kids reading rather than the adults.  Ms. Dickerson's students also shared that they had read the dedication page in the book and had researched Nathaniel Newman. During their research they discovered a 20/20 story about Nathaniel on whom the book "Wonder" is based.  After talking with Ms. Dickerson's 7th graders our kids also checked out the great 20/20 story to learn more about the boy behind the story.

We wrapped up the week with Mary Hundt from Wisconsin, Sarah Gobe from Maryland, and with the incredible Sherron Gaughan again.

Did you miss connecting for World Read Aloud Day this year?  Mark your calendars for next year and then in the meantime let go of whatever has been holding you back and get connected for Read Across America Day coming up March 2nd!  Shannon Miller has compiled some great resources for Read Across America Day here: