Make Your Mark for Dot Day 2016…Let the Planning Begin

One of our favorite times of the year is Dot Day and September 15 will be here before we know it!  It’s a day to celebrate connecting, collaborating, and creating and seeing where our creativity takes us. Can you believe that it’s less than 2 months away?

Now is the time to start brainstorming ideas for celebrating creativity and supporting your students in making their mark in the world. You can read all about this special day and sign up here.  There is a wonderful educator’s handbook that you will receive as part of the registration.

Then head over to the Get Involved…Making a Mark page to be inspired to Read, Create, Learn and Visit on Dot Day too.

There are tons of ideas on Shannon McClintock Miller’s International Dot Day Pinterest Board

In our own library, we’ve enjoyed reading lots of stories related to dots and creativity as well as connecting Dot Day to core subject areas.

Check out these examples:

  • After reading the book, Going Places, with Sherry Gick’s students in Indiana, two of our students made their mark by teaching Sherry’s students how to create a beading craft from our makerspace

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  • We’ve enjoyed countless storytimes with classes around the globe reading dot-related stories and stories of creativity including Ish, The Dot, Press Here, Mix It Up, Let’s Play, Rose’s Garden, Little Elliot Big City, and more.

For the last several years, hundreds of us have used our Google Doc as a place to make and plan lots of special connections on September 15 and throughout the week of Dot Day. When we put our minds together, we come up with amazing new ways to celebrate the day with our students.

You can add your schedule, connect with others, and start making your mark with others around the world. Check out the doc here: http://bit.ly/dotday2016 

Please include your information including name, location, grade level and subject, Twitter handle and whatever else you’d like to share.  As you start planning, add your schedule and ideas.  Others can then look at your profile and connect if they’d like to on the Google Document with you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask.

Let’s Make Our Mark on the World! Happy Connecting!

Many thanks to Shannon McClintock Miller for co-writing this post.

 

 

Wishes and Plans: Exploring Life Challenges Through Books

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Somehow, I’ve managed to read three books recently that all feature a main character grappling with the challenge of having an absent parent. I didn’t choose these books because of this fact, but reading about someone’s life challenges that are so different from my own has made me a better person. In his recent Newbery speech, Matt de la Pena referenced an encounter with a librarian where she said that she loved his books but didn’t stock them in her library because she didn’t have those kinds of kids at her school. Those kinds of thoughts make me cringe because books allow us to escape to magical worlds and do things we could only dream of doing and they can also allow us to step into someone else’s shoes for just a moment to get a brief perspective on the world through someone else’s eyes. While it can’t make you an expert on the struggle that the character is going through, it does allow you to see that we all face challenges and struggles and we don’t always wear those troubles on the outside for everyone to see.

One of these books is Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, which I already mentioned on the blog. Two of these books that I read are upcoming releases from Farrar Straus Giroux. Barbara O’Connor’s Wish comes out in late August.   It features an 11-year old girl named Charlie whose mother is having trouble keeping her life in order and whose father is in jail. She goes to live with her aunt and uncle in a small town. Every day of her life since fourth grade she makes the exact same wish and wonders if it will ever come true. Charlie’s list of ways to make a wish is pretty impressive, and I can’t help but wonder how many ways there are to make a wish after reading this book. What did Barbara O’Connor discover that she didn’t even include in the book? While Charlie is with her aunt and uncle, she meets a stray dog who she names Wishbone. Along with her new friend Howard, they craft a plan to catch Wishbone so Charlie can have a pet of her own.

Woven into this tale of longing for a pet is Charlie’s struggle with finding a place she belongs and her desire to have a mother and father who care enough about her to give her a stable home filled with love. That struggle affects how Charlie interacts with those around her. She lashes out at anyone who ruffles her feathers, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I would act if faced with a similar situation. I can’t say that I blame her for writing mean things to her teacher, giving kids a shove, or insulting her aunt.  What I was struck with the most was how her Aunt Bertha handled every incident of acting out. She offered nothing but love and understanding. I must admit that my own reaction might be to jump at the negativity with a punishment, but Bertha just offered a heap of love.  One of the quotes that still stands out to me after reading wish is:

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own drama and challenges that we lose sight of what others are going through. Instead of being quick to judge or react, I want to slow down and remember that love is a powerful gift.  Barbara O’Connor has once again masterfully written a southern tale that can speak to us all.

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In Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness coming in October, Gertie deals with an absent parent as well. However, this parent lives in the same town and still doesn’t have any interaction with her.  How would that feel to know that your mom lived just a few streets away yet had no interest in seeing you or talking to you? It’s certainly very far away from my own experience of having a mom and dad who are always there for me, wanting to know where I am at every second, and still want to talk to me every single day on the phone. Gertie is a firecracker of a girl. She takes matters into her own hands and makes a plan to be the best 5th grader in the entire universe. Gertie wrestles with her absent parent in a different way than Charlie does. She thinks that if she does enough then her mom will notice and want to be a part of her life or realize that Gertie is so awesome that she doesn’t need a mother anyway. Gertie has something standing in her way: a new girl named Mary Sue. Both of them have what it takes to be standout students, but their battle for the top results in even more struggles for Gertie to deal with.

Gertie is a character that I just want to hang out with. She is full of wit and adventure and can take just about any situation and make the best out of it. She does all of this even with a gloomy situation hanging over her. I think about my role in education and how a student like Gertie might slide by unnoticed as having a challenge to deal with. She isn’t one to reach out for help because she thinks she has to handle it all herself. How do I recognize those students? What opportunities can I give to students that allows them to shine and be the star that they are?  I love how even the stern Mrs. Stebbins recognized the potential in Gertie and gave her a moment to shine.

I highly recommend all three of the books mentioned in this post. Check them out at your local independent bookshop or library and add them to your collection.

Morning message #summerreading #literacy #librarian #thatsmycar

A photo posted by Andy Plemmons (@andy.plemmons) on

I love to read books that I connect to, but I also love to read books that challenge my thinking and open my eyes to new cultures, perspectives, or challenges that are different from my own experience. I hope that I’ll keep finding books in my path that enrich my life in this way. As I’m looking toward the new school year, I am thinking about goals and what I hope for the students and families in our library. Right now, I hope that we can all step into the shoes of characters that we connect with but more importantly step into the shoes of characters that give us new perspectives to learn from and enrich our lives. I want to work as hard as I can to offer a collection of books to our readers that gives the opportunity to do this.

 

Kids Can Code with Osmo Coding

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We love using Osmo in our library for makerspace opportunities, centers, and lessons with multiple grades. We’ve had Osmo since it first came out. If you aren’t familiar, Osmo is an attachment for iPad that comes with a base and a mirror that attaches over the camera. There are 5 apps that are used with Osmo. Tangrams allows users to build figures with real tangrams that are recognized on the iPad app through the mirror attachment. Numbers allows users to use both numerals and dots to create different combinations that equal a set number. Masterpiece allows users to draw on paper outside the screen by following tracing lines on the screen. Words allows users to look at a picture and spell a word with letter tiles based on the image. Finally, Newton allows users to create angles to make falling balls bounce and hit a target.

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Recently, they released their coding set.

It’s summer for us, so I haven’t had a chance to use the set with a class of students. However, I was able to hand the set to my 6 year old daughter to see how well she could use it straight out of the box. It didn’t take her long at all to figure out how to snap the various coding pieces together in order to get Awbie, the strawberry-eating monster, to find his strawberries and earn seeds to plant.  Osmo coding has several built in tutorials in the beginning to show users which pieces to put together and as the game progresses, there are signs in the game that show how to add together more complex code. One thing I love is that there isn’t just one right answer. Kids can snap together small or large amounts of code to see what happens without being penalized. They can safely advance the character one space at a time or experiment with making Awbie move multiple spaces by snapping on a number.

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After a few sessions of using Osmo coding, Alora decided to make a quick video to show off the pieces and how they work.

I will say that Osmo Coding has some glitches to work out. Sometimes when you press the run button, Awbie does not do what you have in front of him. Sometimes he’ll only move one space even though you have multiple commands lined up. Other times, you press the run button multiple times and he doesn’t respond at all. However, even with these glitches that I’m sure will be worked out in future updates, the game is engaging and easy to use. It’s a tangible way to introduce block coding to our youngest learners, as well as older learners too, and build up to online coding in other block coding programs.

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I can’t wait to get more sets of coding and explore block coding with our earliest grades in the fall.

Osmo can be purchase at https://www.playosmo.com/en/ with prices ranging from $75-$145 per set.

West Georgia RESA Summer Camp for Library Media Specialists

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It’s summer. Educators have the summer off, right? While on paper it may seem that educators have two months off, most of us continue to develop our professional lives and dream and plan for the upcoming school year. I’m excited to join media specialists from around Georgia and neighboring states at West Georgia RESA on June 20 from 8:30-3:30 for a summer camp for media specialists.  I’m so thankful to West Georgia RESA for providing this opportunity to librarians around the state who often don’t have professional learning targeted directly at them. Registration is still open and costs $65 for RESA members and $85 for non-members.

What will we do together? Here’s a look at our approximate schedule for the day.

8:30-9:30 Opening presentation/Q&A Empowering Student Voice.  We will set the stage for what it means to empower the voices of our students as well as think beyond the walls of our own schools.

9:30-9:45Break

9:45-11:00 Tools for collaborating, crowdsourcing and sharing. Disruptus game. sharing tools crowdsourced by us all and thinking about how to disrupt their uses.  There are so many amazing tools out there, but we will use this time to think about tools that will allow us to crowdsource information and collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously to create classrooms that are part of a global community.

11:00-11:30 Harness social media and develop your own PLN.  We’ll answer any questions about social media and look at how social media allows us to show our work, connect to opportunities, and empower all the voices in our library community.

11:30-12:30 Lunch

12:30-2:00 Makerspace Exploration. Hands-on exploration and a look at my own makerspace, how it’s funded, and how it functions

2:00-2:15 Break

2:15-3:15 Goals that Matter. Time to talk about goals and set some short and long-term goals

3:15 Final Q&A

We will of course be flexible and take into consideration the needs and requests of the group as we spend time together. Join us in Grantville, GA and bring your wisdom to share with the room. See you there!

Starting the Genrefication Process: Ditching Dewey

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I have a confession to make. I’ve wanted to organize our library by genre for a really long time, but I honestly had no idea how I would find the time to do it. I don’t have an assistant in the library and I have about 1-2 volunteers for an hour each day. I teach tons of classes, collaborate with teachers, lead professional learning….the list goes on and on. However, because I’m doing all of these things, I watch students come into the library, find a book on the computer, and then have no idea where to get it because they don’t know how to use the Dewey system.  Sure, I could spend hours teaching them how the secret code of the Dewey decimal system works, but when I’m trying to also teach the standards of every grade level, it’s hard to figure out how learning the Dewey Decimal system fits in. I’ve watched numerous of my inspiring professional learning network genrefy their collections: Tiffany Whitehead, Shannon Thompson, Sherry Gick, Donna MacDonald, Nikki Robertson,…  I’ve sat in Jennifer LaGarde’s Zombie Librarian keynote numerous times and slouched down in my seat when she got to the part about how kids shouldn’t have to have a secret code to use the library. Every time I heard her, I knew reorganizing was what was best for students but I just didn’t know how to pull it off.

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At the end of this school year, I decided that next year, I’m going to put a bigger emphasis on reading than I have the past few years. A big part of this is to get kids reading the kinds of books they want to read and helping them find those books quickly in the library. Most students come to the library and ask for sports books, scary books, princess books, superhero books, graphic novels,…..all genres. I’m at the point where I’ve attended enough sessions, read enough blogs, and listened to enough podcasts that I just have to jump in and start.

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During my end of year evaluation, I told my principal what I was thinking about reorganizing the library, and I was so relieved to hear her say that it was exciting and she was all for it. She even told me she would support me in figuring out how to make it happen whether it’s delaying the opening of checkout at the beginning of the year or even having some workers help me in the evenings, weekends, or summer. I originally thought I would wait until the new school year, but every moment I had some time during post-planning, I couldn’t help myself. I jumped in.

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First, I decided to begin in the fiction section, which I’ve heard is the easiest section to start in. Based on my own observations and what I’ve read on other blogs, I decided on the categories of:

  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • historical fiction
  • sports
  • humor
  • realistic fiction
  • scary
  • adventure
  • science fiction

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I put a sign on the top of each bookshelf for these genres and started pulling off a book at a time. I used multiple sources to help me decide on which genre to put them in:

  • The book summary
  • My own knowledge of the book
  • The Library of Congress subjects in the front of the book
  • Novelist K-8 in our Galileo database

Novelist k-8 is awesome for choosing genres. #organization #ditchdewey #librariesofinstagram

A photo posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Of course, there were books that fit into more than one category, so for those, I just picked a category. I believe it was Tiffany Whitehead who said that you should just think about what kind of reader would most likely choose that kind of book and let that guide the final category.

Only 4 carts left to sort before summer begins. #ditchdewey #reorganizing #librariesofinstagram #tlchat

A photo posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

When I was stuck on a book and had no idea where to put it, I put it aside in a separate stack to come back to later.  Those books might become another genre or they might vaguely fit into one of the genres I already had.

Fiction is sorted by genre and ready for the next step. #librariesofinstagram #reorganizing #ditchdewey

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I worked on the fiction section just a little bit on day 1 and 2 of post planning, but day 3 was completely devoted to this project.  I worked for about 5 hours on the final day to sort the books and push myself to get to the end.

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There were moments where I thought that I had made a big mistake, but the more I pushed on, the more I felt like I was doing the right thing.

Once all the books were sorted, I put them back onto the shelves by genre and labeled the carts because there are a few more steps to go. This will include scanning books into sublocations and adding a genre sticker to the spines.

Sorted and put away #reorganizing #librariesofinstagram #ditchdewey #tired

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I did weed the collection before I started, but touching every single book made me realize a few more needed to be weeded. Once books were sorted, I also could easily see which genres we had lots of books in and which we needed more. One of the obvious ones was sports. We have so many students who ask for sports books. We have a lot of nonfiction, but this made me realize how few sports fiction books we have.

If you are thinking about doing a project like this, definitely do your homework, but at some point, you just have to dive in. I’m thankful to all of the librarians who have done this before and left behind such careful instructions of what they did!

Gaming and Math with Xbox

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I’ll admit that it has been awhile since I’ve used the Xbox in the library.  When you are juggling so many things, it’s hard to keep everything up in the air at the same time. I was so excited when one of our resource teachers emailed me recently to ask if I could do an Xbox lesson with her class. She had heard that we could weave some math into our gaming time, but she wasn’t sure what to do. The request also came from her students, which I loved. We put a time on the calendar and she brought her group of 7 students to the library for some gaming fun.

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For this lesson, I chose to use the Kinect Sports game and put it in “party mode”. This mode allows you to split a group into two teams. Each team chooses a mascot and players take turns competing in six rounds. I really liked this mode because it gave a very dependable structure for taking turns. It alternated between the red team and blue team and students kept track of the lineup within their own team and consistently rotated through that same lineup. The Xbox chose which game would be played in each round.

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We didn’t do math every time a student came up to play, but we did pause throughout the game to do some mental math as well as work out more challenging problems on paper. The team scores increased by hundreds and fifties so it was easy to do a mental comparison of how many more points one team had than another. We did this in between rounds.

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For the discus game, it measured distance in meters. We took the two distances and saw how many more feet one student threw the discus than another. This was a perfect tie in to what students are currently working on in math because it gave them practice adding or subtracting decimals as well as reading decimals with tenths and hundredths.

In bowling, sometimes we did a comparison of the two totals of pins knocked down and other times we had students see how many pins both teams knocked down together. This gave them some practice with 2-digit addition.

Each student used his or her own strategy to solve the problem. The teacher and I walked around and checked in with students while they worked, and I muted the screen so that the game was paused and not distracting them. If students reached a frustration point with the math, I started writing beginning steps onto the board to nudge them forward.

More math and Xbox in the library #librariesofinstagram #math #videogame #gamification

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Since this was the group’s first time trying this out, I didn’t want to push too much math at once, so we were careful to balance play with work time. There’s certainly many more math problems that could be done using the scores, distances, and times in a game.

There was also a lot of other things going on during this time that I was reminded of. First, I was reminded of the amount of energy that is released during gaming. With the Kinect, students are actively jumping, kicking, running, and swinging throughout their turn. Even the students who aren’t playing are being active because they are jumping up and down in the background to cheer on their teammates.

So much fun doing some xbox math today with @fourthgradebarrow #game #math #videogame #xbox #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I was also reminded of how much cooperation it takes to pull off this type of gaming.  Students had to take turns, deal with messing up on their turn, handle “losing”, and working through frustrations. We talked about these things before we played, but we saw the students really working through all of these potentially frustrating parts of gaming. It’s interesting to see students handle stress in gaming differently than they might handle stress in another environment or situation. It caused me to really ponder how we can make those connections or create similar environments in the situations where students have more difficulty responding to stress. I, of course, don’t have any answers at the moment, but I’m thinking.

I told these students that I hoped they would spread the news of their gaming experience back to their classrooms so that other teachers might try this with their class. I definitely need to throw the gaming ball back into the air and nudge classes to try this again next year.

 

Making Something New: A Makerspace Activity

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Recently, the Children’s Theatre Troup directed by Kelsey Brown presented “Another Kid’s Treasure Island” at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. This play also featured a makerspace activity for attendees to use a variety of objects to make something new.

Gretchen Thomas and her UGA students helped pack hundreds of plastic coconuts with craft supplies to support the play, but several coconuts were left over. Our makerspace was fortunate enough to acquire these leftover coconuts for students to explore.

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This week, we’ve been reading The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. I love the message that this book shares about perseverance and creativity. The character in the book tries multiple ways to make the thing she has in her head, but she just can’t get it quite right. At first, she easily starts over, but as time goes on, she gets pretty frustrated. However, even then, she goes on a walk to clear her mind. While reading the story, we paused along the way to setup some steps for “making”.

  • Have an initial plan after you gather your supplies
  • Try to make something
  • Take a look at what you’ve made and try again if needed
  • If something isn’t working, try to do it in a different way
  • If you start to feel frustrated, take a break or a walk, and come back
  • Don’t quit

We could keep adding to this list, but those were the basic principles we followed.

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I showed students one of the plastic coconuts filled with supplies and told them that their goal was to take the materials and make something new. We talked about how the girl in the story made something she could actually use, so they certainly could try to make something like a piece of jewelry, a hat, a container for rocks, or whatever else they wanted.

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I also put out some scissors, glue, crayons, and markers. Then, students got to work. Each student had a different strategy for how to work. Some got very frustrated and did indeed take a walk around the library. Some students collaborated with people at their table or traded supplies with a friend.  It was loud and messy, but I heard things from students like:

  • Is makerspace always this fun?
  • Do we really get to keep the things that we made?
  • When can I come back?
  • From a teacher: My students talked about what they did with you the whole next day.

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You could look at this and say….sure….this is just making a craft, but there’s really so much more there.

Making something new inspired by The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires #makerspace #makered #steam #librariesofinstagram

A video posted by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Perseverance, problem solving, creativity, inventing, collaboration, and more were all there. Thank you to Gretchen Thomas for giving us an opportunity to bring makerspace to some of our grades who haven’t had a chance to use our makerspace quite as much. We have a lot of new students excited about finding more opportunities to use the tools in our makerspace because of this opportunity.