I Read Because: A Book Tasting Library Orientation

I’m always trying to maximize what happens during library orientation each year. This year, I asked myself what I really hoped students experienced on their very first visit. Yes, there are many expectations and rules I could go over, but what message do I send if that’s how I spend our time on day 1. Instead, I wanted to focus on the power of reading and give students time to explore the genres of the library.

As students entered, I played a video from Scholastic’s “Open a World of Possible” site. The video had students sharing reasons that they read.  Then, I asked students to think about why they read.

I shared a couple of reasons I read. One of those reasons was to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes. I shared books like Wonder and How to Steal a Dog, which gave me a chance to wrestle with something that is different from my own life.  I also talked about escaping to another land when I need a break from our world.

I also loved that I had teacher voices to share. At the beginning of the year, teachers recorded Flipgrid videos to introduce themselves. They shared their hopes for the year as well as books that inspire them. I pulled these books and showed them to students with the teacher names posted on the front of the book.  I wanted to establish at the very beginning that we are a community of readers and we read for many reasons.

Last year was our first year with a genrefied library. It went really well, but there were some things that I knew I needed to do to help students better understand how the library is now organized. I wanted students to realize that they could spend more time at the library shelves exploring actual books and less time on the computer searching in Destiny.

Genre tasting in progress #librariesofinstagram #reading

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I pulled a few books from some of our genre sections and put them in baskets or piles on tables. Students split into small groups and rotated from table to table every couple of minutes. The purpose was to sample the books in the basket to get a feel for that genre. It was also to show students that when they spent time with the books, they found things they weren’t even expecting to find.  Students could keep any books that they found in the baskets and I replenished them throughout the classes.

We ended our time by thinking about how the experience felt as well as taking a look at times when the computer is actually useful for finding a book.

Students then checked out the books they needed. My new rule about checking out books is to check out what you need and what you can keep up with. Some students checked out 2 books and others checked out 6. I never want readers to feel like they are limited by a number that I set.

I can’t wait to see how our year goes as we grow our community of readers.  On a side note, I set up a station in the library where students can listen to the teacher Flipgrids and respond to any teachers. I love seeing students interact with Flipgrid and share responses with our community.

 

Meet Microsaurs: Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack By Dustin Hansen

Every year, I have a new group of students who become obsessed with dinosaurs and every informational and narrative book about them. I’m excited to introduce Dustin Hansen to my students. Dustin has been writing and creating art for the video game industry for over 20 years. He is the author and illustrator of the Microsaurs series. Follow That Tiny-Dactyl was released in January of this year, and Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack was released in July.  I happy to have him stop by my blog to show off this new book.

In Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack, Danny and Lin return as the expert secret keepers from book one. As they return in this second installment, they receive a mysterious package filled with tiny, hungry microsaurs along with a huge microsaur egg.  Students will love how they use the Mini-Maxitron Reduction Nozzle to shrink themselves down to the size of the tiny dinosaurs and interact with them in their microterium world.  There’s plenty of adventure as they try to keep the new egg safe until it hatches and the tiny-raptors happy with food. Throughout the book, Dustin has supported the story with black and white images that readers will love to look at and compare the full-size and micro worlds. This will also help readers who are looking for a longer story that still includes plenty of illustrations. At the back of the book, Dustin even includes some information to satisfy our non-fiction readers.

Fans of Jurassic Park, dinosaur informational books, and tiny adventures will enjoy reading this book.

Dustin has put together a great time-lapse video of how his dinosaurs come to life on the page. Check it out and share it with your readers.

I hope you’ll consider getting a copy of this series from your local bookshop or library vendor to add to your collection. Thanks to Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishing, we are giving away a copy of the book.  Click on the form below to add your name and email to the drawing by Tuesday August 22 at 5PM EST. One winner will be randomly selected for a free book.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Be on the lookout as Dustin travels to other blogs during this whole week.  There will be more surprises and more giveaways on those blogs as well.  He also has a 3rd installment of Microsaurs coming in January 2018.

Monday, 8/21Mom-Spot
Tuesday, 8/22Kidlit Frenzy
Wednesday, 8/23Beyond the Car Seat
Thursday, 8/24Daddy Mojo
Friday, 8/25Meanest Look
Saturday, 8/26Pragmatic Mom

Share Your #Eclipse2017 Stories on This Flipgrid

The Great Eclipse 2017 is coming on Monday August 21, 2017.  It’s going to be epic.  It’s an event we are sharing all across North America.  I made a space that we can all use to share our observations, learning, projects, stories, or really anything eclipse-related.

Before, during, and after eclipse, this Flipgrid is a space we can connect student, teacher, and family voices to share this event. Even if you aren’t in school yet, this Flipgrid can be a place you can find out what your students did while they weren’t in school.

Simply share this link with anyone and everyone.  https://flipgrid.com/f8fc0d 

If you have the most updated version of Flipgrid on your mobile device or tablet, you can also just scan this QR code to instantly go to the topic.

Scan here with Flipgrid to share your eclipse story.

I also made a Google doc that you can print and give to classrooms to scan if they have devices available.

Click to access an easy Google doc

Once you are on the topic, simply touch the + and follow the prompts to record your voice and take a selfie.  Don’t forget to tell us where you are recording from.  I hope we can all learn from one another as we experience this unique event together.  See you on the grid.

 

 

 

Students as Digital Leaders: A Digital Citizenship Lesson

Our 3rd-5th graders all get their own computer at the beginning of the year.  It’s a powerful thing. A computer can connect them with a wealth of information and opportunities to create content that gets their voice out to the teacher, the class, the community, and the world. A computer also brings great responsibility.

This year, I wanted to spend some time as we passed out new computers to lead students in a reflection on digital leadership. We started with the question: “What is a digital leader?”  Many of the students knew some things about what leaders do, but they were a bit stuck trying to decide what that looked like online.

I did some storytelling for them. I searched back through my pictures and pulled out several examples of Barrow students exemplifying digital leadership. I ended each story with the phrase “that’s digital leadership”. I shared a story about Ajacea becoming an honorary marketing intern for Capstone Press, Mick writing an ebook that was assigned as college homework, Carlos & Carlena teaching a class in Indiana, Taylor designing the 1st Barrow Peace Prize, and Adaline using email to get custom signs made for our library. When I finished the stories, I once again asked about digital leadership. I heard things like: use your technology for good, try to create change in the world, be kind, show others what they can do with their computers, and more.

5th grade classes are adding ideas about being digital leaders #digitalcitizenship #digitalleader #technology

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Next, we took a look at Google’s “Be Internet Awesome” words. I used the images from the Be Internet Awesome poster PDF 

I divided students into groups and gave each group one of the words: Smart, Brave, Strong, Alert, and Kind. Their job was to read the descriptors of the word and come up with a specific example of what that looked like.  The teacher and I moved between groups to join discussions.

Finally, each group shared their example, and we talked about how digital leadership is something you must do the whole time you own a piece of technology. It isn’t just a one-session conversation that we forget about. I want to revisit these words throughout the year and find ways that these current students are being digital leaders in our school.

Our 5th grade classes all did this lesson at the same time in their classrooms. I facilitated this through Google Hangouts in the library. You can view what we did here:

You can also see the brainstorms they had here:

Meet the All New Flipgrid! #flipgridfever

The all-new Flipgrid is here! We’ve been teased for months with what improvements were on the way to this already phenomenal tool, and at a live stream announcement, the details were released.  If you are new to Flipgrid, there’s no better time to get started than now. At it’s core, Flipgrid is a tool that allows you to post a topic and have students respond with video that is instantly uploaded to one location. It gives every student in class an equal voice and makes it easy for the teacher to share those voices beyond the walls of the school. 

Today Flipgrid announced that more than 100,000 educators and more than 5,000,000 students use Flipgrid across 141 countries.  In addition, a new Flipgrid video was shared every .48 seconds of every minute of every day since Jan 1 of 2017.  Today more than 1.2 billion seconds of video have been shared by students and educators on Flipgrid, representing more than 38 years of student voice.

Here’s a look at many of the latest features.

Multiple Platforms in a Topic

As you construct a topic for your students, you can now embed Youtube or Vimeo videos or upload a high resolution image, link to a website or document, or include an emoji or GIPHY.  These new features make topics more engaging for students, hook students into your topic, and personalize the experience.

Personalization of Responses

There are several ways students can enhance their response videos. One is by adding drawings or stickers to their profile picture. Each of these features can be turned on or off in the admin panel, but allowing them gives students a chance to show off their personality without affecting the quality of their videos.

Another is the ability to pause the video during a response and flip the camera to show different perspectives or props for a response.

Students can also add a title or linked file to their response which can give a bit of clarification, background story, or a hook into their response.  Searchable hashtags make finding connecting responses a breeze.

Reactions

Students have always had the ability to “like” or “heart” a video.  Now Flipgrid offers additional forms of reactions.  A light bulb signifies a bright idea. A thinking emoji is for a response that made you think. A rocket means your response was out of this world and went to another level. Finally, (and sure to be a popular reaction) the mic drop is for a response that is just mindblowing.  I can’t wait to see how students and other viewers use these reactions. I can imagine this becoming a way to build community to encourage peer and self evaluation of responses. Reactions are in your control as the administrator and can be turned on or off.

Sticky Note

Have your students ever had to toggle between multiple tabs to record a video and read from a script. Now, Flipgrid has a sticky note that allows students to type their script or notes and see them while recording.

Integrations

In education we use many platforms. Flipgrid now integrates with multiple platforms including Google Classroom, Canva, Edmodo, Blackboard, Moodle, Sway, WordPress, Powerschool, Schoology, Brightspace, OneNote, and Teams.

Feedback

Flipgrid recently updated to include a rubric for giving students feedback on performance and ideas. This option still exists, but now in Flipgrid Classroom you can customize the kind of feedback that you can offer to students. You decide the criteria and the minimum and maximum points available.

Topic Customization

A relatively new feature in Flipgrid is the ability to freeze a topic so that it is still visible but students can’t add responses.  Now, you can establish a date for a topic to automatically freeze without having to go in and freeze it manually. Flipgrid One users can now offer students a 15-second response option and Flipgrid Classroom users can now extend responses up to 5 minutes. Teachers can consider what time students need to fully answer a topic without compromising the quality of their responses or they can challenge students to be more concise with their words.

Response Community

As students receive responses to their videos, profile pictures of each response appear at the bottom of the original student’s profile picture. This allows the student to easily see that he/she has a response, but it is also a visual representation that their is a community of conversation around a response.

Better Access for All Learners

Now Flipgrid has a built-in QR reader in the mobile apps, so getting to the latest topic is just one scan away. Our youngest learners won’t be slowed down in sharing their voice with the community.

Dashboard

The administrator dashboard keeps getting useful updates for educators. Now, you can easily see which videos you still need to view. You can also see badges you’ve earned such as Flipgrid Certified Educator. There’s a helpful summary of all of your grids and activity with a graph showing dates of peak engagement.  Flipgrid even has built-in tweets to share your achievements or fun facts about your engagement.

Flipgrid is always evolving because they are a company who listens to their users. Each new release brings enhancements that make Flipgrid more personal for users and continue to empower the voices of every person who takes time to leave a response. Enjoy these new features, keep suggesting new ones, and expect that in the coming months there will be even more features to enjoy from Flipgrid.   Continue to engage with the Flipgrid community on Twitter using the hashtag #FlipgridFever and checking out the news on the Flipgrid blog.

 

Our Lego Wall: A New Way to Interact in the Library

Each year we add a little something new in our library. I’ve watched several libraries add a Lego wall to their libraries and wanted to do it for a long time. We have students who use Lego in our library and makerspace for stop motion videos and storytelling, so I’ve been curious about the possibilities of this collaborative building space and what projects or ideas it might spark for students.

Several librarians have posted helpful tips on how to create your own Lego wall. I looked very closely at Diana Rendina’s plans and considered building my own.

Our Lego wall pieces are here! #makerspace #librariesofinstagram #steam #lego

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Then, I saw a post from Shannon Miller about a company called Brik. This company has Lego-compatible plates that have a reusable adhesive on the back so that you can move it from one location to another if needed. You could order packs of 6 plates which came with an assortment of briks as well. This was appealing to me because of how much time it would save me in constructing a wall. I wouldn’t need to mount plywood to the wall or worry with liquid nails.

Lego wall beginnings #lego #makerspace #steam #librariesofinstagram

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Sherry Gick shared her own experience with Brik and said the adhesive seemed to be pretty reliable. I decided to give it a go.  Before ordering, I posted a Twitter poll and also sent a Google form to my students to ask what color wall they preferred: white, black, or blue.  The response was overwhelmingly blue.

Shipping was super fast, and within about an hour I had everything unboxed and on the wall.  I used Lego pieces to make sure the plates lined up and stayed together. I also made sure to firmly press each plate so that it secured to the wall.  I don’t really plan on moving the plates very much, so I would rather know they are staying on the wall.

Welcome our new lego wall! #barrowbuddies #librariesofinstagram #makerspace #steam

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After posting some pictures on social media, I started getting messages from families whose children were already excited about the wall. During open house, several students stopped by to check out the wall.

I’m sure we’ll learn a lot about how to best use the space and what rules need to be in place, but we are so excited to have this new space in our library for imagination, creativity, collaboration, and sharing.

Catch the #FlipgridFever

 

It’s no secret if you follow my posts that I’m a huge fan of Flipgrid. It is a tool that has amplified our student voices all around the globe.  It most recently was named a  2017 AASL Best App and AASL Best Website.  The Flipgrid team is constantly listening to the rapidly growing community of users and improving the tool to meet the needs of all users.  As a company, they celebrate the passion of educators, the wisdom of students, and the curiosity of families.  Flipgrid is continuously celebrating the innovative uses of their tool by further amplifying student and educator voices on social media and presentations. They are simply an amazing group of people.

If you’ve never tried Flipgrid or you are already using it, now is the perfect time to get more active with this award-winning tool and supportive community.  Here are some things you should do right now.

  1. Setup a free account.  Create a grid. Post your first topic.
  2. Share your topic link on Twitter with the hashtag #FlipgridFever  You might also add some other hashtags like #studentvoice #k12 #futureready or #edtech  Why hashtags? They are what connect you to communities of conversation and amplify the voices of the people on your topic.  
  3. Continue to work toward being a Flipgrid Certified Educator.  If you did step 1 & 2, you are almost there.  You’ll earn a cool badge, new bragging rights on your resume, and you’ll be a part of an active community of Flipgrid users.
  4. Follow the #FlipgridFever hashtag and participate in the conversations.  This hashtag is on fire.  The last Twitter chat was so active that you could barely keep up.  This hashtag will connect you with a global community of Flipgrid users at all levels of education and beyond. You’ll get countless ideas for how to use Flipgrid in your own work, and you’ll be supported with questions you have.
  5. Look for people who are posting their Flipgrid links and respond to their topics.  You’ll become a better Flipgrid user, hear from many perspectives, and become a support in the Flipgrid community. If you respond to at least 10 topics and keep a spreadsheet of your response links, you’ll get a Flipgrid Community Builder badge.                     
  6. Finally, sign up to view the big Flipgrid announcement coming on August 10 at 7PM CT.  As an ambassador, I’ve seen a teaser of some of the upcoming features, and you don’t want to miss this opportunity to hear about them in detail.  Flipgrid rolls out updates quite often and it’s important to stay in the loop on what is new. Just when you think Flipgrid couldn’t be better, the team comes up with new ways to engage users and amplify voice.  I’m so excited to be heading to Flipgrid HQ to be at the announcement in person, but there are also some viewing parties happening around the country. You could even host one yourself.

During the upcoming school year, I plan to support all of my teachers in using Flipgrid in their classrooms. It’s one of those tools that can apply to so many projects and experiences in education.  Users are continuously coming up with innovative ways to amplify voice with this tool and combine it with other tech tools we are already using. I look forward to connecting with so many inspiring educators through the #FlipgridFever community and probably creating some globally connected projects along the way.