Allen Say’s Kamishibai Man and Tinkering with Puppet Pals

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Third grade has been working on an Allen Say author study.  In class, they have read multiple books, compared and contrasted, and started identifying what marks a book as Allen Say’s work.  In the library, we also read a book by Allen Say to fold into this class conversation, but we used the library lesson for another purpose, too:  tinkering.

Our read aloud was Kamishibai Man, which tells the story of an old man who has retired from his work of traveling into the city to sell candy and tell stories.  A kamishibai uses a wooden box mounted on a bicycle to display beautiful paintings which inspire oral stories.  The stories are told in a series so that audience members want to come again and again.  At each storytelling session, the kamishibai man would sell homemade candies which was how he made his living.  During the story, we had great discussions about how technology has impacted our lives in positive and negative ways because in the story the kamishibai man has to quit his job because people would rather watch tv.

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Following the story, we practiced our own way of oral storytelling using puppet stages, characters, and backdrops in an iPad app called Puppet Pals.  This app allows you to select up to 8 characters and 5 scenes.  You can upload your own images for the characters and scenes or choose from the library of options.  Users can move their scenes and characters off stage when they are not in use.  With a record button, every movement and voice is recorded as long as it takes place in front of the backdrop.  Puppet Pals lets you record up to 2 minutes of audio which sets it apart from some other apps that only let you record for 30 seconds.

We did a quick demo on the board by having 2 students come up and make a quick story in the moment.  Then, students split into groups of 2 or 3 with an iPad and spread out throughout the library.  They quickly got to work figuring out how puppet pals worked.  Most groups made multiple stories because they would think about something else they wanted to try once they finished one story.  It was fun to step back and listen to all of the voices that students were creating for characters as well as how they were moving characters in and out of the set and making them larger and smaller on the screen.  The students were trying this app without fear of failure, and they were learning so much about how the app functioned.  Some of them even created some pretty decent videos in the short time that they had to tinker.

Our closing time was once of my favorite times.  I asked students to think for a moment about what they might want to do if they made a longer video and had a longer time to work on it.  They listed out several things that probably would have come from a teacher checklist or instructions, but the difference was that they came to the realization of why these checklist items were needed because of their tinkering.  It wasn’t just something the teacher or I was asking them to do.  Instead, the checklist served to improve their work and organize their product.  They named things like:

  • Write a script for the characters.
  • Include instructions about when to change the backdrop
  • Write notes about when to shrink or enlarge a character.
  • Pause the recording in order to switch out characters or scenes. Put this in the script too.
  • Practice before recording.
  • and much more.

Third grade is about to launch into a study of folktales.  I think Puppet Pals has great potential to be a part of this project, so I intentionally used this tool as part of our Allen Say project to have a purpose for tinkering but also to make sure that tinkering happened before we asked students to create a more polished product.  Now, I feel like the stage is set for all 3rd grade classes to create a folktale Puppet Pal project if they want to.  I want to think more about how tinkering opportunities can be built naturally into lessons prior to larger projects beginning.  This type of model takes knowledge of the upcoming curriculum and early conversations about the kinds of collaborative projects that will be taking place each quarter.  I love this new thinking that has potential for future planning with teachers and students.

 

 

Creating Star Charts with LittleBits

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Last week, Mr. Coleman, 4th grade teacher, asked me if I had any extension lessons to support 4th grade’s study of stars and constellations.  Specifically, their standard is:

S4E1. Students will compare and contrast the physical attributes of stars, star patterns, and
planets.

I suddenly remembered that a part of he littleBits workshop kit that I purchased this summer was a free space module.  As I flipped through the book, I saw that you could use littleBits to make a start chart.  This was the perfect opportunity for students to explore littleBits in a standards-based lesson with enough structure to give them a goal but still have an opportunity to do a bit of tinkering.

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Because some of the steps involved using a box cutter to cut holes in a cup and a cardboard circle, I did a few steps ahead of time for them.  On a large piece of cardboard, I gathered materials for each group:

  • a ziploc bag of the littleBits needed, including the battery
  • a littleBits screwdriver
  • scissors
  • tape
  • a toothpick
  • a pen
  • a cone made out of construction paper (many thanks to Gretchen Thomas for helping me figure out how to make a cone!)
  • a plastic cup with the bottom cut out
  • a cardboard circle the size of the mouth of the cup
  • a strip of cardboard
  • a set of instructions
  • a copy of a star chart

We started the lesson together on the carpet.  We watched a short intro video:

I told them that our goal was to make a device that lit up when it was in a dark room and projected stars onto the ceiling.

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We talked about failure.  I emphasized that this class was the first class in the school to use littleBits.  We talked about failing, taking a deep breath, backing up, and trying again when something didn’t work.  I also talked about teamwork and time management.  This was to emphasize that the more they worked together and didn’t give up the more likely they were to be successful in making their chart.

I also made suggestions about how teams might think about dividing up the work load.  For example,

  • 1 person might try step #7 and prepare the star chart
  • 1 or 2 people might try step #1 to assemble the bits
  • 1 or 2 people might try steps #3, 5, and 8 to create the cone
  • 1 or 2 people might try step #4 & 6 to attach the bits and test the device

This was only a suggestions.  Teams were welcome to do every step together or divide the work up in other ways.

Notice that I didn’t say anything about explaining littleBits, what each bit was called, what their function was, or how to put them together.  I knew that the kids were perfectly capable of figuring this out on their own, and they proved me right.

Mr. Coleman helped divide the students into groups and they got right to work.  I was amazed by how the groups took time in the beginning to assign roles before working.  It was a rare moment to look at a table and not see someone working on some aspect of the star chart.

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Mr. Coleman and I walked around and encouraged groups to read directions, try new things, work together, and gave a few helpful nudges as needed.  However, we did not create the star charts for any group because we wanted students to experience tinkering, failure, and the power of reading and following directions.

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There was a definite energy in the room and it was by no means quiet.  Each time something started working, the energy level increased.  Groups started taking their devices into our makerspace and equipment room so that they could turn off the light and test their invention.  As pieces worked, they screamed with excitement, but as they failed they hurried out, disassemble their work, and started over.

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Once again, I was amazed by how no students stopped working and no students reached a point of frustration where they shut down.

We even had a group who were still working when we were debriefing the whole experience because they wanted to make their star chart work.  They didn’t give up for a second.

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When the charts worked, students spent a bit of time looking at their constellations on the wall and ceiling.

During our debrief, we talked about what we learned about littleBits as well as what next steps students might take to learn about constellations.  I encouraged them to learn some of the stories of the constellations and to actually look for them in the night sky.

For the littleBits, students figured out that you could adjust the sensitivity of the light sensor to come on when it was light or dark.  This was a point of failure for some groups.  Others talked about reading the words on the bit including the power bit that says “on” or “off”.  Missing that one simple word “on” could be the difference between failure and success, and many groups forgot to turn their power on before testing their device.

Before students left, I told them that this was only a small taste of what littleBits can do, and I encouraged them to think about other inventions they might create during the year and to come and explore the other bits and their possibilities.

Empowering Student Voice through our Makerspace

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At our “Meet the Teacher” night back in August, several students raced into the library to tell me about project ideas that they dreamed up over the summer.  As soon as I heard their enthusiasm, I knew that one of my library goals, “To empower student voice”, was going to be an important one for this school year.  One student shared about his idea to design his own Skylanders and 3D print them.  Another wanted to create a set of model trains on the 3D printer.  Another wanted to explore the MaKey MaKey. and program things.  I told them all that we would figure out how to make this happen this year, but I needed some time to get the library going.

As usual, the start of the school year has been busy getting projects, lessons, and technology off the ground, so I had not gotten back to these students.  I just love when students feel comfortable to raise their voices.  I received an email a few days ago from two students that went something like this:

Dear, MR Plemmons

We would like to come to the makerspace once a week during recess if possible. We would love to use the makey makey to possibly control Sphero. If this is possible please email back.
I knew I needed to make this happen fast because I had already waited too long to let these guys start tinkering, so I responded back:
When is your recess and what day are you thinking of?  I want to make this happen for both of you.
And then they responded back with the day, time, and:
Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
The first day of tinkering was just awesome.  Within a matter of minutes, Kearn had the MaKey MaKey connected to Play Doh and was controlling a train simulator on the computer.  Ludwig controlled the horn and Kearn drove the train.  Kearn wanted to make a video to show what he had done, so we pulled out an iPad and made an impromptu video which he wanted to add to his Youtube channel.  He also started following my blog and even left a comment about how much he loves the makerspace.  Both students were completely independent and were perfectly capable of dreaming, tinkering, and making on their own.  I was available for support as needed, but they really just wanted a space to explore.  As they continue, I want to connect them with some experts that might mentor their ideas and curiosities, but for now, they just need to tinker.

This is what I’m talking about when I say “empower student voice”.  These two guys are full of energy and passion about making.  I am sure that they will figure out so many things that I couldn’t even imagine myself during the course of this year.  They willingly share their knowlege and expertise, and I’m sure that their tinnkering, failures, and successes will inspire and support many other student projects during the year.  When I see two students get so excited about learning like this, I can’t help but think about what other opportunties students need to spark their own passions for learning.  I hope that our makerspace is just one space that ignites students’ curiosities this year.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014

Our pirate map of connections

Our pirate map of connections

September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  There are so many fun pirate stories out there, and each year we seem to discover a few more thanks to the connections we make around the globe through Google Hangouts and Skype.  Planning a day of connections like this definitely takes some time but students love talking with people around the globe, sharing a story, and learning a bit about one another.  It always seems to reinforce the idea that we aren’t alone in our bubble of routines of day to day life.  There are other people out there doing the same things that we are and quite possibly they are doing those things in different ways.  I love the spontaneous conversations that take place on days like this that you could never plan through a standard or a lesson plan.  Students always bring up a question or a comment that makes the day special.

This year, 8 classes came to the library for Talk Like a Pirate Day and we connected with 6 different schools in 5 different states.

  • We connected with Edie Crook in Gastonia North Carolina to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We had a great conversation about “treasure” and students took turns stepping up to say what treasure meant to them.  We were delighted with words such as being kind, family, friends, Skylanders, and baseball.
  • We connected with Jan Pelias through Google Hangouts in Frisco Texas to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  It was fun to connect with someone in another time zone because we could talk about how time is different at the same moment around the world.
  • We connected with Melanie Thompson in Jefferson City, Missouri to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  Melanie’s students had researched pirates and they took time to share all of their facts.  This made our students very curious about pirates as well.  I have a feeling all of our nonfiction pirate books will be checked out for a long time.  I also love how Melanie embraced her inner pirate as we chatted with each other through Skype chat prior to our connection!

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  • We connected with Okle Miller in Tampa, Florida to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  Tampa has a pirate festival called Gasparilla .  Students loved hearing how pirates take over Tampa during this festival and kidnap the mayor (all for fun).  The class we connected with even called themselves pirates and used the word “pirate” as an acronym for their classroom expectations and beliefs.
  • Both of our PreK classes came to the library for their first visit of the year.  In class, they made pirate hats and hooks as well as added some pirate mustaches to their faces.  We read the book Pirates Go to School and made a class video chanting the pirate chant at the end of the book.
  • We connected with Carol Scrimgeour in Essex Town, Vermont to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We noticed that all of the kids were wearing warm clothes, so we had a great conversation about how cold it had been in the northeast.  It was sunny in both places but with a very different temperature.
  • Finally, we connected with Shawna Ford in Texas and she read a new pirate book we had not heard before: No Bath No Cake Polly’s Pirate Party.  Now the students want to get it for our library.

Before each connection, we looked at a map from our school to the school we were connecting with.  We talked about distance, travel time, and also all of the decisions that go into choosing your route for a trip.  We also created a Google tour of our trip using Google Tour Builder.  After each connection, we wrote a summary together.

We also created a Padlet to write pirate sentences.  This was shared with our friends around the country and became a place to crowdsource our words.

Finally, we spent a lot of time creating pirate sentences, phrases, and even conversations and practicing them aloud.  Students had access to a list of pirate vocabulary words as well as multiple pirate stories to get ideas.

We used Flipgrid as a place to record our favorite pirate expressions.  Students also had a great time trying to imitate a pirate voice and pirate faces and gestures.  Take a moment to listen to them because they are quite entertaining!  I loved how this evolved from a sentence writing activity into a practice of fluency, oral speaking, and performance.  Again, Flipgrid became a place for us to crowdsource our voices with the voices of our connecting schools.

I love how these events connect us with new people around the world.  This year we connected with some old friends, but we also met some new teachers, librarians, and students we hope to connect with again.  I also want to continue to think about days like this to build long term collaborative relationships.

Making Our Mark with Dot Day 2014 (and I hope well beyond)

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International Dot Day is one of our favorite days (weeks) of the year.  It gives us permission to be creative and see what we can do just by making a mark.  It also connects us with so many classrooms around the world.  Classes are always looking to connect on this day, and we have made many collaborative relationships with schools because of this one day of the year.

This year, we used Dot Day as a way to explore our goal of dreaming, tinkering, creating, and sharing.  We explored Google Drawing, which was a new tool for most students.  We used Dot Day as a time to tinker and see how Google Drawing functioned as well as how to collaborate on a drawing with another student or class.

We also used colAR mix again this year to make augmented reality dots.  This year, I encouraged students to think more globally as they made their dots by embracing the them of “making your mark on the world” that is the essence of The Dot.  Students were encouraged to design a dot that represented their talents, hopes, dreams, and passions.  I loved this new twist on a tool that we used last year because it revealed so many stories from students.  One student drew a picture of an airplane flying through the clouds because of his dream to be a pilot when he grows up.  Another student drew an astronaut and UFOs because of his desire to explore space.  Another drew her whole family because they are what she loves in life.  Some students chose to highlight their creativity as a way that they make their mark by designing unusual dots with their favorite colors.  These were empowering stories because they allowed students to have a voice to share something personal about themselves in a way that they might now have shown before.

One amazing thing that happened while students were using the colAR app was how they discovered different ways to scan their dot. It started out as what some people might see as a mistake.  A student’s hand was on top of their dot while they were scanning their image, and the hand became a part of the rotating sphere on the iPad screen.  This resulted in an uproar of excitement as sharing began and the idea spread like wildfire.  Soon students were trying to put their faces on their spinning spheres.  Others stacked towers of crayons on top of their dot and tried to see if that would scan into the 3D image.  All of this happened because of an opportunity to tinker.  When we give kids a space to explore, they figure out amazing things and they willingly share and teach others what they learned.  They get excited about their learning and they want to do more.  I bet that these students would have spent an extended period of time continuing to experiment with colAR mix to see what else they could figure out, and they would have done this without getting tired or bored.  These are the things that days like Dot Day reveal.

We had numerous Skype connections.  Each one had its own unique twists and conversations between students and teachers.  In many of these Skypes, we collaborated on a Google Drawing dots after reading the book.  This included dots with our friend Okle Miller in Tampa, Edie Crook in North Carolina, and Crystal Hendrix in North Carolina (just to name a few).  Sometimes this was live during a Google Hangout or Skype and other times it was after we disconnected.  One of our hangouts was a large hangout between Matthew Winner in Maryland, Nancy Jo Lambert in Texas, Donna MacDonald in Vermont, and Esther Uribe in Texas.  It was fun to read The Dot to students in so many states at one time, but what was even more fun was drawing with all of them at the same time!  We definitely did some tinkering with this one.  Many of us learned of the challenges of younger students but found ways to involved them even with computer-use difficulties.  The students loved seeing drawings “magically” appear on our shared dot.

Ramsey & Winner Dot

Our multi-school collaborative dot

With Jennifer Reed in Massachusetts, we accidentally deleted all of our work on our collaborative dot.  The kids were in a panic, but it was a fantastic opportunity to do an impromptu lesson on the power of revision history in Google Drive.  We were able to recover our work and learn an important trick.  We even talked about how revision history is one way that work is never deleted, which can be a positive but also a negative if you have written something that you wished you hadn’t.

Wright & Reeder Dot

Our dot with Jennifer Reed that was almost lost!

Mrs. Clarke’s class had a Skype connection, but we weren’t able to do a collaborative dot with our connecting class.  Instead, we split the class in half at our 2 projection boards and they created a dot together as a class.  They got just a bit competitive as they tried to cover up each other’s work, but even this was a great opportunity to talk about how to work with others on a doc without being disrespectful of the contributions.

Clarke & Lussier Dot

Mrs. Clarke’s class competitive dot

Some classes that we connected with had already spent a great deal of time being creative, and they shared with us dots that they are going to physically mail to us.  Jenny Lussier in Connecticut had colAR dots as well as Morse code greeting cards.  We can’t wait to decode what they say!  We also discovered with Jenny that there’s more than one version of The Dot floating around out there.

Cathy Potter’s students in Maine read the book Ish to our students and shared their own illustrations for the book.  We had a great conversation about the connections between both books.

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Students and teachers alike love this day, but I do leave this day with a wondering.  I’m thinking so much this year about global thinking and global collaboration.  This day is filled with thousands of Skype and Google Hangout connections around the world.  We connect.  We read.  We dream.  We create.  But then what?  We leave one another until the next big event.  I’m by no means being negative about Dot Day.  I’m a huge advocate, but I do wonder about why we don’t build upon these connections we make.  If we are really going to “make our mark” on the world, shouldn’t we be taking some actions together beyond connecting, reading, and creating?  I would like to gently nudge us all to think about this.  I’m just as guilty.  I connect every year and then I move on, but I can’t help but carry this on my mind, reflect on it, and consider what more we might do beyond today.  Think with me!  Let’s keep our dots connected.

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September 11th: A Global Perspective

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Each year our 5th graders take an entire day to explore the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  Each year, the students become more and more removed from the topic because they weren’t even born at the time of the tragedy.  The events of September 11 and the impact they had on our war on terrorism are part of the 5th grade social studies standards, but we also spend a great deal of time at our school on social emotional learning and how we support one another in a community.

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Each year I write a blog post about how we teach September 11th, and each year there is a new addition or a new angle in which to explore the day.  This year, students opened the day in their classrooms by talking about everyday heroes.  They shared where their own families work and how each of us can be an everyday hero.

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Then, students split into 4 groups and rotated through 4 experiences every 30 minutes which were facilitated by me and the classroom teachers.

Experience 1:  Haiku poetry.  With Ms. Mullins, students learned about the unlikely heroes of the day including dogs.  They studied the poetry form of haiku and how a brief 3-line poem with 17 syllables can magically express a feeling or an image.  They focused their haiku on heroes.  They didn’t have to specifically write about the heroes of 9/11, but many chose to.

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Experience 2:  Response to tragedy from afar.  With Ms. Selleck, students looked at how people around the country and the world responded to the tragic events of 9/11.  It was a time that people wanted to take action and do something to help.  Children wrote letters, drew pictures, and made cards.  The Maasai people of Africa offered 14 cows as a gift for America.  Ms. Selleck shared Carmen Agra Deedy’s story 14 Cows of America and students considered how people who weren’t even in our country wanted to help.  This posed an interesting question of how we might respond to the tragedies taking place every day in other countries.

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Experience 3:  Heroes of 9/11.  There were so many heroes that stepped forward on 9/11 and many of those heroes lost their lives in the process.  At this experience, students took a look at many example of heroes and read the story Fireboat by Maira Kalman.  Students learned about this old fireboat first launched in 1931 and how it was called to duty on 9/11 to help pump water to fight the fires.  Students designed a drawing to represent the many heroes that took action on 9/11.

Experience 4: The events of 9/11.  This is the most sensitive of the experiences for students because we all react differently to seeing the tragedy of 9/11.  Over the years, I’ve developed a pathfinder of sites that explore 9/11 from multiple angles.  There are interactive timelines, eyewitness accounts, actual video footage of the day, oral histories of memories from victims’ family members, virtual tours of the memorials, and cartoon videos explaining the events in kid-friendly language.  We start with a video:

This video frames that on 9/11 we remember but we also take action to create good in the world.  I invite students to view the various resources and reflect on what they might do to create good instead of evil.  At the bottom of the pathfinder there is a padlet where students can record their actions that they want to take.  During this experience, I always tell students that they don’t have to watch any of the videos.  They can also take a break at any moment if the tragedy just becomes too much to handle.

This year, 2 new pieces were added to this experience.  First, Gretchen Thomas, a UGA teacher in instructional technology, brought one of her #EDIT2000 classes to support students.  This was a piece that I’ve always felt was missing from the pathfinder experience.  September 11th is such a heavy topic, and I do worry about how kids are processing the information.  With these UGA students, we were able to pair every 5th grader with a UGA student to have reflective conversation about each website, video, and story that students experienced.  UGA students shared their own understanding of 9/11 as well as their own memories of being in elementary school when it happened.

 

I’ve also been thinking a lot about global thinking, global collaboration, and global perspectives.  This year, I decided to make a Flipgrid well in advance of today.  Through social media, I’ve been sharing the Flipgrid in the hopes that multiple people will share their own perspectives of 9/11.  While there wasn’t an overwhelming response to share stories, the stories that were shared were powerful.  The students in Gretchen Thomas’s class shared their own memories of being in elementary school at the time.  These stories included very personal connections to the tragedy such as family members who were in New York on the day of the tragedy and a student coming into New York on a plane from another country and being diverted to Canada.  Several librarians stepped up to share stories as well.  Beth Miller of Georgia shared her story of working in the World Trade Center during the bombing in the 1990’s and how she had family and friends who were in the towers on 9/11.  Her family made it but several friends did not.  Elissa Malespina of New Jersey shared the story of her husband being in New York on 9/11.  He was on one of the last trains coming into the city.  It was chilling to think how many people have been affected by 9/11 in very personal ways.  Even if you don’t have a personal connection, there are many stories about where people were when the tragedy happened.  I wish that I could talk about every story on this Flipgrid because each one is meaningful in its own way.  Please take time to listen to these stories and feel free to add your own.

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This Flipgrid was a part of the pathfinder but it was also a place that students recorded their own thoughts at the end of the day.  Students spent some time reflecting in classrooms.  Then, they came out into the 5th grade hallway with iPads to record their reflections on the Flipgrid.  Another of Gretchen’s UGA classes came to assist with this process.  I had instructions typed up with the Flipgrid code and we got as many students recorded as possible at the end of the day.  Students loved collaborating with students from UGA to create their videos.

I think that this project has such potential for a global collaborative project.  What would it be like if students in another country shared the tragedies taking place in their own countries?  What would happen if our students in the  US considered how they could respond to the tragedies taking place in other countries?  What are people’s perspectives on 9/11 from other countries around the world?  What do everyday heroes look like around the globe?

My hope is that this project can continue in some way this year.  If it doesn’t, I hope that next year’s layer that gets added on is developing a more global perspective on tragedies around our world and how we respond to those tragedies as a global society.

 

Our 1st #3dprinting Project of 2014-15: Native American Hopes and Dreams stamps

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Fourth grade has launched into an incredible project for the 1st quarter of the year.  I’m so excited to be a small part of the project in the library.  In social studies, they are studying Native Americans.  Their standards include:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.

During this study, they are exploring the folklore of Native Americans through several folktales.  The brought them to the idea of a grade level dream catcher.  The beginning of the school year is a time full of hope.  It’s a time where students, teachers, and families set goals for what they hope to accomplish throughout the year, and many spend time writing about hopes and dreams.  The teachers in collaboration with the art teacher decided to design a project to capture the hopes of dreams of students in the form of meaningful symbols on a dream catcher.

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Working together, students will creative a massive dream catcher.  In art, they are designing symbols that represent their hopes for the year.  They are designing shapes that can be drawn in one continuous line.

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With me, students are using an iPad app called Cubify Draw which is designed by 3D Systems.  The app is very simple to use.  With your finger or a stylus, you draw one continuous line to create pretty much anything you can dream up.  You can adjust the thickness of the line and then touch “make 3d”.  The shape automatically turns 3D and you can adjust the height and thickness.  Once your design is ready, you can email the file to a central location to prep for 3D printing.

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For the lesson in the library, I gave a very brief intro to the app and shared some tips that I discovered through my own tinkering.  Big open swirls seem to print better than lines that are close together.  The shortest height and thickest line tends to print best.

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Mrs. Foretich, our art teacher, passed out the paper designs students made in art and gave students another opportunity to make adjustments to their designs and practice tracing the design with their finger.  I passed out iPads and the tinkering began.  Most students made several designs until they got the design just the way they wanted it.  Mrs. Foretich and I walked around and conferenced with students about adjustments they might need to make to their designs as well as helped troubleshoot problems.  Students emailed their designs to me with their teacher name and first name in the subject line.

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We are doing this lesson with the entire 4th grade, so that makes for roughly 60 designs.  Each design has to be imported into Makerware, reduced in size, and exported as a file for our Makerbot Replicator.  These files are being placed onto SD cards.  To speed up the file prep progress I used multiple computers and multiple SD cards.

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Then, the printing began.  Print after print is now running in the library.  It took about a day and half to print the first class batch.  Now I have 2 more to go.  Each student print is being placed in a ziploc bag with the student and teacher name on the bag for easy distribution.

native american stamps (14) native american stamps (13)

The next step will be for students to create a vessel out of clay in art.  They will use their 3d stamp to press designs into their vessel.  All of the vessels will hang from  the grade level dream catcher, including vessels designed by all of the teachers involved in the project.  This will serve as a symbol for the year to represent our connectedness and our common goal of working together to achieve many hopes and dreams this school year.  Our vessels and dream catcher will hold these safe throughout the year.

Thank you Mrs. Foretich and the 4th grade team for an incredible project for our students that allows them to dream, tinker, create, and share.

 

2014 SLJ School Librarian of the Year Finalist

An incredible honor happened this week.  I was named a finalist for the 2014 School Library Journal & Scholastic School Librarian of the Year.  My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been flooded with congratulations and I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls as well.  Being recognized is such an honor, but more importantly to me, recognitions like this highlight the powerful work that takes place in school libraries around the world who have librarians who are connected educators constantly staying on the cutting edge of innovation, advocating for students, and sharing their work for the good of libraries worldwide.  I stand tall with Michelle Colte, School Librarian of the Year, and Colleen Graves, co-finalist.

You can read the full SLJ story here.

Read about Michelle Colt.

Read about Colleen Graves.

Read about me.

Here’s the official press release.

School Library Journal and Scholastic Announce Winners of the Inaugural School Librarian of the Year Award Library Media Specialist Michelle Colte is recognized for her innovative use of technology and exceptional

NEW YORK, NY – September 3, 2014 – School Library Journal today announced the winners of the first annual School Librarian of the Year Award, which honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st- century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI, was named the winner and will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of materials of her choosing from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s founding sponsor. Additionally, Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA and Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, were both recognized as finalists and will each receive $500 in Scholastic materials of their choice. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal, available now with winner Michelle Colte as the cover story, and on SLJ.com.

A panel of school librarians, School Library Journal editors and other industry professionals from Scholastic and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) determined the winners of the award. All nominations were judged based on several criteria, including creativity in programming, exemplary use of technology and integration of library resources with curricula.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and its honorees, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

Quotes about the School Librarian of the Year Award:

Michelle Colte, 2014 School Librarian of the Year, stated, “I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy – it’s about helping people make connections and share knowledge within the community and beyond. I am honored to be named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, and I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools creatively.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of School Library Journal, said, “This inaugural award is a unique opportunity to highlight the work of school librarians who help K–12 students gain critical literacy skills, discover great literature, and engage personal, creative expression, using technology. School Library Journal is pleased to honor these exemplars of the profession, underscoring the important role of librarians and media specialists in fostering future generations and bettering the greater community.

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Library Publishing, shared, “It’s an honor to recognize and celebrate the innovative and dedicated work school librarians are doing to engage students, foster literacy and encourage lifelong learners through technology. Scholastic is thrilled to sponsor the School Librarian of the Year Award and we look forward to seeing how the winners, all of whom creatively and passionately have implemented exciting ideas in their schools, continue to inspire their students as well as their fellow school librarians.”

About the 2014 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2014 School Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte, who has served as the library media specialist at Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI for nine years, is a passionate advocate of integrating technology into instruction as well as building community. Her efforts and accomplishments have included:

  • Emphasizing the importance of playful learning through initiatives such as Hour of Code, where students learn the fundamentals of computer programming;
  • enhancing her library’s technological capacity by actively seeking out grants for netbooks and tablets;
  • working hand-in-hand with teachers to incorporate technology into instruction through the use of student-developed websites and fostering collaboration through Google Apps;
  • developing a sense of “ohana,” or family, in the library by regularly coordinating school events to bring together students, staff and parents;
  • understanding her school’s community, which predominantly serves military families and providing resources specific to their needs, both in the library and through its online portals; and
  • sharing best practices with other educators throughout Hawaii and nationally through social media and as a frequent presenter at tech and education conferences.

Finalist Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA, aims to enrich classroom instruction with lessons and activities from his school’s media center program, focused on empowering students to experiment with new technologies. He continuously encourages students to use various apps and social media channels, not only to create content, but to share their creations with fellow classmates and the community. As a lifelong learner himself, Plemmons understands the importance of professional collaboration and often presents at conferences or webinars.

Finalist Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, established a Makerspace and introduced a series of Maker Monday workshops at her school where students have the opportunity to design and create during activities such as app-making. An early adapter of new technologies and programs, Graves shares her knowledge by organizing “lunch and learn” sessions where students and staff discover innovative strategies using programs such as GarageBand, Google Sites and more.

Each of the honorees provides a unique look into what a modern-day school librarian’s role is in today’s schools. To learn more about the winners and their accomplishments, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

 

Goal 4: Supporting the Reading Habits and Curiosities of Students with Wandoo Reader

Wandoo Reader Kickoff (18)

Lindsey Hill, educator superstar from Evanced Solutions, visited our library to help us with goal 4 for the library this year, “Supporting the reading habits and curiosities”.  In fact, this goal is so important that it is a part of our school improvement plan.  We believe that one of the best ways to become better readers is to read, read, read.  More importantly, we believe that finding books that we are interested in that match us as readers is an essential part of building stamina as a reader.  This year we are piloting a tool called Wandoo Reader to see how it supports us in tracking our reading habits and curiosities.  This tool is still in development for schools so we are figuring out what works well and what needs to be adjusted.

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Wandoo reader is a “game and a reading tracker”.  It follows the story line of a robot who stumbles into a library but is low on power.  In order for the robot to power up, the robot needs kids to read books.  Students read books or really anything of their choosing.  In the online reading log, students submit the reading material title, amount of time read, and whether or not they finished reading the material.  Each time they log reading, they earn credits which allows them to purchase parts to the robot.  There are over 8,000 combinations of parts, so it’s pretty difficult for students to ever be truly “finished”.  Wandoo Reader also allows the administrator to setup incentives or prizes as well as secret codes for completing various challenges.

Our goal for Lindsey’s visit (and next week) was to get all of our 3rd-5th graders setup with accounts in Wandoo Reader.  Lindsey and I met with many classes.  I kicked off each session by sharing the news with students that we are the only school in the world currently using Wandoo Reader.  I wanted to emphasize the potential in this.  I brought in a conversation about empowering student voice in this opening (goal 3 for this year).  Students have an opportunity to test out a tool, figure out what they love, get frustrated with what doesn’t work, and point out what they just don’t like.  Each observation or failure that they make goes directly to Evanced Solutions for consideration in improving Wandoo Reader for future schools, so our student voice really matters and makes a difference.

Lindsey did a demo of what Wandoo Reader would look like once students registered.  She show them how to log their minutes, how to earn credits, and how to purchase a robot part.

Wandoo Reader Kickoff (11) Wandoo Reader Kickoff (12)

Then, we started the long process of getting students registered.  It didn’t take us long to discover that this process is not quite ready for schools and will need some adjustment.  Each student had to create a username, password, confirm password, and select the difficulty level for the game.  Then, students had to type my email address to send an email confirmation.  Each email had to be clicked on to activate each student account before they could proceed.  Bulk uploading is already in development and it is essential for schools to have this feature because the wait time students felt while I clicked on each email was too long.

Wandoo Reader Kickoff (20) Wandoo Reader Kickoff (25)

Once students have accounts activated, Wandoo Reader takes them through a tutorial which reveals the story line of the game and shows students the different buttons they will click to log reading, purchase parts, build a robot, etc.  This tutorial is text-only for now.  Some students read every word, others clicked through without reading at all, and others really tried to read but got frustrated without the support of audio or an adult’s help.  Again, this was an area where students and teachers offered feedback about their experience and observations and would really love to see an audio feature or simpler text.

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After the tutorial, students come to another screen where they have to put in their name, birthday, zip code, gender, and select their teacher.  There was a lot of learning here for students because it revealed that most students had no idea what a zip code is.  It was a great lesson, but it did slow down the registration process.  Our suggestion for this page was to cut out much of this page.  The essential information is the student name and the teacher.  These are the two pieces that will be used the most when running reports for data from Wandoo Reader.

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Once students made it through registration, the fun began.  Students practiced logging some books that were recently read, earned points, and started building robots.  Every student logged “Wandoo Reader” as a book if they read the tutorial.  There were smiles all around as each robot looked a little bit different than the next.  I loved how this feature gives students a sense of personalization, which is so important to students.  Once kids got into the program, we heard things like:

and

Students were really engaging in goal 1 from the library this year, “dreaming, tinkering, creating, and sharing”.  Of course, some students started testing the system to see how many points they could earn for more parts.  We can always clear that out through the administration portal, but they had permission to tinker.  They figured out how things worked, how things didn’t work, and also revealed to us what Wandoo Reader might need in order to focus kids on the true goal of the tool which is increasing student reading ability.

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Students were so proud of their robots

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We closed our time by talking about the importance of the data that Wandoo Reader will produce for our school.  I gave specific examples.  For example, if I see that a student clicks “still reading” on multiple books and never clicks “finished reading”, it might reveal to me that the student isn’t finding a good match for reading.  If a student reads the exact same book over and over, it might reveal to me that I need to have a conversation with that student to find similar books to the trusted favorite.  If I notice that several students are reading a lot in a particular genre, it might reveal to me that I need to purchase more of that genre for our library collection.  The list could go on and on because the data that Wandoo Reader can produce for me as the librarian as well as for classroom and collaborating teachers is something we have never had access to in a single location shared across the school.  If kids use it with “fidelity” as our superintendent says, then we can start to notice and really pay attention to the amount of time that our students are spending reading.  If we want to close the achievement gaps in reading, then one of the most important steps is getting the right books in kids’ hands and giving them time to read and have fun with that reading.  Wandoo Reader has great potential for this.

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Ms. Spurgeon record feedback for Evanced while supporting a student

Looking back over the day, there were many frustrating moments in the registration process.  In fact, there were times that it was that level of frustration where you just want to say “no thanks” and move on.  For students, there were moments where meltdowns, shut downs, and giving up could have happened.  However, the thing that sticks out to me most about the day is that there weren’t any tears.  Not a single student gave up.  I won’t pretend that they didn’t get frustrated because they did.  However, it is more important to me to see what they did with that frustration and it makes me ask “why?”.  Why didn’t they crawl under tables, cry, close their computer screens, or say I don’t like this?

I can’t prove why at the moment, but I can’t help but wonder about the library goals for this year.  We began each session by giving students permission to tinker and fail (goal 1 dream, tinker, create, and share).  We established a sense of purpose by helping them realize that their failure and feedback was contributing to the greater good of the world (Goal 2 global thinking & collaboration).  We empowered them to notice what wasn’t working as well as what they loved and share that into Lindsey’s recorder to take back to the developers (Goals 3 empowering student voice).  We talked about reading multiple kinds of text and logging everything and even gave them permission to log Wandoo Reader as a book (Goals 4 supporting reading habits).

Wandoo Reader Kickoff (15) Wandoo Reader Kickoff (21)

When I started the day, I really didn’t plan for every library goal to be evident in this one lesson.  As we moved through the first session, it became very clear to me that I needed to be transparent with students about the multiple layers of why we were using Wandoo Reader.  When I did that, the library goals naturally came to life because they are a part of my thinking every day.  If I can continue to replicate experiences like today, I feel like our students will continue to develop perseverance and stamina as well as feel like their voice matters in our school as well as the world.

Now the students who are setup are ready to start logging everything they read and building robots.  I told them to not worry about what they have read in the past but instead start with what they are reading right now.  Many will probably log minutes this weekend by visiting our Symbaloo page where we keep all of our resources.  Others will start logging minutes at school next week.  Regardless, the task now is to continue to tinker for a bit until we all figure out the best process for having kids log their minutes.  I will also follow up with teachers to see how they are feeling about Wandoo Reader and see what our next steps really are.

bar   CCSD Start Page

Even with the frustrations of registration, I feel like we all gained so much from this day to support us throughout this school year.  Thank you Evanced for this opportunity, and we can’t wait to see the changes to Wandoo Reader based on what was learned from these first student users.