2015 Student Book Budgets Step Two: Goal Setting

Discussion

The students in this year’s book budget group have been busy.  We emailed our reading interest survey to all students in our upper grades, but our younger students needed to be surveyed in person.  The book budget crew have carried iPads to recess and lunch as well as picked up iPads before school to survey students.  Over the course of a few days, they have surveyed almost half of our school.

All along the way we have checked the progress in our form by viewing the summary of responses and seeing which grades needed to be surveyed.  We wanted there to be voices from every grade level on the survey.

Finally, we all met in the library for an official meeting to look at the data on the survey.

Discussion

First, the students started picking out the kinds of books that received the most votes.  They made a list of 11 kinds of books.  These books were the ones that received above 60% of the people surveyed who said they liked that kind of book.

Our Goals

The students decided that they wanted to keep this list of 11, so our next step was to decide how to divide our approximate budget of $2000 among the 11 goals.

This came with some controversy.  There were lots of ideas.  We decided to make a list of our ideas on our shared Google doc.  Four main ideas came to the surface.

Voting on Budget Plan

1.  Divide the money equally among the 11 goals.

2.  Create a stair step budget or waterfall budget where the top goal on the list got the most money and the last goal on the list got the least.

3.  Narrow the list of goals to a top 10 or top 5.

4.  Focus on different kinds of books for different grade levels based on the survey responsed.

 

The students voted on these ideas by putting tallies in a table on the Google doc.  The idea of a waterfall budget won the vote, so the next step was to start thinking about how to divide the money among the goals while giving more money to goals requested by more students.  This was even trickier, and we ended up not making a final decision yet.

Voting on Goal Plan

 

 

Deciding how to divide the budget really called upon the students’ math skills.  They wrote things on paper, Google docs, and used Google chrome as a calculator to try to add up various amounts to get to $2000 and divide the budget up into multiple categories.  Students were using their problem solving and reasoning skills as they discussed in groups why their various plans worked or didn’t work.  Some were even revisiting the survey data to try to look at percentages on the survey and correlating that to budget percentages.  Math wasn’t just a subject at this moment.  It was a real life skill that was being put into action.

Our process was again loud and messy, but I loved how the Google doc allowed us to get lots of voices represented in the conversation rather than hearing from one or two people speaking aloud.

Now that our goals have been decided, we’ve sent these to Avid Bookshop and Capstone Press.  Will from Avid Bookshop will visit the students to book talk some books from Avid that match our goals and Jim Boon from Capstone will share his company’s offerings.  I think the pairing of these two vendors will get the students a great variety of titles to choose from.

I can’t wait to see what they decide.

 

2015 Poem In Your Pocket (Part 2)

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Our live poetry cafe continued today with 11 more sessions.  Again, we broadcast each reading through Google Hangouts and encouraged people to Tweet about our poetry using the hashtag #barrowpoems.  You can read about yesterday here.

I always love the surprises that come up from students: a student reading from a computer, a student who barely speaks who reads an incredibly descriptive poem, a student giving his teacher a standing ovation, a student who shared a poem in Chinese and then English, students encouraging their friends with a “you can do it”, a student sharing a poem about his home country, a student reading a poem for another student who was too shy to come up, and  a student handing me her poem to carry in my pocket.

Today I added a little sign to help with our traffic in and out of the library for checkout.

The energy of our students sharing poetry is simply amazing and inspiring.  Check out all these pictures of the students in action.

Our Twitter wall was very popular with students during the two days:

A few tweets from today:

Watch all of today’s archives:

2015 Poem In Your Pocket Day (Part 1)

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Each year, Poem In Your Pocket Day morphs into something just a little bit new.  It’s always a day to come to the library and share poems into our open microphone, but we like to mix things up a bit each year.  This year, I put out soft seating instead of tables.  It allowed students to be a bit closer to the speaker and hopefully felt a bit more cozy.

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In the past, I’ve used Adobe Connect to broadcast our day.  While it is a great tool, it has some drawbacks.  I love that it is one room that our online guests can stay in all day long and I can communicate with them via chat.  However, I don’t love the way the archive is created.  I have to setup and name each recording right as I’m starting the recording.  It doesn’t take long, but it’s one more step I have to do.  Also, once all of the archives are done, I have to go in, change them to public, and copy the link to share in order for people to view them.

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This year, I decided to try Google Hangouts on Air.  We use this every day for our morning broadcast, so I’m very familiar with using it.  Ahead of our event, I setup a Google Hangout on Air for each session on our schedule.  Then, I opened each hangout and copied the Youtube link where the video would stream live.  I embedded these videos on one big Google site so that they were easily accessible in one spot.

Click to visit our Google Site

As each group came in, I opened the hangout, tested the sound, and pressed start.  Our guests could watch online, but as soon as I pressed stop the video was instantly archived on that same Google site.  It saved me the hassle of having to go back and find all of the videos in order to share them.  While it’s not huge, any amount of time I can save is valuable to me.

This year, to make up for the chat feature being taken away, we decided to use Twitter to talk about our poems.  We encourage our online guests and future viewers of our content to tweet using the hashtag #barrowpoems I used Tweet Beam to display the tweet on our projection board for students to see.  It was fun to see how this populated throughout the day and how much students smiled when they saw a tweet mentioning their poem.  Teachers even pulled out their phones and helped document the day through pictures, videos, and comments on Twitter.

Also, here’s a little look at what it’s like to be in the room.

This event always amazes me because pretty much every student in the school gets up in front of an audience and speaks.  It’s a small amount of speaking, but I love seeing students get used to speaking to an audience and seeing what that feels like.  This is a very positive and supportive atmosphere, so most students leave the reading feeling validated for their work.

I encourage you to listen to some of our archives and continue to tweet about #barrowpoems

Continue watching us live on April 10th!

 

2015 Student Book Budgets: First Steps

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We are a little late this year, but our student book budget group has finally started.  Each year, I reserve a portion of our library funding and allow students to make the decisions about how that money is spent.  This is more than just having a wish list for students to contribute to.  This is giving them complete control in every part of the decision making process.

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Each year, the groups are chosen in different ways.  This year, I made a video to show to our 4th and 5th graders to explain the project.

Then, I created a Google form that was shared with all of our 4th and 5th graders to tell why they would want to be in the student book budget group.

Aziz Coleman, 4th grade teacher, really wanted his ELT group of 12 fourth graders to be a part of the project, so all of them filled out the form along with about 30 other students.  After reading through the responses, it really seemed like everyone who signed up was genuinely interested in being in the project, so I took them all!

I created a schedule for our meetings along with a timeline of where we are going.  Over the years, I’ve fine tuned the steps that we go through, but student voice and student choice always stays at the center of what we do.

During our 1st two days together, we have focused on creating our survey about reading interests.  I made a contact group with all of the students in my gmail.  That makes it easy for me to invite the entire group as collaborators on docs that we use.  I made 2 docs.  One was a brainstorm doc for us to brainstorm possible things to ask about on the survey.  I thought it would be easier to brainstorm on a doc rather than try to do it all on the Google form.

It was amazing to see so many students working together toward one common cause.

After some brainstorming started, I gave them editing rights to our 2nd doc which was our Google form survey.  We made a copy of last year’s form, and then started using our brainstorming list to make changes.

This was the 1st time I’ve tried collaborating on the Google form.  Usually we just put it up on the board and work together whole group.  I liked seeing every student involved at once, but it was definitely messy.

I checked in with students periodically and gave them some focus.  At times, we broke the tasks up into groups.  For example, one group worked on fine tuning the brainstorm list.  Another group added questions to the survey.  Another group looked carefully at the checklist on the survey to see what needed to be added or changed.

Students worked during their recess, extended learning time, and even left to get lunch and come back.  They were excited and very focused.  There were a few students who started getting off task, so I offered that they might want to go back to recess if they felt like they had contributed their part for the day.  This was totally in their hands, and some of them took me up on the offer.

We are now in the survey process. We want to survey students at every grade level.  We will email the survey to our 3rd-5th graders since they all have a computer and we will use iPads to survey the lower grades.

 

Click here to view this year’s survey.

Since our meeting time is during a prime lunch time, we have been taking over the lunchroom with iPads to survey students.

Once we have results from the survey we will set goals based on those results and start meeting with our vendors such as Capstone and Avid Bookshop.

Kicking Off Poetry Lessons for Poetry Month: Blackout Poetry

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I love to do poetry throughout the year, but April always brings an increase in poetry lessons since it is National Poetry Month.  It’s also the month that we have Poem In Your Pocket Day across 2 days at our school.

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Our 2nd grade has been busy with poetry in these first few days of the month.  They’ve already explored list poetry and now they are trying a kind of poetry called “blackout poetry”.  This poetry was invented by Austin Kleon when he had a case of writer’s block and started using the New York Times to help him write his poetry.  You can see a time lapse video of Austin’s process, which we showed to each class before we started.

Blackout poetry is a kind of found poetry because it uses words that were created by someone else.  You put boxes around the words that you want to use in the poem and then blackout everything else.  You can find your text in so many different places:  instruction manuals, pages from books, newspapers, junkmail, old tests,……the list could go on and on.

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Two classes at a time came to the library for this lesson.  We started by looking at the video as well as some examples of blackout poems online.  Then, we talked a bit about what we noticed about the process.  Austin Kleon put boxes around words that he thought he might use.  He tried to find words that seemed to go together.  We noticed that there were times where he was sitting and thinking without marking anything on the page.  We also noticed that he blacked out some of the words that he originally thought he would use.

We encouraged students to try out this same process at tables.  Since 2nd grade is working on animal and plant life cycles and habitats, we selected a few pages from a variety of animal and plant books and made multiple copies of them.  Students sat at a page that looked interesting to them.  The teachers and circulated to assist students as needed.

Most students jumped right in, but a few needed some help getting started.  One of the things that I did to help students was just to talk out loud about what I would do if I was writing the poem.  I said words that seemed to have a connection with one another and then scanned the page for more words that fit with those words (and so on).  Most of the time this nudged students to start.

As students finished selecting their words, they used crayons, color pencils, regular pencils, and markers to blackout their page.  Then, they practiced reading their poems.  Some shared with one another.

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Other students decided to use our poetry Flipgrid to record their poems.

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Click the picture to visit our poems!

Many of these students will carry these poems in their pockets on Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I love seeing how students break down the text to create a new meaning.

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Get Ready for Poem In Your Pocket Day 2015

Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (9)

Poem in Your Pocket Day has grown to be one of our favorite days of the year.  Each year, we’ve found new ways to celebrate this day.  We write poetry to prepare.  We hold a poetry contest.  We encourage every person in our school to carry a poem in your pocket.

The thing about Poem in Your Pocket that people look forward to the most is our poetry cafe in the library.  I decorate the library with tables, tablecloths, lights, and poetry.  There’s a fancy microphone and a poet’s stool.  Every class in the school comes the library across 2 days to share poems into the open microphone.  This year’s poetry cafe will be on Thursday and Friday April 9th and 10th.

Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (1) Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (3)

For the past few years, we’ve used Adobe Connect to broadcast and archive our poetry readings for the world to see.  This year, we are once again trying something new.  We’re still broadcasting, but now we are using Google Hangouts.  Each class has a Google Hangout setup.  I’ve made one Google Site that contains all of the links to the hangout feeds.  At each scheduled time, the hangout will go live for an audience to view.

This year, we are encouraging our viewing audience to use Twitter to talk about our poetry.  Comments for classes or individual students can be tweets using the hashtag #barrowpoems  I’ll have a Twitter feed up on our board so that our students can see what people are saying about their poems.

I encourage you to tune in and watch on April 9th & 10th.  Please share this event with everyone you know.  It is sure to be a great 2 days of poetry!

Here’s what you need to know:

When:  8:00AM-2:30PM eastern on April 9th and 10th

Where:  Google Hangouts.  All links can be found at bitly.com/barrowpoems15

View the complete schedule here.

Tweet about the event and the poems using hashtag #barrowpoems

 

Wrapping Up Enrichment Clusters: The Maker Faire Fanatics and The Power of Code

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For 14 weeks, I’ve worked with a group of students in 2nd-5th grade to explore the world of making.  We met every Wednesday for one hour.  They used littleBits, MaKey MaKey, 3d printing, duct tape, cardboard, and robotics to dream up all sorts of things.  Ultimately, they were supposed to offer a service to an authentic audience or create a product to show.

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A few weeks into our clusters, Ms. Freeman, 5th grade teacher, asked if she could combine with our cluster.  Her cluster was The Power of Code and focused on the many tutorials available on Code.org.  What we both found was that each of our clusters had something that the other needed in order to create something truly miraculous.  The coding students knew some things about programming and the maker kids knew some things about putting things together.

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One example of a project that took off after our combination was a video game.  A few students banded together to design their own video game.  The plan was to create the program in Scratch, build an arcade game out of cardboard, and control the game using MaKey MaKey.  The kids made great progress on their work, but they didn’t quite get finished.  I hope that they sign up for open makerspace time to continue their work.

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Our cluster time ended with 2 big culminating activities. The biggest was our field trip to UGA to host a popup makerspace and pass on our knowledge to others.

The last was to create a short video of our clusters to share at our school assembly.

This was an bright group of students to work with and I look forward to continuing to make and code with them the rest of this year and beyond.  They have taught me many things.

A Flipgrid Celebration for Our Black History Project

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Flipgrid is just an amazing group of people.  At the end of our black history project, we held a Skype session with them to celebrate our work.  It was very special for our students to connect with the entire team of developers of the app, but they had a big surprise in store for us.  The Flipgrid team truly admired the work of our students and how they were using Flipgrid to get their voices out into the world, so they wanted to show their appreciation to the students by giving them a little celebration.

They mailed us a big pack of stickers to give to every student, a handwritten thank you note, and some funds to sponsor a little party for the students.

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The students had a blast coming to the library to have  a slice of pizza, a juice, an orange, and a Flipgrid sticker.  We used this time to have a viewing party of our work and chat about our week.

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Then, some of the students took a moment to send a thank you back to Flipgrid by recording some videos on a Thank You grid.  We love our collaborative relationship with Flipgrid and look forward to using this tool for many more years to connect our voices with the world as well as unite our voices with the world.

 

Listen to our thank you’s by clicking the picture below.

 

Popup Makerspace at UGA with the Maker Dawgs and Flipgrid

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A few weeks ago, Gretchen Thomas, UGA instructional technology teacher, emailed me about a possible collaboration on the UGA campus. She wanted to bring her Maker Dawgs class to the UGA Tate Center Plaza to host a popup makerspace.  The idea would be to have a variety of maker tools available for UGA students to try on the spot.  She wondered if I had students who might join them.  Without hesitation, I said yes and  we started the logistics.  The more we planned, the bigger the trip got.  The biggest news was that 2 members of the Flipgrid and Vidku team from Minneapolis flew down to do a video in our library.  They wanted to go with us on our trip to see how students were getting their voice into the world and also how we planned to use Flipgrid to reflect on the day.

Our school is about a mile from the UGA Tate Center Plaza and our students have walking field trip forms on file so it was easy for me to create a field trip.  The hard part was working out the logistics for bad weather.  In true fashion, we had plan A, plan B, plan C, and maybe even a plan D.  It was right up to the wire deciding about going to UGA, but the rain held off and we made our trek down to Tate.

Students had a little bit of time to explore the maker tools that Gretchen brought before we prepped all of our supplies for UGA students to explore.

Students connected Spheros to iPads through bluetooth, setup a wireless network with Justin & Greg from Flipgrid, and made a playable piano with Playdoh and MaKey MaKey.

Then, we waited.  Traffic on the UGA campus quickly picked up at around 10:30 when classes changed, but most UGA students had their earbuds in and walked at a fast pace to get to the next class.  The kids were a bit timid at first, but with some encouragement, they began to develop techniques to get UGA students to stop and try out our makerspace stuff.

Several students started driving the Spheros right into the paths of walking college students.  At first, they dodged them, but eventually they started asking questions.  Other students started experimenting with phrases to get the UGA students interested.

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One student even put on silly costumes and made up dances to attract attention to our cause, and so many people loved his techniques!

It was really interesting to see the college students when they stopped.  Most of them wanted the students to demonstrate for them how each piece of technology worked.  They had to be nudged and encouraged to try them.  It made me wonder if there is less of a culture of risk-taking in this age bracket than with our elementary students.

Halfway though our makerspace time, Gretchen’s Maker Dawgs class joined us and helped talk with UGA students, demonstrate tools, and document the day through pictures and Flipgrid.

We used Flipgrid part of the time just to capture some video of what was going on.

Ludwig and Kearn spent a lot of time showing people how MaKey MaKey could control a computer.  They setup a piano and bongos that could be played with Playdoh, and they got several people to stop and try it out.  It was fun to listen them explain the science behind how it works.  When you touch the Playdoh and a piano plays, it seems like magic, but they did an incredible job of talking about circuits as they demonstrated the tool.

Many of our students worked hard to drive the Spheros around and demo them.  I wish that our Sphero students had been able to get some UGA students to try programming the Sphero, but most were just in too big of a hurry.  They mostly showed how you can use the Drive app to control the ball.  Maybe next time, we can be prepared to demo alternate apps.  However, they still had a good many students stop by and actually try out the ball after seeing how it worked.  The kids loved talking about how it worked and being able to teach students who were much older than them.

Another group of our students spent time making some things from duct tape and then teaching UGA students how to make them too.

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Others had a great time exploring littlebits, connecting blocks, and making friendship bracelets.

As our popup makerspace came to a close, we used Flipgrid to reflect on what we had learned.

Here are links to a few of those responses.

It was truly an amazing day of getting our students out into the world to share their knowledge and pass on their passion for makerspaces.  Gretchen was able to promote her UGA class.  We were able to show what’s happening in K-12 education right now with makerspaces.  Our students were empowered by the chance to be the experts in the room.  Gretchen and I are already brainstorming what this might look like next time.

Many thanks to Greg and Justin from Vidku and Flipgrid for tagging along and helping to document our day.

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Collaborating Within Walls Using Google Hangouts: A List Poetry Lesson

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Last year, I tried something new with the 2nd grade.  My library schedule was packed and it was hard to get all 4 classes on the calendar, so I used Google Hangouts to teach all 4 classes at one time.  It was an experiment, but it proved to be a lot of fun and also showed the students and teachers how to use a Google Hangout and collaborate on a Google doc.

This year, we planned it again and added on a few layers.  One of our favorite kinds of poems to write is list poetry.  You take a list and add descriptive words to each item on the list so that the reader can experience the items on the list.  Our goal in our Google Hangout this time was to learn about list poetry, hear a mentor poem, practice list poetry together, and then create one collaborative list poem.

In advance, I setup a Google Hangout on Air.

 

I sent the link to the hangout to all of the teachers participating in the hangout.  I also created a blank Google Doc for our collaborative poem and shared editing rights with all 4 teachers.

 

I gave the blank doc a title and wrote each teacher’s name inside the doc to create a space for each class to add to the collaborative poem without writing on top of one another.

On the morning of the hangout, I emailed teachers a reminder that included the link to the doc as well as the direct link for  joining as a participant in the hangout.

At hangout time, I went in my office and awaited the classes.  As they entered, I did a sound check to make sure microphones were working.  Then I used the control panel in Hangouts to mute all of their microphones to eliminate feedback.

I opened our lesson by reading from Falling Down the Page, list poems collected by Georgia Heard.  We focused on “In my Desk” by Jane Yolen.  I pointed out how she gave describing words for each item found in her desk so that we would be able to picture it or experience it.  I built on the reactions of students to the line about a “great big hunk of rotting cheese” found in a lunch box.  These kinds of words cause us to react which is exactly what we want in a poem.

Next, I opened up a blank doc and started writing a grocery list:  bread, milk, eggs, cereal.  Then I assigned each word to one of the 4 classes and had them brainstorm describing words to add to each item on my list.  Each class had a chance to speak in the hangout as I added our words to the poem.

Finally, I invited all of the classes to work on a collaborative poem about things under our beds.  Each teacher facilitated the work in their own classrooms.  I checked in from time to time to give an update on when we would stop working.  Then, each class read their stanza of the poem to close out our time.

While we were writing, I invited people on Twitter to watch the doc in construction.  We had lots of viewers engaged in our work in progress, and students loved being published authors with one tweet.

Viewers

You can watch the whole thing here:

This lesson certainly saved me time in the library to give to other classes who needed a lesson, but it was much more than that.  Rather than having each class in the grade level feel isolated, this lesson allowed them to unite together to create a piece of writing that immediately reached an audience outside of our school.  It allowed us to collaborate within the walls of our school without the disruption of shuffling kids from class to class.  It gave each class a space to think and work with one another and also a space for all classes to work together.  I don’t think that every lesson would work in this type of setup, but it does make me curious to think about when this type of learning is the better choice than scheduling each class individually.

Under My Bed

By Barrow 2nd graders

Under my bed you will find…

 

(Yawn’s Stanza)

Slimey Socks

Lost High Fives

Stuffed animals, toys, and books

Scraps of paper

Remote control plane

Hairy, mad Tarantula

Dusty Boogers

Junky Legos

Clothes and shoes and jackets

Hairy Monkey Eyes with a big chin

Tv, coke can, and baseball cards

Football cards and a zipline

Dirty underwear, rotten bread, and an old sandwich

 

(Ramseyer’s Stanza)

Two fat picture books

A fake diamond sword

My playful black kitten

Giant Lego parts

Huge dead bugs in the corner

A stinky, rainbow sock

A blue crate filled with Adidas shoes

A chewed up puppy stuffed animal

 

(Brink’s Stanza)

Hiding under my bed with my big, hairy monster

you will find

smelly dead cockroaches and dust bunnies

old paper candy wrappers

a big purple three horned monster

basketball shoes

an empty shoebox and an old toy

a skeleton reaching for water

a stinking mummy, rotten eggs, and a stinky sock

cuddly stuffed animals

a golden chair, medals, trophies

smooth rocks I found in the street

lost, overdue library books

a racing track

paper plates

 

(Wright’s Stanza)

Under my bed, I look and see

Flattened books

moldy food

cute and sleepy puppies

old broken legos I used to play with

misplaced and forgotten toys

and ripped, dirty money

 

So many things under my bed.

 

Following this lesson, I did a very similar lesson with one Kindergarten class in person.  We didn’t do the hangout, but we did share our work with the Internet so that students’ voices were already reaching an audience even in their beginning steps of writing.  It was so much fun to get a comment from one of the viewers of the doc.