Fostering Digital Leadership: A Next Step

chromville1I recently rolled out our 1 to 1 devices to grades 3-5.  During this orientation, I talked with students about digital leadership.  Since then, our oldest grades have started taking their computers home, but our 3rd graders are still waiting.  It’s their first year with their own computer and we are trying to do a better job of helping them understand what kinds of things they can do with their computer when they take it home.

The third grade teachers chatted with me about digital leadership and digital citizenship and we thought about what would be the most important thing to explore next.  We looked at Common Sense Media and their scope and sequence.  We also talked about ideas that I planted during the orientation.

Based on our discussions, I decided to focus on our digital snapshots.  What are we currently doing with technology?  What do we want to strive to do with technology?  What is ok to share?  What do we keep private?

I created a short set of slides to guide our conversation, and I’m fascinated by some of the things that came up.  I started with a small piece of my own digital snapshot.

It contained my blog as well as a screenshot of my home screen on my iPhone.  I asked students to look at this one piece of my digital life and see what they could learn about how I use technology.  They had conversations with partners and I eavesdropped.  I heard things like:

  • He misses a lot of calls and doesn’t answer his text messages
  • He likes to share things
  • He takes a lot of pictures
  • He likes to travel
  • He is very organized with his apps
  • He uses his phone to look up books in the library
  • He has 2 kids

The list continued to grow with each class, and each class inferred something more than the last class.  I was actually amazed about how much they could learn from me just by focusing on my phone.  In fact, that’s all they focused on.  Not a single student talked about the picture of my blog.  There focus was completely on the apps on my phone, which was also interesting to me.

I used their noticings to connect to some of the decisions I make as a user of technology.  I talked about how I know when I share a picture or a blog post that it is going to be seen around the world.  I once again shared our blog map to remind students where people are looking at our work.

Next, I had students talk with partners about what their digital snapshots look like.  How are they using technology in their everyday lives?  We started adding some of these ideas to a doc.  We didn’t capture everything, but I at least wanted a list we could refer to.

All of this was leading up to us spending more time talking about using our devices in school and at home for educational purposes.  I loved having this list because most students thought it was bad for them to go onto Youtube.  Many were surprised when I talked about all of the great things Youtube is for.  In most classes, we spent a bit of time brainstorming why we might use Youtube.  This list also gave me some insight into what students are doing at home that I haven’t even heard of.

After students reflected on their own digital snapshot, I showed students what other students have already done at our school with technology.  I couldn’t show everything, but I gave them a quick look at pictures to show some of the awesome ways we’ve used technology to connect, collaborate, create, and share.

Finally, I asked students to spend time brainstorming how they might use their 1:1 technology.  This was only a starting place.  Many students focused on videos, games, or websites they might visit, so we have some work to do in regards to thinking about our devices as creation tools and tools that connect us to opportunities.  Students added their ideas for how to use technology at home and keep it connected with learning and appropriate use for an elementary student to a padlet.

Some students were also able to move on to a wonderful coloring page from the augmented reality app, Chromville.  This coloring page features Zoe and a computer screen.

Students can draw or write about a digital citizenship message on the screen.

chromville 6 chromville 5

Using the Chromville app, Zoe comes to life on the screen displaying the students’ digital citizenship message and you can even click the mouse to display additional messages about staying safe online.  I want to make sure all of the students get to try this out, but only a few made it this far during our hour together.

chromville4 chromville 5 chromville 6

We will continue to revisit these topics in classrooms and during library projects and lessons throughout the year.  If you have an innovative way to have these conversations with your students, I would love to hear them.

chromville

 

Using the I-PICK Strategy in the Library

Our teachers LOVE the I-PICK strategy for finding good fit books.  I must say that it is a strategy that just makes sense.  It doesn’t focus on one aspect of locating a book that matches a reader and it adjusts to whatever the purpose is for finding a book whether it’s independent reading or reading with a partner.

The I-PICK strategy stands for:

  • I choose my book
  • Purpose: Why am a I choosing a book today?
  • Interest:  What are the things that I like or want to learn about?  What holds my attention?
  • Comprehend:  Do I understand what’s going on by reading the words and pictures?
  • Know:  Do I know enough of the words to understand what’s going on?

Students often learn this strategy in their classrooms, and I typically do a follow-up lesson in the library to build a connection that this is a strategy that goes beyond the classroom.  This year, it seems I’m doing this lesson with almost every grade.  I’m trying to build connection even beyond the school during our time together.

We start with a quick brainstorm of all of the places where we can find books.  Students have named places such as school library, public library, bookstores (Barnes & Noble and Avid Bookshop), yard sales, thrift shops, and online.  Then, I shared a story about my own visit to the bookstore this summer to choose a book.  I wove in several things that I see students do, but honestly, that I also do.  After each bullet point that I shared, we paused and asked: “Does that make this a good fit book for me?”  The answer was usually “no, not completely” because each of these bullets is a piece of the puzzle of finding a good fit book and they all work together in order to make the puzzle complete.

mirandus

  • I went to Avid Bookshop to choose a chapter book, so I focused on that section of the store
  • I pulled a book off of the shelf that had a red cover because that’s my favorite color.  (The book happened to be Circus Mirandus)
  • I took the jacket off because there was a picture hiding underneath and I started to notice things like the flying girl, the mysterious man in a jacket and hat, the tent with a sun on it, etc.
  • I read the inside jacket flap about the book
  • I read the first three chapters of the book because they were short
  • All along the way, I stayed interested in the book.  I felt connected to what it was about.  I understood what was going on.
  • I bought the book and loved it!

I don’t want to pretend that the I-PICK strategy is a linear process because it’s not.  I don’t go from beginning to end of this strategy every time I choose a book.  I often bounce around in the process.  However, most of these pieces are usually there when I pick a book.  I don’t pick a book because it’s on my Lexile level.  I don’t choose a book because of how many points I get for the book.  I don’t choose a book because someone puts it on a list and tells me that I have to read it.  I choose my book because I’m genuinely interested in it and it speaks to my personality as a reader.  I think the I-PICK strategy surfaces some of the steps that readers often do and puts them into an easy to remember formula for readers to think about as they select books.

The purpose can always change.  Sometimes a reader may be looking for a book to read with a family member, so the independent comprehension or “knowing the words” doesn’t matter as much.  The interest step is always there no matter the purpose.  I want student to always seek books that interest them or spark their curiosity.

After our quick brainstorm and bookshop story on the carpet.  I moved students to tables.  On the tables are stacks of books pulled from all areas of the library.  The idea is for students to practice the IPICK strategy in a small setting first.  I know that not every student is going to find a book that interests them on the tables and that is totally ok.  I do let them move from table to table if they aren’t finding an interest.  Most students do find something because I choose such a variety, but some just don’t connect to what they see.  The teachers and I roam around and ask students about what is catching their eye and what they’ve done to see if it’s a good fit.  We might listen to them read a bit, talk about their interests, or share something they’ve learned from the book.

The next part is my favorite.  I ask students about what else interests them or what else they hope to take with them from the library today.  This is where I really get to focus the library on their individual interests.  Sometimes it’s very broad such as “a picture book” but sometimes it is extremely specific like “Pete the Cat”.  No matter what they say I direct them to a part of the library with their shelf marker to start searching for that good fit book using the IPICK strategy.

In the end, many students do in fact find books that fit their “reading level”, but more importantly find a book that they are excited about as they leave the library.  Some students still leave the library with a 300 page book even though they are reading on a lower level, but to me, it’s part of the process.  I can continue to share strategies for choosing books, talk about purpose, and most importantly help readers make a connection to the books that truly interest them.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a big step in how we each choose the books that we read.

 

 

Creating Hype for an Author Visit: Circus Mirandus

CMolfVfWsAA034H

We are over the moon with excitement that Cassie Beasley is coming to our school on September 3 thanks to her, her publisher Penguin Random House, and Avid Bookshop.  Sometimes author visits happen at the last minute, but this one has been in the works since the summer.  I read the book and fell in love with the story.  Even before I was done, I was talking with Avid Bookshop about the possibility of Cassie coming to our school.  We created a proposal together, and many emails and conversations later the visit was scheduled.

As a part of my proposal, I suggested that our PTA would buy a copy of the book for all 3rd-5th grade homerooms.  The book would be available to students to read or the teacher could even read it aloud.  I’m excited to say that our entire 3rd grade is reading the book aloud and many of the 5th grade classes are starting it. During our library orientation, I read aloud the beginning chapter of the book as well as the beginning of the chapter starting on p. 65 which details how Ephraim first made it into Circus Mirandus.  We learn that you can’t pay to get into the circus but must instead offer something of your own to the ticket taker.  For Ephraim, it’s a fish from his boot which results in a week-long pass to the circus.

mirandus 2

Reading from the book is enough to create hype because it’s just that good.  However, a circus theme as well as the contents of the book lend to some other fun opportunities for students to engage with the book ahead of the author visit.  Our wonderful PTA also bought 20 additional copies of the book to be given out at our discretion.  I’ve decided to give 10 of these away to students who participate in 2 opportunities in the library.

CMDQ8iAUkAADLgR

The first opportunity is to think about what your ticket into Circus Mirandus would be.  I’m encouraging students to either make, bring in, or even take a picture of the object they would offer as their ticket.  I made a short ticket template for them to fill out with their name, ticket description, and how long they think the ticket would be good for at the circus.

We are displaying these on the tops of the library shelves.  When they turn in their “ticket”, I give them a ticket to put their name on and drop into our fish bowl.

The second opportunity is a photo booth.  I made a backdrop of red with quotes from the book.  I covered a table and cushion with a gold tablecloth and filled an empty Mariah Carey perfume container with fuzzy pom poms to look like gum balls.  Then, I ordered a set of circus photo booth props from Oriental Trading.  I put all of this together and included the wearable books from Capstone which contain beards, hats, masks, and teeth.  If students take their picture in the photo booth, then they earn another ticket into the drawing for a book.  I plan to print out the photographs and display them on the library windows.

Before the author visit, I will draw out 10 names and announce the winners so that Cassie can autograph the book for them.

Along the way, I’m tweeting about our fun and tagging Avid Bookshop, Cassie Beasley, and the publisher so that they can all follow along in the fun.

I have some other special decorations in the works, which I plan to complete this week.  I’ll keep those under wraps for now.

I’ve been emailing with Cassie and planning the visit.  I know that it is truly going to be a magical experience for us all when she comes.

Library Orientation for Third through Fifth Grade

mirandus

Just as I did for the early grades, I pondered what message I wanted our upper grades to take away from library orientation.  I wanted to of course give them some reminders about routines and procedures, but I wanted them to leave with a sense that the library was a place for all readers to connect with books.  I wanted them to know that if they had never found a book that they connected with that I wanted to help them find that book.  If we didn’t have the book or topic in our library, then I wanted us to make sure that we did.

Over the summer, I saw John Schu post on his blog about a new site from Scholastic with the motto “Open a World of Possible”. On the site, there are several videos and resources about how reading opens possibilities for us all.  One of the best videos is the one asking kids of all ages to talk about why they read.

I asked students to first think about what their answer to the question “Why do you read?” would be.  I didn’t take any answers from them since I felt like it was a personal question at that moment in time and that some students may have never thought of the answer.  Then, we watched the video to see if we connected to anything the students said or if their ideas sparked some of our own.  At that point, instead of asking students to share aloud, I gave them an opportunity.  I created a Flipgrid with that same question and told them it would be available for the next two weeks.  I hoped they would think about their answer and share their voice with others in our school.  I loved that some of them did this before they even left the library.

I shared with students that one of the reasons that I read is to walk in other people’s shoes, especially people who are different from me. I also love to experience things in a book that I know I would never do in real life.  Books are my safe place to go into the spooky unknown, the thrill of the Hunger Games, or the magic of a schools for wizards.

Next, I shared a bit of a book that I connected with this summer called Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley.  These grades will all have an author visit with Cassie in September, so this lesson was also a way for us to start diving into her text.  I chose to read aloud starting on p. 65, which is the part where Ephraim first visits the circus as a young boy.  He is a believer, so he is able to find the circus.  However, he still needs a ticket to get in.  It is on these pages that Ephraim discovers that every person’s ticket into Circus Mirandus is different.  You can’t pay to get in but instead must offer something to the ticket taker that has a connection with who you are or simply what you have to offer.  For one boy, it’s a spool of thread and for Ephraim it’s a fish.

mirandus 1

I loved seeing so many students connect to this part of the story and want to read on.  I knew they wouldn’t all connect because it’s so hard for us all to connect with the exact same book.  However, this part of the story helped us talk about how we are each different.  We each have interests that we bring into the library when we search for a book, and those interests are our tickets into the books on the shelves.

Beyond “why I read” and connecting through interests, students have an opportunity to explore the library and refresh their memory on checking out books, using Destiny, and finding the various sections.  As in the past, I made some videos connected to QR codes.  Students used iPads to watch these videos and then start checking out books when they were ready.  I was able to talk to students about their interests rather than focusing on how to check out books.

I hope that students continue to think about why they read and that I can think of more ways to find out their interests and showcase their voices in the library.

 

Library Orientation for Kindergarten through Second Grade

elliot

Each year I ponder what to do for the first of the year library orientation.  Once again, it’s a time where you want to talk about procedures, expectations, etc, but I think more and more about what message I really want students to take away.

This year we are fortunate to have author and illustrator Mike Curato coming to visit our school in October.  His book Little Elliot, Big City has so many positive messages for students to start off their year.  I decided to use this book as a conversation starter about problem solving, helping one another, being a good friend, and feeling welcome in such a big place.

As students entered the library, I played the book trailer.

Then, we opened with the story. Little Elliot, Big City has very few words on a page, but the discussions that can blossom from those simple words and powerful illustrations are priceless. Over the course of reading the book to students, there were certain pages that started to stand out as the pages I wanted to pause on in order to connect the book with the first visit to the library.

First, we paused here:

elliot 2

Students imagined an elephant in their mind based on what they had seen in a book, movie, or real life. Then, they talked with a partner about all of the differences. We could connect this to all kinds of library ideas such as how different we all are as readers: our interests, our stamina, our favorite authors, and more.

Next, we paused here:

elliot 3

I loved hearing students talk about this page and how Little Elliot was a problem solver.  Even though things were challenging, he found ways to persevere.  Again, there were so many was to connect to the library and school.  We talked about the importance of not giving up, taking a deep breath, trying what seemed impossible, and the more classes I talked to the more ideas surfaced that I hadn’t even thought of.

Probably the most powerful page to talk about was here:

elliot 4

We saw Elliot struggle to be noticed as he went into the city to buy a cupcake. Students came up with all kinds of ways that Elliot could get his cupcake, but then he leaves with nothing.  We pondered the question, “Why was Elliot able to be a problem solver at home, but not in the bakery?”  Students amazed me with what they said.  At home, Elliot was alone and could be brave. In the city, he was shy and scared.  Students also talked about how he knew how to use all the tools at his house like his chair, his books, and his broom. However, in the city, he didn’t know how to use things, so he felt helpless.  Wow!  The conversations just kept coming and each class had a statement that stood out.  I wish I had captured the brilliance.  It really made me think about all the tools students really need in order to use the library and how that can be a little scary even though I have no intention for it to feel that way.  It reminded me of the importance of smiling and patience as students ask over and over how to do things like check out their own books.

Our library really is a massive place, especially for a Kindergarten through second grade student. I don’t want them to ever feel like Elliot did in the cupcake store, so we had some honest conversation about what we could all do to make sure that happened.  I was honest with them about how I work alone in the library so there are times that I can’t leave a class to come over and help them.  I truly want to, but sometimes it’s just hard for me to do.

Suddenly, those rules and procedures for using a shelf marker had a purpose.  I wasn’t just giving students a rule for the library during orientation.  I was giving them a tool just like Elliot had his broom.  The shelf marker was a strategy for those times that students were unsure.  We talked about going to a section of the library and really examining the books on the shelf with a shelf marker rather than searching on the computer.

We also talked about how Elliot was a helper to mouse in the story and that we really all have to be like Elliot at some point.  We have to help one another.  We can’t wait on one person to be the person to help us.  Whether it’s another adult roaming the library, a student from another class, or a volunteer, we can ask anyone in the library to help us access what we want.

I really didn’t plan for Elliot to have so many connections to library orientation, but he did.  It just evolved.  Students left with a positive story, a strategy for finding books, and I hope a sense that the library is a welcoming place where we all take responsibility to help one another.

Inspiring Digital Leaders During Personal Learning Device (PLD) Rollout

unnamed 3

Our 3rd-5th graders all have their own personal learning device assigned to them at the beginning of the year.  This device gets checked out to them just like a textbook and remains with them throughout the school year.  Students also take this device home.  Currently, our 3rd graders each receive an ASUS netbook and our 4th & 5th graders receive an HP laptop.

There are so many rules that you want to talk to students about when it comes to their computers in order to keep the computer and the students safe.  However, I want students to get their device with more than just a set of rules.  I want students to realize the power of the device they hold in their hands.  I want them to realize that their device connects them to the information that answers just about any question they could dream up.  It connects them to people and cultures they may never experience on their own.  It connects them with authors, developers, and experts on any topic of interest.  It allows them to collaborate with students and classrooms around the world.

unnamed (1)

I really wrestled with exactly what I wanted to do as students come to get their device from the library.  Should I just check it out and do digital citizenship lessons later?  Should I go over the list of rules from the student handbook?  Should I focus on the kinds of projects we would do with the devices during the year?

As I was pondering, I turned to a few resources to spark my thoughts.  One resource was Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson.  This text features students who have all done something to create change in their schools or communities.  Each chapter takes a different aspect of being a changemaker and profiles a student who did something amazing.  They don’t all necessarily feature something digital, but the idea of using our technology to foster change was intriguing to me.

From the foreword:

“Don’t wait.  Don’t wait to be powerful, to change the lives and communities around you significantly.  There is nothing like it.  Once you discover that you can visualize the next step society should take, and then you discover that you can lead others to turn your vision into reality, you can do anything.”

I also turned to the blog of George Couros.  I often find inspiration from this transformational principal’s blog.  He has written several times about digital leadership.  He defines digital leadership as “using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.  His post about digital leadership vs. cyberbullying really made me think about what I wanted to emphasize with the students.  Rather than focus on every bad thing that could happen with devices, I wanted the main focus to be on the good that we could do.

So…what did I do?  First, I’ll say that I finally just had to try something and see where it went.  I don’t think that what I did was special, but it was a start to a conversation and something I will keep revisiting.

As students entered, they each came to an iPad on the carpet and I had this video playing.

We used this video to talk about how doing good deeds can spread.  We also used the video to talk about how technology isn’t always visible.  The awesome projects that we create using technology hide on our computers unless we share them.  On the same note, the bad things that happen like cyberbullying may go unnoticed unless students take leadership and speak up to people who can support them.  This is a conversation that evolved as the classes continued to come and something I didn’t really plan initially for this video.

Next, I introduced the idea of digital leadership and being a changemaker using Laurie Ann Thompson’s book foreward and student profile on page. 137.  I also used this video.

I also shared myself by showing how I use this blog to highlight the incredible work of our students.  I showed our map of visitors since April.  Students saw every place in the world where people were reading about the work going on in our library.

With all of these pieces, I asked students to think about what it means to be a digital leader.  A digital leader is a person who _____________.  Then, using Poll Everywher, students submitted their thoughts using the iPads.  I setup the poll to populate as a word cloud.  As students submitted answers the words grew in size as they were repeated.  I deactivated the poll and we used the word cloud to talk about how the words connected with “digital leader”.

Most of the time, something about being responsible came up in the digital leadership word clouds, so the next thing we did was create a second word cloud about the things we needed to do this year to be responsible with our devices.  Again, students submitted via the iPads.  This cloud mostly focused on being careful with devices, keeping them charged, not losing them, etc.

unnamed 2

Really with both of these questions, students hit most of the topics that I would have covered on my own.  I had a set of slides that was shared between the other librarians in the district that included lots of rules for the devices, so I used those slides to fill in the holes from the word clouds.  We covered a few missing pieces such as keeping your password secure and having a plan for where to keep your computer outside of school.

unnamed 4

I hope that in going over a few “rules” that I didn’t lose the concept of being a digital leader.  I’m not sure.  However, I felt like kids were leaving excited about getting their device and being in general agreement about the potential of the device they held in their hands.

I look forward to this year and seeing what we create with these devices, what change we foster in our school and community, and how our students use technology for good.

 

Let’s Make Our Mark and See Where It Goes for Dot Day 2015

How do you and your students want to make your mark on the world this school year?  International Dot Day, which is September 15ish, is the perfect time to make connections with other schools, spark creativity and collaboration, and see where it takes you for the rest of the year.  Whether you’ve celebrated Dot Day from its beginnings or you are just getting started, we invite you to get creative with your students and share that creativity with the world.

hocking mural (3)

From the official page:
International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.”

There’s no “right” way to celebrate Dot Day.  In fact, every year people around the globe come up with new and creative ways to make dots and connect with others.  That’s the magic of this special day.

colAR (3)

What happens during a Dot Day connection?
Often, we start by reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds or other dot-inspired books such as Press Here by Herve Tullet.  This is done via Skype or Google Hangouts with a connecting class. We begin to connect the dots with one another by learning a bit about one another.  Sometimes we create something together.  For example, last year students in Barrow Elementary made collaborative digital dots with connecting schools via Google Drawing.

Dot Day (37)

If you need some ideas to get started, consider taking a look at Matthew Winner’s past lessons or check out what others have posted in the Dot Day gallery.

Shannon Miller and John Schu’s Dot Day video is always an inspiration.

Also, check out the Celebridots page for dots created by some of your favorite authors and illustrators.

Many times connecting schools send some of their creations to one another through traditional mail.

How to get started

  1. Register your school on the official Dot Day page.  You’ll be added to the global map as well as gain access to the educator guide which is packed with information
  2.  Visit our shared Google Doc to start making connections with other schools.  We plan to make connections during the whole week of September 14-18.  Simply post your schedule, ideas, and contact information. Then, browse the doc for other schedules that match yours.  Skype in the Classroom is also a great place to make connections.
  3.  Start collaborating with your connecting schools and get ready to make your mark with your students.

Part of making your mark on the world is getting your students’ voices and creations out into the world.  As you connect, share your creations on Twitter using #DotDay and #Makeyourmark  Consider creating a blog post to show your students’ work to the world.

Now, make your mark and see where it takes you.

tinyurl.com/dotday15