3D Jewelry Artists in 1st Grade Using Blokify

art jewelry

In my latest collaboration with our superstar art teacher, Rita Foretich, we are crafting with 1st graders.  One of her art standards has to do with students creating a craft, which is defined as an art creation that serves a purpose.  Rita is always pushing herself as a teacher to try new things and stretch the boundaries of what kids have experiences with. Along with this standard she wanted students to work with technology and to design in 3D.  What resulted was an art project where 1st graders are designing pendants in a 3D design tool called Blokify, 3D printing those pendants, and then using them in art to create a functional necklace.

When Rita first told me about her ideas for this project, my first reaction was whether or not Blokify was the right tool.  I had made pendants and charms in other tools like Tinkercad, but I knew that Tinkercad would be very tricky to do with a 1st grade class in the time frame we had.  Blokify is very user-friendly for very early learners, but I had trouble envisioning a pendant.  I even tweeted out to ask other people what they thought.

What helped me in the end?  Tinkering.  During our book fair, I pulled out an iPad and just tinkered at making a charm.  I can’t say that I came up with anything brilliant, but I did come up with some examples to help students see. The most helpful thing was for them to be able to visualize what the hole for the string might look like.

Each 1st grade class came to the library during their art time.  Ms. Foretich started the lesson with a quick video of a Makerbot in action.

It was fun to hear students talk about what was happening in the video because at this point many of them knew that it was a 3D printer, which would not have been the case a few years ago. Then, we showed the students the Blokify program. I really didn’t go into a lot of detail, but I showed them how to zoom in and out, how to add a block, and how to change blocks.  Then, students had time to tinker at tables and get familiar with the Blokify program.

Ms. Foretich and I walked around to assist students who were getting frustrated as well as encourage students to try various parts of Blokify such as adding a row, deleting blocks, switching worlds, and switching blocks.  Tinkering looked very different this year than it has in previous years, and my hunch is that students have more experience with Minecraft now, so they make the connection to this very similar program. I saw students being much more intentional about block placement even in tinkering instead of just tapping all over the screen.

We invited students back to the carpet after their tinkering sessions and gave them the specific task of the day: to design a one-layer pendant. We showed the examples that I had made as well as samples from other classes that had already printed.

Then, students went back to iPads and started a fresh design.  They only had a short amount of work time to create their designs, and I was so impressed with what some of them came up with.  They were so much more creative than my own designs!  As each student finished we had to email the files to a central email.  I had the email account pulled up on the board so that we could see if the emails came through.  Many of them didn’t, so we were slowed down by errors.  We had to go into the outbox of the email on the iPad and resend most of the emails.  For students that we couldn’t email in time, we put post-its on the iPads so that we could email the files after they left.

Amazed at the designs 1st graders come up with for 3D pendants. #studentwork #studentvoice #3dprinting #makerspace #librariesofinstagram

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

On the library calendar, I blocked off time slots for me to specifically work on prepping all of the files for 3d printing.  When you are working with over 100 .stl files to print, it’s time consuming.  I was able to put about 8 pendants on each print plate.  Each plate takes anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on how large I make the pendants.  I name each file “Pendant 1”, “Pendant 2”, etc.  Then, on a sheet of paper I write out the name and teacher of each individual pendant on the plate.  These names are also written onto Ziploc bags so that finished prints can go into the bags ready for the art teacher.

1st grade blokify charms are 3D printing this morning. #makerspace #3dprinting #jewelry #studentwork #librariesofinstagram

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I can’t wait to see how the final necklaces turn out once they return to art class.  This has been an adventurous collaboration full of challenges, but there have been many rewards along the way too.  It was especially rewarding to see some students shine at using Blokify even when they might struggle in other subject areas.

Organizing over 100 prints for art class. #makerspace #artsed #3dprinting #organization

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker!

LJMAR152016CV

I’m beyond excited to finally announce that I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. This has been a very hard secret to keep for so long. I’m extremely honored to represent the power of libraries in our world along with the many other talented individuals on this year’s list.  I have so much respect for the other librarians who have been on this prestigious list through the years, and it’s surreal to see my name alongside people who are my mentors and friends along with new inspiring people to discover.  I’m taking time to read each person’s profile and be inspired with each and every story.

To look at the map of movers, and see the number in Georgia bump up to 17 movers and shakers was a special moment. I’m honored to be one of the 17 Georgians across the 15 years of this award and 1 of about 750 movers and shakers around the globe.  Out of the 17 Georgians, only 3 of those are school librarians. This year’s list of 54 movers and shakers included only 5 school librarians.  Theses 5 librarians include the amazing Colleen Graves, whose makerspace leadership always inspire me to try something new. Also included is Sue Kowalski, who empowers her students to take charge in the library and is always thinking about how to grow the library program in the community.

IMG_8695

When I found out that I made the 2016 list, I immediately started wondering which category I would be placed in. That is one detail that you don’t find out until the very end. Now that I know I’m in the “community builder” category, I couldn’t be happier.

When I really look at the heart of what I do, it’s about creating communities of learners, dreamers, innovators, creators, and leaders. The library has never been just mine. I’m always looking for opportunities to increase access to resources and experiences for all of the members of our library. Whether it’s collaborating with Gretchen Thomas at the University of Georgia, Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack at Fliprgrid, Lindsey Hill at Evanced, Janet Geddis and the bookseller team at Avid Bookshop, Jim Boon and Amy Cox at Capstone Press, authors and illustrators, or my librarian colleagues around the country, miraculous things happen for the students, educators, and collaborators involved. We realize that we are never alone. Every time we connect in person or virtually, we realize that we are part of one big community and the words of Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw’s Same, Same but Different  ring true for us all.  I feel like I have so much more to learn about building community within the walls of our school and beyond, and I can’t wait to see where we go in the coming years.

IMG_8752

I do want to pull back the curtain just a bit on what it was like to go through the process of being on the Movers and Shakers list. First, you are nominated. I am fortunate to know several people who nominated me, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to thank Charlie Miller, Lindsey Hill, Gretchen Thomas, Sherry Gick, and Ellen Sabatini for their nominations along with anyone else who may have submitted my name.

IMG_8696

In December, I got the email with an invitation to come to ALA Midwinter in Boston for the photo shoot and first time meeting several of the 2016 Movers and Shakers. I was so excited to attend my first Midwinter and get to tour the massive exhibit hall.  I arrived a little before registration started, so I had a chance to tour a little of Boston.

IMG_8694

One of my favorite spots was the public library. I loved touring the old and new spaces and thinking about what libraries have done for communities throughout the years and how the spaces are always evolving to meet the needs of the library members.

I of course also had to visit the Make Way for Ducklings ducks in the Public Garden.

As soon as I went to registration, I saw several librarians I knew, and it was so hard not to talk about why I was really at midwinter. Luckily, I did have a meeting to talk about transforming libraries with Miguel Figueroa, so I had that to talk about. I got to meet some superstar authors and illustrators like Jeff Kinney, Herve Tullet, Mac Barnett, and Jory John.

The night before the photo shoot, I went to the Candlewick party at Fenway Park. Being in this historic stadium at night and completely empty was unbelievable. We dined on ballpark food along with about 20 authors and illustrators including Peter & Paul Reynolds and Gregory Maguire.

On the morning of the photo shoot, I made my way to the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. I wore my red shirt, Dr Seuss Converse shoes, “expect the miraculous” bracelet, and carried my copy of Flora and Ulysses. The lobby was breathtaking and I was extremely nervous, so I took a few moments to look around before heading up to the suite.

When I finally decided to go to the room, I was relieved to see other movers in the room so it made the shoot less intimidating. There were two rooms setup with backdrops, and the photographer and other staff were very helpful in making the shoot fun and special. We took many different group shots along with our individual pictures. While we waited, we got to learn a bit about one another and make some connections.  I got to chat with fellow teacher librarian Sue Kowalski and snap a quick selfie too.

I also met Stephanie Anderson, and after chatting, we realized we had a mutual connection with Janet Geddis and Avid Bookshop.

The rest of the conference was filled with great conversations about libraries and celebrating up and coming books. I was glad that I flew Southwest just so I could pack books into my two checked bags.

Also, within this same time frame, I had a long phone interview with Carly Okyle, the writer for my profile. It was fun to chat with her again since she also wrote the article for my SLJ School Librarian of the Year finalist profile. She’s a big fan of our library program, Check out how the final article turned out.

mover and shaker issue

The print copies have arrived!

Waiting on announcement day was really hard, and it was a huge relief to finally have the secret out and celebrate with people who care about my work. I can’t even begin to list all of the social media posts that I received from friends in my PLN and people who have found some inspiration I’ve done.

My wife brought me red flowers to school and snuck up behind me playing 100% by Mariah Carey.  It was my own singing telegram.  The work we do is hard, and it is rare that we get thanked or celebrated.  However, anything someone did for me or said on release day was special to me, and reminded me how we really need to stop and celebrate educators more often.  On March 28th, my school is having an “Andy Plemmons Day” where all are encouraged to wear red!  I look forward to that special day of celebrating with you Barrow community.

Red flowers from my wife on this special day #ljmover16 #tlchat #librarian #leadership #congratulations

A post shared by Andy Plemmons (@andy.plemmons) on

In June, I will travel to my first ALA annual in Orlando. There will be a Movers and Shakers luncheon that will reunite Movers and Shakers from previous years along with the 2016 winners.

As always, it is incredible to be recognized for your work, but these awards are really a celebration of libraries and the members who make up each of these libraries represented.  There are many more school and public librarians out there that need to be on this list, and I hope we see even more of those people on this list in years to come. Thank you for following along with me in this journey. Now, forward we go to the next adventure expecting the miraculous the whole way.IMG_8827

Building Community: An Avid Bookshop Storytime with Philip and Erin Stead

Philip & Erin Stead (37)

We have an amazing independent bookshop in our community called Avid Bookshop. Our library has been collaborating with Janet Geddis before the storefront of Avid existed, and it has been so much fun to watch how this community-focused bookshop has changed over the years. They have been hosting some dynamic authors and illustrators for children over the past few months. When I saw that Caldecott medal-winning duo Philip and Erin Stead were coming to the shop, I was over the moon excited and didn’t want to miss the chance to see them. Then, I got an email from Rachel Watkins asking if our school might be the site of the pajama storytime. We’ve never hosted an event specifically for Avid that wasn’t an author visit for school, but I didn’t hesitate in exploring how to make it happen.

The opportunity aligned perfectly with my goal of supporting the reading interests and curiosities of students, teachers, and families. I’ve been thinking a lot about the family part. What do I do to support families and reading? It’s something I need to work on, but offering a nighttime event for the community with Philip and Erin Stead was the perfect opportunity to show families at our school and in the community an amazing author/illustrator team they may not have heard of, exploring some new books together, and taking a look at the illustration process. Our students have benefited from many author and illustrator visits thanks to Avid, but I loved that this gave families a chance to have the same experience alongside their child and ask questions and learn together.

Avid and I advertised the event heavily. Students did book talks of one Stead book each day on our morning broadcast along with a reminder about the pajama storytime. An electronic flyer went home to all families. I posted the flyer on the doors of our library. Numerous tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures were shared. We had no way of knowing how many people would actually show up, and by 6:20PM we were pretty nervous that no one was coming. Suddenly at 6:25PM people started pouring in and they just kept coming. We even delayed until 6:35 and they still kept coming in.

If you’ve never met Philip and Erin Stead in person, they are just a delight. Both are soft spoken, which has a naturally calming effect on the wiggly small ones. Phil did most of the talking, but I loved that at the beginning he started by telling about how Erin is shy and had all the kids say their names aloud to introduce themselves all at once. Erin replied, “It’s nice to meet you”, which just felt right. It showed the kids that it’s ok to be quiet and that you can do amazing things to put your voice into the world without actually speaking the words out loud.

Phil read A Sick Day for Amos McGee and had the kids participating along the way with movements and chants. He knew just how to keep their attention.  At the close of the book, they paused for questions. I loved that several parents chimed in with their own questions which were peppered with comments and questions from the kids too. We had questions about the red balloon in Amos McGee and whether it was an homage to Good Night Gorilla.  There were questions about the process of creating a book together as husband and wife and whether or not the illustrations or the writing came first.

Next, Phil introduced us to his new book Ideas Are All Around and we found out we were the first group that he had actually read part of the book to. He teased us with just a few of the pages and gave us a taste of how the book takes us into the head of a writer and illustrator on a walk and that ideas are really hiding all around us.  Then came probably the most special moment of the night: an art demo.

Phil invited all of the little kids to come up and gather around a table where he had his art supplies. Then adults gathered around behind the kids.  It was a large group and yet somehow most people found a spot they could see.  Kids seemed to be literally on top of the workspace, but Phil worked his magic and made the art come to life. He talked through each step of his art for Ideas Are All Around and modeled it as he went. Some kids even got to help a bit during the process.  In the end, he created 3 illustrations of a bear: two he was happy with and one not so great.

We love these bears from Philip Stead's art demo. #avidevents #avidinschools #illustrator #authorvisit #event

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I loved this! It connected so well with the book that an artist goes through many pieces of art until the right one is created. Lots of versions go in the trash or at least to a “fail” box.

We love these bears from Philip Stead's art demo. #avidevents #avidinschools #illustrator #authorvisit #event

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

To close the night, Phil read aloud Special Delivery and we learned that the idea was really something that he dreamed about. Once again, he had the audience participating along the way even while they were bouncing on cushions around the library.

The crowd lingered for a long time looking through the books from Avid, making purchases, and getting autographs. So many families left with new books to take home and share together along with the personal experience of meeting the author and illustrator that created the book.

Philip & Erin Stead (30)

I’ve often encouraged families to attend Avid events or to go to author events in nearby Decatur such as the Decatur Book Festival, but I don’t really see that encouragement pay off as much. There was something about the familiarity of the school community, a place where we have connections to one another, to host an event like this. I think we’ve tapped into something we need to explore even more in the future.

Thank you so much to Avid for trying something new for an author event. Thank you for bringing the Steads to our community. Thank you to Philip and Erin for your long travels to reach our community and for sharing your inspiring work with us all. Thank you to the Publisher who makes these kinds of book tours and events happen for independent bookshops, schools, and communities. Finally, thank you to our families.  Whether you were a Barrow family or a visitor from another school or county, thank you for spending a night with us in the library connecting with one another through art and story.

American Symbol Research in Kindergarten

Students in 2 Kindergarten classes have been hard at work researching American symbols as part of their social studies standards. Doing research projects with the youngest learners in our school doesn’t look like it does in the upper grades. We think about what some of the biggest barriers might be for our young creators and put pieces in places to support students in getting over those barriers.

First, students chose one of four American symbols to research: American flag, statue of liberty, liberty bell, and bald eagle.  In the library, we introduced students to a graphic organizer for collecting 3 facts about their chosen symbol. I learned from another Kindergarten teacher a few years ago during research to set an expectation that allows all students to succeed or exceed during the first research session. We asked students to have a goal of writing at least one fact during the first work session, but if they still had time, they should keep going.

research 1

Students used Capstone’s PebbleGo for their research. We love this database for many reasons but mostly because it breaks information down into manageable pieces and reads the text in a human voice for students. I modeled for students how to listen to a portion of the text and then think about what they had learned by listening. Then, we talked about what we would write on our organizer. This modeling was done with a different American symbol than the one students were researching.

At tables, I setup computers for students to use in pairs. We chose pairs because it gave students one more source of support as they worked. Also at each table, we tried to place an adult for support. The teacher, classroom paraprofessional, and me all worked at tables. If a parent volunteer or student teacher was available, they stayed at the 4th table. Otherwise, the adults took turns checking between tables.  We found that we had to continue modeling for students how to listen, ponder, and then write rather than just copying a sentence off the screen. However, some students still chose a sentence to copy.  All students left with at least one fact but many left with 3 or more.

research 2

After this initial work session, students continued their research in centers in the classroom.  Then, they returned to the library for another work session in small groups. Each group came for 15-20 minutes. We did a short tinkering session with Chatterpix Kids to see how you can take a picture of something, draw a mouth on it, and then record that picture talking. Ahead of time, I chose creative commons images of the symbols for kids to use for their pictures. Rather than having every student create their own Chatterpix, each group created one Chatterpix video with the iPads. Each student chose one fact from their research to read.

Before recording, students chose their fact. We decided the order students would read and practiced a few times. Students helped take the picture of the symbol and draw the mouth. Then, we pressed record and passed the iPad to record. If we needed to record a few times, we did. Then, we uploaded our videos to Youtube and created a playlist to share with the class, families, and you.  I hope you will take a moment to listen to their work.

I love building foundations of research in our early grades and seeing where these students end up by the time they are in 5th grade. We have a lot of work to do, but we celebrate the work of these Kindergarten students and what they have created.

Ms. Lauren’s American Symbols:

Ms. Boyle’s American Symbols:

Celebrating Read Across America, Dr. Seuss, and Our Community

Seuss Readers (13)

March 2nd is always a special day for our school. We have a long tradition of having guest readers for all classrooms in honor of Read Across America and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  The goal is to have two readers for every classroom. This allows more connections to the community, more books to be heard, and also more people in case we have people who are unable to come.

Celebrating Seuss with guest readers in every room #readacrossamerica #seuss #reading #guestreader #community #celebration

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

Courtney Tobin is a parent volunteer at our school who organizes my library volunteers. She also creates a Signup Genius for events like this one.  She puts 2 slots for every class, and we start sending it out asking for readers. The link is put in my library newsletter, library facebook page, and grade level parent representatives send it out to lists of parents.  I invite district leadership including our superintendent, public relations, and board of education members.

Seuss Readers (24) Seuss Readers (23)

As the event nears, we always have empty spaces still left, so we repeat sending out the link and send it to additional places like the UGA Athletic Association. Usually be the day of the event, the list is full and we have people who show up who didn’t even get to sign up.

It takes a whole community to pull off 2 readers in every class.

We gather in the library, and readers check in with Kim Ness, another wonderful parent volunteer. She does this while I’m helping with morning broadcast. Readers select a Seuss book from our library collection and my personal collection and socialize and practice reading. We gather for a group picture and a huge thank you for taking time to celebrate reading with our students.

Seuss Readers Crop

It’s always fun to race around the school to try to catch a glimpse of the smiling faces in every class and the community readers having such a great time sharing stories.

For the remainder of the day, we continue our Skype connections with other schools around the country. This is a continuation of our World Read Aloud Skypes.

WRAD16 (1)

Today, we connected with:

  • Shannon Hyman in Glen Allen, VA and her 3rd grade students to read Be a Friend and Mother Bruce. Their teacher was a big UGA fan!
  • Lisa Lindeman in Babylon, NY and her 5th grade students to read Snappsy the Alligator
  • Terry Freyou in Coppell, TX and her 5th grade students to read Be a Friend
  • Sarah Staudt in Mason City, IA to read Mother Bruce
  • Donna MacDonald in South Burlington, VT and her 1st grade to read Snappsy the Alligator
  • Dana Susko in Santa Barbara, CA and her Prek to read The Day the Crayons Came Home
  • Carol Scrimgeour in Essex, VT and her Kindergarten to read Snappsy the Alligator

It is always a magical day connecting on Skype because the kids share a story across the miles and make connections with another school. I love pulling up a map and talking about how technology not only lets us see and talk to people in other places, but it helps us literally connect the dots between our locations and know in real-time how long it would take us to get there. We’ve talked about tolls, traffic accidents, construction zones, megabus, and alternative routes along with our celebration of great stories.

We’ve also encountered technical difficulties.  One school had to cancel due to the internet being out in their school, but it was a life lesson that when something doesn’t work, you just carry on.  When we connected with Lisa Lindeman, we could not get Skype to connect us.  We tried multiple times but communicated in the chat. We finally decided to give Google Hangouts a try.  She had never used it, but she was willing to try.  It worked like a charm, but more importantly it showed our students and teachers in both states that we weren’t afraid to fail, back up, and try something else. Life isn’t smooth, and things don’t always work out, but we can’t just give up easily when something is frustrating or hard.

Thank you to everyone who read in our classrooms and connected with us. Happy Read Across America Week and Happy Connecting!

Kindergarten Green Screen Animal Interviews

animal interview green screen (15)

Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class has been hard at work on an animal research project that is unlike any other I’ve been a part of.  For the culmination of the project, students recorded an interview of an animal in its habitat using our green screen and the Do Ink app.  There were many layers to the process that students went through the create their final product. The class has been to the library throughout the project to initiate various pieces and then moved forward with the project work in class.

animal interview green screen (17)

It’s hard to even go back to where the project began, but eventually each student came to be in one of 4 groups researching an animal of interest: crows, sharks, spiders, and alligators. Students checked out both fiction and nonfiction books about their animals in the library during one piece of the project. During another piece, students spent time researching their animals and gathering facts.

animal interview green screen (16)

In another lesson, students came to the library to talk about crafting great interview questions. We looked at the Story Corps great question generator and practiced interviewing one another in a way that would elicit extended responses from the person being interviewed.

Students took this skill and went back to class to write questions that they would ask to their animals if they were doing an interview of the animal they researched.  Using their research, they thought about the answers to their questions.

animal interview green screen (13)

In another session, students came just to learn about how the green screen worked.  We watched a tutorial video from Do Ink as well as a video that had been made on our green screen.

Finally, students came back for one more work session in the library to prep for their interview project. This was a work session because students were in all kinds of stages of their completed project. The teacher, parapro, and I all worked with groups of students at the point they were at. My group was getting close to ready for use of the green screen, so we took some time to experiment a bit with what students hoped to do. Instead of a static picture of the animal’s habitat, students wanted a video of the habitat. We searched creative commons Youtube videos for nature scenes that matched where an animal would be found and used the iPad to record snippets of those videos. This helped us think about what we would need to accomplish before recording.

animal interview green screen (11)

 

Back in the classroom, students made final preparations for their animal interviews. They made props. They wrote our their script on cue cards and assigned parts to each person in the group.  The teacher made copies of these cards for students to practice with in class as well as sent them home for weekly homework practice.  Students also decided exactly what they hoped to have a video of for the background of the green screen. The teacher sent these to me in advance, so that I could pull some videos from Youtube for us to use.

Each group came individually to the library to record. We did a practice run of the script.  The teacher held the cue cards and I ran the iPad.  I flipped the screen so that students could see themselves as they talked. This helped them know to be in the right place, but it also tempted them to wave at the camera and make faces.

Once students finished recording, they had a chance to watch their video back. I uploaded the videos to Youtube so that we could share them with families and authentic audiences.  I encourage you to take a look at the work.

animal interview green screen (3)

Pulling off Kindergarten projects like this takes some creative thinking. Anytime that we can break the project into pieces, work in small groups rather than the whole group, and do recording within single groups makes the project run much more smoothly. I also love when a project flows in and out of the library and classroom.

animal interview green screen (5)

 

Ms. Kelly is an awesome teacher to collaborate with because she finds so many connections to the standards students are working on but also weaves in student interest and expertise.  She dives into a project and trusts that along the way she is going to realize just how many standards a project based in student interest and curiosity can actually included. She also thinks about how to reinforce the project so that students are fully prepared before jumping in to creating the final product. I thought it was genius (and time consuming) to create so many cue cards and give students copies to practice for homework.

More Kindergarten students are recording animal interviews. #greenscreen #research #animal #kindergarten #librariesofinstagram

A post shared by Barrow Media Center (@barrowmediacenter) on

I’ve been doing several technology computer projects lately, and I’m so thankful for the flexibility of our schedule so that we can get creative with how to break the projects down into pieces as well as smaller groups.  Bravo Kindergarten for another awesome project.