Our Student Book Budget Order from Capstone Has Arrived!

IMG_3014Each year when students participate in the student book budget group, the most exciting day for them is the day that we unpack the boxes when they arrive.  It’s the day that all of their hard work and tough decisions pays off.  After surveying almost the entire school, setting goals, meeting with vendors, creating wish lists, cutting books from the lists to fit the budget, and placing the order, the students finally get to hold books  in their hands.

Today our order from Capstone came.  We love buying books from Capstone each year for many reasons.  One reason is that their books are popular with our students.  We also love their customer service.  Our sales representative, Jim Boon, always comes in and helps students with the book selection process.  We also love how Capstone stretches our budget.  This year’s order from Capstone was $1750, and with Capstone’s current promotion, we earned an additional $525 in books.  When we were unpacking the order today, a student said, “Capstone Rewards sure does help us get a lot of extra books.”  I love that this project really pushes students each year to think about fiscal responsibility and how to stretch a dollar.

Just like every other step of the way, the students are involved in every step of unpacking the books.  We basically form an assembly line.

Some students pull books out of the boxes and inspect them for any damage.  There’s usually not any, but we always check.

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Another student takes these books and highlights each one on the packing slip to make sure they are all accounted for.  Today, I helped with the highlighting process because there were so many books to take through the entire process in only 45 minutes.

These books then go to a student who stamps them with our library stamp.

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From there, a group of students takes pictures of the covers to put into an Animoto to show on our morning broadcast.

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When all pictures are taken, the pictures are uploaded to Animoto by another group of students.

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Then, all of the students work on setting up a display at the front of the library.

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The students all got to check out one of the books before they were really revealed to the rest of the school.

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Then they watched their Animoto and had a little dance party to celebrate new books.

Usually, students start coming in to check out the books before we even get them all setup.  Today was no different.  Some of the DC comics and sports immediately got checked out by 2 eager boys.  I love how one student’s shirt says, “best day ever”.  It sure feels like a great day when we see so many smiling faces for books.

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It was also a little sad to see our project for the year come to an end.  These students have been so dedicated by coming in during their recess time to work.  I smiled when one of them said, “I think I want to grow up to become a library media specialist”.  Other students said, “Please let us do this again next year.”

When I asked them why they like being in the student book budget group, they said things like:

  • who wouldn’t want to buy books for the library
  • we loved making decisions
  • it was fun to spend money for the library
  • people are reading the books that we chose

This process is so empowering for students.  The project has proven again and again that students know how to buy books for other students.  Their books are checked out rapidly and stay among the most popular books in the library.

Thank you Capstone for supporting our project each year.  Your promotions, great selection of high interest books, and book swag gifts, made the students feel like rock stars.

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Unpacking Our Student Book Budget Order from Gumdrop

IMG_2827Today, the student book budget group came to the library to unpack our first order.  Most of our books that we ordered will come from Capstone, but there were a few books that they found from Gumdrop.  Gret Hechenbleikner is our Gumdrop rep who brought in several book samples for students to look at.  One of our goals for purchasing books was World Records.  We have several Guinness World Record books, but Gumdrop had some Ripley’s books that were much smaller in size that the students loved.  They also found some haunted history books that I’m sure will be extremely popular.  We are trying to increase the number of books we have about making things, so they found a series of books about making graphic novels as well as making crafts out of various materials.

To save a bit of money, we did not purchase shelf ready books.  We did order the barcodes and protectors, though.  Students came in during their recess and worked through several steps.

Step 1 was to unpack the box, check off the packing slip, and check the books for damage.

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Step 2 was to put the labels and label protectors on each book.

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Step 3 was stamping each book with our library stamp.

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Step 4 was to download the MARC records into Destiny.

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Step 5 was to think of how to advertise the books to the school.  Students decided on 2 things.  They wanted an Animoto of all of the books and the unpacking process on our morning news show for Monday.  They also wanted to create a display at the front of the library.  One group of students worked on taking pictures.  Another group worked on making the Animoto.  A final group worked on creating the display.

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It was fun to watch them celebrate when their Animoto was made.

The books haven’t even been officially advertised to the school yet, and already several of the books have been checked out.  I won’t be surprised on Monday when there is a stampede to the library to check out what is left.

These students will meet again next Friday, when they will unpack a large order from Capstone and repeat the same process.

Tell Your #whylib Story for School Library Month

 

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April is School Library Month, and this year’s theme is “Lives Change @ Your Library”.  This theme connects with Barbara Stripling’s campaign to sign the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries to show that school libraries really do change our lives.

Yesterday on Twitter, John Schu shared a thought about going to library school, and he had no idea the conversation that his tweet would open up.

library school

I responded by sharing a brief glimpse at how I didn’t get in to library school on my first attempt.  The conversation continued with more of our Twitter professional learning network sharing stories of perseverance, stories about professional background, and stories of how becoming a librarian changed their lives.

even more library school

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When I woke up this morning, the list of tweets had grown and more people had commented on how much they were enjoying the conversation about individual people’s journeys to becoming a librarian.  I love this about Twitter.  I love how one little comment can spark a conversation among colleagues across the country because they find a connection with the comment.  This morning, we decided that a new hashtag had been born.  After some discussion, the talented Jennifer Reed suggested #whylib as our hashtag.

Even author, Deborah Freedman, jumped in on the conversation with her love of the librarians.

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We invite you to share your story in any way that you are moved:  a poem, a video, a blog post, a series of tweets, a picture collection, a song, etc.  Be sure to tag your story with #whylib and post on Twitter and other social media outlets.  Let’s share our journey to becoming a librarian and share how libraries have changed our lives.

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More University of Georgia #GeniusCon Research Partners

Geniuscon Day 2 (1)Last week a group from Gretchen Thomas’s EDIT 2000 class at the University of Georgia partnered with Caitlin Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class to work on research for the students’ GeniusCon projects.  Students are answering the question:  If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?

Students topics range from improving the lunch menu to healthier options to adding additional playground equipment to eliminating homework to starting school later in the day.  Even students who share the same topic are taking different approaches to what they would change and how they would do it.

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Today, a new group of Gretchen’s students came to work with the 2nd graders.  Last time, most 2nd graders went through their lists of questions and answered them with their own thinking.  Today’s focus was to move to researching online and in books as well as developing next steps.

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I loved walking around and seeing some of the online reading that students were doing with their partners.

I also loved seeing how the UGA students interacted with the 2nd graders and how they helped to keep our students focused and thinking.  Of course, the UGA students learned a lot too about how much our students know about using technology.

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Some of those next steps involved created Google form surveys that could be emailed out.  Some students crafted emails to send out to the lunchroom or the principal.  We asked students to wait before sending anything out.  The main reason in doing this was to spend a little more time thinking through the content of the email or the survey.  For example, one student had one question in her Google form asking students if they would like more access to the 3D printer.  She was ready to send it out, but after talking with me, she realized that if students wanted access to the 3D printer, we would have no idea what they wanted to do with it.  Our conversation pushed her to think more about her survey before sending it out.  Similar conversations were taking place all over the library.

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At the end, Caitlin pulled her class together to debrief what they had accomplished.

Catilin’s students will continue working on this project and our UGA partners will return again.

 

2014 Student Book Budgets: Real-World Math Lessons from Capstone Press

decisions (1)Each year, I dedicate a portion of library funding for students to control.  Since the library is for all of our school community, I feel strongly that students should have a voice in what goes into the collection.  Here’s what has happened so far:

  • Students developed a Google form survey and surveyed most of the school on their reading interests
  • Students analyzed the results and developed a list of goals to focus on which included sports, graphic novels, humor, scary, world records, and action/adventure.
  • Students met with Jim Boon from Capstone Press and Gret Hechenbleikner from Gumdrop books to look at book samples and catalogs.

decisions (8)Since the visit with the vendors, the student book budget group has been coming into the library on Mondays and Wednesdays during their recess to continue looking at catalogs.  Much of what they wanted was in Capstone’s catalog, so their first step was to finalize what they wanted to order from Gumdrop.  They decided on a Ripley’s Believe It or Not series, a how to draw graphic novel series, a graphic mythical heroes series, and a history’s most haunted series.

decisions (2)When that was done, I hooked up the scanner to my computer and gave all of the students a Capstone catalog.  Capstone has a great feature where there is a barcode next to each set of books in the catalog.  You can scan the set straight into your cart, or you can scan the set and select the books that you want.  As students found books that matched our goals, they scanned the barcode and told me which books to add.  At that point, we didn’t worry about cost.  We wanted to add all of the books that we were interested in and then start narrowing.  This adding process was so smooth thanks to this scanning feature.  In the past, students have circled items in catalogs, written on pieces of paper, etc. and it took a lot of time to compile everything.  I loved that we were all adding to the same list as we worked.

decisions (6)Right now, Capstone is offering an incentive like they often do.  If you spend at least $1750, you get 30% back in Capstone Rewards.  If you spend less that $1750, you only get 10%.  This was a great math discussion.  Our original budget was $1500 for all of the book budgets.  However, if we spend just $250 more with Capstone, then we get $525 in free books.  I’ve really pushed the group to think about budget, but this was a great real-world example where you sometimes have to spend beyond your budget if it helps you in the long run.  The students unanimously agreed that we needed to spend the $1750 since we already had well beyond that amount in our wish list cart.  I pulled out all of the numbers that I had to think about in order to make this happen.  We looked at the remaining dollar amount in our district budget which was about $375.  Then, we looked at the remaining balance in our local account, which holds profits from our book fairs along with any donations we receive.  I told them about remaining expenses that I knew about for the year such as battle of the books.  We agreed that there was enough money to purchase our list from Gum Drop and extend our Capstone Budget to $1750.

decisions (3)The final task, which we are still working on, is to narrow our cart.  We started with a cart totaling almost $3000.  We knew that we needed to reduce the cart to about $2200 in order to spend $1750 in cash and use $525 in rewards dollars.  By the time we stopped talking about the math, students were all commenting on how hard this is.  One of them said, “You mean this is just a small part of what you do?”  I love that they keep bringing this up.  I love buying new materials, but I’ve been very honest with them about what a small fraction of my time this actually is.  As always, it was interesting to hear them wrestle with decisions about which books to cut from the list:

  • We have 3 books about drawing horses.  Let’s pick the one with the most horses that people are probably interested in.
  • Three of our war books cost $27.  Let’s pick something that doesn’t cost that much.
  • That book looks like it would only be for 5th graders.  It might scare other kids.  Let’s take it off the list.
  • We can’t buy every Jake Maddox book this time.  Let’s choose a few of them.

decisions (5)Every struggle they were having is the same struggles that I go through alone.  I loved being able to share this frustration with them, and they had a much better understanding of how I use math and decision making in my job.  My only wish is that more students could walk through this process with me.  Each year, I find new ways to involve different groups of students, but I would love to have larger groups of students involved in the math aspect.

decisions (6)Once we get our carts narrowed down, we will place our order and wait for the books to arrive.  Since I have extra Capstone Rewards dollars, I’ll also be able to add in some historical perspective books that I’ve been wanting to get for our many social studies projects.  While we wait, students will think about how to advertise the books to the school.decisions (7)

Beta Testing with Wandoo Planet and Evanced Kids

Wandoo (7)Today a group of 5th grade boys Skyped with Lindsey Hill of Evanced Kids.  Recently, Matthew Winner posted on his blog about a beta testing opportunity for Wandoo Planet, a kids’ interest genome project.  I signed up to be a beta tester and it wasn’t long before I got an email inviting me to join.

I tried out the product myself and had a lot of fun clicking on the fun little characters carrying signs with words of interest.  I could give a thumbs up, thumbs down, or a heart to each sign.  This helped the program start finding other topics I might like.  When I reached a point where I felt done, the program took me to a tree with branches for each of my love categories.  Within these categories were suggested books and movies I might read or watch.  If I saw a book I knew I wouldn’t like, I could delete it so that it could be replaced by other books.  I also learned that I could add additional branches to my tree.

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This week, my tech crew of 5th grade boys tried out Wandoo Planet for themselves.  I tweeted a picture of their beta test and immediately started having a conversation with Lindsey Hill at Evanced Games.  She wanted to hear their thoughts, so we set up a time to connect.

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After some quick introductions, the boys launched right into talking about what they liked and what they wished or wondered.  The boys talked about:

  • Being able to search for specific topics rather than wait on the animals to bring the topics to them
  • Trying to cut down the time it takes to build your tree
  • Wondering which age groups the product would actually be for
  • Wondering how topics are suggested to them.
  • Wanting mini games within the program.  Educational mini games that tie to the book topics that are suggested.
  • Wanting more choices to choose from
  • Wanting to start with broader topics and narrow down to specific
  • Wanting the tool to be available on the computer, iTuness, and Google Play
  • Wanting music and sounds

The boys found out that several of their ideas and suggestions are already being worked on, but aren’t yet available in the beta version.  I loved that these students experienced the idea of a “rough draft” from their writing classrooms and how those rough drafts are being revised several times.  I want to help them make that connection more when we meet again on Tuesday.  This was a great real world example that revision impacts more than just writing a paper for class.  It’s a big part of many of our careers.

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The powerful piece in this is that these students’ voices were heard.  Lindsey told them that every comment they made was going to be carried to the developers to improve Wandoo Planet for future users of the tool.  I am really excited about this tool because I think it is one more piece to help students discover their interests, connect to books/games/movies/sites that support those interests, and more.  As a librarian, I see this being a way to give students ideas for growing the collection to include things that matter to them.

This group is going to continue to use Wandoo Planet on Tuesday and then reconnect with Lindsey on Wednesday of next week along with Shannon Miller and her students in Van Meter, Iowa.  We can’t wait!

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A Flipgrid Celebration with 2nd Grade and the Flipgrid Team

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Our 2nd graders just wrapped up a huge research project.  During the project, they chose a leader from black history, researched that person, wrote a short persuasive piece about their person, designed a US postage stamp, and recorded a video using Flipgrid.  Their videos were pulled together on a Smore which included a Google Form for people to vote on their favorite leader from black history to be featured on a postage stamp.   Read more about our project:

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Along the way, the students had several connections to an authentic audience.  They started the voting portion of the project by sharing at our schoolwide assembly.  Students stood in front of the entire school and told about the project as well as shared a video from each question of the grid.  The Smore was emailed to every teacher and student in the school.

I also shared the Smore on Twitter and our library Facebook page.

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Shawna Ford, librarian in Weatherford Texas, saw my tweet and had her 2nd grade students view the project.

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As the project continued, my posts and tweets were shared and retweeted until our Smore had 480 views and counting.

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Our project was viewed in 161 locations and counting.

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Throughout the project, Charles Miller and Bradford Hosack, our friends at Flipgrid, were following along and sharing our work as well.  It has been an incredible experience for students to use a tool, encounter success and frustrations, and be able to offer feedback to developers that respond to that feedback.  The Flipgrid team has been so responsive to all of the feedback we have provided to them, and they consistently work on Flipgrid to make it better.

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Today, our 2nd graders came together in the library to connect with the Flipgrid team via Skype.  The team shared information about how Flipgrid was developed and talked to the kids about coding.  All of the 2nd graders had background in this concept because they all participated in the Hour of Code back in December.  I loved how the Flipgrid team reiterated what I had told the students many times.  You have to work through the frustration.  You have to be willing to fail and learn from your failures to make things better.  The team said more than one time that they wanted to create a tool that works for users, so they are constantly listening to users of Flipgrid to improve their product.  I hope that the students carry these ideas into all area of their lives to be willing to take risks and work hard at what they are passionate about.

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Charles and the Flipgrid team then gave us some stats about our videos.

  • 1875 people watched the student videos
  • 699 people clicked on the heart to like videos that the students made
  • students created 1 hr 15 minutes of video all together

During this presentation of facts, Charles reminded students that when they make a project like this and share it with the world it really is giving them a global voice.  I loved that he said this because it is something we strive for in our library:  giving students a global voice.

One of my favorite parts of our Skype was the awards.  We wanted to honor several students during this segment.  Because each video was “liked” by viewers of the video, I could easily see which videos had the most likes.  This became an award category.  We also had specific students who received shout-outs on Twitter because people watched the videos and cared enough to specifically name a student video that they loved.  Finally, we had some students who worked really hard to express themselves in their writing and persuade people to vote.  I created a certificate to use.

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After selecting all of the students, I sent a list of the awards to the Flipgrid team and they announced the winners via Skype.  It felt like the Academy Awards as the Flipgrid team cheered for students as I handed out the certificates, and it was amazing to hear the shouts and claps of all of the 2nd graders cheering on their peers.

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Mixed in with our connection the kids had a chance to ask the Flipgrid team questions.  I loved the moments where one student said “sometimes it doesn’t work” and another student said “I think you need to be able to turn up the volume for people who talk soft”.  These weren’t questions, but the Flipgrid team let the students know that because of their videos they were already thinking about volume and that they were working to make sure Flipgrid always worked for users.

During and after our Skype, the Flipgrid team and I shared several pictures from both sides of the Skype: Georgia & Minnesota.

We closed our time together by revealing the results of the overall voting for the favorite leader from black history to be on a postage stamp.  The votes were extremely close, but Rosa Parks came in just 1 vote ahead of Jesse Owens.  By this point, the kids were so excited about all that had happened with their project that the vote didn’t even seem to matter anymore.

Thank you to Charles Miller, Bradford Hosack, and the entire Flipgrid team for helping us celebrate this project today before we move on to our next adventures in the library.  Thank you!

 

It’s Time to Vote for Your Favorite Historical Figure from Black History with Our 2nd Graders!

flipgrid 2nd (7)Second grade has been hard at work.  For the past few weeks, they have explored the art of persuasion, researched 5 historical figures from black history, designed potential US Postage Stamps featuring these historical figures, and writing persuasive scripts to convince an authentic audience that their historical figure is the most deserving of a US Postage Stamp.  You can read more about the beginnings of this project here.  

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Over the past 3 days, students have been coming to the library with their persuasive scripts and stamp designs to record a persuasive commercial using Flipgrid.  This tool, which is web-based or available as an iPad app, allows you to create up to 90 seconds of video in response to a question.  I setup a question for each historical figure that was researched.  To record in Flipgrid, you just need the special code that takes you straight to the question where you will record your message.  I made a sheet of codes and placed them by iPads in the library.  Students entered the library, chose a recording spot, and entered their code.

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Next, they had a few steps to complete in order to create their video.  They had to:

  • Click the +
  • Click “I agree”
  • Take a picture.  Some took a picture of themselves and others took a picture of their stamp
  • Record their video
  • Review the video
  • Submit the video to the grid.  Students had to put their first name, last initial, and an email address.  For speed, I put my own email address in the box, copied it, and then pasted it in each time a student recorded.
historical figure smore

Visit our Smore to watch videos and vote! https://www.smore.com/17bq3

Now, students are collectively trying to persuade you to vote for their historical figure.  We have created a Smore to pull all of the information together.  On this Smore, you can visit each set of videos for a historical figure.  Please take some time to listen to the students’ hard work.  If you love one of their videos, click on the heart on Flipgrid which is similar to “liking” something on Facebook.  This will show the students some appreciation for their efforts.  After watching some videos for each person, we invite you think about which historical figure you were the most persuaded to vote for.  Then, use the Google Form at the bottom of the Smore, cast your vote.

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We’ll be asking all students in our school to vote.  In addition, we’ll be posting our Smore to our Barrow Media Center Facebook page and Mr. Plemmons’s Twitter account.  We want as many votes as possible to show students how far reaching their audience is when they put their work out to the world.

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The students have worked so hard on this project.  I can’t wait to tally the results and analyze the data with them.

Visit Our Smore to participate and feel free to share!

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Explorers and Native Americans: Perspective & Transliteracy with 4th grade

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Update:  This post is featured on Jane Yolen’s page for Encounter. 

Our 4th grade is studying Native Americans and Explorers.  When I met with the 4th grade team to plan, one of the main topics of our conversation was how we wanted our students to really think about perspective.  We didn’t want them to come away looking at the explorers as only a group of heroes, but instead to question what the costs were of their exploration.  We wanted them to think from the Native Americans’ perspective and consider how they felt about the explorers coming into their land.  We decided to approach this in a few ways.  The teachers planned regular social studies instruction in their classrooms.  They made Google presentations that were shared with the kids.  They also created graphic organizers for students to use to collect info.  Some students chose to have paper print outs of their organizers while others chose to fill out the organizer digitally.

Our guiding standards included:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.
SS4H2 The student will describe European exploration in North America.
a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish,
French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan
Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.
b. Describe examples of cooperation and conflict between Europeans and Native
Americans

In the media center, I pulled multiple folktales from each of the Native American tribes.  During 2 separate sessions, we looked at Google Earth to see where the tribes were located originally.  Then as we read the folktales, we considered how location impacted the food, shelter, and clothing of the tribes by citing evidence from the tales.

The teachers wanted students to have access to multiple kinds of resources for their research portion of the unit.  We talked about classes coming individually to the library, but we ultimately decided that it would be nice for students to all be together in one location with multiple resources.  We scheduled 3 hour-long sessions.  I pulled together folktales, books about explorers, books about Native Americans, a pathfinder about Native Americans, and a pathfinder about Explorers.

During session 1, we met as a whole group.  I showed students a video of Christopher Columbus from National Geographic.  After the video, I asked students to think about how they would describe Columbus.  After talking with partners, I put as many words into a Tagxedo as possible.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

Then, we read the book Encounter by Jane Yolen, which is the Columbus story told from the Native American perspective.  After the story, I asked the students to once again describe Columbus.  Their words made a big shift.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

I followed up by talking about perspective, and how so many stories in history are silenced until the perspective of that group of people is brought forward.  I cited authors such as Phillip Hoose and Tanya Lee Stone who have written multiple texts about stories from history that have been untold.  I encouraged students as they did their research for this project to strongly consider perspective.  I did not want to tell them what to believe, but I asked them to be critical of the information they read and form their own opinions of history.

During sessions 2 & 3, all classes came back to the media center.  On one projection board, I posted the Native American pathfinder.  On the other projection board, I posted the Explorers pathfinder.  In addition, I made QR codes for each pathfinder and pulled out our cart of iPads.  I separated the books into 3 separate areas:  folktales, Native Americans, and explorers.  All students brought their netbooks, but they had the option to use the iPad if it fit their learning needs better than the netbook.  After  a quick reminder about our focus and where things were located, students freely moved around the media center.  About 75 students simultaneously made choices about which resources to start with, where to work, whether to work with a partner or small group or alone, and what technology supported their needs the most.  All 3 classroom teachers, a teacher candidate (student teacher), a gifted teacher, and I walked around and checked in with students.  Sometimes we were troubleshooting technology or redirecting, but often we were able to have individual conversations with students about the information that students were collecting.  Teachers worked with all students regardless if they were in their class or not.

What amazed me the most were the decisions that students made about their learning.  I saw transliteracy in action.  As I walked around, I saw students with pencils, papers, iPads, netbooks, and books all spread out around them.  They were simultaneously moving from one device or tool to the next.  Some students sat at tables while others sat inside bookshelves.  Some students tucked away by themselves while others worked in a large group.  Some students worked with very few resources at a time such as 1 book while others had every possible resource in front of them at once.  After months of wondering about how our space would support the kinds of learning I hope to see in our library, I was finally able to truly see it today.  I saw every piece of furniture in use.  I saw students combine pieces of furniture to make themselves comfortable for learning.  An entire grade level descended upon the library and remained productive while groups of kids were still coming into the library to checkout books.explorers & native americans (15)

It was loud, energetic, productive, and fun.  It’s a model I hope to replicate with other groups and a model that I hope carries into our classrooms, which can now accommodate some of these sames types of opportunities.

Kindergarten Tux Paint Consultants

Today Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten students had so much fun Skyping with Shannon Miller’s Kindergarten and 1st Grade students in Van Meter, IA.  Shannon’s students are planning to embark on a similar project as Kelly’s students by making their own stories in Tux Paint and recording them with a screencasting tool.  The purpose of today’s Skype session was for Shannon’s students to ask Kelly’s students about what they did.

Shannon's students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Shannon’s students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Before our connection, Shannon showed her students our Tux Paint videos made in Screencast-o-matic, including the instructional video.  She let me know on Twitter that they were ready.

When we connected, Shannon’s students applauded Kelly’s students’ great work on their stories.  Then she guided them in asking questions about the process.  They asked questions like:

  • How did you decide what to write about?
  • How did you work together?
  • How did you learn to use Tux Paint?
  • What screencasting tool did you use?
  • How long did your story have to be?
  • and more

Each time a question was asked, Mrs. Kelly called on a student to answer, and sometimes she answered the question or added additional insight.  We had a computer ready with Tux Paint in case we needed it to show something.  The students also had their planning paper, which they showed to answer one of the questions.  I had a USB webcam plugged in so that I could move the camera closer to students as they talked.  Although, my camera skills weren’t great, I think the kids enjoyed seeing themselves closeup on the screen.

Now, Shannon’s K and 1st grade students plan to use Tux Paint to make their own stories and use a new screencasting tool to record them.  We ended our time by agreeing to come back together to Skype and share our work with one another before the end of the year.

Shannon, Kelly, and I could have all easily just done the teaching of Tux Paint on our own, but giving the students this ownership of the project and sharing of expertise between schools means so much more.  I think that they now look at themselves as experts with knowledge to share.  Not only do they have the knowledge, they have the support that it is ok to take a leadership role in the classroom and teach alongside the adult teacher.  They also know that they have an authentic audience that their work immediately impacts.  I hope that this idea blossoms into other opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and become leaders in technology and learning for our school and beyond.