Thinglink Regions of Georgia with 2nd Grade

regions for thinglinkSecond grade has been studying the regions of Georgia as part of their social studies standards.  I pulled multiple resources for them to use including informational books, Georgia stories, posters of animals and plants, and regions of Georgia posters.  In each classroom, students were placed into groups to research a specific region.  This was built into both writing time and social studies.  Students were supposed to use their research to write a script for a regions of Georgia commercial.  Their job was to convince someone to visit that region by telling about the land, animals, plants, and things to do in that region.  During some of these sessions, students came to the media center in small groups for research support.   I worked with them both on researching facts and also writing scripts.  Finally in class, students designed backdrops for their commercials.

In the library, students came in small groups to film their commercials.  We filmed in our studio and used one of our fusion flip tables to tape the backdrops to.  I used an iPad to record the students acting out their commercial.  Our iPad had a dual shotgun microphone plugged in to improve the sound quality.  It was interesting to see the students’ different ideas for how to do a commercial.  Some incorporated puppets, creative slogans, and even a breakaway door.

I took each video and put it into iMovie, uploaded it to Youtube, and then attached it to a Thinglink.  For our Thinglink image, I took a photograph of a map of GA which is found on the floor just outside of the 2nd grade rooms.  Thinglink allows you to attach multiple links to one image.  I’ve used Thinglink for individual projects, but I liked that this use of Thinglink pulled all of the videos into one easy to reach location.  I shared the link with teachers so that they could see the progress being made toward finishing all of the videos.  They pulled the Thinglink up on their boards and let students watch the videos that had been made so far.  It created a great review tool for where all of the regions of GA are and also allowed classes to hear the research that had been gathered in the other classrooms.  We will make a QR code for the Thinglink so that visitors with mobile devices can scan the code and visit the project.  photo (1)

This was a great first quarter project.  I think it is a stepping stone toward the next technology-related project that 2nd grade will do.  My regret is that I wish that more students could have been involved in actually creating the final product.  I wish that I had at least had a few students from each room sit and watch or help make the Thinglink.

Take a look at their work in progress here.

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

explorers & native americans (9)

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

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.

September 11th: Reflecting and Connecting with Barrow and Van Meter

IMG_1016Each year as a part of their social studies standards, our 5th graders learn about September 11th.  We try to take an entire day and explore September 11th from multiple perspectives and angles so that our students understand the tragedy but also how tragedy can lead us to take action in the world.  This year, we were excited to collaborate with Shannon Miller and her students in Van Meter, Iowa on this project.

Today at Barrow, students began their day in their classrooms.  They discussed heroes and set a tone of seriousness and reflection for the day.  Then students launched into four 30-minute rotations.

1.  With Ms. Olin, students read the book Fireboat, discussed the many heroes that responded on 9/11, and learned about ways that heroes are honored.  Students designed a postage stamp for heroes.

2.  With Mrs. Selleck, students read some reflections that were written by New York students after the tragedy happened.  Students learned about how people respond to tragedy in many ways.  They also read 14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy to see that even people in far away countries wanted to support America in any way that they could because of this tragedy.

3.  With Mrs. Mullins, students looked at other heroes of 9/11 from the rescue dogs to the everyday citizens aboard the United 93 that took over the hijackers and saved the US from another potential large scale disaster.  Students also learned about the poetry form haiku and how it can be a way to reflect upon a tragedy or honor someone.  Students wrote haikus for heroes.  Mrs. Freeman recorded several students reading their poems.

4.  With me in the media center, students viewed a video about remembering the tragedy and taking a stand on 9/11 to do something positive for the world.IMG_0999

Students then went to a pathfinder on computers and sat all over our media center in complete silence as they viewed multiple websites about 9/11.  The sites ranged from video footage of the tragedy to interactive timelines to audio recordings of memories from victims’ family members.  At the close, students thought about what they might do to honor 9/11.  Along with students from Van Meter, we created a padlet where each student wrote an “I will” statement.

At the close of the day, students wrote reflections using 2 prompts:  1.  September 11th makes me think about…. and 2.  My hope for the future is…  We filmed these students and added their reflections to a collaborative video between Barrow and Van Meter.


September 11th is a tough subject with disturbing content.  We made sure that every student had multiple options for how they might learn about the day.  Students also had permission to no watch anything that disturbed them and could take a break at any time to do something else or to read books or write.  After doing this each year, I feel like this format really explores more than the tragedy and helps students see that in tragedy heroes emerge and any person can make a positive difference in the world.

Our students will continue to talk about this with families, explore the pathfinder sites in their classrooms, and contribute to our padlet wall.  We invite anyone reading this to contribute to the “I will” wall too.

Dot Day Fun with colAR Mix App

Every year, I enjoy celebrating International Dot Day, and it seems that every year we discover new ways to celebrate.  This year, I was excited to discover colAR Mix 3D coloring book.  I discovered the app while reading Fablevision’s posts about Dot Day.  colAR Mix is an augmented reality app that takes 2D coloring pages and brings them to life.  You can see the amazing video here:

For Dot Day, they made a special free page that allows students to design their own dots and turn them into rotating discs, falling balls, rotating solar systems, and revolving globes.  The app has a built in camera so you can take pictures of your creation, pretend that you are holding your creation in your hand, or even work with a partner to take your picture with your creation.

The students have been blown away by the coolness of this app.  Every adult that has seen it has immediately downloaded it on their phones and iPads to try it out for themselves.  Other than the coolness, I could really see this being used for multiple purposes.  When you study maps, you often have to think about something that is 3D in a flat format.  This app allows students to design something flat and see what it looks like in 3D.  Perhaps by working through this several times students would gain some understanding about how our flat maps of the world actually translate into the actual 3D world we live in.  It would be interesting to connect this with the upcoming explorers study that I am doing with 4th grade.  I would love to hear others’ ideas of how it might be used beyond dot day.


And We’re Off! (with a new take on library orientation)

IMG_0856I’ve always wanted to try something different for library orientation rather than have the students sit on the carpet for 30-45 minutes while I talk on and on about how to use the library, check out books, and take care of books.  This year, especially, I knew that students would be eager to explore their new library space rather than sit and stare at it from a distance.  So….I made a plan for 2nd-5th grade and a plan for K-1.

For K-1, we stayed as a whole group and watched a few of the videos together.  I may try letting 1st grade scan one of the QR codes just for practice, but I felt like whole group with a story was still the way to go for the younger students.  We read the book Sky Color by Peter Reynolds to make connections to the library being a place to be creative and think outside the box.

For 2-5, I made a list of the major topics that I wanted students to think about when learning about the spaces in the library and the basic functions such as checking out a book.  From there, I made a video for each of those topics using an iPad and  uploaded it to Youtube.

I took each link and generated a QR code.  I put each QR code on its own piece of paper with some brief instructions.  For example, the check out QR code said to scan the code and go to the circulation desk before watching.  On our iPad cart, I downloaded a QR reader and tested all of my codes to make sure they worked.IMG_0833

During orientation, I put out the QR codes that I felt like that grade level needed the most.  Lower grades had fewer QR codes to scan while the upper grades had them all.  For some classes I made a table of codes that were the “must scan” codes and then a table of codes for “if you have time”.  We started our time on the carpet in order to do a welcome, refresh using iPads safely, and to demo scanning a QR code.  Next students got an iPad and plugged in some headphones from the library (or their own) and began scanning codes.  I would love to say that it was perfectly smooth, but of course students had trouble adjusting sound, some headphones weren’t plugged in all the way, and some headphones weren’t working.  However, once the glitches smoothed out, it was amazing to see students productively wandering around the library with iPads doing a self-guided tour just as they would do in a museum.  In the process, they walked the entire library, tried out multiple places to sit, found out about technology they would use throughout the year, and saw books that they wanted to checkout.  I felt like even though they heard the same information each student gained something different out of the orientation.

At the close, we came back together to share some things that they learned about our library.  I wish that we had more time for this reflection because it gave me so many insights into what students valued in the library and what they were still wondering about.  At checkout, I saw students doing some of the exact same things that I did in the video.  I also saw students looking for books that they saw on shelves in the videos.  Overall, students got a lot of the same information, but this was much more engaging,  involved movement, and gave students the option to watch something again if they didn’t understand.  We’ll see how this translates into library use during the year, but I felt much better about how this new take on orientation went.

Today was exciting.  For the first time, I saw 2 years of planning a library space begin springing into action.  I saw how much the students are going to move this furniture around to meet their needs.  I saw how visible the books were on the shelves, which leads me to think we’ll have even more circulations this year.  This was only day one of classes.  I can’t wait to see how the space grows, evolves, and becomes useful to the students and the kinds of learning they will take on for years to come.

3rd Annual Barrow Media Center Poetry Contest

IMG_0377 IMG_0378For the past 3 years, the media center has hosted a poetry contest leading up to Poem In Your Pocket Day.  The hope was that this contest would encourage students to carry and read original poetry rather than just a copied poem.  Each year participation grows.  This year, we had over 180 entries from students in grades PreK-5th grade.  It is near impossible to choose just one winner in each age bracket.  This year, we had 7 top winners.  Each of these students earned a certificate, an autographed book or journal, and their poem featured here on our blog.

Over 60 other students earned certificates for poetry in several categories including:  list poetry, science poetry, Where I’m From poetry, concrete poetry, acrostic poetry, feelings poetry, humorous poetry, story poetry, found poetry, and deep thinking poetry.  These students had their names announced on BTV and earned a pencil, pen, bookmark, or other small prize.

I can’t wait to see how this contest grows, and I especially can’t wait to listen to all of the great poems read aloud at our annual Poem In Your Pocket Days this Thursday and Friday.  Please join us!  You can find the schedule here.

Where I’m From

By Natalie

2nd Grade

I am from the Georgia Bulldogs

A cat who scratches

My Mommy, Daddy, Grandmas and Grandpas

I am from a big purple rose bush

I am from Friday Movie Nights

Eating out at the Burger Barn

I am from a family of worry warts

Rise and shines and Goodnights

I am from golf clubs and bridles

And dreaming to own a famous racehorse

I am from a big funny family

That is where I’m from!


By Patricia

3rd Grade

Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They drink nectar from pretty little flowers.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They fly around all day.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

They flap down and snooze in their nests.


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

It is great to meet you!


Hummingbird, Hummingbird

It is sad to leave you!

Dragons Today, Dragons Tomorrow, Dragons Past, Dragons Forever

By Cassie

5th Grade


The air beats around me as I open my eyes to see the beautiful creatures flying above my head,

Their wings beat up and down in a pattern together,


Their wings display colors like you’ve never seen, hypnotizing you, making you see colorful

rabbits hopping in front of your eyes and otters gliding through a river,

I always see wondering dragons all around, wandering, but never this close,

Never this close do I get to hear them,

Roaring and beating their wings, snapping their tails,

Never this close do I get to see them,

Flying above and away,

Never this close do I get to feel them,

The breeze blowing around me at the top of the hill and their breath down my neck,

Never this close do I get to taste them,

The sweet grass I’m chewing and the taste of the freedom and wind,

Never this close do I get to smell them,

The smell of wondering and knowing and curiosity from the young ones,

The young ones fly around, chasing each other and occasionally bumping into elder ones,

while older ones roll their eyes and beat their wings, keeping a steady rhythm through the air,

they don’t notice me on top of the hill watching them,

More dragons sweep through, gathering gusts of air whipping my long hair around,

One glides so close to me, I know if I wanted to reach out and touch it, I would have

touched its scaly skin,

For I am too a young one full of curiosity, living in the world where no man has touched yet,

Where it is peaceful,

The wandering dragons keep sailing through the sky and I don’t notice them growing

smaller as they soar farther away,

As quick as they had come they disappear back into the sky,

I wave goodbye, and as I put my hand down it seems as if a tail sticks out of the sky and

starts waving, as if the dragons are saying good bye to me too,

I take one last look at where the dragons disappeared and then look away, you can’t hope

wandering and wondering dragons to stay forever, because it’s not in their nature,…….

They like to wander and wonder.


By Hank


April is warm

April is baseball season.  Hooray!

April is rain

April is sunlight.  Doesn’t everybody love April?

April makes grass green

April is the Final Four and the championship and go Louiseville!

April is the best season

April is when lots of plants grow

April is when people play outdoors

April is school time

April is when it is dark in the morning and light at night

April is when more sports go on.


by Sadie

1st Grade

Fireworks glisten in the air!

Boom! Crash!

Sizzle!  Everywhere.

The colorful colors of light

But when it goes out

It’s the pitch black dark.


The Soldiers Lying on the Battlefield

By Taylor

5th Grade

For the strong and the powerful, the ones who lie to rest, all soldiers

who gave their lives, all soldiers who risked their lives for our country.


For our country, to be one people and stay one people.


Our one people, lying on that battlefield, never returning to the

country that will still be free, everyone still free, but them lost, them to never

be found, to always be missing.


Yes it’s them on the battlefield that kept our country one people.

Them, that kept us free.  Them, they deserve to be alive more than any of

us.  Them, lying on the battlefield.


This is the power of war, this is the power of one bomb, of one

missle, one gunshot, one person with a knife in the forest, this is what it

does to one people, many people.


Thank you veterans lying at rest for giving your life for this nation.

Thank you veterans wounded for everything you lost.


Thank you veterans here before me for going out to war and fighting

brave, as a reward you come back with scars and bruises that show you’re



Thank you for fighting the fear, for facing the bombs, and missiles,

and one person in the forest with a knife, for keeping us one people, for

keeping us all free.


You deserve the best, you gave me a beautiful nation to live in, and it

was you, you deserve the thanks, you deserve to be one people.


You and soldiers lying on the battlefield.




By Eli

4th Grade

As the fires rain down

as the gunshots are heard

as the trees burn I wonder

I wonder what caused this

why do we turn on each other

what drives us to kill

why does hell rain from heaven

and why does mankind discriminate,

When we love each other

or do we

and when the bomb drops on only ashes,

what have we achieved






what do we achieve

every move brings us down with a weight







what did we gain when we made the bomb

what did we achieve when the cities


human torches


all hell rained down

that day

as the towers fell

as the planes exploded

as the harbor sank

all hell rained down

what do we achieve

do we become godly

or devilish

do we gain power

or lose money

do we become popular

or outcasts







when all hell rains down

Here’s a gallery of our winners from this year:

Little Free Library Progress Update

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Very exciting news! We just heard from Home Depot in Athens that our 2 Little Free Libraries are almost ready for delivery to the school. Kenneth Simms, Operations Manager, sent us a photo of the progress late last night. We can’t wait to get these libraries to our school to begin decorating them in art!  We can’t thank Home Depot enough for all they are doing!

Transmedia Poetry with Thinglink

Fourth graders have been working on a poetry project for a few weeks now.  The goal was to write poem based in the science standards of light and sound and incorporate figurative language.  The teachers also wanted students to use some kind of technology for the project.  I decided to use a tool called Thinglink because it allows you to take an image and make it interactive.  You can put multiple related links on one image to create a transmedia experience, which means that the poem is experienced across multiple platforms.  We thought students could explore their poem in different ways:  informational text, video, image, and poetry text.  Other options could have included song, online games, and ebooks related to the poem’s topic.


The sequence of lessons looked something like this:

  • Lesson 1:  Look at onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, and personification in several mentor poems and then do a poetry dig in poetry books to find more examples of that figurative language.


  • Lesson 2:  Look at specific poems that focus on light and sound.  Examine the science standards and the idea of “found poetry” so that students might incorporate language from the standard in their poem.  Begin writing poems.


  • Lesson 3:  Finish writing poems in Google doc and begin Thinglink project.  This lesson took longer than we expected because students had to setup a Youtube Channel, create a Thinglink account, search for a creative commons image, and change the privacy setting on their Google Doc.  We did this step by step together.


  • Lesson 4:  Create a Thinglink.  The goal was to have an image with links to the Google doc, a video of the student reading the poem, and links to informational sites about the topic of the poem.

This was a fun project, but because there were so many accounts to log in to, it made the progress slow down significantly.  Students had a hard time remembering all of the steps that it took to login to multiple accounts at the same time and navigate back and forth between multiple tabs to get the links that they needed.  I think it really opened our eyes to some skills we need to focus on at the beginning of the year in order to make projects like this successful.

As students finished their work, they submitted their poem in a Google form and I added it to our Smore webpage of interactive poetry images.  Smore was very easy to use and a great way to collect and display a whole grade level’s work.  As students submitted their links, I copied the link and then embedded it on the Smore page with one click.  Then, on the Google spreadsheet, I highlighted the student’s name so that I knew I had already added their work.

I encourage you to take a look at the students’ work on our Smore page.  We could have made this project much more complex, but it was a great first step.  I think a second round of Thinglink would be much smoother.

Storybird Round 3

Ms. Carney’s Kindergarten Class came today to write storybirds in small groups.  Ms. Carney, Ms. Samuel, and I each facilitated a group and a parent volunteer rotated among the groups to assist as needed.  This class followed a similar sequence of lessons that other Kindergarten classes had followed.  Please see previous storybird posts for those details.

Here are their final results:

Pratt & the Pirates

Fluffy Bunny & Her Best Friend Frank

The Little Boy Lost in Space

The Black Cat Finds Friends

Student Co-teaching: A Participatory Experience!

Lucy shows off the page in Thanking the Moon where she helped me pronounce the word correctly based on her knowledge of Chinese.

Today something wonderful happened.  I was doing a lesson with Kindergarten comparing and contrasting the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival with Thanksgiving.  We used PebbleGo to read informational text about Thanksgiving and fact check with what we knew about Thanksgiving.  Then, we read Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin to learn about the Moon Festival.  At the end, we used an interactive Venn diagram from Read, Write, Think to compare and contrast.  During the story, I was first thrilled when a student was so excited that he recognized some of the names for sister, father, etc. in the story.  It made me remember the importance of students being able to see themselves and their cultures in the books on the library shelves and in the selections that are chosen for whole class lessons.

The second amazing thing that happened was when I came to a word in the story for older sister, Jei Jei.  I of course did not know the correct pronunciation, and I immediately knew I was wrong when the student who was so excited about the book did not recognize the word that I read.  Amazingly, Lucy, a student, was in the library working on a project and checking out a book.  She just happens to take a Chinese class after school, so she graciously shared the correct pronunciation and got us back on track.  She did this without any prompting.  I was so excited that she chose to participate and that she felt comfortable enough to interrupt my lesson in order to share that information.  These small moments really inform my bigger vision of the library as a site of participatory culture.  I hope that by sharing this, students will continue to find ways to get involved in any way they can in our library program.