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.

4th Grade Native American Research

I am so thankful for time to get together with other librarians to learn.  We recently had a professional learning day in our district where many of our school librarians/media specialists shared how they are using Google apps with students.  The amazing Tanya Hudson, librarian at Chase Street Elementary, shared how gadgets could be embedded in Google forms.  She had used this tool with a 1st grade Common Core lesson using the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  Her sharing made my brain wheels start turning about how this gadget might be used with other projects.

Our 4th grade is currently studying Native Americans.  Their standards have them look at how location and environment affect the food, shelter, and clothing of groups of Native Americans in each region of the United States.  Once again, I used a transliteracy model to think about all of the ways that students could experience these 6 groups of Native Americans.  I pulled informational books, folk tales, and stories from each group and put them at tables.  In the computer lab, students used a pathfinder which included Youtube videos, databases, and informational sites on clusters of Native Americans but also group-specific information as well.  Students used a graphic organizer to gather their information.

Filling out the Google form

For the portion inspired by Tanya Hudson’s work, I created a Google form and asked 2 questions:  What is the Native American group you discovered? and What is their location?  I used 2 iPads as a station in the library where students could go and input thisinformation as they discovered locations in their research.  I also embedded a map gadget in the form so that each time a student filled out the form, it pinned a location on a Google map.  This map was displayed on the smart board.  As the map started to populate, students began exploring what other students had posted onto the map, and an interesting thing happened.  Students quickly discovered that students were entering incorrect information.  The coolness of the iPad was causing some students to skip their research or type what they “thought they knew” into the form.  The great thing was that other students started to call them out on this error.  Other students discovered that you had to be specific on the location.  Simply typing “southwest” did not necessarily put a pin in the right place of the map.  Students began looking for specific states or, even better, specific cities.  Our time simply wasn’t long enough, but a logical next step would be to have students begin to weed through the information in the form and decide what is valid and what is not.  The data can be easily erased and disappears from the Google map.  I already have one student who is interested in doing this by himself, but I think a whole class exploration would also be great because it lends itself to authentic conversation about why we do research in the first place.

Google map with pins

Once again in this experience I allowed students to freely move from place to place.  Most migrated and remained at computers, while others stayed at the books for the majority of their time.  Students who went to the books commented on how much information was in one place rather than having to look at multiple places on the computer.  It was interesting to hear this come from them rather than me telling them myself.  So many interesting conversations and teachable moments occurred  and I wished that our time could be extended.  This will be helpful in future planning to schedule multiple sessions or longer sessions with classes.  In all, I think students gathered enough information collectively that they can share their information back in the regular classroom.