Cool Tools for School, Thing 50: The New AASL Standards

I was lucky enough to attend the national conference in Phoenix when the standards were unveiled and even pre-ordered my copy so I could pick it up right at registration with the rest of my conference bag goodies. I’ve participated in Webinars and Twitter chats related to the new standards, I’m even in an online book study through our local Boces. But man, oh man. That is one dense book and I’m still, all these months later trying to wrap my head around it. So, I figured why not round out my Cool Tools experience this year with even more standards talk? I mean, if wanting to know and understand these new standards is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

For my first activity, I did the one suggested in Paige’s article.


I know we’re probably harder on ourselves and our programs than others would be but, this was a bit depressing to look at! I don’t have nearly as many green highlights as I would like and far more red circles than I would have hoped. It looks like we’re strongest with the Domain Think, doing alright with the Domain Grow and have much work to do in the Domains Create and Share. Include is by far our worst Shared Foundation with Inquire being our strongest and Collaborate, Curate, Explore and, Engage being works in progress.

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Looking at the Powerverbs! Checklist Paige linked to in her article, it looks like we have trouble with:

  • reflecting
  • seeking diverse perspectives and viewpoints
  • identifying bias
  • evaluating sources
  • locating appropriate sources
  • sharing our knowledge products with genuine audiences

Some of these, like identifying bias and evaluating sources, I expect to have more difficulty within an elementary school library as they are a bit complex. Others, like sharing our knowledge products with genuine audiences, are difficult because technology, particularly social media, is quite locked down in my district. We don’t often have the ability to share our students work outside the classroom. I need to find other ways to share our students work with real-world audiences (and keep working on the IT department to loosen up a bit). Finally, others, like reflecting and locating appropriate sources, are problematic because of the way I have been doing research with our students. I often curate our list of databases to a smaller, more manageable list before we do a research project. Instead, I could be doing that with the students, at the very least talking through my choices with them and modeling my thinking so they can start to see and hear how an experienced researcher evaluates and locates appropriate sources. Reflecting on our final products often gets the short straw because we are often rushing to finish up a project so they can move on and not fall behind on the curriculum. I’ll need to keep this exercise and the list of Powerverbs! handy as I begin to rethink and plan next year’s curriculum over the summer…

After that somewhat disheartening exercise, I began looking at all the different handouts and materials available on the Standards portal. One of the first handouts I looked at was the AASL’s “Six Action Steps for Getting to Know the National School Library Standards”.


I was happy to see that, thanks to my online standards book club and other standards-based PD I’ve been engaging in, I’d made my way through steps 1-3 already. Step 4: Curate, I managed to tackle with the help of the Paige Jaeger article. Steps 5 & 6, Include and Engage, will require some thinking and planning over the summer. I like the idea of sharing the foundation words with students and seeing which ones they already know and which ones need defining for them. I’ll definitely have to start thinking about how to work those vocabulary words into our existing lessons next year…

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Next, I looked at the standards guides for Administrators, Teachers/Educators, and parents. I looked at the key talking points and began to think about how I could incorporate them into different elevator speeches for each of those key groups. Writing an elevator speech is the final assignment for my online Standards book club so I’m still working on those but I’ve found the guides to be very helpful in crafting my messages so far.

Finally, I poked around a bit more and discovered some potentially fun and useful things:

  • You can get presentation templates modeled after the new Standards formatting
  • You can download web banners modeled after the new Standards formatting
  • There’s a hashtag bank with hashtag suggestions for following and using on social media (very handy for my next Twitter lurking session)
  • You can find all the explainer videos for the new Standards there
  • THERE IS A STANDARDS-BASED CARD GAME!!! (it’s kind of like Apples to Apples but with the foundations, domains, and the personas-and I just might have printed it off and plan on bringing it to the CNYSL book club meeting at my house this summer).

All in all, this was a very eye-opening Cool Tools with which to wrap up the year. I didn’t always like what I saw but, I certainly will be a better teacher and librarian for having taken the time to see (all the many, many places) where I can improve.


Cool Tools for School, Thing 11: You Pick!

While exploring Thing 50: The New AASL Standards, I spent some time looking at the Tech Tools & Resources for the AASL Standards doc to which Polly had linked. One of the tools on it was Goosechase EDU, a tool I’d been introduced to in the past but had never gotten around to actually using. Now seemed like the perfect time to correct that.

Goosechase EDU allows you to create and run a scavenger hunt. I thought this would be a great way to shake up our end of year library review. Normally we play library review bingo but a scavenger hunt sounded like a much more fun and active way to review some of the things we learned this year!

First, you have to sign up for an account. You can even use Google to login/create an account if you’d like. Then, you create your first “game” or scavenger hunt.

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After you select “new game”, you give some details about your scavenger hunt. Since “Game Location” is optional, I left it blank for privacy and safety reasons.

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Next, you’ll need to start creating your “missions” or tasks. Missions can take multiple forms. You can have photo or video submission, text submissions or GPS based submissions. You can also create your own from scratch, re-use missions you created for other scavenger hunts, or borrow them from the existing Goosechase Mission Bank.

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I chose to make all of my missions either photo or video submissions. You give each mission a name, a points value, and a description. Mine included things like, find a book and take a picture of the front cover or, make a video of a group member demonstrating how to use a shelf marker to look for books.

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After you’ve assigned your mission an name, points value, and description, you can either save it and move on to the next one or, make a few adjustments in the advanced settings. Goosechase automatically defaults to showing all submissions in the game feed as they are submitted so everyone can see them. If you were playing this in a larger setting I can see where that would be fun for the other players and might help stir up the competition. However, in the smaller space of my library, I thought it would just cause students to copy each other in a race to get done first so I changed it to hide the submissions from the feed. Since it automatically defaults to “shown in feed” you have to do this for every mission which is a bit annoying but not the end of the world.

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After you’ve made all your missions, it’s time to decide which game mode you’d like your scavenger hunt to take. You can do individuals or teams. I opted for teams. You can have up to 5 teams per game with the free EDU account. You can create your own team names and give each team a join code or let teams create their own names. I unchecked the option for letting teams create their own names and went with the very creative Team 1, Team 2 and so on. After that, the next step is activating the game so teams can join and participate. I gave mine a date range so I can test it out sporadically before the actual students play it and so I wouldn’t forget to activate before they came to play and waste precious class time logging in to do so.

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Then, once players start completing missions, you can view them from the submission hub, if you’re logged into the account the created the scavenger hunt under.

Some things to note:

  • To join a game, students do have to create an account for Goosechase and be logged into that account to find your game and play it. I work with elementary students and wasn’t too sure about having them log in using their Gmail accounts. Instead, I created five accounts with the usernames fpslibrary1, fpslibrary2, fpslibrary3 and so on. For an email address, I entered whatever username I had just created and the system took it (even though none of those email address is real or valid).
  • To speed up the whole process, I plan on having the five iPads logged in to the fpslibrary accounts, the scavenger hunt selected and each iPad signed up as one of the 5 teams before the students arrive anyway. That way, they can just get right to playing the game after I’ve explained how it works.
  • This whole idea could also be executed without the Goosechase app if necessary. You could put the missions on index cards or a piece of paper and still have students take pictures and videos with the iPads. You would just need to save time at the end of class to review the submissions from each team’s iPad before you could see how each team actually did. I’m thinking of doing this anyway in case there are any unexpected internet issues or iPad problems the day I want to try the scavenger hunt.

In addition to this being a fun way to wrap up the year with my primary grade students, I think it could be a great review/orientation for the intermediate students when they come back in the fall. With the older kids being on a flex schedule I won’t see all of them right away for projects but I still try to see all of the 3rd-6th grade classes the first few weeks back for a welcome back orientation and book exchange. I love the idea of this fun game setting the tone of our year!

Power (of) Play

I recently read an article in Marie Claire @ Play (a special supplement issue that came with my subscription over the summer) entitled “State of Play” by Joanne Chen. The article explores how more and more, research is showing that play is a key element in our lives. Play can make us happier and healthier. Taking time out of the work day for play can even make us more productive.

Chen’s article looked at four specific ways that play can make us all better works and even help us professionally:

  1. Play helps you focus-Research shows that our attention spans are cyclical and to get the most out of a day, we should schedule regular breaks.
  2. Play helps us bond-Games help us get to know each other and even help us develop social skills.
  3. Play makes us more creative-When we play games without any “right” answers we stimulate our imaginations and kickstart the brain storming, innovation process.
  4. Play helps us all get along-Research has shown play not only lowers stress levels (which makes us all easier to get along with) it encourages collaboration between people and makes for better, more productive work relationships.

The power of play can have similar effects for our students. In fact, children today need planned play breaks built in to their days more than ever. Have you seen some of their schedules? Today’s children have more packed in their schedules than ever (some have more on their plate than I do on a typical day!).

To further explore the power of play for our students and ourselves and for some great tips and ideas, check out the blogs Board Games with Scott and Because Play Matters also written by Scott Nicholson. Scott Nicholson is a professor at Syracuse University where he conducts “research on how to facilitate learning through games and play in non-classroom settings” as well as looking “at both the creation of transformative games and meaningful gamification” (Because Play Matters, About Scott Nicholson). Go to YouTube and check out Scott’s appearance on the CBS Sunday Morning.

Happy exploring and happy gaming everyone! Please feel free to share your own gaming tips and experiences using games in the classroom.