Cool Tools for School, Thing 12: Final Reflections

For my final reflections, I thought I’d try using Adobe Spark Video. I’ve used it once before to create a summary video about my trip to the AASL National Conference but this time, I made use of the voice recording option in addition to the pictures and text! Although the audio gets a bit wonky in spots, I think it turned out pretty well and it wasn’t too difficult to put together (once I got my thoughts in order that is).

Here’s a link to my Spark Video in case the embed doesn’t work (I seem to be able to see the video embed in edit mode but once I hit publish it’s just a link? Not sure what’s up with that…)



Cool Tools for School, Thing 14: eBook Creation

A few weeks ago, I got the email I expect but dread every. Single. Year: it was time to set up my observation. This year, the library department’s observations are being done by the head of the technology department. So, it seemed like a good idea to find a way to work technology into my lesson plan. But I was also in between projects with my intermediate grades (we’re on a flex schedule this year) which meant if I was going to complete my observation in the time frame I was being given, I was going to need to do my lesson with a primary class. Fortunately, we were going to be done with our current units and ready to start something new by observation time. But I didn’t want to teach them a technology lesson just to teach them a technology lesson and try to look good to the IT guy during my observation. I was a bit stumped.

Then, one night I was scrolling Instagram and saw a post about this book I am not just a Scribble by Diane Alber. It looked cute so I ordered it and when it arrived I saw that the last page encourages kids to make their own scribbles and it even comes with stickers so kids can give their scribbles eyes, arms, mouths and so on like, just like the Scribble in the story. I loved that idea but it didn’t have nearly enough stickers for even one class of students to do it much less a whole grade level. And that’s when I remembered the “Build a Snowman with Google Slides” activity by Control Alt Achieve that I had looked during Thing 43: Google Drawing and it all came together.

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Inspired by that activity, I created a new slide template called We Are Not Just Scribbles. The idea was the same as the original, my 2nd-grade students would learn how to use copy and paste to take the eyes, mouths, arms, legs and so on from the other pages of the slide template and add them to their creation. So, the class prior to my observation, we read the book and students created their own scribbles. I gave them a template I mocked up quickly that had four boxes on the front and four boxes on the back. They were told to make 8 completely different, creative scribbles and then circle the number of their favorite before they handed it in and started book exchange time. Before the next class (aka The Lesson That Was To Be Observed), I used my phone to take a picture of each of their favorite scribbles and uploaded them to Google Drive. Then, in Google Classroom, I opened each of their slide templates and added their individual scribbles to each of the templates. When they arrived for the next class, we reviewed the book, did a quick lesson on how to use the mouse or the toolbar to access the copy/paste tools and then sent them off to access their individual slide projects and personalize their scribbles. The next lesson we finished them up and the next time I see them, we’ll start typing in the “All about my scribble” box. When everyone is done, I plan on printing their scribbles and “all about my scribble” pages and binding them into one class book I can add to the library shelves. If there’s time, I’d like to make a second one to give to their classroom teachers as well.

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For my Kindergarten and 1st-grade students, we followed the same basic idea I did with 2nd-grade classes except I created a different version of the template with fewer choices for the personalization options so they all fit on the same page as the scribble. Instead of learning copy and paste they used the lesson to practice mouse skills like selecting, dragging and dropping.  

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All in all, the lesson went well. My IT guy was impressed, the kids loved it and, it not only taught them a technology skill but, I was able to connect it to something we did in library class. I will definitely be using lessons like this next year to teach basic computer skills to my primary students throughout the year!

Thing 40: Final Reflections & What’s Next?

Another year, another Cool Tools session to wrap up. Let’s dive right in!

What did you learn?

  • How did you put what you learned into action at school? Personally?
      • While I struggled initially with the EBP lessons that kicked off the Track 4 Cool Tools, I think they have had the biggest impact on how I do things. I’m more aware than ever of all the potential evidence I could (and should) be collecting about what I/we do in library. I’ve started using my cell phone camera to snap quick pics of student work, students working, final products etc. Then, I’ve been using the Google Drive app to upload them right to special folders I created in Drive. It really doesn’t take that long and before I knew it, I had a nice collection of examples of what we actually do in library.
      • In keeping with the goals I came up with in my EBP writeups, I’ve also stuck with my fancy new monthly infographic wrap ups I’ve been creating for my principal. Next year, I think I’d like to find a place in the library and hang them month after month so everyone who has a few minutes of time could get a better sense of what actually happens in our space.
  • Did you expand your Personal Learning Network? Make new professional connections?
      • I did the Polly recommended double dip strategy for one of my writeups and used the DIY option as an excuse to sign up for the Learn 2 Tweet class I had been wanting to check it out. Through that class, I not only learned more about how to use Twitter more effectively, I also meet some great librarians and added them to my network of people I can reach out to when I have questions! I also learned about tons of great hashtags and regular live tweet sessions I can use to expand my PLN even further!
  • What challenges did you face during the workshop?
    • As always, time is the biggest hurdle to this class. I want to read and explore all the options in each tool, then I have to decide which ones I’ll actually want to work with, explore them, try to use them with actual classes/lessons, then finally, write up the whole process! The part I struggle with the most is getting them worked into actual lessons in a timely fashion that also leaves me time to report about how it all went.

What’s next?

  • Did you start some projects that you’ll be following up on in the future?
      • I absolutely plan on continuing all the projects I started during the EBP tools (infographic summary for principal, newsletter for teachers, recording evidence). I’m also really looking forward to using Google Classroom to assist with Battle of the Books next year. Finally, I can’t wait to use SeeSaw more next year and would love to be able to use BookWidgets for student assessment.
  • Are you planning to share what you’ve learned with others?
      • I would love to put together a professional development session for one of our superintendent days on using Google Classroom for our teachers. I’ve also been thinking about putting together a proposal to lead a book study on The Together Teacher in my district.
  • What other professional development projects will you be pursuing?
    • In part, because of what I’ve learned in this class over the years, and as part of my overall goals, I’ll be starting to pursue my goal of someday becoming National Board Certified next year. I’ll also be taking a one credit class in the fall through UB on being a leader in your building community!

Did you like learning this way?

  • For some of you, this might have been your first experience with this kind of independent, self-driven learning. Did this work for you?
      • I’ve always found it fairly easy to be an independent, self-driven learner. As long as deadlines and guidelines are clear, I usually don’t have any problems focusing on the work I need to do when I need to do it and sticking to a self-imposed schedule. I also like the challenge of the doing something just for me, not because anyone in particular is watching or expecting it from me.  
  • What did you most value about the program? What didn’t work well?
      • Hands down, one of the things I most value is all the time and effort Polly puts into pulling together all the resources and ideas for each tool! Often, they are all things I’ve wanted to look into more at some point but, never seem to have the time to do the research on it. Thanks to Polly, I can focus on the exploration and not the hunt and gather.
      • I struggle with the same things every year, over extending myself and at the end of the school year and getting crunched for time, and taking time to connect with the other participants. This year was no different but I’ll continue to work on it.
  • Would you do it again?
    • Absolutely! This was my third time and I have never regretted the time I spent on Cool Tools.

Bonus Lesson: Making Connections

For this lesson, I ended up looking at the following blogs: Aabdul810, TechieToolsBlog, and Bri’sCoolToolsBlog.

What did I learn? So much!!! I wish I did a better job of reading other blogs during this year’s Cool Tools because in just this weekend, I got so many ideas and learned so many cool tips and tricks. I guess that will be my goal for next year…

One of the first things I learned, courtesy of Aabdul810’s Thing 2 post on Photo Fun, was that you can use your own photo to create word clouds in Tagxedo! I had no idea you could do this-I just assumed I had to use their pre-programmed options. (I really really wanted to try this out right now but, I’m out of town for the long weekend and my host’s computer says it doesn’t have the right software to create a Tagxedo.)

Over at Bri’s Cool Tools Blog, I learned about LessonPaths in her Thing 5 Curation Tools post. Not only is it another potential way for me to curate resources for students (I like that it supports a wide variety of resource tools), you can search other people’s “playlists” so you don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel when looking for great resources for teachers, students, and parents.

Finally, I hit up Techie Tools Blog. In Thing 11: Coding tools, I learned about the app Cargo Bot. I’ve been celebrating coding month in December the past two years with my 1st-5th graders. I get a lot of great ideas and activities (even some unplugged activities)  from the Hour of Code website but, also like to have some coding apps for the kids to try. Right now, I only have Daisy the Dinosaur and Scratch Jr on our iPads. This app will make an excellent addition to our coding apps (can’t believe it’s free!!!) but, like Techie Tools, I’ll have to practice more with it before I introduce it to the kids! I’m stuck on one of the early tutorial levels!!

Another great idea I picked up over at Techie Tools Blog was using Google Classroom for Battle of the Books! Being a relatively new librarian, and thus fairly new to Battle of the Books, I’m still looking for ways to improve on it every year. But, I’m also looking for improvements that also make running it easier on me-this will be especially true next year when we no longer have our library clerks (a fact I’m pretty sure I’m still in deep, deep denial about…). On the surface, it might seem like setting up Battle of the Books in Google Classroom might be more work, not less, however if I use some of my summer break to set things up in Google Classroom, I think I could save myself a lot of time during the school year.

However, I didn’t just love this idea because it potentially revolutionize the way I conduct Battle of the Books in my building next year, I loved it because it finally gave me a good idea for using Google Classroom in the library. Every since they finally made Google Classroom available to us, I’ve wanted to use it with my classes but, I also didn’t want to use it just to use it. I wanted to have a good idea that made the most sense with Google Classroom instead of another option. One of my biggest holdups with Google Classroom was that, if I don’t always use it, the kids will forget how to access it. So few of my classroom teachers use our Google Apps for Education options with their classes that their Gmail credentials aren’t something they are use to needing to know. I’ve been extolling the benefits of Google Docs and slowly making some converts this year. One of the things that frequently happens though, is that the teacher makes a master template in Google Docs, shares it with the students, and then when they all open it and start working on it, everyone is overriding everyone else’s work. If I’m available, I’ve been able to show them how to have students make their own copy (the only way I knew how to combat this problem) but, when I’m not available, they often give up and just switch to Word docs. Not something that helps me make converts of everyone…

But now, thanks to Techie Tools post, I know that Google Classroom has an option that will MAKE A COPY FOR EACH STUDENT!!! This tiny detail alone might be enough for me to convince loads of teachers to join me on the Google bandwagon next year! I can’t wait to start showing and telling this little detail all over the school, maybe even the district…I think I might have an idea for my first PD session next year!

And finally, here’s the links to where I left some comments on the other blogs:

Aabdul810 Thing 37: DIY

Aabdul810 Thing 2: Photo Fun

Techietoolsblog Thing 11: Coding Tools

Techietoolsblog Thing 12: Collaborating, Connecting, and Sharing

Bri’s Cool Tools Blog Thing 5: Curation Tools

Bri’s Cool Tools Blog Thing 3: Online Communities and Personal Learning Networks

Bri’s Cool Tools Blog Thing 2: Photo Fun

Thing 38: App-apalooza

After exploring several of the links for App-apalooza, I found three discoveries I’m pretty pumped about:

  • Discovery #1: Digital Dog Pound and their App Task Challenges!
    • I loved that they made their ATC available in one Google Drive folder you can add to your own Google Drive-and of course immediately added it to mine.
    • The setup and format of the ATC pages were beautiful and incredibly well down. I was impressed with how they managed to fit so much information (a picture of the app, a description of the app, ideas for integration, and an app challenge) into 1-2 pages without it ever feeling crowded or overwhelmed.
    • I’m so inspired by their ATC pages, this summer I think I’d like to try to make a few of my own for some of the apps on our iPads!
  • Discovery #2: School Library Journal App Webpage
    • This discovery was one of those that made me feel like a bad librarian-I had no idea that SLJ had a dedicated App Webpage! I loved looking through old postings and exploring their suggestions. I’ve already added them to my favorite websites on my computer and will be adding this into my weekly rotation of must check websites!
    • One of the things I discovered while poking around the website was that there were a ton of SLJ newsletters I wasn’t subscribing to. So, I subscribed to their tech newsletter as well as a few others I had somehow missed along the way.
    • While exploring their old postings on the website I can across a writeup for an intriguing tool which brings me to…
  • Discovery #3:BookWidgets!
    • BookWidgets is a service that lets you create quizzes, exit tickets, worksheets, games and more for the iPad. You can create your own completely from scratch or, use one of their templates.
    • There are couple of things I love about this idea:
      • As I learned in the Things 31 & 32 on Evidence Based Practice, I need to be collecting more pre and post assessment data with my classes and this gives me a tool to create just those
      • Since it’s a digital tool, I don’t have to worry about drowning in a sea of exit tickets and end of unit tests
      • It tracks all the student results for you, less factoring and figuring on my end
      • No more handing out and collecting of papers, instantly makes them available on student iPads
      • I have a class set of iPads just for the library and I have been trying to find more and more ways to work them into our lessons and this will help me make them a part of almost every lesson-even if they aren’t the actual learning tool!
    • The bad news is it’s $49 a year for this tool. Although, that does only come out to $5 a month (which is less than I spend on coffee-three cheers for treat yo’self Fridays) so I think I could justify it, if it worked as well as I hope it would.
    • There’s a 30 day free trial so I’ve signed up for that and I’ve been trying out the different widgets. Unfortunately, our last week of regular library classes is next week already so I wont be able to test out many of the features but, I think some of the game options would be a great way to review what they’ve learned in library this year while still keeping it fun. 

Cool Tools for School, Thing 34:Annual Reports-Make Them Better

Wow, so  many great examples to look at with this cool tool! My personal favorites were:

  • Kirkwood annual report-I liked how she spelled right out why the different information mattered and what it meant. It saves the reader the trouble of figuring out why they should care-and I liked that it gave a purpose to a lot of the data we naturally collect and want to report on (like circa stats and latest acquisitions).
  • Debra Kachel’s Annual Report Guide-I loved this! This handy chart is what I’ve been looking for my whole librarian-report-making-life!!! I also liked how the data and types of examples lines up nicely with three types of information that Jeri Hurd recommended collecting in the EBP cool tools.
  • Monthly Newsletter Sample (Elementary School) by Kathryn Cole. While looking online for the rest of the Debra Kachel article the report guide mentions, I came across an ALA page with report examples. I was particularly enamored with this one. And while I don’t necessarily think I’ll be including any of her ideas in my principal’s report, she gave me some great ideas for what to include in a monthly newsletter to teachers!
  • Stony Evans adding Twitter analytics to reports-What an interesting idea! I’m not as active on Twitter as I liked to be but, I do have an active library Instagram account and Pinterest board. I liked his point that adding these numbers to the report shows your efforts to reach out to the community in new and different ways. Plus, so many people still think of social media as young and hip and would be surprised to see how active and involved librarians and libraries are on social media. It would be a great way to buck some of those stereotypes that still linger in our buildings.

So,what do I want to include in my reports? 

  • In the principal report, I’d like to focus on the objectives in Debra Kachel’s annual report guide. But, since I’m doing it monthly and not annually, I don’t think I need to try to hit all seven objectives in each report. I’ll make it a goal to hit at least one objective from the three main areas each month and all seven by the end of the school year. I’ll also try to have all three types of information (data, examples, and stories) in all of the reports each month.
  • I’d also like to make sure I have spot for the social media stats and what other things I’ve been up to outside the classroom.
  • And of course, I’ll need to include the “why does this matter”/”what does this mean” sections I loved so much in the Kirkwood report.
  • For my teachers’s monthly newsletter, I liked to use the ideas from Kathryn Cole’s FPG newsletter with celebrations, ideas for thematic teacher-librarian collaboration, and availability of generic lessons for library instruction.

What data have you been collecting? What do you still need to collect?

  • This brings us right back to our EBP discussions doesn’t it? I have some examples of student work from the writing project I’m working on with 1st grade right now. I’m also in the middle of collecting some data on my 3rd graders from a unit we’re doing on how to use the OPAC catalog. I can easily explain how those skills matter not just in library but in general research/searching settings. I also could start collecting some data on our 2nd grade Caldecott unit.
  • I requested our testing data at the beginning of the school year so I have that to pul out and show the weaknesses areas that I’ve been able to address during my instruction.
  • Going forward, I need to start collecting some kind of pre-lesson data so I can offer up an analysis of what/how much students learned.
  • I also need to make sure I have a way to collect and record the less tangible assessments of student learning that takes place (this is where recording what students say during the day might come in handy).

How often do you want to share reports with your administrators and staff?

  • I like the idea of going back to monthly reports for my principal like I’ve done in past years.
  • I like the idea of re-launching a monthly newsletter for teachers as well.

What tools might you use to present information so it’s easier to understand and more appealing?

  • For my principal, I loved the looks of the infographics people have created. I also like the idea of creating some image files using Canva to include in the infographic.
  • For my teachers, I think keeping it simple with Google doc or a Smore newsletter would be the best. I want to be able to embed links in it if I need to but I don’t want it to be something they have to do too many steps to get to or I’ll lose them before they’ve even read it.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for my February report for my principal:



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(If this isn’t loading properly, click here to see it.

And here’s what I’ve got for a March newsletter for my teachers.

My principal loved the new format, especially the “why” boxes. And, I figured out how to copy the Piktochart so I can just update what I need to update month to month and keep the same basic format/color scheme (when you have your Piktochart open in edit mode, under the File drop down menu, there is an option called Save As. This allows you to copy the Piktochart you’re editing). I already started the one for April. Which is a good thing because now I don’t have to reinvent the wheel each month and that will make it easier (and thus, more likely) for me to keep going with this project. I’ve already added the April lessons and reasons, added a few event/activities they library has promoted, and started adding some of my professional contributions. When of my teachers responded positively to the March Newsletter I sent them and I was even able to open up the April report and add her quote as a pull quote next to “started a monthly newsletter for teachers” in my “other contributions section”.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, like adding examples of student work, but overall, I’m really happy with how this has started to come together.

Cool Tools for Schools, Thing 32: EBP-Collecting Data



I’ll admit, I was disappointed when I first read through this tool. I was hoping for some cut, dry, concrete lists of data to collect and how to collect them. Of course, I knew it couldn’t really be that easy. If it was, we’d all be using EBP and wouldn’t need two cool tools devoted to the topic!

Three things from the provided readings and tools stood out to me.

Stand Out #1: Jeri Hurd’s quote from the readings, “Basically you will need three types of information: Data, examples and stories”. This simple quote and the examples provided made me feel better, less stressed and overwhelmed by the idea of collecting data for EBP. Spreading EBP over three types of information means that I’m not relying on any one type of information to carry all the weight of proving my lessons have impact. Spreading it over three types of information also erased images of me constantly creating and checking pre/post assessments to get my data. It also made me feel like I’m already on my way to collecting data for my EDP because my lessons naturally have examples of student work and student stories (I just have to start collecting them on a regular basis and in a more organized fashion!). More than anything else I’ve read in these first two cool tools, this quote made me feel like I could actually do this EBP thing. 

Stand Out #2: Ross Todd’s article, Irrefutable Evidence: How to Prove You Boost Student Achievement.  I liked this article because it gave me plenty of doable ideas for collecting the third type of information I’ll need, data:


  • Simple checklist strategies:Check students’ levels of information literacy skills, technical skills, knowledge, and attitudes before and after the library instruction.

This is such a quick and easy way to figure out what my students know, need to know, and learned. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about using it for my own EBP though. Using it to drive my instruction and assess how it went, sure. But, after the lesson, I would either pass it along to the teachers with their monthly reports or recycle it. Not any more though, now I know how valuable it can be.

  • Rubric strategies: Evaluate students based on a set of criteria that clearly defines the impact of your lessons.

Rubrics are everywhere online! I don’t even have to create my own every time-why haven’t I been using these more!!!! I’m currently using a K-2 opinion writing rubric I found online to grade 1st grade writing pieces for a project we’re doing in our elementary school libraries. Again, something I’m already doing that technically, is EBP and I didn’t know it. I’ll be sure to scan these into my Google Drive along with the writing pieces instead of just giving them to the teachers at the end of the project for their writing grades.

  • Conferencing strategies: Devise activities where students can reflect on their work, their skills, and the benefits of the library instruction.

I’m taking a class on Explicit Direct Instruction right now and we just talked about the importance of giving students opportunities to self assess and reflect. During that night’s class, I realized I don’t build enough of these opportunities into my lessons. I’m still working on identifying some that will work for me and my classes but, I’m even more motivated to find some know that I realize that it could double as EBP data.

  • Journaling strategies: Document your instruction and the outcome of your instruction.

When I first read journaling strategies, I thought this was going to be another way to have students reflect on their learning but this one is worded for me, the teacher to reflect. I’ve done some classes and research into becoming National Board Certified and self reflection is one of the pieces of the process. Again, I like the idea of incorporating this into my routine. It will help me prepare for that part of NBC and counts as part of my EBP data-score! Plus, reflection really does make you a better teacher. I make little notes in my planner after lessons sometimes but again, I could make an effort to do this with purpose and on a regular basis.

  • Portfolio strategies : Gather samples of students’ work over a period of time and match them to your school’s curriculum goals and information-literacy requirements.


Stand Out #3:  Lyn Hay’s & Ross Todd’s EBP Action Plan & Program Plan Templates. This was such a great thing to find! I personally love lists, charts, templates, planners etc. Nothing makes something feel instantly more doable and achievable to me like writing it down in some kind of organized fashion. One of the things I’m noticing in these two cool tools is that I already have some things in the works that could be turned into data for EBP. But, I need a plan to take them to that next level where they actually are part of my EBP. Sitting down with these templates could help me do just that. I like also like that you can plan out individual goals as well as quarterly goals for the school year.

I have a tendency to go big and get overwhelmed but I’m going to try to heed advice from one of the readings and “start small” with this one. Since I’m already in the middle of a project that is trying to assess the library’s ability to impact student writing, I’ll do a template for that to start. Filling out the template after the project is started isn’t ideal but, it might help me find some gaps/issues/weak spots/overlooked issues etc. The 5th grade classes always do an end of year research project so I think I’ll use the template to come up with an assessment plan for that project as well.

Overall, I feel so much better about EBP after doing these two cool tools. It doesn’t feel as daunting and overwhelming as it did when I first started reading about it. I’m hoping to gradually add this to my library life and turn it into a regular habit. After all this reading and reflecting, I really don’t have any excuses not to!

Cool Tools for School, Thing 31: Thing 31: EBP–Getting Started



I was so excited to see that Track 4 would be tackling EBP and annual reports this year! These are two areas that I know I could be tackling better but just don’t know where/how to start. I do send my principal monthly library reports (yay!) but they are the same template I got from a librarian I subbed for fresh out of college and they emphasize circulation stats, most popular book etc (boo!). I’ve also made gains in showing people what I do in the library. On the suggestion of a colleague, I send the teachers a quick end of month report that showcases what we did in library, what CCSS we hit, and any physical/digital work the students produced (yippie!). But, since I don’t give grades in my district, I never thought to make copies/scan any of the students work for my own data/evidence of what I do (double boo!). Clearly, I need some help and direction when it comes to EBP.

I think one of the hardest parts about getting started with EBP, for me, is just sitting down and thinking about the who, what, where, when, and how of EBP (the why is the easy part-because it’s important and makes your worth in the school indisputable). So, after tackling some of the activities and jotting down some notes, it was time to tackle the “think about” questions.

  • What’s your school mission, primary focus, goals?

Like many schools, we’re really focused on raising our students test scores and getting more of students to perform at grade level in math, reading, and writing. We also revamped our PBIS program and started implementing the Leader in Me program this year.

  • What is important to your principal, school board, other teachers?

I think the above goals are the most important to my principal and fellow teachers. I think these things are also important to the school board but I also know that the district is stressing technology, getting our kids ready for the real world.

  • How does your program help meet THEIR goals?

This is the big question isn’t it? It’s also the most difficult one for me to succinctly answer, even with all this time dedicated to thinking about how to answer it! By making reading and storytelling fun and enjoyable I can encourage reading, and reading more helps make better readers. I can work more writing activities into our class time to help make them stronger writers and editors. We can even work some math and number skills in to our activities. We can improve their research skills and increase their awareness of the need to be safe and skeptical online-which helps prepare them for the increasingly digital future. I’ve been trying to work the critical academic vocabulary into our lessons when possible. Seeing, hearing, and working with the critical academic vocabulary in as many subject areas as possible will help them become more comfortable with vocabulary they need to address the CCSS.

  • What measurable data can you collect that will show the library’s influence on student success?

I could revamp the library centers and library center worksheets I’ve used in the past so that I have some kind of pre-assessement and use the worksheets as a post assessment of what they’ve learned/I’ve taught. I’ve done more writing projects in the library this year and I’ve been keeping all of the planning, rough draft, edit pages etc. When we do any compare/contrast activities I could take pictures of the charts we fill out together at the beginning and end of the unit. I could track the tech skills that I teach students with pre and post assessment activities.

  • What stories, anecdotes and personal stories might you collect from students and staff? These help support the quantitative data.

This is definitely something I could do a better job keeping track of! Students say things about what they’ve learned or enjoyed about library all the time and I don’t ever make a note or write it down! I need to get in the habit of making a note in my phone/iPad or planner. I’ve been thinking about getting a special notebook and at the end of each day taking a few minutes to jot down the crazy/funny/silly things they kids say and do every day. Maybe this could do both jobs…

Some final ideas I got from the readings:

  1. start using exit tickets in the library
  2. use Kahoot! more during the school year (my students love this-I think we’d ace the state tests if they were presented in Kahoot! format)
  3. add Nearpod into my smartBoard presentations/lessons
  4. use Google Forms to survey more than just my 6th graders (and more often than at the end of the school year)
  5. start using the SeeSaw app as soon as possible (IT is working on getting this installed on my iPads)
  6. focus on knowledge created/gained, focus on the students

Whew! That’s quite the start-feels good to get some of this out of my brain. Can’t wait to get some ideas on how to actually start collecting the data (and some ideas on what data to collect).

NYLA Breakdown-Part Two

All right kids, whose ready to learn about teaching with historical documents? Let’s get started then.

  • When teaching kids how to analysis photos direct them to the people, the background and objects. Study those elements for clues as to what is going on and be on the look out for things that don’t seem to fit or you wouldn’t expect to find.
  • Sometimes you need to break a picture up into quadrants so you can isolate what is going on and what you are analyzing.
  • When analyzing letters have kids ask themselves the following questions:
  1. When was this letter written?
  2. Where was this letter written?
  3. Who wrote this letter?
  4. To whom is the letter written?
  5. Why was this letter written?
  6. List three pieces of information from the letter you think are important.
  7. List tow questions you might want to ask the author.
  • After exploring a series of historical documents related to a single person or family, have students create a short movie story board depicting key scenes from the person/family’s life.

For more information and inspiration on teaching with historical documents check out the the New York State Archives website (not from New York? Search around and see if your state has an archives website and what it may have to offer). Stumped on how to find and incorporate primary source documents into your teaching? The New York State Archives website even has a series of videos on how to find and teach with primary source documents.

Library Leadership Academy Workshop-A Quick Recap

This was my first workshop/conference experience so you’ll have to forgive me for my somewhat incomplete notes and complete lack of pictures. I’ll do my best to recap the day and share some tips, tricks and snippets of knowledge that I picked up throughout the day.

We started our day with checkin, a light breakfast, and a morning keynote speaker. The keynote speaker, Marc Aronson, was a surprise to me since I hadn’t remembered seeing it mentioned in the brochure. I must admit, I wasn’t familiar with Marc’s work prior to the workshop but I’ve been itching to check it out since the conference. He was very engaging, funny, smart, and well-spoken. I enjoyed his presentation immensely. Here are some little nuggets of wisdom I jotted down during his presentation:

  • “School should not be passively absorbing and taking in what others know.” ~Marc Aronson
  • Resources shouldn’t stand alone in isolation from each other, they should be in conversation with each other. The example Marc used was on the number of planets in our solar system. Get out your non-fiction and fiction books out about the planets, the ones that say we have nine, they ones that say we have eight, and the new ones that advocate for an eleven planet solar system and put them on display together. Use the disagreement between the resources to spark a conversation and a curiosity in the students. Use the conversation between the resources as a teachable moment on getting information from more than one source and exploring more than one avenue to an answer.
  • He also had a great quote from Dewey that even though it was from a writing he did in 1900 could easily apply to today’s students. Unfortunately, I only noted the name and date of the quote and not the quote itself and I’m having trouble finding it for you all. If I do, I’ll update this post to include it.

Then, I attended a session on “Coring out Your Collection”. Sue Bartl taught the session and she is a dynamic personality and I’ve heard good things about her workshops from other librarians I’ve worked with in the past. She let us know we were the first group to receive this presentation and it was a little jumpy for me but still informative. Her are some of the things I noted during this session:

  • Get yourself a “Core Buddy”. Like a weeding buddy, they can help keep you motivated to move through your collection and get rid of the resources that don’t hold up to the common core standards. Your “Core Buddy” doesn’t have to be in the school or even the same state as you. As long as you keep in touch and encourage each other, you’re good.
  • Make it your mission to get to know your non-fiction section as much as your fiction section. Try to recommend non-fiction books as much as you recommend fiction books to students interested finding new books.
  • Have the kids help you evaluate your non-fiction collection. After you’ve taught them the basic parts of a non-fiction book (index, glossary, page numbers etc) pull some books you aren’t sure about keeping and have the kids look at them in groups. Ask them to find the different parts of the non-fiction book (good practice for them) and note which books are missing key elements or to which ones the students don’t respond well. Pull those on a cart and look them over later to see if they should be weeded from the collection (good for you).

The second session was about teaching research and technology skills to K-2 students. The main takeaway from this session was that, yes it is possible to start those skills, even at these young ages. The key was to keep it simple and think of it as a building block step and not feel compelled to teach them everything-that can wait until later. They should use some great, simple graphic organizers students can use to fill in information on a topic and each one had a simple line at the bottom that said, “I found this information here:_______.” Students would note the name of the website or book they found the information in and that was it. I really liked the simplicity of the act and how it will make learning about citing sources that much easier in the long run because they will be use to providing source information and will have a better concept of recognizing your sources.

Then it was time for lunch and our lunchtime key note speaker, Lee Berger. I wish I could provide you with some tidbits and nuggets from Lee’s speech but honestly, I was so entranced and enthralled with his presentation, I couldn’t stop making faces like this, much less remember to take notes:

Here are some links about Lee and his book so you can get an idea of what he talked to us about and why I was so awed by his presentation.

Finally, I attended a workshop on creating better MARC records. I was especially looking forward to this one because, I’ll level with you all here, I was not the best at my class on cataloging. It is such tedious, detail oriented work and I actually thought it might be right up my ally but alas, my brain must think differently than catalogers because I rarely identified the correct subject headings in our exercises. I digress. Things I learned from my workshop on better MARC records:

  • Consistency and uniformity are key components of good records. She gave us some worksheets we could use to figure out how we want things labeled so we and our staff/helpers can all be on the same page.
  • Only fill in what is absolutely necessary in your MARC records to make it possible for students to find books in the OPAC.
  • MARC Wizard is your best friend. If you don’t have it, figure out who you need to talk to to get it. There is no need to manually create full records in this day and age.

So that was my day. I have a folder full of handouts and a brain full of ideas to show for it. I’m already looking forward to the next workshop they host. Fingers crossed that my first NYLA experience tomorrow is just as exciting, enthralling, and informative.

Until Monday,