Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thing 10, 20, 30, 40: Final Reflections & What's Next?

It's hard to believe that another school year is coming to a close in a matter of weeks!  This has been a terrific school year that was enhanced by the projects I completed with this learning opportunity.  Although it was difficult to manage my time between work, family and professional development I am very glad that I was a part of this program again this year.  I enjoyed the ability to pick and choose my modules based on my needs - as mentioned in an earlier post I have started a Makerspace Club in my library for 3rd graders.

1 - What did I learn?
I focused on modules that were of interest to me on a personal and professional level.  I used the information about Coding to integrate it into my 3rd grade Makerspace Club and was also able to introduce several Dads/Stepdads to it during our PTA's Guys Night last Friday.  It was as much of a hit with the Dads as it was with the kids - I was able to introduce it to more kids outside of the club.  In fact - at least one child told me that their Dad went home and played on the Hour of Code website after they got home!
I also studied the module on makerspaces to enhance my program next year.  I found a lot of great information and books to add to the maker movement in my school.  Through fundraising I will be able to expand the program to move into other areas besides crafts.  I have even heard from my Principal that he has heard some great things about the club which really made my day.  Of course my goal is not to get praise but it certainly helps to hear that my mission of helping the kids is working!

The module about web presence was very interesting and allowed me to learn more about creating a strong, positive presence online that will support my students and teachers needs as well as promote my program.  At the present time, my school website is very simplistic but hopefully this summer I can update it.

The other module I worked on was Digital Tattoo and Digital Citizenship which interestingly enough was a topic my Principal just approached me about coteaching with our school psychologist.  I always teach cybersafety in the fall and June to remind kids about being safe online and making smart choices in what they do online, however, with the information I learned in this module I will be able to enhance my lessons.

2 - What's next?
As I mentioned above, all of the projects I learned of in the modules I studied are either being used in my current school year or they will be added to my lessons next year.  I really enjoyed being able to pick and choose what I wanted to learn so that I could customize the program to my particular needs.  I am already in the process of sharing the digital tattoo and citizenship materials with my Principal and school psychologist not only for next year but also for potential parent nights to educate our student's families on these topics.  From what I have gathered in many of the conversations I've had with the kids (and from my own personal experience) many people are unaware of the consequences of their actions online.

Also, my department will be looking in to creating a curriculum for ourselves to integrate into our lessons throughout the school year.  I was aware of the Common Sense website but was very happy to see others as well.

My personal professional development this summer will be enhancing my makerspace club, updating my website and learning more about differentiation.

3 - Did you like learning this way?
I loved learning this way!  As I've gotten older my schedule has become crazy with work and family I enjoy having the flexibility of choosing when I can complete the assignments and also in choosing how many I will complete.  Although this year was crazy I still found the time to learn something new and that could be used directly with my job.  The topics were terrific and it was very nice to be able to pick those topics that would benefit me the most at this particular time.  Some of the topics really didn't fit into my program at this time so I was glad to be able to focus on those that were relevant.

This is the second time I participated in this program and I would certainly do it again!  One thing I really would like to share is a recent discussion with my Principal about safe internet searching for our students.  I have been trying to steer them away from using Google due to the inappropriate content and my Principal asked me to share the safe sites with all of the classroom teachers so that we can provide a united front.  It was really nice to be able to provide a list of search engines from Thing 9 to all of the teachers - most were unaware of the fact that these existed!

Thank you Polly for putting this program together with such relevant topics!  I look forward to returning next year to learn more.  Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thing 16: Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship

I was very interested in learning more about digital tattoos and digital citizenship as an educator and a parent.  My colleagues and I are in the process of developing a more comprehensive technology curriculum that includes these issues.  We were interested in using the passports from the Common Sense Media website so I was very happy to see them included in this module.

The articles I read are:
Teacher’s Guide to Digital Citizenship  - I thought this was a good starting point - perhaps to alert the classroom teachers about the importance of this topic.  I think this is a topic that needs to be taught in more than the library - it needs to be addressed in each classroom so that the children are exposed to the concept and the ways in which to be a good digital citizenship.  I have found with my classes that the area of digital footprints is where many of them have little previous knowledge.  I try to stress the importance of this and discuss some of the consequences that have happened to people based on their bad decisions.  

Skills We Can’t Teach: Facilitating Authentic Experiences with Digital Citizenship - Another good article but I felt it was intended for an older audience then I teach (grades 3-5).  Even though the focus seemed to be for older kids the same concept is true for younger children - we need to educate them on what it means to be a good digital citizen and how they can accomplish it.  I really liked the idea of having the kids create projects about digital citizenship, sharing their own experiences and then presenting them to younger students.  I think this would work well with my 5th graders next year.

Digital Footprints — How big and do they stink? - I really did not get too much out of this article - I think it brought up some valid points but I would have liked a little more information.

Healthy Digital Footprints  - This was another article that I really didn't get much out of other than the fact that teachers should be modeling good digital citizenship in the hopes of positively influencing kids.

Is your school’s “digital citizenship” practice a pass or fail? - I was also not very interested in this article but I can see where it would be a good fit for teachers or other educators that are trying to enter the digital arena.  It did point out the fact that many times students can live a dual life online and in person.  My thoughts on this article were that it shows a area that needs to be addressed in the way students post online - we need to ensure they know and follow good manners (for lack of a better term) online.

What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship – this was a terrific article - I really liked the way the author broke down the Proactive Knowledge into the 9 P's: passwords, privacy, personal information, photographs, property, permission, protection, professionalism and personal brand.  I try to touch on each of these with my students but have never separated it like this - good ideas for next year!  She also gave good ideas on projects but I will have to try and find a way to modify it for my younger students.

It’s Complicated: the Social Lives of Networked Teens. - this is the article I viewed from the perspective as a parent.  I have a teen that has asked me about several of the apps listed and to be honest - until she mentioned them I had never heard of most of them.  She has not always been pleased when we decide against allowing her access to some but this is a handy guide to use to come up with educated decisions.  I think this would also be very handy for middle school and high school teachers/parents.

Digital Citizenship Week – great article with a lot of good information and resources to use to teach kids about being a good digital citizenship.  I know that this is the model we are considering adding to our curriculum.  I like the way Common Sense Media has developed student directed projects to teach them.  I am also going to be sending the link to this website home to parents in my newsletter to educate them on ways to protect their children (and maybe themselves) online.

Digital Citizenship Education - another great article with lessons on how to educate children.  I found the fact that this article tied it into character education to be very interesting since our school uses a character education program.

Currently I teach online safety and digital citizenship in the beginning of the year and provide a refresher in June.  I use a lot of videos from Netsmartz kids and BrainPop to get discussions going with the students.  We cover a wide range of topics and I'm always interested in what they have experienced and the ways they have handled difficult situations.  This spring the school councilor will be co-teaching with me and this will follow into the fall as well.  As I mentioned earlier my department is hoping to get together this summer to really provide more instruction in this area.  We were looking into the projects from the Common Sense Media website but I will also be providing the information I gathered from this module.  Regardless of whether we are able to develop a curriculum as a department, I will be rewriting my lessons to include more items learned here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Thing 15: Web Presence

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!

I found this to be a very interesting topic because it is an area I've been looking to develop on my school library's website.  For the learning activity I decided to examine my current website and develop a plan for improvement.  I am embarrassed to say that my current website is very simple - I have my mission statement, my library catalog link, search page link and an old shelfari bookshelf that I added several years ago.  The library page is part of our school's website but each of the librarians have the ability to maintain the content individually.  Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time to work on this because I have been concentrating on developing my curriculum and updating my book collection.  My goal is to really focus on this during the upcoming summer months so that it will be ready for the 2016/17 school year.

I looked at several of the school websites and I liked the idea of including a blog link/window on the main page.  Up until this year I had a blog for the students to discuss their books and I think it would be great to include something like that to get the kids talking about what they read.  It would also be a good place to keep parents/students up to date with current events.  The website from Bay Farm Elementary School ( was very nice if a little cluttered for what I want.  I liked the slideshow of what the kids are working on - of course it's an area where we must make sure to stay on top of the no picture list on file in the main office.  For me, I would like to show finished projects, kids hands while they are working and the two clubs that I work with after school. I would also like to create a spot for patrons to request items from ILL outside of the Destiny catalog and to suggest the purchase of new titles.  I read through the 7 Best Practices for Creating a User Friendly Website and Developing your library website - both of which had a lot of great ideas to focus on.

In grad school we focused on websites and it's nice to see that our professor's lessons reflected the same ideas presented here - limit the amount of information on the page and organize it logically.  The part I'm missing is the adding current content and it is really important that I work on this year.  My first step will be to contact our technology team to see if there is any type of guide that I can use to learn how to update my page and add potential areas for a blog and pictures.  After doing that I'll create the new page and then ask several of my teachers to take a look at the page to "test" it to make sure it is user friendly.  This will also encourage them to become more familiar with the page and all of the resources that are linked to the pages.  I will also ask some students - probably my daughters and their friends to experiment with the page as well.  If all goes well it should be up and running in September.  It would also be beneficial to work with my fellow librarians to see what they are doing on their pages and collaborate on ways to improve all of the pages to keep them current.

During the lesson I really focused on the blogging tools as a way to post news and updates.  Since our school maintains a school based website I am really not that interested in reinventing the wheel by creating another website.  I did however look at all of the schools listed and enjoyed seeing what other schools are doing.

I also explored the Google Sites area but did not spend too much time on is due to the fact that we are not a Google Apps for Education School.  LibGuides was interesting as well but I do not have the budget at this time to add this.  I will contact my SLS office as suggested to see if we have access to it from them.

The portfolio section was very interesting because we just had a conversation about advocacy at a department meeting.  Due to the current financial situations in most schools we as librarians are often thought of when personnel cuts are considered.  Using a portfolio could be a very good way to share what we do to the community at large - to show them that we do more than checking out books.  I will be sharing this with my colleagues at our next meeting.

I also looked at Smore - this was terrific! I started creating a newsletter for my student's families in Word this year and printing it off to send home.  I like this tool because it looks so much easier to maintain and it has a lot of cool templates.  I also would like to add a link to my new and improved website keeping these on file so parents could check them for information.

In exploring this topic I am really convinced that it is extremely important to create a web presence not only for our library but also for ourselves.  We need to advocate for the program and in some cases our jobs to show all of the wonderful work we do.  We have to let the "outside" world know that libraries are need to be a part of our schools - all grade levels and that we need to have a certified librarian in there to teach our students.  I have recently heard from several people that they are surprised by what we do in library class these days - they only remember being read books and taking out books each class.  As a profession we need to let everyone know what we do and how it is beneficial for each student to be in a school with a certified librarian.  Creating and linking a professional portfolio to a school website reinforces that we are professionals - not just the "keeper of the books."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thing 24: Makerspaces

This was another great lesson - I started a Makerspace this winter with 25 of my 3rd graders.  The idea began last year after attending several PD sessions on the Maker movement.  I was intrigued and began brainstorming how I could introduce this to my Grade 3-5 library.  I spoke to my Principal about it during a meeting and he was in favor of doing it as long as I began it as a club.  One of the reasons we decided to try it as a club was to work out classroom management/time issues.

As I mentioned above I have no budget for this club so I've been collecting donations from parents and my house to provide some activities for the kids.  At this point it is primarily a craft oriented club but I am hoping to expand the selections next year.  To date I've done coding with the group, crafts following a theme and paper towel/toilet paper creations.  I usually introduce a couple of different items and then let the kids create - my leprechauns turned into crowns, hats and light sabers!

I've observed the kids socializing and collaborating on their projects during the 50 minutes I have them.  The group is mostly girls but the few boys I have get right in with the group and have a ball.  I spent one session in our computer lab practicing coding and I really thought most of them would want to continue with other coding activities in the weeks to come.  I was very surprised that all of the kids wanted to go back to creating some type of craft.  For next year I would like to begin using centers by making each table a different activity.  I hope to purchase some legos, sewing items, origami paper and some little bits.  I am also considering making a writing corner and a comic area.  This summer I plan to purchase some of the books mentioned in this module to develop more ideas for next year.

I really think the idea of a Makerspace in a library is a great learning tool for kids.  They need the opportunity to create and make things based on an idea that they develop either through a topic they learned in class or a personal interest.  I think it provides them with a safe environment to experiment, collaborate and create new items.  I know from my little group that they never cease to amaze me with what they create.  I feel very strongly that these belong in school libraries - so many of the kids in my school would never have the opportunity to experience these things outside of school.  It's an important part of helping to prepare them for their next step in life.

Kids gain a sense of accomplishment in creating new things.  They learn that it is ok to fail - just keep trying and collaborating with peers to improve your creation.  The students also gain socialization skills that they may not be exposed to in a traditional classroom setting.  The students in my group come from a wide range of income levels and during class time they never really interact together.  In the makerspace club they are all talking/ helping one another regardless of whether they are friends or not.  It's wonderful to watch!

As I mentioned earlier, my makerspace this year is mainly crafty due to my lack of budget.  I am hoping to expand the selection of items next year to include littlebits, legos and maybe Minecraft.

I am very fortunate that my Principal was very supportive of my request to start a makerspace.  His concern with doing it during my class time was classroom management - ways to prevent kids from always selecting the lego table, etc.  It was his suggestion to try it in a club setting to "work out the bugs" before introducing it during my book days.  At a recent meeting he mentioned that he has heard some very positive feedback in regards to the makerspace.  He also promoted the program by suggesting PTA contact me for some activities for an upcoming evening program.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Thing 11: Coding

Thing 11: Coding
     I have to admit that I have put learning about coding off for a long time due to bad memories of having to write programs for high school (which was a long time ago) but after learning more I found it to be very interesting.  Obviously I have missed the December Hour of Code but I am thinking of doing some coding with my 3rd grade Makerspace club over the next few meetings.  I know many of my students play games online but I would bet that many of them have never explored the coding that goes into designing the games.  That being said, next year I will try to be more aware of the time frame for the Hour of Code to use with my students during library even though I only see them for 40 minutes.  I think that by providing them with the initial links and lessons they will have the basics so that they can then play with this at home or during their free time in their classrooms.  I would also like to promote this with the classroom teachers.

     There were so many choices to explore in this lesson - I read the following articles:
        - Hour of Code: It's all about literacy
        -  Tips for Celebrating Hour of Code at Your Library
        -  Our 3rd Graders Want to Teach You about Coding Apps
        -  How do you Integrate Coding into your Library, Classroom and Home?
        -  Hour of Code and Mustang Makerspace
    I watched the videos:
        - Change the World
        - How to run an Hour of Code
        - Each of the videos in the activities from Hour of Code project website
    I played/created several of the activities on the Hour of Code project website:
        - Star Wars
        - Artist - this I found to be challenging for some of my 3rd graders
        - Play Lab
        - Minecraft

     As we are all aware, computers are becoming more and more important to education, work and everyday life.  As an educator it is our job to introduce students to as much as we possibly can to ensure they are ready for life after school - regardless of what career path they choose.  I think the activities introduced in this lesson will help children learn and possibly decide on a career path in computer science.  I was especially pleased to see the use of a lot of women in this career being interviewed because I think it will encourage/inspire more girls to choose this as a career path.  I look forward to learning more and exploring this in more detail with my students!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016