I LOVE learning and earning my PD credits this way. I appreciate the array of choices and even though I’ve done this three years, I still haven’t done everything. I did find the whole Canvas site a little confusing. It felt as though I had to login and register in a zillion different places, but apparently I figured it out.
As a librarian, I only have the students for about 30 minutes a week and between assemblies, field trips, testing, school pictures, and snow days, my classes are often cancelled. It is very difficult to continue a lesson 2 to 3 weeks after its been started. Consequently, I prefer lessons that can be taught/modelled one day, and students can do the following class time. Finding free, quick tech lessons that can be incorporated reasonably within library class works well for me. Tools that I have used in the library include Tagxedo, Coding, Quozia, StoryboardThat and Google Slides. I even used coding as a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) reward! I use Pocket App almost daily. I continue to use Common Sense Media year after year. Generally, I use tools that are easy to learn and limited in their choices. For example, Storybird is amazing, but I end up spending at least an hour just looking at the illustrations! (Same with Haiku deck) My students would never actually create anything! If there are too many options, it becomes a huge time black hole. On the other hand, I loved learning how to create crossword puzzles. Although creating a book specific puzzle is time-consuming, once made, it can be used year after year, and it is so handy for those students who finish early. Creating crossword puzzles is fun. I usually create one over a break when I don’t feel like working, but it gets me into the working mindset. Truthfully, if I didn’t have to do PDs I’m not sure I would take the time to find and try out all these tools. Although I’m interested in all of them, they usually seem more daunting than they actually are. Similarly, many of these tools take more me more than 2 hours, which is fine, but would I spend 2-3 hours on figuring something out if I wasn’t getting PD credit? Probably not because I’d feel like I was “wasting” time. So yes, I am glad my district offers Cool Tools and I do feel that my students benefit from the tools I learn.
StoryboardThat.com is a comic strip/graphic novel/storyboard creator. I did the free trial with my 4th grade students and had them create three panel storyboards of Colonial Life. First students had to do some research on a separate worksheet that I created. The objective was to highlight keywords in the questions and use nonfiction text features to answer them quickly and efficiently. I wrote the directions for opening and using StoryBoard That. Once their research was completed, I demonstrated creating a storyboard on the SmartBoard while students followed written instructions and directed me to click on appropriate tabs. Students then worked on their own storyboards creating text bubbles based on their research. As a librarian, I have students for 30 minutes a week. Once announcements are made and books exchanged, more like 18 minutes! Once research was done, most students were able to create 3 panel storyboards within 2 class periods. Finding a presentation tool that my students could learn and actually use within a short time period was a huge bonus. (No spending hours looking for appropriate copyright free clipart and uploading etc etc).
Probably the most appealing feature of storyboardthat is the variety and accessibility of scenes and characters. There is a specific US History Settings tab as well as a 1600 to 1800s Character tab. Most of my students can spend endless amounts of time just clicking on every tab and option. By providing content specific time periods, my students were able to finish their projects within a reasonable time. Additionally, if they chose an incorrect scene, it was very easy to use mistake as learning opportunity, “What would a farmer wear? Which character’s dress comes close to what a Puritan might wear to church? or my favorite, “Do you think Native Americans had purple hair dye?” One my students changed the skin color to dark brown for her panel about slaves not being allowed to go to school. My free trial expired before I could provide a direct link, but I did get a screen shot of my students’ work. (Enable editing to make full screen and text bubbles legible.)
Colonial Farm Life by Jamere and James
Colonial Life by Aneya C
Most days in library, there are one or two individuals who have forgotten their book, or who don’t want to get a book and although I have bookmarks to color, magazines to read etc, I thought it would be nice to include a little crossword puzzle. I created a book elements crossword puzzle that not only reinforces literary vocabulary, but also could be used as:
- start of semester knowledge inventory
- end of unit review
- constructive busy work
I went to classtools.net and not only was it FREE but it was extremely easy to create! I am all about using different
gimmicks, I mean strategies, to keep kids learning.
During the summer I work at a camp in the literacy class. I try to keep it fun and by using Matt Johnson’s Bingo Baker, I was able to create 8 different bingo cards for my kidergarteners’ dolch words. Again, super easy and best of all, FREE! bingobaker.com/play/1129801