Final Reflection

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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.

Thing 11 DIY

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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

Thing 30 Flash cards, quiz games

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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.

www.classtools.net/crossword/201704K3JFUk

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

 

 

Thing 5 Presentation Tools

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My fifth grade Special Ed teacher asked me to work with him on his rainforest animal project.  In addition to working on the research during library time, I suggested we create a Google Slides project. His five male students are all visually oriented and are all terrific artists and who love to draw superheroes or cartoon characters. Using a template from Slides Carnival for Google Slides, I was inspired to create a cartoon themed presentation as a model. I have asked the 5 boys to draw a favorite character which I will then upload so that the students will have their own “information presenter/commentator”. I am hoping the use of their own character within a familiar visual format, will help engage their sustained attention and effort. In my example,

https://docs.google.com/a/rcsdk12.org/presentation/d/1q7sp4CE_uxIMDOnz9Y4vJPEDAksNzg7jFZo6HNll3Uw/edit?usp=sharing

I demonstrate how the character will make comments about the information presented. In addition to the research itself, I can give mini lessons on using google slides, searching for images, photo manipulation, digital responsibility regarding image use and attribution. By using Google Slides, students will have the opportunity to see other students’ work and teach each other as they work on their own slides. Each student will have the opportunity to create as many slides with as many details (ie images, icons, colors, etc) but within the confines of the template.

I needed to create my own Slides project before introducing it to the class. Although every district employee has Google Drive on their desktop and laptop, not every teacher has had the opportunity (or wherewithal) to incorporate it into their lessons. I’ve been assigning my students to type up responses in Google Docs and having them share their docs with me, Thing 5 allowed me the opportunity to incorporate another Google element to library time. Bonus, I finally created my own avatar!

Thing 27 Power Up Your Browser

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When I assign students to do research on World Book Kids, they always love and comment on the full page photograph of animals and people that initially comes up. When I looked through the Google Chrome settings, I learned the themes were very easy to change. Some photos don’t open well. For example, I wanted a photo of an iceberg, both above and below  the waterline on my own computer as a visual reminder of my student’s personal and academic lives. When I added it, it didn’t show properly and I couldn’t see the 10% above water. Nevertheless, I thought it would set the proper mood to change all the library desktops to either rainforest image or rainforest animals. Normally I don’t bother wasting my time on such details, but since it is so easy I may as well use any element I can to grab their attention. Also, I found the Settings–>Extensions  so I can delete whichever extension I don’t actually use. I also found CRTL-H to clear out my history.

So much power for my computer, so little time. Of the approximate 40 apps/extensions I felt compelled to review for this assignment, the one I LOVE the most and have already used is Pocket. Because of another Cool Tools assignment, I subscribe to Twitter #TLChat. I often scan through the articles and fortunately/unfortunately I always find something I want to read or reference later, but run out of time as I am usually doing this during lunch or someone interrupts me, oh you know how it goes. For those of you familiar with TL Chat, it comes out every day, meaning it is super easy to get behind. Despite how easy it is to fall behind, I know there is always something worthwhile for me to read and thus I save every daily email from TLChat. So, yes, I currently have approximately 75 editions I feel I absolutely need to review during the upcoming break. Ridiculous of course, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this dilemma.

Before pocket, I would email a link to myself or copy and paste article to Google and save. These emails would get lost in my ever expanding Inbox and if I did remember to look for it, it was of course, ridiculously time-consuming. Now, with Pocket added to my bookmark bar, when I am reading an article and feel I need to save for later, one click on Pocket and it saves to my list and allows me to tag as well.

For example, I’ve been trying to read  and come up with a decent fake news lesson plan. The articles have been coming out fast and furious. Several articles linked to other pages that I need to review. Being able to Pocket the articles and assemble a list that I can read when I am ready to sit down and have time to think and plan is very helpful. Bonus feature, I clean out my Inbox because I no longer have to save emails.

I added several extensions that looked interesting, but may or may not be useful to me. Awesome Screenshot looked good. I often use screenshots, copy to a google doc and add lots of arrows to give students a visual to help them navigate a website. I haven’t used it yet, but probably will. I also added Black menu for Google but I’ll have to see if that proves useful to me. At least I know how to delete extensions so they don’t clutter up my bookmark bar.

 

 

Thing 13 Coding

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In order to further expand my coding skills, I went to perennial favorite, Hour of Code to explore more coding sites. Several students had referenced Flappy Bird so I signed up. I am so proud to say that I flew through all 10 levels within a relatively short time. Ha! Jokes on me. Although I progressed to higher levels,  I have no real gaming skills,therefore my bird crashed into obstacles almost immediately! My coding was exemplary, my gaming skills were sorely lacking! Apparently, I clicked too fast, or not fast enough. Before I could get my bearings and the right rhythm, the game was over and I couldn’t really “look” at my coding. In order for me to “teach” coding at my after school club, I prefer to have personally progressed through the levels. This is a matter of familiarity, credibility, and most of all, bragging rights. There are certain students who cannot face being outdone by the librarian! As far as allowing students to go to Flappy Bird, I would allow the more experienced students to go ahead and use it, but I would not walk the class through the initial levels as I have in the Minecraft or Angry Bird games, which require more methodical thinking.

I also tried Kodable, and I fully acknowledge that what I am about to say is ridiculous, but the character voice and music is really annoying and I would not be able to tolerate those sounds for any amount of time.Additionally, the games didn’t seem as intuitive as the other games.

I will probably continue with the Minecraft game for my coding club as most of my students did not come anywhere near to completing all the courses. Plus, it creates a more collaborative environment to have more experienced students help the less experienced students. A few rogue students will always want to self select their games, but for most, coding is new and still requires a bit of guidance.

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Flappy Bird Certification

Thing 20 Final Reflection 2016

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Learning new technology is fun, teaching it is so much more complicated. Finally decided to take the plunge and use an easy online tool with my fourth graders…Quozio. They had written haikus for Poetry Month and I wanted to be able to display electronically on school website. The learning curve was not related to Quozio but rather the students trying to remember their email addresses even when a written reminder of the format was up on the smartboard! Watching them type was equally painful. Despite my students being digital natives/residents, I was asked several times “how do I make the cursor go to the next line?” (Hit enter) The lesson became less about using presentation software and more of an assessment of basic keyboarding  skills and recognition of email address components. (not just your student ID,  where’s the @, the domain? the extension?) Thus the Quozio lesson became more of a lesson for me than a lesson for my students. which is okay, just not exactly what I had planned.

The Coding Club was a complete success for me and my students. Although several dropped out when they realized that perseverance was more a factor than gaming skills, the ones that stayed, faced obstacles, persevered, and accepted help from other students, definitely enjoyed the club. One student in particular, has difficulty every single week, very little comes easily for her, but because the Code.org curriculum and club environment is nonthreatening and nonjudgmental, she has stayed the entire time. We ran the club for approximately 3 months  but most of our students did not complete Course 2. My co-teacher and I felt very positive about our interactions with the students, looked upon the time as “relaxing” and even missed the club on days when we had to cancel for one reason or another. We would continue the coding club but have decided to take advantage of the fleeting spring weather and form a hiking club. I would do Coding again. I might look into other coding sites such as Scratch for next year just to change it up for the students I hope will be returning.

I’ve been using my Libguides more often. More for the Common Core Modules that we repeat every year. It is easier to add new links, like the Cultural Institute gallery I created, to already existing units than trying to remember from one year to the next what resources I have used. “My Favorites” list was getting ridiculous.

As I learn these new programs, I am very aware how much time is required to survey new technology. Some are accessible for my students, some are not. Some I would love to use but are blocked by the district. The vetting process takes time and I am glad I get PD credit because otherwise I would feel like I was just surfing endlessly and oft times for naught!