Thursday, July 5, 2012

Web2.0 Professional Development

In late June, I led two three-hour professional development sessions for teachers at my school.  One was geared toward teachers in grades 5-12 and the other was geared toward teachers in grades K-4.  Initially I was planning on creating two separate presentations, but then a 2-week trip to Europe changed those plans.  I decided, instead, to create one presentation that would have something for everybody.  I covered all the tools with both groups, but spent more time on different tools for each group and focused on how they could be used differently with each group.  The feedback from both sessions was positive, so I'm glad it worked out!

View presentation here or watch it embedded below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

GoogleDocs+Prezi+Screenr = Collaboration

Each year the 8th graders do a research project on the Cambodian genocide before reading the book, Children of the River.  This year we decided to revamp the project completely!  First, we wanted to integrate the new research model and we also wanted to have the students create a product other than a powerpoint.   So, I sat down with the two eighth grade language arts teachers and the eighth grade special education teacher to map out our two week plan (in the end it turned out to be 2 1/2 weeks).  The finished project was awesome and required a huge amount of collaboration by the students with googledocs, prezi, and screenr. 

Step 1 - Research
The first day we spent going through the first steps of our research process (PLUSS) - Plan and Locate and Use.
  • I began with the PLAN step - we talked about organizing our information by creating areas of focus.  These areas of focus would allow us to place the information we find in an appropriate area which organizes our research.  As a class we brainstormed topics to use for our areas of focus.  
  • Next, we moved to USE - I created a practice sheet for going through the USE step.  I had pulled out a few paragraphs of information that we could go through as a class to practice identifying the important information and paraphrasing it.  So, first I assigned one area of focus and then when they broke out into their group work, they had to come up with a second area of focus to use in this practice worksheet.  I walked them through the first few sentences as a class.  Then, they worked with the people at their table to go through the rest of the information - reading it sentence by sentences, deciding if it is important information, determining what area of focus it belonged under (coming up with their own area of focus), and paraphrasing it.
  • Finally, we moved to LOCATE - I showed them the pathfinder I had created for them using LibGuides.  I gathered a variety of sources that they could use in their research.
After my instruction, the students were assigned their topics and had to begin their research with PLAN.  This required them to gain background information on their topic and determine the areas of focus they would use.  I used our subscription to Britannica to find good overview research articles for them to use for this step.  The students had to read through the article and come up with their areas of focus to use to fill out their graphic organizer before being allowed to move onto the next step of research.

The embedded Issuu includes almost all of the documents and lesson plans I created for the research portion of the project.

Step 2 - Create a Prezi
Once the research was completed, the students set up their prezi accounts.  One student created the Prezi and shared the link with their partner so that they could both work on their pezi together.  We talked to the students about limiting the amount of written information they put in a presentation because they would be adding more information while talking and recording their presentation.
The students had a little trouble thinking outside of the powerpoint mode when creating a prezi.  Some of them still have that "powerpoint" feel, but a lot of the students truly embraced the flexibility and creativity that prezi afforded them.  The little people that move across the screen while collaborating were a big hit too :)

Step 3 - Write a Script using GoogleDocs
Once the prezis were created, the students had to write a script to use when recording their presentations.  We broke out googledocs again and the students were able to work simultaneously on writing their scripts.

Step 4 - Record a Presentation using Screenr 
After two days of practice, the students were ready to record.  It was a great scene to see the students dotted across the library at tables, on the floor, in between the shelves, and on the soft-seating recording their finished product.

Step 5 - Watch Finished Presentations
It took about two class periods to watch the completed presentations.  A googleform was created for each class for the students to submit the link to their recorded screencast which made pulling up each one in class a quick and easy process.  After each presentation, the students had to think-pair-share about one thing they learned about Cambodia and/or the Cambodian Genocide from the presentation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Museum Box

The 5th grade Social Studies teacher asked me to come up with a research project to introduce the Explorers Unit.  I gave her a few options and she liked the idea of having each student create a Museum Box on the explorer they are assigned to research.  The students then presented their boxes on the day that their assigned explorer was going to be studied.

Here is an example of a completed project.  (just a screenshot, not the interactive box)

We used this project as an opportunity to introduce the middle school PLUSS research model.
P - plan
The students brainstormed some keywords they could use in their searches.  We also discussed determining important information and paraphrasing.
L - locate
I showed the students the pathfinder I created for their project and the students began filling out their graphic organizer with the information that they found. 
U - use
We discussed citations and the students continued with their research.
S - show
showed the students how to use Museum Box.  In order to to use Museum Box effectively, the students also had to learn about file extensions (jpg vs. bitmap vs. png), how to create a  folder, and how to upload pictures and files to a website.
S - self-reflect
The students completed their project by reflecting on their research.  It provided them with the experience of self-reflection and it provided me with feedback on the research process.

Research Documents

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Publisher Software from YUDU

Graphic Organizer

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Digital Publishing with YUDU

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm Published!!!

This past April, the high school librarian and I presented at PSLA on Building a Culture of Reading in a school and/or district.

The presentation was a huge success.  Several people e-mailed our principals and superintendent singing our praises about what a great job we do promoting reading!  Another result of the presentation was that someone from School Library Monthly, asked us to write an article for them!

So, later that month we sat down together and sketched out an outline, created a Google Doc, and then collaborated on the article together.

After many, many editing sessions we were ready to submit.  Getting down to our word-count limit was the most difficult task ... we just had so much to say :).  I know we are both proud of the completed article!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

User-Friendly? - part 2

So, here are the nuts and bolts of how I rearranged my library to be genre based.  The entire process took just over a year and I'm loving the change.

Step 1
I determined the genres I would use and where each genre would be housed.  I decided to go with the following genres (I've also added the colors I decided to go with):
Historical Fiction
Chick Lit
Realistic Fiction
Sports Fiction
Easy Reader
Classics (no color)

Step 2
I purchased transparent colored labels and decided what color each genre was going to be.

Step 3
I weeded heavily and shifted my books around to create an area of space to begin

Step 4
I chose a genre and methodically went through my fiction section from AAA to ZZZ and picked out all the books that fit in that genre
I began with historical fiction because the open shelves from my weeding were right where I planned on housing my historical fiction section.  So, I'll use my historical fiction as my example for the rest of the post.

Step 5
My aide changed a few things in Destiny for each book.
*each title received a genre code in front of the current call number - ex)  HISTORICAL F XXX
*the sub-location of each book was changed to the appropriate genre
My aide then placed a transparent colored label over the existing spine label for each book and then shelved the books.

Step 6
I created a wordle for the genre by looking at titles and authors of the books that were housed in that section.  I had the wordle created into a poster.  I placed a few of the labels on the poster, to create a square of the color that was assigned to that genre.  Finally, I hung the posters above the beginning point of each genre section.  This is crucial for making it easy for your users to find the appropriate genre section.  

After pulling out all the books of one genre from the fiction section, I re-shifted the remaining fiction collection which opened up some more shelving.  So, I just repeated the process over and over until I had about 2 library carts full of those books that just don't seem to fall into one genre.  I slowly worked my way through that cart - asking students for their feedback, reading online summaries, and  looking at the recommended subject headings for that book.  Going through those two library carts was tedious, and sometimes I wished I could have created a separate category just for those difficult books ... but I found it better to just make an executive decision and house the book in a specific genre.

I created a google form and polled my students to get some feedback from them.  While of course, there were those who didn't like the change, the overwhelming majority loved it.

"I like that I can find the mystery ones (I like them the best) right away in their own section."

"I like fiction organized by genre because I know where to look for the specific kind of book I want."
 "Because I know where all the fiction book are which I prefer"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

User-Friendly? - Part 1

Tome ReaderI had been rolling an idea around in my head for several years ... reorganizing my fiction collection by genre.  Finally, last year, I decided to actually go for it.  It genuinely took an entire school year + a few months into the second school year.  Now that it is 99% finished, I have no regrets.  I am so glad the library has been reorganized.


1.  Bookstores
Bookstores don't organize themselves using the Dewey Decimal system.  They use the BISC - Book Industry Standards and Communication which was developed by the BISG - Book Industry Study Group.  According to their website:
  • BISG motivates and moderates debate about current book industry practices and about the future of digital publications on the international book trade
  • BISG develops, maintain and promotes standards and best practices that enable the book industry to conduct business more efficiently and cost-effectively. Our standards cover a wide range of business processes, including product identification and description, business communications, product and carton labeling and digital discovery and delivery.
  • BISG conducts and publishes primary research related to the size of the U.S. book industry and in areas of topical interest such as the environmental impact of the book industry and consumer attitudes toward digital publishing.
 2.  Help Me Find a Book!
I wonder if libraries ever performed any market research on using Dewey for classifying their entire collection?  Now, I cannot claim that I performed any sort of market research before I made the decision to change.  However, I was constantly asked by students to help them find a book - they didn't have a specific one in mind ... they wanted recommendations.  So, the first words that would come out of my mouth were, "Well, what are you in the mood for?  Mystery, fantasy, sports, romance ...?"  Once I knew the genre they were looking to read at the moment, I say, "Ok, let's walk the shelves and I'll pull out a few options for you."  Being the librarian, I was uniquely aware of my collection - what books/authors I had available and where they were on the shelves.  So, the student and I would walk through the shelves and I would begin pulling off a book here and there that I thought would interest them.  After providing them with a few options and telling them a little about each one, they would make their decision or ask me to show them more.

I realized my collection was only friendly to students looking up a specific book or author.  For the students that knew they wanted to read a scary story, but didn't know an exact title or author that they wanted, the collection's organization was not meeting their needs.  They needed me and my knowledge of where the scary stories were in my fiction collection in order to find a few options to sort through.  Sure, they could look up scary stories in the library catalog, but the number of results in a bit overwhelming and then looking through the entire fiction collection to pull a few out for themselves to decide was not something that middle school students felt like doing.  I wanted the library to be user-friendly and to promote reading ... I felt like my fiction collection, as it had been organized, was far from doing that.

Book Shelves photo used under Creative Commons license from