Master’s Completion…Almost

I am nearing the end of my master’s coursework and in just a few weeks will be able to say that I have completed it. It has been a long 2 1/2 years, but I am  proud of my accomplishments. I have learned so much about school librarianship and hope to continue to put the lessons learned during this time to practice as I continue to grow and learn as an elementary library media specialist. Just four more weeks to go!

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Game Based Learning – Will you play with me?

As educators, we are challenged to prepare students to be college and career ready, learning 21st Century skills today. One of the emerging resources that teachers are finding successful in the classroom to use in order to prepare students is computer and app-based games. Here is a voicethread presentation that explains how games can positively impact learning. What are your thoughts? Do you agree that games can and should replace some pencil and paper activities? The script/notes for the voicethread presentation can be found here:  Voicethread Script.

Glogster Presentations…How to use them as examples

In my previous post, I reviewed Glogster, a digital presentation tool that students can use to demonstrate their understanding of a topic. In today’s post, I would like to show you an example of what the final product could look like so you can see how it can be used by a teacher in the classroom. I created my glog to use to promote literacy, as I introduce different genres of fiction to my students. I tend to book talk various books within a genre to my classes, and this could be used as a tool to introduce a specific book in that genre to the students. I could also collaborate with teachers assigning book reports to students by having students use this presentation template instead of writing out paragraphs describing different elements of their book.

Here is a screencast that demonstrates how to use Glogster for your reference.

Instructional Focus and stated objectives aligned to state standards and objectives:

The purpose of my example is to promote literacy and introduce an example of realistic fiction to my students. By showing my students this glog, they can be exposed to elements of the book, including setting and characters, as well as see visual images and a video book trailer that highlights the emotional aspect of a young boy looking for a way to fit in. As they create their own based on a book they have read (in place of a book report), they will be able to: MSDE School Library Media State Curriculum: 6.1.a: With guidance, read, listen to, view, and discuss literature that reflects personal interests, provides imagined experiences, and validates individual concerns and real experiences. Common Core Reading Standards 5.5: Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fit together to provide the overall structure of a particular story. MD Technology Literacy Standards for Students 3.A.1.a: Use technology tools, including software and hardware, from a range of teacher-selected options to learn new content or reinforce skills.

Intended Grade Level and Curriculum Content:

Fifth Grade, Library Media

Unique and Appropriate Features of Glogster:

Glogster’s ability to combine text, images, video, audio, and web links make this a virtual tool that teachers can be encouraged to use for their students. By having the ability to approve the template before assigning tasks to students, teachers have the ability to ensure that each assignment meets the assessment needs of their students. Glogster’s connection to digital files helps encourage student use and understanding of web 2.0 tools and the digital resources that are available to them. Having the ability to share the final products digitally is a great resource for teachers looking to add student work to their portfolios, as well as for students who are building their own digital footprint.

Fifth Grade Book Report Glog

Glog Citations

Awesome Web 2.0 Collage Tool

As emerging technology keeps coming at us, it can sometimes be intimidating as a media specialist to stay on top of the latest trends, especially knowing what may or may not be appropriate for your students to use. That is why I am very thankful that I am encouraged in my masters classes to take the plunge and dive in to evaluate resources in order to determine what resources may fit the needs of my student population the best.

One of the tools I have found that I would love to utilize, and will encourage my teachers to use, is Glogster. It is a collage tool that can be used for students to compile various forms of media, including audio, video, text, and graphics, all in one location to demonstrate their understanding of a specific topic.

Glogster has an educational feature that offers teachers the ability to manage student accounts, utilize amazing templates for various projects, and compile and publish student glogs (their finished presentations). Once all student glogs have been uploaded, teachers can drag them into a presentation sequence which creates a link for them to publish it virtually. Teachers could post the presentations on their website, blog, or school social media account to share with parents and the community.

Here is an example of a presentation that I created. It only has one example in it, but you can see how awesome it would be for students to be able to scroll through and see their finished product.

Glogster is a wonderful product that seems to have a great support staff. I was able to connect to them via twitter easily, and their online chat feature can help answer any questions if a user gets stuck.

In my opinion, the only downfall to Glogster is the price. There is a fee for its use. If my teachers were introduced to this tool and really thought it valuable, we would need to work with my administration and central office supervisors to see how realistic it would be to pay for. At this time in my county, budget is everything, so unless I spent my media center budget money on this, it would probably not be something my school or county would be willing to purchase.

Overall, I’m so glad I got to try out Glogster. It is a great tool that encourages sensory learning and creative expression of ideas in a digital format. Go have fun and try it out!

The Best in Education Blogs

As an educator, it is important to take time to reflect, collaborate, and examine our outlook on lesson planning, student achievement, and the tools that are available for us to use in the process. Check out the blogs listed below for great resources and reflection on those subjects. They have already encouraged and enabled me to take a different view on the role of an educator in the classroom.

Edutech for Teachers

The vast majority of Forshey’s posts highlight a tool, strategy, lesson, or idea related to technology that can be used in the classroom. Some seem to be specifically aligned to subject area, however, most are adaptable, not only by subject, but are useful tools across grade levels. This is a great resource to have that explains how each tool can be used, and many blog posts actually include student samples so that readers can get a feel for what an assignment would look like, in order to determine if it fits the types of students with whom they interact. Forshey’s blog features nineteen different categories of resources to sort through, giving adequate information on web 2.0 tools and how they can be incorporated into daily instruction in the classroom. The topics range from tech tips, to posters, to projects, and even includes themes, like holidays and humor. She updates her diigo weekly and supports ways to promote reader digital footprints.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Digital Footprint

This is the digital footprint page that includes helpful links and an area to provide comments to Forshey.

Digital Storytelling

This was a great post that used a student sample to demonstrate how fun and exciting digital storytelling can be for both creators and viewers of the product.

Tech Tip of the Week

I really like the “Tech Tip of the Week” category, as that could be a quick stop by for busy teachers that are just looking for interesting suggestions to improve their lessons. This tip in particular, was interesting to me, especially when looking at websites for the primary grades, as anything visual can be so beneficial.

How can teachers use this blog?

Forshey’s exuberance and intriguing posts that clearly and concisely highlight the latest and greatest in educational technology bring personal news to a very public level (Blogs in Plain English). I love that she gathers up so much information and organizes it in such a way that you can dive in feet first, or just take a nip every now and again in order to familiarize yourself with the latest and greatest. As Windham mentions, Foshey provides an “outlet for creative expression, and a way to reach beyond [her] normal network” (4). By including such great ideas and explanations for how they work, Forshey is utilizing the “potential to impact” other educators around her, and I, for one, want to be one of them (Crawford 11).

 

Read, Write, Reflect

Sokolowski is an encourager, a balm to a teacher’s soul. Her enthusiasm for teaching, love of her students, and passion for the curriculum that she teaches are enough to send someone who is on the fence about teaching to sign up for their first college course. As she mentions in her about me section, she uses this blog as a reflection on her teaching, both on methods and content matter.

Sokolowski includes a great deal of information, mainly pertaining to reading and writing in the classroom. Her posts include her own personal reactions to books she has read, as well as book suggestions for readers. By choosing to focus on reflections of specific teaching situations, she is able to engage the reader and help them to see what could work in their own classroom, as well as what books they may be interested in reading. With time cut so short for planning and purchasing books for my library, I see Sokolowski’s blog as a great resource to use for potential purchases in the future.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Connecting Through Characters

This concept would be a great way to ask some higher level thinking questions to the students when reading even short passages. Identifying with a character involves much more critical thinking than merely describing who the character is.

Summer Book Clubs

Her ideas for summer book clubs sound like more than just reading, which intrigued me. She encourages students in using reading strategies, ensures their understanding, and encourages their participation by using skype.

Teaching Boys

This post was especially inspiring, as it helps give readers perspectives on how your outlook on students can change the way you respond to them.

How can teachers use this blog?

Sokolowski’s blog follows Windham’s model of reflection in order to work out her feelings and processes (6). By sharing her reflections with her readers, others can find that encouragement that we need as educators to reach those kids that sometimes seem out of touch. Sokolowski consistently blogs about the critical elements of teaching that she faces, ensuring that her readers will continually check in to find out how an experienced educator handles specific situations (Windham 9).

 

Kleinspiration

Klein incorporates reflections on conferences she attends, classroom organization, and technology resources that teachers can use to enhance their lessons. She frequently shares examples of student work after they used specific technology resources within the classroom, and provides feedback as a user on why teachers should buy into each specific type of resource. Klein includes resources for student projects, collaboration, tech tips, social networking tips for teachers, and shared videos that she uses in class lessons. On her home page, she mainly reflects on experiences she is having as an educator, and highlights events and resources that she can’t wait to share with her readers.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Project Based Learning

This page includes Klein’s main recommendations for tools that can enhance lessons, as well as bog posts from other educators that can provide resources for teachers related to class projects.

Tiny Tech Tips

This is a great resource for teachers who want technology tool recommendations that are easy and simple to read and potentially try out in their classroom.

How can teachers use this blog?

As Klein’s reflections and posts show, she understands that “social media and associated technologies have the potential to impact any field whose primary product is information” (Crawford 11). Her willingness to collaborate with teachers from all areas and grade levels and her enthusiasm for incorporating technology smartly in the classroom demonstrates the value she has for consistently pushing herself to the next level in order to meet and exceed ISTE standards.

Ways to use these blogs to enhance your professional portfolio:

Classroom Use: Teachers can use blogs to assist them in lesson planning, and can find tips, tricks, and resources to take their lessons to the next level. Teachers can also use blogs with students to demonstrate the shift from commercial and professional news, and personal news in order to examine the role of blogs in digital citizenship. All three of the blogs listed above incorporate ideas and resources that teachers could utilize and enjoy in their classrooms.

Collaboration Tools: As teachers are so overloaded with things to do, my goal would be to highlight very specific things related to blogs that teachers may find helpful. I would either provide the link to a specific post and highlight in for the teachers in a short, concise way, or I could hold a demonstration that would do the same thing in order to get information out in the easiest way possible. My favorite resources from these blogs would be the tech tip links, as they break each type of technology down to its basics and encourage teachers to use them in easy ways.

Professional Development: I would encourage teachers to create blogs in order to share student work (in confidential ways) and document lessons, resources, and Professional Learning Network information that can assist them in not only communicating with other teachers, but parents and students as well.

Common Craft. “Blogs in Plain English.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 29 November 2007. Web. 18 August 2014.

Crawford, Justin. The Campus Press Blogs. Educause, 2007. PDF file.

Windham, Carie. Reflecting, Writing, and Responding: Reasons Why Students Blog. Educause, 2007. PDF file.

School Library Blogs that you don’t want to miss!

Looking for the latest and greatest in school library media resources? Check out the following three blogs highlighted below:

A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet

This blog provides helpful links for media specialists to provide to educators from all backgrounds, from K-12, including core subjects, specials, new teachers, references, and world languages. Tabs include topics concerning age appropriate lesson plans, resources, and a wealth of web 2.0 tools that can be helpful to introduce, model, and use with students in the classroom. Initially, I believed this site would be a great starting off point when looking for lesson and classroom resource ideas. However, as I dived in deeper and scrolled down from her teacher librarian tab, I found a lot of posts that were well thought out and emotionally charged concerning the job of a media specialist, providing both encouragement, and analysis of major educational issues that are present in today’s school systems.

As Carie Windham notes, blogs can be “a way to reach beyond their normal network or their usual audience” (4). Greller’s blog posts have the ability to connect teachers that are floundering, desperate, or in need of an idea that could turn out to be a ray of hope and connection to resources, ideas, and plans. The posts dedicated to major concepts affecting educators are heartfelt and emotional, showing a passionate side for her field and a hope for the future of our library media programs within the education system.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Are media specialists indispensible? 

This post really opened my eyes to the differences of opinion about the role of media specialists.

Grades K-5 Lesson Plan sites 

This post is a great example of the wealth of links and resources Greller provides to her readers.

Throw Back Thursday #14 

I also enjoy her posts like this one that use humor and visual aids to creatively connect her own life to those of her readers.

How can teachers use this blog?

This blog could encourage media specialists to find resources to assist in daily library media activities, and, as Carie Windham suggests, “to [encourage interaction and critical thinking].” (9) One reason this blog was rated number one in The Best Library blogs is because it is “rich in ideas and promote[s] active exchange and critique…[that] foster[s] conversation, interactions with other blogs and other information sources, and invite[s] feedback from [its] reader[s]” (Brain of the Blogger). Educators can utilize the links on this blog to create more indepth lessons, use free resources to save time and money, and identify new and emerging technology to introduce and utilize with their students. Its connection to all grade levels and the majority of core curriculum coursework ensures that a wide selection of educators will find it useful and informative. Media specialists, especially, will find a passionate dedication to our craft and can use her hands-on tips and professional development connections.

The Adventures of Library Girl

After reading a number of LaGarde’s posts, I find that the majority of them are her passionate reflections on the role of a school librarian in the educational system today. She evaluates library goals, programs, and incentives in order to encourage current librarians to focus on students in order to ensure that initiatives have true meaning and outcomes that matter. The majority of her posts are professional reactions to the libraries and programs that she came into contact with while supporting workshops, conferences, and discussions with other school librarians. She does include links to her presentations, publications, and a wonderful live binder link that provides connections to a wealth of information, including other library blogs, recommendations to build your Personal Learning Network, and author, classroom, and educational links.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Personal Learning Network Starter Kit

This is the live binders site that I will be bookmarking as it houses a wealth of informational blogs and encouragement for me, especially as a first-year school librarian.

Presentations and Professional Development

This post highlights what leading libarians feel a library of the future should look like. As I look at my somewhat outdated library, it can feel a bit overwhelming, so having a goal in mind of what it could look like really helps me to focus on specific tasks that I can do now to make it more of a reality.

My ISTE Bucket List

I found this link so encouraging, as I am learning about the ISTE standards for teachers in my current class module.

How can teachers use this blog?

As Lee and Sachi LaFever mention in their video, “Blogs in Plain English,” LaGarde’s blog is popular and encouraging because it inspires her readers and other bloggers that find a connection to school librarianship. Her reflections are heartfelt and have just enough emotion for the reader to understand that school librarianship is not just a job, but a way of life that she is hoping to encourage and improve around the nation. The personal news that she provides, her impressions from speaking with other library leaders and conference information, give someone new to this career, like me, a glimpse into what my library could be. I cannot begin to describe how excited I was to read her suggestions and evaluate my own opinions after reading her reactions to specific situations regarding technology, and relationships with school staff. LaGarde takes every opportunity “to reflect on [her] experiences and to process [her] interactions” with others in the school library media community, and her readers get to benefit from it immensely (Windham 6).

The Unquiet Librarian

I feel that this blog rounds out the purposes of the other two blogs that I have reviewed. Hamilton, a current school librarian, was a former learning strategist, and her blog posts reflect that background as she examines types of lessons, their goals, and their outcomes. Her overall purpose seems to be a reflection on learning technique by evaluating equipment, lesson ideas, and learning processes related to major themes and requirements that most school librarians are required to teach, encouraging those readers that are school librarians to feel that they are not alone in trying to find a successful way to reach students among the somewhat stringent requirements they face. She includes posts on Professional Development and training sessions that provide questions to engage readers in similar situations to want to find out what the solutions are. She also evaluates her own lessons with her current school and explains the lesson details, including what worked and what did not. Like LaGarde’s blog, she also includes links to her own professional presentations, publications, and professional portfolio for readers to take a closer look at her work.

Some of my favorite posts on this blog include:

Framing and Developing an Inquiry Stance

I was drawn to this post, as research is a requirement that I will be teaching my 3-5 graders this year for the first time. I was immediately intrigued by the responses that teachers gave during the workshop and enjoyed seeing the collaboration and ideas that stemmed from their writing activity.

Revisiting Book Tasting

I have seen pins on Pinterest for this idea, and I loved the fact that she walked the reader through the entire process, from collaborating with English Teachers, the organization of the event, and finally to the outcomes that she observed. Her thorough reflection helped me see how I could adapt something like this to an elementary level, and subtly included tips that I would want to remember if I ever chose to have a lesson with my students related to this.

How can teachers use this blog?

Initially, I did not think this blog would be one I would choose to analyze because she focuses her posts on the high school level of instruction. However, I quickly discovered that the heart of each post focused on key ideas that should be addressed at libraries on every level, “encourag[ing] interaction and critical thinking” skills among her readers (Windham 9). This blog serves as Hamilton’s “outlet for creative expression, and a way to reach beyond [her] normal network” as she so obviously has encouraged and inspired me to try different methods and rethink the way I view my library space (Windham 4).

Ways to use these blogs to enhance your professional portfolio:

  • School Library Use: This could be set up a number of ways. As a media specialist, I could set up a blog that could use students to provide guest posts related to books that they have read or technology that they are learning about or want to learn about. I could also have tutorials with older students to set up their own blogs and assist them with learning how to tag posts, organize their writing, and encourage them to include creative, authentic posts that could help establish a positive digital footprint.
  • Classroom Use: One easy way to share library blogs with my fellow colleagues would be to share specific posts on my county’s Google Share Drive. The Library Media Specialists have their own Google Site where we share important information and this would be a great resource to include there.
  • Professional Development Use: As both LaGarde and Hamilton demonstrate in their blogs, links to professional development and presentations can be a great tool for drawing in new readers of their blogs. They bring a deeper sense of respect and appreciation for their dedication to library media, as well as a sense of awe that they have accomplished so much in their careers. In doing so, their digital footprint includes professional resources that will positively impact their reputations.

Common Craft. “Blogs in Plain English.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 29 November 2007. Web. 18 August 2014.

Eide, Drs. Fernette and Brock. Eide Neurolearning Blog . 2 March 2005. 20 December 2010.

Windham, Carie. Reflecting, Writing, and Responding: Reasons Why Students Blog. Educause, 2007. PDF file.