Friday, November 17, 2017

3rd Graders Research, Write and Share With MyOn & Thinglink!


Recently Mrs. McCollough came to me for digital suggestions to support a unit her students were studying on Ancient Egypt. In addition, she wanted to be able to address a 3rd grade writing standard W.3.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. (including an introduction/conclusion sentence, illustrations, supporting facts and the use of linking words) After mentally thumbing through the available digital options, I suggested she ask students to do their research using the MyOn eBook series on Ancient Egypt, and their writing on the web/iPad tool Thinglink

Students began their research with MyOn, where they found an excellent series on Ancient Egypt! Using eBooks for research is perfect for supporting the variety of reading levels in one class. As students gather their facts they can choose to have the book read to them or read it themselves.



As the students researched their topic, they wrote paragraphs on the facts they found. Mrs. McCollough had students handwrite their paragraphs rather than type them. Once they were done, we introduced the Thinglink web app. Students chose an image and added their paragraphs to create hot links for their facts. Along the way, student also learned a few valuable digital skills as well. One skill they learned was to press the Alt key before clicking on an image to pull up a window for cutting and pasting the picture's URL. 

Most of all, the skills that student discover as they create with a variety of digital tools helps them become confident digital natives. Thinglink gave students a chance to prove and share their learning in a unique and engaging way. 






Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thankful for Digital Tools! Ideas To Inspire Digital Integration

3rd Graders Use Google Slides & FlipSnack.com To Make A Class eBook!



Recently one of our 3rd grade teachers, Mrs. McCollough, asked for my help giving students an opportunity to digitally share their learning about Planets. We decided to have students share their learning using the cooperative learning jigsaw approach. (This is when each student specializes by learning one topic to teach the class. Once everyone is done teaching, they all know the information about all of the topics.) We gave every student the responsibility of finding four - six facts about their assigned planet/moon/sun. Based on the size of the class, two students would get the same planet but would begin by working independently. Students used our newest paid digital tool, Scholastic's Trueflix eBooks, though any resource on the solar system could be used.


Once students were done with their research, they found the classmate with the same topic and shared their facts. I created a Google Slideshow and shared it with the students. I had already created a slide for each planet. Students worked in pairs to add their facts to their slide. They learned how to add images and give credit (with a URL) when using a photo. Once students were done, I downloaded the slideshow as a PDF, and uploaded the PDF to the FlipSnack website to create a class eBook. (I also use Anyflip.com to create ebooks. Both are free, but the embed code from Flipsnack works a little better with my blog.)

The final product made this project especially a fun collaboration for students. I really like this lesson because it blended individual and collaborative efforts of students. It provided an opportunity to learn about fair use, work in Google Slide and the solar system!

Here We Go...3D Printing Comes To OHE!

  
Thanks to our OHE PTO, the best PTO ever, I returned to school this year to a huge box from MakerBot. In the rush of the beginning of the school year, I pushed the huge box aside with the intent of opening it once everything calmed down. This week, our OHE STEM teacher, Leah Yoemans, and I finally opened that huge box and out came a shiny new 3-D printer - the MakerBot Replicator+

Our goal for this printer is simple. We would like each of our 5th grade students to have the opportunity to create a simple design & print it. Easy right? Before beginning with students, we needed to learn how to use it ourselves!  Leah and I sat down with our district's resident expert, Mike Heitzig, to soak up as much as we could about how to connect, design and create with our new 3-D printer. We learned about Thingiverse and Tinkercad. We learned a few "dos and don'ts" and "how tos". I came out of our session with my head spinning, realizing how ambitious this really is, but also how valuable.

Stay tuned for more on our 3-D printing project and wish us luck!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hacking Library Redesign on a Budget!


Over the last few years, I've been trying to rethink our school media center in an attempt to update and create a more flexible space for our students. I've written about this a few times. As I have been rethinking, repurposing and redesigning, a major consideration was that I needed to do it on a skeleton budget. Redesigning on a tight budget has required a great deal of creativity! Although it feels like it has been a painfully slow process, little by little, I am starting to see the positive changes.

Before going any further, I have to say that making low budget changes does have it's advantages. As I change things, and because I don't invested too much money, if it turns out to be a flop, I can always put it back the way it was!

Thank You Shout Outs!  I have to thank several people for their help. My principal, Wade Labatte, is very supportive. Even though he may feel like it, he doesn't roll his eyes every time I come with a new idea. He listens and ask questions...cognitive coaching me, for those who know what that is :). He is supportive of my efforts. Our building custodial staff, brothers Mike and Tim Gallagher, have put in extra time and energy, doing the heavy work to help me realize my vision for the space. My library clerk, Jennifer Burkle, is so upbeat and even though my ideas mean more work for her, she makes a great library cheerleader! Finally, library volunteer Sheila, who's son has moved on to middle school, still comes to help us with our major book moving and shelving. Now that's dedication!

Last year, I made a few changes. I put out iPad stands to get students used to using the library catalog on an iPad rather than a desktop computer.  I also purchased a rug and put some cushions around the rug to create a kid friendly reading space. (Of all the changes to the space, this one has been a kid favorite!)

    

Then I began weeding! I weeded our fiction section several years ago when I genrified that section. Then last year, I weeded our picture book section. Only our nonfiction section remained unweeded. It was in desperate need of weeding with 20 year old books that had copyright dates that were much older. As most librarians know, weeding breathes new life into a library collection. It cuts away the books that students don't want so they can more easily find what they do want. As I weeded, Jennifer and Sheila moved the books to several wall shelving units that were largely empty since I got rid of our magazines. I always considered these wall units too tall for our elementary students, so we rearranged shelves to put display shelves on the top, since those shelves were too high for many of our students.



Next, Mike got rid of the huge tables that used to hold our desktop computers. These computers were largely used to host the Destiny Library Catalog for student use.  Students had already begun to use the iPads for this purpose, so they weren't in use.


Repurposing   Next, with the newly emptied stacks of shelves in the middle of the library, I asked Mike and Tim to move it along an outside wall freed up by the now removed tables. They also removed one of four sections of the stack to make it shorter.  This made it fit snuggly into the wall space. Throughout all of the rearranging, I was having a hard time with the idea of getting rid of these library stacks. They were custom made for our space when we opened the building 18 years ago, and I just couldn't bring myself to throw them away, or pay for expensive new shelving. So once the stack was against the wall, I turned up the shelves on the wall side to create a new back for shelving on the front, thus making it a little less obvious that it is double sided.  


Finally, I took the shelves completely out of a second stack of shelves and created high top seating with eight inexpensive chairs that I bought from Amazon. This change gave our library space a variety of seating at different heights, while also opening up more space in the center of our library. 



What's next? As money allows, we are planning to put our tables on lockable wheels, making them more flexible. If money were no object, I would replace our round tables with square tables on wheels. The shape may not seem like a big deal, but it makes the furniture move together and apart more easily. Round tables don't push together to create collaborative seating quite as well as square tables. I would also love to update the chairs around the tables, but that is more of a desire to have an updated look as our chairs function well.  

I have always thought of our OHE library as a beautiful inviting space. These changes just make it more flexible for staff and students.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Climbing The Uphill Learning Curve...Are We At The Top Yet?


Typically, I try to focus my blog on digital lessons that the Oak Hills Elementary community and my PLN (professional learning community) will find helpful. It's probably obvious, but I am a believer in sharing my learning and ideas. I am grateful and inspired by colleagues, both near and far, who are willing to share their ideas. And this professional inspiration propels me forward! So I try to share in the hopes that I can "pay it forward".

This school year, however, I've been struggling to act on this core belief of mine. Like many bloggers, I always feel a little guilt, a little naggling voice reminding me that I haven't been writing or sharing!  With the exception of a few tweets here and there, I have spent the first two months of the school year climbing a few big learning curves (new 3D printer - need I say more, redesigning the library and learning how to record & manage our daily news announcements) along with the regular every day challenges. Each one of these challenges would be manageable by themselves, but together make a high peak to climb!(to keep the analogy going) I know the payoff for my students and school will be great, but I am a bit winded by the climb!

Stay tuned for more details on how it's going!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Little September & October Fun at OHE!

We had a wonderful Book Fair!



Our OHE Walk-A-Thon Was A Huge Success!



We celebrated our successful Walk-A-Thon with a few hilarious rounds of teacher Hungry Hungry Hippo!