Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thing 5: Presentation Tools

As a librarian I give many, many presentations, and I also teach a ton of kids how to present information.  Since our school is a Google school, I have been using Google Slides as our default presentation tool.  I really enjoy teaching Slides, and I think the kids like using it.  I like that Slides makes it easy for the kids to focus on content, and even new users can create something without too much trouble.  I recently used Slides to create a presentation of my Spring Break trip to Italy and Greece.  It was a simple process and I didn't try to be fancy, but for this Thing's project I tried out an Adobe Spark page to compare the two presentation styles.  I have used Adobe Spark before for a poster, and I really like the website!  Creating a webpage was incredibly simple, especially since I had created a folder with the pictures I wanted to use before I started.  I like that you can create a different feeling with every section of the webpage; sometimes the slides in Google Slide start to feel too similar.  In Adobe Spark you can play with the dimensions of each photo to change things up as the user scrolls down.

Overall I think that Adobe Spark is a nice alternative to Google Slides, especially if your presentation does not need to be extremely formal.  I think it would be nice for my 5th graders to use as an alternative presentation tool later on in the year.  I could post the links to their webpages on my library website for students to explore!  It would also be a fun way to teach them how to choose pictures before they start a project.

My Trip to Italy and Greece

I also explored an article while completing this Thing:  "Digital Storytelling and Stories with the iPad" by Tracy Watanabe.  I enjoyed how Tracy broke down the different types of  digital storytelling and stories; her labels and prompts gave me some good ideas about how I could introduce digital storytelling in my library.  My favorite prompt was the one that asks students to be a plant and and convince others not to pollute the environment.  I also am very appreciative that she included graphic organizers, rubrics, and other practical tools to help kids plan out their project and stay on topic.  An excellent article!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thing 4: Digital Storytelling

I had a great time looking through all of the resources for this Thing.  I was very happy to get the change to play around with Adobe Spark; one of the teachers at my school district helped to create an amazing website with Adobe Spark.  #GlobalSpeedChat is connecting people all over the world with simple challenges kids can cool!  I love the design of the site, and when I signed in to Spark (with my Google account, A+ for that) I learned that you can also create really neat posters.  I created the 'Don't be afraid of these great books..' poster for an upcoming author visit!  It will be a nice resource for my 5th grade Author Club kids to use when they start making signs.  I like how you don't necessarily have to find and upload your own photos...there is a search feature built in that looks for Creative Commons photos.  So helpful and easy!

I also looked at StoryBird (which also has a Google sign-in feature!) and created a silly little story to test out the features.  I'm thrilled that you can also make your own magnetic-style poetry with backgrounds; that will be a great feature to use next year when I do my poetry unit.  I had been having students write poems using their Google Drives, but I think using the poetry feature of StoryBird will be more engaging for them.  I might be able to have some classes use the actual story feature, but for my short library lessons I think the poetry would work better.

The last resource I looked at was the article "6 Reasons You Should be Doing Digital Storytelling with Your Students" by Anna Warfield.  This article would be great to show an administrator because it lays out the benefits of digital storytelling simply yet effectively.  I like how the author made the point that students still need to go through the writing process even though what they're creating is digital.  I also appreciated some of the ideas for digital storytelling at the end of the article.  My favorites were "creating a talk show with a special historical or literary guest," "public service announcement posters or commercials," and "movie trailer for a book."  I think it would be fun for students to create public service posters about things the library does/can offer.  I can also imagine some fun with a talk show.  I bet we could be creative and use Adobe Spark!  I like the idea of scrolling down the screen as the interview progresses.  Things to think about!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thing 3: Twitter & Other Online Communities

This year I started using Twitter for the first time, so I was super excited to get to this lesson!  I have really been enjoying learning about Twitter, and I appreciated how this lesson helped me practice some of the tips and tricks to become a successful Twitter user. there a word people use to refer to "Twitter users?"  Personally I like the idea of being a flock?...maybe not.

The coolest thing I learned during the lesson was how to embed my Twitter feed into my blog.  I asked Google how to do it and with a little trial and error was successful!  I like how the Twitter feed adds a little more personality to my blog and makes it feel more personal.  I also added the Twitter icon that lets people follow me from my blog page.  I was wondering if it's good Twitter etiquette to put both the feed AND the follow button together on the same page?  Is there a Twitter etiquette page that anyone recommends?

Out of all of the articles that I read in the course of this "Thing," my favorite was Twitter: A 140 Character Love Story.  I am so impressed with how Jennifer LaGarde set up this resource, and I love the idea of planning some PD around this website.  It would be a very straightforward way for teachers to jump in to Twitter, and if I had been introduced to Twitter by this website I think most of my uncertainty and anxiety would have been eased!  I would love to try one of the Twitter challenges...does anyone know of a place that lists upcoming challenges?  I wasn't quite ready to start the #12daystwitter challenge when Polly posted it.

Another article I found extremely useful was 10 Golden Rules to take your Library Twitter Account to the Next Level by Ned Potter.  I have been trying to follow some of the advice in this article; mainly, that I need to tweet more multimedia.  I am also trying to follow the 1st rule about only tweeting 1 time in 4 about your own library.  It is tricky!  The 1 time in 4 rule means that you have to make a commitment to actively read other's tweets and explore their resources.  It definitely forces you to become more engaged.  I have slowly been growing and becoming more connected with other teachers in my district, so I am using that rule as an opportunity to try to retweet what they are doing in their classrooms.  I am seeing some amazing things happening around our district this way, which makes me feel more motivated!

I was a little overwhelmed with all of the Twitter tools out there...I will be checking the discussion board for ones that people like the most!  I also wonder:  if you had to recommend one tool to a relative newbie, which would it be?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thing 2: Photo Fun

Over the past 5 years as a librarian I've tried more and more to document my work in the library with pictures.  When I first started I was a little shy about taking pictures, but I've slowly grown more comfortable with getting the camera out for student work, bulletin boards, events, and other cool things students do.  Last year I abandoned the library's digital camera and started taking pictures of everything with my phone; once the pictures were on there I could share them to my school Google account at my leisure.  I'm pretty good at remembering to take pictures, but what I need to work on is more actively displaying and posting the pictures I take.

Twitter has been one platform that has helped me tremendously this year with actually getting my pictures out to the public.  It's still a work in progress, and I don't post as often as I'd like, but so far it has been an excellent way to show lots of people snapshots of library life.  I also maintain the library website, but I actually got rid of the slideshow feature Weebly provides and replaced it with my Twitter feed.  I think I will continue on with Twitter as my main photo sharing site, and I'll keep library Instagram or Flikr accounts for future possibilities.

However, reading a few of the Cool Tools articles gave me some ideas for pictures I want to try out! The "10 Ways to Use Instagram in Your Classroom" article had some neat thoughts about work showcases and scavenger hunts, but my favorite idea was using pictures for writing prompts.  I love doing a haiku lesson, and it would be fun to show kids pictures from the library or from around the school and then have them write a poem about it.  The other idea I'm now itching to try out is the #BookfaceFriday hashtag from the New York Times article.  I think that would make for a really fun project for the kids.

For one of my picture projects for this lesson I made an avatar (Avatar Maker) for my public Google image.  I rarely post pictures of myself, but I'm hoping this will be a friendly presence to the kids who share things to me and who see my profile.  I enjoyed making myself look cool and composed, two things I rarely feel during a school day.  The website I used was pretty easy to manipulate, and I appreciated being able to make an avatar without having to log in or create a new account.

I also created a poster using PosterMyWall.  I usually have to revert to using Microsoft Word for flyers, since the Google apps are still not as robust for designing things, but now with PosterMyWall I think I've found a good free alternative!  I did have to create an account, but it didn't ask for much personal information which was greatly appreciated.  I made a flyer for my library's annual "Book Swap" event, which allows kids to swap their used books with each other.  It will be nice to have something pre-made when I'm getting ready to advertise the event!


The last thing I took away from this lesson was the different creative commons image websites there are.  I was familiar with Pixabay, and I've used it with the kids before, but I had never looked at any others.  I was really impressed with Pics4Learning. I love how the website breaks up the categories, and I think it will be very user-friendly for my students!   I created a new page on my website to gather these image websites together.  I like being able to give kids a choice, and I've also noticed that different web browsers support image hosting websites to greater or lesser degrees.  I had fun doing this lesson, and I look forward to playing with more pictures!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thing 1: Blogging

Hello blogging world!
It has taken me about 5 years, but I am here and ready to blog.  Blogging is something I've had on my long-term library to-do list, and exploring this topic through Cool Tools for School is an awesome way to practice and keep up with it.  I have updated a wiki for several years, and this year I also started a library Twitter account (@dalib_mcsd), so adding a blog to my portfolio feels good!  I'm trying out Blogger as my blogging platform since we are a G Suite for Education district.
I am the librarian at Davis Elementary in Malone, NY, and I teach PreK-5th.  I have very short lessons (only 30 minutes including book checkout, eek!) in a 6-day cycle, so my goal since I started teaching at Davis was to come up with impactful "mini-lessons" that get the kids excited to be in a library as well as becoming strong technology and library users.  
One reason I haven't blogged before now was the intimidation factor.  I wasn't convinced I had time to do it myself, or that I would have time in my "mini-lessons" to teach my kids how to do it.  I think the best thing I've learned during this blogging lesson is how to introduce blogging to kids without jumping right in to individual student blog accounts.  I love the 'Blog Template' forms from Teach Thru Technology.  I think I will use those later this year with my fourth graders.  We can take our time exploring the format and practicing in short bursts.  By the time they start fifth grade they will be much more independent and ready for more advanced blogging techniques.
I also really liked an article from a "Teacher Challenges" course on Edublogs about blogging.  The part that stuck with me was about using interactive tools within your blog to make it more interesting.  I love interactive stuff!  My kids love to use Padlet, make word clouds, and use Google Apps, so I think the idea of embedding these tools from our library projects into student blogs is really exciting.
Speaking of interactive tools, here's a Padlet I made at the end of last year to showcase library Things!  
Made with Padlet