Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thing 12 - Final Reflection (NEW for 2017-2018)

Final Reflection - Thing 12

I am thankful for the opportunity to reflect on my 2017-2018 Cool Tools coursework. I always learn so much, and file so many things for future reference. This is the perfect way to refresh my memory on all the awesome things I want to incorporate into my curriculum.

  1. What did I learn?

I’m going to use this as an opportunity to pull a key activity or idea from each of the nine other “things” I completed as a means of refreshing my memory while sharing what I learned all at the same time.
  1. Presentation Tools: After having been a fan and user of Prezi Classic, I was very disappointed when Prezi Next took over, making it very difficult to use with my 6th graders. This “thing” activity introduced me to Canva, which I have 100% put into action in my school.  I’ve been using it ever since! I tried it out initially with the 8th grade Ted Talk project I outlined during that learning activity, and have since used it with two other sections of my 6th grade classes. Students really enjoy it as an alternative to Google Slides, and I enjoy giving them another tool for their “presentation toolbox”.
  2. Search Tools Ninja: I really enjoyed exploring some of the articles for this one, and particularly enjoyed learning how to do the Google Reverse Image search. This was something totally new to me!  I was also inspired by this “thing” to finally dig in to our new LibGuides subscription and start learning more about what it was able to do.
  3. Note-Taking Tools: Again, lots of good articles with tips for note-taking with student were given during this “thing”. The primary take-away for me was Google Keep. I had never heard of it, and put it into action to learn more about how to use it. My husband I attempted to start using the grocery shopping list idea, and when we remember, it works great! I enjoyed learning about this cool Google tool, although I have not used it with students, and am not sure that it’s one that will make it into my regular classroom rotation.
  4. Teaching and Learning With Primary Sources: This one had a TON of information and resources to select from, and I used it as an opportunity to curate them and create a “Primary Source” tab on my library homepage for student and teacher access. I learned about several great sources including New York Heritage Digital Collections, DPLA, Google Arts & Culture, and Europeana Collections to name a few. Lots of learning went on during this “thing” for sure!
  5. Web Presence: I used this “thing” as an opportunity to learn how to actually create LibGuides for my teachers and students. I had learned ABOUT them during the “Search Tool Ninja” learning activity, but this was when I really grabbed hold and made my first one. I learned how easy it was to search for existing libguides, and with permission, edit them to fit my needs, as well as how to build a LibGuide from scratch. I’ve since encouraged my HS Media Specialist counterpart to dig in and try some for her school as well. It took some time to learn, but LibGuides are worth it! I now have created seven for various teachers in my school building!
  6. Green Screen Fun: This “thing” was huge for its’ impact on my curriculum! Learning how to use the Instant Alpha tool with Pages and Google Drawings has totally changed my program! Since learning about these tools, both of which were totally new to me, I’ve had students complete two different project using these tools. They also love them as an alternative to PhotoShop, and I am so happy to have learned ways to use my new green screen and media room.
  7. MakerSpaces: I found this “thing” to be very timely, and learning about how other libraries created and implemented MakerSpaces was very helpful. As part of the learning activity I had reached out to my principal and science teachers about working together on a MakerSpace in our school library. I’m happy to report that things are moving right along! The Science teachers and I have met several times and are almost finished compiling a wish list of MakerSpace materials that will be submitted as a grant application through our PTO. Our hope is to create a MakerSpace for the 2018-2019 school year that will be available both during the school day and also as a club after school. I learned so much about how to make this happen by doing this “thing”!
  8. Google Drawings: One of my favorite “things” to do, and coming fresh after the “Green Screen” thing, it was the perfect opportunity to dig in further and learn more ways to utilize this great tool. Since learning about it and how to use it, I’ve had several student projects that implement Google Drawings. I even asked my Tech Director to add it to the quick apps options for students! I really enjoyed learning right along with my 6th graders as we used the tool to modify favorite book covers to include our own images! So fun! This “thing” will definitely continue to be explored and used throughout the next school year, too!
  9. New AASL Standards: What can I say about this one… I learned EVERYTHING!  I may not have been as motivated to explore the new standards without this “thing”, and am so glad I did. I learned about all the updates, as well as how to promote the new standards with my administrators and colleagues. It’s so important to be an advocate for our library programs, and being informed is critical! The ready-to-go templates and resources to share were amazing and SO useful!
  10. This brings me to this 10th “thing”; my final reflection. I’ve certainly learned a lot!

2. What’s next?

I have so many ideas for what to do next! I will definitely be starting some new projects based on what I’ve learned during all these activities. In fact, the next project for my 6th grade enrichment class is going to be an independent media project during which they will write a proposal, gain approval, and complete their own “choice” project that must incorporate video, photography, and /or the green screen technology. They’ll hopefully implement some of the tools I’ve shared with them as a result of this Cool Tools course (such as Google Drawings, Canva, and the Alpha Tool).

I will definitely be sharing what I’ve learned with others, and actually I already have! I presented the LibGuides to teachers at a faculty meeting and shared with them how to use them as a resource, I’ve used Canva with all of the 8th graders, and I share ideas with many teachers as opportunity arises - whether during a collaborative teaching unit or at the lunch table. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Cool Tools course and all the wonderful things I will learn next year!

3. Did I like learning this way?

Yes! I LOVE learning this way. Independent, self-driven learning is ideal for this sort of course especially. Having the freedom to choose the learning activities that are most relevant to me, my interests, and my school makes so much difference! I really value to the quality and variety of “things” that we have to choose from. Every learning activity encourages me to dig deep into a topic I care about and/or am interested in learning more about. I also love the variety of topics and how some are “hands-on” like Google Drawings and Canva, while others support the curriculum like “Primary Sources” and “AASL Standards”.  Cool Tools options offer something for everyone! I will definitely do it again next year! Thank you for all of the time and energy you put into preparing for us.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Thing 38: Makerspaces (updated for 2017-18)

Thing 38: Makerspaces (updated for 2017-18)

Just last week I received word that there is funding for a new MakerSpace Club at my school next year. I’ve been slowly collecting materials for a MakerSpace in my school library, and have attended a couple of workshops on how to get one started, yet I’ve been having trouble actually launching the space.  I am hoping this updated “thing” will give me some insight into how best to introduce students to these resources.

To begin, I reviewed the What is a Makerspace? Video and read the article about how the Castle Rock (CO) Middle School transformed its library into a learning commons and makerspace. I wanted to make sure my understanding and the newest trends were on par with each other. I love the idea of the library moniker becoming “Learning Commons” - the message it sends out is perfect! In my school it is the Science teachers who are interested and willing to forge the way with me on the MakerSpace creation. I am fortunate to already have teachers with training who have “bought in” to the concept already!

Next up was some article reading. I started with Fostering Creativity With Makerspaces since it included information on how to get started with a MakerSpace. I understand what they are, but I need help developing practical ways to implement it, as well as determining how to create “challenges” and develop on-going projects with the students. Included in the article is a list of “tips and tricks”. Fortunately for me, the first two steps (find a space and get some money) are already taken care of. Between items I have already purchased through my library budget and grant money, these are not concerns for me. Step 3, however, was VERY helpful: “find the tools”. The author includes a list of the most popular items to include in a MakerSpace. This is the type of information I need! Suggestions include Makerbot 3D printer, Ideapaint (although I don’t have a large wall available, I DO have a dry erase table already), Makey Makey programming tools, and computers with Internet access for programs like and Step 4 is “find the students”. This is another area in which I need help. I like the idea of creating a weekly or monthly challenge to draw students in. I’ve also spoken with my Science teachers, and they have agreed to bring their classes down to the library for an orientation, which will introduce all students to the space this fall. Very excited to have that level of collaboration!

The second article I chose to read spoke to one of my own concerns: how can I be sure the time that the students spend in the MakerSpace is worthwhile and actually teaching them something? How to Ensure that Making Leads to Learning addressed this concern well. It appears that existing research supports some guidance in the MakerSpace area to ensure student learning; posting a challenge or giving some guidance with activity selections ensures student learning. The example of providing direct instruction on things like “how to use the 3D printer” makes sense, rather than having students struggle with learning it themselves and potentially wasting expensive filament. I also appreciated the notion from the author that “ Instead of asking learners to learn and make at the same time, these two activities can be separated and then pursued sequentially. Makers working on that model airplane, for example, could carefully inspect a previously assembled plane, examine a diagram of it, and then watch as we put one together, explaining as we go, before attempting to make one themselves.”  It just makes sense, as does surveying the teachers and students to see what areas are of most interest and value before purchasing materials.

Now for some “planning and how to” articles… I started with Setting Up Your Own Makerspace since it said it contained a practical guide to getting started and selecting resources. I like that the author included ideas for both tech and non-tech materials:

  • 3D printers
  • littleBits
  • MaKey MaKey
  • Sphero Robotic Balls
  • Ollie
  • OSMO
  • ipads-loaded with production apps
  • Robotics Materials-WeDo/Lego Mindstorm EV3
  • Motors
  • LED lights
  • Snap Circuits
  • Dash and Dot Robots
  • Cubelet Robots

  • Craft supplies
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic materials
  • Paper
  • Styrofoam
  • Paint
  • Collage materials
  • Rainbow Loom
  • Knitting and crochet supplies
  • Legos
  • TinkerToys
  • K'Nex
  • Attribute blocks
  • Box rivets (Makedo and/or Mr. McGroovy)
  • Plastimake

  • Sewing machines
  • Old electronics for tinkering
  • Electric Keyboard
  • Tinkering tools
  • How-To books
  • Video production materials-green screen and lighting

It is also great that the author shared ideas for how and when to implement a MakerSpace, as well as listing some of the benefits a MakerSpace provides. Besides the idea links that are too numerous to include here, there are ideas I don’t want to forget, so I’m including these lists as well for future easy reference:

Utilizing Your MakerSpace
Bringing A MakerSpace To Your School Will...
  • Allow for students to embrace failure as a means for heading toward success
  • Allow students to collaborate and learn from one another
  • Create experts who students will look to for guidance
  • Foster creative thinking
  • Create ways for students to ask real questions to drive their exploration
  • Encourage students to pursue existing passions or seek out new passions
  • Ignite excitement and a joy for learning
  • Promote multiple ways to solve problems

  • Allow students to practice perseverance in day to day learning
  • Expose students to materials they may have never used before: 3D printers, robotic balls, textile materials, circuits, littleBits, programming, and so much more!
  • Encourage student reflection on the process of making
  • Create thinkers

I attempted to download the FREE guide to starting your own maker program but was met with a 404 Error “no longer available” message, so I moved on to the Makerspace Playbook – School Edition - an 84 page PDF manual that I downloaded and saved for future reference. A quick skim through the contents page told me that this would be a resource to revisit later when actually getting ready to start. Some good stuff!

Next up: time to learn more about MakerSpaces and the library! The article Pioneer Middle School Library: Maker Club Begins was of particular interest. I had tried to start a MakerClub this past October, but like mentioned in the article, it was hard for students to understand exactly what “MakerClub” was. As a result, it never took off despite a few months of attempts and PA announcements. I like how this author explained the steps she took to launch her club, complete with pictures and screenshots of the slides she actually used with her students. Very helpful! I also added the suggested hashtags to my list of followed topics on Twitter so I can be on the watch for new ideas!

I next explored the link for Makezine, and added my e-mail address so I can receive their monthly newsletter with (hopefully) lots of great ideas. So many ideas right on the homepage! At this point, I’m feeling overwhelmed; I think I’m getting TOO many ideas, and once again will be unsure about where to start… I decided to bookmark the page and return to it as I need ideas (such as the apps described in Apps & More for Makerspaces | Mix It Up). In the meantime, I DID add some of the suggested books to my next order, including Invent to learn : making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom by Martinez, Sylvia Libow since it sounds like it would be helpful down the road to have in my collection.

For my learning activity, I decided to take action! First I reached out to the Science teachers that I knew were interested in a MakerSpace, and am happy to report that they’ve agreed to meet later this week to start mapping out our school’s MakerSpace! I plan to show them the materials I’ve curated so far, as well as discuss some ideas I have for implementing the space next year. Since they’ve already agreed to bring their classes down, I am confident we will have SOMETHING to launch; even if just a basic space to get us started.

Secondly, I decided to make the initial connection with my principal. He recently shared that our PTO is looking to help fund new clubs, so I took this opportunity to draft a basic proposal for a MakerClub. Here is the body of the letter I emailed to him, which was received very positively with encouragement to move ahead!  Thank you for another great “thing” - so practical, helpful, and timely!

Hi Steve,

This is perfect timing! Bill Yager and I have been discussing our desire to work together to offer a "Maker Club" enrichment program for the Middle School.
I've attended several trainings and have many resources, and Bill has the hands-on knowledge of how to actually implement the wonderful materials I've curated, so it's really ready to go!

I have an event planned later this month through collaboration with Barnes & Noble to have a "Maker Faire" in the library, and hoped to use that as a kick-off introduction for students to see what we have. It would be great if we could share the news that there will be a "Maker Club" available for the next school year.

We can provide research in support of the benefits of student access to school MakerSpaces, and this trend is becoming the "hot topic" in many districts around the country. You can read a nice rationale for them at which explains that

"Makerspaces can have a significant impact on student learning and development. In fact, Makerspaces were recently identified as one of six important developments in educational technology for K-12 education by the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report, which states, “Makerspaces are increasingly being looked to as a method for engaging learners in creative, higher-order problem-solving through hands-on design, construction, and iteration” (p. 38). According to the NMC, Makerspaces have the potential to effectively address the necessary skill-sets for students in the 21st Century (p. 38)."

Bill and I would be excited and pleased to act as co-advisors for a new "Maker Club" enrichment program for grades 6-8, and look forward to your reply. ~Cathie

The following is a list of items we already have in the Library MakerSpace area. Bill has additional materials available as well.

Whiteboard / dry erase table

Little Bits Base Kit w/10 Bit Modules

K'Nex Education set: Intro to Simple Machines - GEARS

TumbleTrax Magnetic Marble Run

Electronic Snap Circuits Set (over 300 projects including motion detector)

Snap Circuits Set: Sound (185 projects)

Green Screen

Video camera / tripod / professional level microphones

Digital & Flip Cameras

Stand-alone microphones

Q-BA-Maze 2.0 set

Bot Maze

2 Ozo-Bots

MakerSpace Books for Ideas and "HOW TO" info

Magnetic Poetry

Traditional project supplies

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thing 50: New AASL Standards

Thing 50: New AASL Standards

This morning I had been reading an online article about the new AASL Standards. Then just now I logged in to Cool Tools to select my next learning activity - as if often the case, I saw Thing 50 right at the perfect moment! I was already planning to start familiarizing myself with the new standards, so this is the perfect opportunity to dig in!

Right away I learned something while reading the introduction: “the new National School Library Standards that are actually three sets of standards that are similarly structured around the same concepts. The 3 sets of standards are:  for learners, for your library program and for you as a library professional.” Definitely time to get familiar with what is new!

I started by watching the introductory video "AASL Standards – Evolved and Familiar”, a 3 minute intro relates the new standards to previous ones.  As suggested, I began familiarizing myself with the  AASL Standards Framework for Learner Standards. The pamphlet is a visually appealing summary of the Standards Frameworks. I will be ordering the full book for my District as well.  

I appreciated the breakdown of “Shared Foundations” and “Domains” that were provided in the Thing 50 body text:
The core of the standards are the six ‘Shared Foundations’ and their accompanying ‘KEY Committments’.
  • Inquire
    • Build new knowledge by inquiring, thinking critically, identifying problems, and developing strategies for solving problems.
  • Include
    • Demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity in the learning community.
  • Collaborate
    • Work effectively with others to broaden perspectives and work toward common goals.
  • Curate
    • Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources of personal relevance.
  • Explore
    • Discover and innovate in a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection.
  • Engage
    • Demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products independently while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world.
These are coordinated with four learning categories, or ‘Domains’ as AASL calls them: THINK, CREATE, SHARE and GROW
Looking at the two-page grid, I can think of lessons and activities I am already doing that meet many of these frameworks. My 6+ Enrichment classes and my Digital Literacy class implement several, and others are met through my collaborations with teachers in my school. We already have inquiry-based learning, creating content, collaborating on discussion and projects, etc. I also introduce students to many technology tools that they can use towards achieving these standards, including research databases (especially Gale and NovelNY resources), Web 2.0 tools such as Canva, Google apps (Classroom, Drive, Drawings, etc.) and regular technologies such as green screens and video editing/creating of content.

While examining all of this, I was immediately inspired to start thinking about how I will introduce these updates to my Superintendent and District Administrators, fellow teachers, etc. so I was thankful to see the AASL One-Pagers for Stakeholders link come up. These are beautifully designed, easily understandable resources to share with the school community. I downloaded & printed color copies of each one, as well as the  School Libraries Transform Learning Message Box printable.  Thank you for providing the direct links to all of these resources - they make my job of sharing this information much less daunting!

Under the “More to Explore” section I particularly liked New AASL Standards, So What? A handy short article on examining the standards by Paige Jaeger that includes a table of key words to use when planning lessons. These learner competencies come from the new Standards Framework and demonstrate how the new standards are suited for lifelong learning. She even provides a printable PDF to the table, along with a  checklist for assessing where you’re at in the process of addressing these standards. So helpful!

Since I’d already selected Paige Jaeger’s article to read and explore earlier in this assignment, I decided to do the second learning activity option. Upon looking through the document Tech Tools & Resources AASL Standards for the Learner, the tech tool connections that most appeal to me include the following. I created this chart to show which tools I already know and/or use, as well as the ones that I want to investigate further.

Tools I Have Used and/or Am Familiar With - Grade or Course I’ve Used It With
Tools I Plan to Explore Further
Checkology - Press Room & Digital Literacy
Digital Public Library of America (America’s libraries, archives, and museums)
Wonderopolis - Library Classes
National Archives DocsTeach (Create interactive lessons with primary sources to foster historical thinking)
Voki - Digital Literacy & 6+ Classes
Safe Share TV ( safest way to watch and share YouTube videos)
Skype in the Classroom - Author Visits
Goosechase EDU (The easiest way to create and run a scavenger hunt)
Newsela - ELA Classes
Penpal Schools (connects students from around the world to learn together)
Probably many others as I revisit the list
Quizlet - several classes/content areas

YouTube Playlists & Channel

Adobe Spark - Digital Literacy & 6+ classes

ThingLink - Digital Literacy, 6+

Canva - Digital Literacy, Ted Talks

Powtoon - Family & Consumer Sciences

Venngage - Digital Literacy, 6+ classes

Of the six Foundations, the ones that resonate with me the most are “Inquire”, “Collaborate”, and “Explore”.  As a Middle School Library Media Specialist and teacher of Digital Literacy and enrichment classes, these three stand out to me. My projects are all student-driven, differentiated, and project-based. I encourage students to consider what they are most curious about and interested in learning. Then we mold the digital tools and resources I want to teach around their selections.

By doing the exercise in Paige Jaeger’s article, I was pleased to discover that my current practice already incorporates many of the principles and elements mentioned in the Standards and Frameworks. This activity also helped me feel less overwhelmed by the new Frameworks brochure, as it allowed me to see all the great things I’m already doing in support of the Standards. My weakest area is “Include”; I don’t really emphasize that, so I will work on that.  I also appreciate the opportunity to gain insight and specific ideas for how to expand my current program to include some of the areas I’m not as strong as in.

Thank you for a very helpful and informative “thing”!