Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Magician's Hat-Book Review

I got so excited when I saw this title in my book fair preview kit. The theme of this year's AAIM conference is Share the Magic. How perfect?

Author Malcolm Mitchell, of the New England Patriots, has written a beautiful story about the magic of reading. I love that the setting is a library. The Magician performs tricks for the audience whom have gathered for a family event.

He tells about a trip he made to the library when he was a little boy. During that particular trip, he found a book about magic! He begins to call boys and girls up to read into his hat for a surprise, each one pulling out a book of their chosen future career.

I loved that the story features different careers and that each child has found a book about that career! It is every teacher-librarian's dream.

Malcolm's love for reading and interest in advocating for childhood literacy has led to the development of Read with Malcolm.

"The mission of Read with Malcolm is to transform the lives of young students through literacy. The organization’s goals are to introduce book ownership to students in households where reading is not a priority and to improve literacy in schools with below grade-level reading skills."
The Magician's Hat book release date is set for Monday February 26, 2018. Mr. Mitchell has a full calendar of release parties and book signing events.  Check below for the event schedule copied from the Read with Malcolm website. And be sure to add The Magician's Hat to your TBR list!

Visit Malcolm at a public event to purchase your own copy:
Sunday, February 25th at An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA (Register Here)
Monday, February 26th at the Boston Harbor Hotel for our UGA and Friends Gathering in Boston, MA (Register Here)
Tuesday, February 27th at American Whiskey for our UGA and Friends Gathering in New York City (More Information) (RSVP)
Thursday, March 1st at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA (Register Here) 
Saturday, March 3rd at The Story Shop in Monroe, GA (Register Here) 
Saturday, March 3rd at the UGA Bookstore in Athens, GA (More Information)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Virtual Library Tours

I love visiting school libraries. They're all so different. During a recent #ArkTLChat, someone brought up how they wished we could all do on-site visits to see how each person had their school library set up. I have had several school librarians in my area of Arkansas come visit my library to observe, and I have gone to others. But, there is no way humanly possible to visit every library in your PLN.

What's a librarian to do?

Virtual tours!!
Image result for flipgrid
Using Flipgrid, I've created a grid for Professional Development that I use when I host or teach sessions. I created a topic on the grid for Virtual Tours. We want to see your library. Show us what you're doing.

Do you have a problem space you need help re-configuring?
Not enough storage?
Do you have some awesome library hacks like this one you can share?

If you have never used Flipgrid, don't worry. It's super easy and super fun! And if you would like a *free* trial code to try out the classroom subscription, let me know. As an ambassador, I'll be more than happy to provide one to you. 

I use these awesome directions created by Claudio Zavala (@ClaudioZavalaJr). I love the simplicity of them and the images help guide the littles through the steps. 

Show us your library. We can't wait to visit!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Power of Online Sharing

This is Rhianna. She's my daughter. :-)

We battle regularly about technology. Mostly how to create presentations. She's stuck in the slideshow mode. You get a slideshow! You get a slideshow! Everyone gets a slideshow.

I almost have to force her to use a different tool for presentations. Last year, she had to research a famous Arkansan and present the information to the class, including photographs. She chose Catherine Tharp Altvater. She chose to research Catherine because she loves art. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you've probably seen a picture or few of her jewelry. Catherine Tharp Altvater was a painter, mostly watercolor.

Picture courtesy of

For her presentation, I showed Rhianna how to use PowToons. Since many of her teachers weren't using Google Classroom much at the time, I had her post her PowToons presentation to my YouTube channel for easy access. She was also able to quickly search for the video to share with classmates.

A few months ago, I received a Facebook message from someone asking about the presentation. It was Catherine's granddaughter! She saw the video and reached out to Rhianna. After messaging with me for some time, she offered to send Rhianna an original watercolor painted by her grandmother!

It was so cool to see how responsible sharing online could result in that connection!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hack the Library: Goo on book pages

If you aren't part of the #FutureReadyLibs Facebook page or another Professional Learning Network online, you should think about joining one of the many, many amazing PLNs out there. It's a great way to share, communicate, seek help, and find refuge with fellow school librarians who are in the same boat! If they're not in your boat, I guarantee they have a life line to throw you.

This weekend, as I was browsing posts and pictures, I noticed something weird. It looked like a gross glob of vomit or snot (honestly) stuck to a book. I thought "why in the world is this lady posting a picture of a book covered in vomit-snot". I had to investigate.

As it turns out, the book had fallen prey to Slime trend. You know that home-made goop from glue or contact solution and various other "household" materials? Jen M. Hash-Staley shared a rather awesome hack for removing goo from the edges of books. Not only would this work for slime, but I'm sure it would remove gum, candy, probably vomit-snot. Hopefully, nobody will need to use it on vomit-snot. Just cut your losses and toss that bad boy in the trash.

How about that? If you happen to have Jen in your PLN, be sure to give her a shout-out!

What other hacks do you use in your library? Share them in the comments!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Adventures with Self Check-in

I just responded to a post on the Future Ready Libs Facebook page. A user posted a question about classroom teachers returning student books, and then at the end of the class students would come to the circulation desk and not know if their previous book had actually been returned.

I understand her frustration completely. Students forget. I forget. We all forget.

When I first began my journey teaching the littles (K-6), their established routine was to place the book they were returning on the circulation desk in stacks. That's fine if you can check them in quickly and reshelf them. Me? That's not happening. Getting books back on the shelf is the absolute last thing on my daily to-do list*. Books piled up. Students didn't know how many they had. They were sure they left their old one on the desk. Maybe someone in the library picked it up but hasn't checked out yet? It was driving me crazy.

I brought an old laundry basket to the library and created a return book basket. This was not a better approach. Not only were students still debating whether or not they had truly returned a book, books were getting damaged from being thrown into the basket (much like books through a book return slot-they don't automatically fall flatly and stack neatly).
Image result for laundry basket

Fast-forward a year and a half...
A teacher returned an iPad to the library that didn't have sound. After much inspection into it's settings, apps, everything under the sun...Denise (amazing co-teacher) tried to plug in her headphones to see if it would work. There was a headphone jack broken off into the iPad. The teacher didn't want the iPad back if it didn't have sound, so we kept it for use in the Media Center**.

We used it for a while before I decided to download Destiny onto it for circulation***. I was so nervous to allow students to check in their own books. What if they messed up? What if they just couldn't do it? Could I relinquish my control over that part of circulation? It took about five minutes for me to decide it was worth it! Students had no problem using the system. I put the iPad on a book stand since I didn't have a stand or tripod for it.

I spray painted one of our large three-shelf book trucks and cut labels for the shelves****. Each shelf has a section of the library, and students put their returned book onto the correct shelf. This helps the library tutors get the books put away more quickly, and it helps to reinforce call numbers, major sections of the library, and genre.

The Before...and After!

~Nonfiction has been changed to Dewey Decimal.~

 This system has worked wonderfully. When students check-out, if the computer says they still have a book or haven't returned one, I just ask them to go grab it off of the cart. Sometimes, they reply with "...well...." That tells me they didn't really return it. Most of the time, the book is on the cart. They have just scanned the ISBN barcode or the iPad didn't read the barcode correctly.

This week students made the comment about the vast amount of books that hadn't been returned to their shelf home. It was at a busy time so I loudly announced that if they knew FOR SURE where the book belonged, they could put it back after checking it in. Books cleared off of the cart quickly as students grabbed those in the series they were reading or if they knew where the book belonged.

*But seriously, though, who has time?
**Does anyone else hate the term Media Center?
***I also downloaded our Book Fair app, which makes restocking so easy!
****Ok, Michelle cut the vinyl. I just stuck it on the cart. We were working on the word wall.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Take 2: No Green Screen? No Problem!

So, after many, many, many Green Screen photos over the last three weeks, I have been able to fine-tune the steps to create a layered image in Pixlr.

The revised slides show several steps that have been removed, which made it so much easier to create  images for students. With the previous directions I provided, I kept thinking there was NO way I could show students how to edit images like this. There was too many steps. Now, I think students will be able to easily follow these directions. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hour of Code 2017

Hour of Code is held each year during Computer Science Education Week. Fun fact I learned today: Computer Science Education Week is held annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). This year it fell during the week of December 4th. Over the last couple of years, my PIC (partner in crime) Denise and I have made tweaks to our schedules between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break. Those weeks are just plain hard to schedule. 

This year, we used the week after Thanksgiving for Maker Stations, followed by Hour of Code week, and ended December with another round of Maker Stations. Just let me say, those of you that have a permanent Maker area or use stations daily/weekly...BLESS YOU! Holy cow, that's tiring! **Mind you, at the time of this posting, we are on the second round of Maker Stations.**

Maker Stations

Students moved through two stations per week in groups of 4 or 5. Remember how tired I was? Yeah...I forgot to record the group members. So...that was fun. The groups were able to get through four stations, and we will do another round of Maker Stations after Winter Break. 
Of course, I created Station Posters and directions on Canva to have at each table. I put a copy of the posters on the board and created the posters with our Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks the second round of Maker Stations. It didn't dawn on me until then. 

We had six Maker Stations:
1. EPIC Listening Station
2. Unplugged Coding
3. OSMO Station
4. Craft Station
5. LEGO Challenge
6. Green Screen/Writing Station

Copy of Maker Space Stations by acooksey

Hour of Code

We love Hour of Code. Last year was so much fun. The students truly enjoyed it.
When we announced Hour of Code this year, the students who had participated last year cheered. Our new students were so confused.
Kindergarten and first grade use CodeSpark Academy to code with The Foos. Oh. My. Gosh. It's so fun. And we added to our t-shirt collection with an awesome CodeSpark shirt of The Glitch! (We made shirts for every day of Hour of Code Week last year. You can see our binary iTeach t-shirt in the video.)
To build prior knowledge and foundation for coding, the students coded me. As an introduction, I would demonstrate how a computer component only does what YOU tell it. For example, "go forward" would cause me to walk until I ran into something; "turn left" would cause me to spin in a circle. After students grasped giving me one command at a time (i.e. "go forward two steps", "turn once to the left"), we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Students programmed me to navigate through the story and develop from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Second through sixth graders worked with Minecraft coding through and other more advanced blocky coding sites. The Minecraft coding site has some great videos that explain the importance of Computer Science and how Minecraft was developed. You can find many of them on our shared Pinterest Board. It was a great learning experience, not only for computer science but critical thinking. Students also learned the trick of using your forefinger and thumb to make an L shape for your left hand. Several students even acted out their problem to develop a path to complete their code. 

If you haven't ventured into Computer Science or coding, consider hosting an Hour of Code. It doesn't have to be during Computer Science Education Week. You can code any time!