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!  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

File Cabinet: 10 Things We've Done This Year (2017 Edition)

1. Practiced Yoga
During our annual reading of the Arkansas Diamond Nominee books, we incorporated more Yoga into our library. We always transition from carpet time to table work or reading spaces by stretching with basic yoga poses. Sequoia by Tony Johnston was the perfect avenue for us to add a new pose!

2. Broke a Geode
A student found an image of a geode in his library book. He asked if they were real and was curious about the crystals growing inside of a "rock ball". I happened to have a geode left from Christmas (my kids wanted some). We took a hammer and the geode outside to bash it open. They had fun watching it smash into pieces and choosing a piece to take home. I love that their learning wasn't even planned. Spontaneity makes the BEST lessons. 

3. Was Allowed at the Radio Station (again)
This was the fourth or fifth time I had been asked to do the radio spot. Our local station has a feature weekly highlighting activities at each campus. So much fun to see how the technology works and take clips back to our students. 

4. Invited Parents to Play
During our Spring Family Night, we set up stations of our tech fun for students and parents. I think the parents had more fun playing with OSMO, Cubelets, and watching our 3-D printer than the students. It was great to see families working together to figure out how to combine Cubelets to meet the challenges. 

5. Invited the Public Library to Visit
Our local public library Director and Cataloger love to visit schools. They talked with 6th graders about how to apply for a library card, how to use their e-book collection, and plans for the new library space. Babbs (cataloger) loves to share new books and her favorite reads! 

6. Created Standing Computer Stations
We removed the "chairs of death" in our lab and raised the tables. Students enjoy the option to sit on a stool or stand to work. Many choose to stand and have said that they love being able to move around while working. 

7. Went Old School
I found a box of transparency paper in the back of the library. Students designed a "stained glass" autobiography. Using Google Drawing, students wrote their name and added at least five images that describe themselves. 

8. Gave Away Books
Each year, we have Free Book Day. It had another name, but students just call it Free Book that's what it is. We use money raised through Scholastic Book Fairs to purchase "bruised book" boxes and sets of books. Each student receives at least three brand-new books and have the opportunity to choose a couple of weeded library books. All students that our library serves take home at least four books for their home library. It's crazy, made, and stressful, but it's also fun! 

9. Explored PD with Digital Breakouts
Thanks to my friend Jennifer Lyon, I didn't have to create the breakout myself! During a summer PD session, we explored digital breakouts. Teachers are really competitive! 
BreakoutEDU has some free digital breakout games; however, you do have the option to purchase pre-made games. You can also use Google Sites to create a customized Digital Breakout. 

 10. Explored Race through Literature and Art
Our fantastic art teacher wanted to talk about our differences. We searched the catalog for a book that would support her lesson and teach racism. The Skin I'm In by Pat Thomas was perfect for our learners. Students created a self-portrait that was displayed on a rainbow background (I believe each grade level was assigned a color). 
I loved the display and conversation students had about how important we all are. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sharing Your Work-Local Media Outlets

I love having the opportunity to share the work that is happening in school libraries. Advocating for and sharing what you're doing in your school library is SO important. It's important to share how your students are learning with local, state, and national stakeholders.

AASL has included great one-page graphics for stakeholders to relay information about the AASL National Standards and how school libraries support learners.

To help spread the word, share the love, and spread the wealth of information school libraries hold, contact your local newspaper or media outlet. Check websites for the correct procedure to submit an op-ed piece or call their office directly. Fortunately, I have a great relationship with our local newspaper, and they enjoy printing pieces that feature happenings in our local schools.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

No Green Screen? No problem!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a Green Screen. During December, we participate in Hour of Code. We planned to have various Makerspace stations for students to rotate through for a week, one week of coding, and then another week of Makerspace rotations. One station was, obviously, the Green Screen Station. We wanted students to see how we convert images and change the backgrounds. The plan was for students to create holiday cards.

Well....the Green Screen didn't get shipped in enough time to make it here for us to use it the first week of Makerspace rotations. I remembered using Pixlr to edit out backgrounds for other blog posts and Snapchat filters. I spent some time exploring and making many, many mistakes, but I came up with a way to change out the background of an image and super-pose it similar to that of a Green Screen.

This may not be new to everyone, but sometimes it's the small victories during a stressful time of year that make the world go 'round.

Our images started like this:

Then ended like this:

For step-by-step directions, the Google Slides presentation is linked in either picture above. I know that I could have gotten a green cloth or paint to create a faux Green Screen, but I really like having the option to work around a problem. It's always good to have a Plan B...or C...or D...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Resources: Arkansas State Capitol

You know how you go places and pick up stuff you think is fantastic with every intention of sharing said stuff? Happens to me all the time. As I was cleaning off some shelves, I found some pamphlets I picked up at the ARA Conference about the Arkansas State Capitol Building.

Related image

The Secretary of State offices offer a ton of teaching materials and resources. I didn’t know that they would send someone to your school to do a presentation for your classroom! Programs that they offer include: State Symbols, a hands-on activity program; Virtual Tour program; and a Young Voter’s Program that discusses the Civil Rights Movement, the process and importance of voting, and voter’s registration.

The Secretary of State’s website also has some great information. I spent some time “playing” on the kids’ website.  There you can find virtual tours, information on the history of the capitol building, games, and links to videos. The videos are linked through YouTube. I always give a mini-talk about clicking around in YouTube or on websites. Students should stay focused on the current video. 

On the teacher’s page, there are lesson plans, virtual tours, PowerPoint presentations, and information on ordering materials for your classroom. All materials are FREE! If it’s for free, it’s for me! 

I’ve ordered some just to have on--hand in the library in our Arkansas Resources section. And don’t forget that their staff will travel to our school to speak to your classroom upon request! Guest speakers are always fun.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sit. Stay. Good, Student.

I am all for giving students rewards. Correction...I am all for giving students awards. I was corrected by the ADE staff once upon a time. An award is earned or given as merit; a reward is offered for doing something that is noble or good.

Over the weekend, a very heated discussion was being had among some friends and myself. Is it good to give students rewards? 

In the article My Biggest Regret as a Teacher: Extrinsic Rewards by David Ginsburg (from edweek’s blog) stated that he regrets ever having started a reward system in his classroom. Why? 
“It sets them (students) up for future failure. That’s because success is about delayed gratification, not instant gratification.” 
Think of Pavlov’s conditioning training. If I do what I’m supposed to do, I get a treat. 

Image result for pavlov dog

Following the rules and working hard are rewarded with prizes, stickers, a smiley face. Some students respond well to that, but are we hurting the masses or helping them to become successful?

People who are successful in life have learned to self-discipline and self-motivate. They do what they do because they enjoy it! 

How can students become successful if we constantly give rewards for just doing what they are supposed to do? They can’t. And they won’t. 

Many struggling students think they’re incapable of succeeding; slacking off or sabotaging classroom activities become a means of self-preservation. David states, “These kids need confidence, not candy.”

Image result for success

The way to elicit students’ cooperation is to empower them, not control them. We should be making students feel successful by giving them knowledge and power! Think of this: are you helping “students feel[ing] fulfilled because of that they were learning, not because of what they were earning”?

Read the entire article here or subscribe to edweek’s blog for free.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Furry Friends

In an article I read recently, Ron Claiborne and Wendy Brundige stated, “For young kids, one of the big challenges in learning to read is the embarrassment of making mistakes.” I totally agree with them! When listening to students converse over text in the library, I’ve noticed that the closer someone gets to a child reading aloud, the softer their voice becomes until they are no longer reading aloud.

I have received several responses when asking students to read aloud to me that are along the lines of “I don’t know how” or “I can’t do it”.

The article, Study: Reading to Dogs Helps Children Learn to Read, highlights a study from East Norwalk Library in East Norwalk, Conneticut. Children participated in a “D2R2” program where students read to dogs. During the course of the 10 week program, student participants read aloud to dogs. Those students participating in the program who read to dogs improved their reading skills by 12 percent. Students participating but not reading aloud to dogs showed no improvement.
One student participant stated, “I have somebody that listens when I read. If I make a mistake, there’s no one around me to laugh.”

After reading the article and pondering how I could have a litter of dogs in the library? I realize I already had the solution. Stuffed animals! I’ve collected several of Brandt’s and Rhianna’s that we no longer use at home, along with stuffed characters from our favorite books. Kohl's often has stuffed characters for only $5. In the library now, we have a Book Buddy Bucket full of reading buddies for anyone who needs someone to listen without judging.

My Book Buddy Basket is not nearly as cute as these I found on Pinterest, but the kiddos love it just the same!

For the full article, click here.