Reflecting on Stations for Orientation

Planning for the station method of orientation for grades 3 through 5 took quite a bit of time, but for the most part I think the students enjoyed being able to move around to learn about the media center.  The planning was worth it!  Before starting the orientation, I had planned about 14 different stations, which was way too many for the students to visit during our short 35 minute time period.  Sadly, some of the stations had to be cut out of the orientation experience (the Lego Wall will have to be visited another day and time, which was a disappointment for some).  At first the movement from one station to another was chaotic, but by the very last orientation class we had the transitions down pat.

The stations that remained throughout the entire orientation process were 1. a video about Borrowing and Checking Out Books from the Media Center, 2. a video about Areas of the Media Center, 3. a video about Safari (our OPAC),, and Overdrive, 4. a library card decoration station, 5. an online survey about wants and needs in the media center, and 6. checking out books in the media center.  We had an optional bookmark decoration station with a basketball theme, which was phased out through the course of the orientations.  If the students were making really good choices and following media center expectations (Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe), then I pulled out the iPad for the students to take a photo with the book they checked out in front of the READ backdrop for the “Photo Booth” station.  The kids really loved the photo booth!

Before beginning the station rotation, I randomly numbered off the students for groupings.  This worked well in most instances.  If I had to do this all over again, I would try to make the videos about the same length.  One of the videos was about 4 minutes long and that was almost too much; it didn’t hold the attention of the students.

As a result of the rotations, I have had a few students go to the computers to search for books independently, which is not something that has happened this early in the school year in years past.  If a student asks about where certain books are, I can pull up the Safari video and after watching they are ready to attempt searching for books on the computer and will only need a little bit of guidance to find what they desire.  I do not mind showing students where certain books are, but I want them to feel like they can find materials independently in our media center and in a public library setting.

Media Center Orientation

This school year I am trying something different for orientation.  In the past, I have made a video to show to the entire class at one time and then allowed the students to check out their library books afterward.  Last year, I showed the video and then had students visit stations (our Lego Wall, observing our media center frogs, and decorating their library cards).  At the end of last school year, I watched a webinar about using stations in the media center and I was truly inspired.

During media center orientation this year for my older students (Grades 2-5), I will have several computer and iPad stations set up for students to visit to learn more (or share more) about the media center.  One station will be a survey for the children to share about the types of books that we need in the media center.  Other stations will share resources and procedures for the library media center.  Two of the stations will be decoration stations, one for library cards (like last year) and another to decorate paper basketballs to prepare for an upcoming author visit from a local university’s basketball coach.

Here are links to the videos that I have created to use during this year’s station orientation:

Knight TV Information

Basketball Decoration

Lego Wall

Safari, Lexile, and Overdrive

Borrowing and Checking Out Books

Areas of the Media Center

An Introduction to Mystery Skype

Students try to figure out where our Skype friends are in the USA.

Students try to figure out where our Skype friends are in the USA.



Our third grade students recently had the opportunity to Mystery Skype with another class in another state.  They had never participated in a Mystery Skype before and I wanted to provide them with a fun educational experience.  Typically, Mystery Skype participants have their own maps and atlases to use to work together to narrow down the options of which state we think our friends are in based on the responses to the questions that have been asked.  Before our Mystery Skype we talked about good possibilities for questions and where our state is located.  This initial preparation seemed to be helpful as we started the questioning part of our Skype.  Each class took turns asking questions about the other’s location.  Because this was the first Mystery Skype for these students, we had a map of the USA (on the web) projected to our screen, where I would point out states that were eliminated based on the answers to our questions.  For example, if my students asked if their state was in the Southwest, and the answer was, “No,” then I would point with the mouse and show the students where our friends were not located (not saying state names, but showing the general area).  As a first Mystery Skype, I think this was helpful for the students.  The next time that we have a Mystery Skype, the students will work more collaboratively, but more independently of teacher assistance in asking questions and eliminating possible states.  We look forward to our next Mystery Skype experience!IMG_2540

Dot Day Fun!

This year was the first year that our KBS Knights have celebrated International Dot Day.  Our students wore dots as a part of the fun, created dots in art class for a fantastic Dot Tree, and read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  Many of our students enjoyed singing The Dot Song and a Skype visit with another class!  Our computer lab teacher, Mrs. Donna Burris, showed the students how to create dots and fill them with color using Publisher!

Students created Dot Day bookmarks to share with our Skype friends.  We hope they like them!

Students created Dot Day bookmarks to share with our Skype friends. We hope they like them!

The students, who came to The Merry Media Center @KBS to Skype, made bookmarks for our new Skype friends.  Our school connected with 15 other schools from a variety of states.  I greatly appreciate the members of my PLN, who we connected with this year!  Some of these friends included:  Jennifer Reed, Matthew Winner, Andy Plemmons, Sarah Staudt, Kathy Schmidt, Kathryn Cole, Esther Uribe, Chad Lehmann, Donna MacDonald, Sarah Wendorf, Cristol Kapp, Jenny Lussier, Shawna Ford, and Meg Allison.  Some of the great activities that we shared with our buddies were having an Elephant and Piggie Dance Party (with Mr. Winner), reading Press Here (until interrupted by a fire drill– with Donna MacDonald), creating a nifty collaborative dot (with Mr. Plemmons), Mystery Skype experiences (with Cristol Kapp, Kathy Schmidt, and Chad Lehmann), reading The Dot with many wonderful classes!  We had so much fun!

Mrs. Johnnie Skelton's art class created a Dot Tree as a part of the Dot Day celebration this year!

Mrs. Johnnie Skelton’s art class created a Dot Tree as a part of the Dot Day celebration this year!

Lexile Resources

Some of the best resources that were mentioned during a Lexile training session that I attended:

Search for books on a particular Lexile level:

Excellent games/center activities for reading sorted by grade level:

Find skill or strategy lessons and novel studies sorted by Lexile:  Create a free account to access the most information at this site.

Scripts for Reader’s Theater:

I hope that these resources will be helpful to you!


ISTE 2014 Reflections and Plans

ISTE 2014 in Atlanta was over the weekend and if I had to describe it in one word, it would be Overwhelming.  Yes, with a capital O.  When I first arrived, a line for the first set of Ignite sessions wrapped around the Georgia World Congress Center.  There were people everywhere!  So many people that I did not even get to attend the Ignite session, but things got better.  They had televisions set up around the conference center, where the sessions were being broadcast live.

Later, there were some networking events for various groups (Librarians Network, Young Educators Network, etc.), which was fantastic because I had the opportunity to meet with some of the people that I have interacted with on Twitter, but have never met in real life.  Meeting my Twitter friends was definitely a highlight of the entire conference for me!  Some of the people that I met at the networking session were Sherry Gick, Jennifer LaGarde, Donna McDonald, Okle Miller, Andy Plemmons and Tiffany Whitehead.

The SIGLIB Playground was a great place to learn on Saturday morning.  Andy Plemmons shared how he uses Google Hangouts to connect his students with others around the country.  Sherry Gick and Matthew Winner shared their Earth Pals project and how they have sponsored Genius Hour activities in their library media centers.  There were several other presenters that I would have loved to hear, but time just did not allow (Linda Dougherty, Donna McDonald, Jenn Brower, and Tiffany Whitehead).

The poster sessions were unique.  It was fun to wander from table to table to hear about the fun ways that technology is being integrated in schools internationally.  QR codes were everywhere for participants to scan and learn more about the topic being shared.  One of my favorite poster sessions was by Pascale Gendron, who presented about a collaboration between a language teacher and a science teacher  in which the students created videos to share their learning.  Another cool poster session was by Heather Miller, who shared music videos that her students had made to tell about concepts they had learned in their history class.  The poster session was titled, “Gleek out to U.S. History by Making Rock Opera.”  The video presentations in both of the poster sessions were amazing!  You could tell that the students wanted to create the best possible video for both of these projects.  Several of the poster sessions had student presenters, who were beyond excited to share their creations with teachers.  One young student (probably a 2nd grader) approached me to show his technology “How-to” videos that he had created and produced using iMovie.  His confidence and pride in his work was inspiring!  The teachers that brought the students for Discover Cedros Tech Tips should be commended for the positive impact they are making on the lives of their students!

Some of the lecture-style sessions that I attended were by Rushton Hurley, Dr. Robert Dillon, and Dr. Warren Goetzel.  Hurley and Dillon’s presentations both dealt with student-produced videos.  Each offered an interesting and engaging perspective of getting students involved and sharing their stories in an engaging way.  Dr. Goetzel presented ideas about grant possibilities for schools and school libraries, as well as giving tips on how to write a successful grant application.  The tips given by Dr. Goetzel have definitely inspired me to pursue a myriad of grant possibilities for our school’s library media center.

The exhibition hall was huge and I visited for a little while each day, but still did not see all of the booths.  I could go on for hours about the expo.

Having lunch with some of the friends that I have met on Twitter and Skype, but had never met in person until ISTE was a highlight of my trip, too!  Getting to talk face to face with Kathy Schmidt and Shawn Hinger over lunch was so much fun!  It is not often that media specialists have time to sit and share with others within this profession.  Collaboration with teachers and book fairs were just a couple of the topics that we discussed during our visit.  The construction workers that joined us just added to our experience!

During the Genius Hour panel, Vicki Davis challenged the attendees to think of three things that you want to do differently next school year as a result of what you have learned at ISTE 2014.

Here are the three things that I want to do next year as a result of what I have learned:

  1. Encourage my students to share their own personal stories (possibly through a project like the one defining moment video that Dr. Robert Dillon shared).  Dr. Dillon shared that students need to gain understanding from their peers through the stories that they write and share, which can also promote empathy.  Fostering empathy, giving students choice, and allowing students to have pride in their work is something that I think can be accomplished through promoting student video production within our school’s library media center.
  2. Pursue grants often to continue to improve and develop our media collection.  Create a reading program that can be used for grant applications and make sure that the program can be clearly understood by a variety of audiences.
  3. Use a variety of ways to present the positive story of learning that is occurring within my school to a wide audience.  The library forum on Marketing Your School Library gave me several new ideas to promote media resources to students, show parents that the media center is a real place for learning, and to spread a positive view of our school to outside stakeholders.  My first steps will be to develop a Youtube account for student-produced videos and as a place to showcase the learning within our school and to create a Twitter account to share photos of teaching and learning.