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.

 

 

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Answering the Real Read Aloud Questions: Parent & Child

As we lead up to celebrating World Read Aloud Day with LitWorld, my sweet little boy and I answered a few questions in an interview about reading.  I hope that you enjoy reading our answers!  We had such a great time talking about the books we love!  Visit LitWorld’s website to find ideas for World Read Aloud Day!

1.  What should everyone in the world read aloud?

Me:  Everyone in the world should read aloud an Elephant and Piggie book (by Mo Willems) with a friend.  You can take turns reading the parts for Elephant and Piggie and it is SO much fun!

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

My wonderful boy (5 years old):  The Inside of Reptiles is what everyone in the world should read because it shows the inside and not everyone knows what is on the inside.  They have lungs and they come up for air.

Reptiles

2.  Who is the one person in the world that you would want to listen to as they read aloud?

Me:  Nancy Brown, my media professor from Georgia State University, was one of the most captivating readers that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing read aloud.  I will never forget when she read Bitter Bananas by Olaleye to my Children’s Literature class.  She added a special accent as she read.  It was beyond fantastic!  She had every student in the classroom mesmerized with her voice.

My boy:  Mr. Dwayne, a guy at church, because he would make good noises for the purpose of it.

**Side note:   I had to ask him who Mr. Dewayne was because I did not know.  He admitted that Mr. Dwayne has never read to him, but he just wanted for him to read aloud.  I think he was talking about Mr. Dwayne True, who works with the Royal Rangers on Wednesday nights at church.

3.  When reading aloud, who is your favorite character to impersonate?

Me:  It is so much fun to impersonate the cowboy from Are You A Horse? by Andy Rash.  I like to change the voices for all of the different animals, too.  My students sometimes look at me like I’m weird, but it’s great!  They laugh.

My boy:  Bees. Like Bzzzzzzz Bzzzzzrzzzzrzzzzzzz.

4.  Which genre or author takes up the most room on your bookshelf?

Me:  One series that is unique that I love is Michael Hoeye’s Time Stops for No Mouse trilogy (see The Sands of Time photo below).  Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker who has many adventures.  The imagery in Hoeye’s writing is incomparable.  Another author that has quite a bit of room on my bookshelf and e-reader shelf is Carl Hiaasen.  I particularly enjoy his children’s titles because he writes realistic fiction that is driven toward a cause, typically conservation of the environment.  The action in all of his novels keeps most readers, even reluctant ones, engaged.

The Sands of Time by Michael Hoeye

My boy:  I think I have more Arthur books.  I like to read true books.

5.  What is your favorite part of reading aloud or being read aloud to?

Me:  My favorite part of reading aloud is watching the faces of my students or my sweet boy as I get to a suspenseful part in the story.  I love shocking them sometimes by hiding the pictures until just the right moment.  Changing my voice to match a character is really fun, too!  If I’m reading to my own little one, I love cuddling up with a great pillow, blanket, and many books!  That warm, cozy feeling can’t be beat!

My boy:  I think you (Mom) reading Reptiles, too.  I like when Mom cuddles me up and fluffs my pillow and my Mom reads to me.

Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord

Is there anything else that you want to tell me about reading?

My boy:  Hot Rod Hamster says, “Which wheels do you choose?”  and they say, “the Hamster is a Hot Rod.”  5 Minute  marvels are awesome!  It has Kraven the Hunter in it and Mysterio and Electro and Doc Ock.

5 Minute Marvel Stories

How do you feel about learning to read?

My boy:  Great!  It is so fun!  I love to read!

Memories of Cozy Read-Alouds

As we are leading up to World Read Aloud Day on March 5th, I decided to join Matthew Winner’s WRAD Raising Our Voices Blogging Challenge!  This weeks’ topic is to share your earliest memories of read-alouds, so here goes!

When I was about 4 years old, my parents took the church youth group on a trip and I got to stay with my sweet Nannie, my maternal grandmother.  I remember cuddling up on her couch with a crocheted blanket (probably a ripple afghan) covering us as we read through some of the encyclopedia.  Somehow I think that chocolate chip cookies were involved in this read-aloud experience, too.  I don’t really remember how we selected which volume we would read from, but on this particular night we were reading the “P” volume.

Nannie knew just how to spark my curiosity!  She would let me breeze through the pictures in the encyclopedia and I would point out an interesting one for us to read about and talk about together.  I remember my Nannie telling me all about Louis Pasteur (that’s how I know it was the “P” volume) and the pasteurization process (at 4 years old I did not have a clue about this).  At such an early age I didn’t realize that I was learning something new, only that I loved spending time with my grandmother and books!  There is something truly special about snuggling up on a warm couch with a blanket and someone that you love more than words can describe and sharing a great book (or an entry in a volume of the World Book encyclopedia).  That set of encyclopedias was often read when I visited my grandparents’ home.

My little boy (he’s 5) and I now read aloud every night.  I hope that his memories of reading aloud are pleasant and cozy, like my memories with Nannie.  Reading with children from an early age can make a huge difference in their early reading progress.  My hope is that all of my students can find a book they truly enjoy and can read it with someone they love.

I am excited about World Read Aloud Day on March 5th because my students will have the opportunity to share some of their favorite books with students across the country!  This school year I have tried to instill in my students a giving spirit by having them make bookmarks for Skype friends and write letters to senior citizens.  I would like for my students to make something simple to send to the students that we visit with via Skype, but I haven’t settled on anything definite yet.  In the past our school has shared great books via Skype with students from other schools.  I am grateful for the connections that our school has made as a result of finding other dedicated library media professionals, such as Matthew Winner, Sarah Wendorf, Jenny Lussier, and Stacy Ford, through Twitter.   The excitement and passion that these media specialists bring to students about their favorite books is contagious!  I can’t wait to celebrate together!  For additional ideas for World Read Aloud Day, visit Lit World.

 

Teaching Genre to Kindergarten Students

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Kump’s kindergarten class to talk with them about genre.  The students came with a great deal of prior knowledge about fiction and non-fiction books, so we hoped to expand their understandings of genres through this collaborative lesson.

Before the lesson I talked with Mrs. Kump about her expectations for the learning outcome and gathered several books from the non-fiction, fiction, fairy tale, biography, and poetry genres.  I tried to gather a variety that would be interesting to the students.

To capture the attention of my young students, I started the lesson with the video from the Wonderopolis site for What Is A Genre?.  This video does not give information, but does have a visually captivating animation of books moving throughout a bookstore.  My hope was that students would remember the animation and automatically think of books when they hear the word genre.

Of course, we started the lesson by reviewing the meanings of fiction and non-fiction.   As we explored the books and learned about a genre, the students had the opportunity to fill in a graphic organizer by drawing a picture to represent the genre.

Genre Map

Fiction- The students could draw an animal wearing clothes or talking; anything that absolutely couldn’t happen.

Non-Fiction- Some of the children drew the moon and stars; others sketched animals.  The students were reminded that non-fiction books give information.

Fairy Tale- After looking at the fairy tale books, most students drew a picture of a crown or of a magic wand to show the fairy tale connection between royalty and magic.

Biography- Students did their best to sketch a famous person.  I showed them books about Abraham Lincoln, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Poetry- For poetry, students drew a book with a few words.  The students were not very familiar with poetry, so I read a few poems to the students (some about sports, others about sea creatures, and some about school).  I tried to explain that poems sometimes rhyme, but not always.  Also, that poems don’t usually look the same as a story book.

In the end I had students think about the different genres and each child selected their favorite type of genre to write in the final square of the genre map.  During story times in the future, I plan to revisit the genres as they naturally arise through our book choices.

The most difficult genre for me to describe at a level that kindergarten students could understand was Poetry.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to read about them!

Thanks for reading!

Best Books and Blog Commenting

I’m so excited because one of my third grade classes has started blogging!  We are going to talk about commenting on blogs as part of a lesson in The Merry Media Center.  During the lesson, we will watch 2 videos by Mrs. Yollis about the best ways to comment on a blog post and how to post a comment to a blog.  While we are practicing our blog comments, students will have the opportunity to post a comment to this blog.

I hope that my students will share

1. the title of the best book they have read this school year

and 

2.  how they feel about commenting on a blog.

I can’t wait to see the responses from my students!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

alvin ho

One of my latest reads was Alvin Ho:  Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look.  This is a silly and fun chapter book that I think would appeal to my second graders as a read-aloud and to my third through fifth graders as an independent read.  My favorite part of the story is when Uncle Dennis teaches Alvin a few tricks about how to survive when camping.  One of the tricks is how to set traps in the woods, which Alvin attempts with some success.  Alvin’s Dad is not very pleased with the new skills that Uncle Dennis has shared with his children.  The book is told from Alvin’s perspective, which is quite hilarious!  This is a quick and easy read that will entice new readers to persevere through a chapter book!

juliet dove

A very different title that I decided to read is Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville.  Several weeks ago I read The Weeping Werewolf (from the Moongobble and Me series) by Bruce Coville and I liked it, so I decided to try another one.  Juliet, an extremely shy girl, notices a magic shop that she has never seen before and decides to go in and look around.  During her visit, she falls in love with a gorgeous locket that she feels she must own.  After acquiring the locket, people start treating Juliet differently.  I am interested to find out how this story will end.

Happy Reading everyone!

Scheduling with Sign-Up Genius

At the beginning of this school year our school’s guidance counselor, Mrs. Ashley Allen, showed me a fantastic website for planning and scheduling events.  The Sign-Up Genius website allows the user to set dates and times for events and then invite others to sign up for a time that works with their schedules.  The site has really cute, customizable themes, which add a nice visual touch to the scheduling portion of the sign-up.

Using the Sign-Up Genius website has helped me to stay organized and has allowed my teachers to have equal access to lessons and story times in our media center space.  The website sends an e-mail reminder to the organizer and the participants to keep everyone aware of the upcoming event.  Most of my teachers like the sign-up website because they can access it from home or anywhere there is Internet access.

Try it.  You might like this super scheduling tool, too!