2015 Bookmark Exchange & Literacy Challenge

I don’t know about yours, but my students LOVE bookmarks. And right now, I’m almost out. I was thinking about how much fun my students would have with a bookmark exchange, so I sent out a tweet:

Tweets

And this is why I love Twitter! Thanks, Mary Clark, for sharing this awesome information about the Literacy Challenge by the Students Rebuild program!

Here’s the plan for this Bookmark Exchange:

1. Register a team to participate in the Literacy Challenge here. For every bookmark that’s sent in for the challenge, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $1 (up to $300,000) to Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali) and Asia (Nepal). AND if your bookmarks are postmarked between now and February 14th, they’ll double their donation (check out the info here on the Bookmark-athon). Check out this FAQ page for more info about the Literacy Challenge.

2. Sign up to participate in our Bookmark Exchange as well using this Google Form. For this, we’ll be sending bookmarks to each other for our own students to enjoy. Sign up now through February 6th to participate. Register to “swap” bookmarks in sets of 25. Then, after February 6th, I’ll email you the addresses of the school (or schools, depending on how many you make) where your bookmarks will be enjoyed.

3. Have your students make bookmarks! Each student should make two — one for the Literacy Challenge and one for the Bookmark Exchange. Plan to mail all of your bookmarks the week of February 9-13.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? I hope you will participate!

Makerspace: Crafting Supplies

One of my goals with our library makerspace is to draw in as many students as possible through a wide range of creative activities. Making a selection of crafting supplies available is a great way to do this. I’ve always had some materials available for students to create, such as a variety of types of paper, poster, stickers, glue, scissors, etc. Now, with our active makerspace, I want to take our crafting opportunities to the next level.

With the holidays approaching, I’m planning to offer an opportunity for students to come in to make ornaments in the library during their lunch break. I’m using pages from discarded books, ball ornaments, and Mod Podge to have students make these ornaments:

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I found this idea on Pinterest and followed the instructions that are posted here. I practiced on a smaller pink ornament ball that I already had on our tree. I’ve ordered shatterproof white ornament balls for students to use for the project. I’m thinking about hitting them with some glitter spray…because who doesn’t love a sparkly ornament?!

 

I’m also using DonorsChoose again to acquire some new crafting supplies. My current DonorsChoose project includes Rexlace for making keychains, Rainbow Loom kits, Duck Tape, a starter kit for felting, knitting needles, and scissors. I would like to have lunchtime craft projects offered regularly, in addition to having these materials available for students upon request. These are the types of crafts that I can introduce students to in the makerspace, and it can potentially become a hobby they love.

Makey Makey

When the boxes started coming in for my first Makerspace DonorsChoose grant, I was so excited to unpack the three Makey Makey kits that we received! In anticipation of these supplies coming in, I showed some of my students this introductory video to the Makey Makey. They were so excited to get their hands on it and give it a try!

I have one particular student in my Advisory class that is very tech savvy, and he dove right in to getting the Makey Makey going with his laptop. The idea that he could create a controller using Play-Doh to play Minecraft just about blew his mind. On his way to his next class, he told one of the other teachers, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my LIFE!”

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We still have a lot of potential to unlock with the Makey Makey. I was really inspired by this video on hand felting a banana with conductive fibers. It’s so exciting to think of all of the possibilities of things that my students can create!

LEGO Wall

Creating a LEGO Wall in our library was one of the things that I was most excited about when planning our library makerspace. I knew this would be the centerpiece of our space and that it would be a big draw for my students. All of my inspiration for this LEGO Wall came from Diana Rendina and her photos, video, and blog posts about her own Epic LEGO Wall.

Diana has written an awesome how-to post that I followed in the construction of our LEGO Wall. You can find all of the information you need on her blog — I followed her instructions exactly and everything came out perfectly. I also love that she made a timelapse video of the wall’s installation. When I was trying to “sell” the idea of the wall to my administrator, this video really helped me explain what this was all about.

With the help of my awesome parents, it took us less than two hours to put up the LEGO Wall. I would recommend assembling the wall on a Friday afternoon so that things can dry over the weekend. We put the wall together on a Sunday afternoon and it was tough keeping the students away from it on Monday so the glue could set!

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We’re still working out how time can be made for students to use the makerspace and create on the LEGO wall. Each day we have a 20 minute Advisory/Intervention time, and my group is able to access the things in our makerspace to create, tinker, and play.

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They also helped me organize and sort out our LEGOs:

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I love seeing what our students create! Our school is in a somewhat rural/country area, so I was not at all surprised to see the word “deer” and a pin with a cow in it within the first 24 hours of the LEGO Wall being open for students:

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And I was really excited to see that during a slow time on our parent-teacher conference day, our band and choir teachers stopped in to do a little making of their own:

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So many students, teachers, and parents have shared their excitement about our new LEGO Wall. It’s such a great place for students (and teachers!) to express their creativity and just have a little fun!

CMS Makerspace: The Beginning

I was so excited and honored to be invited to give the opening keynote at the Florida Association for Media in Education‘s annual conference in Orlando last week. It was a great conference — I was able to connect with and learn from some AWESOME Florida librarians! All of my presentation slides, links, and resources can be found on my presentation wiki.

The ideas that had me ready to get back to school and working on a new project came from my friend Diana Rendina‘s session on Makerspaces & Libraries. She’s doing some AWESOME things in her library, and she made the idea of a makerspace something I could wrap my head around. I had been intrigued but intimidated by the idea; she made it seem attainable and fun. So now we’re going for it!!!

I had organized and gathered some crafting supplies in the library over the summer as my first attempt at making something makerspace-ish, but I really didn’t advertise it with the students too much. I’ve had a collection of board games and puzzles for years, so I think the makerspace will fit in nicely with those things that are already in place. What drew me in the most about Diana’s space, and what I know my students will go CRAZY over, is her LEGO wall. So the first thing I talked to my principal about when I returned on Monday morning was the idea of adding a LEGO wall in our library at CMS. He was on board (because he’s the best), and we will be installing our wall VERY soon (I can’t wait to post about it!).

I also wanted to be able to try some of the other cool tools that Diana talked about in her presentation, so I decided to create my first ever Donors Choose project. I was absolutely amazed that my project was fully funded in just a few hours…and it’s because I’m surrounded by wonderful people who support our library. I’m tearing up just writing about it! Donations from my family, friends, coworkers, community members, members of my PLN, and even a school board member came in quickly to make this project happen. Most of the materials should arrive on Monday and I cannot WAIT! MaKey MaKeys, a Sphero, a set of Snap Circuits, LEGOs, LEGO books, and two sets of drawers on wheels for organizing materials are on their way. I’ll definitely be posting more soon as our makerspace becomes a reality. Until then, check out these videos for some of the cool tools that will be part of our new space:

Makey Makey:

Sphero:

Snap Circuits:

EdCamp Baton Rouge

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Last Saturday at CMS, we hosted the first EdCamp Baton Rouge…and it was such a great day of learning, sharing, and networking! Educators from around the city (and several from other places around the state) came out for a day of “unconference” style learning. We had about 30 people show up, which I think was a good showing for the first event of its kind in Baton Rouge. Less than a handful of us had ever attended an EdCamp before, so it was definitely a new concept for most. However, everyone jumped right in and contributed to the learning, which is exactly what EdCamp is all about.

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As attendees arrived, they used different colored Post-Its to suggest session ideas and topics. Designating different colors really helped us when we were sorting and making the session board.

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We started the morning off with a few rounds of “Rocks/Sucks” or “Things that Suck” which got our attendees discussing some hot topics in education. My friend and our CMS Data Specialist, Jason Dupuy, did a great job of moderating this activity.

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Also during this time, we were busy putting together our session board. The digital session board along with links to notes from the sessions can be found here.

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Since we had a smaller group, we scheduled fewer sessions at each time slot. I had several teachers who had never attended an EdCamp before tell me they LOVED the rule of two feet — it meant they could hit up multiple sessions at a time slot and not feel bad about leaving. A number of attendees said this was the BEST professional development that they had ever attended and they couldn’t wait to recruit more people to attend next year…YES!!

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At one of our session slots, we held a playground. I combined this idea from EdCamp Atlanta‘s 25 minute tech tools session slots and the Librarians Network Playground we host at ISTE each year. At sign up, we had people put up Post-Its for a tech tool/resource they would be willing to demo at the playground. We had eight different stations where folks were sharing their favorite resource (Kahoot, Kid Blog, PicMonkey, Schoology – to name a few) and the other attendees floated around the room to learn about the different tools. This was a big success and lots of fun! We will definitely do this again next year, as it was a great way to really get to share tried and true tools that we love and use all the time in our schools.

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We had the BEST EdCamp lunch EVER, thanks to my awesome parents. They cooked for our crew: pulled pork sandwiches, smoked sausage, beans, coleslaw, and mom’s bread pudding. There were definitely lots of raves about the food and I have to give a shout out to my parents for being so amazing and supporting me in everything I do…including EdCamp!

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Thanks to my BFF and EdCamp co-organizer Alaina Laperouse…you are the best! And thanks to my friends Paula Naugle, Marcie Hebert, and Chris Young…they all traveled in from New Orleans for the day and that meant SO MUCH to me!

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Thanks the EdCamp Baton Rouge Sponsors: SimpleK12, Flocabulary, BrainPop, Edutopia, Follett, Oak Point, StoryboardThat, and 30Hands. And thanks to my awesome principal Jason Fountain for always letting me run with my crazy ideas and allowing us to host EdCamp at our school (he won the Flocabulary subscription…WOOHOO!).

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I’m counting our first EdCamp Baton Rouge as a success, and I can’t wait to host another next year!

Go to Recommendations: Action/Adventure

One of the best things about being a librarian is connecting students with the right books. I feel like middle school is the time where kids really become life-long readers. They discover their reading preferences and start to read books with more meat to them. I love having our library arranged by genre, I find that students are able to browse the library and find books that are of interest to them very easily. Within each section, I have my go to recommendations that I find myself constantly suggesting to students. I thought I would share mine, and hope that you’ll leave me comments with any others that you love to recommend!

ISurvived

I love to recommend any books from the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshisto reluctant readers who are looking for a fast-paced read that isn’t intimidating. I’m so excited to see that this series is continuing to grow!

Shipwrecked

Gordon Korman has several great action/adventure series, including The Island Trilogy, The Dive Trilogy, and The Everest Trilogy. Similar to the I Survived, these short books are a great way to get reluctant readers to pick up a novel.

Hatchet

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is one of those tried and true recommendations. Living in south Louisiana, so many of my students love to hunt and fish, so they really get into an outdoors adventure story.

WildLife GreatWideSea AlabamaMoonOther outdoor adventure recommendations include Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice, The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong, and Alabama Moon by Watt Key. I have multiple copies of all of these titles, and they stay checked out all year long.

AlexRider

The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz are great action-packed kid spy books that my students devour. Middle school students LOVE a series!

TheLimit MaximumRide

For my action/adventure readers that I think would also be interested in reading science fiction/fantasy, I recommend The Limit by Kristen Landon and The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.

AuRevoir  SonoftheMob

For my more mature readers who are into action and adventure, I love to recommend Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick and Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman. I thought both of these books were super fun, fast-paced reads!

What books do you find yourself constantly recommending to students who are hunting for an action/adventure read?

Bookmark Design Contest

Last year, I designed bookmarks for my students at the beginning of the year. This year, I wanted to give my students the chance to design our bookmarks. A bookmark design contest was a great way to get students involved at the start of the school year!

CMS Bookmark Design Contest by librariantiff

I invited students to submit their digital images or drawings for the contest. It was so exciting to have over 40 submissions for the contest, and even more exciting to see the awesome talent at our school on display!

You can check out the submissions on our CMS Flickr page here. I’m so proud of all of the submissions and the hard work that went into creating them!

I had our administrators pick the top 15. Those were posted on Schoology, our school’s LMS, and students were able to vote for their favorite. The three bookmarks that received the most votes were the ones I had printed!

The students have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new bookmarks, and they arrived this afternoon!! I’m so excited to put them out tomorrow, and especially excited to call in the winners and present them with a stack of their very own bookmarks in print!

Here are our winning designs:Photo Sep 04, 4 30 58 PM

Twitter Boot Camp

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back to school for over two weeks! The year is off to a great start. I’ve seen all of the students through their ELA classes. Last week, we kicked off our 1:1 initiative and checked out laptops to our students. We have lots of exciting things on the horizon at CMS!

One thing that I’m really pumped about this year is a Twitter Boot Camp I’m putting on for my teachers.TwitterBootCamp

I’ll be holding a 30 minute session once a month to introduce teachers to using Twitter for professional development. I’m hoping that by introducing them gradually through short sessions, they won’t feel so overwhelmed by the idea of learning to use Twitter.

Our first session is tomorrow, and I’m planning to give an overview of how Twitter works, a tour of what you see on your Twitter page, help teachers set up their accounts, and give them a list of folks to follow to start building their PLN.

I’m also going to share these awesome Comic Tutorials by the amazing Gwyneth Jones:

5091498668_3cbdd93c3b_b 5217790680_a812220975_bI think that many of my teachers are at least curious about Twitter from hearing me evangelize about it all the time, so I’m hoping for a good turn out! This is also how we’re FINALLY getting Twitter unblocked for teachers in my school…YAY!

What types of programs do you have planned to support and push your teachers this year?

Back to School…I’m HAPPY!

It’s that time…school supplies are everywhere, parents are dancing, teachers are getting anxious because it’s time for Back to School!

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to go back to school. I just have a really good feeling about this year! Don’t get me wrong, last year was GREAT! Probably the greatest of my career so far. But there are some very exciting things on the horizon for this year. Some things that I’ve been trying to set into motion for YEARS are finally becoming reality. And I am beyond blessed to be at an absolutely amazing school with incredible teachers, students, and top notch administration.

Check out our CMS “Happy” video from the end of last school year. When you have such great coworkers, how could you not be excited to go back to school?!

What are some of the things happening this year that I’m so happy about? Number one on my list…social media! I have been a social media and PLN evangelist for years now, and I’m very excited to announce that this year our school is taking the plunge into social media! My school is finally developing the presence I’ve been dreaming about! Parents, community members, and other educators will be able to find us this year on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube! I’m very excited that we are taking advantage of social media to share, promote, and publicize the amazing things that are happening at CMS!

I’m also planning to do a year long Twitter PD course for our teachers. Once a month, after school in a 30 minute mini-session, we are going to meet together and I am going to help my teachers learn how educators can use Twitter to build their PLN! Hopefully by having short sessions on a regular basis, I’ll be able to help them “get” Twitter and learn to use it to really enrich and expand their professional learning. My teachers know that I am such a Twitter advocate that many of them are curious as to what it’s all about and how it can help them, so I am very hopeful that this is going to be a great PD experience for all of us! I will definitely be posting more about this as we get started!

And there’s still more to be happy about, folks! CMS will be hosting the first EdCamp Baton Rouge on September 27th!

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We are reaching out to all educators in the Baton Rouge area (and beyond!) to attend this event. I am excited for this opportunity for our teachers to really shine as leaders…and we get to show off our beautiful new school, as well! More information is available on our #EdCampBR website, Facebook page, and our Eventbrite registration! And if you’ve never attended an EdCamp, you should look for one in your area!

Every year, I try to pick a major focus for myself/the library throughout the year. This year, my major goal is to do more to support and collaborate with my teachers. I especially want to reach out to my non-ELA teachers, get their classes in the library, and get library resources in their classrooms more. Also, the Twitter PD and EdCamp are going to work really well for this goal.

What’s your goal for this year? What are you looking forward to the most?