Welcome back everyone to the 2017-2018 school year! Over here at Ponderosa High School I am starting my 4th year as a teacher librarian and my 14th year in teaching! I've reached the point when student or parent tells me, "You're really young!" I get excited! When I started teaching I was fresh out of school and so excited to have a drama position. I was single and thought I would never meet a man. Now, I'm next door to the theatre as the teacher librarian with a wonderful husband and beautiful 2 year old daughter with the name I always dreamed about, Charlotte.
So what new things are in store for the wonderful students at Ponderosa through my library! Well, we've started off with a bang! Over the past two weeks, we've been extremely busy. In the first week, we checked out 550 books to students! We had 3,614 patrons walk through our doors, averaging 722 per day. We've had two days over the past week where over 1,000 patrons walked through our doors. 27 classes came through the library. 19 of those received library instruction, mostly through books talks. So busy busy busy!
I have also been working on "sprucing" up the place a little before I go into my major NF genrefication project again in September. Mostly, I have bee finally getting around to improving some signage around this place! I worked on NF signage within my first year, but all my signage up by fiction has needed a little sprucing up!
In classes, it's been pretty much book talks and library orientations, but I did have the opportunity to work with our ICT (freshmen computer course) classes about some information literacy as well. I was VERY pleased with how the entire presentation came out. In the past, I have focused on Googling tips, validating websites, and how to use our library databases. However, this year I added in a fake news and information sorting part to it using the AWESOME website Checkology.
Overall, it's been a GREAT start to the year. I have many ambitions this year, but I need to maintain my focus on my primary one: my library space.
What are YOUR goals for the 2017-2018 school year? Let me know! We are all stronger together!
Hello everyone! So if you read my last blog post, you will have discovered that I started my Journey Towards Genrefication last month, and I hope my blog post helped and inspired some of your to take on the journey as well! As I started my journey, more and more I began to realize how important it was! Any doubt I had about genrefication was pretty much gone by the time I finished my goal for just the first week. So I wanted to take a moment to just jot down a few notes about how the beginning of my journey was going now that I've accomplished some work.
First, I've set out a schedule for myself. I've gone through my calendar, seeing who has already signed up for the library in March and April, and set out a schedule for myself for when I will be going through and weeding/categorizing nonfiction. Take a look at my April below.
What I've done is divided out our nonfiction into rows or sections and tackling each row or section on day at a time. I actually started this project in March one day a week. Because I was in the middle of our 9th grade health research projects, it was a little crazy on my end as I co-taught for a solid month with our health teachers! So I squeezed in once a week for weeding and categorizing. I'm hoping I can stick to this schedule above. However, I'm already behind! I think I have a plan to get caught up by the end of this week though. I've learned my lesson to be a little more flexible with my schedule. I have down in the details on my Google calendar exactly what section I will hit on that day, and I have definitely adjusted as I've gotten behind. April is the month I'll really be focusing on it, so you can see I'll be up to my eyeballs in books during this month! If all goes according to plan, I'll be done by May 5th!
So when I tackled my first row, and I already thanked myself that I didn't commit to any stickers. Row one consisted of everything from the 001's to about the 350's. As I mentioned above, if my belief in doing this was ever in doubt, after going through these sections, I have faith now!
So I took a step back and said to myself that I should weed a little further and evaluate my categories after I had weeded to see what was staying. In the end, I realized I needed to add a few categories and amend a few. Yeah for no stickers yet!
Here are the genres I ended up with:
A few were amended to clearly include other genres. For example, "Science" was now "Science and Technology." I don't believe I have enough books in my collection to support technology being it's own genre, but it fits in nicely with science. Later, I amended this again to read "Science and Invention" to incorporate the plethora of books we have on inventors and inventions! In addition to this, I amended "Health" to be "Health and Psychology." It just made it a bit more clear. In addition to this, I added the categories "Fun Facts" and "Self-Help and Inspiration."
It was one of those instances where I didn't think I had very many self-help books, but once I combined it with "Inspiration," I found the section started to flesh out more. Soon after, I encountered a TON of Chicken Soul for the Soul books. I weeded out all of them that weren't geared towards teens, but now I had a category where they could go.
Any books that have been on the table for a week go onto the cart. Any books that have been on the cart for over a week get boxed up. Boxes that have been there a while get officially surplussed! This is a simple system that has worked well in explaining it to TAs. The only problem has been that I'm moving a bit faster than the free books. So we've made some executive decisions about books we won't put out on the table and just directly surplus.
Next, I found it was EXTREMELY helpful once I reached about the 398's that the copy categories started lining up much more. I had whole shelves that were just "Myths and Legends" or "Nature and Animals." This made it easy for me to weed and then have a TA go back through and scan the books into the copy categories. This way, I could just set them up to scan and move onto the next section. This only really worked once I hit sections that had all books of one solid category though.
My last musing is that I'm excited to bring teachers in to take a look at what our collections holds and what I'm planning on weeding. I want to giver certain departments ownership over the collection. Many just may not know what we have. I want them to help me in deciding to keep something in our collection, make suggestions, and recognize what we have to offer.
I'm going to e-mail our art teacher right now. . . . .
So let me start with WHY I have decided to go this route. It fairly simple. Above all else. . . .I want students to read. And that's the big part: ABOVE ALL ELSE. I have been thinking for a while now that genrefication wasn't for me because it was more applicable to middle school and elementary school libraries. I was here to prepare kids of college. I needed to teach students how to find things in a library. I didn't want to rock the boat. There was no way I could do this with fiction because some books crossed over genres, and I didn't want students just sticking to one genre. I wanted them to explore them all!
And so on and so forth.
But it wasn't until CSLA this past year when we had the Queen of Genrefication, Tiffany Whitehead, as our keynote speaker that I began to open up my mind. And my long-held beliefs began to crumble because, again, above all else I wanted kids to read. Who cares if they just read all sci-fi books? Who cares if they don't know the Dewey Decimal System when they leave here? They will be readers. They will want to go to the library for resources. And that's the bottom line.
COME UP WITH A PLAN
Finally, before I touched a single book, I came up with a system of steps I was going to take to make the process as streamlined as possible within Destiny and the moving project in general. It is March, and I would like to have this project completed by the time we leave school. Yeah, I'm crazy.
So I needed a plan that would not completely disturb my library in the middle of the year, and I wanted to make sure I was efficient as possible. This is where the research really came in handy. So here is my process I will be going through. . . .
STEP ONE: WEEDING AND COPY CATEGORIES
I'll be going row by row in my nonfiction section and weeding first. Once the row is weeded, I will put the books into genres and use the "batch update" to scan in and change the category.
Wait, wait. . . .how did I do that? Take a look below.
As you will see above, these are the categories for nonfiction that I currently have, but I'm sure it will evolve. So I first created all of the categories under "Catalog" and then under the tab "Copy Categories." From there, I added all of the genres I eventually wanted my nonfiction to be in. IMPORTANT: Make sure the "Restricted" button is not checked. It will automatically be checked when you start this process.
As you can see, I have already started this process (just a little), so I have a few already in categories. If I click on "View" I will be able to see all the titles in that category.
I decided to mark the books with this first because it didn't have too much impact on Destiny on the student's end, but it gave me an excellent idea really quickly how many books we will have in each category. Through this, I will be able to decide how much space I need, how many stickers I will need, etc. Plus, through the copy category, I can globally change records pretty easily and quickly. I can also change call number prefixes, if I wish, globally as well. Thank you to Jennifer Sawyer who started me down this right path! I appreciate it!
So once all your copy categories are added, it's easy to update a bunch of titles into one copy category. Just use the batch update feature. Click on "Catalog," then "Update Copies," then "Batch Update." From there, select that you want to "Add Category" and select the copy category you would like to add to your books. Then just scan them all in and press update. Ta-da! All done!
STEP THREE: SUBLOCATION
Once all of the books are in categories, we will use the global update feature to add in a sublocation.
First, you need to add in the sublocations to match the different genres (or copy categories). The only way I have found to do this in Destiny is to go into editing a copy of ANY book. Then, you will click on "Other" by sublocation to add in different sublocations. Please watch the video below to see exactly how to add in the sublocations.
So to globally add in the sublocation into all of your books through the copy category, go into Catalog, then "Update Copies" on the left hand side, and then the "Global Updates" tab. From there, you can update the copy by category and add a sublocation globally.
I'm planning on doing this after I've gone through ALL of the nonfiction. So this step won't be done for a while. This is because adding the sublocation is something that students can see when they pull the book up in Destiny. I don't want any confusion mid-year, so I'm opting to do this once I'm ready to make the shift instead.
STE FOUR: SPACE, SIGNAGE, and STICKERS
So once I have all the copy categories added, I can evaluate how many copies of each genre we have and plan the move accordingly. We have one very long wall for our nonfiction and four short shelves towards the back of our library for nonfiction as well. My goal is to only have nonfiction on that long wall and knock out all of the lower shelving. Use the space for something else!
So that will mean cutting our nonfiction down by about 40% by my estimates. I'm up for the challenge, and I believe it is do-able as long as I keep chanting to myself, "Quality over quantity. . . .quality over quantity. . . ."
So once we know where exactly everything is going, we'll be able to start on signage and stickers for the project. Now, I did consider stickering everything as I was going along. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't I want to immediately know where all the genres are easily and quickly for the move?" A couple of things stopped me. . . .
First, I don't know how many stickers I will need AND the categories may change as I move along. I want to make sure I'm being efficient. Also, as I go through the rows, I will note what genres are in that row, so I can refer back to this as I pull a genre to relocate. Plus, I didn't want to confuse students or my library TAs that do all the shelving for us.
I just need to also make sure that as nonfiction books come back, my assistant is putting those books aside to get a copy category added to it before it goes back on the shelf. Important step!
Perhaps I am shooting myself in the foot and creating more work for myself by not stickering now. Time will tell. . . . .
STEP FIVE: DO THE MOVE!
And then, we do the move! Slowly but surely things will begin to evolve and change in the library, hopefully for the better. I'm hoping this will increase circulation in our nonfiction section, make it easier for students to find books they need for research, and make our library a more student-centered space!
Wish me luck! I've already started just a few sections, and it's already been an adventure. Back to it!
Well, it is a rainy week here in California, and I have just returned from CSLA (California School Library Association) for their annual conference inspired, excited, and. . . . .sick. Darnit. I would love to start running about putting some of my inspiration to use, but, alas, I am just trying to make it through the day today. My assistant is out ill, and I have my first classes coming through tomorrow and the next day for BreakoutEDU. Oh, and my daughter starts with her new nanny (a former student) on Friday. So. . . . . .it's going to be a long week!
But I thought this minor and temporary setback would be a good chance for me to sit down, take it easy for a day, and process all of my thoughts. So I have my cup of tea, a new desk chair (!), my piano music playing, and my pile of cough drops. Here was go. . . . .my big takeaways from CSLA 2017.
Well, if you want to get a room of librarians into a tizzy, go ahead and say that! I will admit, even I turned to my colleagues and said, "Yeah, that would work for elementary or middle school libraries, but a high school one? Forget it!"
So later I was accessing Tiffany's presentation materials from the keynote and the workshop I attended, I just started to browse through her presentation materials on "Ditching Dewey," a session I did not attend. . . . . .and I began to open my mind to the possibility of it.
And now, I'm in the planning stages of implementing it next year! I have made the compromise that I will not shelve fiction by genre. Fiction will stay separate, but my nonfiction. . . .we're going to have a date with weeding first, then color coding, ditching Dewey, and shelving my genre.
Exciting things to come! I'll be sure to chronicle my journey here. I'm looking forward to getting to know my non-fiction collection better.
#2: New Ways to Promote Library Services
A few interesting ideas came to light throughout multiple different sessions I attended on the role of librarians and how best to promote our services with our teachers and students. A few excellent light bulb moments happened that I plan to implement next year.
Light bulb idea #1: Ask my principal if I can be at the new teacher's orientation next year.
It was an excellent point someone made in a session. Many new teachers fresh out of high school may have no idea what a librarian can do for them because. . . .they never had one! California is ranked 50th (!) in the country for TL to student ratio! So these teachers may have no idea what a 21st century library looks like. It would be even better if the new teacher's orientation could happen in the library!
Light bulb idea #2: See if I can embed myself into a new cohort of teachers
Next year we have a history teacher, and English teacher, and a science teacher coordinating their units to use common language, common themes, crossover units, etc., and they will have the same set of students. I need to embed myself as a partner with these teachers! Help them bring in library resources, teach research skills, etc.
#3: Some Meetings I Need to Make
In addition to these new ways in which I would like to reach out to teachers, I have some ideas about how I would like to reach out beyond the walls of my library. . . even out of my district. . . . .to make my library better.
Meeting #1: Meeting with community college librarians
I attended a very revealing session on students that are placed in a remedial class when they enter community college and their success rates. To put it in a nutshell, if a student enters into community college and is place 2 remedial levels below, they have only a 14% chance of graduating. Those numbers are fairly staggering! So my fellow librarians and myself have decided that it's time we meeting with our local community college librarians to find out what we can do to help bridge the gap.
Meeting #2: Start going to the school board meetings of feeder schools
We are very fortunate in our district that we have four full time librarians and assistants in each of our libraries. However, our feeder schools are a completely different story. And our entire state is a completely different story! As I mentioned before, California is 50th (!) is TL to student ratios. And there is some very important legislation coming down the pipe to change all of that. So we need to start speaking at the school board meetings of our feeder schools, letting them know they are out of compliance and advocating to TLs in our middle and elementary schools, not just our high schools.
That's all for now! Another one of my promises was to keep up my blog more often. It's something I enjoy and want to get back to more. So hopefully you will join my on my genrefication process starting here soon.
Now to prepare for a rainy day lunch. . . . .YIKES!
BreakoutEDU is an extraordinary hands-on education activity based on the popular "escape room" phenomenon sweeping the world! If you have never done an escape room, you are missing out! It is one of our favorite date night activities, and we have a blast spending an evening puzzle solving!
I don't want to get into details about what Breakout EDU is. If you're not familiar with it, you can visit this video or their website for more information. I would like to spend this blog post concentrating on how to build an original game. While I am a certified "puzzle nut" and love a good escape room, I found myself floundering a bit when I tried to create my first original game.
I knew our AVID classes were interested in running BreakoutEDU for their classes as a general team building activity. So I set to work trying to create an original game for them because I wanted to go through the process of creating a game. Once my kits arrive (ANY DAY NOW!!), I am excited to run a workshop for teachers where they can experiece a Breakout in action! I wanted to be able to give them tips as well to creating their own game.
So here's what I discovered along the way as I created my first original BreakoutEDU game. . . . .
The idea was that the students were being recruited by Sherlock to become part of his investigative team, but they must past one last test. . . . .get into this box! After I figured out that theme, it helped when I went to figure out what puzzles I wanted to use.
You can search either "BreakoutEDU" or "Room Escape Puzzles" to uncover all kinds of interesting ideas from codes to ciphers to using technology in a Breakout. So explore Pinterest and pin some puzzles that seem interesting to you.
Tip #3: Use a brainstorming tool like Popplet
When I started brainstorming, I use the tool Popplet to be able to put all my thoughts for the clue paths in one place. Take a look below at what my final Popplet looked like for this BreakoutEDU Game: Sherlocked. Click on the picture to get a larger look.
You can see that Popplet allowed me to color coordinate my clue paths to specific locks. While this is the finished version, I was definitely NOT what my Popplet looked like on a daily basis! This Popplet morphed everyday into something new. What's also great about using Popplet is that you can share it with another person. So you and a collaborator can work together on the same puzzle, which I highly recommend! My husband helped me on this one.
Tip #4: When brainstorming, throw all interesting ideas up there
As you start to brainstorm, just like our students, it may seem difficult where exactly to start with creating your own original game. Your first step should be to put up there which locks you would like to use. Beyond that. . . . .where do you start? Well, for me I started with just throwing interesting puzzles I found on Pinterest or elsewhere up on the board in a different color. I used grey as a color on this Popplet for ideas I thought I might want to use, but I wasn't sure where exactly they would connect. Take a look at a few of the picture of my Popplet in different stages of development below.
As you can see from these images, my puzzle changed A LOT from the first stages until the end. It all started with just throwing ideas up there and moving things around, eventually connecting puzzles. Quite a few of my ideas were thrown out by the end of the process, and that's okay. I'm proud of the final version!
Tip #5: Make a good combination of physical and online puzzles
In the end, my game ended up having a blend of about 50-50 using online materials and physical materials in front of them. It can be easy to use the multitude of online puzzles, but one of the powerful parts of BreakoutEDU is getting them to use their observational skills. What is right under their nose? If they just looked at something a little more critically, what will they see? While having them do an online jigsaw puzzle might be efficent, why not have them do a physical one?
Tip #6: Make one puzzle easy, make another more difficult
While it might be easy to get caught up in these looooooooooooong clue paths that eventually lead to that one code they need, make sure that at least one or two of your puzzles is quickly solved. It gives students the satisfaction of getting that first lock open! It makes them want to continue. On the opposite end of the spectrum, have an idea of what you might want to have be the last lock they open. Make those clue paths longer. If you look in my clue paths, it's obvious that the 5 letter word lock and the small lock box are the easy and immediate boxes they will be able to open. However, the paths of the 4 digit lock and the directional lock will take them a much longer time!
Tip #7: Beta Test!
Make sure to beta test any games you do on a group of students or coworkers before you start running an original game with an entire class. I plan to beta test my game out on my assistant and IT guy once my boxes arrive. I have all the materials prepped and ready, and they are jazzed about being my guinea pigs! Beta testing your game will help you see if your clue paths are too long, if it's too difficult, if they end of going down the wrong path. . . .and you can get feedback on how to make your game stronger.
However, going to Room Escapes helped to prepare me for making clue paths. I even borrowed an idea from a room I've conquered for my Sherlock room escape. That test tube and liquid idea? Not mine. Totally a Room Escape steal. . . . .
Tip #9: Look at example games. . . .then alter them
The first BreakoutEDU that I worked on was a reworking of the Back to the Future game. I originally pulled the game thinking I could just use it as-is. However, as I examined it a bit futher, I began to come up with my own ideas that could work within the game. In the end, a couple of the clue paths were left untouched, but I managed to create at least one totally original clue path within the game. It was a nice stepping stone to creating my own original game.
Tip #10: Collaborate!
Two heads are better than one, right? This is especially true when it comes to building clue paths! Make sure to have a collaborator when creating your game. My husband was great about letting me bounce ideas off of him, and he helped me to declutter some clue paths.
All in all, I'm sure I will add to this list as time goes on, but I'm excited to try my first original game! I'll make sure to update you all as I beta test it and eventually run it with students!
Hyperdocs are all the rage right now in education, and I really thought I knew how to use them. So I didn't attend all the sessions at CUE on them, opting for more "high tech" sessions instead. However, in hearing a teacher talk about them, I realized it was a tool I was underutilizing as a librarian to streamline and guide research.
If you don't know what a hyperdoc is, it is, at it's most basic level, a Google Doc with hyperlinks to various websites and such embedded within the text of the document. Basically a digital worksheet. However, there is much more beyond that. Truthfully, it is a visually appealing interactive document that creators "carefully choose web tools to engage, explore, explain, apply, share, reflect, and extend the learning," according to hyperdocs.co.
As a librarian, I realized that I was underutilizing the power of hyperdocs when bringing information literacy to my students. Let me give you an example of a "before" and "after" lesson I would give students when they would come in for a research project.
This method typically resulted in decent research. However, students seemed have a hard time figuring out how to get to the main portal pages. In the database, they have to click "Browse Topics" in the upper left hand corner to see all the portal pages. Then they have to find their topic in a large list. . . . .it can be tedious for them. They tend to just search their topic, which could also link them to the portal page. However, I found myself having to re-teach them a lot.
I used a template on hyperdocs.co to create a visually appealing hyperdoc displaying all of the topics. Then underneath the topic I went into US History in Context and linked for them a variety of things. If you're not familiar with this, in Gale databases you can bookmark and link ANYTHING. Portal Pages, search pages, specific articles, etc. by going to page you would like to link (even a search page) and clicking the BOOKMARK tab at the top. You will be provided with a link to the page. I have found that students do not have to enter a password when pages are linked like this! One less step for them to access good resources.
I did not link EVERY article on these topics. They still have more they could explore, search, etc. through this database. At least these links get them in and interested in using this source. I found students were no longer on Wikipedia to get an overview of these topics. They were on our database instead! Plus, it allowed me to guide those students with more difficult topics right to sources that would help them.
Overall, this hyperdoc was a total hit! Students immediately went to the hyperdoc and started using good relaible resources to start! Wikipedia became a supplementary resource, not their main one.
In addition to this, the students did indeed make a copy of the document and share it to take notes and compile their works cited page, which made me happy! This addition took the hyperdoc to the next level or engaging them as oppossed to being a digital worksheet.
I look forward to creating more hyperdocs in the future to guide studnet research. If you are interested in using them, I encourage you to explore hyperdocs.co to find templates teachers have used and more inspiration. Teachers Give Teachers is an excellent part of their website where teachers have shared hyperdocs with the world to steal, modify, and use for whatever means you would like!
As I put together the Google Form for the student mock presidential election, I began to think to myself, "How can I display these results?" Even better, I began to think, "How can I display these LIVE results?!" And there came the challenge for the day. . . . .
So the government and econ teachers approached me to help with putting together their mock presidential election, which is done only with the senior class. Of course, my first thought was to use Google Forms! Perfect for this situation.
If you are thinking about using Google Forms in this kind of capacity, there are a few settings you should know about first.
Next, I knew that from the Google Form I could see a summary of the responses, but only those I shared the form with could see these responses. What if I wanted the entire staff to be able to view it. Or all of the students? And what if I wanted them to be able to see LIVE updates? I didn't just want to screenshot this. I wanted to have something dynamic. . . .and that's where my Google Sheets skills had to come into play!
First, I opened up my form results in Google Sheets, and I made a new Sheet. In this new sheet, I compiled the responses from the form responses onto Sheet2. To start, I renamed the sheet "Form Responses 1" to just "Sheet1." It simply made my functions easier.
Next, I used the COUNTIF function in sheets. What this function does is count the number of times a certain answer occurs in a cell range area. Take a look at my example below:
You can see that it is exactly the same as the Clinton function, only I changed the response it was looking for. The result was that it found this text 88 times in that row. So I went through and used this same function for ALL of the results, adjusting along the way as needed. For example, when I was figuring out the results from the US Senate race, the function looked like this:
You can see that I changed not only the text it was looking for, but I changed the ROW it was looking in as well. We are no longer looking in row B for this result. We're looking in row C because this is the next question on the Google Form.
After I was done creating all of the tables for everything the students were voting on, I created pie charts from those tables.
I copied this embed code into my website (I won't explain how because every website builder works a little different). By doing it this way, the results of the Google Form are refreshed every 5 minutes to give up-to-date results!
This took a LONG time to process in my brain, but I was excited to try out some new Google Sheets skills of mine! This was MUCH better than just doing some screenshots throughout the day.
Take a look at the video below for how it turned out! This was a great experiment that had a BIG learning curve! But I'm proud of the results.
I'm in the midst right now of studying to take my Level 2 Google Certified Educator exam, and along the way I have discovered a few things about Google Tools that have proven to be very useful to me. So I thought I would share them in this blog post. Just small things to make your life a bit easier!
#1: Alerts in Comments
We've all been there. A document is shared with us, and we notice that there is a mistake. However, we only have the right to comment, not edit. Or perhaps we are working on a collaborative document together, and I want to make sure someone knows right away that I need them to add information they have into the document. What I might do is open up an e-mail and e-mail that person to let them know to make the changes. However, there is an easier way.
This is an actual presentation that myself and two other teachers are giving at the staff meeting on this Wednesday, and you can see I tagged them to alert them to add in hyperlinks to their documents. I also alerted one of them that their link wasn't working. Both of them were alerted via e-mail and fixed the issue. Easy!
#2: Table for a Text Box
One of the things Word documents have over Google Docs are the fact that you can set in text boxes. I miss text boxes in Google Docs. At least we now have columns in Google Docs! However, we don't have those text boxes. If you just need a simple text box, try putting in a 1X1 table instead. I talked about this in an earlier blog post on Creating Better Fillable Worksheets for Google Classroom.
#3: Use Google Slides for a Document
#4: Preview Pane in GMail Labs
When our school went GAFE, I was reluctant to switch from Outlook to GMail. However, when I was on maternity leave, I forced myself to because I HATED the web version of Outlook. As I began to work in GMail, I found myself liking it more and more because everything was now seamless. However, I missed my preview pane of an e-mail in my GMail.
However, that all changed with the discover of Labs in GMail. Click the gear wheel in the upper right hand corner of your GMail and then select settings. Once you have the settings open, you will see a tab on top for Labs. In Labs, you can enable a Preview Pane so your GMail looks like the picture below.
This was MUCH more comfortable for me! I enabled it now for all of my Google accounts!
#5: Use GMail filters to streamline your inbox
This is an e-mail that went into my Spam folder for some reason. Frustrating because it was that someone wrote a comment in a Google Doc! So I want to create a filter so this doesn't happen again and it comes to my main inbox.
NOTE: I discovered after doing this that these filters do not go through your current Spam or Trash. Therefore, if you want anything moved out of there, you need to do that yourself. However, going forward messages will go to your inbox,
So there you go! 5 small Google Tech Tips that have made my life much easier. I hope you find that they make your life easier as well!
November 8th is fast approaching here, and I'm sure we all can't wait for it to be finally over! However, an election year does present us with a wonderful opportunity to discuss politics in a very real way with our students, especially with those that happen to be 18 and can vote!
I'm helping the government and econ teachers at my school hold a mock student election this year. In addition to voting on the major party tickets, here in California we have 15 state propositions to vote on! The teachers selected what they wanted to vote on (spoiler alert: NOT all 15!), and I helped to set up a Google Form for them. A wonderful new feature of Google Forms with GAFE is that it can limit a student to one response if they sign into their school account first. This works perfectly with the Chromebooks on campus. Students are automatically signed into their accounts, and when they put in the short URL, they can only vote once. If they try to get to the Form again, it will say they have already voted and cannot vote again. This is a big set up for Forms. Previously, you could only do this in something like Survey Monkey.
Since I helped to set everything up and at least one of the teachers is going to pass through here, I decided to set up a Presidential display. At first, I thought about just setting out some presidential biographies, but I wanted to garner a little more interest that My Life by Bill Clinton or Decision Points by George W. Bush would! So I introduced a little bit of presidential trivia. . . .
You can see in my pictures above that I created the display in our main display area and created small flip cards of fun presidential trivia that has actually piqued the student's interest over the past day or so that it's been up. Eventually, I will find room to post the results of the student mock election as well. You can check out my presidential trivia below. How well will you do?
You can access your own copy of this trivia to use here. This link will prompt you to make your own copy in your Google Account. Please feel free to use and share!
Until November 8th when we start to change things up. . . . . .
This past weekend was an absolute WHIRLWIND of activity, but there's is nothing like come home from an amazing professional development conference jazzed and excited to implement the things you learned and share with your colleagues. I'm sitting here on the Monday after the Fall CUE conference trying to process everything that I experienced. Always difficult after something like this! So I decided to come up with my top 5 takeaways from Fall CUE as a good jumping off point.
She introduced us to the "Granddaddy of AR" first: Aurasma. This is the app where you can make "Auras" come to life OR create your own Aura using the app. This app that can be downloaded on iOS and Andriod devices, allows you to create AR in your classroom. . . .or library. The thing that shocked me the most was how incredibly simple it was.
First, just sign up for a free account on Aurasma. The create your own Aura. It's only three steps. Step one: Upload your "trigger image." I took a picture of the cover of The Fault In Our Stars for my trigger image and then uploaded it into the Aurasma Studio.
Step two: Create Overlays. I had downloaded onto my computer the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars. I uploaded the trailer into the Aurasma Studio and placed it in the center of the book. I also selected what color I wanted to outline to be.
Step three: Finalize my Aura. All I needed to do was name it. Once it was named, I made sure to Share it so anyone could find it and access it, which is what I would want with this Aura.
It was actually quite simple to make some Auras, and the possibilities of how this could work in education is actually really amazing. For example, bring Open House to life for parents visiting by capturing video that is triggered by pictures you have around the room. Or perhaps you can have picture of students with the last book they read for a book report. Students (or parents) use Aurasma to bring the picture to life with the student talking about that book. What about the yearbook? Bring your yearbook to life! Or the school newspaper. Or a poster for the fall play or spring musical. So many amazing things you could do.
Check out a couple of ways I used it below. I don't have sound with these videos, but you'll get the idea. The first one, I used the cover of a book as a trigger and then did an overlay of the movie trailer. In the second one, I have a still picture of myself giving a book talk, but it comes to life in a video with the Aurasma app.
Takeaway #2: BreakoutEDU is a fantastic way to enrich your lessons, reinforce key concepts, and incorporate real life skills.
For quite some time now, I've been wanting to bring a room escape into the library. I'm a total nerd for a good room escape (I mean, I have a whole team I play with. . . . .I'm that hard core), and I've always felt that it would work so well in a school setting. For those not in the know, a room escape is where you are "locked" in a room with a group and need to escape that room through a series of themed puzzles in 60 minutes.
They provide templates to create your own game, and they even have open source instructions for your to create your own kit if you don't want to buy one from them pre-made. Their open source instructions include links to Amazon of all their supplies. BreakoutEDU gets a little kick back if you go through their website to buy these locks. I was told in my session that if you were to buy your own, it cost pretty much the same as their $89 plastic kit. However, if you buy through BReakoutEDU, you can be tax exempt as a school if you order through a PO.
Can you imagine the fun of building your own game that emphasizes exactly what you just taught as a fun wrap-up to the unit? Students really get into this competitive game, especially if you theme it out!
Takeaway #3: A 360 Degree Camera is a unique way to tell your school's story
One of my tasks this year is to help my school tell their story better. I'm working on a podcast currently to help that process, but one of the tools I discovered at CUE was a 360 degree camera. And the king of 360 degree cameras was the Theta.
Now what in the world would I do with this camera? Well, a lot of things actually. My goal is to purchase one for the library in order to tell our school's dimensional story. We're not just a headline or boiled down into one tweet. We have a lot going on.
For example, could you imagine a 360 video of a rally? How about graduation? How about checking it out to teachers when they go on field trips? What about creating a 360 degree video as a promotion for the spring musical?
With the Theta, it comes with a phone app so you can remotely trigger it as well, which give you more amazing possibilities. Not to mention that Thinglink is a presentation tool that supports 360 photos.
It could be a fantastic tool to help tell the school's story.
Takeaway #4: Reverse Image Search is an excellent tool to help students find accurate images
Every year, I do a Health of the Planet Project with the freshmen health classes. It is a cornerstone project in which we teach students how to research responsibily, cite their sources, write a script, and put together a presentation. However, one of the things I have overlooked as a librarian is citing images.
After taking a Research Using Google Tools class though, I may have changed my mind on not having students check their images or cite them. Take a look below at the video for how Google Image Search can work.
This class really made me think about having students go through the process of having to cite their images, especially for images that are timely in nature. Even if I don't do a citation, making them write a caption would help, and it would also give me the opportunity to talk to them about usage rights.
Takeaway #5: I need to be involved with the purchase of our 3D printer for next year
We are looking at purchasing a 3D printer for next year using CTE one-time money, and so I attended a seminar from two tech coaches who talked about their 3D printer experience over the past year. Funny enough, I was in the session with my VP, who was a little surprised to see me there at first. She asked me why I was attending the sessions, so I explained to her about the idea of creating a makerspace in the library and explained about how having a 3D printer in a makerspace was a big movement in libraries. She had me explain what a makerspace was, and I inquired if anyone else aside from CTE was going to be able to use the 3D printer. She replied only CTE was going to be able to use it and she was going to put it in the S-lab. . . . . . . .hopefully this session might have her rethinking that.
So it was nice to have my thoughts validated in front of my VP by these ladies! We'll see how it all goes down, but I know I want to be involved in some way.
Honorable mentions. . . . .
A couple of honorable mentions go to the ladies in the 3D printing seminar. They utilized the new presenter view in Google Slides when they were giving their presentation. You can access this by clicking the downward arrow next to the present button and select "Presenter view." You can take a look at what it looks like below.
There is a short URL that stays on your entire presentation all the way through. Your audience can go to that link and type in questions as you present. Therefore, every now and then as they were presenting, they were able to answer questions that popped up in the window. They could even share these questions out with their students. See picture below.
It worked very well for the situation. It might take a bit of a learning curve with students though to make sure they ask appropriate questions, especially because there's a way to ask anonymously!
There is also a place for the presenter to bring up their speaker notes they have written down in the bottom of the slide and to move from slide to slide. All you need to do is click on the next slide. (It's in the red box below.)
In addition to this, I hope that fellow teachers noticed that nearly all of the presenters were using Google Slides. I feel like a good chunk of our teachers here still present in Power Point, and I KNOW our admin always uses PowerPoint or Word. Make the shift!
Great conference! This blog post helped me gather and decompress from the conference. Next will be prioritizing what I want to tackle. . . . . . .
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University
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