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. . . . . . .
Starting this year, I'm going to do a few blog posts here and there on some of my favorite tools I use as a teacher librarian that I couldn't do this job without! The very first tool I'd like to highlight is PicMonkey. This is a tool I seriously could not live without!
PicMonkey is an online photo editing website that you can use for free OR upgrade your account for $33 for an entire year. This is money I am willing to spend every year as a librarian because I feel this service is invaluable to me and quite a bargain for what you get out of it!
How do I use PicMonkey? Take a look at a few ways in which I use it to create signage and promotional materials below.
You can see that I use PicMonkey for a variety of signage reasons. From promoting new books to NonFiction signage, to genre signage, to letting students know the books I am reading and enjoying! Oh, and all of my headers for my blog posts and social media thumbnails are created in PicMonkey!
Much of the fonts and clip art used for this signage was provided by PicMonkey with their wonderful library of built-in clip art and fonts. PicMonkey also allows you to use not only your own pictures but your own FONTS that you have installed on the computer you are using! It simply brings this tool to a new level.
Speaking of bringing things to a new level, this past year PicMonkey has done some amazing upgrades to it's product for users and especially Royale users. First, they added in a "Hub." The Hub is where you can store projects you are currently editing and working on. Previously, you had to create a product pretty much in one fell swoop. They did not have any project saving features on their website. Now with the Hub, you can save your project there and return to it later. This is a HUGE upgrade!
In addition to this, they recently came out with templates. See the picture below.
Now you can use their templates to create a wide variety of things from invitations to announcements to social media posts, etc. All of it incorporates their own clip art and fonts and everything is customizable. Again, another awesome upgrade!
If you think this is just a tool that has some clip art built in with a few templates, then you are mistaken! There is so much more beyond just this. For example, they have awesome editing tools for "touch up" as they call it. Check out the picture below. . . .
In their "touch up" section, you basically Photoshop an image without having to know Photoshop. They have simple tools that will allow you to "wrinkle reduce," "airbrush," "blemish fix," "teeth whiten," "eye brighten," etc. They are really simple to use and give decent results.
In addition to this, they also have many different "themes" throughout the year. They group together various "touch ups," clip art, fonts, backgrounds, etc. within a certain theme. For example, right now we are approaching Halloween, and they have many different Halloween themes that will allow you to do a variety of things from making a picture of yourself look like a vampire or zombie to Halloween theme clip art to fonts that would work for Halloween. These themes change throughout the entire year, and I find them very useful to find what I want quickly!
Finally, PicMonkey has an excellent tutorials page! You can explore it HERE.They'll teach you have to do everything from how to make custom phone wallpaper to photo editing for beginners to creating pop art to how to mask text. Things you never even knew you wanted to do, you will discover with PicMonkey.
Overall, PicMonkey might be my very favorite tool! Tune in again to Our Lively Library to hear about another invaluable tool I use as a TL everyday. Now off to make some awesome graphics. . . . .
Last year, I was inspired by this pin I saw on Pinterest of 2 sentence horror stories. I pinned it away on my "Marian the Librarian" board, thinking eventually it might morph into some sort of interesting contest. This year, the at the beginning of the year, I was trying to put together an outline of my library programming for the year when I stumbled along this pin again. I decided to throw it into my October library programs and create a 2 Sentence Scary Story Contest. In addition to this, on Prime Day I managed to snag a $40 Kindle Fire, so I was able to offer that as a prize!
Here's how the whole contest was run and put together to make it a manageable feat!
Now what are the nuts and bolts for how exactly all of that got accomplished?!
First, I met with all the English teachers at a department meeting and told them about my idea, encouraging them to use it in their classes as a warm-up or an extra credit opportunity. The teachers were great, and even some of them thought of it as an opportunity to re-teach the use of semicolons!
Then I created a few things to get students start. I created a Google Form for students to submit their 2 Sentence Scary Story, I created a short 2 minute video through Animoto of some examples to get them inspired, and then I compiled all of that into the following presentation that I pushed out to the English teachers.
As you can see in the above presentation that I shared with all of the English teachers, I have the timeline for the contest, an embedded You Tube video of the examples I created in Animoto, and a shortened URL for students to enter on Chromebooks or a phone. to enter into the contest.
We set up a a display in our main display area with a few book spine pumpkins, ghosts, and monsters to give it a festive edge! At first, the cards on the display had examples to inspire the students, but eventually we started getting enough entries in to display some good 2 Sentence Scary Stories in the library. This is when I started going through the Google Sheet created by the Google Form and put the qualifying stories in blue text so they stood out. Then I created a template in Google Slides for the good 2 sentence scary stories, and my assistant went through the Google Sheet and copied and pasted the stories into the template. Eventually, we ended up with around 30 good stories to display in the library as contenders for the top 10.
Right now, we are in the midst of voting. I will update this blog post when we crown a winner on Halloween! This has been an amazing contest so far, and I'm so glad I went through all the trouble of putting it together!
UPDATE: We crowned out winner! Here is the winning 2 Sentence Scary Story! The young lady who wrote it was THRILLED with her Kindle Fire!
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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