Friday, April 18, 2014

The iPad PD Continues, But Now We Have Ninjas!

I described our first four iPad sessions in a previous post so I wanted to share the latest sessions.

5th Session: Evernote
For homework we asked our teachers to load Evernote Webclipper to their laptops and load the Evernote app onto their iPads.
We shared several great Evernote Youtube videos to introduce them to the many uses for this service. Together we went through the steps to creating a checklist and adding the Evernote email address to our contact list. We shared ideas for using Evernote in the classroom including sharing and turning in work, saving important parent emails, creating lesson plan notebooks, using Penultimate for notes, StudyBlue for flashcards that integrate with Evernote, and the cool Post It Note options.
Evernote is such a robust application that I think we went overboard and scared some of the teachers. At the end of the session we asked them to open Aurasma and follow our school channel to prepare for our next session and a few teachers had a freak out moment because they were overwhelmed with so much information.
Our original plan was to have the teachers participate in creating a bulletin board using Aurasma answering our yearbook theme of "What Makes You Soar?". Due to the panic we decided to fall back and punt. Instead I asked each teacher to send me a picture representing their answer to the question and I had my library helpers go around and video the teachers answering the question so that I could put the board together myself. We also sent out a quick survey requesting feedback on the sessions so far as well as asking them if they wanted to stay at the same speed or slow down.
We used this information to differentiate our next PD session on Nearpod.

6th session: Nearpod
For homework they had to turn in the picture for the Aurasma board, load the Nearpod app and bring a previously made Power Point to the session.
This time I took the ones that wanted to slow down into a separate room while my partner in crime, Kristen G., kept the others in the library.
We had 12 teachers that wanted to slow down so we took it one step at a time and went through a Nearpod session we created then I helped them load their own presentation and insert activities. The teachers' responses were very positive. They felt more comfortable in a small group and several of them mentioned that in the library as a whole group they felt like everyone was ahead of them, causing them to panic. One teacher said "Now I know how my students feel when I go fast in class."
On our way out we all stopped by the Aurasma board that I put together and let them watch the augmented reality videos. They thought it was really cool.

7th session: Digital Storytelling
For homework we asked teachers to watch this video, answer a short survey choosing one digital storytelling app and then load that app onto their iPad. Teachers had a choice of these apps: Toontastic, Pixntell, Animation Express, Haiku Deck, Fotobabble, Chatterpix, Voicethread, Puppet Pals HD, Book Creator, and Storehouse. I worked with 8 of our gifted and talented 6th grade students to prepare for this meeting. I assigned each of them an app or two to learn so that they would be on hand to help each group create a product during the meeting. We called the students Tech Ninjas and we ordered shirts for them. The students were a huge help! Several teachers asked if they could come to every meeting. After each teacher created a product in their app they had to pick their favorite from the group to share with everyone. This allowed them to only learn one app, but gain exposure to all of them. We shared the products at the end of the meeting and had a good laugh at some of them. The teacher that had their product shared won a bluetooth speaker and earbuds with built in microphone.

8th session: Pages, Keynote and iMovie
Homework for this session was assigned before our Spring Break. To prepare for this session teachers had to go through a Nearpod homework session describing iMovie's basic features and then create one of their own. When we return from the break we will share a few of these to get us started then we have cheat sheets created for Pages and Keynote. The Tech Ninjas will be on hand to assist as teachers spend 30 minutes on each app going through the cheat sheets and trying out the tools. As an exit ticket we will have a Padlet projected on the screen asking teachers to share ways that they plan to use the iPads in their lessons.

Our last two sessions will focus on lesson planning. We've spent a lot of time learning the basics and exposing the teachers to apps (50 total!), but now it is time to put it into action. I will share the details as we get closer.

News of our successful iPad training has spread across the district and I was asked to lead four sessions with one of my feeder elementary schools. This school has had a rough experience with iPad carts so I wanted to make this as fun and positive as possible.
We started with Nearpod. I created a short presentation of a few fun apps they could use right away such as Name Selector, Sand Timer, Kahoot, Groovy Grader, Too Noisy and Stage Whiteboard, but the real goal was to show the activities that can be built into a Nearpod presentation. Their App Task was to create a background for their lock screen using Pic Collage. This is an app task we did with our faculty and they loved it. Pic Collage is very easy to use and fun. When they finished that task (I knew we would have a wide variety of ability levels) I had another Nearpod session launched as a homework session so they could go through the slides at their own pace. This presentation had apps divided by subject category. Before this session I surveyed the staff and asked them what they would like to learn. I made sure to have slides devoted to the things they asked for like reading, notebooking, and the related arts. They also asked for places to find good apps so at the end of the session they were taken to a few sites like Best Apps for Kids and Appitic. Finally I had a handout with a QR code on it that led them to a Padlet where they shared their favorite takeaway from the day. We ended with a drawing for iPad prizes and they scanned a QR code that took them to a Google Form where they signed in to receive technology credit for the session. The teachers were very excited about what they learned and what they wanted to learn in our future sessions. I left with two iPads to fix and shared a Dropbox folder with them with all the instructions for the apps we used.
My next session is in two weeks and I have a QR Code App Safari planned. I know with only four sessions I need to cram in as much as possible without overwhelming them so I created slides for each of our district's core creation apps (plus a few more) with a QR code that takes them to product examples and instructions. We'll start the session with a Socrative question asking them to share one positive experience with the iPad that they have had in recent weeks. Then they will be able to walk around the room and scan QR codes to explore the different apps. As they move around I'm going to project a Today's Meet session on the board and ask them to share ideas as they explore. The exit ticket will be to create a short app explanation for one of their favorites using Ask3. I did recently read that Ask3 is closing in August, but I wanted to expose them to screencasting. I like the bulletin board feature in Ask3 and still feel it is a good one to use for this purpose. When it goes away they can still use Educreations, Show Me, ScreenChomp or another option. Their homework is to use one of the apps that they explored to create something that will be turned in to me using the app Showbie.

Many teachers say that they want to know how to use the apps, not just a list of apps so I'm trying my best to model app usage in my own sessions with Socrative, Padlet, Showbie, QR codes, etc and talk about how I modeled it at the end of each session.

If you'd like any more details or the presentations for any of these sessions don't hesitate to contact me. I'm happy to share and eager to hear your ideas for faculty professional development.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't Let Those Kindles Go to Waste

A few days ago I received this comment on an old post about using Kindles with my students. It was actually perfect timing because when we transition to 1:1 with iPads I will have to be creative in using the 12 Kindles that I have at my school.

I have 20 Kindles (old style, not Fire) in my library closet just sitting there :( They have only one or two books loaded onto them due to the high cost of loading ebooks to the entire set ($5.00 a book x 20 = way too much of my library budget). My principal wants me to use them somehow, but I am lost. She is on the fence about letting students check them out like regular books. I don't know any other way to use them. Can you please give me some ideas on how to use them affordably, or should I just try to get rid of them all together?

I love this question and it really got me thinking. Here are a few of my ideas. Please add your ideas and suggestions in comments.

1. If you're not comfortable checking out the Kindles you could encourage teachers to use them with students with reading accommodations, reading resource students or reluctant readers. Ereaders can entice those hard to motivate students sometimes.

2. Have the student and parent sign a form before checking out to put your principal at ease. Even if a device is damaged or lost it is better than letting it sit in a cabinet unused until it is completely out of date.

3. Search for free books to load onto the devices. Sometimes you can find older titles that are still used by teachers for class novels or literature circles.

4. Designate certain Kindles for different genres. If you don't have the funds to load every title on every device you could create a "Fantasy" Kindle, "Science Fiction" Kindle, and so on. 

5. Allow teachers to use them after setting up a Netgalley account. 

6. Create a student book review club and help them to create Netgalley accounts so that they can preview books, share book reviews on a school blog, and read Advanced Reader Copies from Netgalley.

7. If you have no use for them in school anymore you could use these for a raffle or prizes. Many students would be thrilled to have this device to use at home. 

What else can my readers think of to share? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

iPad PD in Action

Every teacher in our district was given an iPad (if they did not already have a school purchased device) in preparation for a possible 1:1 iPad program next year. As I mentioned in my previous post, we've been putting together professional development sessions to help our teachers get ready.

Here is a run down of what we've done so far.

1st session
Teacher homework before the session was to sign up for a Dropbox account and make sure Dropbox and Popplet Lite apps were on their iPads. I recommend sending out a Dropbox invite so that you'll earn more space.
When they came in they were asked to sit by subject area groups and we served Pumpkin Latte. You can find tons of crockpot recipes on Pinterest for this drink.
We served this drink to go along with the video we started the session with.
The SAMR model explained using Coffee. We emphasized that we want our goal to be Redefinition when using technology, not just Substitution.
We showed the teachers how to use Dropbox. We used Squirrel Reflector so they could see that the document we saved on the laptop was now accessible on the iPad.
Then we used this awesome App Task Challenge from Craig Badura so that the teachers could learn and practice using Popplet Lite. His challenges were recently highlighted on the Learning in Hand blog. I contacted Craig on Twitter and he was happy to share his challenges. We're working on lots more of our own and plan to share with him as well.
Teachers had to create one Popplet use the instructions on the challenge and one as group listing ways they could use this app in their subject. Those products were emailed to me and I put them in a shared Dropbox folder for all the faculty to see.
Finally we used the app, Name Selector, to draw names for prizes.

2nd session
Teacher homework was to bring an app to share and download Pic Collage, Tellagami, Mastery Connect, Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student.
Again teachers sat as a subject group. We had the Socrative question up on the Smartboard asking them to share an app. It was our hope that we can model apps in our PD sessions to give them ideas for their own classroom.
We briefly talked about the Mastery Connect Common Core app and we had three teachers that currently use Class Dojo share their experiences with using that app to monitor behavior.
Again we used one of Craig's App Smash Challenges. This time it was Pic Collage and Tellagami. An App Smash is when you have to use one app's product in another app to create a final product.
Teachers were asked to email their completed Gamis to me for sharing in the Dropbox folder.
We only shared the instructions in the shared Dropbox folder to encourage the teachers to get accustomed to sharing documents through the app.
We wrapped it up with another prize give away.

3rd session (scheduled for this week)
Teacher homework was to download Kaywa, Animoto, Remind 101 and Apps Gone Free. They have to bring six images that relate to their next topic of study so that they will be ready to create a video and create an educator account on Animoto and Kaywa if they did not already have one.
Finally they were asked to use one of three backgrounds that my PD co-teacher, Kristen G., created to make a lock screen background. All of our iPads have the same cases so we wanted lock screens with the teacher and school name prominently displayed. Teachers were asked to chose a background from the shared Dropbox folder and then create an image in Pic Collage with their name added. This is their entrance ticket to the meeting.
We plan to share Remind 101 and Apps Gone Free and have them complete an App Task Challenge using Animoto. This challenge was created by Kristen Hearne, our instructional technologist.
When their Animoto video is complete, teachers must generate a QR code to the url and save it to images. Then they have to ask me, Kristen G, or one of our principals to scan the code to watch the video. This is their exit ticket.
We will end the meeting with more prizes.

Our 4th session will be a little different. We had to use iPad carts for some teachers during the first few meetings because all of our iPads were not here yet. Now that they are here we know that some of our teachers need some Apple basics. We created a presentation called "A is for Apple". This presentation covers things like taking a screen shot, redeeming an app code and other basic functions we want all teachers to know. We have teachers at all levels so we created an assessment. Those that can come to me or Kristen G. and show that they know these basics get to opt out of the training. Those that need more help will be asked to attend. However, our district recently purchased Blackboard so we are working on recording this training and having a "flipped" PD. Teachers will be asked to watch the recording then come in to show that they now know the basics. We're hoping this will be helpful to the other schools in our district that are also trying to prepare their teachers.

The response in our school has been fantastic. The sessions are fun and active. Other schools are using and adapting our sessions and we're having a great time learning together.

I'd love to hear about how you make PD fun at your school.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Preparing the Library for 1:1

My school district is currently investigating the possibility of going 1:1 next year, probably with iPads. I've read about other 1:1 schools in the past, but now that it is being considered in my district, I've really been researching and preparing, specifically reading about how the library can be ready.
I started bookmarking articles and created a Pinterest board, but I wanted to do more. I surveyed my Tweeps and had a few kind librarians email me to share their experiences. I wanted an easy way to organize all of the information so I created a short survey they I emailed and tweeted out. Here are the results compiled into a Google doc. Yeah, only 13 responses, but it gave me food for thought so it was still worth the time.
Here are a few things that really stuck out to me.
  • Circulation will change. Expect more circulation of ebooks, especially for nonfiction. I've been reserving some of my book budget this year to purchase more ebooks and I've met with one of my district administrators about a grant that we may apply towards ebooks.
  • Fewer teachers come into the library space for research and may leave out the librarian completely. One librarian reported going into the classroom for research instruction, which will be problematic for me because I do not have an assistant; therefore, if I go into the classroom I will probably have to lock the library. I'm not ruling this out though. For me I think part of the answer to this issue is flipped library lessons. If the teachers don't feel that they have the time or need to come to the library for research, I'll let the library come to them. I've already asked my teachers for lessons that they may need in addition to lessons I've been brainstorming. I think I'll use Educreations to record the lessons.
  • Budgets either stayed the same or decreased even though ebooks are usually more expensive. In our annual school board library report it might be wise for us to include the cost of ebooks. I think many people have the misconception that they are cheaper. I don't want to approach this in a complaining manner, but I do think it is important for us to share the we will still need a book budget to ensure that our collection meets the needs of a 1:1 environment. A larger collection of ebooks brings on other challenges such as book promotion and instruction for check out. I've seen some creative book displays for ebooks that I plan to try. I also plan to have a "Library in Your Pocket" orientation for students so that I can show them how to use the apps they will need including Destiny Quest and Easy Bib.
  • The library website is used more often. I'll definitely need to put some time and energy into updating the website, making it mobile friendly, and promoting the site as the gateway for research. I'm leaning towards Symbaloo right now, but I'm still reading and looking at examples.
Before Christmas break we had a meeting with all of our librarians and some of our district administration. Our main goal was to review our new job description (Thanks Jennifer LaGarde for the inspiration) and talk about our role in a 1:1 school. We discussed some of the items above and had a (ahem)... lively discussion about the changing role of the librarian. As a group, a lot of our time is still spent on program administration type duties such as checking books in/out, shelving, etc. We discussed some of our coping strategies for getting away from the circulation desk. I'm not sure how productive the discussion was, but as technology begins to demand more of our attention, things will have to change. 
As it often goes in meetings with more than a few people, we didn't finish everything on our agenda, but a few of us are meeting when we return to talk more about flipped library lessons and items we might need to purchase. I've already purchased one charging station and hope to get a few more. I'm also considering buying earbuds with microphones to sell or check out, portable speakers, styluses, and maybe a large monitor for screen sharing in collaborative groups.
As Jennifer LaGarde mentions in her list of 11 Questions (About Libraries) That Need Answers I've been thinking about what keeps my principal up at night. I'm sure that as we get closer to seeing 1:1 happening, our principals are all concerned about how we can prepare. I asked my principal if I could meet with him about technology before we left for break. He told me to schedule the meeting on our calendar and invite the faculty that I thought should be there. Yay! My principal, assistant principal, two tech savvy teachers/leaders and I met to talk about our plans. We discussed some possibilities for next year if we go 1:1 and we made a teacher professional development plan for learning all about the iPad. All teachers in our district will have iPads in the next few weeks so we are planning twice a month faculty meetings. We're going to be learning how to use at least one creation app, one productivity app and one classroom management strategy each meeting. Our principal was kind enough to give us a budget for prizes such as iTunes gift cards. We're making faculty App Task Challenges. Teachers will sit with their same subject teachers and work on the challenge together as well as sharing ideas for how they can use the app in class. We'll explore productivity apps as well as apps that teachers can use in class like Class Dojo and Stick Pick. Our teachers will win prizes, have fun, earn technology renewal credits, share ideas with each other and, hopefully, get comfortable with the iPads and use them to the fullest. I shared my plans with the other librarians and hope that they will do something similar at their schools. Don't wait on your principal to ask you! Ask for some time to share your ideas and see where it takes you.
I have to give credit to our district's first instructional technologist (and former librarian), Kristen Hearne. She's been kind enough to let me help with some of the district wide staff development including the App Task Challenges. She's doing an awesome job this year and I'm proud to see her represent librarians so well and show the entire district what an asset a librarian can be.
I'm excited about the discussion of 1:1 and I'm going to do my best to ensure that the library is ready for this change.
I would love to hear your ideas, advice and suggestions if you are in a 1:1 school.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Improving the Library Experience

I have been thinking a lot about customer service lately. Two of my favorite places to eat and shop are Publix and Chick-Fil-A. If you're not in the south you may not be familiar with these two chains, but I love them. Publix's slogan is "Where shopping is a pleasure." And for me I can say it is. One of the only things I miss from my previous home is a nearby Publix grocery store. The employees are so nice and they do not act irritated if you ask a question. Chick-Fil-A is the same. The employees are friendly and go out of their way to help you. After ordering they usually say "It's my pleasure." There's that word again.
The way these two businesses treat their customers and the way they train their employees does make visiting a pleasure. How can I translate this into the library?
Do I help every student and teacher with a smile? Or do I act annoyed if I'm interrupted?
I consider myself a patient person, but I know there have been times when I've probably acted annoyed. I think I'm going to put a little Publix and Chick-Fil-A logo somewhere near my computer to remind me how much my attitude can affect those that come into the library.
Are my library helpers pleasant to visiting students? Do I need to spend more time training them to be helpful and friendly?
We should all ask ourselves these same questions. Is your library a pleasurable place to visit?

Another customer service experience I've noticed in my family's life has been a more personalized shopping experience. In the last few months we've signed up for three different personal shopping subscriptions. I purchased a Birchbox subscription for my husband, my husband purchased a Surprise Ride monthly activity kit for my son and I signed up for Stitch Fix personal shopping for myself.
You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with the library.
The appeal of these services is personalization, delivery, packaging, fun and whimsy. How can I incorporate more of these qualities into library services?

I want library visits and programs to be more personalized. I love Nikki Robertson's personal book shopping program.  I'm already recruiting teachers that will let me give this a try with their class. If I can't find a willing teacher I may just leave out the surveys and tell the library visitors about it when they come in. I especially love the thought that went into the packaging with little tags that Cathy Jo Nelson created when she tried this idea.
We already have a frequently used holds process. My library helpers regularly check holds and deliver them to the students in class. I routinely put books on hold for students if I know they will love the book. They are usually pleasantly surprised when I deliver the book and tell them that I think they will like it. Maybe I can make the delivery even more special by including a book mark or a little note telling why I think they would like that book.
Another way to make the library more personalized is to have a way that students can request books then hold that book for them when it comes in. I usually keep this written on a sticky note on my desk, but I could find a more whimsical way to keep track of requests. I had a Google form on my website, but none of my students ever used it so I took it down. If we go 1:1 next year I have a feeling it would be utilized more often so I plan to put it back on the library site and have a QR code near the circulation desk so that they can go to the form easily and make a request. For those high demand books like the new Wimpy Kid I've seen librarians have a drawing or another fun way to chose the first person to check it out. I would like to try this.
I wish that I could add features to our catalog system. It would be so cool if a search came up with no results, the site would automatically link to the request form so that students could request the book right away.
If we go 1:1 I need to think of fun ways to deliver content to the students such as a recommended book lists based on different themes, holidays or events, links to book trailers, library program news, etc. I need to brainstorm ways that this would be possible with devices. From my conversations with 1:1 librarians it seems that I will need to work even harder at enticing students and classes into the library.

I would love to hear your ideas on how we can make the library more whimsical, fun, pleasurable, and personal.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hour of Code and Mustang Makerspace

Last week we participated in the Hour of Code, sponsored by We shared the introduction video on our morning news and invited everyone to try coding activities in the library during lunch. I had the free tutorials from the site pulled up on the computers in the library, Lightbot app on the library iPods and cups for the non-tech coding activity from the site.
I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out of students and enjoying seeing them explore the tutorials and activities.

One of my super smart tech genius students asked if he could stay and help through all three lunches. I made arrangements with his teachers and he proved to be a big help. I asked him to explore all the tutorials beforehand so that he could help the others. Now I know who to go to when I have computer questions.

On Wednesday of last week I tied our first Makerspace event in with Hour of Code. I promoted the activity with the Hour of Code kids. Our first Makerspace event was Legos. I created a Smore to explain the concept to my administration and teachers. I have lots more activities planned and I'll be sure to share here. The first event was great. I had many visitors that are not my normal crew, which was exciting. The hallways were abuzz with students talking about the events so it was well worth the time and energy. I have lots to learn about makerspaces and room to grow, but it was a successful start.

Aurasma Endangered Animal Projects

I had the pleasure of working with our gifted and talented students on endangered animal research. Students created a children's book in Book Creator after researching their South Carolina species. Upon completion of the book, students received a brown paper lunch bag and access to construction paper and other crafting items. Using only those items, they had to create their animal. I loved this mix of high and low tech creation and was so impressed with their animals.
The teacher and I had originally discussed using QR codes to record each student describing their animal, but after hearing about Aurasma I showed her the app. She was excited to give it a try.
I showed a few students in each class how to record the video and connect it to the image and they took over from there. They loved seeing their videos pop up when the animal was scanned. We used pictures of the paper bag animals to create a bulletin board near the front office to highlight and share their presentations. It was fun to see the reaction of other teachers, parents, and school visitors. We even had district administrators come to take a peek.

I plan to create a book cover bulletin board with student book reviews using Aurasma after our break. I have a few iPods in the library that I can loan out to students that would like to watch if they don't have their own device. I've heard others have success with the Layar app so I might look into that as well.
Have you tried any augmented reality apps yet?