Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Technology Tuesday: Doodle Buddy App

Our teachers received 3 iPads for classroom use this year and since some teachers are still unsure about how to use them instructionally, I  like to try to model different apps with the 20 that I have in the library when classes come in for a lesson.  I have author, Aaron Reynolds, visiting in January so I decided to introduce my 2nd graders to some of his books and the Doodle Buddy app at the same time.
I started by reading two of his books, Creepy Carrots and Carnivores to the class. Then I told them to think about the characters, problem/solution and setting of one of the books.  I sent them to the tables and with very minimal directions - basically just how to start a text box and the drawing tools - I told them they had to write a sentence about one of the books and then illustrate.  It always amazes me what they can discover on their own just by using the app.  Here are a few of the pictures the 2nd graders made.  

I love that without me telling them, they figured out how to use the glitter paint, the speech bubbles and the google-eyes.  I want the teachers to see that it is OK if they are not 100% sure what an app does, the kids will figure out way cooler things that we ever could.  

After the students finished their Aaron Reynolds picture, I let them have a few minutes to explore and draw whatever they wanted.  During this time, one of the students had figured out how to add backgrounds and found a "snow globe" background.  The teacher happened to see this and said, "Oh wow! We could use the snow globe for a writing prompt when we come back from winter break at stations!"  -  Now that's what I am talking about!  It never would have occurred to this particular teacher to use Doodle Buddy at a station during their language arts time if I hadn't introduced her students to the app in the library and if they hadn't had time to be creative on their own and find the snow globe background.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

How have you used Doodle Buddy in the library?  Have you had successes making your teachers comfortable with a new piece of technology so they will use it in the classroom?

Monday, December 16, 2013

To Genre-fy... Part 1

I did it! I actually genrefied my fiction collection. Back in October I posted that I was thinking about doing it.  After a week more of thinking about and convincing my assistant that it would be ok, we did it.  It took us about a month and at times I was thinking "What have I done?" but now I think it is going to be wonderful.  I was a huge undertaking and I weeded about 400 books in the process, but actually touching every one of my fiction books has been a real eye opener.  Here are the steps to what I did.

First, I needed to know what my genres were.  Lucky for me our middle schools have been genrefying also so I mostly went with they had already set in place with a few exceptions.  For example, they have a "Romance" genre and I wasn't going there.  They also have a "Horror" section which I call "Scary".  I wanted to add an "Animal Fiction" section for books with animals that drive the story like the Betty Birney Humphrey series, many of the books written by Bill Wallace, Black Beauty, etc.  After talking with some other elementary librarains to make sure I had a good agrument, I had to state my case to my director and get approval.  Our middle schools put animals that talk in Fantasy and animals that act like animals in their Genreral Fiction sections.  However, at the elementary level, I do have students that come and ask for chapter books about animals and so I felt like it was warrented.

Once I had my genres decided on, I had to figure out how I was going to label the books.  Demco has some genre stickers, but there were some that I didn't like and I was also afraid that they would discontinue them at some point and I would have to switch stickers.  So I decided to get white labels and make my own symbols.
After making my labels, I starting pulling groups of books that I was sure about like the A to Z Mysteries, the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, Andrew Clements books, the Animorphs series, etc.  I pulled those off the shelf, labeled them and then put them back in the original ABC order by author's last name since the kids were still checking out during this process I didn't want to move them books until I had all of them done.  
Once I had done the major clumps that I was sure about, I started in the "A's" and pulled a cart-ful of books and went through them one by one.  Some were very obvious and I knew right away what genre I would place them in, but I always checked one of my middle school libraries to see if they had the book and what genre they had put it in first.  I also looked in the subject headings, read the summaries, asked other librarians and then it occured to us to ask the kids :) For example, I was not sure where to put the Magic Tree House books and of course our middle schools didn't own those.  I thought they could be Historical, Sci-fi because of the time travel, or Adventure.  One of the other librarians and I were chatting on the phone about it and she happened to have some 3rd graders in the library at the time.  She called a few over and asked them why they liked the Magic Tree House books and they replied, "Because they go places!".  BINGO - Adventure it is.  From then on whenever I wasn't sure I would think where would the kids look for this book? 

(I decided this post would be too long all as one post, so look for part 2 in a week or so).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3 for Thursday: Elf on a Library Shelf

We are on night 9 of my "Elf on a Library Shelf" project.  I must admit it has been fun and I love seeing the kids looking for "Seuss" every morning but I am really tapped out of ideas and still have 5 more nights!  As I have said before I am not the most crafty, creative person so this has really stretched my artistic abilities.  Luckily I have some awesome kinder teachers who don't mind helping me make bows or lend me pipe cleaners or nicely make suggestions as they stiffle a laugh at the first attempt I have made at some of these ideas.  Thanks Girls!  Here are 3 of our favorite Elf Clues so far.  I can take no credit for the first one.  That was all my 2 kinder teachers' doing.  I was just going to use the wand and skirt.   

Can you guess the books?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Technology Tuesday: Long Ago and Today

In first grade this week, we are researching how communication, transportation and recreation have changed over time.  We are using books and PebbleGo to find our information.  We split up into 2 groups.  One goes with the teacher to look at the book and one goes with me to look at PebbleGo and then we switch.  After the students have seen both and taken notes, they write a sentence telling how people traveled long ago and then how people travel today.  Then they used the Super Duper StoryMaker app on the ipad to create a picture.

I emailed the picture to myself and then used Scribble Press to put a book together.  
I have 6 first grades so 2 classes will research transportation, 2 communication, and 2 recreation.  Then we are going to share the Scribble Press books either through the website or the teachers can load the books onto iBooks on their ipads for the students to look at during station work.  Here is one of our finished books.  
The only thing that I didn't like about mashing these two apps was that StoryMaker can only be done as a landscape picture and Scribble Press only in portrait.  That is why the pictures only take up the middle of the page.

(I promise I do technology with the other grades, I just see 1st grade more than the others.  I will have other grade levels'work after the new year.)

What book makers do you use?

Everybody Folders? (I really don't have a name for these)

During my first year in the library, 10 years ago, I think the students had a master plan to see how many time they could stump me.  You know when they want a "Monster" book or a "Princess" book.  And you know they mean a story from the Everybody section, but of course the "Monster" books and "Princess" books are all over the place.  So you have a few go-to's but since those are the go-to's they are pretty much never on the shelf because you point them out all the time.  Well, coming up with the folders saved my bacon (and my sanity).

I went through my catalog in search of "Monster" Everybody books.  I copied the cover image into a table in a Word document, added the title and call number

Then I glued them into a file folder, added a cover to the front and laminated them.

Volia!  Problem solved.  The kids go to the bucket that I keep them in (I made about 10 different folders on popular topics... cats, dogs, princesses, sports, horses, different holidays, dinosaurs, etc.) and choose the folder they want to look at.  They look at the covers and decide which book they want and then they can show me which one they wan,t or better yet, when they get to 1st and 2nd grade and we have talked about how the Everybody section is organized, they can go find the book themselves.  The only problem is that sometimes the book is not there (because this is the new go-to list), but at least then there are plenty more to choose from.  

What shortcuts have you found to help kids find books?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Elf on the Library Shelf

The "Elf on a Shelf" craze has hit my library! I had a brainstorm over Thankgiving break to get an elf for my library.  I wanted to tie his poses into reading somehow so I decided to have him pose with parts of books from our library. And then I had another crazy idea to make a contest out of it.  I'm not sure what I have gotten myself into as I am not the most creative person when it comes to crafts and making things but here is what "Seuss" has been up to in my library.  

On Monday when I came in here is what we found.

I read the note, which was a poem telling about the elf and why he was there, on the announcements that morning.  Seuss told us he was here to play a game with us and that every night before he went to sleep he would read a book in our library and then leave us clues to what the book was.  If we guessed all the books by the end of winter break he would be able to come back next year. I told the kids that I was going to need their help and to check my library webpage for more details.

On Tuesday, this is what we found.

I had about 55 kids submit guesses for what book Seuss had read Monday night. Today here is what clue we found.  
The kids have been really excited each day o see what Seuss has done (even the 4th and 5th graders). I did ask the teachers for some specific items I might need for later books. As I said, I am not so gifted in the creativity department and 12 more scenes is stressing me out a bit, but we'll see what Seuss comes up with.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Technology Tues: iPad Storage

Because of my book fair, I don't have a technology lesson to share, so I thought I'd share my brand new toy that just got dropped off yesterday!  An iPad storage cart!!  Isn't it funny the things we get excited about.  When our secretary came down and told me it was here, I think I might have squealed.  My assistant looked at me like I was crazy, but when you see the picture of my current set up, you might understand.

I have 20 iPads for the library and over the summer, I found this great idea on Pinterest to store them on a dishrack.  This is what it looked like on Pinterest...

This is what it looks like in my office...

See why I needed a better solution.  So I decided to spend my hard earned book fair money from last year and buy an iPad stoage/charging cart and now they look like this...

Well worth the money, don't you think?

How do you store iPads?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Fair Week

It's a time of year that I love and dread at the same time... Book Fair!  I love the anticipation and seeing the kids get so excited about the books. I love setting it up and running it for the most part and I love the break from lessons and check-out. But I won't lie, by Friday I am ready to tear it down and get back to normal (I hate to say this, but I am the same way about Christmas decorations at home... December 26 - they are taken down and packed back up for next year).

I have some wonderful volunteers, not a lot, but some very reliable ones that I know I can count on.  I have found that at my school, I really only need them for the first two days all day and then the rest of the week just the first two hours of the day (what we call rush hour).  The first two days are for the most part the days the teachers bring the kids in and the kids can make their wish list.  My volunteers are so helpful in helping kids find the prices of the books and writing titles for the kinder and 1st graders.  After those first two days, we found that they teachers mostly send the kids the first 2 hours of the day which is why I do schedule volunteers for those times.  The rest of my traffic is mostly random kids at various times thoughout the day that straggle in as their teacher sends them.  This my assistant and I can usually handle ourselves.  I do give my volunteers a book fair gift certificate as appreciation of their time.  

Most of my students are able to purchase at least something at the fair, but I do have a few families that can not afford to send any money (especially at this time of the year).  On Thursday, I usually ask the teachers if there are any kids in their classes that did not bring money for that reason and I ask those kids to come help me do something Friday afternoon to pack up the fair to "EARN" a book.  It is really special to see those faces light up at the thought of working to buy a book.  They are so proud of themselves.  I usually have 10-20 that this applies to and I only do it at my December fair.  I figure that I can forgo $100-$200 profit to make sure everyone has a book :)  

What are special things that you do at your book fairs?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Funny Friday

For the first sememster, my kinder students are allowed to pick books that have the covers showing.  Which means that they are not allowed to go into the shelves to look for books because I haven't taught them how to use a shelf marker yet.  We have a TON of books on display on top of the shelves, on the bottoms of shelves and on 2 stands so there is always plenty to choose from.  If a kinder wants a particluar book or book about a certain topic that isn't showing, I will certainly go find one if they ask.  Anyway this week one of my persisiant rule breakers was looking through the shelves pulling out the books half way instead of the ones on top where she could see the cover.  Her teacher said, "Excuse me, can you see the cover of those books?"  She replied back as serious as could be, "If I pull them out, yes I can!"...  I guess she got us.

3 for Thursday: Thanksgiving Picture Books

 Turkey Bowl by Phil Bildner - Everyone likes a little football with their turkey.

 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey - field trips, turkeys and rhyming words make for a great Thanksgiving story.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano - Turkey donning costumes to keep from being Thanksgiving dinner. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Technology Tuesday: Visual Poet

I was looking for something different to do with my first graders last week and came across the Visual Poet app.
In science, they were studying water, so we looked on our PebbleGo database and researched the different kinds of bodies of water and what animals live in those areas.  PebbleGo has information on lakes, rivers and oceans so we looked at those pages and the students wrote down the definition of the word and at least 3 animals that live there.  Then we used visual poet to put it all together. 
I love that in this app you can search for pictures right in the app.  Made it really easy for first graders to find a picture.  I can't wait to find other uses for this app.  What could you see using Visual Poet for?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why, Oh Why Can't They Remember

Every year I teach 1st and 2nd graders how the Everybody section is organized and every year my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders act like they have never heard that the Everybody (and Fiction) sections are organized in alphabetical order by the first three letters of the author's last name.  I have two different activities for 1st and 2nd grade and in both lessons, they can find an Everybody call number that I give them.

In first grade, we read the book Elsworth's Electrical Ears, a cute alphabetical book of alliterations.  While we are reading I ask if they notice anything about the book and someone always comes up with that it is in ABC order.  After the book, I ask them if they notice anything about the Everybody section and someone always notices that the wooden letters I have attached to the shelves are in ABC order.  Then I talk about how the library is like a little city and we have different neighborhoods and if a friend asked you to come over and play, what would your mom need to know to get you to the house?  They say the address. Then I explain to them that each book in the library has an address or call number that tells us where the book "lives" in the library.  When an author write a picture book, then it lives in the Everybody "neighborhood" on the "street" of the first letter of the last name.  I tell them that if I wrote a book, my book would live on "R" street at the address "ROM" and I go stand at the Rs.  I ask them to think about their last name and to go sit in front of the shelf where their book would live if they wrote one.  Then I say the whole alphabet and tell them to stand up when I say their letter so they can see all the way around the shelves A-Z.  Then I give each partner group an index card with an address on it like E PAT, E MUN, etc. and tell them to find that address and raise their hand when they do.  I give them about 3-4 different cards depending on the time.  And low and behold, they are mostly successful.

In second grade I start with the story Alpha-Betti.  A story about a girl who finds out that it is easier to find things when they are organized in alphabetical order.  I remind them about the lesson we did in first grade and how the Everybody neighborhood is organized by the author's last name.  We then go to the tables and play a game called "Sticks and Stones" that I got from the book Stretch Library Lessons.
In this activity, they have stones with letters on them and sticks with author's names.  They have to arrange the stones in order first and then the sticks and if their are two names that have the same letters, they have to look at the second and third etc.  When they are all finished, I give each person a stick that has a call number on it, similar to the index cards from 1st grade, except this time they are working alone and I tell them we are going to see how many they can find in a certain amount of time.  When they find the first one, they raise their hand and the teacher and I go around, check that they found the right spot and give them a new stick.  

They think it is SO fun to find books this way and love to see how many they can find in the given amount of time.  Afterwards, we gather back together and I tell them that they are becoming better library users and can now start finding books on their own.  If they ask me where a "No David" book is and I tell them SHA, they should be able to go there and find the books.  Then I make them raise their right hand and repeat after me..."I am a library user.  I know the Everybody books are organized in alphabetical order by the author's last name.  I can find books in the Everybody section by myself.  I will NOT forget how to do this when I am in third grade"(that's when they giggle).  I tell them that something must happen to the brains of 2nd graders over the summer because every year I teach this same lesson and every year the second graders know how to do it and every year, the third graders look at me like I am crazy when I tell them to find something.  They assure me that this will not happen to them and they WILL remember.  They are so excited about this and for the rest of 2nd grade, they quiz me about where different favorite books are and I love to see how proud they are when they find them.  Then they become 3rd graders... and look at me like I am crazy... but this year I have proof... I have pictures! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

3 for Thursday: Funny

Three funny library/technology quotes or signs I've seen on Pinterest.  Needed a laugh today.

I actually have a t-shirt with this on it and I love wearing it to school because it makes the teachers laugh out loud every time and the kids don't get it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Technology Tuesday: Flipping the Library

Well, we did it!  One of my awesome librarian friends and I created a plan for flipping some 5th grade research mini-lessons.  In our district's ELA scope and sequence, 5th grade does their research project in late April.  I have always hated waiting until the day(s) they come in to "explain" and take them through the whole process.  I started these research mini-lessons with 3rd grade a few years ago and it seems to work really well.  They come in a few times before the big research time and we hit the research process in small chunks.  So we decided to try it with 5th grade but in a flipping format.  To start, we thought out the chunks of the process that we wanted to focus on.  We decided that our first lesson would target formulating questions and finding key words within the questions. We made a video using the screencasto'matic website and a short accountability worksheet for them to record some information from the video as they watched it.  I then uploaded it to my library page.  A few days before I did the lesson with each class, I went in and told them about the idea of flipping the lesson - that they would be doing the "listening" part at home and the "doing" part at school where they could get help if they needed it. I also showed them how to navigate to the video and gave them the worksheet.  I had already talked to the teachers and we had a plan for those kids that didn't have internet access at home for them to come to the library before school one day and watch it.
When the came to the library for their scheduled lesson, about 75% of the kids had actually completed the worksheet (that actually surprised me, I thought it would be lower).  We talked through the worksheet where they had to pick out a few key words from the TEKS in the video and then formulate three questions based on the TEKS (talking through this gave the kids who didn't complete the sheet a chance to write something down).  Then I showed them another quick video to remind them how to search in our library catalog.  
I assigned each set of two kids one of the 13 colonies.  They had to choose one of their questions, find a book in the library catalog about that book, go get the book and by looking at the table of contents and index predict some pages they might find the answer on.  Then they actually tried to find the answer.

All in all, it went REALLY well.  Most of the kids were successful and when we finished I asked them what they thought about the flipping idea.  "It was fun."  "More interesting than just listening to you talk and tell us how to do it" and "It was a different way to learn" were a few of the comments.  I asked them then if they thought the idea of flipping would work in other subjects and they said math and science for sure.  As we were talking about that, one student even said, "I think it would be good in math because then if we didn't understand we could watch the video again!" BINGO.  Best of all the teachers were so intrigued by the lesson and the kids comments that they are toying with the kids of flipping a fraction lesson next week!  Total success in my book and I can't wait to try the next one in February.  

Have you tried flipping a library lesson? What other types of library related lessons do you think could flip?  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

Just a quick "Thank You" to all our veteran's and families of veteran's and active duty military who serve for our freedom.  I realized that I have quite a few nonfiction books about Veteran's Day in my library collection, but besides Eve Bunting's The Wall, I didn't have any other picture books about today.  If you know of any picture books for elementary students that address veterans, Veteran's Day or maybe even military in general, please leave the titles in the comments.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

3 for Thursday: Author Visits

In my 9 years as a librarian I have had some amazing authors come to visit.  Way more than 3 so consider this Part 1 with more to follow another time.  I am not a "programming" librarian.  I hate dressing up.  I don't do puppets.  I have trouble keeping track of reading promotion and rewards(although I am getting better at this).  Programming is such an important part of being a librarian, but it is not my strength.  So needless to say, I STRESS out about author visits.  I mean REALLY STRESS OUT about them.  I am in awe of those librarians that host 2 or 3 or 4 authors in a year.  Hosting 1 just about puts me over the edge.  I think the anticipation of the visit is always the worst; once they are actually on my campus, most are as nice as can be and the day goes fine.  The following 3 authors I have hosted recently (or am about to host) and they have been AMAZING.  If you have the opportunity to host them - DO IT!  You will not regret it.

PHIL BILDNER was SO awesome!  He is a giant kid at heart and really connects with the students.  I had him the year Hallelujah Flight was on our Texas Bluebonnet list so he presented to my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.  He was a middle school teacher prior to doing author visits so he knows how to keep the kids engaged in his presentations.  He has a great writing workshop where he talks to the students about making your words come alive and actually has them do some writing while they are with him.  He was very easy going and just an amazing presenter.
 Phil Bildner

Matt McElligott was also fabulous!  He is an author and an illustrator and has a variety of different programs to offer.  If you choose one of his illustrator presentations, he projects his computer to the screen and shows the kids how he makes a monster or alien from shapes or how he takes different patterns from clothes to "color" his Backbeard books.  The kids were fascinated by that and were astonished to find out that you didn't have to be a good "draw-er" to be an illustrator because technology can help you out.  
 Matt McElligott

Aaron Reynolds is visiting my campus in January and I can not wait!  He has visited my district already this year and the librarians that hosted him could not stop RAVING about his presentations. (Apparently his theatrical background is on full display) :).  I am most excited about his mystery presentation where he teaches the kids about writing a mystery and they solve one right there during the presentation.  I'll let you know how it actually goes in February!
 Aaron Reynolds

Do you have any author or illustrators that you recommend for a visit?  If so, please leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technology Tuesday: 1st Grade Then and Now Video

Last year my first graders researched how communication, recreation and transportation has changed over time.  I had 6 first grades and this was in December so we decided to make it more manageable instead of each class researching all 3 areas, 2 classes would do transportation, 2 communication and 2 recreation.  Then we would combine them into a video that the whole grade level could watch.

We had the kids draw a picture of then and now and then the teachers picked a few from each class to feature in the video.  I used Photostory to make the video and the kids loved coming in and recording a sentence about their picture.  

This year I want to try to kick it up a notch and maybe try using scribble press to make each class an ebook that they can then share.  Have any of you used scribble press or another ebook creator?  Please comment below.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kinder in the Library

I think there is a special place in heaven for Kinder teachers.  I once saw a sign at a craft show that said "Teaching kindergarten is like trying to herd grasshoppers".  I would be lying if I said that I didn't have a little panic attack right before each of my 6 kinder classes come into the library every week.  I see them once a week for 30 minutes which includes story time and checkout.  I hate to admit this but when I first became a librarian, 5 minutes before my first kinder class came for the week, I would look quickly around the library and chose a book at random to read to them.  There was no rhyme or reason to what I picked.  It was just something to get me through those 15 minutes.  I am happy to say that I no longer do that.  Thanks to one of the other librarians in my district that I was mentoring one year (however I think I actually got more from her than she got from me).  She was new to our district but had been a librarian way longer than I had.  She showed me the journals that she does with some of her grade levels and something clicked for me.  I could do this with Kinder!  Each one of my kinder students has "My Library ABC Journal".  It is a journal from A to Z with a book and activity for each letter.  It stays in the library all year long.  Each week we do a letter in the journal and at the end of the year they get to take it home to remember all the great books we read that year.  They really enjoy seeing how at the beginning of the year their "writing" is mostly pictures and maybe the beginning sound of a word but by the end of the year they are writing sentences.  It is fun to see their excitement each week as they try to guess what letter we are going to do that week.  And I feel better knowing that I have a focus for my lessons using our state standards and really great books.

What are things you do with kinder in the library?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

3 for Thursday: Halloween Pumpkins

We had over 80 pumpkins "planted" in our literacy pumpkin patch this year. Even though it says "book character" on the flyer, we still got minions, mine-craft and Pokemon. I justify it by saying somewhere out there Chick-fil-a or Burger King has made a promotional book for the kids meals and so technically they are characters in a book, right. Here is our full pumpkin patch and then my 3 for Thursday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technology Tuesday: The Million Dollar Project

This is a project that my own 5th grader has to do and (un)lucky for him, he has a mom who likes to use him as a guinea pig.  For this project, he was given $1,000,000 and had to spend all of it.  They were supposed to find pictures with prices of things, tell why they wanted it and round the cost to the nearest $1,000 and show their subtraction work as they spent their money.  We will turn this in as a paper project, but I thought it would be fun to mess around with a few apps at home.  We started by creating a title page using the Story Me app.
With this app, you can turn pictures from your camera roll into comics with speech bubbles and a really cool cartoon feature.  Here is what we did. 
Then we used Skitch to add a title. 

Then we took screen shots of the actual word documents that he was going to turn in that had the item's picture, price, his reason for purchase and his rounding and put them all together with his subtraction work in Educreations. 

Here is the final product in Educreations.