My school, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., School #9, has the largest Spanish-speaking ELL population of all the elementary schools in the Rochester City School District. We have two bilingual classrooms per grade level. So I eagerly turned to this topic to learn how the library could better meet the needs of the parents, students, and teachers.
The slideshow School Librarians Can Support English Language Learners made useful suggestions:
Some of the suggestions made in the slideshow I have seen proven to be true in our own library:
As a result of exploring this topic, I have added a link on the sidebar of my library homepage entitled "English Language Learners Resources."
My students love to play around with Google Maps, but I've never used them in instruction. As a librarian, I got excited when I read the idea of creating Google Lit Trips or mapping significant locations tied to research. I followed the directions of Eric Curtz to create a Lit Trip using Google Tour Builder about the Civil Rights Movement.
The image below shows the dashboard for creating the tour with Google Tour Builder, but Eric Curtz provides directions for importing it into Google Earth.
Matt Miller's blog post, 20 ways Google MyMaps can enhance lessons in any class, has given me lots of inspiration for other uses of Google maps, too!
At our orientation session at the beginning of the school year, the librarians in the Rochester City School District had the opportunity to experience BreakoutEDU and Google Expeditions. Tackling these two new technologies felt a little overwhelming to me, but I jumped in the water and tried out Google Expeditions with a set of 10 VR glasses at our school for 2 weeks in January 2018. (We supplemented it with tablets for the students not using the glasses, then switched after a certain period of time.) It was a great experience!
We can borrow a Breatkout EDU kit through our School Library System, but I haven't had time to fully explore or prep for using it. So here goes . . . .
One free game that I found that I want to try out revolves around the fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. I do a lot with fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, and this BreakoutEDU game is free and does not look too complicated for starters. Taking things to the next level, it would be great to have the students design their own fairytale-related BreakoutEDU game.
The BreakoutEDU "lesson plans" are so well organized that it makes me feel like I can try this out without too much prep time. The game includes a story summary, lock combinations, set up instructions, game resources (which you can save to Google Drive), a facilitation tool, and reflection questions. The fact that I had a chance to experience BreakoutEDU helps make sense of all of this.
Breakout EDU Digital Sandbox
As an alternative to physical lockboxes and clues, some educators have created virtual games where all the clues and locks are embedded in a Google site. These are community-created and free. They work well with ChromeBooks. Amy Carpenter suggests projecting the game for the whole class to see, assigning the locks to different groups, and working together as a class. Lock combinations are filled in on the main computer used to project the game.
Creating a Game
Here's the link for resources to create a Breakout EDU game. If you succeed in making a game that makes it into the official BreakoutEDU directory, you can win fun things like a swag bag, full access to the platform, and even a free kit!
This topic caught my eye because I have not done anything with this application before. I read Jessica's blog post for starters, which got me excited about the possibilities.
Using Google Drawing for Infographics
This fall I tried out using Piktochart with four classes of 4th graders to show their learning by creating a digital poster about the great horned owl. The students already had experience using Google slides, so I wanted to branch out and let them experience another platform. I liked Piktochart because it allowed the students to use their G Suite for Education account to sign up, and (unlike Canva) all the images were free. However, Piktochart was not fully integrated with Google which meant that I could not watch the students' progress, leave formative feedback, have them work collaboratively, or print their posters. So, I'm looking for a new platform for next year.
I started with Tony Vincent's Get Creative with Google Drawings blog post, and was immediately gratified to learn that Google Drawings integrates seamlessly with Google Keep. (I want to try teaching my students to curate research resources in Google Keep, but I'm waiting for my district to enable the Chrome extensions for Google Keep.) So it looks like translating the research curated in Google Keep into a infographic could be quite efficient. Also wonderful to note is that fact that the Explore Tool is accessible in Google Drawings. Jeff Herb provides 8 free infographic templates that he created with Google Drawings.
Before experimenting with Google Drawings, I watched Intro to Google Drawings in the Classroom by Jocelyn Buckentin where I learned a handy new tip--that png's have transparent backgrounds. Next I studied Alice Keeler's Getting Started with Google Draw
where I read that a Google Drawing can be embedded in a website, and it will be automatically updated as changes are made to it in Google Drive. This is great feature if students want to embed their work in a blog post. Also, Google Drawings can be shared, so they are perfect for collaborative projects. I remixed my Piktochart poster using Google Draw, and it was a snap!
Using Google Drawing for Graphic Organizers
I was ecstatic to see Tony's use of Google Drawings to create graphic organizers that could be easily shared with students so that they can fill in the digital copy of the graphic organizers. What is more, I can project and fill in a digital copy of the graphic organizer as I model the process for the students. Tony generously shared multiple graphic organizers. Here is one that I modified for a unit that I'm doing with the 5th Grade on the Rainforest.
And so much more . . .
Besides infographics and graphic organizers, Tony Vincent shows how Google Drawings can be used for other types of activities--games, comics, sorting and arranging, and much more! Eric Curtz provides a list of creative commons-licensed resources created with Google Drawings.
Last year I delved into Thing 6: Curation Tools and ended up using LibGuides to curate resources for Black History Month at our school. Since then I've continued to use LibGuides to curate resources. However, while blogging about curation tools last year, I said the following: "Michelle Luhtala uses Destiny to curate much of her school library's content including student book review trailers. I would like to figure out how to use Destiny for curation because it is a tool the students are already using."
Recently my Follett Destiny sales representative demonstrated a new curation tool to use within Destiny called Collections by Destiny. So, this year for Thing 6: Curation Tools, I decided to explore Collections and will use it curate resources on the rainforest for an upcoming 5th grade project. Then I will compare it to LibGuides.
But first I read Joyce Valenza's SLJ article - "Curation Situations: Let us count the ways." Joyce inspired me with her reasons to curate and to teach curating:
"Librarians are uniquely qualified to curate digital assets. . . . Digital curation is a translation and amplification of our traditional practice. . . . K12 digital curation is about getting our users/students/teachers to the good stuff, pointing them to content and resources they might not themselves discover with their own intuitive strategies. It’s about saving teachers instructional time. . . . In teach a man to fish style, rather than continuing to push resources to our students, we can transfer responsibility and engage them as curators of their research-in-progress and their other original works and encourage them to curate the tools they need for workflow."
Things I like about LibGuides:
Things I like about Collections by Destiny:
It feels a lot like Pinterest. I think the format is visually appealing and comfortable for students and teachers to use. You can place "add to collections" on your browser bookmarks bar to quickly add resources to the collection.
The resources show an image, a URL, a summary (sometimes) and tags.
Things I don't like about Collections by Destiny:
Working on this project reminded me that all digital curation requires upkeep. I ran across many broken links when exploring OERs within Destiny Discover.
Librarians are all about note-taking for research projects, so this topic caught my eye. I have played with Evernote a couple of times, but I just don't get into the habit of using it consistently. I save almost everything to my Google drive. However, I've never used Google Keep, so I am eager to read the Comparison Chart of Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep. I also hope to be able to show my students another way to take notes.
Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are more robust according to the comparison chart, and PC Mag did not give Google Keep a good review comparatively speaking. However, I still wanted to try Google Keep because our school uses G Suite for Education with 1-to-1 ChromeBooks for the students. So I started out with 10 Basic Tips and Tricks for Google Keep.
I started by adding the Google Keep extension to my Chrome browser. While in the Chrome Web Store, I spied another extension - "Category Tabs for Google Keep." I quickly learned the reason for this extension: Google Keep does not provide a way to collect notes in folders per se. This extension lets you associate the various colors in the palette with a limited number of categories or "folders" that you label - sports, grocery list, etc. To set up the color association, I had to go (on by Chrome tool bar) Window > Extensions > Category Tabs for Google Keep > Options.
Things I Liked About Google Keep
Things I Didn't Like About Google Keep
I think it would be interesting to have students try to use Google Keep to curate all their notes on a research topic. They could use the different colors for subtopics (e.g., Rainforest - plants, animals, people, medicines, deforestation, etc.) as they would likely archive or delete the research notes after the project was done. The colors could be reset to new subtopics for the next project.
I like introducing the students to Google Keep because they are comfortable using their Google account, and it's a real-world tool that won't go away when they change schools or the school decides to purchase a different app.
Will the students be able to add the Google Keep and Category Tabs for Google Keep Chrome extensions or will I need to go through the IT department to enable that? How about the Google Keep app? Questions I will need to ask and answer.
*Note-taking image at top of page: By Juhko (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Common Core State Standards clearly call
for students to learn from primary sources.
The Library of Congress blog nicely lays
out the connection between the CCSS
and primary sources.
Explaining Primary Sources
Common Craft created a video to explain the difference between primary and secondary sources which seems suitable for our intermediate students. For younger students, I like "What are Primary Sources?"
Lesson Plans I Can Use
First I read Joyce Valenza's recent School Library Journal article - "Library of Congress introduces three new apps (and a reminder of some older goodies)." I liked the KidCitizen app, and plan to use two episodes ("What are Primary Sources?" and "Community Helpers") with my second grade classes who do a big unit on community helpers each fall.
Another resource that I would like to use is the Civil Rights History Project digital collection from the Library of Congress which includes video interviews of civil rights activists. These could be used in conjunction with "Engaging Students with Primary Sources" (chapter 4 - Oral Histories - Strength and Limitations; Tips for Analyzing Taped and 1of 2 Transcribed Oral History Interviews, etc.)
Although I have personally blogged for over 10 year on multiple platforms (EduBlogs, WordPress, KidBlog, Blogger and this Weebly blog), this year I am determined to take the next step - to set up a classroom blog.
Each year, our 5th graders keep a "Rainforest Journal" where they record their learning during a major project about the Rainforest. I proposed to the 5th grade teacher leader that we collaborate on the project, with me teaching the students how to use a blog for their Rainforest Journal.
What did I learn?
Did I like learning this way?
The Cool Tools for School format perfectly suits my learning style. I love working at home, at my own pace, choosing my own topics, and having the opportunity to repeat topics from previous years. Polly curates more information than can be grasped in one sitting and technology changes frequently.
I liked the switch to Canvass as it made it easier to see what was completed, what had been graded, etc. However, for my colleagues who were newbies, it was a little confusing having information on both the WordPress web site and Canvass. Nonetheless, I totally understand the need to keep the curated content there for people who want to come back to it later!
Some suggestions . . .
Readings and Resources
Tools - I chose to explore NewsELA as our principal has offered to pay for subscriptions. I signed up for a 60 day pro trial. Here's what I learned: