Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Digital Tools to Help Build a Culture of Readers

Post first published on FTEdTech

If you were lucky enough to hear Donalyn Miller speak this week you might be feeling inspired to work on building a culture of readers that are engaged and intrinsically motivated through strategies like the 40 Book Challenge.

Not sure what I'm talking about? You can get the gist of the what the 40 book challenge is about here, and you might modify it to match the number of weeks we have left in the year:

I would also suggest before you get started, that you might want to check out Miller's 40 Book Challenge Revisited post.

Getting Started Right Now with Small Shifts

You don't have to wait until the beginning of next year to get started with something like the 40 Book Challenge. We can start making small shifts in practice to encourage wider reading.

Use your School Library

First, you don't have to worry about the size of your classroom library. Our school libraries are stacked with tons of amazing books, and our librarians are working on building e-book content that students can use 24/7. Consider a small shift that would include encouraging your students to visit the school library more frequently at appropriate times. Work with your librarian and our public library to make sure all students are set up with ebook accounts, and review with your librarian the ebook resources we have available like Epic, Pebble GO, PebbleGo Next and OverDrive.

Check out FTReads

A second small shift would be to ditch outdated practices for some more modern practices. In the Book Whisperer Miller includes many practical strategies and resources for making book recommendations for students, building that classroom library with a variety of books and getting kids writing and sharing their reading. My favorite chapter is Chapter 6: "Cutting the Teacher Strings". In this chapter Miller outlines a number of "traditional practices" with alternatives. She encourages the use of book commercials, book talks, and encouraging the idea that reading is its own incentive.

You could easily capitalize on our own FTReads and the resources there to help your students create their very own book talks and trailers. Send me or your school's librarian your favorite student projects and we can add them to the FTReads site for other students to see.

Use #FTReads when you're tweeting and share what your kids love with all of our schools.

Share Book Projects

Another simple shift that goes along with this is to create a media album in Schoology. With the media album, students can add their own book trailers, posters in PicCollage or book talks and upload to share. If students are given commenting privileges, and use Schoology through Safari (instead of the app) they will be able to interact and encourage each other using good Digital Citizenship skills.

The same type of sharing can be created using other tools like Seesaw and Flipgrid.

Use Reader's Notebooks Instead of Logs

Are you ready to ditch the reading log? Consider using the approach that Miller describes in the Book Whisperer with the idea of a Reader's Notebook that includes letters written back and forth between the student and teacher. You can grab a copy of a digital version of a notebook here

The benefit of using this in the digital form is that if you distribute it through Schoology as a Google or Microsoft Assignment, both you and your students can have access to it when needed. As a teacher, with this format, you have editing privileges and can add slides to respond to your students' letters. Students can also use this notebook to add pictures from the books with their own annotations. If they use post-it notes while reading, they can take pictures of the post-its and add as a reflection. They could also hand write their letters and take pictures of their handwritten work.

Try out Bilbionasium the Goodreads for Kids

You can expand the reader's notebook type of activity and manage the challenge through your school's access to Biblionasium (the Goodreads for kids) through your library's Destiny accounts.

Check out this introduction to Biblionasium and work with your librarian to get things started for your class:

You can run your entire challenge from Biblionasium and build a culture of reading by encouraging students to share reviews and make recommendations. This is a fantastic alternative to incentive based programs we have typically used.

Biblionasium is a fairly new tool for us. You will want to work closely with your librarian to test it out.

Model Global Communication

Many of you are just beginning to use Twitter to share what you are doing in your classrooms. Twitter is the perfect place to connect with authors and other readers. If your students make a cool project or want to share what they love about a book, look to see if the author is on Twitter, by searching for them, and tag them in a tweet.

You can also follow some role model readers and check in on their tweets periodically to see if there's something you can share with your class.

Some of my favorites on Twitter are:
Hashtags - search use these hashtags to connect, share and learn from others

  • Nerdy Book Club - here you have a tremendous resource and online community of readers sharing reviews and ideas.
  • KBA - this is the site for the Kentucky Book Awards - get your students interested in what other kids in our state are reading
  • Global Read Aloud - get really global and connect with other classes for the Global Read Aloud, happening in October
  • FTReads Day - Created by librarian Jason Gay - be on the lookout for this in March

You might even consider taking this all a step further and creating your own class blog or website that you use to share student work. If you do, make sure you send me a link so I can add it to FTReads!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reading Strategies for a Digital Age

Post was also shared on FTEdTech

Some time last Spring, I heard the podcast "Digital Readers Read in an F-Pattern" by Teach Thought. This episode, hosted by Ryan Schaaf, marked the beginning of my newest journey to understand how our students are processing information in a digital environment and how we might help them focus their attention in a world of distractions.

Because of the podcast, I was inspired to pick up my own (digital) copy of Reinventing Learning for the Always On Generation: Strategies and Apps that Work by Ian Jukes and Ryan Schaaf. The considerations and research they explore are fascinating to me and there are many implications for classroom practice that I think are worth time to discuss and study.

The F-Pattern

In the podcast and through the book, I was introduced to the idea of F-Pattern reading and research conducted by the Nielsen Normal Group on Eye Tracking

What does this mean for the classroom?

I have a lot of questions about what I'm learning. One of the biggest things I find myself wondering about is how do our digital natives transition skills and habits between print and digital texts? 

For myself, this information has helped me to pause periodically and ask myself if I'm reading to the right side of the screen and getting all the content I need. I miss so much information in email and in digital reading because I'm not setting reading expectations for myself.

One of my big take-aways is that we must be mindful of teaching students how to slow down and engage in digital texts in meaningful ways.

Reading Strategies for the Digital Age

It is really important to model effective digital reading strategies for students. Show them how to look for embedded dictionaries, highlighters, note taking tools. 

Encourage your students to read with purpose and demonstrate that they have by using a note taking strategy or graphic organizer - either digital or paper/pen.

Students can simplify and customize their reading experience to eliminate distractions, use mark up features embedded in their device and make use of Chrome Extensions like Read&Write. Kasey Bell, in her post "How to Create a Dynamic Reading Experience" has some excellent instructions for how to make that work.

Digital Natives are what Jukes and Shaaf refer to as "Transfluent", which means they are fluent in multiple modes of of media and find it natural to communicate with images then mix in text and color. As teachers, we can capitalize on that by challenging students to be creators not just consumers of information. Give students the opportunity to make use of transfluency skills through the use of activities like Booksnaps and Sketchnoting.

Get some more details and ideas here:

Beyond the Video Project

Post was also published on FTIS EdTech

Chances are if you asked your students how they learned how to do something outside of school, they would reply, "I just YouTube-d it".

We live in a highly visual and media rich world, and our digital natives are certainly adept at creating their own content.

In a world, where according to Ian Junes and Ryan Schaaf, authors of Reinventing Learning for the Always On Generation: Strategies and Apps That Work “Every minute of every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 100 hours of new video are uploaded,” you might wonder: is video becoming the new "old standby" project for when we can't think of anything else to assign our students?

With endless tools and app smashing techniques, it is true, that even our youngest students can produce quality, engaging videos that demonstrate their learning in creative ways; however, what could we add to the list of choices that would challenge their critical thinking skills and model different avenues of communication?

Below, you will find some ideas and resources to get you thinking beyond the video project.


Create Books

Encourage your students to create epublications that they can share beyond a folder. With access to tools like Book Creator through Google Chrome, the Book Creator App, templates in Apple's Pages, and even Google Slides. Students can create media rich content to tell a story, report on a topic or even teach a lesson. 

Resources to get you started

  • Apple Teacher - Pages for iPad - download the iBook to learn how to create beautiful publications - set up a free account and become Apple Teacher certified

Create Websites

Students of all different ages can use Google Sites on a computer or Adobe Spark Pages on the computer or through the iPad app. Adobe Spark also consists of Posts and Videos, so some of the resources will reference those tools. Log into all the Adobe applications with your school email. For Spark Pages, we have Adobe Enterprise, so you'll need to choose sign in, then select "Sign in with Adobe Enterprise" and use your school email and password after.

Resources to get you started

Create Podcasts

One medium that maybe doesn't get enough airtime in our schools is the podcast. Prior to having students create a podcast, you would want to introduce them to the idea of a podcast using some suggestions from Common Sense Media "20 Best Podcasts for Kids". In this list, you'll even find a few podcasts that feature kids. A cool thing about podcasts is that they appeal to the auditory learner, but many of them often include a blog post with "show notes" that act as either a transcription or an extension of the discussion. One of my favorites is  format used by Cult of Pedagogy - check out this example.

Resources to get you started

When you create a podcast in Garageband the important thing is to choose the correct settings.

Once you open a new project, and select microphone, you will turn off the Metronome (upper right side - looks like a triangle), then tap the (+) - or it may say 4.0 on the top right corner, and switch it to Automatic. 

You should then be able to record uninterrupted.

Many of our 3-5 grade students have experience with Garageband thanks to our wonderful Music teachers, and they could be a tremendous asset when you are developing your own lessons.

Create Video Games

There are so many amazing things that can be done with Bloxels. I have seen amazing projects that feature Civil War re-enactments, lessons about the digestive system, and original fairy tales. The key to using Bloxels for projects is to require that students create a storyboard as part of the development and then include written explanations throughout on story blocks.

Resources to get you started

What else can you get kids creating this year?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Leading from the Library with Personalized Professional Learning

In the days of deep budget slashes and little money for professional development, the school librarian is in a perfect position - as someone who has the ability to work with every student and teacher - to lead from the library and fill in what some cases is a major gap. 

One of the big trends in education today is working towards a system of more personalized learning for students. By meeting students where they are in terms of interest and ability we can do so much more to engage them in deep learning and help them develop skills that will aid them in becoming college and career ready as well as model citizens and life-long learners. 

While advocating for personalized learning for students, it is also important to consider the personalized learning needs of our teachers. Talk to any group of teachers, and you will discover that there is a wide range of ability and interest for our teachers when it comes to digital age teaching and learning competencies, because of this it is essential to provide multiple avenues and create more of a personalized approach to learning for our teachers.

The Future Ready Schools Framework advocates for "Personalized Professional Learning" as one of their primary tenants for helping to achieve a "a shared vision of preparing students for success in college, career, and citizenship." You can see if your district has taken the Future Ready Pledge [here]. 

Even if your district has not taken the pledge, you can support teachers in your building by advocating for Future Ready trends. Future Ready Librarians are encouraged to "Lead professional learning to cultivate a broader understanding of the skills that comprise success in a digital age (e.g., critical thinking, information literacy, digital citizenship, technology competencies, etc)."

Begin by Asking Teachers What they Want

So, how do we make this happen? It helps to begin by asking teachers what they want. In the EdSurge article "Personalizing Professional Development for Teachers, By Teachers" by Pat Phillips, Phillips shares that we should begin by including teachers in the design of the PD. One easy strategy is to set up a beginning of the year Google Form and identify what teachers think are their biggest needs, and ask basics like: 

  • What days of the week are best for meeting?
  • Do prefer in person sessions or something more virtual and self paced?
  • What is the optimal length of time for a session?

Once you have some general feedback you can begin to establish a schedule that you can promote. 

Collecting ongoing feedback is also important. Often new trends emerge during the year or tools change. Collecting feedback after sessions helps to stay on top of teacher needs. Often in a session feedback form it helps to ask if teachers need something more in depth or additional resources. I like to ask teachers which tools they need more information about and how they would prefer to get that information (follow up email, one-on-one or a later formal, PD session).

Develop your Plan

The School Librarian wears MANY hats during the school day, so planning personalized professional development is largely going to depend on your schedule. It is critical to put together a team that you can count on for help. Obviously the building administrators will be an asset. If you have access to a Digital Learning Coach or an Instructional Learning Coach in your building, creating a partnership with them is very important. You will also find that you have many teacher leaders in your building who are interested in sharing, recruit them and be their megaphone to amplify the cool things they know. Then set goals. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:
  • How often can I provide PD? 
  • Can I capitalize on any digital tools we have - Google Classroom/LMS?
  • How much time do teachers really have to focus and learn on an ongoing basis?

Once you know what works for your teachers you can create plans that work for their needs. In the beginning, I only focused on our elementary specials area teachers and created custom agendas for them while classroom teachers were attending other district led PD. 

We covered things like learning to use Twitter and finding people to follow, Canva for creating classroom content, website development, and many other topics. 

Once I felt comfortable with my time and with what teachers needed, I began to branch out and get a little more creative.

Creative Ways to Engage Teachers in Ongoing, Personalized PD

We covered things like learning to use Twitter and finding people to follow, Canva for creating classroom content, website development, and many other topics. 

Once I felt comfortable with my time and with what teachers needed, I began to branch out and get a little more creative.

Creative Ways

I found as a librarian, through the year, I really only had writing and lunch time to get new ideas out there. I made heavy use of Smore pages for an ongoing Tuesday Teacher Tips. I included information about things we had in the library, but often took the opportunity to answer questions or provide information based on teacher feedback. Here's an example:

I also used a Power Lunch format once a month. During this time teachers were invited to come and eat lunch together in our conference room and get some time with a new tech tool or idea. As an added bonus, you might think about supplying dessert. We covered topics like HP Reval (Aurasma), Voxer, and collaborating with the tools we had available. 

These two strategies are relatively low key in format and are effective ways to reach out to teachers and creating collaborative opportunities.

If you have a little more time, you might try these next ideas.

Quick and Flexible Formats

DIP Days I wish I could take credit for this name. I heard it in a session at ISTE last year. For this format the person giving the PD provided different dips and teachers were encouraged to Drop in for PD. 

You might however consider a DIP model of Drop in and Play. Host time in your library for teachers to come and play with things you have. Here in Kentucky we like to call that #KyGoPlay time. During a session try the Ignite-Play-Share strategy. Ignite their curiosity with a video or quick demo, give teachers time to play then share how they could use the tool or strategy. These sessions could be as long as an hour or as short as 20 minutes.

Tech in 20 Minutes Some of the "early bird" teachers appreciate a quick 20 minute session before school to get their morning started with a new idea. Over the years I have often hosted these on Tuesdays and we spend time with just one tool and some special features. We use this time to feature new tools and apps or get a quick tutorial on a special feature of something bigger like YouTube.

PD While You...
Another format I have found success with is posting printed out PD While You..flyers in places where teachers are waiting to do...stuff (copy machines, by the mailbox and in bathroom stalls). I try to include links to more information and give them enough that they can let their eyes rest on for short periods of time over the course of a month.

For the Virtual Learner

Not all teachers have time to learn in person. This is one reason why a newsletter, like the Smore I posted above, can be so helpful. You might also consider using your school's LMS or a special Google Classroom to encourage virtual, asynchronous learning. For example, I have developed PD in your PJs modules in Schoology for teachers to use if they need more formal PD hours. Each module connects to different ISTE Standards and includes tasks, videos and articles. 

Your LMS or Google Classroom can be easily used to organize and create a professional book study with discussions and sharing of examples.

Of course, don't underestimate the power of a custom hashtag and sharing on social media like Twitter.

Today, as a Digital Learning Coach, my plan looks a lot more intense. I try to respond to the needs of the teachers and provide many different opportunities. One thing I do to help teacher know what is happening is I create a menu they can refer to:

I have found that offering "PD On Demand" is extremely helpful to teachers who just need some extra help. I publish the dates I am available for that and teachers can "book" that time to go over a skill, strategy or tool specific to their own needs. Sometimes a small group will come together in this way. 

Promoting your services like this on a semester basis can go far to promote things that are available in your library and create a community where everyone is a learner.

What ways do you lead from the library by creating personalized professional learning experiences?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Engaging Students with Digital Interactive Notebooks

Digital Interactive Notebooks are an amazing way to help engage students in the learning process while creating personalized notes with content that is meaningful to them on an individual basis. Teachers can custom create notebooks to help guide students through project based learning, specific units of study or for tracking personal goals.

Check out this 2nd grade example for a unit on plants to get an idea of how one might look.

The digital interactive notebook can act as a compilation of hyperlinked content like video and digital articles, combined with note taking strategies and student created digital products that demonstrate key understandings. 

If used with tools like Google Classroom, teachers can check in on work and insert comments throughout to give feedback and help guide students in deeper understanding. As students grow accustomed to the model, teachers can gradually release creation of the notebook over to the students to choose their own note taking strategies, video and articles to help solidify meaning.

Want to know how to get started with digital notebooks? Check out this Digital Interactive Notebook for step by step directions and activity ideas:

Get your own copy of the notebook [here]

Additional Resources

Monday, June 4, 2018

SAMR Remix Update & Redefining the Role of the Learner.

It's been almost two years since I've updated my resources for SAMR and Bloom's Taxonomy

As I was considering the newest tools out for students to use, it became really clear that as time has gone by my own view of what is "Redefinition" has shifted. This really highlights the subjective nature of the SAMR model. What is Redefining in one classroom, may not be that at all in another. 

When I first began to develop SAMR resources back in June 2014, I placed Nearpod under the Redefinition category. Back then the possibility of putting your presentation directly into every student's hands where they could see clearly and engage in the lesson seemed so forward thinking. When I revised in 2016, I chose to keep it there because of the addition of so many interactive elements, the ability to self-pace for differentiation and of course the virtual field trips that allowed kids to go to even the coral reef. Now, as I look at how far technology integration in the classroom has progressed, I realized that it's time to recategorize it. In this version, I chose to place Nearpod in the Augmentation category, mostly because even with self-pacing, Nearpod is primarily a teacher driven tool that allows students to share their thinking in different ways with their teacher or explore something someone else created. 

Today as I consider tools and integration, I ask myself these things: 
  • Are students creating? 
  • Are students able to push back the walls of the classroom and reach a larger, more global audience?
  • Are students given choice in what they use and how they share?
The more control over the learning and sharing of learning that can be achieved by the student, the better. With those questions, I see myself moving away from SAMR strictly in the sense that I'm referring to technology integration and more toward looking at ways to REDEFINE the role of the LEARNER, which in my own opinion is the real role of technology. 

This is not a be all end all guide to integration of technology, rather a work in progress. The tools represented here, if used in different ways with different intentions by the student, can allow them to redefine their own role. For example, when a teacher uses a Google Form to collect data from students, it's simply Substitution, but when a student makes the decision to create a Google Form to collect data for personal record and goal setting or, even better, for a specific project that seeks to gather information from people from around the world, and they then take that data and visualize it with reports, it changes the role of the tool. Students are redesigning tasks to meet their own needs, collecting data from far and wide in ways they wouldn't have easily been able to do before. In this case we see the tool can be used in an Augmentation or Modification capacity.

In 2018, our students can easily share their thinking, their findings, their judgements with a global audience through video, book publishing and podcasting, and they can model and prototype in 3D with virtual and augmented reality, and there are plenty of tools out there to make these tasks even better.

The interactive image below includes links to resources and ideas for use. Be sure to check out the resources with the red target for background. Blue targets will send you to the resource, and black will send you to different ideas for implementation.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Curating and Collaborating with Google's Jamboard App

Post originally published under FTEdTech
I am always on the look out for strategies and applications that allow our elementary students to collaborate. When you can add in tools that will let them sketchnote, curate resources from multiple sources, including their drive and use tools that autodraw icons based on rough sketches, then you know you have something that kids can really get into using.

I am really excited to share the new app we have in the app portal called Jamboard. Jamboard is essentially a collaborative whiteboard app that includes some pretty impressive features - including collaboration! It is part of GSuite (Google applications) and you sign into it with your school email/password. This app opens up so many possibilities for sketchnoting, curation of ideas and most importantly collaboration!  Jamboard is an application that can be used with or without a physical Jamboard recently released by Google. 

Check out the basics of how to get started with Jamboard below:

Write now, I'd have to say my favorite feature is, hands down, autodraw.  I like the idea of sketchnoting, but I often get caught up in the idea that my sketches don't really show what I want them to show. Autodraw is a tool that I can use to move past one of my personal barriers to creating notes.  

In addition to the cool sketchnoting capabilities, Jamboard also offers a way to curate information from a variety of sources like your Google Drive and the web. Imagine organizing thoughts for a video by pulling in research from the internet and notes from a class project that you did in Google Slides.  Jamboard makes this possible.  Check out how that might look below:

One of the last powerful features of Jamboard is the collaboration feature. To get started collaborating, with our current permission level, teachers would begin a Jamboard, then invite students to share ideas on the board through an email or by a code. This would be a powerful way for a group to plan a video project or a presentation that required them to research add images, drawing, and to organize their ideas. Check out the video below to see how to make that happen.

Want to try it out, but need some help?  Let me know! I have ideas for you!