Sunday, September 23, 2012

These are a few of my favorite pins...

I’m only a little addicted to Pinterest.  It is such a fun way to find ideas I didn’t know I needed and an even better way to organize and remember where things are on the Internet.  I like to think of it as an amped up “Favorites” list since I can actually see what the link is about.
Through the summer, I pinned library ideas like crazy.  I kind of feel bad for the people following me – 99% of whom are not librarians – because they got flooded with library and book related pins!  Of all the things that I found on Pinterest, below are the things that I have been most excited to learn about – either from the pin itself or from browsing the linked site a little more.
1.       Evernote – I honestly don’t remember where I first saw this productivity tool – but since I downloaded it and began using it, I’ve seen it mentioned numerous times.  Evernote is a way to keep track of notes, lists, food experiences etc.  You can download it to your desktop and download the app for your smartphone and link your accounts so that you can access your notes anywhere.  I have it on our home computer, my phone and on my school computer so that I can keep track of things from anywhere. This has been extremely helpful to me as I’ve started back for the school year and have needed to keep track of to-do lists, lesson ideas, links – and I use Evernote Food to keep track of recipes that I love.  I’ve even got a shared notebook with my husband and we keep track of our grocery list on it – so if one of us is at the store, we know what we need to pick up.
2.       PowToon – if you’ve read any of my other posts, I guess it’s probably clear that I’m really obsessed with this right now! It’s been such a fun way to engage students.  I used it as a preview of an introduction to who I am (since I’m new to my school this year) and I just finished creating a PowToon of the nonfiction section.  The kids really love the cartoon quality – and think I’m a tech genius.  The folks over at PowToons have really done a good job of helping make me look smart to the third graders ;)
3.       LiveBinders – I really wish I had known about this site sooner.  LiveBinders is a great way to create electronic binders that contain content that can be easily shared.  Binders have always been my choice of organization strategy – over file folders.  When I come across something I really like, I make sure I link it as a resource in one of my binders.  The purpose of the site is similar to Pinterest – it allows users to create a platform on which they can organize ideas and content.  The bonus here is that you can upload documents and include links that don’t have a picture to pin.  I created a Technology binder to help keep track of articles and tools I really like, and it’s something that I could share with my faculty once I have more content in it.
4.       E2Bn  - East of England Broadcast Network – has some pretty cool online collections (Myths and Legends & History’s Heroes) and tools that I cannot wait to try out.  Discovery Box especially seems like a great way to share research projects, and I hope to use it in some way with my 4th and 5th graders.  There’s also Picture Teller, Story Creator and Speech Maker to round out the available resources.
5.       50 Education Technology Tools Every Educator Should Know About- I just recently pinned this one (Evernote is on it) and as I was looking through the list, I realized there were a lot of sites I needed to study up on!  This is one of those that I think I will keep coming back to as I work on discovering new things.
6.       Tech Talk for Teachers: Let’s Get SMART – 21 tips for using a Smart Board.  Many of these are ones that I already knew, but number 7 – directions for inserting images without backgrounds into Smart Notebook files; number 19 – directions for dual display that allows you to show something on the Smartboard, while you work on something else on the same computer;, number 20 – with the newest version of the Smart Notebook software you can insert a web page into the notebook file; number 21 – an intro to using Voki with Smart Notebook 11.
7.       67 Books Every Geek Should Read to their Kids Before Age 10 This list is such a great mix of classics and newer fiction and poetry.  It really does a good job of covering all of the different genres as well – you’ll find books by Kinney, DiCamillo, Tolkien, Silverstein, Gaiman and more.  This is one I plan to keep handy at the circulation desk as quick recommendations for kids when I’m blanking outJ
I know there are a ton more than this, ones that I’ll rediscover or make use of later this year – especially because I end up being in the “pin now read later” category more often than not.  With so many ideas floating around out there in cyberspace, I am glad to have found such a fun way to learn about new ideas and pin things down that I want to try or read more about. 

What have you found on Pinterest that has helped you?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Conquering Library Organization

Helping students to understand library organization is a difficult task – and the one that I am working on this week.  Part of what I really focus on early is trying to help students feel empowered to find the things that they are most interested in reading.  Because the library was recently renovated, I don’t have all the signage up to help the kids find the things they’re looking for – but it’s also a bonus because they are paying much closer attention to the lesson, and I see many of them really trying to remember the Dewey numbers they are most interested in.
How to find books in the library – by grade

K: For the Kindergarten kids, it will be a long time before I actually start talking about library organization.  This week we read But Excuse Me, That is my Book one of my Lauren Child favorites.  In our discussion of the story we focused on problem and solution.  I began our discussion by asking the kids of they know what problems are.  They did an awesome job of coming up with examples – like “sometimes I can’t see the pages of the book because another person is in the way”.  We then talked about what a solution is – and they again came up with great examples: “I can ask the person in front of me to scoot to the side a little or  sit criss-cross applesauce”.  After that, the easily recognized that Lola’s problem was she couldn’t find the book she wanted – and Charlie’s solution – to try something new – was a good one.  We were then able to talk about how our library has lots of books and what we can do if the book we want the most isn’t available. 
1st Grade: The first graders learned about choosing books that are right for them.  We went through part of a powerpoint on Finding a Book and watched a BrainPop  video on choosing books, talked about the “five finger rule”, and I briefly explained that the Everybody section is in ABC order.  They then practiced ABC order using a handout – you could really use any appropriate ABC order worksheet.
2nd Grade: We got a little more in depth about library organization.  I explained the “five finger rule” to them, and then we went through the entire Finding a Book presentation (we skipped the brainpop video).  My original PowerPoint was confusing for some of my second graders, and I modified it after the first lesson to describe the call numbers like it was a street address.  For my second class, the lesson went much more smoothly and I felt like I much more successfully communicated the idea of call number to them.  During checkout time, the second graders demonstrated their understanding by organizing book spines in ABC order that I made and laminated.
3rd -5th Grade: I created a Prezi and Powtoon to introduce the nonfiction section of the library. 

I also created some nonfiction book spines so that the kids could practice putting things in number order.  I made a lot of spines so we could have a lot of different combinations.  Each table got an envelope with about 10 laminated spines in it.  For 4th and 5th grade, we took it a step further and they filled out a worksheet I called Where Can I Find It? They used a Nonfiction Cheat Sheet for the assignment. 

When I’m finished going over this with all the classes, I’m going to post the Nonfiction Cheat Sheets throughout the library so the kids can reference them quickly if they’re in a hurry to find something and don’t have time to use the online catalog.  The kids are really getting a kick out of the Powtoons I’ve made.  I tried to keep it short and focus on the topics I know the kids are interested in the most.  I uploaded the Powtoon to Youtube and then linked it to our library page so the kids can watch it again if the forget. (I’m still under free Powtoon membership and right now the upload time is unlimited – so I’m taking advantage!)
When I have signage up in the library, I think the kids will find it much easier to locate the books they're most interested in - so that is on my to do list for next week!
What things do you do to help the kids find what they’re looking for in the library?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Library Material Organization & Routines

This week I worked more on establishing checkout routines with students and organizing the library so that students would know where to go and what to do.
Library Materials Organization
I like to make things as easily accessible to the students as possible.  I have a designated materials section where students can find crayons, paper, extra sharpened pencils, tissues etc. 

Current Materials Center
Additionally, at each table students have a small pencil bucket, white board and dry erase marker, and table sign with seat numbers. 

For me, assigning students to a seat, and creating a seating chart, is one of those things that helps everyone know where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do.  I often assign students a task by seat number and that helps with the general flow of instruction.  My tables will accommodate 6 students, but  Iike to keep groups to 4 students each, so the 5&6 numbers are at seats that I likely won’t fill.

Example of table sign.  I glue it to construction paper, trim it all down and laminate

Additionally, on each table there will be a set of shelf markers for easy access and plastic name badges for library cards.  I made shelf markers out of laminated card stock.  I'm not sure that they'll surivive very long, but they each have a unique number on them so students can identify which one they are using. I have students put their library cards in a name badge for three reasons – 1) to keep the card from getting ripped up, and 2) it makes it easy to find it to scan it, 3) it acts as a name tag.  I bought the badges with metal clips through a school supply store - but you could get them at any office supply store.  The name badges get pretty abused throughout the year because I use the same set of badges for all classes, so I always buy about 100, so I can replace them as needed.  To get library cards out quickly to students, I keep them filed by class; then each table has a laminated envelope where their cards are stored with their teacher’s name and their table letter on it.
I have three days worth of checkouts under my belt, and one thing is for sure – I have some fine tuning to do.  I have 35 minutes to get kids seated, do a lesson, and I need to allow time for kids to pick out books and get checked out.  I’m down five minutes from last year, and I am really feeling it; it’s actually funny how big of a deal five minutes can be!  Next week I’m going to set a timer on my phone so that I can keep myself on track better.  I guess I’ll have to keep doing that until the I get the timing down.
Week 2 of lessons

For the second week of classes, I focused on some basic check out procedures and book care.  With first – fifth grade, I introduced the use of a shelf marker (with the help of a YouTube video embedded in a prezi) and my procedures for using library cards.  Check out my Prezi Library Organization Week 2.  We pretty much made it through everything except I skimmed over the website information.  I also skipped the book care video with the older kids to save some time – but the K-2 students loved it! 
What suggestions do you have for organizing your space and what are your favorite routines?