I just wrapped up an exciting weekend with some amazing Pennsylvania librarians at the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association annual conference. This conference is always held at the “sweetest place on Earth” – Hershey, Pennsylvania. Fortunately for me, this is also the town in which I teach, so I had very little traveling to do.
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for PSLA, so my conference began with a Board Meeting. Meanwhile, other attendees had the fortune of attending a pre-conference workshop learning about the new state evaluation system and how librarians can/should be evaluated. (There is so much debate on this topic and I’m still working out my personal opinion on the issue). So often teacher-librarians are pushed into professional development offerings that target classroom teachers, we sometimes get lost in the mix. And while we most certainly ARE teachers and a lot of the information is beneficial, it’s nice to have a dedicated professional development for our unique role. Many librarians look to PSLA to fulfill that need.
The lovely @LibrarianLister and @MackinVIA presenting at #PSLA2016 Tech lab! pic.twitter.com/YhUwar0v1a
— PSLA_News (@PSLA_News) May 12, 2016
Then we headed to dinner and our keynote speaker, Richard Byrne. Richard spoke on “Leading Students in a Hyper Connected World” and he was kind enough to share his presentation on his blog, FreeTech4Teachers. Nothing is better than a speaker with a sense of humor. Particularly after a long day of learning.
He really had the crowd rolling when he shared this clip from The Office.
I had followed his blog prior to see him speak, and I’m confident he just gained a few hundred more after his keynote.
Friday morning was kicked off with the Awards Breakfast. This is one of my favorite events in the entire conference because I get to see so many hard working individuals be recognized.
Congrats @MrsJinthelib and the Wilson SD for winning Outstanding School Library Program Di… https://t.co/nsWuwJX6ui pic.twitter.com/KuXiQBPo2J
Way to go! #PSLA2016 Outstanding Administrator Award! Every librarian needs a supportive admin team. pic.twitter.com/oFGAJrwrV0
Outstanding Building Level Admin Award #PSLA2016 So many good words about libraries. https://t.co/4R67UzzHz9 pic.twitter.com/8LqkvQLXEd
Great discussion w/ @AlanGratz & @JerrySpinelli1 about writing Holocaust books for young people #PSLA2016 pic.twitter.com/twXoteUPay
— Phil Burrell (@pburrell) May 13, 2016
The best and worst part about conferences is choosing sessions. I love the ability to choose sessions that interest me, but find it SO frustrating when so many awesome sessions are occurring at the same time. PSLA 2016 was no exception.
PSLA used this awesome tool called Sched to post the sessions online. You could create an account and make your own schedule. I love it! You can still see the schedule of events here. You can even upload session handouts straight to the app. I loved it.
I presented with some of my best friends (also colleagues) on Blended Professional Learning. You can see our slides here.
After the last session, I grabbed a bite to eat and geared up for the Unconference!
We did the Unconference “Learning Commons” style where we organized according to our interests. You can see the spreadsheet here. There was some amazing discussion on eBooks, makerspaces, coding! (Unconferences are another love/hate relationship. I want to be at EVERY table at the same time).
Along the way, librarian’s shared their “Library Wins” which was so empowering.
After the discussions, we moved to the Smackdown. During the Smackdown, librarians share their favorite tools or bring up a topic they’d like to discuss.
Saturday was an easy day with breakfast, our author keynote by Jacqueline Davies, and one final session.
The end of the conference is always bittersweet. You’re so exhausted so you’re happy, but you’re sad that you may not see some of these people for an entire YEAR! (What was life before social media?)
I am so happy to have been a part of the conference. I am also thankful that the conference ended on a Saturday giving me an entire Sunday to get re-energized for the week ahead.
As much as I love attending national conferences like ISTE, AASL, and FETC, there is so much power in your local organization. It’s like a little family. We support each other, we encourage each other, we console each other. I remember my very first time I attended PSLA – I was in my junior year as an undergrad. Since then, my family has grown tremendously with new librarians, but the old faces stay around – supporting, encouraging, and consoling. Regardless of whether they just retired or retired a decade ago – they’re love and passion for school libraries is contagious.
That’s awesome for two reasons.
1 – I love Graphite! Graphite is a tool that has an abundance of reviews and ratings for websites and apps. If you’re looking for a tool to accomplish a task, there are hundreds of collections published on every topic imaginable.
2 – I love Common Sense Media. As a middle school librarian I’m always looking for in-plain-English reviews of books. Particularly books with “questionable” topics. Common Sense Media reviews are done by both parents and students that have READ the book and provide specific examples. (I’ll post more about that soon)
I was allowed to write about anything connected to #makerspaces. This was difficult for me. How do I narrow that down? So I decided to shake things up a little bit.
I wrote a post on why you should STOP thinking about starting a makerspace.
Writer’s Workshop is intended to give students a creative outlet.
Makerspaces are intended to give students a creative outlet.
Put them together and you have magic.
Three easy steps:
Step 1: We reserved the LGI because we needed a large space. We put all three ELA classes together (approximately 75 students).
Step 2: We brainstormed all of the creative things we could have the students do. We made this Tackk to share the options with students.
Step 3: Sit back and watch 🙂
So what have I learned?
- The “makerspace” isn’t really a “space” at all. It’s more of a culture and a mindset. In reality, what we call the “makerspace” is really just convenient access to the storage of everything.
- The makerspace doesn’t have to be an extension activity or an add-on. There are so many ways that you can incorporate making into the curriculum. Advice: take the most boring topic you can think of and incorporate making.
- Begin with “suggested” activities to get the creative juices flowing, but don’t limit their creativity to just those activities.
- If assigning a grade, try to focus on the process and the planning rather than the final product. It’s important to stress that mistakes will happen and you only truly fail if you give up. Sometimes the greatest inventions occurred on accident.
Be sure to connect with the three teachers that made this all happen!
Update: sARndbox “In Plain English” video
WHAT IS IT?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
HOW IT’S MADE?
- A sandbox that is a 4:3 ratio (this is so it matches the ratio of the projector). It’s not a big deal if your box is bigger than the 4:3 ratio, just know that your projection won’t fill the entire box. You can either build your sandbox out of wood (what we did) or find something to use as a makeshift sandbox (think dresser drawer or a plastic storage bin).
- Ours was 32″ x 24″. In hindsight, I might have made it a little bigger but since we did a lot of transporting, I’m glad ours was smaller.
- If building your sandbox out of wood (as we did), I’d recommend water sealing it or lining it with a plastic tarp of some sort. Ours is not a permanent fixture so we did neither.
- TIPS: Your INTERIOR measurements are what’s important. So if you’re using 2″ thick wood for your sandbox walls, you’d want to factor that in when building the box.
- Caulk to seal the inside of the sandbox. I guess this wasn’t super necessary but our kids liked using the caulk gun.
- Sand that will cover your entire sandbox with at least 4″ of sand.
- We used Play Sand from Home Depot and added a little bit of water when we did the demonstrations. This way we could do a bit more molding. We used 3, 50lb bags ($3.90 x 3 = $11.70)
- Some places recommend white sand such as this kind from Sandtastic but its much more expensive ($31.99 x 6 = $191.94)
- You can also use Moon Sand ($58.04 x 8 = $464.32) or Kinetic Sand ($49.99 x 14 = $699.86) if you want a crazy experience.
- A computer with at least the following:
- Running the 64bit version of Linux
- At least an Intel i5 (preferrably an i7 processor) running at least 3GHz. The better the processor, the faster the Kinect can scan and simultaneous project what it’s rendering. Ours was about a 3 second delay because of our 5 year old i5. We found an i5 processor in an old computer in the technology “death room”.
- 2 GB of RAM to run the software.
- A hard drive with at least 20GB free for the installation of Linux and the software
- A sweet graphics card. We used a GTX 950 ($177.99) but I would not go any lower than that. Ideally, go with the 980TI ($619.99) as it will look much more like the quality in the video above. We have a lot of students that build their own computers for fun. One of our students that was instrumental in building this had a 950 that we used.
- A first generation xBox Kinect for the Xbox 360 (not the Xbox One!) A lot of kids have upgraded to Xbox One so we had several kids bring in their “extra” kinects.
- A short throw projector. (Teachers: Think ceiling mounted projector for SMART board vs. the ones you’d set on a cart in the back of the classroom). Originally we used an old projector from the technology “death room” but the bulb died the day before the “show” (#storyofmylife). So much to the displeasure of my technology department, I stole the one from my library classroom. (#sorrynotsorry)
- You’ll want a projector that has HDMI or DVI that way you can take full advantage of the graphics card. You can still use a projector that has a VGA component, but it will definitely cut back on the quality output.
- Something the mount the projector and Kinect above the sandbox.
- Your Kinect should be mounted at the same height as your box is wide. (Our box was 32″ wide, so we mounted the Kinect 32″ high)
- A vacuum (see images below)
- Mountain Dew, Italian Four Cheese CheezIts (“must haves” according to middle schoolers)
- Camera to document everything
Basically, it will look like this.
Or, if you can’t read middle school, this:
MORE FROM THE ADVENTURE
AND. IT. WAS. AWESOME.
The community response on the AR sandbox was overwhelmingly positive. People thought this was a project for gifted and they were so surprised to learn that this wasn’t a project at all, it was just a bunch of kids interested in learning more about this.
As I was editing this post, we received a phone call asking us to present at the Business Leaders Breakfast next week. I guess I’ll be dismantling that projector in my library again 🙂
So – time to get creative!
When I originally printed them, I had intended on using them as pictured above. I was hoping that kids would see the shelf marker for a book that was checked out and turn to the eBook without leaving disappointed.
Then it hit me!
“Project C: Lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement” is a series of electronic field trips occurring throughout the Civil Rights fiftieth anniversary years of 2013-2015 that focus on the role of citizenship in a democracy through the study of historical events. The collection is available on PBS Learning Media. PBS LearningMedia is a FREE resource for teachers and students with some of the best educational content from NOVA, American Experience, Frontline and MANY more. Click here to learn more about PBS LearningMedia.
“The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom is a “choose your own journey” style online game that incorporates 3-D experiences as students make a series of choices that affect their journey. Played from a first-person perspective, the game immerses students in the action as they escape from a southern plantation and head north toward freedom. Along the route, students make key decisions that will lead them to one of several possible outcomes.” (from the NatGeo website). Make sure you check out the Educator Guide.
(*Actually a lot of people that sell aren’t educators although they still make some awesome stuff.)
I used TPT a lot when I was an elementary school librarian, particularly after having my first child. I knew what I wanted to do in class, but all of the resources I had were old and unattractive. While I know it’s about the content and not about what it looks like, I just couldn’t stand to look at the yellowing transparencies. However, I didn’t have the time to recreate everything. Many a time I would hop on TPT and find this amazing ^free (because I have yet to buy something on there) resource and use it the next day.
Well, during that time I had heard how first-grade teacher Deanna Jump made $1,000,000 (yep, 6 zeros) by selling on TPT. Now, there are over 12 teachers that have earned over a million dollars and over 300 have earned more than $100,000.
I was (and still am) totally broke and was spending hours creating what I thought to be awesome teaching resources. TeachersPayTeachers seemed like a perfect option for me. So, I listed a few things. One of my resources (free) was downloaded over 20,000 times! Awesome, right? So I began putting a price of some of my things. I had bookmarks, a call number game, etc. I never marketed my products and I never bought the premium version of TPT, so I got about 20 cents on the dollar for anything I sold. But whatever – when you’re that broke, an extra $10 a month is awesome!
But then, it just started feeling yucky. I’m a librarian for crying out loud! Sharing is what I’m all about! And despite the fact that my mother raised me to be a coupon clipping, never-buy-anything-unless-its-on-sale kinda gal, this just felt wrong. I couldn’t help but picture the new teacher scrambling for resources on TPT and whipping out their pre-paid credit card that their grandmother got them for Christmas to purchase my dumb worksheet.
…Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.
…And maybe I’m just seeing myself. Anyway.
So yesterday I made all of my “products” free. I still think TPT is a great place to go for resources and I will probably continue to list items I create on that site (for free), but I will also list them on my blog (stay tuned!) as well as other resource sharing sites.
Til next time.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama
I began studying library science in 2007. We were told that jobs were going to be in high demand due to retirements and that job satisfaction was among the highest of all careers in education. I learned as much as I could about librarianship and instructional technology. Fortunately, the university I attended had the Instructional Technology and Library Science departments combined, so I was able to immerse myself in emerging technologies as well. I had fun. I was excited to begin my career as a “21st Century Librarian”.
Then came 2008. Librarian positions began getting slashed. Library support positions were slashed. Funding was slashed. Some libraries closed altogether. It was heartbreaking. Yet, despite this devastation, it brought about a great deal of good.
For the few years following the economy crash, students and teachers found ways to survive without us – without the “traditional” us. And now that we’re back, we can’t be the librarians we used to be.
We need to transform.
I can’t wait to see what this group comes up with. I’m so excited and honored to be an advocate of TYSL. Stay tuned for more to come!
After all, “progress is impossible without change.”
Last year I immersed myself in maker education. I followed everyone imaginable, read every book published, and learned as much as I could. As my knowledge grew, I became more and more excited about what a makerspace could look like at my school. Our district was also immersing itself in blended education and was big on the idea of the library as a Learning Commons. After working with our Director of Infrastructure Technology, Director of Instructional Technology, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and my building administrators, a makerspace vision was developed.
I also made this infographic.
Knowing I would be on maternity leave for the 1st marking period, I did as much planning prior to the start of the school year. Unfortunately/fortunately, my bundle of joy arrived nearly a month early and I wasn’t at the spot I needed to be in order to officially “start” the Makerspace.
I returned to school a few weeks ago and had the official “grand opening” of the HMS Makerspace. Kids flocked to the library. I mean FLOCKED. It was chaos. Beautiful chaos. And I loved it! It was the best distraction from being away from my children.
And after a few days, the beauty disappeared and it was just chaos. Pure and simple.
And I was devastated.
Wide Open Spaces
Staggered Classes and Study Halls
Not Everyone Wants to Use the Makerspace
What to do?
It took me all of 30 minutes to clean out my office. It was only my second year at this school so I hadn’t accumulated much stuff. Further, I hated being in there anyway. Even though the office has glass walls (which makes it PERFECT for the makerspace), I always felt as though there was a barrier between me and the students. Again, barrier = PERFECT for this situation.
|LittleBits station (on our “new” moveable tables)|
|MakeyMakey station (my old desk)|