Monday, October 26, 2015

CECA/CASL Conference 2015- Takeaways for K-2 Library Media

Today's Connecticut Educators Computer Association (CECA) & Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL) annual conference provided wonderful learning opportunities for a middle school classroom teacher turned K-2 library media specialist such as myself.

The theme of the conference, "Breakdown Walls: Empower Learners" resonated throughout the individual presentations.  Here are some helpful takeaways and presenter links from the four sessions and keynote address that I attended.

Session 1.  Going Global: Inviting the World into the Classroom

Presenters Nicole Nowakoski (@NicoleNowa) and Carolyn Daniels (@carolynbdmyt) did an excellent job at sharing their experiences with using social media and programs such as Twitter, Skype, Padlet, Blogs, Kahoot and Minecraft to break down the four walls of the elementary school classroom.  Some major takeaways included:
  • Start within the 4 walls first. Begin by modeling Twitter use to your class through a classroom Twitter account. Tweet out morning meeting information, connect locally with other classrooms in district on Twitter.  Tweet student poetry and work - students will focus on spelling with an audience! Eventually go global and connect with the outside world.
  • Use Skype for a "Mystery Skype" - try to guess where other classrooms are in the world that the students are communicating with. This can be done with parents/community members who travel
  • Set up a class blog for students to share their work and thinking
Their Online Presentation:

Session 2. Elementary Learning Centers

Presenter Kate Candido (@KateMCandido) shared some of her great ideas for getting started with learning centers in your K-5 library.  Her rational for learning centers included an emphasis on student collaboration, independent learning, and problem solving. For teachers, learning centers provide opportunities for differentiation, flexible grouping, and targeted group instruction.  Her ideas for centers included QR code listening stations, keyboarding stations, Lego maker stations, trivia question of the week stations, research stations, and online educational game stations. Kate did a great job of using Nearpod to enable audience members to share their own ideas. 

Kate's Media Center's Blog:

Session 3. Empowering Young Learners with STEAM Activities and Challenges

Maureen Schlosser (@MaureenSchlosse)and Becky Granantini provided some wonderful picture book inspired STEAM challenges with the class. The books that they most recommended tying in with STEAM challenges included: The Most Magnificent Thing, Going Places, It's Only Stanley, Rosie Revere Engineer, Iggy Peck Architect, and A Storm Called Katrina.  One fun example for the little ones was to read the 3 Little Pigs, and then have the students create a toothpick/marshmallow houses to resist the big bad wolf (a powered fan).  They recommended that rubrics for these projects begin with "I Can" statements. 

Here is an example of the activity for A Storm Called Katrina:

Session 4. Hands on Exploration of Makerspace Resources

Jenny Lussier (@jluss) did a wonderful job at introducing some Makerspace technology tools, while still providing ample time for the audience to work with the tools in a hands-on environment.  Participants explored Makey Makeys, Little Bits, Spheros, Ozbots, and more. Their online presentation provides information about these Makerspace resources. 

Their online presentation: 

The Keynote Presentation - Angela Maiers 

Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) delivered an inspiring presentation which delivered her message that we do not have a technology gap, but a literacy gap.  Literacy, which goes beyond the traditional sense, enables us to understand complex messages, convey meaning, and rally others.  In the 21st century, the literacy road map is changing, as are the rules of the road. We must be constant unlearners and relearners, and help our students to do the same. Angela reminded us that kids want to share, create, and collaborate.  She also warned us to run away from any speaker that claims they are the expert and a guru, because only the room, with its collective minds, is the true guru.

Angela's online presentation materials:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

App Smashing Padlet & Hello Crayons with a side of Pumpkin Soup

I have been excited and surprised to see some apps and programs that I used to use as an 8th grade social studies teacher also work with my current K-2 library classes. I incorporated Padlet (originally Wallwisher) for years in my social studies classes, but did not think of bringing it into my library classes until a colleague recently described it as a K-12 app.  Having only used the web version and not the app, I was delighted to see how K-2 friendly the iPad app was. The best feature had to be the built-in QR code scanner that easily lets the students access a shared Padlet through a teacher displayed QR code.  

While I understood that the QR code feature could help my students easily access our shared Padlet, I was originally skeptical about using this app with my K-1 students. As an 8th grade social studies teacher, I had used Padlet primarily as a space for my students to share their thinking through typed responses. It was not until I did a little research online and found a wonderful article, Kindergarten Padlets, from, when I understood that Padlet can also be used to share student thinking through illustrations.

By app smashing Padlet with a drawing app, students can save their drawings to the iPad camera roll, and easily upload them to a collaborative class Padlet.

These students are using the drawing app "Hello Crayons" before sharing to Padlet

On my first go-around with Padlet in the library, I decided to have my K-2 students draw a response to a question concerning a character in the picture book Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper.

In this perfect story for autumn, the Cat and Squirrel become worried when their friend the Duck storms off after a squabble concerning their roles in preparing their daily pumpkin soup.  We never know where the Duck disappeared to before returning, but the Cat and Rabbit present many fanciful ideas through thought bubbles.  For our class reflection, my students drew their own thought bubbles of what they imagined the Duck was doing all along.  I had my students work in pairs, and reminded them to take turns sharing better than the 3 character did in the story!

This Padlet contains some of my students' thought bubbles about what Duck was doing the whole time:

On this first go around, I miss-planned the timing of my 30-minute lesson and ran out of time to explain to the whole class how to upload their drawings to the class Padlet.  Many groups simply didn't finish their drawings in time. As a result, I only had a few students in each class finish in time for me to help direct them individually how to access Padlet through the QR code scanner and upload their saved image. The Padlet above contains a mix of K-2 drawings.  One unintended consequence was a shared K-2 Padlet, but in the end the students loved seeing the work posted by the other classes.

I plan to use this application more regularly so that the steps become routine, as well as explore some other options such as the drawing features in Nearpod.

Some technical notes:
If Hello Crayons is not saving the illustrations to the camera roll, check the app settings to make sure that permissions are granted. Additionally, if the built in QR code scanner on Padlet is not working, your firewall might be the issue.