Maryland Facts – March 8, 2017

Here are some facts I have learned about Maryland

  1. Maryland was named after Queen Mary of Britain.
  2. Kevin Durant, Babe Ruth, Michael Phelps, and Cal Ripken Jr are all from Maryland.
  3. The US Naval Academy is located in Annapolis.

 

I found all of my facts on Ducksters.com

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Student Blogging

Over the last two weeks I have explored the world of blogging even further by looking at student blogging. I created a voicethread about the topic to share the many benefits of blogging in a classroom or library setting.  In the voicethread I discuss the many ways blogs can be used across the curriculum.  I also share online platforms (such as this one) where a teacher can create blog accounts for their students. Finally, I discuss how blogging can take student learning into the 21st Century by meeting AASL standards.

I hope you take a few minutes to view my voicethread and learn about student blogging.  Let me know what you think.

Student Blogging

 

Glogging about Animals

Welcome back!

This week I discovered an amazing web 2.0 tool called Glogster. The easiest way to describe Glogster is an online poster maker, but that really doesn’t do it justice. When you (or your students) create these “glogs,” you can add text, pictures (either your own or from the internet), videos, audio, and even documents!

The possibilities for use in the classroom are endless. Students could use Glogster as a place to store research, they could create book reports, share what they did on a field trip, explain to another student how to solve a math problem. There are tons of pre-loaded templates or you can create your own. How cool right?

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time this week thinking of how I could integrate this amazing new tool into my lessons.

My third grade students are getting ready to start a research project on endangered animals. I choose this project because the Next Gen Science standards (LS 4-3, 4-4) discuss how habitat effects an animal’s ability to survive. I was thinking of ways to get my students excited about this project and that’s when it hit me…create a glog.

Here is the glog I created as an anticipatory set to get the students excited about this project. The glog contains pictures of endangered animals and a brief statement about the dangers they are facing. I also included two videos for the students to watch to explain the seriousness of this situation. My students will be able to explore the glog independently and then choose which animal they want to research. This covers the first steps in our inquiry process (LM Standards: 1.B.1.a, 1.B.2.a) I was even able to attach some project directions to the students on the glog!

Check it out and let me know what you think?

Endangered Animal Glog

Keeping up with Classroom Blogs

For my second blog post, I decided to continue exploring blogs. This time I shifted my focus to Classroom blogs. Just like in my previous post, I’ve reviewed three blogs that show the power of using blogs in a classroom setting.

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom – http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org/
The second blog I explored was Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom.  This blog focuses on a classroom of six year olds in Canada. The design of this blog is simple, so it allows the reader to focus on exploring all the fun activities happening in this classroom.  Cassidy posts short descriptions of lessons and events in her classroom along with pictures and videos.
One of my favorite posts was titled “We Still Want to Learn.” After the New Year, students told their teacher what they still wanted to learn in first grade.  The blog post consists of a number of screenshots from Twitter where Cassidy tweeted students’ responses using the hashtag #2017learn. I think this was a good way to kick of the new year and could be used at the end of the school year to see if the students met their goal. The reason this post stood out to me is I have never seen an educator use social media in this way before.  Cassidy does not limit the blog posts to curriculum based activities sometimes she posts fun pictures like this one of pajama day.
I found Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom to be a simple yet effective way to share what was happening in this teacher’s classroom.  I believe that Cassidy created and posts this blog as a way to communicate with the parents of her students.  If I had a student in her class I would love to look at this blog and not only read about but see what my child was doing every day.

Curiously Collaborative – http://curiouslycollaborative.blogspot.com/

Curiously Collaborative is a blog about a middle school project-based learning classroom.  I was drawn to this blog because it did not sound like a “typical” classroom. The blog itself is very easy to navigate with short but detailed blogs and a few pictures.
The first post that caught my eye had to do with BreakOut EDU kits. The blog discusses how Breakout Kits encourage students to work together and think critically to solve a problem in the form of a game. I have been hearing about these kits for months and I was excited to read more about them. A second post actually detailed how the students were presented with a problem, had to solve several puzzles to open the Breakout box (all in 45 minutes or less). The blog discussed how students took different roles and how sometimes the roles switched throughout the game. A few pictures of the students in action were also posted. This blog convinced me that I definitely want a Breakout EDU kit for my library.  Another post that I found interesting discussed how the teacher purchased ten Kindles for students to use in the classroom. This gives students access to books in that they might not have physical copies of. I think this was a great solution to the problem of not having many high interest books in a classroom library.
Since I have never taught middle school I found Curiously Collaborative to very interesting. While the teacher does include some student pictures and work, this blog is definitely aimed at other teachers as a way to share ideas.

Mr. Geiman’s Unbounded Classroom – http://blog.elanco.org/ageimanla/

Mr. Geiman’s Unbounded Classroom is a blog created by a fourth-grade teacher.  I found the set-up of this blog to be fascinating. Geiman posts a small blog detailing a lesson from his classroom.  The students in his class all have individual blogs which he has linked to his home page. Students post written responses, stories, and pictures to their blog to share their learning.
In his most recent blog post, Geiman shares that his class recently learned about Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He posed a question to his students asking them to think about why King picked the Lincoln Memorial as the location for his famous speech. In response to this question, one of the students posted this to his personal blog. In another post, Geiman shared that his students were practicing writing from a different point of view. The students chose to write The Three Little Pigs from the wolf’s point of view.
How amazing is this blog? I absolutely love the idea of having students create their own blogs as a type of online portfolio of their learning. I think this is a great teaching tool for any classroom teacher to use. I’m not sure how well it would work in my current library setting because of the sheer number of blogs to monitor. This is something I will definitely keep thinking about because I truly think the idea is just amazing.

Cougar News Blog – https://cougarnewsblog.com/

The final blog that I looked at was Cougar News Blog which is created by a high school Journalism class. The blog contains pictures, videos and posts written by the Journalism class to record what is happening around their school. I was very impressed with how professional this blog looks considering it is maintained by students.
The first blog post that caught my eye was the video of the school’s morning announcements. Two students shared information about the school, weather, lunch choices and up-coming birthdays. I was very impressed by the quality of the video, especially the scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen. It is obvious that this Journalism class uses technology often. Being a Media Specialist I was drawn to this blog post about a school book club. The post describes when the book club meets, the goals of the faculty advisor, and other general information. Courage News Blog even contains movie reviews that students may be interested in.
I was very impressed by this blog for many reasons. As I mentioned above I was impressed with the professional look and writing from a group of high school students. I was also impressed with the content of the blogs; subjects such as bullying, movie reviews were included with the school news. It is obvious that this blog is used often by students in the school. What a great use for blogging.

My biggest take away from exploring both Classroom and Library Blogs is that blogs can be used for many different purposes. I feel like almost every blog I have reviewed had a different purpose and/or audience. Overall the Library Blogs were aimed at teachers; either as a professional resource, as a way to share new books, or as a way to share student work. On the other hand, one of the Classroom Blogs was obviously made as a communication tool for parents. While another was almost an online digital portfolio and yet another was a student-created news blog for fellow students.  When I began exploring blogs I was only looking for ideas to use in my library. However, I have come away with new ways to communicate with colleagues and parents, lesson ideas, and a new appreciation for the power of blogging.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these blogs as much as I enjoyed exploring them.

Building a “Library” of Resources through Librarian Blogs

For my first blog post, I decided to research blogs created by librarians. As a new librarian, I am constantly looking for new and exciting ideas to try in my library. Below you will find three blogs that I found to be great resources for not only myself but any librarian.

Reederama – http://reederama.blogspot.com/

Reederama is a blog created by an elementary school librarian named Jennifer Reed. This blog chronicles the activities students complete during library. Ms. Reed includes pictures and videos as well as detailed descriptions of how each project is completed. Reederama is appealing to a new blogger, such as myself, because the blog design is basic which makes it easy to navigate. Reed’s blog consists of one continuous page of blog posts.
In one blog post, Reed details how a group of fourth grade students created poems about the author Ezra Jack Keats. Using A Poem for Peter by Andrea Pinkney as inspiration, students wrote and illustrated poems about Keats. I was very impressed by this project, it is a great way to incorporate literature, research, and student creativity. I have spent a lot of time incorporating Science and Social Studies standards into my research projects, so I found this literature based project very refreshing.
In another post, Reed discusses how she used Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie with her Kindergarten class. The blog provides a brief summary of the book and a short video where the students share what their superhero name would be. I enjoyed how Reed used this blog post to not only promote what her students were doing but also promote a good book.
I was impressed with Reederama, even though the design was simple, there was a wealth of information included in the blog. The way that Reed shares not only great projects but great literature makes this blog a great resource for any librarian. I will definitely visit this blog again in the future to see what her students are creating and get ideas for my own library.

The Adventures of Library Girl –  http://www.librarygirl.net/

The second blog I visited was very different because it was created by Jennifer LaGarde who is a Lead School Library Media Coordinator. LaGarde provides professional development to librarians (a link to schedule a presentation by her is included in the blog). Ms. LaGarde’s blog provides articles, resources, and ideas for librarians to use in their library. The Adventures of Library Girl is easy to navigate and bursting with information.
I found one blog post titled “Five Ways School Librarians Can Meet the Needs of Students in Poverty” to be extremely interesting.  In this blog, LaGarde provides statistics about how students in poverty have less exposure to literature and a smaller vocabulary than other children. The blog also provides a list of strategies that librarians can do to help these students. This blog post was very relevant for me because I teach at a highly impoverished school. In particular, I love the idea of creating reading communities through social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
In another post, “Six Tips for Building Book Displays That Matter,” LaGarde discusses how having “pretty” book displays are not enough, they need to have a purpose. I was very intrigued by this post because I do not have any bulletin boards in my library which makes book displays tricky. LaGarde states “we view our displays as a way to communicate an idea, when really we should think of them as a chance to connect with kids.” She provides six tips for creating better book displays such as: honoring student choice and interactive displays. From reading this post, I have a new appreciation for how powerful book displays can be and ideas for how to make my displays more meaningful.
While this blog is different from a “typical” library blog, I think The Adventures of Library Girl is a great resource for librarians. LaGarde blogs about relevant issues and provides tips to help librarians meet the needs of their students. I would recommend this blog to any librarian as a source of current professional reading and ideas.

Continuously Learning in the Library – http://curtiselementarylibrary.blogspot.com/

The third blog I visited was created by a teacher-librarian named Shawna Ford in Texas.  Simply put, this blog is amazing. There are tabs for Library Happenings where student work is displayed. A tab for New Books & Reviews where new books to the library are reviewed. The Teacher Resource tab provides screencasts and/or directions that show teachers how to use new technology. Finally, a tab for Makerspace discusses how to set up a Makerspace and includes pictures and videos of students participating in various Maker activities.
One blog post, showed how the school/library celebrated International Dot Day! Dot Day is based on The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. In this blog Ford discusses how various classes used Skype and Google Hangout to connect with classrooms throughout the country to share their work. There is a video included showing students Skyping and their artwork. I enjoyed this blog because I am a big fan of Reynolds’ Dot book. One of my goals is to take part in Dot Day next year, so I enjoyed seeing how this librarian participated in it.
In the New Books & Reviews tab, several children’s books are reviewed. The reviews provide a brief summary of the book and includes a 1-5 star rating.  Ford discusses what grade level she used the book with and how the students enjoyed it. While this page is not very long, Ford only has five book reviews included, I was inspired by this page. I just received a shipment of books for my own library and I think this would be a great way to share the new titles with the staff at my school.
This blog is by far the most impressive of those I’ve explored. Continuously Learning in the Library is exactly what I want my library blog to become. I could (and did) spend hours looking at all the content. What an amazing resource!

From exploring these blogs, I have learned a lot about the power of blogging.  Blogging can be used by a librarian to share student work (through pictures and videos), literature, and resources for teachers. My supervisor is always saying that it is important for librarians to “sell ourselves” and show our staff, administration, and board members what a great resource we can be. After looking at these blogs, I believe that creating a blog for my library is a great way to promote the great things happening in my library. I want my blog to include picture and videos of my students and book talks/reviews.  My school has a large social media presence so I believe that my library blog would fit in perfectly.

I hope that you enjoyed exploring these blogs with me and I hope you will subscribe to my blog and watch it grow.