Sunday, March 1, 2015

How to Get {Maker}Spaces Started in Your Library

We dove head first into makerspaces this year in our elementary school library.  It's been slow to start but we are finally getting into the groove of successful makerspaces.
Here's how we did it:

1.  Assess your patrons.

  • How old are your patrons? Make sure your spaces are appropriate for their age.  For example, younger children should not have scissors if the spaces are not closely supervised.  Also, make sure your spaces are of interest to your age group.  
  • How much time will they be able to spend in the spaces? If patrons only have 10 min. increments, for example, make sure your spaces can be done in that time frame.

2.  Assess your space.

  • Do you need it to remain quiet? (Maybe classes are taking place at the same time or students are researching) If so, be sure to pick spaces that don't cause too much commotion.
  • What is the space that is allotted? Is it a study carol, open floor space, cart or tables?  Plan your makerspaces to fit in the space you have.

3.  Assess your resources.

  • Do you have a budget available? If not, look for free or hand me down supplies.
  • Our budget is next to nothing so the more we can find supplies that we can find at home or school the better.
4.  Assess your time.
  • How often will you change your spaces? We change about once a month.  You can determine what the frequency will be by how often your patrons will visit the spaces.  You can also determine this by your availability-do you have the time and resources to change them more frequently?
5.  Assess your makerspace activities.
  • When choosing what activities your makerspaces will consist of, there are no rules, except that they should be about making, creating, building, producing, generating, constructing, designing, fabricating, forming, and shaping.  Can you describe the activity using one of these verbs? If not, it may not be makerspace material.
The bottom line is just do it!  There are no makerspace police.  We've tried some makerspaces that we will not repeat and that's o.k! Here are some of the makers that we've done so far:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tracking Magazine Subscriptions in Google Drive

How do you track your school's magazine subscriptions? We previously used index type cards that were made for periodical subscription record keeping.  Each magazine had its own card.  It was a system reminiscent of the old card catalogs.  Though I have to admit, I wish there were some of those old card catalogs still around!
We recently switched to a document on Google drive to track our subscriptions.  We are able to share it with all of our library staff so we all have immediate access.  It takes up no space and is much more efficient compared to the old system of thumbing through and pulling index cards.
Here's what it looks like:

If you would like me to share the template with you just comment below!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Library Bulletin Boards

What on earth did we do before Pinterest?? Here are our back to school bulletin boards in our library.  Many are "Pinspired"!

Feel free to "lift" them for your own use!

Happy August!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Managing iPads in the Library Media Center

Our elementary library media center is the proud owner of 50 iPads (2 class sets of 25).  I scoured the web for ideas on how to manage them.  I was surprised by the very few resources out there for managing a large number of iPads.

So here's how I'm managing in our library to date.
I'm using chrome/metal dish racks to hold them.  
These racks ran about $10 each and they hold about 11 iPads. They hold the iPads quite securely.  The iPads pictured don't have cases (yet) but our other set have slim cases that fit in the rack just fine. 

We've barcoded each iPad for inventory purposes.  But we didn't want to have to scan 25 iPads every time a teacher checked out a class set.  
We labeled and barcoded a cart for checkout purposes.  
We just checkout the cart to the teacher and count upon checkout and return.  Since each iPad is numbered if one were to go missing we could identify which iPad it is.

Teachers sign up using a Google form. 
 I've made it available for 4 weeks at time.  Teachers can sign up for their desired slots.  Since we have 2 sets of iPads, there's 2 slots for each hour available.  I've made myself available to pick and/or deliver the iPad carts in the event that the teacher can't leave her classroom.  

Plugging in all of these iPads is a job in itself.
We have a locking large cart that has outlets built in.  We're using about 6 power strips. We will have a high school student come and plug them in at the end of each day.

I've asked teachers to give me 24 hour notice to install desired apps.  
I've also asked that they send me a screen shot from their iPad of the app they want me to install so I can make sure that I'm putting the right one on each iPad.

We're 3 weeks in and this management system is working great!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Clean Up Your Virtual Clutter Part 1

When we think about cleaning up or organizing we think about our homes or our classrooms. 
But have you thought about organizing your virtual spaces? 
Virtual clutter can cause as much stress and unrest as physical clutter. 
Especially for teachers since we rely so heavily on technology.  
As a new Library Media Specialist I am spending a lot of time helping teachers with their tech needs.  It's been very interesting to me to see their computer desktops smack full of files and email icons with scores of emails that are just sitting there.  I have to be honest-it gives me heart palpitations LOL.
This series was birthed by those palpitations!
One of the biggest issues that teachers encounter is forgotten passwords.
And it's no wonder, with email accounts, online curriculums, students logins, accelerated reader, online gradebooks, Google docs, and so much more!

Here's how I organize my passwords for school and home to prevent forgotten passwords:
I use Evernote.  If you're not familiar with Evernote, click the picture below to learn more about it and sign up for the free account.  Then, put the Evernote app on your iPad and iPhone so you can access your info from anywhere in the cloud.

Here's how to create a note that will encrypt your passwords to keep them safe.
1.  In Evernote, create a new note.

2.  Type in your passwords and login info.
I organize mine like this: (these are fake logins :))

3.  Now it's time to encrypt.  This feature allows only someone with the paraphrase you've chosen to decrypt the info.
Highlight the selected text then under edit click "encrypt selected text" (you only have to do this for the initial set up)

4.  This "note encryption box" appears for you to type in your secret paraphrase.  Whatever you pick, use a code that YOU WON'T FORGET-and that isn't obvious to the world.  DO NOT click the box that says "remember paraphrase until I quit Evernote."  This means the words will stay exposed until you close out of Evernote.  Which maybe bad news if you leave the app open or if you leave Evernote open on your desktop.

5.  Once you click o.k. you'll see a little rectangle.  To open and view your passwords you click the rectangle and a box pops up asking you to put in your encryption paraphrase.  

I suggest that you create a "HOME-password" note and a "SCHOOL-password" note to be just a little more organized.  

May you never forget another password!  
In Part 2, we'll fix your overflowing email inbox!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Use Your Inside Voice

I love a new school year for many reasons.  
One of the best things about a new year is the fresh start.  
As a teacher I get a fresh start and the little guys in my class get a fresh start as well.

Do you have habits as a teacher that you'd like to change or overcome?  
Then, this new school year is your chance!  One of the habits that seems to be a struggle for many teachers is the habit of raising their voice.  Our students can frustrate us over and over.  180 days is a lot of days to be stretched, tried, and pulled by our students.  Sometimes the 10th time of repeating ourselves is all we can take.  And understandably so.  
While I've never been a "yeller" in my classroom,  when my children were younger I struggled with raising my voice in my moments of frustration at home.  
Here's how I conquered that nasty habit and how I transferred the same principles to speak more graciously to my students in my classroom- even in moments of super frustration.

1.   Memorize this verse.  
My main weapon against this bad habit is Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  What's interesting about this verse is I found that it wasn't about turning away the anger of the child, but turning away MY anger.  When I used a soft answer, MY frustration level began to diminish.  I say this verse immediately to myself when I begin to feel frustrated.

2.  Whisper.
When I feel myself wanting to raise my voice, I slowly whisper the next sentence or direction.  Lowering my voice immediately calms me and the child.

3.  Choose your words carefully.
A "soft" answer isn't just referring to the noise level-but I believe it's also referring to the our choice of words.  We should only use words and tones with our students that we would want someone else to use with our own children.  Sarcasm does not have a place in our classrooms-no matter the age of the child.

I urge you to try this at school and at home.  And just like a good teacher will tell you, practice, practice, practice, because practice makes progress.

Happy New {School} Year!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Door

Yes, I'm a teacher.  But I'm a mom first!  This is the a pic of the door that my daughter and I decorated for her teacher.  We had a blast making it together!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts

I recently started a "teacher" Instagram account.  FOLLOW ME! @iheartteaching :)
I can't believe how many teachers out there have accounts! You know you're a teacher when you love seeing pics from other teachers classrooms!  
In the process of setting up my account I discovered that Instagram does not support multiple accounts. Phooey.  I don't want to bore my non-teacher friends with teacher stuff-so I went on a quest to find a way to make it work without logging in and out all of the time.
I found a pretty good solution-not a perfect one-but good enough!
I found Instagrab.

It's $.99.  I can manage both of my accounts.  The main downside is I can only post pics to the account that I'm signed into through the Instagram app.  But other than that it's working pretty well.  Here's the screen where I can choose which account to view.
If you're a teacher and have an Instagram account leave me your name below so I can follow you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

AR Reading Challenge FREEBIE

How do you motivate your students to finish strong? Well, I'm attempting to light a spark under my 2nd grade readers by Double Dog Daring them to double their AR goal!
I think this is going to be a great way to keep them reading all through the 4th quarter!

Here's a FREEBIE for you!
I can change the date and prize for you.  Just email me the date and your prize request!
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Get Parents to Visit Your Class Site

I've had a classroom blog for years.  But when my school told us that we had to send home a paper newsletter, meaning it couldn't be exclusively online, I felt that I would be doing double duty.   Why would parents go online for information if it is handed to them on paper?  I noticed that I would have 3-5 "regular" visitors and the rest of the parents stopped by so infrequently that I couldn't justify spending the extra time.  But for some reason I just couldn't give it up.  
Enter Remind 101 to the rescue.
Not only is Remind 101 great for general communication with my parents, but I found that it increased my classroom blog traffic.
If you're not familiar with Remind 101, here's a little promo video.  It was super simple to set up and I have had only positive feedback from parents.  They love the communication!
(I'm not explaining how to use Remind 101 in this post, but rather how I use it to get traffic on our class blog.)

I keep the app in my school folder on my phone:

When I'm ready to send a text and share about a blog post I click on my current class:

Here's an example of some of the texts I've sent with this app:

Here's how I use it to promote traffic on our class blog/site:
I always text the parents to say "Pics are posted on our blog" or "A new game has been posted"
or whatever the new post is about.  I put a link in the text so the parents can quickly access the post. It takes 5 seconds to send the text.  As a result about 90% of my students' parents regularly visit our class blog using this method!  It has made the time I spend on our classroom blog worth every minute!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dice Games with the iPad

Kids love playing with dice-but give them dice on the iPad and they are giddy.
Today for math centers we used these fabulous dice games from The Lesson Plan Diva.  You can download her free games by clicking on the pic below.

I gave each pair of students an iPad with the free Dice app installed (there's a few of them in the app store).  It was pure center success.

My favorite part about this center is the ability to differentiate so effortlessly.
With a swipe I am able to change the amount of die each center uses.  I had some students using 2 dice and some using 3 to compare 2 or 3 digit numbers.

Try it! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Talking Heads

It's Black History Month, so my class is doing a cool project courtesy of a great idea that I got from FETC.

First, we started our research.  I used this awesome packet with thinking maps and organizers. (Click the pic to see find purchasing info)

My students used iPads and books to research.

Then, the REALLY fun part!  The students are drawing their "person"'s head.  They are recording themselves speaking in first person telling about themselves as if they were the historical character.  We turn the video into a QR code and presto! A Talking Head!!

At the end of our research the posters will all be displayed as a museum of sorts and each student will take an iPad and scan the code to learn about each African American.

It's been so much fun, I can hardly stand it!