Posted in Awesome Apps, graphic design, programming

World Clouds: Our favorite Infographics

Initially an exercise to honor World Kindness Week, students used the application to generate “Kindness Word Clouds” to express and spread their own perceptions of what kindness means to them. Then, students liked the customization of their lists so much they began creating gifts for loved ones. My daughter used it to make a Christmas Wish List. And I used it to create a picture summary for staff about what we’ve been working on in Library for the past month. I love Tagul because it doesn’t require additional software (some require Microsoft Silverlight) and can be used on any device. We recommend writing a list of words on a separate document rather than typing them straight into the available text box.screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-33-19-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-34-13-pmAnyway, here’s the cool images that emerge! Two are from the Tagul website shapes menu and two are downloaded from custom images. Use and have fun!


Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books, Makerspace, Trending technology

Pokemon GO read a book!

When you work at a school library, you are constantly working to keep students engaged: in reading, in education-based software games, effective search engines, platforms and apps. We are savvy enough, as modern library information technology specialists, to be happy with ANY attention or foot traffic, and it behooves us to be up with all the cultural trends.

There hasn’t been a more universally loved or enjoyed trend as Pokémon Go in a VERY long time. I love it because my now 16-year-old-son who used to LOVE playing and collecting Pokémon ten years ago, now loves this modern upgrade. I have noticed most of the people obsessed with the game are intrigued in part by the nostalgia. And parents, happy their children are disconnected from PS4 and XBox are echoing a sentiment something like “Well, at least they’re getting outside!!”

pokemon in libraryWhat has put libraries in the forefront of Pokémon Go is that community gathering places, like libraries, are programmed to be “Gyms” for Pokemon battles. They often have a high concentration of more valuable Pokémon as well as upgrades and other tools (Like “razz berries,” Which help capture the more powerful, slippery Pokemon.)

Here’s some examples of tweets sent by bookstores which are, not surprisingly, totally cool with any publicity and traffic:

Get your restock of Pokeballs at the Strand! 🎉 Your favorite literary #PokeStop destination. Plus, you never know what pokemon might be hiding in the stacks. 👀 #PokemonGo #GottaCatchEmAll

If we are in the patrons’ worlds at the time, they will remember! If you are gracious and enthusiastic, they will remember when it is time to hang out, or when the Pokémon Go servers are down (which has happened often) maybe they are more likely to come and check out a book with us! Also read the LA Times article below, it’s just the best!

Pokemon Go promotion


Posted in Awesome Apps, traditional topics, non-traditional teaching

If Hancock Could Have Tweeted

As the fifth and sixth graders round out the Spring 2016 Social Studies, we find ourselves studying American Patriots and Greek Heroes and Legends. What better way to create relevance than to plop them onto a social media site?! Or at least a pseudo-social media site.

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We are having them fill out the basic information first: The birth places, the approximate year of birth (the aristocrats had birth certificates, the commoners, not so much) the “networks” (Daughters of the Revolution, Boston Tea Partiers) before filling out their favorite TV shows and movies (Game of Thrones? Lincoln?) The actual transferring of the written research content to electronic format will be a learning curve.. and, oh, with the sixth graders I have been creating tweets from famous historical personalities and asking the fifth and sixth graders to guess who they are:

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5th grade:

I’ve changed my mind. I’d really prefer you just give me liberty.

@Jefferson Honestly, do you think my signature is too big? I don’t want it to stick out.

@Clark have u seen this? ugh. Last six months, wasted.

6th Grade

@Poseidon, Does this skirt make me look fat? Oh, man. I keep forgetting. #turntostone

@persephone.Did you feed Cerberus this morning? I don’t want to go near the Styx.

I’m bored today, let’s go start a war. @ZeusHey dad, can I borrow some thunder bolts?

Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books

Newbery and Kahoot!

We’ve been spending this literature award season (Yes, it’s award season in libraries just like in Hollywood, but authors don’t tend to have glamorous parties to celebrate their achievements.) We focused on the 2015 Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander’s Crossover.crossover

In the primary grades, we talked about the most recent Caldecott winner ( The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend) and I explained to everyone that generally only intermediate grades get to enjoy the Newbery winners, as they are chapter books or err on the side of YA, since this is the kind of breadth necessary  to deliver the kind of emotional and social goals the Newbery committee has for its nominated books. But then, BOOM! The Newbery committee, in a major shift from their normal MO, selected a picture book as the 2016 Newbery winner. What?!

The Last Stop On Market Street, by Matt de la Peña~ the first Latino Newbery winner, btw~ is a lovely book, but honestly, it’s no Giver or Tale of Despeareaux. Still it’s worth having in any collection. It was also a Caldecott Honor book, thanks to Christian Robonson’s sweet illustrations.  Here’s the publisher’s synopsis: last stop“Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.” But what excited the kids more than any reading or historical lesson (I know, shocker) was the quiz i gave them  through an interactive platform called “KAHOOT IT” I took nine questions and they raced aganist each other to choose the best answer. It was such a loud success that I honestly don’t know if I can play it in library. It sets a very high volume precedent which is hard to bounce back from. You need other players to try it out, but you totally should. Start at 2016-01-17 16.38.24

Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books, traditional topics, non-traditional teaching, writing

On Creating a Creepy “Voice”

This Halloween week was about scary stories: both reading them and writing them. We (4-6th graders) used Storybird ( and searched “creepy” artwork, then started writing! Here’s a quick synopsis via “book trailer” of “The Graveyard Book” narrated by Author Neil Gaiman (also author of “Coraline”):

Also, here’s a link to an excerpt I read from the first chapter of “The Graveyard Book.”

I read it with a flashlight under my face and played creepy music. Then we wrote!!

Here’s our targets by the end of the next two weeks which I have slated for the young Stephen Kings to complete their projects:

I can use a variety of technology tools to organize and present data and information.

I cancreate an original response to a writing prompt and establish a tone appropriate to the task.
Check out the book (the real physical copy; all the Mead elementary schools should have it! And read it with a flashlight under your chin!
photo 3photo 2(P.S. Grade 3 classes did a screen-time study after a reading of Goodnight Ipad and first and second graders worked on National Geographic Online–the Halloween games section 🙂

Posted in Awesome Apps

Awesome game=maximizing efficiency! (Really!)

Because I didn’t want the first graders to tell their classroom teachers ” we played video games in the library” I was coaching six and seven-year-olds to say “We learned strategies to maximize our efficiency with the Chromebooks mousepads.. Repeat after me: ‘Maximizing speed and efficiency.'” They tried but I know that it was solid for them. Dangit, I should have added “becoming 21st century learners.” That would have been GOOD

1st and 2nd grade:

But truly, this website is the BEST. it specifically builds finger mousepad skills and is super fun and challenging. When a first grade girl and I figured out how to clear the level of this click and move shape game she I both got super excited. I had to remind the the children to celebrate their accomplishments as quietly as  possible, “Because this IS a LIBRARY.”(Seriously I say that once a class.)

I heard her say (at a totally appropriate voice level: “Ugh, why is this is THRILLING?”

The other favorite moment in the past two weeks was a second grade student spent a few minutes on my go-to research and exploring website, Culturegrams.culturegrams_byo11“Did you know that there are 250 lakes inside of Glacier Park, and that there is a lizard in Texas that can shoot blood out of its eyes?!” I was as happy as when my own children said “I love you” the first time. OMG I love this job. And seriously, it’s the Horned Toad (which is indeed native to Texas.)

This is fun to do at home for animal lovers: 2nd grade being the ideal age level, I think.

Next week at Midway we’ll be reading “The Invisible Boy and talking about KINDNESS leading up to the Kindness Assembly on Friday at Midway.

At Colbert we’ll be building more efficiency and mastery writing electronic poetry and stories on Storybird.