Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

There have been a lot of changes for me in the month of March. First is that I got great news for my future. However, that I cannot announce just yet until a few more things get into place.  I promise a major reveal later. After the high came the low – I lost my 93-year-old grandpa. I miss him dearly, but grateful for the time I had with him, and of course the fact he got to hear my happiness. Then came the last- surgery.

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Nurse Brid taking care of me

Now this was a very needed surgery for my ankle, removing a accessory bone in my foot and fixing my tendon.  So now I’m in a lovely boot wrap thingy and off school for several weeks.

Ok, Jamie, so what is your point?  I guess my point is that we deal with changes no matter what. We have gone through immense changes in education and in the library field.  My focus, of course is library.  When my older family look at me, they don’t get how my tech knowledge serves me well as a librarian.  They don’t realize that gone are the days where the librarian sits behind the desk, shushing students who are being even the least bit noisy.  Those libraries don’t get used.  Change is necessary

I’m proud to say that this year at my school I’ve managed to have open library time.  Now, I’m an elementary librarian on a fixed schedule.  I see 20 one-hour classes a week.  I also have several times a week where I’m at the cafe for duty.  This leaves not a ton of open library time.  So, I open my plan time to allow students, classes, and whomever wants into the library during that time.  I have seen a definite increase in usage of the library since I’ve opened it.  A lot seems to just want a bit of an escape for 5 min while checking out a new book, but if I’m that place to take a quick breath, I’m ok with it.  It’s a change I was willing to make and have seen some success.

I’ve also changed many staff opinions of a librarian.  They see me as a tech person, someone to help them when they have a question, no matter how small.  I love that.  They have really embraced me as their tech leader this year.   Sometimes I know their annoyed if I have to close the library to run and do something, but I have no choice without an aide.  But I want to help everyone, and if that means I have to step away from the library, so be it.  Most have come to understand this, luckily.  But, again, a change.

My point is that change is hard.  Changes are hard.  But with a little willingness, great things can happen with change.  Even if change isn’t what you want.

Personal Announcement / Accomplishments

So, to end 2016, I’d like to share some exciting things that have just occurred.

gce_badges_01First off, I passed my Google Certified Educator Level 1 Certification.  I’m really excited about that.  And I get to use this nifty badge!  It has been a long time coming.  I meant to work on it this summer, but life got ahead of me, but I decided this winter break I would accomplish it.  I’m currently studying for my Level 2 Certification, which I have heard is more difficult, and so I hope sometime this week or next I will be able to take that test and hopefully be certified in that as well.

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Image from ala.org

The second is that I was awarded a Student Bridge Scholarship from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL)/American Library Association (ALA)!  This scholarship will help me with the increased dues for the next 3 years as I start my career fully.  I’m really proud and excited that I received this!   With it comes the expectation that I serve on a committee with the chair of that committee as my mentor.  I have been assigned to the Best Apps for Teaching & Learning Committee this year!  I am really really excited about being a part of a national committee!  I was a co-chair for a committee for Kappa Delta Pi back in 2012-2013, and so it has been a while since I have done anything on a national level that hasn’t involved Sigma Alpha Iota (the music fraternity that I am a member of and a Province Officer (national officer) of).  So, this is really exciting for me.  I cannot wait to work and learn from those on the committee!

2017 is looking great so far with these two things starting off my year!

 

An extension to the Google Drawing lesson

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E. B. (6th grader), Santa Claus, 2016

So, during the last week before break, I gave my students a couple of choices.  They could work on coding, on typing practice, or create something (school appropriate) on Google Drawing.  My one student, E.B., completely blew me away.  He is not a student who is usually focused.  But, this time, he was.  I was so amazed and shocked at what he came up with!  I did not help him one bit – he took his time, worked hard, and created this amazing image!  I printed it out for him in color to give to his mom for Christmas.  I mean, how could I not!  This was truly a success from my Google Drawing lesson.

 

Importing Old Posts

Yesterday I spent a little bit of my day importing posts from my old blog on my website to this blog.  Why, though?  Why does it matter?

I think it matters because I have been writing a blog for a while.  It was just hosted on my webpage, which serves more as a portfolio than a true blogging medium.  It was not the centerpiece, but buried in a link.  A prominent link, but a link all the same.  I have all of these ideas that I have been sitting on, almost hiding, for some time now, and now they are finally out in the world for more to see.  They are no longer kind of hidden thoughts, but prominently out there.  I even changed over my twitter webpage link to this one!

I think once I’m truly in a place I want to be professionally, I will combine the two, make the blog the more prominent.  The portfolio information will be there, but not play as important of a role.  I won’t need to highlight things like my education and projects so much as show off what I have been doing in my library through my blog, which I am starting to do now.

What do you think?  Am I being a bit redundant?  Should I combine things now and forget it?  Or is it smart to focus more on the blogging and leave the portfolio be?

 

Prodigygame.com Review (Math)

prodigylogoThis week I introduced my son to Prodigy game.  This is gamification math game at its best.  Let me just say, he is hooked!  To me, Prodigy game feels like a mix between Pokemon (with spells, animals, etc.) and almost a Zelda-feel (I’m aging myself with this…).  I was actually first introduced to this at the Midwest Educators Technology Conference (METC) this past February.  I thought it was cool, but then my focus went somewhere else.  Then, we brought it to my school.  I have seen so many of my students, who would usually go to ABCYA.com or other miscellaneous websites, now head straight for this game.  And the final straw was my tech academy instructor showing me it.  I fell in love.

So, I figured that was my cue to bring it to my son.  From first glance, it was love.  He loves powering up his animals, he is already on level 30 in one week, and he’s practicing math skills that he needs!

There are a lot of pros to this website.  First, it’s free.  As in seriously free!  You cannot go wrong there!  You don’t have any diminished services because it is free.  To me, that is a great way to do business, since their revenue comes from parents buying the memberships.

For the teacher, there are a lot of back-end data that you get on students.  This is invaluable for the teacher! I personally like the student progress and curriculum reports. That to me tells me a lot about what my son knows and what he still needs to work on.

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Student progress of place values

The only con I can come up with is that kids will want to play this all the time!  It has almost surpassed Minecraft in my house.  Almost.

Screenshots from www.prodigygame.com.

 

Reflections on Reading Nominees

So, it is just about February.  My book nominees should be just about read by now, and I should be getting close to gearing up students to vote.  And while that will happen, I realize I will need to change the way I do things for the younger readers next year.

I think the Building Block award nominees are the most difficult.  Not for text complexity or anything, but the fact that they have to be completely read and voted on by the end of December.  That leaves very few months to get Kindergarteners learning how the library works, how storytime works, and basically overall how to act like the young students they are.

With the Show-Me nominees, I have until the beginning of March.  That is 1st-3rd graders, so that does allow both more time and more comprehension of text overall.

Here’s what I found.  If I don’t read the same book all week to each class, my plans get all messy and discombobulated.

So, first thing I need to do next year is start off with a plan.  I have a chart on my wall, thank goodness, where I know what I’ve read to which class, but I have a sincere feeling that it is incomplete.  If I actually allowed myself the time to plan properly, I would know exactly what I read to each class as I would have it planned out beforehand.  The chart is great for everyone else to see, but not so much if I’m trying to honestly keep track, as I’m not always remembering to put the stickers on (and the fact I started the chart way after I started reading, so there’s that…).

Secondly, I think I will only read these nominees during full weeks.  When we have days off and half-days, they just throw the schedule off.  Now, there is the obvious snow/bad weather day that ends up in a day off that cannot really be planned for, but if I know weather is coming the weekend before, I can change things around.

I think I want a full-out plan for when I’m reading what next year.  I have read each Show-Me, as I was a reader-selector, but I think to really plan it out better would be best.  I don’t know what Building Block books are selected just yet, as they haven’t been announced, but I think a big master calendar with what I’m reading when would be best.  That way it will be planned out much clearer, and I will also be able to plan around short weeks.  Then, maybe my poor lesson plans won’t be all crazy looking and I will actually have an idea of what I’m reading and doing.  Does anyone else do things like that?

Plickers – My Obsession

plickersHello, my name is Jamie, and I’m addicted to Plickers.  I can’t help it.  They’re so easy to use, and great for a non-BYOD school!

I was first introduced to them in my library classes.  We used them for various quick assessments to find what we knew and so forth.

Since then, I’ve introduced them to my students.  Many of them like when I pass them out, because they get to “win” when they get an answer right.  Even though I never have them assigned to specific students, I tend to watch which numbers I give to certain students to see whether they are struggling to answer or not.  We all have those students we know either gets it or doesn’t, and gives us a pulse for the whole class.

I have used them for a variety of general assessments, such as seeing how well my students understand and can conceptualize the Dewey Decimal System, library terms, and now for media literacy.  To say I love using them is really an understatement.