Exploring Chinese New Year with Kindergarten: Google Voice Search, Pebble Go, colAR Mix, and More

BeghKH6IAAAZUVXMrs. Li’s Kindergarten class has been exploring the Chinese New Year with me in the library.  During our exploration, we’ve tried out several resources for information.  First, we used Capstone’s PebbleGo database to do some pre-reading for background information.  We did this with little discussion about the holiday, but instead just focused on listening to the information to build some shared knowledge.

pebble go

Next, we thought of questions that we had about the Chinese New Year that were possibly not answered by PebbleGo.  We asked things like:

  • When is Chinese New Year this year?
  • When is the lantern festival?
  • Where is it celebrated?
  • How is it celebrated?

Before students came, I installed the Google Voice Hotword Search extension in Chrome.  This allowed us to control a Google search with our voice.  For Kindergarten students who aren’t fluent in typing, this lifted a big search barrier for them.  We took our list of questions and took turns saying:

  • “OK Google”
  • When is the Chinese New Year?

Google searched and spoke to us telling us that this year Chinese New Year begins on January 31st.  We continued this process to answer many of our questions.

IMG_1806[1]

Next, we used Grace Lin’s book Bringing in the New Year to continue our exploration.  Many facts that we had already discovered were confirmed in the text, but the book allowed us to learn some of the family structure in China and what different family member roles are.  Mrs. Li was able to help us with this part of the lesson.  Since I wasn’t sure how to pronounce some of the words, she pronounced them for us and also explained the meaning of each family member’s name.  We certainly could have used Google for this, but we had a conversation about choosing resources to answer our questions.  Since Mrs. Li was with us in the room and is an expert in Chinese culture, she was a faster option for us than taking the time to go to Google.  It’s never too early to begin surfacing the thinking process that we go through as learners when we are trying to find the answers to our questions.

During the 2nd lesson, we once again used the Google Voice Hotword Search to explore the Chinese Zodiac.  We learned that 2014 is the “Year of the Horse”.  Students were curious about their own birth years, so we used Google to look for the signs for each of their years too.  From here, we spent some time coloring a colAR mix coloring page for Chinese New Year.  Students used the iPad app to view their carousel creations.  The app uses augmented reality to bring coloring pages to life.  The carousel pops off the page and rotates to music with they year 2014 in front of the carousel.  Students were mesmerized by their coloring page brought to life.

We explored so many skills and tools in just 2 lessons.  I want to continue this transliterate thinking of how our students can experience content across multiple platforms.  In these 2 lessons, we examined print, databases, websites, search engines, crayons/markers/paper, and augmented reality.  I’m curious to ask students later what they remember about Chinese New Year and see what stands out in their minds from these 2 days.

Exploring Georgia Habitats with 3rd Grade

IMG_1351Each of our 3rd grade classes have booked time in the media center to research the habitats of Georgia.  Here’s what they need to know:

S3L1. Students will investigate the habitats of different organisms and the dependence of
organisms on their habitat.
a. Differentiate between habitats of Georgia (mountains, marsh/swamp, coast,
Piedmont, Atlantic Ocean) and the organisms that live there.
b. Identify features of green plants that allow them to live and thrive in different regions
of Georgia.
c. Identify features of animals that allow them to live and thrive in different regions of
Georgia.
d. Explain what will happen to an organism if the habitat is changed.

S3L2. Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment.
a. Explain the effects of pollution (such as littering) to the habitats of plants and
animals.
b. Identify ways to protect the environment.
• Conservation of resources
• Recycling of materials

During their library time, I set the stage by doing a brief mini-lesson.  We looked at the standard and talked about the word “feature”.  We tied this to the word “adaptation” and looked up the definition online.

a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

Then we looked at a National Geographic video on owls.  We didn’t watch the entire video, but we paused each time a new feature of the owl was mentioned:  its satellite head, its huge eyes, its large wings, etc.  We tied this back to the word “feature” an the word “adaptation” so that students would know the kinds of things they were looking for in their research.

Next, I posed the question:  Why does all of this matter to us?  why do we need to learn about animals, plants, and their habitats?  Before they answered, we watched a news clip that aired this morning.  It was a perfect fit to our topic because it showed a black bear roaming around near an elementary school’s dumpster in Hall County.  IMG_1346

http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/hall-county-schools-cancels-after-hours-activities/vCHZXM/

After watching this clip, I posed the question again.  Students said things like:

  • If we know about plants and animals, then we’ll know how to take care of them.
  • If we know about habitats, then we’ll know how to not pollute them.
  • We’ll know how to keep animals alive and where they belong.
  • and more.

I was really glad that I watched the news this morning at the gym instead of rushing in to school because that clip really set the stage for our research.

For about 30 minutes, students used a graphic organizer to gather information about the habitats, plants, and animals of Georgia in a variety of ways.  They could freely float between 3 different areas in the library.

  • Books:  I used the State Standards Publishing series for regions, rivers, and habitats of Georgia.
  • Posters:  These posters featured different kinds of animals along with a map of where they were found in Georgia.  Students had to identify an animal, look at what region of Georgia it was found in, and then think about what habitat that would fall under on their graphic organizer.
  • Websites:  Students had access to a Sqworl site that had songs, informational sites, and games about the habitats and regions of Georgia.  http://sqworl.com/uo3kud IMG_1352

As usual, it was interesting to see where students chose to go.  Some went directly to games.  Others went to posters.  Other chose books.  It really said a lot about what kinds of media our students need access to in order to match their needs as learners.  Some students stayed at the same station or site for the entire 30 minutes while others moved to several stations.  During this time, the teacher, student teacher, special education teacher, and I were able to walk around and facilitate learning.  We asked questions to nudge students thinking or spent time showing students how they might pay close attention to a game and gather facts while still maintaining momentum in their game.  As usual, it was very freeing and individualized.  This has come to be one of my favorite models for gathering information.  My regret is that we don’t have more day scheduled to find information.  Now, the students will use their 1 to 1 netbooks to continue to explore the Sqworl site on their own.

Georgia COMO 2013 Keynote

keynote 2Today I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Georgia Council of Media Organizations Conference in Macon, GA.  My hope was to open the conference by inviting conference members to give themselves permission to imagine and dream possibilities for their programs.  I hope that today’s keynote sparked some conversations that will carry people through the 2 days of the conference and beyond.  Putting together these slides and presentation allowed me to spend a lot of time reflecting on my library program and the many participatory opportunities for the members of our library.  Thank you to Diane Grffin, COMO chair, for the invitation to speak.  

Many thanks to CCSD librarians Shannon Thompson and Shawn Hinger who sat at the front table and cheered me on.  

 

5th Grade Cell-a-bration

Star lab, checkout, computer/iPads were all used simultaneously in our space

Star lab, checkout, computer/iPads were all used simultaneously in our space

Today our 5th graders participated in 5 centers throughout the school to learn about cells.  This was another example of transliteracy in action.  Across the centers students:

  • heard a guest speaker talk about the USDA and tracking outbreaks of food sickness
  • looked at projected images of cells underneath a microscope
  • entered the Starlab to actually sit inside a cell that was projected on the planetarium ceiling
  • used a Sqworl pathfinder and iPad apps to interact with cells in multiple ways from games to videos to ebooks to interactive tours of the cell

In the media center, we hosted 2 of the rotations.  Once again, I was excited to see that the design of the space supported multiple things going on at once.  The Starlab was inflated where our tables are usually located.  This massive planetarium did not block a single shelf from being accessible to students who were coming to checkout.  The tables were moved to the other projection area so that students could use iPads and computers for the pathfinder and app center.

I started the students in the floor to intro the apps and pathfinder.  They grabbed the device they needed and then found the best space that worked for their learning.  On the pathfinder, the students most enjoyed the Capstone Interactive ebooks, Vampires and Cells and The Basics of Cell Life.  

vampires and cells

They also enjoyed the University of Utah’s Inside a Cell, which allowed them to zoom into different parts of a cell and read additional information about that part.

 

Explorers and Native Americans: Perspective & Transliteracy with 4th grade

explorers & native americans (9)

Update:  This post is featured on Jane Yolen’s page for Encounter. 

Our 4th grade is studying Native Americans and Explorers.  When I met with the 4th grade team to plan, one of the main topics of our conversation was how we wanted our students to really think about perspective.  We didn’t want them to come away looking at the explorers as only a group of heroes, but instead to question what the costs were of their exploration.  We wanted them to think from the Native Americans’ perspective and consider how they felt about the explorers coming into their land.  We decided to approach this in a few ways.  The teachers planned regular social studies instruction in their classrooms.  They made Google presentations that were shared with the kids.  They also created graphic organizers for students to use to collect info.  Some students chose to have paper print outs of their organizers while others chose to fill out the organizer digitally.

Our guiding standards included:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.
SS4H2 The student will describe European exploration in North America.
a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish,
French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan
Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.
b. Describe examples of cooperation and conflict between Europeans and Native
Americans

In the media center, I pulled multiple folktales from each of the Native American tribes.  During 2 separate sessions, we looked at Google Earth to see where the tribes were located originally.  Then as we read the folktales, we considered how location impacted the food, shelter, and clothing of the tribes by citing evidence from the tales.

The teachers wanted students to have access to multiple kinds of resources for their research portion of the unit.  We talked about classes coming individually to the library, but we ultimately decided that it would be nice for students to all be together in one location with multiple resources.  We scheduled 3 hour-long sessions.  I pulled together folktales, books about explorers, books about Native Americans, a pathfinder about Native Americans, and a pathfinder about Explorers.

During session 1, we met as a whole group.  I showed students a video of Christopher Columbus from National Geographic.  After the video, I asked students to think about how they would describe Columbus.  After talking with partners, I put as many words into a Tagxedo as possible.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

Then, we read the book Encounter by Jane Yolen, which is the Columbus story told from the Native American perspective.  After the story, I asked the students to once again describe Columbus.  Their words made a big shift.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

I followed up by talking about perspective, and how so many stories in history are silenced until the perspective of that group of people is brought forward.  I cited authors such as Phillip Hoose and Tanya Lee Stone who have written multiple texts about stories from history that have been untold.  I encouraged students as they did their research for this project to strongly consider perspective.  I did not want to tell them what to believe, but I asked them to be critical of the information they read and form their own opinions of history.

During sessions 2 & 3, all classes came back to the media center.  On one projection board, I posted the Native American pathfinder.  On the other projection board, I posted the Explorers pathfinder.  In addition, I made QR codes for each pathfinder and pulled out our cart of iPads.  I separated the books into 3 separate areas:  folktales, Native Americans, and explorers.  All students brought their netbooks, but they had the option to use the iPad if it fit their learning needs better than the netbook.  After  a quick reminder about our focus and where things were located, students freely moved around the media center.  About 75 students simultaneously made choices about which resources to start with, where to work, whether to work with a partner or small group or alone, and what technology supported their needs the most.  All 3 classroom teachers, a teacher candidate (student teacher), a gifted teacher, and I walked around and checked in with students.  Sometimes we were troubleshooting technology or redirecting, but often we were able to have individual conversations with students about the information that students were collecting.  Teachers worked with all students regardless if they were in their class or not.

What amazed me the most were the decisions that students made about their learning.  I saw transliteracy in action.  As I walked around, I saw students with pencils, papers, iPads, netbooks, and books all spread out around them.  They were simultaneously moving from one device or tool to the next.  Some students sat at tables while others sat inside bookshelves.  Some students tucked away by themselves while others worked in a large group.  Some students worked with very few resources at a time such as 1 book while others had every possible resource in front of them at once.  After months of wondering about how our space would support the kinds of learning I hope to see in our library, I was finally able to truly see it today.  I saw every piece of furniture in use.  I saw students combine pieces of furniture to make themselves comfortable for learning.  An entire grade level descended upon the library and remained productive while groups of kids were still coming into the library to checkout books.explorers & native americans (15)

It was loud, energetic, productive, and fun.  It’s a model I hope to replicate with other groups and a model that I hope carries into our classrooms, which can now accommodate some of these sames types of opportunities.

September 11th: Reflecting and Connecting with Barrow and Van Meter

IMG_1016Each year as a part of their social studies standards, our 5th graders learn about September 11th.  We try to take an entire day and explore September 11th from multiple perspectives and angles so that our students understand the tragedy but also how tragedy can lead us to take action in the world.  This year, we were excited to collaborate with Shannon Miller and her students in Van Meter, Iowa on this project.

Today at Barrow, students began their day in their classrooms.  They discussed heroes and set a tone of seriousness and reflection for the day.  Then students launched into four 30-minute rotations.

1.  With Ms. Olin, students read the book Fireboat, discussed the many heroes that responded on 9/11, and learned about ways that heroes are honored.  Students designed a postage stamp for heroes.

2.  With Mrs. Selleck, students read some reflections that were written by New York students after the tragedy happened.  Students learned about how people respond to tragedy in many ways.  They also read 14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy to see that even people in far away countries wanted to support America in any way that they could because of this tragedy.

3.  With Mrs. Mullins, students looked at other heroes of 9/11 from the rescue dogs to the everyday citizens aboard the United 93 that took over the hijackers and saved the US from another potential large scale disaster.  Students also learned about the poetry form haiku and how it can be a way to reflect upon a tragedy or honor someone.  Students wrote haikus for heroes.  Mrs. Freeman recorded several students reading their poems.

4.  With me in the media center, students viewed a video about remembering the tragedy and taking a stand on 9/11 to do something positive for the world.IMG_0999

Students then went to a pathfinder on computers and sat all over our media center in complete silence as they viewed multiple websites about 9/11.  The sites ranged from video footage of the tragedy to interactive timelines to audio recordings of memories from victims’ family members.  At the close, students thought about what they might do to honor 9/11.  Along with students from Van Meter, we created a padlet where each student wrote an “I will” statement.

At the close of the day, students wrote reflections using 2 prompts:  1.  September 11th makes me think about…. and 2.  My hope for the future is…  We filmed these students and added their reflections to a collaborative video between Barrow and Van Meter.

 

September 11th is a tough subject with disturbing content.  We made sure that every student had multiple options for how they might learn about the day.  Students also had permission to no watch anything that disturbed them and could take a break at any time to do something else or to read books or write.  After doing this each year, I feel like this format really explores more than the tragedy and helps students see that in tragedy heroes emerge and any person can make a positive difference in the world.

Our students will continue to talk about this with families, explore the pathfinder sites in their classrooms, and contribute to our padlet wall.  We invite anyone reading this to contribute to the “I will” wall too.  http://padlet.com/wall/wewill

Transmedia Poetry with Thinglink

Fourth graders have been working on a poetry project for a few weeks now.  The goal was to write poem based in the science standards of light and sound and incorporate figurative language.  The teachers also wanted students to use some kind of technology for the project.  I decided to use a tool called Thinglink because it allows you to take an image and make it interactive.  You can put multiple related links on one image to create a transmedia experience, which means that the poem is experienced across multiple platforms.  We thought students could explore their poem in different ways:  informational text, video, image, and poetry text.  Other options could have included song, online games, and ebooks related to the poem’s topic.

 

The sequence of lessons looked something like this:

  • Lesson 1:  Look at onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, and personification in several mentor poems and then do a poetry dig in poetry books to find more examples of that figurative language.

 

  • Lesson 2:  Look at specific poems that focus on light and sound.  Examine the science standards and the idea of “found poetry” so that students might incorporate language from the standard in their poem.  Begin writing poems.

 

  • Lesson 3:  Finish writing poems in Google doc and begin Thinglink project.  This lesson took longer than we expected because students had to setup a Youtube Channel, create a Thinglink account, search for a creative commons image, and change the privacy setting on their Google Doc.  We did this step by step together.

 

  • Lesson 4:  Create a Thinglink.  The goal was to have an image with links to the Google doc, a video of the student reading the poem, and links to informational sites about the topic of the poem.

This was a fun project, but because there were so many accounts to log in to, it made the progress slow down significantly.  Students had a hard time remembering all of the steps that it took to login to multiple accounts at the same time and navigate back and forth between multiple tabs to get the links that they needed.  I think it really opened our eyes to some skills we need to focus on at the beginning of the year in order to make projects like this successful.

As students finished their work, they submitted their poem in a Google form and I added it to our Smore webpage of interactive poetry images.  Smore was very easy to use and a great way to collect and display a whole grade level’s work.  As students submitted their links, I copied the link and then embedded it on the Smore page with one click.  Then, on the Google spreadsheet, I highlighted the student’s name so that I knew I had already added their work.

I encourage you to take a look at the students’ work on our Smore page.  We could have made this project much more complex, but it was a great first step.  I think a second round of Thinglink would be much smoother.

Paul Revere Transliteracy: A Third Grade Collaborative Project

Back in September, third grade took a transliteracy approach to exploring rocks and minerals.  After participating in this experience, Mrs. Shealey, 3rd grade teacher, had some ideas for how the transliteracy approach could inspire the Paul Revere standards that 3rd grade was about to work on.  She scoured the internet for resources and developed her own Sqworl pathfinder to share with students.  She also developed a menu of projects that students could choose from.  After introducing the idea to her team, we all met together to continue brainstorming and think about how technology could be incorporated with the menu ideas.

Ideas included:

  • Make a map of Paul Revere’s ride with important events, photos, and videos using Google Earth & Google maps
  • Create a newscast of Paul Revere’s ride with eyewitness accounts.  Use the iPad to film the newscast and iMovie to edit.
  • Use Museumbox to create various cubes about Paul Revere:  his ride, his character traits, events leading to American Revolution, etc.
  • Create a piece of art related to Paul Revere.  Use Photo Story, iPad, or Glogster to display the art and talk about it.
  • Write a poem or a song about Paul Revere.  Use the iPad to film a performance of the song/poem.

Ideas continue to be added to this menu.  We decided to narrow the technology focus to just a few tools:  Glogster, Museumbox, Photo Story, Animoto, iPad & iMovie, and Google Earth/Maps.  Many of these tools were new to students so we wanted students to have a chance to explore each tool before committing to a project or tech tool.  We decided to have a technology fair where each class could come and tour through the tech tools to gain some familiarity with each tool to inform their decisions.  I saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring in student expertise, so Ms.  Hicks, a spectrum teacher, helped identify students who could teach other students about each of the tools.  Google Maps and Museumbox were new to all students, so I led the station on Museumbox and Todd Hollett, technology integration specialist, led the station on Google Maps.  

The students and adults setup their stations, and each class came through the library for about 30-40 minutes to see mini-presentations and play around with each tech tool.  Students freely moved from table to table and at times needed encouragement to move on.  Many students wanted to stay at one table to become an expert in a tool, but that was not the point of the tech fair.  Expertise will develop later.  We just needed them to be familiar enough with each tool to know what it was capable of doing.  Even though all students did not make it to all stations, each class had a good representation of students who visited enough of the stations to be able to share back in class.

Our next step is for students to decide on their project and tech tool.  The teachers will then group these students into groups based on their tech tool.  Then, during a block of time each day, students using the same tech tool will meet in the same room so that they can support one another as needed.  I’ve seen amazing things happen when a large group of students using the same tool are in the same room.  They discover things that I would have never had time to figure out or teach to everyone and they willingly share their learning with other students.  I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the knowledge that students gain about these tools during this process.

The teachers and I will also support students with the technology, but we also want our focus to be on supporting students in locating quality information for their projects.  We will rely on the pathfinder as well as books from our library for this endeavor.  I can’t wait to see what students come up with!

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Gaming in Education w/Xbox: NatGeo TV

This year, we are exploring ways that gaming can be used in education.  I’ve previously mentioned that a group of 14 boys are exploring the xbox, Nintendo DS, and Minecraft during an enrichment cluster.  This week, a 5th grader used our xbox 360 with Kinect to research wolverines for his animal research project.

One of the games that we purchased for our xbox is Kinect NatGeo TV.  This 2-disc set includes multiple NatGeo 30-minute episodes on a variety of animals and places.  As you watch the episode there are sidetracks where you can take pictures of the animals, discover hidden facts, take short quizzes, and play games that help demonstrate an animal behavior.

Henry is a 5th grader who did not find a book in our library about his topic, wolverines.  He has been relying on digital resources, databases, and encyclopedias to get his information.  I was so excited when I looked at the table of contents on the NatGeo TV game and saw wolverines as a topic.  Mrs. Mullins, a spectrum teacher, worked out arrangements for Henry to come to the library during language arts to do his research on the xbox.  I setup the machine, dimmed the lights, and helped Henry get setup with his notecards and floor space to interact.  As he watched the episode, he added several notes to his notecards.  When a sidetrack popped up, he put everything down to interact.  I was impressed by how the facts in the episode were reinforced through the games.  When Henry learned that wolverines dig through snow to locate dead carcasses, he was able to practice digging by becoming a virtual wolverine and digging through snow to find meat.  When he left, this was a fact that stood out to him.  It made me wonder about how we can bring facts to life for students when they discover them in books, websites, videos, or other resources.  The active game element seemed to reinforce the facts and help Henry retain them.  I know that the amount of NatGeo content on these discs is limited and will only support specific students and projects, but the concept makes me think beyond the xbox and how it might inform future lessons.

4th Grade Native American Research

I am so thankful for time to get together with other librarians to learn.  We recently had a professional learning day in our district where many of our school librarians/media specialists shared how they are using Google apps with students.  The amazing Tanya Hudson, librarian at Chase Street Elementary, shared how gadgets could be embedded in Google forms.  She had used this tool with a 1st grade Common Core lesson using the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  Her sharing made my brain wheels start turning about how this gadget might be used with other projects.

Our 4th grade is currently studying Native Americans.  Their standards have them look at how location and environment affect the food, shelter, and clothing of groups of Native Americans in each region of the United States.  Once again, I used a transliteracy model to think about all of the ways that students could experience these 6 groups of Native Americans.  I pulled informational books, folk tales, and stories from each group and put them at tables.  In the computer lab, students used a pathfinder which included Youtube videos, databases, and informational sites on clusters of Native Americans but also group-specific information as well.  Students used a graphic organizer to gather their information.

Filling out the Google form

For the portion inspired by Tanya Hudson’s work, I created a Google form and asked 2 questions:  What is the Native American group you discovered? and What is their location?  I used 2 iPads as a station in the library where students could go and input thisinformation as they discovered locations in their research.  I also embedded a map gadget in the form so that each time a student filled out the form, it pinned a location on a Google map.  This map was displayed on the smart board.  As the map started to populate, students began exploring what other students had posted onto the map, and an interesting thing happened.  Students quickly discovered that students were entering incorrect information.  The coolness of the iPad was causing some students to skip their research or type what they “thought they knew” into the form.  The great thing was that other students started to call them out on this error.  Other students discovered that you had to be specific on the location.  Simply typing “southwest” did not necessarily put a pin in the right place of the map.  Students began looking for specific states or, even better, specific cities.  Our time simply wasn’t long enough, but a logical next step would be to have students begin to weed through the information in the form and decide what is valid and what is not.  The data can be easily erased and disappears from the Google map.  I already have one student who is interested in doing this by himself, but I think a whole class exploration would also be great because it lends itself to authentic conversation about why we do research in the first place.

Google map with pins

Once again in this experience I allowed students to freely move from place to place.  Most migrated and remained at computers, while others stayed at the books for the majority of their time.  Students who went to the books commented on how much information was in one place rather than having to look at multiple places on the computer.  It was interesting to hear this come from them rather than me telling them myself.  So many interesting conversations and teachable moments occurred  and I wished that our time could be extended.  This will be helpful in future planning to schedule multiple sessions or longer sessions with classes.  In all, I think students gathered enough information collectively that they can share their information back in the regular classroom.