Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Game Changer: GAFE

Recently, I introduced Google Apps for Education to my fourth grade students.  Before I share my adventure, let me just say that I am NOT advocating that any resource  takes the place of a passionate educator.  Great teachers are THE game changers.

Now that we have that out of the way.....

Opening the world of Google to 125 ten year old's is a daunting task.  There are some things I will definitely do differently next time around including more emphasis on email structure and etiquette. (The subject line is not where the email message goes and "Sup?" is not an appropriate message.)  There were a couple of days where I was rubbing my throbbing forehead and asking myself what Pandora's box had I unleashed on the world.  However, that quickly changed once everyone got logged in, logged out, and logged in again.

The teachers I work with were excited to share project templates once we got going, and it was a perfect way to guide students in saving a copy of a shared document for spring projects.  I love sharing great resources with students to help them get things done efficiently and intelligently. Some students really ran with the idea that they could work on projects from home on tablets and computers.  I've taught GAFE before and had students super excited to collaborate with partners from home and across the building during study hall, etc. But, I was in for a surprise.

One of my struggles this year in a new district has been not knowing little faces, names and stories.  Relationships are key when you are asking a student to dive into research AND ditch the worksheet, especially in fourth grade. I was feeling like I was missing a lot of opportunities and not giving myself much of a break. And for those of you who know me, you know that is pretty much the way I roll.  

One of the students' first tasks was to email their teacher or me after they got logged in and oriented in Gmail.  I received a deluge of emails the first few classes.  I answered them all in hopes of modeling good email etiquette, and I really wanted them to know their emails mattered to me.  The emails tapered off as we moved onto Drive and their class projects.  However, I continue to receive emails from students asking questions about how to find things in GAFE accounts, what we did in class, and websites we have used this year. I am completely open to communicating with students when they need answers.

What I didn't expect was the chance to connect with kiddos I don't get a chance to work with every class.  Those were the opportunities I was fussing over, and the answer popped into my Inbox. Those were the students who continued to ask questions and share their excitement for GAFE. I had a chance to tell students in writing I was proud of a decision they made during class,  thank them for helping a friend in a respectful way during a project, and gently remind them that wise choices are a good thing.  In short, I had another way to let students know what they do matters.  Game Changer.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Best Books of 2013

I'll add to the list of blog posts on the topic of "best of" whizzing around the digital highway this week.  I love to read what other people choose as their "bests" because it provides some insight into what they love, read, and find important in their own lives.  In other words, I am nosy and it's like driving down the street at night and looking in people's windows.  Weird, but admit it, you've done it too.

My list stems not only from what I found to be my favorite books of 2013, but also, like anything I read, where I was geographically and mentally when I read it. Whatever I read becomes a part of my personal history.  I can always go back to my Goodreads list and say, "oh yep, I read that book, and I was on the plane home from DC when I read it. What an amazing trip to the Principal of the Year conference. I was so proud of Chris and I spent an entire day at the Library of Congress doing research!"(Butterfly Sister) or "Oh, I cried through that whole book, because I loved it and I was leaving my current job and I was so emotional, anyway." (Nubs - 2013 Golden Sower Winner)

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Image Retrieved Goodreads.com
Such a simple and lovely book about the wonders of punctuation.  Did you ever wonder if the exclamation
mark felt out of place or lonely or confused? The world is full of period marks and they seem to have it pretty together. Such a nice book that not only teaches about punctuation use, but friendship and tolerance, as well.

Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Image Retrieved Goodreads.com
I actually swiped Abby's Nook and lost her bookmark when I read this.  She was so mad.  This is a lovely, heart wrenching novel about love of all kinds.  The writing is so beautiful and reverent.  If you are a book lover, you totally get the passages about book repair and rescue.  The love involved in bringing an old, misused, or over loved book back to life is breathtakingly depicted in this novel. It's romantic and sweeping.

Image Retrieved Goodreads.com

Top Cat by Lois Ehlert

I love Lois Ehlert.  Her simplicity is so refreshing.  I chose this book because it depicts Vivaldi and Boo's relationship perfectly and Ehlert's cats are dead ringers for Vivaldi and Boo.  Vivaldi is the Top Cat and Boo turns everything upside down. She has no class or decorum, and Vivialdi lives by a gentleman's code (stalk it, kill it, present it, take a bath and a nap - you're welcome). I took it home and read it to the cats....and the family. The family thought I was weird, but the cats were extremely taken with the rustling pages.

Image Retrieved Goodreads.com

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'll admit it. I was seduced by the movie and Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. I re-read this classic and loved it more than when I read it a gazillion years ago. For once, I can say, see the movie and read the book.  They are both delicious.

Image Retrieved Goodreads.com

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This was the last book I read in 2013.  It blew me away. I could put faces to the characters in the story.  Kids I have taught with nothing to call their own and hanging onto life by their fingernails came to mind as I fell in love with Park and my heart broke for Eleanor. I prayed Eleanor wouldn't suffer the abuse her mother took and hoped she would find some kind of life without fear.  I applaud librarians EVERYWHERE who have put this book on their shelves for their students.  There are kids out there who will never ask for our help, but they will find hope in this novel. I would rather they find what speaks to them in a library with adults who care than in the parking lot. (Did that make anyone in Minnesota uncomfortable? Oh sorry. Not.)

So there it is, folks.  Closing the blinds. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Schools Can Learn From the JP Morgan Twitter Debacle

Driving home from school this afternoon, I was listening to NPR and heard the story of how JP Morgan Bank tried to use Twitter to have a conversation with college students about the company.  Apparently, it backfired.  After being taunted and teased, the company canceled the chat and retreated.

I started thinking about this amazing book I read last spring "The Librarian's Nitty Gritty Guide to Social Media" by Laura Solomon. It is a comprehensive discussion on using social media to promote the library. One of the biggest points Solomon makes is that the social media promotion tool isn't something you just do. Creating a social media presence takes some planning, care, and direction.  It also takes time to develop some credibility with the people you are trying to reach. Something, JP Morgan apparently didn't know.  It takes time to listen and create a rapport with the very people you might need later.  Solomon's advice certainly applies to schools, as well.

So many of our Nebraska school districts are using Twitter to brand themselves and celebrate the wonderful learning opportunities taking place everyday.  In addition, the educator's using Twitter serve as models of digital citizenship to our students and their parents.  Anything that tells our story in a positive and constructive light is a good thing.  And when it's time to draw support from those stakeholders watching the sports scores tweeted out on Friday nights or checking to see what the kids are doing in the library this week, we have a base of people who follow what we do with no doubt we put kids first.

So what can schools learn from the JP Morgan Twitter Debacle? If you want to use Twitter as means of promoting your school and drawing support from your stakeholders, start when you don't need anything.  Tell your story and share your victories before you ask for help digging out of a hole. #justsayin

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Power of Socrative

The most amazing thing happened this week in library class.
As you may know, I am in a different district this school year.  Much closer to home, but lots of adjustment.  I spent my last two years mainly in a secondary library, and this year, I am a K-4 school librarian. And, did I forget how fast Kindergartner's can move?

There have been lots of ups and downs during the starting over process.  I hate starting over! I hate not knowing names and where to find paperclips. Mostly, I hate not having connections with my students. Lots of exciting things are happening in my district and I am grateful to be a part of change, I just hate starting over.  Did I mention I hate starting over?

My older students are working on foundations of research and some days are rough.  The answers don't just jump out and scream, "here I am! Take me, Take me!" It's like the video one of the teachers sent me last year after a particularly harrowing week full of technology issues and tangles - and teaching research.

However, my students are starting to find the amazing sense of accomplishment when they "bring in the herd" and find the answers they are looking for.

I love to use the resource Socrative  for assessing understanding.  This week I used it on some basics of World Book online. We had an activity where the kiddos looked at an image of an article  and answered questions based on what they read or what components of World Book they identified. I designed the activity to give the students feedback after every question.  I started hearing a "yes" here and there as they worked through the questions individually.  I stopped by one student and helped read the questions.  The first question was correct and I got a little smile.  By the third question, the room lit up with the most heartwarming grin.  I was dismissed because, "I think I got it, Mrs. Stogdill."

Watching a student find the power of knowledge, is one of the things I love about what I do.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Using Your Noodle - NSLA13

Resources from the NSLA13 presentation!

Use this link to access NoodleTools trial http://bit.ly/169xeOk

Navigating NoodleTools

Sharing Projects w/Your Teacher

Exporting Works Cited From NoodleTools to Google or Word

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mrs. Stogdill's Library Website

Hello! my kiddos! If you Googled my website and found yourself here, just click on the link below to go to my library website.

Mrs. Stogdill's Library Website