Blog Archives

Navigating the Information Tsunami: Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core Standards, K-5

Cherry Lake Publishing has a new and exciting book coming out called, Navigating the Information Tsunami:  Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core Standards, K-5.  This text offers 18 projects, three from each grade level K-5, that go well-beyond fact recall.  These lessons are all grounded in the new Common Core Standards and focus on quality student research from our earliest learners to our older elementary students.  Each lesson is written by an educator who is an expert on the many literacies involved in research projects, the school teacher-librarian.  While the  lessons are written for classroom teachers, they all incorporate collaboration with the school librarian at some point during the project.  Also within the pages of the book, there are many graphic organizers and tips on topics such as citing sources in a multimedia world, creative commons images, what to do when Youtube is blocked, and more.  I encourage every elementary library in Georgia to own at least one copy of this book.  There are even featured lessons from Georgia librarians, Andy Plemmons & Linda Martin.  Check out the attached flyer and order your copy today!

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

How to teach 3 social studies units covering over half a century in 4 weeks: A 5th Grade Glogster Project

Last year, I began a journey with 5th grade that integrated multiple social studies standards into one big project.  The teachers put students in cross-classroom groups and assigned them social studies topics for a unit on the turn of the century.  Each group made a glog about their topic after using print and digital resources to gather information.  We were amazed by the leadership, collaboration, and innovation that took place in that project, but we made a lot of mistakes along the way too.  You can read more about last year here and here.

This year, we almost didn’t do this project.  The teachers were feeling even more overwhelmed by the content this year because they had to teach 3 social studies units and 2 science units in 9 weeks.  You would probably feel overwhelmed too if you knew you had to teach these units in that amount of time:

Even the district planner recommends a total of 12 weeks for the units, but requires that it be done in the 3rd quarter (9 weeks).

After multiple combinations of meetings between me, the 5th grade social studies teacher, the gifted collaboration teacher, and the instructional coach, we developed a plan for how this year’s content might look.  Each of the 3 social studies classes were assigned a unit.  Within each class, topics were assigned to individuals as well as groups of students.  These students made plans of how to divide the content among their group.  On Mondays and Fridays, the social studies teacher and gifted teacher did direct teaching of some of the content from all 3 units.  On Tuesday-Thursday, students came to the media center to research their topics in online databases, websites, and books.  Last year, students just took notes as they read, but this year we wanted students to have a better structure that was based in questions that came from the standards.  The gifted teacher combed through the standards and created 2 different graphic organizers with questions for students to consider.  The organizer also had space to document resources used.  Some students chose to use digital copies of this organizer while others chose to print it out and write their notes.

Once again, I pulled together a pathfinder divided up by topics.  This pathfinder gave each student a handful of websites about their topic.  I also showed them how to search the databases found in Georgia’s Galileo collection.  My paraprofessional took the topics and searched through our print collection.  If a book matched one group’s topic, she put a post-it with their names on the book.  If a book spanned multiple topics, she put it in a shared stack.

To begin our journey, I briefly introduced the pathfinder, graphic organizers, and how to take notes (not copying and pasting entire paragraphs of information from websites).  I also showed a glog from last year’s students to give them an idea of what they would ultimately be doing.  We chose not to introduce how Glogster works at the beginning.  We also chose to not give students logins and passwords to Glogster.  Students then began a week of research.  The social studies teacher, gifted teacher, student teacher, my paraprofessional, some college students, and me began working with students as much as possible to support them in their search.

After a week, I introduced how Glogster works by showing a very basic run-through of the kinds things it can do.  Students continued to research, but as they finished, they checked in with one of the adults.  Most of the time we offered additional guiding questions and support so that they had the most complete information possible.  Once students reached a point where they had enough information, they received their username and password to Glogster.

Most students began Glogster with deciding on their wall background.  Then, they moved to adding text from their organizer.  Eventually, students branched out to include photographs from public domain searches and linked their pictures to the sources they came from.  Some students also did audio introductions to their glog or recorded audio for various parts of their glogs.  Some students used Screencast-o-matic to do screencasts of timelines from PebbleGo or tours in Google Earth.  A few students used webcams to record themselves talking.  One group even did a webcam video of their resource list rather than just creating a text box for it.

You can view some of the finished or in progress glogs here:

Recovering from the Great Depression

Black Cowboys

Wright Brothers

George Washington Carver

Alexander Graham Bell

Thomas Edison

Spanish American War

McKinley & Roosevelt

Panama Canal


Voting Rights

US Contributions and Treaty of Versailles

Lusitania and Other Ships

Duke Ellington

Louis Armstrong

Harlem Renaissance

Babe Ruth

Charles Lindbergh

Henry Ford

The Great Depression

Jesse Owens

Stalin, Mussolini, Roosevelt, & Churchill


Presidents of WWII

Bombing of Japan

Changing Role of Women

Tuskegee Airmen

Cold War

Khrushchev & McCarthy

D-Day, VJ, & VE Days

Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, & Hirohito

Panama Canal 2

Once students finalize their glogs, they will present them to the rest of the 5th grade to share the responsibility of teaching and learning this massive amount of content.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Google, Galileo and Cougars, Oh My!

Mrs. Powell, I thought a cougar was an animal!

When the information hit the GLMA blog that Supt. Barge suggested that Galileo was ‘nice but not necessary’, and did not include funding for Galileo in his budget presentation, my first thought was about what most elementary students cut their research teeth on: animals! So I did a search for cougar in Google and in my results list there was not an animal is sight… at least not the 4-legged ones our 2nd graders are looking for!

This is my letter to Supt. Barge and to my representatives. My example was a direct copy and paste – no editing to illustrate my point. I suspect others may have examples to share also.

“Dear Superintendent Barge,

I received information that in your budget presentation to committees Galileo was not funded. Please, as an elementary school library media specialist let me beg you to reconsider!

 Again and again – as you know – education and educators bear the brunt of budget cuts. Galileo is a tool that provides our entire state with authoritative databases! Do we really and truly want all of our students and citizens to rely on Google or Bing as their authoritative on line tools? They are commercial search engines! The value of Galileo is beyond dollars; losing it is giving carte blanche to all students and citizens to become informed people based on which commercial group pays the most to become first in the search results list!

 In elementary schools animal research is a very common beginning search lesson. I just typed ‘cougar’ into Google and here are my unedited results:

Cougars on the Prowl 

Older Women Seek Young Studs Message & View Profiles Free!

Cougars For Younger Men 

It’s Easy, Join Now for Free and Meet A Cougar in Your Area Tonight.

Cougar Life 

Where Sophisticated Cougars Meet Younger Men. As seen on ABC & NBC

Search Results

Urban Dictionary: cougar 

 7 posts – 7 authors – Last post: Feb 17, 2010

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered … – Cached – Similar

Get more discussion results

Cougar – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

 The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as puma, mountain lion, mountain cat, catamount or panther, depending on the region, is a mammal of the family …

Cougar (disambiguation) – North American Cougar – Cached – Similar

Age disparity in sexual relationships – Wikipedia, the free … 

 ”New Study Claims No Cougar Trend, Dating Websites Attempt To Show … – Cached – Similar

This is real life in our schools! Is this really where we want to take our elementary students? REALLY?

Without access to authoritative databases this is exactly what will happen. And who knows what will be next in pop culture? While searching for ‘bear’ it’s one thing to guide children between information for bears the mammal and bears the football team, but do I really want to guide them through bear is a common word in gay culture? That is the 2nd hit I get in Google in my search of bears.

Please, please, reconsider this recommendation. Google and Bing are great commercial search engines but they are not expert sources for academic use. As the highest elected proponent of solid education in our state please recognize these valuable tools in education… for the WHOLE STATE!”

Martha Powell

Library Media Specialist, Roswell North Elementary School

This entry was posted in Uncategorized

New from YALSA: Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults

The Young Adult Library Services Association has launched the inaugural issue of its open-access, peer-reviewed electronic research journal, the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults at Visit the web site to read the articles &/or subscribe to the RSS feed.  The journal will be published quarterly beginning in November 2010, with issues following each February, May and August.

The first issue highlights paper presentations from YALSA’s Young Adult Literature Symposium, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nov. 5-7 with a theme of Diversity, Literature and Teens: Beyond Good Intentions. The papers in the issue are:

The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults disseminates research of interest to librarians, library workers and academics who focus on library service to young adults, ages 12 through 18. It will also serve as the official research publication of the association, publishing annotated lists of recent research from YALSA’s Research Committee, Henne Award–winning research, papers from YALSA’s biennial Young Adult Literature Symposium and papers presented at YALSA’s annual Past Presidents’ Lecture (held each January at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting).

Those interested in submitting a paper to JRLYA for future issues are encouraged to contact the editor at Author guidelines and more information can be found at  Individuals interested in serving on the journal’s advisory board, which facilitates the peer review process, should fill out a volunteer form at  Appointments to the 2010 – 2011 advisory board will be made in February and March by Sarah Flowers, YALSA’s President-Elect, and the group’s work begins in July.  The group’s work is 100% virtual—attendance at ALA conferences is not required.

Stephanie (Stevie) Kuenn

Communications Specialist

Young Adult Library Services Association

v: 312.280.2128

f: 312.280-5276

Words to Widgets

What in the world is a widget? That’s what I thought a few months ago, so I decided to find out. Now I think they are going to help students navigate researching with databases.

I’m in the middle of switching all of our database links from words to widgets. Where I used to have the words “History Resource Center: World” linked to that database, now I have a widget – the words, an image, and a search box where a search can be started immediately (see picture). I think students will like starting their search right away, and may be more likely to remember a database if there’s a picture tied to it. I’m in a high school, but I think this could work for any age group.

Gale databases have great widgets. They provide everything for you and let you customize it if you want. You choose what option you want for embedding, such as HTML code for your website (what I use) or a link to paste in Google sites. The image is also a link, so if you didn’t want to use the search box, the database still comes up.

EBSCO also has widgets available. I received great customer support from Ryan Taylor, who was very helpful in helping me create some of the specific widgets I needed.

For the databases that don’t currently have widgets, I’m not savvy enough to create them myself. But that’s ok; there aren’t too many, and all of them have an icon associated with each product. So I used that icon and made a link. Easy, and I think more recognizable to have an image and text than just text alone. We’ll see in August!

If you are even thinking about trying widgets, go to our Social Studies Databases page and see what you think (it’s the only one I have finished). If you like it, it’s a little time-consuming, but I promise it’s not difficult! I’d be happy to share any tips, tricks, and HTML code that I can.

Holly Frilot

Library Media Specialist

Collins Hill High School