Blog Archives

Infographics

By now you’ve probably seen an infographic or two – they are popping up everywhere. Infographics are an interesting way to display statistics for the media center, whether to administrators or to teachers and students. I also think this has tremendous potential in the classroom as a meaningful way for students to represent information. However, they are not easy to create for those of us who are not graphic designers. That’s where Piktochartcomes in handy!

I’ve played around with and it’s easy enough to use that I’ve recommended it to one of my teachers that is willing to try new web tools with her students. After creating an account, Piktochart provides 5 templates to choose from. (Think making a brochure with Publisher.) Our plan is to have kids use piktochart to represent each time period in American Lit. Last year she said her students had trouble connecting one time period to the next, so we’ll be sure to include that as a requirement in the infographic (i.e. What were the people in this time period reacting to from the previous time period?)  We’ll print them and use them in the classroom as a refresher before tests.

I’ll try to remember to update this post after we complete the project. In the meantime, I wish everyone the best for a happy and productive school year!

~Holly Frilot, CHHS Media Center

Senior Presentation Tools

Over the past two years I have worked with the Senior Language Arts teacher to change the “Senior Memory Book Project” into a digital “Senior Portfolio.” Different teachers have varations of the requirements, but basically it includes selections from personal writings they have completed over the year, thoughtful answers to cumulative questions, and illustrations of some kind (pictures, videos, etc.).

Talking about presentations tools with students is one of my favorite things to do. We’ve been working with Prezi, Popplet, SlideRocket, and Mixbook. All of these tools offer something a little different, but they also allow a student to share a link with a teacher. This is important for us, since many teachers want to have something they can refer back to when grading without having to deal with knowing student log-ins and passwords. However, I do warn students to be careful with the personal information they post, as most of the “free” tools are public.

If you know of any other free, student-friendly presentation tools, please comment!

Holly Frilot

www.chhsmediacenter.com

Using Poll Everywhere to Craft Poetry

Until September 28th, I am hosting the Ashley Bryan Traveling Exhibit of Illustrated Africana Children’s Literature featuring the artwork of Shadra Strickland.   This exhibit showcases 8 works of art from the books White Water, Bird, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, Our Children Can Soar, and Eliza’s Freedom Road.  There is also a curriculum guide that incorporates the art and books into lessons about making text to text and text to self connections, response to literature, and more.  I took these lessons and wondered how I might adapt them to various kinds of learning that I try to support in my media center.

One of lessons invites students to write “Where I’m From” poems from the perspective of a character in the story or artwork.  I wondered how I might support students in writing a collaborative “where I’m from” poem rather than individual poems, so I turned to Poll Everywhere

 

Poll everywhere allows you to create an open ended or multiple choice questions that students can respond to in a variety of ways:  poll everywhere website, texting, tweeting.  With a free educator account, you can receive up to 40 responses per poll and the responses feed into a real-time screen.  The responses can be downloaded into an Excel file, used in a word cloud, or scrolled through on the poll everywhere site.

For my lesson, I shared George Ella Lyon’s original “Where I’m From” poem as well as a template that pointed out pieces of the poem such as phrases, everyday items, foods, etc.  Then, students thought of lines that might be in their own poems and shared them with partners or with the whole group.  We moved into reading White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland.  This book details an African American boy’s curiosity with what it might be like to drink water from the “whites only” fountain during segregation.  All along the way, we paused and thought about possible lines that the main character in the story might write in his own “Where I’m From” poem.

Students then moved to computers where I had the Poll Everywhere site pulled up with the question “My line in our where I’m from poem is…”.  Each student thought of one line for the poem.  The teacher and I conferenced with students about their lines to look for spelling and repetition, and then each student submitted their response.  We reconvened in front of the smart board to read our poem, which was already waiting for us on the screen.  Finally, we took the words of our poem and pasted them into Tagxedo to make another version of our collaborative poem as well as to look for the words that we used the most and least.

There are numerous uses for Poll Everywhere, but I loved the fact that it could support a collaborative writing effort with a class.  The whole process took us less than 45 minutes to complete.

Here is a final poem from a 2nd grade class:

Where I’m From:  A Response Poem to the book White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Mrs. Brink’s Class

I am from I know everything
from tricking my grandma.
from White Water at a water fountain in town.
from 6 blocks away from the bus stop.
I’m from drinking out of a colored water fountain.
from telling a lie to the bus driver.
from I can do anything
from drinking lots of water because fresh water is good.
I AM FROM
I’m from not being able to drink the white water
from pretending to be sick.
from that good ol’ time of riding the bus to town, waiting to drink water.
from boy you better not do that
I’m from white people sitting in the front seat
from going to town with my grandma
from trying to get white water because I thought it was fresh and cool.
from nasty muddy gritty yuck!
from I can do anything
I’m from
I’m from a water fountain
I’m from I can do anything

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Jump-starting Teacher Technology Use

Over the past 3 years, I’ve built some incredible collaborative relationships with teachers at my school incorporating technology, information literacy, and great literature.  However, when I look at the school as a whole, there are still many teachers who are hesitant or unsure of how to dip their feet into the waters of using technology for student product creation.  I wanted to support the teachers by offering them a whirlwind tour of what I felt were the most likely technologies that they might explore with students during the year:  Photo Story, Glogster, Animoto, Wordle, Tagxedo, and Audacity.  I invited some of the teachers who I have collaborated with to be the leaders of 4 different sessions that all teachers rotated through.

Before the professional learning session, the lead teachers and I sat down to plan.  We each voiced our preferences about which technology we would share and what format we would use.  In the end, we decided that at each of our sessions we would show a final product so that teachers saw one possibility upfront before being bogged down by how the technology worked.  Then, we would walk through some of the basics of the technology and give teachers time to explore.  Finally, we wanted teachers to have a chance to brainstorm how the technology might be used in their units of instruction during the year.  I created a simple handout that was emailed to all teachers in advance of the professional learning session so that they could easily access the links we would use as well as have electronic notes that they could refer back to after the session or add-to during the session.

My principal allotted a 90-minute afterschool professional learning block, and we held the sessions in adjacent teacher classrooms for minimal transitions.  Each session was a fast and furious 20-minute block.  We grouped teachers by grade levels:  k-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, and resource teachers.  All teachers brought their own laptops and we provided any other technology needed such as digital microphones and webcams for the exploration phase.

As usual, some surprising things happened:

  • Most teachers were unfamiliar with the technologies that we explored
  • Teachers voiced their worries about clicking on the wrong thing or not knowing how to answer a student’s question, which surfaced a great conversation about how we don’t need to have all the answers.  We need to provide the space and tools for students to create and then we work as a community of collaborators to support one another.  I’ve had other students answer many questions for other students rather than all of the answers coming from me.
  • Even though teachers were overwhelmed with the beginning of school, they were buzzing with ideas and energy during the sessions
  • Several teachers approached me as soon as the sessions were over to talk about collaborating on projects
  • People found ways to use the technologies in their everyday tasks.  For example, my own paraprofessional has to do our daily email announcements.  She is going to highlight all of the announcements and paste them into either Wordle or Tagxedo and use that as an image at the top of the announcement to serve as a preview of some of the words people will see in the announcements.

I am so thankful to the supportive group of teacher leaders who helped me jump-start technology this year.  I feel like this session was a starting point for thinking about how technology can and should become a part of each grade level’s instruction.  Now as I talk with teachers about projects they will have a base of information to think about final products that students might create.  How have you been proactive in jump-starting technology use and collaboration in your school?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Another Way to Get to Yes!

Sunday’s post on ReadWriteWeb asks,  “What do kids say is the biggest obstacle to technology at school?”  The answer, based on the results of Speak Up 2010, is two-fold:

  • school filters that block access to content needed for homework, and
  • bans on using their own devices at school.

So much of the answer to both of these issues relates to policies that are either outdated, misguided or both. Which brings me to “The World’s Simplest Online Safety Policy.” Tom Whitby and Lisa Nielsen have put their heads together and come up with a wonderful resource that explains many of the things we need to think about (FERPA, CIPA, and COPPA) in clear and rational terms.  These explanations are used to support a tw0-sentence online safety policy that would clear the way for innovation and engaged 21st century learners.

Judi Repman

Georgia Southern University

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abhi_ryan/2476059942/sizes/l/ (Creative Commons)