"Annnnd---We're off!" That was one of my mother's favorite announcements. Great were the preparations, and finally we would jump in the car and hit the road. Going....wherever. Daily, we heard that proclamation. It represented the difficult task of actually commencing whatever was planned. Here we are with a new year. A clean slate and another try. Dare I ask..."What are we contemplating, planning, or purposing to do differently this year?"
Every year I worked, I would contemplate and set a goal. Usually this happened in September, but September gets crowded out with tyranny of the new year and lost in the school year rush. I found January was a better time to make educational resolutions. If your December life was so oppressed with "Holidayitis" (or, hollerday-itis), may I offer up a few suggestions to freshen up your program? Listed below are a few ideas to infuse innovation and offer the unexpected to your colleagues.:
Purpose in your heart to deliver end-of-year awards to faculty members (at an otherwise dull meeting) awards for: *Innovator Awardfor ...The Most Innovative New Research Unit; *Bravery Award-for working out-of-their-comfortzone; *Gallant Knight Award for a new untenured teacher who left the silo embracing a research endeavor; *Lighthouse Award given to the teacher who unexpectedly inspired reading in their students (gym teacher? art teacher?) You get the picture. These awards will give public Kudos to peers and perhaps spotlight strategic library partners. These will be awards that can go into "evidence binders" and demonstrate exemplary educational habits. Why not try?
Take first step towards "Inquiry" with teachers who otherwise have flat fact-based "research" projects. Getting teachers to recognize the value of asking an Essential Question, or an "Umbrella Question" which requires students to synthesize real meaning in their facts is the first step of evolving a flat-fact-based project into something that requires a conclusion based upon evidence (i.e. information) and this supports preparation for most standardized tests...BTW. An example for baiting the hook would be our current hoopla over the growing El Nino. EQ: How will our area be affected by the growing El Nino?
Make and evidence-based-claim (EBC) and support your view with evidence. Or, pick where you will live....and research from that area's perspective. Prepare to convince me with evidence. Present your conclusions in any media format (Green Screen Newscast? Scientific Chart mode?, etc.) With this approach, your students could even reflect on this in June to see of their predictions came true. This is a great real-life alternative to "disaster reports".
Picture adapted from Jane Martellino's GreenScreen projects. click
Jane is the elementary librarian at Bethlehem Elementary in Bethlehem, Ct.
See her other green screen projects at this link: click
Reading Mix-up - The brain is stimulated by change. Why not surprise your students and mix up the locations of reading shelves, collection, or genres after a vacation? On one superintendent's day, my principal asked whether I had anything for all the para-professionals to do while teachers were attending in-house training. We jumped at the opportunity and resolved our entire fiction section in one day. Now, you don't have to do something so big, but you could create a new "Spotlight Shelf." Or, a "Page-Turner Shelf" something to inspire your readers. You get the idea... brainstorm a change you can handle. Down with the status-quo.
As with any "resolution," the maker must resolve, or purpose, to succeed. An idea is great, but if not acted upon, or unaccompanied by commitment, it remains an idea. Why not purpose, commit, plan, take steps, and succeed? We can do it. You can make a difference.
On Wednesday, December 9th, I'll host a free webinar via EdWeb. This is sponsored by the Libraries Unlimited, and we invite you to join in the fun! I guarantee you that you'll exit with a few new ideas to incubate reading.
HANDOUTS:(Sorry to send you elsewhere, but blogging platform doesn't allow .doc files)
These handouts were either made by me or friendly librarians who tested and tweaked some of the ideas. Thanks to Lauren Abad of Greenfield Elementary School Library, Saratoga Springs, NY who tested some lesson ideas with second graders; and thanks to Sheila McIntyre of Milton Terrace Elementary School Library who tested some lessons with 5th graders.
Listed below are a few links referred to, but time will not permit us to go out and "play" these reading commercials, sample knowledge products, and other cute ideas to test or tweak for your students! Idea # 4 --"Book Bubbles" -Embedded here is a short Teddy Roosevelt example created by CrazyTalk software available from Reallusion.com which brings stationary photos to life. This was a variation of the biography example, simply to demonstrate the software. (May this disclaimer say that it doesn't capture the "Recipe for Success" recommended in the webinar idea as a "biography knowledge product" but reflects synthesis and thought none-the-less.
Links to Reading Commercials: Idea #13 ... A Baker's Dozen!
Thanks to Jane Martellino, award-winning Elementary Librarian, teaching at Bethlehem Elementary School in Bethlehem, CT: Here are the links to her wonderful reading commercials made with/by her students. She has spearheaded a "12 Days of Reading" campaign to reduce the vacation reading slide. It looks like a big success. Here are a few of Jane's details she shares for her "reading and book commercials"
Here was another great project: fifth grade students gave up their lunch break (and rainy day recess) to create book commercials for picture books for the k-2 students. They read the book, create a short summary without giving away the ending, they grab an iPad, and using a cool app called Tellagami, they create a 30 second book commercial. The link for their video clip is then encoded onto a qr code which is glued to the inside cover of the book. Next week, K-2 students will learn how to use the iPad app Qrafter to scan the code and listen to the commercials. Hopefully, the 5th graders were persuasive enough! Our goal is to increase the range of books K-2 students choose from the "E" section of the library. This project is a win-win situation for all involved. The older students are refining their skills in summarizing, fluency, appropriate use of technology, while providing a valuable service to our school community. The images below show what the video commercial would look like. However, to access a sampling of these commercials, either scan the QR code or click on the link!
Let's face it. We live in a world of issues, problems, disease, distress and... blessings. Our students, children, and family often live in either a blessed-bubble or a world of trouble. I am amazed at how often students who are from "blessed" families, embrace an attitude of oppression, while others from less fortunate situations seem optimistic despite their struggles. Here's an Inquiry-based lesson to challenge students to overcome struggles or over-look slight "first world problems." My former library aide used to tell students, "You need to get a real problem." Kids would laugh and get it. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade. Activate thinking:
Give each student 3 Post-it notes and ask them to write their three biggest problems--one on each note.
Using a bulletin board or wall, ask students to post their "problems" anonymously under the appropriate heading: "Problems" or "Perceived Problems"
Connect to the real world:
Ask students to find articles in the newspapers of real-world issues...pictures, headlines, articles, and other items can serve as real-world connections.
Post the pictures, articles, and other fodder on the board next to their "problems."
Discuss and question:
Brainstorm questions for research
Ask students to choose a "real-world issue" - Or, perhaps connect to their reading choices asking students to choose an "issue" that might be within the book.
Taking the brainstormed-questions (wonder), students can look for evidence to support their thinking.
Students should research their "issue" to make an Evidence-based Claim (EBC) as to why this is a problem needing to be addressed, seriously.
Ask students to open their "claim" with a juxtapose comment about their "issue" compared to a real one, or acknowledging that a problem they are dealing with is a real-world issue.
Share Knowledge - and advocate:
Give the opportunity for students to "create" a poster, ePoster (Smore), technology communication product, or to create a campaign, advocate, raise money, etc... for a cause of their choice.
One goal of the new C3 standards is to compel students to civil action. Let's allow them to change the world.
If you are a librarian and don't have scheduled classes, consider collaborating with an ELA teacher, or Social Studies teacher, embarking on this learning adventure before Thanksgiving. Let's try to challenge our students to identify real-world issues or perceived -- First world problems vs. Third World problems.
Image: Desktop snapshot from Google image search "homeless famine"
Post an image of your "wall" below, if you do this lesson. Thanks!
Along with the announcement about content changes in the SATs, comes a bit of unrest in the ELA community. Culture has changed. Standards have changed. Students have changed. Why shouldn't the SAT's be allowed to change? Just because they've always done it that way, doesn't mean they should continue. With David Coleman (ELA contributor to the Common Core) at the helm of College Board (SAT company), it would have surprised me if they hadn't changed. Be sure to read the following article from the NY Times, if you were unaware that the face of the SAT will look different.
So according to Tamar Lewin in this NY Times article, (note my "evidence") the test has been "redesigned with an eye toward reinforcing the skills and evidence-based thinking that students should be learning in high school, and moving away from a need for test-taking tricks and strategies. Sometimes, students will be asked not just to select the right answer but to justify it by choosing the quotation from a text that provides the best supporting evidence for their answer...."
Students will now "receive a source document and be asked to analyze it for its use of evidence, reasoning and persuasive or stylistic technique."
Access the whole article here: CLICK Or, this one: Click Or, read this related article: CLICK
So in conclusion, why not share with your teachers at a faculty meeting that:
Research is really an Evidence-based claim
Research prepares students for taking tests that require them to think, analyze, conclude, and support their conclusions with data, quotes, evidence, information and more.
Research is a CCSS anchor standard for College and Career Readiness
Therefore, RESEARCH will prepare our students for the SAT's, national testing, and equip them for rigorous work that stands juxtapose to their daily operation of...
If you haven't visited the LOC site lately, check out how they have bundled Primary Sources for ease of access! I have my favorites. In fact, I love the idea of using this "Patriotic" set for lower grade levels and get them used to using historical artifacts from our past. Why?
The new C3 standards want us to create little "Historians"
These are creative and interesting --even to young second graders.
This is an easy way to meet C3 standards creatively.
The LOC have developed teaching guides which are ... in general, good guides. If I have one beef, it's that their questions are too often "concrete" - that is they are answered with simple facts. I would encourage you to brainstorm better questions that get to the "moral of the story." Why are these Primary Sources important? How can they help use meet the standards. Here's an example:
The C3 standards call for us to teach "patriotism" at early grades. You could print out sets of these documents and ask the students :
EQ: What does it mean to be patriotic? How are you patriotic? How does being patriotic glue us together?
Your task: Create a Patriotic Guide for Americans.
With the recent announcement that Arne Duncan is stepping down as Secretary of Education, and Dr. John King would take his place as acting secretary, I can't help but share a file from my YouTube channel. While Dr. King is not without controversy, let me remind people that he did not bring the CCSS to NY, but rather inherited these standards when his predecessor, David Steiner, resigned just after signing on to the "Race to the Top" (RttT) bottom line--and the necessary adoption of the Common Core Standards to compete for the pot of gold. At that time, I heard one Superintendent remark, "the rats are the first ones to abandon ship." John King had to make the best of it, and when NYS won RttT money, we saw the bulk of it was placed into teacher-training programs. Most people fault King, but it is not the CCSS that wrought havoc in New York, but rather the teacher evaluation system. What a messy, dysfunctional, and inaccurate way to evaluate teachers. (Why should we quantitatively try to measure a qualitative job?) My intention here is not to debate the CCSS or the controversial NYS teacher evaluation standard, but to share how this man, Dr. King, understands the vital role of research in education. All this said, I do believe John King is a library supporter. He values reading, libraries, and research. Here's a clip that I heard him deliver at a CCSS Teacher Training Day (NTI as they were known here in NY). After this speech, I emailed his office asking for the few minutes of video...And--a week later, this was delivered in a DropBox link. Thank you Dr. King. I have this on tape on the power of research for our librarian file!
Let's incubate some out-of-the-box thinking with this fun Bulletin Board for secondary students: Only in America... Place those words front and center and all around jump-start thought with the following absurdities from our culture. Leave space for students to add their own "Only in America..." thoughts. Challenge them by leaving a sentence starter pre-copied paper available for their out-of-the-box contribution. Here are some seed sentences:
Only in America...do drugstores make the sick walk to all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
Only in America...do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters
Only in America...do we leave expensive cars in the driveway and put junk in the garage.
Only in America...do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
ONLY in America...dowe use the word "politics" to describe the process so well: "Poli" in Latin means "many" and "tics means "blood-sucking creatures."
Only in America...do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.
Not only will this get your students to laugh and view our cultural absurdities, but it will get this generation...THINKING!
100? Really? EQ: How can we detect when we're on technology overload? How can I assess whether we're using tools for Quality or quantity? Does our IT Dept enable us to use these? Time for true confessions. I love technology and once upon a time, I was a tech-guru. Our program implemented Microsoft Moviemaker ten years ago. Our students created Animotos, iMovies, Audacity MP3 files and more. I built a library portal via Dreamweaver that had its' own domain name, and our students were info lit savvy.... all back when tech was in its fledgling status. BUT -- There was a limited number of educational tech tools then. Inquiry-based learning was just beginning to take hold, and not all our tech projects were stellar works of thought. Now, we have to be even more careful to embed thought, as time constraints have hit us like a parasite zapping precious planning time from our schedule. Now, we have tech in abundance, and if we're not careful we can be consumed with the upkeep of our program and state-of-the-art technology. This sometimes results in cheating the quality of our assignments when we should be requiring the kids to think and not just to report.
We have a prominent UK educator, Jane Hart, to thank for her survey and list of the top 100 tech tools, of which I have listed 51 below. As we survey this list, I would encourage you not to be consumed by them, but to eat sparingly. Treat this like a gourmet menu where you ponder:
"What can my students experience this year to enhance their education--not their toolbox."
How many can they eat and not be overweight?
How can we exercise their mind using a few of these?
It's fun to consume new gourmet foods, but we have to insure that we get our exercise to work off the calories. All that said, here's the top 51!
Good bye to the old paradigm of bulletin board being a "content delivery" system. By adding an interactive element, expecting students to contribute to the postings, you are transferring ownership to the students. They begin to see the space as a place for contribute. Here we are again starting another school year, with interactive bulletin board ideas for you!
Carpe Diem! - Seize the opportunity to give your students a voice on a bulletin board.
1. CAUTION! At your local hardware store purchase a roll of yellow CAUTION tape and use it to surround your bulletin board as trim. Provide a center yellow paper template stating "CAUTION! These books will keep you awake at night!" Ask students to contribute book covers for captivating page-turners. I remember one at-risk student sharing that when he read the book, DUNK, (David Lubar) "It was so good and hilarious that I'd rather read than watch TV." I hadn't read DUNK at the time, but took mental note that it must be a winner!
2.Global Connections: Flat-world? Place hints on the board, and ask the students to figure out where this place is. The questions should or could, come from the news and cause the students to: identify keywords for correct searching skills, or increase their global exposure. A world map from National Geographic would provide a good background.
Bujumbura is the capital of this impoverished nation. How can they crawl out from poverty?
This nation is below sea level....
Tell me about the city of Chittagong. How could we help them?
Timbuktu is a real city located at what longitude and latitude
Where do the Hutu's live?
This country's currency is a Baht. How many would you need to purchase a $10.00 (US Dollar) toy?
Etc. - Or, ask the students to create questions for others!
3. WONDER WALL - What are you wondering about? Allow students to post their random questions and then teach them to find answers. When the bulletin board gets full, you can teach a lesson on "investigating" or finding answers, keyword searching and more.
4. Life's a Puzzle-- Using a colorful puzzle, ask the kids to complete the puzzle on the bulletin board, by gluing pieces in place when they find one to fit. Every week include a puzzle-riddle near the board that they can contemplate as they look for pieces to fit.
5. WANTEDa Few Good Readers! Have students suggest titles and create Wanted Posters with book covers. Hang them on the bulletin board. Wanted a reader who [fill in the blank]! Ex. Wanted: A reader who likes to read murder mysteries and who wants to figure out who killed the mother!" "Wanted: Readers to learn about paranormal probabilities!" "Wanted - someone to help me find another book this good!
6: Notable Quotable! Cut out some speech bubbles from copied black line masters such as those pictured below. Ask the students to find a great quote within their books. For instance, I just finished reading, The Silent Boy, (pre-publication to be released Oct 2015...a page-turner-murder-mystery). While I'm reading, I always stop and note a good quote or two that I stumble upon. In The Silent Boy, the main character comments, "Facts are solid things. You can trust them, unlike people." These quotes can arose curiosity in readers and be a platform for discussion and discovery.