Author Archives: Amy

Coding Club Begins!

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When I was an eighth-grade English teacher, I often lamented about the limited logic skills of thirteen-year-olds. Here in the library, I’m finding intriguing ways of introducing logical thinking into the activities of my littles. (You are welcome, their-future-middle-school-teachers). My newest venture is Coding Club, using MIT’s Scratch and a Harvard-created Creative Computing Curriculum. Thirty-two 4th and 5th grade students have signed up to explore computer programming with me for an hour each Wednesday after school.

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Today we began the journey and I had as much fun as they did. We watched the introductory videos and then we created accounts and design journals. The best part about the curriculum is the comparisons made throughout to the writing process. When you program, you brainstorm, research, experiment, and debug (edit and revise) – sounds just like the writing process! They are so excited, they forgot their passion for being on the chromebooks and began (hand) writing in their newly-decorated design journals. They defined what they think Scratch is and began brainstorming some ideas.

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Next week we will do a dance activity to start thinking in “steps.” Mixing journal writing and kinesthetics with technology instruction! I think this will be my favorite hour each week.

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Enchanted in the Stacks

Welcome! Years ago, I started this blog as an assignment during my school library science program. Fast forward, this is the fall of my third year as a school librarian in Rockville, Maryland. I’m just starting to feel like my head’s above water, but I often feel like no one really understands all the things a school librarian does. Not even the people in my own school. This Friday, I attended the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference. Being in a career where there is only one of me in the building, I always come back from librarian gatherings energized and full of great ideas. This time, I came back with the determination to blog our library and show off the great things my littles are producing.

Next week, my fourth and fifth graders and I embark on a coding club based on MIT’s Scratch web-based software and I invite you to join us on the journey, with other library tidbits along the way. This is definitely not your parent’s library anymore. Librarians Andrew Plemmons and Matthew Winner, and author Nikki Grimes were the keynote speakers at Friday’s conference. Mr. Plemmons emphasized how important it is for students to have time to tinker. I agree, and in this blog you’ll get to see the ways I’m trying to give my littles time and space to do just that. Ms. Grimes left me with the hopeful concept that gun control may not be the answer, but stories may be. Ms. Grimes’ spoken voice was as hypnotic as her words, “Stories that help readers find meaning in their lives … Our path to [our] experience are unique, but their sameness at the core make compassion, sympathy, empathy possible. We desperately need all three.” I’ve been on a small quest to find children’s books from the voices of many cultures, and plan to put my discoveries here.

Matthew Winner, a fellow Maryland librarian, is someone full of fantastic ideas and someone I’ve admired for a while – although at times he exhausts me by all he does. Thank you, Matthew for your reminder: to eat an elephant, you take one bite at a time. Matthew was the end-your-day keynote speaker. He spoke of just how much there is for littles to learn. So much information, so many facts and ideas. There just isn’t time to fit it all into any curriculum. Libraries are the space where students can pursue their passions, in both low and high tech ways. Matthew’s quote is now my new slogan when I plan with teachers, “We are Time Lords, we can buy you time.”

I chose Enchanted Librarian simply because libraries enchant me. It’s a fabulous way to spend your career – enchanted!

Got 5? Text Complexity

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Subscription Databases – Common Core Ready

Text Complexity Reader and Task Considerations

Text Complexity Tool Informational

Text Complexity Tool Literary

Quantitative Measures of Text Complexity

We Video

WeVideo.com is my new favorite tool. A cloud based video editor, you can collaboratively prepare videos, without a ton of free disk space & hours for rendering. There are loads of audio tracks (or you can record your own), many transitions, effects, text bubbles, and so much more. It’s free to export up to 15 minutes a month. Making it perfect for the classroom lesson and the classroom project.

Here is my quick attempt at a book trailer using my new read: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. I’ve also created a screencast to show you just how quickly you can get started!

Library Blogs

Here I find myself blogging about blogs, looking first at blogs of school librarians…

The Busy Librarian is Matthew Winner’s blog. He’s an elementary school local librarian in Howard County, and was a presenter at the MASL conference this year. Matthew’s one of the most energetic people I have ever met and passionately loves to go to work. His blog is about what he does, and is always a good read. Lessons he’s tried, books he’s read, conferences he’s attending, and gaming as a motivational library tie-in. His intended audience is fellow librarians, as opposed to his students and school community. My favorite recent post on Michael’s site is a metaphorical  look at Tumblr.

The Adventures of Library Girl is the blog of Jennifer LaGarde. Jennifer is a middle school librarian (and holds a host of other district and state responsibilities in North Carolina). In her “about me,” she says, “Unofficially, I’m just a teacher whose classroom happens to have lot more books in it than most.  The Adventures of Library Girl is the spot where I ponder, share and rub my thoughts about libraries and student learning together until they catch fire or fizzle out.” This blog is also intended for fellow librarians, and has a lot of inspirational entries about technology in teaching, her professional learning network, conferences and lessons. She also collaborates online with Matthew Winner (from the previous paragraph) on the Epic Win gaming lessons. Warning! My favorite post is very distracting, time-consuming, and oh-so-worth watching: It’s 5 (more) TED talks that all school librarians should watch  (+1).

The True Adventures of a High School LibrarianHaving reviewed an elementary and middle school blog, for this review I simply googled, “High School Library Blog” and found the True Adventures of A High School Librarian. Alabama librarian, Nikki D. Robertson, is the author. Nikki seems just as enthusiastic (and busy) as both Matthew and Jennifer. I’m starting to feel a little intimidated, but excited to embark on this new career. I need to post two links for you here, because they are technology that I find valuable enough to use in my classroom this week. First, “QWRTY meets Sexy” about the web program, Typing Karaoke. And second, screen shot directions for enrolling students in Moodle.

I already follow Matthew’s blog, as well as his Twitter feed. I’m going to continue to now follow Jennifer & Nikki. Collaboration and sharing of so much means that no one needs to be an expert in everything, and creating a professional learning network is one way to keep swimming with the tide in this career that is changing so quickly with technology and becoming such a vital part of the school with Common Core.

Throughout my program at McDaniel, I’ve shared, encouraged, and annoyed my colleagues at school with great new ideas, strategies, lessons, and technologies that I’ve picked up. Maybe a blog is just the place to share…

Tech from Ms. T

Learning Technologies Explored

The Busy Librarian

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein

Pecometh Notes

It's Deep Down in our Hearts