Bridging the Classroom-Library Divide


The purpose of this presentation is to explain our rationale and to kick start ideas for you to use in your school.  This is definitely not the only way to do things, and in constant tweaking here in our District.  This multi-year project is the result of collaboration among classroom teachers, the media specialist, and the technology department.  As will most everything else in life, relationships are key to successful outcomes.  Links to resources to start your own program is available here.

In short, I collaborated with the Library Media Specialist (Alayna Davies-Smith), the National Junior Honors Society, the Student Council, and the two eighth grade Advanced ELA teachers at our junior highs.  We identified a need for additional resources to cover Common Core standards, including digital literacy.  We created audio books for the elementary classrooms, and added augmented reality (using Aurasma) reviews onto books in the junior high libraries.  Students then created websites using Google Sites that highlighted a book’s author, theme, plot, characters, etc., and we put QR codes to those sites on the appropriate book.  Students with mobile devices can then access a video review by their peers as well as an in-depth analysis of the text, also by their peers.

This is the presentation for the upcoming Midwest Educational Technology Conference.  It was created with Haiku Deck, and to find the nitty-gritty, you need to read the notes.

Visualization Activity with First Grade and iPads

MeTeaching Fridays at 10.  It’s my standing appointment with a first grade class to work on one of their weekly skills using a new app every week.  We’ve done Screen Chomp, Educreations, and more to work with skills like fluency and sequencing.  Last week, their skill was visualization, so we used the Doodle Buddy app on our iPads, and some books from the library.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.7: Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

“When students listen to or read text, they can create pictures in their mind or make a mind movie. When readers visualize what is happening in the story, they remember more of what they read or hear. ” (The Daily 5 CAFE)

NatalieDoodleBuddyBefore class, I went to the school library and found 5 books I figured they had never read (my sole criteria for determining this was that they looked OLD, and had those uniformly beige hardcovers).  I made a makeshift book cover out of orange construction paper, so they couldn’t see any part of the book.  I then read a page or two from a story, then gave them about three or four minutes to draw what they were visualizing.  At the end of the time, they held them up for me to see, then had another minute to show each other.  Finally, I took off the orange construction paper and showed them how the illustrator had visualized it.

We started with an edition of The Princess and the Pea where the characters were illustrated as animals (all the kids’ illustrations were stick people), read a couple pages of The Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats (the kids all drew their goggles in black, while Keats did his in yellow), and the first two pages of Big Al by Andrew Clements Yoshi (describing a very nice but scary-looking fish named Al).  We finished with the beautifully illustrated book called Crossing by Philip Booth.  In this book of rhyming train terms, our suburban kids had no idea what any of it meant without seeing pictures.  I started in the middle:

“Fifty-nine, sixty, / hoppers of coke, / Anaconda copper, / hotbox smoke.”

cars on roadThe results on the iPads were the best of the day.  There was more variety than with any other story, and the fact that they all drew automobiles rather than trains led to a discussion (well, a pointing out – this is first grade after all) that they drew auto cars because that’s what they know (the teacher even used the word ‘schema’!).  In reflection, the classroom teacher and I decided that the more nonsensical the text, the more imaginative the visualizations.

I would suggest everyone try this 45-minute activity with some of your lit picks, and let us know how it goes!


Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy with Apps

Today, I came across a fantastic graphic combining 21st century learning skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the SAMR Model.  I wanted to press print to share it with my teachers next fall, but then I noticed that my elementary district shared just a couple of the apps listed on his wheel.  So, I decided to make a similar graphic using the apps on our teachers’ iPads – only the apps assigned to all teachers, no matter what grade they teach.


5 Quick Lessons on Character Analysis and Predicting using iPads

Since this month’s focus is ‘Teaching Reading with iPads,’ our weekly ‘Techie Lunch’ iPad/tech training session concentrated on Character Analysis and Predictions.  We have already covered Active Reading for Main Idea and Sequencing.  The educators in attendance during their lunch period were 2nd and third grade teachers, so we had a conversation geared toward this level of students.

After some discussion about Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the importance of students being able to show understanding by accessing the higher levels, we came up with some ideas for lessons on Character Analyis:

1.  (Character’s Description) – Whiteboard, Doodle Buddy or Jot!  – Students draw a picture of the main character using a whiteboard app.

2.  (Character’s Language/Dialogue) – PaperDesk, NoteMaster, ScreenChomp, Skitch or Notability – Students take a picture from their printed story, and then highlight something that the character said that illustrates one of their character traits.

3.  (Other Characters’ Reactions to Character in Question) – ToonTastic or PuppetPals –  Have students assign characters from their story to figures in the apps.  Have them re-enact scenes from memory from their story.

For Predicting, students have to understand all the elements of the story AND have a good grasp on human nature in order to predict what will happen next in a story, which is why active readers should always be pausing to try and figure out what will happen next, just as we try to solve the case in less time than it takes Bones and Booth.

1.  (Predicting Character Actions)  – ToonTastic or PuppetPals – Similar to #3, above, but give them a situation NOT in the story, and have them show you how the characters in the story might react to the new situation, or if you are only part way through the text, what they think the characters might do next in the story.

2.  (Predicting Plot) –  iBrainstorm, Popplet or Corkulous – Plot out main parts (even as simple as beginning, middle, end), of the plot on either poppies or sticky notes, and put them in the right order.  Change the color of the notes or popples and have them continue on with the story sequence.  They could even then change the colors all back to the original color, exchange iPads, and have their neighbor put them all back in order, changing the color of the predicted ones once they get there (so you know they know which parts haven’t really happened yet).  If the students understand cause/effect the plot so far, and any characters involved, they should be able to put them all back together.

What other lessons have you found to be successful?


7 Apps to Reinforce Sequencing

Today during my weekly Tech Lunch, where teachers come before school or during their lunch to my lab to learn tricks and ideas for technology integration, we talked about how to use iPads to have kids work on the skill of sequencing.  I started with some ideas that I came up with, and then opened it up to the teachers who came up with some great ideas, too.

The trick is (and what I’m trying to reinforce with my trainings) that there is no real app for sequencing, so we have to think about what we want the kids to do, and then find an app that fits the bill.  If you take an app designed specifically for sequencing, you are limited to the content within the app.  It’s sort of like a lot like having a text book dictate your curriculum.  Bad.

However, if you figure out in your mind what you would like the end product to be, you can then determine which tool will best accomplish that goal.  In order to get students to sequence a story/passage they’ve read/written, or to show the steps in a process (such as the water cycle, formation of a star, or germination) they need to be able to write short pieces of text which can then be moved around into the right order.  Here are some solutions we came up with:

1.  Use a whiteboard app (such as Jot! or Whiteboard) and have the students each recall a single fact/incident and have them write it out without looking at anyone else’s.  Then with iPads in hand, they have to put themselves in order from left to right in order of the story.  An added challenge would be to do this in total silence.  Younger grades could, in groups of three, come up with events from the beginning, middle and end.

2.  Using a whiteboard app that allows WiFi collaboration (such as Whiteboard), have students collaborate on a diagram or a list showing a sequence.  The teacher who shared this idea used it with success when talking about the water cycle.

3.  Using Google Drive, have the kids collaborate on a doc that summarizes the story, or gives the steps in a process.

4.  Use a sticky note app (such as iBrainstorm or Corkulous) to put events on individual stickies which can then be placed in the right order.  Have a student put events on stickies, mix them up, and then pass it to a neighbor to put in the right order.

5.  Much like #4, use Popplet to make boxes which can be moved around.  The advantage of Popplet would be for connecting events, since lines can be made to connect the ‘popples’ to one another.

6.  We then experimented with the Dragon Dictation app, and were successful in being able to dictate a sentence and then paste it into either Popplet or iBrainstorm, so kids wouldn’t get bogged down on typing.

What other apps have you used to help kids sequence events or steps?

Creating Monster Aliens

20130305-203936.jpgWhat happens when you work in an open-space building where your computer lab is surrounded by 4th and 5th graders taking their annual NCLB-mandated standardized test?  You get booted, of course!  I took the opportunity to wheel my cart into the 2nd graders’ classrooms and try out some collaborative work.  For the last 25 (or so) minutes of class, I split them up into 2 or 3 groups (depending on class size and layout), I told them their job was to make a robot/alien/creature using a particular whiteboard app (“Whiteboard” by Green Gar Studios – the one with the smiley face).


That’s it.  They had never used this app before, but since I don’t ever explain how to use apps, I didn’t worry about that (adults seem to be the only ones that need me to explain apps to them).  It was interesting to sit back and watch them work.  Some groups started out with organization, others did not.  In the end, they all laid out their iPad into the desired shape, assigned roles, and then drew on them, sometimes several people drawing on the same iPad at once.  They thought it was extra cool when I turned out the lights and went around photographing the final products.


Over lunch, I took the pictures off my iPad and forwarded them to their parents, teachers, and administration so that they could be a part of the kids’ coolness.  And now you are part of it too!

What other ideas do you have to creatively collaborate with kids and iPads?