What Can We Makey Makey ?

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I have always wanted to use makey makey, but it was too complicated for me. So I had an ingenious idea. I got a makey makey and called on some members of the computer club to help me out. The school’s computer club is an award winning team. They won a Westchester County competition among high schools for best app developed ( http://bit.ly/2wWpqE1 ). Surprisingly, none of the scholars had ever used a make make or knew what it was. However, they quickly figured it out and set it up.

The boys found there were drums or keyboard make make options. Other scholars in the library were intrigued seeing them play bananas and having musical sounds emit.Some scholars determined rather than bananas, human arms could be used to emit musical sounds when touched by the student holding the main wire. They said as long as it conducts electricity it will work!

Since I am trying to instill a culture of innovation and creativeness in the library, I left the makey makey attached to my laptop on the first table in the library. I ask all scholars to sign in (for an advocacy report) when they arrive and the makey makey is the next thing they see after sign in.

Word travels quickly. The makey makey quickly became an object of interest and even though I don’t put it out every day, I do have students come in asking me for the banana keyboard. They just want to try it out.

One of the best things about the library is many different scholars come through its doors. Having something new and experimental facilitates children learning or trying something they might normally have not tried because it was not a class they would take or their friends might not be in a certain club that does it.

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Virtual Field Trips Via Skype

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Skype is something every educator should have in their tool box. Recently, a high school environmental science class came into the library for a Skype visit. We called into our contact, who answered on the sixth attempt. Scholars quickly learned since he was on the west coast that it was barely 7AM for our guest.

Park Ranger Daniel from Los Lobos State Park Reserve in California visited with Blind Brook scholars. They were able to see  him in action at his job in the wild. To hear the wonder and excitement in their voices surprised me as I figured Skype was old hat for these tech teenagers.

Daniel explained the duties of his job and the importance in protecting nature from trash. He pulled out plastic bags from the water and discussed at length how they kill water organisms. Scholars watched as he canoed through the water pulling up slugs, mammals as ripples of water jetted out. Often he would flip the camera so we were able to see the sun rising and also a seal sitting 10 feet away on a rock.

The seniors were so engrossed that a Q & A time was opened up so they could ask questions about things of interest. One student asked about the pathway to follow to be an animal worker in a state park or a vet. Daniel’s visit was truly inspirational as it brought learning into the school without us having to leave the physical constraints of the building. Daniel emphasized following your vision, working hard and giving life your best shot.

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As other library patrons came into the library, they would stop and stare across the room listening to the guest speaker and looking up from their work. Students in the library were extremely respectful and did not make any noise at all.

In conclusion, Skype was an amazing way to bring an expert into the school. There were no costs and no education time was lost. It was interactive, engaging and truly helped prepare our children to be future ready learners.

Japan, An Undiscovered Jewel

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Thought I would bring some smiles your way. Student work is always a joy to see. As a teacher, you get a better idea as to how scholars internalize learning. And I love giving them a change to create!

Happy reading!!!

Scholar’s Prezi on Japan

Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

2nd Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

3rd Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

4th Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

5th Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

6th Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

 

7th Scholar’s Storybird on Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan – The Hidden Jewel

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The school library media center was fortunate to receive a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership ( http://www.cgp.org ) to promote cultural awareness and education. The majority of 3rd graders at our school participated in library research lessons. Scholars learned how to use databases, authenticate websites, determine main idea and supporting details and take notes.

On the creative side, Harumi Ori, a visiting Japanese artist came in every week to conduct lessons in Japanese art creation. Harumi taught scholars the importance of paper in Japanese art and children learned how to make paper from toilet paper and water. She facilitated a technique modeling to children how to create a marble looking effect with paper, ink and paint. Then, scholars used different multimedia formats to create a digital story illustrating what they learned in a storytelling format to be later presented in a showcase learning fair open to the community.

The school was thrilled that executives from Japan Foundation were able to visit and observe both the library research lessons and the Japanese visiting teacher artist in her art classes. Children were able to meet and interact with the executives and that made the grant funding even more special. As a culminating activity, scholars participated in a learning showcase where they presented their digital projects to the learning community. By scaffolding teaching to younger students, parents, staff and community members, Highview’s 3rd graders really internalized learning and it truly became a transliteracy project to remember!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ISTE2017

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I was incredibly excited to finally be able to attend ISTE in San Antonio, TX. To add upon that, I was honored to be asked to present Game Design As A Catalyst with my colleague, Stony Evans in Arkansas.

 

 

The mug you see pictured, Stony was so kind to gift it to me to bring back to administration. (Thank you, Stony!!! ) I am now blessed to work for a school district that fosters my professional learning. In their endeavors to become world class, they have supported my presentations to various conferences as well as attendance at PDs to grow and develop.

A few summers ago, I wrote an advocacy article for LMC (Library Media Connection) that Stony Evans read.  He was so inspired by it that he emailed and befriended me. Shortly thereafter, I suggested he apply for a MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator ) Expert and he was accepted. Recently, we both implemented Minecraft in our libraries and I wrote a proposal for us to present at ISTE as a team. I was ecstatic when it was accepted since presenting at ISTE was but a distant dream.

 

As the dream started to really played out, ISTE was initially a little overwhelming. There were 20,000 attendees, the layout was confusing, popular sessions were closed out. You needed tickets or had to preregister for them – all things I had never experienced at a conference.  So the first day I attended the makerspace playground and poster sessions to learn in small collaborative groups. I then was able to figure out the trick to getting into the popular sessions …….as the rooms filled up and the line disappeared, there was always a single seat in the corner somewhere.

ISTE was a blast. I learned more about learning commons and redefining the library. I learned about new technology products to test and use. And most importantly, I was able to spend time with my MIE cohorts and continue to grow with Microsoft in this wonderful journey called education. Thank you, Greenburgh CSD, for supporting professional development and thinking outside the box. Thank you, ISTE, for promoting edtech. And   a huge thank you to Microsoft for always pushing me outside my comfort zone and promoting a growth disposition and an innovative mindset. Learning is a constant struggle and process and I’m loving every minute of it.

Lemelson-MIT Excite Award

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When you think life cannot get any better, it does. This year I was so fortunate to be able to work with an amazing technology director, Rocco Varuolo, who inspired me and pushed me outside my comfort zone. I sought Rocco’ s help and advice when I needed to enter the school library in a contest for STEM. Having recently established a makerspace in the school library, I knew I wanted the kids to be exposed to STEM opportunities even though I have no experience in it. Rocco immediately identified ways children can learn and become better community members at the same time. Please click on the above link to read more about the Lemelson-MIT news release.

Collaborate, Communicate, Create

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In making the school library a true learning common, Highview has transitioned from a traditional setting of wooden tables and chairs to comfortable beanbags and whiteboard tables. The table tops allow children to take notes or write vocabulary words as stories are being read. They can jot down key ideas which is excellent practice for NYS ELA that are routinely given starting in 3rd grade. To begin,  ground rules were set and children learned the tables are for scholars collaborating, note taking and using mind maps. They love working, learning and writing visual aids.

Thank you Kinder Morgan for your generous donation to establishing library learning commons!!!

Dr. Thayer, Vet And Community Helper

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Ten 2nd and 3rd graders made a field trip to the local vet, Dr. Thayer. Dr. Thayer set aside time in his schedule before pet surgeries to answer questions about how scholars can design a working limb for a pet in need. Students came with written questions and furiously scribbled answers on their clipboards.

“How can we attach the leg?”

“Do you know a dog or cat that needs a leg?”

“Should the leg have a wheel to roll the foot?”

“How can we make the leg bend? Do we need two pieces?”

Dr. Thayer patiently answered all questions and used a stuff dog to model points of consideration. When the children go back to the drawing board to create this 3D limb, they truly have their work cut out for them. Not only are they learning to use Tinkercad, a 3D modeling program, but students have to make sure the leg fits specific measurements. Several times they have turned away frustrated

 

Thank you, Dr. Thayer, for your time and expertise!

 

 

Library All Day Everyday

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So many happenings have been transpiring in the library that it has been difficult keeping up with the blog. Children have been clamoring the door to get into makerspace at lunch. It is amazing that this is so popular. We started with small sessions testing everything out and as a collaboration with Ms. Martin, a 2nd grade teacher. Then a second lunch period opened up where children have access to recycled material that they are able to do whatever they can imagine with. It never fails to amaze me how creative scholars can be.

A few weeks ago, the library was so fortunate to have had children’s author, Robin Newman in. Children had purchased her book, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, and had a ton of questions to ask. Robin spoke about her writing process, what inspires her and how children can get started with their own stories. Author visits are great ways to connect the curriculum. They give meaning to literacy as children can make text to self connections with their own lives as students, and practice what good readers and good writers do.

In conjunction with a unit study on Japan and also an IB 3rd grade unit on the significance and role of water worldwide, scholars have been researching various pathfinders. For last week’s library session, children were able to weave miniature water baskets similar to what farmers used to saturate the rice fields in traditional Japan. It is so refreshing to see children utterly absorbed in mastering and finishing this project. Hands on learning is truly the best way to solidify learning connections.

Find Your Creativity

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Recently inspired by the drive, motivation and innovation of my neighboring coworker, I have decided to blog about her innovation. Victoria Bolton, the tech rep. at my school is also a published author. She has written three books and has had them receive positive reviews on several prominent and well known review lists all while working full-time . Laying the groundwork for her movie, which is in the works, Victoria has organized a virtual reality art gallery tour of her book characters.

Reaching out in collaboration with artists worldwide, Victoria has sought interpretative pictures of her characters and synthesized them into an art show. All artists read her novels and use descriptions from the text with their own views on how the characters look.  We all know many people talk about their dreams, though few actually follow through. Not only has Victoria made her dreams a reality, but she relentless works through projects till completion and has an added creative twist.

While this post has no pictures, take a look at the virtual reality art gallery. You won’t want to leave!!!