Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's Time For Our Gingerbread Hunt With Help From Jan Brett, Red Laser & Tellagami Apps!!

This week, Oak Hills Kindergarten and 1st Graders have been reading our beloved Jan Brett books! She recently completed her latest book Animal Santa!  Students were so excited to hear her latest tale of the season!!  I created a Tellagami video for Animal Santa and several of her wonderful books!

To acquaint students to a variety of Jan's books, I placed gingerbread friends with QR codes around the library.  For each QR code, I recorded a Tellagami video about one of Jan's books! Students used the iPad app Red Laser to scan each QR code and then watch the Tellagami video about a different book!  

As students searched for the gingerbread spread around the library, I took lots of photos to share with everyone!  I shared the photos in a Slidely from Slidely.com!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sharing Family Traditions And Learning A New Digital Tool - Prezi!

This is the perfect time of year for students to learn a new digital tool for sharing their family traditions!

To view on some mobile devices, you may have to download the app!

 I am always looking for opportunities for students to create with new digital tools!  As they learn new tools, they can be creative when they are given the the opportunity to pick how they want to demonstrate their learning or share ideas with the world!  Though Prezi has been around for a while, my students have never had an opportunity to create a non linear presentation or use Prezi.  It seemed like the perfect time for them to try it out! I let them use my PreziEDU account to give it a try!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Books - Gifts of the Season or Anytime!!

No matter what time of year, Oak Hills students love it when we display our new books!  Each year, after our October Scholastic Book Fair, we set to work preparing the books for our students.  There are so many steps to get these books ready for the shelves!!  Our wonderful clerk, Mrs. Eklund, dutifully barcodes and covers them, and generally works hard until finally they are ready!

This week we put the books on display so that all of our students could see them before we begin checking them out.  They swarm around the books with enthusiasm, waiting for their turn to read their newest adventure!!

Just a little video of our students checking out all of their wonderful choices!

Digital Holiday Letters - Using Digital Templates To Help Jumpstart Student Writing

This week students are finishing up letters that we started several weeks ago.  

Third graders added their own writing to a holiday letter that I shared with them in Google Drive.  It was a great opportunity to teach them how to make a copy of an original and then edit using the word processing tools in Google Drive!  Some students wrote Santa, while others wrote their parents, grandparents and other extended family members.  Students who did not want a holiday letter wrote letters to reflect their family traditions.  In the end, they all had beautiful letters that they were proud of!  We rarely print the projects from media class, but students were excited to take home these letters in hard copy!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Edutopia Article Published - Personalized Learning and Query Books!

Today I had the honor of having a second blog post published by Edutopia!  I was really excited to share this blog post because I had such a great time writing it!  It was the result of my journey to personalized learning and I was happy to share it with educators, parents and most especially my students!  Hopefully the Edutopia audience will find it to be relevant and inspiring!

Click below to read and find out more!
Personalized Learning and Query Books

Hour of Code Week - So Many Great Choices For Learning Code!!

It is so fun to see how excited students are to learn coding!  We even had a coding rockstar who brought in his "coding" sunglasses to celebrate Hour of Code week!  

It's Hour of Code week and students are learning with a variety of fun holiday tools designed to give students experience with coding!  Since last year, there are so many more choices for students interested in computer programming!  The White House, Google, and even a little Disney from Code.org are all jumping into coding education with some fantastic tools!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TIES Conference 2014! - Make It Happen!

I just returned from this year's TIES (Technology and Information Education Services) Conference, and I am filled to the brim with enthusiasm and new ideas for our Oak Hills students and teachers!  I can't wait to share what I have learned! I attended sessions on makerspaces, gamification and creativity.  I was inspired by many innovative educators, many of whom I follow on Twitter, read their books, and follow their blogs!  It was great hearing them in person!  Yong Zhao, Jane McGonigal, Leslie Fisher, Shannon Miller along with local Minnesota rockstars Mark Garrison, Molly Schroeder, and Lakeville's own Kathryne Nguyen, just to name a few.  I also had a chance to meet a few Twitter colleagues that I have never met! All in all, a wonderful educational opportunity for this educator!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So Honored To Be An Edublog Finalist! Voting Has Begun!

This week, I was so honored to be a finalist for three of the 2014 Edublog Awards.  Thanks so much to my friends and colleagues who generously took the time to nominate me.  I am really grateful. 

A special shout out to my family.  They have given up some of my time and attention for my Technology Is Loose In The Library blog.  They know that this blog has been a labor of love.  I am forever sitting on the sofa with my head buried in my laptop or iPad. I am typically researching and developing ideas for lessons, testing apps, or writing about my fantastic students who constantly amaze me! 

I am grateful for the Edublog Awards because it gives me a chance to "pay it forward" to those who have inspired me over the years.  It is also a great way to find and follow new bloggers and tweeters who I have yet to discover! 

For those of you who would like to vote, or "like" any of the nominated blogs, visit
edublogawards.com   You can vote for more than one!  You will need to sign into List.ly using Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin/Google+.      Voting is open until December 15th.

5th Grade Student Bloggers Publish Their Reading Reviews!!

This week, 5th graders are finishing a blog post with their most recent book reviews! I wrote about the value of student blogs back in October when the 5th graders first began creating their blogs! To read about our blog beginnings, check out my original blog post, Student's Create New Blogs To Share Their Voices & Their Reading Reviews!

I was thrilled as I read their thoughts about the books they have been reading! It is so fun to see how attentive and engaged students are because they are writing for a larger audience!  These student writers are just a few of the great book reviewers in our 5th grade!

1st Graders Share Their Family Rules After Reading It's Christmas, David!

1st Graders love David Shannon books!  He just seems to understand kids! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kindergarteners Love The Christmas Hat!

Kindergarteners love the 2004 book, The Christmas Hat by A.J. Wood!  This is one of those books that makes students feel like they have been wrapped in a warm blanket! The pages are embossed with snowy texture.  In the story, Little Owl keeps getting lost in the snow because he blends in with the white snow.  Little Owl's adoptive parents give him a red hat so they won't loose him in the snow. The red helps his parents find him, but also helps the scary red fox to find him too! So Little Owl finds another use for the red hat!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

After Reading Balloons Over Broadway, Students Design Their Own Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloons!

This week, students have been designing their own Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons after learning more about the origin of the parade!  Our journey began with the artistically illustrated Caldecott Honor book entitled Balloons Over Broadway, The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet.  In her book, Ms. Sweet shares the true story of Tony Sarg, the inventor of the huge balloons that we have come to expect each year in the parade!  Students were fascinated to learn how Tony Sarg's work as a puppeteer helped him to slowly consider and come up with the idea of filling the balloons with helium!  Tony Sarg's evolution of ideas leading to his invention is consistent with an earlier lesson we studied this year on how good ideas are born.  To read more about that lesson check out an earlier blog post at  http://ohekidstech.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-do-you-do-with-idea-my-journey-to.html

Students Publish Their Own Thankful eBook Using The SketchbookX App, Google Presentations & FlipSnack!

Students loved reading Todd Parr's book entitled The Thankful Book!  It is colorful, funny and thoughtful. After reading the book, we began to wonder if we could make our own Thankful Book using the digital tools that we have?

1st Graders Celebrate Thanksgiving With Books & The ScrapPad Thanksgiving iPad App!!

This month, 1st graders have been reading a collection of books about Fall, November and Thanksgiving! With all the books about being thankful, students wanted to share what they were thankful for!  I was the scribe for students so they could share and brainstorm.  Together we came up with a list!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Students Begin Computer Science Lessons With Help From Code.org!

This week students began using Code.org to learn computer science with drag and drop programming!  This isn't the first time for most of my students. We participated in the Hour of Code challenge last year.  But since the last time we looked in on code.org, they created an elementary self-paced course that teaches repeat-loops, conditionals and basic algorithms involved in coding!  These lessons take students into greater depth than we covered last year!  I am so excited for them to get started!

What makes the code.org lessons so exciting is how much fun students have learning at their own pace! The new course has a teacher dashboard that gives me the opportunity to follow student progress. Creating classses and student accounts is also really easy!  Each student is given two secret words that they use to get into their lessons.  

Thanks to Code.org for the inspiration and this quality educational tool!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mustache Baby!! Just In Time For Movember! Using Single Use iPad Apps To Connect With Children's Literature!

Most of my 1st grade students don't really know about Movember, an annual event that takes it's name from the combination of the words Mustache and November, encouraging men to grow mustaches to raise awareness of men's health issues.  I really didn't have Movember in mind when I planned this lesson for 1st graders! It was a happy coincidence, but a few of my 1st graders made the connection!  It is always fun when our lessons connect to the world outside of school!

When I first found the book Mustache Baby, by Bridget Heos, I was instantly drawn to it! I am married to a man who gets a lifetime achievement award every time there is a mustache growing contest.  His mustache has been called "epic", and I have often thought he must have been born with a mustache! So I was "all in" when I read this delightfully funny book! Whether there is a personal connection to mustaches or not, this book is a joy!  The rich use of word play makes it engaging and clever! Students laughed, adults around the library laughed, everybody laughed!

After we read the book, we were in a mustache mood, so we turned to our iPads to make a little mustache magic!  Believe it or not, there is an app for that!  BoothStache!  I don't typically choose single use apps with students, but sometimes they are a perfect fit for extending lessons! This was the first time for my 1st graders to take selfies with a mobile device.  The app was perfect because it provided an outline to help students aim for the center of screen!  The outline helped remind them to look straight at the device with their arms outstretched, not from their laps, a common mistake for our young digital photographers! It will take a few more attempts for all of them to figure out how to look at the camera.  They often look at themselves which makes their eyes look closed in the photo. They will get it with practice!

After they took their selfies, students added mustaches to their faces! The app gave them a choice of several mustache styles!

1st graders with mustaches - such great fun!!  Just like the baby in Mustache Baby, all they had left to do was decide if their mustache would be a good-guy mustache, or a bad-guy mustache!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rediscovering MyOn eBooks! Such A Great Resource For Students!!

Last year, elementary students in District 194 were given an wonderful opportunity! Students were offered the opportunity to read ebooks from Captsone's MyOn Digital Literacy Program! To learn more, check out their website at http://thefutureinreading.myon.com/overview/complete-literacy-program!  District 194 parents interested in their child reading at home can find their child's login information in the parent portal!!

This week I have been reintroducing MyOn to students with surprising results! When we first began the program in the Spring of 2012, there were around 4000 eBooks for students to choose from.  Now that number has almost doubled, with 7,673 ebooks.  The additional options are really noticeable! Also, MyOn has been very responsive to the needs of students and teachers!  They have made a few subtle changes that have made the program even more personalized for students. Students really love reading the huge variety of books, especially the fantastic nonfiction! They can read books using the browser on their computer, the browser on the iPad and/or the MyOn app!

If I am being honest, I have never been a huge fan of reading incentive programs. Many of them attempt to level books to help students find reading materials that are educationally valuable for their growth. While this is certainly an admirable goal, it can result in limiting reading options for students. I am a librarian at heart.  I want students to find and select the books they are interested in!  I want them to discover a passion for reading, which is often sacrificed with reading incentive programs. After all, a well stocked library is the ultimate in personalized learning for students! 

So with that said, I am surprised at how excited I am by the MyOn program! I am excited to expand the choices we can give to students! I am excited to be able to offer them digital books as well as a well stocked library! Yes, there are the short comprehension tests and lexile levelings that are a part of every reading program, but these do not impose themselves on the experience.  Students spend the bulk of their time sifting through all of their great options (which is so good for them to discover what they like!) and reading, reading, reading! Great job MyOn!!

Celebrating Fall, Pumpkins, Halloween, Books & Augmented Reality!!!

Last week was a busy week in the library!  We celebrated great seasonal ebooks & hard copy books along with a little augmented reality!  After reading some favorites from our library, we took a look at some of our MyOn ebooks! Students had so many great options to pick from and connect with! 

As a grand finale, students went wild for augmented reality pumpkins!  Augmented reality (AR) is when something from the real world is augmented or supplemented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. (Thanks Wikipedia for the formal definition!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality)   Students used the free ColAR Mix app and pumpkin coloring pages from their website http://colarapp.com/ to experience augmented reality! This example of augmented reality is super fun, but it gave us the opportunity to discuss other options for augmented reality in our world.  

Take a look at a little video and pictures to get the idea!  You can see why students love ColAR for augmenting their coloring pages!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Look What's New At Oak Hills Elementary!!

A big shout out to our FABULOUS PTO for their energy and their fundraising!  Teachers and students will be thrilled to have a full class set of iPads for teaching and learning! 

Students Turn Into Crankenstein! AppSmashing With Make Me Monster & ScribblePress Apps!

Students love Samantha Berger's book Crankenstein!  They can relate to the idea that Crankenstein appears when children are frustrated or angry.  We all, if we're honest, turn into Crankenstein at times! Students had a blast designing their little monster alter ego and sharing what makes their monster appear!  

Students took selfies in the iPad app Make Me Monster and designed themselves as monsters.

After students created themselves as little monsters, they saved their image into the camera roll and then imported into the ScribblePress iPad app.  Once in the ScribblePress app, students wrote about what made their Crankenstein appear!  They had a blast creating their monsters and sharing their frustrating moments!