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Lifelong Learning Meets Online Learning: What I Learned While Earning my Online Teaching Endorsement January 19, 2018

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Online Teaching, Reflections, Reviews.
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Lifelong Learning Meets Online Learning: What I learned in the Online Teaching program about digital learning in the library | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

For the past year, I’ve been on a journey of lifelong learning as I complete the Online Teaching program at Millersville University.  I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to take a sabbatical, too, because it allowed me to extend my maternity leave and spend more time with my daughter.  As this time comes to an end, though, it’s bittersweet.  I’ve always loved being a student, and I thrive in academic culture, so this has been a wonderful experience professionally, not to mention a much-needed and welcome change of pace.  I feel recharged and full of new, innovative ideas backed by the latest educational research. I can’t wait to start implementing them and making our library program better for my students.

Still, I’m going back to work with mixed feelings, like I imagine most working mamas do.  I love my job, but my daughter now takes priority over it.  I’m pretty sure it will be a constant push-and-pull on my heartstrings now as I attempt to balance all the “things” I have to do and want to do.

What I Learned:

So as a culminating assignment in my last course, ACTE 632 Online Learning Environments, I’m reflecting on how my learning meets the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching.  Below is a list of each standard with links to my assignments, presentations, and reflections on meeting each standard.

All work is copyrighted by Collette J. aka Mrs. J in the Library, however, you are free to use it for noncommercial, educational use.  (And fair warning, this post is much longer than most.)

Standard A – The online teacher knows the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and is able to create learning experiences to enable student success.

  • Creating the Library Sub Unit in Google Classroom was by far the most challenging part of this program.  In the unit, I incorporated online discussion groups for small groups of students to exchange feedback on book reviews they are writing and publishing.  (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Google Classroom Screenshot | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech


What (Might) Work Wednesday: Back-to-School Edition September 30, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Reflections, What Worked.
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Welcome to a New School Year | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech What Worked Wednesdays | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Welcome to a new school year!

School has been back in session for about a month in my area, and this year I’ve started a few new experiments/ideas that I’m hoping turn out well.  Only time will tell…

1. Five book/item checkouts with student- and parent-signed agreement
Last year I required the form before any checkouts, and for some students that was very limiting to their access and use of the library’s resources.  This year, if students don’t return their Library Use Agreement form, they still can check out 2 books, but no audiobooks or the wildly popular maker kits.

Using the form completion as an “upgrade” or extra privilege has been pretty effective in motivating both new and returning students, and I like that there is no barrier to checking out while still encouraging student responsibility and parent communication.


2. Library Facebook page in lieu of paper newsletters
While I did use a paper newsletter for the back-to-school newsletter, I planned ahead to include it in our school’s “packet pick-up” night so that parents received it with all of the other school forms.  I’m not sure if parents are actually reading it, but the majority of the agreement forms were returned.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

Our library Facebook page is what I’m using for my primary communication tool during the rest of the year.  I post library and reading advocacy articles, as well as book recommendations and upcoming events.  For more post ideas, check out my Library Website Social Media Pinterest board!


3. Research centers first, then free choice
Last year I required every student to complete 3 library “badges” in Research Skills, Reading Promotion, and Makerspace/Creation & Tech.  This year, I’m trying something a bit more progressive and constructivist.  When I introduce centers this fall, I will offer 6 research centers only at first.  Then after students earn their Research Skills badge, they can have free-choice of reading and makerspace centers.  They will be able to earn more badges, but the others won’t be required.  I think it will be more of a challenge for me to engage all students, but once a student finds their passion, I think their engagement and learning will be more authentic.


4. New Student Learning Objective (SLO) assessment format
Like many librarians and teachers across the nation, a percentage of my evaluation is based on “data.”  For music, gym, art, and library teachers like myself, 15% of my evaluation must be a student learning objective, or Kindergarten Library Assessment Quiz FREEBIE! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in TechSLO, that proves with data that I assessed students in a particular skill.

For kindergarten, I’m changing how I assess the parts of a book, author & illustrator roles, and fiction vs. nonfiction.  I made a FREE printable booklet that students can complete as an assessment of their knowledge.  I’m going to try having students complete one page per week until everyone is finished, including “extra practice” pages for students to make-up incorrectly completed pages.

So what are the new ideas or experiments that you are trying this year?

I’d love to hear them, and I hope we can inspire each other!

Reading Aloud in School: An Endangered Practice? July 23, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, How to Be Brave, PSLA.
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Reading Aloud in School: An Endangered Practice? - Research & Resources | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

At the recent PA School Librarians Association (PSLA) Annual Conference, I read a worrisome tweet from a participant in a concurrent session. Some Pennsylvania librarians reported that administrators recently told them that reading aloud isn’t “rigorous enough.” Not even as part of a larger unit or with young students.

I was horrified to hear that statement, however, it wasn’t the first time, I’ve heard similar whispers about “rigor” in relation to library class time and reading aloud. It’s particularly frustrating to hear when in some districts (not mine), the teacher-librarian is viewed as “just coverage” for a classroom teacher’s planning period, regardless of how rigorous (or not) the information literacy instruction is.


Reflections and Celebrations 2015 June 22, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Makerspace!, Reflections.
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End of the Year Reflections 2015 | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Every year as the school year winds down (or crashes, rather), I start thinking about what I want to change for next year.  Though I’ve made notes on my grade-level lesson plans all year long, it’s good to look back and remember not only what I want to change, but how far I’ve come since last school year.  After a long school year, some reflecting and celebrating never fails to reignite my passion for teaching, and I recommend the practice to any teacher-librarian or educator!


Makerspaces Without a Space: Circulating Maker Kits for the School Library December 21, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Makerspace!.
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Makerspaces Without a Space: Circulating Maker Kits | Mrs. J in the Library

This fall in our school library, I tried something new: I decided to make some circulating craft or maker kits for students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades to check out and take home. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item after clicking on the link, I will receive a small commission.  See Disclosures & Disclaimers for more information.

I started with GoldieBlox™ sets, because they are already sold as a “kit,” much like our book/audiobook bundle kits.  Instead of an audiobook on CD, however, the maker kits include a bag of building materials.  Admittedly, GoldieBlox™ has been ridiculously over-hyped, and to put it nicely, the books aren’t exactly quality literature.  Still, the read-and-build format can make engineering more accessible to students who may not think that they like STEM subjects.GoldieBlox Circulating Maker Kits | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Then, I did the same thing with Q-BA-MAZE™ marble run blocks.  I used 1 “cool colors” set and 1 “warm colors” set to create 4 circulating maker kits.  These aren’t as well-known and might be considered more of a “toy,” but there is still potential for learning about physics when using the blocks to create marble mazes.  Every maze created is different, and there are endless possibilities even within the same design.

Both GoldieBlox™ and Q-BA-MAZE™ sets are affordable (around $25.00), which I think makes them particularly suited for school libraries.  Most hardcover picture books are in that price range, so it’s not going to break a school library’s budget.  Additionally, it isn’t difficult or expensive to get parts to replace lost or broken pieces.  GoldieBlox™ sells more parts separately, and the Q-BA-MAZE™ set has extra marbles.  If a few Q-BA-MAZE™ blocks go missing, that won’t hinder maze creation, and a teacher-librarian could keep a few in the library office specifically for replacing lost parts.

Those features, combined with the sad fact that many elementary schools share a librarian between buildings, make circulating kits a practical way for busy, overwhelmed librarians to inspire “maker thinking.”  By circulating maker kits, the time and space needed for creating is moved from the school space to the home.  Potentially, a maker kit could not only connect learning at school with learning at home, but it could also advocate the library program to parents and caregivers.  In each kit, I included a small card inviting parents to send in photos of what students create.  With permission, I could then post those pictures on our library’s Facebook or Twitter pages.

So far, the students are enjoying the kits, and GoldieBlox™ is the clear favorite.  I’ve been wondering if that’s because they are more familiar to students from library centers last year.  The Q-BA-MAZE™ maker kits are still getting checked out, but just not as much.  I’m interested to see if they become more popular as more students try them out.

From a library management perspective, an essential part of circulating anything is a MARC record, or MAchine Readable Catalog record.  MARC records make any item searchable in the online library catalog.  Creating MARC records from scratch, however, is time-consuming and tedious, so I’m sharing the ones I created for our library’s maker kits.  If you are interested in circulating maker kits in your school or public library, you can download them through the link below.

FREE MARC Records for Circulating Maker Kits | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Click the image to download MARC records for your library’s craft / maker kits.

Also, if you would like to add circulating maker kits to your school library, you can check out my GoldieBlox™ Circulating Maker Kit product at the Mrs. J in the Library TpT store.  The paper circuits and Q-BA-MAZE™ kits will be coming soon.
Update June 2015: The Paper Circuits Maker Kits with Interactive Nursery Rhymes and Q-BA-MAZE™ Marble Run or Maze Kits are now available!!
Update September 2017: I’m adding Electric Sewing Maker Kits to our collection, and they are now available in the Mrs. J in the Library TpT store as well.

Later this year, I plan to expand the circulating maker kits to include new kits with consumable materials.  Paper circuits and e-textile projects will be my first attempts with this model.  While these kits will be more expensive to support, I want to extend students’ creation opportunities during library centers to create and making at home.  I’m excited to see how it plays out as the school year continues. 

Also, if you’ve ever tried circulating objects or artifacts for student learning, I’d love to hear about how it’s going in the comments.  Let’s learn from each others’ experiences!

UPDATE May 2015 – I’ve added Paper Circuits circulating maker kits to my TpT store, and a blackline version to save printer ink/toner.

UPDATE June 2015 – Thanks to Teen Librarian Toolbox and The Daring Librarian for the shout-outs about my circulating maker kits in their recent blog posts!  I’ve also just added Q-BA-MAZE™ marble run or maze circulating maker kits to my TpT store.

UPDATE September 2017 – I just added Electric Sewing maker kits including a Bookmark Book Light kit, an Advanced Electric Sewing kit, and a Project Finishing kit for students who don’t finish their project during library centers.  Here’s some photos of what they look like:

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