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Makerspace Centers in 40 Minutes December 28, 2017

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!.
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Makerspace Centers in 40 Minute Library Classes - A fixed library schedule or limited class time is still enough for creation and making. | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

When I tell teacher-librarians and other educators that I fit makerspace activities into a fixed library schedule, I sometimes get incredulous or skeptical looks.  So I thought I’d give some background and a sneak peek at a typical library class at my school.

Here’s what the average 40-minute library class looks like for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade (and maybe 2nd grade in the future).

5-10 minutes –

Students drop off books in the book return bin and sit at a table in the library.  Two students pass out the center tracking booklets to their classmates as I review the center choices for today, and introduce a new center if needed.  I try not to introduce more than 1 center per week/cycle.  If it’s a makerspace center with a tool like littleBits or paper circuits, I demonstrate it quickly…no more than 5 minutes, then refer students to the library website resources for further help.  Before dismissing students to check out, I use Flippity’s Random Name Picker tool to have students pick their center by placing their center booklet at their chosen “spot.”  Doing this prevents students rushing through or skipping book exchange to get to a center they want.

10 minutes –

Students check out new books or at least scan their card before choosing a center.  I do have a part-time assistant who helps with circulation, but if she’s not here, then I’m at the desk running the computer.

15-20 minutes –

Immediately after book exchange students choose a center and “check in” using a QR code to access a Google Form and one of the library’s Nexus 7 tablets.  Then, they work at their center, which for makerspace centers might include:

I started the school year with ALL research centers.  Once students earned their “Research Skills” badge by completing 6 research centers correctly, they had free-choice to choose any “Research Skills,” “Makerspace,” or “Reading & Language” centers for the rest of the year.  These 6 completed research centers are in addition to other research projects that I teach in collaboration with their classroom teacher.

As students work at their centers, I circulate the room to stamp their center tracking booklets and remind students to “check in.”  For research centers students only get a stamp if they get a correct answer AND have their resources cited correctly.  If I don’t have time to check answers on the fly, I still have their check-ins on Google Forms to verify what center they chose, and their answer slips/research packets to check later.

3-5 minutes –

Near the end of class, I start playing music to signal students to find a good stopping place and clean up their center space (I’m partial to swing/big band music).  If they are still working on a makerspace project, they can save it for next time, usually in a zip-top bag.

For research centers, they usually have a slip of paper or a packet that will fit inside their center tracking booklet to save for next time.  I’m working on an updated center booklet that includes pages for working on research questions and projects so that they can be submitted through Google Classroom…but that’s another blog post.

After class –

I don’t count this as part of the 40 minutes, but after class or after school, I usually go through all of the “check in” responses on the Google Form and I keep a spreadsheet of where each student went each week.  This takes about 10 minutes per class, so about 30 minutes of “grading” a day for all three grade levels.  Sometimes I can even squeeze 2 classes of grading into my planning or lunch time.  Tracking student learning keeps students accountable, and if they don’t “check in,” I choose their center the following week (communicated via a post-it note on their center booklet).

For more information about my library centers tracking, QR code “check in,” and the center menu booklets I use, check out this blog post!

If you have any tips to share about having a makerspace on a fixed schedule, I’d love to hear them in the comments!  Have a great week!

Makerspace Centers in 40 Minute Library Classes! - Don't let a fixed library schedule or limited class time stop you! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech - A collage of photos showing a library makerspace center set up with no students, and students from many multicultural backgrounds working at on makerspace activities.

 

PA Forward 2017 Presentation: “Making with Young Children” July 31, 2017

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, PSLA.
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PA Forward IL Summit 2017 - "Making with Young Children" presentation | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

PA Forward Information Literacy Summit on July 19, 2017

Two weeks ago, I was honored to present at the 2017 PA Forward Information Literacy Summit.  The maker-themed summit was held at the Penn State University Libraries, where I presented an hour-long breakout session on makerspaces for elementary schools and public library children’s programs. Participants got to experiment and play with many of the materials that students use in our makerspace library centers, and it was just amazing to talk to both teacher-librarians and public children’s/YA librarians who came from all over Pennsylvania to learn from each other.

If you couldn’t make it to the Summit or were in another session, my “Making with Young Children” Google Slides presentation is embedded below.  You’ll need to click through to view the slide notes and links to all of my resources.

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

 

Also, if you’re looking for more makerspace activities and ideas to add to your library’s program, check out my “Makerspaces for Elementary Schools” Pinterest board.

 

Finally, in other news, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sitewide sale on August 1st and 2nd!!!!  Everything in my store is 20% off, except for bundles which are already discounted.  Make sure to use the coupon code BTS2017  to get an extra 5% off, so you get a total of 25% off all of your back-to-school library instruction and management needs!

A Freebie for Your Patience May 7, 2016

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Ebooks, Reflections.
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I know it’s been over 5 months since my last post, and well…life got in the way.  In the past few months, my husband and I became (very happily) pregnant, and it seems like everything just went crazy from there.  I know this will probably come as no surprise to the parents reading this, but things just…change.  There’s a gradual, but very noticeable, shift that I wasn’t expecting.

I don’t have the same drive to blog, or tweet, or create, or innovate.  To be fair, my body’s a little busy doing plenty of creating, however, I don’t feel the same ambitious desire to do anything innovative or new in my library.  It’s disconcerting, but I’m emotionally and professionally fine with it.  It’s been easier than I expected to just let it go.

Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe has an excellent blog post on how first-time fatherhood affects his professional life.  I read it last summer, and it came to mind again a couple of weeks ago.  It captures rather well how I’ve been feeling (except for the partner judging/shaming…my hubby has taken over all the cooking and most of the cleaning, so I blessedly can’t relate to that part).  I admire his ability and willingness to write about how his personal and professional lives interact.  And I wish more librarians and educators would be so honest about the realities of the elusive work-life balance.

A Freebie for Your Patience: Independent Reading Library Center | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

So for my readers’ patience, here’s a freebie of one of my library centers that I’ve used for a couple of years.  A commonly used center is the “reading independently” or “book buddies reading” center, and some other versions are available from my teacher-librarian PLN.  I made my own version for two reasons:

  1. I color-coded my library centers based on my 3 types of centers: Research Skills, Reading & Language, and Makerspace.  I assigned the color red to all the Reading & Language centers, so I wanted my Independent Reading Center to be red.
  2. I wanted to add options for reading material to include magazines and ebooks, as well as whisper-reading to a beanbag buddy or “book buddy.”

So if you’d like to try my version of this popular center, click on the image below or on THIS LINK to download it.  The zip file download contains the center sign below in PDF and Microsoft Word file formats, and an editable lesson plan in Microsoft Word file.  The clipart is from Glitter Meets Glue Designs and Empty Jar Illustrations.

Thank you for staying tuned during my temporary hiatus.  Enjoy!

Independent Reading Center FREEBIE! | 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!

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!

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