Friday, January 31, 2014

"Book Flix and True Flix are a lot like NetFlix"

3rd grade students at Harding Elementary recently learned how to use and navigate BookFlix and TrueFlix, two online services provided by AEA 267.

Students can access these two awesome resources at .  The student needs to obtain the username and password from the teacher-librarian (that's me).

As I was modeling how to use BookFlix and TrueFlix, a student immediately raised his hand, and with much excitement in his voice, said "BookFlix and TrueFlix are a lot like NetFlix!"  Oh my, did that get the students buzzing with even more excitement!

It amazes me how excited and engaged the students were as they navigated through BookFlix and TrueFlix.  Prior to teaching these students about BookFlix and TrueFlix, I was already excited about these resources, but I wasn't sure how students would react.  Sadly, up until now, I haven't shared AEA 267 online resources as much as I would like or intend to share.  This year I made it one of my individual professional growth plan goals to implement AEA 267 online resources.  I am quite pleased and happy I made it one of my goals to share, model, and implement AEA 267 online resources.  At the end of each of the three third grade library skills classes, I witnessed the same reactions over and over.  Students were smiling and providing positive and self-fulfilling feedback to me.  I had students tell me they enjoyed today's class and they can't wait to go home tonight to use these two websites, among just a few of the heart-warming comments and feedback.  I LOVE hearing this kind of feedback, as I know in my heart that I am doing what I am called and meant to do, teach and inspire our little friends in the school library as a teacher-librarian.

The following are pictures of third grade students using BookFlix and TrueFlix. Enjoy!

Yippee! I am Symbaloo EDU Certified!

I have been an avid user of Symbaloo for three years.  The incredible Shannon McClintock Miller, K-12 teacher-librarian and technology integration specialist for Van Meter CSD, introduced me to Symbaloo at the Iowa Association School Library Conference.  I have been hooked on Symbaloo ever since!

Thanks to my recent blog posts on how I integrate Symbaloo into my library skills classes, more specifically my recent thematic unit on the Iowa Goldfinch Award in grades K-2, I have received attention from Symbaloo.  You can read about these blog posts here , herehere , and here.  It is such an honor and priviledge to be asked by Symbaloo EDU to become an ambassador and to earn the proper certifications from Symbaloo!

Thanks to my first ever blog post , I received the following tweets from Symbaloo EDU.

After these tweets, some behind-the-scene work on my educator spotlight video and interview, and behind-the-scene work on earning the basic Symbaloo certification, I am happy to announce I am now officially Basic Symbaloo Certified!  Yippee!

Now, it is on to becoming PD Pro Symbaloo certified!  Let the learning continue! :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inspiring Others Through Pinterest

Yesterday I was completely flattered and honored when my amazing teacher-librarian friend Sandi Ellis (Twitter @ccls531 ) gave a shout out on Twitter regarding a blog post written by Waverly Shell-Rock 3rd grade teacher Sally Kittleson (Twitter @sjkittleson ).  Waverly Shell-Rock Tech Integrationist Sarah Lalk (@MrsLalk) tweeted out about the blog entry written by Sally, which then caught the attention of Sandi.  It amazes me how one tweet connected all three of us instantly. :)

When I saw the tweets, I was beyond flattered and my heart was filled with gratitude and appreciation.  Thank you Sarah, Sandi, and Sally for sharing about my Pinterest work.

So, how did Sally find out about my Pinterest boards, pins, and work.  Sally attended one of my four presentations I gave at AEA 267 1:1 Conference on December 6, 2013.  Yesterday, January 29, 2014, she blogged about how I use Pinterest to share, inspire, and collaborate with others.  You can check out Sally's blog entry .

As I was reading other blog posts from , I also came across a post, written by 7th/8th grade language arts teacher Ashley Petersen.

I am blogging about this because it goes to show the power of Twitter, Pinterest, other social media venues, and blogging.  These tools allow us to learn, share, inspire, connect, collaborate, and so much more.  I am truly blessed to have such an incredible PLN, who support and encourage me to work on what I love to do.

You can check out my Pinterest boards at !  Warning...I have OCD, so watch out the number of boards and pins! ;)

Some of you may wonder, how do I have the time for to pin on Pinterest?!  I know I often ask that question, "How does such and such person have the time?!"  While my two sons, ages four and two, play in our living room, I lay on the carpet (beside them) so I can give them attention and guidance as necessary.  Then I get out my phone and start pinning away.  Basically, all of my pinning comes from when I am on my phone.

So, I will leave you with "HAPPY PINNING!" :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Symbaloo Webmix for 2013-2014 IA Goldfinch Award

In two of my previous blog posts ( and, I wrote about the Iowa Goldfinch Award, and how much I love reading the books from the nominee list with students in grades K-2.  I also wrote about the projects that students are working on to support each book, which I enjoy creating projects and activities to support the read aloud experience for each book.  I am extremely passionate about this award and the opportunities it has created for my students and myself.

To support the Iowa Goldfinch unit, I created a Symbaloo webmix for this year's 2013-2014 nominees.  My amazing teacher-librarian friends, from Dallas Center-Grimes, Sandi Ellis and Melissa White, and I are teaming up to find resources for this Symbaloo webmix.  Sandi and I have collaborated earlier this year to provide Google Hangout opportunities with our 2nd grade students.

(You can read about our amazing experiences by clicking on the following blog links written by Sandi: ,, and )

Sandi Ellis

Melissa White

Our 2013-2014 Iowa Goldfinch Award Symbaloo Webmix includes book trailers, authors' official websites, Teaching Books.Net, and anything else to support and enhance each book.

Students will use this Iowa Goldfinch Symbaloo Webmix, starting tomorrow, to access book trailers and video clips.  More to come about how that goes tomorrow...

In the meantime, check out ! It is a work in progress, but it surely will enhance all of the amazing books on this year's Iowa Goldfinch Award nominee list!

P.S. I post this webmix on my blog today, so it can help me become one step closer to becoming "Symbaloo Certified."  ;)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

4th Graders Seek to Improve Keyboarding Skills

Learning how to properly place fingers on a keyboard and learning keyboarding skills during the elementary school years is a consistent question, inquiry, and topic that continues to pop up and encourage quite a "colorful discussion" with varying opinions.  SLIK-12 Iowa teacher-librarian email list serv, blog posts, and tweets on Twitter bring about numerous discussions and debates on the hot topic of keyboarding.

The Mason City Community School District requires students in third grade to start formal keyboarding lessons during IC Skills class time with the teacher-librarian.  Fourth grade students are required to practice keyboarding skills during IC Skills time with the teacher-librarian, while being reinforced and supported by the 4th grade classroom teachers.  The district requirements for the third and fourth grade students are considered to be district standards and objectives.

Six years ago at my interview for this teacher-librarian position, I was asked how comfortable I would be on teaching keyboarding skills to students in grades three and four.  Of course, I replied, with much enthusiasm, "I love keyboarding, myself, and consider myself to be saavy at it...In fact, my parents had encouraged me to consider becoming a court reporter due to my speedy keyboarding skills...I can completely see myself teaching keyboarding to students in grades three and four!"  The administrators, who sat in on the interview during that time, all laughed and were relieved to hear my enthusiasm for it.

So, this brings me to the 4th graders and what they are working on during IC Skills class.  Starting last cycle (January 3-10), students were introduced how their keyboarding unit will operate as 4th graders.  Last year, in 3rd grade, students learned how to properly place their fingers on the home-row and learn proper keyboarding finger position on the website Dance Mat Typing .

4th grade students use Keyboarding Symbaloo to access keyboarding websites.

The 4th graders use Free Typing Game Net to improve their keyboarding skills.

Free Typing Game doesn't record, save, and store student's progress, data, and lesson completion, so I created a log for students to record their progress.  It is also a great opportunity for students to reflect.  You can click here for the keyboarding log.

We are currently on the 2nd cycle (January 13-21) of the 4th grade keyboarding unit.  I am already amazed at how students are using the log to reflect on their speed and errors.  As I go around to "sign off my approval for lesson completion" (have 3 opportunities), I am pleased to hear students telling me that they need to slow down so the errors go down OR they can speed up because they don't have any errors.  I truly believe students are showing ownership and pride in their keyboarding progress by using the log to record their progress from Free Typing Game Net website.

Towards the end of the class period, I start to direct students, who just completed a lesson and received my approval, to go to the Keyboarding Symbaloo I created to access other keyboarding website games to continue to practice their keyboarding skills "just for fun."

Stay tuned for pictures to show how 4th grade students "seek to improve keyboarding skills."

Chicks Run Wild Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the Iowa Goldfinch unit.  I mentioned "the pep assembly kick-off" during IC Skills to promote the start of our exciting Iowa Goldfinch Award unit, how I am reading aloud "Chicks Run Wild" by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen to K-2 students, and students are creating "a chick running wild" in Google Draw.  See yesterday's entry for more information.

While my original plan was to write a blog entry about the 4th graders and their keyboarding unit, I can't resist sharing today's pictures of students working hard to create chicks in Google Draw to support 2013-14 Iowa Goldfinch Award nominee "Chicks Run Wild" by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

2nd Grade student accessing his classroom's Google Doc Project Symbaloo.

Students use the Google Doc to find the link to their assigned Google Draw.

2nd grade student creating her chick in Google Draw.

Two 2nd grade students helping each other with their work on creating chicks.

2nd Grade students working hard on their "chicks running wild."

2nd grade student is proud to show his "chick running wild."

One 1st grade boy had trouble accessing his Google Draw because he wasn't paying attention and following directions, while the other 1st grade boy missed the directions on how to create a chick. SO, I paired the two together and they worked together remarkably well.

This read aloud and project are having students "peep" about how much fun they are having.  One little friend even made the comment, "I can't wait to come back again."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013-2014 Iowa Goldfinch Award Unit Kicks-Off in Grades K-2

After teaching the Iowa Goldfinch Award unit last year (2012-2013 school year), for the first time, I have decided the Iowa Goldinch Award unit is my most favorite unit to teach.  I LOVE the Iowa Goldfinch Award and how it encourages students to read more and better books.  More importantly, the Iowa Goldfinch Award unit has allowed me develop positive teacher-student relationships and foster a love for reading.  It also allows me the opportunity “to provide an avenue for positive dialogue between teacher, parent, and children about books and authors.”  The Iowa Goldfinch Award allows students to have a voice in what they love to read, as students are the ones who decide the winner of the award.

A Little Background Information
What exactly is the process of the Iowa Goldfinch Award?  The Iowa Goldfinch Award is sponsored by the Iowa Assocation of School Librarians.  Books are nominated by students to the Iowa Goldfinch Award Committee.  The committee reads and creates a list of books from the nominations.  Students must read at least five titles to be eligible to vote.  It is acceptable for students to read these themselves or have heard them read aloud.  Students may vote for only one title and may not vote for any title they have not read or heard read.  Voting will be conducted on ballots produced by each attendance center.  Each participating school will send the results by web ballot.  The winner is announced at the annual spring Iowa Assocation School Library conference, which is typically held in April.

Starting Off…
Last cycle (Jan 3-10), I gave a “mini-pep assembly” during each class’s scheduled IC Skills class time (grades K-2) to “kick-off” the 2013-2014 Iowa Goldfinch Award unit.  I pulled all the books from this year’s nominee list and placed on a cart to show students.

To help make a visual connection with these books, I showed each book to the class and the students took turns locating the book on the poster on the wall.

Then I read last year’s 2012-2013 Iowa Goldfinch Award Winner “The Boss Baby” by Marla Frazee to refresh their memories of the great fun we had last year.  Despite reading this book last year, it amazed me how much the students LOVED the book just as much this time around as when I read it last year.  This illustrates why readers can read the same books over and over again for enjoyment.

1st Book in the Line-Up
This cycle (January 13-21),  I am reading “Chicks Run Wild” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.  After reading the book, students are going to the computer lab to create their own chicks "running wild" using Google Draw.

“Behind the Scenes” Work
Our K-4 students will be receiving Google email accounts soon, but, for now, I set up a Google Draw page for each student in grades K-2 through my own email address.

Then, I “share” the page by going to share at the top right hand corner.

Next I click on “change”.  The next screen allows me to click on “anyone with the link.” Towards the bottom, I allow the user to “edit” by clicking on “can edit”.  Finally, I click “save.”

The next screen that appears allows me to copy the link.

I copy the link and paste into a class Google Doc.  Each student is assigned a number, so the student knows to click on his/her number to access his own Google Draw page.

Let the Creating Begin...
Students access their Google Draw page, by going to my website “knOWLedge is a Hoot” on the Harding Student Portal.

Students click on Iowa Goldfinch Award link on the left hand side of the screen.  Students scroll to the bottom to access the Chicks Run Wild Google Draw Project SYMBALOO .

Students click on their class name, and find the Google Doc that allows them to click on their student number. 

Students are now ready to begin drawing their own chick “running wild!”

Check out what my chick looks like!

Here are pictures of my little friends hard at work creating their own chicks “run wild.”