Thing 18: Infographics and Data Visualization (17/18)

After doing my last post on Annual Report, being impressed by Tony Vincent’s infograph from App-palooza, and attempting to make a newsletter, I realized I needed to do Thing 18: Infographics and Data Visualization.  We’re beyond the age of power point and slide shows.  People want to look at something quickly and be informed.  Infographics need to be informative, easy to read, and visually beautiful.

So I read The Anatomy of an Infographic by Sneh Roy, Producing Info Pics by Tony Vincent, Infographics Lie: Here’s How to Spot the B.S. by Randy Olson, and I watched the Ted Ex talk by David McCandless and Infographics as a Creative Assessment by Kathy Schrock.

Many of the articles and videos covered similar concepts.  Infographics must be visually stimulating with accurate and meaningful content.  David McCandless mentioned that he was self-taught in the art of design literacy, mostly because there are so many great examples to study and learn from.  Both David McCandless and Randy Olson point out that it’s important to read infographics for accuracy.  Just as with Fake News, consumers need to check the source, read the labels carefully, and be aware that we tend to trust images more than text.


I wrote down a list of apps and websites to try with my students.  I am thinking of many ways my students can begin creating infographics or at least using design literacy tools in order to make book summaries, valentine cards for ePals, or as in my example below, to highlight the benefits of a database.  I can see the application for design literacy skills in nearly every lesson moving forward.

database awesomeness.png

Fourth and fifth grades will be moving into comparing databases with searching the world wide web.  I will use this infographic to introduce databases and also to model what I would like them to accomplish in their own creation of an infographic using the app phonto.



Thing 32: Annual Reports – Make Them Matter (17/18)

Our amazing middle school librarian, Rebecca Ekstrom, does quarterly and annual reports for her library.  This is my third year in our district and she recently approached our elementary team about joining her in this annual reports initiative.  I’ve seen a few annual reports and worked on my own for coursework or internships, but I have yet to do one in my current district.  I like the clear message in several of the articles included for Thing 32, keep annual reports brief and visually stimulating and relevant to student impact.

The Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson had a couple articles to this point.  I started with 7 Tips for Making Your Principal Your Ally.  His list of tips are great.  Most importantly, I think creating an annual report for my principal and staff will help inform those I work with and create an ally out of not only my principal but my staff as well.  I found a comment on the Teen Services Underground blog by Sereena Hamm about a monthly newspaper called “The Toilet Paper,” which is installed on bathroom doors for light and easy bathroom reading.  While entertaining people and being humorous doesn’t come naturally to me, I think something like this could be enormously valuable.

Library Girl’s School Library Annual Reports: Connecting the Dots Between Your Library and Student Learning, started out by saying, “Assuming others know what you do is silly,” which is true, but I guess I’ve been doing a lot of assuming.  When I started in my position, teachers were required to accompany their class to media lit.  This was a sore issue for teachers and a practice put in place before I arrived and I’m afraid resulted in some bad blood between teachers and the library.  Now, teachers are not required to be there during media lit. and there really is no reason they would know what is happening in the library.  So… it would be a great time to start newsletters!

The most important message I read while reading through the articles is to make sure newsletters and reports focus on students.  Doug Johnson wrote, “the alignment of our “it” to their “it,”” referring to the goals of librarians and administrators in terms of student success as the most important focus.  And Jennifer LaGarde, aka Library Girl, wrote that “Our work doesn’t matter if it doesn’t impact students.”  It’s clear what my focus will be!

I remembered Tony Vincent’s infographic in iPad as the Teacher’s Pet and want to try using pages to create the initial workings of a newsletter.  I will consult with my media lit. team because I think we will try to create unity and work together on this to keep our libraries and schools on the same page.

Here is a start to a newsletter.  I’ll need to meet with my MLS team before continuing on, but Thing 32 was the boost I needed to get started.  Averill Park Elementary Library newsletter.


Thing 28: App-palooza! (17-18)

Our district has recently acquired iPads.  I wanted to work on App-palooza! because I hope to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest apps should a teacher come with a question or an idea.  I continue to use the iPads on a regular basis in the library.

My favorite newest app is Flipgrid.  We use it to exchange videos with a school in India.  So far it has been very casual and we’ve only opened up one room for exchanges because that’s all that is available for free.  I really like the app and as our activities with our ePals evolve, I hope to subscribe to Flipgrid and open up more rooms for different schools and focuses.

I’ve also heard a lot about Seesaw and can’t wait to try it.  We have it installed on our iPads, I just need to think creatively about how I can get it in use and properly expose teachers to the tool.  Because digital citizenship is such a big focus for me in the library, I hope to use apps like Seesaw not only for their intended purpose of sharing work with parents and the classroom, but to practice and be mindful about ways to be good digital citizens.  My thought is to have one grade level use the free version to share their learning in Media Literacy (the library) and allow teachers to see how it works.

While reading through the list of Apps, and there are a LOT, it can be overwhelming… I kept a list of apps I would like to try for school.  We have a very focused approach to how iPads can be used in our district, following the SAMR model.  iPads are intended to be tools for creativity with an emphasis on transforming learning.  Many of the apps reviewed on Common Sense Media are educational, but don’t offer students the opportunity to create and share their learning.  I found many apps on Common Sense Media that I would like to let my own children play and explore including several created by Tinybop, 1600 (an augmented reality tour of the white house using a dollar bill), Flocabulary, and Ginkgo Dino.  I read that Shannon McClintock Miller’s son likes Terraria better than Minecraft, which I will try with my son.

My favorite article was iPad as the Teachers Pet – Version 2.0 from the blog written by Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand.  This article is really one big giant Infograph about the many uses of iPads in the classroom.  I like infographs and this one does a great job of chunking iPad uses into 7 different categories including: 1. Show on a Big Screen, 2. Manage the Classroom, 3. Assess Student Work, 4. Interact with Students, 5. Manage your Files, 6. Make Instructional Media, and 7. Learn New Things.  In another article I read how much device use in classrooms improved student performance.  As long as teachers are mindful about the purpose of iPads in education, using them as a means of reaching learning standard, iPads should be utilized.

Some other apps I want to try right away include: Post-It Plus, Pic Collage, Mindmup, Adobe Capture, Photo Editor by Aviary, and Masterpiece by Osmo.  Post-It Plus is the solution to sharing student ideas without having a device in every hand as you would need for Padlet.  Pic Collage will be a great way for students to create a visual representation or digital poster for an academic purpose, perhaps a book review.  Mindmup will be useful for students to organize thoughts or review content.  I have on the look out for a photo editor.  This winter/spring my goal is for students to create fake photos so they can understand how easily fake photos are made and from that experience, be more critical and wary of the questionable images they may see online.  For that purpose, I am going to consider Adobe Capture and Photo Editor by Aviary.

Staying current with the latest and greatest apps is a challenge and time consuming.  It is also very rewarding though, as I’ve experienced while using Flipgrid!  Thanks to CoolTools for compiling and sharing all these resources!


17/18 Thing 24: Digital Tattoos and Digital Citizenship

I worked on Thing: Digital Citizenship last year so my blog post for this year may have similar reflections.  I continue to believe digital citizenship is one of the most important topics I teach.  Unfortunately, I’ve since learned students receive very little digital citizenship education beyond 6th grade in our school district.  I feel it is a topic that should be revisited and taught year after year, especially in high school where there are most likely the most active digital users in our student population.

A few months ago I read the book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales.  This book was the most eye-opening exposure I’ve had to the current struggles of today’s teens.  The author uses the experiences of real teenagers to highlight the issues of social media for teenagers.  I was appalled at the sexual activities of teenagers on social media.

It is scary how easily a teenager can be exchanging nudes right under the noses of supervising adults.  I didn’t begin to read It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd.  I have a feeling it would be very similar to the book by Nancy Jo Sales.

I read 17 Apps and Websites Kids are Heading to After Facebook by Christina Elgersma.  I was happy to find I have heard of many of the apps and I am fairly familiar with the concepts behind them.  I haven’t explored most of the apps and I’m not sure it would help me professionally to actually create accounts and try the apps.  I think it is important for me to know how my students are active online so I can make sure I am teaching them how to stay safe online.  Many of these apps I knew about because while teaching digital citizenship, my students share about their experiences online and the apps they like to use.  One of my favorite questions this year was, “Are the songs on infringing on copyright laws?”

I continue to use Citizenship in the Digital Age from the NYC Department of Education.  I was happy to see Student Social Media Guidelines by NYC Department of Education.  This resource was written in a simple way and is consistent with the message I teach.  While reading this I thought I might use it as a checklist while teaching.  I teach digital citizenship to 4th and 5th grade over a period of several months.  Having a checklist to use while teaching for each class would help me make sure I am covering each subtopic area.  Sometimes I forget which stories I’ve shared already and which points I’ve already made or neglected to make.

As I continue in my third year of teaching digital citizenship I am constantly looking for ways to make the content more relevant and meaningful.  I feel this year was an improvement over last year but my goal is to embed it throughout the year in a way that is consistent with the Digital Leadership Continuum rubric by George Couros from his article, “Is Your School’s “Digital Citizenship” Practice a Pass or a Fail?”  I would like students to have more hands on experiences using social media sites while practicing good digital presence.  I love the idea of beginning with pen and paper as Sage Briggs suggests with her lesson in “See Why This English Teacher Says Digital Citizenship Must Start with Pen and Paper.” The idea is to create a class paper blog to mimic the digital realm giving students the opportunity to practice commenting on blog posts.  The aspect I liked the most is teaching students how to respond to negative comments and how to maintain ownership over the blog and a positive digital presence.

I also liked the article 8 Digital Skills We Must Teach Our Children by Yuhyun Park.  The pie chart was a beautiful graphic demonstrating all of the areas children must be aware of as they embark into the online world.  And I also enjoyed the article What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship by Vicki Davis.  Both articles break down digital citizenship into 8 or 9 manageable content areas.  Vicki Davis also discusses websites to check on scams on cons such as Snopes, Truth or Fiction, Threat Encyclopedia, and the Federal Trade Commission.  Fake News is a new part of digital citizenship I cover with my students and using these websites will help my students check on questionable content.

As described on the Thing 24: Digital Tattoo and Digital Citizenship page the quote from Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE, “The ISTE Standards define digital citizenship as recognizing both the responsibilities and opportunities of an interconnected world,”  I hope to be steering my students toward positive experiences creating their digital presences.  We have epals from India with whom my students are learning how to communicate online.  We have Biblionasium accounts for students to have a social media account experience with a reading focus and with teacher supervision.  I hope to continue finding ways for students to develop positive global media presence in a safe manner that will encourage safe and positive digital citizenship presence as they travel through their teen years and into adulthood.





17/18 Thing 16: Bitmoji

I’ve discovered Bitmojis!  Or at least, finally jumped on the bandwagon.  I am excited about the Google Extension App because it will help bring Bitmojis into Google Drive and other websites, like my own WordPress blog!  Using Bitmojis will help me connect with students and stay relevant.  It is also a great tool for creating cartoons.

I enjoyed the Making Comics with Bitmojis and Google Slide by Sylvia Duckworth.  The information was presented in a slideshow format which made it very easy to see how Bitmojis can be used in a comic format in Google Slides.  Last year I made an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure slideshow using Google Slides and I can see how this opens up that activity to more potential.


I also learned a lot from the article by Sahar Khatri, Why and How I Bitmoji in my Classroom. The way her article was inserted with Bitmojis throughout made it entertaining and easy to read.  I would like to use Bitmojis throughout my instructional slideshows and tools for my students’ entertainment.  I think it is also a great way to connect with students by making stickers, which was the focus of her article.  I’m not sure teachers at my school would embrace putting Bitmojis into a math test or ELA work, but I really like the idea of teachers using Bitmojis for stickers or feedback on student work.

I’m looking forward to trying Google Drawing in another Cool Tool Thing because it was demonstrated in Custom Bitmoji Feedback, a blog post by  Mandi.  I’ve never used Google Drawing but I get excited thinking about teachers at my school creating their own Bitmojis and then putting them all together in a shared Google Drawing to manipulate and consequently through which to communicate.

I’m looking forward to playing with Bitmojis!

Thing 12: Final Reflection

Cool Tools for Schools is a great way for me to explore new technology tools or brush up on old ones, that perhaps I didn’t realize need significant brushing up!  This year my new activities at school included, Teaching Fake News, Coding Night, Skyping, and ePals.  Because of Cool Tools for School, I am able to try out new activities and do research before applying them in the classroom.  Most recently we’ve Skyped with a forest ranger from Everglades National Park and a zoologist from Smithsonian National Zoo.  I’ve also connected with teachers in India and Russia so far and my students have begun an email exchange with students in India.  I’m hoping over the remainder of this year and then beginning the next school year I can develop relationships with teachers in order to have a more meaningful and constructive exchange.  This year has been experimental for both myself and the teachers in India using the website ePals.  My comfort level grows with each successful exchange I host for my students and I can see right away how powerful connecting with students in other countries can be.  My students were asking thoughtful questions and our discussions led to being respectful about cultural differences and how something that is accepted in the United States may be frowned upon in India.

I also wrote about Twitter and using it in the classroom.  This wasn’t as easy to implement because I had to get permission from my principal and I had to set up an account and experiment it over the course of a few weeks.  Twitter has a lot of pop-up ads and even with my account very tightly locked down I felt that some of the ads could be inappropriate.  I received permission from my principal to use Twitter in the library and then I reached out to the other librarians in my school district to see if they wanted to do the same.  As of right now, my plan is to use Twitter as an introduction to social media with my youngest classes (kindergarten and first grade).  We will begin by reaching out to our very small Twitter community (the other schools in our district) and as I get more comfortable with it, I will expand the community perhaps to parents and grandparents of our students.  

I will continue seeking out virtual guests.  I have two more arranged for this school year.  One, the kid representative of  She is 12 years old and she’s going to teach us about the rainforest in Costa Rica.  The last one is with a National Park in California and this is the only virtual guest I’ve contacted through the Microsoft Skype for Educators website.  I’m hoping that because it is through this resource that the connection will be excellent.  We had some difficulties with the Smithsonian Zoo, the zookeeper kept freezing while she was showing us the lions and tigers.  

The connections I’ve made with virtual guests and ePals have excited a few teachers in my building.  Teachers don’t seem to get involved with coding, presentation tools, social media websites, etc.  But building my online community seems to be a great way to show teachers the potential of collaborating with me in the library.  

This course has been a great way to continue to read about advancing technology.  It encourages me to try new things and make small adjustments here and there.  This year’s major breakthrough, for me, was connecting with a broader community online.  

I love learning in this way at my own pace.  Some things I just sample and don’t go back to.  Other things like building my online community are going to change the way my program impacts students.  And other things like Google Maps and Twitter will make a small difference to my students but overall the things I learn and try in this course improve my practice.  I look forward to taking the course again next year because even if I do something small, it keeps me moving forward in a world that it means I become obsolete if I don’t keep up with changing technology and opportunities.  


Thing 40: Mapping and Geography Tools

My third grade classes are learning about maps.  I told the teacher I would get them on Google Maps and we would label the maps she wanted done during classroom time.  Once we got into Google Maps, I found I was suddenly getting a lesson from my students.  Sure, I can put in a destination and get directions to and from a place.  But my students were asking me to put the little human in the map.  When I tried to do it the first time, nothing happened because I didn’t put it in the right place.  A student came up and gave me better directions.  It was a great lesson for me but I’m not sure how much my students progressed that day.  

So when I saw Thing 40: Mapping and Geography Tools, I realized, this is a great place for me to spend a few hours exploring and learning.  I started in Google Maps with the little human exploring our summer destination in Thailand.  Because I had read the Instructional Overview for CoolTools I knew there had to be more to Google Maps, but I couldn’t easily find how to make my own map.  

I realized, I needed to click away from the directional setting, which is my default tool in Google Maps and go deeper into the menu.  The menu only pops up when the directional tool is out of the way.  Then you have to click on Your Places and under that menu is an option for Maps.  This is where I figured out how to create a map that could be saved and shared with pictures, directions, sequential locations, etc.

I was confused initially about how to upload a file with coordinates or locations.  It turns out, it’s super easy! I watched this video suggested by Cool Tools: How to Map a Spreadsheet.  Then I mapped all of the places I’ve been.  It couldn’t have been easier.  This could easily be done in a class with a shared spreadsheet.  As in the example in the video, students could get onto the shared spreadsheet, enter their location (perhaps places they’ve been, or places they’re learning about) and then the spreadsheet can be loaded into the map.  Map can read a column in the spreadsheet and find all the locations as long as they’ve been spelled correctly and inputted in the correct manner.  

Here is a map for our summer trip: Thailand and Vietnam.  I think it would be great to use a feature like this as we travel.  It would be so fun to have the map shared with family members and add photos to each location as we visit them.  I can also see the benefits in the classroom as we Skype with or email people from around the world.  If they mention certain places in their country, we could locate those places and if our international friends are familiar with google maps we could share a map and add locations and images to the map.  

This Thing 32 was a great way for me to brush up on my Google Map skills.  I wasn’t even aware of what I was missing!  I have used sites like HistoryPin before.  I find for myself, it is better to stick to one website that I understand and works well.  Otherwise I get overwhelmed.  We are a google school so Google Maps will work great.  Eventually I would like to explore Google Earth and perhaps consider using GoogleLitTrips with some of my classes.  Google Lit Trips seems like a more controlled way to ensure students are getting a specific type of experience while exploring maps. I’m excited to start using Google Maps in a more in-depth way with my students!