Thing 4: Digital Storytelling and Presentation Tools

Thing 4: Digital Storytelling and Presentation Tools is probably the area I delve into most frequently with my students.  I feel as though this is what technology is all about.  It’s a tool for students to synthesize their learning and share it with the world.

This year we used Glogster, Animoto, Prezi, Powtoon, Google Docs, and Google Slides.  I’ve also put together imovies on my own because we only have one ipad.  I plan on passing the ipad around with 2nd grade next week so they can assemble a movie put together from photos from a recent field trip.

I decided to play with Tellagami for this Thing.  I haven’t tried Tellagami myself, but I’ve seen it in action and I like how students can put together a video quickly with complete anonymity.  Tellagami may be getting a little clunky with it’s changes to cost.  I tried to email it to myself without luck.  I was able to save it to my photos and email it from my ipad though.  Here is a link to my Tellagami:

I also didn’t like using Glogster.  I would rather have students use Google Docs to create a poster they can share with links and images.  Glogster froze frequently and students were preoccupied looking at all the choices they had for images and backgrounds.

I am a fan of Prezi, but now having used Google Slides, I may stick with Slides.  It simplifies things when accounts are all linked together and it makes life easier when trying to share or link between docs and slides.

Powtoon I’ve only used a couple times.  I think it could be a great place to go when looking for animation to put into a slideshow.  Or for that student who needs a little extra.  However, I think I’ll also be sending those students to the class blog which I mentioned in a previous Thing post about Web Presence.

I recently saw a VoiceThread made by a fellow librarian and I really loved the professional look of what she put together.  However, it is an expensive tool and with elementary students and the ubiquitous nature of technology tools available, I cannot easily justify paying for a tool.

I am looking forward to becoming more adepts at Powtoons and I will continue to explore ways to utilize Tellagami and iMovie in the classroom next year.


Thing 8: Screencasting and Screen Sharing

I have been enjoying some screencasts made by our technology integrationist in our school district and thinking to myself, “I need to try that soon!”  This Thing 8 was the perfect opportunity.  I read a couple articles about screencasting and after some investigating I started by trying Google Hangouts but then read somewhere that it’s not as simple as some of the Google apps available.  I then added the Screencastify app to my chrome browser and tried it out.  I chose Screencastify because it is compatible with chromebooks which our school is switching over to this year.  Screencastify is also free up to ten minutes.

I made this screencast of the NARA website: 

It is very basic and more for me to try out Screencastify and also to explore and get to know the website, but if you like, you can watch 🙂  

After I made the video, I found the tools to enhance a Screencastify including, highlighting the mouse, writing on the screen, and even a video of me in the corner.  That makes a great presentation tool.

Making a screencast was a bit nerve wracking and forced me to really think about what I wanted to say before I began recording.  Even with a few practice runs I still don’t feel like it is a perfect screencast.  This activity could be really valuable for students because it would force them to plan and practice.

I read in How to Record Your Screen and Create Engaging Screencast a blog by Maddy Bentley, that students will pay attention to an instructional video for no more than 6 minutes.  I know for myself that my attention span while using a computer is shorter than usual and I especially have no patience for videos because most of the time I can scan a page and find what I’m looking for in seconds.  I don’t want to listen to introductions and how-to’s.

Screencasting would be a great way for students to explain their research process after completing a project.  Now that I’ve tried it, I will keep it in mind for my fifth graders for next year.


Thing 15: Web Presence

Web Presence is something I know I haven’t done well.  I have a website through my school’s website but it feels clunky and it’s not my choice for website builders, it’s a google site.  I made a Weebly for my students to use for quick access to web resources and I share it with the librarians in the other two elementary schools in my district.  This works well to provide our students with a similar experience and the collaboration on the website is great to cut down the work load for one person.  I also have a Weebly which I’ve used as a personal portfolio.  I spent a lot of time on it when I made it, but haven’t maintained it since taking my position in Averill Park.

My issue/difficulty with maintaining a personal Web Presence for my library is the amount of time it takes.  I’ve spent some time on my website posting student work but I very much doubt it has been seen by anyone.  In my head I have a solution but have yet to put it into place.  Part of my procrastination has to do with my dislike of google sites.  My solution is to have a student from each class make a post.  This most likely would be the student who is finished first. This student could make a post detailing what we did in class and most likely sharing their work.  The purpose of this website would be for parents and community members to see what happens in our library daily.

The advantage to keeping my google site is that students have google accounts and could just make a link to share their work.  However, then we get into privacy issues and I know their accounts which are linked to blogs are kept private.  Trying to share this would become an issue.

I’ve had a little exposure to Remind.  This wouldn’t be considered a Web Presence but it would be a way to connect with parents and community.  Students could take photos and share web links and write comments on our class time.

After browsing more google sites and with the understanding that our district is going in the direction of giving all students google accounts, I think I need to update my own website and invite students to post their work on my site by sharing their example with me.  If names are removed and their work is shared with me, I should be able to post it anonymously and then log into my site so that they can make a comment about the process and class time.

My first step in updating my website was to change the color and the basic template of my site.  I also changed the font. It’s helped a lot, but I think I still have to keep working at it.  I had to google it to figure out how to change the theme.

I really like Smore as well but I’m not sure if it would be as simple to share some student work and allow parents to view.  So for next year, I will make a goal for myself of having at least one class per week make a contribution to my google sites website.  If that doesn’t work well, I will probably switch my library’s website to a Weebly site and show students how to embed their work.

Thing 24: Makerspaces

Since taking my position as school librarian in Averill Park I’ve heard a lot about Makerspaces and while it sounds great, I haven’t been able to envision how it could be a part of my school library.  Our program schedule is not flexible enough to allow students time during the school day to work on a tinker project.

When I began to investigate Thing 24, I read that most K12 libraries use Makerspaces as an afterschool club.  This is the only way I could offer the space to all students equitably.  The statement alone also made me feel like a Makerspace is doable.  It has been a true struggle to find teachers willing to collaborate during flex time allowed in my schedule, so a Makerspace felt out of the question.  Now, I want to do it!

I used the article 6 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Makerspace to do some initial brainstorming on what my Makerspace could look like for next year.  I recently heard it referred to as Tinker Time and I like how that sounds better… I would probably call it Tinker Time.

  1. List the hopes and dreams you have for your Tinker Time:
    1. That students have a chance to ask questions and attempt to answer them.
    2. Students use their hands to manipulate material and supplies to create and build.
    3. Students gain some real-world knowledge and skills applicable across other content areas.
  2. Define Skills, Knowledge, and Habits students will have in space:
    1. Asking questions.
    2. Developing a trial and error plan to test and retest.
    3. The ability to find supportive resources.
  3. Define the culture for the space:
    1. This is an elementary school library, we will use safe tools and supplies.  Together, on the first day we will come up with a list of rules/expectations for a cooperative learning space.  These might include: How to share.  How to offer ideas.  How to accept failure and try again.
  4. Determine integration points into curriculum:
    1. I will use items or videos to trigger student questions.

Ideas for projects and supplies necessary.

How many pennies can your boat hold and still float? (Students think of supplies… cardboard, tape, bubble wrap, etc.)

How high can you drop an egg without it breaking? (cardboard, straws, tape, etc.)

Can you build a bridge out of toothpicks?  How much weight will it hold? (toothpicks, glue, etc.)

I liked Lewis and Clark Elementary School’s Makerspace page.  It has many ideas and seems as though anything goes.  In order for me to follow through with a Makerspace, I would need to feel as though students were tinkering with some goal in mind.  At the end of a session, I would hope they had some sort of a completed project or new understanding.  I don’t want the Makerspace to turn into a free play time with legos or websites.  We also don’t have extra funds to purchase supplies, so I think my Makerspace would start with a few basic materials like cardboard, glue, tape, and other things I can get for very little cost.

I have cabinets in my library that are not used very often.  It is the only place I think I could put a Makerspace.  I will push a rectangular table against the cabinets for students to store their projects.  Other supplies could go into the cabinets.  I am also hoping that by the time I begin my Makerspace I will have a few extra tablets for students to use if they would like to use an app like Lego Movie.  I also had an opportunity to play with Little Bits earlier this spring.  They would be great in a Makerspace but costly.  Another thought would be to tie in a 3D printer but again, we could only get it on loan for a month.

These are my initial thoughts on a Makerspace.  I look forward to trying it next fall!