Sunday, December 3, 2017

Social Media Transformed my Library Program

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Creating A Mobile Classroom Makerspace Library Program

As a school librarian, I try to offer spaces where students can create, make, and innovate. Trying to offer a makerspace to 100% of the student population can quickly become limiting due to space. Offering a mobile classroom makerspace solves this problem. A mobile classroom makerspace library program allows classroom teachers to check out 6 to 8 makerspace activities with the needed supplies packed together in one cart. Teachers can check-out a cart for their classroom for a week. During that week teachers can unpack the activities, and create a pop-up makerspace in their classroom when it fits into their schedule.

Last year I tried this at Ed White E-STEM with kindergarten and first grade classes. The teachers and students loved the mobile classroom makerspace carts so much we added a cart for 2nd grade this school year. The 2nd grade teachers want to take it a step farther. They want the library to supply a book with each activity, so they can use the cart as part of a Literacy Station. The students will explore, make, read, and then write about their experience.
The second year of this program has been a learning experience. This year we were able to fine tune the offerings in each cart by teachers expressing what worked, and what didn’t work last year. We used teacher input as one measure to create this year’s inventory list for the mobile classroom makerspace carts.
5 things to think about when creating a mobile classroom makerspace.
1. Funding:
 Last year PTA funded the initial $2,000.00 cost of the carts. This year PTA increased the funding of the carts to 3,000.00. Our PTA sees the benefits of the program. The carts offer students a level playing field. Students can utilize makerspace resources without relying on their parents to purchase the resource at home.
To gain funding try asking PTA or write a grant. Donors Chose and Go Fund Me offer crowd sourcing grants that would consider awarding a makerspace grant. Ask for donations. Currently each Ed White E-STEM cart is supplied with a donated cell phone which is needed to operate the Google Cardboard. Lots of school districts offer Education Foundations that offer grants.
2. Voice and Choice: Voice and choice are very important in a makerspace. The library is the place where students strengthen their STEM Identity which empowers their individual voice in STEM fields of study. This is partly because students do not fear failure in the library. Makerspace activities give students a chance to strengthen their independent voice.  Choice is also an important part of strengthening student voice. Create a survey or informally ask students their thoughts on materials before they are purchased. Look at the popularity or lack of popularity of makerspace resources before they are added to the inventory list of the mobile classroom carts. Be sure to ask teachers for their input as the mobile classroom makerspace carts are created. Ask teachers if they think they will really use the material. Each year my campus has invited J’amie Quick from Maker Maven to meet with the librarian and teachers as we build custom orders for the mobile classroom carts. Teachers are left feeling empowered which is important because these are their carts. I want them to take ownership of carts, so they are used, and they feel comfortable using them in their classrooms.

3. Organization  
Organization is a key element to set up a successful mobile classroom makerspace library program. Mobile makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes. But, portability is essential in all mobile makerspaces. On-line there are pictures of old book carts being repurposed as a maker carts. Maker Maven resources come in a cardboard box so that will work for a while. I use a plastic cart with a lid to pack the mobile makerspace supplies and activities. The cart is labeled by grade level so it’s easy to distinguish as the carts are repacked and checked out from week to week. I make changes each time kits are checked out to prevent students becoming bored with the activities. Think about the packaging durability as organization is planned. Will you catalog each item or just the cart? How long will the carts circulate? Will they circulate by grade level? 

4. Scheduling
At my school the cart is checked out for a week for each teacher on a grade level. We have 5 classes per grade level. One week the cart stays in the library, so I can repack it and check out several new items, and keep the popular items in there when the cart is check out again. It takes 6 weeks for a cart to complete one rotation. Teachers usually do not want to check out the carts during field trip weeks, special events, or holidays. Those weeks are not counted in the six week rotation, and we pick-up the schedule where we left off the following week.
My best advice is to keep the mobile makerspace carts circulating, send home pictures of the students working in the classroom makerspace, post pictures on Social Media following your district’s guidelines, and schedule time for administrators and PTA to see the mobile carts being used to increase support for the program.
5. Vendors/ Wishlist
After conferring with teachers, informally asking students, and assessing the popularity of current resources in the library makerspace, create a wish list of supplies and materials for the mobile classroom makerspace kits. Invite a vendor such as Maker Maven to meet with the librarian and teachers to build the kits. Then watch your mobile classroom makerspace grow.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Building a Great Elementary Makerspace

This is the segment I presented as part of the recent SLJ / ISTE Webinar Building a Great Makerspace.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Nashville Song: The SLJ 2017 Leadership Summit

I was inspired by the creative atmosphere offered in the music city, Nashville, so I set-up this post as a metaphore representing the three parts of parts of a song, my Nashville song...
Verse: (My Story) It was my first time at a national conference and my first visit to the music hot spot destination Nashville. I flew in with my Clear Creek ISD library director, Suzy Ferrell, and met with Becky Calzada the library coordinator from Leander, ISD upon arrival. Biscuits are a delicacy in Texas; therefore, Biscuit Love was a logical first stop once our plane landed. There was a line to get in, and there was a line wrapped around the building when we left. We had a moment of silence as we enjoyed our first Bonughts, biscuits fried like doughnuts.
Then we enjoyed the sites of Opryland and the interactive Musicican's Hall of Fame.

The rest of the trip was spent sharing and participating in the SLJ Leadership Summit: Confronting Our Literacy Crisis. My main goals for the conference were to deliver a decent keynote speech as the 2017 SLJ Librarian of Year, gather solutions to build a culture of readers on my campus, and network.

The networking began right away meeting Becky Calzada the first day, and discussing future library projects as we toured Nashville. I meet several library heroes such Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, and Carolyn Foote.

It was also a treat to hear John Green speak as our keynote speaker on Saturday. On Friday we toured several schools, and I was able to network with librarians from across the country. It's important to attend national conferences to connect and network with other librarians across the country. We are stronger together. Budget permitting, I want to plan on attending a national conference at least every other year.

 After networking with Kristina Holzweiss and visiting her makerspace she set-up for participants, I gathered strategies to build a reading culture on my campus. I plan to offer every staff member a laminated piece of tag board paper that has their name, and a space to write the book they are currently reading. They can place the paper where students can see it, so we can build a reading environment. In our campus newsletter I'll offer a link to a Flipgrid prompt where students can talk about the books they are reading. After the conference, I collaborated with one of my parent volunteers, Liz Lowe. We put together a "Caught Reading Program" for our students. Every staff member will be given 10 "Caught Reading" coupons to give to students as they are "Caught Reading" the student can fill out the coupon listing their name, grade level, and homeroom. The coupon states they can turn the coupon into the library for a bookmark. I will put the completed coupons on display, and invite teachers to bring pictures of themselves reading outside of school. I will have these pictures on display with the coupons, so students can see teachers are readers, and we don't live at the school. Here's a great post from the SLJ Summit that offers several ways to build the reading culture on a campus.

Sunday morning the last day of the conference arrived, and it was my turn to offer a keynote speech. I just wanted to offer a speech of encouragement, inspiration, and  share my story. But, more than anything I wanted to get through the speech without coughing, sneezing, or loosing my voice, since I was getting over a bonchitis infection. Suzy Ferrell video tapped the speech. There was a Power Point presented as I spoke, but it's not seen in the video. 

Refrain: (idea repeated though out conference) Librarians play a big roll in providing the solutions to end the literacy crisis.

Chorus: (thoughts that occured in intervals) Collaboration and library leadership are key ingredients to  My Nashville  song inspired by the  SLJ Leadership summit.

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear..."

Shakespeare, William. "A Midsummer Night's Dream." A Midsummer Night's Dream:

I know I'm not a song writer, but I had fun creating this post!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Back to School 2017 -2018

Makerspace Plans 
We are going to kick off the makerspace school year in early Oct. 2017, so there's plenty of time to plan, purchase supplies, and run a few other library promotions like Scholastic Book Fair and Grandparents Day. So far I've planned two makerspace clubs, the Crafters who will work on re-cycled crafts, cross stitch, and any other crafty projects they decide to make. The Astrobots will be the other makerspace club my library will offer to students. In this club students can code, build worlds in Minecraft, 3D print and more. When students visit the makerspace with their class, they will have the opportunity to design a rock for the Kindness Garden. The Art teacher, school counselor, and myself are working collaboratively to create a Kindness Garden for students.
Photo by Georgia Sparling
While visiting the makerspace with their class, students can make a Rube Goldberg in a box. I've also seen someone create this on Twitter using Legos. I think this will be much easier for students. Last year a Chaos Tower was introduced in our Makerspace, and the only a few 4th and 5 grade students successfully created a design. Students will continue to have access to the Chaos Tower. Hopefully, with a little tinkering students will get a little farther this year by first creating a Rube Goldberg in a box.
Photo by Andrew Brown

Robotics News
The Robotics application will soon be posted for students. This year we hope to have three teams with 8 members each which means we are adding about nine spots to our team. Check-out this year's challenge. We will start meeting in the mornings and at least one afternoon a week as competition approaches in December. 

Book Cheers!

This summer I read and researched the Read It Forward book promotion where students discover a wrapped or hidden book the students are encouraged to read it, sign the inside cover, and pass it on to a friend. It's patterned after the "Pay It Forward" challenge that went viral years ago. In a Read It Forward challenge the librarian has activities to celebrate the book during the book promotion and it ends with an author visit or some type of book celebration for those who chose to participate. I'm leaning towards offering this reading promotion this year in the library, but I want to get admin, teacher and student input first. This program encourages the love of reading and empowers student voice, so it has my vote. 

This year's theme: Student Voice Makes and Difference 

Cheers to your school year!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Librarian's Retreat: TASLA Workshop

Last month I had the privilege of attending the Texas Administrators of School Librarians conference held every summer in Austin, TX. I thought it would be a great opportunity to network, since I’m an aspiring library administrator. My library director is the president elect of TASLA, Suzy Ferrell, she too thought this would be a great learning and networking experience. Since Suzy is president elect I was able to be a part of the behind the scenes action of the conference. I’ve been on Twitter and the TLC Listserv for years and certain names you learn fast in the Texas library world like Naomi Bates, Becky Calzada and others. While preparing for the first presentation a nice lady sat down next to me who looked familiar, she introduced herself as Naomi. As I took a Twitter brain break, I realized I was sitting next to Naomi Bates. The next day I realized the person sitting in the row in front of me was Becky Calzada. I had to take a stelfie. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t just misspell selfie. A stelfie is a type of selfie, Google it. I just learned about the term at this conference. See my first stelfie with Becky Calzada below. This conference included lots of library “big dogs.” It was an action packed three days full of learning and growing.

Mark Ray, library administrator of Vancouver Public Schools and a co-leader of the Future Ready Librarians progression, spoke about the changing role of the librarian and the library. Instead of being the stereotypical keeper of the books, branch out and reinvent the library to entice today’s students was a main point of the presentation. During Mr. Ray’s presentation he conveyed, as librarians we need to support effective use of technology and make the library a collaborative learning space. Instead of focusing on cornerstone library task such as collection development we need to focus on “connection development.” We need to focus on our role as a team player at our school and concentrate on the future. During the presentation, he invited the audience to visit There are upcoming free conferences coming up in various cities listed on this website and there are archived webinars you can watch at anytime.  

Valerie Gross, library administrator of Howard County Public Library System, was another TASLA presenter who left a lasting impact. She talked about branding and how we can reinvent a stronger relevant image as librarians. Instead saying programming use the term classes. Instead of saying circulation desk call it the research desk. Ms. Gross states these are relevant terms the people we serve can understand. It's fun to speak library, but it doesn't help our profession if stakeholders don't understand our library language. As librarians we need to let stakeholders know the library’s goal is academic success for all students. Valerie Gross’ library system uses the logo library = education listed below, and it is a growing logo for public and school libraries that states the message every stakeholder needs to know about the library.

There were lots of other great presenters, but these two left a lasting impression on this blogger. It is not about changing everything we do, it is about making sure people see and know what we do as librarians. It is not about isolation or us versus them, it is about working together collaboratively to encourage student innovation, creativity, and critical thinking. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What's Trending: Librarians a Leaders

I had an opportunity to participate, and help host an amazing day. It was a blended day of learning for myself, and other local school librarians. We all know students are our future, but how are we getting them ready for their future? Part of the conference was dedicated to describing how we can become Future Ready Librarians.  Follett sponsored our keynote speaker, Shannon Miller. She gave us ideas of how we can become future ready librarians, and the importance of sharing this message with everyone in our school building and community.  As we set our goals to become future ready, Shannon has set up a Padlet so we can all share our goals as librarians.  Now, let's get moving and share our great librarian ideas.
I had the opportunity to share two presentations. The first one I shared this morning was on Take-Home Makerspace Kits. I wrote a CCEF Grant for 10,000.00 with Valerie Loper and Erin Irvine they are also local school librarians. We were awarded this grant to purchase and create makerspace kits the students can checkout and take home. Each kit includes a non-fiction book that relates to the makerspace general topic. Earlier this semester, we presented at TCEA to share our Take-Home Makerspace idea with other teachers and librarians.
The second presentation was a lot a fun. I shared how I started my makerspace, logistics of operating my space, and my future makerspace plans with two other elementary librarians. It was interesting since we all solve problems and think differently about our space.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mobil Makerspace Wishlist

Our mobile makerspace began in January. The students and teachers love it. But, I know to keep the interest going we need to add new items and circulate them, so the students don't get bored. So, I'm hoping to get these items I've put on the wishlist.
  Mobil Makerspace Kits for K-2 Proposed List of Supplies
 Stem Robot Mouse
Product Details

Makey Makey Go
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 Dash and Dot,
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 Tegu Magnetic Wooden Set,
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 Q-bits Jr,
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 Rigamajig Junior Kit,
Rigamajig Jr
Candy Construction Building Set,
Candy Construction Building Set
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 Qwirkle Expansion,
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 Keva Bot Maze,
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 Snap Circuits Rover,
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 Makedo Pod,
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 Any of these items would make a great addition, fingers crossed we will find out if we will have the funding soon.

PT A is funding the mobile makerspace  for the 2017-2018 school year. I'm so happy for our students. They are going to have the resources to help the mobile makerspaces thrive.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Makerspace Scheduling

Scheduling has been a conundrum since we started our school makerspace. The vision was to offer a space where any student could come in and explore a makerspace session. Scheduling is an issue because we can not interfere with students existing class schedule, and we can not add to the school's tight schedule. At first, we opened our makerspace as a before school club that met once a week by grade level. We also offered students a chance to work in the makerspace during the day once a week at recess. Students could choose to stay in an work in the makerspace instead of going to recess one day a week. We called it alternative recess. In the beginning this worked since few students signed up and all of the material was new so it a novelty. But after 2 years of offering this schedule it no longer worked.
Our makerspace became so popular sessions would fill up with in an hour of being posted. I began to hear comments like "I hope I can make it into a makerspace session this year," and "When will the application come out I'm going to turn in my child's application to you the day I receive it." We grew the second year from serving 75 students to 150 students. We were seeing students before school four days a week and during recess two days a week and we still were not serving 1/2 of the total population at our school.
So, this year our makerspace is open to 100% of all of our students. Instead of having before school clubs and alternative recess, one library lesson a month is dedicated to being a makerspace session. Six to eight sessions are set up and students can select from Engineering, Robotics, Re-cycled Craft, MinecraftEdu, Coding, Bloxels, Osmo, and etc. Students are able to choose one thirty min session to complete a mini-project or explore a topic. Non-fiction books that are related to the session are displayed near the table so students have access to the books to investigate more on the topic. This year students have a chance to check out makerspace kits to learn more about the topic of interest at home and this will solve the problem of not having enough time to explore a topic. Now that all students have access to our makerspace it solves the condundrum of scheduling.