Monday, November 25, 2019

Harnessing STEAM Power

With the new school year comes new STEAM activities! After receiving a State of Iowa Scale-Up STEM grant last spring, we are now able to expand the STEAM offerings to students. Still popular among students were things like Spheros and 3D pens and Cubelets, but students were also able to explore using 3Dux Design activities, dry felting, and Strawbees.

With task and challenge cards available to students both in the activities themselves and in Google Classroom, students explored making, creating, designing, and imagining all sorts of things!

With additional new items still waiting in the wings, students will have additional STEAM days to explore again!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Digital Breakout, Round 2

After a successful digital breakout last fall (you can read about it HERE), it was time to design another breakout for Literacy Studies students. And thanks to Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook and guest contributor Mandi Tolen, tips and hints were available to help shape a new breakout for students. (You can read the blog post HERE.)
Photo by John Sting on Unsplash
With students more than one quarter into the school year, some find themselves in a bit of a reading slump. One of the goals of the breakout was to share book ideas with students, along with more traditional breakout goals like problem solving, team work, critical thinking, and communication.

The title of the breakout was "Let's Talk About Reading," and students merely scrolled the Home page of the Google Site to find two photographs of our own library. 

Clicking on the "obvious" elements in the photos, students accessed a variety of clues to help them determine the combinations to four different locks. (One of the elements was a dummy clue that took students to a humorous video related to books.) A Google Form embedded in the Site on a second page allowed students to enter a response, and they immediately received feedback from the Form to know if their response was correct.

So what kind of clues did the students access? One was a Google Slides presentation that included six of the most popular series in the library; another was a Google Doc that included the YALSA Top 10 titles from 2019. Students read a blog post related to five historical fiction titles, as well as a poem related to books. Working in small groups, students worked to determine as many lock combinations as they were able.

Later in the year, Literacy Studies students will work through a combination breakout--one that incorporates the physical locks and box that they used for an earlier breakout *and* the digital components they used for this breakout. Stay tuned for more problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

3-2-1 Responses

In a professional development session last spring, a colleague shared an activity she called "3-2-1 Responses" as a way to get students talking with one another about both new and learned content. Literacy Studies students have been using this activity verbally, but this time we tried it as a written response.

Throughout the year, students access our All Things Reading Symbaloo for a variety of reasons, including author study work and finding author and title read-alikes.
You can access the Symbaloo HERE.
As a way to gather student responses and guide their exploration at different author and book series websites, students completed a 3-2-1 chart on a handout shared with them in our Google Classroom.
How great to read such a variety of responses from so many of the students! While many visited the same sites--April Henry, Raina Telgemeier, and Alan Gratz were their top 3 choices--the 3-2-1 format gave such a range of answers and helped guide their reading and work at each site. 

Stay tuned--more 3-2-1 activities to follow--it's a great way to get students sharing and talking about their work!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Using Digital Gallery Walks as a Response Tool

Now that we're into the swing of things, Literacy Studies students have been working on a variety of activities, including a quarter project related to work in their reading classes.
Photo by João Silas on Unsplash
Sixth graders completed Google Slides explaining and supporting the genre of their independent reading books while seventh graders applied literary terms to one of their own independent reading books. Once their work was complete, it was time for our digital gallery walks!

If you're unfamiliar with a digital gallery walk, Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook explains it as "collaboration on their feet" and "...lets students display, share and discuss work much like a visit to an art museum. (You can read the full blog post and explanation HERE.)

Literacy Studies students have an extra opportunity with their gallery walks by writing comments related to their classmates' work. Their gallery walk comments reflected what the assignment asked of students.

After the day's gallery walk, I collected students' responses, not only so I could read through their work, but also to leave my own comments on students' papers. Now students have feedback from me through Google Classroom and in written form on their pages, as well as feedback from their classmates related to their work.

Stay tuned for more examples of digital gallery walks with variations on students' response activities!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Breaking in a New Year with Breakout Activities!

Like last year, students in Literacy Studies class welcomed a new year in the library with a Breakout activity that got them up and moving around, working together in teams to solve library- and reading-related riddles to open locks.

Sixth grade students used the same Library Orientation Breakout from last year--you can read about it here. With five different locks to open, students were problem solving to riddles related to finding books on shelves, to recognizing checkout procedures, and to locating the different sections in the library.

Seventh graders worked through a new library breakout, unofficially called "Get Reacquainted with the Library." Because (presumably) these students were already familiar with the library orientation elements from the sixth grade Breakout, this work--and opening four locks--focused on specific pieces of the library, such as state award nominees and winners and Public Lists on Destiny Quest. Students needed to spend time in the shelves to think through their clues and determine the combinations to their different locks.

So, were students successful? Yes! Both grade levels had groups that were able to break out, and many groups had just one lock remaining as the class period ended. 

As the year progresses, look for more breakout activities, both digital and blended. Students enjoy the process and solving the riddles, and in the process, they learn some valuable teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: Z is for Zest

We made it! Today's post is the final ABCs of DCGMS Library post, and it's brought to you by the letter Z for zest!
Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash
That's right--today's final post celebrates the enthusiasm and enjoyment many students displayed throughout the year in the library. While we can certainly celebrate checking out over 3,800 books during the school year, let's instead celebrate all the learning and good times we shared!
And we're not done yet! Tomorrow marks the start of a new school year--we can't wait to share new experiences and make new memories! See you soon! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

ABCs of DCGMS Library: Y is for YouTube

It's the penultimate post for the ABCs of the DCGMS Library, and today's post is brought to you by the letter Y for YouTube.
While students use YouTube in class often to find book trailers, author interviews, or other related content for Literacy Studies projects related to books and reading, YouTube is also a great place to find clever or interesting or funny videos related to libraries and librarians in general.

For instance, several students have watched this video about book care:

And even more were perhaps reminded of their younger childhood days watching the Sesame Street martians made a discovery:

Librarians even get into the fun, including this clip from Phineas & Ferb from Disney:

Others have even noticed that librarians seem to have a secretly (?) excellent sense of humor, including the website Electric Lit. On their webpage "Librarians are Secretly the Funniest People Alive," you can find spoof magazine covers and several musical parodies posted to YouTube, including spoofs of songs by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Queen. Which is *your* favorite?