Saturday, June 9, 2018

Researchers of the Month Contest


Last school year, I started a new monthly contest to encourage students to use the information literacy skills I teach throughout the year, as well as to get students to use our ebook site, Big Universe.  I got the idea from another Media Specialist who actually does this contest weekly.  I don't have the time to do it weekly, so I decided to run the contest monthly.  I decided to do this contest in place of Reader of the Month, which was based on the number of words read in books based on AR quizzes.  (I am really trying to move away from using AR in the Media Center. It's a slow process, but I am making progress.)

Here is how the competition works.

I first think of a question that goes along with whatever month it is.  I then go to Big Universe to find a book that could answer that question and look to see if I can find the answer. If I can't, then I choose a different question.  Then I look to see how easy it is to locate the information on the Internet.  Once I am satisfied that the answer can be found with reasonable effort, I design the Google forms for the month.


When I make the Google Forms, I make one for 2nd-3rd and one for 4th-5th because I have two separate Google Classrooms for these groups and it makes it a little easier to look up submitted answers.  I make the Google Forms a different color each month so that students will know when the question has been changed, although I do delete the link to the previous month so there is no confusion.  You can see an example of the Google Form HERE.  Once I designed the first Google Form, I simply made a copy of it for the next month, changed the question, background color, and submission statement to reflect the new date that the winners will be announced.


The Google Forms include the question as well as a drop down menu for the students to choose where they found their answers and a place to put the URL if they found their answer on a website.  On this part I emphasize that Google and Kiddle are NOT websites, they are search engines, and that those will not be accepted as answers.  Answers must also be in a complete sentence in order to be accepted.


On the first day of each month, I announce the new research question of the month and post the Google Form for students to answer on in the Media Center Google Classroom.  I also post the question on the bulletin board in the Media Center along with answer sheets for second graders who may not be as comfortable with answering in Google Forms yet.

Every Monday, I remind students about the question of the month during morning announcements as well as on the last day of the month.  If there are only a few submissions in a certain grade level, I mention that as well.  This usually gets at least a few more students to submit an answer.


At the end of the day on the last day of the month, I look at the submitted answers for each grade level. If there is more than one correct answer, I enter the names of those students in a random name picker and choose a winner that way.

The next day (or next school day if the last day of the month is on a Friday), I announce the winners during the morning announcements.  The students come to the Media Center to get their picture taken and receive their prize.  I offer books I get from Scholastic with Scholastic Dollars or posters from the book fair.  I have also considered offering coupons for extra book check outs or a pick from our prize cart. Student pictures are placed on the bulletin board.

The principal was impressed with the new competition and the teachers seem to like it, too.  I plan to implement it again next school year.  I hope that there will be even more students participate this year.

Do you do any fun competitions in your Media Center?




Saturday, June 2, 2018

Aurasma is Now HP Reveal


One of my favorite augmented reality apps recently went through a name change in December.  Aurasma is now HP Reveal.

The app icon looks different, but once inside the app, everything looks pretty much the same, except for you will notice blue accents rather than purple.  Aurasma Studio is now HP Reveal Studio.

HP Reveal has said that all previously created auras should still work.  I have tested out most of the trigger images I made and they do all seem to still work, but I will be keeping my eye on them just in case.

If you'd like to see how I use HP Reveal, check out these posts:
Aurasma Book Hunt
Parts of a Book Augmented Reality Style
Fantasy and Science Fiction Genres
Realistic Fiction


Meanwhile, I have updated the how to guide I created to reflect the name change and the subsequent color changes in both the app and Studio website.  You can download the update HERE in my TpT store.  I'd love to know what you think about it.

Happy augmenting!



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

10 Tips for End of Year Inventory


It's that time of year again-time for end of the year inventory. This is one of my least favorite parts of the job, but coming into a library that was not inventoried very often or very completely, I realize how important this task is.  After seven years, I have picked up a few tips that help the process go a little smoother.  So here are my top 10 tips for end of the year inventory...



1.  Make an "Inventory Cart" that includes
  • laptop/Chromebook with mouse
  • scanner
  • extenstion cord to plug in your laptop/Chromebook if needed
  • clipboard with an inventory checklist  (download your free checklist HERE)
  • Inventory complete signs and tape to hang up the signs  (download your free signs HERE)
  • shelf marker for marking your spot on the shelf when you have to stop for whatever reason
  • sticky notes (for when you find books that need new call numbers, barcodes, or some type of repair that isn't quick)
  • pen or pencil
  • repair supplies like reddi corners and book tape for quick repairs
  • book wipes to clean dirty books (I have also heard that DRY Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work great)
  • buckets or bins to put books that you need to weed or repair
2.  Use a rolling chair for to save your back when working on lower shelves.  I have also heard that a scooter board, borrowed from a PE teacher, works well, too.


3.  Set up your inventory to mark books accounted for from the first day of the last week of checkout.  Any books that you checked out to students that week will automatically be counted in your inventory as accounted for.  

4.  Break your inventory up into smaller sections.  It makes looking for those unaccounted for items much easier.  These are the sections I use:
  • Reference
  • 000-099
  • 100-199
  • 200-299
  • 300-399
  • 400-499
  • 500-599
  • 600-699
  • 700-799
  • 800-899
  • 921 (biographies)
  • 900-99
  • WF (Wildcat Favorites-the most popular chapter books in our Media Center)
  • JW (Junior Wildcats- these are the K and 1 reading level books in our Media Center)
  • Everybody (picture books)
  • Easy/Early Chapter Books
  • Fiction 
  • MG FIC (middle grade fiction reserved for 4th/5th due to content)
  • Professional
  • Videos
  • GR (Guided Reading class sets)
  • Equipment
This looks like a lot of sections, but not all sections have that many books in them, and it feels really good to be able to quickly cross off those sections as done.  It also goes faster if you scan all the shelves straight across and then go to the next row down.


5.   If it won't drive you bonkers, when books are returned after your last day of checkout, don't reshelve them until you have finished your inventory for the section in which they belong.   These books will automatically be counted in your inventory and reshelving them will only mean having to scan them again.  Yes, it will look like a humongous pile, but it really will save you time in the long run.


6. Pull books to weed as you go.  When you are scanning and you see books that look old and outdated, pull them and put them in one of the bins on the cart.  If you are sure you want to weed it, put a sticky note on it that says "Weed."  If you aren't sure and want to check its history checkout, put a note to "check history."


7.  When you see a book that needs a quick repair, pull it out a little from the shelf  or lay it sideways. When you get to the end of that shelf, give those books a quick repair.  I keep reddi corners on my inventory cart to be able to do those quick repairs.  Yes, this slows down inventory a bit, but I find it is quicker to do these little repairs now than to pull book, repair them, and then have to return them to the shelves.


8.  Pull books that need more than quick repairs- like new barcodes or call number stickers.  Label them with a sticky note and put them in one of the bins on your cart.


9.  If you are one who likes every book to be in order, you can click the "check shelf order" option while you are doing inventory.  You will get that "bad" sound that something is off and a note will appear on the screen that the book "appears to be shelved incorrectly."

10.  If possible, wear comfy clothes and shoes and be prepared to get a little dirty. Doing inventory can be a dirty job.

BONUS TIPS

When looking for books that are "unaccounted for" after scanning all the shelves,



  • check to be sure you didn't miss a book hiding in the back of the shelves between other books. Sometimes little books get "smushed" between to bigger books. 

  • Also look carefully to see if a book got shoved around another book.  Sometimes this happens as well.  
  • If you have a "Book Hospital" or "To Weed" pile check to see if any of the "unaccounted for" books might be there.  
  • I also have found books that I have taken home but forgotten to check out to myself on the "unaccounted for" list.


If you missed the link earlier in the post, HERE is the link to the Inventory Freebie on TpT.

So those are my tips.  Is there anything I missed or any tips you think should be added? Share in the comments below.

Happy Inventorying!




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Freebie


Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


I love doing a special Thank You lesson during this week with my kindergarten and first grade classes. We read The Thank You Book by Mo Willems and talk about how great Piggie feels at the end of the book because he thanked all the people who were important to him. Then we talk about how teachers are important and we create a special "Thank You" book for their teacher.


Each student completes a page to contribute to the book and then I staple them all together, placing a special title page on top.  It's a small gesture I can give to my colleagues from their kiddos to make their day special.


And you can snag these pages for free over in my TpT store by clicking HERE.  Hope you find it helpful.


And don't forget the TpT is having their sitewide Teacher Appreciation Sale. Save up to 25% off paid products using the promo code THANKYOU18.

Happy shopping!




Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Goal Poster Freebie


If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my posts of my reading goal poster.  I created this poster about 5 years ago, after creating a different one the year before where I just wrote the name of the book.  My conference BFF and blogger buddy, Jennifer Lewis created her own version of a Reading Goal poster where she posted the cover of the books she was reading.  I loved the visual of the book covers so I "borrowed" her idea and created a reading goal poster for my media center.  Unfortunately, I lost the thumbdrive that I had this file saved on.  But I get so many requests for the file, that I finally decided to make the time to remake the file.


I made this file in PPT.  However,  due to copyright of the clipart I used, the only thing that is editable is the space to type your name.  You can download this freebie HERE in my TpT store.

I'd love to know if you use it how it goes for you.  Hope you enjoy!



Friday, April 6, 2018

More Alternatives to AR

One of my most read posts is Alternatives to AR where I describe three alternative websites  to Accelerated Reader or Reading Counts, or other reading incentive websites-Book Adventure, Reading Rewards, and QuizWik.  Since that post, I have come across several other alternatives.


Whooo's Reading is a fairly new website which claims to accelerate not only reading but also writing through the use of open ended quiz questions rather than multiple choice questions.  Because the questions are open ended, the quizzes are not limited to specific books.  Students also get feedback and hints as they are forming their answer to included evidence that support their answer.  Teachers get quiz result as students complete quizzes and also receive reports tracking student progress.


Just like in AR, up to 3 goals can be set for students to encourage and motivate them.  Students earn coins for successfully completing quizzes which they can then use to purchase items for their owl avatar.   Whooo's Reading is free for teachers, but teachers cannot add other teachers to their account.  For that, a school would have to purchase an account. With that account, schools also get access to reading logs which students can use to track how much they've read before quizzing.



The short (and admittedly cheesy) video above, gives you a quick overview of the website.

If you like the reading log part of a reading program, but not necessarily the quizzing part, then you might like to check out these next three alternatives.


Biblionasium is a place where students can review, rate and recommend books they have read in a safe, yet social online community. It's similar to Goodreads, but it's for kids in grades K-8th grade.  Biblionasium is COPPA compliant.  Students set up virtual bookshelves where they display books they have read, books they want to read, and books that they own.  Students are able to connect with their friends, teachers, and parents (with parent approval) and can recommend books to each other.  Students can earn badges based on how many books they have read and how many recommendations they have given.  There is also a reading log available as well as online reports for teachers for each of their students.  Teachers and parents can set up reading challenges for their kids.  The short video below gives a quick overview of the site.



Biblionasium is free, but if you would like to integrate it with Follett Destiny (if that is your circulation system), that is subscription based.


Book Taco is a website that students can use to log books they've read while earning game coins and "cyberswag" and "virtual pet play" and even class milestone rewards.  Students can customize their avatar.  Teachers can track, monitor, and set reading goals, print and share reports, and message class and individual students.  Teachers can reward students for read alouds, participation and completing printables.  Book Taco is free for educators and even offers free training, but also provides free resources on its site including helpful videos and parent letters.



The video above gives you a quick overview of Book Taco.



While the last two alternatives could be used for free, this next alternative is a paid program.  Beanstack is a reading program designed to encourage independent reading, drive circulation, and increase library visits.  This program requires the user to design reading challenges which students, classrooms, or families can participate in to earn virtual reading badges and real-world prizes by tracking their reading.  Students can also write book reviews and keep track of activities they complete during the challenge.  Beanstack is both a website and an app. Within the app, users can look up books by scanning the ISBN, log reading minutes, and achieve streaks by logging in multiple days in a row. Users get weekly emails or texts with recommended reads.



This video above gives you an overview of Beanstack.

Do you know of any other alternatives to AR or RC?  



*"AR" and "RC" are trademarks of Renaissance Learning and Scholastic, respectively.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Happy National School Librarian Day!

Hip hip hurray!  It's a special day!


April 4th is National School Librarian Day, a day to celebrate and honor school librarians- or media specialists, or teacher librarians.  Whatever your preferred title-it's your day!

Why not celebrate it with other school librarians?   Share this day by growing your PLN on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Below is a list of of ways to connect with other school librarians on this special day.





@cybraryman1  (Jerry Blumengarten)
@cathyjo  (Cathy Jo Nelson)
@THLibrariZen (Lynn Kleinmeyer)
@librarianprblms (for a good chuckle)



If you want to find even more school librarians to follow on Twitter, try searching using these hashtags:

#futurereadylibs
#tlchat
#edtech
#tlelem
#middlelib
#libchat
#PowerofPublicSchools
#ISTElib
#LibrarianProblems   (for more good chuckles)

Cybraryman has created a list of educational hashtags that you might find helpful. You can find that list HERE.



Another great way to connect to school librarians is through Twitter chats.  There are tons of twitter chats going on nightly/weekly/monthly. They usually last about an hour and go by surprisingly fast.  Pick one that tickles your fancy and check it out.  If you like what you see, jump in the conversation.   If the pace of a twitter chat seems too fast, don't despair.  Some Twitter chats are archived so you can always go back to look at something you might have missed.  If you're not sure what a Twitter chat is or how to take part in one, you can check out THIS helpful info compiled by Cybraryman

Cybraryman has also created a neat little page that lists the current day's Twitter chat and what time they take place. You can find it HERE.  Another great resource to check out is the TL Virtual Cafe.




Mrs Lemmo


Another great way to connect with other school librarians is through blogs.  Here are some of my favorite bloggers:




 

And of course, you can always follow me on Bloglovin', my Facebook pageTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.


And as a special reward for making it all the way to the end of this post and to celebrate this special day, I am having a sale!  20% off all my paid products on TpT- no code needed!  Just click HERE to access my store.

So go celebrate!  It's your day!  Happy National School Librarian Day!