Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Doctopus: A new Add-on for Google Docs

Reveles, Jana


Atwood, Jay, and Jennie Magiera. Drum roll, please! Announcing the newly released doctopus, An add-on for google docs." Web log post. New Visions for Public Schools. New Visions for Public Schools, 8 Mar. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.newvisions.org/blog/entry/drum-roll-please-announcing-the-new-improved-doctopus.


This blog post discusses a new add-on the Google Docs entitled Doctopus. Doctopus works with Google Spreadsheets to help teachers create rosters, enter rubrics, customize feedback, and share documents. The post goes into some detail about how this add-on can be used. The blog also includes a screencast about the product.

The authors call Doctopus “the educator’s virtual personal assistant”. They seem to be really excited about this product. After reading their blog, I really want to try it out!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Student-Designed School Library

Chambers, Julia

Hohenadel, Kristin. (2014, Feb. 26). Eighth-graders design and build a school library for the 21st century. Slate [Weblog]. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2014/02/26/eighth_graders_at_realm_charter_school_in_berkeley_design_and_build_their.html

This is the first example I've seen of a school library that was entirely designed (and built!) by the eight-grade students who use it. Students were given a space for a "library" and they came up with a space that greatly resembles the Learning Commons models we've been studying. Students were given free-reign as to what might go in this space, and the students chose openness, comfort, and hang-out space over stacks of books. They designed bookshelves using a "X"-shaped module theme (X as a functional shape, but also as metaphor for the algebraic unknown.)  The Berkeley charter school has run out of funding, but has plans to fundraise to realize the vision. (Watch the Kickstarter video.)

Evaluation: I love the student-driven nature of this project and am intrigued by how closely the ideas resemble what we've been talking about as a Learning Commons space. What is absent in this picture is a librarian or information specialist. Imagine what this space could do with an innovative school librarian at the helm!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Re-envisioning learning

Chambers, Julia

Faust, S. & Howland, J. (2013, June). Design thinking by accident and design: How one school developed a model for 21st-century learning (and a librarian and technology teacher led the way). Teacher Librarian 40(5). Retrieved from http://plc.quickmooc.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/07/Susan-Faust-and-Jenny-Howland.pdf

This is an inspiring article about one school’s journey into 21st century learning, led by the school librarian and technology teacher. The article describes the process, which was initiated by the head of school and then taken to its new level by the grassroots work of this team of educators. The article provides details of how this was done, the people involved, including board members, teachers, and students.

Evaluation: I was inspired to see that the school librarian/technology teacher were the ones to successfully initiate the head of school’s challenge to reimagine learning and change the paradigm from “teaching” to “learning”. Because their fingers are involved in every grade, every classroom, and every student’s learning, they are the natural choice for taking on this initiative successfully.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Steps to Create a Virtual Learning Space

Anna Taylor
Buerkett, R. (2014). Where to Start? CREATING VIRTUAL LIBRARY SPACES. Knowledge Quest42(4), E23-E27.

We now know having a virtual space within the library is a key component in communication, information, and collaboration. But what is the best way to get one up an rolling? Rebecca Buerkett, an elementary school librarian in New York, has provided 6 Steps to make this dream a reality.

STEP 1: Choose a Virtual Platform
Will you be using your school's existing platform? It may be easier since you do not have to create one from scratch. Just make sure the website is able to handle web enhancements like Widgets.
If you choose your own, make sure it is included within the school's website.

STEP 2: Decide What Resources to Include
Take a look at other school virtual learning commons and find what works and what doesn't.
What learning platforms are you going to include? Edmodo? Dropbox? A blog?
Create an appealing look and easy access to important links and pages.
Add Widgets like Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

Get a survey around and ask for feedback from students and teachers. Encourage feedback through incentives- for both groups!

STEP 4: Tweak Constantly
Update to mobile capability. Add and delete information as needed. Decide if pages and widgets are being used and replace them with tools that will. Test the whole website to make sure all links and widgets are properly functioning.

STEP 5: Jump In!
Get students involved through tweaking, collaboration, and upkeep. 
Remember: this is a tool for technology and is always a work in progress.

A School Librarian's Journey to Transform Her Library

Anna Taylor
Gilcreast, J. (2014). FROM DRAB TO FAB. Knowledge Quest42(4), 38-43.

Jessica Gilcreast just got the position of School Librarian at an urban school in New Hampshire! However, Jessica's joy soon simmers as she enters her new library. Shelves are placed in a way that leaves no open space, books are falling apart and lack diversity, no decor is present, the list goes on. Jessica knows she has a lot of work to do but does something that is very smart; she decides to take everything little by little. 

Throughout the course of six years, Jessica transforms her library into a drab space in the school to a learning commons that meets the wants and needs of both students and teachers. 
Below is a brief over view of Jessica's process:

YEAR 1: 

  • Painted a mural
  • Weeding 
  • Rearranging shelves and furniture
  • Build relationships with students, staff, and teachers
  • Write a grant for books and a SMART board
  • More weeding
  • Provide professional development opportunities with teachers using new technology
  • Create a new tech space for the new SMART board
  • Write a grant to add multicultural books into the collection
  • Take a break and focus on teacher collaboration
  • Write a grant for more technology
  • Create and obtain a connecting computer lab
  • Take over the book fair and use the money to purchase more furniture
  • Add over 1,000 books to the collection
YEAR 5 & 6:
  • Un-Dewey the collection
  • Continue making the library an extension to the classroom
  • More staff development and integrating technology into the classroom
  • Keep up with other libraries and implement new ideas to reflect the needs of the library users

Selling the Transformation from Library to Learning Commons

Chambers, Julia
Johnson, Dean. (2013, October). Power up! The new school library. Leveraging Teacher Leadership/Educational Leadership 71(2) p.84-85. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct13/vol71/num02/The-New-School-Library.aspx

Summary: This article provides an overview of the physical learning commons. The author likens the Learning Commons to a kitchen in contrast to the “grocery store” qualities of a traditional school library. The transformation from one to the other requires repurposing the space to match the digital age of learning. Giving students ownership is key to the process and buy-in and can be achieved through physical comforts, accessibile hours, enabling spaces to produce and showcase work. The author suggests that the emphasis of the traditional library has shifted from teaching how to find and organize information to how to evaluate and use information for higher learning, and so the librarian needs to have a teaching space and his/her desk should be prominently placed and set up for one-on-one assistance.

Key technologies include laptops; video/laptop projection systems for computerized slideshows with accompanying sound; audio amplification; interactive whiteboards; audience response systems. The article also provides some selling points for school leaders,such as focusing more on the library program vs. space, viewing librarians as teachers who can lead the implementation of technology into existing curriculum, and recognizing the role students play in shaping this space.

Evaluation: I thought this was a great overview that sells the idea well. I’m planning on sending this article to our head of school.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Breaking Out Of The Library Mold: Library Evolution

Jolene Kemos

Seelye, K. (2014, March 07). Breaking out of the library mold, in Boston and beyond. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/us/breaking-out-of-the-library-mold-in-boston-and-beyond.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Descriptive Summary:
This article profiles the evolution and expansion of the Boston Public Library.  Emphasizing both architectural and service focused changes, the article not only discusses the happenings in Boston, but the evolution of library service globally.  Successful models for participatory service, evolved and unconventional library collections, virtual and physical space improvements, digital and physical collection considerations, and shifting philosophies are presented.  Modern libraries now emphasize not only finding information, but creating it, and emphasize community focus and collaboration instead of merely information managment. 

This is an exciting and inspiring article.  While focused on The Boston Public Library, the evolutions discussed are relevant to libraries everywhere.  Of particular interest to me is outward facing architecture, including large amounts of glass, with the intent of infusing the library space with the energy of the community, and the emphasis on the evolution of the teen space of the library.  The BPL has created a new teen space that will be known as a “homago” space (“hang out, mess around and geek out.”)  They have focused this space with consideration to the things that teens really want to do including lounging, eating, gaming, and employing highly creative digital offerings to edit and record music and video, and to create comic books.  It is exciting to see an institution built in 1848 embrace “eco-urban chic” in the interest of providing relevant and desired resources and services to its patrons.