Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Fifth Graders Join Club Click, Our Virtual Student Photography Club!

Last spring, Diane Cordell and I thought it would be fun to get others involved in "Club Click", the student photography club that the two of us started with students at Van Meter, after we had lots of interest from friends on Twitter.   What fun to make our "virtual" photography club reach even more places, students, and teachers.  After all....Diane is in upstate New York....over 1,000 miles from Van Meter so what is a few thousand more miles between all of us.  

This was also the first year that I would bring Club Click to the elementary students.  

When John Schu and I spoke about Club Click coming to his school, we decided that our 5th graders would be a great place to start.  We both introduced Club Click to our students and set off to create slideshows of our schools to share with one another through Skype.  

John's 5th graders at Brook Creek presented their slideshows in small groups to our students in the computer lab this fall.  They were amazing!  My students were so excited to create their slideshows to show them too.  

One of the BEST parts of this project was talking to the students about photography.  Diane Skyped in with the students and talked about the photos that she takes.  I showed them many examples and different devices that I used.  I showed them photographs from my camera, iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.  We talked about different apps that can be used and editing the photographs in iPhoto.  

We also discussed using images in works that they produced.  I touched on copyright and fair use.  From the Little Van Meter Library Voice website, I showed the students places they could find images to use.  

I told the students that they could bring their own device to take photos.  Some of the students brought cameras but most of them had phones and iTouches.  I also have 10 iTouches and two cameras in the library that they can use anytime.  

They were so excited to set off in their groups to capture photographs of Van Meter to tell their story.  

And when they got back to the library....they couldn't wait to get started and show off the photographs they had taken.  
The groups worked together to choose and edit the photographs they were going to include in their iPhoto slideshows.
I loved watching the groups work together too.  They would ask each other to watch the slideshows and then go back into them for more editing.  Some of the groups decided that they needed more photographs so would go out and take a few more.
Once the slideshows were perfected, I uploaded them onto the Van Meter Librarian YouTube channel.  They will be easy to share with John's students and the others who are part of Club Click.  

We hope you enjoy the slideshows of Van Meter, too.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Next Up....."DOT DOT" Celebration!

This post is from John Schu and Shannon Miller's Two Libraries One Voice blog. 
We are so excited! 

This week we will be celebrating "International DOT Day" together. DOT Day is on September 15th, which is when The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds was first published in 2003. On this day, Peter and FableVision Learning challenges people all over the world to "make your own mark and see where it takes you."  

We have been doing a lot at our schools to get ready for this super fun day.  
The students are welcomed into John's library at Brook Forest Elementary with this amazing display.  
And can learn more about Peter and FableVision here.  
Shannon and her students created this new display in the Van Meter Elementary Library and they are enjoying all of the new books they added to their collection too.  
Last week, a big group of Shannon's 7th and 8th graders created beautiful DOT art work outside.  She wrote about this day on the Van Meter VOICE blog.... Today The Students Made Their Mark....On Each Other, The World, and ME!
She created signs for DOT DAY on the library and art room doors.  The students created signs throughout the school with the banners.  
And John's students started decorating paper with their DOTS too.

To celebrate in the libraries this week, we have planned a lot of literacy and art activities for the students. We are going to be painting and drawing with watercolors, finger paints, crayons, colored pencils, and sidewalk chalk.  There is even an activity involving coffee filters, markers, and water bottles...Oh my.  
Our kids are going to create DOTS using the iPads and drawing apps.  We will be sharing these creations with each other over Skype.  
John had a great idea today.....ROLL OUT the "Read" carpet for the week and have our students add dots throughout the week.
And even our students are planning Alissa.  
We will be sharing The Dot and other special books like Dotty by Erica Perl
and Dot by Patricia Intriago over Skype with our students.  

And of course a DOT Day celebration would not be complete without DOTS for everyone.  :) 
So just as the sweet character Vashti learns in The Dot, anyone can make a mark on the world.  

This week in Oak Brook, Illinois and Van Meter, Iowa, we will celebrate the marks of every single person in our schools and the uniqueness of them all. 

We cannot wait to hear how you are going to celebrate DOT Day too!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Kids Caught the Gingerbread Man With a Little Help From a QR Code

To start off the year, I read Laura Murray's new book The Gingerbread Loose in the School to the kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade students.  

Laura did an amazing job writing this book and the illustrations created by Mike Lowery are perfect! .
This adorable story takes the readers on a journey through the school with a newly baked Gingerbread Man.  I had lots of friends (including 8th graders Ben Trent and Isaac Benton) come to the elementary library to read this story to the little ones.  It was a book that we all laughed out loud as it was read.  

After we read the book, I thought that it would be fun to create a scavenger hunt and find some of our own special people at Van Meter School.  I decided to create one using QR Codes (quick response codes).  
The first thing I did was decide which locations I would have the children search.  I took photographs of these people and uploaded them to Flickr.  

Then I used the site Kaywa  to create the QR codes.  For each image, I created a QR code using the url for that image from Flickr.  Once the QR code was created, I took a screen shot of each one.  
I then pasted each QR code into a Google Doc that I opened just for this project.  I labeled each code at the top of the page, copied it six times in the Google Doc, and ran the entire document off when it was complete.  This was very helpful because you need to make sure you know which code goes to each unique location.....or it will be a lot of extra work when hanging up the clues around the school.  
I cut out each set of QR codes and pasted them onto copies of the cover and little pieces of black paper.  I made sure each location had six scanning sites so the children could spread out during the scavenger hunt.  
When they came for library time, I explained to them what QR codes were and how they can hold all kinds of information, images, music, and other things.  A few of the students raised their hands to tell us how they had seen them at stores or in magazines.  One little boy even scanned a QR code before on a pop can.  

I showed them how to open up the scanning app and place the camera over the QR code.  They were so excited to see a photograph of me pop up on the screen of the iTouch.  
Next, it was time to put the iTouches into the hands of the students.  For a lot of the little ones, this was the very first time they had even held an iTouch.  I loved watching their faces and listening to the excitement in the library.
We went to the different locations and took turns scanning the QR codes and looking at the clues.  They all did such an amazing job working together and sharing the iTouches.  
To find out who the children had to find on the scavenger hunt, please watch this Animoto entitled A Fun QR Code Scavenger Hunt at Van Meter .  It is so fun to watch their faces and the excitement that happened during this activity.  
Two of our student bloggers also wrote about the Gingerbread Man QR code project.

MacKenzie Roberts, who is an 8th grader, wrote a post entitled The Gingerbread Man Lost in the School  on her new blog Music To My Life. MacKenzie and her friends helped me take the students around the school on the hunt.  It was so great having them there to help me with the younger ones....everyone enjoyed this.
And first grader Hagan Miller wrote about the fun he had participating in the scavenger hunt last week on his blog, Hagan's World of Awesome.  

We will definitely be searching for the Gingerbread Man again at Van Meter School.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Don't Stop Believing...That We Can Make A Difference!

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting  Stephen Gagnon,  who is a 4th grade teacher in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Strathum Elementary.  Our mutual friend Patrick Larkin introduced Stephen and I on Twitter.  Throughout the school year, Stephen and I connected his students with the 4th graders at Van Meter in Staci Braun, Cindi Burnes and Jenny Stephens classrooms.  
These connections happened in the classroom and in the library at Van Meter.  I loved the day that his students taught ours about World Math Day (this is a post about connecting that day).  

They even played on the World Maths Day website against one another which was a great learning experience for all of the students....and the teachers too.  

One of my very favorite connections was when Mr. G's class had a "So You Think You Got Talent" show for us in the library computer lab.  When his class started singing and dancing I told our 4th graders, "Get up and dance too!"  It was so much fun for everyone.  
As the year continued, I started to connect with Stephen's class each day through Twitter. Stephen started a Twitter for his class called @mrgclass and I connected with his students through this account.  

The students (especially Faith) would send me weather updates every morning and compare the weather at Portsmouth to Van Meter.  I loved getting the Twitter updates and making that daily connection with the students.  They called this project "Race To Summer" and each student gathered weather data for the two locations.  
Last week his students took all of the weather data that they had been collecting over the last few months and created impressive graphs.  They shared their predictions, outcomes and even photos of their graphs.  I was so proud of what they had accomplished and created.

After I wrote a post about our connections on the Edmodo blog entitled The Little Things That Make A Difference, I was so honored to receive several tweets like this from Mr. G's class.  They mean just as much to me and I saw them as other students of mine as well.  
Mr. G's class gets out of school for the summer next week.  We really wanted to connect another time before the break.  Last Friday they invited me to watch another GREAT talent show. I couldn't wait! 

At the end of the performances, they surprised me with a special song they had practiced just for me.  As I sat in my kitchen watching the students at Strathum Elementary do an incredible job singing Journey's Don't Stop Believing,  I got tears in my eyes. 

When they finished singing, the kids yelled out "Thank you, Mrs. Miller."  I was sad to tell them goodbye for the summer.  I told them how they could connect with me over the summer and that I couldn't wait to see them in the fall.

I was so happy to also receive a VoiceThread from Mr. G's class.  Everyone of them left me a little message.  I just love listening to what the connections with our students, authors and others meant to them.  The connections, relationships and projects made a difference in their year, learning and lives.  
This is definitely one year that Mr. G's class will not forget.  Stephen is one of the most amazing teachers that I have ever meant. He has given his students a VOICE through their classroom Twitter, Skype and several experiences such as the ones I have described in this post.  I am the lucky one to have been invited into his classroom.  
Image created by Gwyneth Jones, The Daring Librarian 
As I prepare for ISTE next week in Philadelphia, these students come to my mind often.  During the SIGMS Forum There Is No Better Time: A Dawning Era For School Librarians, they will be part of how I describe how we can all Be A Change for our students, schools and throughout the world.  
For when one receives a tweet like this.....
we know that we can make a difference.  

And that a class of 4th graders 1000 miles away can make a difference in your life too.  

This is one year that I will never forget.