I'm sure we've all struggled with keeping students engaged for a full class period. The library can be one of the best places to learn in our schools, but it is also challenging to manage students in such large spaces, with many different tasks happening all at once, and so many possible distractions. If your library is anything like mine, during class time there are students coming in and out constantly for individual book check-out, there are teachers coming in and out to access the resources in the workroom, there are tech guys coming in and out to work on tech issues, and all of this doesn't take into account the activity involved in the library lesson itself. It is daunting sometimes to keep all of the students in the class fully engaged in the learning process.
Well, today I experienced something that simply was too good not to share. I am working with students in 4th and 5th grades on a genre project. The purpose of the project is to review various literary genres and to create a little excitement over some book recommendations. I had planned to share the entire project with you once it was all wrapped up and done, but after what I've witnessed today (and over the past few days) I just couldn't wait to tell you about it! And the "it" isn't the project...it is the student engagement level!
This project involves Buncee. Basically, students are picking four genres to explore and research. They are charting the definition and characteristics of the genres they choose and then they are digging in to our library collection to find great book titles from those genres. The final piece of the project is creating a promotional poster for one of the book titles. This poster will be posted to a shared Buncee Board. (I will share it with all of you once students have completed their work, but below is the sample I created for students to preview.)
The thing is...I knew it would be a struggle to get students to do the "work" part of this project. I mean seriously, what kid wants to research genres? Especially when there is NO GRADE attached to the assignment?! This is a library lesson after all....I do not give grades. I knew that the Buncee creation would be the key to getting them working. However, what happened has just blown my mind.
I assumed that students would love the "fun part" of creating the promotional poster. They would have the freedom to choose their own backgrounds, stickers, and more. But how on earth would they feel about the Buncee chart I was asking them to create? Plugging information and research into a chart that was basically text just didn't seem like too much fun, but I trusted that using Buncee would hook the kids. Well, to my amazement, it worked! The students have LOVED it. Buncee has kept them totally engaged in the process of documenting their research!
In all honesty, some of my classes are pretty good at staying engaged with little effort during most library lessons. However, I do have two or three classes that really struggle with independent work and with staying on task during the full 45 minute library lesson time. Today, I observed 100% of students in three different library classes stay on-task for the duration of the work session. Yes, I said 100%. And I took photos to PROVE it!
There was one afternoon class that did struggle with being a little more social (a.k.a. talking) during the class period, but when I started walking around to see if I could get them back on-task, I discovered that they were talking about the project! They were just a little more boisterous than the previous classes, but they were engaged in the learning! I also saw many students step up as leaders and help others who needed to know a "how-to-do" in Buncee. This is really fun to observe.
In hindsight, I wish I had surveyed students on their knowledge of genres before we started so that I could re-survey and see if this type of engagement in the lesson impacted their learning, but I didn't do that. But I have confidence that they are really learning about the genres they are investigating and I can't wait to see what they come up with when creating their promotional posters of the books! Stay tuned!
Better than never, I'm sharing the results of my second dictionary skills lessons with 3rd graders today. If you didn't get to read my first lesson with Dictionary Dude, you can catch up HERE. So this past week's lesson was a follow-up on our dictionary skills lesson review and creation of Dictionary Dudes. I decided to use Jo Nase's idea for a dictionary relay. I used Jo's rules/guidelines in the beginning but had to tweak once I saw the "trouble spots" with my own groups of students. I also set my relay up a little differently. So, just take a look at what Jo created, read my lesson format, and then decide on what will work for your kids! It was a lot of fun and well-worth the very brief time it took to pull it all together. But, one word of caution, if you like a quiet library, this may not be the activity you are looking for.
I set up three stations for my relay game. I had these cute little cones from the Dollar Tree that I had stashed in a drawer and pulled out to mark the team tables. I also took a second to create little signs for each team, as well. I put a clipboard, 2 pencils, and a dictionary at each station as well.
I welcomed students to the library and we did book check-out first. We limited this to 10 minutes so that we would have about 30 minutes to play the relay after review and instructions. I wasted no time in settling our 3rd graders down on the carpet and doing a quick review of our key dictionary skills from last week's lesson. The kids remembered almost everything. Guide words are tough for kids, so I made sure to really emphasize the guide words and how we use them in our review.
I asked my classroom teachers to help me pick teams. Each teacher did this a little differently, but it worked quickly and efficiently. Once kids were lined up with their teams, I gave them the rules of the game. Basically, the first person would "run" up to the table and tackle question one, which is always looking up the word and writing the page number on which it was found. Then the second person is tagged and runs up to answer question two and so on. Once all questions are answered, they bring the clipboard to me for a quick check. I found out after about two classes that few teams rarely get all of the questions correct the first time, so I allowed the entire team to pull together to solve the problem of which answer(s) were wrong. This made it a little more inclusive.
One thing I had to tweak in my particular relay was the set up for classes that had a larger amount of inclusion or special education students. Teachers and I decided that we would allow pairs of students to tackle the questions to build confidence in the game and to keep kids from getting too bogged down if they were really struggling with a particular skill. It worked fairly well, but we did have some groups that needed a lot of help from myself and the classroom teacher.
After round one of the relay, the teams became a little more competitive. Some classes were able to do two rounds and some three. I didn't give any type of prize to teams who won, other than cheers of course. And I am happy to report that only ONE student approached me to ask "what do we get for winning". My answer? "The satisfaction that your team won." It was a great deal of fun and certainly made people wonder what on earth we were doing...the library was super NOISY each day I did this with students!!! And who doesn't love a little ruckus now and then?!
I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!
I am beyond excited to announce that I have been selected as a 2018 Buncee Ambassador! If you have spent any time with me at all in the last two years, you will know that Buncee is my go-to tech tool for all things PD, signage, project, invite, and more. I have shared this tool at library conferences, tech conferences, edcamps, and in the schools where I have worked. I love it. And to be chosen to represent this company and to share the work I do with an "official title" is pretty exciting to me.
I plan to really dig in to some of the features I haven't used as much on Buncee in order to better train others to use them....and I plan to share them here on the blog, on Twitter, on Instagram, and yes...with my #BunceeFam on the Buncee Educators Facebook page and more.
If you are in the Northwest Georgia area and want to attend one of my sessions on Buncee, I invite you to join us at EdCamp Rome in early March. Registration is filling up fast, so don't wait on this! I will also be bringing a little Buncee swag to share! If you can't make it to EdCamp Rome, no fear...stay tuned to the blog and I'll have plenty of Buncee love to send your way!
I was recently asked by my principal to cut back on STEM-maker lessons and focus more on supporting classroom teachers with our state testing. I lucked out when I found Jo Nase's Dictionary Dudes and Dictionary Relays activities posted on her blog. If you've never read Jo's blog, it is well worth a look and she also has a TpT store where you can get a pile of freebies and great library materials.
I started the first lesson this week with my third graders. I reviewed the concepts of alphabetization, guide words, parts of speech, and other elements of dictionary entries. This was no easy task because most students see dictionaries as obsolete. They told me to "Google it!". Of course we had a few giggles and it opened the door to some digital citizenship conversation, but we had to get past the digital and embrace the print. Once I got past this hurdle, things went more smoothly. The culminating activity was the creation of individual Dictionary Dudes using a template from Jo's website.
I had different words printed out and cut apart and in a basket. Students received a worksheet, pencil, dictionary, and then drew a word from my basket. The mystery of what word they would receive made the lesson a bit more exciting.
Once they had their word, they found it in the dictionary in order to complete their "Dude-sheet" as we called it. I also allowed small groups to do book check-out during this part of the lesson. Things went fairly well. Some students chose to embellish their "dudes" for a little extra fun.
Next week, I plan to use Jo's relay activity to have team races centered around dictionary skills. Of course, I'll be sharing that with you too! Click HERE to get the materials from Jo's website.
You all are probably sick of hearing how much I use and LOVE Buncee, so if that's you, then stop reading now. If you love Buncee as much as I do or if you've never heard of it, then please keep reading! I noticed the #BunceeChallenge in my Twitter feed last night and couldn't resist joining in on the fun. Basically, you create a Buncee slide using one of several templates they provide. Then, you are to demonstrate at least 15 ways to use Buncee in your classroom or library!
I opened up the directions HERE on the Buncee blog. I then opened my Buncee account and found the template I wanted to use. I then started adding the text to name the 20 ways I've used Buncee in my library and in my life as a librarian. It wasn't that hard because I've used it SO much!
Once I had named my "ways," I then went in and added a little clip art to spruce up each box. I also linked each sticker (a.k.a. picture) to an existing Buncee I used for that purpose. This way, you can actually click on the images to see a real example of that idea in action!!! WooHoo!!! I get excited just thinking about it.
Once the Buncee was completed, I did have to submit it to Buncee on the blog HERE so that I can be entered for the prizes they are doing AND so that they can verify I've earned the #BunceeChallenge badge. (I love earning more badges!) I also shared my Buncee out on social media and in this post on my blog. That's it! What are you waiting for? Get going on the #BunceeChallenge and see what you can come up with! Tag me on Twitter @LeighaBurnham when you share it out...I would love to see how you Buncee!
As you may know by now, I'm a big fan of Buncee, but there is another digital tool that I love almost as much and that is Flipgrid. I haven't given my all with promoting Flipgrid because I haven't used it as much as I would like in my library. Students have done a few picture book reviews using it (learn more HERE), but I haven't implemented it across the entire school. So....that's about to change.
I applied for and received a grant of $500.00 from our local school system's Educational Foundation. This is a group made up of business partners, retired and current educators, and other community members who donate money to support the work of classroom teachers. They award thousands in grants each year and it really is an honor to be selected, as they are highly competitive.
My grant was called "Flipping for Books" and I basically pitched the idea of using Flipgrid and some basic sound equipment to allow students to do video book reviews. The book reviews will then be available for all students to view and will help in book selection. It also is a great way to give students a voice about what they are choosing to read.
My grant proposal consisted of four basic purchases. The first being the subscription to Flipgrid. I wanted all of the features that are unlocked with a yearly subscription and at $65, you just can't beat the price! My second and third items will work together to create mini-recording booths for students to use. These aren't necessarily required to make Flipgrid work, but in the library there can be noise that causes the student recording to lack volume or clarity. I went to B&H Photo online to find what I was looking for and pitched it as part of the grant.
I've ordered four mics and four mini sound booths to create little recording booth areas for the students to use with their student laptops. Only 4th and 5th graders are 1:1 at this point, so I may have to dig up some laptops to use until our 2nd and 3rd graders are also 1:1 in the coming year. These items do make up the bulk of my purchasing.
Finally, the remaining funds are going to our technology department to "relocate" an existing large screen television/monitor in the library. I have a very large one mounted very HIGH over the circulation desk that is not used for anything! I want to have the tech department lower this monitor and help me connect it up to a computer in order to have a Flipgrid Station of sorts. I'm hoping this will work, but if it doesn't I can come up with another plan. We shall see what they can do.
And that's it! I'm super excited to get Flipgrid going in the library full force and I think having the little mini sound booths and mics will make the kids feel extra special when they get to do their own book reviews!
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