I cannot believe that June is almost over...although my body can! After surviving my oldest son's graduation from high school, presenting at the GLMA Summer Institute, and a whirlwind vacation in Washington D.C., I have a bad case of sore feet and bronchitis. Yep, I'm sick. The most comforting thought is that I don't have to jump out of bed and rush to school. I can just stay in my jammies, do a little reading, and sip warm tea all day. The other thing I'm doing is dreaming about my new horizons.
As you all know from my very dramatic "All good things" post, I am not going to be working in a school library this coming fall. Saying goodbye to something you love is very hard to do, but to be truthful, I am relieved. I feel as if I have had a tremendous burden lifted from my shoulders. Please don't misunderstand me, I still love the library and books and all that happens there, but I know that I am ready for a change. And change is coming!
Several of you have reached out to me by text, email, or Twitter to ask "what's next for the Happy Librarian?" And for months I've had to answer "I have no earthly idea!". But that is beginning to change. I have accepted a part time position with a college and although I cannot go into details (my own decision because I'm still being processed by Human Resources and I don't want to jinx it), I am really excited about the work I will be doing. I hope to share more of that with you in the near future.
I do want to share another aspect of my work that will be expanding. For the last 8 years or so, I have worked to coach and train school librarians and teachers on the use of technology and STEM to support curriculum. It dawned on me a while back that I should really try to expand my reach in this area. Many of my trainings have been through our local RESA, but there are countless RESAs in our state and maybe I could be of some use. I also thought about the staff trainings I've done in my own schools and have wondered if any other schools out there might be looking for someone to teach their staff. Who knows? I may be completely off base, but I've got to give it a shot. So, the other day, I whipped up a promotional flyer using my favorite tech tool (wink, wink) and sent it out via email to several local schools that do not have full-time librarians or instructional technology staff. I have no earthly idea if anyone will want to hire me for a day to do some coaching, but it is worth it to try. Here is my flyer if you are curious...
And don't worry too much about my disappearing from the library scene. I've volunteered to host one of the #GaLibChat sessions in the coming year on Twitter. I've agreed to help draft a position statement on the dangers of leveling school libraries for the GLMA. And of course I'll still be hanging at #coffeeEDU and the #nwgams consortium with my local library peeps.
As for keeping up with me...the best place to connect online is Twitter. I'm still there. @LeighaBurnham
Or feel free to check out my updated website at www.leighaburnham.com to see what happens with my new work.
See ya around!
We all love to hate mandatory testing for students! I am responsible for testing a group of students and the offices of the library space are being used for small group testing, so I had to re-think the library schedule for a two week time frame. The first half of the school day, the library is closed. But once testing is done, we open the doors to our "De-stress from the Test" activities! And it has been a huge hit this first week....students in 5th grade can't wait to come next week! So...what am I doing? Take a look...
You know I just had to advertise with signs made in Buncee, right?!
I had a 1000 piece puzzle out during National Library Week and the reaction from teachers and students was overwhelming. They loved it! But...it didn't get completed. It is a very challenging puzzle that I bought for $4 at a local discount store. I chose to leave it out and add more options!
I purchased four more puzzles from Barnes & Noble. They are 500 piece puzzles of varying difficulty. I knew that the only students working on these puzzles would be 3rd-5th graders, so I didn't have to have anything too primary. I set each puzzle box and pieces out on a library table. I also purchased these really cool Sort & Go puzzle trays! They are awesome!!! You can use them to sort pieces as you work or to gather loose pieces for storage at the end of the day. They are really handy.
The most adorable puzzles I purchased were from Mudpuppy. Everyone loved the designs and the colors. This one called "Little Feminists" was my absolute favorite...and many afternoons I could be caught sitting at the table working on it myself!
The way the schedule has worked this week is that the library has been closed until around 11:30 or so. Once I'm in here to open the doors, teachers write a pass for 2-3 students at a time to come and work. They can work a puzzle of their choosing OR they can opt to sit and read. Most have chosen the puzzles. I think out of novelty. And after reading the state test for three hours, who wants to read a book? Very few...and that's okay.
I marked the time students arrived and when their 20 minutes were up, I just sent them back with a friendly pass. Then, most teachers sent another pair of students. It has worked well because many teachers chose to do centers in their own classrooms and the library visit became one of the centers! Genius!
With close supervision, there haven't been any real issues other than one torn puzzle piece. I still opted to print some guidelines and tape to each table. These just serve as reminders. You can see parts of these signs in the bottom photos in the gallery above. Overall, I am pleased with the effort from students in caring for the puzzles. And I've had a little chuckle over how possessive of certain puzzles the teachers have become...several teachers have come in almost every day to spend 5-10 minutes working on a puzzle! LOVE it! This truly has been one of the best ideas I've had all year!
My 4th and 5th grade students have been reviewing literary genres over the past month and we've been using Buncee to record our learning. Students were given access to my Buncee presentation so that they could look back over instructions and see samples of what they were to create. You can see the title slide of my presentation below.
As students finished charting four types of genres they wanted to learn more about, they had the option of creating a promotional poster for a book in our library that fit one of the genres. The poster is to serve two purposes: (1) prove that you know why that particular book fits in that particular genre and (2) promote the book so that another student might want to read it!
I want to mention that I have blogged a bit about this project before in THIS post. The students have been very engaged during this entire process; practically 100% almost every session! But keep in mind that I am their librarian. Students are not getting a grade/assessment for their work and they don't necessarily see it "as important as" what their ELA teacher might assign them. I say that because some of the work that is being submitted is awesome! They could have just blown off the project, but I think most of them really took it to heart. I'm really proud of some of the work the students have done!
Below is one student submission. If you hover and click the arrow on the right of the poster slide, it will reveal the chart slide that documents the student's research on four genres.
One thing that worked really well for this assignment is that I used a shared Buncee presentation for all instructions and examples. As we worked on the project each week, I went in and added a "check mark" over the directions so that students would know where we had left off. The shared presentation also made it possible for students to work on the assignment outside of the library time if they wanted to do so.
Now that students are getting closer to having a completed project (2 slides: one that is the chart and one that is a promotional book poster), they are beginning to submit to our Buncee Board in order to get some feedback. I think this will be the most valuable piece of the project! Students can give constructive/positive commentary on each other's work. This also allows me a chance to give students a little hint here and there before the final "cut off" on submissions. I'm offering some Reading Counts points to students who do an excellent job in following all directions for the project, so they seem to be excited about that little token. I also really like that we will have a board of book recommendations for students to hear from their peers about fun book choices!
If you aren't using the Buncee Boards to allow students to publish and comment on each other's work, why not?! I love that it is empowering students as creators of content and that they get feedback from their peers. This has been a worthwhile project....and teachers are now asking for a Buncee tutorial! That happens next week after school. I can't wait! Happy Bunceeing!
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!
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!
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!
This is a quick commentary and tutorial of sorts about the digital business card that I posted this past weekend on Twitter. Everyone, including the great folks at Buncee, was excited to see it and I cannot take all of the credit!
I saw this digital business card in my feed and it immediately caught my eye! Bethany Hill @bethhill2829 was participating in the #leadupchat and had posted her Buncee as a way to introduce herself to others. What an amazing idea!!! I have used Buncee to create a business card of sorts and featured it on my blog, but never had I thought to use it when participating in Twitter chats. Bethany is brilliant!!! (For reasons beyond this one, so go follow her on Twitter if you aren't already!)
One thing I particularly love about Bethany's design is that she used that adorable clothesline sticker to highlight her social media accounts and some of her educator badges. THOSE BADGES....geez, I have so many and love them, but what to do with all of them?! This is a perfect solution!
I immediately got to work on an updated Buncee of my own. I used two of the clothesline stickers to create a banner across the top just like Bethany did. I then "sent them to the back" so that I could upload my badges and place them inside of each Polaroid window. Bethany added some text beneath hers, mostly because she featured her social media in her windows, but I chose to only feature my professional badges, so I didn't add any text.
Next, I took a cue from Bethany in adding an actual photo of myself. Now normally this would NOT be something I would do, but hers really adds to the professionalism of the Buncee...it truly makes it more of a business card. So...I found another Polaroid sticker in Buncee and after "sending it to the back," added my photo.
Finally, I noticed that Bethany featured her #JoyfulLeaders hashtag and her title. Again, mine isn't exactly the same, but the idea behind it is. I created a little section on the bottom left to highlight my professional interests and passions. Then on the bottom right side, I chose to list my social media connections and the two hashtags of which I am the founder: #happylibrary and #nwgams (that's the Northwest Georgia Media Specialists group if you are interested).
Since I use my digital business card on the contact page of this blog, I decided to use the color schemes and clip art banners that are used here to tie it all together. That is one of the many things I love about Buncee...you can upload your own images and clip art to really personalize your creations!
Take a look at my final creation and see what you think:
And that is it! It is that simple! So what are you waiting for??? Go log in and create yours today. Be sure to go over to Bethany's blog and look for her advice on creating the digital business card, as well. She is an official Buncee Ambassador, so I'm sure her ideas will be even better than mine!
Please share your own digital business card on Twitter and tag @bethhill2829 @LeighaBurnham and @Buncee to let us cheer for your creations!
I have neglected to share a few more ideas that I implemented during November's National Picture Book Month celebration. I'm going to try to keep this post short and succinct, while still providing you with an update on our lessons with picture books and our Picture Book Smackdown.
One of the BEST lessons I did with students during the month of November was a #picturebooksnap lesson. We used one of my favorite digital tools, Buncee. Those who know me, know I'm a HUGE fan of this digital tool! One of the best decisions I've made this year was to purchase a classroom edition for the library. Students in 4th grade classes used their student computers to snap pictures of a page in their current picture book. Then, they uploaded the photo to Buncee as the background. They were then able to add stickers, text, and other Buncee features to create a picture book recommendation in the form of a #booksnap. If you don't know what a book snap is, or what it looks like, I'm sharing a few of my students' creations with you! It is an awesome activity and highly engaging to students. The idea for this lesson originated with the #booksnaps done by Tara M. Martin, which you can read about HERE.
One thing that was so great about the #picturebooksnaps activity is that it gave student experts a chance to shine. Once a particular student mastered the photo uploading or perhaps the use of the drawing tool, they became the "table expert" and were able to tutor other students at their table. It was AWESOME! I purposefully taught certain students who often do not get to be leaders in other ways, how to do particular tricks or skills with Buncee. They were then the table expert in those areas and it was wonderful to see them embrace their new leadership role!
This activity also really empowers students to give honest reviews of the books they've read. Most of them loved their book selections, but not all. Students used star ratings (or other things like snowmen, etc.) to share what they really thought about the books they did for their #picturebooksnaps. It really gave them a voice. I love this.
Another thing we completed this month was our first-ever Picture Book Smackdown! We joined forces with two other schools for a Skype session where we shared our favorite picture books of the month and it was AWESOME! We had a few technical difficulties as we prepared for the week, but we were able to work all of those out with the help of our technical support people. On the day of the event, our Skype connection went off without a hitch!
Fellow media specialists, Diane Hassler of Cartersville Elementary School and Melissa Cairns of Fairyland Elementary School, did a wonderful job selecting students to share and in helping them prepare. The students seemed to have such a fun time and in our library, we had an audience of almost half of our 5th grade! I would be remiss without mentioning again Andy Plemmons of Barrow Elementary School who invented the smackdown concept and so graciously shares his resources with others so that they might begin smackdowns in their own libraries. I hope to share the full video of the event in the future, but for now, I'll just share some photos from the day!
And finally, I wanted to briefly say that the Picture Book Challenge was also a success. Although most students did not completely fill up their stamp cards, they were able to earn a lot of stamps and they gained a greater exposure to a variety of picture books.
I hate that it took me this long to share the final events of our Picture Book Month activities with you here, but hopefully it was worth the wait. Don't forget that if you want up-to-date happenings from The Happy Library, you should connect with us on Instagram and Facebook. I post there almost daily...or at least weekly. And that's a wrap!
This is the third post in a series on library lessons for October 2017. You can read the previous post HERE.
This week was such fun as we continued our monster-themed lessons for the month! The week started out with another fun read-aloud with Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students. Claire Freedman's Monsters Love Underpants had kids in stitches and they had fun spying their favorite undies throughout the book.
With kindergarten students, I highlighted the letter M. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher give me a tip last week that the students had just learned the letter. How perfect is that?! I made a little foam monster letter by cutting out the letter and attaching googly eyes and a silly mouth. (I regret I didn't take a photo, but I'll fix that when I'm back at school and will post in the comments so that you can see it.) We talked about the letter M, looked for it in the story, and then I gave students an "Mm is for Monster" creative commons coloring sheet that I downloaded HERE. The students had fun and it reinforced what they are learning in the classroom.
I did the same book with 1st and 2nd graders, but we weren't able to do an activity. Book check-out with these students takes 15 minutes of our 30 minute library time, so I often feel at a loss of what to do with these students. After a read-aloud, we don't have time for much else. I hope this can change in the future, but for now we just focus on a read-aloud and book circulation. I'm open for suggestions!
Third graders got a real treat this week, as we continued to build on the I Need My Monster lesson from last week. I reviewed our discussion about our "perfect monster" from our writing activity from last week and then I told them that they now would be making their monsters. They were super stoked! I have to admit that this fun idea came from a blog post from Sandy Liptak. She used a different book (which I have just recently purchased and plan to use in the future), but the basic idea of lesson came from her blog post. She has fabulous ideas on her blog, so be sure to check them all out!
I made a little assembly line with signs telling students how many of each item they were allowed to take, similar to Sandy's lesson. We used a hole punch to create holes for attaching pipe cleaners which students used for arms, legs, tails, or antennae. Once the students had created their monster bodies, they came to my special station for the eyes. I didn't want glue in the library carpet, so I assisted with the glue application. It worked great.
After the students completed the monsters, I had them gather at the carpet area for a group photo. We took a few with their smiling faces for the yearbook and then a few with their monsters covering their faces for social media and website use. They loved posing with their creatures! It was so much fun and the perfect activity for 3rd graders.
4th graders also did the monster writing activity last week, so this week they made their monsters come to life, but not using the assembly line as the 3rd graders did. I had 4th graders review how to use the basics of Buncee (they haven't used all of the features the way the 5th graders have). The 4th grade students then began creating their "perfect monsters" using Buncee. They came up with some really great ideas and we will continue this project next week. I hope to share some of the final projects with you in the next post.
That brings me to the 5th graders who continued researching their monsters and creating a presentation on their research using Buncee. I was happy to see that they are still really enjoying the project. They are pretty close to being done, so I imagine that next week we will finish up and then I have some fun plans for student sharing.
So, that's a wrap! We are about half way through our October lessons and with a four-day weekend for our fall break, I'm looking forward to a little R-n-R and time to prep for our next batch of lessons!
This is the second post in a series for October 2017 library lessons. Read the previous post HERE.
I have my first week of "Not-So-Scary" lessons under my belt and wanted to share them with you! My week starts with all first and second grade classes on Monday. I only see these students for 30 minutes, so when you include book circulation, that leaves me about 15 minutes for a lesson...not a lot of time!!! I decided to use a video recording from Storyline Online to kick off our monster month. The book is I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. It is a cute story about a boy who requires a monster under his bed so that he can sleep. He is visited by substitute monsters when his very own perfect monster goes fishing. It is such a cute story and all of the students really loved it! If you've never used Storyline Online, I highly recommend it. Since this particular story video lasts 12 minutes, that was it for the lesson for 1st and 2nd grades. But I connected it to the book check-out time by telling students that we needed to search out monstrously good books just like the little boy searched out the perfect monster. It worked.
Kindergarten classes visit on Tuesdays and I decided against reading a book this week. I was inspired by the "Five Little Pumpkins" poem that many students learn this time of year. I re-wrote the lyrics and created my own poem "Five Silly Monsters," complete with hand motions. I created a Google Slide using the same free monster clip art I mentioned in the preparation post and had it up on the interactive board. Students learned the words and motions and we had such fun! It got them moving around and that was great.
Since I am only in my fourth week with kinders, I am still focusing on basic library procedures. I spread books about fall, scarecrows, apples, and the like on a big table. After we did the poem, I told them that just like the silly monsters went looking for a library book, we were going to do the same thing. We practiced walking with our hands behind our backs and looking with our best googly monster eyes first. Then, students were allowed to select a book and find a carpet area to read. Obviously they were reading the pictures, but it was a great way to practice book selection and book care.
My third and fourth grade students are in the library for 45 minutes, so I can do so much more with them. I shared the same Storyline Online video with them as I did with first and second graders, but we followed it with a writing activity. We brainstormed adjectives and adverbs we heard in the story describing the different monsters that visit the main character. Then, I posted the directions for our writing activity on the interactive board.
The third graders had trouble getting started, so upon the suggestion from a teacher, I also gave them some sentence starters and typed up the words they offered up. I placed those on an additional slide and we used them during the writing activity. I think the fourth graders enjoyed the creative writing more than third graders did...not sure why.
And finally, the fifth graders....I mentioned a few posts back that I spent two weeks teaching these students how to use Buncee. I introduced their first Buncee assignment this week...monster research! They viewed my instructional Buncee presentation and asked questions. (I have posted it below so that you can see the directions and also so that you can see how versatile Buncee is! Flip through the slides to see the list of monsters we are using, as well.) Then, they spent the rest of our lesson time (45 minutes) deciding which monster they wanted to research. The kids are so excited about this project!
So, that's the first week recap. Basically, I was able to use the same story for all grades and then do little spin-off projects from there. It worked pretty well. The only grades that didn't get the story were kindergarten and fifth. And I was able to share the eyeball guessing game guidelines with each class. Kids are already making their predictions about how many eyeballs are in the jar! Now to work on next week's lessons...
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