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!
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!
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!
This is a brief post and shameless plug for a product that I have praised over the last year or so. Buncee is an interactive presentation tool that can be accessed for free online. After using the free version for professional flyers and a teaching tool, I finally made the decision to purchase the classroom version to use in the library. It cost about $200 and I have enough accounts for all students in grades 4 and 5 at the moment.
Over the course of two weeks, I have helped students create their accounts (I probably could have done this as an import, but chose to have them set it up), learn the basics of choosing backgrounds, stickers, animations, etc., and I let them play around with the fun stuff like fidget spinners and slime. It has been a marvelously fun time and the teachers have been raving about it too!
The point has been to teach the kids how to use the tool in hopes of assigning them some cool library projects to complete with it. Enter monsters. I will be doing a blog post later today about my "Not-so-Scary Library" lessons for the month of October. For the 5th graders, they will be using Buncee to present research on monsters. I will save that project for a detailed post later, but just needed to share with you (and document for myself) that teaching Buncee was a two week process that proceeded the monstrously fun project.
If you've never used Buncee, I encourage you to give it a try! It is so flexible and you can totally get by with the free version for yourself. If you want to be able to give assignments and have students submit them, then look into the classroom version on their website. Also follow them HERE on Twitter. They are super supportive of classroom teachers and librarians. And if you are in the Northwest Georgia area on October 21, 2017, you could attend EdCamp Whitfield and hear about Buncee from me! I'll be sharing the tool that day.....and it is totally FREE to attend.
Like I said....shameless plug.
It is amazing what a little time with some awesome kids can do for one's spirit. After the less-than-stellar experience I had with my first book fair, I have just been craving time with the kids. I missed them! I decided to keep things really simple to start my week and it has paid off in huge dividends. It is only Wednesday and the librarian is finally in her happy place once again.
On Monday, I was expecting to have to move all of those huge cases out of the way so that my 1st and 2nd graders could get in the door and get to the Everybody Fiction section. I opened the doors to the library and (insert amazing angelic sounds here) all of those cases were gone! I stood there for just a minute wondering if someone had stolen the fair....but then I came to the realization that my precious custodian had taken pity on me and had used his time to move every single case into a storage room. This was no easy feat and the fact that he did this for me still gives me chill-bumps. I have a special treat in store for him later this week.
To make Monday even better, my new storytime rug was delivered about 15 minutes prior to my first class. I was super excited to see it and eagerly unrolled it so that my students had a sweet surprise on their first visit after the end of the book fair. It did not disappoint! They loved the bright colors and the variety of shapes. They felt extra special as they looked to see which square would be theirs for the day! It was so fun!
Then...the next great thing was that I planned to read The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This was in lieu of all of my "big plans" for Dot Day (if you didn't read my post about scratching those plans, you can read it here). I wish that I had asked a teacher to take pictures or film one of the class readings because it was a HUGE HIT with the kids! I cannot believe how much they laughed and giggled....they had me laughing right along with them....and one little boy was literally rolling in the floor with laughter!!! One child commented, "I just love this silly book!" and as the story ended, it was met with cheers and a cry to read it again. It was so fun. And I was shocked by how many of the teachers had never heard the story. As a matter of fact, the laughter spilling from the library started drawing crowds as several passers-by peeked in to see what in the world was going on! It was a HOOT! Truly, good medicine for my spirit.
After the story, we did book check out and students had a few minutes to find a cozy spot to read. Of course, the new rug was a favorite.
Tuesday brought the third graders and keeping with my "less is more" theme for the week, I returned to centers. Most of the ones I put out were things I have used before, but there were a few new additions that were hits with the kids. The first was a Spirograph set. Do you remember these? I loved these as a kid and this summer I stumbled upon one at a dollar store. The kids were fascinated by the designs they could make by fitting the "gears" together.
Another center I added was a collection of farm animals from my youngest son. He used to collect the Schleich figures with a huge love for the farm collection. These are not cheap. They cost about $20+ each!!! It was a risk, but I decided to give it a try. The girls LOVED playing with the animals and gave them a lot of love. Most boys avoided the center like the plague. I think if I had added in some tractors or something, they might have liked it. But, it worked okay. We didn't rotate the centers this time. Students had book check out and then chose the center of their choice. I even let them pick their partners. It worked well.
That brings me to today...Wednesday. Today I had all of my 5th grade students and I jumped right in to my new Buncee Classroom subscription. I will need to do a separate post on my plans, but today was just a chance to get them all set up with accounts and let them learn the basics of adding text, stickers, and animation. It turned out that they had a blast. The kids and the teachers loved Buncee and it made my heart happy to share one of my all-time favorite tools for school.
I still have a few classes to see on Thursday and then I can really tackle some projects on my Friday flex-day, but the week has been a blessing. I feel things settling back in to a routine and am loving every minute with these wonderful kids.
The last post left me feeling a bit down, but as that classic Beetles tune says, "I get by with a little help from my friends" and so...I did.
My good friend and colleague Melissa, who I have mentioned before, shared that the "rainbows" on the canvas were covered up by all of that glorious colorful paper that was going to be used to bring life and happiness to the new library space. That little comment lifted my spirits! Then just a few days later, I had the pleasure of visiting a library space that is being transformed by another colleague (you can follow her on Twitter here) and we took about four hours to talk about our ideas on all things library! Gina is weeding thousands of old books (we are talking copyrights prior to 1990 old) and has already installed a Lego wall thanks to Donor's Choose.
This all served as inspiration! Then...the AASL's Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2017 were announced this weekend and I was super excited to dive in! There are so many wonderful resources here for librarians!!! And I must admit that my personal two favorite tools from this year made the list....Buncee and Flipgrid. They are two fabulous tools for the library and for classrooms. Check them out if you haven't.
And I've got many other things brightening my days and clearing away those overwhelmed duldrums. I'm following friends on Twitter who are at the ISTE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I'm catching up on some of my Netflix shows. And right now...the sun is shining bright outside my window as I get ready to start a new day. I'm quite simply...happy.
Who to follow: