Blogging and VoiceThread

Wow.  I’ve learned so much in the past couple of weeks about blogging and using tech tools such as Screencastomatic and VoiceThread.  Through reading and researching blogging in the classroom, I am excited to start a new adventure with my students. Not yet, but soon.  I am also excited to share this VoiceThread with you about what I’ve learned about blogging.   Please leave comments as you see fit.


Screencasts, Google Slides and Wikis, Oh My!

For my 2nd and 3rd graders, I have been working on developing an animal research project that would expose them to databases and allow them to create a digital presentation. So this is the project I have decided to use for my class because I think it is important to start the research process when they are young so we can build on those skills every year.

To begin with, my school has just started using Google Classroom and Google docs.  So, I chose to create a screencast to show my teachers how to use Google slides.  Making the screencast was a little challenging but I am confident I will get better with practice.  Don’t judge 🙂 I will be practicing soon as I create a similar screencast to use with my students.  I will post it when I am finished as well.

Next, I created a sample Slideshow to demonstrate what the finished product should look like as well as the purpose of the project. I hope my students will be as excited about this project as I am.

And finally, a word about wikis and collaboration. How people collaborate has changed dramatically over the years.  Through the use of a wiki, my classmates and I were able to quickly and easily distribute information in order to complete a task.  It was a great experience because we all understood the task at hand and were able to work together.  This is a very specific life skill that I hope I am able to successfully teach my students and children and I feel that technology will provide great assistance in this matter.

Library Blogs

The purpose of these library blogs is to share what is going on in the library.  While many libraries have websites, the addition of a blog keeps information fresh and allows the visitor to have interaction with the blogger through comments.  By becoming a blogger and interacting with our students, we are able to set many great examples such as using good manners online and possibly inspiring a student to write more and perfect their craft.  In Windham’s article, Reflecting, Writing, and Responding: Reasons Students Blog, she talks a lot about how blogging gives students relevant practice for things that seem dull and boring in other scenarios.  One example is of practicing a foreign language through a blog, which is much more interesting and helpful than by practicing drills in a notebook.  The following library blogs are examples of blogs that I found interesting and that have inspired me to possibly begin to blog on my library website.

I am almost afraid to say it but my favorite library blog is from Murray Hill Middle School  and is written by none other than the Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones.  I know!  This blog is not at all like the blog for Educators though.  This blog is all about the school library, the students and connecting them to knowledge and information.  When you enter the blog, you will notice that there are lots of pictures.  Pictures taken of the library space and of students creating, doing and just being in the space.  There is information on conferences for students to attend, tech tips and apps for students to try, trivia games, and wiki pages for even more information. One post that I found particularly interesting since we do not have BYOD in our district was Charging Lockers & BYOD.  From the comments, you can see that students can easily ask questions and interact with the blogger.  While these posts have more visuals than a typical blog does, I would imagine this would be necessary to create interest for students.  You have to catch their attention before giving them the information.

Warning!  This next blog that I have selected has not been updated since October 2015.  The blogger has moved onto a new job and I mentioned her newest blog in my previous post.  Regardless, the Curtis Elementary Library blog is an excellent blog for the time being but over time, it will become dated.  I particularly enjoyed that the site is divided into different sections, such as Library Happenings, New Books & Reviews, Teacher Resources and Maker Spaces and Maker Clubs.  The teacher resources page has several screen casts showing how to use digital resources while the Maker Spaces & Maker Clubs talks about that is offered in the library and after school for students and how they were able to fund such projects.  One of the most inspiring posts was Morning Book Club which explained that students spent about six weeks reading a book before they were able to meet the author.  They also explained that they were also able to meet another author via Skype.  These are just wonderful opportunities for students to make connections to books.

The Canandiagua Academy Library blog was by far the most professional blog I’ve come across.  The posts within the blog are current and are directly linked to students and their needs.  There are many sections to choose from including Creative Commons, Books Lists, Books News, Environmental News, and Custom Searches. My favorite part of the blog is a recent post New Nonfiction Part 2 which not only lists every new book added to the shelves but provides a cover picture and a review of the book.  Each book is also linked to their OPAC. As a parent of two teenagers, I am very impressed with the variety of topics that are covered by these new books and how obvious it is that there was no bias when making the selections.  They are so very relevant for today’s teens.  There are also many similar posts promoting books that will be arriving soon which creates excitement among the students and raises the anticipation for the new arrivals. It appears as though each new arrival of books is greatly anticipated and celebrated upon arrival.

From these school blogs, I can see the potential for great interactions with students.  Between the clubs offered, the new books and exciting activities planned, there is much that could be discussed among the students of each school.  I would really like to encourage students to actually participate in these blogs in some way.  For example, students in the book club could blog about the books they are reading.  Students who have checked out the new arrivals could blog about the books or offer their own reviews of the books, with approval from the blogger, of course. These are just a couple of ways I would use a library blogs to encourage students to write and voice their opinions in a meaningful way.



Educator Blogs

Educator blogs are created with the educator in mind, filled with inspiration and motivation to help you become the very best teacher librarian around.  It is seldom that I visit an educator blog and find nothing that interests me.  In fact, I have found so much that interests me in these blogs that I’m having a hard time narrowing down what to share. The purpose of all three of these blogs is to inspire you to learn, be resourceful and teach to your potential.  Each of these sites has a unique style and presentation but all are wonderful in their own way. One of the important things to remember about a blog is it interactive by nature. As Eide explains in the article, Brain of the Blogger, the blogger writes the post but the visitor must read the posting rather than just viewing it. A visitor often responds to the post and sometimes views further posts and links by the same blogger and others.

The first site is probably my favorite, The Daring Librarian.  The author Gwyneth Jones has many sites and blogs but this one is specifically directed towards helping teacher librarians up their game in the tech world.  Her style is fun and snarky, with many references to popular topics held near dear to adult nerds and middle school students such as Dr. Who, Star Wars and Pokemon.  The most recent post is from  September 25 and covers an entire segment on Pokemon Go!.  This post talks about how popular the game  has become and how motivating it is to get out and walk.  She also talks about how students are motivated by such games and she takes you step by step how to set up a QR scavenger hunt in your library using Pokemon Go as your theme.  She has included links to everything needed to create your own, including CC permissions to edit her work.  The entire blog is full of resources and ideas, including Why Blog? which gives you lots of tips on being a successful blogger.  That just might come in handy as we begin this blogging adventure.  I absolutely adore the visuals of this site but I could see that it might also be overwhelming if this is your first time visiting a blog. This is definitely a blog I would recommend to my teacher library friends who are tech savvy as well as to those who want to be.

The next blog is Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch which features great tech to use in the classroom.  Not only does Kathy give great ideas, she provides a ton of links to actual products, apps and software to make all this technology come together.  Kathy also has another blog at Discovery Education.  One of my favorite recent post is Stop Motion Animation in the Classroom which provides details and resources for teaching students art of stop motion.  Personally, I would love to have this in a Maker Space eventually with Legos or puzzles for students to be able to create their own videos. I can only imagine what they might come up with!  Kathy’s blogs and website are truly a masterful collection of technology and it’s many uses.  While this site does not cater specifically to teacher librarians, there is a great deal to explore here.  Just check out the tags available to research.

The final educators blog I selected  is very specifically for teacher librarians and teachers who are really ready to take on 21st Learning, Future Ready Reflections. The most recent post on this blog is about EdCamp which is something that I am interested in attending in the near future.  Shawna Ford talks about her experiences at a technology workshop that is held on a Saturday so teachers who are interested, gather to learn, experience and share.  This sounds so much different than other professional development days when some people have no interest and really aren’t supportive of those who have genuine interest. Another great post on this blog was What Happens When We Empower Teachers? I love the idea of saying “Yes” when approached with an idea from a colleague or a student.  Of course, we can.  Let’s figure out a way. So much more motivating than “Yes, but first…”.

I highly recommend these blogs and encourage you to find others that suit your needs and preferences.  Not all blogs are created equal but there is definitely a blog out there for everyone.


Why blog?

Blogs serve various purposes. Many blogs are written by persons who aspire to be writers while others are written as a journal of ones life.  Sometimes blogs are written just for family members while others are created to share broadly across the internet to whomever chooses to read them.  Some blogs are very, very specific and would only be read by those with the same very selective interests while others are so broad, you’re not really sure what the connections are.  Really.  Blogs can be whatever you want them to be.  I have started this blog as a beginning of my expansion into technology and creating a positive digital footprint.  One day, it will be linked to my library website which can be found at WES Library which is a true work in progress.  But I guess most things are, right?

In the following posts, I will be reviewing various educational blogs that I have found to be useful.  Stay tuned.