Friday, October 29, 2010

Petting Zoo Visitors

Yesterday was the Electronic Gadget Petting Zoo in the library for the teachers. Overall I feel that it was a success. Eighteen out of thirty teachers came, all three administrators and even the janitor! Everyone had a blast playing with the gadgets. The teachers were amazed that I had so many in the library available for check out. We spent time talking about how they could use the gadgets and how I could help them. I hope that some collaborations will be born from the day. One of the teachers even went back to her room and sent an email to the faculty encouraging them to attend and raving about the event. The exit slips were used to give door prizes like a gas card, USB hubs in the shape of fish bones and a pocket digital photo frame. My administrators were impressed and said things like "amazing", "I didn't know this existed", and I want one of these.

I will definitely do this again and continue to update the gadgets and add to our collection. I encourage others to try it as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hyped about Skype!

I am thrilled to announce that our book club will be Skyping with two wonderful authors in January. After reading about the list of authors who Skype I began my research. I was so excited to see two authors on the list who have a book on the SC Junior Book Award nominee list this year, Julie Berry and Sarah Prineas.

Julie Berry is the author of The Amaranth Enchantment, Secondhand Charm, and Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series.

Sarah Prineas is the author of The Magic Thief series.
My book club members will be choosing one of their books to read and preparing questions for our Skype session. Our book fair is coming up soon so I requested copies of their books to presell to the book club. They arrived today and I will talk to the book club next week about our plans.
When I contacted the authors I received a response within hours that they would love to plan our meeting. I was surprised at how quickly they responded. Considering these lean budget times I am over the moon because both of these authors will Skype 20 minute sessions for free. Ms. Prineas even mentioned in her email that she would talk longer if we wanted. I am so impressed with their enthusiasm and kindness.
This event will be great for my students and the other teachers are excited about it as well.
The only stumbling block I have encountered is the filter at school. Skype (and many other tools) are blocked by the internet filter. I submitted a request that it be open for these days and my request was denied. The explanation was that we did not have the bandwidth to support Skype. I find it hard to believe that one teacher on Skype for less than half an hour would effect our network. I approached my adminstration for help in overcoming this problem. One of the assistant principals offered her school laptop because it has a WiFi card and Skype installed. I appreciate her helping make this happen.
I will post after our event and let you all know how it went. If anyone out there has any tips, suggestions, or encouragement I would love to hear about it.

Read-A-Latte Cafe

The librarian before me used to sell hot chocolate to the sudents. After surveying the students at the end of last year this was one of the most requested library events that the students wanted to see continued. I also read about other similar programs here, here , and here on the Blue Skunk Blog.
I have continued but with my own spin. We have expanded our menu options to include hot chocolate, French Vanilla Cappuccino and hot cider. I wasn't sure that middle schoolers would choose cider over chocolate, but there were students that actually did a little dance of joy when they saw it on the menu. All of the drinks are 50 cents. We have marshmallows and cinnamon as free toppings. I have created a cafe style seating area with four round tables near the circulation desk. I am lucky/unlucky to be in a very old building so there is a sink in the library office for some reason. I'm glad it is there. I keep the materials in the office and I have student helpers and book club members making and serving the drinks. I ask that students sit at the tables to be waited on to avoid spills from walking around. I have new carpet so I'm trying to preserve it as long as I can. They actually like being waited on so I have had no complaints. So far I have only had one spill and we were abe to clean it quickly with minimal damage.
This has been a great way to bring lots of kids into the library, create a place where the students feel welcome and comfortable and it raises a little money for us. My experience has been a good one and I would recommend others give it a try. Just FYI I do not have an aide/assistant, but I am able to pull this off because of some very hard-working, motivated students.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Electronic Gadget Petting Zoo

After seeing this posting, I couldn't get this out of my mind. I knew this would be a great event to have at my own school to familiarize the teachers with the gadgets we have at school. I decided to plan an electronic gadget petting zoo in the library. Teachers would have an opportunity to come anytime that day to play with the tech gadgets, learn how to use them, get ideas on how to use them in the classroom, and build collaboration.
This is a copy of the email invitation that I mailed out to the faculty and staff:

Hands on is the only way to learn a new tool. Come to the library during your first or second related planning and "pet" some of the gadgets that you might want to use in your classroom. The zoo features gadgets like the Kindle, Flip cameras, Hue webcams, digital camera, Senteo clickers, Wii, Mouse Mischief and more. Play with the gadgets, learn how to operate them and see ways that you could use these tools in your class. On your way out complete an exit slip to be entered in a raffle for a cool gadget.

*If you have a gadget of your own that you would like to bring to the zoo please let me know. I would love to have more.

**If you want this automatically added to your calendar so it will remind you, please accept the invitation.

I created a Top Ten Reasons to Visit the Petting Zoo and will be sending those out in the days leading up to the event. Teachers are busy so I know they need multiple reminders. The emails include tidbits about technology so even if they do not attend maybe they will learn something from the list.

The Top Ten Reasons are:

#10 There are 5 myths of technology use: young teachers use it more, only high achieving students benefit from technology, students are already tech savvy, administrators and teachers share the same view of technology, teacher education programs prepare teachers to teach with technology (From

#9 Internet adoption over the past 10 years: 93% of teens ages 12-17 go online, as do 95% of young adults ages 18-29. Seventy-nine percent of all adults ages 18 and older go online.

#8 Of teen content creators (those who have a blog, website or have created or remixed content online) 45% are age 12-14.

#7 Marc Prensky warned us, "Our students have changed radically. Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach."

#6 …"technology is technology only for people who were born before it was invented." Alan Kay
Technology and the world of digital media are "like air" to our students
Learning characteristics for this generation:
1. Multitasking: no problem with reading and listening to music while texting
2. Multimedia literacy: beyond just text
3. Discovery based learning: learning merged with play
4. Bias toward action: learning is as much social as it is cognitive (From

#5 Marc Prensky: Students “are more engaged in learning when using the latest technological gadgets, because it is what they are most used to interacting with.”

#4 Amazon announced that in the last quarter it had sold more Kindle e-books than it had hardcover books. In fact, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, and this number is still rising. Can you imagine a world where students can carry around all their textbooks in one easy-to-read, lightweight device? I can.

#3"When the world inside schools looks so different from the world outside of schools, what are we really preparing students for?" she asks. "When we ban, rather than embrace, real-world technologies, we leave students (1) ill-equipped to know how to harness the power of technology for learning, (2) unprepared to develop a respectable digital footprint and, (3), without adequate knowledge to safely navigate the social web." For Lisa Nielsen, the author of The Innovative Educator blog

#2 What kind of tech use are you? Take this quiz.

#1 reason: It’s fun.

Each station at the petting zoo will have a description of the item, any instructions necessary for the device and ideas on how to use the tool in the classroom. The items that we will have available include Kindles, iPod, iPad, digital camera, Flip cameras, Playaways, Hue webcams, Mouse Mischief, Senteo clickers, Smart slate/Airliner, cell phones, Wii, and a web 2.0 too on each computer. If you would like a copy of the signs please email me.

I will be using exit slips to gather feedback and draw names for a few techie door prizes. The exit slip has three questions:

1. Which gadgets did you “pet”?

2. Which gadget (s) do you think you might use in your classroom?

3. What gadgets would you like to see at a future event?

I created a Weblist of the sources I used to share with faculty after the event. I will post an update after our event.

SLJ Trailee Awards

This week all of the classes that came in to the library viewed some of the nominees in the School Library Journal Trailee Awards. I downloaded the nominees in the "Adult created for Secondary" category. After watching the four nominees students voted using Poll Everywhere and their cell phones. We also watched a few more just for fun and then texted in the books they would like to see made into a book trailer. The students really enjoyed the trailers and I have lots of requests for those titles. The title Unwind by Neal Shusterman was the winner for our classes. I hope to collaborate with a few teachers and have the students create their own trailers using Flips and Moviemaker. We have lots of creative students that might create one that we could send in to the SLJ competition next year.

Voting ends October 22nd so visit the site soon.

Eliterate Minute @ faculty meetings

In my attempt to contribute to the professional development of our school staff I present an "Eliterate Minute" before each faculty meeting. I know time is valuable, especially when it is after school so I only take one or two minutes. So far this year I have presented at each of our three meetings. The presentations I used can be found here, here, and here. The tools have been Diigo, Big Huge Labs, and Zamzar. I hope to continue this through the year. It has helped me to become someone that teachers turn to with technology questions and it has encouraged teachers to consider collaboration. Ask your principal if you could have a minute or two to try something similar.

Can you smell what Mrs. Cox is cooking?

The Wrestlemania Reading Challenge starts this week at Palmetto Middle. I introduced the challenge to the students the last two weeks using this presentation. Our students are invited to paticipate in the project (bookmarks for 6th grade and poster for 7th and 8th grade). If our school winners win at the regional competition they get tickets to Wrestlemania, $2000 and books from a publisher. I wish I had taken pictures of the faces of the sixth graders when I told them about the prize. They were so excited! The entire school is participating in the reading portion of the challenge. I'll be giving out wrestling book marks, trading cards and mini posters to the first students to reach the goal of five books. The reading goal for the grade is 1,000 books. I'll be gaging their progress on a bulletin board with championship belts. For every 100 books they read another piece of the belt will be added to the board. When they get all ten the belt will be complete. The prize for reaching the goal is that each of our principals will be dressing as wrestlers and coming to that grade's lunch. We had a blast deciding which wrestler each principal should be. The studens want our discipline principal to be the Undertaker! It took some persuasion, but I'm so glad that the principals agreed to this. I know the students (and teachers) will love it.
And that's the bottom line, cuz Mrs. Cox says so!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our version of the READ posters

In celebration of Teen Read Week "Books with Beat" I created READ posters using our school celebrities and the Motivational Poster option on Big Huge Labs. We took photos of our resource officer reading when taking a break from the crime beat, our nurse taking the heartbeat of a romance novel, our drumline making their own beat, and our sports stars that always beat 'em. We had a great time taking the pictures and enjoying our students reactions when they see them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Just Horsin' Around

Our first Horseplay events were a huge success. We had 90 students attend our first Horseplay event and played board games like Scrabble and Clue. Thanks to a generous donation from one of our parents the board game collection doubled. I now have about 25 different games. Our orginal collection was comprised totally from teacher donations and found games in closets and classrooms all over the school. I have only purchased 5 games with library funds. Our second Horseplay event was a dance theme. We pulled out two Dance, Dance Revolution mats and Twister moves in addition to our board game collection. Over 130 students attended this time. I think I had as much fun watching them play and laugh as they did. This is a great way to bring all students into the library and show them that the library is a fun place to be. I encourage any librarian thinking about gaming in the library to give it a try. I recently purchased Band Hero for Wii (which luckily we have one Wii at school). Teachers are going to choose students to reward during Teen Read Week and they can come to the library that week and play Band Hero to correspond with the "Books with a Beat" theme. I am also planning a DS tournament and more video game tournaments in the near future. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.