Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Fifth Graders Join Club Click, Our Virtual Student Photography Club!

Last spring, Diane Cordell and I thought it would be fun to get others involved in "Club Click", the student photography club that the two of us started with students at Van Meter, after we had lots of interest from friends on Twitter.   What fun to make our "virtual" photography club reach even more places, students, and teachers.  After all....Diane is in upstate New York....over 1,000 miles from Van Meter so what is a few thousand more miles between all of us.  

This was also the first year that I would bring Club Click to the elementary students.  

When John Schu and I spoke about Club Click coming to his school, we decided that our 5th graders would be a great place to start.  We both introduced Club Click to our students and set off to create slideshows of our schools to share with one another through Skype.  

John's 5th graders at Brook Creek presented their slideshows in small groups to our students in the computer lab this fall.  They were amazing!  My students were so excited to create their slideshows to show them too.  

One of the BEST parts of this project was talking to the students about photography.  Diane Skyped in with the students and talked about the photos that she takes.  I showed them many examples and different devices that I used.  I showed them photographs from my camera, iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.  We talked about different apps that can be used and editing the photographs in iPhoto.  

We also discussed using images in works that they produced.  I touched on copyright and fair use.  From the Little Van Meter Library Voice website, I showed the students places they could find images to use.  

I told the students that they could bring their own device to take photos.  Some of the students brought cameras but most of them had phones and iTouches.  I also have 10 iTouches and two cameras in the library that they can use anytime.  

They were so excited to set off in their groups to capture photographs of Van Meter to tell their story.  

And when they got back to the library....they couldn't wait to get started and show off the photographs they had taken.  
The groups worked together to choose and edit the photographs they were going to include in their iPhoto slideshows.
I loved watching the groups work together too.  They would ask each other to watch the slideshows and then go back into them for more editing.  Some of the groups decided that they needed more photographs so would go out and take a few more.
Once the slideshows were perfected, I uploaded them onto the Van Meter Librarian YouTube channel.  They will be easy to share with John's students and the others who are part of Club Click.  

We hope you enjoy the slideshows of Van Meter, too.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Connecting In Our "Somewhat Virtual" Book Club

Two weeks ago something a little difference took place during our book club at Van Meter.  Two of my students, Collin and Paxton, sat in my office and Sebastian, another one of mine, Skyped in sick from home.  But these weren't the only ones that were there to discuss Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause that day. There were also students Skyping in from Jane Lofton's library at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California and Joyce Valenza's library at Springfield Township High School in Philadelphia.  

This was the second time that the "Somewhat Virtual Book Club" met this year.  A month ago we read and discussed The Hunger Games.  We have plans to pick up that conversation when the movie comes out in the spring.  

As I sat there and watched how much my students enjoyed the book discussion with their new friends over 1000 miles away, I smiled as I thought that this new book club started as a simple conversation between Joyce and I.  I love how it now includes five teacher librarians and their amazing students around the country.  

Yesterday, Jane posted on her blog Mira Costa HS Library Blog.  Thank you, Jane for sharing our story and for letting me share it on the Van Meter Library VOICE too.  

I cannot wait to see all of you again in January when we discuss Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  My group has plans to not only see the movie Hugo together but we are going to meet at the Barnes & Noble coffee shop during the next book club.  

Happy Reading Everyone! 

Connecting Our Library Club Across the Country

December 10, 2011
virtual book club map & books
One great activity that has been occurring at the Mira Costa Library has been the growth and development of TLC: The Library Club, now in its second year. Last school year when we established the club, it was primarily a group to support library programs, and the club met every other week. I very much appreciated the help the students offered with our D.J. MacHale author visit, with library displays, contests, PR, and more. They also conducted a very successful book drive and sent the collected books to a shelter. This Fall, the students took the initiative to expand our club by meeting weekly and incorporating more discussions of books in addition to supporting the library.
Then, in October, we had the opportunity to expand our club beyond our school when I responded to a generous open invitation from Joyce Valenza, Teacher Librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania, to join several school library clubs in a virtual book club discussion of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Despite some technical difficulties with my computer and the challenges of time differences, our club members were able to join the group for approximately a half hour of a lively discussion of this engaging book. And, they are looking forward to “Round 2,” when we have revisit Hunger Games after the movie comes out in March.
photo of TLC Members discussing Blood and Chocolate
TLC Members discussing Blood and Chocolate
On December 1, we had our second virtual book discussion about Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. Two of the other schools – Springfield Township HS in Pennsylvania, led by Teacher Librarian Joyce Valenza, and Van Meter in Iowa, led by Shannon Miller –  were able to attend this session, and one student who was ill even Skyped in from home. The students enjoyed a very lively debate about the different characters and clearly had very divergent views about how sympathetic they were. I was so impressed by their insightful comments and their ability to disagree with each other while always remaining polite and considerate.
Photo of TLC Members discussing Blood and Chocolate
We are now reading Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and plan to compare it to the new Hugo film in January.
To bring the groups together, we have been experimenting with different platforms, including Google + Hangouts and Skype. These are some of the tools that we teacher librarians have been using for webinars, virtual conferences, and professional organization meetings. Communicating across the miles in this way has also offered our students an opportunity to practice virtual meeting skills they are sure to be using in many other contexts.
I know that I have been enjoying the opportunity to communicate across the miles – and connect and plan with talented Teacher Librarians Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, Michelle Luhtala, Colette Cassinelli, and Amy Lott - at least as much as our students.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Imagine all the people living life in peace
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

Imagine by John Lennon
Something special happens when my National Honor Society students get together with their friends known as the King Dreamers.

This friendship started three years ago when we went to King Elementary in Des Moines to meet an amazing group of fourth graders involved in the I Have a Dream Foundation.  Through this foundation these children are given opportunities they might not have otherwise. And by developing a friendship with the Dreamers over the last three years, we have been given so many gifts from them as well.

The Dreamers came to Van Meter this week for our annual holiday party.  We shared food, played board games, created snowflakes to decorate the library, and had fun sharing holiday and music sites on the laptops.  For the last part of our party, we invited the Van Meter 5th graders to the secondary library to meet the Dreamers and have a little fun with them as well.
However, all of those activities were not what stood out to me and others who were observing the young people that day.  As I looked around the library, I saw walls that had been taken down, friendships that picked up where they had left off, and an equality that had developed between all of them over the last three years.

Laughter filled the room.  Smiles were on every face.  Voices were heard. And they were all sharing a space that fostered these wonderful relationships.

This to me is very important as an educator.  We have given these students time to grow together and learn so many things from one another.  And this is something that they none of them will ever forget.

And just imagine what it would be like if every one of our young people could take part in experiences such as this.

Just imagine what it would be like for us.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My 2011 Edublog Award Nominations

Every day I am inspired and influenced by so many in my life.  Being connected on Twitter and through other social networks, my own personal network has grown greatly over the last three years.  I have been inspired, motivated, and have become a better teacher, librarian, and person because of all of you.  

I wish I could give everyone an EduBlog is not always easy to narrow down my choices for the EduBlog Awards.  

But these are the ones that made the greatest impact on my life this more ways than one.  

Best Individual Blog....Watch. Read. Connect. from @mrschureads

Best Educational Use of Audio/Video/Visual/Podcast.....Flocabulary   @Flocabulary 

Best Twitter Hashtag #youmatter

Best Librarian/Library Blog The Daring Librarian @gwynethjones

Best School Administrator Blog... Burlington High School Principal's Blog @bhsprincipal

Best open PD/unconference/webinar series.....TL Virtual Cafe 

Lifetime Achievement.....Joyce Valenza @joycevalenza

I just want to thank all of my connections I have made.  You have made a difference in not just my life, but in the lives of my students.

And for that I am thankful.