Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Design A Game With CreatED By Crayola!

There are always things that are new in education and libraries that I just can't wait to get.  I might see them online, at a conference, or a librarian or teacher friend might tell me about them. 

Well, today was one of those days....when a super special package I have been waiting for arrived!  
 It was the Design A Game, a Create-to-Learn STEAM Program from...
 ...createED, Project Based Learning by Crayola. 
A few months ago my friends at Maker Maven told me they were going to be carrying this amazing new product for all of our elementary creators. I couldn't wait to find out more.

At the Maker Maven site, you can find out more, but let me share a few things I learned today too.
Each Design A Game, contains so many wonderful resources to engage and excite every age. 
They include pencils, markers, paper cards, wet-erase cards, sticker sheets for dice, game board and more. 
Everything that your students will need to create their own game is included, which is what makes this kit stand out above the rest!
I am especially impressed with the Teacher's Guide that includes methods and planning guides on how to get started. 
We are going to be using the Design A Game kit with our kindergarten and 1st graders at Van Meter.  They will be not only creating their own games, but also designing game pieces with Tinkercad, viewing them with MERGE in the Object Viewer and printing them on the 3D printers. 

We are so thankful for the chance to bring games to our library and students.  Thank you Maker Maven and Crayola for making this possible with this amazing new kit!  

To find out more, please visit the Maker Maven site here

MERGE Teaching Resources To Inspire Your Learners!

MERGE has been inspiring our learners in amazing ways this year.  

The MERGE cubes and headsets are bringing learning to life in all kinds of ways for our students and it is very exciting to think about all of the experiences we will bring to them in the future months. 
As we plan for lots of fantastic opportunities with the MERGE cubes and headsets,  I have been spending time brainstorming and working on ideas and plans for learning, creating and collaborating between the MERGE resources, CoSpaces, Tinkercad and more. 
One of my favorite places to head is to the MERGE website, where this is a special place for librarians and other educators.
On the MERGE Educators page, I love all of the ways MERGE can transform learning including Bringing Lesson Plans to Life, 
 Bringing Lab Experiments to Life, 
Beyond Books: Immersive Discovery including the importance of bringing MERGE headsets and cubes to libraries for checkout at school and home,
and Bringing Coding and Design to Life.  
At the bottom of the page, you will find a link to Discover all of the MERGE Teaching Resources that are available. 
On this page, you can explore lots of Activity Plans that have been written by educators around the world to help all of us get started with MERGE in our libraries, classrooms and school communities.

First, you will find several for Classroom Teaching in Grades K-5.
 There are social studies, science, reading topics and more. 
Next, you will find even more that tie in Makerspace topics using CoSpaces EDU, Tinkercad and SketchFab.
These MERGE Activity Guides are awesome!  They include everything we need to use these successfully with our students too.
 I love how everything is linked, including the videos...and the Extension Ideas are so cool too!
These are the ones I am really excited about exploring as we are getting ready to kick off 3D printing with three new printers using Tinkercad and MERGE!  

If you are using MERGE in your library or classrooms, they would love to hear your ideas too. 

Let's keep thinking outside of the box with these wonderful products and experiences we are bringing to our students as we change help them change the world. 

Capstone Brings Stories With Iconic DC and Scooby-Doo Characters to Amazon Alexa for Our Readers!

Our friends at Capstone have some very exciting news!

They are bringing stories with iconic DC and Scooby-Doo characters to Amazon Alexa for families and libraries through You Choose Adventures by Capstone.  Currently the project includes 15 titles for ages 8-12, grouped into these four story bundles....
As shared in the news release, 

Families looking for children-friendly content on Alexa will experience interactive audio storytelling with fast-paced, energetic adventures featuring a cast of characters kids love.  

Titles in the reader-driven You Choose format feature action-packed, interactive stories with multiple story paths to keep children reading. With simple voice commands, Alexa users will help the Justice League™, Superman™, Batman™, and Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang foil schemes and misdeeds. With multiple endings, You Choose Adventures represent the best in immersive, educational storytelling with an interactive, audio-only experience.

"Capstone is thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. to bring such iconic DC Super Heroes and animated characters to the Alexa voice-activated platform. New listeners will be introduced to some of the world's greatest Super Heroes and current fans will discover a new venue for listening and interacting with their favorite characters," said Tom Ahern, Capstone CEO.

To begin a You Choose Adventures story, kids invoke Alexa with her name and a key phrase to open a title, and then listen for prompts in the story to vocalize their choices. For example, a user says, "Alexa, open Justice League Adventures" to start their adventure. Each story includes: dramatic character interactions, multiple story outcomes, professional voice actors, sound effects, and music for an engaging, interactive audio experience. The stories are available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and can be accessed via FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa and on Echo Dot Kids Edition

The full You Choose Adventures library on Alexa includes a collection of 50 titles, grouped into 12 story bundles, from Global Discovery and Space Exploration, to Extreme Sports and Epic History. The 12 story categories represent the best in immersive, educational storytelling with an interactive, audio-only experience. For instructions to enable You Choose stories or operate Amazon Alexa and Echo Dot Kids Edition, go to

Hitting The Road For The NCCE Conference In Seattle Next Week.....Join Me, Friends!

Next week, I have the honor of joining one of my favorite conferences of the year, NCCE!  This year it is in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center on February 26-28, 2019. 
As a NCCE Featured Speaker, I will be presenting several times kicking it off with the...
....Teacher Librarian Summit on February 26.  I will be part of the panel with my friends Todd Burelson, Mark Ray and Craig Seasholes in dialogue on current challenges, issues, needs and possibilities as teacher librarians. 
In the afternoon, I will be present The AASL Best Websites and Apps That Rocked In 2018 and... 
 ...Lead From The Library With Creative Branding and Marketing. 
On Wednesday, I will be presenting three times.  These include the Let's Bring Literacy To Life Through Making workshop,
 Frame by Frame workshop with Todd,
and You Have What It Takes To Be A Future Ready Librarian. 
On Thursday, February 28, Todd and I will be ending our time at NCCE with the Collaboration! The Librarians Greatest Superpower. 

To find a more detailed description of my presentations, you can visit my page on the NCCE site here.

I can't wait to see lots of you in Seattle to learn, connect and collaborate with one another. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bringing Our Students Art To Life With Buncee!

For the last few weeks, I have been working on one of my all-time favorite projects.  This is a project that is making such a difference in the lives of our students and one that is amplifying their creativity, ideas and most of all, their voice.

Since this project has a lot of different parts, I am going to be sharing it in a series of four blog posts, starting with this one.
 The story behind this project starts with one of our 5th graders at Van Meter, Molly.
Molly creates these amazing paper dolls that she calls Molly Dolls. You can find them on Facebook here.
When I told my dear friends at Buncee about them, and showed them the paper doll created for me to take with me when I traveled, Buncee made it into a few stickers....
....along with a few more of hers from the photo I posted too.  

As my friends at Buncee and I were talking about how special her art work is, it made us think that the paper dolls Molly creates need to be stickers within Buncee of her art work! 
In fact, Molly is very excited to announce that she is kicking off a project with Buncee called Molly Dolls that will be revealed super soon!  I will share more in post four of this series. 
The work we are doing with Molly, made us want to empower even more students to be artists within Buncee, so we are kicking off the new Buncee Student Artist Contest, which myself and a few others, including Molly, will be judging and announcing each month.  

The details for this will be shared very soon and I can't wait to tell you all about it in post three of this series. 
Last week as my friends at Buncee and I were making plans for the Buncee Student Artist Contest, I was working with our 2nd graders who are some of the BIGGEST Buncee fans and users I know.  

All of the sudden it dawned on me, 

My 2nd grade friends and teachers will be the perfect artists to help kick this off!  I would have them create art and write stories to show how all students can be empowered and inspired through projects like this, and can be given a global voice. 
I was so happy when the three 2nd grade teachers, Staci Braun, Tracy Ferguson and Megan Warwick, were excited about this project too! We would co-teach and collaborate on this one within the classrooms and library for the next few weeks. 
After we shared the project with our 2nd graders, we asked them to think of a story they wanted to share in Buncee with a sticker they would create.  They could create anything they wanted and we encouraged them to be as creative and personal as possible with the Buncee sticker they were going to draw and color.
Using card stocks, they set off to create unique, amazing, colorful and wild drawings with markers, colored pencils and crayons.
 It was really neat seeing how seriously...
...they took this process....
 ...and all of the amazing sticker drawings they....
We loved them all! 

After all three classes were finished with their sticker drawing, it was time to brainstorm and write the story that would go along with their sticker. 
We decided to tie a theme around the entire project and call it The Day Our Stickers Came To Life!  

With a theme, each student would contribute to a big collaborative global Buncee between all three classes and one that will be very special and exciting to share with others around the world. 
We used this template from Buncee to get started...
...and give them a place to draw and write their Buncee story.  
They did such a terrific job...
 ...with this process.
 Not only were their stickers incredible,
the thought, passion and voice they put into their stories was the best!
By knowing these stories were going to be about the stickers they created,
we could see the pride and excitement as they worked very hard.
As we scanned and sent the student drawings to Joel at Buncee, he created the new Student Art category and...
...turned all of the 2nd graders individual art work in Buncee stickers. 
Their stickers were definitely coming to life! 
Later in the week, something really awesome happened with Mrs. Braun's class in the library.  One of her students made a background that started Buncee thinking...

The Buncee Student Art Contest could include backgrounds too! 
 Take a look at how beautiful this background created by our 2nd grade friend is!
After we realized how neat student created backgrounds would be,
 Mrs. Ferguson and her students drew several that will become backgrounds within Buncee.

 They are very proud of these and....
 ....can't wait to use these background with....
 ...all of the stickers they made too!
These backgrounds can be found in the Student Art section of backgrounds.
There is such a variety of themes and they are all unique in their own way.
I really love this farm scene created in Mrs. Ferguson's classroom and just look at it as a....
Buncee Background.
This week, the 2nd graders will finish up their storyboard and draft so they are ready to go when their Buncee stickers are revealed to them on Thursday.  

Joel, their graphic designer who has been creating their stickers, and a few others from the Buncee team, will be joining us for this special reveal on Skype. 

They will then each create a 1 to 2 page Buncee, that will be stitched together with all of the other 2nd graders to make the story, The Day The Stickers Came To Life. 
And as you can see, others are already using their stickers and background....just like Buncee is doing here. 
I will be using this lesson for my professional teacher observation too this week, so in post two I will be sharing that lesson plan and other materials you might need. 

Thank you Buncee for always embracing wild, pie-in-the-sky type ideas!  And for giving our students a platform to share their talents, creativity, ideas and voice.  This is one project, they will never forget. It's just the best! 

We can't wait for Thursday, friends. 

Stay tuned for information on how your students can be part of the Buncee Student Artist contest too.