Sunday, March 31, 2019

8th Grader, Paige, Sharing The Story Of Her Grandpa With Virtual Reality, ThingLink and MERGE

Last week, we rolled out our new AR/VR program at Van Meter with over 100 new MERGE headsets and cubes.  It was an awesome day. I will share this experience and logistics of our program in the next blog post. 

At the end of the day, one of our 8th grades, Paige, came and found me asking for help.  She wanted to do a virtual reality project about her grandpa who had been in the Vietnam War. She has old photographs, letters and even a newspaper article about how he won a Purple Heart. 

After talking with Paige about her vision for the project, I suggested that we look into.... 

According to the site, ThingLink’s image interaction technology helps students become fluent in using digital media to express themselves and demonstrate their learning. With ThingLink, teachers and students can easily create interactive infographics, maps, drawings, and engaging 360 documentaries in a classroom setting, at home, or on field trips.

ThingLink is one of my favorite digital tools and apps. I have used ThingLink a lot with students, but never have used 360 images in the virtual reality mode.  I recently learned about this and was excited to give it a try, learning along with Paige. 
She took the idea home, along with a few pointers and ideas, and created an awesome project sharing the story about her grandpa using ThingLink. 

You can use your curser in this post to look around Paige's ThingLink.  Paige's project here, at this link too.  
When you click on the different numbers, you will see that she added all of the various artifacts she had collected about his time in Vietnam.  I love how she included a letter to her grandmother, 
a photograph of him, 
a newspaper article and a few other things. It meant a lot to her to be able to put this digital story together using ThingLink. 
Later that day, Paige and her classmates got together to share their projects.  She had checked out MERGE headsets from the library and had them all ready to go for them to put on to view her ThingLink project. 
It was so neat seeing Paige present her story in such a special way.  
Paige shared, 

I felt that this project really helped me to express my creativity, MERGE headsets were a super cool and fun way that I was able to present my project. I felt very excited while creating this project because no one I know has done this before. Overall it was fun to make and MERGE was a great way to have my classmates stay interested and interact with my project. 

Way to go, Paige!  I can't wait to see what you do next with this and other augmented and virtual reality experiences and projects.  And I can't wait for you to teach others at Van Meter about using ThinkLink and virtual reality too. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Future Ready Schools® Leadership Institutes 2019 Are Announced!

The Future Ready Schools® Leadership Institutes 2019 will kick off again this fall and we can't wait to share these special events with all of you. 

As the site shares, 

Future Ready Schools® (FRS) Leadership Institutes are FREE two-day professional learning events designed to support district teams of 3 to 9 people in creating policies, procedures, and practices that empower them to transform teaching and learning in their school and/or district.

The leadership institutes will inspire, invigorate, and inform district teams with a wealth of information and resources that will support their Future Ready efforts. District teams will collaborate to build regional networks of like-minded colleagues, generate feedback on practice, articulate actionable next steps, and identify resources to take their learner-centered strategies to the next level. 

Attendees will leave the leadership institute with a better understanding of: “Equity of opportunities” in the context of digital transformation, the FRS framework and free resources as essential components of a successful digital conversion, strategies to articulate a vision for student-centered learning. building capacity across each FRS strand to change the culture, increase collaborative leadership, develop a district/schoolwide program, and create a vision for digital transformation in your school or district. 
Last month, the Future Ready School team got together in Washington DC to plan the agenda for our institutes and it is going to be an awesome event for all groups involved.  
There will be 6 FRL Institutes.  You will find this information and links to register at each one of these events here

We hope that you join us for one of our Future Ready Schools® Leadership Institutes in 2019.  It is going to be awesome! 

Mr. Penguin and The Lost Treasure....There's A New Penguin On The Block!

There is a new character coming onto the book scene!  It is Mr. Penguin and I can't wait to tell you all about him and this wonderful new book from Alex T. Smith. 

Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith is one that I have been waiting for as it ties in...

...a character with lots of personality, antics and worries with...
... amazing two-toned color illustrations in a chapter book format.
As you read Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure, you will find that he is definitely out looking for an adventure and just then it happened!  Boudicca Bones from the Museum of Extraordinary Objects calls for help!  

As the release states, 

They call to find help you her great great great grandfather's buried treasure that was hidden in the museum, Mr. Penguin springs into action.  Can he and his kung fu-ling silent sidekick Colin the Spider find the missing treasure before bandits do, or is this a quest Mr. Penguin should never have taken. 

Full of adventure, mystery and plenty of fun, this page-turning story will thrill reluctant and transitioning readers looking for fun. 

Not only did I think the book was fantastic as it was sprinkled with adventure, humor and mystery. 

I can't wait for so many of our students to read this book, but first...
 There is a cute little Mr. Penguin Activity Packet that you can download from the Peachtree site here.
To top off the surprise and thanks to this amazing group....Even if you are not a librarian, please enter this contest where you can win a book giveaway from Peachtree Publishing Company.  To enter, please email me at with the subject line, Mr. Penguin! 

Good luck and think....Flipgrid, MERGE and a whole lot of fun! 

And have fun Mr. Pengiun as you make your big debut.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Don't Miss The Des Moines Book Festival On March 30, 2019!

There is something super exciting coming to Downtown Des Moines this Saturday on March 30, 2019 from 10:00am to 7:00pm.

It is the DSM Book Festival and it is a day filled with authors, storytelling, kids activities, workshops, music and entertainment, food and drink, and a whole lot of fun!
This amazing literacy event is brought to us by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and lots of wonderful sponsors.  
You can read more about this special day at the DSM Book Festival website here.  

I hope you take a bit of time to visit the DSM Book Festival this Saturday too.  I know that I can't wait to hear about the authors who are there and the events that are going to take place to celebrate literacy with kids, families and communities alike.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Collection by Destiny & Symbaloo Full of Resources For Poetry Month!

April is Poetry of the best times of the year for libraries, classroom, students, writing, sharing, creating and fun!  

In just a few days, I will be announcing a very special Global Poetry Project with lots of friends from around the world.  As you get ready for this announcement and Poetry Month, please check out the wonderful resources and share them with your students, teachers and community too. 
I have put together the Poetry, Poetry, Poetry Symbaloo that we will start sharing with our community this week and throughout the month of April.
This Symbaloo is part of the Van Meter School Poetry, Poetry, Poetry Collection by Destiny, which contains lots of resources for both our students and teachers.  Our Collection even contains books and eBooks, which is one of my favorite resources to bring into Collections. 
And here is a public Poetry, Poetry, Poetry Collection by Destiny, that all of you can use or even make a copy too.
Don't miss checking out all of these wonderful poetry books that are part of the Poetry Month Titlewave List that our friends at Follett put together for us.  There were so many that I enjoyed reading about and added to my library list for Poetry Month. 
Please let me know if you would like to collaborate and add things to the Collection.  Or just drop me a note and I can add them as well. 

Happy Poetry Month, friends.  I can't wait to see how you and your students celebrate and all the poetry that you create too! 

A Stamp & Place For A Quick Write During Our Skype In The Classroom Events!

We use Skype in the Classroom often at our school.

We Skype with authors, illustrators, experts of all kinds, and other classrooms and libraries full of kids, librarians and teachers from around the world. In fact, this week as we go back to school from being on spring break, we have a Mystery Skype with our 3rd graders; a Skype with author Doreen Cronin and our 2nd graders; a Skype with our first graders and the zoo in Toledo, Ohio; and a few others.

During these special virtual events, I like to remind our students to think about questions, comments or even things they are thinking about during the Skype.
In a recent Skype after giving each one of the kids a sticky note, I thought....

Why not make a stamp to add to the top of each sticky note that reminds them, This is what I was thinking during our Skype. 
So, I went to Amazon where I have found personalized stamps very reasonably priced before and ordered one that said,
This is what I was thinking during our Skype. 
Now, as we get ready for all of these Skype's this week and throughout the year, we can quickly stamp, or have the kids stamp, at the top of the sticky note to give them the perfect place for a little quick write of reflections and questions during these amazing events.  

I can't wait to see how this will liven up our conversations and make our Skype in the Classroom events even more engaging and meaningful.  I will be sure to let all of you how it goes too! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Introducing Follett MyDestiny!

Earlier this month, Follett made a very exciting announcement that will adapt to the needs of every student as they introduced Follett MyDestiny

Follett MyDestiny combines a library of over 40,000 eBooks from a variety of publishers and more than 750,000 open educational resources with artificial intelligence to meet our students where they are, and take them to a place where they can reach their potential and thrive. 

As shared in the Follett press release, MyDestiny leverages machine-learning capabilities to allow users to easily locate recommended content, all aligned to national and individual state standards. 

MyDestiny is a powerful platform that can adapt to the needs of every student, connecting them 24/7 with a repository of relevant and vetted content,” said Nader Qaimari, president, Follett School Solutions. “As student learning continues to evolve, they need access to engaging materials that help enhance their understanding, boost their motivation, and allow them to study more efficiently.

MyDestiny is also a powerful tool for teachers as it allows them to build effective and engaging lesson within minutes, giving them valuable time to interact and support their students.  Teachers can address students' needs immediately and track their comprehension and growth, making a difference in every classroom and school community. 
You can learn more about MyDestiny in this video and by visiting...

Sign Up To Celebrate Children's Book Week 100th Anniversary, April 29-May 5, 2019!

One of my most favorite weeks of the year as a librarian and lover of all books, especially picture books, is Children's Book Week.  

And this year is a very special one as it is the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with the theme being Read Now. Read Forever. - looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.

As the site shares, 

Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes — wherever young readers and books connect!

The best part, we can all celebrate Children's Book Week in our communities too!
 On the Every Child A Reader site, you will find the page for this special week
It contains everything you need, plus so much more to use throughout the year as we celebrate children's books and reading all around. 
Under Media Tools you will find logos and more to promote 2019 Children's Book Week and Book Awards.
 I love the cool badge they have that gives us a voice in being a Children's Book Week Champion.
 I downloaded this to add to my blog and posts.
They also have the very special Social Media Book Week 100 Campaign to go along with the 100th Year Celebration.  By following #TheHero, you will be able to join the conversation and celebration of favorite books and stories throughout the year. 
Under Fun Stuff, there are lots...
 ... of bookmarks, activities, posters and more that we can download.
 I love the Collaborative Poster that will be...
 ...filled with different posters by illustrators throughout the year.  There are two already and many....
 ....more to come. 
They can also be downloaded individually for us to use for our celebrations.
 And bookmarks coming by the illustrators too.
 If you click on For Schools, 
 you will find contests, resources, activity pages and more.
These are always perfect to use in the library and classrooms for Children's Book Week. 
On the Event Locations page, you will find all of the places that are celebrating and can sign up for your community to be part of this special week as well.  

I was excited to see our school, Van Meter Community School, on the map. We hope to connect with a lot of you as we celebrate in our community. 

A Collection of Fonts & Lettering For Almost Anything!

My daughter Brianna and I love creating cool newsletters, flyers, posters, graphics for blog post, letter heads, social media posts...basically about anything tied to graphic design, branding and marketing, we love creating! 

When we work on these things, we like and use a lot of the different fonts that are included in digital tools, apps and presentation tools, but we really like to go to other sites to find fonts and lettering that really makes the things we create stand out and grab the attention of the readers and audience. 
For example, when my teacher librarian partner, Jessica, and I put together the Van Meter Spring Break Smore that we sent out to families and students last week, I wanted to find a font that was fun and really stood out within the newsletter. 
I went to one of my favorite font sites, Font Meme, 3D Fonts, and looked for the perfect one. As you can see, there are a lot of really fun ones to choose from.  
When Brianna and I were working on some Makerspace ideas around gaming in libraries, we went to Textcraft to create these cool Minecraft looking letters for the title of the work. 
And we certainly can't miss another from Font Meme called Graffiti Fonts! We love finding all of these awesome graffiti fonts and being able to change the color too! 

We not only enjoy using these font and lettering sites ourselves, we also love sharing them with others.  My students at Van Meter really enjoy being able to make their projects and presentations extra special and teachers & librarians love being able to make their work stand out even more too. 
To share our favorites and lots more with all of you, we brought them together in a new Collection by Destiny. You can find the Fonts and Lettering Collection here.  

Please feel free to ask to be a collaborator in this Collection or share sites that should be included in this Collection too.  And let us know what other sites you use and we will add them to the Collection too.
Thank you for joining Brianna and I for another post on our blog, Our Voice in Learning.  We love learning alongside all of you.