Friday, July 26, 2019

Join VOOKS For Free & Bring Popular Storybooks To Life!

I always love learning about new books and reading platforms for our kids.  This week my friend and colleage, Melanie, shared a new one with me that she saw on Instagram called VOOKS, which brings a world of animated storybooks to your library and classroom!
As their site shares, 
Vooks brings children's books to life with animated illustrations, read-a-long text and narrated story.  The ad-free platform features a variety of titles that have been engaging students all across the world.  

And right now, as an appreciation to all teachers, VOOK is offering us a year for free!  You will find the link here, friends.

I can't wait to use this with our students this upcoming school year! 

150 Partial-Tuition Future Ready Librarian Scholarships Being Offered By Follett & ISTE...Apply Today!

I have an exciting opportunity to share, teacher librarians friends. 

ISTE, in collaboration with Follett, is accepting applications for partial-tuition scholarships for the ISTE U course “Exploring Future Ready Librarianship: Practices for the Emerging Leader.”  

150 scholarship recipients will be selected prior to the fall session, Oct. 14 through Dec. 8, 2019. 

The 15-hour, instructor-led, self-paced ISTE U course helps school librarians at every level maximize student-centered learning opportunities. 
Visit the ISTE U course page for more information or email us at

Apply here now and take your Future Ready Librarian journey to the next level this year. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Excited To Be Part Of TCEA 2020....You Can Register Now, Friends For This Amazing Conference!

Our friends at TCEA in Texas have been making some awesome announcements for their 2020 Conference coming up on...
...February 3-7, 2020 in Austin, Texas.  This is one of the BEST educational technology conferences of the year and one of my favorite too. 

Today, I am honored to share I will be coming back to the TCEA Conference as a Featured Speaker joining friends like...
...Jaime Donally, Jennifer LaGarde and many more who have been and will be announced over the next few months.  

Register for the TCEA Conference is now open and you will find the registration here

I can't wait to share my experiences, stories and expertise in libraries, educational technology, innovation, leadership and special stories of student voice with all of you.  I hope to see you in Austin, friends. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

FlipgridAR + Buncee Bookmarks = Back-to-School Fun!

I have been working on a little idea for back-to-school that I'd love to share with you! 

After creating bookmarks in Buncee for back-to-school, I thought it would be super fun to make them interactive with a message from my library partners and me! And not just any message, but a video message using the NEWEST feature in Flipgrid
 Last week, in the post, Making Reading Posters and Promotions Interactive With FlipgridAR
I shared how to add FlipgridAR, which look like a QR code, to reading promotion posters for a fun way to share what you and others within your school are reading. 
 When the FlipgridAR is scanned,
 the FlipgridAR pops up.  In this examples, you can see Isabella's video in the image above.
You can even take your fingers to make the video larger or smaller and move it around.  

I can't wait to make the Look What I Am Reading posters with all of our teachers this fall. 

But today, I am working on the Back-to-School Bookmarks in Buncee and Flipgrid....Let me show you how to do this for you and your school community too. 
I created a new Flipgrid for the teachers welcome back-to-school messages.  I am going to use these videos on our school website and an interactive bulletin board for back-to-school. 
I added the FlipgridAR code to the Buncee bookmark as an image.  You can move it around anywhere you want on the bookmark within Buncee.
I love the app smash of Flipgrid AR + Buncee Bookmarks for this....
 ...interactive bookmark project.

At Back-to-School night, you can hand out these bookmarks so students and families can scan the FlipgridAR to see your message pop up.  What an awesome way to celebrate back-to-school!

I hope you create some FlipgridAR + Buncee Bookmarks too, friends!
You can read how to create Buncee Bookmarks for Back-to-School in this post too. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Follett Book eFairs...Classroom Book Orders, Reimagined!

Our friends at Follett have an exciting announcement and an awesome new way to look at book fairs! 

In August 2019, they are kicking off a new school year and a brand new offering called Follett Book eFairs! 

Follett has taken a fresh, new look at how to improve on the solution of book fairs that schools have been using for years.  They have re-imagined the whole classroom book ordering process, making it easier and simpler for teachers, and providing new and exciting improvements that will help to ensure that they can support reading/literacy in school and at home, and get schools, classrooms and libraries an additional source of funding.
As the Follett Book eFairs site shares, 

Starting in August 2019, there’s a new way for students to shop popular titles and find stories featuring their favorite characters. Book eFairs build a connection between reading at home and reading at school. Not only will students have an easy place to shop for books, but teachers can also make recommendations for their class. Follett is making it easy to create and manage an online book fair that offers generous rewards for the classroom. For every order placed, teachers get 50% back in rewards to purchase materials for their classroom.

I couldn't me more excited about Follett Book eFairs in my role as a teacher librarian and Innovation Director of Library Media and Instructional Technology at Van Meter Community School.  
In fact, when I first heard about Follett Book eFairs, I instantly thought of several ways this ties into my role as a Future Ready Librarian
Follett Book eFairs are one way a Future Ready Librarian can collaborate with teachers as we build instructional partnerships and support literacy and reading all year long.

We will see a great range of titles available every month in Follett Book eFairs. They are offering titles from thousands of publishers.  So, just like on Follett Book Fairs, they will offer a great variety of books that kids want to read and something affordable for every parent.  
Librarians and teachers can collaborate and come up with the best recommendations together which become part of the Follett Books eFairs site. I love this part, because it not only brings us together through collaboration and readers advisory, it is a way to pull in wonderful literacy to all subjects and themes throughout the school year.
We can also connect what we do as Future Ready Librarians to design collaborative spaces and provide our students with spaces to promote community, learning, collaborative, inquiry, creativity and in this case, a community of reading.
This is where I tie in what Follett Books eFairs will mean to our new library branch program taking place within our school this fall. With four new library branches popping up around Van Meter,
this will allow us to not only collaborate, but also fill the shelves with new books through amazing...
 ...Classroom Rewards!

The generous rewards offering for the teacher is straight-forward and easy-to-understand.  Teachers will receive 50% of the sales from each eFair to spend on classroom materials in our Follett Rewards Store.  No complex points. If parents purchase $100 worth of books, the teacher has $50 to spend.  These dollars don’t expire and there is no minimum level of purchases required to earn rewards – it’s just a straight 50%.
Right now, Follett is running a librarian incentive for this program: Librarians can earn up to $5 for each teacher they refer that run an eFair between 8/1 and 12/31 -  and are eligible up to a total of $50 for 10 referrals!
Follett Book eFairs help cultivate community partnerships within the school and community to promote literacy and lifelong reading and learning.
A teacher can have their eFair up and running in just a few minutes and can offer an eFair to families multiple times throughout the school year.  

After you sign up for an eFair,
Follett provides flyers and letters to send home with students.
Plus, you can send email reminders to families through your eFair.
Teachers can easily customize their eFair.  Follett will supply a curation of about 200 books each time, but the teacher can add or remove books – and make their recommendations to families.  Teachers know their students best and can add and recommend titles that fit the needs of their classroom.    

One of the best parts of this...families purchase online – no order forms or checks for teachers to deal with.
As you learn more about Follett Book eFairs, check out the site here and remember all of the special things we will get from hosting eFairs within our school and community.

Don't forget to share your contact information and interest now, and you will earn $25 in rewards for your classroom when hosting a Follett Book eFair between 8/1/2019 and 12/31/2019. 

The Follett Book eFair must be completed by 12/31/19. Maximum of one $25 credit per teacher. To be eligible to receive your bonus rewards, you must complete the online registration form found here.

In my next post about Follett Book eFairs, I will be sharing our plan on how we are going to introduce Follett Book eFairs to our classroom teachers and specialists as we go back to school in August. I will even share a few fun tips on kicking off eFairs with families during Back-to-School Night too! 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Adam Bellow Visits Van Meter For Lots Of Learning, Creating & Connecting With BreakoutEDU Digital!

In May, my dear friend and cofounder of Breakout EDU, Adam Bellow, traveled all the way from New York to Van Meter to visit with our students, teachers and a community he has been hearing a lot about for the last 12 years of our friendship. It was such an honor having Adam here at our school and in Iowa. 
You see, our students have been using BreakoutEDU for several years but now Breakout EDU Digital is a BIG hit with our students and teachers too.
With Breakout EDU Digital, teachers can create classes and assign digital games; students can create and share digital games with peers; and teachers can build and use the digital game builder for quick assignments and assessments. 

And that is just what we have been doing at Van Meter, Adam came to join us for the day to see how we were using Breakout EDU Digital and hear from the students and teachers. He also gave us lots of incredible information and tips along the way. 
To kick off the day, he started with Kate Lamoureux and her 4th graders.  Kate uses Breakout EDU with her students often and taught them how to create their very own Breakout EDU Digital games this year. 
 They were so excited to show Adam what they created and....
 ...loved it when he tried to breakout.
 The 4th graders explained the process....
 ...and loved getting feedback on what they already created and how they could make their Breakout EDU Digital games better.
Next, we went to 5th graders where Megan Algreen and I were kicking off a new game PBL with all three sections.
In this PBL, the students were going to be working on creating either a board game with the new...
a BreakoutEDU Digital game or a combination of both.  
Before Adam came, we told them about the project, got them into groups and they chose which type of game they were going to create.
Adam taught them how to create a BreakoutEDU Digital game.
 It was awesome learning with Adam about Breakout EDU and creating games.
And it was so fun seeing the 5th graders brainstorm and collaborate as they came up with their ideas. 
Next, it was up to Abby Tibbetts room in our secondary where we visited with her freshman science class.  Abby and her students have been creating Breakout EDU Digital games so the students had a chance to show Adam and get feedback.
 He had a great conversation with Abby about this process.
While we were in Abby's room, we got a big surprise and were invited down to the green screen room where the 5th grade TAG students were completing a Breakout Room created by other TAG students at Van Meter.
Adam loved seeing that they were using one of the older version of the Breakout EDU boxes and had a fun time helping...
 ...with a little hidden code.
 After that, Adam spent time with more of the students in our elementary and enjoyed....
 ...hearing what they loved about creating their own Breakout EDU Digital games.
 We ended our school day with two more sections of 5th graders as they...
 ...worked on the game project in...
 ..Megan's room.  We couldn't wait to see what they created.
After school, Adam joined our Girls Who Code Club and shared his story.  The girls loved asking Adam lots of questions. 
I am thankful Adam came to Van Meter to share this special resource he has helped bring to education, students, teachers and community around the world.  

And I am especially thankful for his friendship and all he does to inspire me and others.  

Thank you, friend.  We can't wait to see where Breakout EDU will take us and our learning next year.