Friday, April 30, 2021

Bringing Learning To Life With Merge EDU For Our Kindergarteners Wanting To Know More About Frogs


I love finding innovative learning experiences that bring concepts and information to life for our learners.  

When I heard that one of our kindergarten teachers, Molly Wosmansky, and her students were learning about frogs, I thought of a learning experience that would do just that! 

I thought about Merge EDU and all of the amazing learning experiences it brings to our students and school community.  As shared on their site, Only Merge allows students to hold digital 3D objects, enabling the most engaging and enjoyable new way to learn. 
Within Merge EDU, there is a Science Simulation called...
...A Frogs Life. 
One part of this simulation is called Life Cycle of a Frog which show the metamorphosis from the time they are born to the time they become adults.  

By using our Merge Cubes, iPads and this Merge EDU science simulation, Molly's kindergarteners can hold learning in their hands while they see the life cycle of a frog close up. 
After I did a short demonstration of how Merge EDU and the simulations work with the Merge Cubes, our kindergarteners were able to partner up and go to the frog life simulation to explore. 
They loved moving through the different activities.  
Each is read to the students and then takes them into the simulation...
...where they can see the life cycle of the frog close up and in detail. 
They even figured out they could become part of this by putting their hands and even...
...their faces with the augmented reality simulation. They LOVED learning along with Merge EDU. 
It was also helpful to find A Frog's Life Activity Plan on the Merge EDU platform.  These are amazing resources and perfect to partner with the simulations. 
There are dozens of Merge EDU Science Simulations.  You can see most of them here in these images. 
As you are learning more and looking around, check out some of these too.  

You can find out more and sign up for Merge EDU here, friends. 

Sign Up Today For The 2nd Annual Virtual Summer Camp Adventure, Friends!

Friends, I am so excited to announce the 2nd Annual Virtual Summer Camp Adventure that I will be hosting with my friends at Capstone and Buncee.  

Virtual Summer Camp Adventure is a twelve-week virtual camp with six bi-weekly themes around Tales and Tails, the national summer reading campaign.  We will celebrate fairy tales, zoo animals, pets, graphic novels, sports tales and others that all readers will love.   

Each camp theme will have a special choice board filled with reading, learning, making, outside adventures, exercise, cooking and more.  

And each choice board will include 20 FREE Capstone Interactive eBooks per theme.  That is 120 FREE eBooks for summer reading. 

Buncee has also created new stickers, animations and... reading activity templates for our Virtual Summer Camp Adventure too.  

You can sign up for Virtual Summer Camp Adventure today at this link

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing materials to share with your students for our Virtual Summer Camp Adventure. This will include a letter to send home, social media graphics for marketing, bookmarks, posters and more.  

On May 31, you will receive the LIVE alert and all students and families will be able to login for the 12-week virtual event too.  

We are so excited about this special summer adventure and we hope you and your students take it with us too. 

Contact Shan

Don't Miss Out On Entering The Follett Classroom and Crayola Education Teacher Appreciation Giveaway! Enter By May 7, Friends.


Happy Friday, friends!  Last week, I shared a very special Teacher Appreciation Giveaway from our friends at Follett Classroom and Crayola Education I wanted to reach out again to remind everyone to enter by May 7, 2021 to win! 

There are four giveaways! 

There is a giveaway for elementary teachers with one teacher in grades PreK-2 and one teacher in grades 3-5, receiving a $500 Follett Titlewave gift certificate, $100 in Crayola Supplies, 30 Crayola Moved by Math Kits and 30 Crayola Writing Art-Inspired Stories Kits.  
There is also a giveaway for secondary teachers with one middle school and one high school teacher receiving a $500 Titlewave Gift Certificate and $100 in Crayola Supplies.  

How awesome is that!  All of these things will bring so many opportunities for reading, creativity, innovation and learning to any classroom.  

It is easy to enter.  Just visit this page to enter the elementary giveaway and visit this page to enter the secondary giveaway.  All entries must be in by 11:59 p.m. CT on May 7, 2021.
To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, let's tag and mention teachers we appreciate to enter this giveaway too.  And don't forget to mention why you appreciate their work.  You can include @FollettLearning and @CrayolaEducation in your post. 

Thank you to all teachers out there for everything you do to support, encourage, teach and love our young people.  You amaze me everyday! 

Good luck to everyone and enjoy celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. 

NEW Resource To Share....The Future Ready Librarians® Playbook! A Guide To Support Future Ready Librarianship


I am so excited to share a new resource with all of you. 

The Future Ready Librarians Playbook® is a guide to support Future Ready Librarianship for librarians who are new to the network or just want a quick review to help you understand FRL and how to transform your library practice, program, and profession. 

It will guide us through these topics and help us in our journey as Future Ready Librarians. 

I am so excited about this work and can't wait to see others use and share the Future Ready Librarians® Playbook too. 

You will find it here, friends. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Geography Fun Choice Board For Learning, Exploring and Traveling Around The World!

As we wrap up our year at Van Meter, we are putting together learning experiences where students can practice and sharpen the skills they learned throughout the year.  

The Geography Fun Choice Board is one of those places! 

On this choice board, I included the PebbleGo Next article about Maps and an eBook from Capstone Interactive using Capstone Connect.  You can read more about Capstone Connect and how to use it with choice board creation here

I also included two of our digital BreakoutEDU games.  There is also several places for all of our students to go to including National Geographic Kids, GeoNet, BrainPop and more. 
A favorite spot to go on this choice board will be the Virtual Field Trip Buncee which is loaded with dozens of places to travel to around the world.  You will find it here

You will find the link to this choice board here where you can make a copy to change or add your own items.  
After you have your changes made, publish it to the web and share that link with your students as shown in the image above. 

Our students love learning about different places around the world.  I hope you can use this for your students and school community too. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Look At All The Ways To Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day, Friends!

We love celebrating Poem In Your Pocket Day every year during Poetry Month.  This year it is on April 29th and we can't wait to celebrate at Van Meter with all of our students and teachers.  

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city's Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Poem in Your Pocket Day takes place every year on a day in National Poetry MonthPoem in Your Pocket Day 2021 will take place on April 29th.

Over the next couple of days, as we prepare for this wonderful day,  we will make sure that all students have a poem in their pocket to share with their classmates, friends, teachers, family and others at school and home.  
The poem can be one they create and write down on a piece of paper or card for their pocket, or one they find in a poetry book or in our basket of poems in the library.  

In this little basket, we have put lots of poems on slips of papers.  If someone needs a poem, they can just pick one out of the basket. 
I created this poster in Buncee.  You can find it here to make copies for a basket and your library or classroom too. 
On Poem In Your Pocket Day, we will give every one a sticker that reads...
...Ask me about the poem in my pocket. 
The kids are always so excited! They love sharing their poems with everyone.  
If they would like to create and write their poem virtually, Buncee has this amazing template for kids to use.  You will find it here
And this is another Buncee that can be printed off so anyone can write down their poem for their pocket.  You can find this template here.
We have a bunch of these little Buncee slips ready to go in the library and classrooms this week. 
We have also used Flipgrid in the past for students and teachers to share their poems.  In fact, that is one of the first ways we used Flipgrid back in 2014. 
This year, they can once again share their poems on the Let's Share The Poems In Our Pocket Flipgird.  

Our students, teachers and even families will be able read the poem in their pocket in this Flipgrid.  It will be so much fun for students to listen to everyone read their poem within the Flipgrid. 
We will also kick off the day with a virtual pop-in story time with Mrs. Hockenberry, our library associate, as she reads A Poem In Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara.  We love doing virtual pop-in story times on Zoom because all of our classroom and even our kids learning at home can join these special events.

As you plan for Poem In Your Pocket Day, here are a few resources to help. always share such great ideas for participating in Poem In Your Pocket Day.  This year they shared these ideas on their site and in this Poem In Your Pocket Day packet found here.

It's easy to participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day together at school and from a safe distance. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

In Your School: 

• If you’re a school principal or administrator, organize a schoolwide Poem in Your Pocket Day giveaway using the following curated collection of poems. 

• Encourage students to choose a poem from our collection, print it out, and post it in a designated area, such as the school cafeteria, hallways, or the student lounge. 

• Hold a virtual student reading of the poems they’ve selected. 

In Your Classroom: 

• Have your students choose a poem from our collection. Ask them to write a letter to a far-away friend or relative detailing what they like about the poem and why they think the recipient would enjoy it. Send the letters and poems so they arrive on Poem in Your Pocket Day. 

• Ask your students to select their favorite poem from our collection, choose their favorite lines, and add those lines to a bookmark they can decorate with drawings. Collect the bookmarks and redistribute them, letting each student pick one that’s not their own for ongoing use in class. 

• Ask your students to memorize a poem and share it with the class. 

• Have your students choose a poem to give away. Ask them to print out 20 copies of the poem and come up with a creative way to distribute it, such as in the form of a folded-paper animal or object (see the Appendix for instructions on how to create a folded swan), a decorated scroll, a poem tree, or a bookmark. 

• Devote a class lesson to teaching your students about the haiku, a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. (See the Appendix for more about the haiku.) Ask your students to write their own haikus and share them with the class by reading them aloud. Have your students decorate a copy of their haikus with drawings and stickers, then encourage them to give their poems to a family member or friend. 

• Organize a class trip for students to visit a nursing home or community center and to read and share their favorite poems.

If you are virtual here are ways to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day...

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem. 
  • Print a poem from the Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space, or use the instructions on pages 59-60 of the PDF to make an origami swan. 
  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use. 
  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
  • Add a poem to your email footer.
  • Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space. 
And you will find the packet with 30 Ways To Celebrate National Poetry Month In The Virtual Classroom here

I hope you and your school community enjoy Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I would love to hear how you are celebrating, friends.  It's one of the best days! 

Are You Thinking About Genrifying Your Library? Learn How Follett Helped Me

Genrefication is becoming more and more popular within school libraries as a way to support reading, enrich curriculum and engage all readers. 

At Van Meter Community School, my library association, Diana, and I flipped our collection almost 10 year ago.  It was a big project and one that we worked on in the summer before we went back to school in the fall.  

Diana and I worked together to research the genrification process and develop an organizational system that worked for our collection and for our teachers and students. 


First, we defined the categories we would need for our collection.  We genrified our fiction and nonfiction.  This was the hardest part because we wanted to make sure we were making the right decisions and ones that would help our students and teachers find the books they were looking for on the shelves. 

After defining the categories, we made sticky notes with those categories and arranged how we wanted them on the shelves.  

Diana and I, with the amazing help from my daughter Brianna, moved every book into the area or “book neighborhood” we thought it belonged.  We used Destiny to help us with the subject areas and other resources such as Good Reads.  It was fun to watch our newly genrified library come to life throughout the summer.  

This project took us about 8 weeks that summer, but with the help of our students using the library, we refined it throughout the entire school year. Our students gave us lots of feedback and input which was one of the most exciting parts about genrifying our collection. 


The most important thing we heard was how much they loved the way our library was organized and how easy it was to find the perfect book. Genrifiying our collection gave our students confidence in searching for books, excitement around what they found on the shelves in the different categories they were interested in; and a new found ownership over the collection since they were able to help friends and teachers find books to read too.  It was just one more reason for our students to love the library and reading. 


It proved to be just what our readers and teachers needed as we watched our circulation increase. With the new organization, our teachers could pop into the library on a daily or weekly basis to quickly find the books they needed to tie into the curriculum through lessons and read alouds.  And we heard lots of praise from the teachers on how they loved being able to help their students find books to read easier.  

One of the hurdles for us was finding enough information and resources to help with the genrefication process. Since we were one of the first school libraries to embrace genrefication, there wasn't a lot of information and help available. With a little more help and a few more resources, the genrification process would have been even smoother and perhaps a little quicker for Diana, Brianna and I. 


Have you genrified your library?  

Are you ready to take the first step in bringing genrification to your library?   Do you have a lot of questions like we had?  

Well, guess what?  

Our friends at Follett support genrefication by offering amazing services including tips, tricks, guides and best practices along with Genre Consulting Services to make sure this genre flip happens just the way you'd like....quickly and in the most efficient way.  


As Follett shares on their Genre Solutions page


If you're taking the leap, or even just considering it, Follett is here to offer our help and support. Explore these tips, suggestions, best practices, and other opportunities to make your transition to genre as smooth as possible.


  • Ship by Genre: Follett can now ship your books shelf-ready and in genre order.

You can start with Follett's Genrefication Best Practices guide. This will guide you through the process every step of the way. 

Follett also created Genre Example Lists, which are very helpful when laying out all of the different categories you may use when genrifying your collection. 


They will ship our books shelf-ready and in genre order.  We can choose from genre labels and color-coded protector labels they provide.

One thing I really love is the signage for our library that goes along with the genre labels they use in the cataloging process.  They have spine labels, shelf strips and signs that are...

..bright, fun and...

...look great on the shelves. 

If you need more help, Follett now offers Genre Consulting Services that are perfect for those who don't have the time or need a little extra guidance in this journey through genrefication.  

These services include pre-project planning and assistance with genre mapping, project management of the service deliver and much more.  

You can learn more about the Follett Genre Consulting Services here.

You will also find this Follett Case Study, Genrefication in the Library super inspiration and helpful. 

I never imagined that genrification would lead to so many changes within our library and school, but this change brought something to our readers and to our library that I would do again in a heartbeat.  It helped me create a student-centered library where our readers feel confident, excited and loved. 


And I am so happy that Follett has such wonderful and valuable resources and expertise that can support our journey in genrification too. 


You can find out more about Follett's Genre Services and Best Practices here and by contacting your local Follett representative.