Monday, May 26, 2014

Google Hangout For Our Last Book Club Meeting!

Brian Johnson is the Library Media Specialist at Lakeside Junior High School in Springdale, Arkansas. We have wanted to collaborate for quite some time and finally made it happen this past Friday, May 23rd. Two of my students had recently led 2 wonderful book club meetings on Veronica Roth's Divergent over the past several weeks. Brian and I decided to bring our libraries together on a Google Hangout during our final book club meeting and allow our students to visit using this great method of communication! We wanted to make it a student led session.

If you aren't familiar with Google Hangouts, click here. It is much like Skype. At a minimum you will need a webcam, microphone, and Google account. I learned about it this past year at one of our local (Dawson) Educational Coop Technology Coach trainings.

We decided to meet two days before the actual book club meeting to test all our equipment. We ran into some bumps, so I'm glad we did the test session.  We didn't successfully connect during the first test session, so we rescheduled another test session the day before the book club. After I reinstalled my web camera and connected the audio out through the library ceiling speakers, everything worked! You can see Brian on the screen in the photo below. We were having a lunch celebration for all our book club members and student library assistants, so they all got to see the test session. I introduced Brian to the students, and we were all extremely excited about the upcoming Google Hangout book club session!

The big day arrived, and everything worked perfectly. My two 9th grade book club leaders took over and did a great job. I think both sides were a little shy at first, but it improved quickly as they got used to the interactive web cam environment. Brian and I would jump in when needed. Several students interacted from both schools during the session!

The photo above is one of the Springdale students answering one of the discussion questions. I ran the webcam video through the LCD projector in the library so all the book club members could easily see what what was going on. The audio came through our ceiling speakers and worked quite well. What a great experience for all the students!

The photo below is what the students from Springdale saw in their library. Brian posted this on social media! 

We hope to do more of these meetings next year. Brian named these meetings "Lakeside Squared", since both of our schools share that name (even though our Lakeside is in Hot Springs- a mere 200 miles south of Springdale Lakeside).

I think we have tapped into a wonderful communication/ collaboration tool for not only our libraries but for class projects, too. My mind is already beginning to race with ideas for the upcoming school year! As your school year is winding down, consider experimenting with this technology over the summer and consider ways to incorporate it into learning activities for 2014-2015.

This is clearly an important method of communication and collaboration for all 21st century learners! One thing is certain, the world now seems a lot smaller for the students (and Library Media Specialists) of both schools carrying the name Lakeside.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Dust Bowl Collaborative Event (8th Grade)

One of our big collaborative project events during the first semester is centered around the Dust Bowl Era. 8th Grade English classes read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. To help make this period come to life for students, we started this as a one day project in 2012 and continued it in 2013 (as a two day event). We had a table with dishes set up in the library with dirt all over the top. We also had signs and posters from the period (Coca-Cola, Grapette, other various advertisements).

Pictured from left to right: Stony Evans (LMS), Ray Borel (Library Assistant), Mari Simmons (8th English), Shea Gregory (8th English).

As a change for 2013, we decided to create an introductory skit using iMovie. We dressed and acted as characters (farmers) from the book. Here is the video:

If you can't see the video link above try this:

We also dressed as these characters for the first day of the event. We had 5 different learning "stations" set up in the library media center. Students rotated through the stations in timed sessions and recorded their thoughts/ reflections and answered questions.

Station 1: Dust Bowl Blues- Song by Woody Guthrie with a video playing on the screen. The video featured pictures from the Dust Bowl.

Station 2: iPad Video of film footage from the 1930's. 

Station 3: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech after his tour of the Dust Bowl region. This was delivered on a computer, but we set up a mock up of a radio from the 1930's so students could get a glimpse of technology from the period.

Station 4: Slide Show of various images from the era.

Station 5: A Dust Bowl "wind tunnel" was created with sound and visual effects for students to travel through on their way to the computer lab connected to the library. Once in the lab, students had a Webquest about the Dust Bowl. The Webquest was linked to Edmodo for easy access.

As a follow-up to the Dust Bowl event, students completed a brief evaluation that was added as a link to Edmodo. The evaluation was a Google Form. It was easy for the teachers and library media specialists to analyze the feedback to improve future projects.

Go here to see how we improved this collaboration by adding food and science!

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