Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building on the 8th Grade 9/11 Collaboration Program in 2014

We continued our September 11, 2001 collaborative program for the 2014-2015 school year! It has been a favorite of students and teachers since we first unveiled it in 2012 (for a detailed description of this common core program/ book talk click here). The success of the program centers around the story of Navy SEAL, Adam Brown. Adam grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas and attended school at the Lake Hamilton School District. He overcame many challenges in his life to become one of the most respected SEAL warriors in the United States Navy. He gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2010 while protecting our country. Our students can easily connect with Adam because he is from the Hot Springs area. They absolutely love reading the book (Fearless by Eric Blehm). We are always overjoyed to see the books fly off the shelves following this program each year!

This year we had the opportunity to connect on webcam with Lake Hamilton Junior High all day during the collaboration via Google Hangouts. Thanks to our colleague, Mrs. Shea Gregory (who previously worked with us at Lakeside and was just hired on at Lake Hamilton this summer) and Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Jill Heard. I should also add that Mrs. Gregory helped us design this program in 2012! Both worked out a schedule, so that we could give our presentation each period to Lakeside 8th grade students in our library. This was simultaneously presented to their students across town in the Lake Hamilton Junior High Library Media Center via Google Hangouts!

(Jill Heard and I tested the webcam setup prior to the event to ensure everything would work correctly- you can see her on the screen giving a thumbs up.)

On the actual day of the presentation, there were a few occasional lag problems with audio/ video, but everything went very well. Both groups of students were very engaged during each session.

We mainly used the webcam for the introduction to Fearless and the military style briefing presentation (this is were Library Assistant, Ray Borel, presented information about the many acronyms and various military information mentioned in Fearless). The second day of this program consisted of several learning stations (described here) that help students understand the events of September 11th.

We asked our students to give us feedback at the end of the program on a Google Form. One of the questions was "Tell us how you felt about the Google Hangout with Lake Hamilton Junior High." Here are some of the encouraging highlights:

"I would have liked to hear more from them. We didn't really talk to them except for when we said hi. but on the other hand I have never done that at any of my schools and would like to do it more"

"I liked it. People can finally learn and have fun with Lake Hamilton instead of being rivals... I guess the Internet brings us together."

"I thought the Google hangout with Lake Hamilton Jr. High was pretty fun, even though we didn't talk to them much it was cool to interact with people from a different school."

"I enjoyed doing the Google Hangout with Lake Hamilton! The reason why is because I have a lot of friends that go there so it was a pleasure being able to interact with them and see their faces!"

I want to thank Mrs. Mari Simmons (8th Grade English Teacher), Mrs. Meg Parker (8th Grade English Teacher), and Mr. Ray Borel (LHS Library Assistant) for supporting this collaboration! Also many thanks to Mrs. Shea Gregory (Lake Hamilton Junior High 8th Grade English Teacher) and Mrs. Jill Heard (Lake Hamilton Junior High Library Media Specialist) for giving us the opportunity to connect across town! What an honor to collaborate about Adam Brown with his Alma Mater, Lake Hamilton!

I think this was a great success! We hope to do more collaborating and connecting with other schools using Google Hangouts this school year! I think it is important that students learn to use and experience this technology in the classroom. I believe this is crucial since many of them will use a more advanced form of this technology to connect and collaborate in their future careers!

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Monday, October 6, 2014

What direction should we take our library media centers in the future? Part 1: Makerspace

I just attended two days of the Arkansas Library Association Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While there I heard a great keynote from futurist, Garry Golden.

He brought forth some important points we should all consider. One of the most important concepts I walked away with was that "libraries are destined to become social spaces and makerspaces in the next decade." I agree with this idea! Since this summer, we have been trying to master the new MakerBot 3D Printer in our high school library media center. Students (and teachers) are still experimenting with this new device.

For those of you that have never seen a 3D printer, it is essentially an open box with a print head that moves over a small platform. It uses spools of plastic (that look remarkably like what your weed eater uses) that come in different colors. The print head heats the plastic and shapes it into the form programmed into the printer.

One of our high school students helped print a geometric shape for one of our math teachers!

You can either download countless designs off of the Internet from sites such as the Thingiverse, or you can use a 3D tool to create your own files such as Google Sketchup Make. We are still learning how to use Sketchup Make, but students have created simple shapes successfully with this free software.

At the ArLA keynote, Garry stated that 3D printing will help develop the future of design and engineering. In the not so distant future, 3D printers will be everywhere. Rather than purchasing a broken part, we will be purchasing the file online to print; or we will design our own replacement part using this technology. There are already 3D printer created saxophones, prosthetic human hands, and according to the conference keynote speaker... jet engine valves!

We will continue to provide a makerspace for our learning community! I would love to see students creating artifacts that accompany concepts they are exposed to in the classroom. Imagine students printing a 3D human heart or a plant cell. The possibilities are endless! Thank you, Garry Golden, for making us all consider the future. I'll be keeping an eye on your website to see what trends are on the upcoming horizon. The school library of the future will be a wonderful reading space, makerspace, and learning space... more thoughts to come in another blog.

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