Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Recent Graduate Shares Her Library Story

Check Out This Blog's Table of Contents Here

I remember Anna from the 2013-2014 school year. She would frequently come in the library during lunch free flow times. I recall that we were required to have students stay in the library during lunch until the bell rang to cut down on unsupervised traffic in the halls. One particular day, Anna expressed her feelings about this rule in a very rude way to two of our library staff. (That year, it was Mrs. Misti Bell and Mrs. Peggy Schaeffer). For some reason, I wasn't there at that particular time. (I had been called to a classroom to help with a tech issue most likely.) When I returned, both of them let me know about Anna's outburst.

It would have been very easy to ignore Anna from this point on. Instead, I thought I would just be honest with her when the opportunity presented itself. One day, I caught her in the hall between classes, and I called her over. Instead of reprimanding her in a forceful way, I decided to tell her I had heard something about her. She was probably assuming it was something positive. I remember telling her that I was disappointed in how she handled her complaint with our library personnel, especially since we all work hard to continuously serve students. I also explained that the rule to keep students in the library was to keep them safe since we are all responsible for them. I told her I wish that she had found a more respectful way to complain.

At that moment, I remember wondering how she would receive this. It could have gone bad.  It turned out that Anna was ready to receive the message. That day she went and apologized to Misti and Peggy. Anna changed at that moment. In fact, this led to more than two years of her becoming a worker and leader in the library. Anna was one of our first students to Skype and read to younger students in other states for the World Read Aloud Day and Read Across America events in the 2015-2016 school year. I also shared her transformative story at the MIE Expert US Form in Denver during June 2016. It still inspires me to this day to think that had I not reached out to her, she might have never formed the stronger relationship with our library team. Furthermore, she had to reach out to us to become more involved. The event worked both ways.

Anna came by to share her essay!

Anna still comes to visit us in the library even though she has graduated and is currently attending college. I had a special surprise this week when she dropped by to deliver an essay she had written about this important event. She didn't have to write this for me, especially after being out of high school for six months! I was so excited about her sharing her thoughts in the following essay that I wanted to share it here on the blog.

How Apologies Form Relationships

by Anna Lear

     How apologies form relationships these are words right? Wrong! These words mean what they sound like. This story could change your life or change your perspective on life. We all have something that changed our life, so I want to tell you a story about how two words changed my life. When I was in tenth grade I never thought how two words could change a lot of things. It was lunch time and I went to the library to just print out a paper. There was a rule at the time that you had to stay in the library if you went in there. I thought that rule was stupid so I was mad and took it out on two sweet librarians. Let's just say what I said wasn't the best thing to say and it hurt them. Later that day I knew what I said was very wrong, so I went and apologized to them. I know that just saying I'm sorry wouldn't change a lot well that's what I thought. After I apologized to them they were very forgiving and we gave each other a hug. That day changed my life. I was in the library everyday either to hangout and talk or to help them out with stuff. I was in there every morning before class and every lunch time. They were my favorite people to talk to everyday they always had the right advice for everything I asked. If I never apologized I would have never had the bond I have now with them. I had the opportunity to do a lot of things at the library. Getting the opportunity to Skype with other states was amazing. Also getting to help with The Great Gatsby collaboration was awesome too. They made the best three years of high school the best it could be. I wake up everyday and wonder what would it have been like if I hadn't said those two words: "I'm sorry". Mr. Evans, Mrs. Schaeffer, Mrs. Bell, and Mr. Borel were not only the best librarians but they are the best friends anybody could ask for. I learned so many things from them. So when people tell you that saying I'm sorry doesn't solve anything well trust me when I tell you that if forms a stronger relationship than people might think.


In the past, I have given up on many students that have been rude or haven't responded in the way I thought they should. Years of being around people have taught me that we never know what students (or adults) are dealing with outside of school. This doesn't mean that disrespect is ever an acceptable behavior. I have learned not to give up on students so easily. Each young person is a special individual full of potential. Often it is necessary to dig a bit deeper to find out what their interests might be so we can better connect with them. At times we have to listen to what they need to say. Sometimes we might be the only adult that is listening to them at school (or anywhere else).

Anna read to students in Iowa during her senior year

Anna's story is special to me because she transformed and became a strong part of our library program through this interaction several years ago. After connecting to young students in Texas and Iowa via Skype during senior year, I remember she told me one day she wanted to become a teacher. This wasn't because of our library program, she was taking an introductory education course at our school. We were able to give her an additional experience that supported that decision to explore teaching by connecting her to a larger world via the Internet. I also recall that she participated in a library Twitter education chat one evening during her senior year. All of these experiences added to her future educator "toolbelt".

There are learners like Anna in all school buildings across the world.  I hope that we all take the time to look for them. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to connect and engage students than in the school library. Let's all keep searching for these young people. When we find them, let's never give up on them! We never know how we might be able to help them grow into future leaders. It is truly wonderful that we have the ability to connect people, information, and technology in the library! Thank you, Anna, for enriching the Lakeside High School Library!

How Our Students Are Taking The Lead With Minecraft.

How We Fearlessly Flew Out of the Library Box with Fearless by Eric Blehm

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fearlessly Flying Outside Of The Library Box

How Fearless Changed Everything

In 2012, I learned about the book Fearless by Eric Blehm. The book shares about the life of Adam Brown, a Hot Springs resident and Lake Hamilton High School graduate. Brown overcame great obstacles to become a Navy SEAL. He gave his life while serving our country in 2010. Our 8th-grade English teachers asked me to read the book as part of their Common Core unit, "It Happened in the City". Students had been defining hero and who might be a hero. 

Rather than simply conducting a traditional book talk, we decided to present the book as a military briefing. LHS Library Assistant Ray Borel and I were serving in the Arkansas Army National Guard at the time, so we decided to but on our uniforms to make the session more realistic to students. The response was overwhelmingly positive from both students and teachers. The program actually inspired a series of similar collaborations in grades 8-12 that continue to evolve at our school 4 years later.

The Fearless collaboration changes each year. To illustrate this, I would like to share the evolution of the program in 2016.

Fearless Year 5 Changes

Day 1

The first day featured a book talk in the form of a military briefing. Mr. Ray Borel has presented this session since we started it.

He shares military information and acronyms mentioned in the book. In addition, he reminds learners about the importance of recognizing the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. Please, take a moment to view my Facebook Live video excerpt below.

Day 2

Our second day has many activities for learners to experience. We have stations set up around the library to immerse the students in the content:

Station 1- Video of a Veteran's Day speech by President Ronald Reagan.

Station 2- Military gear station that allowed learners to try on various field gear.

Station 3- Music video of "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson

Station 4- Thank you card area that allowed students to write to Veterans.

Station 5- Video about Adam Borel and his experiences in the Arkansas Army National Guard

Please, watch my Facebook Live walkthrough video below.

Day 3

Hot Springs Fire Department

Ray Borel suggested that we invite local agencies to bring military and emergency vehicles on the third day of the program. We knew this would help make the experiences of the first two days more real to our learners. We started contacting local agencies about a month prior to the event. We were able to get volunteers and vehicles from the Arkansas Army National Guard, Hot Springs Police Department, Hot Springs Fire Department, and Air Evac Life Team. We are grateful to all these agencies for participating and making it a great day for our students!

The ambulance from the Arkansas Army National Guard

The Hot Springs Police S.W.A.T. armored vehicle

Air Evac Life Team helicopter

We were also able to present art projects to members of the local Army National Guard that the students of Mr. Darrell Davis and Mrs. Cathy Pierce produced. These two pieces were created last year as part of the Arkansas Declaration of Learning. (I'll write more about this national project in the future.)

Arkansas Declaration of Learning art project presentation

The students loved the SWAT armored vehicle and the helicopter from the Air Evac Life Team. It was a perfect ending to this program.

Special thanks to Ray for suggesting the addition of the vehicles. Thanks to Kaitlyn Price for suggesting the thank you card station. Thank you to Peggy Schaeffer for working on the media and setup of the library each day. Special thanks to Mari Simmons (English teacher) and Meg Parker (English teacher)  for going on this journey with us each year. Thank you to Mr. Darin Landry (LHS Principal) and our entire administration for consistently encouraging us to think outside of the norm for our learners.

Take a look at our third day of activities in my Facebook Live video excerpt below:

Student Feedback

Mrs. Simmons created a Google Form to survey the students so we could learn more about what they liked and what improvements might be needed. Below are some highlights:

The video: It made me realize that there is a lot more to serving our country than what we realize.
(Thank you) cards: I get to "talk" to a veteran and tell them how much we appreciate them.
Military gear: They have to carry a lot of weight on their shoulders and eat food that is not necessarily "cooked"

It was cool and fun. It was a nice change. We got to learn how each machine works and what the people that use them do... it was a nice learning experience.

The video about the Twin Towers was really touching. The thank you card was fun and I think it will mean a lot to the people that will receive them. Both of the videos we watched meant a lot to me and they were really interesting. Last, it was really cool looking and learning about all the stuff the soldiers use.

The stations were very informational, and I appreciate the time and effort put into making them. I really took away from the stations to be thankful and be respectful, and it makes me feel good to be respectful and grateful.

Next Steps

After exploring this method of immersing students in content for 4 years, I still feel we have only just started to see the impact of this type of learning. It has been interesting to see upperclassmen come in the library when they see us wearing camouflage uniforms and exclaim "you guys are doing Fearless today! I remember that!" Many upperclassmen noticed the new parts of the program and wondered why we didn't include them when they were in 8th grade. It was good to see the older students still thought the program was special years later. This also allowed us to share with them that the event is in a constant state of improvement.

We will continue working to "fearlessly fly outside of the library box" to reach our learners in new ways. I can't wait to see what happens next!

How Our Students Are Taking The Lead With Minecraft.

How Our Students Presented Library Innovation Spaces.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Students Take The Lead With Minecraft

I learned about Minecraft while attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Forum in Denver this past summer. Earlier this year, I wrote about a few of our students that had shared their Minecraft skills in the library during the summer. We were all amazed at their passion and creativity during summer school classes.

I. Jared and Shawn (Library Build)

Lakeside Freshmen, Jared and Shawn, indicated they had an interest in Minecraft while I visited with them in summer school classes. I decided to let them use my Microsoft Surface to show me what they could do with Minecraft Education Edition. The two worked together and built the high school library in the digital environment. They enjoyed the process so much, they came to library during their off days from summer school. Over the days, they added electrical wiring and lighting in the library rooms. I made sure to show their work to teachers and administrators that visited the library. Everyone was amazed at the two summer school learners. Mr. Mathew Thornton, Assistant Principal, arranged a time for the two to present Minecraft to the entire faculty during summer professional development days. A few of the teachers are now allowing students to use Minecraft as a tool for digital projects! Jared and Shawn brought change to our school! The video link below shows our Facebook live walk through of their library build in Minecraft.

II. Hayden (Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Build)

Hayden is a junior at our school. He worked with another junior, Nathan, to create a Breakout EDU puzzle for our history department back in the summer. Nathan asked Hayden to create a Minecraft puzzle as part of the Breakout EDU game. It was a brilliant way to introduce Minecraft to the history teachers. In order to complete that particular portion of the puzzle, teachers had to learn to navigate around the ship and the colony Hayden had designed. In the video below, he describes how creating such a world in Minecraft has changed his thinking and the learning that took place.

III. Jordan (Alnwick Castle Build)

Jordan is an 8th grader at Lakeside. He has recently talked to me about his enjoyment of Minecraft. Jordan said he had studied the Alnwick Castle in Scotland and had built a smaller version of it in Minecraft. I asked him to bring it to school and show me. A few mornings later, Jordan brought his computer and showed me the castle before school. I was very excited by his passion for the program. I decided to send a Tweet with a photo attachment of his work to Stephen Reid (@ImmersiveMind) in Scotland. Stephen travels around the world sharing about how to use Minecraft in the classroom. We were excited to get a very positive response from Stephen just moments later. Stephen even explained the correct pronunciation of the word Alnwick to us via Twitter.

In the video link below, Jordan provides a tour of his digital castle. He explains that he used information from Wikipedia. I think this shows the importance of the school librarian in such projects. While Wikipedia might have been ok, if Jordan had come to me first, I could have showed him a range of credible sources like Britannica School, World Book online, and books in our library. Librarians can consult with learners and help them find a variety of credible sources (both print and electronic) for their research. We can also connect students to individuals (such as Stephen Reid in Jordan's example) that can give credible information from their perspectives and experiences.

Next Steps

I have been brainstorming ways to share student voice this year. I am very proud of all the learners involved in each of the examples above because they took risks. Jared and Shawn presented in front of a large group of faculty at our school and they allowed me to use Facebook Live to share their work. Hayden and Jordan created these videos for me to specifically share on this blog. I have explained to each of them that products like this can inspire others to bring change to their schools.  I will continue to encourage each of these students to keep learning and creating in Minecraft.

There is a much deeper learning that takes place when students have to create such buildings and places. Hayden described to me that he had to "put himself in the place of the people that were there." This requires using prior knowledge in a much different way. I want to help provide more opportunities for our learners to create such products across the curriculum and share some of them on my blog. This is only the beginning of the adventure to empower our learners.

How Our Students Presented Library Innovation Spaces.

Are We Future Ready Librarians?

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

How Our Students Presented Library Innovation Spaces

I'm very excited to have Kaitlyn Price (@Kait_Price11), LHS Teacher Librarian, join me in this article about our recent adventures. We will share how our journey helped us learn that there are students in the library (and everywhere else in the school) that are just waiting to have to have their voices heard. These events truly changed our thinking.

Dawson Education Cooperative Visit (Stony)

We had an opportunity to host a training for teacher librarians in our area through the Dawson Education Cooperative. We were asked to show our newly renovated library facility, teach Breakout EDU, and show our innovation spaces. The schedule was as follows:

9:00           Welcome, introductions, and library tour
9:30           Breakout EDU puzzles
10:30-10:40 Break
10:45          Breakout EDU Discussion and Breakout EDU Digital
11:00          Skype, Mystery Skype, and Skype Translator
11:30          Makerspace resources
11:55          Students share Makerspace projects
12:15-12:50 Lunch in the library and debrief
12:55-1:20   Students share Minecraft EDU and Coding
1:30            Wrap up and depart

The librarians seemed to really enjoy navigating through our Breakout EDU puzzles. Most of them had no prior experience with the activity. There were approximately 40 attendees. We decided to set up 2 boxes in each of our two large library facilities, and we divided everyone into four groups. It took participants about an hour to complete the session.

Following this, we shared about how we are using Skype and Mystery Skype to connect our learners. In addition, we demonstrated Skype Translator through a video of a previous connection with my educator friend (and MIEExpert) in Spain, Angels Soriano.

A Powerful Minecraft Presentation (Stony)

After these sessions, Kaitlyn presented about our many new makerspace resources. Kaitlyn invited one of our sophomore students, Krystyna, to present about Minecraft. I was very inspired by the excitement that Krystyna projected while she was presenting. Everyone was very interested in her demonstration and description of Minecraft.

Following the presentation, the group discussed the events of the day and departed. Afterward, Kaitlyn and I decided to give our learners more of a voice in another upcoming presentation. We had already been contacted by the South Central Service Cooperative about a library visit and similar sessions.

South Central Service Cooperative Visit (Kaitlyn)

Throughout the week, I spoke with students about the possibility of presenting makerspace items to our visitors. The students were thrilled. As the day approached, there were 10 students preparing their skill (and nerves) to present to the South Central Cooperative. The students would be presenting things such as Spheros, many types of robots, Google cardboard, 3d printing, SketchUp, Minecraft, and jewelry making. There were 10 attendees total made up of library media specialists and employees of the cooperative.

Students Take the Mic (Kaitlyn)

The students took turns presenting their material. Krystyna presented first. She is a 10th grade student that loves all things robotics. She demonstrated how the Ozobots and Robotics Smart Machines work. Krystyna had spent a lot of time working with and coding these robots. These two things are part of our school Makerspace. Krystyna also brought some things of her own. She brought a Meccano Meccanoid robot, a Mip, and Google cardboards. Krystyna allowed our guests to take turns using each item after her presentation.

Next to present was a junior, Rayne. She designs, creates, and sells her own jewelry. Our guests were impressed with how intricate Rayne’s designs were. A lot of time goes into the making of these pieces. She began explaining that she was not yet allowed to have a job so she does this in order to have some spending money. Our guests were impressed with her entrepreneurship. Rayne was not aiming to make sells on this day, but before she knew it, they were making purchases and sharing on social media about her art.

After those two presentations, it was time for our lunch. We sat together and had nice conversations about the importance of student voice and empowerment. We discussed why the students presenting this material was more powerful than if I had presented it.

Then, once 8th-9th grade lunch began, our next student presenters were ready!

First, we had a group of 4 boys made up of sophomores and juniors. These 4 boys are in EAST class and are advanced when it comes to 3D printing. They presented on the possibility of scanning items using ScanIt and then printing a model of that item in 3D. Our guests were very impressed with them and asked many questions. These same boys have since presented the same information to our 8th and 9th grade students.

An 8th grade student, Ryane also presented another 3D printing program, SketchUp. With SketchUp, the operator can design and create their own image to print in 3D.

Jarod and Shawn took the mic next. They confidently showed Minecraft and discussed all of the classroom possibilities. They spoke about how Minecraft could be tied to the curriculum and gave examples for each subject area.

To finish up, another 8th grade student, Dawson demonstrated how to use a Sphero. Dawson took the initiative to form a Sphero club, and all members meet 3 days a week at lunch in the library makerspace area. Many of our guests already had Spheros but had yet to use them.

Future Possibilities

After experiencing these student successes, Kaitlyn and I want to provide more opportunities in the library for our learners to share. I want to thank our friends Tonia MacMillan (Dawson Education Cooperative) and Anna Warriner (South Central Service Cooperative) for reaching out to visit. The visiting teams of educators inspired our students and changed us forever! We are already working on several new ideas that include student voice, and we will write about these soon. It's time we all find ways to help students have their voices heard.

How 6 Picture Frames Made a Difference in the Library.

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Follow Kaitlyn: @Kait_Price11