Friday, March 31, 2017

Trying Something New

This is my eleventh year at SCC. After being here for so long, I wanted to mix this year up a bit. My goal for my 5th grade class was to do everything brand new. I would still teach the same skills and content, but I would try to create new ways of explaining and new activities for students to participate in. As you can imagine, sometimes this worked great and sometimes it was a totally flop.

This week it's been one of those in-between times.

I heard about this new tool called Symbaloo Lessonplans where you can make a game board using Symbaloos tile program that would allow students to "play" through content at their own pace. This sounded great! I could put a bunch of things I wanted the students to learn in this game board and they could go to it. I made it extra difficult for myself because I decided I wanted as many different kinds of tiles in my game board as I could get -- text with questions, Quizziz, EduPuzzle, YouTube video, a "look at this website and tell me a thing" problem, outside practice websites using Flash. This was going to be every tool I've been wanting to try all in one lesson plan.

Good Things!

  • Students liked being able to work at their own pace.
  • Having the ability to embed content into a single platform was nice because they could just click "Next" instead of trying to get to the right place.
  • They liked the game aspect of it, moving your game piece from beginning to end at the flag.
  • Could mix provide multiple ways to get to the end point, meaning that students had a choice in how they engaged with the content (video vs text vs quiz).

Not so good things....
  • Poor connection between Symbaloo and Google Classroom meant it was multiple steps to get to it to begin with.
  • Not all of the embedded content would load or be completely visible when loaded.
  • I made it to long!!! I was a bit over-ambitious and included to many things. For a first time out it was overwhelming for the students to try to get through.
You can see some of the students working on their Symbaloo Lessonplan this week by watching this video.

So would I try Symbaloo Lessonplans again? Yes. But I would make it shorter so students aren't as stressed out by the amount of things to get through. Picking specific things that I'm sure will work within the platform might also be a consideration. 

Trying out new things has made this year very exciting, but has reminded me a lot of my first year when I was creating things on the fly. Some of it works and some of it doesn't, so finding a balance of trusted lesson plans vs new activities is going to be my goal going forward.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Books of the Week, March 27

Elementary - Does an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?: And Other Questions About Your Health and Body by Sandy Donovan
A high-interest series that investigates common sayings, such as whether an apple a day really does keep the doctor away and whether it really does take seven years to digest swallowed gum, considering which statements are right, which are wrong and which ones still stump scientists.
610 DON @ the library

Middle School - Doctors Did What?!: The Weird History of Medicine by Richard Platt
Describes various medical practices and treatments throughout history that many now consider dangerous and ineffective.
610.9 PLA @ the Library

High School - On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency by Emily R. Transue
The story of a medical resident's initiation into her first three years as a doctor follows her internship in a Seattle hospital, where she experiences first-hand the triumphs and challenges of rescuing and losing patients.
610 TRA @ the Library

Friday, March 24, 2017

Genrefying: What do you think?

Once a year all the school library media specialists get together to discuss the latest and greatest in library and technology innovations. This gathering is held annually by the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association (WEMTA), and I have attended a dozen times now. Every year I come back with great new things to try in my library / classroom and to tell my fellow teachers about.

One session I went to at this year's conference (and I heard mentioned at the past few conferences) was the idea of reorganizing the library fiction section by genre instead of having one large fiction section organized by author's last name. Now as an educator, an adult, and a somewhat type A personality, I was leery of doing this because change is hard to adjust to. But, this particular conference session reinforced the point about making it about the students. What would the students find beneficial? What would help them find fiction books that they were interested in? What would make sense to help a student find a read-a-like if the book they want is out?

All of these questions where swirling in my mind as I drove home form the Dells on Tuesday afternoon and this is the decision I made -- I need to ask what my library users want!

Please take THIS SURVEY before May 1st to give feedback on what you think of the idea of genrefying one or all of our school libraries. Thank you in advance for all the great feedback!

If you have any questions about this process, you can contact me via email anytime aolson[at] DFTBA!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Books of the Week, March 20

Elementary - One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley
Photographs and poetic text describe the shared daily activities of people around the world, such as preparing breakfast.
305.234 KER @ the library

Middle School - We Are All Born Free : The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International
An illustrated introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was established following World War II, including thirty articles that declare the basic rights for all of humanity as compiled by the United Nations.
341.4 WE @ the Library

High School - For the Good of Mankind? : The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein
Discusses the history of human experimentation and its impact on medical discoveries.
174.2 WIT @ the Library

Friday, March 17, 2017

Recently arrived at the library!

We had some new books arrive at the SCC libraries recently. Some of them were award winners we didn't already have, some were books to fill curriculum needs, and some were just for fun.

To see some of the new books at each building, watch the videos below. And you can search our catalog to see what each building has available on Destiny.

Have a great day!


Middle School

High School

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Plethora of Things!

So February and the beginning of March have been a whirlwind of activity, and today I realized it's been a month since I wrote something here! So here's an update on some of  the library activity that has been going on:

Elementary Book Fair --- The elementary book fair, which ran Feb 28-March 3, was a huge success. We sold over $8000 worth of books and other items, netting the school over $3000 dollars in funding. Some of this has already been given away through books to students, classrooms, and purchases for the library. Some of the rest will be used to purchase online databases for students to use and some will be saved in order to replace computers in the library in the next 2-3 years.

Career Research --- The eighth grade completed their annual career research recently. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to guide them as the explored a chosen career. We first completed a chart about what they knew and wanted to know about their career, then talked about creating citations for the sources they used, and finally they were able to start researching using either a paper packet or a Google sheet (paper/pencil VS technology!). It went incredibly well with students learning many different skills.

Presentation to the Staff --- I held a presentation for the staff on our February professional development day about different online resources that could be utilized to help make book recommendations to students. There was an overwhelming response and great discussion that happened, and I even had one teacher ask me to do a mini-session with her reading classes! I love being in a district where we can share knowledge and ideas and invite other staff in for collaboration.

Common School Fund & Budget -- Leaving the least exciting to last, I've been working on my library budgets in all three buildings recently, trying to wrap up spending for this year and plan for next year. One of the things that I always need to consider is the amount of funding we will get from Common School Fund. You can find out more about the Common School Fund via my post from last year or by visiting the DPI website. These year the amount of funding was down, with SCC receiving  $49,651 for purchase of library resources and learning materials. This is the only money I receive for such materials, so am very grateful to our founders and our current representatives for safe guarding this important school funding.

That has been a bit of my world the past few weeks! If you'd like to know more about any of these items or anything else in library land, you can contact me anytime via email at aolson[at] Have a wonderful day!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Books of the Week, Mar 6

Elementary Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka
A father teaches his daughter all about bicycle riding, from selecting the right bike to trying again after a fall.
Happy Birthday to Chris Raschka on March 6!
EZ RAS @ the library

Middle School - Trouble Begins at 8 : A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman
A narrative account of the childhood and youth of nineteenth-century writer Mark Twain. Includes period engravings, newspaper cartoons, and black-and-white photographs.
Happy Birthday to Sid Fleischman on March 6!
921 TWAIN @ the Library

High School - Wall : Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís
Artist Sís Peter describes what it was like growing up in a Communist country and discusses how Western culture influenced his life.
Happy Birthday to Peter Sis on March 11!
921 SIS @ the Library