PostHeaderIcon BYOD in the Classroom

I was recently a part of a pilot program for several devices.  For a month I was given 10 iPads, 10 Nexus 7 Tablets, and 10 chromebooks to use with students on various projects.  I really wanted to discover how I would utlize different devices in a single classroom.  This has been a major challenge in the eyes of teachers.  They tend to have several concerns when it comes to BYOD:

  • Distraction
  • Theft
  • Access of inappropriate content
  • Understanding and troubleshooting multiple devices
  • Collaboration – how?
  • Inequity
  • Where to start
  • Bandwidth challenges


Just like anything in your library and classroom a bit of classroom management is key.  I have found it helpful to have a landing spot on the desk or table for students to place their devices.  Make a point to utilize them at least once during the lesson.  Even if it is a simple polleverywhere.  Students feel as though they have to unplug or shutdown when they come to school.  This should not be the case.  Utilize the information that is at their fingertips.  Evidence-based questions are extremely popular with common core.  Have students find information to prove their claim.


One would think that this would be the case but having BYOD in a school decreases theft.  Students have their devices on them at all times and therefore are less likely to leave them unattended.  I can count on my hand in the last few years how many cellphones or other devices that have been left in the library.

Access of Inappropriate Content

I admit this is a concern and if students are using cellphones they could use their own internet rather than the district’s wireless.  However, this is a classroom management issue.  A part of using the devices in class could be that students would be required to use the district’s internet access while in school.  Therefore they would be under the school’s filter.


Educators start to get nervous when they begin to use devices in a lesson they are unfamiliar with.  It is hard to let go but your students understand how to use theses devices.  As a result you can give students a task and they can use their device in the past way to accomplish the goal.  Use the students to help each other.  They are more knowledgeable about their own devices and those of their friends.


Thus far all of the devices that I have used can install Google Drive.  My district is a Google Apps for Education district so all students have a Google account.  Google Drive uses the cloud to store and create information.  You can even use it as an online flashdrive.  Even if the file cannot be read by Google Drive you can still store it there.  I do not think I have used a flashdrive with any frequency for 5 years.


I am currently in a district that has a high level of high needs students.  Interestingly most have cellphones but that is beside the point.  We might come to a time when devices are on the school supply list.  This does not mean that students who do not have the funds to purchase a device with be out of luck.  Schools will have to continue to purchase devices but in this model the number would be decreased tremendously.

Where to Start?

Starting can be challenging but just like anything start small.  Like I mentioned before just integrate a polleverywhere the first day.  Or perhaps you can use Edmodo to post assignments to your students.  There are tons of resources on ideas for 1to1 computing in the classroom.  Assessments are a breeze with this type of environment.  Honestly just using the devices they cannot live without with gain their attention and as you get more comfortable you can add more ways to use them.  You will not have to fight for the computer labs anymore.  Great resource on how to get started:


This will be an issue if you do not invest in infrastructure.  Having the devices without significant access points for wireless is impossible.  Make sure that you have looked at your districts needs in terms of connectivity before attempting this model.


PostHeaderIcon Google Forms @ Lib

Google FormsVery quickly during my first year at the middle school level I discovered the need to automate the pass system.  In the past,  study hall teachers gave permission for a few students to come during each period.  This was problematic because I was transitioning the library into a learning commons model.  I wanted and still want to create self-directed learners and all students would need access to the library by their own choice.  Putting the power into the hands of the students continues to be important to me.

Although students do forget to sign up for the library, there are still ways for them to gain access.  They can get a project pass (from the teacher they have a project with) or come on a ten minute pass to get a book.  All students go into the google spreadsheet which is accessible from the library website to anyone (staff and student alike).

Sign Up Example

I have around 150-200 students coming to the library every day during various periods.  Mistakes do happen and occasionally a student’s name is missed on the morning list.  I do require that students sign-up by 7:20 in the morning in order for me to aggregate the data for the coming day.  It is amazing how many students sign up at 7:19!  I have looked at other programs to sign up students but currently Google Forms is the best.  My only complaint would be that I cannot cut off the number that sign up for a given period.  I have tried to use the script for course registration that is in Google Scripts but it does not function correctly.  If there are any javascript experts out there please comment.  I have limited space for the students but thus far the numbers work.

As you can see the Google Spreadsheet the students come in to cross their name out is not the same as the spreadsheet created with a Google Form.  I do have to create an additional spreadsheet.  However, once it is created the entire sorting process in the morning takes at most 10 minutes.  I have even done it in five on a busy morning (what morning is not busy :))  I can see the revision history so if any funny business goes on it is easily viewable.  I can access the spreadsheet from any computer or device.

The form itself can be viewed here and it is embedded into my website.  The students can add this link to their devices and can sign up in the library.  One of my catalog computers has been turned into a sign up machines/catalog.  Most students use that computer to sign up.  I am working on getting the students to use it beyond the library.  Interestingly I did see a student the other day signing up in their study halls.  That was great…I want students to be self-sufficient.

PostHeaderIcon Marketing & CCLS

Although the Common Core is here to stay at least for now it is more important that ever for librarians to continue to market themselves.  We have Common Core and inquiry-based learning written across our foreheads.  AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner was in effect long before Common Core was a glimmer in the distance.

I have found it effective to use the students who have ownership of the library.  I have created videos about how the students use the library for the school board.  I also attend as many professional developments with the teachers that I am able so I can speak in their language.  In New York, especially with the rise of the required research paper, this falls in the purview of the librarian.  Even if you cannot directly collaborate with the teachers, providing resources and being available is key.

Create an online newsletter that is sent out monthly to the staff.  Include tools the teachers can use to make CCLS compliance a little easier.  MailChimp is a great free website to use for professional looking newsletters.  If you have less than 2000 subscribers and less than 12,0000 emails per month, then it is free.  Present at Faculty Meetings even if it is a 1 minute website highlight or a new database that can help teachers find primary source documents.

Mailchimp“MailChimp is an email marketing service provider, founded in 2001. It has 3.5 million users that collectively send over 4 billion emails a month through the service.” (Wikipedia)

Once you have the newsletter setup it is very quick to just add information when you want to use it.  In fact, I plan to use this monthly for my own school.  I was excited to find it because I had been sporadically sending out information to staff as I came across it.  To have a regular information source for staff is important.

A good article on getting to the heart of the Common Core Learning Standards.  Barbara Stripling and  Diane Ravitch mentioned.  Don’t be an island on to yourself.  Use the resources around you.

PostHeaderIcon Google Shortcuts

Google Shortcuts

Google has created lots of shortcuts to help us search more effectively.  It has also included a research tool within Google Docs that has me giddy with glee.  It can autocite resources using MLA, Chicago, and APA.  Although it is not entirely accurate it is a good first step in trying to help students remember to source.  All of the information needed to source the information appears within the document once a cite button is pressed within the Research Window.

Above you will see the PDF I created on some of the shortcuts and helpful hits that I have come across in the past few months.  I thought I would share it with everyone.

Searching Do’s:

  1. Do Search by Reading Level
  2. Do clarify your image search by color, size, type, etc.
  3. Do Autocite citations and information using the Research Bar in Docs
  4. Do search by a Translated Language this will give students the opportunity to see other perspectives on a topic
  5. Do search for an image using an already saved image! (No more forgetting to cite images!)
  6. Do search Full-text of Books and utilize portions of books you have not purchased

Google Shortcuts:

  • Filetype:
  • Time
  • Weather
  • Define:
  • Translate
  • allintext:
  • allintitle:
  • ~ = Related Search Terms
  • phonebook:
  • bphonebook:
  • inurl:
  • daterange:
  • movie:
  • view:timeline
  • cache:website address
  • site:




PostHeaderIcon Meograph: New Face of Timelines




Timelines are a staple in social studies and ela.  They help students keep track of dates and facts.  I have been searching for a good online-timeline creator for a while.  I have tried dipity which is good but I find that it is very slow to load and is limited to the number you can create and information mediums.  So I searched and searched for an alternative and lo and behold I found Meograph.  Not only is it free (YAY!) it can embed videos, text, audio, and uses Google Maps.  I was in heaven.  I did this with a class and it went smoothly.  Well almost smoothly (internet went down once).


As you can see at the left you can add an event, then a when (date), where (location), link (with more information).  You can also add a photo, youtube video, and even narration.  The narration online is limited to 30 secs.  However, you can upload unlimited audio.  I used audacity (remember you need the LAME encoder to save as MP3) and had the students record and publish as a MP3.

A note on location:  You must use the current name of the city or town.  Therefore if you are talking about Ancient Persia you need to find the modern country.



PostHeaderIcon HTML & CSS CodeAcademy

Students are always asking me how to code HTML and CSS.  In the past there are very few places to send them to go step by step in understanding how it all works.  Thankfully this has changed with the recent update to CodeAcademy.  CodeAcademy is an interactive site designed to help people understand and create HTML, CSS, and much much more (including Coding Java).

I am so excited to share this site with my students.  Thanks Technology for Teachers for pointing out the update in the site.  I can see myself using this site to brush up on some basics and beyond.  The lessons in basic HTML really break down the component parts of creation.  It is a language unto itself and this allows students to learn by doing.  Reading a website giving me HTML tags does not really prompt higher level thinking and experience.  I would just have to keep going back to that site rather than retaining the understanding and information internally.

PostHeaderIcon Wix to go HTML 5

I am so excited to share that the popular flash-based website creator will be going to HTML 5. Why is this so important?  Flash does not work with iDevices and this has limited the reach of products that utilize flash.  Yes there are work arounds on the iPad but many are clunky and buggy, not to mention were created for the purpose of gaming.

I have used with my students because it is a point and click method of creation.  You can get to the nuts and bolts of creating a website or just play around with videos and media.  I think they would work well for portfolios for students to bring to college.  The site does have quite a few ads but it is free so that is to be expected.  Relatively new is the mobile site creator.  My students are quite excited and come in during their own time to talk about and create sites that are relevant to them.

In true Miss Frizzle fashion they are taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy.  A fabulous mantra for life!  Check out

April 2014
« Mar