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October 2017
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PostHeaderIcon The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns by Leigh BardugoThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I received this title via @kidlitexchange for an honest review.

So what exactly do you get in The Language of Thorns? Leigh says in her interview with GdM: “These are the stories my characters would have heard growing up. Some of them deliberately evoke popular fairytales, others diverge more radically from the familiar. They come from different countries around the Grishaverse, so you’ll get slightly varying views on magic, heroism, and even beauty depending on whether the story is from Kerch, Ravka, Fjerda, or Novyi Zem. There are a few easter eggs for readers of the Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone series’, but you can also pick up the collection without ever having read one of my novels.”

I loved the Grishaverse and Leigh’s style of writing. It is very Russian and there are so few books that really transport me into another world so thoroughly unlike my own. The stories definitely gave me an original Grimm’s fairytale vibe and this was the author’s intent. The artwork is beautiful and although it it’s only a sample I previewed, the beauty of the book surpassed my expectations. Color is used to great effect with even the text changing color along with the illustrations along the margins. The artwork gives you a sense of the scenery and tone of the story.

Final Verdict: A+
I look forward to reading the book in its entirety.

PostHeaderIcon Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Wonder Woman by Leigh BardugoWonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I received this book via @kitlit exchange a fantastic group I found on instagram.

When I first picked up this book I thought it would be a movie tie-in for the summer blockbuster. Boy was I wrong. It is a standalone book that is fantastic. It is part of a series of books that are reimagining superheroes for a new generation. I am extremely excited about Catwoman coming out very soon.

I really enjoyed the differences in mythology that Bardugo chose. Although it had the heart of the film it really was very different in its mythology. I also enjoyed that the main character explored our world in her own quest rather than trying to save it. It allowed the character to grow in her understanding of the outside world.

Not only do we have Diana but we are also introduced to Alia who is the descendant of Helen of Troy and one of many warbringers. Her very existence brings war and strife to the world so Diana and Alia must work together to prevent chaos in the world. Diana is not the self-assured Amazon we have come to see but is unsure of her place in the world of the Amazons and being the bodyguard to Alia allows her to learn much about herself.

Final verdict? Loved it and cannot wait for more in the series!
Batman: Nightwalker by (2018)
Catwoman by Sarah J Maas (2018)
Superman by Matt de La Pena (2019)

PostHeaderIcon Innovation of Making

Presenting at YSS tomorrow on the innovation of Making.  I have been inspired by the likes of Diana Rendina and Laura Flemming who have given the library world fantastic resources on how to start a makerspace.  My main challenge with makerspaces is that I see them becoming a glorified arts and crafts experience.  There is nothing wrong with this but in the age of intense accountability it is imperative that we create experiences that engage deeper thinking.  Creation and innovation along with creativity and authentic experiences are paramount if we are going to gain a foothold in the educational realm.

Librarians are at a crossroads as to what they need to do to remain relevant in a world of eBooks, renting textbooks, 1:1 chromebooks, etc.  I think makerspaces could be a part of the solution.  We are really good at getting students to think deeper into inquiry and we need to market and develop those tools that are unique to librarianship.

Check out my presentation (Google Presentation).

PostHeaderIcon Many Faces of Google Searching

If you are like me you are constantly using the search function in Google Drive.  You are also a person that uses Google Chrome’s omnibar for everything.  Did you know you can type in youtube.com and press tab and it creates a search of youtube for you?  Type away your search.

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Now there are a lot of search engines listed in Chrome but you can create your own!  Thank you so much ShakeUpLearning for cluing me in.

How to Edit Your Chrome Search Engines:

  1. Right-click on the Omnibox, and select, “Edit Search Engines.” This will open your search engine settings in Google Chrome.
  2. From here, scroll down to the very bottom to add a new search engine.
  3. Name your search engine.
  4. Then choose the keyword you want to use. I use the letter “d.” It doesn’t even have to be a full word.
  5. Then just copy and paste this search URL: https://drive.google.com/#search?q=%s
  6. Click done.

untitled-gif-2Source:  Bell, Kasey. “Did You Know You Can Search Google Drive and Gmail From the Chrome Omnibox? | Shake Up Learning.” Shake Up Learning. Shake Up Learning, 28 June 2016. Web. 07 Oct. 2016. <http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/search-google-drive-gmail-chrome-omnibox/>.

 

Searching Tips & Tricks:

When searching if you type in the following items you will get better results.  One of my favorites is Filetype: because when searching for images I usually need a transparent background.  This occurs with PNG images therefore I will search Filetype:PNG to get images that have a transparent background.  Also remember to search only Open Source images that can be modified when doing this though.

  • Filetype:
    • Add the type of file you are searching for such as PDF, DOC, PPT, PNG, etc.
  • Time
  • Weather
  • Define:
    • This will define any word within the Google Search
  • Translate
    • Translate any word
  • allintext:
    • Must have your search term in the website
  • allintitle:
    • Must have your search term in the title of the website
  • ~
    • Use the symbol to look for your search term and others that are related
  • ebook:
    • search for only ebooks
  • inurl:
    • Search term must be in the URL/Web Address
  • daterange:
    • Search for a certain time period
  • movie:
    • Search for movies
  • cache:website address
    • Search for the cached version of a website (cached=stored version)
  • site:
    • Search within a single site.  Put the site in and then your search terms

PostHeaderIcon End of the Year Review Game Madness

review_gamesThere are so many options for helping students review content for finals but which ones are the best?  I have used several and below are some of my favorites.

Flippity – create your own automatically score tallied Jeopardy Game.  Forever when setting up a Jeopardy game the students will bicker back and forth about the score. Take the frustration out by using Flippity which actually uses a Google Spreadsheet that is published.  The creators of the Jeopardy Game aka Quiz Show also have flashcards which are great for review.  Check them out you will not be disappointed.

Socrative & Kahoot! – Competition is helpful when trying to review with students and both of these sites help you easily great games to help review.  You can use any internet ready device to use both programs and students do not have to create an account to use them.

ClassTools.net – ClassTools.net offers a free service teachers can use to create their own educational games.  You can get rid of the ads for a fee but they are not extremely distracting.  You can find a variety of tools on this site from fake facebook templates to arcade review games.  They are easy to setup and embed in your own site.

Purpose Games – is a free service that allows users to create custom games, share games, and play games. You can create multiple choice games or go deeper and create interactive images and maps that have the user name the correct places or names of images.

Triventy – Very similar to Kahoot! You can write your own questions or edit existing quiz.  All quizzes are presented on a large screen – just like you would run a presentation. Your students will use a short link (triv.in) to join the quiz from their laptops, tablets or smartphones – no need to install any App!  Students can login with Google which makes that process very easy.

These are some of my favorite review sites.  Do you have any you enjoy?  Share them in the comments.

PostHeaderIcon Live From Olympia

did-earthquake-destroy-ancient-greece-670x440-130426Project Inspiration: Students are fascinated with Ancient Greece and I thought it would be interesting for students to take their inquiry questions and interest video-making and combine it into a collaborative project.  This project could be for grades 6 and up depending on the curriculum.

Essential Question: What if we lived in Ancient Greece? What is the importance of Ancient Greece to us today? What can we learn about ourselves from the Ancient Greeks?

The Situation:  A film crew has been transported back in time to report on Ancient Greece.  It is your job to do research on an aspect of Ancient Greek life for the film crew.  You are also charged with creating the scripts the film crew will follow when they go live with a new program called: Live From Ancient Olympia.

Note: Prior to beginning the actual project students read some ebooks  (Rosen Publishings Interactive eBooks on Ancient Greece) on Ancient Greece to get perspective and background information.  These are fantastic ebooks that are simotaneous use with are my favorite!  Timelines and keywords defined.  There are so many resources.  Full Disclosure: I am good friends with one of the reps.  But it is still an awesome resource and there are no other eBooks out there like it.  The key to the success of the project is organization and the use of  jobs in each group.  The project began with the Marshmellow Challenge to get students to begin to work together and think about each person’s strengths.

Each group includes:

  1. Manager—keeps group members on task; communicates with teacher; provides leadership
  2. Reporter—keeper of all records; manages paper; tracks “who’s doing what”
  3. Techie—manages the group’s technology needs; knows how to use the technology or is willing and able to learn new technology as needed for this project.
  4. Archivist—organizes found stories, photos, and artifacts

Each class (of 4-5 groups) work on one news broadcast.  Therefore, in each class there was one video editor, one camera person, and two anchors.  This worked extremely well for creating the video.  Not all students are interested in video editing and it can be time-consuming so those students interested in the process can be involved.  The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive.  They enjoyed the process and learned a lot.

You can see some examples of the project here

PostHeaderIcon WeVideo & GreenScreen

maxresdefaultWith the shutting down of Jaycut quite a few years ago I was crestfallen to be able to edit videos with greenscreen (chromakey) online.  On the chromebooks this is challenging.  I did bite the bullet and purchase a pro-account because chromakey was extremely important to me.  However, if it is not the free version really works really well.

If you are a fan of Animoto it is a more robust version.  Students would sometimes get frustrated by the limits of Animoto but were not yet ready for a full-fledged video editor so there are two different modes – timeline and storyboard (easier).  You can easily toggle between both of them.

I have found this to be a superior product when trying to do Book Trailers with students.  The free version allows downloading of 5 minutes a month.  Book Trailers should be around 60 seconds so this works perfectly for me.  I do not have such restrictions with the paid account.

The Chromakey (green screen) is pretty good.  It is not Photoshop or Camtasia but it really does the job pretty well.  For student’s beginning experience with chromakey it works very well.

PostHeaderIcon Google Classroom: Share to the Classroom

google_classroom_logoI was very excited about Google Classroom when it first came out and was one of the few that got access pretty early on.  My Tech coordinator was intrigued as was I.  I started to play with it and found I could not do everything I wanted to do:

  • More than One Teacher
  • Online Rubrics (Goobric)
  • Comment on Documents when first created
  • Add students outside my domain

I am happy to say that these issues have been fixed.  It is not the robust LMS of something like Schoology but it really gets the job done very relative ease.  Co-teachers can now both be in the class (as educators/admins) within Google Classroom under About (button is Invite a Teacher on the left-hand side).

My biggest pet peeve was that you could not add students outside your domain.  Our district when creating our GAFE accounts decided to put students and adults in two different domains.  So we had to have two accounts if we wanted to use Google Classroom.  Thank goodness they have fixed this by allowing GAFE admins to add other GAFE domains to a whitelist.

Goobric now works with Google Classroom so all the online rubrics you created with Docotopus will now work with Google Classroom Assignments!  YES!!  Video on how it works.

Documents.  Comment access is available as soon as the student opens the document for the first time.  This is ideal when helping students in real-time.

adokjfanaflbkibffcbhihgihpgijcei-logoLastly, they recently added something that just blew my mind.  How many times have you had issues with students copying down URLs and messing it up?  Even if you used bitly or tinyurl or QR codes?  I have so many times I have lost count.  Now you can have your GAFE admin add the Share to Classroom Google Extension (How to add it to your domain globally).  Of course you can have your students do it individually as well.  This extension changed my life.  You can push out pages to your students!  From Google, “The extension allows you to push webpages to your any of your Classroom classes, so they open instantly on your students’ computers. With this extension, you can get your students on the right page, quickly and reliably every time. You can also post announcements, create assignments, or save webpages to post to Classroom later.”

PostHeaderIcon Slides Carnival

Slides Carnival Templates for Google Slides Google Slides is a wonderful tool to use with students for presentations.  However the selection of created templates is rather limited.  You can of course go to the plethora of templates @ Google Templates however they tend to be more of the same.  Slides Carnival has created professional looking templates that are very easy to use.  A few clicks are you are on your way to a professional looking presentation with all the unique slides many have expected from Microsoft Powerpoint.  In all my research the presentations remain totally free.  

 

PostHeaderIcon Google Classroom & LLC

Logo for Google ClassroomGoogle Classroom has been written about quite a bit in the past few months but I have a take on it from a Librarian perspective.  I really like the ease of the site and the integration with Google Drive.  It is much easier for my staff to understand the functionality of things like Doctopus and gClassfolders if they do not have to use them.  For the most part GC does everything they need it to do.  I quite like the ease of adding items to GC. There are many options from a uploaded (from computer) to a youtube video and from your drive of course.  GC also created a folder in your Google Drive so you can keep track of that information. It lacks many of the addon that Edmodo or Schoology, or Canvas, or Moodle and the list goes on.

As a librarian the items that frustrate me:

  1. You cannot add a co-educator/administrator
    1. This is especially challenging when the teachers sometimes want me to show them how to do it the first time (ie: I do it the first time)
  2. You must be in the same domain as your students (this is not always the case in GAFE schools and having two accounts is not ideal for most teachers)
  3. No folders within GC.  It is a running conversation like Edmodo
    1. Putting resources in folders makes location of items easier for students
  4. You cannot add outside your domain
  5. Assignments do not show up in a student’s calendar
  6. Gradebook is not robust to say the least

They have fixed:

  1. Now you do not have to submit an attached item to complete an assignment
  2. You can delete students comments (I can get rid of the Hi’s when they first begin)

Overall I do not GC but I think that we are at the beginning and it will get better with time.  I think we are looking at a product that is entering a well matured field of lots of LMS.  I would like to see innovation in the LMS and I look forward to see it.

Link to some other observations:

 

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