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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 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 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:

 

PostHeaderIcon Edmodo vs. Schoology

 

LMS examples

Image Source: http://bit.ly/1yzQxj8

Learning Management Systems are a big part of the Flipped Classroom movement.  However, you do not have to use a flipped classroom to utilize these tools.  Some are free and others are paid such as Blackboard.  Meeting and interacting with students online is important.  Facebook is bad word in education and therefore has not been utilized as a way to interact with students and teachers.  I have tried many different ways to utilize interactive sites.  Websites, Blackboard, Moodle, and the list goes on.  Two of the most popular from my experience are Edmodo and Schoology.  Both are great but it depends on what you will use them for.  Therefore I thought I would do a little bit of a compare and contrast on their use for Libraries.  Just because some of use do not have traditional classes does not mean that would could not use such a tool.  

Edmodo – this is a website that uses a simplified version of Facebook.  It can be used in the classroom to connect with students and even as a location for students to turn in work.  There is a both a social aspect and assessment.  Quizes, grades, and attendance can be completed using this site.  It is completely free.  The only cost would be if you chose to add apps to the website that have a cost.  I used this site last year for all of my clubs and library assistants called iStaff.  I found the students tended to forget to check outside of meetings.  Though a couple of teachers have started to use it so I think its use will become habitual.  If a student has a smartphone they can access the tool.

Pros:

  • Easy to use Facebook like functionality
  • Easy to give feedback to students
  • Creation of Polls to interact quickly with students
  • Very little introduction for students
  • Creation of small groups within a class
  • Ability to post information to the group
  • Ability to submit assignments
  • Attendance recording
  • Grading and Badges
  • iOS & Android Apps
  • Parent Access
  • Calendar
Post Example of Edmodo

Image Source: SMS Edmodo Site

Cons:

  • iPad app is a little cumbersome.  Uploading files is a fair amount of steps
  • Posts are only chronological so the board can get messy
  • Parents do not see the same things as students
  • Students can start to use the posts for social interaction (Hi messages then become cumbersome)
  • Quizes are limiting and I would use Google Forms instead
  • No messaging between students
  • Child-like

Schoology

The site takes some of the functionality of blackboard and Edmodo.  I think of it as the big brother of Edmodo.  I think Edmodo is perfect for elementary and early middle school and then upper middle school and high school would graduate to Schoology.  It is very similar to what students will use in College even if they do not take online classes.  

Pros

  • Updates (Posts) and Discussion Boards
  • Discussion boards with nested discussion
  • Settings for Tests and Quizes (Time Limits & Retakes)
  • Groups and Apps
  • Ability to setup modules or lessons (with materials) within a class or group
  • Calendar syncs with Google Calendar
  • Dropbox like feature for assignments
  • Online Gradebook and Attendance
  • Ability to track students usage
  • Email and SMS text notifications to keep everyone up to date
  • Announcement:  Brings the message to the top of the Updates list
  • Create Blogs within the product
  • Embedding Videos
  • Google Docs Synced

Cons

  • No small group creation options
  • Takes more time to learn and teach students
  • Long student access codes
  • No messaging between students (could be a pro as well)
  • It connects your class as a ‘course’ not a ‘class’. This makes it easier for high school teachers, but for my single class, students became confused as to where they needed to go for their assignments, discussion boards etc.
Pictures of Discussion Board on Schoology.com

Image Source: My Schoology Group

In the end the LMS that you choose will depend entirely on what the students need.  Schoology is my choice due to the functionality of the site.  I can do so much more with the site and organizationally speaker it works for me.  It makes sense to me.  I really gave Edmodo a fair shot and used it the entire year but I found it to be a bit too social for my needs.  I encourage collaboration and interaction of course.  But in the end the purpose the LMS is clear – to convey information, interact with it, and further the knowledge journey.  

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