Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

PostHeaderIcon Upgrading the Booktalk

Booktalking is a standard librarian activity and there are so many different ways to do it and I have done quite a few of them.  At the Middle School/High School Level this is one of the ways we can continue to inspire students to read for enjoyment.  I have tried the book cafe, musical books, book-tastings, book dating, lecture style book talk, book trailer stations, #booksnaps, and Peardeck Booktalks.  I will talk about all of them and the benefits and drawbacks for each one.  I love books and sharing them with students is the best but even better is when they share with me 🙂

Book Tastings/Dating

Let’s start with Book Tastings or Book (Speed) Dating depending on your grade levels.  I tend to call it tastings until grade 7 and then transition to calling it dating.  Book Dating occurs when you pre-select books for students to explore.  Students will sit down in front of a book they find interesting from the cover (I know never judge a book by the cover but come on we all do it!).  They will then read that book for 5-10 minutes depending on the age level of student.  At the 3/4 level I have even gone down to 4 minutes.  After the reading time they write down the title and author of the book and then they rate it via emoji.  Here is an example of a sheet I have used when I was not 1:1 Chromebook in my school.


  • Musical Books – each time the students have to move to another book play music and then when the music stops students have to read the book they are near.  This can be nice if students are reading the same books over and over.  It challenges them to get outside their comfort zone.  Hints:  Keep them moving and make sure they keep circling and not the same book 🙂

Lecture Style

I tend to use this style if I am given very little time to Booktalk.  This is the least interesting or interactive for the students.  They are passively listening and my non-readers just tune me out.  I also find this is extremely ineffective with Seniors.  I usually use book trailers in this style to change it up.

Book Trailer Stations (Great option if you are not 1:1)

This was introduced to me by a fellow librarian in another district and I did it with great success.  She utilizes Follett Collections but you could easily create a Google Website or Post in a Google Classroom.  How it works:  Create a list of books with great book trailers.  You should have at least 18 trailers in various genres.  Be sure to put in some diverse titles too!  A great way to get students to read diverse titles is through a book trailer.  Once you have those trailers you will put them somewhere that is easily accessible by the students.  Setup laptops or ipads with the links to the trailers on the screen.  Students will break into groups and choose the book trailer of their choice to watch an react to via a Google Form or Worksheet.  Example of a Google Form and Follett Collection.


Booksnaps (How to Video) were created by Tara Martin and you can see an entire blog post about it here.  According to Tara here are the reasons for using #booksnaps:

  • To annotate and share excerpts of the book you’re reading
  • Connecting ideas or thoughts to a visual representation and it helps the brain to remember key ideas with a visual
  • Diagram the rise, fall, and climax of the plot (see an example image below)
  • Highlight figurative language and imagery
  • Character conflict and internal struggles
  • Connect to the text on a personal level
  • Main idea or a supporting argument

Why do I use Booksnaps?  They are engaging to students and uses the technology that they are engaged in every day.  Use their powers for GOOD!  It takes a tool they already know how to use and use it for an educational purpose.  The best activities are those that they do not even think about as work.  I can tell you my 8th graders had a ball with this and wanted to do more than one!  It goes to show that if an activity is engaging a grade does not have to be tied to it.  Here is an example presentation I did for a Holocaust Novel BookSnap.  Here is the Google Form I used to collect the photos.  Not to grade but to be able to project all the cool work done by the students.  Here is a short presentation I have done to explain them to students as well.

Peardeck Booktalks aka Emoji Booktalk

Peardeck is an addon to Google Slides that allows you to insert interactivity into your presentations.  This is fantastic when you are trying to booktalk because it allows reaction to the book you are talking about.  I have created a hybrid of my Book Tastings and Lecture type to create the Emoji Booktalk!  Each student will need a device this could be an iPad, Phone, Chromebook, etc.

Librarians/Teacher:  Create your slidedeck as normal for a Booktalks but include a slide that looks like the one with emojis: Slide #5  You could do emojis, icons, bitmojis whatever resonates with your students. You will also insert the Pear Deck Temperature Check Slide (view it on Slide #4).  This gives you insight later on the books that the students enjoyed.  That data can be used for the next booktalk to help in choosing books.  This is a free addon that revolutionized how I instruct my students for literacy and research.  Giving them access to anything on their screens in real time freed up time spend navigating to websites and such.

PostHeaderIcon Gamification in the Library

There are so many ways to gamifiy your library and some of my favorite ways to do this include several relatively new tools.  I like to use scavenger hunts, QR codes, augmented reality, and classroom management tools to engage my students.

“The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning. Gamification, broadly defined, is the process of defining the elements which comprise games that make those games fun and motivate players to continue playing, and using those same elements in a non-game context to influence behavior. In other words gamification is the introduction of game elements in a non-game situation.” “Gamification Of Learning”. 2018. En.Wikipedia.Org. Accessed July 23 2018.

In essence, gamification uses game theory and elements to increase the engagement and learning.  I have found that even the most reluctant student instantly becomes more attentive and interested in the content when you include some of these elements.  So let get started with the tools. Goosechase

What: An app for online scavenger hunts that combines news-feed, photos, pictures, Q & A, and text.  Each scavenger hunt includes missions that can be completed by teams or individually.   It allows students to get up and travel around your room or even the school.  One of my track coaches even used it for her team around the neighborhood.  I created my Scavenger Hunt on their website on a computer as I found it much easier.  There is a bank of questions that you can use if you need it, but you can also create your own.  Hunt questions include the team taking a photo, creating a video, multiple choice questions, and text answers.  Students can see a feed of items as each team completes the questions.  As the administrator of the scavenger hunt, you can reject any answer a student gives.  Each question is assigned a point value and the teams are competing to get the most points.  You can stop the scavenger hunt at anytime with the click of a button.

Free Version:  You can only have 5 teams or individuals

Applications:  So many assessments and lessons could be turned into a scavenger hunt.  It could also be used for library orientation and team building and developing a community of learners.


What:  Classcraft is a tool that uses a game environment to monitor class behavior and accomplishments and rewarding students for their efforts.  You can create teams within Classcraft which is quite an effective use of peer motivation.  Teachers can customize the environment and adapt it to fit their classroom.  However, you can use the presets within the product.  I have found that when used the most effectively the teacher creates content that is directly related to what the class is doing.  You can tie points earned to anything the students complete from homework to online quizzes and projects.  Behavior is only the tip of the iceberg.  It also looks cool like a detailed role-playing game.  When using teams, you can even give different members of the team different abilities.  It can be as complex or simple as you like.

There are five different point types found in the game. There are HP (Health Points), XP (Experience Points), AP (Action Points), GP (Gold Pieces), and PP (Power Points). Each helps student engagement and success.  The parent connection is great and gives parents the ability to award GP to their child for good deeds done at home.  Home connection!  With a coordinating Classcraft app (iOS; Android; Windows) and a Chrome Extension, you are able to manage your class with ease. This video helps describe a typical day in Classcraft.

Free Version:  You can utilize most of the product except some premium features like boss battles and Google Classroom integration

Applications: Depending on your level this could be used for classroom management of your information literacy skills classes or electives you are teaching.  It will definitely be something you can utilize if your teachers are it using during collaborations for secondary.  I plan to use it with my 6th grade classes and one of my teachers will be using it as well.  We shall see how it goes!  I will also use it in my Game Design class because why not!  Its use and function is another lesson within my class.

These are two products that I think you should consider checking out and integrating into your library.  They will engage and stimulate wonder in your classroom.  A library is a classroom open to the entire school.  Learning is just the beginning of what we can do!  I am in a 6-12 School Library in upstate New York and love technology.  Thank you to Richard Byrne at Free Technology 4 Teachers who inspired me to resurrect this blog to share my knowledge and love of educational technology.


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 EasyBib & Google Addons


Easybib Icon

Image Source:

EasyBib is a great app and it has recently been included in Google Docs Addons.  Addons are a recent addition to Google Docs and a great one.  I can only assume that more addons will be added in the future.  Students can easily add their citations in their papers with the add on.  The addon allows students to stay in the same window.  You are able to achieve a lot with the free version.  The paid version gives you more options including taking notes.  Though I will review Evernote very soon and I am starting to prefer this to noodletools and other notetaking sites.

Citation is the bread and butter of librarianship along with research.  Anything to make the process easier for students is key for me.  Bibliographies and giving credit is a big problem for students.  It is imperative for us, as teacher librarians, to instill in students an understanding of digital ownership.  If we are going to go to Google Images use  Okay, I am off my soapbox.

EasyBib is an app that takes the wonderful free citation creator website and repackages it as an app.  You can keep track of your bibliography and email it to yourself and it is even easier with the addon.  It is very easy to use on an iPad because you can save to the app and access later if you are logged in.  Three styles are included on the site: MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian (however to use all the types you have to pay).  (From Appstore: Create accurate MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations in seconds by scanning a book bar code or by typing the name of a book. Build and manage your works cited. Once done, email your citations and then export your citations to’s popular bibliography management service.)  The scanning of the barcode is exciting to me.  It is also a GoogleApp.  Your Google Administrator can add it to your Google Apps account.  The App is free and has MLA styling.  

There are, of course, other options out there including:  Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS) Citation Maker


PostHeaderIcon Marketing & CCLS

Although the Common Core is here to stay at least for now it is more important that every for librarians to continue to market themselves.  We have Common Core and inquiry-based learning written across out 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 talk 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.  Presenting 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 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 onto yourself.  Use the resources around you.

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

Codeacademy Photo

Image Source:

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 Meograph: Timeline Creator

Source of Image:

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).

Example of a Moment on Meograph

Source: Meograph by Heather Turner

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 Livebinders

Livebinders Uses

Image Source:

Quite awhile ago I talked about how I found the livebinders site a bit clunky.  Well I must revise my statement because the site has worked very well for several research projects I have been doing.  It is so nice to be able to embed websites within one website.  This is extremely helpful with databases because no one can ever find the sheet with the passwords.  We want students, staff, and parents to access and utilize the resources we sink tons of money into.  They are fabulous resources and anything I can do to increase use and accessibility is key.

In terms of how I have been using the product.  I have embedded those databases relevant to the research as well as websites I have  come across that are relevant to the project.  I even embed EasyBib so they can begin thinking about the Bibliography at the beginning of the project.  It does not matter what the end product consists of because citing sources is pivotal in my mind and that of the common core.  In the following example, the students were researching for a Roaring Twenties Glog.  I love Glogster Edu for poster projects because you are not limited by paper.  Adding videos and audio are a welcome perk.  Not to mention adding document, drawing, and much much more.  However, back to Livebinder.  I was able to embed my video/audio converter, video resources, audio resources, databases, and well researched websites.  The goal of this project was to have students be successful locating information within a bunch of good resources.  This is challenging for students.

If you want to create a project based resource for your students, LiveBinders is a great choice.  It is flexible for and above all extremely easy to use and create on the fly.

Twitter Feed
Visitor Map