Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 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. – 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 ( 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

Updated: 7/23/18

LMS examples

Image Source:

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.


  • 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


  • 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


The site takes some of the functionality of Blackboard, Google Classroom, 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.  


  • Origanization
    • Folders! (my main frustration with Google Classroom)
    • Option to have modules opened as students complete previous module
  • 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
  • Online Gradebook and Attendance
    • District level will integrate with SchoolTool
  • Ability to track students usage
  • Email and SMS text notifications to keep everyone up to date
  • Create Blogs within the product
  • Embedding Videos
  • Google Integration – now able to view and grade more easily than even with Google Classroom.  Allows you to stay on your screen to open each document


  • No small group creation options
  • Takes more time to learn and teach students
  • Long student access codes
  • 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

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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