English 9: Introduction to Library & Research with Blendspace

I decided to try out TES Teach Blendspace for my English 9 Introduction to Library & Research Lessons.  TES Teach with Blendspace (also an iPad app) allows users to create digital lessons and presentations in minutes.

Set up in a easy to manipulate grid format, users can pull...

YouTube videos
Web Links
Word Doc
Google Drive

Users can also add their own text to boxes, and quizzes.
Blendspace can be shared in a variety of ways:

The Blendspace Lessons Library is a collection of lessons others have created and that you can use, copy and personalize for your own class or just to  look for ideas.  

Teachers can flip their lessons using Blendspace, assigning the activities as homework where students are provided with background information prior to a hands-on assignment in class.  My students were new to Blendspace so I chose to use it as the outline for my instruction and modeled how to go through it, allowing students to open a new tab and practice hands-on after different modules.  They were provided with the link to the Blendspace in their Google Classroom if they needed any reminders (or if they were absent). 

For tips and tutorials for using Blendspace.

Below you will find the Blendspace I created.  You will notice how the empty boxes look at the bottom where I can add additional content.  I can edit and change it at any time which is another great feature.

(Shout out to Jen Thomas @BlendedLibGirl who introduced me to Blendspace and shared her lessons with me to help get me started.)

More than checking out books

Due to drastic budget cuts at the end of the year, our district has reduced the 3 library media specialists for our 6 schools to 2.  That means I spend 4 days a week at the high school and 1 day a week at the middle school.  My fellow LMS works at all 4 elementary schools, teaching only grades 4-6 in the library, managing all the clerical without a para and helping plan for the K-3 classes which are being seen by a para.

It's so disappointing...and frustrating.

This week I worked with students at the middle school.  They have not had a full-time library media specialist for five years.  It has been a one day a week position for the past 5 years.  As a result, the space is dated and has become a dumping ground. "I don't know where it goes so let's just leave it in the media center"?

As a result, teachers do not look to the library media specialist as a resource and the room itself is seen just a book depot.

Building relationships is key to success in most businesses, and education is no exception.  Luckily, one of the Language Arts teachers graduated from high school with me.   He approached me about doing a library orientation for his 7th grade students.  Typically, the library para would give them the rules of media center, a general where things are and let them check out books.

I knew most of these students as I just had them as 6th graders.

The teacher was going to be out that day and asked that I work with students for full period, about 45 minutes.  I confirmed with him that students had access to their school emails and knew about classroom.  I was ready to jump in and build on students prior knowledge about the online library catalog and research

My plan for the orientation was:
  • Students log in to Gmail and join my Google Classroom
  • I demonstrate Destiny Discover...how to log in, how to search for books (I provided a video tutorial of this in Classroom for them to access later if they needed any reminders)
  • We talk about library resources vs Google information
  • Students search for and check out books
  • Students do a reading interest survey on Google Forms (see below)
  • We take a Kahoot quiz (this was a filler activity if there was time)  
The reality:
  • Only half the students even knew their email.   The other LA teacher did not know I expected students to have that information.
  • I changed up the order of activities so I could help students who did not know, how to log in. The others, jumped right to the Google form.
  • I also taught students the difference between logging in to Chrome and logging in to Google Apps and how to log in and out of both.
  • I demonstrated how to access Discover and some students had time to play with it.
  • 45 minute blocks go fast....there was not time for book check out but I was ok with that.  The library para can check out books.   
I got the sense that one teacher was not happy that students did not check out books and that frustrated me, that my role seemed to be tied only to books and not to technology.    The students, were excited to learn about how to use the technology and they were all engaged learners.

I am at the middle school 20% of the week.  This first year I will use that time:
  • to make the library a more appealing space that students want to come to research, read and relax. 
  • to change the perception of the library media specialists role to one of a co-teacher and collaborator. 
  • to create a physical and digital collection to support curriculum and student's reading interests. 

Follett Discover in Action

I debated what to call this post... "Follett Discover in Action" or  "My First Attempt at Screencastify'"

I know many librarians and teachers are very comfortable recording themselves and I see why. The Screencastify Chrome extension truly simpliefies making tutorials on your computer. I tried to do it in all one take which was a mistake because I did what felt like a million takes. The first one my bracelets were too jingly, the second one I called John Green Tom Green. The take I am publishing her is far from perfect but you can see how the extension works and see the video I created to help our teachers learn about Follett Discover, the SSO login and the OneSearch integration with databases. 

Yesterday I put the WeVideo extension on Chrome so that next time I will be able to cut and edit and not do a million takes. I do enjoy the learning process!


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