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A Freebie for Your Patience May 7, 2016

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Ebooks, Reflections.
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I know it’s been over 5 months since my last post, and well…life got in the way.  In the past few months, my husband and I became (very happily) pregnant, and it seems like everything just went crazy from there.  I know this will probably come as no surprise to the parents reading this, but things just…change.  There’s a gradual, but very noticeable, shift that I wasn’t expecting.

I don’t have the same drive to blog, or tweet, or create, or innovate.  To be fair, my body’s a little busy doing plenty of creating, however, I don’t feel the same ambitious desire to do anything innovative or new in my library.  It’s disconcerting, but I’m emotionally and professionally fine with it.  It’s been easier than I expected to just let it go.

Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe has an excellent blog post on how first-time fatherhood affects his professional life.  I read it last summer, and it came to mind again a couple of weeks ago.  It captures rather well how I’ve been feeling (except for the partner judging/shaming…my hubby has taken over all the cooking and most of the cleaning, so I blessedly can’t relate to that part).  I admire his ability and willingness to write about how his personal and professional lives interact.  And I wish more librarians and educators would be so honest about the realities of the elusive work-life balance.

A Freebie for Your Patience: Independent Reading Library Center | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

So for my readers’ patience, here’s a freebie of one of my library centers that I’ve used for a couple of years.  A commonly used center is the “reading independently” or “book buddies reading” center, and some other versions are available from my teacher-librarian PLN.  I made my own version for two reasons:

  1. I color-coded my library centers based on my 3 types of centers: Research Skills, Reading & Language, and Makerspace.  I assigned the color red to all the Reading & Language centers, so I wanted my Independent Reading Center to be red.
  2. I wanted to add options for reading material to include magazines and ebooks, as well as whisper-reading to a beanbag buddy or “book buddy.”

So if you’d like to try my version of this popular center, click on the image below or on THIS LINK to download it.  The zip file download contains the center sign below in PDF and Microsoft Word file formats, and an editable lesson plan in Microsoft Word file.  The clipart is from Glitter Meets Glue Designs and Empty Jar Illustrations.

Thank you for staying tuned during my temporary hiatus.  Enjoy!

Independent Reading Center FREEBIE! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Flash Freebie! Makerspace Prompt Task Cards October 6, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Fun Stuff, Makerspace!.
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When starting a makerspace, it’s sometimes helpful to start students off with some project ideas to get their creative juices flowing.  Many students are so used to finding one “right” solution to a problem.  Teaching students that some problems have many solutions and that finding those solutions might take some time…well, that’s a mindset and habit that often requires practice.

That’s where makerspace prompts can be used.  The awesome Gary Stager recommends that prompts will ideally come from students’ curiosity, discoveries, exploration, and wonderings.  He says if a teacher must design a prompt or challenge the prompt should keep these tips in mind:

1. Brevity. The best prompts fit on a Post-It! Note. They are clear, concise, and self-evident.

2. Ambiguity. The learner should be free to satisfy the prompt in their own voice, perhaps even employing strategies you never imagined.

3. Immunity to assessment…Students will want to do the best job possible when they care about their work and know that you put them ahead of a grade. If students are collaborating and regularly engaged in peer review or editing, then the judgment of an adult is really unnecessary.

Quoted from: Stager, G. S. (2012, June). A good prompt is worth 1,000 words. Retrieved from http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2779.

There are many ideas on Pinterest and social media for STEM and makerspace challenges/prompts, and I made a set of task cards based on some of them to jump-start students’ imaginations.  As part of a flash freebie promotion on Facebook, my Makerspace Project Prompt Task Cards & Materials List is FREE in my TeachersPayTeachers Store for this week only!


It was Mrs J in the Library with a #TaskCard #FlashFreebie! http://bit.ly/1WA7dD7

Posted by Teachers Pay Teachers on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Grab it while you can, and try it out!  Also, if you have more prompt or challenge ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Freebie Friday! – Learning to Code Library Center March 6, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, Reflections, Tablets & Apps.
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Blog Freebies | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Happy Friday everyone!

After an insane week like this one, it’s always nice to end on a positive note and share a resource.  Starting with the next cycle of library classes, I’m expanding the Puzzle App Center to include another option — learning to code.

Admittedly, the official Hour of Code Week was in early December.  Our school participated, but I don’t believe the PR hype that learning to code is a required skill for 21st century life and employment.  Am I the only tech geek that thinks this way? 

Yes, it’s true that some students will discover that they really enjoy coding and/or that they are good at it.  Some might eventually want to make a career of programming.  For other students, learning to code is just one means of building creativity and problem-solving skills.  And it’s certainly not the only means to that end.

For still others, programming won’t be remotely interesting, and that’s okay too.  That’s why I think it’s so important that students have as many choices, opportunities, and experiences as possible when they are in elementary school.  Sometimes you have to try a lot of things before you find what you like, how you learn, and what you’re really good at.  After all, isn’t that one of education’s core purposes?

At the “Learning to Code” library center, students will have a choice to use the Scratch™ web-based block programming language, or the Scratch™ Jr. app, or the Lightbot™ app.  Scratch™ has long been recognized as an exemplary and accessible way for children (and adults) to learn and write programs.  Students can create videos, stories, games, and much more within the Scratch™ programming environment, and save their work from week to week by creating an account.

More recently in late 2014, the FREE Scratch™ Jr. iPad app was released, and the Android app is due to be released by the end of March for devices running Android KitKat (4.4) and up.  Tablets running Android JellyBean (4.3) will be compatible later in 2015.  I know I’m “counting my chickens before they hatch” by starting the center before the Scratch™ Jr. app is released, but after looking at the website FAQ, I’m confident they’ll deliver. (UPDATE 4/4/2015 – The Android app is now available, and running on our Nexus tablets!)

Finally, the Hour of Code 2014 version of the Lightbot™ app is FREE for Apple and Android devices.  I haven’t tried the either of the paid versions yet, but once students finish all of the Lightbot challenges, then I’ll probably buy one or both.

If you’d like to try out the Learning to Code center in your library, makerspace, or classroom, you can download the center signs by clicking the image below, or by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Save Link As.”  The Word document download is editable, but the clipart is flattened to respect the designer, Sonya DeHart Design.

Learning to Code Library Center FREEBIE! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

I’d love to hear what you think of the center in the comments!  Do you teach computer programming and/or coding skills in your curriculum?  What resources and tools do you use?

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