Saturday, July 22, 2017

Keeping Work Neat With Google Keep

Back in the spring, the Lakeside High School Principal, Mr. Darin Landry, shared an app with me he used constantly with his staff. The app is called Google Keep. I had never heard of it before in my experiences with Google tools. It looked fascinating to me, but I decided to table learning about the app until summer 2017.

Overview of the App

I never forgot about the app, and this summer I have done exactly what I planned to do by getting acquainted with the tool! I used it first by downloading the free app to my iPhone. I signed in with my school Google Gmail account and immediately starting creating to-do notes for practice. I found it easy to create notes of summer tasks that need to be accomplished each week. It was also simple to label the lists by week for easy reference. After I spent several days with the app, I was ready to share the notes with Kaitlyn Price (@Kait_Price11), co-librarian with me at Lakeside High School. Sharing was as easy as selecting the collaborator icon and typing in her school Gmail address. When Kaitlyn got on campus, we starting experimenting with our new shared to-do lists. After a short time, we discovered we could use a hashtag (#Kaitlyn & Stony) to categorize our lists. We plan to share separate lists with our two library assistants using a different hashtag.

Our first library task lists for July 2017
The Impact of Using the App

During our first week working together this summer, we crossed off 18 items over the first three days of the week. It was great to be able to share notes and work together to accomplish the tasks. After a task was completed, we would check the box next to the item. After checking the box, the app marks a line through the task and drops it to the bottom of the note under "checked items." It was fulfilling to see our list get smaller. At the same time, we could add new things to the list and/ or create new notes and tasks for the weeks ahead. We both really enjoyed the experience of seeing our work notes develop and change through the days.

We loved crossing items off the list!

Additional Features
I was able to add a photo of a book cover!

I have discovered that we can pin notes to the top of the page. We can also set reminders to show up for lists at specific times and days. Kaitlyn discovered that she can color code our lists (in the web version of Google Keep) separately from our library assistants so we don't get them confused. Another favorite feature I recently discovered is that we can post photos in our lists. There are so many possibilities for this app in our daily jobs.

Advocacy Thoughts

Google Keep could be an excellent advocacy tool since it shows tasks that we accomplish. If we choose to use this consistently all year, it will serve as an archived record of our work for 2017-2018. This is great evidence to share with administrators and stakeholders. In a time when all of us should be advocating for our jobs, this appears to be an easy method to collect such work data. In addition, it will give all of our library staff a chance to see what each other is doing and offer assistance when needed. I look forward to using this tool throughout the year and learning its many features. If you use Google Keep and want to share your experience or advice, be sure to add it in the comments below.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

My ISTE 2017 Reflections

I just got back from attending the ISTE conference in San Antonio, Texas. It had been eight years since I attended an ISTE conference, and I had forgotten how massive of a gathering it is. My friend and colleague, Tracey Wong (@TraceyCarayol), had put in for us to present at the conference, and we were so excited to have another chance to speak together. We were also very fortunate to have the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Travel Program (MIEExpert) approve to send us to the conference since our session was accepted!

Huge Conference

Words can't describe how large of a conference ISTE has grown to be. We were told that approximately 21,000 were in attendance at the event. I enjoyed how many options there were for sessions. They offered breakout sessions, poster sessions, technology playgrounds, and the largest expo exhibits area I have ever experienced in my life. There was so much to do and see that I was constantly overwhelmed. For the remainder of the article, I want to share some of the highlights I learned about.


I'm so grateful to Karey Killian for arranging several of us to visit an after hours demonstration of Lifeliqe's virtual reality and augmented reality products. Karey is a teacher librarian and MIEExpert in Pennsylvania. I was able to view their 3D app, and I was amazed at the quality of the animation. The real treat for me was my first experience with wearing a virtual reality viewer and experiencing their immersive software environment. I was able to view the International Space Station, an animated horse, and much more. It was so amazing to be transported to another place while wearing the viewing appliance. I truly hope to add something like this to the school library innovation space this year.


While at the Lifeliqe demonstration, I was also able to try the Microsoft Hololens for the first time. This tool provided me with a mixed reality environment. I could still see what was happening in the room while being able to view 3D objects through the Hololens appliance. I liked it because there were no cables or controls hanging from the device. I could simply make motions in the air with my hands to select the 3D objects. It was amazing!

Microsoft Translator

I have used Skype Translator several times in the past. While at ISTE, I attended a special focus group for a new product by Microsoft called Translator. This is a stand alone app or web-based tool that users can have to translate their messages to individuals or groups. I was very intrigued by the possibilities of this product, and I plan to use it this school year!

Makerspace Points from Laura Fleming

I have followed Laura Fleming (@LFlemingEDU) for quite a long time on social media. She is a teacher librarian in New Jersey and is well known for her makerspace innovations. I was very delighted to meet her at ISTE, and I also attended one of her sessions. She discussed her journey of creating a school library makerspace. My biggest takeaway from her session is that no two makerspaces are alike; we must create them based on the needs of students and the learning community.

Future Ready Libraries

I was super excited to have the opportunity to participate in a TLChat Live session with Jonathan Werner (@MaineSchoolTech) and Sherry Gick (@sherryngick)! I have interacted with the two of them on social media for a few years. They were so nice to allow me to participate in the TLChat Live video session. We talked about highlights at ISTE and some Future Ready topics. I have to admit I was very nervous to be sitting between two extreme leaders in our profession! I hope to have the opportunity to interact with them again in the future.

Working in the Microsoft Experience Room

Microsoft had a very strong presence at ISTE. One of my favorite areas they had established was called the Microsoft Experience Room. In that room was a great setup for Skype in the Classroom. I had volunteered to help with Skype and had the opportunity to work with the Skype in the Classroom team for a few hours on my second day at the conference. I learned about four great live Skype Virtual Field Trips while I was there:

  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
  • Florida Oceanographic Society
  • Buffalo Bill Centre of the West
  • National WWII Museum

You can visit for more information on these free connections for your classroom!

Our Session

Tracey and I had about 65 people attend our breakout session called Game Design as a Catalyst for Learning. Tracey showed off her Virtual Reality setup by VR Quest. After this, she gave a brief overview of Minecraft Education Edition. Following the overview, I shared some specific applications our students created from this past school year. The highlight of the session was when we used Facetime to connect with Jordan, one of my students back in Arkansas. He was able to share how he had used Minecraft for school projects and why he liked it so much! Many thanks to our friends at ISTE for allowing us to share our voices at the conference! 

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Professional Development: A Future Ready Library Buffet

Before the end of school, I was super excited to get an email from an Arkansas Educational Cooperative in our state. They wanted to know if I was available to present a summer session on Skype, Makerspaces, and other library leadership topics to teacher librarians in the area served by the cooperative. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time since it would be a six-hour session. I have presented breakout sessions at conferences and even a few keynotes, but never a full day facilitating professional learning. I remember looking at the calendar and programming a date during my summer vacation time. Then came the fun part: planning the event.

I asked my wife Cindy (@CindyRookEvans) to join me on this trip. She is also a teacher librarian at the K-6 level, and I knew that she could share some powerful stories for those attending from elementary schools. We brainstormed and decided to share about our many library collaboration programs, Mystery Skype and Skype Field Trips, Makerspaces, Social Media Presence, and Annual Reports. By the end of school, I was ready for the training date to come around so we could share these topics with new friends.

 The Event

We arrived at the DeQueen-Mena Education Cooperative in plenty of time to set up and prepare for teacher librarians to show up. I started with introductions and a Microsoft Sway I had created to outline the day.

Library Collaborations 

To start our content for the day, we shared about our many library collaboration programs from grades K-6 and 8-12. I enjoyed telling the story of how our first common core collaboration began in 2012 with the book Fearless by Eric Blehm. I also shared about collaborations centered around the Dust Bowl and Great Gatsby. Several teacher librarians began sharing how they would like to do a similar collaboration using the book Fearless around 9/11 or Veterans Day. It was encouraging to see teacher librarians thinking out of the box and considering new ways to collaborate and connect with their learning communities. Cindy shared about some of the collaborations she had done over the past two years with grades 5 and 6, such as Writing in the Dark, Mythology Introduction, and Court in the Library. Again, several teacher librarians seemed interested in knowing more.

The best way to learn Mystery Skype... Do it!
Mystery Skype

For the next event, I shared about Mystery Skype and how we use this engaging activity to collaborate with social studies and geography classes. After a brief introduction, we set up the room and actually connected with Tracey Wong (@TraceyCarayol) and her 3rd-grade students in New York to practice playing Mystery Skype. We connected with them for about 30 minutes. Afterward, we asked her students why they enjoy Mystery Skype. One girl said she liked connecting with other places. It was so good to have our group of 14 teacher librarians hearing student voices share their excitement about connecting! Thank you for playing Mystery Skype with us, Tracey!

Teacher Librarians loved Skype in the Classroom
Skype in the Classroom

Next, we shared the Skype in the Classroom portion of the Microsoft Education website. I had the teacher librarians find virtual field trips that they might want to try this next school year. Several teacher librarians found interesting potential trips! Most of them were not aware of these wonderful resources. I was so glad we could share these tools with them.


Many of the teacher librarians didn't have experience with Makerspace tools. To give them some hands-on opportunities, we set up 5 tables in the classroom with different innovation tools to try out. We had Legos, Makey-Makeys, K'nex, Little Bits, electronic kits, Cublets, Light Up Edison Kit, and Ollies.  We split them into groups and had them change table stations every 10 minutes. We went around and helped if they needed it. The teacher librarians learned that the best way to get comfortable with maker activities is to just give it a try. We also encouraged them to let their students be the experts. Student-led innovations have worked wonderfully for us at our schools. 

Makerspace Stations
Annual Reports

I shared how annual reporting has changed the perception of the school library at both school districts I have served as a teacher librarian. We took a long look at the components that I selected. I also shared my reasons for choosing each component for my annual reports.

Social Media Presence

I ended the day with sessions on how we use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogging to share the value of our school library programs. I also shared how these tools were now connecting us to educators all over the nation and world. It was a lot of fun to share a few stories about connecting from this school year.


I felt honored to be invited to share our best practices with educators in a different part of the state. I hope our new friends will take a few of the tools that we shared and try them this school year. In reflection, I think I crammed too much into the day. It was a good introduction to many concepts that have changed the learning communities at both my school and Cindy's. Since there never is enough time for any professional development, perhaps, this "Future Ready Library Buffet" training was just right to give the teacher librarians a small taste of how they can change their schools forever.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.

How our students presented innovation spaces in the library.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Makerspace Resources

I've been preparing for a full day session on makerspaces and library innovations. Since spring, I've been collecting books for our students that have additional questions about our maker tools. These are some of the books I'm going to add to our library and share with participants in my upcoming sessions. I'm also sharing books that my wife, Cindy Evans (@CindyRookEvans), has recently purchased for her elementary learners.

Be sure to add your recommendations to the comments below!

High School Level

Chopra, A. (2015). SketchUp 2014 For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.
Drumm, B. (2016). Make: 3D printing projects: Toys, tools, tools, and contraptions to print and build yourself. San Francisco: Maker Media.
Graves, C., & Graves, A. (2017). The big book of makerspace projects: Inspiring makers to experiment, create, and learn. New York: McGraw Hill Education.
Jelley, C., Bolder, J., & Marsh, R. (2016). Minecraft: Medieval fortress: Exploded builds. New York: Del Rey.
McGrath, M. (2015). Coding for beginners in easy steps:. Leamington Spa,: In Easy Steps.

Smith, N. (2014). The ultimate unofficial guide to MinecraftĂ‚® strategies: Everything you need to know to build, explore, attack, and survive in the world of Minecraft. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Upper Elementary/ Middle School Level
Fontichiaro, K. (2017). Organizing a makerfest. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.
Kopp, M. (2017). Maker projects for kids who love electronics. St. Catharines, Ontario: Crabtree Publishing Company.
Levete, S. (2017). Maker projects for kids who love sports. St. Catharines, Ontario: Crabtree Publishing Company.
Lovett, A. (2017). Littlebits. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.
Ng, S. (2017). Makey Makey. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.
O'Neill, T., & Williams, J. (2013). 3D printing. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.
Roslund, S., & Rodgers, E. P. (2014). Makerspaces. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.
Spence, K. (2017). Maker projects for kids who love photography. St. Catharines, Ontario: Crabtree Publishing Company.
Williams, P. (2017). Starting a makerspace. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publishing.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Our first makerspace day in the library.

How our students presented innovation spaces in the library.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Shallows Library Collaboration

A few years ago, one of our English teachers (Mrs. Jennifer Garner) approached me about having her students lead a learning activity based on The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. This was one of the first student-led collaborations that we attempted in the library. I was delighted when Mrs. Garner approached me about having the program again this school year. In this article, she joins me in describing how her students held this program in the library.

Description of the Program (Mrs. Jennifer Garner, English Teacher, Lakeside High School)

Students present a video about the history of the Internet

Students in my senior-level English 12 Transitions class read The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, as a part of the curriculum designed by the Southern Regional Education Board’s College Ready course. Working with this text prepares students for college-level work as they gain skills in reading and writing claims and evidence. Students in my junior-level AP Language and Composition course also study this text as they study sources and evidence in preparation for writing the synthesis essay. The English 12 students read the text early in the year. The AP students read it at the beginning of the second semester. As a capstone for the unit, my English 12 students design, plan, and execute a collaborative event designed to introduce the AP students to the text. This event is planned with the assistance of our school media specialist, Stony Evans, and takes place in the Media Center. Based on their understanding of the text and what students need to know in order to have some background schema, the English 12 students created four stations based on major claims and information presented in The Shallows: multitasking, e-texts vs. print texts, the history and development of the Internet, and Internet use. The students determined which concepts were important and created the stations based on those concepts. They consulted with Mr. Evans and shared with him their needs for media and supplies. The multitasking station required participants to perform multiple cognitive tasks, such as drawing, watching a video, listening to music, and listening to a presentation, all at the same time. Students conducting the station then asked a series of questions about how well they completed each task. The etexts vs. print text station required students to read an e-text with hyperlinks and then answer a series of questions that assessed their comprehension of what they read. The history station traced the development of the Internet via a video; student leaders then lead a discussion with the students about the content of the video. Finally, at the Internet Use station, students completed a Google survey about their Internet use and habits, the results of which were immediately shared and discussed with the student leaders. Students spent approximately 10 minutes at each station and rotated through all four stations during the 50-minute class period.

YouTube video from our Facebook Live broadcast of the event.

Teacher Reflection

Having taught students on all levels of learning, I realize the importance of building background knowledge and creating some level of enthusiasm before reading difficult texts. I also believe students learn best when they take some ownership in their learning. This collaborative project enabled my on-level seniors to take ownership as they developed and implemented this project. It also gave students who are often unmotivated and sometimes feel “less than” – because they are in an on-level course – to make an important contribution to the learning of other students. The project gave my AP students valuable information about the content of the text, which they have frequently referenced in class discussions. As a result of the collaboration, my senior English students experienced confidence and satisfaction in having contributed to an important project while reinforcing their understanding of the text. I witnessed growth in several of my seniors and realized many of them have skills and abilities that aren’t revealed in the classroom setting. For example, one student really stood out as she led discussions about multitasking. Her enthusiasm was evident as my AP students listened intently and engaged in discussion with her. She is a student who never would have had an opportunity to interact with advanced students in a class because she has always taken on-level classes. In fact, she has struggled with and even failed English classes in the past. She now has an A in English.

As teachers, we often feel we must control and implement every aspect of students’ learning. We undervalue students’ gifts and abilities when our classrooms are teacher-centered rather than student-centered. There are times when we must be the focus for learning, but giving students an opportunity to learn from one another in projects such as this not only brings out their skills and confidence, but strengthens them as learners and valuable members of a classroom and school community.

Students discuss the impact of multitasking
Student Reflection

The Shallows has influenced me alot. It has put alot of thoughts in my head. I think of all the pros and cons of the Internet. It makes me think "is it worth it?" There are some serious cons to using the Internet all th time. But there are great pros to using it also. The Shallows collaborative event really showed some light on the effects of using the Internet. I sat with groups of kids, and some it didn't really get in to their brain of what I was trying to say. But a couple of groups really got into it and I think expressing some of my experiences that I've gone through. The Internet can be a blessing and a curse. (This program) has made them think and change their perspective on using the Internet. - Lissie

Teacher Librarian Reflection/ Conclusion

This program is an excellent example of how the school library can support a student led collaborative learning event. We have so many resources in our library spaces just waiting to be utilized by visionary students. I believe this is an important mission for the Future Ready Librarian. It is so crucial that we assist teachers in giving their students a voice in the classroom. The library is a perfect staging area for such events since we have resources on every subject in addition to vibrant technology. I will be using Mrs. Garner's students as an example for other teachers (and students) in our learning community. I can't wait to see how this program inspires others to step out of their comfort zones!

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Close the year with student voices!

Connect your library with Skype.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Close The Year With Student Voices

As the hectic pace of May continues to build, it is easy to get wrapped up in end-of-the-year procedures. During this time teacher librarians everywhere are making lists of overdue items, teaching classes, completing library inventory reports, and more. What if we also used these last few weeks as a time to invite students to give us feedback on how the year went for them in the library? This is exactly what we have done at Lakeside High School for the past few weeks, and the feedback has been informative. We wanted to know how our services impacted the students. We also want to know how students think we can improve. Read on for a brief description of how we have heard their voices.

Google Form Survey

We decided to create a Google Form to email out to all of the students. We asked only four questions (3 multiple choice and 1 optional short paragraph written answer).

  • The library media center has a warm and inviting climate for the LHS learning community. (Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree)

A large number of students agree that the library climate is warm and inviting!

  • The student resources in the library media center serve your needs (both academic & recreational). (Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree)
The majority of students that responded gave positive reviews of library resources.

  • The library staff demonstrates a good understanding of technology and assists students with technology problems in a timely manner. (Always, Sometimes, Rarely, Never)

The majority of students that responded seem to be happy with our technology assistance.

  • Please tell us how we can improve our services. (If you should have a complaint, please provide a possible solution). 41 students responded to this optional short answer response.

We emailed the link out to approximately 1360 students. 110 voluntarily participated! I must admit, I was a bit nervous to open ourselves up to anonymous feedback in this format. The results were very encouraging. We also identified a need that our users indicated in their written responses. Several students requested that we provide a quiet space for study before school and during lunch. I can understand this request since the library typically has well over 60-100 students in its spaces during those periods. We have always had a "quiet zone" available to students, but few have asked for it. This feedback lets us know it is still a need to a small population of our users. We are already advertising the "quiet zone" again even though there are only a few weeks left of school. In addition, we have been brainstorming additional quiet spaces for next year and have been consulting with our administrators on future possibilities. This process has let me see the value of seeking our user's voices! If I wouldn't have taken a risk in posting the survey for everyone, we may have not learned about this need!


We also decided to create an opportunity for students to share their voices in a more personal way. Kaitlyn Price (co-librarian) and I have been experimenting with Padlet this year. We thought it would be interesting to ask students what they will remember most about the library from this school year. We decided to make this a fun activity with the opportunity to win something. (If students give feedback, they get to enter a prize drawing.) We posted this question on a Padlet, "What will you remember about the library this year? Tell us what stands out to you." We put this on an iPad at the front desk and announced the drawing for anyone that participates. So far, 14 students have participated. They have written some wonderful things for us to read. It has made our library staff realize how much being consistently friendly and supportive can make a difference to young people. Here are some of their responses:

"I like to sit in the library and read or study while listening to music. The librarians are always really nice, whether it's letting me leave my stuff in the library or suggesting books. I'll remember the book that I was suggested with one week to read, and of course the librarian who suggested it." 
"I will remember the book club. I was introduced to a new book called Unwind and the discussions we had and getting to talk to other schools about the book Wonder."
Padlet Screenshot

"I will remember how welcoming all the librarians are. Each time I come it I feel at home and I never feel like I'm going to be turned away. I will always remember how they helped me come out of my bubble this year and encouraged me to participate in school events." 

"I will remember the first time coming here for a tour of the campus. The library was the most memorable thing about the school. I could not wait to come in here and feel comfortable reading with everyone else. Also, me and my friends eat in the library for breakfast and lunch and we always enjoy being in here." 


Kaitlyn and I also decided to give students an option to respond on Flipgrid by creating short videos. So far, students have favored the Padlet more. (Most say that they don't like making video responses.)  Previously, I had also used Flipgrid to allow students to answer this question, "How has the school library changed you this year?" We had 8 students and 1 teacher respond. I recently used some of these as part of a keynote presentation at a library conference! Special thanks to Microsoft Education for providing Flipgrid to Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts this school year. It has made a difference for me and our learning community through these activities.

Incorporate Feedback Into An Annual Report

Now that we have this data, we must do something with it! Kaitlyn and I can't wait to share portions of these results on our annual report. The survey shows areas of strength according to our learners; in addition,  we know the areas that we need to improve for next year. The Padlet and Flipgrid entries share specific stories from students. Such endorsements from student users are gold to library stakeholders! These wonderful quotes and stories share the value of the school library program to our administrators and school board. Now that we have tried this with success, I want to improve our surveys in the future. There are so many ways we can solicit student feedback!

I hope you will also consider stepping out of your comfort zone and invite your student users to give feedback. You never know what ideas they may present to you. It is true that all feedback will not be useful. One thing is for certain, if students see you acting on their feedback and/ or appropriate requests, good things will happen. Such actions show them that their voices are important and the library is for them. I think you will be surprised how little input students typically have in public school. Why not lead this process from the library?

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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