Friday, we kicked off 2017 in our library with Bagels and Books for teachers!
As I was on holiday break, I was able to spend time with my husband's family in New York. His aunt is also in public education (in the Bronx btw), and so we always spend time talking about our different experiences in education. If you're a teacher, you know what I mean. It's so hard to talk about anything else when you're around other educators. No matter what the conversation starts off with, the end result is always the same. We talk about school. It's amazing the similarities we have been our two schools even though we are hundreds of miles apart. In our busy school days from teaching, meetings, lunch duties, after school duties, and MORE, it's extremely difficult to find time (and stick to it) to collaborate on lessons. In my previous school, I was always collaborating with teachers on lessons in the library or in the classroom on a variety of topics (integrating technology, books, information literacy, etc.) from one lesson to possibly a whole unit or semester's worth. It has been difficult for me adjusting to finding where I can help when we are all so busy. I started this webpage and this blog to help, but I feel the need to do more. I miss face-to-face interactions! That's when you get the most collaboration happening. So, as we were talking over bagels, it just hit me. BAGELS. Bagels and books was born! First, the easiest way to attract teachers (even if they are busy) is food, especially delicious food. What teacher doesn't love bagels and COFFEE?! Secondly, I believe in the ripple affect. Since I have started my teaching career (eons ago now), I have learned if you want to make an impact on anything, you start small, and that ripple will grow as you nurture it.
We have a Writer's Workshop initiative in our school, but many of our teachers do not know what books or resources we have in the library to help. Because WW is in our SIP plan and teachers really want good activities to go along with WW, I decided to start my 'ripple' with some of our new books I have recently purchased just for teachers and Writer's Workshop. I picked one of my favorite new books (The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield) and created resources to go along with the book in a shared Google Drive folder so all teachers could access it. E-mailing is so easy, but it lacks that personal touch I miss about collaborating, and it's easy to delete or save for later (aka forget about it). I decided to do our first Bagels and Books on this new folder and my favorite new book.
I announced our Bagels and Books several times through e-mails, Facebook, and my Instagram account. My daughter helped me to pick out what food and coffee to bring. We set everything up with handouts, QR codes on books for book trailers, the links to our resources...and I was terrified nobody would show up. Boy was I wrong! It was wonderful being able to share our new books, provide ready-to-go resources for teachers, and be able to discuss the books openly away from a computer. My daughter stayed to share her ideas on the books as well (since we've read most of the books together at home). Several teachers wanted to check out the books right away. At the end of the day, I think teachers enjoyed seeing and interacting with the new books, loved getting a few more resources they could use that day in the classroom, and some time to relax with one another to just talk about books and life.
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What is it?
Does anyone remember Glogster?! I used that when I first started teaching eons ago. ThingLink is so much like it, except more modern and user friendly!
ThingLink provides an easy-to-use platform for creating engaging, interactive images. It gives kids the potential to create meaningful content for any subject. Example uses are available from the featured content page, which might help some kids get a better idea of how best to use the tool. Because of its focus on images rather than text, ThingLink easily supports multiple learning styles and literacy levels.
Word of Caution
A username and password is required, and the developer suggests users be 13 or older. Some of the content posted to the "featured images" or search results might be too mature for younger kids.
There are levels of how you can use ThingLink. The free version is great for me and the age group I am with. However, the new 360 degree version (quite neat) will cost you $120 per year. This would also allow you to have 10 classrooms or 1,000 students, making this a great choice, even though it is pricey, for teachers of older students.
Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers (love him!) posted a great article refrencing a presentation from Donna Baumbach about 91+ interesting ways you can use ThingLink in the classroom. There are so many ways you can use it. With older students, I would ask them to be creators of their own ThingLinks, but with the elementary age, using ThingLink as a source of information and presentations would be an excellent way to use it.
It's so easy to use!
As a media specialist, I out out a book teaser each month highlighting new books. ThingLink lets me e-mail all the teachers, students, and parents to let them know about the new books PLUS the links to reviews, book trailers, or interactive games associated with the books helps to accumulate interest with them and their students/children.
School Librarian Advocating for Student Voice in Metro Atlanta