Thing 50: New AASL Standards


Like most new things I am facing  the new AASL standards with some excitement and some fear. What are the key differences? Are they really different? I am looking forward to getting a start with Thing 50: New AASL Standards.

Being a linear thinker I started at the top of this “thing” and continued down. What a ride it was! After the video I was more confused than ever. I spent a good hour reading the short pamphlet AASL Standards Framework for Learner Standards and trying to pick it apart and understand it. Don’t do that! Get a general understanding and keep going. It becomes clearer. As I read further down in the post I got the gist to envision different projects and digital tools as I was reviewing the standards. Things started to make sense when I looked at the grid from the angle of  “How do my current projects do this?” instead of “What projects do I need to create to meet all these standards?”.

Love, love, love the AASL One-Pagers for Stakeholders! I will be distributing these to teachers as I collaborate and to parents at open house. Viewing the standards as promotional material for my program further emphasized how I already do much of this and can tweak my library program and projects to do more.

As recommended I completed Paige Jaeger’s exercise from New AASL Standards, So What? My reflections:

  • Each project I work on meets different standards. This can be good if we eventually hit them all. Bad if we are missing some.
  • I am strong on teaching students to cite sources and we have a plan in place to get  better at this next year!
  •  It is impossible to hit all standards all the time.
  • It would be beneficial to ensure we are meeting the same standards at each grade level. That way we can build on prior knowledge and everyone has opportunities to practice.
  • One thing that would be easy to implement (and I will do it this week) is Reflect on Learning
  • Including either Paige Jaeger’s chart or checklist with each project and then reviewing at the end of the year would be a good way to ensure we are hitting the standards and will also help us see small areas we can tweak projects to meet more standards.

While I know I have a long way to go I feel like I am starting with a good foundation and I’m looking forward to other AASL Standards PD I have scheduled in June and July.

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Thing 15: Augmented & Virtual Reality

When I started this lesson I had a loose concept of what augmented & virtual reality is I had NO idea how they applied to the classroom.

The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast was a great introduction to the topic. I learned so much in 10-minutes! Field trips in Google Cardboard sound like a great personal learning experience. I love their points that you need to have someone watching the person that is using the headset to prevent them from walking into a door!

The podcast pointed out some cool things you can do with AR and VR but I really liked the article 10 Reasons to Use Virtual Reality in the Classroom that talks about the WHY of using AR and VR. My favorite reason: Promote curiosity and wonder. Much of my job is working on research projects with the students. Often we use literature as a source of inspiration. It would be great to have a bank of VR experiences to inspire students to want to learn more!

I tried out two apps.

  • SkyMap was cool! While this isn’t an area I collaborate with teachers often it was something the students had an interest in and was fun to play with. I can see some of them pulling out their phones at night to identify stars.
  • I had heard of using Aurasma for booktalks. Now that it is HP Reveal it has a much more corporate feel to it and is not something I would try to use with my students.
  • Google Expeditions is amazing. I will recommend this to one of the science teachers I frequently work with. The students in her class are researching volcanoes in hopes of creating their own volcano with the same elements as the real volcano style. Being able to learn about lava flow and eruption styles in 3D would be amazing! I believe this is a topic that the students would benefit greatly with VR.

Overall I can say I now know the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality and know that I need to keep my eye out for ways to use this in the library classroom. This is new technology to be aware of but I don’t see that I have the ability to implement it at this time.

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Thing 35: Supporting English Language Learners

ELLEarlier this year I was able to attend a full day training session on ELLs. This class was enlightening as to the different cultural and educational differences and while I learned a lot there I look forward to learning more about how I can better support students as a Librarian.

The article“10 Ways to Support ELLs in the School Library” by Jacqueline Jules. My first impression reading this article was that many of these tips are better suited to an elementary library and the only things I could do differently is:

  • Provide books in multiple languages in easy to access displays
    • I have been looking for something to write a grant for! Our ENL students have iPads to carry around so a selection of ebooks and print books might be good
    • Once I get the books I will be sure to keep them in a central, easy to access, location. Without making it obvious in a way that would make my High School ENL students feel welcomed, not uncomfortable.
  • Provide Books and Information on Countries of Origin
    • Great idea and easily implemented!
    • Perhaps we can go one step further and in collaboration with the ENL instructors ask the students to provide items for our glass display cases. 

But then I looked at the Presentation slide deck by Diana Wendell  and it totally changed my perspective. It would be so easy to make sure that the signs in the library are printed with the main languages are students speak! One of my Teaching Assistants has run a storytime that was well loved by the students. Advertising this to the ENL teachers, incorporating cultural stories and using props would probably be a big hit.  Like the last slide says we need to start small and incorporate one new action each year. Here’s my list for next year:

  1. Reach out to ENL teachers to find out what the primary languages are of the students.
  2. Work with increasing the awareness of library staff  on our population, there struggles and how we can help. Without staff buy in we are not going to get far.
  3. Update library signs to be in multiple languages.

I started a LibGuide page of resources for the ENL instructors but rather than re-create the wheel I found one I liked from Madison Area Technical College ELL Libguide and asked for permission to reuse it. I will update this guide and also incorporate features from the Duke University Guide to create a resource for our students.

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Thing 11: DIY – Classroom Timers

We frequently do activities that are timed and while I know some teachers embed timers in their smartboard presentation I don’t always need a presentation so I was looking for something quick and dirty.

Pinterest to the rescue! With a quick Pinterest search I found three options:


Super quick and easy. They have a whole selection of classroom timers. It takes less than a few minutes to setup. This is a straight forward timer but it has fun options: a bomb, snails racing, a standard egg timer. It even has a video timer feature. Maybe a crackling fire during free read time would be enjoyed. I am thinking this timer could help me too. I often get distracted and lose track of time when working on lesson plans and this blog — Full disclosure: that quick search I talked about took at least 45 minutes. I have great ideas for my bathroom renovation now too 🙂 — perhaps knowing I was racing a timer would have helped me stay on track.

Classroom Screen

Talk about a feature rich, easy to use tool!  I could write a paper on classroom screen and it’s features. Notable things about classroom screen:

  • Timer with sounds. Can be displayed as analog or digital. *drawback is you need to reset the timer each time. Whereas in online-stopwatch you can just hit restart if you need the same time.
  • Ability to set the background and add text to it. You can even set the background to be a live camera. They advertise that no video is saved but I don’t know how I feel about that feature.
  • Cool traffic stop light
  • Icons to indicate desired sound level for the activity
  • Ability to run a poll for students to vote by tapping the smartboard
  • You cannot save your screens. You must set it up each time you wish to use it.


Testing and Verdict

I ran a speed dating book talk with each of these tools. In this book talk students spent a set amount of time at each station. After the timer went off they moved to the next station. I really thought I would like Classroom Screen more since it had more features. However, here’s what happened:

  • Online-Stopwatch was so easy the students were able to do it themselves as they were changing stations therefore freeing me up to work with other students.
  • The noise monitor in classroom screen didn’t read correctly based on where my microphone was built in. I think I would need a different microphone.
  • I couldn’t preset the voting question for the end of class and in the hectic end of class didn’t get to it.

For my book talks I will use Online-Stopwatch but I am keeping ClassroomScreen in my toolkit. It is so robust I am sure there will be time it suits my needs!






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Thing 47: Productivity Tools Part 1

There are so many productivity tools I want to explore in Thing 47! I will be doing this “Thing” in two parts. For Part 1 I will work on getting a work and personal OneNote account organized.

I have three reasons to explore these tools:

  1. After haphazardly using Evernote for years I realized they made a change. With the free version you only able sync two devices. Since I want to be able to use it with my laptop, iPhone, and iPad this means I have to pay or finally move my personal life to OneNote.  I am not going to pay. Time to move.  Side Note: I have to laugh at myself since I have no idea how long ago they made this change is this really a problem 🙂 But seriously, there really are some things in Evernote I want to keep including lesson resources I refer back to periodically.
  2. I have a OneNote folder I share with a coworker and would like to know how to use it better. I feel there are many things I can do with OneNote that I am not taking advantage of.
  3. Another reason for working with OneNote is my home filing system (and hopefullly eventually my work filing system). My husband loves OneNote and uses it frequently for everything. I am in the process of getting stuff out of our house and want to shrink/eliminate my filing cabinet. I am hoping to find a way to do that and still share all the information in it with my family.

I used this article to Import notes from Evernote into OneNote. At first I tried to transfer files usingEvernote on the web with the .enex file but that seemed to only transfer one note at a time. Next I downloaded  and synced Evernote for Windows and followed the steps to import. I got the message that it couldn’t find my Evernote files. So I searched in Evernote Help and figured out how to use exporter to export entire notebooks. I exported my notebooks one at a time but it brought all the pages within the notebooks so that was fine. I had to export some notebooks since I tried the “Organize by tag” feature and realized that wasn’t what I wanted. This took a lot longer than I had hoped. In the end I have a lot of stuff in OneNote and need to figure out how to organize it in a way that fits my needs.

To help me better understand the layout and how to use it I watched some short YouTube videos.

  • Michele Christensen‘s Video shows how she organizes her notebooks. Great inspiration when trying to determine how to share and work with others. Her tips at 6:48 on when to create a new notebook are really helpful! And yes, I clipped that list and added it to my OneNote 🙂
  • Doug Thomas’s How I Organize OneNote – Great for an overview of the different features. NOTE: Features at the end are a promo for added tools. Not free with OneNote.
  • Microsoft OneNote Tutorial – Great tutorial showing the various features of OneNote. The tutorial shows the Mac version but I was easily able to locate the features in Windows.
  • Clear Your Desk with Microsoft OneNote – Shows both the features of OneNote and the practical application of the various features.
  • Nancy Nogueras’s How I set up my monthly pages video might be useful if you want to start using OneNote as a planner.  She discusses the use of Onetastic as an addin. 

I could watch these videos and play with my OneNote files like this all day! But it’s time to get started using it for myself and exploring before using it with students. Very exciting!

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Thing 25: Student Assessment & Feedback Tools

This is an activity that I always find something new and usable.

Last year I used this activity to solve the problem of students skipping the videos during Library Orientation. We used Vizia to insert questions and a “secret code” into the videos. This ensured that the students watched the videos. You can view the final results here:

This year I explored two different tools for use with my clubs. Remind, a communication tool, and Google Forms.


I often need to communicate with my clubs and until now have relied on the student officers to run all communications, sharing my cell number only with the officers.  I created a Remind class for my club and gave the kids the code to sign up. Many of the students have used Remind with other groups and were familiar with the app. Some of the parents also joined the Remind group so I can communicate with parents and students. Using Remind I can send messages to individual students, different groups of students or the entire group. All without them having my phone number! You have the option to enable responses from students. When students reply to your message their name shows up in the message. There is a feature to set office hours that I did not try. I love that I can use this on both my phone and my computer. I can send the kids attachments. I can enable one-way or two-way communication. All great stuff.

Google Forms

Along with simple texts to my clubs I sometimes need to gather information. Google forms turns out to be a simple and flexible way to do that. To test out Google forms I:

  • Created a student survey of possible upcoming field trips.
  • Surveyed my family on food and drink for an upcoming party.
  • Created a form to use for my 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Notes and observations on my experience.

  • It is easy to text or email the survey link.
  • Students and family members had no problem accessing the form on their smartphones.
  • You need to remember a field for people to enter their names if it’s important. Otherwise you will have lots of answers with no idea who said it. Ooops!
  • If you try to change a tick mark grid to tick boxes you will lose all 40 categories you have already entered. Bigger oops!
  • Don’t panic. There IS an undo button in the upper right with the three dots.
  • You must have wanted a checkbox grid all along.
  • As you type the question Google anticipates the type of field you want….. frighteningly correctly.
  • Results show up in a Google spreadsheet that you can then manipulate as needed.
  • At this time I do not have a need to grade Google forms feedback but am including this video on Google forms grading  for future reference.

Two more great tools I look to using frequently.


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Thing 9: Search Tools Ninja

Use a search tool other than Google? Not something I spend much time thinking about doing. However, in the spirit of exploring new resources to provide them to teachers I decided Search Tools Ninja is a good “thing” to explore.

Tools I explored:

DuckDuckGo – A search engine that doesn’t track what you do. That would have been helpful for the Holiday Season. It seems every time I opened my browser I was showing people what I had been shopping for.

Two things I loved about DuckDuckGo

  1. The ! Bang search feature. Type in !Amazon blue sneakers and you go right to Amazon to look at blue sneakers. Cuts out an additional step. Love that.
  2. The Search this domain feature on the bottom right of the search results. I was able to quickly delve deeper into a webpage without redoing my search.


Million Short – What a great way to shop for clothes!  The ability to remove the items by layers was fun! I had to remove 10K items before finding rainboots from stores I had not heard of and, while that was fun, it wasn’t enough to keep me exploring for long. The “take a tour” feature didn’t seem to work in either browser I tried and the other filters weren’t something that I found helpful.


Carrot Search 

The visual display of the Circles and FoamTree options provides a useful way to start sorting results. This could be very helpful to researchers as they are narrowing down their research topics. I searched vaping in both the eToolsWeb Search and the PubMed search tab to compare the subcategory results. They were as different as you would expect.

I really enjoyed trying out the Cool Tools Resources custom google search and look forward to that “Aha!” moment when I find the chance to try out my own  Google Custom Search

I have added these three search engines to my LibGuide along with Google Custom Search

I can see using Carrot Search  to help students narrow down their research topics. Note: some of the databases offer this feature too. It would be interesting to have the students use Carrot Search  and then compare the results to the database visual.





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Kicking off a new PD year 2017-2018

Looking forward to kicking off another new year of Cool Tools for Schools.

This year I am going for breadth rather than depth. We recently launched our library libguide providing me a place to drop lists of tools for teachers and students to try on their own. I will be looking to provide useful free tools for the students and teachers to explore on their own. Of course, along the way, I am bound to find tools I need to delve into more deeply. But hey, that’s what learning is all about.


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Thing 11: DIY – MLA 8 Resources

GOAL: Locate resources for a Professional Development class and for teaching students next year.


MLA Style Center

The MLA Style Center  published by the Modern Language Association provides a long list of resources:

  • The MLA Practice Template provided shows the framework for students to use for locating and completing their Works Cited entry.
  • The Works Cited Quick Guide  provides a nice graphic of some basic sources.
  • LESSON IDEA: Create a graphic for students showing the concept of a container. Give students this link to show how to complete the MLA Practice Template. Provide students the MLA Practice Template and links to sources to be used to complete the template. Have students correct their own paper by providing a Prezi indicating where the info came from much like the Works Cited Quick Guide.
  • The Works Cited List Peer Grading lesson is easy to incorporate into any  research paper.  In reading the provided worksheet it occurs to me that another way to do this is by having the students actually locate the source their peer is referencing. This will provide students a basis as to the importance of the different pieces of information.
  • Hey, my idea from above actually exists as a pre-done lesson! Reading and Writing Citations
  • The Group Presentation on MLA Style lesson is one I will propose to all teachers to consider for their students at the beginning of the year to provide a solid foundation for MLA style. I will especially emphasize this for my 9th grade teachers.

Purdue OWL

The Purdue OWL MLA Citation Guide  has pages on each type of entry that some students might find helpful. The Powerpoint Presentation is dry but could be helpful in instruction.


Since MLA 8 is becoming more flexible I decided to explore Noodletools for changes relating to MLA 8. While they have changed the platform a little bit nothing really addresses the container idea. So I will explore other online citations tools such as Bibme and CitationMachine. The MLA Workshop provided didn’t help me plan my teaching but gives me good ideas for discussion.



I did not find Bibme to offer any resources that were useful. I created an account and in the end didn’t like their style at all. I found the webpage to be cluttered and not something useful in educating my students.

I am going to create lessons around my ideas from The MLA Style Center





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Thing 20 : Evidence Based Practice – Collecting Data

As we continued work on our annual report I realized I needed a refresher on WHY we are are doing an annual report. It’s so easy to take the easy path and throw seemingly impressive numbers on a page, make it pretty, and move on. But that’s not what it’s all about. Jennifer LaGarde’s post School Library Annual Reports: Connecting the Dots Between Your Library And Student Learning  our annual report needs to be about students not stuff!

She gives four great reasons to create an annual report

  1. Assuming others know what you do is stupid silly.
  2. Our work doesn’t matter if it doesn’t impact students.
  3. “We’re in this together” is a message we cannot send too many time.
  4. Reflection makes us better.

“We’re in this together” is a message we cannot send too many time.  Using the annual report to reflect on student and library data shows teachers and administrators that we are just as invested in student growth as they are.  Instead of running around fretting about our inventories, the annual report gives us the opportunity to show that we are fretting about the same thing every other adult in the building is fretting about at the end of the year: student achievement. (School Library Annual Reports: Connecting the Dots Between Your Library And Student Learning, Jennifer LaGarde 2013)

With these points in mind I reviewed numbers that seem important to me…..should they be included? Why? Is there a better way to show student achievement?

Doug Johnson’s articles Demonstrating Our Impact: Putting Numbers in Context – Part 1 and Part 2 were a great, albeit overwhelming, resource.  My takeaways……

1. Our numbers help show our value….by inference.

Counting things. Year-end reports that include circulation statistics, library usage, and collection size data are a common way for building library programs to demonstrate the degree to which they are being used, and by inference, having an impact on the educational program in the school.

2. But we need to be looking at other ways to show value

There is a movement away from counting things: materials, circulation, online resource uses, website hits, individual student visits, whole class visits and special activities conducted (tech fairs, reading promotions, etc.) to enumerating how many instructional activities were accomplished:  booktalks given, skill lessons taught, teacher in-services provided, pathfinders/bibliographies created and collaborative units conducted. Administrators are less concerned about how many materials are available and more concerned about how they are being used.

3. Student and staff surveys are a great way to get feedback.

I have put it on my calendar for next year to conduct surveys post-orientation. I will also discuss with administration about requiring end of project/year surveys. Doug Johnson’s  Part 2 provides a great list of questions as well as other resources for these surveys.

4. STORIES and anecdotes MUST be part of our annual report.

When “selling” our programs, our visions, and ourselves to those we wish to influence, we need to tell our stories.

Context and Focus Numbers alone, of course, mean little. They need to be interpreted and placed in some type of meaningful context. Context can be achieved by setting and meeting goals and by looking at numbers in a historical context. Look, for example, at how each statement gets more powerful:
•    28 teachers participated in collaborative units (Is this good or bad?)
•    78% of teachers in the building participated in collaborative units (This tells me more.)
•    78% of teachers, up from 62% of teachers last year, participated in collaborative teaching units. (This shows a program that is getting stronger.)

Got it! I am ready to kick it up a notch.

It’s too late this year to pull more numbers but looking back I see many things that I hadn’t considered about including. We did some student surveys and the teachers did surveys that pertained to our time in the library together. They can easily be added along with more pictures.

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