This is my last posting on this blog. On Friday, June 17, I officially retired as Mira Costa High School’ Teacher Librarian. I want to thank all the Mira Costa students and staff for a wonderful six years working with you. I also owe a huge thank you to my amazing library volunteers. I will miss all of you!
Some of you have asked what’s in store for me in “the next adventure.” I plan to enjoy more travel, more reading, and more time with family and friends. I also plan to stay active in school library associations and networks to support school libraries, and to keep learning and sharing my learning at school library and educational technology conferences and through Twitter, my personal blog, and other social media. Please follow me on Twitter at @jane_librarian and on my personal blog, “Jane Lofton’s Adventures in School Libraryland,” at janelofton.com. It’s been a bit of a challenge keeping two blogs going, but I hope to make my personal blog more active now that I will have just one on which to focus. You can also contact me on my personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, here’s me ready for the first stop on the “next adventure,” a trip to Scandinavia with my husband next month. The photo was taken with the library’s green screen and the Do Ink Green Screen app. Then, I added the frame and labels with Picmonkey:
Here is the short film I made, using Animoto software and music, with just some of the highlights of the 2015-2016 school year at our library:
I know that some of the slides go by a bit fast, making it difficult to read them. (I was limited by my Animoto account to under 3 minutes.) So, I have also uploaded all the photos I used in the video to a Flickr album. I also included a lot of other photos I wanted in the video but couldn’t fit in the time allotment. Here is the link.
Mira Costa was overwhelmed with testing in May – AP tests and Common Core tests for 11th graders. Sadly, many school libraries virtually shut down and become testing facilities this time of year. The library had its share of testing sessions; I helped several English teachers administer Common Core practice tests. Fortunately, though, most of the testing took place in other classrooms, and the library remained open for class and individual student visits throughout the month. Here are some of the highlights:
Book Talks Lesson
Ms. Clarke’s students visited the library in preparation for creating video book talks for their outside reading books. We discussed tips on creating an engaging book talk. We also discussed options for creating their videos and how to upload them to YouTube from either a computer or a mobile device. Finally, I showed them my favorite QR code generator, qr.snipp.com, since they will all be creating QR codes for their book talks and posting them in the library. Here’s an example of the beautiful QR codes it can generate, going to my video book talk on If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go, by Judy Chicurel:
I look forward to Ms. Clarke’s class visits next month to share their book talk QR codes.
Health Class Digital Citizenship Videos
Mr. Davidson’s Health classes visited for lessons in digital citizenship. We discussed being an upstander and not bullying or cyberbullying, building identies and positive digital footprints, online privacy, and respecting intellectual property. I used this slideshow as the basis for the lesson: (direct link: bit.ly/mchsdigitalcitizenship):
Next we went over this assignment, in which the students were to create a PSA video on one aspect of digital citizenship. We gave the students several days to learn more about their topics and work on their films. Finally, we had a day to share them with the class. Here are some example of their work:
Last week, Ms. Gesualdi’s and Mr. Robertson’s Calculus classes visited to work on instructional videos on a calculus topic. We started by discussing intellectual property – copyright, Creative Commons, and fair use – in preparation for making the films so the students would understand what they can and cannot include in a published online work. We also discussed different software options for producing their films. As was the case with the Health classes, most of the students are choosing to use Powtoon, fun, easy, and free software for creating animated videos. Here is the assignment. I am looking forward to seeing their work next week. I will be posting it on this library webpage, where we currently have examples from previous years.
Library Club Poetry Open Mic and SWVBC Discussion
Last month (April) was National Poetry Month. Our Poetry Open Mic event didn’t quite fit into April, so we held it on May 6. We had a great turnout and everyone enjoyed hearing the students share their favorite poems.
Our library club also participated in our monthly “Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC)” discussion of Winger by Andrew Smith. As always, the discussion was lively and the students and librarians all enjoyed visiting with the other schools in the group. Here is the recording:
And, some photos:
I am a member of the advocate board for the “Transform Your School Library” movement sponsored by Mackin, and I wrote a blog posting about our Somewhat Virtual Book Club for the Mackin TYL (Transform Your Library) blog. You can read that posting here.
Geeks Club and Making
The Geeks Club has continued to support our making activities. Students have been taking advantage of our 3D printers, our green screen, and popular craft table.
We were on Spring Break for the first week of National School Library Month, but we made up for it in activities during the last three. The American Library Association (ALA) and its school library division, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) asked school librarians to complete and share a “snapshot week” of statistics for our libraries. Here is Mira Costa’s snapshot, from April 25 to 29:
Some of these figures are pretty amazing, I think. For example, we estimated 2,511 student library visits not counting those there for scheduled class visits. These were all students who chose to visit to study, visit with friends, use the computers, do research, participate in our Geeks or Library Club, use our green screen or 3D printer, enjoy our craft table, play chess, and more before school, during Snack, lunch, office hours, lunch, or after school. And, we had 46 different class visits, with students working on and getting help from me and their classroom teachers with research or selecting books. The figure I really wish were higher is our book circulation. Students make lots of use of our electronic resources; I’d love to see more checking out books for pleasure reading. So many of them tell me they are too busy with homework and other activities to read anything beyond what is required for class. I wish they could find more time for reading!
Numbers are one thing. Here’s another snapshot view of the library, with some of the photos of busy students I took during the month of April:
As you can see, students are busy participating in lessons, learning and using research skills, studying, using our green screen, playing chess, designing and printing with our 3D printer, “speed dating” with books, enjoying crafts, and, often, just “hanging out.”
Some of the class research projects I assisted students with included:
Ms. Meyer’s French students investigated different neighborhoods in Paris in order to write a business proposal for a cafe in their area of choice. To help them with this project, I showed them how to create customized maps using My Maps in Google Maps, how to use Diigo.com for storing bookmarks of sites, and how to find Creative Commons and Public Domain images for their project.
Mr. Zeoli’s Freshmen English classes learned about topics related to the Shakespearean era that will enrich their upcoming study of Romeo and Juliet.
Ms. Hutchinson and Ms. Gabbert’s freshman English classes explored topics affecting teenagers to enhance their reading of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye
Ms. Camaano’s Sophomore English classes investigated topics to help them better understand George Orwell’s 1984.
Ms. Sieker’s 1980’s Literature Senior Seminar students each investigated a topic relevant to the era of the 1980’s.
In addition, Ms. Clarke’s Freshman and Sophomore English students all visited to “speed date” young adult literature and select independent reading books. It was exciting seeing so many students leave with a book they found on one of the different genre tables.
Ms. Chen, Mr. Brown, and Ms. Nielsen’s classes also visited and took advantage of our library computers for class assignments.
Library Art: Accordion Books
We have been delighted to display “Themed Accordion Books” made by Ms. Park’s Art 1 students. These photos definitely don’t do them justice; please come by and see them.
Your Librarians Activities Outside the Library
Outside of the library, I was delighted to participate as one of the co-anchors of TL (Teacher Librarian) News Night on April 18. The topic this month “Providing Books for Diverse Populations.” Our amazing guests included Paula Chase, Author of The Del Rio Bay series and co-founder of The Brown Bookshelf; L. Divine, Writer and Author of @DramaHigh; Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional & Digital Learning for Lufkin ISD; and Librarian Kathy Burnette, a member of the 2014 ALSC Website Advisory Committee and the 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Committee. The discussion of the importance of supporting books that depict diverse characters, both to allow students to see themselves in books and to help them understand and empathize with people who are different from them, is one everyone will benefit from and enjoy watching. Here is the recording:
In addition, I served as co-moderator of a live Twitter chat for the #TLChat group on April 11 on the topic of Rethinking library spaces & learning space design. Here is a link to the chat archive.
I also had the pleasure on April 27 of co-leading, with Shannon Miller, a webinar for AASL on Storyboard That, a wonderful digital storytelling tool that can be used for storyboarding scripts, telling a story, and as a graphic organizer in so many ways. The recording of our webinar is for members AASL members only, but do visit the Storyboard That site and ask me for more information. Here is a storyboard I made, and also demonstrated how to create, during the webinar:
April is full of celebrations! It is both National School Library Month and National Poetry Month. School libraries and poetry both have the power to transform lives.
To celebrate the library and the library club have three fun activities on tap:
Please note that the date for the Open Mic has been rescheduled To May 6. Looking forward to seeing you at the library! RSVP’s aren’t required for the Open Mike on May 6, but we’d appreciate it if you would let Ms. Lofton know if you plan to perform.
While we have, of course, had a number of classes visit for research projects, lessons, and support, the theme for early January has definitely been on making with our 3D printer and other makerspace resources.
On Thursday, January 14, we had a great maker fair after school, with activities from the Geeks Club, Library Club, Art Club, Robotics Club, and Girls Coding Club. Students got to experience a wide variety of activities, including:
experimenting with Google Cardboard virtual reality and littleBits electronics, also with the help of the Geeks Club
making pinwheels as a community service project in support of Syrian youth, organized by the Library Club (Get information on the community service project here.)
manipulating robots in a fun competition from the Robotics Club
making art from recycled books, organized by the Art Club
programming our Sphero and BB-8 robots with the help of the Girls Coding Club
Many thanks to all the clubs and students who participated.
Here’s a slideshow with photos of some of the activities and student creations:
Computer Science Class 3D Projects
Mr. Braskin and Mr. Brennen’s Computer Science classes visited the library to learn about 3D printing, then embarked on a project in which they:
programmed a 2D geometric shape using Scratch, a programming language
converted their file to .svg format, which is readable by 3D modeling software
imported their files into Tinkecad.com, a 3D modeling app
exported their files to .stl format for printing on the 3D printers
They all came up with amazing, unique designs. Here are just a few examples:
And, to follow up this first project, they are now working in teams to design chess pieces we will be printing.
Stand by for some of these examples!
Malik’s iPhone Stand
In a recent posting, I wrote about how projects often require several design iterations and printer adjustments to make them work, representing an exercise in persistence. Here’s Malik’s Phone stand completed!
For more photos of our 3D printing activities, visit this Flickr album.
December was a challenging time at Mira Costa. We were closed on two different days and sheltered in place for an hour a third day, all due to bomb threats. I can’t pretend I wasn’t ready to have some time off for Winter Break. I believe we all were. Nevertheless, the library was busy with student and class visits our last three school weeks of 2015. Here are a few highlights.
Class Visits and Projects
Along with a number of other class visits, Mr. Zeoli’s Freshman English class spent several days in the library for a mythology project in which we helped the students learn about good sources, bibliography and note-taking with Easybib, and finding and crediting copyright-friendly images for their slideshows. They also learned about Twitter as a learning tool, as they set up accounts for their gods and heroes and tweeted in the role of each god or hero. Here’s a link to the site for their project, which was also used by Ms. Clarke’s students earlier in the fall. Students will be finishing the Twitter portion of their assignment after the break.
Mr. Brown’s English Language Learners class visited to “speed date” biographies. We planned three rounds of visiting tables with different categories of biographies to sample. Every student in the class selected a book by the end of the second round!
The two 3D printers were busy all month printing cookie cutters inspired by our December challenge and other student projects. Ms. Arazi’s DHH class took up the challenge in their classroom as a group, and sent us a cookie cutter to be printed. While the design was lovely, it was too complex to print well on the printer. The class came to visit and we talked about how the printer works, then some of the students made new designs. Here’s a photo of the original design they drew and of the cookie cutter made from it:
Here’s a photo of us watching the printer in action and discussing how it works:
And, here is one of the students’ new designs:
We are learning that mastering 3D design and printing is an iterative process. We often need to tweak both designs and printer settings a number of times to make things work. Perhaps perseverance will prove to be one of the most important skills learned by all of us making use of our printers. Malik, one of our students, has been working on a stand he designed for his iPhone. He has tweaked the design a number of times to get it small enough to print on our printers, to make the printing time more efficient, and to ensure adequate support for the portion that doesn’t lie flat at the bottom. The Thursday morning before the break, we loaded his design, which the Cura software told us would take 8 hours, and let it run all day:
It was going really well before we left at 3pm:
Unfortunately, something went wrong after we left. This is what I found in the morning:
Malik plans to keep working on the design, and I am confident we will get it to work. Here he is with a smile and the completed portion:
If you haven’t seen a 3D printer in action, you need to come by to watch it running. It’s fascinating to watch each layer being laid. This film will give you an idea, in – at 10x the actual speed – of the process:
Hour of Code
The library served as one of the sites for Mira Costa’s Hour of Code on December 9 during morning and afternoon office hours, coordinated by Mr. Braskin’s computer science class students. Ever computer was taken in both the morning and afternoon, and we were standing room only in the morning.
The library is also always standing room only during Office Hours!
Alexander Street Video Streaming
We were very fortunate in December to add Alexander Street Publishing’s Academic Video Online Premium video streaming for both teacher and student use. It offers an amazing selection of over 48,000 titles from producers such as 60 Minutes, PBS, BBC, NBC, and many more, spanning every discipline. Here is an overview of the collection. Here is the login portal link. Check with me by email or at the library for login information.
Take the MCHS Library December 3D Printing Challenge:
Make a Holiday Season Cookie Cutter!
3D design and printing has so many applications for both practical and creative items. Here’s a fun chance to get going with 3D printing. Design a cookie cutter and get it 3D-printed at the library. Just follow these super easy directions to draw a shape you want to emboss in your cookies, upload it to 3D design software, and create a 3D cookie cutter we’ll print on the library 3D printers. Your reward: your very own cookie cutter to take home and use for baking. And, of course, we’ll post a photo of your creation on the library website.
For a couple of years now, my “main” method of note-taking from conferences and other events has been tweeting and favoriting tweets by others attending the same event. Here’s my summary of my experiences and take-aways from last week’s amazing American Association of School Librarians’ conference, told through Twitter compiled with Storify, one of my favorite storytelling tools: