Thing 8: Collaborating, Connecting and Sharing

Google Drive

I have used Google Drive since graduate school at Syracuse University. Then, it was used for group projects, but now it’s mostly used for professional purposes. I have folders set up for assessments, Accelerated Reader, data/standards, lesson plans, sub information, book talks, book-order ideas, APPR and letter formats for donations, info to send home and reminders. I love that only Internet access is needed. I do not use Microsoft Word or flash drives anymore.

My students have a gmail account, but they need a signed permission slips from parents to use it during school. I’m hoping to send this letter home with students at the start of the 2014-15 school year so students can go on Google Docs and other Google tools. We have completed collaborative projects this year; Google Drive will enable students to collaborate successfully, especially outside of school. We would have to have Chrome installed on laptop carts at school. Now, we only have Chrome on the lab computers.


I have used Wiki spaces for professional development, but not so much on the student side. I like how students can edit and collaborate simultaneously on a project. Wikispaces is user-friendly.

My fourth-graders will finish a colonial-life project soon. After completing general research about colonial life, students were placed into groups and selected a topic to research more in-depth. We had hunting, holidays, food, games and communication. Why not put all the information students gather into a wiki? Students voted on Powerpoints this time around, but wikis would be a new tool to explore. At the end of the project, students would have a wiki to showcase information. I believe students would be proud to see all their work in one place together.

I’d like to Wikispaces for more projects like this. With the older grades, we do more collaborative projects between library special and grade levels.


Thing 7: Podcasting & Screencasting

For this lesson, I chose to look at AudioBoo. I love how user-friendly and simple it is to use this tool. Not much equipment is needed. After playing around with this tool, I came up with a list of ways to use this with my students. Here is the list:

  • Book reviews. Our school has adopted the EngageNY modules. Within those modules, there are lists of recommended texts for students to read besides the texts for the module. Students could select books from the list to read and create a podcast of the book instead of writing a report or blog post. This could even be done for books students read for fun
  • Sub plans. Instead of subs verbally giving students directions, I could create a podcast with Audioboo to explain directions to students for the library special.
  • Lessons. Many times throughout the year, students will ask how to search the catalog or how to use the library’s book request form. Instead of showing students each time, they could use a screencast recording for directions to complete the task
  • Class introductions. There are about 600 students I see on a weekly basis. At times, it is a challenge to remember names and interests of each student. Students could record a snippet using Audioboo to record some information to help me become better acquainted with them. They could share favorite books, activities or sports
  • Teacher-focused assistance. Aubioboo could be used for podcasts for teachers for simple things such as: how to sign-out a laptop cart or reserve time in the computer lab using the Outlook calendar
  • Week-in-review. I could upload a recording to the library’s blog each week to showcase what we will learn during library special for the week

Part 2: Data-Driven Instruction Within The Library Media Center

What set of standards do I use?

I am using the Information Fluency Continuum benchmark skills for Grades K-12. This document was created by the NYC Department of Education and the Office of Library Services-NYC School Library System.

There are two effective features of this document that I like:

  • It has been revised to meet the current AASL Standards For 21st Century Learners
  • There are three standards (Standard 1: Using Information To Build Understanding, Standard 2: Pursing Personal and Aesthetic Growth and Standard 3: Demonstrating Social Responsibility) that are broken down by grade level. There are a list of skills in each grade level that students should master

How will I grade my students based off the standards?

As a special-area educator, I only give grades twice a year: at the end of the second quarter and at the end of the fourth quarter. Students receive two grades at those times. One grade is based off effort, and the other is based off meetings standards.

At the end of each class, I give students an effort grade. This is based on participation and engagement with the lesson, following the school’s four “Bs,” (Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe and Be Ready to Learn” and if they have brought books back for exchange.

The standards grade is based off assessments and projects.

All effort/standard grades are recorded in a Google Spreadsheet.

What kind of assessments can I give that are relevant and realistic for the situation?

Being my first year as a teacher, I am still figuring out my assessment and grading policy. This has been a year of trial-and-error and using classes as guinea pigs for many things. I have tried individual and group assessments, and both have been successful.

I have used more project-based and online assessments, rather than paper-pencil quizzes and tests. I have used Socrative, an online assessment tool, for my older grades. I have used our blogs for self-reflections about what has been learned after a lesson or project is complete. I have rubrics for longer projects and collaborations with grade-level teachers.

For younger grades, we use discussion in small and large groups. Right at the end of a lesson, I will break students into groups and they will share what they have learned. Then, we will come back as a whole group to breakdown and discuss. If groups do not have the correct answers for the main idea of a lesson, then I know I need to do something different to reteach for the next week.

I also use observation to assess younger grades. For example, one goal is for Kindergarten students to log onto the computers with  username/passwords without using info cards as guidance. One quick sweep around the room, I have instant data or who needs extra time or assistance.

How do I assess students and analyze data if I only see students for a half-hour block a week?

Only seeing students for one half-hour block a week, it was at first a challenge to understand how to assess students. After much reflection and conversation, I realized it is possible.

I only teach one new concept per week per class. I cannot fit five standards into one lesson. That would make it ineffective, and students would have too much information to learn. I have realized it is OK to have students learn one thing at a time, and then build from that concept. Students need to have a strong foundation of skills in order to build a wealth of knowledge. It is OK to take my time, to not rush.

Do I have the same assessments as the other three elementary teacher-librarians?

At this time, I do not have the same assessments as the other three elementary teacher-librarians in my district. Grade-level teachers do because of the assessments from the EngageNY Modules.

We do have the same SLOs though, as part of our APPR.

Part 3 coming soon: Sample Excel spreadsheet with standards for each grade level and to show how data is gathered and analyzed.