Makerspace at Granby Library Update

About two months ago, I wrote a blog post about the initiation of a makerspace at the library. A few months later, that idea is about to take action. On Thursday, April 23, the School of Information Studies group that has worked all semester to create a planning, marketing and assessment plan for a makerspace at Granby will present at a poster session. The group will show what they have created, and I am excited to see what plans they have concocted.

More ideas about a makerspace started spinning in my head this morning as the librarians from my district connected using Google Hangouts with Laura Fleming, an innovative librarian with an library makerspace in New Jersey. Laura provided great information as how to market the makerspace, what can actually go into a makerspace and shared her experiences creating one. As a district, the librarians are hoping to create makerspaces or incorporate elements of these into our libraries at the secondary and elementary level. Chatting with Laura today was a step in the right direction for Granby.

While talking to Laura and gathering ideas for the past few months, here is a list of ideas for Granby’s makerspace:

  • Makey Makey
  • Lego table
  • Felt board for letters, shapes
  • Magnet letters and shapes
  • Stuffed animals for reading buddies
  • Rubber bands for bracelets
  • Coloring pages with glitter crayons and smelling markers
  • Games like Connect Four, Sorry, Trouble, Operation
  • Computer pod for sites like Scratch, Audacity, etc.
  • Arts & crafts
  • Cards for Go Fish, Old Maid, etc.
  • And many more ideas from the iSchool team I can’t wait to review

Thing 10: Productivity Tools

For this last lesson in Cool Tools For School, I have decided to talk about Wunderlist and Google Drive. Wunderlist is a new tool for me, but Google Drive has been a favorite productivity tool for years.


After looking at the selection of tools under reminders and to-do lists, Wunderlist was my first choice. I usually keep a notebook with multiple to-do lists on the pages. However, I tend to forget this notebook at home or at school. This does not help when I need to remember what is on a to-do list. So, why not try an app that acts as a to-do list? The iPad and iPhone are usually with me more than the notebook, so maybe this could help increase productivity.

I immediately liked how you can access this tool across multiple devices, as I’m always going back and fourth between the iPad and the iPhone. Installation was easy; simply log into the app store on both devices and install. The list of categories was another neat feature of Wunderlist. I can separate school work, personal lists and shopping lists, but still have these lists on my person at all times.

Last night, I made added items under each of the categories. Later today, I took a look at the items on the lists and slowly started to check many as completed. There is something satisfying about crossing an item off a to-do list. Having an iPhone with this app made it easier to go through school work today.

Overall, this app has been helpful the past day. I plan to use it more for personal and professional purposes. However, I do not plan to use this app with my PreK-6 students as many do not have access to a mobile device. If I was at a middle or high school, then yes.

Google Drive

How I love Google Drive-let me count the ways. I have used this tool since graduate school in 2010. With many collaborative projects with peers, we needed a tool that allowed us to edit papers and projects. Google Docs allowed us that capability.

Instead of using Microsoft Word, I solely use Google Drive for file storing and sharing. I use Google for a calendar and for hangouts. I use it to collaborate on documents with colleagues. You can access files remotely, only needing an Internet connection. Connectivity to my school’s server from home is slow, but Google Drive provides an excellent alternative. Edits to documents save every few minutes.

My lessons are organized into folders, as well as assessment data. I keep files of letters to students, parents and teachers. I keep records of my professional development credits and APPR. I keep a daily log of lesson summarizations for my classes.

One of my favorite aspects of Google Drive is the Google Forms. Students ask for so many books in the library: books to put on hold and books to order. Instead of collecting scraps of paper or trying to memorize what students want, I tell them to go to the book request form on the library’s website. Students put their name, book title and author (if remembered). This helps me stay organized for students requests. Every week, I’ll review the Google Form and add books to my book-order lists or order books through ILL for students. The organization of Google Forms is done well. I like how there is a dates tamp for each request a students completes. When the request is done, I can initial on the side.

At my school, I plan to send home a permission letter for students to access Google Apps for Education in September 2014. We will hopefully start to use Google Drive and learn more about email/messaging netiquette.

Part 3: Data-Driven Instruction Within The Library Media Center

Here is the list of seven spreadsheets for grades K-6 that showcase the Information Fluency Continuum Standards. Each spreadsheet is separated into the three chief components of the standards:

Starting in September 2014, I plan to fully implement these spreadsheets as part of my data process. After having a year of teaching under my belt, I’m more confident with the library’s curriculum and where students are with skills. For each lesson or project, I will check off each standard that students learn and master. It will be helpful to see what skills students have mastered, or what areas need extra reinforcement.

These spreadsheets will be helpful around report-card time. I will have solid evidence of which to base a student’s grade. Right now, these standards are not on students’ report cards. However, at a recent PD day, there was a conversation about sending special-area standards home for each grade level so families know how students are assessed for the next school year.

That conversation made me wonder if the standards should be posted on the library’s website. I thought yes. So, there is now an updated schedule, policies and grading page on the site. The page was updated with my grading policies. Now, it shows what two grades students receive on report cards: one for effort and one for standards. It also has links to the Google Spreadsheets for each grade’s set of IFC standards.

Thing 9: Databases & Search Tools

This past week has had my favorite activities from Cool Tools. I have added quite a few new search engines to one of my LiveBinders links for students. Until recently, I have not realized how much I rely on databases as extensions for lessons. This year, my students have used PebbleGo, Culture Grams, Brain Pop Jr., BookFlix, TrueFlix and TumbleBooks Library. We haven’t used too many search tools, except Google and Wolfram Alpha. For curation tools, I love LiveBinders as it provides an effective yet inexpensive way to provide resources to students for projects.

Option 1: Databases

My school is fortunate to have dozens of databases available for students to use for research. There are some we have not used much this year, but that is something I want to change for next year.

For this assignment, I decided to look at Kids InfoBits. This database has hundreds of subjects for grades K to 5. Right when you log onto the homepage, there are avatars that highlight categories that range from animals to health to plants. Once you click a category, more subtopics within that category show up.

Within a topic, you can look at magazine or newspaper articles, images, charts, graphs, maps, seals and flags. There is a chart that shows reading levels and lexiles are listed. Users can add articles to a folder to reference later.

Browsing through this site, I noticed numerous topics that are covered in the modules from EngageNY. Since our district has chosen to adopt the modules, this site will be another resource to share with teachers and use in library lessons to support student learning.

Right now, fifth-grade students are learning about the importance of sports in American culture. There is an excellent section of famous athletes on the database. For the main project in the fourth quarter, I’m going to review biographies with students, then have them select and research a famous athlete using Kids InfoBits. After research is gathered, students will create a digital trading card using virtual labs. I love how lesson ideas pop up when new sites are explored.