Portfolio Presentation: The Heart of Engagement


I decided to keep this presentation super simple and streamlined, so if you would like the accompanying script for your purposes just let me know!

Title: The Heart of Engagement: Five Technologies for Middle School Mindsface-41697_960_720

Blurb for VAASL: This presentation is designed to share five technologies that are appropriate for middle school students and teachers. The technologies are meant to add a heightened level of engagement in the classroom. The presentation offers implementation ideas, as well as covering some hurdles one might run into.

It’s been a crazy week of moving, and no internet for the majority of the time, so I’m just relieved I was able to get through the class! I’ve learned so much! Thanks for everyone who shared in my blog. Stay tuned for updates as my journey through education continues.

Image Credit:
Clker Free Vector Free Images/ 29620 Images (2012). Face black man smile afro hair.  Retrieved at: https://pixabay.com/en/face-black-man-smile-afro-hair-41697/ CC0 Public Domain
Portfolio Presentation: The Heart of Engagement

Keeping it Current

Bamenny (2016). Robot. Retrieved at https://pixabay.com/en/robot-flower-technology-future-1214536/ CC0 Public Domain

As educators, it behooves us to keep up with the latest and greatest websites, apps, and tech tools that the vast world wide web has to offer; and yet it can be time consuming and overwhelming to do so. Never fear! Enter: Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, posted by AASL. (http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/best/websites) In this post you will find a few of my favorite featured websites, along with some ideas for implementing each into the lives of students.

Websites Worth Noting

Pear Deck allows you to take pre-existing presentations and make them more interactive, by embedding student questions, websites, and video. You can also create brand new presentations within Pear Deck. When you upgrade you can create presentations that ask your students to not only answer questions but also drag items, draw pictures, and label images. Pear Deck would be extremely valuable for flipped classroom settings, reviews, and 1 to 1 classrooms where some students require more time than others to work through information. It’s also great for building whole lessons because you can incorporate a written warm-up, and an exit ticket right into the presentation. I could see myself using Pear Deck for substitute days, because the students could walk themselves through the warm-up, notes, and quiz/activity on their own. You could even provide extension activities within the slides, for those who finish work early. However, advanced features do cost money.

Find Pear Deck here: https://www.peardeck.com/

IFTTT stand for “If this, then that”. It is an organizational tool that allows the users to set triggers so that if something happens, they are notified, or another action is set in motion. For example, a teacher might set up a trigger that documents student use of her homework board by creating a trigger that basically states “if students access a teacher’s homework board created in Google drive , then their activity will be logged into a spreadsheet”, allowing the teacher to see who is consistently keeping up with new posts. A student could use the website to provide reminders to themselves (i.e. If the teacher posts a new assignment on Google Classroom, then the student will receive an email reminding them to do it.) You can set up the app to save new attachments sent by email to your google drive automatically (making sharing between teachers extremely easy). If you want your students to keep up with current events they can trigger websites to send updates to their email every time they post specific types of news. If you are a librarian or teacher who uses multiple types of social networking you can set up a trigger that makes it so that every time you post a status on your Facebook feed, it automatically gets “tweeted”as well. This could make managing multiple social networking technologies at once, much simpler.

Find IFTTT here: https://ifttt.com/

I really love DIY as a maker-space and forum for students to share their knowledge, hobbies, and creations. Students can practice with technology skills such as animation, app development, as well as more hands-on skills like baking and farming! They can take part in daily challenges, share awesome things they’ve created and comment on each other’s work. This would work really well in the classroom for student-centered learning projects, interdisciplinary teaching, and go-to activities for students who require additional enrichment. I think it could be really valuable to have students post to this website on a regular basis. As the librarian you could promote challenges, and award students for completing specific tasks and posting their activities on DIY. This website could also be a tool for parents to use to keep their students engaged with learning over the summer.

Find DIY here: https://diy.org/

A Daring Blog

A blog that I plan to follow is The Daring Librarian. Some of her blog posts were used in LIBS 602, and I always felt she had some genius ideas. Not only does her blog features tons of ideas for incorporating  technology into the library and classroom, but she also discusses issues like student engagement, library branding and promotion, and pieces that serve teachers emotionally, like this one about reflecting instead of regretting: 5 Ways to Reflect not Regret. I love her stylistic edginess, and her positive message “Dare everyday. Push the positive. Change the world.” Dare to follow this blogger and you won’t regret it!


Keeping it Current

Reality +


Kippleboy (2012). Augmented reality at Museu de Mataron. CC BY-A 3.0 Retrieved at: www.http://commons.wikipedia.org

As I watched the Aurasma TED talk and imagined a world where people wore glasses that augmented their realities automatically, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of anxiety. The anxiousness was due in equal parts to both the thrill I felt, and the fear. As an English teacher and avid reader,  images from books like Feed ( M.T. Anderson), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), and Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) swam before my mind’s eye. Will we someday each have a “feed” inserted into our brains that allows businesses to tap into our thoughts and advertise products? Will students someday attend school within a 3D augmented reality, turning our education system on its head?  Will we build screens inside the walls of our homes that allow us to escape inside of our television programs, and video games? For the first time, these sci-fi situations are coming disconcertingly close to reality.

As a person, I fear that technologies like these ones may become tools in the hands of corporations and consumer-driven industries, rather than being largely used for educational purposes. I also fear that these technologies could create an “escapist” mentality within our culture, where people are allowed to escape to “more interesting” realities, while losing sight of the very real work there is to be done within our naked reality; similarly to how people can escape into materialism. However, as an educator I find the augmented reality technology to be a thrilling prospect, something that could amp student engagement and learning to new heights, and allow students to experience a myriad of situations that would have never been accessible otherwise.

To that end, I will explore some of the ways I would implement Augmented Reality and QR Codes into a classroom or library.

QR Codes

QR Codes, also known as Quick Response codes (Byrne 2014), allow anyone with a QR reader app to quickly scan an image and reach a pre-set destination. Most people are pretty familiar with QR codes as they have become a fairly popular advertising tool, for a lot of major companies, as well as local businesses and artists.

Our reading for this week had a wealth of suggestions for what one could do with QR’s in the classroom/library. My favorites were:

  1. Use QR codes on classwork assignments to lead students who finish early to an extension activity. ( Walsh, 2014). In the 6th grade, I teach students with a range of capabilities. From students who read on a 2nd grade level, to students who are brushing the limits of 11th and 12th grade reading levels. In this type of teaching differentiation is key. Beyond just providing an extension activity, you could pass out QR codes that lead to lexiled passages. The nice thing about QR codes is that they are androgynous,so students wouldn’t be able to tell which students got the “easier” passages. No one has to feel bad, and everyone gets what they need. You just decide as the teacher which student gets which code.
  2. I absolutely loved the idea of using QR codes to spur student reading. The Daring Librarian (2013), suggested printing QR codes that lead to book trailers (which could be self created or borrowed). She recommended putting these codes in bathroom stalls alongside the caption “Do not scan these”. For middle schoolers, especially, this tempting warning, would not go unnoticed. I would probably shoot for books with tantalizing themes, that really get the head buzzing (i.e. murder mystery, Bluford Series, previously censored books).
  3. Richard Byrne’s Post about interactive bulletin boards (2012), definitely got me thinking about an upcoming project. I have received a grant for an interdisciplinary unit involving Art, English, History, Science, and Math. The Unit centers around the text Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. Each student will receive a copy of this text and it will be incorporated in each of their classes. In math students will use geometry to create freedom quilts, in English students will participate in a literature circles, in science students will work in the school’s garden, and in history and art students will interview the personal history of an elderly neighbor, family member, or friend, and create a portrait and narrative that highlights that person’s life experience. Our plan is to showcase the student artifacts in a physical museum created at the school, but it would be awesome to augment student products and displays with QR codes leading to additional information, videos showing the students’ work, and audio of students explaining their work and the experience of creating it.
  4. One idea I want to share is the first lesson I created as teacher, that utilized QR codes. The Unit I was teaching was called “The Opposite of Fear”. Within this Unit I asked my students to explore how art forms from music, to literature, to graffiti, have been used across history and cultures to enact social change. For this particular lesson, they read an article about the secret messages that slaves would embed into spiritual songs, as a way to inform others how they could escape to freedom. After reading the article, students rotated in groups to different QR codes which linked to recording of historically important spirituals. At each station they had a dry erase “worksheet” with stem questions that asked them analyze each song and make an inference about it’s subversive message. They used iPad’s to scan QR codes and listen to each song, and then worked in groups to decipher clues embedded in the song’s imagery. At the end of the lesson students participated in a poll anywhere activity, where they shared their inferences about each song.
  5. I was inspired by the article “QR Codes Can Do That?” to use QR codes for “bellwork” (Burns, 2016). When Jan Collin’s came to our school to give a training about making inferences, I chose to come up with a warm-up that presented students with 6-word memoirs. The students’ task was to read the memoirs and come up with inferences that explained what they understood about each 6-word statement. Originally, I displayed these texts on the promethean board, and asked students to write about them in their notebooks. We then shared verbally. Here, I provide a QR code that links to a google form, where students can record their thoughts. When the activity is complete  a second QR code would be provided, so students could access their classmate’s responses, and read all the inferences that were made, therefore explaining their own understanding of the text.

QR Code: Six Word Memoir/Making Inferences QR Code:


QR Code: Student Responses to Six Word Memoir Warm-up:

sixwordmemior-Student responses

Augmented Reality

From my birth in 1990, to today, I have had the pleasure of experiencing a number of artistic displays that could be considered “augmented reality”. Anyone else remember when TGIF shows (including Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World) went 3D? Not to mention countless movies, shows, and Imax movie theater experiences that were offered to the public throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. 90’s kid, like me, or not, if  you’ve been to theme park in the last 20 years, you’ve probably experienced some form of augmented reality.

Luckily, being a nerd myself, I benefit from all the luxuries and glamour that nerd-ism provides, including a friend who has so far bought every prototype of the Oculus Rift available ( a technology that is strikingly similar to that described in Ready Player One).  While my partner, Randy, has spent way more time with the visor on than I have (he’s much more the gamer type), I did take a worldly spin on the Oculus. I was able to walk around in both Venice and Paris, perusing a model of the architecture and landscapes authentic to each location. It was a dizzying, and highly engaging experience, where you truly do lose sight of the room around you, and even your own body, although, like most “gaming” experiences I’ve had, it did not come very naturally to me. At the time that I used Oculus, the graphics were not on par with what my generation has come to expect in games and movies, but I can only imagine how amazing the Oculus is today, and will be in the future.

A friend, who recently  came for dinner, paused in the middle of the room, steadied her phone with a focused effort, and deftly captured an image using her phone’s camera feature. This image was one that I could not see, and yet it was clear to her via the augmented reality of an iPhone game. Unbeknownst to me, she was capturing a pokemon right there on my sofa. The implications for education are endless, and if we plan to compete with consumerism(and you better believe I do!) we better start harnessing these technologies for the  building of critical thinking and creativity in our students. It’s  not unwise to note that as these technologies become reality, digital citizenship becomes a piece of the puzzle that we simply can’t ignore. Whether it’s teaching a student how to discern “bull honkey” from “too legit to quit”, or letting students know how to use ideas without stealing them, it’s going to matter. Our number one goal is to educate, but our responsibility is also to protect (and I don’t mean censorship).

Wherever else it leads there are some obvious education benefits to using an “augmented reality format”. Here are some ideas that I would use:

  1. As an animal lover, activist, and enthusiast, I would love to see 3D models through augmented reality app’s replace authentic dissection. There are already digital versions of dissection available for students, and they can only get better. For me, being forced to take part in the  dissection of the frog, and the cow eye, was rather traumatic, and because I choose not to replay the memories of those experiences themselves, I also have trouble accessing the knowledge that I may have obtained in the act of dissecting the parts. 3D models take us into a more peaceful future.
  2. As a kid, I grew up in the forests and peaks of the Shenandoah Valley, and loved to play, hike, and camp in the Blue Ridge  Mountains. One thing I would love to create would be an  Aurasma, or other App, that allowed me to add textual information to mountains, trees, flora, and fauna. Nature is very close to my heart, and I can see augmented reality as a way to help  students and adults form a relationship with nature. Hypothetically, these messages could also include:crops that would thrive in the area, things to avoid doing as they hurt the ecosystem in your local area, things to grow or do, as they benefit the ecosystem in your local area. Goals of this project would be to save bees, and local/native inhabitants of any area. This could be used in environmental education.
  3. While Augmented reality makes a natural pair with Math and Science, I also think it has it’s value in History, English, and all other subjects as well. Consider virtual models, field trips, and student created layered presentations, and applications are there for the plucking.

I played with Aurasma app on my phone and on the computer, and it was easy to take photos and add pre-existing overlays to them. However, I would need to play with it a lot more to learn how to create my own content for overlays. Obviously creating your own content, that fits your “trigger” like a glove, is the way to go, but it may take a while for me to become an excerpt. I think it will prove to be well worth the trouble.


Byrne, R. (2014). QR codes and augmented reality: when and where to use each. Free Technology from Teachers. Retrieved at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2014/06/qr-codes-augmented-reality-when-and.html#.V4Kpx_krLIV

Byrne, R. (2012). Interactive bulletin boards. Retrieved at: Free Technology for Teachers. http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/02/interactive-bulletin-boards-guest-post.html#.V4LMWKL-Vsl

Jones, G. (2013). QR code loos and pocket reviews. The Daring Librarian. Retrieved at: http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2013/05/qr-code-loo-reviews-pocket-videos.html

Walsh, K. (2014). 25 fun ways to use QR codes in teaching and learning. Emerging Ed Tech. Retrieved at: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2014/12/25-ways-to-use-qr-codes-for-teaching-learning/



Reality +

Making Makers of Us All


Coding, 3D printing, and bots like Sphero, provide everything we want for the students we teach; an opportunity to think critically, to test, to design, and to create—the pinnacle step in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Watch a few videos of students tinkering with a Sphero, or gazing at a 3D printer as it obediently produces their design, and the way their face lights up will say all you need to know about classroom engagement.

Applications for these types of tools are endless, if the resources are available. With the relatively cheap cost of Sphero (around $130), and the offerings of free programs like Macrolab and Tinkercad, incorporating robotics and coding into the Library of your school, may be more cost effective than you would think. 3D printing may be more expensive, considering the filament needed and the machine itself, but fundraising, grant-writing, and usage fees for patrons, could help offset the costs.

In my mind the cost is well worth it. Just consider some of the awesome things your students could do:

3D Printing and Coding

Created by MissZee in Tinkercad

My experience with Tinkercad was a good one. The program was free, and the tutorials helped me get a grasp on the tools quickly and easily. It took a little while to fully understand how to manipulate the controls to create the finer points of my design (a Mad Hatter hat), but overall creating my design was not difficult. I did run into some problems saving my design, which meant having to repeat the whole process three times over! In the end, I had to download firefox to get my design to save in Tinkercad, but the design got easier to make each time, and I ended up learning a lot.

Middle school and High School students would have no problem playing in Tinkercad and teaching themselves and their classmates how to use the controls. The tutorials at the beginning are a great kickstart. Elementary school aged students could probably use these tools as well, just with a bit more guidance.

Using Tinkercad and the school’s 3D printer (s), students could:

  • create inventions and design them in Tinkercad. They could run ad campaigns to promote their designs, and the class could vote on the top inventions. The winning product(s)  could be printed. Extension: the school could print student inventions  in a “limited edition,” and they could be sold as a fundraiser for the library/school.
  • Students could design and print objects that represent characters from books, or people from history.
  • Students could be given broken machines (from simple to complex for differentiation) and tasked to design parts to make them work again, or even make them work in a new way. The parts could be printed and tested.
  • Students could work in groups to build a machine, each designing and making one part; their parts must fit together. This could also be interdisciplinary if you make students document their journey, and create a shareable narrative.
  • Students could create an artifact from history and explain how it was integral to the time period/event(s) that they researched.



Photo Credit:Goldberg, C. (2012). Sphero! Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/6844199429 CC BY-NC 2.0G

First of all, this robot is friggin’ adorable. 6th graders would fall all over themselves to play with these little guys. Cuteness aside, these robots pack a punch for their small size. With low costs, plenty of free design programs/apps to pair with, and a “maker” minded company: Sphero is a win, win, win.

Here are some applications for student use:

  • Students could create a Rube Goldberg machine that, utilizes Sphero as an element (or several elements) of the design.
  • Students could use Sphero to “act out” word problems, making them into math experiments.
  • Students could collaborate with other classmates to create a Sphero relay race (perhaps held as a fundraising event).
  • Sphero could be tied into review games for any subject.
  • Students could come up with service projects that utilize Sphero (or other available robots). For example, they could locate a problem and brainstorm how available robots could be used to help solve or address the problem. They could create programs for Sphero that help it serve a specific function.
  • Students could design an app or software that could be used with Sphero, and share it with the Sphero community. They could also write about their design, and explain its use. They could blog throughout the process of creating their products.
  • Sphero could be used to teach and practice with geometry and trigonometry concepts.

I’m excited for the learning-rich experiences these new resources can provide. Problem solving, critical thinking, and design skills will only become more vital for our students, and for our society as time goes on. Let’s get started in the classroom and the library right now!


Making Makers of Us All

Miss Zee Proudly Presents: Presentation Tools

Slidely: Your Pictures Steal the Show

Slidely was very simple to use. I signed in using my Facebook account, so I had very quick access to all the media there. I appreciated that capability because it’s very obnoxious when you want to use a Facebook photo, but you don’t have it saved on your computer. You have to sign into your account, download it, locate it, etc. With this creation tool you can access your albums from the website interface, and just select the photos you want, you can also add an entire album at a time (up to 90 photos). However, this feature wouldn’t be of  much use to my students (they are blocked from social media at school), but it could come in handy for the Library’s Facebook page, or a teacher’s Facebook page.

Collages in Slidely

In Slidely you can create shows, galleries, collages, and promotional designs. I decided to try the gallery and the collage tools. The collage tool was very fun. I used it to create a postcard style collage from my trip to Budapest, Hungary in 2015. Using the collage interface, you could select how many photos would go on your collage using the templates on the sides. You could also add artwork which basically consisted of little drawings or words like “shine”, “love”, etc. (i.e. not really my thing). You could also add stock images from Slidely, and music. I decided to let my photos speak for themselves, but arrange them in an artful way. I used symmetry by using two faces as the central focus of the postcard. Instead of adding text, I thought it would be cool to use the text from a photo I took to identify the city represented by my postcard. I wanted to show a little bit of everything from Budapest including the food, architecture, and landscapes, and in that I think the postcard was pretty successful. Students could use collage to gather items that represent a character, time period, or event from history or literature. Students could also research foreign countries,  and create collages to represent them.

Here is my collage:My-Slidely-Collage

Galleries in Slidely

In keeping with my travel theme, I decided to create an “interactive” gallery documenting the road trip I took with my partner, Randy back in 2013. I uploaded the gallery straight from my facebook page, and then selected the photos I wanted to use.  At first, I was a little disappointed in this tool, because it just didn’t turn out how I expected. I ordered the picture to tell a story. I also used the caption tool to add text. I wanted my text and photos to tell the digital story of our trip. The next step allowed me to access youtube videos to select music (students would need to be reminded to site their videos), this part I thought was pretty cool. I added some music to my gallery and pushed “next”. What was produced was basically a slideshow/collage that slowly moved through all the picture I had collected. They did appear to be in order, but because it was collage style there was no “left to right” reading of the photographs. You also could not see my captions! But then, lo and behold, I discovered that you could also view the gallery as a show! When you do that, Slidely creates a video that plays your photos in order along with your music,  and including any captions. So in creating the gallery, I actually created two functional products in one. The gallery could be played at a showcase of student work,  a ceremony, or another event, as the audience is walking in and taking their seats. When everyone is seated, the presenter could play the video with the captions to tell a more specific story. This would work well embedded into a website as well. Your moving gallery will draw people in, and then you can provide a specific message by prompting them to view the gallery as a show for more information. The addition of music requires students and other presenters to consider the mood and tone of their presentation, as well the expectations of their audience.

Here is the Gallery I created:


The Road Trippers by Slidely Photo Gallery

Overall, I really enjoyed working in Slidely. It was very easy, and I like how both of my products turned out. It was simple to go back and edit things, and there were a ton of easy ways to share your products (including email, social networking, download, and embedding). My only complaint is the “pop up” messages. For example, there was an advertisement for printing your collage on a mug, and they would also pop up and ask if they could share your collage on Facebook. I don’t really like when websites do this. It’s an annoyance to figure out how to click out of the pop up in the middle of working on something.

One for the Kiddos: Pixton

The next presentation tool I decided to look at was one that I thought my middle school students would enjoy creating, and also enjoy seeing as instructional material. Pixton is a tool for creating comic strips. There is a free version of this tool that allows you to make unlimited comic strips. Unfortunately without upgrading to the $8/per month version, you are very limited to what you can do. You cannot upload your own photos or content, and you cannot download or print your cartoons.

The first thing you do in Pixton is choose a layout. You can choose a classic comic strip, a storyboard, or a graphic novel layout. I really like the story board because students could use it to explain a sequence of events, map out narrative plot, or storyboard shots for a video. The graphic novel version also looks very cool, and because my students love this genre, I think they would like this format for longer stories. I  chose to go with the storyboard layout.

Next, you choose a background for your scene. It could be cool to teach narrative elements by having students create comics, and you could start here, with “setting”. Gaming up for the finale of Game of Thrones (no pun intended), I chose a medieval setting for my strip.

Next you move onto characters (another good opportunity to discuss narrative elements). You have a choice between one, two, or three characters, so this does limit your story somewhat. I chose two. With the free subscription, there are only a few characters to choose from, which is a little disappointing.

Within your first panel you have a few different options: you can change the expression, position, and skin tone of your characters, as well as give your panel a title, and flip characters so that they face in a different direction. I was pleased with the number of expressions and positions available, but didn’t like that you couldn’t manipulate the background. So for example, my background was a table and chairs with a meal on it, within a castle. But I couldn’t make the characters look like they were sitting in the chairs, because there was no “send to back” type of function.

Once you choose to add a new panel, your original panel is simply duplicated, which I like because it makes creating the next moment in the scene easier. But, you can still change the background and add another character. However, when I decided to kill one of the characters in my scene, I did grow frustrated because I could not delete the text box for that character. A character who is dead does not need to talk. There might also be times when only one character in the scene is speaking, so it was very inconvenient not to be able to delete the speech bubble.

When you are done your strip, you can either save it for later, or choose to publish it (in free mode). I became very frustrated at this point in the process because I was asked to update my account setting. They required my age, email, state, and a few other pieces of information. Then, I selected save changes. No matter how many times I hit this, it kept returning me to the account settings screens. I had no idea how to get back to my comic, and I feared that my work might have even been lost. Eventually, I just went back to the home screen, hoping my work had been saved. Fortunately it was, so I tried a second time to publish it. This time the publish button worked, and I was pleased by all the options to share. You could embed your comic, share a link, or use a number of social media buttons to share. This could be a really fun way to share library information via Twitter or Facebook. Especially if you upgraded and created your own avatar within the system.

Here is my sample Pixton (and yes, it is Game of Thrones themed; character names and situations belong to George R.R. Martin):


Overall, I liked Pixton. It was easy to build my cartoon and I think my students would really enjoy using it. The free version is a bit limited, but could still be used for a lot of different things, like teaching narrative plot, sharing library news, and telling short stories visually.

Music Credit (music playing in Slidely Gallery):

Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros (2009). Home.  On Up From Below. Los  Angeles, California: Community Records.

Miss Zee Proudly Presents: Presentation Tools

Video Killed the Radio Star

Nothing excites students much more than seeing me roll the iPad cart into my classroom, and hearing me say the words “today we’ll be making videos”. Because we use iPad’s we have mostly worked with iMovie. This year my students made book talks using iMovie. In groups of 2-3 they created a script, and then used video clips, voice overs, and images to tell the audience about a book they read and enjoyed independently in class. Because we were talking about audience and author’s purpose, I asked them to make sure that their video contained informational, persuasive, and entertaining portions. Here is an example from students, Kyndal and Lyndie:

Untitled from Ms Zuckerman on Vimeo.

The year before I presented the students with a news scenario. I was teaching author’s purpose and tone, so I had students pretend to be a news crew reporting the story. Each group had to report on the story using vocabulary that enhanced their assigned tone. For example, some had to take a positive spin on the story, while others had to be negative. Some were neutral, while others sensationalized. They recorded their videos news report style, and we watched them in class, and voted to decide which group did the best job enhancing their assigned tone.

Powtoon and Animoto have been favorites of my students over the past couple of years. Powtoon has been used for reading projects to add a new chapter to the end of a book, or recreate a scene from a book using animation. Animoto is usually my student’s top choice when I ask them to make book trailers. Here is an example: Sydney’s Animoto Book Trailer

I am really interested in using the “Mission Impossible” template in Powtoon. I think it could be a really fun way to introduce a project, or to share with students what needs to be done when out on School Related leave, or a personal day. The “Five Facts” template could be fun for the beginning of the school year. Students could create them by writing five facts about themselves. They could be shared in Schoology, and students could view each others. It could be a homework assignment to have students find commonalities between themselves and their classmates.

Jing would be a great tool for teaching students the technology skills that they need to really be successful in the 6th grade. 6th graders have enough of a hard time using organization as is, and with Henrico’s 1 to 1 laptop program, students who don’t understand how to navigate all the new tools, are going to struggle. Jing could be used to show students how to submit work online, work collaboratively in google drive, organize their work and notes using digital files, or use a new technology tool that the teacher is incorporating. Jing is King for tutorials.

Finally, I have always felt that stop-motion video has such a dreamy, emotional quality to it. I would really like to incorporate some of the tools for stop motion suggested by Richard Byrne. Such as, CommonCraft, Jelly Cam, and O Snap. Stop motion is a great way to show process. It could be used to show students putting together a piece of artwork. It could also be a really awesome way to document the school’s garden over time, or to teach students how a story goes from story-boarding to shot by shot production.

There are so many new tools out there. But cool things can also be done with some tried and true tools, such as powerpoint. This is a “video” one of my students created using powerpoint, that I thought was very well-done (and quite humorous as well!). You will want to download it to your computer, as looking through it on Google Drive does not allow for the audio to play. Kaile’s PowerPoint “Video”


Byrne, R. (2015). Six styles of video classroom projects-a handout. Free Technology for Teachers. Retrieved at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/05/six-styles-of-classroom-video-projects.html#.V20z__krLIW

Video Killed the Radio Star

Web Design for the Evolving Library


Websites to Learn From 

What I really appreciate about the W.C. Mepham High School Library Weebly is the style. The color palette immediately distinguishes it from many of the other weeblys I perused. The most common color palette seemed to be red, white, and green, which to my eye, are not the most pleasing color choices. However, the color palette here consists of two, more neutral tones (a darker brown, and a tan), along with one accent color (a kind of rust red). This color combination pairs well with the sepia tone photograph featured on the homepage. Reynolds says that color should be used sparingly, and that “careful use of light and dark is important for creating clarity and contrast” (65), therefore I think the creator’s choice in choosing a limited number of colors, and a contrast between the dark brown and light tan elements was well done. The red accent quickly draws the eye to the elements that may be most important to a newcomer, like the welcome message, and the “about us” tab.  The format of the website is also appreciated. Some basic library information like “borrowing books”, “general information” and “inter library loans” is right there on the opening page, with no scrolling or maneuvering necessary.  Other information is organized and designed to look like the tabs of folders in a folder file (a nice touch), to offer effortless access to other items of importance, such as “eBooks”, “databases”, “apps”, and a library blog. If more than one resource or page is available within each tab, a drop down menu appears when you hover your mouse over the tab. Tabs also turn that accent red, when they are clicked on, giving you a visual cue to let you know what you have selected. The combination of a clean design and simple organization make this Weebly exemplary.

M.C. Mepham HS Library Weebly 

The Santa Su Library Weebly, while not lacking in good design, is more appreciated by me for it’s choice in content. I really like how they have included most of the elements identified in the blog post we read this week entitled, “5 Things Every School Library Website Should Have”. Senior projects are highlighted through video, right on the homepage, while a focus on teaching is apparent in the section titled “Lesson File Cabinet”. I also really appreciate how the creator’s have set up a “Student Backpack” section, and a “Teacher Briefcase” section, to help users quickly find the information most pertinent to them. “Outstanding Library Resources” and a selection of apps collected in Symbaloo, are easily accessed on the homepage, providing direct links to “cutting edge” resources, one of those five essential elements of a great library website, as identified by Library Girl. The website adds “flavor” by sharing photos of students and staff, as well as including creative titles for information (like “Student Backpack”) instead of generic ones (like “For Students”).

Santa Su HS Library Weebly

Tools to Consider

After exploring the tool’s in this week’s sandbox, as well as taking a look at some sample websites, I am considering using Weebly or Wix. Weebly is a top pick because I know many teachers at my school have created weeblys for their clubs, and seemed to be able to create quality websites with limited frustration. I am definitely in the camp of “Work smarter, not harder”, so I also took into account the past successes with Weebly that ODU students have reported. However, I am still very drawn to the style of Wix. It looks so clean and modern, and I found some really stunning examples (however most of these examples were not library related). Here’s an example of a library Wix I found, just so you can compare. 

Hershey MS Library Wix


LeGarde, J. ( 2011). Five thing every school library website should have. [web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.librarygirl.net/2011/08/5-things-every-school-library-website.html

Reynolds, G. (2014). Presentation zen design: a simple visual approach to presenting in today’s world.  USA:New Riders.

Image Credit 

Pixabay.com (2106). Design. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/design-internet-www-web-design-web-1210160/ CC 0.

Web Design for the Evolving Library