Friday, February 7, 2014

How Do You Make Budgets Stretch in a Library

The 20-day blogging challenge post today is on making budgets stretch in a school library.

You'd be surprised what you can cobble together with bookfairs, grants, donations, and BoxTops. It's not a grant sum, but without it I feel I would have a library that's going nowhere toward improvement.

Since I have about 10 seconds to write this blogpost, I will simply list what I do:

  • Two Scholastic BookFairs per year - Many times I only sell enough books to be awarded books in kind for the library, but every little bit helps and I am glad to have the latest publications from Scholastic.
  • One Barnes and Noble in-store Bookfair that I promote mostly to teachers and get a giftcard to fluff the collection
  • Our wonderful PTO donates $500 per year for my Book Club. Those books go into the collection
  • Grants from our Board - I received a grant for a BrainPop subscription for the library
  • Many different grants are available from ALA - I have won the American Bookshelf award before which added to my collection
  • I work with my public library on grants
  • I look for grants outside the box that I can coordinate for the school
  • I enter contests to win books
  • I've sold water bottles at our school carnival
  • I also attend my neighborhood's library book sale and appeal to them through a letter to allow me to look through their leftovers. I have found many brand new books that way and have created my whole audio collection in this way.
It takes a lot of work and constant vigilance. You also have to apply year after year. Applying regularly helps grant-writing skills.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Common Sense Media Lessons and How to Teach Them

Since our school system adopted Common Sense Media in lieu of i-Safe, I have tried teaching it a couple of different ways. The website features videos on these and other topics:

  1. Digital Citizenship
  2. Cyber Bullying
  3. Communicating Online
  4. Digital Etiquette
  5. Movie Reviews
  6. Following Your Digital Trail
The first year I taught we all watched a couple of videos together, discussed them, and created group posters to hang in the hallways.

The next year I tried something different. I gave all of the students headphones and allowed them to select their own videos to watch with a partner at a computer. The students loved selecting their own videos, but they watched all sorts of videos on high school levels to elementary school so that it resulted in all of them having different experiences with online digital citizenship learning.

I love the variety in teaching and aiming to perfect a lesson. Here's what I will try next. We will all watch a video together (they are all only two to five minutes long) and then I will direct them to a choice of a about five videos. Now, a few might stray a watch some of the enticing high school videos, but they can also log on at home and watch. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Engage in Social Media for Professional Learning

These days if you're in education and don't engage in social media, you might be missing out!

Social media not only allows you to connect and learn from other educators, but it helps in making you feel that you are not alone out there. No matter what kind of classroom you teach in, most of the time you are the ONLY adult in a room of (sometimes) screaming kids - and it can get lonely waiting for that 20-minute lunch period to connect with other adults.

So, get out there and get social!

Twitter - learn how to search for what you need and learn how to use hashtags. I have learned about so many websites and tech trends that I can hardly use them all. You can often hear about new trends here in the tech world and "meet" people doing the same thing that you are. Find out about scheduled chats and professional development that you can become involved in. It's a lot of fun and definitely doesn't feel like work!

Facebook - I have used Facebook to ask for donors for projects that can be crowd-sourced like donors

Donors Choose - This relatively new website allows teachers to dream up projects and ask the world - and  friends - to donor to your personal pet project. I have one out there right now for a 3D printer from MakerBot.

Pinterest - Almost every field of education is represented out there now on these pin boards. It's a great place to get new ideas and really cute ideas for all ages of student. A lot of teachers out there have better ideas than you do, but they would feel the same about you! So, get pinning and sharing!