Monday, August 29, 2011

New Learning Tools in the Library

This is my fourth year in the school library and I think I am finally finished moving shelves and big furniture. For the most part, at least.  It took me about 2 years to get the space to really work for the students. I am lucky to have a very supportive principal, an amazing library aide, and a wonderful custodian. They've all been hugely instrumental in recreating the space with me. This year, there are not many big changes.  I felt like the space was working--lots of spaces for different groups of students. Lots of spaces for different types of work.  So, this year, kids will come back to the space they know (and hopefully love).

We do have some new learning tools in the library that I am very excited about.  They aren't all in yet but here are the things that I think will open up new possibilities for students this year in the library.

I am most excited about my VuPoint Magic Wand Scanner.  I attended a workshop in August and Sara Kajder (@skajder) was the speaker.  She shared this tool during the talk. Luckily, my Internet was up and I believe that I purchased it before she was finished talking about it! This is a portable scanner. One that doesn't need to be housed in one spot or connected to anything. It works like a camera but is more of a scanner. (It is battery operated with a camera card so that photos can be easily moved.)  I can imagine scanning student work that I want to keep in an assessment folder. Students can scan writing or art that they might want to add to a blog post.  They can scan things to plug into presentations.  So many possibilities of what we can do with this tool--helping to put anything kids do in some digital format. (You can read a little bit more about this one on my husband's technology blog.)

Our library has several different building toys. I believe strongly that a library needs many tools for learning and building tools are definitely a learning tool. My hope is to add more challenge-based options for students who want to use these tools this year.  A friend mentioned Flexeez in a recent blog post and once I saw what could be done with them, I ordered them. The box didn't seem to hold much when it arrived but these little pieces can create some very cool things. They are flexible and that allows for a different type of building. I can't wait to see what kids create with these!

I also have a very inexpensive Document Camera, the IPEVO Point 2 View.  I wanted a document camera that kids could use.  And when I tried it out, it works out great. I want to work with students on quality work, quality presentations, sharing information, etc. this year.  I also am pretty sure that with access to this, kids will think of ways to use it that I haven't thought of yet.  It is pretty portable so there are lots of possibilities.

We have a five Kindles in the library. I am not sure where we are going with eReaders but I think it is important that kids have access to the many tools people use to read.  I want students to experience reading in a variety of ways and to know what is possible. So, I purchased two Color Nooks this summer. I loaded them with mostly picture books, thinking that these would be used mostly for that. I want kids to have access to various ebooks and the Color Nook seemed like the smartest purchase for picture book reading.

We have 4 iPads and 2 iPod Touches on the way.  Our goal this year is to get lots of the technology that has traditionally been stored in the library out to classrooms so that students have access to the tools they need all day.  So, we will add some new technology tools for use mostly in the library. I need to work with our Technology Specialist about apps for both the iPods and the iTouches but I am thinking most of the apps we purchase will be production type tools that allow students to create things. I want them to have access to various ways to create. And of course, I will add a QR code reader.   (I also have 2-3 Wacom Bamboo Tablets that I am hoping kids find ways to utilize with draw programs, etc.)

And last, but definitely not least, may possibly end up being my very favorite learning tools is the Dry Erase Table that is currently on order. I've cleared out a corner of the library to create a type of "production area". This will be the area where kids will have space to film, think together, etc. The green screen is housed on a wall in this area and the cameras, flip videos, iPod touches, etc. will also be stored here.  The dry erase table will be a tool for collaboration. This will be a space where small groups can think, plan and design together.  When I envision an learning community, I think that this piece is key--a place to think off of one another's thinking, a place where it will become evident that what we can do together is often stronger than what any one person can do individually.

Those are the new tools that kids will see in the library over the next few weeks.  I know it will take a while for the newness factor to wear off and I know students will need a time to see what these tools are about but I am certain that each of these tools will add new invitations for learning to students.


  1. What a great overview of the tools for the year ahead. Good luck, Franki!
    (Those bendable toys make me think ... stopmotion possibilities?)

  2. Wish I could hang out in your library and learn with all your new gadgets. SUPER COOL!

  3. These looks so exciting! I am starting out in a new library position and I think I have about four years of furniture moving ahead of me. While that is very exciting I am looking forward to being where you are eventually. Have a wonderful year!

  4. another reason why I tell any/everyone I meet from your school that they are so lucky to have the greatest teacher/librarian ever!!!! You are amazing!!!
    ~Lisa Mac

  5. Seriously? A dry erase table? LOVE that! Just picked up another magic wand on a grant - and this one has bluetooth. It just keeps getting better.

    What I'm really looking forward to is hearing how these tools get put through the paces by your students. Thanks for sharing all of this, Franki!


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