Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Last night, a group of teachers came together to learn about an exciting learning opportunity called Breakout EDU.  The participants have to solve a series of clues to unlock a lock on the box.  Once all of the locks have been solved, the students Breakout (or BreakIN?) to get whatever is inside.  The Breakout concept is similar to escape rooms that are becoming popular in many metro areas, but with an educational twist.  Remember the Big Bang episode?

This concept is perfect for allowing students to think critically, problem solve, and collaborate to come up with a solution.  As Mrs. Grimm said after the session, "None of us could have solved this on our own.  We needed each other to solve all of the clues."  That is exactly the type of learning experience we want for our kids.  One that requires them to work together to solve a problem (can you say, "College and Career Ready?").   You can find the Breakout EDU lessons for the Global Read Aloud on their website here.  Our 2nd through 5th grade teams will be participating in the Global Read Aloud this year as well, and we can't wait to use Breakout as a culminating activity!  Here are some pictures of our teachers in action.

Our teachers solved their clues in the nick of time and both groups were able to BREAKOUT!  Thanks to Paige Grimm, Lynn Ross, Carla Rand, Molly Uppena, Deb Soper, McKenzy Brown, and Kris McCoy for participating in this workshop!

A special thanks to Kimberly Diefenbach for helping me facilitate this experience as she has done a few sessions on Breakout EDU over the summer at other tech conferences.  Can't wait to see this in action with our students!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Digital Learning Day 2016

Hi Y'all!  

We are super excited at MPES about Digital Learning Day! Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live. We use technology everyday at MPES, but this special day gave us a chance to try something new! The library was buzzing all day! 
Some of our kiddos explored a makerspace activity about wearable technology. There are so many new technologies exploding on the market right now, and one of them is wearables. The most well known are Fitbits, but there are so many other products that are wearable tech, such as baby monitor onesies, motor cycle helmets with Google Glass-like technology, GoPro cameras, and more!  

I modified some instructions from the amazing DIY website Instructables.com, and we used them to make a Digital Bling Band! These were made using LED lights, coin batteries, and foam pieces! The Kindergarten and 2nd Grade classes really enjoyed this activity! Hopefully, their band is still working when they get home! Here are the modified instructions for this activity.

Our 1st and 5th grade students worked on digital writing today.  The first graders worked on a site called Storybird, which allowed them to tell a story from beautiful illustrations.  They chose the art they liked and then wrote a story to go with it!  It is a great way to get students writing creatively by giving them a start with an image.  No more writers block!  Here are some of our Firsties in action!

The 5th graders did some writing on a digital publishing site called StoryJumper. This is another great digital writing site that is completely monitored by the teacher. Teachers have to start the session to allow students to work in an online environment which is perfect for elementary kiddos. The best part is that these books can be purchased when they are finalized and published.  Our elementary students can become PUBLISHED AUTHORS!  How cool is that! Here are some of our 5th grade students working on their books:

Here is the link to a file with more pictures from Digital Learning Day 2016! Enjoy!

Cheers to Digital Learning Day!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Green Screen Reader's Theater

This month at the makerspace center, our 3rd through 5th graders are recording reader's theater scripts using our green screen. I love reader's theater in general as it gives the students an opportunity to perform, which gets them excited!  This was especially challenging for them because they really only had the opportunity to quickly assign parts, run through it once, and then film in under 30 minutes.  I have to say I was impressed with how they turned out.

Here is an example from a 5th grade class on Bob the Goofy Reindeer.  This was a freebie from Lisa Frase on TPT! Check out her store!

The background in the video is of downtown Mineral Point.  Photo by Susan Jane.

Monday, November 30, 2015

December Centers

This month in library, our students are working on lots of great things. There are three center rotations this month:  Library, Technology, and Makerspace. Here is what they are working on. 

First, our library skill for grade 3 is non-fiction text features. They are learning about how nonfiction texts help us as researchers and how to use features in nonfiction texts to help us finding information. They are learning how to use the table of contents, bold words, glossary, index, diagrams, & captions.

Our second center option is our regular coding center using the Chromebooks.  Students are working on beginning computer science skills using Code.org self-paced courses.

Finally, our last center is our makerspace center. Makerspaces are places where students can go to create and be creative. This month our makerspace activity is using green screen technology to create videos.  They will record a reader's theater play and we will put those recordings into an app called Green Screen by Do Ink to create our final product.  The students did an amazing job!  

There is lots to be excited about in the library!  Ask your child about their library centers this month. Which was their favorite?

Yours in technology,

Monday, November 16, 2015


I have decided to take a risk and try something completely different this year with Library Skills rotations.  Since we have a very limited time with students and there are so many cool things we wanted to do with them, I have decided to embrace the centers mentality and get on board with creating specific library centers.  Each month, depending on the number of full weeks, we will create a library center for each full week.  Students will be broken into that number of groups and will rotate to a new center each week so they have completed all activities for the month.

On a normal month, there would be four different centers:  library skill, technology, makerspace, and reading or review center.

In the technology center, students will be learning basic computer science skills using coding.  K-3 students will use a website code.org to learn the basics of coding.  Students in grades 4-5 will use a website Google CS First to go through a course.  The great thing about these resources is that they provide a self-paced course for students to go at their own pace....FOR FREE!  I am looking forward to the creativity and problem-solving that will come for our students using these great resources.

More to come on other exciting happenings in the library.  Stay tuned!