No doubt you have grown familiar with the concept of screencasting: Creating a recording of your screen or face (or both!) for demonstration and communication purposes. Below is a quick list of best practices and considerations for creating engaging videos for your students, staff or the community! While Screencastify is the premium screencasting tool for Jeffco Public Schools, the hints below are useful even if you’re using another application or web tool!
I think we could all agree that our jobs over the past year have changed a lot. Just like everything in 2020, education has changed in many ways. As we packed up last March to what we figured would be a few weeks going remote, it turned into over two months of remote learning. That led us all to start thinking differently about how we do our jobs. When August came around, we were all hoping for some sense of normalcy, but that quickly changed to starting the year remotely--then some switching to hybrid while others came back full time. Now we are all back again in the remote world with, thankfully, more online learning experience. Yet many of us feel that we can’t catch up or do our job effectively--especially our Digital Teacher Librarians.
A Digital Teacher Librarian’s job is constantly changing. Sometimes, things change weekly, daily, hourly, and even minute by minute. A DTL’s job is rarely the same day to day, and they are often pulled in many different directions. This year has allowed them once again to reinvent their positions. There are many examples all across the district of ways DTLs are adapting, pivoting, and finding ways to do their jobs to help students, teachers, and parents succeed in this new normal.
Most DTLs spend some of their time working on the technology in the buildings. This may consist of making sure projectors are projecting, doc cameras are working, that devices are distributed, and students are successfully engaging with technology. This has now become a major part of the DTL’s job. Linda Tatalaski, DTL at Creighton Middle School, has actually gone to families’ homes to help troubleshoot a Chromebook to make sure it functions properly. Tobye Ertelt, DTL at Oberon Middle School, used to have the help of her student tech crew, but since we had to go remote that left more of the responsibility on her. In response, she created a Technology Guide. This guide helps families troubleshoot and fix their own tech issues. Angie Wagner, DTL at Bear Creek High School, spends some of her day arranging device repair via curbside as well as providing office hours for students and teachers. I am sure that none of these DTLs thought their job would involve so much tech troubleshooting.
Another way the job of a DTL has changed is how we are checking out books. Remember when you used to be able to just walk into a library, check out a book, and take it home? Now this process looks very different. Libraries across the district had to figure out a way to get books into kids’ hands safely without them ever stepping into the library. One big change this year is students must put books on hold in order to check them out. This is an easy process but does require some instruction from the DTL. Some teachers have assigned this as homework or have set up “Library Time” in their classroom to simulate actually going to the library. Once the book is on hold, it requires someone from the library staff to pull the books and check them out. Finally, the DTL has to creatively figure out a way to safely deliver the books. Heidi O’Leary, DTL at Bradford North, is using grab and go book stations. These books are from different subjects and genres. Heidi said that the best part is when a student requests a book and she actually can find it either at the Bradford Library or the Jeffco Public Library and is able to get the book into the students’ hands!
Finally, one of a DTL’s most important jobs is to collaborate with teachers on lessons. They provide resources as well as support students and their learning. This is challenging in a remote world, but DTLs once again are finding ways to get it done. One resource many are creating is a Bitmoji library space. These are fun and engaging for students as well as providing online resources. Andrea Gilmore, DTL at South Lakewood Elementary, created South Lakewood’s Virtual Library that includes virtual books, book talks as well as Hour of Code activities. Oberon Middle School has also created Oberon Middle School Virtual Libratory that links to the Jeffco Public Library as well as links to Oberon’s library resources. Elizabeth Mehmen, DTL at the Bergens, has created Picture Book Nominees for the CCBA Books for students to become familiar with these award winning books, and to vote for their favorite.
This has been a year to “pivot” at a moment’s notice and to find new ways to keep the library engaging for ALL students. DTLs are constantly reinventing their jobs and spaces to best meet the needs of their students, teachers, and communities. As we wind down 2020 and can see 2021 on the horizon, we can only wonder what new exciting practices will we see next!
This year's summer reading contest was different than any other summer reading program Jefferson County Public Library has ever created. The program was completed 100% virtually and expanded to include activity tracks for writing, thinking, doing and playing. The theme was Imagine Your Story which allowed participants to choose their own quests to follow all summer long. In the past, most of the record keeping was done by paper, however this year tracking was done through a digital platform which allowed JCPL a safer way track participation.
The virtual format provided many different types of activities that allowed students to participate easily from their homes. There were storytimes, coding camps, crafternoons and mental fitness programs to name a few. The JCPL staff also created lists of books they recommend. One of those lists encouraged spending time outside by pairing local trails with related books. One could pop in some headphones and learn about bears while hiking on a local trail. Overall, there were over 318,998 different literacy based activities to chose from to complete your quest.
Another favorite part of the contest was earning funds for Foothills Animal Shelter. Just by signing up participants were working towards helping care for animals at the Shelter. By the end of the contest they had earned over $300 for the shelter.
And now for The winners...
The JCPL Summer Reading Contest was extended an extra month to coincide with the start of school and officially concluded on August 31st. The first place schools were: Kyffin Elementary - Preschool, Devinny Elementary, Oberon Middle School, Wheat Ridge High School and Excel Academy. Each school will be receiving a trophy and each of their libraries will be receiving a check for $800. Just like everything else this year the actual award ceremony will also be different. JCPL will be creating and sharing pre-recorded celebrations for the winners. If you participated in Summer Reading, be sure to connect with your local library to pick up your prizes and complete the wrap up survey, if you have not already done so.
Like past years, this year was a big success for JCPL and all the Jeffco Schools participants. Thanks JCPL for giving our students an opportunity to imagine their own story in a world of uncertainty. As summer ends and we move into winter we can only dream about what next summer has in store for us.
“Change will come our way. We can go through it or we can grow through it. We grow when we seek out solutions rather than let obstacles hinder us.” - George Curous, Innovator's Mindset.
School Libraries in 2020
School libraries are often considered the hub or heart of the school community. Frequently, their goal centers around the ability to provide the essential resources that empower students to become lifelong learners, with an avid love of reading.
When you picture a school library typically it is the stillness and quiet of books and print resources that first come to mind, but in 2020 the school library is so much more. Today’s library continues to embrace and promote reading at its core, but also promotes creativity, communication, collaboration, and innovation through a multitude of ever adapting activities including programming and Computer Science, STEM and Makerspace, Book Clubs, and Geek Squads. Technology integration is a part of the fabric in the libraries of today. In March of 2019 the demand for access to digital resources changed. As we have long anticipated, technology has found it’s space as an essential resource in education next to paper, pencil and textbooks. It is not the only tool but it is an essential tool in the 21st century.
Last school year alone, elementary students checked out over 89,000 ebooks provided through this partnership. Today, the culmination of efforts can be seen, as we are now able to extend this opportunity to the remaining schools that use our Follett Destiny Discover Library system. It is a true collaboration and combination of efforts between Jefferson County Public Library, Jeffco schools, Baker & Taylor (Axis 360 Community Share) and our Follett Destiny Library system colleagues that have made this possible.
Students and staff are able to access the curated collections that align with our library guidelines, seamlessly by logging into their school’s Destiny Discover account with their individual credentials. Students are limited to borrowing ten ebooks or audiobooks at a time and titles are automatically returned to the eshelf, without any worry about due dates or lost books. Because the books are accessed through the Follett Destiny platform there are a variety of digital annotation tools provided. Not only can students highlight text, take notes, and search for keywords or phrases, students may also have the text read to them (depending on publisher permissions). Direct links to titles can be added to any learning management system including Google Classroom, Seesaw, and Schoology.
And Finally, the How...
To learn more about how to access these digital resources, view the presentation and videos linked below and on our Ed Tech Youtube channel under the playlist for Follett Destiny Discover. If you have questions or wonder about how to use this resource in your classroom please reach out to your schools’ Digital Teacher Librarian. Watch for more titles to be added to the collection as the year progresses!
View the informational presentation and videos here.
Summer Reading UPdate & New Resources...
Did you know…that Jefferson County is comprised of 773 square miles (or 494,588 acres) and has approximately 580,000 residents across the county?
With such a large county we have some amazing resources that are available to all of our residents and in our case, all of our students and staff. Jefferson County Public Library and Jeffco Schools have historically had a supportive partnership, over the last few years this parternship has grown dynamically and continues today. The collaboration supports a variety of experiences, from the Summer Reading program to the Jeffco/JCPL newsletter that supports our DTLs and teachers to STEM Clubs (and upcoming MS EPIC STEM program) as well as Speed Dating with a Book and other literacy based ventures in schools.
Our Jeffco Squared team (comprised of Jeffco’s Library Services Coordinator & a mix of JCPL teams) meet monthly to collaborate and find more ways to bridge our work in order to support our community. Beyond the summer reading challenge, one of the other topics we discuss on a regular basis is the collection online tools and databases that are available for use. Listed below is the 2019 Summer Reading Challenge update along with a small selection of tools available through JCPL.
Summer Reading Contest
The JCPL Summer Reading Contest concluded in August and now the results are in! Each of the following schools will be receiving a trophy and each of their libraries will be receiving a check for $800. To read more about the contest and to see where other schools ranked, visit the JCPL website.
The resources mentioned below are all available through JCPL, and can be accessed with a JCPL library card. These tools have been vetted by the district and approved for use. However, they are not district supported - meaning that staff need to contact the vendor or JCPL to work through potential issues, as Jeffco IT does not manage the technical side of these tools. Kanopy has been vetted by Jeffco, however the platform is best used by teachers, as it is not filtered and contains adult content.
Mango Languages describes themselves as, “the only single solution that combines quality content, intelligent technology, and an adaptive algorithm that delivers practical phrases from real situations”. Just recently, Mango Languages increased the total number of languages they support to 71 different & unique languages!
They offer engaging interactive lessons in everything from the most common languages studied, such as Spanish, English, French, and Chinese to unique languages such as Bengali, Dutch and even Pirate! Participants can easily access Mango by visiting the JCPL site and entering their library card number. There is no need to create an account, as users can particpate by selecting guest user at the Mango login screen.
CreativeBug is a new addition to JCPLs collection of resources this year. It has been vetted by Jeffco and is an approved resource that like Mango Languages, is not district supported. Creativebug does offer online video arts and crafts workshops and techniques. Particpants can learn how to paint, knit, crochet, sew, screen print, and more. Their topics range from Art and Design to Furniture Refinishing to Cake decorating and Canning.
Some ideas for curriculum connections with CreativeBug, include using the videos as
Kanopy (Teacher REsource)
An additional resource that is great for teachers is Kanopy. Kanopy is a tool similar to that of YouTube, in that it offers a wide variety of videos. In Kanopy Kids, they offer popular book titles as videos including documentaries, Global Studies, Education, Instructional Films and Lessons. Kanopy also offers an elementary based collection for preschool and up. Kanopy Kids categories include Learning Languages, Animated Storybooks and Classic Films. The Animated Storybooks category in Kanopy Kids is a great resource for our elementary teachers, when connecting literacy to learning.
These are just a few of the many tools JCPL offers their patrons. If you have questions about the resources and databases available please connect with your schools' Digital Teacher Librarian to find out what resources might support your next unit.
Move over HGTV, the fifth graders at Maple Grove Elementary are the stars of their very own school library redesign! Budgets, research, surveys, and floor plans are being drafted in
Ms. Ligrani’s and Ms. McCormick’s 5th grade classes as students create their proposals in hopes to be selected for the final design.
This unique PBL (project based learning) asks the students to apply math, economics, technology and reading skills in an authentic way in order to create a flexible learning space for their school.
The innovative idea began last spring, as the teachers recognized a need to replace the old and uncomfortable library furniture. The library is a shared learning space for everyone at Maple Grove, and Principal Chris Neville began to ponder how students could be involved in the improvements. He was inspired by Jeffco’s vision to transform the task for student learning.
When asked how they felt about being entrusted with the library redesign, 5th graders Lilly and Cameron smiled. “I think it was pretty cool! Since this is our last year at the school, we would like to use some of the furniture that we’ve wanted and to help everyone else get a new library.”
Handing over the reigns to the students has been an exciting adventure for Digital Teacher Librarian, Amy Stahura. “I’m totally game! The whole school is really excited about changing the look of the space. Hopefully it will look a lot different in here! I told the kids you can even my office space. The office would be a great green screen room.”
The Design Process
Students have been learning about design thinking (with resources from the Stanford d.school and ISTE Standard "Innovative Designer").
Research began in the field as students explored three sites in the community with flexible learning spaces. Their inquisitive minds visited "The LINK" at the Jeffco Education Center, fellow Jeffco school, Three Creeks K-8, and mindSpark Learning.
Ben and Jack were amazed by one site on their visit. "It was hard to believe that mindSpark was an old library and had no windows!" In their own design, the boys are interested in understanding how the wall colors might help learners in the library.
Empathizing with multiple stakeholders is important to the fifth graders, so the students have been collecting input from students, staff, and the community.
Surveys created in Google Forms allow students to collect and analyze data and share the results across groups. "We're working on a survey to the teachers right now. The teachers still use [the library], so they still have a voice in it," commented Austin and Ben H.
The student's creative juices are flowing as they ideate multiple scenarios for their new space. Tristan shares a draft design with considerations for height of the learners. iPads in the library will have the AutoCAD app available for groups as well.
The budget is on the mind of Bren and Stephanie. "Our budget is really really tight. We may have to reuse some of our stuff. We could reuse the bookshelf and make it a reading space to look outside." A generous donation from the PTA is funding the redesign and community partnerships are at the heart of the project. Parents with backgrounds in architecture, design, and furniture sales have become local experts from which to learn.
Instructional Coach, Amy Ellerman, a collaborator in the PBL remarked, "This project has provided such an authentic opportunity for collaboration between students, Maple Grove staff members, and our community. It is expanding our understanding of where and how learning happens."
We will have to wait until the end of the trimester when students share their proposals with school leadership and the PTA to find out the final design.
Ms. Stahura plans to reveal the renovation and invite all the partners who have supported the project. The celebration will not only be of the new space, but of the contribution of the fifth grade students to this authentic need in their school.
Want to learn more about designing learning spaces?
Read the review for The Space: A guide for educators
"Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results." ~John Dewey.
Digital discussions have become regular practices in our everyday lives. From text messages and social media posts to blog and YouTube comment streams there are continued learning and sharing opportunities with global connections on a regular basis. Many of us are often hyper-active in daily digital discussions as we connect with friends, family, and world-wide audiences.
As we continue to implement the Jeffco Generations skills and Transform Tasks, digital dialogue and discussion opportunities present engaging opportunities to authentically develop skills and concepts beyond the basic acquisition of facts. Through participation in digital discussions with global audiences we are exposed to the challenges of content application, concept justification, and social understandings in our ever changing world.
The New York Times provides a number of incredible resources to educators and students for elevating digital discussion opportunities that engage learners in relevant and meaningful topics. Through The Learning Network, they began in 2014 with 200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing which grew to 650 Prompts for Argumentative Writing in 2016 and is now over 1000 Writing Prompts for Students in 2018. The prompts are broken up by topic areas such as Social Media and Smartphones, Gender Issues, Dating and Sex, Music, Literature and Art, Being a Teenager, School, Health and Nutrition, Science and Animals, Government and Leadership, Personal Character and Morality, and more. Under each topic is a list of questions that are linked to a short articles followed by more specific questions for students to consider and answer. The list of 650 prompts are also available via a handy PDF for easy access and sharing.
So how does this apply to our daily instruction as educators? Francis Bacon said, "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man". Reading, writing and discussion are a critical components of our everyday learning and growth processes. As educators we know high quality instruction in any content area or discipline contains regular opportunities for learners to engage in reading, writing, and discussion to further develop critical and creative thinking skills.
Using the resources above, learners can be given a prompt and the associated article to read. Following the reading, learners can engage in a short writing activity to gather thoughts and develop ideas. Learners can then share their thoughts with others and ideas to seek feedback for further development and discussion. Some ideas might include:
Reading, writing and dialogue can and should take place in all disciplines, not just literacy. For example, math teachers can leverage prompts like #327 which centers around a distribution graph of how many A's schools hand out or #289 "Are You Afraid of Math?" and #290 "Do We Need A Better Way To Teach Math?". Science teachers can leverage the wide variety of prompts in Science & Health (1,066-1,146) involving Science and The Environment, Animals and Pets, or Exercise and Health. Art teachers have a vast array to choose from in Arts and Entertainment (75-248). Whichever discipline you teach, there can be resources for you to leverage to support students with engaging in reading, writing, and dialogue.
How will you leverage digital discussions as a way to Transform the Task and support learners with developing the Jeffco Generations skills? The Jeffco Ed Tech team is available to support you in thinking through ways you can leverage reading, writing and discussion with students in your instruction. We would also love to hear from you around how you are already leveraging digital discussions or have done so in the past. We learn a great deal from examples and experience so we invite you to share with us as we continue to grow together.
The Results Are In...
A total of 37,103,946 minutes were read by students and community members
12,424,426 minutes were logged by Jeffco students alone
9,111 students completed their summer reading log this past year.
3,916 babies “read” 2,053,010 minutes
19,086 children read 10,896,665 minutes
8,440 teens read 6,267,520 minutes
12,424 adults read 17,863,351 minutes