Flipping the Library

A central theme in all of this activity is the idea that active learning works best. Telling doesn’t work very well. Doing is the secret.

Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom


As with many subjects in COETAIL, the Flipped Classroom is not entirely new to me because of the wonderful world of Twitter; however, I appreciate the opportunity to engage more deeply with the topic and discover new resources.  For example, I wouldn’t have tripped across The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science or Bozeman Science, both of which I can’t wait to share with my teachers when I return to school.  I already knew about the Green Brothers’ Crash Course series, but this exploration has reignited my enthusiasm for them.

As always, I also am benefiting from the reflections of my cohort members, like Mary Carley’s impassioned and much discussed Flipped Classroom – No Thank you! post. There was another post I read last week as well, which shared a similar anti-Flipped Classroom sentiment, stating that what happens in her classroom can’t be transferred to a video for outside of school.  I am inclined to agree with Mary Carley in particular, especially in an MYP school. Our MYP coordinator, Dave Chilton, is fond of saying that the MYP isn’t about covering content as much as it is about UNcovering content. Homework shouldn’t have as big of a place when you’re not worried about how much content you cover so much as what skills you develop in your students.

Homework Makes Me Tired by ~coconutgiroro on deviantART

Like most innovations in education, part so the Flipped Classroom are extremely valuable, and it should definitely not be taken completely without question.  One of the examples shared made me very uncomfortable, where prior to class, students had to watch a video, complete a quiz, and participate in an online learning environment like Facebook, all before coming to class the next day.  In a university course? Great. In a high school classroom? Ridiculous.  But I’ve seen some great examples of elements of the Flipped classroom in action, like students being able to pause and rewatch an explanation of a problem while completing their assignments.

 In the Library

To me, the library is a great place for guiltless incorporation of elements of the Flipped Classroom, because we don’t have homework! We support homework!  So whether I think flipping a classroom is great or not, whether I think students should have homework or not, my job is to make sure that LIS students are prepared to do research 24/7, whether I am around or not. That means I need to have a “Flipped Library” ready at all times, anticipating what my students will need to know.

In the past, I’ve tried to do this on our blog by sharing video resources made by others combined with my informative slides on how to use our electronic reference resources:

or how to be a more effective researcher:

While these resources do help students when I’m not around, these are just the tip of the iceberg.  I need to start doing more with screencasting to allow teachers to flip library time. Instead of always having to come to me to provide instruction for their students on how to use our resources (and spend half the visit to the library explaining how to find resources), it would be so much better if the teachers could share a short video about how to search the catalog, access Questia, limit results in the Gale databases, request materials, find their physical resources and more before visiting the library space.  Then when they arrive, our valuable time together could be spent actually using these resources, rather than teaching them how to use it and sending them off to struggle with databases on their own.

Another benefit of flipping my library instruction?  Saving my voice!  How tired am I at the end of a day of repeating the same thing over and over again?  About this tired:

So Tired by deviantART user tielkric under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

So Tired by deviantART user tielkric under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Anyone have some great examples of librarians flipping their library instruction with research screencasts?  I’ve got lots of professional examples from companies like Follett and Gale. I want to see your average librarian’s productions.   Okay, maybe your above average librarian!

Gaming in the Library!

Level up Book ClubImmediately prior to moving to Angola, I participated in a summertime online book club for educators called the Level Up Book Club.  It was a lot of fun, taking the regular book club (read, discuss, wash, repeat) and turning it into a friendly competition that encouraged nearly constant engagement.  I read books like

I earned points for sharing resources on Twitter, participating in Twitter chats, taking photos of myself and adding them to our group Tumblr, responding to blog posts, developing resources and more.  It was an excellent example of how learning can be turned into a game, and in this case it was for adults.   I definitely engaged in this more deeply than I would have if it was merely a once a month Twitter chat, and I made connections with librarians and other educators around the globe.  In that way, this was a positive example of “gamifying” something to get me to be more motivated.  Unfortunately, as Lissa points out in her Gamification: I’m a skeptic post, this was also straight up bribing up me to do more with external rewards.  I didn’t mind because I was interested in the topic, but it sometimes rang a little false as I searched for more quotes to share on Twitter just so I could raise on the leader board, which leads me to…

My Worries

“The act of gamifying an educational experience alone is not enough to make the experience rewarding, instead it should serve primarily to make something that is already rewarding more rewarding – perhaps by encouraging learners to invest more time than they already would.” (Play As You Learn).

I sometimes feel that gamification of learning is really just trying to make something painful seem like something fun. It is so important that we remember that “gamifying” a lesson unit or learning experience is just like “technifying” it.  Gamification is a tool, just as technology is a tool. If the underlying concept and learning isn’t strong, relevant and interesting, students aren’t going to go for it and you’re left with a bunch of unused badges laying around.  We have a house system at our school which manifests itself in fairly light hearted competitions like a trivia quiz, a goofy sports day (non-traditional games that aren’t rooted in athletic talent) and a Peace Day soccer tournament.  Our house coordinator would like me to run a House competition of some kind through the library and suggested we see who checks out the most books.  I immediately frowned because I don’t think reading should be a competition, unless it’s a competition against yourself.  I am still trying to figure out how I can create a points-based competitive game related to the library that enhances a literacy or research experience rather than dressing it up.

Courtesy of Ninja Program

Courtesy of Ninja Program

Despite my concerns about the potential downsides to gamificiation, I am going to dive into Jeff Utecht’s Ninja Program with my students as an after school activity for next semester. I know my students need to improve their search skills, and I appreciate that in addition to a module focusing specifically on search, at the core of every Ninja Program module is students learning search skills to empower themselves.

The real purpose behind these quizzes [is] to find students within our schools who are willing to search and find answers. The answers themselves are not the outcome…the search skills are. Google Apps changes way too quickly for us to actually assess the knowledge of programs, but the hope is that students will get comfortable learning how to search the web, videos and the training materials so that as things change and as they help others they can find what it is they need. So to that end I encourage students to open the quiz up in one tab and search in another. This is also the reason for the Search quizzes which students might benefit from taking first (from the Ninja Program Training Concept and Purpose document).

With this purpose in mind, I’m going to give it a try.

My Thoughts

While gamification sometimes leaves me a little uneasy, game-based learning makes me smile. (Thanks again Lissa, for helping me to clarify my thoughts on this distinction through your epic post.) I love games, and so do my students.  With this in mind, last year I ran a gaming club in the library as an after school activity. Each week different students shared different games with the group (often it was a world they’d designed in Minecraft) and at the end of the nine weeks, students designed their own games.  It was a great experience and a pleasant mix of board games, card games and electronic games.  It’s something I would like to try again this year, but I also want to try using game-based learning at school through established games that have a more defined educational purpose.  Our humanities department already uses NationStates to learn about governance.  Right now

Minecraft Cosplay Riminicomics by deviantART user zinghi under CC BY 3.0

Minecraft Cosplay Riminicomics
by deviantART user zinghi under CC BY 3.0

I’m working with some other teachers at LIS to use MinecraftEdu as a teaching and learning tool.  I know we’ll start with our Year 8 humanities class designing their ideal city as the assessment task for their study on cities, but I am also excited about the potential for math, physics and literature.  Currently we’re in the early stages, gathering a group of teachers who are willing to play together just to familiarize ourselves with it as a tool. Who knows? Perhaps this will end up being my Course 5 project!

My Dreams

So, as my post probably shows, I am conflicted about this topic. I like games, love game-based learning when it’s done well (as in NationStates) and am a little worried about the cheapening of instruction through badge and leaderboard based gamification. In the midst of all of this conflict and confusion is a desire to make my LIS Reads – LIS Lê one big game.  I’d like to have it become a competition of sorts between the houses, not based on how many people have read the books, but on what we do with it after we’ve read them. I’ve got a variety of ideas, including:

  • LIS Reads – LIS Lê tumblr to submit Quotetastic Friday style quotes from the montly books
  • Sharing related quotes and thoughts on Twitter with #lisreads
  • Use WattPad to encourage fan-fiction pieces related to our LIS Reads – LIS Lê texts
  • Have Battle of the Books style competitions between the houses on the books at the end of the year

The thing is, all of my ideas right now just make it a competition, and as everything we’ve read shows, badges and leader boards do not a game make.  You need an intriguing story at the core of it, like Mario Brothers or Ju’s Ninja Math.   I need a story.  Any ideas, COETAIL friends?

Moving towards SAMR-fication

Like other COETAILers, the Mark Presnky article about doing New Things in New Ways with technology has had me continually reflecting since Course One on the validity and effectiveness of how I am using technology as a librarian.  While I am using a lot of technology (blogs, wikis, Diigo, Google Drive, podcasts, Glogster, and iMovie for starters), only some of these have transformed learning in a way that couldn’t be done as effectively without the technology. I do not think, however, that I have done anything truly new. On the flip side, I feel like I am going a long ways towards transforming the use of technology in teaching and learning at LIS.  With that in mind, here are my thoughts on our movement towards SAMR so far.

What We’re Doing

Library as a Virtual Space

Screen shot 2013-09-14 at 3.30.22 PMHaving an effective website is one of the most important parts of being a librarian, and I am pretty pleased about the current state of our library website.  There are lots of things I can and will still do with it, but I think this is the key thing I’m doing that can be checked as at least an M if not partly an R on the SAMR scale and transformation on the Technology Integration Matrix , particularly in terms of making resources available to all students simultaneously.   Students are able to access a wide variety of resources to support them in their literacy, research and technology pursuits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also, there is opportunity for exchange and sharing of resources. Students have been added to the library blog as student bloggers (to add recommendations and reviews), but no student posts have happened yet.

What I would like to do is figure out how to make it a more interactive site, where students can contribute content without having to make every single kid at school a guest blogger.  My gut feeling is that means I need to push the content towards the students through automated posting of the information on multiple social media platforms, meeting them where they are and asking for the feedback. Any thoughts? Does anyone know of a library website that is truly transformative in terms of patron use and engagement?


Lots of our secondary students are blogging now, compared with the total of Zero when I arrived here. Interestingly, I’ve seen some teachers basically copy and paste their old paper activities onto their class blog and have students respond in that manner.  Other teachers have completely revolutionized the way their classroom works as a result of their class blogging, with students creating, sharing and exchanging in a way that was previously impossible, particularly in second language classrooms.  I enjoyed reading about Julie Lemley’s evaluation of her school’s student blog use, and I am looking forward to trying to move my school in the direction of blogs being portfolios as well as active working spaces.

Web 2.0 Tools

Public Domain

Public Domain

As I mentioned in my laundry list, we’ve played around with a variety of Web 2.0 tools over the last year, but my favorite results in terms of transformation have been GlogsterEdu and Twitter.  Our Humanities and Spanish classes have both used Glogster, the interactive poster program, as a tool for communicating learning, and the results have been pretty exciting, if at times a little busy.  Just the fact that students are embedding video, linking to further reading, sharing photos and turning their final products into portals to more information instead of dead end paper posters makes me know there’s transformation happening.

Photo by Flickr user mkhmarketing under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Flickr user mkhmarketing under CC BY 2.0

Starting this past Monday, I am working with the Year 11 English B class on their unit about how social media is impacting our communication.  We are starting our unit by investigating Twitter specifically and students are sharing their thoughts and ideas through using the hashtag #listech11. I was SHOCKED at how many of them have never used Twitter and thought it was strictly for navel gazing. Anyways, I am looking forward to returning to the subject of our Twitter unit  later in Course 4.  I hope I will be able to say we transformed teaching and learning and that I’ll have a Twitter feed filled with examples.

Where we’re going!


Minecraft Cosplay Riminicomics by deviantART user zinghi under CC BY 3.0

Minecraft Cosplay Riminicomics
by deviantART user zinghi under CC BY 3.0


We are headed there! It’s been nearly six months in the works, but it’s finally going to happen. I’ve got a team of teachers together who want to upskill themselves a bit in MineCraft prior to unleashing it as an educational for the students.  We’ve got tons of MineCrafters in our student population, and I am looking forward to seeing them build effective communities in Humanities, use blocks to teach scale and breed virtual bees to teach genetics. I really think this is going to transform our teaching in a way that could not be done before.

Skype in the Classroom

Skype Pony by deviantArt user 10art1 under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Skype Pony by deviantArt user 10art1 under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Well, I want to make this happen…in theory. In practice, I’ve let the everyday stuff of my job keep me from engaging in it. I’ve joined and I’ve lurked, but I need to dive into a project like a Mystery Skype and just give it a go. Skype is the ultimate “R” in SAMR!  Connecting with experts, breaking down classroom walls, putting my students in the interviewer seat: there’s so many ways this could transform teaching and learning at LIS. I just had my first request from another Skype Educator, and I have put them in contact with a classroom teacher at my school.  If Skype Pony, can do it, so can I!

What do you think?

I’m tired of typing, dear reader.  What do you think?  How can I help to move my school closer to the R in SAMR?

Remixin’ Readin’ and Writin’

PridePrejudiceZmbiesAs always, COETAIL forces me to think about issues which have been niggling at the back of my noggin for quite some time. This time, it’s fan fiction that’s been bugging me. My students love it.  And I don’t mean like it a little.  I mean LOVE it. There are two girls in particular who come to the library several afternoons a week and just write and comment and write and laugh and comment and write and read fan fiction. And they’re just the tip of the fan fiction iceberg at LIS.

According to Urban Dictionary, Fan Fiction is “a work of fiction utilizing characters from a book, television show, or movie, as opposed to original characters. Referred to as ‘fan’ fiction because it is generally written by fans obsessed with the book, television show, or movie.”

Some examples:

Where do I read it, write it, share it?

  • Wattpad – recommended by my students
  • FanFiction – the most popular site
  • deviantART – known for it’s amazing visual art, there’s a LOT of fan fiction texts shared her as well

Anything legit? How about Pride, Prejudice and Zombies? It’s on our library shelves, and it’s been a hit around the world. Straight up Remix.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, I think the first thing is start encouraging fan fiction through providing students with ways to share their favorite Fanfiction, discuss the work of others they like and  write their own Fanfiction.  What first comes to mind is an after school activity oriented around Fanfiction and dedicated places and spaces for students to display remixed texts. But I don’t know. I’m new to Fanfic.  What do you think, fellow COETAILers?

All a Twitter: Professional Learning at LIS

Learn by Flickr user Mark Brannan under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Learn by Flickr user Mark Brannan under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This is an exciting year at LIS, as our secondary school is embarking on developing a new vision for professional learning.  In the past, our professional learning committee has primarily managed the professional learning budget, deciding whether or not teachers get their PD applications funded.  This year we have a professional learning team (I’m on it!) which consists of our deputy principal, our MYP and DP coordinators and two teachers. We will still evaluate and approve funding applications, but we are also charged with promoting a culture of life-long learning amongst the secondary school faculty.

We’ve accomplished quite a bit in our first few weeks of existence, but the thing I am most excited about is our new professional learning blog.  I’m not excited about its look (I promise I’ll do something visually pleasing soon!) but I am excited about the move to get teachers developing their own PLN (Personal Learning Network). I believe that empowering teachers to direct their own professional learning, rather than wait for school funded PD once a year, is at the core of school growth and success.  I’ve been a longtime PLN promoter, and COETAIL has only continued to grow my faith in my PLN.  One of my favorite tools is Twitter, which is why I decided to make our first “Your PLN” resource page about Twitter.  Amongst other resources on that page is the Twitter for Teachers infographic from the USC Rossier School of Education.

Twitter for Teachers Infographic

Twitter for Teachers

There are a ton of infographics out there about Twitter for Teachers, but this one struck me because it’s clear, clean and accessible to not so tech savvy folks.  After all, not so techie teachers are probably my most important target audience!  Hopefully a few Tech Tuesdays, a lot of encouragement and this infographic will help my teachers to feel like this bird:

Photo by Flickr user mkhmarketing under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Flickr user mkhmarketing under CC BY 2.0