ALA – Orlando, July 2016 ~ Sheryl Wittig ~ Four Articles

ALA – Orlando, July 2016  ~ Sheryl Wittig ~ Four Articles

Article 1: Makerspaces

I’ve been following the makerspace buzz for a few years now.  Since there is no room to spare in my school, I assumed there was no way we could establish a makerspace.  But at AASL last year in Columbus, I discovered that makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes.  I went back and dual-purposed some durable, attractive baskets, and gradually introduced my fledgling mobile makerspace baskets.  

I was pleased to discover there are many cool products on the market that will get kids collaborating, using critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving.  Many of them are relatively affordable, which is a nice way to ease in.  And then there are 3D printers, laser cutters, knitting machines.  Makerspaces can be in designated rooms (especially with some heavy equipment), or on carts, baskets, or tubs.  Makerspaces can focus on particular themes, such as cooking, steampunk, sewing, art, robotics, gardening, etc.

I now have many more ideas of awesome resources to fill my attractive baskets.  I’ve added a few makerspace choices to the permissible activities, but they are intentionally contained and not too messy, such as origami.  While these fit the time, space and decibel constraints of our library I’m still trying to wrap my brain around WHO COULD be using some of these other makerspace resources, WHEN exactly when COULD they use them, WHAT would we do with works-in-progress, WHERE would we store all the equipment.  Origami is a far cry from a 3D printer, in cost, scarcity, technical support and infrastructure.

Resources: A wide variety of makerspace offerings and considerations as presented by Heather Moorefield-Lang. Makerspaces for Elementary Schools. Pinterest.  Architectural building toy using recycled plastic.

ALA Sessions:

Conceptualizing Learning Through Making

Rebekah Willett, Trent Miller, Rebecca Pettyjohn, Jesse Vieau (Madison, Wisconsin)

This Is What a MakerSpace Looks Like: A Visual Perspective

Heather Moorefield-Lang, University of South Carolina

Five Super Easy Makerspace Programs that will Bring in the Crowds

Katrina Doktor, Brampton Library, Brampton, Ontario, Canada


Article 2: Technology Tools Worth Considering

Always looking for a full compliment of perfect tools to integrate technology into the rest of the curriculum, I was thrilled to learn of several new, useful websites and apps at ALA in Orlando.  As someone who should be providing similar training to my staff, I was delighted with how efficient Desire Alexander’s notetaking guide proved to be.  Participants didn’t need to hassle with trying to write down the name of the website or its URL; that was provided, along with enough space for a quick note for usage.  Paired with the Symbaloo page, it was a ready to go presentation the rest of us could adapt for our PD delivery, assuming we were familiar with many of the 84 websites listed.

A few of the sites Desire Alexander presented that seemed worthy of further investigation included, the hot new thing for making posters and flyers;, a timeline creator; and , which can convert all caps text to lower case.

I’ve had positive experiences with a few she presented:, which I display during Battle of the Books;, and it’s Jr. version, linked from my school website;, for creating and posting my fledgling YouTube videos.

And then there are the sites that I keep hearing about from colleagues and in trainings, that I really just need to spend some time, mess around with, and see how I could use in my practice.  Several animated video makers, such as were presented. presents YouTube videos free of advertisements and suggested videos.  

Resources: Excellent notetaking guide and Symbaloo page linking to Desire Alexander’s recommended tech tools.

ALA Session:

50+ Tech Tools in 90 Minutes

Desiree Alexander


Article 3: AASL Best Apps and Websites, 2016 – Elementary

What’s better than one librarian vetting and determining the best educational websites and apps available this year?  A whole committee collaborating and deliberating to do the same.  AASL has been acknowledging outstanding educational websites since 2009, and outstanding apps since 2013.  While few sites or apps are the perfect tool for both early childhood and high school students, there are enough gems in the list to make any school librarian or teacher want to try them out.

As an elementary librarian, I was most excited about .  Free for teachers and librarians, in hopes of hooking families into the $4.99/month subscription, students have access to thousands of popular audiobooks and ebooks, both via mobile app and website, all appropriated for age 12 and under with Epic!.

Also beloved at the elementary level, needs to be in your bag of tricks!  Don’t fight our students’ need to move about, instead leverage that energy! seems to be a simple way of producing online presentations that maintain the cool features of each of the elements in the presentation. looks like an easy tool for making infographics, presentations, and reports. won in both the app and website categories.  Now we can create those cool “glideshows” with graphics, text, and videos moving the story along.

It’s easy to spend an evening checking out these free websites.  It’s a bit more of a hassle to check out apps, as you have to find and download each prospective app, and that’s when I really appreciate the AASL team vetting them for me.

I’m always on the lookout for FREE apps, appropriate for elementary students.  Epic! And Adobe Spark make the list. My students love coding, so “The Foos” by codeSpark looks promising. “Postit Plus” by 3M Company has a cool app that captures, organizes, and shares your handwritten Post-Its.

As far as content-rich apps, “Homes” by Tinybop (interactive tour of homes from around the world), “MoMA Art Lab” by MoMA, the Modern Museum of Art integrates creating and art history. “MusiQuest” by Edify Technologies look worthy of checking out.

Resources: AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2016.  Description of and links to a handful of websites in six categories. Archive of winning sites back to 2009.  AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2016.  Description of and links to a handful of websites in five categories. Archive of winning sites back to 2013.

ALA Sessions:

AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning

Cathy Potter, John Schumacher, Joyce K. Valenza, Lisa Castellano, Anne M. Weglewski, Allison Cline.

AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning

Lucy Santos Green, Heather Moorefield-Lang, Anne M. Weglewski, Allison Cline


Article 4: Technology and Book Clubs

“Room for growth” is the only way I could assess my library’s book club offerings following Stacy Brown and Angela Sauter’s session, “Reading ReKindled: Where Technology and Book Clubs Come Together” at ALA in Orlando.  This presentation helped me expand my conception of all that book clubs could be.

For example, consider expanding your target audience to include parents.  Partnering with the school counselor, you could offer a parent book club.  Or offer “Ebooks & Espresso”, encouraging parents to show up with their mobile devices right after drop-off or during parent-teacher conferences to learn how to download Alaska Digital Library ebooks and audiobooks, as well as check out the book fair.

Consider expanding how your book club can communicate with its members, authors and others.  Using tools like Padlet to share videos, trailers, etc, or Edmodo to set up a poll for which book to read next.  Skype with authors anywhere in the world.  In October through mid-November there is the Global Read Aloud, where your book club members could be collaborating with readers around the world!

Consider expanding the amount of fun students can have in book clubs.  What fun it would be to create and share edible book covers or characters. Or making a Pinterest page for a book.  Or bringing characters to life with Voki.  Or creating Fakebook accounts for characters in the book. Or using Popplet to create a family tree. Or a comic book app to recreate a book as a comic.  Or a GoogleEarth tour. Or play Book Club Trivia using Kahoot.

Consider expanding the variety of themes for your book clubs.  Awards (Battle of the Books title selection, PNLA’s Young Reader’s Choice, Newbery, Caldecott, etc.), specific genres or authors all seem enticing.

The advantage of book groups is that students are there voluntarily, you can limit the size to something more manageable than an oversized class, and students are more motivated.  The presenter worked with four different groups – one per grade level, one hour per week each, with a four week rotation.

Marketing seems to be essential to keeping the participation and interest levels up.  Consider changing displays weekly, using QR codes – the back of bathroom stall doors works well for older students, tweet, broadcast book talks and trailers, use Animoto.- whatever it takes.

Resources: Presenters’ slideshow to accompany a similar presentation. Stacy Brown’s blog. Global Read Aloud Pacific Northwest Library Association’s Young Reader’s Choice Awards Pinterest boards – Library displays, etc.

ALA Session:

Reading ReKindled: Where Technology and Book Clubs Come Together

Stacy M. Brown, The Davis Academy, Dunwoody, Georgia, Angela Sauter, The Lovett School

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