Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adventures with ebooks, Part One

Maybe I should call this post Misadventures with e-books.. or If I think ebooks are Confusing, What about my Students?

Baker and Taylor's Axis360 ebook Magic Wall needs the Blio reader. That is quite a sentence. They have an OK selection of books (although some are triple the cost of others, and I'm not buying those), and the books appear in the Magic Wall within a day. Customer service is really helpful, and the Magic Wall is pretty, especially on the iPad. Blio is a great reader. And, the platform's price is very reasonable.

  • E-books for libraries are just more expensive than the alternative.
  • Explaining how to access the ebooks is a chore (we are making a LibGuide and a blogpost about it).
  • The Axis 360 MARC records don't work well in our ILS, Destiny! We have to manipulate each record individually so Destiny will show that 1/1 books are in (which will be wrong if something gets checked out, but it is better than it always saying 0/0 are in), and we change the link in the MARC record, so it actually states that you click on the link to get to the Magic Wall to download the book, instead of just being a wild looking URL. Lots of work.
So, why not get the Follett e-books, you might ask. They work seamlessly with Destiny, and the circulation status is very clear. Well, Follett takes  several days to deliver the books and the page turning is painfully slow. S-L-O-W. At least it is slow on our iPads at school. I will keep trying to see if the reader gets better.

Ebrary is a whole other can of worms. On the computer it isn't too confusing, and you can make a bookshelf for your books. You need the bookshelf login to use the app. But then the bookshelf doesn't show up on the app. In fact, the bookshelf has nothing to do with the app. You use the app to search and download from the catalog only on to the iPad. Notetaking on the iPad is essentially cutting and pasting, and then the note has the citation attached, yes, but ittakesoutallthespacessoitishardtoreadwhatwascopiedandpasted.Thequotationslooklikethis. What is the deal with that?
On the computer the notetaking is good, and you can email pdfs to yourself to read on the iPad offline, among other features. But why the 2 products with the same name don't talk to each other is a mystery and a drawback.

Have you found that your patrons like the e-book  options at your library?

Stay tuned for more on our journey, hopefully some improvements in the market, and maybe some feedback from users. I haven't yet rolled these sources out to big groups of users. I am enjoying the experimenting and investigating, and I think this year of playing will turn up interesting results.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Flashcard Wishes

I got stumped by a seemingly easy request this week. One of our Educational Technology teachers and I have been spending time finding a flashcard app that:

1. Allows for large images
2. Allows for lots of text on the other side of the card
3. Can be emailed or shared to small groups or individuals
4. Can be made on computer cloud version
5. Deck can be downloaded to study on an iPad without wifi
6. Can "shuffle" the deck of flashcards, mark ones that are difficult, exclude the learned ones, and other fun learning capabilities like that.

I have tried out a bunch of great tools, but none so far can do all of the above. This is  for an Art History teacher who wants to put ARTstor images on one side and all the notes about the piece on the other (here is my Intro to ARTstor LibGuide). You would think this would be easy to find, but all the ones I have tried so far are missing crucial elements. The best cards are on Gflashcards, but the sharing is limited because of ARTstor's understandable Terms of Use.
Do you know of one that works for all of these criteria? Please share!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Too Many Changes for the School Year?

I am hoping to blog in detail about our many changes and get your advice. Here is a list of the changes for the library for this school year:

Staff: I am now the Head Librarian for our East Campus (7-12 grades), and we hired an amazing new librarian to focus on our Middle School needs.

Tools: We switched from InfoCentre to Destiny, subscribed to ebrary, have Axis360 and Follett ebooks, new apps for databases, and a newly restructured NoodleTools. All this to go with our new 1:1 iPad initiative in the Upper School. Also, I left EZproxy for now and have a different way for students to locate passwords (on a google doc), I have a new look for my LibGuides, and now I need to rework all of them because of this change away from EZ proxy.

Rules: Finally the students will be allowed to drink in the library, as long as the drinks have lids. We have new beanbag chairs in our redesigned (by students) Fiction Alley, and I hope the kids won't use them as gymnastics mats or cuddling areas.

Programming: We have a new piano in the library for Friday afternoon music, I have to recruit new people to my Student Library Advisory Council and Book Club (because many of my previous members graduated), and I am open to new suggestions from my community.

First teaching task: I am teaching the art history students how to use ARTStor on Friday. A new part for me will be the mobile version, which supposedly has a great flashcard feature. I will teach the kids how to access it on their new iPads, teaching from my iPad using the new Apple TV which is installed in the library Lab.

Lots to do! I am so excited for Tuesday when we start the school year!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

iPad Inservice

This week I taught three 90 minutes sessions as part of our faculty iPad inservice week. I taught the Productivity session, where I got to teach QuickOffice, Evernote, and Diigo (using these tools on school laptops and iPads) to groups of 10-20 faculty members. There were 3 other classes being offered by other specialists: iPad Basics, eBook Options, and Classroom Possibilities. I had a lot of fun actually teaching from the iPad as I walked around the room. I could also switch off between projecting from my iPad and laptop.  I would have loved it if the Smartboard worked with the iPad..maybe someday! The teachers had varying skills, but we all helped each other, and I had a great time. They loved it when I took their picture in an Evernote note, which was also very helpful for attendance. The most confusing parts to teach were adding Evernote's web clipper and Diigo's web highlighter to the iPads.
I am attending  an ALA session about Professional Development, because I see a lot more of this in my future (Leading Professional Development that Matters…and Works Friday, June 22, 2012 | 12:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m. Presenters: Debbie Abilock, Kristin Fontichiaro, and Violet H. Harada). I am already planning our August inservice week, where I hope to be teaching Your iPad and the Library: Access, Collaboration, Participation. Or something like that.. Do you have favorite Apps or iPad uses you think I should highlight (or get) for the faculty? Please share!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Great News from NoodleTools!

Friday I attended a webinar about the new version of the citing module of NoodleTools that will be available in late June. I am happy to say, I'm sticking with NoodleTools! After working so hard over the years to make this amazing citing, note taking, and outlining tool a large part of the K-12 Brentwood School research experience, I didn't want to have to change citation platforms. But NoodleTools really needed an upgrade. And an upgrade it is!

The Abilock team understands that we need to teach the students not only how to cite, but what they are citing, and that the tool students use needs to be flexible and not too complicated. Now they give us three citation levels instead of two, breaking the skills down even further so 2nd graders, 7th graders, and 11th graders or college students can all cite the types of resources they use. Engaging slides defining each type of source and how to find the elements needed for citing are available in each level. Teachers and Librarians can use these slides for instruction, or students have the option of seeing them while citing.

My students will especially appreciate  these highlights:
Quick Cite: They can now copy and paste citations from databases, and NoodleTools will offer some prompts to make sure the citation is edited if it needs to be. It will also mark on the bibliography that it is a copy and pasted citation, so students can go back and refine it later if needed.

WorldCat Integration:  Finally! Enter  a title and NoodleTools will offer up matching book covers and information so the student can make sure they are selecting the right one.

Archive and Annotate web pages: Using the iCyte bookmarklet,  students can keep copies of the sites and highlight on the screen.

Switch easily between types of sources: "Oops - I need to switch from citing a magazine to a newspaper, do I have to start all over?" Not anymore!

And like icing on top, all of these citing features work on the iPad, and later this summer the notecards and outlining features should work as well.

Some other  new features might please your students. For instance,  if your school teaches several citation styles, it is easier to switch between styles . Also, the notecard feature has a new layout that looks easier to navigate while writing notecards.

I did nto get to use NoodleTools myself, I only saw the webinar. I am very excited to see how it all looks live, and to share it with my students in the fall. Here is a video from NoodleTools all about the upcoming release. I will be able to write more after I actually use the updated product.

Thanks, NoodleTools!! The upgrade looks great!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using the Library on your iPad

The faculty all received our iPads to start learning how to use them before the next school year. So far, I have sent out two emails about using the library on the iPad. I am thinking this will be a regular series from the librarians to the faculty and staff, and soon to the students. Next year I am hoping to do some in-person faculty training too, but for now, emails will have to suffice. We are heading into finals next week and everyone is very busy.
My first email highlighted using Gale's Access my Library App and the Britannica Online App which I just subscribed to for my school. Today's email is all about using ARTstor's mobile site and how I can help the teachers put together a collection for their students to use on their mobile devices. I wanted them to play with these databases over the summer to see how they can incorporate them in the fall.
I want the library's resources (including me, by the way!) to become more important, not less, when we go 1:1.

Monday, May 21, 2012

1:1 iPads at the Secondary School Library

Archipelago is undergoing a slight change of focus. The 9th - 12th grades at my school are going 1:1 with iPads in the fall, and today all the teachers got our new iPads, along with iTunes gift cards. I hope to reflect in Archipelago about how using iPads changes the library and our curriculum. Will it change what I teach, what I buy for the collection, and the overall culture in the library? Probably, but what exactly will be different? What will be challenging? What will be better?

My first concerns are:
What is the best Blogger app?
How to serve the middle school equally when it isn't a part of the program?
Will NoodleTools have an iPad app, and if not, will it matter?
Which ebook vendors should I start using?
What can I do this summer to prepare the library resources and curriculum for this new and exciting educational adventure?
Will I ever be able to make a LibGuide on the iPad?

I will blog all about it on the iPad, of course! Right now I am just blogging using Safari on the iPad. Seems basic, but O.K.

Evernote, iPads, and Veterans

Read about an exciting day in our library - a day of creating content and making connections.

Friday, April 13, 2012

NoodleTools - in the Parent Newsletter

I am trying to make our library more visible by writing semi-regularly for the school's K-12 online newsletter, which is sent out by email blast every Friday. I figure if parents read about the library maybe once per month, they might come to define the library as we do, as an active teaching and learning space enriched by collaboration, technology, and information in all formats, not just a warehouse of books.  This article I co-wrote with Yapha Mason, our Lower School Librarian, and it came out in today's newsletter, immediately after the lead story.

NoodleTools: It's Not About Pasta
by Elisabeth Abarbanel and Yapha Mason, Librarians

Changes in the research process in the past decade might make what your child is doing look foreign to you. For instance, almost every 3rd to 12th Grade research project has a NoodleTools element. What is NoodleTools, you ask? It is online software that supports all aspects of the research project, from organizing sources to note-taking to a final bibliography or works cited. The librarians have worked with the teachers to integrate this online tool to make the process collaborative and much easier than when we were all in school.
In the Lower Division, our students start to cite their sources using NoodleTools in 3rd Grade. They learn the basics of citation with one book from their ocean animal report. In 4th through 6th Grade they are expected to cite all of their sources, and they learn the different pieces of information needed when it is a book, encyclopedia, web site, interview, or even an iPad app. Ms. Mason works with the students on how valuable it is to keep track of the sources used, and the best ways to accomplish this. We teach the MLA format for citing at Brentwood School, preparing the Lower Division students for their research on the East Campus.

On the East Campus, all 7th graders receive an introduction to citing using NoodleTools. They can then start taking notes using the online notecard feature, which is required in 8th and 9th Grade. Imagine typing your notecards and storing them in “the cloud” where they can’t be lost or left at home by mistake, and are never too messy to read. Students invite their teachers to access their work cited lists and notecards, and the teachers can comment online to offer help and dialog about the process. When working on group projects, students can also collaborate with each other in NoodleTools.

As the research process gets more complex, students learn more and more citing and note-taking tips. Have you ever had to cite a YouTube video or a Tweet? Brentwood students graduate feeling confident they can cite any piece of information, regardless of the format. The students don’t have to worry about the particular punctuation or format of the work cited list (NoodleTools does it for you), and can use their time instead to think critically about the research. Already a scholar’s dream, NoodleTools is going through an update this summer and it should be even easier to keep track of sources and information in the fall.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Elisabeth Abarbanel (East Campus) or Yapha Mason (West Campus) or look at our NoodleTools online help here: http://bwscampus.libguides.com/NoodleTools

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hanging Out about Connected Learning

Recently I was surprised and honored to be a part of this Google Hangout with some of my heroes, Mimi Ito and Howard Rheingold. It was my first time in a Hangout, as you can probably tell by watching it, but I learned a lot and it was a great experience for me. I hope to keep following, learning from,  and participating in Connected Learning events.

Watch live streaming video from connectedlearningtv at livestream.com

For more info about the Hangout,  and for upcoming events,  check out the Connected Learning site.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Love Notes

Late last night, I received the following email:

Hi Ms. Abarbanel,

I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. You gave it to me to read for DEAR Day...

I'm crying and I LOVE this book!! Just wanted to let you know...I couldn't wait until Tuesday to talk about it.

Literally indebted to you,

And there is the power combination of Drop Everything and Read, John Green, and individualized attention from a librarian.  I love approaching kids individually with a favorite book. The books I hand to kids one at a time tend to get checked out more often than booktalked books.  And they usually come back to tell me how they liked it.

I got this email about another John Green book, Will Grayson, Will Grayson:

I just wanted to let you know that I finished Will Grayson Will Grayson.  It was such a good book!!!  I was wondering if you could possibly recommend some other gay-themed books that I should read.  I would really appreciate it!!

I love when the kids send me love notes about the books that spoke to them. They are the most powerful feedback I get. Do you have any favorite notes from students about books? Share them here!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just for Fun: Participatory Displays

Sometimes participatory culture grows through old methods. Inspired by librarian Michelle Fromme, who often refers  to her "chalk talks," I have started making extremely simple and easy monthly participatory displays in the library. In one of our entrances, I put up a piece of butcher paper with a question on it, then I put some markers out and wait for the responses. The students are enjoying the outlet, the participation, and reading the other responses. Even the admissions tours often stop and take a look.

We started with the basics. What is your favorite book?

Next we inquired about superhero powers, songs, and now we are in to February with What is your favorite love story/song/poem? We have also started putting similar displays, with sharpies, on a Middle School bulletin board which the library has recently taken over, so they can more easily join in the fun. 

In Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Henry Jenkins defines participatory culture as one:

1.With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2.With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others
3.With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is
passed along to novices 
4.Where members believe that their contributions matter
5.Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they
care what other people think about what they have created).
Not every member must contribute, but all must believe they are free to contribute when
ready and that what they contribute will be appropriately valued

So, maybe our little displays don't hit every one of those marks, but the introduction is there.
1. Anyone can participate
2. It is public, so it is shared, and we encourage creativity and interaction
3. Well..this one is a stretch.. but we are purposefully starting off with easy prompts this year, and I am hoping that as people get more comfortable with the public sharing, we can move on to deeper ideas and conversations on the displays.
4. Students see other students enjoying the boards
5. The students are having fun creating a type of collage of ideas and humor. They are connecting with what each other writes and sometimes building upon it.
And, we leave everyone's contributions up, and although not everyone participates, everyone knows they can.

I can't get the students to participate on the blog or the Facebook page, but on the display, people are engaged. I wonder why that is - maybe the anonymity? the ease? the joining in on something similar to public conversation? I like the participation, the ease, and the building of culture that is happening through these simple displays. I think the students are learning that we care about what matters to them.

Another type of participatory display came from our graduating seniors last year. One boy wanted to put up a display of his favorite books, then other seniors wanted to do it too. This year we have a senior in charge of the weekly Senior Displays, where a senior puts out 10 favorite books from their 7th-12th grade experience at our school. While a student's display is up, we take his/her picture with the most favorite book and make a READ bookmark. This is a nice memento of their library lives, and I know some of the kids really enjoy the experience.

We are always looking for ways students can participate in the library, and displays are just one aspect. Do you have students help with displays? How are their interestes told through displays?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Collaborative Group Work: Thoughts

Just a quick post -
I keep thinking about this opinion piece from last week's New York Times. It's important to remember introverts, or even just kids who are a bit shy or quiet, when assigning group work. Of course, it is important for students to learn how to work with others and have their voices heard. But it also important for them to have the chance to work alone and create, without pushy classmates stifling their ideas.

 And, on a related note,  I have to remember that the library study carrels are needed. Our students use the 40 library study carrels all day. I have to do a better job at keeping other students quiet while near them. Will we have a backlash about our libraries that are getting louder and louder with collaboration? Are we focusing too much on the kids who enjoy collaboration while not paying enough to those who enjoy quiet and solitary work? In our big one-room library this might be the case. I wonder how I can please everyone.

Friday, January 6, 2012

LibGuide: NoodleTools for Creating Works Cited, Notecards, and Outlines

Recently I made a LibGuide about using NoodleTools. The NoodleTools team was really helpful and gave me some good feedback and links to include. I made the LibGuide as a template, so feel free to use it and adapt if for your own lessons and projects.