Weekly reads: July 27, 2014


*Welcome to Weekly Reads.  As I read blogs, peruse Twitter, and save things to Diigo throughout the week, I come across a lot of great resources that I think others would benefit from.  This post is my place to bring together some of my favorite finds of the week and share them with you.  Enjoy!*

Education/ Libraries


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Local Makerspace: MOSI’s IdeaZone

MOSI's IdeaZone

MOSI’s IdeaZone

Being a Tampa native, I grew up on the Museum of Science and Industry.  Only 15 minutes away from my childhood home, I have fond memories of playing with their giant Rube Goldberg machine, pretending to be an astronaut in their space shuttle simulator, star gazing on top of the MOSI IMAX dome and spending the night in a room of giant animatronic dinosaurs with my Brownie troop.  I recently went back to MOSI again with my school and with my family, and got hooked up with an educator membership so I can keep up with what they’re doing.  And I’m happy to see that they’ve embraced the Maker Movement whole-heartedly.

Check out the Idea Zone:


Tinkering with LEGOs

Tinkering with LEGOs

The IdeaZone’s motto is Dream it; Make it; Do it.  The space is a nice combination of open Maker stations that any child can participate in with little instruction, and more complex tools that go hand-in-hand with some of the programs and classes offered in the space.  Tables with bins full of LEGOs, K’nex and other building materials invite kids to sit down and tinker.  There’s a couple of tables with tools that younger children will enjoy too, so all ages are able to participate.

Part of the 3D Printing exhibit

Part of the 3D Printing exhibit

These basic open-making areas are supported by more complex tools that are worked into programs and exhibits.  There’s a great 3D printing exhibit going on now, and the IdeaZone also boasts a laser engraver, vinyl cutter, VEX robots and a classroom lab with all sorts of tools.

Remote controlled robots

Remote controlled robots

My nine year old nephew loved the space as soon as he entered.  He immediately went for the remote controlled robots and had fun driving it all around the space.  He then got to tinkering with another kid there (who he’d never met) and they bonded over their love of The LEGO Movie.  When I went with my middle-school students, they were more interested in learning about the VEX robots and got into conversations about 3D printing and how to program an Arduino.

The IdeaZone is a fun space, and I definitely plan to come back and check out some of their programs and Open Make sessions.

A peek at our future Maker Corner

Our future Maker Corner

Our future Maker Corner

A few days ago, I tweeted out this image of our future Makerspace that I created in Skitch on my iPad.  I was inspired by The Nerdy Teacher’s post on rethinking his classroom setup, and I wanted to create a visual that could show what our space will be like when it all comes together.  I got a really positive response to my tweet, so I decided to write a more detailed post to help explain what we’ll be doing.  I’ll keep posting more updates as everything comes together.

(From left to right)

Chalkboard paint on pole

I want to provide many collaborative spaces in our Makerspace for students to work together, create art, and brainstorm.  Before the school year wrapped up, I put together a Makerspace planning committee made up of students who wanted to help plan things (they also planned our mini-Makerfaire).  I talked to them about whiteboard and chalkboard walls, and the general consensus was that they wanted to have both types of areas available.  I see the chalk area as more of an art space, and the dry-erase as a more collaborative space.  I plan on creating a DonorsChoose project at the beginning of the year to get the supplies to create this.

K’nex table

From the very beginning of intentionally bringing Making into the library, the K’nex have been a key component.  My students LOVE to tinker with the K’nex, and we had great success with our K’nex club last year.  I want to have a dedicated area where students can always have access to them, even when we have bookfairs, special events, etc.  This will be two tables put together for now, but I’d eventually love to get an Interior Concepts collaborative table and some easy-access wall storage for the K’nex.

Computer bar in corner

We’ve always had a few computers in this corner, and my students love to use them when they come to the library on a pass.  They like being separated from the larger computer lab where we have classes, because it gives them a little more privacy.  We’ll be adding a third computer to this area, and the computers will be on a cafe-height table with stools to make it easy for students to switch from looking things up to tinkering.  I’m planning on keeping coding resources in this area too.

Whiteboard wall

As with the chalkboard pole, the whiteboard wall will provide another area for collaboration for students.  I may eventually move the magazine racks to a different location, but my students like having them here, and we subscribe to a lot of good magazines for a Maker Corner, like Make magazine and Wired.

Collaborative area

This is really a set of comfy chairs and a low table on casters.  My students LOVE hanging out in this area, and I don’t want to take that away from them as we create our Makerspace.  I might use dry-erase or chalkboard contact paper on the table to gear this area more towards a collab space.

Epic LEGO wall

Inspired by this Pin, we will be creating a giant wall mounted LEGO space.  We had a coding club in the spring that worked through the Code.org curriculum, and DonorsChoose was running a promotion where you received a $750 credit if 15 of your students completed it.  This allowed us to fund a tricked out LEGO wall project.  We’ll be gluing 36 baseplates to a 60×60 inch sheet of plywood, then mounting that to the wall.  My students are SO excited about this.  It’s going to be epic.

Wall storage

We’re going to need a place to store all those LEGOs for easy access, so we’re getting some nice wall-mounted storage that will work for both the wall and the table.

LEGO table

It’s good to have horizontal and vertical spaces for tinkering with LEGOs, so we’ll have a table over here for that.  We’ll be mounted a few baseplates to the table, and I’m going to see if our shop teacher can help us create a recessed storage space in the table for easy clean-up.

Storage Room

I didn’t highlight it in the image, but that back wall has a door that leads to a storage room.  This is traditionally where the DVDs were kept, but I’ve gradually weeded the collection to make room for Makerspace storage.  Our specialty K’nex kits, tech take-apart, tools, Snap Circuits, arts and craft supplies and other supplies are stored back here.  I’ve considered making the room an extension of our Makerspace, but it’s very small and has limited visibility.  I’m the only adult in the library most of the time, and I have to keep an eye on everyone.  For now, this space will continue to be storage.  I’d love to eventually have a window put into that wall and make the space into a recording studio or tinkering lab, but that’s a paperwork nightmare.   One day…

Weekly reads: July 20, 2014


It’s been awhile since I did a proper Weekly Reads post.  We’ll play a little catch-up.

*Welcome to Weekly Reads.  As I read blogs, peruse Twitter, and save things to Diigo throughout the week, I come across a lot of great resources that I think others would benefit from.  This post is my place to bring together some of my favorite finds of the week and share them with you.  Enjoy!*

Education/ Libraries

Technology/ Tools

tags:twitter technology tools linklove

tags:tools linklove curation education

Learning Spaces


tags:makerspace makered STEM girls education linklove

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Lessons from ISTE 2014

I’ve been feeling generally inspired since leaving ISTE three weeks ago, and I’m still working on processing everything.  My takeaways from ISTE don’t really focus on awesome new tech I want to integrate (though I saw some cool stuff) or amazing things that I learned in sessions (though there was plenty of that too).  What I want to focus on is what I experienced and how I’ve learned to thrive at big conferences.  So here’s a bit on how my ISTE 2014 experience shaped how I’ll approach future conferences (hello FETC and ISTE 2015!)

Hanging out with Andy and Okle at EdTechKareoke

Hanging out with Andy and Okle at EdTechKareoke

Make Connections

Some of my best ISTE memories didn’t happen in any organized sessions or workshops.  They happened at the SIGLIB Social at Game X, playing video games and air-hockey with some of my favorite tweeps.  They happened when I wandered around the Blogger’s cafe and bumped into edu-famous people.  They happened when Okle Miller and I got to hang out with Andy Plemmons and his family the day before ISTE and see his amazing library.  The truly inspiring thing about ISTE was that I got to hang out with all these other educators who I respect and admire.  Sometimes we’d talk shop; other times we’d hang out.  I loved getting to hear first hand about the amazing things they have going on in their schools and districts.  Next year I definitely want to make sure that I go to the HackEd Unconference the day before ISTE – I think this will be right up my alley.

Learning hands on at the MaKeyMaKey workshop

Learning hands on at the MaKeyMaKey workshop

Hands-On and In-depth over Lecture-based Sessions

ISTE helped me to realize that I really prefer to learn by getting my hands dirty and exploring a topic in-depth.  I can listen to people talk about Makerspace, Genius Hour and EdTech all day – but actually getting to try stuff out and see how it could apply in my school works better for me.  Since I already read a ton of blogs, articles, Twitter feeds, books, etc, I felt like a lot of the lecture sessions were just telling me things I already knew.  I like to dig deeper.  That’s why some of my best learning times actually came from the two paid workshops I attended on grant-writing and MaKeyMaKeys.  Next time, I’ll try more BYOD sessions too.

Taking some downtime

Taking some downtime

Schedule down-time to process

I found myself having to frequently skip things I had originally planned to go to simply because my brain couldn’t handle anything more.  Every day, I would try to find the rare quiet corner, hook my iPad up to a charger, and spend a little time just sorting through and processing what I was experiencing.  Being an introvert, making sure I worked in some alone time really helped me to deal with the over-stimulation of being around SO many people.

littleBits art bots

littleBits art bots

See cool stuff in person

I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of cool ed-tech gear, Makerspace stuff, and edu-furniture on the internet, in catalogs, on blogs, etc.  But there really is something to actually get to see and touch these things in real life.  ISTE was the first time I got to play with littleBits, sit at a Steelcase Verb table, check out Bretford’s latest Motiv chairs with casters, see a 3Doodler in action, play with Cubelets.  All of this inspired me to start working on a project to create a Robot Petting Zoo in our library this year.


ISTE 2014: Recap of my bucket list

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three weeks since ISTE!  I’m still trying to process all the awesomeness that I experienced there, and I’ve already started gearing up for the school year and how I’ll apply what I’ve learned.  I’ll get to all my takeaways in the next post – first, I wanted to recap how I did on my not-totally-professional-still-fun bucket list.

Walking in Centennial Park

Walking in Centennial Park

  • Go walking and/or jogging in Centennial Olympic Park – Didn’t do any jogging on this trip, but I walked through Centennial Park almost every day on my way to the GWCC.  It’s beautiful, although much smaller than Google Maps makes it appear.
  • Get some people together to go to the Jimmy Carter Center –ISTE was SO busy, and we didn’t use the car at all during the conference because parking in downtown Atlanta is crazy expensive, so this never happened.  Next year (Hello Philadelphia!) I plan to either get there a day or two early or leave a bit late so I can do some sight-seeing.
Hanging out in a Node chair

Hanging out in a Node chair

  • Take a selfie in a Node chair – I was super excited to check out the Steelcase furniture, and I have to say, Nodes are pretty cool.  Oh, and technically this isn’t a selfie – but you can’t really see the chair that way anyhow.
  • Eat a praline – Didn’t really seek this one out.  I was already eating so much overly rich restaurant food, I didn’t really want one. I did eat flour-less chocolate cake twice though :)
  • Sing something at EdTech Kareoke – I ended up being on the contest floor more than the amateur floor, so this didn’t happen.  Still had a blast though.
Me and Allison Fuller-Mulloy

Me and Allison Fuller-Mulloy

  • Do something that wasn’t on my agenda - This was like, my whole conference.  I was constantly changing and reconfiguring what I was doing.  The best unplanned part of my agenda was skipping out on some sessions to hang out with my tweep Allison Fuller-Mulloy (@AFMulloy).  We checked out the Maker’s Playground, met some edu-famous people, and browsed the vendor hall together.  It’s so awesome to meet people you know on Twitter in real life.
  • Get my copy of Invent To Learn autographed – Even though I missed Gary Stager’s session (they ran out of room), he was at Sylvia Martinez’s session, so I was able to get both authors to autograph my book.
Dale Dougherty!!!

Dale Dougherty!!!

  • Get a picture with Dale Dougherty - I’m still in awe of the fact that this happened.  Dale Doughtery was presenting at the EdTekTalks, which were kind of like TED talks.  However, this session overlapped with the SIGLIB Marketing Your Library session, which I knew I did not want to miss.  I knew that I couldn’t stay till the end of the EdTekTalks, so I worked up the courage and went up to Dale in-between speakers to ask if he’d take a picture with me.  Not the best photo quality ever, but I’m still stoked.


ISTE July 1 Recap


Jennifer LaGarde giving her keynote

Jennifer LaGarde giving her keynote

A little slow on getting this one together – after ISTE wrapped up, I needed a little decompression time. This is my last of the daily recaps of ISTE – soon I’ll be posting my takeaways/action plans, etc.

The last day of ISTE started out with the SIGLIB keynote and breakfast. Jennifer LaGarde delivered an amazing talk about being Zombie-fighting librarians, complete with awesome graphics.  It was an inspiring talk that I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about.  School librarians are at a critical point in our profession right now, and we need to make sure that we’re advocating like crazy.

After the SIGLIB breakfast, I got hear one of my favorite authors, Sylvia Martinez.  A lot of her talk featured things discussed in her and Gary Stager’s book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, but it was so awesome to hear it live and to know that for many of the other educators, this was their first toe-dip into the pool of MakerEd.    I got to meet both her and Gary Stager, and they graciously autographed my copy of the best MakerEd book ever for me.

Lisa Palmieri talking Hummingbirds

Lisa Palmieri talking Hummingbirds

I hit up the Maker’s Playground after that, and I really wish I had spent more time hanging out there.  I got to meet Lisa Palmieri (@Learn21Tech) and watch her demonstrate a Hummingbird TARDIS, I got to try out a 3Doodler pen, see Nathan Stevens (@Nathan_Stevens) in his 3D printed swag, and see a ton of MaKeyMaKeys in action.  I also meet up with my Twitter friend Allison Fuller-Mulloy (@AFMulloy) and we explored the playground some more, visited the vendor hall, and had fun hanging out and meeting edu-famous people like Tom Whitby (@TomWhitby) and Steven Anderson (@Web20classroom).

Hanging out with Allison Fuller-Mulloy

Hanging out with Allison Fuller-Mulloy

By this point, there wasn’t a whole lot of time left in the day, so I finished up by visiting the parts of the vendor hall I hadn’t seen yet.  This included spending a good amount of time drooling over the amazing furniture at the Bretford and Steelcase booths.  I love me some good edu-furniture.

Some of my favorite furniture.  Top row: Bretford  Bottom row: Steelcase

Some of my favorite furniture. Top row: Bretford Bottom row: Steelcase

Once I have some more time to process everything, I’ll be writing up some more posts about stuff I learned at ISTE, what I’ll do differently next year (Philadelphia #ISTE2015 baby!), and how I did with my bucket list.


ISTE June 30 Recap


Wow, ISTE feels like a whirlwind. There’s been so much good stuff and so many ideas in the last couple of days; it’s going to take a while to process it all. But for now I’ll just focus on one day.

I was exhausted going into this day of ISTE, so I decided not to push myself too hard. I know that if I work myself to exhaustion, I won’t get as much out of things. I slept in til 8:15(!), ate a big breakfast that cost way more money than it should, and then headed off to the vendor hall for a few hours. I tried to pace myself throughout the conference and focused on one section of the vendor hall each day. It made it a lot easier for me to process all the cool new things I was checking out and focus on making good connections.


My first session of the day was a workshop on MaKeyMaKey and Scratch. This workshop was led by Michael Mdvinsky (sp) who uses MaKeyMaKey in his music classes. He basically introduced the concepts of making and Makerspaces, gave us the tools, and got us going. The challenge was to create a musical instrument using the two tools. It was a lot of fun. Every group had a completely different take on things. My group focused on copper tape, playdoh, and drawings to represent different instruments, then we drew sprites of the instruments and coded them to move when played. One group had musical vegetables, another created Godzilla by attaching foil to the bottom of a stuffed animal, and then using a foil “floor” as the ground. This workshop was a LOT of fun, and I got some great ideas for introducing our new set of 10 MaKeyMaKeys to my students next year.


After this, I checked out the EdTekTalks. These were TED style mini-keynotes by a variety of figures, but I was most excited about getting to see Dale Dougherty, founder of Make magazine and MakerFaire. His talk was great, and I even managed to get a quick selfie with him.

Once I left the EdTekTalks, I rushed to make it over to the Librarian’s Network forum on Marketing Your Library. It was so inspiring to hear some of my librarian heroes talk about the importance of making an impact, reaching out, and making sure that your voice is heard. Our profession is at a critical time right now, and how we handle it will affect everything.


The evening wrapped up with EdTechKareoke, which was super fun. My friends Sherry Gick and Matthew Winner performed in the kareoke contest, and they were amazing. It was a nice chance to kick back and hang out with all my new ISTE friends.

ISTE June 29th Recap


So much going on! So much learning!

Started this day in the Digital Age Library Playground. I’d never been to a presentation of this style – it’s similar to poster sessions. Several stations are set up with computers and presentation tools, and different people present on different topics throughout the playground. You can stay at one station and listen to the presentation, or walk around, grab QR codes and flyers, and get more info later. These sessions are made for dropping in and out. There were a lot of interesting topics, and I had a lot of good converstations. However, I have found that this doesn’t really work well for my learning style – there’s too much chaos and too many distractions. It was a great opportunity to network and meet people though, and I found out about a lot of great projects that my fellow SIGLIB librarians are up to.

I skipped breakfast this morning (horrible idea – NEVER do this at a conference) so after the playground I was seriously hungry and getting brain fog. I filled up on a big lunch at The Park Bar, then headed back for some more learning.


The only other session I went to was a panel discussion on Genius Hour, featuring such amazing people as Sylvia Martinez and Erin Klein. The discussion was very inspiring, and it helped to solidify my desire to get something like this started at my school next year. I think that there are amazing possibilities when you allow for students to pursue their passions.

I was mentally worn out after this, so I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the vendor hall. Lots of robots, interactive screens, device cases and carts, 3D printers. It’s so exciting the see the things that I’ve read about live and in person.


The day ended with the SIGLIB social reception at Game X, which was super fun. I got to hang out with all the cool librarians that I love talking to on Twitter. There were intense air hockey competitions with Andy Plemmons and Okle Miller, giant connect four with Sherry Gick, watching Tiffany Whitehead play Fruit Ninja, photo booth fun with everyone including Matthew Winner and Elissa Malespina. I was ridiculously fun and awesome and I’m so glad I went.

It was a super busy day, and I collapsed when I got back to the hotel room. I’m definitely getting in my exercise with all this walking.


ISTE June 28th Recap


Now I understand what everyone means when they say that a big international conference like this can be overwhelming. Wow! This conference is insanely huge, and insanely crowded. I’m really glad that I had three spare hours on Saturday morning to just explore and get my bearings.

I got dropped off at the conference center at 9:00, and my first workshop wasn’t until 12:30. Rather than just sit around, I explored. I found the room that my first workshop would be in. I checked out the blogger’s cafe and the various lounges. I found lots of little quiet nooks for me to sit in and process information.

I’m finding that I like to have a blend of very social experiences and solo experiences at my first ISTE. I had a lot of fun at the Communitites Networking Fair getting to meet my SIGLIB heroes, but I’ve also been enjoying sitting in the many quiet nooks scattered throughout, reading through my notes, writing blog posts, etc.

My first workshop was on Grant Writing, and I got lots of great ideas for amping up my grant writing game at my school (I’ll write up more on what I’m learning at the workshops and sessions later). The Community Networking Fair was super fun, and I got to meet a lot of new people. I was too exhausted (and the line was WAY too long) to go to the first keynote, so I went back to my hotel and crashed.

It’s a great conference, but I’m definitely glad to find moments to get away from all the chaos.