When I generfied the library I also weeded my fiction area. I had over 500 books that I needed to get rid of so I started looking for ways to make art using them. First, I used the books to decorate the library doors and then since I still had more books I started to look for other uses. My students and I started to take the books and fold them into really cool designs which I have put them up all over the library. I also started to make crystallize books using Borax.
The book crystallization came about because of this article I found on Pinterest. After reading it I was very excited to try it myself. So I did.
Every book comes out differently no two are alike and the crystals are all totally different. I have not fully figured out why some come out with bigger crystals and some are smaller finer crystals. I think it has to do how hot the water gets but I am not fully sure. I should have paid more attention in chemistry class.
Since I have started to post pictures of them on my twitter feed I have been asked how I did that.
Here is my unscientific recipe I make my books.
1. Get a big stockpot and fill it with water.
2. Heat the water to almost boiling
3. Put in lots of borax more borax more crystals (I use around 6 cups per book) - stir it let the mixture dissolve.
4. Keep the book soaking in the mixture until the water has cooled and the crystals have formed on the book.
5. Take it out of the mixture and leave it out to dry.
You can also put in food coloring if you want.
I have had so much fun using my old books to make these. I love how they turn out. Try it! Please send me pictures if you do!
For Christmas, my in-laws got my son a Sphero. I had not seen it previously but my son and husband played around with one at a Marbles the Brain Store. When I first saw the Sphero I immediately thought of tons of ways to use it in the classroom and wanted to get some for my students.
Around the same time my friend and mentor Shannon Miller sent out a tweet looking for cool apps and uses for iPads. I tweeted her about the Sphero and she and I started to talk about the ways we could use it in the classroom. Neither of us had the $600 it cost for 10 of them but we could afford 5 each. So thanks to money I received from my HSA I was able to get 5 for my students.
After Christmas I brought them into my school and as soon as my students saw them they were in love. Taking out their own devices (we are BYOD school) and borrowing my cell phone and iPad they were quickly able to drive it around the library and start playing games on it. I barely needed to show them anything.
The Sphero connects to your device via bluetooth and you can download lots of free apps to play all different kinds of games like, golf, driving, pass the Sphero (like hot potato) and other cool games.
The real reason I got the Sphero was because of the ability to program it using an app called Macrolab. It allows the students to easily program it and make it change color, steer it, etc. I think it is a really cool way to teach basic programing and coding to students. Shannon and I have been talking about it and we are hoping to get a Sphero club to started in each of the schools and connect the kids via google hangout.
But the game changer for me came on Friday when I used the Spheros with my multiply disabled students. On Fridays they come down to the library and we usually do a story time and then check out books. This week I thought we would play with the Sphero. I wanted to see if my thinking was correct that they could help students with hand eye coordination, memorization, socialization and more. And let me tell you -- it worked. It was one of the proudest moments I've had as an educator.
We played pinwheel which is like Simon Says, Color Grab where you have to grab a certain color and you earn points when you grab it quickly, and we also played Pass the Sphero which is like hot potato. The kids loved it. They were all engaged, excited, cooperating and loving it. Even our blind student played Color Grab. The other students would yell to him when it was his turn to grab the Sphero. He loved it!
I loved seeing the students so engaged and thanks to the Sphero they were. I can not emphasis just how much of a game changer it can be for some of our students. Technology when used correctly can be amazing!
It has been a few months into my generification of the fiction area. I am loving it! I have seen kids take out lots of books that they previously would not have taken out. It was also so much easier when students had to check out a science fiction books for a project. In the past it was a big problem because the books were all over the place. Now the students just went to area and browsed the area looking for a book to read. It made all the hard work worth it!
But it is not all good... I realized that I am spending a little more time looking up books for kids because neither of us know where the book now is. I am getting better at figuring it out and so are the students, but it still takes some time. It also takes longer to process new books because I need to figure out which area the books go in. It is not a huge amount of time, but it does take a little longer and something I did not fully think about when I started.
Even with those downfalls it is still worth doing! Gentrification rules!!
Over this vacation, I have been thinking a lot about change and also about the problems we are facing in education -- especially libraries. I have read some amazing blog posts from my PLN. One of my favorites is from the amazing Jennifer LaGarde who wrote this great post on how to change perceptions of your library. It is really a blueprint to do things the right way.
Change is hard. I know for a long time I lived my life scared to death about it. We as librarians and educators need to change! We can no longer stay the way we have been. We will not survive!
So how do we do this?
I don't have all the answers nor do I proclaim to, but here are some of my thoughts.
1. Start small - Baby steps
You will never be able to change everything you want to so start small. Do one small thing at a time. Maybe its changing the website, maybe genrefy your fiction area. Try one new thing and build from that.
2. Get on Twitter-
As librarians we are isolated. We are usually the only ones in our schools so it is hard to learn from or bounce ideas off another person. Twitter has changed that. Every day I learn from my PLN! You don't even need to tweet -- just follow some of the librarian rockstars like Shannon Miller, Joyce Valenza, Jennifer LaGarde, Gwyneth Jones, Nikki D Robertson, Michelle Cooper, Tiffany Whitehead, Sherry Glick, John Schu,and Matthew Winner and even me :-). Follow who they follow. Then spend a few minutes looking at what they are tweeting about. I promise you will learn something new everyday!
3. Embrace Technology - It is not going away. Sorry to have to break that news to you. Today our jobs are about so much more than books! There are days at my job that I almost never touch a book. Yes, I said it. If you don't embrace technology and become the technology leader in your school you will become irrelevant very quickly. You need to be the one that the teachers and students come to when they have questions about technology. You need to be the person that leads the administration's vision for technology. You also need to be the go-to trainer on technology. If you are not you need to become that quick. How do you do that? There are tons of great free resources out there to help you. TL Virtual Cafe, Edcamps, and ISTE SIGLIB are all great examples of technology tools.
4. Take Risks- You have to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Change is not comfortable but you must take that risk or nothing will change.
5. You will Fail - “Life is all about learning and one of the most memorable ways of learning something is by messing up.” – Dr. Wayne. W. Dyer. It is how you learn from that failure that will lead to changes. It is ok and it is to be expected. No one is perfect. Reflect on the failure so you can learn and grow from it.
Elissa Malespina is the Middle School Teacher Librarian in Somerville and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.