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Check It Out: 10/17/18 Using Makerspaces & Digital Books

Your monthly news from the OPS Library Services Staff

Guidelines for Using Makerspaces

Makerspaces have become a frequent activity in our libraries.  As we begin this third year of using maker materials in our school libraries, please remember these important guidelines.

1)  Maker materials are not toys.  Do not refer to them as toys.  Yes, outside of an educational setting, these could be considered toys, but in your context they are learning materials.  Visitors to your library who hear that term may question what is happening instructionally in your library.

2)  Maker materials should be tied to your posted learning goal.  Use of the maker materials should have purpose.  Students should not be given free reign with the materials at all times.  Students can still engage in creative activities that engage their imaginations while also working toward a purposeful goal.  (For more informaiton on learning goals revisit the 10/10/18 newsletter)

3)  Maker materials support a wide variety of skills including problem solving and communication and collaboration.  Maker material use should also be tied to literacy and numeracy skills.

4)  Maker materials should be used some of the time.  These materials should not be used during every library visit.  They should be worked into your lesson plans where possible and that makes sense.  Be sure that you are focusing your instruction on skills identified in your A+ Curriculum Guides.

Elementary Ideas for Makerspaces

Maker materials can be used in a variety of ways during elementary library time.  Below are just a few ideas of how to include them into your library instruction.  Many of these ideas can take place during check out time.  While one small group of students goes to the shelves to check out, the other students can be working on a maker activity (or another follow-up activity based on the lesson taught at the beginning of the class).

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Suggestions below based on the following idea:

A)  Lesson for 20 min on a specific learning goal.

B)  Checkout for 30 min with 6 groups going for 5 minutes at a time.  This gives each group 25 minutes of work time on their learning goal with the maker materials.


1)  You are working on the concept of setting with your students.  You read a book that has a very specific or descriptive setting.  After reading the story, you ask students to give you details about the setting which you write on an anchor chart, the board, or a word doc projected on the screen. (20 min)  Students are then tasked with recreating the setting using their maker materials using elements identified by the class (20 min) and writing a brief description of their setting or explaining their building process (5 min).  

2)  You have just read the book The Wild Robot to your students.  You discuss different biomes with your students.  What things do you see in the mountains, desert, ocean, etc. (20 min)  Students must pick one of the biomes to use to design a robot using their maker materials (20 min) and write about how their robot fit into their biome (5 min).  This could be an activity that stretches across 2 visits with the first spending time researching a biome and the second creating and writing about the robot. (Saw this idea at Columbian Elementary this week).

 3)  Students are to complete a collaborative project.  Students are working in small groups.  Each group member must agree on the final outcome and be involved in the final product.  I saw a group at Washington Elementary last year create their own business as their project.  They decided they wanted to make a moped shop out of their Brain Flakes.  Two of the group members designed the shop and two designed the mopeds.  This idea could easily translate to all students with their maker materials.  When working with the concept of "neighborhood" with second graders in relation to their social studies curriculum, you could have each group design a business that they feel is needed near their school.  Group members would all have to agree on the business  and everyone would need to participate in the creation process.  At the end or during their next visit, students could write about why they felt this business was needed, how they participated within their group, and what they may have done differently if working on their own.

4)  Animal research for 3rd grade writing.  Students could be given the task of designing an enclosure for their animals.  Students could work individually or in small groups (based on similar animals--bears, large cats, primates, etc.).  Students could then sketch out their habitat and write about how it fits their animal's needs  Then, students could use maker materials or possibly MinecraftEDU to create their habitat. (Adapted from a lesson at Jefferson Elementary used with 6th graders and the GLE option of Should We Own Exotic Pets).

Secondary Ideas for Makerspaces

Maker materials can be used in a variety of ways during secondary collaborative projects.  The ideas below could be used in a variety of content areas.


1)  6th Grade GLE--Should we own exotic pets.  Students could be given the task of designing an enclosure for an exotic pet.  Students could sketch out their habitat and write about how it fits their animal's needs--based on their research  Then, students could use maker materials or possibly MinecraftEDU to create their enclosure. (Adapted from a lesson at Jefferson Elementary)

2)  Create 3-D projects.  Students could use maker materials to create 3-D renderings of final projects for a course.  Michelle Luhtala, the keynote at the recent NLA/NSLA conference, described teachers using maker materials in their library to design end of unit products that supported student learning.  In one class, students were studying absolutism.  Students were tasked with creating a 3-D object that represented their "face" of absolutism--ex. Maria Theresa, Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, Elizabeth the I.  Students also had to explain how their project represented their figure(s) using the research they had conducted.

3) Breakout EDU.  Students can work together in groups to solve clues related to content learned in their classroom.  This could be used as a formative or review activity with students in any content areas.  Many breakout activities are available online that can be tailored to fit your audience.  At Marrs Middle School this week, students in 5th grade worked on prime factorization and exponent skills while saving the world from destruction.  Each group was given 3 clues to solve that used these specific math skills.

Options for Digital Book Resources

There are several options for accessing digital books in your school library or in classrooms at your school.


All of the resources below are links off of elementary school library pages.  OverDrive does have 3 different links--OverDrive takes you to the regular login screen (usually a tile in the middle of the page) and Sora takes you to the Sora reading app while the Quickstart takes you to simultaneous use books (usually links on the left hand side). 

Secondary schools can use the OverDrive tile on their pages and can use Unite for Literacy, as it is a free website.

OverDrive logins and passwords are tied to LS2 information.  If a student or teacher is having trouble logging in, verify they have an account in LS2 and that the borrower information is correct.

Unite for Literacy includes books into translated multiple languages that are read aloud in that language.  The OPS EL department has vetted most of these language translations and have advised us that they are good to use with our students.

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Elementary Ideas for Using Digital Books

Each of the options below is determined by the access you have to technology in your school library.  

Indian Hill Elementary 2nd Graders Learning How to Use OverDrive

1) Teach students how to access books through one of the 3 platforms above as your 20 minute lesson.  During the 25 minutes of independent work time during check out, have students read or listen to a book on that platform.  Just as with your maker materials, this should not be a weekly activity but could easily be put into your rotation on a regular basis.

Let students know that they can use these same resources off campus when they have access to the internet.  Remember, students can download OverDrive materials to a device when on wi-fi and then use them offline if needed. 

2)  Teachers can also use these resources in their classrooms for rotations for reading time.  You can provide the direct instruction on how to use them and let the teacher know when they are ready to work with them independently.

Secondary Ideas for Using Digital Books

These options are obviously subject to availability of technology and classes.  However, with increased access technology in secondary schools and reading and language arts every day in middle schools, this might be the perfect time to introduce these resources.

Image from International Read an eBook Day

1)  During orientations, show your students how to use OverDrive and give them time to look around and check out books if they would like.  It doesn't have to be included in your general orientation and can in a shorter time frame.  Central High School does a mini-OverDrive orientation where they spend a portion of a class period intro ducting it to students.  This might also be great to show students before a long break.

2)  Work with your reading teachers and show students how to use OverDrive so that they can use it during reading time in class or for their reading options at home.  

3)  Work with your ESL teachers and show students how to use Unite for Literacy.  This free web based resource could be very beneficial to students still learning English as many of the books are read in other languages.  The EL department has had translators listen to these versions and has said most of them do a very good job.

Tool to Help with Password for OverDrive

Thank you to Michele Mulder at Monroe for sharing this awesome tool to use with students!

Long Range Planning Opportunity

Courtney is traveling around to visit librarians to discuss long range planning for 2nd quarter.  If you have not done so and would like to have a long range planning visit, please email Courtney with cycle days and times that work best for you.  Ideally, a full 50 minutes works best for this type of conversation.

EPIC! Another great digital book resource for elementary

Just in case you haven't had a chance to check out EPIC! a fantastic FREE resource, Eileen Heller has put together a fabulous walk through video to give you an idea of how to use it!  EPIC! features books in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese.

FREE from PBS For the Love of Lit: Virtual Professional Learning Series

Teachers! Join us as we bring the Great American Read to your classroom. 

This four-part virtual professional learning series is designed for English Language Arts teachers, created FOR educators BY educators. With an emphasis on fun, engaging, accessible, and free tools for classrooms, this series will highlight techniques for engaging learners through essential communication skills, and present ideas for enhancing teaching practice through activities, projects, passion, and a connection to literature. PBS will provide a certificate of attendance for each one hour virtual professional learning event.

For the Love of Lit: Inspiring Young Authors, with NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty

October 17 @ 7-8pm ET

Designed by educators, this virtual professional learning experience will introduce a number of teaching models and strategies to enhance your practice. How can you inspire your students to be passionate writers and engaged readers? We’ll explore how mentor texts from The Great American Read, combined with the NaNoWriMo challenge, can empower students of all ages to read and write with enthusiasm and depth. You’ll get direct insight from students, and be able to chat live with NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty.

Led by PBS All Star Teachers Laura Bradley, and Heather Gauck, this session highlights exciting resources and models that can immediately be implemented in the classroom.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

For the Love of Lit: Including All Readers, with student activist Marley Dias 

October 25 @ 7-8pm ET

Join us for a live discussion with author and teen activist Marley Dias, best known for launching her own #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.

Marley noted that most of “classics” featured stories about white boys and their dogs. After reading Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming,” she was inspired to launch a social media campaign called, #1000BlackGirlBooks, to collect and distribute a thousand books with Black girl protagonists to libraries across the country.

Learn more about her campaign, her continued work, and the steps you can take as as a teacher to make all the young readers you work with feel represented and inspired by the books they’re reading. This professional learning episode was created specifically with the PreK-2 classroom in mind. Come prepared with your questions for Marley in this live and interactive session.



For the Love of Lit: Encouraging Bright Thinkers

November 7 @ 7-8pm ET

Join your peers from across the country as we explore unique strategies for engaging young readers, making literature relevant and encouraging students to speak and listen to solve real world problems.

Led by PBS All Star Teachers Michael Lang from Las Vegas Nevada, and North Dakota’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Kayla Delzer, this session will encourage educators from across the country to pair up and work together to try new strategies and models that can immediately be implemented in the classroom



For the Love of Lit: Cultivating Young Book Lovers

November 14 @ 7-8pm ET

Join your peers from across the country as we explore unique strategies for engaging young readers. How do you engage students with your own passion for literature? This session is set to reignite your excitement for books and help kindle a love of literature in your students.

This series is presented by PBS, PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars, ITVS and PBS member stations across the country.


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