Friday, May 13, 2016

Sharing a Love of Reading

As librarians, we know that there is no greater joy than helping our readers connect with that perfect book. But when we can empower students to share their reading experiences with others, it's "goosebumpy!"

While I try to encourage and empower all my students to share and celebrate their reading experiences, two of my 5th grade classes (and their teachers) wanted to take their sharing to another level. As their Teacher Librarian, I was more than happy to oblige!

Using Padlet, I am sharing the Thinglink and Animoto book recommendations my 5th graders created. These book recommendations were also shared via our library website and through our Library Google Classroom in order to engage as many readers as possible! Below this Padlet, I have included a description of each tool (and how we used it)!


One of my 5th grade classes utilized a site called Thinglink. Thinglink allows students (and teachers) to create interactive images and videos. Students (and teachers) start with a base image or video. Once the base image has been uploaded, creators add "Tags," or the interactive touch points. Information added to the images includes text or links to sites or videos. Finished Thinglinks can then be shared multiple ways, including shareable links or embedding in sites/blogs.

I utilized the free version of Thinglink Teacher. This allowed me to create student accounts. The process of creating classes and student accounts was fairly easy, but tutorial videos are always helpful. While I am able to view my students' creations, I am unable to collaborate in the editing of the Thinglinks.


Animoto is a web-based video production tool, allowing for professional-looking video creation. To begin, students (and teachers) pick a theme (there are a variety of free ones to choose from). Each theme comes with a selected song, but Animoto provides a robust music library if creators wish to change. Creators then add a variety of text and images to create their video. The text slides are limited to a total of 90 characters each and videos must have at least one image. Pacing and transitions are automatically generated during the production process, but various slides can be highlighted during creation to ensure ample focus time. A preview option also allows for editing during the creation process. Much like Thinglink, finished Animotos can be shared a variety of ways, including shareable links, downloading, and embedding.

As a teacher or librarian, you can apply for an educator account. If approved, you are provided with a code that allows you to create student accounts. Both you and your students can then create videos exceeding the 30 second limitation of the free version. Animoto does provide detailed instruction in how to create the student accounts. 

There are a multitude of ways to have students extend their reading experiences! These are just two that worked really well for my students and allowed them to create a reading experience that could be shared with others!

Originally published (by me) on the IASL Blog:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Titan Hill Library Benefits from Birthday Books!

Sydney Skokan, Titan Hill 2nd grader, donated 27 titles to the Titan Hill Library.

She has a history of giving.

When Sydney Skokan was 2 1/2 she donated her piggy bank to the Red Cross because workers took the time to talk to her and explain their role and why the Red Cross needs people to donate money.

When she was 7, Sydney donated over half of her birthday presents to the MOHM's Place Christmas event.

"It was not because she didn't want them. It was because she knew she did not need them. She loved the thought of the kids, who may not get anything on Christmas morning, waking up to some pretty awesome gifts under their tree," said Mindi Skokan, Sydney's mother. "She's had a passion for giving to those in need for as long as I can remember."

This year, for Sydney's 8th birthday, she decided to give back in a different way. Sydney told her mom that she wanted to donate something somewhere again. After careful consideration, she decided to donate to the Titan Hill Library.

When the birthday invitations went out, Sydney requested that instead of birthday presents, she wanted her guests to pick out books that they'd like to donate to the Titan Hill Library.

"I knew if kids were having trouble finding books, then if they donated the books they wanted to read, they could check them out here," Sydney said.

Sydney said that her favorite thing about the Titan Hill Library is all the books. Now thanks to Sydney's thoughtfulness, the Titan Hill Library has 27 more titles.

"To say that her dad and I are proud of her would be a true understatement. I hope this girl never loses her passion for giving and for always seeing the best in people," Mindi says.