Voice of the Library: Take A Look…What Do You See?

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May 24th, 2011

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Today in the library, I took these photographs of our 5th graders at Van Meter completely engaged, sharing with friends, and having a blast learning something new.

And just what was it that hooked this group of students?

We recently added 8 iPad’s and 12 iPod’s to the technology in our school.  When the students came into the library I mentioned that we would be using the new devices. I showed them how  to operate and handle the iPad’s.  I also showed them how to look through the apps and try them out.

I open up the SkyView Free app which lets you point the iPad to the sky and discover objects contained within it.  As I pointed the iPad to the sky we found the sun, moon, and several constellations.  I told the students that we had found the International Space Station last week.  At first I couldn’t find it, but as I pointed the iPad to the floor, it popped up onto the screen.  I held it out for the students to look at and one of them said, “Mrs. Miller! The Endeavour is at the Space Station!”  I was so excited to look down and see this happening right before our eyes.  The students were just as excited as they gathered around to capture a look at this historical moment in space.  I loved the questions that were being asked such as, “Why is the Endeavour rolling over and over?  Why is the Space Station staying still?  How long has the Space Station been there?  When do the astronauts come back on the Endeavour? Do you think we could Skype the people who live on the Space Station, Mrs. Miller?”

And not only were questions being asked, but they were also being answered by others jumping on the computers to look up the information or by quoting news sources and teachers.

It was my plan to spend library time investigating other apps and websites.  However, within 5 minutes this was changed and went an entirely different direction.

By putting these amazing resources into the hands of our students, we have given them another powerful tool to investigate, learn, create, and collaborate with themselves and others at school.

On this day, the students charted their course for our time together.  They dove in and immersed themselves in a rich learning experience. They were the ones driving.  To look at their faces, to see them sharing with one another, and to hear words of excitement and encouragement is the greatest feeling.

Today I challenge you to get your camera ready for these moments in your own schools, classrooms, and libraries….wherever learning might take you. We would love to see your photographs, hear the stories, and get inspired by what your students are doing too.

What hooked your students today?  We can’t wait to hear.

Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian and technology specialist at Van Meter School in Iowa.  You can find her on Twitter at @shannonmmiller and blogging at Van Meter Library Voice http://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com/


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