Innovation + Application = Robotics

If you walked into Riverside library during this rotation you would notice a wide, open space in the middle of our library each morning where Mrs. D (with the help of Mr. Graff before school) moved out our tables and chairs to prepare more room for the robotics lessons we are working on.  Last May our library was fortunate to receive tables with wheels and stackable chairs as part of our flexible learning furniture – in other words, in a matter of a few minutes we can transform our space to reflect the teaching and learning that would take place there.

I’ve had people ask me over the last few years, why teach robotics in library/computer class?  Well…this is my 26th year as a school librarian and from the beginning we have always had computer labs and technology in our libraries….and as technology has evolved so have libraries.  And what better place to ensure that all students receive equitable exposure to the same technology concepts and resources than an encore class that sees every student in the building every week?

What are the “robots” we are learning about in our library curriculum?  Specifically they are Ozobots, Dashes and Spheros….Generally these robots can be described as a mechanical device that is programmable, mobile and allows students to practice programming and coding skills.

Working with these pre-built robots like not only count as robotics, they also focus on one of the most important aspects of technology today – the skill of programming.

Using these pre-built robots teaches  students the literacy of coding and it’s important that kids learn the language of coding because coding is the foundation for building our apps, our webpages, and the many microcontrollers hidden in our electronic gadgets.

But perhaps my favorite thing I love about these lessons are watching the students problem solve with their peers and practice collaborating, sharing ideas and learning to respect each other’s opinions.


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It’s Time to Battle!

This year’s final Battle of the Books team had the following members: Ola O, Grace G, Mila B and Angie S with Samantha D being the alternate.  They are did a great job working together as a team to answer questions during our final meeting of the year.  Mrs. D was impressed with their knowledge of the books and their enthusiasm as they went through the questions.

Mrs. D handed out ribbons to all of the members of the final team.  They ended up with a score of 300 out of 375 points (80%) with 12 out of 15 points on the tie breaker questions.

We are excited to see next week how we did in comparison to the other teams around the state.

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Getting lost in a good (e)book…

This rotation Kindergartners are learning how to log into their assigned computer in the library lab using their network login and password. Mrs. D waits until this time of year because usually by this time kindergarten students can recognize their letters and numbers more easily and can use the Shift key to capitalize letters (all skills needed to login).  Mrs. D also introduces the Tumblebooks website with the Robert Munsch story 50 Below Zero.  After logging in, students can choose from the variety of Tumblebooks available to listen to and enjoy.

1st graders are reviewing proper iPad care before we take our iPads around the library and scan QR codes scattered throughout the easy fiction and easy nonfiction sections that have several fun stories from classics like The Snowy Day to nonfiction books on topics like weather and pets.

2nd graders writing using the MyStorymaker website, printing and assembling their own “book”….Thank you Mrs. T for all your help (this week and every week!)  3rd graders learned how to use Overdrive and check out and read e-books on their iPads while 4th graders used Dash robots with partners to practice coding skills.  5th graders are starting to work on their career projects for guidance class and Mrs. D will be working with Mrs. Brecke to help students with that project.

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Prodigy – Math Skills Made Fun (and Educational!)

This past rotation Mrs. D reviewed with 2nd through 5th grade students how to log into their Prodigy accounts.  Prodigy is an online video game with a built-in mathematics curriculum that is geared toward elementary and middle school students.

The game immerses students in a fantasy world that they can freely explore as they battle enemies, collect items, upgrade their characters, and interact with other classmates and players, all while answering mathematics assessment questions that are tracked and monitored by the teacher.

There is also a planner to assign test practice for the upcoming Forward Exam.  This is a fun way for our students to automatically get test-aligned questions while playing Prodigy. Plus the website sends teachers progress emails, and a report once the students are done!

Mrs. D had two more students reach the 1000 books level in our Book Bugs reading incentive program.  Congratulations to Will B and Kadin G – they both received an engraved trophy for their efforts!

Mrs. D and Mr. Podeweltz handed out Battle of the Books t-shirts for this year – The next Day 3 we will have students take a written test to see who makes our final team of four students with one alternate.

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Kindness Boomerang 2018

Kindergartners loved using their “library buddy” markers to choose their own books off the library book shelves this past week – Mrs. D heard the words “cool” and “awesome” quite often….We love seeing kids excited about books!

For two rotations  we have been working in our K – 5th grade library/computer classes on what I call a “kindness boomerang” project for Valentine’s Day.

Kindergarten and 1st grade students created homemade Valentine cards, which they decorated for a teacher or support staff member of our school. 2nd through 5th graders used their Google accounts to write special notes using Google Docs as their word processing tool. Notes were printed and placed in envelopes that students decorated for our 60 staff members. Students were also encouraged to write notes to family members, friends and classmates.3e98b709190d3fde4642efd423624065031e

The response of our students to this assignment was heart-warming and I was inspired by the kindnesses that I witnessed.  Several students wrote notes to each other and it was great to see the notes given and compliments received by students.  4th and 5th graders also enjoyed decorating the envelopes that held the compliments for staff members.

If you are interested in a website that has a great list of ideas for activities that your family could do to promote kindness try the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website at and look up the Kindness Boomerang video on YouTube.

Opportunities surround us every day to inspire others with random acts of kindness. I hope you will be inspired to share acts of kindness throughout this month and beyond.

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Don’t Let the Pigeon…..

This rotation 3rd graders had an opportunity to work with the Ozobot robots using the Ozobot app.  4th and 5th graders practiced keyboarding with Typing Club and Nitro Type while 2nd graders learned how to log into their Google accounts and see what their Google Drive looks like.

Kindergartners enjoyed the story The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats which was followed by creating their own snowman online using ABCya’s Make a Snowman.  Students also learned how to use their mouse to rotate objects and they also practiced using the shift key to make a capital letter when typing their first name.

1st graders reviewed the story Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.  We used the Paint application from the ABCya website to draw our own version of the pigeon using directions from the author himself.  Students also included in their picture their own version of the story, making up a new ending from the original.  Mrs. D was so happy to see all of the creative drawings and how students helped each other with this process!

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Makerspaces – Year one reflections

It’s been about one year since Riverside Elementary library started using makerspaces.  The creation of a Lego wall, coloring table, drawing maker space, KEVA blocks challenge, puzzle makerspace and STEAM challenges have given our 2nd through 5th grade students opportunities to create, tinker and problem-solve individually and in small groups.

We now have  gathering places in our library where students:

  • Experience hands-on, self-directed learning as they create and design projects that appeal to their interests and stimulate their curiosity.
  • Experience self-fulfillment and a sense of achievement while using their imagination to explore, invent, and experiment while engaging in STEAM activities.
  • Have fun as they play and tinker with a diverse assortment of materials that appeal to their interests and at the same time are also exposed to new materials and tools that introduce them to a variety of new disciplines.

What is a Makerspace?

“A makerspace is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using a variety of tools. and materials. A makerspace can be anything from a repurposed book cart filled with arts and crafts supplies to a table in a corner set out with LEGOs to a full blown fab lab with 3D printers, laser cutters, and hand tools.  No two school makerspaces are exactly alike, nor should they be. Makerspaces are unique as the school cultures they represent. There is no such thing as one form of making being more valid or better than the other. Makers are artists, crafters, knitters, seamstresses, programmers, builders, engineers, hackers, painters, woodworkers, tinkerers, inventors, bakers, graphic designers, and more.”

Diana Rendina, Renovated Learning

We urge you to stop in and check out these innovative centers of learning!


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