Shannon Shares

By Shannon Miller

As school starts again and we all get back into the routine of things, I find myself being very excited about all of the tools that are available to connect our students and school community to resources, information, and the library. Being new in eMackin this month with “Shannon Shares,” I thought it was the perfect opportunity and time to share a few of the ways that I have found to connect everyone to mackinVIA, eBooks, Mackin BookTalk, and other resources. Everyday I am looking for creative, fun, and exciting ways to make this happen....I hope you take some of these ideas and implement them within your school community this year, too. And check back each month in eMackin for other topics such as integrating nonfiction and supporting the Common Core; learning about converting a collection to the “bookstore model”; connecting through social media and Skype to authors, experts, and other students and schools to build a global learning community; integrating a successful eBook initiative; and advocating for the importance of your position. It will be a place for sharing, creativity, knowledge, and always....a little bit of fun.

Shannon McClintock Miller is the Teacher Librarian Educational Consultant for Mackin Educational Resources and District Teacher Librarian and Technology Integration Specialist at Van Meter School in Iowa. She blogs at the Van Meter Library Voice and contributes to other journals and blogs, such as ISTE’s Leading & Learning journal. She is also a national presentor and very passionate about using social media within education and life. Shannon can be found on Twitter at @shannonmmiller and can be reached by email at Please let her know if have things to share or questions to ask.

Getting to the Heart of Common Core

By Amy Meythaler

As schoool moves more toward implementing Common Core State Standards, many administrators and teachers are left wondering what they need to know.

Common Core State Standards were developed to improve the educational outcomes of K-12 students since so many graduates are leaving high school without adequate college and career readiness. Common Core State Standards provide tangible educational benchmarks, allowing teachers to be better equipped to know exactly what students need to learn. By understanding what is essential knowledge and skill for each grade level, teachers may focus their instruction on core concepts and procedures and give students the opportunities required for mastery.

One of the hotly debated of the Common Core State Standards are the text exemplars selected for English language arts (ELA) and literacy. These lists of exemplars are not exhaustive; rather, they were chosen to serve as examples of the types of texts that are appropriate. To assist educators as they navigate through Common Core, the professionals at Mackin Educational Resources have built lists of recommended titles that align with the rigor promoted by Common Core State Standards text exemplars. Each list contains titles based on three evaluative measures:
  • Quantitative
  • Qualitative
  • Reader and Task
For quantitative measure, Mackin’s education professionals considered Lexile level. In terms of qualitative measure, the professionals considered both fiction and nonfiction titles which were highly reviewed and involved higher-level thinking. Finally, for the reader-and-task component, we took into account how the book might be used in a classroom or fit in themes typically studied in grade-level bands or in specified grade levels.

Mackin’s Common Core lists provide a wide variety of the highest quality titles that align with the standards. We've done the work, compiling books list that offer authentic, content related, and rigorous texts. To view these lists, visit Mackin Common Core.

Mackin Educational Resources has partnered with schools and districts for nearly 30 years to provide books and curriculum materials. The introduction and implementation of Common Core across the nation, Mackin continues its partnership alongside educators by offering guidance and assistance in choosing educational materials that align with the Common Core State Standards.

Support For Teachers Using eBooks In The Classroom

By Lori Coleman

MackinVIA, along with all the eBooks and databases available through it, is a one-stop shop for reading, research, and more. Coming out this fall is the first collection of eBook Literacy Lesson Plans and Activities that teachers can use to promote class discussions, to facilitate higher-level thinking among students about both the content and structure of books, and to engage with innovative Web 2.0 tools and technologies available on the Internet.

Aimed at specific grade-level bands (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-10, 11-12), the lesson plans can be used with a variety of etexts. Some lessons are geared toward particular types of text, such as nonfiction or narrative or expository text, while others can be used with any eBook. Each lesson is clearly labeled in terms of grade-level band, purpose, and type of text.

Digital Literacy
These ready-to-use lessons are designed to be used electronically. Students can write directly onto each graphic organizer and activity and email a copy of their saved versions to their teacher. Links to the Web 2.0 tools and activities lead students directly to each website, where they can create, interact, and practice their language arts skills.

Articulating Ideas
Many of the lessons include a list of questions, generated to promote class discussions on topics such as an author’s point of view, the main idea of a book, and the succession of events in a narrative. Teachers can use the questions as starting points to engage students in sharing and debating about the books they are reading.

Higher-Order Cognitive Skills
These lessons are designed to facilitate higher-level thinking among students, about both the content and structure of books. This emphasis aligns with the level of rigor promoted by Common Core and other college-readiness programs and philosophies.

Learning Community
Many of the lessons give students the opportunity to engage with innovative Web 2.0 tools and technologies, allowing them to create and to interact with one another and with the teacher to create a learning community.

Mackin’s Lesson Plans and Activities will be available on starting this fall, with plans to integrate them into mackinVIA early in 2013.

Kick Off The Year With Two New Online Tools To Connect Your School Community...Symbaloo and Smore

By Shannon Miller

The leaves are starting to turn. Buses are traveling down the roads early in the morning. Bright lights come on at the football field Friday night. All of these things tell us that the school year has started again.

And with this beginning of a brand new school year, we are all looking for exciting and innovative ways to connect our students, teachers, and school community to resources, information, and the library.

Over the last four weeks, I have integrated two new online tools into my library program and school community. I am confident that they will be important tools for connecting our patrons to resources, eBooks, and information that they need to have access to.

The first one is Symbaloo. It is not new to me, but it is new to most within my district. Symbaloo is one of my favorite websites to use. It is a visual bookmarking site. I just love how easy it is to create “Webmixes” with all kinds of tiles that link to specific websites. And to make it even better, it is a social network so the Webmixes can be shared with others and added to individual accounts as well.

We have used it at Van Meter in different classes, and there have been students that have used it personally; but this year I integrated it even more into our school community. I knew it would be a tool that would connect our students to the resources that they would find useful throughout the year. The Webmixes are easy to create, update, and share through an email, Twitter, Facebook, or by giving the user the link.

I created a Symbaloo Webmix called “VM Library Resources” (the image of the Webmix is above). The Webmix contains the Van Meter Library Site, mackinVIA, Mackin BookTalk, databases, Web 2.0 tools, digital citizenship sites, and tiles that link to other Webmixes I created such as “VM’s Favorite Authors” and “VM Technology/Keyboarding Resources.”

It is very simple to add the tiles to your Webmix. You can search for them, as I did in the image above. I typed in the “Which tile would you like to add?” box “Mackin” and the two that Symbaloo created popped up. You just click on the one you want and place it where you would like in the Webmix. Tiles can also be created by the user with unqiue images and words. This personalizes Symbaloo even more.

Symbaloo also has an app for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Within the app, it is easy to go to your Webmixes to view, edit, or share. I am really starting to see the benefits of having access to our Webmixes through the app more and more each day. I can put the iTouches out in the library, and the students will grab them and go straight to the Symbaloo app to find what they are looking for. They have also brought their own devices and asked me to help them create a widget of the VM Library Resources Webmix to add to their device.

By adding the mackinVIA tile to the Van Meter Symbaloo Webmixes, I have given all of our students, teachers, and families one more quick-and-easy way to get to the wonderful eBooks and our VIA.

The second one is Smore, a website which “creates beautiful flyers instantly.” You can sign up on the Smore homepage for your own free account. Once signed in, Smore gives you options for “Designing an awesome new flyer.” You can change the design, background, colors, and fonts. Smore also lets you add content such as text, titles, embedded links, videos, audio, pictures, an event calendar and invitation, gallery of pictures with text, and a bio. And because it is online and you don’t have have to worry about having your information run off the page, you can add as much as you want.

I have been creating a library newsletter for the last years using Pages. I would create it, run it off, hand it out to all of the students to take home, and hardly ever hear another thing about it. It was always fun to create the colorful flyer, but it was very time consuming and it was obviously not having the effect I had hoped for.

It could be different with Smore....It is digital.

I was so excited to share my premiere “Van Meter Library Voice Monthly” Smore with the parents, teachers, students, and our community during the first month of school. I shared information about the resources that we have available such as Encyclopedia Britannica and mackinVIA. I highlighted big news from the library. And at the end, I was able to share all of my contact information and the different websites, blog, and social networks for our library, The Van Meter Voice, and me. One more way to connect them to so much of what they need.

I emailed the Van Meter Library Montly Smore to everyone and also posted it on Facebook and Twitter. This not only included more information than I had ever been able to share in one place before, but it was also filled with interactive, meaningful resources with embedded links, images, and so much more. And we were now sharing the awesome news from the Van Meter Library globally, not just within our building and community.

It has been so much fun to see everyone embrace Symbaloo and Smore. These two online tools have added so much to our school community already. By not only connecting everyone to these two tools, but also to the wealth of resources and information that they contain, I have brought a meaningful change that will make a difference all through the year.

I would love for all of you to share your ideas too.

What are the new digital tools that you are using this year to connect? What digital tools are going to make a difference for the students, parents, and teachers within your school district?

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