Digital Learning

As of today, my county has been on quarantine for five days which means we have not had school this week. As a teacher, I have been exploring new resources to continue to educate my students from home.

Personally, I have begun using the Zoom website. The website offers the opportunity for the children to see each other and me. Currently, I am doing simple things such as, reading stories, creating projects using items I know they have at home, and reviewing skills we have learned throughout the year. Zoom is a website that can be used on their computers, tablets, or phones. When using Zoom, I think one of the biggest benefits is that the students can talk to each other. My students are young, so they need the social interaction with their peers. I spend the first fifteen minutes of our call for the students to talk to everyone and explain what they have been doing since we have been out of school. The students seem to enjoy being in contact with one another since they no longer see them every day at school.

Also. I use a website called SeeSaw. The website also has a user friendly app for tablets or phones. SeeSaw is set up like an Instagram feed, the parents are able to scroll through everything the teacher has posted to the students. Each parent is given a login, and they are able to access their child’s feed. As the teacher, I can post different items to different children’s accounts, or I can post something that is sent to all of the children.

Depending on the day, I use a website called Vooks. Vooks.com is an interactive reading site. The children can choose a book, and it reads it to them. A benefit of Vooks is that as the story is being read, the words are highlighted on the screen for the children to follow along. I teach five year olds, so we are working on learning to read. Vooks has been a helpful tool for my students as they continue working on their reading skills. The only downside to Vooks is that the full website does cost money.

Since the break from school, I have noticed many of my coworkers are using Facebook Live for keeping in touch with their students and parents. I had one teacher friend that created her own page for her classroom on Facebook and periodically posts to it with ideas of things to do throughout the day, or new live streams. I have not used the Facebook Live option yet, but after talking to my coworkers it seems to be beneficial for their class.

The new resources I have found have been a huge help. A big bonus for Zoom and SeeSaw is that they are both free. Zoom is a new resource for me that I will continue using even when we are back at school. I believe it could be a great resource for tutoring sessions for some of the older students. As we continue learning about new resources I am curious to hear from others. What resources are you using for online learning? Do they cost, and if they do how much? Have you used any of the resources I mentioned? How have you been teaching since we are not in the classroom?

Book Fairs: Are they still worth it?

Are book fairs worth the effort now? It is a question more than likely most librarians think about now. In the county I am in, most schools continue to do book fairs. On the other hand, I have learned that book fairs no longer exist in the surrounding counties due to the lack of profit the school tends to make.

When I learned we were having a book fair, I had my doubts about how many books we would sell. Unfortunately, it seems that most book fairs that schools use nowadays have more trinkets than books in them. I grew up going to Scholastic book fairs, which seems to still be one of the most common book fairs used. Personally, I do not like the Scholastic book fairs because the books are expensive and they bring in a large amount of items other than books. In my personal experience, more children tend to buy the pencils, erasers, journals, and more because they are cheaper than the books.

Recently, I was a part of a book fair that used Follett books. I loved it! The company still did include trinkets for the students, but not nearly as many. Also, the books were more reasonably priced. One thing I really enjoyed about the Follett book fair was the bargain table, we had a lot of different books at different reading levels priced at only two dollars. The cheap books flew off the shelves. Many students do not bring very much money to the book fair, but five dollars would be enough for the children to purchase two books.

I only had one problem with the Follett book fair, which was some of the books seemed a little inappropriate for younger children. In fact, I had two parents return the books the children purchased from the book fair. Fortunately, we have great parents at our school so they were not angry, but I realize that could be a problem at other schools. I have not been a part of a Scholastic book fair in several years, so they may have the same problem. Next time, I will know I need to do a more thorough check of the books.

Overall, I will continue doing book fairs as long as the school will allow me to use Follett. The set-up was simple, and so was the take down. They provided the school with a cash register and a user friendly system to check out students, parents, or teachers. Another perk, the staff is able to get a discount on their purchases. In conclusion, the book fair seemed to be a success, we made money for the school and the students bought books instead of trinkets.

I do wonder from everyone: Do you think schools should still host book fairs? Do you think book fairs can be disruptive to the teachers? What book fair company do you order from? I have only used Scholastic and Follett book fairs. Do you believe a book fair can be profitable for the school? Finally, do you think a book fair can benefit the students? Let me know your thoughts!