Supporting Computational Thinking with Passive Programming @ the Library

As part of ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative, all Winter and Spring I’ve been leading programs like <HPLCode> for teens, the Let it Glow family program, a Girl Scout overnight focused on robots and the LEGO and Maker Clubs with the goal of providing access to computer science and activities that support computational thinking skills. The programs have been plentiful, and in some cases, needed a lot of creative energy to design and get running. I’ve loved every minute of it, but my job is varied. So as part of the Libraries Ready to Code grant, I proposed that part of my project focus would be to incorporate CS/CT into existing programs like storytime and create opportunities that were less staff intensive than a full-scale program.

Over the Winter, I repackaged several of the passive programs I occasionally offer in the children’s library during non-program hours or as activity stations in storytime. These worked well because they continued to inform grown-ups about computational thinking and support kids learning without constant staff-led programming.

I also purchased Ozobots for check out so that kids and their families could tinker with robots at home after learning about the tiny bots at a Maker Club program or outreach activity. The four Ozobot kits have been in constant circulation since we introduced them earlier this Spring.

Along with the materials needed for the passive CT activity, I posted signs that encourage grown-ups to support CT skills with suggested questions. I have been talking to families about CT all winter, so many are familiar with the term and have heard why we support it at the library.

Want to learn more about CT in the library? The Libraries Ready to Code project is launching the beta version of the “toolkit” for libraries at ALA Annual 2018 on June 22.

Here are a couple of signs from recent passive programs. (Note: I keep the sponges slightly damp with a spray bottle to make them easier to stack. These sponges were cut from the usual rectangle kitchen sponges you can buy at grocery stores.)

 

And here are the circulating Ozobot kits with info sheets I made to get families started, especially those who had no idea how these cute little bots work and what they can do. Cases were custom made by a local company called Nomar.

 

Makers2Mentors: 1

Happy New Year!

2017 was a crazy year all around, but it was exceptionally busy for me. The latter part of the year was consumed with my work on the Caldecott Award Committee and the Makers2Mentors <M2M> initiative I started, thanks to a Libraries Ready to Code grant funded by ALA and Google. Mum’s the word, for now, regarding my year of evaluating picture books, but I am ready to share about the <M2M> project.

Makers2Mentors logo in black and whiteWhat:
Makers2Mentors is a series of programs and opportunities for local youth and families to explore Computational Thinking and Computer Science in age-friendly ways. As part of the Ready to Code project, I am a member of a cohort (28 libraries in 21 states plus the District of Columbia) contributing to the design of a toolkit for all libraries to help kids, teens and families explore Computational Thinking and Computer Science at the library.

When:
November, 2017- August, 2018

Why:
I launched the initiative, in part, to address the huge gap in access to Computer Science education in my community by providing a variety of free programs for diverse audiences. And beyond the library, we wanted to stimulate a community conversation about why Computational Thinking and Computer Science are vital skills for Homer’s kids regardless of whether or not they work as a programmer, journalist, mariner, artist, etc.

This project is also an extension of my work with families around the idea of media mentorship and literacy in the Digital Age. Understanding CS and being able to communicate with digital tools reflect the evolution of literacy, much like the printing press did in 1234 (Asia) and then in 1440 (Europe). Finding information and creating content still happen on paper, but much of our  information exchange is happening online. How do we help kids, even young children,  navigate both traditional media and new media not solely as consumers, but as active participants and creative designers, producers and writers? How do we help families and educators support literacy and learning with tools that include high quality apps, digital tools and even robots in and out of the library?

How:
This initiative targets preschoolers, older kids, teenagers and their families. It is designed to capture the interests of many- maybe not all at the same program- by showing the many faces of CT and CS. Each program or component of the initiative will include both digital and ‘unplugged’ aspects and will have its own unique goal or intended outcome. Along with formal programs, we’ll also start circulating robot kits, add new CS related books to the collection and share information with parents about CT and CS. As part of <M2M>, kids and teens can be makers and they can also be mentors. Our community lacks a large CS community, so training teens as mentors empowers them and fills a need; additional instructors to help guide and teach.

I’ll be highlighting some of the programs and resources I use, including challenges and successes, over the coming months.

Media Literacy Week 2017

How are you celebrating Media Literacy Week 2017?

According to NAMLE, media literacy is defined as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication.”

Here is what I am up to:

  • Today, I wrote about media literacy in storytime on the Joan Ganz Cooney Center blog.
  • Tonight, I’ll be talking about media literacy with my library director on KBBI AM 890, our community’s public radio station, as part of an introduction to the airing of a media literacy panel recorded in September.
  • This week, I’ll be including media literacy in storytime.
  • This month,I am leading <HPLCode/>, an afterschool program that teaches coding concepts to 11-14 year olds and gets them creating their own digital content. This program is part of our Makers to Mentors <M2M> initiative sponsored by ALA and funded by Google (Libraries Ready to Code).
  • This year, we are promoting our Teen Digital Citizenship Challenge, a curated list of resources and activities teens and their families can try to learn more about media literacy and digital citizenship.

Simple Media Advisory in the Library

I’m always looking for better ways to provide media advisory that incorporate paper and digital resources, but that can be tricky. My library is small, has only limited resources, and is remote in comparison to many. We don’t have large monitors to project images or even good enough WiFi to keep an iPad connected 24/7. So I have to be creative. If you are a librarian or teacher, you probably know all about that.

So here is what I am doing lately. I am creating ‘Learn More’ themed signs, and accompanying displays, to provide media advisory (not just reader advisory) in simple ways wherever families look- throughout the children’s library landscape, on our website, and on social media. This isn’t a particularly new or innovative idea, but I wanted to highlight a simple example of media mentorship.

I start with the weekly storytime themes, pull in a broader array of library materials for kids 12 and under, and add high quality digital resources that relate to the theme but families might not know, or think, about. The idea is to connect families with information in multiple formats and encourage them to extend learning experiences with picture books, nonfiction books, audiobooks, movies, websites, apps, and more. The lists are not exhaustive by any means, but are a taste of what’s out there. The ‘Learn More: Penguins’ sign is part of a display in the library and is posted on our social media accounts. Again, it’s not super fancy, but media mentorship doesn’t need to be.

What does media mentorship look like in your library or classroom?

Learn More: Penguins display sign

Note: I love Jory John and Lane Smith’s latest book Penguin Problems for many reasons, but the inclusion of a walrus, an Arctic animal, in this obviously Antarctic tale was unfortunate. Alaskan kids are familiar with walrus since much of our state is above the Arctic circle, so when I read this book with kids I made sure to explain that walrus don’t actually live in the same parts of the world as penguins. Maybe that’s part of the humor? I’ve emailed Jory John to find out.

A Media Mentor’s Reading List

A media mentor:

  • supports children & their families in their media decisions & practice around media use.
  • has access to and shares recommendations for and research on children’s media use.*

In honor of the webinar I’ll be hosting today with Chip Donohue and Tamara Kaldor from the TEC Center at Erikson Institute and ALSC (Media Mentors and Libraries: Family Engagement in the 21st Century), I compiled a reading list for the aspiring media mentor. Many of the organizations listed alongside these resources are actively involved in research related to kids and digital media and you should follow them to hear the latest! Want to suggest a resource for the list? Add a comment below.

Becoming a Media Mentor: A Guide for Working with Families (2016) by Claudia Haines, Cen Campbell and ALSC

Born Reading: Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age- From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between (2014) by Jason Boog 

Buckleitner’s Guide to Using Tablets with Young Children (2016) by Warren Buckleitner

Children, Adolescents, and the Media (2013) American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement- update due October, 201

Designing for Diverse Families (2015) by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

Diversity Programming for Digital Youth: Promoting Cultural Competence in the Children’s Library (2014) by Jamie Campbell Naidoo

Early Connections: A Parent Education Toolkit for Early Childhood Providers

Family Engagement in the Digital Age (2016) edited by Chip Donohue

Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Your Kids (2014) Joan Ganz Cooney Center (This iBook can be downloaded through the iTunes store or as a non-interactive PDF from the link above.)

Giving Our Children A Fighting Chance: Poverty, Literacy and the Development of Information Capital (2012) by Susan B. Neuman and Donna C. Celano

Growing Up Digital Research Symposium Proceedings (2015) sponsored by American Academy of Pediatrics

Hour of Code by Code.org

Media Mentorship for Libraries Serving Youth (2015) by Cen Campbell, Claudia Haines, Amy Koester, and Dorothy Stoltz

Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families by Victoria Rideout and Vikki Katz for Joan Ganz Cooney Center

Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight by Zero to Three

Screen Time: How Electronic Media—From Baby Videos to Educational Software—Affects Your Young Child (2012) by Lisa Guernsey

Selective Examples of Effective Classroom Practice Involving Technology Tools and Interactive Media National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College

STEP into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds (2014) by Saroj Ghoting

Tap, Click, Read (2015) by Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine (also: tapclickread.org)

Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning (2014) edited by Chip Donohue

Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth to Age 8 (2012) National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College

The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens by Common Sense Media

The New Coviewing: Designing for Learning through Joint Media Engagement by Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the LIFE Center

Young Children, New Media, and Libraries: A Guide for Incorporating New Media into Library Collections, Services, and Programs for Families and Children Ages 0-5 edited by Amy Koester (LittleeLit)

Young Children and New Media in Libraries: Preliminary Survey Results Make Case for More Research (American Libraries Magazine, 2015)

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use In America Common Sense Media

*from Media Mentorship for Libraries Serving Youth by Cen Campbell, Claudia Haines, Amy Koester, and Dorothy Stoltz

*list updated 7/31/16