Bots & Books: Central Texas Training at the Round Rock Public Library

Bots & Books: Central Texas Training at the Round Rock Public Library

We had a wonderful first training at the Round Rock Public Library for this year’s Bots & Books grant. We have to cover a LOT of information in only one day so it can be overwhelming. But it is so great to see these librarians from libraries of different sizes with varying levels of experience with Legos and robotics tinker and have fun.

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Here are just a few of the builds we created.

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Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!

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Showing off our Bots & Books Robots at the Temple Public Library

Showing off our Bots & Books Robots at the Temple Public Library

On Friday, September 25th I spent the day at the Temple Public Library in Temple, TX for the Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide Membership Meeting. Our afternoon workshop was a Technology Petting Zoo where we showcased some of the latest gadgets being used in libraries. I was asked to bring in some of our Bots & Books equipment and there was a lot of interest! Many libraries are asking to be included in year 3 of the grant and we only just started the 2nd! We are working on a way to create a Bots & Books workshop as a professional development workshop.

Such a wonderful problem to have!

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I showcased the WeDo Construction Set and created a book display to go along with the build.


Next time someone tells you we no longer need libraries, show them this map.

Unite for Literacy is a for-profit organization out of Colorado that provides a platform to make digital picture books available for free online to battle book scarcity.

Four of these children are happily on their way to becoming life-long readers. The other six face formidable odds, simply because something is missing from their homes; BOOKS!

They have created an interactive map showing the estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books around the country.

Unite for Literacy has created the Book Desert Map to make the problem of book scarcity visible. Their purpose was to initiate conversation across the public, private and civic sectors about the geography of books and reading. Unite for Literacy looked at the number of books in 4th graders’ homes, community income, ethnicity, geography, and home language data from the NAEP and the American Community Survey. They performed a statistical analysis of that data and produced this map showing the estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books at the state, county and census tract levels.

LEGEND: Estimated percentage of homes with more than 100 books.

via Public Libraries – Book Deserts to Book Abundance.

I zoomed in to take a look at Austin. It was no surprise to me that Interstate 35 was a huge dividing line. While Austin can definitely boast to be the most liberal city in a very conservative state, it very unfortunately has also been said to be one of the most segregated. I-35 goes right up the middle of the city. I think you will be able to see where the poorer population lives by taking a look at this map.

Unite for Literacy Austin TX Book Scarcity

Find your city and take a screen shot. Next time someone tells you we don’t need libraries, show them this.

Search literacy lesson plans from Google for the classroom

Search literacy lesson plans from Google for the classroom

Google Search Education provides search literacy lesson plans that can be used in the classroom to teach students about picking the right search terms, understanding search results, narrowing a search to get the best results, searching for evidence for research tasks, evaluating credibility of sources. Each of these topics has a plan developed specifically for beginner, intermediate, or advanced students.

They also have A Google A Day challenges that ask students to find answers to questions so they can test the skills they learned. The challenges are broken up into categories of culture, geography, history, and science. Every challenge asks a questions such as,

Every national flag in the world shares a common geometric characteristic, except for one country. Which country is it?

When you click “View Challenge” it takes you to a Google Slides presentation that walks students through the thought process of answering that specific question.

Tiffany Whitehead on the School Library Journal blog gives some great tips and activities that she has created to teach information literacy to students. This exercise is for a beginner student on picking the right search terms:

  1. Start by imagining that you are making a quiz on the “Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion). One of the questions for your quiz is, “What food does Tyson like best?” Show students the results for that search, which has lots of hits about Tyson chicken but nothing about Percy Jackson.
  1. Explain to students that in order to become better searchers, it’s helpful to understand how a search works. The video “How Search Works” by Matt Cutts gives a great overview.
  1. After watching this short video, discuss how conducting a search is different from talking to a person. Instead of using a complete question, we need to identify key terms for our search. Work through the original question, getting rid of unnecessary words and adding essential terms. Show students the difference in results when using the search terms: Tyson favorite food Percy Jackson.
  1. Have students work in small groups to work through developing search terms for several other search questions.
  1. Challenge students to take what they learned in this lesson and share it with their parents. Re-teaching a concept is a great way to make learning stick, and it’s a bonus to encourage students to share newly acquired knowledge with their parents.

While she found the Google A Day Challenges great, she also found that if students “googled” the exact question they would be taken to an answer that someone had blogged about. She developed a few challenges of her own:

Quelle est la population de la plus grande ville de France?

Create a question such as this one that requires students to use Google Translate.  Translation will show this question is asking, “What is the population of the largest city in France?” Then, students will have to search to find the name of the city and its population.

• After a trip around the world, you return home with 52 British Pound Sterling, 5300 Serbian Dinar, and 120 Euro. How much would this convert to in U.S. Dollars?

Make a question that requires students to use Google Currency Converter to convert all currency to U.S. Dollars, then add for the total.

• A famous athlete said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” What team did they play for in 1990?

Come up with a question that requires students to to find the name of a famous person from a quote or accomplishment, then search for another piece of information about that person.

• In the city that is at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers is one of the world’s largest churches. What type of church is it?

Use reverse design to come up with questions. I recently traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and visited the Temple of Saint Sava, one of the ten largest church buildings in the world. Use what you know or have experienced to create interesting and complex questions.

These tools and her adaptations are wonderful! I particularly love the question in another language. Instead of complaining about students using Google and Wikipedia, using these tools to teach information literacy is a far better use of our time!

Project Information Literacy

Project Information Literacy

Project Information Literacy is a national study housed out of The University of Washington’s iSchool on today’s young adults research habits. According to this short video, they are information scientists who believe information literacy is essential to critical thinking, lifelong learning, succeeding in the workplace, and contributing to community.

They will be releasing a report of their findings since 2008 in the fall of 2015. This information could be valuable to libraries and librarians of all backgrounds. I look forward to seeing what they have found!