12 Days of #GaLibChat

A slow chat of resources for GA Library Media Specialists

We have a lot to share with you!

Martha Bongiorno and Robin Thompson are the moderators of #GaLibChat and for the holidays, their gift to you is 12 tools, resources, and general awesomeness to help in your school library!

Join in the fun at your own pace, but Robin and Martha will be posting a feature daily starting on December 11th!

First Day of #GaLibChat: Top 3 Favorite Virtual and Augmented Reality Tools

Second Day of #GaLibChat: Breakout EDU!

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What is Breakout EDU?

Breakout EDU brings critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity together as students find and solve a series of challenging puzzles that involve various locks and coded messages that ultimately leads them to unlocking a final box. The puzzles have been created to cover over 16 different subject matters, as well as giving teachers a way to customize puzzles for their own content. But what if you don’t have a Breakout EDU kit yet? Then try the digital versions that they offer! Computers are all you need as kids solve puzzles and virtual locks to complete the tasks in the allotted time.

With Breakout EDU, students become the masters of their own learning as they work together to solve the puzzles, and teachers are able to observe how learners approach problem solving and apply their knowledge.

To connect with other educators who love Breakout EDU, try searching for groups on Facebook.



Suggested Holiday themed Digital Breakouts:

1. Holiday Hideaway (Middle/High School) - https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/HOLIDAY-HIDEAWAY

2. Finding Frosty (Elementary) - https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/FINDING-FROSTY

3. Snowman Party (Elementary/Middle) - https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/snowman-party

To learn more about Breakout EDU, check out this School Library Journal post.

Third Day of #GaLibChat: Video Game Design


Bloxels has been the biggest hit in our MakerSpace!

Bloxels is a hands-on platform for kids to build, collaborate, and tell stories through video game creation. Students can use colored blocks to design their characters and settings to tell their own amazing stories! The game board is scanned using the free iPad app to make the creation come to life! This engaging classroom tool is transforming learning off the paper and putting it in the hands of students. Imagine designing a scientific process, a historical location, or even a story about yourself! The possibilities are endless!

If you create an educator account, you have access to the educator hub with lesson plans and activities. Also, for every kit you order, you receive student accounts so that students can login and save their work.

Check out the Bloxels EDU website for more information and how to purchase your own kit!


While Bloxels is great for our elementary and middle school students as a crash course to video game design, Unity allows for more robust creations. In Unity, students can build environments in VR and the software is free for educators. Unity has an entire site dedicated to tutorials and learning about the platform with self-paced courses. If you have students who are genuinely interested in video games and the design element of the games, check out the educator site for a wealth of information that you can learn and share with your students. Through the link, you can find the educator toolkit.

This free download includes the Unity Curricular Framework and Professional Skills Standards, which map to learning objectives for academic standards and are designed to achieve high-quality outcomes in the classroom.

Fourth Day of #GaLibChat: Google Arts & Culture

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What is it?

Google Arts & Culture is a my latest internet “rabbit hole”! Once I was introduced to this Google tool, I became lost in all that it has to offer! Formerly known as Google Art Project, Google Arts & Culture is an online platform that offers access to millions of high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s many international partner museums, but this is not a tool for just our art teachers. With the artwork, comes history and culture. Google Arts & Culture offers curated collections with images, videos, editorial features, and virtual tours on topics such as Latino Culture in the US and Women in Culture: From innovative artists to pioneering scientists. There is also a Daily Digest that offers three short interesting articles that highlight a current collection in one of the museums or offers interesting facts, such as “7 Amazing Facts About the Color Red.”

How can I use it?

Need immediate ways to use Google Arts & Culture in your classroom?

Check out this article from EdTech magazine, “3 Ways Google Arts & Culture Can Enrich Your Lessons.”

or this article from The Art of Education, "Amaze Your Students with Google Arts & Culture."

Fifth Day of #GaLibChat: Coding Resources Beyond Code.Org

Made with Code-Upper Elementary and Middle School

Made with Code was created by Google to empower young girls (and boys too!) to embrace technology and coding. This site is jam-packed with fun, engaging projects on different projects and differing levels of difficulty. My favorite projects currently on the site are creating your own holiday emojis and learning sequencing with Diana in the Wonder Woman activity!

Santa Tracker-Elementary

Explore, play, and learn with Santa's elves throughout the month of December with Google's Santa Tracker. This has to be the funnest advent calendar I have used! Each day counting down to Christmas, Google uncovers a new activity. Most of the activities are coding-centered like code your own snowflake or coding an elf dance party. The activities that are not specific to coding are super fun and engaging but they also help with problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. If you're looking for a good holiday tie-in with your MakerSpace this month, this website is it!

Incorporate coding all year!

Try using LittleBits or Spheros in your MakerSpace! They both have websites with lessons, activities, and tutorial videos. If those are a bit out of price range (I know, us too!), try Code.org's unplugged activities, making binary bracelets, or allowing students to use a Symbaloo of coding resources all year long.

Check out our Symbaloo of coding resources! Feel free to copy and use as needed!

6th Day of #GaLibChat: Embedding the Future Ready Librarians Framework

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Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Wedge

Although each wedge of the Future Ready Librarians Framework is important, the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment wedge really defines our day to day programming in the library more than any other wedge. It is essential we work collaboratively with teachers and school staff to bring content and curriculum to life using our resources and technology tools. I'm asked all the time how our MakerSpace is run...My MakerSpace would not work well in an elementary setting if my teachers did not see the value it brings to their students, the curriculum, and our school. Change isn't easy, but starting off by building relationships with your colleagues can go a long way to building instructional partnerships. Check out our SMORE newsletter on how to start building instructional partnerships in order to help empower students as creators!

Seventh Day of #GaLibChat: 3D Printing Resources


When you begin the 3D printing journey, it's hard to know where to start or how to use the apps/software out there...especially in younger grades. Even when I was in middle school, the students had a rough time wrapping their minds around the process and design elements that go into building something from scratch. Tinkercad makes the process a lot easier! The software is easy to use. The tutorials are great. AND there are so many pre-made designs you can copy and tinker with! It is also cloud-based, which is a great option for the students in my gifted classes who are working on Passion Projects. Once my students got a feel for the design elements, we moved on to Google Sketchup, but many of my students continue to use Tinkercad.

Google Sketchup

Google Sketchup is wonderful for your more advanced students. I'm not sure if this is an age-thing as I have 3rd graders who know how to use this software well already and I had middle schoolers who never quite got around to this one. The best part of Google Sketchup is that it now offers a cloud-based platform, but it is in Beta mode so there are some hiccups. The software is also still available for download if you have that as an option. For our library, we only have access to Chromebooks or iPads, so the cloud-based is the best option for now. I love the tutorials and walk-through steps that Google offers. The only reason this isn't my number one is that the reading and steps it requires to create is a tad over elementary schoolers reading level.

Beware: Thingiverse

Thingiverse is an amazing gallery of inspiration for 3D printing, with many you can take, copy, and thinker with (with proper attribution of course), but please be aware this should be used with discretion and mainly for adolescents. It does contain inappropriate materials. If you can get past that, it is AMAZING.

Twitter Chat: #makered

The best thing to do when starting off with something new is to join in with people who do know what they are doing. I have loved following the #makered hashtag on Twitter. There are so many ideas, tips, and tricks that have made this journey easier for me and helped me tie-in curriculum-based ideas for our 3D printing journey. If you want to join in asynchronously, the chat meets regularly on Tuesdays at 8pm CST. You will not be disappointed!

Expensive, but super cool: Blokify

I don't usually recommend tools or resources that cost money (minus databases), but if you can afford it for iPads, Blokify is really neat! At $3.99 it's not too expensive for the offerings, but it's a pain for a purchase order. If you're looking for a good alternative to desktops or Chromebooks - check it out!

Eighth Day of #GaLibChat: BookSnaps

What are #BookSnaps?

A BookSnap is simply a digital, visual representation used to annotate and share reflections of any excerpt of a book or text.

If you are anything like me, you are always trying to find ways to balance motivating students to read while also challenging them to think deeper about their text. I love, love, love #BookSnaps because it helps students visualize their thoughts about their reading, makes reading more social and interactive, and helps students use technology beyond a consumption tool. Technology can be used with purpose and you can still have fun learning!

Why use #BookSnaps?

  • to annotate and share excerpts of the books you are reading
  • allows the reader to connect to an idea by creating a visual representation, which solidifies the text content within the mind and signals the brain to retrieve the idea from memory
  • diagram the rise, fall, and climax of the plot
  • notate character conflict and reasoning
  • explain the main idea, themes, or supporting arguments
  • socialize reading
  • highlight figurative language and imagery
  • and so much more! Why stop at using this in an ELA classroom? Use it to explain concepts from across disciplines!

Creating #BookSnaps is a SNAP!

*SnapChat - The original creator of #BookSnaps used SnapChat to take a picture of the text, used Bitmojis, the text generator, etc. to emphasize her thoughts about the text. This can be a pretty powerful tool to use and show high school students SnapChat and social media can be used for more than just poop pictures.

*Buncee - It's no secret that I love Buncee! When I read this blog about how to use #BookSnaps with Buncee, I was blown away again by how amazing this tech tool is. The best part is you can use this within the Google Classroom platform or SeeSaw, making this so much easier for students to share their work.

*Book Creator app on iPads - If you have iPads available, the Book Creator app is completely free and well worth the effort to install on the iPads. While it may take students thinkering a bit to get used to the ins and outs of the tool, this is a great option to create #BookSnaps in the elementary or middle school setting. I've used Book Creator for all sorts of projects in middle, but had never thought about using it for #BookSnaps until this blog post. For the social media aspect, I recommend students sharing their creations with you and then posting through a generic library Instagram or Twitter account students can follow as most social media platforms are for 13 years of age and up.

*Instagram or Facebook allows for you to create "stories" where you can create BookSnaps, post to your live feed, and has the option to save the image/video for later.

*Students can post their #BookSnaps to Padlet (love the collaborative element here where students can interact with other classmates's thoughts), SeeSaw, Google Classroom, Edmodo, and more.

Ninth Day of #GaLibChat: 2nd Round of Virtual and Augmented Reality Tools!

Tenth Day of #GaLibChat: MakerSpace Resources!

When starting a MakerSpace, it's so nice to be able to see how other librarians set theirs up, organize their materials, schedule times for making, etc. The most effective way I use our MakerSpace is make it digital so all of our students have access to it in their classrooms, at home, or in our library. I put together a Symbaloo of engaging websites, apps, and tools and posted it on our library website and our Follett Destiny landing page.

Eleventh Day of #GaLibChat: Librarians to Follow in 2018

Scholastic put together a list of the top 15 most influential librarians of Instagram. Check out the article here and the list below:

  • KC Boyd (boss_librarian) – School library media specialist, Washington, DC

  • Todd Burleson (burlesot) – 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, Hubbard Woods School, Winnetka, IL

  • Valerie Byrd Fort (librarygoddessblog) – Former librarian, adjunct professor, University of South Carolina

  • Morgan Chapman (kidlitbookaday) – Teacher librarian, Calgary, Alberta

  • Tamara Evans (glassesgirl79) – Digital services librarian, Kings County Library, Lemoore, CA

  • Laura Gardner (librarianmsg) – 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Finalist, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

  • Colleen Graves (makerteacherlibrarian) – 2014 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Finalist, Lamar Middle School, Flower Mound, TX

  • Carla Hayden (librarycongress) – The ultimate librarian… The Librarian of Congress!

  • Gwyneth Jones (thedaringlibrarian) – 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers Innovator Award winner, teacher librarian & technology specialist, Howard County Public Schools, MD

  • Travis Jonker (100ScopeNotes) – Teacher librarian, Dorr Elementary School, Dorr, MI

  • Shannon McClintock Miller (shannonmmiller) – Teacher librarian speaker and consultant

  • Andy Plemmons (andy.plemmons) – 2014 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Finalist, David C. Barrow Elementary School, Athens, GA

  • Diana Rendina (dianalrendina) – Media specialist, Tampa Preparatory, Tampa, FL

  • John Schu (mrschureads) – Ambassador of School Libraries, Scholastic

Twelfth Day of #GaLibChat: Georgia Public Broadcasting Education

Our county technology and media team recently had a professional learning day where we learned all about the wealth of resources from Georgia Public Broadcasting as well as PBS. I had no idea that they had so many resources for Georgia Studies or they offered virtual field trips. My favorites from the website are the STEM lessons and the GA Race Through Time Game. The information is geared more towards middle and high school. You can check out their amazing resources here.

Martha Bongiorno and Robin Thompson

Martha and Robin are school library media specialists in Richmond Hill, Georgia. Martha works with elementary with past middle school experience and Robin works with high school. We love to talk about education, tech, and all things media so hit us up on Twitter!

Martha: @mrs_bongi

Robin: @crazymrst