Branding your Library Reading Program: #SunsetReads

When I started at Sunset High School three years ago, I knew I wanted to “brand” my library program and create a hashtag that could be used for sharing cool things happening in my library on social media.

I decided on #SunsetReads and began creating posters and library displays to brand my program. One of the first things I did was take photos of the administration and faculty members sharing their favorite books holding a #SunsetReads frame.


I passed out “What I am currently reading ….” laminated posters to all the staff and asked them to hang them outside their classroom door and keep it up to date.  I created #SunsetReads vinyl stickers and passed them around. I created a Twitter and Instagram account and started sharing library events or recommended reading on social media. All of these ideas were good to get the name out there and start building the #SunsetReads brand among the Sunset Community.

Helpful hint: Make sure the hashtag you choose isn’t being used by someone else.  I didn’t realize when I first started that a romance novelist was tweeting using the #SunsetReads hashtag — but maybe because some high school in Oregon used it all the time — the author has decided to move on.

When the English department received classroom libraries with current YA novels, I was thrilled. I began booktalking lots of YA titles and used this opportunity to pass out #SunsetReads bookmarks. Rebecca Larson, a fellow English teacher began posting on social media and included #SunsetReads whenever she discussed a book.

We convinced the administration to begin a free choice reading program throughout the school — not just during English classes. One thing we emphasized was that our students need to build reading stamina and one way to do that is to encourage more choice reading. It also aligns with one of our school goals to help students become career and college ready.

We received donated books from students, Multnomah Country Library Titlewave Used Bookstore, and from Washington County Cedar Mill Library thanks to parent and WCCLS librarian, Mark Richardson. I created #SunsetReads book bins and placed them in every classroom in the school with the donated books. I labeled every donated book with a #SunsetReads sticker. The book bins run like a Little Free Library — students could borrow a book and then return it to any classroom library. Students now could choose a book from the bin, from their classroom library, or from the school library. We even placed a #SunsetReads bin in the hallway.  Books are everywhere!

We got the staff onboard to include 10 minutes of choice reading twice a week during homeroom. #SunsetReads was really starting to take off. I asked our Parent Club to make a donation to the school library so we could purchase additional YA titles to support our #SunsetReads program. (Note: this year we switched to 30 minutes of choice reading every other week – wish it was more often, but that is what works with our schedule. They still read in English class)

We continue to use #SunsetReads for promoting library events. We hosted a special edition of GLOW-IN-THE-DARK #SunsetReads where students could come to the library for their choice reading time and we turned off all the lights and passed out glow sticks and lollipops! When authors, Fonda Lee and Carmen Bernier-Grand visited, we had them take photos with our SunsetReads sign. The SHS book club is now posting book reviews to our #SunsetReads website and has adopted the hashtag themselves. I am constantly looking for ways to create a reading culture at our school and having a brand helps to promote it.

My next goal is to include the parent and neighboring community with the #SunsetReads brand.  Why not have local businesses sponsor #SunsetReads programs or have parents share what they are reading on social media and use our hashtag? It takes time and persistent action to build a loyal brand. Look for some #SunsetReads graphics and branding coming soon from our very own Graphic Design students!!!

Today when I was leaving school, a teacher asked me, “How was the SunsetReads event in the library?” I smiled because I had just been working on this post. I guess the branding is paying off.

Publishing Options for Creative Projects

This past month, teachers at SHS brought their classes to the Apollo Press Student Publishing Center in the library to have their students see what tools are available to assist them with creative projects. Both IB History SL and Astronomy students were creating projects to demonstrate their understanding of concepts learned in class.

I love that several students used a variety of tools for their history and astronomy projects:

  • The 3D printer was used to design and print game pieces and artifacts
  • The 3D doodler pen was used to design objects and artifacts
  • One group made an original BreakoutEdu game with puzzles, clues, and locks
  • The Cricut cutting machine was used for cutting out letters and images
  • The color printer was used for posters and signs
  • Several students created a stop-motion animation movie
  • A few students filmed against the green screen using the TouchCast studio app

I created this HyperDoc of Publishing Options so students would have some directions or links to inspire ideas.

My goal of creating the publishing center was to have a design lab where students could hang out and meet other creative students and to support the teachers with their curriculum projects.

Every Monday, the library hosts #MakerMonday as a way for students to learn how to use the tools of the publishing center and to have fun and explore! A regular group of students stop by and play with the Spheros, make original buttons, or experiment with the 3D Doodler pen.

I am hoping more and more students will feel free to drop by the publishing center and continue to create impressive projects for class.

More Geo Tools

I love hearing how teachers are using Geo Tools with their students to make learning real and authentic. Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher Micah Shippee worked with over 100 students at Liverpool Middle School on the Liverpool Cemetery Mapping project.  Students researched, photographed, and digitally-labeled gravestones in the Liverpool Cemetery and then completed a custom Google Map complete with historical profiles for over 30 gravesites.

The project was then converted with the Wikitude app (, an augmented reality (AR) program, that used the student-created Google Map content. Through the use of the free Wikitude App installed on a device, visitors to the cemetery can determine the location of each gravesite, how far they have to walk to see them, and the historical profiles for each site. You can be assured those middle school students took their families to see their virtual walking tour.

I am thinking of combining 360 PhotoSphere images with Google Maps & Wikitude to make a virtual tour of our school campus — or perhaps a scavenger hunt and have users fill out a Google form with their answers.

GE Teach ( was developed by high school Geography teacher Josh Williams. This tool allows students to compare two maps side-by-side as a way compare data sets from physical geography (physical features, land temperature, precipitable water, carbon dioxide, etc.) and human geography (population density, economy, human development, etc.). This would be a fabulous tool for social studies students and have them compare maps and use critical thinking skills to explain how or why physical geography impacts human geography conditions.

I was thankful to have met both Micah Shippee and Josh Williams at the 2017 California Geo Institute  and am completely inspired by their work.

Ricoh Theta 360 camera

When I attended the 2017 CA Google Geo Institute last July, I was introduced to the idea of using embedded 360 photos to engage students in the real world.  I had already played around with PhotoSpheres before and created this 360 photo of my school library using the Google Street View app on my iPhone.

With the Street View App, you stand in the middle of the room and slowly spin around while the app takes multiple images of the space then stitches them together to make this 360 image.  It works fine if there are no moving people in the room (look closely at the circulation desk!). Use Google Street View with your students to immerse themselves in places they have never been.

The Google Street View Gallery showcases some of the most interesting places in the world.

When you visit Google Maps or Google Earth, click on the yellow Pegman in the corner to show the blue lines for Street View images, blue dots for uploaded PhotoSpheres, and yellow dots for the ability to see inside select buildings and museums. Students will enjoy discovering PhotoSpheres from all over.

What really blew me away at the CA Google Geo Institute was learning how to use the  Ricoh Theta 360 camera to take an instantaneous 360 photo or video. We created walking tours around the Google campus and embedded our photos into Google maps. I purchased a camera with plans to help my students make a 360 walking tour of our school campus — but I needed to learn how to use it first.

Here are a few of my favorite 360 photos I have taken so far with the Theta.  You can also view the Wallowa Lake image directly in Google Maps.

Wallowa Lake #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Happy Thanksgiving from the Cassinelli, Hauge, and LeChevallier families #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


EdTech Team Google Summit #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Here are the directions on how to set up the Theta app on your phone so you can take remote photos and have them transferred to your device. I’ve learned you need to be careful with exposure and you definitely need a tripod for shooting the photos.

Some 360 resources from #CAGTI17

Can’t wait to try the Ricoh Theta with my students. Stay tuned!

Google’s Geo Tools for Learning

This past July, I had the privilege to attend the Google Geo Institute at the Mountain View headquarters. 75 educators from all over the US spent three days learning about Google’s Geo Tools and how to implement them in the classroom.  I had attended the Geo Institute back in 2013 but the tools have changed so much that I wanted an update.

It was great to really dive into the newly updated  Google Earth ( Students can travel the world and explore new places using a web browser – no download required! They can see places like exotic cities, landmarks in 3D and buildings from close up using Street View. Photospheres are 360-degree photos that provide real views of our world – even the International Space Station!

A great way to pique student’s interest in exotic places is using a feature called Voyager. Voyager is a collection of map-based tours written by Google Earth partners that provide guided stories on topics like travel, culture, nature, and history.

There is power in students creating their own maps to help them visualize information or tell a story.  Students can use Google Tour Builder ( to write place-based stories that follow a journey on a map.  The addition of multiple images and videos can make the journey come to life.

I have used Google My Maps ( because it allows multiple students to collaborate on an interactive map together. Here is a simple example showing famous landmarks in Oregon.

 How about taking students on virtual field trips to engage their curiosity? Google Expeditions allows students to swim with the sharks, visit outer space, or walk through a museum without leaving the classroom. Each participant will need a mobile device that fits into a virtual-reality (VR) viewer. Teachers then can choose from over 500 Google Expeditions ( to share with their students. Get some lesson ideas on using Expeditions (and others) at

Here are some additional geography resources that I learned about at the 2017 CA Geo Institute or were shared by attendees:

Augmented Reality Apps (shows a view of the real world in front of you, then put a layer of information, including text and/or images, on top of that view)

Virtual Reality Apps (viewing a completely different reality than the one in front of you; may be artificial, such as an animated scene or an actual place that has been photographed)

Here are some additional 2017 CA Geo Institute resources to explore or our shared notes! If you ever have the chance to attend — I highly recommend it!

Look for my next post where I discuss my biggest takeaway from the Geo Institute:

  1. Learning about the Theta 360 camera
  2. Embedding Photospheres into Google Maps
  3. A Pokemon style game you can create with Wikitude

Inspiring Curiosity: A Librarian’s Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning

What is the school librarian’s role throughout the inquiry-based learning experience? How can we impact the learning experience for our students and make a difference?

The book Inspiring Curiosity: A Librarian’s Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning hopes to provide inspiring stories and practical examples of how school librarians can go beyond teaching students how to access and evaluate sources to become an essential contributor of the instructional team.

Not every inquiry-based lesson will develop into an in-depth research project or essay. Many will result in engaging Socratic Seminars where students debate and explore ideas with their classmates. Other inquiry-based lessons might lead to investigate scientific phenomena or the creation of “wonder walls” to document new questions of inquiry. I am interested in finding those key entry points where librarians can insert themselves into inquiry-based lessons and offer expertise and insights unique to our position.

Librarians can do more than just guide learners towards digital and print sources. We work directly with every student and every teacher in our school. We see the bigger picture and can view the landscape of our school through the lens of inquiry. We can influence the tone and direction of how students see themselves as researchers. Every librarian can focus on personalized learning and ensure we are preparing teens for their future.

How do you inspire curiosity?

New Chrome extension for Opposing Viewpoints in Action

Check out the new Chrome Extension (beta) from Gale Cengage for the database Opposing Viewpoints in Action. Many of the classes at my school use this database as jumping off points for students selecting topics for research.

Traditionally, we have directed students to access the database from the Sunset Library webpage and I will encourage to continue to do that but the new Chrome extension now displays results from Opposing Viewpoints in Action alongside Google search results.

This is a game changer! We can now teach students the concept of “triangulation” and comparing the credibility of open web results with published articles from essays, academic journals, and reference books.

 Here are the directions of how students can install the Chrome extension.

Your students will need to fill out the database credentials listed to authenticate to your District account. Include:

  • Library Name
  • Gale Library Location Id
  • Gale Library Password Id

Note: This only works for Google searches on the Chrome browser (Chromebook, Mac or PC) with Opposing Viewpoints!

  I am VERY excited about the possibilities of utilizing this for research and also teaching other information literacy strategies, including source evaluation and advanced Google search techniques.

 The extension is in BETA but I heard from the Gale Cengage rep that other databases will be added after a thorough review.

 Happy Searching!

AASL National Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries

I felt very fortunate to be able to attend the 2017 AASL Conference this year. I was very interested in the pre-conference workshop around the newly released AASL Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Learn more at

The AASL National Library Standards for Learners are framed around the Shared Foundations of Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage and embrace progressive pedagogies.

Our challenge is to create a learning culture centered on innovation, collaboration, exploration, deep thinking, and creativity.  I am considering how I embrace this notion: “School librarians are key to the success of this educational paradigm shift because they provide resources and instruction to all learners through an inquiry-based research model that supports questioning and the creation of new knowledge focused on learner interest and real-world problems” (44).

One of my primary goals, when I am collaborating with classroom teachers this year, is to bring the concept of relevance to the lessons and more student agency. I want my students to be self-directed thinkers who investigate and consider real issues and empower them to develop solutions or expand their understanding.

I look forward to diving into the Standards and share how they will be implemented in my high school and district.

Stay tuned!

Turtles All The Way Down

I recently had a chance to see YA author, John Green, at an event for his new book Turtles All The Way Down. Hearing John Green speaking about his own anxiety disorder and how it impacts his life was heart-wrenching. Green shared that somehow we as a society have immortalized creative people as having to be a bit crazy in order to be imaginative and create. He said, when his disease is in full bloom, he can’t work and he can’t think straight. He urged anyone suffering from mental illness to get help.

The story of Turtles All The Way Down gives us some insight into the mind of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old girl who wrestles with anxiety and obsessive thought spirals. Aza struggles to with dating, fretting about college, calming her overbearing mother, and appeasing her demanding best friend. She is frequently overcome by extreme dread and certain that she’s contracted a fatal intestinal bacteria. She picks at a sore on her hand & constantly checks and rechecks it for infection.  Aza begins spiraling and starts drinking hand sanitizer. She thinks to herself: If she can’t direct her own thoughts, who is really in control?

The story is well written with smart dialogue between the characters. You ache for Aza as you witness her disease progress. I think many teens will relate to Aza and the turmoil of her inner thoughts.

Seeing Green as funny and crazy on his Crash Course videos and then seeing him share something so personal to a crowd of strangers makes me realize — we have no idea the hurt some people carry from day to day.

Treat each person with kindness — maybe your friendly smile is the best thing that happened to them that day.

Encouraging Curiosity

As a Librarian, I am often asked to help with research projects with my high school students.  Some projects are truly great and engaging but too often I wonder just how interested are the students in learning something new or are they “just doing enough” to get the grade.

Creating a culture in your Library, classroom or school that embraces curiosity and celebrates learning can spark the imagination of students — especially when they have CHOICE in choosing what to research.  Teachers can do a lot to establish and model regular curiosity by asking questions, wondering aloud, sharing cool things they have learned, showing videos that are inspiring, etc.  When students see their Librarian and Teacher excited by their new discoveries they, in turn, will want to share what they have learned.

Former Social Studies teacher from Sunset High School and now District TOSA, Matt Hiefield, had every student create their own digital “Curiosity Board”  for 9th grade World History using a website called Linoit (  Linoit is similar to Padlet ( and is like a digital corkboard where you can post images, text and embed videos. If an interesting question came up during a class discussion, Hiefield would direct his students to add it to their own curiosity board for investigation later on. Occasionally, he would have students research a chosen question and share what they learned during a gallery walk. What a great way to celebrate being curious!

If we want our students to be excellent researchers and be authentic in their interest in learning, we must make every effort to build a culture that acknowledges and celebrates deep learning. How do you create this culture in your classroom?

TLchat: new faces and new voices

Last December, fellow Librarian Tiffany Whitehead put out an all call for some Teacher Librarians to step up and help bring some new blood to the TL Virtual Cafe — which had been on hiatus.  I said I would help out and two months ago we launched the updated TL Virtual Cafe & #TLchat Twitter Chat.

In February, I called upon a few Library Instructional Technology Teachers from Beaverton School District to help talk about Passion in Your Future Ready Library (webinar archive available).  We had a few technology glitches in Blackboard during the webinar but the Twitter chat was going strong!  Thanks for helping:  Benjamin Lloyd, Highland Park Middle School, @SenorLloyd – Virtual Reality Projects; Rosa Rothenberg – Whitford Middle School @rosarothenb; and Jason Hohnbaum – McKary Elementary School @mrhohnbaum.

In March, Stony Evans had some of his students present for the webinar and it was FANTASTIC!!!  Wow — we need more student voices in our teacher professional development. Check out the webinar here!

The April webinar will be Monday, April 3rd and the topic is eBooks. Here is the Blackboard Participant link and the webinar will be archived here.

Join us if you can!

12 Ways Librarians Can Promote Digital Literacy

I am doing some research for an upcoming publication and ran across this excellent list of ways that Librarians can teach and promote digital literacy, including digital citizenship, within the community.

  1. Serve on curriculum development and professional development committees

  2. Contribute to school and district technology plans (which, among other reasons, are required for e-rate discounts).

  3. Survey the school community about their physical access to technology

  4. Provide in-school and remote access to digital resources

  5. Circulate technology, such as e-readers, cameras, and mobile devices.

  6. Produce and disseminate webliographies about digital literacy, including digital citizenship.

  7. Provide face-to-face and online instruction on the evaluation and selection of digital resources.

  8. Provide face-to-face and online instruction to the school community on using technology as a learning tool.

  9. Explain to the school community about intellectual property and ways to give people credit for their ideas.

  10. Promote the Creative Commons ( and contribute to its database of documents.

  11. Teach the school community about cyberbullying and ways to respond to such bullies.

  12. Support and supervise youth social networking and podcast productions (e.g., book talks, library promotions, tech tips).

From Lesly S. J. Farmer.  Information and Digital Literacies (c) 2016

For me personally, the most challenging aspect from the list above is to get involved in the instructional lesson very early in the planning process.  This requires attending grade level meetings – offering resources – tracking curriculum – offering a variety of instructional strategies for integrating technology — be available to co-teach or help — the list goes on and on.

Luckily I am very involved in the professional development planning for our faculty and my staff sees me as a technology leader but it’s developing that consistent scope and sequence of informational literacy skills and lessons that are essential at the high school level. The key is to meet with department leaders, determine grade level indicators for research, develop assessments to check for understanding, and create a comprehensive 9-12 curriculum map for our school.  This takes time because you need to build trust and relationships with the faculty, and it takes administrative support to make it a priority.  I have been at my school for 1 1/2 years now and I am just beginning to get a grasp on our curriculum map and this will be my priority for the remainder of the year.

Do you have a curriculum map that you can share?  If so, please share — and stay tuned — I will publish mine when it’s done.

First Look: The NEW Google Sites

When I first looked at the NEW Google Sites last Fall I wasn’t overly impressed.  I was used to CLASSIC Google Sites (comparison chart) and loved the ability to create templates for class projects.  I had created my Library website at my previous school using Classic Sites and it didn’t seem like I had a lot of the same options so I ignored it for awhile.

But then I started seeing some pretty cool Sites made with the NEW Google Sites and some blog posts by Eric Curts — so I decided to give it another look. Once I really started playing around with the features I liked it more and more.  First of all, the drag and drop ability to grab items from Drive and move them where you want is the best feature of the NEW Sites.

I love how easy it is to create a photo collage or embed a Google Slide deck into Sites.  The Themes remind me of the simplicity of Adobe Spark Pages and you are limited to what you can embed (Drive items, images, YouTube, etc) but it’s SO EASY – and just wait — you know Google will add more features soon.

I think educators should consider Google Sites for Student Portfolios.  How great would it be for students to choose which items they have in their Drive to feature on their Portfolio?

Here is Google Site I made to teach others how to use the NEW Google Sites for the #NCCE17 Google Summit Conference.

Here is a NEW Google Site I made for our school-wide literacy program called #SunsetReads.

Check it out and enjoy!!!

Student-Centered Learning Experiences

Student-centered learning experience

I want my students to work collaboratively together on a project and get the benefits of common knowledge, process and critical thinking
  • Use collaborative Google Apps for Education tools (Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings) where every group member can work on the project at the same time
  • Use collaborative technology tools where multiple students can access:  Prezi, ThingLink, Padlet, EduBlogs, Wikispaces, LMS Digital Portfolio, Shared albums in Google Photos
  • Use online discussion forums (Edmodo, Canvas) to extend discussions beyond the class period
  • Host a backchannel chat during Socratic Seminar using Today’s Meet
  • Brainstorm ideas and post to digital bulletin boards (Padlet, Linoit, Dotstorming)
  • Hold asynchronous debates by recording opening arguments & rebuttals using video webcam
  • Use polling software (Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Google Forms) for surveys, opinions, voting, or polls. Collectively analyze data in Google Sheets and graph results
  • Use commenting on Google docs during the peer review process.
  • Use project management software (flow charts, brainstorm maps, graphic organizers, etc)
I want my students to have an authentic audience for their learning or to “do the real work of the discipline”
  • Have students blog and/or podcast about what they are learning in class for a real audience using EduBlogs or AudioBoom.
  • Find online collaborative projects with another class, global partners or other IB schools.
  • Bring in, record or Skype with experts in your field or host webinar using Google+ Hangouts.
  • Research real issues, participate in community projects then present solutions or steps to solve problems.
  • Design newspapers, presentations, PSA’s, a marketing plan or creative displays for organizations, business or outside groups
  • Submit writing to teen websites, publish books, eBooks or websites
  • Build 3-D models or simulations that others will use; Apply math concepts to real world problems
  • Participate in online challenges (EconChallenge, Global Math Challenge, Google Science Fair, etc.)
  • Collect real data & create graphs; analyze statistics or polling data & make inferences; present research to panel
  • Access Library of Congress source material, statistical data from Gov’t or NASA, explore research in electronic databases
I want to give students more ownership or choice in their learning and create a performance task instead of a traditional written paper or test.
  • Provide options for how students can demonstrate their understanding by offering a variety of performance tasks:  Video project, newscast, online simulations, research & role play, design, build & create, digital art projects, interactive posters, Infographics, multimedia presentations, digitally record a written narration, place-based content embedded on map, build a class website, drama
  • Have students “teach” classmates by making “Khan Academy” style videos, Create online how-to guides using, start a YouTube channel
  • Create time for “Genius Hour” or passion-based research projects; showcase projects at Learning Fair.
  • Allow for self-selected print reading material, eBooks or Audiobooks