MassCUE Grants: iPads and More

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MassCUE Grant Funding in Action
Capping it Off: iPads and a Synergy of Library, Technology, and SEL Skills

by Deborah Kreiser-Francis

Grants in Action - iPadsOur school was fortunate enough to be awarded a MassCUE grant to purchase nine new iPads, protective cases, and the DoInk green screen app. The primary purpose for these materials is for a fifth grade capstone project, though I have already been able to use the iPads for other projects and other grades. After this year’s overall successful launch, I intend to repeat the capstone project for future fifth graders.

As planned–and mostly as executed!–this capstone project utilizes students’ library and information skills alongside their technology and media literacy skills and SEL relationship skills. The steps involved were:

  1. Students each selected a favorite library book they wanted to share with others.
  2. Students worked with randomly selected partners to each develop a book talk (which is like an advertisement for a book, rather than a review) of less than one minute for one of their favorite library books.
  3. They then took turns recording each other giving the book talk in front of a green screen, using the iPads.
  4. Using the DoInk green screen app, they produced book talk videos that I will be uploading to Destiny Discover, our online library catalog.

Of course, nothing ever goes perfectly, especially the first time a project is attempted.

Things that went right

  • Students were very engaged. They loved using the iPads and green screen!
  • Most partners worked well together, even those that moaned about it. They definitely utilized and enhanced their SEL skills; some partnerships had especially challenging dynamics.
  • For the most part, the book talks exceeded my expectations. Students did an excellent job “advertising” their books.

Things that were unexpected

  • Some students needed additional writing support beyond even what I anticipated, and I worked one on one with some of them, outside of our usual library time.
  • Partners worked at different paces. I had to sometimes switch plans and partners on the fly to keep the project going.
  • There was a delay in processing the iPad order due to paperwork confusion between “North Attleboro” and “North Attleborough.” (Spoiler: same town.)
  • I discovered the schedule at the end of fifth grade is incredibly complex during a non-COVID year. I ended up with fewer classes to complete the project, and had to cut a component that would have involved students finding photos and videos usable under a Creative Commons license.
  • Despite my best efforts, there were a few students who did not complete their projects. We simply ran out of time.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. I love how this project truly incorporates so many components of their library classes, which include both traditional library skills and technology. It addresses a multitude of digital literacy standards, as well.

Time was the biggest enemy. My plan for next year is to lay the groundwork for the project before April vacation, so that we can jump into it immediately upon return. This should leave us enough flexibility to accommodate the many last-minute scheduling changes that occur at the end of the year. I look forward to continually refining and improving this capstone project for many years to come, and I am exceedingly grateful to MassCUE for their support.


About the Author

Deborah Kreiser-Francis (Twitter: @LibraryFrancis) is happiest when she is around kids, books, and technology! She works as a Library Media Specialist at Falls and Community Elementary Schools in North Attleboro(ugh), Mass.

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If you would like to learn more about MassCUE Grants, visit our Grants Committee page.

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