I am very excited to bring gaming into my school library during Teen Tech Week, sponsored by YALSA.  With a grant by Best Buy, I am able to purchase Bloxels video game creators, Breakout Edu games, and Versa Tiles.  Each resource will bring gaming to my library at a different level.  Since students of all grade levels and academic abilities will participate in the Bay Shore Middle School Teen Tech Week program, these resources will allow me to customize unique experiences for them.  These gaming resources can also be used to create curriculum-based activities and assessments, as well as professional development experiences.  Through games students learn how to think critically, collaborate, strategize, and develop problem-solving skills.


VersaTiles are hands-on manipulatives that students can use independently or in groups.  Through a series of 12 questions, students determine the correct answers and then place the tiles in the appropriate spaces.  If the students are correct, a hidden picture pattern is revealed.  I plan to create a series of questions about book awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Pura Belpre Award, Geisel Award, and the Printz Award) to familiarize my students with.  They will use all of the print and nonprint resources in the library including reference materials, circulated books, the OPAC, and the Virtual Reference Collection).   To learn more about VersaTiles visit: http://www.hand2mind.com/brands/versatiles.

DSC_1637Breakout Edu will allow me to create an “escape room” scenario in our library.  The students will work together to solve puzzles and riddles to ultimately unlock the “treasure chest.”  Each breakout game can be customized with boxes, locks, clues, an invisible ink pen, and other items that you would like to add.  I will run a game about digital citizenship where students will have to research and collaborate to solve the mystery.   Breakout Edu materials may be found around the house, purchased at your local hardware stores, or as handmade kits through http://www.breakoutedu.com/.


Lastly, students will create their own video games using Bloxels.  Bloxels was created by Pixel Press, and it is their second generation of video game creating apps.  Pixel Press’ first app Floors created video games by scanning shapes, or glyphs, drawn on graph paper and transforming recognizable markings into a
playable video game.  With the Bloxels kits, students will work in groups to arrange ½ inch square colored blocks onto a black try to create levels, characters, animations, and even objects.  Students who participate in Teen Tech Week will be able to add new levels to games that have been created previously.  This is a wonderful way for students to work asynchronously to create video games.  You can learn more about Floors and Bloxels at http://www.projectpixelpress.com/.

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These gaming resources will have lasting power in our school library makerspace and Genius Hour program.  Students utilize the makerspace resources during their lunch and study hall periods.  Resources range from low tech (recyclables, arts and crafts) to high tech (robotics) to digital (3D printing design and coding).  Teachers sign up classes to participate during the Genius Hour program for one or two week exploration units.  The instruction is more structured, with definitive outcomes and opportunities for collaboration and sharing.

DSC_1672I believe that the “maker movement” is not just a trend, and is actually a traditional concept in education.  Hands-on learning engages students on a level that helps them to connect the physical world to literal meaning, and eventually to figurative and metaphorical understanding.  Science fairs and art shows are young adult versions of “show and tell,” and these presentations skills can be transferred to public speaking situations in future careers.  

slime cards new website addressAdvocating for the role of important role that librarians and libraries make in our schools, Gina Seymour of Islip High School and I will direct the 2nd annual SLIME – Students of Long Island Maker Expo. SLIME is an interactive Day of Making for students, parents and educators from across Long Island.  Participants will engage in hands-on activities that promote imagination and creativity. From recyclable crafts to robotic technology, together we’ll have fun while learning new skills and making new friends. SLIME isn’t just STEM or STEAM.  It’s STREAM…science, technology, research, engineering, art, and math.  SLIME celebrates the creativity and innovation of Long Island students.

Kristina Holzweiss is the school library media specialist at Bay Shore Middle School.   She has created a Genius Hour program in her school library and is the Founder and Director of SLIME – Students odownload (1)f Long Island Maker Expo.  Kristina has presented at ISTE and  moderates a Voxer group for educators interested in bringing makerspaces and Genius Hour into their libraries and classrooms, and blogs at http://www.bunheadwithducttape.com. You can follow her on twitter at @lieberrian.

This year Kristina has been honored to be the recipient of the 2015 NYSCATE Outstanding Teacher of the Year and the Long Island Technology Summit Fred Podolski Leadership Innovation Award.  Kristina has also been selected as the 2015 School Librarian of the Year by School Library Journal and Scholastic.


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