Blinking and Buzzing with Educators at the Brooklyn Public Library

By Adam Skobodzinski


We recently participated in two workshops as part of a new professional development offering for educators from Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). This is a guest blog post from Kalliope Mathios, part of the school outreach team. Photo credit: Gregory Richards

As a school outreach librarian, I have the opportunity to go directly into school buildings and work with teachers and students in a variety of ways. Teachers who completed evaluations at last summer’s Teacher Lab workshop series told us that they wanted more professional development at the library, and specifically more technology training. I brainstormed ways that I could use my experiences with educational technology to support teachers and librarians looking to embed STEAM throughout the curriculum, and littleBits seemed like the perfect place to start: I used littleBits in programs with children in previous positions at EdLab Teachers College and the Brooklyn Heights Library. When used purposefully, I believe littleBits can play a role in helping transform student learning in the 21st century classroom. littleBits allows for a wide variety of creative play while reinforcing core engineering concepts. Though many children (and adults!) start with simple circuits, adding on to projects to create complex inventions is easy. With littleBits, educators do not have to sacrifice fun and creativity in order to meet rigor and teaching standards.

These educators are taking the hack your backpack challenge, creating a buzzer to alarm them of any unwanted tampering. Photo credit: Gregory Richards

In our educator workshops, we combined the expertise of Liza and Dave from littleBits with the hands-on program experiences from BPL librarians John Huth, Juana Flores, Alex Tretiak, and Lisa Goldstein to give educators and librarians an overview of littleBits, provide some hands on practice with the bits, present various lesson ideas, and classroom management tips. The idea was that educators would leave the workshop with a better sense of what their next steps would be in using littleBits in the classroom, as well as provide resources to turn to in the future if needed.

The littleBits workshop sits alongside the Teacher Lab as part of a larger menu of free professional development trainings we’re developing for teachers and school librarians both at the library and directly in the schools. We are excited to have room to develop more educational technology trainings for teachers, as well as expanded STEAM workshops for both educators and students. We like to consider ourselves tastemakers in what’s new at the intersection of libraries, education, and technology and will continue to develop a series of technology trainings that gets educators excited about teaching with innovative learning tools.

Photo credit: Gregory Richards

Kalliopi is a part of a new School Outreach team at the Brooklyn Public Library. The school outreach team is comprised of full-time school outreach librarians: Amy Mikel, Coordinator of School Outreach, Johanna Lewis, and Leigh Hurwitz. They primarily support the MyLibraryNYC program, now in it’s fourth year (134 partner schools in Brooklyn – with counterparts in other boroughs supporting those schools for a total of 500 schools city-wide).


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