Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#NextgenLib TLA 5 & & Joint Virtual Conference

Let me begin by saying that presenting in a Google Hang Out virtual conference was both daunting and amazing.  Daunting in the fact that I was totally reliant on the success via the wifi and technology.  If the network went down all the viewers would see was a blank screen - yikes.  Amazing in that from any remote location (I happen to be in Denver at the time), I could connect with other librarians not only in Texas but across the world.  It was such a cool event and it all came off wonderfully.

Our keynote speaker was the amazing Andy Plemmons and those who watched were not disappointed in his programming and collaboration ideas.  Nancy Jo Lambert organized the virtual event with some last minute glitches but through Google documents, text messages, emails, phone calls, blog posts, Twitter, collaboration, and of course GHO it all came together for an epic first time event.  Thank you Nancy!

Here's the link to the full event and the best part is that if you missed it live, you can view it at your leisure.

Click here for the link.

The Smashing Thing was my presentation highlight a few of my favorite tools.  Full disclosure - I had no script.  The awesome part is you can see my passion for many of the tools.  

After watching the sessions, I know that my goal of taking my school beyond its walls into global communities is perfect for this year. Thank you to everyone who made this awesome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Connected Educator Month

Yes, October is Connected Educator Month and it's time to step-up the connected part in the celebration.  The emphasis seems to be lurking everywhere in social media and through the numerous  recent chats I've realized it's time to take my connections to a higher level.

The advice that seems to resonate the most is that connections are all around us and that we as professionals need to take full advantage of these opportunities.  In #TLChat and #TXLChat recently some examples of finding connections included Twitter, Google+, Skype, Google Hang Outs, blogging, conferences, face-to-face meetings, virtual conferences, online challenges, and more.

That takes me to my latest connection with Susan Oxnevad and the ThingLink Challenge I participated in this summer.  Had I known that I would connect with such an innovative community, I would take on more challenges as time allows.  To my surprise Susan wrote a Spotlight article on my ThingLink experience and this not only humbled me but offered me many more global connection opportunities.

Take the the first step and initiate a connection that takes you and your students outside the walls of your library and school community - connect globally.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October's Dare to Read

This time of year is always exciting as far as what books to recommend for our students to read. There seems to be a large appetite to read about vampires, zombies, ghosts, and supernatural events as the end of October approaches.  As a librarian I take full advantage of our students' thirst for these titles and put them on display, advertise through our student video announcements, and produce visuals such as the ThingLink below.  I will be the first to admit, it takes very little motivation to entice middle school students to read once they see an awesome book trailer.  So I truly thank the many talented individuals who continue to produce these quality trailers for others to share.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ThingLink + Google Drive Webinar

It has been a really exciting experience to have participated in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this past summer and I cannot even begin to tell you how much I learned. I am also proud to have achieved the ThingLink Expert Educator status through the process.  I will admit that I embarked on the Challenge purely to produce and "level-up" awesome professional development presentations that I had committed to during the summer and fall.  I was not disappointed and after viewing the incredible creatively within the Challenge community (click here to view projects), ThingLink has now become one of my "go-to" tools.  The versatility and possibilities of this tool allows presentations not only to be interactive but brings them to life.  My other "go-to" tool includes Google Drive and below is the opportunity to see an incredible blending of both.  I also had to include the new option for ThingLink video with our student produced Teen Read Week video.  I frequently challenge myself to "smash" tools and ideas.

Please join the awesome Susan Oxnevad on October 14 at 8:00 p.m. EDT on the webinar Transform Teaching Learning with ThingLink + Google Drive.  Susan's presentation will include a variety of project ideas that you can immediately take back to your school and library program.  

Digital Citizenship Collaboration

Common Sense Education is hosting Digital Citizenship Week October 19-25, 2014. You may see their information at the following link.

For many of us who work on the front lines of teaching, modeling, and preaching about Digital Citizenship, this is a week worth celebrating within your learning community.  With the ever-growing social media networks now is the time to infiltrate each and every lesson with full disclosure on proper digital citizenship. What better way to celebrate Connected Educator Month  and Digital Citizenship than to reach out and connect with another librarian.

Our collaborative activity began with amazing librarian Gailanne Smith (@GailanneSmith) requesting a Skype session with our 8th grade students discussing and sharing information on proper digital citizenship with her 5th grade students.  What better way for students to understand the topic than real-life information and experiences coming from other students?  The time was set, Instructional Coaches were invited, the Skype software was tested, and the 8th grade students were given a list of topics to discuss in preparation for the many questions that might be asked by inquiring 5th graders.  Gailanne set up a TodaysMeet for back channeling immediately thrusting all into a hands-on approach for modeling and viewing proper digital citizenship.  

As the Skype session progressed with questions via Skype and TodaysMeet, I quickly realized that this event was not only beneficial to the 5th graders but my 8th graders were sharing experiences that both they and their friends had encountered through the various avenues on the Internet.  They had to listen to the questions, reflect, and volunteer to answer some of the most awesome questions posted and asked by 5th graders.  In truth, I’m not sure who received the most value from this lesson because I was in total awe from both perspectives. 

The hour went by quickly and we agreed that all students could have continued the conversation on this crucial topic.  In my reflection of this simple collaborative event, I encourage others to reach out to fellow librarians, school communities, and educators to help your students make quality decisions on this extremely importance topic – digital citizenship.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Teen Read Week Book Cover Selfies

As we venture into our Teen Read Week celebrations, students have been dropping by the library to take Book Cover Selfies. The pictures have been posted on our library's Instagram account and embedded into this Tackk for a unique presentation for a blog post. Next week our students will put these selfies on display.  It's just another awesome student driven program for #TRW14.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Digital Research Kits - 21st Century Style

After spending 15 years in a research driven high school library program, I knew the importance of the research process.  In many situations it appeared that something was lacking either on the part of the assignment, the teacher’s knowledge, or the student’s approach (many times included bad research habits). That is where I eagerly took on the role as a high school librarian in a collaborative effort to provide our students with the best possible college ready experiences.  So fast-forward my life to relocating 1,000 miles, facilitating a middle school library program, and sharing my research based experience with an entirely new school. 

My ah-ha moment occurred during a LIB-SIG TCEA presentation by my good friend Nancy Jo Lambert.  She was presenting her amazing school library website when she came upon her Digital Research Kits (DRK).  The words rang in my head since this was completely new terminology to me and the ideas began spinning.  We all talk about taking real practices and ideas back to your campuses after conferences and conventions, well I was ready to start even before we set off on the icy roads back north to Fort Worth. 

I quickly realized it was and old idea (path finders) that I had been marketing for years during the research process with a new twist.  Yes, I was going to embed these kits into our “Virtual Library” and present this with our next research project.  The question of platform came to my mind but I quickly answered my own question with the concept of smashing as many tools as possible.  Smash and model soon became my calling card in all facets of the library program. 

So, here’s where I began and my rational.

I started with 6th grade Social Studies and produced a DRK in Google presentations because we wanted to introduce our students to their new Google accounts.  We also wanted them to use the collaboration option and work in groups thus here is our first kit.

Another DRK was designed with the end product in mind.  This 7th grade kit embedded a smore into the kit modeling the preferred tool for assignment choice. The kits became collaboration between the teacher(s) and myself. 

One of my favorite DRK was our 8th grade ELA kit in Google sites that was directly related to model the set-up of our student ePortfolios.  The best comment came from a student during the presentation of the kit.  “This is cool.  You can use this same kit next year.”  Yes, I used the terms kits, virtual library, and more during the process.

My latest and favorite kit so far was introduced this week.  I chose a ThingLink since the students are required to produce a multimedia project.  It was amazing to watch the student engagement during the demonstration.  This kit had over 2,200 hovers in just one day per the report from ThingLink. 

More kits may be found at this link.

What do I take back from tweaking an older concept and giving it new terminology and a 21st Century appearance?  It not only refreshes me with excitement and passion with smashing and presenting new tools, but it allows our library program to go beyond the school day and the school walls.  I easily add these kits to our school website, our social media accounts, and our teachers add them to their netSchool page.  Sometimes it’s one simple idea from another awesome friend that can motivate us into changing the process in our library program.  Here’s to more ideas in the future.
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