Saturday, March 29, 2014

Put the "e" In Your Books: Integrating eBooks into Your Library

I have the privilege of presenting Put the "e" In Your Books: Integrating eBooks into Your Library at the Texas Library Association convention in San Antonio. The session participants include:

  • Karen Harrell - Rummel Creek Elementary Spring Branch ISD 
  • Sue Fitzgerald - Pike Middle School Northwest ISD 
  • Kay Land - Westchester Academy for International Studies Spring Branch ISD 
  • Jo Ann Conlon - Director Innovative Resource Media Systems Spring Branch ISD 

The main objective of this presentation is to share our successes with implementing eBooks into our library programs on a variety of academic levels. In preparation for the session we kindly ask you to answer a few questions through this Google form. We also invite you to join us on Friday, April 11 @ 10:00 a.m.-11:20 a.m.  We will also have two $200 gift cards for eBooks for door prizes thanks to a generous vendor.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Texas Lone Star Thinglink

Thinglink can be an awesome interactive curation tool for both student and faculty use. With so many free curation tools available it can be a daunting task to pick and choose the correct tool for the task. The verstiltiy of Thinglink brings the SAMR model of technology integration to a higher level. I foresee myself using this tool in many other projects to come. Please feel free to share the image and let me know if other book trailers become available. I have a few linked to GoodReads since I was unable to find a trailer.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Get Ready, Here We Go!

Yes, believe it or not we are approaching another end-of -the-school-year routine.  Being a one librarian show, everything takes time and planning is crucial.  That being said, with many overdue books and a library needing inventory, the process needs to start sooner than later.

Here’s a list I put out last year but many had indicated they wished the list came out earlier.  Yes, I have started inventory, or should I say my students have started inventory.  I micromanage the process and the students complete shelf-reading, scanning, and searching for missing books. I fix the cataloging issues – how did they sneak through last year’s inventory?  My students actually love the job and eagerly greet me with, “Are we doing inventory today?”  It is a long and tedious process but well worth accounting for books that have been misplaced, not checked in properly, marked lost, or other issues. When students claim they have returned that book I can confidently (or semi confidently) state that we have completed inventory and if the book was located in the library it would have been scanned.  Here’s my end-of-school-year list.

  1. Start working diligently in getting student overdue items returned at the end of April or the beginning of May. Think about incentives for returning books. Ask your teachers for help in getting the books returned. I usually do a daily countdown and will break it down by grade level and money lost if not returned. The gathering of student overdue library items needs to be a collaborative school effort NOT just a library process. 
  2. Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Remind 101, etc.) to help get overdue books returned.  
  3. Decrease the number of hardback books students may check out and increase the number of eBooks allowed in early May.  
  4. Email friendly reminders to teachers in early May to return items they are no longer using.
  5. Begin inventory after Spring Break and try and have it complete before the last two weeks of school. Inventory can be seamless while your library is open and still checking out books.  Inventory the heavily used collections such as fiction or graphic novels last.
  6. Inventory and weeding are two separate “beasts” so don't try and do both simultaneously. Do weed those musty books that jump out at you while you inventory.
  7. If you don't have time for a full inventory select your more heavily used collections to scan.  I know there is nothing more frustrating than to try and find a book that has been missing for years.  Get it marked as lost and replace it.  
  8. Plan your final programs and have them ready to implement prior to the last month.  
  9. Embed lessons on eBook usage and host BYOD Days. This will encourage and help with summer usage of eBooks.
  10. Design and give out bookmarks that will help students with checking out eBooks over the summer.  
  11. Add screencasts or directions on accessing eBooks on your website. 
  12. Skype or use Google Hangouts to incoming students  and share summer reading lists and programs.
  13. Try and have a simple student book swap to encourage summer reading.
  14. If possible, host a book fair with a local book store or vendor and provide books on the summer reading lists.
  15. Gather data throughout the school year so your end-of-the-school-year report is not time consuming.  
  16. Prioritize daily and complete the "must get done" projects first.
  17. Set a shelf or section aside for "next year's" tasks. 
  18. Begin a list of books to purchase for next year's budget.  I easily start a new list in Titlewave from books not received from my last order, lost books, newly released books, or paid for books.
  19. Allow students to replace the books rather than pay for the books.  This is something I started in the last few years that really works.   
  20. Do not use the term "library is closed for inventory".  You can nicely say you must cut back on your services due to end-of-year obligations.  
  21. Look around for opportunities to either attend or present at professional development functions during the summer and add them to your calendar NOW.  
  22. Do not shut down your PLN for the summer!  Set a goal to stay connected virtually and gather ideas for your next school year.  
  23. Plan your summer reading and set reading goals.  Share your summer reading with your faculty and students through the school website, twitter, Facebook, or other social media accounts.  
  24. Host a virtual book club during the summer.  
  25. Understand that you are human and have limitations so don't stress over what doesn't get done because it      will be waiting for you next year. 
  26. Work on the process as time allows but do not let it take over the main focus of your library.

Here’s a link that may help in the process:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Control Sinks Your Ship

I'm not sure if I'm more excited about the successful collaboration between my self and my IT coach or the success of the Technoloy Club.  This had been a lesson for me to recognize the opportunities as a teacher librarian to help enhance the learning process in my school.  My first and only computer programming class was in 1988 under Dr. Betty Carter.  Who would have ever guessed this little knowledge would turn into something so extraordinary in our school.
Co-authored by Middle School Tech Club Sponsors Susan Fitzgerald, Library Media Specialist and Kirsten Wilson, Instructional Technology Coach

In days gone by, the teacher was the sage on the stage -  the expert in the room.  Today educators are working with a population of post-modern learners with needs and learning styles that are very different from their industrial-age parents and grandparents.  Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003, according to Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.

With that in mind, it is unrealistic nor good instructional practice to presume the teacher remains the expert and captain of the ship.  For motivation, passion and creativity to be fostered in students, we have to stop being the tyrannical Captain and become the endearing Love Boat Captain Merril Stubing.

When we started this voyage, the intention of the Tech Club was to foster student engagement with the district’s implementation of ePortfolios through Google Sites.  What happened then was much like the legend of Blackbeard, in that our well-intentioned Tech Club was “hi-jacked” and the resources were pillaged for their treasure by a group of Pirate Coders.  

These Pirate Coders, a group of 7th graders, took our Tech Club premise and revamped the course.  They needed a place to congregate, collaborate and create.  Perhaps they saw something in us that we weren’t even aware was in us… but somehow they knew we were up for a mutiny on the Bounty.  They wanted to overhaul the Tech Club for the purpose of learning coding and programming and we seized the opportunity for the challenge.

The realization that there was a treasure to be discovered was during the event in early December.  It was at this point that our students began presenting self-written code that created things such as browsers, calculators with square root function, and operating systems.

As facilitators we shared the message of coding, created an online course to help access resources and allow for collaborative discussion forums.  Every time we met they collaborated, learned, and coached one another.  Soon we knew their message and passion-driven work needed to be shared beyond our school.  Our districts technology showcase TechnoExpo was the perfect forum to share the Pirate Coders’ treasure chest of learning. To a standing-room only audience, the Tech Club presented their message of passion about coding, goals and big ideas.  They were even solicited for their autographs… our Pirate Coders were legendary.

Pirate Coders (Tech Club members) took the helm from there.  They were ready for their next voyage… they were headed into the winds with full sails. Together the Pirate Coders knew, to achieve their goals, they would have to organize their resources.  A constitution and bylaws was written, an executive council was elected, they collaborated through their Google accounts, and a platform for sharing lesson plans on coding (including languages like batch, c++, dos, and java script),  was developed.

Who knew letting these Pirate Coders take over our ship would have taken us to this place.  We haven’t reached our destination but we are so glad we changed from the traditional educational route.  We are here to keep them in safe waters, but not keep them from taking an exciting new course.  They set the course with their coordinates.  We are here to help maintain the ship… but they are here to navigate the ship.  For that we are glad… had we not seen the beauty in the horizon, we might had never left the port.

All photographs compliments of Sue Fitzgerald and Kirsten Wilson.


" 0.9 http ..." 2013. 9 Mar. 2014 <>

 "Clipart - Teacher Lämpel - Open Clip Art Library." 9 Mar. 2014

"Eric Schmidt: Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We ..." 2010. 7 Mar. 2014 <>

 "The Love Boat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." 2004. 9 Mar. 2014 <>

 "Blackbeard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." 2004. 9 Mar. 2014 <>

"TechnoExpo." 2013. 9 Mar. 2014 <>

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It Might Be Old, But It's Good!

There are an abundant amount of web tools available and at times I’m overwhelmed and have used options such as Pinterest as a curation tool.  When a new (to me) tool is introduced through my PLN (Personal Learning Network) many times I’ll set-up an account, browse through its basic functions, and curate it as needed.  Sometimes I will immediately use and share the tool while others times I may not revisit until needed.  Even with this process I find great tools fall through the cracks.

That being said, I decided to revisit the Google URL shortener  On Oct. 16, 2010 was the first time I used Google’s URL shortener but for some reason I discontinued using this awesome tool.  I used the Hide option on the sites to remove these old URLs that have since been relocated.  It’s as easy as inserting a URL and clicking “The Shorten the URL” button.  The Long URL, Date Added, Shortened URL, Details, and Clicks for each entry will appear in your list. 

For those of us who use Blogger the analytics available for each entry looks very similar to the options in Blogger.  You can view the number of clicks on a site, the referring site, and country location of viewer.  You can also narrow this down by time.  I love that it also includes a QR code for the shortened site. 

You need to use when signed into your Google account where all your information will be stored. A note to myself is to start revisiting some of the old tools from the past and possibly revitalize their use in my PLN today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Google Add-Ons Include EasyBib

I am so excited to see Google has added many new Add-ons including EasyBib. This most definitely will change how I teach citing sources when using our Google accounts. It's so easy.

First, open a Google document and find the new Add-ons option on the tool bar and choose Get add-ons.  Many new Apps will appear including EasyBib.  Click on the blue Free button.

Once you have added-on EasyBib when you click on Add-ons EasyBib will appear in the box.  Click EasyBib Bibliography Creator and Manage Bibliography.

Once your Cite a Source box appears just type in the source and make your choices. Once you have your sources, click on ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY TO DOC red button.  

Finally you can see your bibliography grow and it's that easy.

Right now I am only able to view the new Add-ons through my personal Google account.  I hope this will also be an addition to our district Google account soon.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Texas Lone Star 2014

The Texas Lone Star list gives me a great opportunity to launch creative reading incentives in my library. I can produce displays, visuals, and other promotional programming in my library to foster the love of reading. What better way to entice readers than with this quality list of books put out by the Lone Star Committee.  Thank you to all that serve and provide us with this resourceful program. With that being said, please feel free to share and use my Google presentation. I'm still working on finding additional book trailers so contact me if you are interested in collaborating in this project. 

Google presentation has become one of my favorite applications in my Google Apps for Education account (GAFE) and here are a few reasons why:

  • Can access on multiple devices through your Google account since it's stored in the clouds. 
  • Presentations can be collaborative. 
  • Presentations can be easily shared through social media, email, or a link. 
  • They can be easily embedded into a blog or website. 
  • Presentations can be quickly downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation. Be aware that there may be some formatting issues. 
  • The learning curve is quick and easy. 
  • The Google Research option is available. 
  • Can easily upload or search for images. 
  • It's easy to search and embed YouTube videos.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


When I have a successful collaboration story I want to stand on the top of a mountain and shout it out. As a librarian I am fully aware that if I don’t have collaboration, I don’t have an effective library program. I try and take full advantage of all collaborative opportunities as possible. Some come planned while others may just drop in my lap as did with this opportunity.

Principal, Chris Jones reading to the kindergarten class.
It all began with WRAD (World Read Aloud Day).  I mentioned to my IT (Instructional Technology) Coach that I wanted to try and collaborate on a WRAD activity using GHO (Google Hangouts). Within two days I was in a district GHO with all our IT Coaches. While in the GHO a Google document was shared live with the group. Notes were taken, ideas were developed, and an awesome WRAD program developed. Our IT team sent out a district wide request using a Google form asking for volunteers to either read or classes wanting to be read aloud to. Our IT coaches matched readers with classrooms and decided to use Skype instead of GHO.

My first selfie just before I began reading to a 6th grade math class
During our WRAD event the district Twitter feed had a stream of pictures and comments about the read aloud event. I saw Assistant Superintendents, principals, teachers, students, and librarians come together during this awesome day. I teamed up with my principal and we read to a kindergarten class. He ended up reading 3 books to the class and took pictures and tweeted while I read to the same class. When our Skype session was over he commented, “That was so much fun.” That one comment was priceless. Although the day was filled with my regular schedule and duties, I took the time out to connect through Skype with two different schools and read out loud to their classes. It took about 45 total minutes of my time but I have made many other positive connections through this event.

Our Skyoe screen
I challenge you to stop, look, and listen for collaborative opportunities in your school. I must give a huge “shout out” to our awesome IT Coaches that took the idea of one librarian and made it into a fantastic day in our district. I believe I saw a post by another district peep that said everyday should be read aloud day. I am so lucky to be working in such a progressive district.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

TechnoExpo 2014

It was an evening of epic proportions. Each year our district hosts an awesome event called TechnoExpo. It entails an evening of students and teachers showcasing projects where technology was integrated within a lesson. Students, parents, teachers, administration, and the community came together in celebration during this event.

The path and planning of such an undertaking as TechnoExpo is a tremendous collaboration on the part of many. Teachers and students began the process in the classroom. Teachers submited their best student technology integration projects and a school panel selected the best to be entered into TechnoExpo. Students knew it was a privilege to be picked for the event and some projects were tweaked. Students collaborated in Google documents with index cards and practiced the presentations during a working lunch. It was well worth the hard work to see over 4,000 people attend this event.

The high school culinary arts students provided food for everyone while the IT department meticulously thought through every detail for a smooth evening of over 1,100 participants and 500 student presentations in grades K-12. Technology issues were handled immediately by the IT department, high school students directed foot traffic and answered questions, family members beamed with pride, teachers hugged students just before their presentation began, and awesome student projects were presented. One student was quoted on his way home as saying, “I’m proud of myself.” The hard work by all was well worth seeing our students take pride in their school work.

A video for our faculty.

A video to play on the student news show.
 As the teacher librarian and school Computer Technology Liaison (CTL), I am proud to have been involved in the process. The evening was a combination of hard work from all involved.  It was an epic evening!
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