Sunday, April 20, 2014

Powtoon Anyone - Oh yeah!

I'm getting ready to teach a variety of presentation tools to 7th and 8th graders and I thought it might be a good idea to create a project in the recommended tools so I made a video with Powtoon.  It's an awesome free animation tool with a short learning curve.  It's not as straight forward as Animoto but with a little time anyone can produce an awesome animation video.  You can choose and modify one of their designs or you can start from scratch and design your own.  I was able to easily upload my video to my YouTube account or I could have shared directly from Powtoon.  With the engaging and creative videos, this is a creation tool that I will need to revisit again soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Revisit to the Awesome TLA 20114

The journey to Texas Library Association 2014 in San Antonio, Texas was an amazing experience.  With close to 7,000 librarians, authors, vendors, and engaging sessions everyone should have come away with new ideas and enthusiasm. I didn't even come close to attending the many events but my week was filled from early morning to evening events.

Here’s a recap on what I was able to "take away" from TLA 2014 convention. The message was similar in each session.  Don't be overwhelmed with so many great ideas but rather take 2-3 highlighted programs to implement for the next school year.  Add or build something new and exciting to your program foundation each year.  One cannot do it all and be effective so select an exciting few programs  for you and your learning community.  

Some Presentations That I Attended - I attended many sessions by here are a few that I would like to highlight.

Tech Camp: Technology Conference within a Conference
Rumors were that this session filled up quickly and more slots were added to accommodate those interested. This was well worth the extra time to spend an entire day learning and discussing 21st Century technology and tools. This is be on my list of events for next year too.

Library Girl to the Rescue: Redefining the School Librarian
Jennifer LaGarde is an astonishing motivational speaker that nailed many topics that need to be addressed in the library world. Jennifer needs to be hired on the national level and tour the entire country with her messages.  “Hats off” to North Carolina for taking this progressive action to hire Jennifer for a three-year-tour.

3 Tech Ninjas – Organizers, Such as Squareleaf, Symbaloo,  and ChartGo
Todd Nesloney was remarkable in his knowledge on Google and free organizational tools.  He providedus with many new and exciting ideas along with his knowledge with Google search strategies.  I am excited to suggest our PLCs be done through Google documents.  I am also excited to connect with Dr. Chuck with my technology club to discuss programming and investigate his MOOC on python.

It’s Appy Hour with No Cover Charge! Free Apps for Librarians
Naomi Bates continues to amaze me with her technology knowledge and love of literature.  She provided an array of apps during the session. 

Shannon Miller and Andy Plemmons on Connected Libraries
This duo connected at TLA a few years back and their phenomenal collaboration just continues.  This session has motivated me to focus on collaboration for the next school year.  I am ready to Skype, participate in Google Hang Outs, and collaborate with others. I already have some collaborative ideas for Poetry Month with other middle school librarians in my PLN. Andy also demonstrated flipgrid, a new tool for me to investigate. WandooPlanet was discussed another tool that has been on my list that I need to visit.

Common Knowledge: Shifting Libraries to the Learning Commons Model
After Michelle Luhtala’s presentation on transforming the library into a Learning Commons, I am ready to delve into maker-spaces and bring some learning commons into our school library program. I was infatuated with her creative programming.

Be Book Cool! Join the Nerdy Book Club
The founders of the Nerdy Book Club were incredible.  This is definitely an online community of authors, librarians, teachers, and other literacy advocates that I want to include in my PLN.  I’m all in for the next #nerdybookclub twitter chat. See what Jennifer LaGarde had to say about this club.

Be the Change You Want to See With Shannon Miller
Again, Shannon was not disappointing when sharing ideas and programming from her school library   Her promotional, marketing, and networking abilities are by far the best. I especially loved the idea of using a Google sheet to share her collaboration within her school.  I’m taking this idea into my next school year program.

Author Panel: Oh the Horror!
What can I say about listening to authors such as Kami Garcia, Jonathan Maberry, Josh Malerman, Gena Showalter?  It is always inspiring to hear the stories behind their novels. 

Move Over Fiction: Creating Room for Nonfiction
I never get tired of watching Naomi Bates and her ability to captivate an audience with her  enthusiasm when talking about books.  My take from the session – I need to look into more nonfiction for our collection. You can always checkout Naomi's blog for more exciting book reviews.

Poster Session
I am not sure how I missed being involved with this event.  I’m putting this on my list as a participant for next year. I loved the idea of inserting QR codes of book trailers in the stacks. 

Presentations I Participated In - I want to note that the eBook session was planned virtually! The entire panel never met face-to-face until 20 minutes prior to the session.  I love my PLN.

Anytime, Anywhere Professional Development for School Librarians
For our second time, I joined this team of awesome librarians to share ideas in building and developing your PLN. Although I began my virtual PLN in 2006-2007, I was reminded in this session that there are many other librarians in the beginning stages of developing their networks.  I  will continue to be proactive in helping others in their endeavor.

Balancing Books & eContent: The Future of Acquisitions
I had the privilege of joining a panel of a public librarian, academic librarians, and a school library director to discuss the future of acquisitions with eContent. I came away with a totally different perspective on the different types of libraries.  My takeaway from this session was the need to work more with integrating eContent into my school community.  I must prepare my students for the rigor of high school and college.

Put the “e” in Your Books: Integrating eBooks into Your Library
I was fortunate to again join an panel of school libraries to share our eBook programming.  I came away with the understanding of how important it is to continue the integration of eBooks into our school library program.  I was also able to admire my co-participants from Spring Branch I.S.D. and there ability to meet the needs of their students.

Exciting Announcements
Gale Cengage announced they would be joining the Texshare consortium.  This is fantastic news and I look forward to using the Gale resources with my students and faculty.

The speakers, author signing sessions, vendors, watching friends receive awards, and participants made this TLA experience one of the most engaging.  You might be standing in an author line with a fellow tweeter (gotcha Andy Plemmons), share an elevator with an author, have dinner with close friends (thank you Gale and Follett), or bump into a new friend such as Angie from Dallas at this event.  I am ready for TLA 2015 in Austin, Texas.
Highlights included having fun with authors Krissi Dallas and Deborah Wiles, visiting with the EasyBib booth, tweeting with my #TXLChat friends, and sharing my knowledge as a librarian.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Put the "e" in Your Books: Integrating Ebooks Into Your Library Part 2

It was an honor to present at TLA 2014 with Jo Ann Conlon , Karen Harrell, and Kay Land.  Together we were able to bring four very different perspectives of embedding, promoting, and implementing eContent into the school library program.  Below is the link to the presentation for anyone who attended or may be interested in this topic. Also, please take a look at ALA's link on Transforming Libraries, Ebooks & Digital Content.

Put the "e" in Your Books: Integrating eBooks into Your Library 
ALA Transforming Libraries, eBooks & Digital Content

Here is a brief account of my eBook journey plus the results of the Ebook survey that many took the time to answer a few weeks before TLA 2014.

My eBook journey began in 2006 and it was DOA (dead on arrival).  My role as a librarian was disinterested, the students had no devices, and the teachers didn't "buy into" the newly arrived digital content.  My second encounter was in 2011 and more enlightening to me as a librarian that I needed to revisit the eBook program.  So in 2012 when I took a library position in a district that provided 1:1 devices this was the opportunity I was seeking in reexamining an eBook program for the library.  With the 108 awesome eBooks acquired by the prior librarian, I delved into some basic programming with fantastic success.  At times I was astonished at the eBook circulation and I knew I needed to purchase more digital books for the collection.

Many have asked the formula for our eBook success and my answer is there is not one simple explanation.  In search of answers from other success stories, I turned to my PLN.  The adventure began with a simple Google form with some questions about eBook usage, device availability, and more.   With over 65 responses from some awesome school librarians I have compiled the data in graph form. Actually I wanted to play with making graphs in Google sheets and it has been quite easy.  So here's an analysis of the data. By no means am I stating that this is the norm in all school libraries but this is the data compiled from those who responded to the informal survey.

The first question asked about the school.  The majority of the responses came from individual schools with 4 entries summarizing the entire district.

The next data was interesting to see that almost 15% of those who responded had no eBooks in their collection while 85% had eBooks. 

In the next question I asked the librarian if they were satisfied with their eBook circulation.  14.3% responded they were satisfied while 85.7% indicated they were not.

The following question dealt with the types of devices and access available in the library. The vast majority allowed any type of device but many indicated filters were in place.  Some indicated the access and device type was dependent on the campus.

Vendors: The majority of the responses indicated the vendors of choice were Follett and OverDrive but here is the complete list of vendors from the survey.
  • ABDO
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Britannica
  • Capstone
  • Escue and Associates
  • Follett
  • Gale
  • Gareth Stevens
  • Infobase
  • MackinVIA
  • OverDrive
  • Perma Bound
  • Rourke
  • Salem Press
It was clear from the survey the key component for eBook success was the role of the librarian.  Here's an abbreviated list from the responses.
  • Librarian's Positive Role
  • Promotion, Advertising, and Marketing
  • The Use of Social Media
  • Providing Professional Development
  • Exposure
  • Devices - easy access to devices
  • Stall Bathroom Notes
  • Displays
  • Training for both Teachers and Students
  • Proactive Faculty
  • Teacher Support
  • Demonstration and Modeling
  • One to One Instruction
  • Collaboration
  • Visit from OverDrive

The list for problems in implementing a quality eBook program in schools was a reality that not all librarians experience the same pleasures. The problems included:
  • Lack of Device Availability 
  • Bandwidth and Wifi Issues
  • Cumbersome Process
  • Limited or No Home Access for Students
  • Small Uninteresting Collection
  • Lack of Advertising
  • Lack of Support from Staff
  • Lack of Time in Promoting
  • Integration Difficulties
  • Network Issues
  • Lack of Student Interest
  • Lack of Staffing
  • Comfort Zone Issues
  • Librarian Overwhelmed With Existing Responsibilities

The majority of those who responded seemed to have small eBook collections with only 21.2% libraries having over 1,000 eBooks.

Many that responded had less than 100 eBooks circulated in one month.  One district indicated it had 4,000-5,000 eBooks circulated district wide in a month.  

In reflection of the survey the most important element for eBook success was determined by the role of the librarian.  Those libraries with quality devices, good wifi, and large enticing digital collections seemed to have the most success with their eBook programs.  Success was achieved through promotion, teaching, demonstrating, and other factors.  The bottom line is that library programming is directly related to the "positive role of the librarian" who leads by example. As Jo Ann indicated in the session, it's ALL about getting our students to READ.  Know that your PLN is here to collaborate, advice, and help one another in this endeavor.  I know that digital eContent is here to stay in school libraries.  After my disastrous eBook beginnings I am fortunate for the opportunity to recognize that as a librarian I needed to revisit the the eBook program.  I hope to continue to experience more success with digital eContent in my school.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

#whylib - Why Am I a Librarian?

Educator At Heart

As a 4th generation educator, it was no surprise that I chose education as my major in college.  My great grandfather had been an English teacher in Aultsville, Ontario (that side of the family picked the Loyalist side of the American Revolution), my grandmother was a college educated woman and teacher (until she married in 1913) in western Pennsylvania, and my father was a high school math teacher and administrator in my home town in northern New York. Two of my older sisters also received undergraduate degrees in education with the line of educators in our family continuing. 

Where the Passion Begins

My interest in the library began in my junior year of college when I received a phone call from my best friend in my hometown.  She worked at our local town library and they were seeking a college student for an acting Children’s Librarian for the summer.  The Library Director wanted time to search for a qualified librarian and thought it would be a great opportunity to employ a college student for the summer.  I was selected for this opportunity and thus began my library career in 1979.

I had been a patron of this town library since I could remember and it was so exciting to be included in this team that I admired and “looked up to” in so many respectful ways.  I had no background knowledge of the responsibilities of a Children’s Librarian and learned much from the staff in those few summer months.

Welcome to the Real World

Upon graduating with a BS in education in 1980 from SUNY Plattsburgh the big adult world seemed intimidating so I set-up an interview at SUNY Albany in hopes to apply and attend their Library Science graduate program.  In the meantime, plan B was to actively seek a teaching job.   When visiting my brother in Houston, Texas I interviewed with the Houston ISD and was offered a position as a 4th grade teacher.  As I began my first teaching position I didn't stopped thinking about my desire for graduate studies in Library Science. 

I took advantage of the “free” graduate courses offered through the district for almost 5 years with a variety of hours in classroom management, math, and improving my teaching skills. With enough math classes to teach secondary math I then took a 7th grade math position in Aldine ISD.  It was at this point in 1986 that I actively perused my passion and I began the library science program at Sam Houston State University. 

Passion Comes Alive

I want everyone to understand that I did not spend countless hours in the school library as a student.  My elementary librarian only spent 2-3 days at our school and the library was dark, dull, and closed most of the time.  My junior high school librarian never came out from behind the desk and spent the entire time shushing us.  I was too busy socializing in high school to enter the library and unfortunately I only remember one teacher (9th grade History) taking us to the library for research.  My vague memory didn’t include us actively seeking resources.  It was my public library experience that drove my desire to become a school librarian. 

After graduating with a MLS in 1989 my principal offered me the position as the new school librarian at Aldine Junior High School.  Excited but nervous, my two awesome paraprofessionals trained me the entire year.  Since that first year I have had the privilege to work as a secondary school librarian in both Texas and South Carolina for the past 25 years.  It has been an awesome experience filled with learning, teaching, and collaborating in one of the most exciting positions in education.  One may ask why I chose to be a librarian and my answer is simple.  When you look at my library program you see daily celebrations of books, technology, learning, teaching and more.  The past 25 years has zipped by so quickly but time flies when you are having FUN.

Thankful to Many

I have had an awesome opportunity to work with associates such as SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians - small but mighty), and TLA (Texas Library Association - everything is bigger in Texas).  My PLN includes some of the most incredible  people in the library from around the world.  That one little summer job changed my life forever.  Thank you Martha Burkhalter for that one short phone call in the summer of 1978.

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