Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't Miss These Exciting Events 10/28

I am a firm believer that we are all responsible for our own professional development and the days of sitting in nonproductive meetings are over with so many opportunities.  Here's 2 exciting virtual events that I don't plan on missing on Tuesday, November 28th.  

Interactive Image Slam With EdTech Superstars
Join Richard Byrne and Shelley Sanchez Terrell to learn about how these amazing educators are using ThingLink to transform teaching and learning.

Click on this link for more information on the free webinar.

Join the Event
Join us live for this informal webinar on October 28th at 7:00 PM CST, or sign up for the archive

Join #TXLChat
Join librarians Nancy Jo Lambert, Sonja Schulz, and Sharon Gullett to talk about New Tech Tools. The Twitter chat begins at 8:00 PM CST.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Collaboration? - that has been the question....

After attending my second EdCamp this fall, I keep hearing the same question resonate in my head from both events.  As librarians, how do we effectively collaborate with our students, teachers, and learning community?  How can we change from cooperating to true collaboration?  Even as a veteran librarian, these are questions that I struggle with daily.  Have I been cooperating rather than collaborating all these years?  In reflection I thought I would make a list of how I thought I was an effective collaborator.

First, I use Google Drive extensively.  Here is a list of how I use Google as a collaborative tool.
  • I share a Google calendar allowing teachers to sign up and view library time.  I know many others use it to allow teachers to sign up for computer labs, laptop carts, and other areas.
  • I share Google sites, presentations, and documents as Digital Research Kits for requesting research assignments.  This allows both input from the teacher and it can be shared virtually with students.  
  • Collaborative lesson plans are created in Google Drive and shared with teachers or staff members.  Some lessons are school-wide technology lessons while others are individual or departmental lessons. 
  • Google forms are used extensively in our library.  Students are encouraged to suggest books, sign-in at the circulation desk (for statistical information only), sign up for events, and more through these collaborative forms.  I curate website addresses for blogs and ePortfolios of my library student aides through forms and use the spreadsheet to visually visit both as a group. 
  • I also use Twitter as a communication tool.  When I see an idea or tool that might fit the need of a teacher, I’ll tag them on the retweet.  I follow up with a face-to-face conversation about the idea and offer assistance. 
  • Our student driven book clubs use Google Drive to communicate and plan the book discussions.  Student volunteers pick the book, date, and discussion questions on a collaborative document that is shared with everyone involved. 
  • Our student technology club uses email, Google Drive, and remind to communicate projects, lessons, and meeting times. 
  • I offer the library for meetings.  That way I am invited to the meetings and can offer suggestions when possible.
  • I offer my services to present at PLCs (department meetings).  I am always on the lookout for cool tools, ideas, and suggestions.
  • I am ready to offer professional development at faculty meetings, district opportunities, local, regional, and state level functions. 
  • I model collaboration with students, administrators, teachers, and parents when possible.
  • I make myself available after school hours, on weekends, and during the summer. 
  • Our library website has a virtual presence for users to access for a variety of reasons.  
  • I provide global opportunities for my school such as virtual poetry slams, global celebrations, and use tools such as Skype and Google hang outs to connect with other around the world. 
  • I am constantly seeking collaborative opportunities.
First and foremost I must remember that time is precious and limited with our classroom teachers.  Thus I must try and find the easiest way to truly collaborate.  Not everyone will come “on-board” but that should not deter myself or any of you from trying to seek quality collaborative opportunities.  


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kahoot Day for Teen Read Week 2014

It’s never too late to learn a new tool nor is the programming too simple to be a success.  That brings us to our Teen Read Week 2014 Kahoot Day.  I was introduced to this simple online gaming tool by my technology club last year. Kahoot is an easy online tool that is fun and provides quick assessment for student feedback.  

So here is how our Kahoot Day  was designed:

  • My student library aides (some are also in our technology club) had to create and share a Google document. Their task was to write 2-3 questions and answers about current young adult books that may be included in the Kahoot.
  • As a group of twenty we evaluated the questions on the Google document for accuracy.
  • 10 questions and answers were selected for the Kahoot Day event that were included in the gaming tool.
  • During Teen Read Week 2014 (#trw14) ELA teachers were invited into the library to participate in the event and we had as many as 3 classes per visit.
  • I loaded the Kahoot while my student aides manually started and ran the program.
  • After each question we asked students with the top scores to raise their hands so we could give recognition.
  • After the final results were displayed prizes were given to the top Kahoot players.
  • The Kahoot was shared with ELA teachers to be used at a later date if desired.  
  • It was simple but collaborative
  • The excitement was overwhelming at times which in my opinion was awesome.
  • I heard many positive student comments about books and reading.
  • The program encouraged enthusiasm in YA literature along with exposing students to books they have not read yet.  This had the potential for a “must read” list for the students.
  • We added a technology component with the activity which in turn helped our students become more comfortable with their new Windows 8 devices.
  • Students were able to easily use multiple devices including SmartPhones.
  • It was easy, fun, and enjoyed by all.
The most exciting part of the event was being approached by the entire 6th grade ELA teachers wanting to collaborate on Kahoot ideas to help students in the classroom with vocabulary activities.  As a librarian what more could I ask for than excitement over reading, students taking leadership roles in library programming, celebrating Teen Read Week, and inspiring others through modeling a cool tool.  Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that CAN make the most difference.  

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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