Tech ‘n Treat

Addressing Burnout

We are nearly through the first quarter of the 2010-2011 school year in my school district.  As the end of the grading period nears, deadlines loom:  grades to be entered, reports to be filed, parent-teacher conferences to prepare for, yet more paperwork to be completed.  Teachers are stressed.

How cans school librarians help alleviate the stress classroom teachers are feeling as well as provide ways to ease some of it in the future?

Schedule Time Out

Why not plan an end-of-the-quarter event in your library?  Invite your staff to drop by during their planning periods or after school one day for a “Tech ‘n Treat.”  Play soothing music, provide refreshments, offer door prizes, and let teachers go “trick or treating.”

Set up stations throughout your library where your teachers will not only find a container filled with goodies, but also discover terrific ideas to incorporate technology into their lessons.  At one station, teachers can discover Flip Video cameras and examples of how they can be used to enhance student learning.  At another station, they’ll find an interactive Jeopardy game that could be used for unit reviews.  At still another, they can watch video “how-to” tutorials – choose a tool that would be helpful to your faculty and either create a tutorial or find one online.

And at another station, play an inspiring video.  One of my favorites is Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make.”  Here is an edited version which is more faculty friendly than the original.

Remind your teachers that they shape the future, one child at a time.  Remind your teachers that you value them. Remind your teachers that you are there to assist them.

If you were creating a Tech ‘n Treat for your faculty, what stations would you include?

Credit: The title of this blog post was borrowed from an upcoming meeting of the Media Specialists of Spartanburg County.

Photo Attribution:

Burning the Candle at Both Ends by Julianne Villaflor

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennailuj/3611354390/

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900′s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800′s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulworthington/82648702/

Gearing Up for the New Year: Terrific Finds to Share with Teachers

Mining for Gold

Summer time….time to mine for those golden curriculum resources!  But, where to begin?

Of course, you can enter your own search terms and visit sites hoping to find a gem.

But why not use the collective brain of your PLN?  Each week, I get an email digest from several Diigo groups.  Members of these groups share links to resources  they found “bookmark worthy.”  To determine which resources will fit my needs and the needs of my school, I check many of these links.  The following  are a few I will share with our faculty:

Authentic Assessment Toolbox Jan Mueller shares the hows and whys of authentic assessment.  Follow the step-by-step process to ensure success in creating assessments based on standards.

The Learning Network The N.Y. Times‘ collection of links on often taught subjects.

DocsTeach Resources from The National Archives to bring history to life for students.  Create your own interactive learning activity.

EduHound Provides collections of topic- based links for education.  Some topics included in their sets:  Global Warming, Cyberbullying, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Research paper strategies, Measurement, Visual Arts, Oceanography, and Forsenic Science.

Villainy, Inc. Great interactive game for teaching middle school mathematics.  Dr. Eugene Wick and his sidekick Platypus have plans for taking over the world – but the plans just don’t add up.  Your students become Dr. Wick’s advisor in an effort to stop his evil plans.

Viper This free plagiarism checker is designed to assist students find possible problems in their papers.

Ready to Pick Up Your Mining Pan?

You, too, can be a miner of information resources!  Use the collective work of your fellow educators to uncover those information and curriculum treasures.

Two social bookmarking sites to try are Diigo and Delicious.  Not only is your life simplified by keeping your bookmarks in the cloud, but enriched if you join groups at these sites to help you uncover fantastic resources you may not have found on your own.

You’ll discover a plethora of groups on these sites to assist you.  I am a member of the following (among others):

http://groups.diigo.com/group/teacher_librarians (312 members as of this post’s writing)

http://groups.diigo.com/group/classroom20 (1340 members as of this post’s writing)

http://groups.diigo.com/group/diigoineducation (4668 members as of this post’s writing)

Taking It One Step Further

After you have created your own social bookmarking account, why not create one for your classroom or library?  Visit Creekview High School’s Delicious site to see how their media specialist, Buffy Hamilton harnesses the power of social bookmarking.

Readers, how do you use social bookmarking in your personal and/or professional lives?

Image Attribution:  This image is a work of the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Conferencing Vicariously

This week I am attending the Education Business Summit in Greenville, South Carolina.  Although the program includes many interesting, informative sessions and motivational keynote speakers, I continue to check Twitter to see what is happening in DC and Denver.  Many members of my PLN have traveled to these cities to attend conferences I’ve only dreamed about:  ALA and ISTE.

Twitter allows me to experience some of the excitement and innovation occurring at other conferences by following hashtags.  For those unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines a hashtag as “a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.”

Tweetdeck

To simplify my Twitter use, I have installed Tweetdeck on my laptop and iPhone.  Tweetdeck is the equivalent of a social dashboard allowing the user to customize to suit her needs. The hashtags I have been and/or will be  following are #iste10, #ebc10, #sigms10, and #ala10.  Check here for a list of other ALA hashtags for various interest groups.


The above screenshot displays several of the columns in my Tweetdeck dashboard.  If you’ll look closely at the last two columns, you will see that they are labeled “search #iste10″ and “search #ebc10.”  All tweets tagged with those hashtags are displayed, allowing me a glimpse into what is happening concerning those two events.

@AuntyTech (Donna Baumbach) has begun an archive of the #sigsms10 tweets here.  This hashtag will really pick up tomorrow as the SIGMS forum (with the now legendary “Learning Tools Smackdown” lead by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones) gets underway in the morning.

Jewels

In case you haven’t been following these hashtags, I thought I’d share just a few of the jewels that I have found through them.  Perhaps seeing these will whet your appetite for more!

  • List of smackdown tools shared at Edublogger Con – and a blog post discussing them
  • Free download of book Teaching with Netbooks by Brad Flickinger
  • Blog post on Edublogger Con session on student blogging  – includes great links to guidelines, Web 2.0 Code of Conduct, and a pdf on setting up blogs as electronic portfolios
  • Readability, a tool that removes the clutter from web pages, making reading more enjoyable
  • HP Teacher Experience Exchange - teachers sharing lesson plans
  • DEN Summer School 2010 – great professional development on digital storytelling, professional learning networks, and project based learning

What exciting, innovative ideas have you come across either through attending the conferences, or following the tweets of those who have attended?

Advocacy: Annual Reports

The Old Way

I’ve completed my fourth year as a media specialist and love the job even more today than the day I started.  To keep track of what happens in our library, I used my mentor’s monthly statistic report and added activities that the library sponsored each month.  At the end of each semester, I compiled a chart of the monthly statistics to notice trends.  These two reports were combined into a yearly chart at the end of each year and provided a means to gauge improvements from year to year.

The Annual Report:  Getting Started

Two years ago, I noticed that several of the school librarians in my Google Reader were doing much more than compiling statistics; they were creating detailed reports including collection development and analysis, budgetary spending, collaboration efforts with teachers, reading promotion programs, and goals for the upcoming year.  The reflective aspect of this kind of report immediately caught my eye.  As a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, I learned to use reflection to help me grow and become a better teacher.

This year as I began work on our first annual report, I studied reports other school librarians have shared on the Internet.  The organization of these reports is as varied as the programs they reveal.  Using ideas culled from these, I created an outline for our annual report.   Currently at 17 pages, the report is an attempt to provide a complete picture of our library media program.

My Inspirations

In case you have toyed with the idea of creating an annual report but gave up because you found it too time consuming, you might want to look at the reports and blog posts that inspired me to get started.

Exemplary Reports:

Blog Posts:

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Need another reason to consider creating a detailed annual report?

In his post “13 Point Checklist 2009,” Doug Johnson provides administrators with a list to assist them in evaluating their school library program.   The final checkpoint , #13 Evaluation, includes

“Does the SLMS determine and report ways that show the goals and objectives of the program are being met and are helping meet the building and district goals? Does the SLMS create an annual library report for administrators, staff and parents that include qualitative and quantitative measurements?” ~ Doug Johnson

Your annual report will not only provide your administration with an overview of your library media program’s accomplishments, but also provide you an opportunity to see where you’ve been and provide you with information for next year’s goals.

Spread the Wealth Using This Google Spreadsheet

Last year, Lesley Edwards (teacher librarian at Seycove Secondary Library) created a spreadsheet for school librarians to share the link to their annual reports.  When my report is finally completed, I’ll post it to Slideshare and  add the url to the spreadsheet.  Why not add yours?

Image Attribution:  Year End Inventory by The Truth About…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetruthabout/4247369036/

Advocacy: Create a Bragalog

Most school librarians I have met find it difficult to brag about what they do.  But think about it.  While there may be dozens of teachers in your building, you are more than likely the only school librarian there.  Many education programs do not address our role in any of their courses.  How many teachers in your building truly know what your program entails?

Every teacher in your school has a built-in advocacy group – their students.  Students talk about their teachers to one another:  “Oh, you don’t want to get Mr. So and So because he requires two research projects a semester.”  “I love Mrs. So and So because she makes class fun by …..”

Teachers in your building are spoken about on a daily basis.  I wonder how many students discuss their school librarian with their friends?

As I was surfing the Internet recently, I came across the California School Library Association’s website.  What a treasure trove!  One of the treasures there struck me as a very simple way to toot your own horn:  the Bragalog. The YouTube video above was filmed at the CSLA’s 2009 conference.  It  introduces the Bragalog (but unfortunately we don’t actually see it).  Further searching on the website turns up a pdf file explaining the Bragalog.

Peggy Klaus, author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It, created the Bragalog as a marketing tool.  In this article, she provides an example of an effective beginning for a Braglog.  By weaving your passion for your program into your story, you can create a positive “brag” that effectively markets your program.

If you don’t want to feature yourself speaking in your Bragalog, why not involve your students?  If you have a morning news show or a broadcasting class in your school, you might find a ready and willing group to create your Bragalog featuring students.

What do you think?  Is this a marketing tool that you would consider for your program, or is it something you would still feel too uncomfortable doing?

They Need Their Teachers to Learn

‘Nuff said.

AASL Conference: Concurrent Sessions “2.0 Learning Tools Smackdown”

Photo by Brenda D. Anderson

Posted at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30556726@N04/4082021020/

Hot Ticket

This session was one of the hottest tickets on Friday.  I left the Exhibition Hall, still a bit dazed from meeting James Patterson, and headed to Room 207AB early to try and get a front row seat – only to find a crowd already awaiting entrance to the session. So, no front row seat, but I was still able to snag seats for Heather Loy and myself.  I’m sure many were not as fortunate, so I’ll share links to information posted about the session below.

Organized and lead by Joyce Valenza and Robin Williams, the session was divided into “timed” sharing sessions in the following categories:

  • Reading Promotion
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Information Fluency
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Audience Sharing

As always, being in a room with educators wanting to share ways to enhance student learning through the use of Web 2.0 tools was energizing.   I still haven’t had time to check out all of the new tools and sites that were shared.  AND plenty more are on the AASL Smackdown Wiki.  Bookmark this site because it is one you will want to revisit.

One of the shared sites that I have had time to explore is  Morgue File.  “Where photo reference lives” is the tagline of this site.  Great source of free photos for students (and teachers!) to use in projects.  I have now been recommending this one in conjunction with Creative Commons.

History

The Learning Tools Smackdown is now something of a tradition at library and technology conferences.

Links to “2.0 Learning Tools Smackdown” from AASL Charlotte

  • If you have a “b There” Virtual Track Pass, you can listen to a podcast of the session. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the podcast.)

AASL Reflections: Opening Keynote

Earlier this month, I was among one of over 2800 school librarians attending the AASL Conference in Charlotte, NC. From the moment I picked up my nametag and conference information until the moment I left the closing celebration, I was totally captivated by the experience. It has taken weeks to try and sort out all that I learned and all the goodies I picked up from the vendors. I will try to share some of what I learned here through a series of posts.

Opening Keynote

danah boyd delivered the opening keynote address at AASL’s Rev Up Learning national conference.  According to Boyd, social networking sites play a strong role in teen culture.  Teens use social networking much differently than do adults.  Teens use sites such as MySpace and Facebook to share their creations as well as keep track of their favorite celebrities.

When we go online, we are by default just an IP address. Teens want to share themselves with their intended audience so they write themselves into being through the  profiles, comments, and creations they share.  Teens do lie about themselves online, but they have been told to do so by adults in order to protect themselves.

Adults often wonder about the inane comments teens (and others) make online.  Why would anyone share what they had for breakfast with the world?  Boyd says this is a form of social grooming.  Through status updates, teens can see the patterns of life in their world.  What is important to those important to them?  Just as adults of my generation would get together to hang out and “shoot the breeze,” today’s teens  do so but often do not have the mobility they would like to hang out face-to-face.  Social networks have become a place to hang out with friends.

Boyd describes three categories of teens using social networking sites based on the number of “friends” they had:

1.  Teens with 40-50 identified friends are using social networking sites to stay in touch with face-to-face friends

2.  Teens with 400-500 identified friends are using the sites to keep up with school classmates

3.  Teens with more than 500 friends are considered “Collectors”

Teens actually use social networking sites as a form of social hierarchy.  Many social networking sites allow you to identify your top friends.  Because your online popularity can depend upon how many others identify you as a top friend, teens might say or do things to ensure their staying power as a top friend.

Teens need an online space to be with their friends, but because they don’t often understand how online information is organized nor the repercussions of their online actions, media specialists need to assist teens in learning the skills they need to operate in their online worlds.

Boyd’s keynote address was riveting and included so much information that it was impossible to take notes on it all.  You can read more about her research in her dissertation.  Boyd’s keynote underscored the importance of media specialists taking responsibility for their professional development in the area of technology (as Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson discussed in “Things That Keep Us Up at Night.”)

Want to read others’ thoughts on Danah Boyd’s keynote?  Check out:

Buffy Hamilton’s Cover It Live Blogging

Joyce Valenza’s Danah Boyd on the Importance of Being Present in Kids’ Lives Online

“Oh, it’s so Ning to be with you”

“Oh, it’s so nice to be with you, I love all the things you say and do…” Gallery   Eid+Mubarak+-+%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AF+%D9%81%D8%B7%D8%B1+%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%A9

I was first introduced to Nings through Joyce Valenza’s TeacherLibrarianNing (2430 members). I have to confess that I found the interface quite confusing for a while.  However, since joining that Ning, I have joined several others and have become accustomed to the way Nings work.

The Ning that has excited me the most recently is the SCASL Ning.  I’ve attended three SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) conferences in the past and have been impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity of other media specialists in South Carolina.  The current leadership of SCASL has made intensive efforts to involve our association with Web 2.0 through blogging, podcasts, and even a webcast. 

Now, thanks to Julie Putnam, South Carolina library media specialists have their own social network.  As of today, 235 people have joined the Ning.  Great ideas are being shared and new friendships are being formed. 

I want my teachers to experience the professional development that Nings offer, so I thought I would find several to recommend.  The numbers in parentheses after the title of each Ning are the number of members in the Ning as of the date of this post.

English Companion: Where English teachers meet to help each other (594)       This Ning  was created by Jim Burke, author of many books including the namesake of this site, The English Teacher’s Companion. 

Classroom 2.0  (15,559) Winner of the 2008 Edublog’s Award for Best Use of Social Networking. This Ning focuses on introducing teachers to Web 2.0 tools and how they are being used to enhance instruction. 

Smart Board Revolution (750)      The members of this Ning share tips, ideas, and lessons for using Smart Boards in the classroom.

VoiceThread for Educators  (248)      The members here are participating “to create, build, and keep resources” for those using VoiceThread in the classroom.

So, You Want to Start Your Own Ning?

Ning in Education (3229)      This is a Ning on how to use Nings in education.  It’s a great starting point for anyone considering developing their own Ning.  If you want to start a Ning for your secondary classroom, be sure to investigate the offer for an ad-free site.

Image attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/49512158@N00/1638001945

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