Professional Development Round-up

As part of my school’s end-of-the-year check out procedure, teachers must turn in a Professional Development form that indicates sessions/conferences attended and courses taken.  If I were as brilliant as Tamara Cox, I would include this info in my monthly report.

Instead I must backtrack and list the workshops/webinars/conferences that impacted my teaching this year.  (I wish I could list individual blog posts on the school’s form – sometimes those influence my work as much as, if not more, than some workshops I attend.)

I am sure I have overlooked some awesome webinars that I attended, but this is what I remember of formal professional development for this school year:

Informal Learning

My finances don’t allow me to attend many conferences, but when you have a PLN, you can attend conferences vicariously. This allows me to still grow from these conferences (while sometimes sipping coffee in my pj’s!).  A few conferences I attended through Twitter:

  • American Library Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition, June 23-28, 2011
  • Unlocking Potential,” June 26-29, 2011: ISTE’s Annual Conference
  • “Turning the Page,” Oct. 27-30, 2011:  AASL’s Conference

What conferences/webinars/classes helped develop you professionally this year?

Image used through a Creative Commons license:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/4783448281/

SCASL Conference Reflections: Day Two

“Ereader Duel:  Nook vs. Kindle”  Tamara Cox and Carla Nash

Tamara and Carla sponsored a showdown between Nooks (both Simple Touch and Nook Color) and Kindles (both Kindle and Kindle Fire).  It was a lighthearted “duel” that ended in a tie.  Both Tamara and Carla have had great success with their eReaders and admit that the choice boils down to preference based on our community’s needs.

After their presentation, they passed out both Nooks and Kindles to give attendees an opportunity to get a feel for each.

Their presentation provides a clear overview of both the pros and cons of each device.

How to prevent students from purchasing ebooks on your devices:

Carla inherited Nooks when she took over the program at West Pelzer Elementary.  Although Barnes and Noble offers a management service if you have a minimum number of Nooks (now 25), Carla manages her own eReaders.  She uses gift cards to purchase eBooks for the readers and pointed out that a zero balance does NOT mean that you can’t purchase any more titles on a device.  Because you must register the device and your account with a credit card number, if purchases are made once the gift card zeroes out, purchases are then put on the credit card associated with the device.  Yikes!

To prevent students from purchasing any more books, Carla sets the Nooks on “demo mode.”  Students are still able to make some changes to the content on a Nook, but none that will be charged to the credit card.

I personally own (and love) a Kindle with keyboard but left from the conference on Friday and stopped by my local Barnes and Noble to begin a discussion on purchasing and using Nook Simple Touches for my library program.

Image attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/scasl/6989720469/in/set-72157629585399085

“Change or Start Looking for a New Job”  Bob Berkowitz (keynote)

What would really happen if your library program were cut?  Berkowitz challenged us to consider the possibilities and then to realize the importance of showing our library program’s impact on student achievement.

What does it take to have a vibrant school library program?

Berkowitz suggested strong programs

  • have high expectations of their students
  • have a rigorous content
  • engage students in learning
  • use assessment to evaluate the success of instructional strategies
  • ensure students see a connection between what they learn in the library and their lives
  • have environments that support learning
  • are super strategic

He gave us several questions to use as we consider our current programs:

  • Whose program is it?
  • Whose library is it?
  • Whose virtual space is it?

What can we do to improve upon our programs and change with the times?

Berkowitz suggested:

  • form an advisory team
  • rethink sacred cows
  • be recognized as someone who solves problems
  • develop a district-wide plan
  • marketing
  • branding

We are the CIOs (Chief Information Officer) of our schools.  As such, we need to develop a curriculum and put the world in our students’ hands.

Image attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/scasl/6982689629/in/set-72157629604521493/

SCASL Learning Commons

My afternoon was divided between the Learning Commons and my own presentation “Ramp Up Reading with Technology.”

Cathy Nelson kicked off the Learning Commons by sharing how she teaches “Web Evaluation” to her students at Dorman High School. She has a knack for relating well to teens and keeps her lessons interesting.

I love the informality of the Learning Commons!  Even though only a handful of folks listened to my presentation on “Jazzing Up Monthly Reports,” the smallness of the group lead to open discussions that might not have occurred in a larger session.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tamara Cox‘s session on “Nontraditional Shelving” as it challenged my thinking about nonfiction arrangement in my library.  I’m not ready to give up Dewey, but I think that signage to indicate special sections of high interest would help my nonfiction circulation.

Julianne Kaye shared how her elementary students used Blabberize to demonstrate what they had learned through research about famous South Carolinians.

Susan Myers shared several strategies she uses to keep her community informed about what’s happening in her library in her “How to Be Loquacious: Constant Talk about Your Library Impact.”

And Susan Dicey shared “Injecting Life (and 21st Century Skills) into Book Reports with Book Trailers.”  She uploads these student created trailers into her library catalog for all students to enjoy.

Because I was presenting from 3:15-4:15, I missed some excellent sessions in the Learning Commons, but thankfully, most of those presenters have been gracious enough to share their materials through the conference handouts link on scasl.net.

Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries 2012

As SCASL Advocacy Committee Chair, I am pleased to announce Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries 2012.  Details about the program will be mailed to SC public school librarians within the next two weeks; however, because many of you would like to start planning now for your own Snapshot Day, I thought I would post information both here and on our SCASL blog about the initiative.

Introduction

You and your library program play an enormous role in the lives of your students.  All around the country, school librarians have been losing jobs as budgets are slashed.  In our own state, school librarians are being asked to do more, often with less help and money.

Never before has advocacy been more vital!  SCASL has been hard at work advocating for our state’s school library programs. One of our priorities has been to inform those with budget decision-making authority about the role that school librarians play in educating South Carolina’s students.  Two mailings have been sent to your superintendents, principals, and state and national legislators:

  • In August they received the Media Center Messenger whose lead article was “Why You Need School Librarians and School Libraries:  An Open Letter to South Carolina Principals and Superintendents.”
  • In February they received the brochure created by the Advocacy Committee reminding them of the role we play and inviting them to schedule a visit to a school library to witness our work first hand.

However, nothing is more powerful than each of us advocating for our own library programs by demonstrating the impact we have on our students’ education.

The SCASL Advocacy Committee is again sponsoring Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries.  Your participation will focus your school community’s attention on the work you do and provide SCASL with data to use in future advocacy efforts.

Last year, approximately 38% of our public school libraries participated in Snapshot Day.  South Carolina school librarians are dedicated to enriching the lives of our students.  If we expect our legislators and administrators to support us, then we must be willing to demonstrate our dedication to our students through strong school library programs.  Participating in Snapshot Day is an excellent way to demonstrate your dedication and provide you with data you can use to advocate for your own program.

Snapshot Day Resource Wiki

To support you as you plan your Snapshot Day, the SCASL Advocacy Committee has created a wiki full of resources.  The wiki details the data you are being asked to collect as well as ideas and downloadable documents to assist you as you plan, market, and sponsor your library’s Snapshot Day.  You’ll even find a page dedicated to using the data you gather to promote your own program!  Please visit the wiki at

http://snapshotday2012.wikispaces.com/

Let’s celebrate the successes of our library programs and provide our administrators and legislators with proof that we are making a difference!

Video: South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2011-2012

South Carolina YABA 2011-2012 Video

The nominees for the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award for the 2011-2012 school year were announced earlier this month.  To encourage interest in the books, I promote them in a variety of ways:

  • SCASL Book Award Committee Brochure (contains book cover images and blurbs for each book)
  • SCYABA bookmarks (Follett Library Resources generously provides one free set of 50 for each SCASL Conference attendee)
  • bulletin boards
  • book displays
  • booktalks
  • book trailers
  • Animoto video

For the past two years, I have created an Animoto video of the nominees and have shared it here.  (Animoto allows you to upload the video to YouTube, but because YouTube is blocked in most (if not all) of SC schools, I usually share the Animoto link.)

What other ways have you promoted your state award list nominees?

“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