Sunday, December 1, 2013

#NerdLution 2013

Button courtesy of Kristi Mraz

When I think of the power of social media and the value of a PLN for teachers, nothing illustrates this better than the Nerdy Book Club. I have met a few other members, but it has made a tremendous difference in my professional life.
For instance:
1) I read more books because the other book members are so enthused about them.
2) I feel like the quality of books that I read has improved due to the "crowd-sourced" nature.
3) Many of these books have ended up in our school library and in students' and teachers' hands as a result.
4) The twitter chat #titletalk (generally last Sunday of the month 8 pm ET) showed me the power of chat. (Also #teaching2030)

Wow!  It's December already. I hope I will have time to read as many of the Nerdy Nominees as possible in the next two weeks.  And, now we have the NerdLutions, as explained by Colby Sharp. (and check out all of the comments)

 Reading suggestions from others showed me that my resolutions can be creative, and not the run-of-the-mill "lose weight, exercise more".  So, for 50 days here are my nerdLutions.  By publicly posting them, maybe I'll be more likely to stick with them.

1) Read a book of student interest: at least 20 minutes a day. I'll start with the Nerdy Nominees.
2) Clean my house at least 20 minutes a day. (Note to self: reading from the stacks of old newspapers and magazines to then transfer them to the recycle bag does not count.)
3) Eat breakfast at home every morning unless I'm out of town (or invited to breakfast) Will save $$ and calories.
4) Spend less time reading email, checking email...
5) Touch paper only once, and be done with it.  I'm getting better, but instead of keeping clippings of good recipes, music, book, and gift suggestions, I need to put them in the cloud immediately.  I'm getting better about using Pinterest, diigo, Evernote, and other tools.

What I really need is a change in my work flow, which is easier said than done.  But, just like habits can be learned, I can unlearn some and hopefully replace them with better ones.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exalted then Insulted: Same Result

I just returned from a wonderful, inspiring event, the biennial convention of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Two of the highlights for me included the "Treasure Mountain" pre-conference, and a speech from Scott Bacon, principal of Blue Valley High School.  He told of the importance of collaboration with his school's media specialist, and even displayed a shared mission statement for the library. Wouldn't you want to work here?

But, the euphoria was interrupted when I got home after a fellow librarian pointed out a letter to the editor written about our State Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, in the Indianapolis Star, published online on November 15, and in print November 18.  Here is an excerpt:

Instead, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: We are being led by a librarian (media specialist)! Nothing against librarians (media specialists), but I have had many of them work for me over the years while serving as a school administrator. They are, as a group, wonderful people! However, they are trained to do a certain type of job and “leading” is not what they are trained to do. Nor are they knowledgeable about administrative legal issues and consensus building...We just need a leader in the superintendent’s office who knows something more than the Dewey Decimal System and how to follow orders from the unions

It turns out that the writer had been dismissed as a superintendent in Missouri in 2009 and now works as a realtor in Indiana, not licensed as an educator in our state.  Why does he perpetuate the "keeper of the books" perception? Has he even been in a library media center since 2009? After all, things have even changed a lot since then.  Many of today's library media specialists are among the most networked, collaborative, technologically-advanced teachers around, and I was just with over 2000 of them in Hartford. Making generalizations about an entire group of librarians seems as illogical as making assumptions about ...superintendents.

Members of our listserv were mad; boy, were we mad!  But, one of the aspects of media use we consider when working with staff and students: evaluate the source. Why was this published?  Ultimately, I think the Star probably hoped that this article would provoke the firestorm that it did. They are in the business of selling papers and delivering people to their website's advertisers.

Can I do more as a media specialist?  Absolutely, and I learned a lot in Hartford that I can use immediately.  I attended sessions on collaboration, web 2.0 tools, eBooks, literacy research, high-achieving students, virtual learning commons, technology integration, MakerSpaces, and much more.  I'm sure I will never meet this person who attacked our profession, but, at the end of the day, I don't do my job to prove people like him wrong; we choose and continue in our profession because we want to assist students and staff discover the joy of learning through any platform. We want them to be successful consumers, evaluators, and creators of information.  It is not about us. I think that is true leadership.

UPDATE: There have been several letters of support for Ritz in the Star since (and a few detractors). This letter on leadership came from Rachel Applegate, Chair of Library and Information Studies at IUPUI.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sometimes the Memorex is Almost as Good

I've been waiting for George Couros's keynote from EDSCAPE at New Milford, NJ to be posted.  Thanks to TeacherCast, you can now watch it.

Do you ever sign up for webinars, telling yourself, well, if I can't watch it, they're sending me the archive? And do you ever watch the archive?  Well, this broadcast is worth watching after the fact.  There are so many inspirational, thoughtful reasons given to integrate technology and connect our students to others in the world.  I especially enjoyed Couros's family, personal stories, and how they relate to his journey as an educator. I have to admit, though, that it was fun watching live on Saturday knowing that many others across the country were joining from afar simultaneously.  I could tell from the tweets that there were many learning just from watching the twitter stream alone!  An interesting phenomenon happened when I saw @njtechteacher tweet live from New Milford and share her google doc notes; I could see her type as I watched Couros live.  She didn't realize it was being streamed until I commented on her helpful notes, complete with many references.

My favorite current webinars are Classroom 2.0 Live on Saturdays at noon ET, and many of the edWeb programs. What sets them apart?  In addition to outstanding guests, they have the most audience participation, with very active chat rooms. Seeing the archive is not as fun, but I almost always gain very valuable resources, and am inspired by the participants.

Watch the Couros keynote when you have time; I guarantee you will be inspired as well. Sometimes, you can be connected even after the fact.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Connected Educator Month: Having a Great Time, but Ultimately "What We Have Here is a Failure to Connect"

Pretty lucky for me: our two-week break falls completely within Connected Educator Month. I've spent many hours attending webinars, participating in chats, attending the always-enjoyable Indiana Computer Educators (ICE) Conference (actually located in my district, but I may have been the only one of us there?), and, finally, resurrecting this blog.

Today is especially busy, as I attend sessions at the worldwide Library 2.0 Conference, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) Virtual Conference  (How cool is this: if you agree to host a F2F event, they'll even reimburse you for lunch!), and EDSCAPE at New Milford High School in New Jersey. I watched the opening conversation at EDSCAPE via ustream, and then George Couros's inspiring keynote via TeacherCast.  I will post the link to Couros as soon as it is added to the TeacherCast youtube channel.  It's well worth watching; my stream kept breaking up, but I was finally able to see it all.  You sometimes have to be a little patient with the stream at these events. I hope that George Couros is booked to come to Indiana some time soon.

What if you're not "connected' yet?  Where do you start?  I know it can be overwhelming.  Just pick one thing.  I had a twitter account for a few years before I really "got it". I let this blog languish for years before others encouraged me to revive it.

The next challenge is to decide what to do with all of the information you accumulate.  How will you remember where you put it?  What makes it easiest to find? It's so easy to start a system, read about a new one, and then have pieces all over cyberspace. I've used livebinders, scoopit, diigo, google docs, and probably others I've forgotten.  Now I seem to be pinning things everywhere. For years I simply emailed links to myself and then searched my email (don't ask how many emails I still have) Don't worry about having the newest tool; just pick one and stick with it for awhile.

So, I have all of these outside connections, but what does that mean for my school? How do you share and collaborate with teachers who have an ever-expanding list of things they already have to do? How do you add "just one more thing"?  It doesn't matter how many things I've pinned, bookmarked, and saved unless something happens to them.

Yeah, I can be a connected educator, but if I don't complete the arc and make it reach students, it's all for naught.  What works for you?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Crowd Sourcing the Best of Pinterest

So, I was not the most avid pinner, but I began to see the value in the many great ideas I saw on Pinterest. Then I noticed that Horace Mann (yes, a business, but a great friend of teachers and education) was going to have guest pinners.  I decided to try the best of both worlds and enter the contest with an idea to tap on the expertise on the most clever curators I know:  librarians.  Included below are the sites recommended to me and many more I have collected. Because you can't pin an entire site, I created this page to use to spotlight them; you can follow individual boards or pins that are included here. As a matter of fact, many people have some individualized boards that may not interest you, so you shouldn't necessarily follow all of someone's boards.

Although my board on the Horace Mann boards is entitled "Crowd-Sourced Librarian Favorites", the sites I've pinned there are not strictly for librarians; they are sites that can be beneficial to many! It is definitely a work in progress. When I started looking around Pinterest, I was amazed by the depth and quality of some of the resources.  I also believe you should, "go where your customers are", and if they might find a resource because of Pinterest, why not?

Further encouragement to finally post something and revive the blog came from this week's Indiana Computer Educators (ICE) annual conference.  I attended a presentation on Pinterest by Rob Tidrow from Richmond, IN Schools. Their district even has a Pinterest page, which I thought was a great idea; it includes anything from information new families or realtors could use, to science fair ideas, to how to ask a girl to the prom!

Great Pinterest Sites for Education & Tech in General
Horace Mann Boards
Crowd-Sourced Librarian Favorites Board (my board on Horace Mann)
WeTeach Boards
Edutopia Boards
INeLearning Boards (great site from my DOE)
Top Teacher Tips + Freebies (a collaborative board)
Laura Candler
Laura Candler's Shortcuts (she has many bds; this can help with navigation)
Erin Klein: Pinterest for Teachers
Karen Bolotin (KB Connected) Many boards, roughly in alphabetical order
Teachers on Pinterest (started by Pinterest, originally for elementary)
25 Best Educational Boards on Pinterest-Babble
10 Pinterest Boards Every Teacher Must Know About
Top 11 Educational Pinners (might be some duplicates here)
5 Popular Pinterest Boards for Teachers (From TeachThough, more subject based)
Edudemic (many technology based)
Discovery Education
Kentucky Academy of Technology Education
Melissa Alonzo-Dillard Amazing Boards for 1st Grade
Richmond Community Schools

Added 2014
Free Technology for Educators (Mel Kharbach)
Educational Infographics
Great Books for Teachers
Free iPad Apps for Teachers
Joint Board Curated by Dozens of NBCT's
Linda's Links to Literature: Great book lists
Indiana's Pinnovation Blog for February (hint: I'm February 2 on Winter Olympics)
Free Tutoring Resources, a Collaborative Board moderated by Adrianne Meldrum
Crowd-sourced page specifically for New Teachers

Library/Librarian Sites 
(But still great ideas that can apply to many others, of course)
Cheap and Cheerful Librarian Tips (Melissa Techman for SLJ)
Museum Inspirations for Library Programs-Spaces
School Library Journal
Velda Hunter: October Displays (there are other months too)
Kathy Kaldenberg
Daleville, IN Library
Nikki Robertson
Aunty Tech (Donna Baumbach)
Mrs. Malespina/South Orange MS
Library Ladies
Library Displays
Open Education Database (iLibrary)
Library Pinterest List: Naomi Bates' Blog
Southside HS Library, Elmira, NY Extensive School Library Site
Summer Reading Resources My previous page redone on pinterest
ISTE SIGMS Collaborative Board Special Interest Group-Media Specialists
Libraries, School & Research
Colette Eason's Library Board
Elementary School Library Ideas
Library Patch
Mary D'Eliso Some of her boards include Dewey #'s
Library Bulletin Board/Display Ideas
Discovery Education Denbrarian Boards
Young Hoosier Books State awards book example; this has all 3 categories, but some organizations divide      the age groups for Pinterest.
Joyce Valenza Article about Alida Hanson's Boards for Weston HS
Teen Programming in Libraries (a collaborative board)