Saturday, October 22, 2016

What if the Classes at Our School were Like Great PD?

I've seen so many tweets and listened to many Voxes from people excited about their current and recent professional development. There have been numerous edcamps, school librarian conferences, technology events, meetups, and more. 

Fortunately, I've been at fantastic events myself recently, yet I've still experienced FOMO. There's nothing like being at a session and seeing tweets from the one you almost chose making you regret your decision. More and more, I'm seeing this as a scheduling conflict more than making a bad choice. There are many, many educators sharing fabulous ideas and experiences. 

This made me think: what if we were to go in the hallway during passing period and hear remarks like this, or see tweets these below? What if our students bragged about their classes like we share our enthusiasm for a great session? Has this ever happened to you? Feel free to share in the comments!

The #EduMatch Empire

I've been fairly active on Twitter for a few years, but two years ago, something happened that enhanced my professional learning exponentially. I joined Voxer. (I wrote about this previously.) At first I spent much of my time in the #BFC530 Voxer group (and I still belong), but now I spend the most time in #EduMatch. This is a community that is supportive, funny, thoughtful, and provocative. We mainly talk about education matters, but there are times.... Members truly are international, including "regular" contributors from Canada and Argentina, with occasional posts from countries such as Singapore, Greece, and more.

Why do I call EduMatch an empire? Because it can be just about anything for anyone. Check out the many ways you can be connected. (There is even a ThingLink by Rachel Pierson that will take you to the relevant sites.)

Not only Head #EduMatch Guru Sarah Thomas maintain these websites, she also manages a 6 pm ET "Tweet & Talk" almost every Sunday! Countless people have been involved, either as panelists, Google Hangout attendees, or tweeters.

#EduMatch has led me to smaller groups where I felt comfortable taking risks to learn about new tools; I'm in Voxer groups for Periscope, Snapchat, and several book clubs with people I "met" on #EduMatch. Many #EduMatch participants have been empowered to participate in several large scale events, such as #EdCampVoxer, #PasstheScope, #NotatISTE, and more. 

So, ultimately, the climate at #EduMatch is just like what we want for our students: a group that is varied in (tech) abilities and interests, yet can find common ground, be supportive, encourage risk-taking, not belittle anyone's questions (or criticize someone asking the same question that has already been asked numerous times before). There is pure joy when members meet each other F2F at various conferences. One feature of Voxer is that you can star an post to keep later. Here's a portion of one from Dan Kreiness 
  "EduMatch should have a banner, or something made: 'EduMatch, where you can have awesome conversations related to deep topics such as civil disobedience and social justice...and then switch to a conversation about printer ink, so seamlessly. I just think that's great.'"

If you have any questions about #EduMatch or any of the tools I've mentioned, don't hesitate to contact me!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reflecting on 9-11 and Being Connected

Today it is natural to think back to that horrible day. I wrote this reflection on the school librarian listserv LMNet two years ago. Connections have changed since then, not always for the better, but they continue to serve an important role.

I was a brand new media specialist on September 11, 2001.  The events of
the day were so shocking, and limited access to news during school and the
many unanswered questions were so bewildering.  I think back to one of my
lines to the outside world that day, LMNet.  There were so many questions:
do you have your TV's on?  Have you told the students anything?  People
reported that parents were showing up at school and taking their children

Even at my own school, there were debates.  Some teachers said, "Why do you
have your TV on?", or "Why don't you have your TV on?"

Some listserv members told of email as their only outlet to news.  Some
mentioned wanting to give students some background information before they
would be going home alone.  Some later told of students who were told what
happened getting on the same bus with others who didn't know.  And, we were
all trying to make sense of what happened.

To me, this illustrates the importance of LMNet as a community. LMNet
helped me decide to become a library media specialist, and I will never
forget the support and comfort I received on September 11, 2001.  If you
are interested, you can find the archives of that day beginning at

Friday, July 1, 2016

#NOTatISTE? No problem? Not even #NOTatISTE??? It's Still not Over!

It is such a summer dilemma for library media specialists: attend ALA? ISTE?  Both? I considered all of these options this year (I am on the AASL Best Websites Committee), but decided to remain at home, take advantage of several of the wonderful options through Indiana DOE's Summer of eLearning, and follow as much virtually as possible.  Last year I participated in the #NOTatISTE community, and became thoroughly immersed.

Over 100 people made sample "#NOTatISTE" badges.
#NOTatISTE was even more spectacular this year. Over 1100 educators joined in the private Google+ Community. I was able to connect quite a bit from June 25-27 (even being able to watch Michio Kaku's keynote the evening of the 26th), 

I ended up accompanying my sister on a long road trip and went "off the grid" a bit, but am still learning from all of the resources shared. Why was this year even better? Things I noticed:

-People who have been past #NOTatISTE participants made special efforts to include us (Prime example: Craig Yen). Many, many people in Denver included our hashtag in their tweets. Even people who have never experienced #NOTatISTE got in the habit of sharing with us.

-Jen Wagner outdid herself (how can that be possible?). Much preliminary work was done, including plans with Tony Vincent to Periscope many of the poster sessions (with a well-publicized schedule)

-Peggy George, Barbara Tallent, and others created a Livebinder to outdo all Livebinders, overflowing with resources.

-Sue Waters provided many tips on how to maximize your remote ISTE experience. This blog post is a prime example. She also took a lot of time to answer questions and make suggestions in the #NOTatISTE voxer group.

-The eduMatch community was very involved in #NOTatISTE16. eduMatch is a multi-platform community, and I spend quite a bit of time in the Voxer group alone.

eduMatch is a VERY active community with numerous ways to connect.
Many members were also in the #NOTatISTE groups.
-There are so many platforms to use in the learning and sharing: the Google+, Twitter, Voxer, Google Hangouts, Google Docs, Periscope, Participate Learn, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

I'm still catching up; you can still participate, Check out the livebinder. (Warning: this could take days!) Search with the #ISTE2016 hashtag (or #NOTatISTE16); add specific hashtags in your area of interest (For example, for librarians, #ISTELib has many great shares)

The principles and practices that so many used to connect with ISTE can be continued for just about any conference. The connections and the culture of sharing have been unleashed, and continues to grow exponentially!