My experiences as a high school librarian interested in engaging instruction, edtech, combating poverty, creating lifelong readers and a safe place for all students.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
My Action Steps for Reform
By January 1, each of us commits to blogging a contribution to our collective ACTION PLAN for re-tooling, re-inventing, and re-imagining what we're going to do to turn the corner on 21st century learning
I read a few of the entries and almost decided not to participate. Not because I did not agree, but because I felt like my contribution would be so small that it would not have an impact on some of the complex education issues mentioned. Then I thought of my students. Would I ever discourage their efforts, no matter how small? No.
My action steps may not have a huge impact but I hope that it will be a start and possibly impact my students, my school, and maybe my district.
1. Help increase and integrate technology into my school.
Part of this goal requires finding funds to buy technology such as more Ipod touches for a pilot program and Kindles for our "We eRead" program, but mostly it means teaching staff and administrators about using technology and getting access to blocked tools. I am meeting with all the librarians in our district next month and will expose them to gadgets like Flip cameras, Kindles, iPods, webcams and more. I hope this will be a jumping off point for impacting our entire district's use of these tools in the classroom. I also have more staff development ideas for our faculty regarding web 2.0 tools for next semester. One of my major obstacles is convincing administrators of the value of these tools and having them unblocked from our internet filters. I have been collecting information to prove the value of Wikipedia and other wikis so that we can use these tools. I have our district's first Skype session scheduled in January. It was difficult to get permission for this and I hope it all goes well so that we may use it again in the future.
2. Help our staff to create a PLN
My PLN has had a huge impact on me professionally and I want all of the faculty at my school to learn about the possibilities and create their own PLN. I hope to have a session with them to help them learn about blogging, RSS feeds, Twitter and online networks like Classroom 2.0. A proposal I made on this topic was accepted for our state library association conference and I will present in March.
3. Keep learning and sharing a priority.
Sometimes it is easy to retreat into our own classroom or library, but I want to continue learning about technology, teaching methods, educational theories, and the needs of this generation of students. I pledge to share the things I learn with my school and use this knowledge to be the best educator and librarian that I can.
These action steps will not make headlines or solve any major education issue our country faces, but I hope to make a contribution to improving myself and those around me and hope that my impact on others is a positive one.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Librarian's Role in Promoting Educational Technologies
In our state's library association's magazine, Media Messenger, there was an article by Cathy Nelson about a document titled "The Role of School Librarians in Promoting the Use of Educational Technologies." This document was created by the ISTE SIGMS group. This is a useful document for librarians trying to define their place in the modern education system. The document outlines how librarians can and should be technology advocates and guides.
A few things stood out for me.
The document states that school librarians:
- frequently provide professional development to their colleagues in areas related to instructional and technology resources
- often serve as primary technology integration specialists in their buildings.
These two points are accurate descriptions of what I try to do at my middle school. I comb through websites, tweets, and blog posts for ideas that teachers at school may use. I email them and bookmark them in our school's Diigo group. I show one web tool at the beginning of each faculty meeting. I call the series the "Eliterate Minute". So far I have shared Diigo, Big Huge Labs, Zamzar, Wordle, and Poll Everywhere. I organized an Electronic Gadget Petting Zoo for the staff. I blogged about it if you want more information. It was a big hit. The district administration asked if I would organize an encore of the petting zoo for all of the librarians in the district. It is scheduled for January and I am very excited about it. I believe my efforts have helped the administration, both school and district, and teachers to see me as someone that can help them troubleshoot technology issues and brainstorm ideas for integrating technology into the classroom. I try to model the use of technology in the library for the students as well as the teachers when they bring their classes. I have used Flip cameras, digital cameras, clickers, text notifications, iPadio, Voki, Poll Everywhere, book trailers from Youtube, Glogster, Google Earth, Prezi, Skype, Weblist, Jog the Web, iPods, Kindles and created a Facebook page for library news. I have a long way to go to convince some of the value of technology, but I feel that I am making progress.
I encourage all of you to read the document. Use it to advocate for the profession by sharing with teachers and administrators. As you read it evaluate yourself. Are you meeting these needs? How can you step it up to better meet the needs of your faculty?
I have been making a conscious effort to be more mobile or at least make my online presence more mobile friendly. Check out this post by Richard Byrne on his Free Technology for Teachers blog. Using his instructions I connected my phone to my blog so that I can blog on the go. I think this will come in handy when I want to document an activity in the library or when I attend our state library conference in March.
I also connected my phone to my iPadio account and Twitter account. Now I can instantly podcast from my cell phone or send a tweet. Any phone with texting capability can do it. Check out this post from Lisa Nielsen's Innovative Educator blog for instructions on iPadio. If you want to use Twitter on your phone follow these simple instructions from the Twitter Support page. There are plenty of options when you set up. I chose to only receive notifications of mentions or direct messages and only within the hours of 8 am and 8 pm.
I hope that you will give it a try.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Reflecting on Student Learning in Library, 2010
It is natural to use the end of the year as a time to reflect. This has been true for me as an educator in past years, but now that I am using this blog as a reflection tool I felt obligated to write a post on this reflection. Several ideas have been swirling around in my brain, but when I read Buffy Hamilton's recent post a bell went off for me. She recommends that we reflect on what our students have learned, not just what we learned. I think this is a wonderful idea. Our impact on learning is what we are judged on and should be what we examine when judging ourselves. I will use her questions as a guide for my reflection and highly recommend that you read the entire post and see what she has been teaching in 2010. Her work is a wonderful model to try to emulate.
1. What did they (your patrons or those you serve) learn through your library program and the conversations for learning you facilitated? What do you hope they will learn in 2011?
For my most frequent library visitors, sixth grade, I have had the opportunity to introduce literacy skills using stations (Dewey matching game, web evaluation activity, book trailer viewing, citation, and Your Next Read reading lists). I created a web quest on figurative language using Jog the Web. We participated in the SLJ Trailee awards with Poll Everywhere voting. They have been avid readers as part of the summer reading program, Teen Read Week and the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge. I taught a lesson on propaganda using Christmas commercials.
Seventh grade science students have come for disease research when I taught them citation for their Glogster projects. I assisted in research on topics related to the novel "Tears of a Tiger". I introduced the teachers to Photostory, Glogster and Google Earth which allowed these tools to be used to create digital Chrstmas stories and Glogs with Google Earth links on Imperialism.
Sadly my impact on eight grade is not where I want it to be. I have to do something to make sure these teachers know that I want to help and I can help meet their goals in the classroom. So far I have only seen them for orientation and the book fair. Two teachers brought classes in for literacy stations, but then only wanted the students to watch a few book trailers. I'm going to keep trying.
All grades have participated on our gaming in the library lunch program called Horseplay where they used information literacy skills to learn and play board and video games.
I have taught the teachers how to use technology in their lessons including Flip cameras, Hue webcams, iPods, Kindles, Senteo clickers, and even cell phones. At faculty meetings I introduce one Web 2.0 tool. So far I have taught staff about Diigo, Big Huge Labs, Zamzar, Poll Everywhere and Wordle. The special education students have benefited from our growing collection of Playaways. The teachers have seen a major improvement in their enthusiasm to read and participate in silent sustained reading. They beg for more reading time!
I do not know how to measure this but I believe my enthusiasm and welcoming atmosphere has improved our schools attitude about reading and the benefits of the library.
2. How do we know what they learned? What tools did you use for assessment? Did the patrons engage in metacognition and self-reflection on what they learned?
This year our sixth graders took the TRAILS assessment. They will take it again in late Spring to assess information literacy skills. This is my formal evaluation goal for the year and it has been a great way for me to target the weak areas and focus my lessons. The weakest area was ethical use of information. I have a unit planned for the Spring semester to correspond with a large research project. So far I have been modeling ethical use by pointing out citations in my own work and introducing the topic in a literacy station lesson in September.
During a Christmas commercial lesson on propaganda techniques I used Poll Everywhere to assess the knowledge of the techniques. The students were actually excited to answer the questions because they text in their answers. This was a fun and useful way to achieve informal assessment.
At the end of a figurative language web quest students answered a few questions on a Google Form about which types of figurative language they understood and which they wanted more help on. The teachers had never used Google Forms before and they loved the ease of collecting the data.
During our reading promotions our students have recorded using different measures including minutes read, pages read and number of books read.
As part of our Kindle program "We eRead" our students will be measured using MAP (Measuring Academic Progress) scores in language arts and Lexile scores. I will also monitor their state standardized test (PASS) scores in addition to their grade in the regular language arts classroom. We hope that using the Kindles will have a positive impact on their scores. Each student took a survey on reading motivation that will give me more data about the Kindles' impact on reading attitudes with these students.
Incorporating self assessment is something I need to improve on. Usually the final product is completely up to the teacher. I have made suggestions but am not usually included in the process even though I would be happy to help. I will try to make sure they know I am willing to help. If not included in the grading process I can still use questions in my mini lessons that have self reflection components.
3. How are you privileging and honoring what they learned? Where are their stories of learning shared in your physical and virtual library spaces?
There is a part of me that doesn't even want to answer this question because I feel like I have not done a very good job of this. But the point of evaluation is to celebrate success and continue to improve so here goes.
I have highlighted our reading program participants and winners by putting their pictures on bulletin boards and their names in the school's morning news program, weekly updates, school webpages, and even the library Facebook page. Student projects are on display in the library and I put the top patron's names on our Top Ten Books bulletin board display.
I have requested that the teachers send me examples of impressive final products including glogs, Photostories, and mock Facebook pages. So far I have only received a few Facebook pages about diseases. I saved them and highlighted the teachers in our principal's Shout Out section of his weekly email to staff, but did not go further. I really wanted to send a few of the best Christmas digital stories to our elementary librarians so that they could show them to their students, but I still haven't received any from the teacher. Even if I get them later I plan to post them on my library Youtube channel with the student's approval (no names are included).
Since this area is a weakness I need to find more ways to celebrate student learning and share with a broader audience. Maybe I need to start carrying a flash drive with me when I check on these classes in the lab so that I can save the projects myself and will not be at the mercy of the teacher's remembering to send me a copy. Maybe I should do more to brag on the teachers that share with me so they will have incentive to remember to include me.
Any suggestions on how you highlight your student work would be appreciated. How would you answer these three questions from Buffy Hamilton?
Christmas Wish List
Before school let out for the holiday Mrs. Haley compiled a list of books that our reading resource students wanted on the Kindles. She also provided me with their Lexile reading levels to help in these decisions. They requested scary books and world record books for the boys and teen romance for the girls. I noticed that many of the specific titles they requested were novels read in the English classroom. I wonder if the reason they requested these is because it is the only book they have read lately or if they genuinely liked it. Either way I think it is a good idea to have those titles so that these students can reinforce classroom reading with the Kindles. Especially considering that they can use text to speech for them if they need to review, reread or catch up with the class. The large range of reading levels presents quite a challenge. The lowest was on a third grade level. When I searched for scary books within this range on the Lexile website it listed Berenstein Bears and Amelia Bedelia. I do not think that would appeal to this student. This presents a challenge but with text to speech I am hoping that I can crank up the difficulty and find books that are within his comprehension level but also age appropriate.
I created a wish list on Amazon using their requests and reading level considerations. I will buy a few titles to appeal to the boys and girls to get them started and plan to review the list with Mrs. Haley when school resumes before purchasing more.
I am excited to show the kids the titles we add to the Kindles and continue this journey.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Book Swap Success
"We eRead" Kindle Program Update
Library Sign In Upgrade
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Three Cool Tools
I spent some time catching up on reading blogs and tweets and found three tools that I wanted to play with (with the cooperation of my two year old who took a nap). I saw Wylio first on Free Tech 4 Teachers blog and several times on Twitter. Decided to use it on this post first. Very easy to use. Curious to see if it is blocked at school tomorrow. If it isn't (fingers crossed) I will definitely share this with my students. Usually their idea of citing an image from the web is "Thanks to Google Images". I keep fighting that battle when I am able to spend time with them on citation before projects. I will continue to fight and hope that this site is another weapon to combat the problem.
The next two tools are Voki and ipadio. I have been on Voki before, according to the site 2007. I know that I didn't pursue using it further because it is blocked at school. Now that I have a blog I am able to use it here. I used it to create a short welcome message, especially considering that I might get a few more visits from the Edublog nomination. That would be cool, anyway. My interest in Voki was rekindled with a recent post on The Innovative Educator blog. I plan to petition that the site be unblocked at school. I know our students would love using it for projects and I think it is an awesome idea to use for sub plans. Ipadio is the second tool from the Innovative Educator post that I played with today. It was really easy to set up. My only issue was that I was unsure about using a country code so I put my number in once with and once without. Apparently you do not need the country code before your US number. I set up the phlogs to automatically post to my school Facebook fan page and my Twitter account. I created a reminder for students about our Book Swap this week on ipadio. It worked wonderfully. Can't wait to use this with my students. After this great experience using it I decided to add the Ipadio app to the iPods we just purchased.
I have also added a few more apps since my post yesterday: iChoose, Doodle Buddy, Comic Lite, Storyrobe, Idea Sketch, Flip Book Lite and Easy Chart. Excited to present the iPods to the teachers tomorrow and begin using them.
Thanks to the Innovative Educator, Lisa Nielsen, for more excellent, easy to use tools for educators.
Edublog Award Voting is Open
Saturday, December 4, 2010
In Good Company
Beginnings of iPod Touch Integration
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Gadgets and Gizmos
I shared the signs I used with Pat and I can't wait to hear how the event goes. She plans to add QR codes to the expo. I think I will add this to my next event as well. Many of my teachers do not know about this cool tool.
If you plan to have a similar event I will be happy to share what I have and would love to hear from you.
Good luck Pat and the entire staff of Drake Memorial Library! And thank you for organizing an event that will help your students learn about technology!