Friday, November 21, 2008

NY Times article and MacArthur Study

I wrote this as a comment to Will Richardson's post referring to the MacArthur Study and felt it could stand alone as its own post:

I found the MacArthur study and the New York Times article that referenced it to be very interesting. I put hard copies of both articles in my faculty room and they provided quite a bit of fodder for discussion. I do agree that the NY Times article didn’t go far enough and painted cyberspace as this Utopian place where everyone gets along and sings “Kumbayah.” We know based on the MySpace tragedy that cyberspace can be a dangerous place.

A lot of the teachers that I talked to still have the “creepy treehouse” mentality or someone they know has committed some type of online faux pas. When I entered Cyberspace for the first time in 1997 I’m sure I did too but I learned. I explained that students need to learn appropriate digital citizenship. I explained that they are part of the ISTE standards (hoping that they would ask what they were but that didn’t happen).

Technology is here to stay and is becoming a larger and larger part of our everyday lives. We need to stop treating it like contraband. We as Librarians and educators need to not bury our heads in the sand and teach kids how to act responsibly in Cyberspace. We also need to start Digital Citizenship education as young as possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Big Ideas 4 Education Focus Areas

Overhaul teacher education, and policies and procedures for professional development.

Facilitate an exploration of new education methods and pedagogy's that reflect today's children and their information experiences, abundant and connective information environments, and 21st century skills.

If you have been reading my blog since it started, I have talked about how much I learned about Web 2.0 and technology since the class I took this summer. I totally agree that we need to explore new methods and pedagogy's. There is one problem. Are these new methods being taught in teacher education programs? I had 2 student librarians come to observe me and I was talking to them about various web 2.0 applications and important names in the technology field. They had no idea what I was talking about. Granted, when I graduated Library School in 2001 I didn't know most of these things either.

Again, as I have blogged about before, I have started offering my faculty technology based trainings. I am happy to say that I will be teaching my entire foreign language department how to create pod casts. I have only scratched the surface. I am hoping that later this year or next year I can start showing the faculty how to use some of the web 2.0 resources in their curricula.

I did have some student related victories. I taught a 6 week session about Photo Story. I also created Photo Stories to use during Religion. Another member of the department requested CD's of the stories I used so that she can use them in her class.

I feel like I have made some progress but I know I have a ways to go.

Another Vision of 21st Century Learners

A Vision of Students Today

Information Revolution

Monday, November 10, 2008

Big Ideas 4 Education

David Warlick set up a great website where people have the opportunity to post their ideas about how to make education better. I have had so much fun putting in my ideas. Here is your chance to vent and have a stake in fixing our education system here in the U.S.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Take Care of Yourself

On Wednesday, I was privileged to attend a workshop about how to increase your effectiveness as a librarian. It was led by Deborah Ford with the help of Aunt Betty. She was excellent and I would love to hear her speak again. One of the things she said is that we as librarians need to take care of ourselves. She recommended a great blog that features comic strips entitled "Unshelved" because part of taking care of ourselves includes being able to laugh at ourselves. Here is the address:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Music Sites of Interest

A colleague of mine spent the summer revamping his music curriculum to infuse as much technology as possible and found some great sites. I wish this site was around when I was learning to play. I had to find a tape of my piece and play along with it. This site does that searching for you. It even tells you what you did wrong and it also logs your practicing. There is a subscription fee. This site creates radio stations for you based on your preferences. You can listen to it from your computer or cell phone. The site is free.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Faculty Morale Turn-Around

Throughout last year, the morale among the faculty of my school was extremely low. They all felt like no one listened to anything they requested. Even I felt like I sounded like a broken record. Administration did listen to one request the faculty had been making for years. That request was for more technology training. In my increased job role, I took it upon myself to tell my administration that I would lead technology training for the faculty. I began polling them verbally to figure out what kinds of things they wanted to learn. My math department chair came up with a great idea. She told me I aught to make a list of different technology applications I would be willing to teach so that people would have some idea of what they wanted to learn. I have a lot of respect for her as a teacher so I took her advice and created the handout. The next question was how do I distribute it? Do I put it in the mailboxes? Especially at the beginning of the year, they are getting so many papers. Would mine get lost in the shuffle? I figured I would risk it. I distributed 80 copies but I wasn't optimistic. I figured I would get 4 or 5 back from my good friends on the faculty. I was pleasantly surprised. I received responses from teachers, department chairs, administrators, and staff. People also commented about what a great idea this was! And the hits just keep on coming!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Key to collaboration: Web 2.0

In some of my previous postings I have written about my job and how I have felt ineffective at times. Since the end of last year, my principal has been on a self- improvement kick. I am all for evaluation and self-improvement. How else will you grow as a person and a professional? At the end of last school year when he started with some of this self improvement talk he was basically holding a mirror to my face and I absolutely did not like what I saw. I basically "yes-ed" him with every suggestion he made but I didn't know if I wanted to invest the time and energy to improving and have it fall on deaf ears. I felt like things were different when I met with my administration throughout the end of last school year and this summer. My administration was extremely receptive to my ideas. We were all on the same page. We were all saying the same things. I made the decision that I wanted to change and be better personally and professionally than I have ever been.

I had the opportunity to take 2 graduate classes this summer. One had to do with Web 2.0 while the other was about planning tomorrow's library. One of the Web 2.0 skills I learned was Podcasting. Every year at our opening Faculty meeting we go around and share what we did over the summer. I decided to present mine via podcast. As my turn was approaching, my heart began to pound. I played the podcast and people listened. I was a little unhappy that the background music seemed a little soft. Either my colleagues didn't notice or they were too nice to tell me. They all applauded and some people said it was cute. That wasn't the adjective I was looking for but I took it as a compliment and considered it a success.

Right after the activity, we stopped for a coffee break. Once I went out into the foyer for the coffee break I was positive it was a success. Two different teachers approached me and wanted to know if I trained people to do what I did with the podcast. I told them yes and also told them about some of the other trainings I was planning for the coming school year. They both assured me that they would be interested in attending. What was most exciting was that one of the teachers is new this year and she is part of a department that I have had little collaboration with in my previous 7 years of working at my school. All this headway from one little 5 minute podcast. I was absolutely on cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I can genuinely say that I can't wait to start this school year. Hopefully I won't get burnt out by November as in past years. I think it will be the best year ever.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recipes : Panzanella : Food Network

Recipes : Panzanella : Food Network

This is one of my favorite summer recipes. There are never any leftovers when I make it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Randy Pausch

You have been hearing this man's name a lot, especially since he succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer last week. There are too many wonderful people being afflicted with this disease. It took Michael Landon, the Academic Dean/Provost of my college, and now Randy Pausch. I feel for his wife and children. I am glad to see that they seem to have a vast support system during this terrible time. Dr. Pausch left quite a legacy with his Last Lecture and his book. He also left another legacy that piqued my interest.

In partnership with some of his other professors at Carnegie Mellon, he created a teaching tool called Alice. It is available as a free download at It teaches students to create an animation program or a video game using Java or C++. Instead of having to type all the commands, the novice programmer can use drag and drop tiles.

I plan to email the computer teacher and computer graphics teacher about this program and hopefully they will try it. Rest in Peace, Dr. Pausch.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Final Project Reflection

The day has finally arrived. The final project's due date. When the project was assigned 2 weeks ago, 2 weeks seemed like so much time. These past 2 weeks flew but I know my group and I did a project that we can be proud of. We created a virtual media center for Middle and High School students and focused on book reviews, teacher and student recommendations, and approved reading resources/academic tools. On that page there are links to reference websites for Dictionaries in English and Languages other than English, the Thesaurus, Encyclopedias, and Almanacs. There are also 2 slide shows that give helpful hints for writing and how to avoid plagiarism.

Technology Effectiveness:
The main portion of the project is a wiki. Within that wiki, there is a blog, a You Tube video, 3 slide shows, 3 polls, a voice thread, and a book that was created using Mixbook. A wiki is a useful way to pull together many types of resources and organize them in a logical fashion. Blogs are great communication tools. One of our jobs as librarians is Readers Advisory. By blogging about books that we or our colleagues recommend, we can provide that useful service to our students even when they are not in our libraries. You Tube or Teacher Tube videos, especially the Common Craft "Plain English" videos can sometimes explain concepts clearer than we can. Video can also be a great way to booktalk. Voice threads can provide the same service. Mixbook is a way to show comprehension without the dreaded "reading quiz."

Concepts and Ideas of Library 2.0 and Participitory Library Service:
In class we learned that there has been a shift in how people think about technology and the Library. This is definitely not your mother's school library. When the Internet started to be widely used in the late 90's, people who spent lots of time on the Internet were thought of as "addicts." Websites were created by professionals at that time. Now, almost anyone can create a website at a reasonably low cost. Chatting and social networking was also looked at as scary and pointless. There are now so many ways to keep in touch. I'm sure the founders of the 1990's World Wide Web never imagined sites like Classroom2.0, Twitter, Skype, etc. School Libraries need to be pioneers in the shift and rather than blocking sites like MySpace and Facebook, Librarians need to teach the school community how these sites can be used effectively and correctly.

Technology Issues:
The biggest problem with technology is that it is not 100% reliable. Site managers decide to update servers or do other site maintenance without notice so if a teacher plans to use that site for a lesson and it goes down, the teacher always needs to have a technology free backup. A concern is that if students are not instructed on how to use technology services correctly they can act silly and not take the lesson seriously. Just because you are not turning in a piece of paper, you are still being graded on the assignment, even though it is only found in cyberspace.

Collaboration Issues:
It is so helpful to have technology available when working on a collaborative project. Even email made things so much easier. If one person goes away, they can still be in touch with the rest of the group remotely and do the work they need to do on the project.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Personal Learning Strategy

Every year I have to write down library and personal goals for the next school year. I just kind of scribble something down, type it, email it, and then forget about it. I learned about a great way to write goals in terms of professional and personal development. It is called a Personal Learning Strategy. In a school year, people should attend a combination of 10 learning experiences that fall under the following categories: Formal Core (to increase your professional depth), Formal Cross (Cross training to better understand other parts of your organization.), Informal personal (does not have to do with your profession), Formal personal (book club, sewing workshop, etc). I plan to do this every year. Since this is the first time I am doing this, I will use the Fall to map out what I want to do. I will assess myself in January and submit a final copy to my administration in June. In future years, I will turn in my final draft for the present school year along with my rough draft for the next year.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bittersweet Endings

Today was the last day of a really awesome class. It talked about how to use Web 2.0 in school libraries. This class taught me so much in 5 days. When I look over our class wiki and see all that we learned I am awestruck.

On the first day of class, the professor started the class with a slide presentation talking about how Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 were different and how Web 2.0 has caused a shift in librarians' duties and roles. At the end of about an hour she asked us if we were overwhelmed. We all said no. The wheels in my brain started to turn. I realized just how substandard my library skills course was.

I just completed my seventh school year at my school. I was telling my classmates the story of how I was hired in late August without a curriculum map or a curriculum. I spent that year flying by the seat of my pants and doing my best to figure out what to teach the 45 sixth graders I was entrusted to teach. Over the next seven years I have revised and tweaked my course but it has had most of the same content as it did when I was a 25 year old, fresh out of Library school Librarian.

This amazing Web 2.0 class opened my eyes to what kinds of new things I could add to the boring, tired class I have called Library Skills 6. I can't wait to create class wikis and blogs. I was so excited, I started working on my class Wiki. I can't wait until my students can create a Photo Story. I can't wait to show the slide show I made in Slide Share. Every time I open my blog, looking at the Cluster Map makes me as giddy as Christmas morning. Who has looked at my blog? Where are they from?

My readers are probably wondering why I would call this post "bittersweet endings." I came out of this class so excited and ready to hit the ground running in September armed with some great new tools in my toolbox. I really enjoyed this class and I can't wait to learn and discover more Web 2.0 tools. Although I am a little sad to no longer be in that computer lab sharing the camaraderie I shared with those 9 librarians and our amazing professor, I am also happy to digest and apply all that I have learned.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tweets and Things

Social Networking sites have been given a bad name on the news and in schools. These sites do have value to professionals. As a librarian, I can have questions answered and people can give me advice in seconds. I can also provide assistance in seconds. Gone are the days of being on a listserv and waiting for email responses that may never come. If I don't get a response on Teacher Librarian, I can try Twitter.

Library Thing and Shelfari are great for readers advisory. Even though a librarian's job description has more and more technology related duties, we should still provide reader's advisory. My students and colleagues can click on my bookshelf and see what I'm reading. If I am reading books about an educational trend that they are interested in, that could be my inroad to collaborating with that teacher. See? They're not so bad. Just use them correctly and many doors will be opened to you.

Another slideshow program

Delicous in the real world

Yesterday's class assignment was to blog about how we can use Delicious in our professional life. In my previous post I wrote about how the collective attitude for finding a good website is to "just Google it." I thought about how to find a good compound word website and I was getting ready to click on the little, blue G in the top right corner of my screen just like a good little 21st century learner but I changed my mind. I won't be a lemming and follow everyone else! I searched Delicious and found a great matching game. I hope I get to work with this student the next time I go to work so I can see if the game works. I always get excited when my students have "aha" moments. It's fun for me as the teacher, too.

Just Google It... Not Always

This came to me while I was at work at the learning center where I tutor. I told the directors about one of the great new sites I learned about yesterday, So far, my only complaint about the site is that I can't find a tutorial for long vowel sounds. I felt the site would be great for our beginning reading students. As I was teaching a beginning reading student yesterday, he was struggling with compound words. He could understand how "dog" and "house" combined to make doghouse but he didn't understand how doghouse could be split into "dog" and "house." My director knows I am in this class so I told her while I was at class today I would try to find a website to help this student. She said, "Just Google it." Will Google come through? Who knows? We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Delicious bookmarks

How many of your libraries could also be called the multi-purpose room? A group needs a place to meet during the school day? How about the library? AP testing time? Let's use the library. The problem is that my scheduled classes have to move to another classroom. Normally moving to another classroom means just putting on a movie or using paper handouts to teach. This is a wonderful way to do web based activities even when I am not in the library or computer lab.

Photo Sharing with Flickr

I wish I could rush right home and call my dad about this site. My family's photos are in boxes in a cabinet. My dad always jokes and says "Of course our pictures are all in albums and labeled with who is in the picture, what year was it taken, etc." This would be a great way to share photos of trips or things of that nature. I have lots of friends out of state who I could send pictures of my new apartment. They, in turn, could send me pictures of their children. I have a friend in Florida who has 2 children whom I have not seen in about 3 years.

My creation

My creation
Originally uploaded by sonflower.rm
When I worked at the Grand Canyon the tourists were interesting. They used to ask the employees about the skunks. We kept telling them that these animals were not skunks. They were Kaibab Squirrels.

Grand Canyon North Rim

Pictures of the Grand Canyon take me back to a simpler time. When I finished my freshman year of college, I was lucky enough to work here and look at this scenery every day.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Will Richardson Video

Years ago I used to have a "Literary Society" where students could come to the library and discuss a book. Will Richardson's video showed how blogging could be a great way to discuss books with the students and the author at the same time. When I get back to school I plan to start a Literary Society Blog. I can also create a blog before book fair to tell the students about some of the books in the flyer and ask the students to post also.

For my personal life I would love to start a family and or friends blog. A lot of my family and friends live out of state. What a great way to keep in touch!

Christopher Harris SLJ Article

Christopher Harris' article "School Library 2.0: Say Goodbye to your mother's school library" was interesting. Now that I have been in class for a day I would now like to go back and reread the required readings. So many of the things that were mentioned in Harris' article and the other articles we read make so much more sense now that we have had a day of class discussion.

We talked in class today about we should be ahead of everyone else in terms of technology. As I read the article and listened to class discussion, I realized that some of my colleagues were ahead of me. When many of my colleagues bring their classes into the library for research they have the pre-conceived notion that the kids know what to do. They know more about technology than we do. I agree and disagree with that. It sounds like a paradox but it makes sense.

Whenever students come into my computer lab for research I always observe them. There are some that rush in to get that one computer that they just must sit at because they are such creatures of habit. There are others that will just sit at the computer that is closest to the entrance. Still others want to go furthest from where the supervising teacher and librarian are because they don't want us to see their screens.

Now they have the perfect location. What's next. Quick! It's time to click on the blue e to get on the internet! That quickly follows furious typing to get to Wikipedia. The next 45 minutes that the students are in the computer lab is a complete whirlwind. There is lots of printing, cutting and pasting into a word document, and then as the bell rings we are rushing them out of the library. That is all I see. The students do not think of research as a process and definitely don't see me as part of that process. I also don't see the end result of this process.

Pathfinders and wikis could definitely change that. Because of this class I am planning to create a wiki so that I can direct students to useful websites and other resources to do their work. Also, I don't have to deny a class the opportunity to use the computer lab just because I am out of the library teaching another class. Having wikis and pathfinders can make it seem like I am in the room even though I'm not. I used to believe that research should be done in the library and that's it but I was wrong.

Shift Happens

Clarification of Fair Use Guidelines of the Copyright Law

Do You Believe?

The Last Lecture

My Bookmarks