Thursday, September 4, 2014

Started again, already

As usual, we've started the school year off with a bang. I'd love to say that everyone was enthusiastic about the beginning but I know that I would be mistaken. Even as bleak as the situation seems right now, I remain an ardent supporter of public education and believe that it is the worlds greatest equalizer. Each year, I look back at what I have accomplished, or not accomplished, over the preceding 12 months. I find, usually, that I have not met my own expectations, even if I have met the expectations of others for me.

I have to wonder, if just sometimes, I'm a little hard on myself. In my accomplishments, I achieved a great deal; in my mind, however, not so much. As teachers we are taught to reflect and to redirect and be flexible in our thinking and teaching. I believe that flexibility is only way to remain positive. If you are willing to try, willing to take the chance, you may find wonderful!

When you need it most, someone or something makes you remember why you work so hard, why you care so much, why, in the end, it's all worth it. To the many people who have made my day and reminded me why I DO love my job, I DO want to help students learn, I AM committed to public education, and why I sometimes cry, tears of joy, sorrow, frustration, elation I want to thank you, and I mean REALLY THANK YOU! You never know how soon, it will be too late to do something nice for someone. It's so true.

Now, I challenge all of you who read my blog (yeah, I know, all two of you) to Pay it Forward. And, I don't mean this in a cliched way, do something nice, something small for someone else tomorrow. Not only will they feel better, but so will you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More Professional Development That Counts

I really like the Pinnacle sessions that have been offered this summer. I like the smaller group dynamic and the more "personal" feel of the training. Unfortunately, I missed some of the training and I know that I missed a lot.

This morning, I learned about app smashing, a new term that I didn't know until today. I knew about apps, I knew about the different uses and how to take "this" from "that" to make "this other thing", I just didn't know what it was called. I learned about SAMR (add to TPACK to enhance education) and how to use apps to create lessons that take the student above and beyond the simple steps of Bloom's Taxonomy and SAMR. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that out there and the app possibilities (there are SO many that are free, especially for Education). It's time, to turn a phrase, to find a few good apps that work well together to help students get to the level of learning that must be experienced.

Working with some of the free apps, there are limitations but most will do just about anything that's needed, particularly when you use one app to create something for another. Apps that I will see in my lessons next year include Lucid Chart, Pixlr Express, Powtoon, and  BookTrack. There are any numbers of other apps on the iDevices but my school has few of these devices. BookTrack is a great way for students to narrate and sound-track their own writing. I think this will work well with Book Reviews for my Educational Media Students.

In the afternoon, I learned more about the adult learner through andragogy, as opposed to pedagogy. As a Pinnacle Leader (Tech Trainer for the LEA), I expect to teach adults differently. It's an interesting subject to discuss. Even though you may teach students (children and adults) very differently, learning doesn't seem to be so different. The advantage and disadvantage of teaching either group lies in experience or the lack thereof. I don't see that my high school learners are so different from adult learners (at least at the upper classes) but I can see how different younger students would be. The younger the student the less likely there is experiential learning, background knowledge, and other "baggage" to contend with during a learning session.

I believe it's important to consider "training" a learning session rather than "training". If in the first five minutes, (thanks to Lisa Montgomery) you haven't told me what I am doing "here" or why I should "care", I'm lost. Afterall, I do have ADH...oh look, a chicken! The older the student the more difficult it seems to "captivate" them. One important thing to remember is that adult learners come with their own preferences and experiences and they are all valid. I hope to differiate in my learning sessions by providing several "choices" for my learners - and myself.

Thanks to Teresa Thomassen, Debbie Ray, and Lisa Montgomery for real professional development that matters.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Have to thank the ginger librarian for the great shout out from a book repair session that I facilitated. Check out her blog...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Professional Development that counts

I just finished a two week workshop on Digital Literacy being offered by the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, NC. Wow what a wonderful experience. It was a small class and that meant that we had time to converse and get to know each other better. We also had plenty of time to learn A LOT of new technology. There are so many creative people. The CMS network issues aside, we had a great time and it was well worth my time. Anyone can search the Lesson Plan database (you may have to create a user name and be approved) and find the lesson unit that I completed on Copyright, Plagiarism and Ethical Behavior with Intellectual Property. Kudos to our coordinator, Crystal Lail, she was the best!

Now, I'm sitting the PLN session of our Pinnacle Leaders Conference in Gaston County. We've already gotten our monies worth...and there are two sessions left, plus lunch. Gotta move on...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I am often overwhelmed by the awesomeness that is the School Librarian Media Coordinator PLC in Gaston County, North Carolina. Having spent two days with these wonderful ladies (and our director, Grant  - Media Ladies, and Grant), I am so proud to be a part of this group. Truly we are leaders in the school and our media centers (learning commons) are the hubs of the learning communities in which we teach. What a great use of two days was our Summer Institute!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I am totally amazed by the amount of information that is out in the cloud that proves the worth of school librarians (and any librarian, really). We are uniquely suited to the task of inquiry learning. Think about the reference interview. We are often leading students in the devBelopment of a thesis statement. We are trained to hone topics to be specific without being too specific. We are trained how to train others to be digital consumers and good digital citizens. Wherever the statement "Librarian: the original search engine" came from, it came from someone who understood that sometimes that personal contact is far more important than the information sought.

As I work toward making my physical and online presence more learner and inquiry friendly, I am awash with ways and how-tos. It's difficult to know where to start but perhaps, my friend, Jennifer LaGarde., has the answer. She has blogged her ideas for how to most effectively get our know-how out into the public view. (See her blogpost at

Time...if only there were more of it. I'm sitting now at the gate at my high school for a soccer game. What am I doing work, one might ask. Well, a teacher's job (and that's what all school librarians are first and foremost), can not be done within the confines of the contracted 7 hour day. I know many business people who guffaw at what they call a "do-nothing" job but they haven't been in the trenches. I've been in their trench before, having worked over 10 years in the corporate world. And, while it's no "walk in the park" in the business world either, it doesn't really hold a candle to what happens to teachers everyday. A lot of people give me the "well you get the summer's off" defense. But for the best teachers, even that isn't true. In two days, just this week, I've worked 20 hours and will work at least 9 on Thursday. That's 44 hours for the week, if I work just the contracted time and meetings already in place. This is a slow and short week for me. Add grading, inputting grades, lesson planning and suddenly you have a 50-60 work week (of which, I get paid only for 40 hours). It's not that I'm complaining, it's that I want people to understand, teaching is a calling, it's not a profession, it's something you do because you are passionate about children and the future. It certainly isn't for the money (with my degrees in the corporate world, I would probably be making at least twice as much), it isn't for the great hours, and it certainly isn't for the parents of students who never do anything wrong in the parents eyes. It's because we care, we want to make a better future and understand that our students can only succeed with quality education.

Try this on for size...How about we ask the teachers about teaching and leave the politics to those professionals who desire political power?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I attended the 8th Annual Librarian to Librarian Networking Summit this past weekend. I was both heartened and depressed.

Heartened by my colleagues and by the amazing new things that are out there to help us help students. Gail Holmes presented some great resources for digital learning, a few a new about but I learned about more that will be beneficial to librarians across the state. She is currently an educator on loan to NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). She has a great site will many resources. Her wiki is even better.

Michele Oros presented a workshop on Grant Writing that is sure to be of use to those new to grant writing. She has some awesome information that will lead writers down the green path.

Gerry Solomon and Karen Gavigan, both ladies that I highly respect and admire presented information on tools that are out there to help School Library Media Coordinators (SLMCs) collect needed data and correlate the ability of the school media program to impact student test scores.

I was able to meet also, one of my heroes (or heroines, as the case may be), Frances Bradburn. This humble but confident lady helped to bring massive change to NC schools and is one of the authors of the IMPACT model with a host of other "big" names (including Gerry Solomon) from NCDPI. Names that I saw regularly in my teacher training program and later in TIPS (a Gaston County Schools initiative to support and help new teachers, which has been copied across the state). These people were my icons for so long, it was difficult to believe that I was seeing them in person!

IMPACT, a technology first initiative that started well before educators jumped on the proverbial technology bandwagon. Again, showing the vision of the NCDPI in staying ahead of the curve in the education of tomorrow's citizens.

Depressed, you may ask? Well, it's the decline of anything relating to School Library Media Centers. The Common Core coming to NC is a great thing. It brings critical thinking back into the educational arena - something that has, in my humble opinion, been sorely lacking. Common Core changes the horizon on high stakes testing, or does it? The advent of MSLs (Measures of Student Learning) seem to merely replace the all important, oppressive EOC (End of Course test).

Common Core has critical thinking at its heart. Critical thinking, a skill that requires inquiry learning and INFORMATION. Most schools in NC have an Information Specialist in their building. Librarians have a unique skill set that comes from study and experience. Most people do not know that librarians are required to have both an NC teaching license AND an MLS (Master of Library Science). I'm not suggesting that, necessarily, librarians are "smarter" than everyone else, just that our skill set includes the ability to locate information everything from beginning readers to technical manuals for subjects that only just been introduced. We know how to teach students about proper citation and use of appropriate resources (our libraries already have "pre-selected" authoritative and grade-level appropriate resources). We have, for years, matched to books/websites to readers, researchers, teachers, administrators, and in some case even community leaders. Librarians organize book drives, fairs, literacy nights - all with the betterment of student engagement in mind. We are uniquely qualified to not only assist teachers find resources, collaborate on projects, help students with inquiries but to filter the wheat from the chaff in terms of rhetoric and real life.

As teachers, we are all being pulled in multiple directions, asked to do more with less each year. Education takes the brunt of the "hit" for falling test scores and students' inability to achieve. No mention is ever made about parent and student involvement in the educational process. As librarians, we are often asked to perform tasks that are "specialized", even if not in our area of expertise. For example, many librarians are also the technology gurus at their school, being asked to fix equipment, troubleshoot computer problems, install equipment (all things that could be done by someone less qualified in Library Science and more qualified in Technology). But we do these things selflessly because in the long run, it will affect student learning and achievement.

I don't mean to complain, just to put my thoughts in words. Librarians ARE teachers and they ARE technology gurus and they ARE information specialists. We are ARE hard workers, we want to help, we want to impact students learning about life long learning and to instill a love of reading.

It's been said, and I agree, teach a student to read and you can teach them anything. Reading IS fundamental.

Hey, just my $.02 worth...