Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The School Librarian and the Common Core

"What’s new with Common Core is the increased emphasis on nonfiction in the classroom, but I think the basic skills of encouraging inquiry and discussion, close reading, and synthesizing information across subject areas—that’s just great teaching. I think the standards will encourage more communication between teacher and students to really ensure that the students are absorbing the material, so they’re not just spitting things back out on a test. And I think there is a lot of room within Common Core for creative lesson planning. What I see is that Common Core will make every teacher a literacy teacher, and that will encourage more collaboration with librarians—and not just at school. There is an opportunity here for public librarians, particularly in helping educate parents about what they can expect from Common Core."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 3 - Really?

The school year is off to a great beginning, but wow, has it been busy! Here are a few updates at the (near) start of the school year:

  • Every student grades 3-12 and every staff member has the ability to create individual accounts in our online library system, DestinyQuest. DestinyQuest allows you to monitor your checkouts, place holds, create reading lists and share recommendations. Let me know if you need help resetting your password or setting up a new account.

  • We now have ebooks at each building! They are accessible via DestinyQuest using any kind of  computer or you can use either an iPad or Android tablet. The iPad and Android tablets require the installation of 2 apps available through the iTunes store or GooglePlay. (Our ebooks are not supported on Kindle or Nook). Instructions for using these ebooks are posted on the APP CENTRAL page on the SCSD Media Services web site. Most check out just like a regular book, but we have a few that have a license for unlimited usage by our students and staff. You must be signed in to your DestinyQuest account to use the ebooks.

  • EasyBib School Edition, which integrates very nicely with Google Docs,  is now available to students and staff at the high school. Contact me if you need any assistance using it. It does MUCH more than cite sources.

  • EasyBib is one of the many apps available for smart phones and tablets. Think of these apps as a library in your pocket. I would be happy to demonstrate these to you and your students and help them set up helpful apps on their devices.

  • Iowa AEA Online labels are available at each of the Media Centers. For most of the databases, students do not need to login if their device is connected via our network, but if they are at home or connecting via their telephone service provider, the district's user name and password is required. This information is privileged and due to licensing agreements, not to be shared on any publicly available online sites.

  • Iowa AEA Online has added one new service this year, the AEA digital library, which is a collection of videos. Right now, it is fairly limited, but you might find old favorites there that are not available through Learn360.

  • Iowa AEA Online login and other ID/password combinations  (and more) are available to all staff signed into their Google Apps account by clicking on the Media Services Support link on the Staff Quicklinks page or by going directly to the Media Services Support site at: https://sites.google.com/a/solon.k12.ia.us/media-services-staff-support/ (You might want to bookmark it).

  • Almost all of the district's overhead projectors have now been replaced by document cameras (primarily ELMO brand), but maintenance is still required, especially for the projector. A dirty filter on the LCD projector (we have primarily EPSON brand) can cause it to overheat and shut down. Information on cleaning your filter can be found on the Media Services Support site. We have compressed air in each of the Media Centers if you would like to use that. 

  • The best way to reach me is via email or iChat. If I am with a class and not available, I will get back to you ASAP! There are lots of really great things going on already this school year. I'd love to collaborate with you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back it up!

When someone loses their data and doesn't have it backed up, I usually get wind of it. It can be just annoying or devastating. I try to be a good example and back up every week or so, although more often would be even better. Time Machine saved me when I  lost my iWeb files recently.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Connecting with my Teacher Librarian colleagues

I am so fortunate to work every day with outstanding educational professionals right here in my own district.

But occasionally it is reenergizing to get out and have F2F (face to face) connections with people who are doing the same thing as I am. I had that opportunity this last weekend when I attended the Iowa Association of School Librarians in DesMoines.

I have presented before at IASL, but this time I had the big stage, with the goal of getting folks excited for the Sunday evening activities and Monday's keynote and concurrent sessions. When conference chair Denise Rehmke asked me to do the opening presentation, I was honored, but surprised and nervous. I'm just a K-12 librarian out here trying to make a difference, not doing anything that unique from colleagues around the state. But I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could share that might encourage others to get out of the comfort zones of traditional practice and start to be a little "fierce" to quote Joyce Valenza (a TL who has had a tremendous influence in how I think about my role).

Here is the slide show I created for the talk:

It has a lot of references to school libraries, but much of the underlying ideas could be applied by anyone trying to develop a personal learning network.

It was a scary, but invigorating thing for me to do, but the feedback I've gotten from my peers really means a lot. I hope that it encourages them to share and reach out, not just to their own students and staff but to the world of learners.

The highlight - getting about 100 school librarians up to dance to "Super Duper Library Dance Party" by LJ Mover and Shaker, Scooter Hayes.

Here are some of the sources and apps I referenced:
Knowledge Quest - journal of the American Association of School Libarians
Lakeview Elementary Media Center (links to grade levels and blogs)
Books, Balls and Blogs (SMS Middle School Principal's blog)
Cybraryman (administrators love him)
Tweetdeck (a way to organize your twitter feed)
SLJ article on "Appy Hour" - wardrobe fail!
Transparency is the new black (Daring Librarian)
Dewey Decimal Rap (Melvil Dewey)
Library tech geek tribe (order swag!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A life boat or the cold water...

You are issued a boarding pass. It will determine if you survive the sinking of the Titanic or if you go down with the ship. 

5th and 6th graders learned about the passengers and their various fates, tied for a few minutes to their own. 

Thank you to Mrs Butterfield for organizing this activity, which truly brought history to life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Drop Everything And Read

Drop Everything And Read Family Reading Night is one of my favorite events of the whole school year. Nothing fancy. No refreshments, no video, no computers (not exactly true - more ereaders this year...). Just reading.

It is a wonderful experience. Readers, young and old, on the floor, curled up in corners, with parents, brothers and sisters... spread out all over the library - and there is silence.

I love the library a little loud, but there is something about all those readers, that just puts a lump in my throat.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

School Library Month

Every month is school library month at SCSD, but April is when we pull out all the stops and celebrate. 
At Lakeview, the highlight of the month is D.E.A.R. family reading night.
Students, staff, family and neighbors are invited and welcomed to drop by just to relax a few moments to READ. It is one of my favorite nights of the year.

When that is over, I will be presenting my IGNITE slideshow to the SCSD School Board.

All month, the SMS Media Center is hosting a spectacular display in recognition of the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It is bringing in lots of traffic and stirring up interest in the history of the event.

Next week we will be asking students and staff to share their thoughts about the Media Center on a poster just outside our entrance. We can't wait to read the comments.

At the high school, School Library Week dovetails nicely with National Poetry Month, so we celebrate both with displays and activities. Mrs Nielsen's 9th grade Language Arts students will be creating "book spine poetry" and sharing with another LA class in Van Meter. The result will be an online collection shared using FlipSnack.

We will also be running a YouTube playlist of poetry videos and scheduling an open mic poetry reading at the end of the month.

SHS students will be invited to submit essays (200 words or more) via Google Docs with the theme of "What the Media Center means to me". The prize will be a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card.

April is always a busy month - but we love it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

School Pride

A couple of weeks ago, the Iowa Press Citizen published a insert subtitled "34 of your teachers and students who make a difference". I was honored to be among those featured.


I have such respect and admiration for each and every one of the dedicated people who work for our school district, I believe that any one of them could have easily been selected to be interviewed and given the opportunity to highlight their strengths and beliefs.

I have the privilege of working every day with inspiring, fun, creative, caring and smart people. Who could ask for more?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Adoption of technology at Solon CSD

There were two interesting articles about education in the Gazette this weekend.

and an accompanying piece:

The 3rd grade class at the school cited above was doing a travel planning project using Google Earth. It reminded me a lot of a similar project we did last year with 4th graders, which was highlighted on the SCSD Technology Corner. This year, our 4th graders have Google accounts, so they will be able to create and share their own maps and use the spreadsheet function to track their dream expenditures. 

At Lakeview, teachers are using our technology in a wide variety of creative ways. 

  • A 3rd grade class, students recorded essays about United States presidents with Blabberize. (imagine Thomas Jefferson talking to you) and
  • In a first grade class, the teacher borrowed iPads from other classrooms and students wrote and illustrated their own books using ScribblePress.
  • The 6th grade Language Arts teacher put the finishing touches on a slideshow featuring parents and kids - the topic: bullying. 

Those are just the examples I was involved with. It doesn't include the camera equipped balloon Mr Cornally was describing to me in the commons at lunch time!

#TTW12 Teen Tech Week at #soloncsd

It's Teen Tech Week and we have some fun activities planned. Join in!

At SHS, we have an Old Tech Museum, featuring typewriters, slide rules, a slide projector and some items that students cannot identify.
We put them out last week and the students are fascinated!

We will also be making jewelry out of old computer parts
and running a Pinterest board contest.

At SMS, we are having a "Name That Blog" contest and will be featuring the SMS Tech Club's favorite sites.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Powerful reflection through blogging

SMS principal Mike Herdliska would probably freely admit that I nagged him about blogging for a couple of years before he took the challenge seriously.

I hope you have been following his writing journey from the beginning of the school year until now, as it is testament to the power of reflection and communication.

When you taking blogging seriously, you start making connections everywhere, from the walk down the 5th grade hallway to the treacherous, icy trip home after saying farewell to a beloved grandparent. You begin writing in your head, piecing together disparate thoughts that will ultimately relate to a point you feel compelled to share. 

I have seen this happen as Mr Herdliska's writing has evolved from fairly straight forward news reporting to a deep and moving essay on life, death and yes, the Iowa Core

It isn't easy to put yourself and your thoughts out into the ether for all to read and comment on, but what we ask of our students isn't easy either. I want to thank Mr Herdliska for showing us all that it is definitely worth taking that chance.

Making connections: Anatomy and Physiology students and THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

Making connections:
  • With the Solon Public Library. 
    • Director Kris Brown worked with local donors to purchase multiple copies of the award-winning nonfiction book. This book club collection will be shared with other Iowa communities in the future.
  • With teachers.
    •  A & P teacher, Dawn Posekany and I have been talking about Rebecca Skloots powerful story since we first read it a couple of years ago. We felt that a deep reading of the text would offer insights into many complex issues that would stretch the critical thinking skills of her students. This semester, Jim Erickson, Language Arts teacher, offered to team up with us to create a meaningful framework for developing questions and for helping the students prepare for facilitating group discussions. 
  • With the community. 
    • Local residents are invited to attend a discussion this Thursday March 1. A casual "bring your own lunch"starting at 11:30 a.m. will be followed by group discussions led by student teams divided into 4 topics: science, ethics/philosophy, race and journalism/literary structure.
  • With quality support materials.
    • In preparation for the discussion, students will locate, read and summarize outside research relating to their group focus. They will use subscription databases such as those provided by Grant Wood AEA and Iowa AEA Online and other resources that have been critically evaluated for scholarly use.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I can't just Google it

Friday, the SHS Media Center hosted local legislators for a discussion of SBG (Standards Based Grading).

Laptops, computers, technology - those words weren't used once.

What I did hear was Google, as in "if it can be Googled, it isn't really learning".

This is inquiry. Asking questions. Understanding.

This is the heart of what Media Services is about and what I am most interested in when working collaboratively. Let's do that.

Student Inquiry and Web 2.0

Deep Learning through Concept-Based Inquiry

Framing Transliterate Learning Through Inquiry and Participatory Culture

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

February 1st - Digital Learning Day

In recognition of Digital Learning Day, SCSD Media Services will be hosting two presentations at SHS. All students and staff are welcome to attend!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Since the holidays, I've heard a bit of buzz in staff lounges and in hallways about the various devices everyone has gotten recently, mostly for the holidays.

I monitor bunches of lists and Twitter hashtags that review and feature great apps - many of them free and I find myself wishing I knew who to push out the information to. I've sent out a few scoops, but I feel bad when I think I have missed someone.

So here is a form. If you want me to send you occasional email links when I run across something you might like, just fill it in and wait...

Another very viable option is to collect your own. It isn't hard. I use a combination of Diigo list subscriptions, blog subscriptions and Twitter hashtags. Let me know if you would like some help setting up your personalized feeds.

Don't forget to check out the Google spreadsheet I have shared with all SCSD staff.

Monday, January 16, 2012

1-16-12 Inservice

The entire teaching staff is meeting in the Lakeview Elementary Media center.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

If you're appy and you know it...

Late afternoon following an in-service doesn't appear to be the best time to offer the chance to share our experience/knowledge with apps. That doesn't mean we can't share other ways though.

Check out this SCSD crowd-sourced spreadsheet and add your own apps and comments. (SCSD Google docs login required).

Also take a look at my Diigo list for iPad for Education.

DestinyQuest 10.0

The most recent update of our library software supports the use of both Apple and Android apps that allow registered users to login, check their status, place holds, add books to lists and more!

Find instructions at: http://mediaservices.solon.k12.ia.us/scsdmediaservices/site/App_Central.html

Other apps are linked here as well. 
Dragon Dictate

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Post-holiday Appy Hour

I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us received an app compatible device as a gift in the last few weeks. Let's get together to share apps (and advice) again!

If you are interested, join us at the SHS Media Center Thursday January 5th after the in-service.

Snacks provided.

Peruse the collaborative app spreadsheet in advance and feel free to add your own suggestions.