Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shout It Off the Rooftop!

I am not a "look at me" kind of person - that being said, I have to stop and write about what an incredible couple of months November and December have been for me. I need to memorialize this, cause I am so busy all the time and I want to stop and really think about what I have accomplished. Let me start out by saying that 2009 was horrible. I had surgery and missed a half a year of school. I gained a lot of weight and was all around miserable. Now flash foward to the start of the 2010/11 school year.

First, I lost the weight, which for me was a big accomplishment. I'm by no means skinny (LOL), but I am at least comfortable in my own skin. OK, enough about that.

More important - In November I was invited to the SLJ Leadership Summit in Chicago. That was such an honor. I came back from that so inspired. I loved hanging around with superstar librarians and others - like Wendy Stephens, Joyce Valenza, Cathy Nelson, Gwyneth Jones, Rocco Staino, and Kathy Parker. I learned a ton about ebooks and ereaders. I even found $200 in cash on the floor of the hotel and apparently donated it to School Library Journal.

Also in November - I was asked to teach a course at the graduate library school at Long Island University next Fall. I wrote a mini-grant to get NookColors for my library and another to get 7 iPads for my school. Haven't found out yet about the NookColors. We are getting the iPads and I am happy I was part of making that happen!

In December I found out that my application was selected to participate in Project Enable in Syracuse this summer, along with Adam Dugger (gen ed teacher) and Amy Thomas (special ed teacher) in my school. We are representing our area for elementary.

I also applied to BrainPop to beta test integrating BrainPop with Google Apps for Education. Our school was selected. This is an awesome opportunity and I expect some good-looking BrainPop swag (hahaha). Seriously, though, there will be a benefit to the district. My Google Certified Teachers Group is the most fabulous network and the opportunities that come through it are amazing! I also have a great partner at work, Noel Forte, our tech integration facilitator, who is always open to diving into new opportunities in a very calm, organized way. We make a good couple.

I also was invitited to give a Google workshop in Florida by the Northeast Florida Library Network and will be giving a 2-day workshop in January to the Southwest Florida Library Network. And yesterday I started teaching a professional development course on Google Apps in my district. Oh, and did I mention that my fabulous father bought me an iPad for Chanukah, because he "is so proud of what I have accomplished." I am a very grateful daughter.

Yesterday I found out that my proposal to ISTE 2011 was accepted. What a way to end the year! I have to be honest that I am a teeny bit nervous about presenting to the big guns, but I have learned so much from them, it's my turn to give back to our school library network! They have scheduled me for Wednesday afternoon, which is not so great, but, whatever! I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity.

Like I said when I started, I don't like "look at me" - but then I was thinking about it, and as a school librarian, we can't be shy about shouting out about what we accomplish. We need to let the world know, we need to let our principals and administrators know. We do great things. We need to shout it off the rooftops!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gotta Love It

With all of the media bashing of school librarians lately, I had a week at work that kindled my spirit. It was a crazy, busy week - and I am drained - yet, ultimately, it was amazingly rewarding. The week started with writing two grants - 1 for iPads and 1 for NookColors. When we get those grants (and we will get the iPad one for sure) - I will know that I had a hand in bringing new technology to our school. That makes me feel good.

Yesterday I introduced my fifth grade classes to our new project - one based on the Picturing America artwork that my library received from the NEH grant. We started with a great lesson I found in Library of Congress on Analyzing Visual Images. It was totally a higher order thinking lesson (my favorite kind!) and it was just cool to see their brains open up as we made our way through the lesson. In the morning, before they came, I hung up a lot of the artwork in the hallway - and it got people talking.

One part of the lesson was analyzing an Ansel Adams photograph of Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp for Japanese-American citizens during WWII. We spoke about the historical context of the photo, the perspective, emphasis, and message of it.

Later that day, after school, my Book Bunch Club met. Here's what was cool: one of my 5th grade girls was so moved by the story of the internment camp that she asked me to help her find a book about it. I pointed her to Weedflower, a fantastic historical fiction book. Connection! Gotta love it.
Even better was hearing the kids in the club talk about how much they love to read and how happy they were that we were meeting. I don't know, it just made me feel good to listen to them chat with each other about books they love, about being able to meet like this. 10 year olds. Gotta love it.

Finally, I find myself being pulled into advocacy on a more intense level, lately, through my local and national library networks. I am glad. But I also feel like I am spreading myself very thin. Very. And when I come home from work I am spent. I am beta testing for Capstone, Google Apps/BrainPop. I am teaching professional development and developing syllabi for Library graduate school. Not to mention the million other things I do at work. I love it - but I am tired.

One more thing, if anyone knows any school on Long Island who is looking for a GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, please let me know! My daughter needs a job! Seriously!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Steps to take now for our schools- What Were You Thinking, Bernstein??

I just sent this letter to the editor to Newsday, regarding Marc Bernstein's (Superintendent of the Valley Stream Central High School District) Opinion Piece in yesterday's newspaper. I don't know if they will publish my response, but I will publish it here:

Superintendent Marc Bernstein says, "Other avenues to explore, especially when evidence is lacking, this Internet age, eliminating the antiquated requirement that all high schools have at least one full-time librarian and a minimum number of books." I say, the only thing that is antiquated is Mr. Bernstein's view of school librarians and the function of school libraries! School libraries are not simply warehouses; they are knowledge portals, manned by highly qualified educators who teach digital citizenship, inquiry, critical reading, evaluation, comprehension, analytical skills, collaboration, and creativity. We are, in fact, literacy leaders, teaching students the skills they need in a world where information is available across all kinds of platforms. In the "Internet age" that Mr. Bernstein speaks of, it is more important than ever to teach students how to seek and search for information. They might be very savvy with technology, but they don't necessarily know how to evaluate. The explosion of online resources demands that there is a teacher with expertise in technology and information-gathering (librarians) to guide students through the maze. We know how to let content spill outside of our libraries, into classrooms, and into students' lives wherever they may be. Our teaching focus is on enhancing literacy and encouraging critical thinking, problem-solving, and reasoned decision-making - essential 21st century skills that students need now more than ever!

Buffy J. Hamilton, high school librarian, writes in her blog, The Unquiet Librarian, "...President Obama In October of 2009, issued an official proclamation celebrating and affirming the importance of information literacy with the declaration of National Information Literacy Awareness Month. In this proclamation, he stated,

Our Nation’s educators and institutions of learning must be aware of — and adjust to — these new realities. In addition to the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it is equally important that our students are given the tools required to take advantage of the information available to them. The ability to seek, find, and decipher information can be applied to countless life decisions, whether financial, medical, educational, or technical.

How do you think students can become informationally fluent in the absence of rich, current, and diverse collections in their school libraries or appropriate access to digital content? How can we as a nation provide students the instruction needed to help students cultivate “the ability to seek, find, and decipher information” without fully funded libraries staffed by highly qualified, certified school librarians?"

Obviously, Mr. Bernstein does not support his school librarians and the integral role they play in educating students about information and digital literacies. Perhaps if he educates himself about the role we play as educators, he would change his opinion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ISTE10 Will Richardson: How Teaching Social Networks Might Save the World

It's been a long time since I blogged... today should make up for that! I am at ISTE10 and will live-blog some of the super thoughts that Will Richardson will share with us.
Here are my notes:

Will is working off an iPad - oh do I want one! Links to preso:

Gulf oil disaster--> it's hard not to look at pictures of it and not ask how can we help? For most of us it's a matter of donating money and good wishes. What can we do? How do we participate? How do we DO SOMETHING????? There are facebook groups that have been put together to share resources and give each other support. These groups are probably blocked at our schools - kids would have to participate on their own. Big on twitter, too. The point is over the last 10 years, these types of social interactions are changing the landscape in a lot of different ways. Must visit - they are livestreaming from the gulf. There are technologies and ways to come together that just weren't around 10 yrs. ago.

This is a challenging moment no matter how you look at it. Should we go to Deepwater Horizon oil spill page on Wikipedia: yes, it is the most current and unbiased information on the spill. We can learn outside of school, that makes school look less relevant for our kids because we have this ability to connect around our passions. These are important moments --defining moments in history - a defining shift. We have to solve the education problem before we can solve the environmental problem. There are all sorts of resources that we are not modeling for our kids in schools. Doesn't matter what the topic is, if you are not feeling uncomfortable, then you are not paying attention - what is our role as teachers and educators?

Will became a vegetarian because of ecological reasons, not health reasons. His way of trying to pay attention to the environment. Blogging has been transformative in Will's life - he can participate in ways he never had before, a voice to the world. Small attempt to change his world.

Will is showing his clustrmap and what he really wants is his kids to have a clustrmap like that too. This is what kids need - a different classroom then the school classroom. Educators have to help kids understand what these global interactions mean. Teach kids to connect around their passions and then become part of something bigger than themselves.

MacArthur report says teens are using 'friendship-based' tools, but a growing movement towards 'interest-based' around their passions and meeting people they don't know. This is the stumbling block we get to: kids are connecting to adults they don't know - we say 'oh no, that's not a good thing; but what we have to say is "it IS a good thing." Students don't undertstand the skills and literacies that go along with this - not getting it necessarily from teachers and parents. How can we MODEL those interactions (tech/librarians listen up!). Steven Johnson: "There is no doubt that five years from now, when my kids are teenagers, they will be comfortable living in public ways that will astound and alarm thier parents."

4 books that have influenced Will:

1. Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken

2. Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

3. Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey**

4. Tribes by Seth Godin - we have everything we need to build something bigger than ourselves and this is what we should do.

This is a compelling, different moment in time that we are in right now. Social technology is an opportunity that has not been in our context before; it's speed and creativity; put up a basement video on youtube and it can go viral. "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" on YouTube has gone viral over 7,5000,000 views - created by a physics teacher, led to him writing a book, "What's the worst that could happen?"

"There have always been networks of powerful people, but until recently it has never been possible for the entire world to be connected-Paul Hawken. "For kids, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades."

How are we as schools to be those problem solvers?? We have to give them opportunities to solve problems in the classroom first. Examples of students taking initiative to solve problems on thier own.

"25 Days to Make A Difference" blog - kid made her efforts to do great things everyday. Has connected all over the world--kept making a difference.

Ryan's Well blog -7 year old who changed the world 7 yrs ago to bring clean water in developing countries.

This is k-12 curricular integration.We need to have literacies around this. BP has bought google ads--it is interesting for a lot of kids who don't know what sponsored links are - are we teaching them about those kinds of literacies? NCTE has created new 21st c literacies. Are we doing this? Very similar to ALA standards.

If we are not there ourselves, how will our kids be???

WE all have to be Walter Cronkite - we have to look at info and make sense of it, participate in it, not just consume it. Daniel Goleman says we need a shared intelligence.

Discussion pages in wikipedia is where people negotiate the truth, critical thinking and analysis. The info comes in through twitter, delicious, we share and we all get smarter potentially. - you can scan products with your iphone and will give you info about the health of the product and rated it's effects on environment and society. Info that would help us make the world better. In schools, how do we prepare kids to tap into and make sense of this flow of knowledge? Look at google earth presentation on how climate change will effect California by Jean Ricshard.

How do we prepare students to create, navigate and grow their own plns in safe and ethical ways.. this is where they need us to model how to grow this network in safe ways.

We are being greenwashed - bunch of crap. Everything now is marked as green aWe are being techwashed in education - cause we have to understand which tech is transformative. We have to get serious about where we are going in environmental and educational technology.

1.Know your impacts.--what is impact of standardized testing

2.Favor improvements--we should always be looking to make things better, never be satisfied with status quo - we need to advocate and push for better tech and resources.

3. Share what you learn --take the best things you are doing and be transparent, share with the world

We need to teach environmental education, integrated - post stuff for advocating environmental causes.; takingitglobal participate in great projects. Sprout ecourse for social innovators and environmental entrepreneurs who want to grown their project ideas.

Video from Michael Wesch-PdF2009 - The Machine is (Changing) Us

Seth Godin: "Leadership is a choice. It's the choice to not do nothing."

We need to think deeply about the choices we make for ourselves and for our kids.