Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Brilliant Tech Presentation

While cruising the blogs I found this excellent presentation of tools..
Great compilation..but the very best part is the suggestion on slide 26...
print out one page of the presentation a week and distribute to all staff members...a quick and easy way to pass along tech tips!

It goes by really fast - so use the pause/play button to toggle between

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dewey Decimal Rap

I'm working on a lesson plan for my grad class...4th graders and Dewey Decimal system. I came across the most hilarious video called the "Dewey Decimal Rap." It's excellent! I had seen mention of it on twitter and other library postings - but hadn't actually watched it! Tee! Hee! Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Professional Development

Yesterday was an all district in-service. The morning was dedicated to technology! We had a rather amazing technology showcase - different teachers from all 5 buildings shared projects they are doing with students which use technology. It was great to see progressions and variety and innovation! I must admit I was more than a little proud!

Phyllis and I made a commercial "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" It was silly and fun! Elementary Library Site
This is a link to Phyllis' website so you can see the commercial

I also made an animoto highlighting activities in the district the first quarter of the year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Budget cuts...

Today was the day the budget woes became official. The superintendent and the business manager presented what our district will be doing to try to deal with $570,000 less for the rest of this year.

Schools are in a hard place..what do you do when 80% of your budget is already spoken for by contracts and yet you have to cut this much money. But, as scary as that is - you know that next year will be even worse. Then the contracts will be on the table.

So - we need to be creative and positive and trusting. It's hard to be all those things when the future looks precarious. But, if we begin to loose even one of those descriptors - things can spiral downhill very quickly.

As a new person in a different position - it's really hard to know what to think or what to do.

So - I wait and hope and wait...

maybe I'll read a bit while I wait...that can only help right???

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reading as a job

This weekend I read. It was wonderful and it was work and it kept me from interacting with my family and it kept me from getting my homework done and it was wonderful!

I was totally immersed in the world of Gregor and the Underland.

This is a series of 5 books by Suzanne Collins. She is some kind of writer! I absolutely LOVED and HATED Hunger Games and Catching Fire! They were wonderful and awful and I couldn't put them down. They are also a more high school theme.

These books are also WONDERFUL and AWFUL! and I loved them and couldn't put them down. They are more focused on a Middle School audience.

I just want to say how amazed I am at Collins. She creates a world so detailed and interesting and repulsive and alluring all at the same time. Each of these stories made me so happy to live in the time and place that I do. But, each of these two very different settings haunted my thoughts and my imaginings for a long time.

Collins has a knack for creating characters that you really relate to. In Gregor some of those characters are giant cockroaches, rats and bats. Yes, you read correctly - giant bats. and they are the good guys!! Each of these characters are human sized and larger and they can all talk.

So how in the world do you bring life to a clicking cockroach? You have it become totally and completely mesmerized by a sweet two year old girl and then have the little girl be as taken by the cockroaches. Weird and wonderful...

Gregor is an eleven year old boy who is drawn in to the prophecies of the Underland as their new warrior. He is called on to be so much more than his 11 years should need to - but he understands the responsibilities and really tries to live up to the Underlanders expectations. Yet, under all he is just a boy. He reminded me so much of Katniss in Hunger Games. Both were asked to carry devastating responsibilities for others and yet their true nature was not subverted!

The world of the Underland is constantly at war. Yet, there is a governing code of honor between species. When the line is crossed late in the 5th book it is devastating and brutal. Contrast that to the world of the Hunger Games where the very idea of children fighting to the death is not really a code of honor - but rather brutal survival and anything goes.

Even though they may sound a bit gruesome, I would recommend both of these series with no reservations. They are amazing.

When I finished reading the 5th Gregor book today, I felt a bit hollow. Although the series ends with this book, the story does not. All the ends are not tied up. The imminent danger is passed, but life is not all neat and tidy.

I think that is my favorite part of all of Collins books. Life is not all neat and tidy, but the characters don't expect that. Rather they are immersed in ebb and flow of life - and the never ending cycle of war and peace and war and peace.

Maybe that is the real theme of all of these Collins books regardless of the series. Ending the cycle into which you have been born. Opening your eyes and helping those around open theirs as well. Seeing what the possibilities are - hard as they might be. But, really imagining a future that is different from where you are. It's hard work to create and sustain that future! That's the part that I like!

So - Suzanne Collins... You rock!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Who are blogs for? I've been thinking about that a lot lately. After our ITEC time and all the talk of PLNs I was all fired up. I've been reading more blogs, adding ideas to this blog...


I'm talking to myself. Does that negate my PLN? So - if I am using this blog to rumintate on what I'm reading that's still ok, isn't it.

It has made me understand how important it is to provide an actual audience for students as soon as they enter the world of the blogs. If you want to be read and heard..we as teachers need to make completely sure they will be!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

David Warlick and ITEC day 2

Again the future was a big part of the keynote on day 2.
David Warlick's take was a little different...

His beginning premise was...
for the first time in history - we are preparing our student for a completely unknown future.
What do our children need to be ready for this future?

>Make sure they can teach themselves
- stop integrating technology for the sake of integration and make it a new
-this is what our students will need
>Teach students to be digital detectives.
-teach them to ask questions of print - not blindly accept as we were taught to
-teach students to find out who is publishing the website, is it legitimate,
is it current

Warlick's Contemporary Literacy

>Exposing what's true
>Employing the information
>Expressing ideas compellingly
>Ethical use of the information

He also said that schools who have dropped the arts are no more than factories!!!
That got a big cheer!!

I then attended three workshops that he led...
1. PLN - professional learning networks
2. RSS - Really simple syndication
3. Second Life

He was an excellent speaker - pleasant southern drawl and incredibly thought provoking ideas!

Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink and David Warlick both shared an understanding about our students futures that sort of haunts me.

Pink quoted an administrator who said..." We need to prepare kids for their future not our past."

His ideas focused on the current school system as very left brained...linear, sequential, a list of facts or processes. This prepared students for jobs that were the same way.

Today - those jobs are not on the continent. Instead our students face a future that is constantly changing - filled with tools that are constantly changing

is 21st century skills were...
>Design - thinking about the way things are put together - ideas and items
>Story - beyond the facts - the delivery counts
>Symphony - seeing the big picture
>Empathy - seeing another's view
>Play - obvious!
>Meaning - purpose

Finally, he applied this to education this way..

1. Explore new metrics - we need a different way to test
2. Get real about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) employers want more than students who know the content
3. Rethink motivation - study results say that rewards stifle creativity!!
4. Promote and defend autonomy - need self direction
5. Infuse arts education throughout the curriculum - change it from ornamental to fundamental

ITEC ponderings...

I must start out by saying I dreamed about ITEC last night...very scary. I was sitting in a perpetual audience listening to David Warlick and imagining my future. When I woke up this morning it all made sense to mid-morning I have absolutely no idea what ah ha moments I understood.

But, does that show you what an effect this conference had on me?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tomorrow's presentation

Tomorrow I will attend ITEC and I will co present a workshop in the afternoon. Phyllis, my mentor, friend and elementary librarian, and I will lead a workshop on Elementary Tech Clubs. We have been leading a Tech Club at our elementary school for the past two years and are going to share our experience.

This is the third presentation we've done together...the past two were about podcasting and I was incredibly nervous...

This time - I am not. I'm not sure why that is...I think it's becasue I feel much more connected to my content and we aren't dependant on technology for things to go well.

I made an animoto video showing an overview of club meetings and a short iMovie of 6th grade testimonials. THey both turned out really well. Animoto is so cool! It makes everything look so sophisticated and important when it's actually a dump and mix program. I love that kind of thing!!!

Anyway, we shall see how everything works out...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

PLN questions..moving from me to others...

I finally had some time to catch up on my Google reader blogs and twitter feeds.
It's been awhile.
It ticks me off that I let it slide. Because, each time I spend time reading I find new ideas and get recharged.

It makes me amazed...

There are so many different ways to broaden my horizons. So many different people for me to learn from. So many different sites for me to read. And yet for a long time I was content to just stay in my own world - following my own colleagues.

Through my classes, my internet searching and my reading my horizons have continued to grow. do I convince others of the importance of using their precious time this way?

How can I use my role as librarian to share and encourage? How can I be an advocate for this type of professional development?

As I ponder that movement I want to share a few of my findings tonight...

One of my favorite blogs is the CoolCat Teacher Blog. She has such excellent posts...
This one is on some if the things to remember when you start the new school year...they are not earth shattering - but they are realistic and things you can do right this minute. I like that!

I also worked on my twitter account.

I wanted a different background and was able to figure that out.
I also found a mashup list ... of educators and librarians to follow. I spent way too much time cruising between these twitter pages and the blogs they belong to.

And I think I came up with the beginnings of an idea. I need to start some type of newsletter - or web-based info page with sites that would be of interest to the teachers I work with. I think...
It's at least a start.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Middle School Library Video

Orientation video

Made using Animoto and the educator's account! Lots of fun and very easy to do!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

you just never know...

When I got to the other district where I work today - their school life was in a bit of a tizzy...
Yesterday afternoon the computer that controls the bells and the intercom had suddenly forgotten it was part of the network.
So - there were no bells.
There were no intercom options.

I spent the first hour + on the phone trying to figure out what in the world we could do to solve this.

It eventually was solved - for today.
I wish there was a clear and plain solution. Instead, we think that some of the internal parts of the network are just plain dying...

This is when things got interesting. One of the switches had orange lights blinking - I took that to mean something wasn't working. My tech director told me that I had to unplug that switch and reconnect to see if it helped the problem.

What if it never comes back on??
What if I am the cause of that...

But, I didn't create the network,
I didn't create the cabling problems,
I didn't create this aged equipment predicament.

That is what I need to start learning...I am not the cause of this. And who really cares who is the cause - that doesn't solve one single problem. Instead, I need to focus on ways to be part of the solution.

So - I was brave and I pulled the plug and nothing crashed down on me, no sirens blew and no computers exploded in smoke.

Nothing was fixed either.

And that's when things became even more interesting...

There was a person almost 100 miles away who had several switches to donate to us - we just needed to go and get them. It was decided that taking a road trip today and picking up the equipment was the best use of our afternoon.

It was a BEAUTIFUL trip - through the rolling countryside with the changing leaves of the grain fields flying by the windows and the blue sky framing everything above.

So -what did I learn from all of this.

There are many times where the hard and the good walk side by side.

I am learning and growing into a different person
- one who is part of the problem solving team. (There were times this morning that I actually made suggestions and some of them worked!!)
-one who other people listen to because they think I know... and I do...

Wow!! I guess sometimes you do know!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I taught my first class today...

Today was a big day for me because I taught my first class...
That sounds like more than it actually was...

Actually I taught part of a class today about databases and plagiarism.
Sound exciting? That is about how excited the kids were too...

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time creating a brochure of the steps for using the different databases that we have..

I also edited a PowerPoint about plagiarism. This was one that had been taken from Purdue's OWL writing lab by my predecessor. I made changes and gave credit to Purdue. That seemed important since it was about using someone else's work.

Then as I got started presenting I just sort of rolled...
I wasn't nervous. That surprised me. Instead, I felt confident and like I knew my stuff. And I did now my stuff...

So - how did I do?

Don't really know...but that's ok.
It's a start and that makes me excited!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

a weird thing happened on the way to my blog design...

I was busily trying out new looks for my blog. Surfing, cruising the web and downloading an assortment that I really liked. I had tried out several different ones and had settled on the new look when my 13-year old and three of her friends came in to see what I was doing.

I showed them the options I was thinking of using, starting with the design that I had decided on.
They hated it! It was very stark and simple with a large @ key at the top and a chain hooking that to the side. They were appalled I wanted a chain in my title. I hadn't even really thought of that.

I showed them the other options and they unanimously decided on this design. Not, even in my top three choices.

So, why am I giving in to my daughter's opinions? Why do I even care?

It intrigues me what each of us focus on. I liked the simple lines and sparse design. They liked the colors and the movement of the watercolor design.

How does this all fit in to my library thoughts? I am interested in the different perspectives we bring to book choice. I know what I like and why and I seem to believe that every one should/would/must feel the same way. But, each of us have that same thought process. So, how do we help one another?

I think I need to be reminded in a million little ways to listen first and talk second.
To pause and listen.
To slow down and pause and listen and then talk.

And in the pause and the listening I need to be sure that I will actually hear and not be so preoccupied with my own thoughts that I won't even hear.

To new blog layouts, 13-year old daughters and the wisdom of listening!!!
Happy Sunday afternoon!! :)


Now that I am in the midst of the library - I am finding I have less time for some of the things that I really love. I sincerely hope that is a passing trend. I haven't picked up a book to just read all week. YIKES!!!

I remember a conversation I had with a public librarian many years ago. She came over to talk to me as I was loading my arms with another round of books from the new book display, the first thing to greet you as you enter the library. I had been steadily reading my way through the current stock of books - and was looking forward to new titles appearing. I remember the wistful tone in her voice when she asked me what books I had especially enjoyed and which authors I preferred. I asked her the same.

Her answer is what brings back this conversation..."Well, I really don't have time to read anymore. Everyone seems to think that is all librarians do. Ha!"

I'm sure our conversation continued on -I am always ready to tell someone about my current reading favorite. But, I have come back to the sadness in her voice and the matter-of-fact tone. How could a librarian, a lover of books, surround herself in a world of books and not have enough time to read?

I was thinking of that this week as my life has filled up with all the other things I need to do. Since my title has changed from teacher to librarian, reading has sort of moved from pleasure and escape to a 'have to.' Not like laundry and cleaning out the refrigerator - but more like checking emails on the weekend or making the rounds to say hello to all the staff members after a holiday. I like doing those things, they are necessary and important, but there are other ways I would prefer to spend my time.

I WON'T let reading get to that place in my life.
I absolutely can't.
Reading has been too important a part of who I am.

But, my book recommendation blog has been stuck since the middle of summer. The stack of books by my bed has not moved an inch - except to be bumped by the vacuum cleaner.

I don't want to add reading to my to do list. I want to believe that this week was a blip, a momentary hiccup to remind me of my priorities. I am so ready to crawl back into the world of a book and relax.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A day in my life...

It's hard to break down what my days will be like. Everything is changing right now. Because of that, I don'[t really have a normal. I've heard that from classroom teachers before, but I never understood it in the same way that I do now.

Tomorrow is the first day of school at Mid-Prairie. It is the day that I worked toward and geared up for each year for the past 20 years. And tomorrow I will be working in a completely different district...weird!

I will spend tomorrow in Keota working with Josh to get computers up and running for their first day, Thursday.

...I'll be out of my district working...

I knew things would change - but this feels really weird...really weird.

And the weirdest of all - it doesn't bother me nearly as much as I would have thought. Instead, it's kind of exciting to start something completely different. REALLY hard - but exciting...

So - a day in my life...nothing to base the pattern on yet.

Monday, August 24, 2009


It's been really interesting taking part in multiple building meetings this year. Much of the basic content overlaps and intermingles. The people tend to be a bit interchangeable as well. There are the doodlers, the nodders, the smilers and the frowners. There are also those who take notes often and those who wouldn't consider holding a pen. Then, there are the whisperers.

But, today I saw a new breed. It made me mighty sad.

As the principal was talking and explaining and expounding on ways to improve the building and engage the students one teacher stood up, walked to a sheet of paper on the table behind the principal and signed up to use the computer lab later in the week.

No one in the room gasped or snickered or jeered. The principal continued to talk, the teacher finished writing and returned to the original seat.

I know I am still like a visitor. This isn't really my building yet. I haven't become a part of this mostly millennial staff. But, watching this I'm not sure if I want to. To be so self-absorbed and self-centered...



I think I need to take the advice of a veteran meeting attender...she told me I need to perfect the ability to daydream!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Library Website

One of the things that I've been poking away at all summer is an updated website for the Secondary Libraries at M-P. Previously there was a separate website for the Middle School and the High School. I really wanted to have one website - easier for me to keep updated and many of the links are used by both.

I started with the suggestion of our Tech Director using It's a great website for web design. There are simple click and move elements to use in their precreated templates. They provide a 2-week trial to play.

I really liked the options - I found it easy to use and manipulate. So - after two weeks I took the plunge and purchased a one year committment. Our site is housed on their servers and can grow as needed.

With the Tech Director's help we also bought a domain rather than having 'squarespace' as part of our web address - it's just...

It's not quite done...but I'm really pleased with it so far. It was SO VERY helpful to have a great site to start from. The former librarian had great links and that really helped guide me.

So - one thing almost off my list...

It's about time week we start the teacher workshop days - the first one is an optional tech day and I am teaching a workshop on Online Resources and highlighting many of the places we visited this summer. I'm really excited to share! Thanks to Kristin I feel ready!!!


Another step forward...

I had decided not to make many changes in the libraries this fall.
I wanted to see how things worked and then make decisions.


I really wanted to do a little rearranging. Just a little.

What I didn't know is that rearranging shelves in a library is not an easy task. You can't just give them a shove and expect them to end up where you want them to go. It's a major undertaking.


I really wanted to see the change.

So, I talked to the janitor about moving a section of shelves.
I started weeding the section that needed to be emptied.
I emptied the rest of the books off that section.
And in the afternoon when the janitors came in to move, we (the media secretary and I) were ready to help.

The shelves were moved with much shoving and lifting and rearranging of moving carts.

When they were rolled to their new home I knew I had to love them matter what.

I held my breath


I did.

Now - I hope I am not the only one that loves them there. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That one day of panic...

Each year about this time I have a day of pure panic. It's late summer - school is nearing and I am certain that I should have so much more done than I really do. I wake up early in the morning and stay awake late at night running in circles trying to prepare.

So, my normal pattern is to make lists and spend the day making sure I have all the things I need to jump right in and get ready.

Today was that day! But, this year my patterns are different. I don't have a classroom to get ready - instead I have two libraries.

So - I woke up at 4:00 this morning, wondering and worrying about what this year will hold. I stewed and I worried and I pondered because my confidence was pretty non-existent!!!

Then I grabbed a hold of myself and starting doing something productive! I spent some time cruising the listserv and seeking out the advice of seasoned librarians. I looked back over my notes and idea files from classes. I started feeling a bit better

Mid-morning I decided to go to the High School and spend some time in the library working on the website and getting caught up on some paper work.

And it was there that my panic really changed...

When I arrived one of the media secretaries was working on another project. I am so fortunate to have two very positive, very capable, very dependable and very amazing ladies working in the HS and MS libraries. My stress level drops each time I chat with either of them. They know these libraries and are dedicated to making all the pieces fit! WOW!

After chatting for a bit, I felt so much more focused and excited!

Then a little later the high school secretary stopped in my office. My stress level dropped another notch! Both of the buildings have very positive, very capable, very dependable and very amazing secretaries! (I tell you M-P is a great place!!!) Chatting with her helped me feel welcome and relax a little more.

Finally, our district Tech Director stopped in to ask me to help out with a tiny project. After he left, I was down right peaceful!

Each of these three conversations put things in perspective for me. Each person gave me a bit of concrete advice to apply immediately, and I was ready to go!

So, although it's really early in the morning and I should have gone to sleep looooong ago...I am past my panic. Instead, I am just excited!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


This is from a blog called the "Unquiet Librarian"...It's all about making the changes based on what we see from the outside...Interesting food for thought...

So what might these “pivot points of change” look like in a school library? Here are some examples I’ve brainstormed this evening:

  • Keep books and print materials in your library, but add and promote the formats in which their content appear (i.e. audio books, databases, e-books, downloadable books (such as NetLibrary), free online versions of periodicals).
  • Keep teaching evaluation of online resources, but teach students (and teachers) to apply those same principles of information to traditional sources of information—they are not immune from bias or inaccurate information, either.
  • Keep your traditional sources of authoritative information, but let the research topic and mode of research guide the integration of social media information sources and tools for delivering that content.
  • Keep teaching information literacy skills, but focus on the bigger picture of helping students devise personal learning networks that they can apply to any learning situation instead of a topic specific research task.
  • Keep teaching students Internet safety principles, but also shift your focus on the concept of digital footprints and teaching students how to create and maintain a positive online identity.
  • Continue creating a warm and welcoming physical library environment, but give equal attention to developing a virtual library presence that is accessible to students via 24/7 with elements such as a virtual learning commons or online classroom through a platform like Elluminate.
  • Keep teaching quality resources like NoodleTools for managing and citing information, but teach additional tools for this student toolbox by using tools like Zotero.
  • Keep school rules in mind, but explore ways to tap into the power of devices like cell phones and iPods for student learning and present a plan for using these tools to your administrator so that you can provide service where your students are.
  • Keep writing a vision statement and annual PDEP (Program Design and Evaluation Plan), but compose it in a different format, such as a mindmap format, video, or other multimedia/visualization medium.
  • Keep positing literacy as a primary focal point of your library program, but expand that definition of literacy to include new media literacy and information literacy as mainstream literacies equal in importance to traditional literacy.
  • Keep adding Web 2.0 tools for information delivery and access, but market your library in places where your parents may be more so than students (such as Twitter or Facebook) to share news about your library program and to network with your parent community.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This is from a response on the Classroom 2.0 PLN forum page. The responders name is Marsha Ratzel - and I think this is so very interesting!! It's very down to earth.
The best way I've found is to keep a list going. Use Word or Stickies or
whatever makes sense for you about topics, ideas, quotes, stats...anything that
makes you want to stop and and think. Then when you have time to blog, you can
go back to that idea file and pick one out to blog about. I read lots of other
bloggers...and I feel that is super important. It builds community if you read
and comment on other people's blogs. It maybe one of the best ways for you to

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Final thoughts...

So - it's time to turn around and reflect on where I have come.

I have spent a lot of time playing with many of these tools before class started- but that's all it was...playing. I had not made the jump between my personal experiments and my library. This summer helped me to pull those two pieces together. It gave me time to hone my skills and discover new places to explore! I loved that!

So - what are my take aways??? IN A WORD...GOOGLE

First: Google Reader.

I love this tool. I had a list a mile long of blogs I followed now and again...but they are on my DEAD computer. Google reader makes it possible for me to access the blogs from whatever computer I have in front of me. I LOVE that!

Kristin's organization and usage suggestions also made this a more helpful tool. I had played with Bloglines and just got more and more confused. This is clean and easy.

But - her most important suggestion is to keep a short and managable list. This is something that I REALLY need to work on. I keep growing my list.

Goal for this year: Cull my list to those I am really interested in. That will be my focus.

Second: iGoogle

This is another awesome tool. I've changed my home page to iGoogle and keep tweeking what I want to appear and where. This is such a great way to organize the things I really am interested in. This also solves my stupid dying computer issue. Because it's online I don't need to worry about loosng links.

Goal for this year: Keep organizing and subtracting from this page.

Third: Google in general

I was in an ITEC (Iowa Tech Convention or something like that) workshop a couple of years ago on google and all it's extras. It was too much for me at the time. There are so many pieces of this that I really like and want to learn...after the summer spent loving iGoogle and Google Reader I think I'm ready to play with a few more Google Earth, Google docs and all the Educators possibilities

Goal for this year: Explore Google for Educators and share with my new staff

This Google love is all so unexpected. I have sort of felt that it's trying to take over the world and now I am becoming a believer...little scary! But it's just too good to miss!

This takes me to my my blog list it just keeps growing...I have started using twitter and am trying to figure out how that fits in to the whole PLN idea.

I will continue to follow Joyce V and Kathy Schrock and Kristin S and Will Richardson and Warlick and and and...

That continues to be my problem. But - as I use twitter the posts are short and focused - in some ways that's easier for me to deal with than long blog posts. I tend to be a skimmer and twitter may be my best friend.

I also plan to stay connected with the amazing talents that I have been attending grad school. There is so much knowledge and experience and energy in our cohort - I'm really looking forward to growing up our skills together! I feel honored to be a part of that network!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More books...

Yesterday was a day that I gave myself to read...just to read...and to see Harry Potter!!

And read I did...I read Marcelo and the Real World in the morning and Graceling in the afternoon and evening...and into the wee hours of the morning...I LOVED THEM!!!

I just kept thinking...why wasn't I reading these during class. BOth are sweet and interesting and a bit inspiring - ok Graceling only inspires me to wish I had a Grace and want to learn to sword fight(but I digress).

So - it makes me wonder about my previous opinions about YA being only dark and depressing books.

Both of these books have heavy themes - Marcelo's investigating lies at his father's law firm and Katsa is trying to figure out what to do with her gifted killing skills while rescuing a little girl.

BUt, there is something in the way they are treated that isn't as heavy handed. Maybe it's because it's not realistic fiction - but Marcelo is. I don't know.

I just know I got to the end of them with hope and inspiration...maybe that's a little heavy handed and sappy...

Now I need to write a couple of responses and my final post...truly I'd rather just be reading! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twitter post from Warlick...

THis is a really great website that Warlick tweeted on...

It is REALLY full of stuff...

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where I'm From...

This little movie is inspired by a poem written by George Ella Lyon. It shows just a little of what comes together to make me...

Sunday, July 12, 2009


How powerful to hear the actual person telling the story. I think that was my favorite part of this presentation. It was also very cool to hear his daughter tell how easy it was to make a voicethread...I think we may have chosen to disagree in the beginning of our learning.

Years ago my students did family tree project. They made a family tree and as they shared their tree with the class they had to 'tell' at least 2 stories about some member of their family on the tree. This would be a perfect way to share that project!

Great ideas!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What it all Means -Richardson

I appreciated this culminating chapter, but...

Much of this is way out of my control. I know every little bit helps - but sometimes you just feel so alone. When you stand in front of a group of teachers showing them another tech tool and you know their inner dialogue has already labeled you a gets a bit hard.

I think that's where the PLN comes into play. Being a part of a PROFESSIONAL network helps you to know that you really aren't alone. You are part of a movement that is challenging the standard and encouraging change.

So, when I read the epilogue and imagined how seamlessly all this fit together - it made me cringe. I really don't believe my district will be to that point before I the next 15-20 years. I hope that I can come back to this post and know that I sold us short.
But, I'm afraid that is not the reality.

We are but drops in the ocean! But, after all, the ocean is made of of only drops! :)

Podcasting...Richardson ch. 8

I've been dabbling in podcasting with my 4th graders for the past 3 years.

Three years ago we did a podcast called "News To You." For this the students worked in teams to interview teachers and staff members at Kalona Elementary to make a twice monthly podcast. They also told jokes, celebrated famous birthdays and had a run-down on the district sport teams.
This is the white board that we used to plan the podcast - each student was on a team and played a role in the recording of these.

We had a great time and received some nice press due to our involvement - channel 2 news from CR came down and did a segment on us! :)

This is a closeup of our goals for these podcasts. I think the last one is the best...NOT BE BORING!!!
The kids worked really hard on that!

The next year we did podcasts on the 50 states - 1 per state. So I posted 50 of these on the class site. Students again worked in small groups. The podcasts focused on facts, places to visit and activities on the states. Groups also wrote test questions based on their podcast.

One of the major benefits I saw was the change in writing from the beginning to the end of hte project. As the students realized that there was a real audience - their writing improved. As did their speaking voices!

4-2 Class website - this is a link to the very outdated class website. There is a tab at the top that says USA PODCASTS - when you arrive at the page - click on archives and it will take you to the list of our podcasts. The NEWS TO YOU tab and the earlier podcasts no longer work...clearly this page has been ignored last year...oops!!

Last year - NO PODCASTS. I just didn't have the energy to continue as I worked through grad classes. These projects take a lot of teacher energy. The students are thrilled to be doing this - but it's all new. There were times I felt awful about that - I had an amazing class and they would have loved the process. But, I just couldn't seem to make it happen.

Next year - new schools, new jobs, new grade levels...Don't really know what will happen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ch. 6 - Implementation

I think the quote from Eric Hoffer on page 164 sums up this whole idea...

"In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves
beautifully equipped to work in a world that no longer exists."

WOW! That is the world of our students - but isn't that also the world that we are entering as librarians!

Our job is not to use these products because we think that we have to - instead it is to use these products because it is the way the world works. It is the only way to inherit the earth and the children we are called on to teach!

I am just going to jot down two of the quotes that knocked me upside the head...almost off my floating mat. (Remember - in the pool!)

160 - We are realizing that teaching technology today would make as much sense as teaching pencil was in the 1950s and 1960s. The shifts in our information landscape have impacted on society and caused us to rethink what and how we teach, not advances in technology.

161 - We have to think differently about teaching and learning, not simply use new tools.

I love the idea of the PLN - and that is because I've felt the benefit of that already in our cohort. I am convinced of the need for I need to convince others.

Chapter 5 - Ethics and Context

This is probably one of the MOST important chapters in this book. I have sometimes felt that this is the tedious and policeman part of my job...but after reading this chapter - my attitude has been adjusted!

The story about the Piper, Kansas school was such a great example - but Warlick didn't stop there. I got that part that these parents needed a kick in the rear. But, that didn't seem to be his point...The paragraph explaining the difference in our attitudes toward knowledge was really insightful!

"This imbalance of power between information producers and consumers
instilled in us, the consumers, a perceived right to do with information
what we wanted...We were taught to create a bibliography, but not why." 139

This is a topic that our students will need to deal with for the rest of their lives... as will we. We just haven't used information in the same way - so we don't realize that we need it!

To move our students into the realm of information property holders seems like an enormous shift. When they are involved in the creation of information that we deem important enough to add their name to the copyright or attach a CC license to it - the issue of plagiarism is spun on it's head. Now they understand the idea of information ownership in a completely different way. COOL!!

Is this another example of how the process and the product are becoming more important than the content? To help our students continue the learning process as functioning adults - this is a lesson they will need to learn again and again!

Warlick - Expressing ideas Compellingly (ch. 4)

I read this chapter while hanging out in my pool this afternoon...what a great way to dream about the future!

So many things in this chapter caused me to pause and ponder - sometimes with my eyes closed...but it wasn't really a nap! :)

I was very interested in the diagrams on page 110 and 111 illustrating the ways students interact with text in the blogging and wiki worlds. What a change from our old methods of interacting. It makes me think about this class's organization. I enjoy reading the text - but I must admit my ah-ha moments usually come from reading one of the other blog in this class. It is in hearing the actual uses and applications of what he is talking about where my learning occurs. That is exactly what he is demonstrating! We are good!!!

The section on communicating with images was very intriguing! Working with students and cameras -their first inclination is to snap and snap and snap - especially now that they don't have to get film developed. I really like his reminders to look for the story and to teach it that way - use that language as you use images.

As I reflected on this I was reminded of a school board presentation that we, the Tech Committee, had to two years ago. We decided to take PowerPOint as an app and show how students develop their use across the ages.

So - we started in 4th grade where we teach it and showed an "All About Me" presentation with tons of noises and odd transitions. From there we showed some really boring PowerPoints done by middle school students and ended up with a couple of HS presentations. The one that sticks out was a final report on world hunger. The music was haunting, the text flawless and the images linger two years later...

The images of those presentations expressed our purpose - our goal in infusing the curriculum with technology.

I think Warlick would have liked it!

An ooops in Blogland

I loved my old blogger template. I don't know what I clicked today...but it all went haywire! So - that must means that I needed to find a new one. How in the world does it suck so much time...

It reminds me of those Family Circus cartoons where the kids are supposed to go from A to B and end up all around the town and back. That is exactly how my afternoon has gone.

And my list...

not much progress.

Oh well - it's only Friday! :)

Kalona Elementary Tech Club and Arnie Abrams ideas - a great match!

I found this webinar to be very interesting! I wish I had seen it before we started our after school tech club - because much of what we figured out to do with the kids he had presented in such a pleasant format. We may use some of his handout for when Tech Club starts up next year.

Our Tech Club was made up of 24 4th and 5th graders who met every other Monday night for 8 weeks. There were 2 adults - myself and the elementary librarian. We also invited 3 kids from last year's Tech Club to help out. It was so much fun and so much work!!

We worked on taking images - the nitty gritty. Then we taught them some simple editting techniques and they eited photos. With that info they did a short project where they took pictures to teach a skill and made a wordless slideshow in iPhoto.

Then we showed them how to manipulate the images and mix it with video and they made an iMovie about a place in the world they would like to travel to.

Finally we taught them how to do podcasts with pictures and they did enhanced podcasts of their favorite nursery rhyme.

We also had a year 2 Tech Club. This was a group of 8 kids who met on the alternate Monday nights. These were kids that had been in the club last year - so they were all 5th graders. They worked on creating a movie that could be given to new students and Kindergartners to show them about our school.

For this one we used storyboards, had production meetings, did lots of brainstorming and team trouble shooting. We simply ran out of time. It is a shame - but these projects take LOTS of time if you want to share them with the general public. So - next year I think the year 2 kids - even though they will be different kids - may start where last years kids ended. We shall see

Marc Aronson - Non-Fiction author's study

My non-fiction author is Marc Aronson and this is the link to the voicethread.

The link to the bibliography is

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fiction Author's Study
This is my link to the Fiction Author' study - Allan Stratton

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

practice podcast...

my first podcast in audicity...

Father's Day 06/09

Three Interesting articles...

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally
This graphic shows where some of the web 2.0 activites fit in the Taxonomy... the article explains each section in much more detail.

Bloom's digital taxonomy map

Mind map of Bloom's Revised Digital Taxonomy

Elements coloured in black are recognised and existing verbs, Elements coloured in blue are new digital verbs.

The Ideal School Library - By Darren Draper
This is a compilation of reader comments about what the role is of the library/librarian. You can add your own ideas...

Five Reasons to Use Wordle in the Classroom by Terry Freedman
One of the really cool suggestions is to use Wordle as a way of summarizing a presentation - for the graphic learners this would be a immediate and clear representation - for the teacher it may be a sobering snapshot of what the students really 'learned.'

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flickr + iPhoto + geotags

I am very intrigued by the idea of finding picture taken by different people at the same geographical place. As a teacher of social studies that would have been an amazing tool. I spent lots of time searching youtube for videos on Niagara Falls, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, the Appalachian Mountains and other geographical places in the United States. I never thought of Flickr. With only the longitude and latitude I could have found pics from those places.

I took a class this spring on iLife 09 and I remembered the instructor talking about linking iPhoto to Flickr and using the places feature.

So - that is what I started to play with. Oh my!!

I can download my photo to iPhoto. Use the places feature to find the place the photo was taken on a map. Connect that place with the photo and send to Flickr. Then in Flickr - I can open the maps feature and it will show me where that place is on the map and connect it with other photos taken in the same place...


Now - I'm not really sure why I want to do that for my home - but for traveling it would be really cool to be able to track your photos across your trip.

I seem to remember something about the new cameras having that infor imbedded in the metadata for the photos...can't remember for sure. One more thing to play with! :)

A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Flickr...The photo answer...

This chapter was very interesting. I wished more than once, that I had read it last year when I was teaching 4th grade. There were so many things that were mentioned that I wanted to run right out and try.

First though...this answered a plaguing question that photos produces...How do you send them to parents in a way that doesn't shut down their email server or your own. I have made many recommendations over the past few years - but each fall I would get the same questions. My standard response was to send one pic via email then you know that it will not be a problem.

Instead - Flickr is the answer. So the teach can upload all the pics she want and invite the parents to visit her Flickr account. Brilliant!!! I'll have to share that with the elementary teachers in the fall!

I loved the Jane Goodall camp example! What an excellent way to show the level of learning the student had experienced. It was so much more than a report copied from the pages of the encyclopedia. Instead, the student had to really understand what life was like at the camp and illustrate! What a fun assignment for the student and for the teacher to grade!

I also really liked the idea of looking for specific images to illustrate concepts or items. So - I have just finished reading Chandra' Wars by Allan Stratton. It takes place in a fictitious African country. It mentions a Baobob tree and the amazing sunsets more than once. So - I went looking for pictures. I included one with a creative commons license that allows me to share it.

And then I went off on a tangent... I'll post about that separately - this is getting too long!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Diigo, Twitter and all the other little tweets

I read this chapter with much interest. I started a Diigo account during Information Literacy last semester. I've played around with it quite a bit and am so impressed. I am a horrible one for bookmarking a thousand things and never quite making it back to them. This really helps me to organize what I know I will use. I've joined several groups and get updates from sites other people have shared with that group.

I know the learning curve is not very steep, but I still wonder how readily the teachers I work with will accept this. It's just one more thing...or is it. I think to really make this stick - there will have to be very clearly stated benefits in the professional development area. I would welcome others with ideas about that.

And then there is Twitter...I just don't get it. Really... why do I care that JohnB went to the grocery store today and they were out of his favorite soap?

I have an account and have spent bit of time playing around. But, I haven't really found it too amazing. I did go back today and begin following more people - maybe that is part of my problem...

I would love to find out from my staff who is twittering and how they use it. I know several who use it to stay connected with college friends. Could those people be the ones we look to as we try to incorporate this into more scholastic endeavors? I really liked the idea of students tweeting back their comments during a field trip!

So - tweet away as I stick to blogging. I think I'm just too long winded! :)

A Bump on a Blog and Miller's English 10 Classroom Blog

I want to start out saying...WOW!!!
These are two very different blogs and both are very impressive.

A Bump on a Blog is an English class blog from Indiana. The blog is maintained by the teacher and filled with all kinds of interesting youtube videos and other bits of information. The final two entries in the blog are a letter to the parents explaining why the class is using a blog this year and the list of dos and don'ts for the students. Both of these are very extensive and interesting. The student list even includes what will happen if you break the rules - a great bit of info from the beginning.

I started linking to the other listed blogs. These were student blogs and the principal's blog. It looked like the students simply blogged about their life - no real specific direction - and included links to other student blogs and websites of interest.

The part that really impressed me is that the teacher was using this blog to communicate directly with her students and the students were using the blogs just as all beginners - to blog about themselves and prom and boring Friday nights.

Miller's English 10 Classroom Blog is something all together different. Here is a teacher from Connecticut who takes his technology VERY seriously!! The blog itself is different discussion questions that students need to respond to - their comments are listed for each of the posts. That is not the amazing thing.

The amazing thing is the extensive use of technology that Mr. Miller has pulled together. This is a perfect example of a filing cabinet blog. From this blog there are links to numerous wiki pages. The first wiki is a google calendar with the assignments listed. Other wiki page provide details about the major assignments for class. He uses Slideshare and Animoto to demonstrate what the students are supposed to do. The Slideshare powerpoint walks them through a paper he calls iSearch and the Animoto is a graphic illustration of a quote from a book.

That is just a sampling of what is on this site. It's one that English teachers would love to browse for the content and techie watchers would love to browse for all the ways he applies stuff...

It is all so organized and clear. It's a great example of how it can all work together to benefit the students.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

RSS and flying the friendly skies

I read this chapter with much interest. I knew about RSS due to the blogs that I've been following. But I didn't really KNOW about RSS.

It sort of reminds me of flying in an airplane. I understand the physics of how a huge airplane can get off the ground - but I really DON'T understand the physics. It makes me more than a little crazy when I start to think of it as I'm taxiing down the runway.

RSS makes me feel a little the same way. There is some type of amazing magic that goes on behind the scenes and my blog post flies the friendly internet. And that's really all I need to know.

As I read the chapter I clicked and signed up for each of the RSS options. It was very helpful to have someone explain ways these cool gadgets could be put to use. I'm really impressed.

I really liked the Richardson's PageFlakes example. It is always helpful for me to see what I need to strive for. Then, I am willing to wait until my skills grow to that point. That's how I felt about PageFlakes. To see Richardson's page laid out helped me imagine how I will be able to personalize and create what I really need. At this point - I don't know what that is.

I need to spend time on the Google reader - really use it. Read the links and decide how to fit this into the routine of my life - then I'll be ready to tailor make it to fit my needs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The end of day 2

When I arrive at home after a day like that today, I find it hard to reenter my other life - the one where I am a mom. I want to hole up on my porch and play with the tools we looked at.

But, my family beckons. So - as a good teacher I split myself right down the middle. I ate supper (my husband was the cook tonight) with my family. Then, as they all wandered off to watch TV, or read Twilight, I settled into my chair and began to play.

That made me think about what Sam said today about laptops and teacher time. I think that being a teacher allows you to make choices that you may not be able to make in other jobs. I can choose how much more or less I want to do. The curriculum is there in front of me - and I get to decide how much of me I put into that curriculum.

That works both ways. When life outside of school takes over - during graduation or SLIS project times - my students didn't suffer when I cut back on some of the extra stuff. But, when I focus on creating new and interesting ways of presenting the same material, I and my students are more engaged and life is good! :)

I've chosen to spend lots of my own time learning technology tools. But, I wouldn't do it if I didn't truly enjoy it. Time playing with Diigo or podcasts is not drudgery for me. Instead, I like the puzzle of learning new applications and imagining ways to use that with kids.

So, for better or worse, this is my hobby. It just also happens to be my job and I think that makes me a VERY lucky person.

Comparing Blogs - Educators...

Whenever I start reading other educators blogs I slowly shrink...

They are thinking about such big things and such important topics. I am thinking about grading math journals and making sure I have the key to the library so I can get to the printer. It's not that I don't think about these same topics, but to discourse about them is more than I have the courage to do.

So - here I go stepping outside the comfort zone...

As I am reading Evan Abby's post about the role of a librarian, I want to just say...WOW!!

I actually posted a first in all the lurking I do! :)

The other thing that strikes me is the depth of thought present on these big topics. These writers clearly immerse themselves. They are the resource, the ones who are doing the content work... So in our model, they are the classroom teachers...right.
My job is to take that content and apply it to the world I live in. Hmm... I think I just grew a little.

Now for the evaluation part.

I also looked at Richardson's Weblogg-ed.

Both sites are easy to navigate. Richardson's is much larger with numerous tabs and places to visit. That also makes it a little more overwhelming. There are just so many places to go and look.
Both make commenting easy.
Both seem to know their stuff, are well read, and connect to many other blogs and sites.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ch. 2 Weblogs: Pedagogy and Practice

I've been a blogger for a while. And I must say I agree with the excitement of comments. It's what makes it worthwhile...but the reality of my experience is - comments are few and far between.

So, although I resonate with the quote..."There was something really powerful about easily being able to share resources and ideas with a Web audience that was willing to share back what they thought about those ideas." (pg. 17) It didn't happen for me personally or for my classroom. We added a sitemeter to the page in order to track the number of hits, after the comments remained at 0

It makes me wonder...what steps do I need to take to build my audience? And, is that really the purpose of the blog we created?

I think that's something the creator of the blog needs to consider as the blog is created and added to. Is the goal of the site to interact with the wider public, the school community or the classroom? After all, there are other reasons to blog.

I think the online archive idea is really powerful. It connects students to the web in a real, concrete way. Perhaps that should be the first goal - and leave the audience building as it grows.

Personally, one of the ways I've used blogs the most is to keep up on technology and educational chatter. I follow a whole host of blogs - just sort of lurking in the background and reading the content. So - I am contributing to the whole no audience problem. Hmmm....

Now - how does this apply to my life as a librarian? I have maintained a book blog of my own reading. I hope to start a book blog of students reading. The purpose will be to make recommendations of books in the collections that other YAs may want to read.

I also hope to spur more teachers to create blogs. I want to do more research into the class portal idea. I think that would be very appealing to many teachers...

I helped the to other 4th grade teacher begin blogging - almost against her will. I am including a picture of a post on the class blog that she shows how an anti-techie can be turned! :)