Thursday, December 29, 2011

Summer Workshop!!!

I am so excited!  We are going to have an amazing workshop at Mid-Prairie this summer!  We have just finalized Brian Mull from November Learning for two days of workshops, followed by Angela Maiers with another day of input. Then Shannon Miller will be there presenting and facilitating!  Stay tuned for more details!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My visual twitter profile...

Plan, Plan, Plan

iPads in the schools...they are wonderful, I think.  They are also a complete headache, I think.  I hesitate to admit that - I am supposed to be the one promoting technology in the schools.  But...

Let me start at the beginning.  Our district began adding a few iPads here and there last year.  Nothing major - mostly teachers who wanted to try them out.  This year more have been added - 5 in one building, 6 in the special ed department... and that is where the problems started...

We have teachers who have used their own personal iTunes accounts and downloaded free and purchased apps.  We have teachers in a building with a building account with purchased and free apps.  We have teachers with a special education account.  In fact, one iPad has all three accounts. So, when you want to update apps - you have to use all three accounts depending on which app needs updating.

This is the fault of no one - but how to we work ourselves out of this dilemma???

I would love to hear what other schools are doing to address this problem!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What a quarter!!!

Well - it is already the end of a quarter and I haven't blogged a moment.  Does that give any clues as to the whirlwind I've felt.

It has been amazing though...what a great and honest view of a district to be able to go into different classrooms and be a part of the technology.  I am really lucky!! I even told myself that the day I taught 4 lessons in 4 different buildings in our I didn't teach them all alone and one was actually to staff as a PD after school.  But still, 4 lessons in 4 buildings.  I don't plan to do that very often.  And I know as a classroom teacher 4 lessons was an easy early out day...I keep reminding myself of that.

So -what have we been doing?

Well  - I have taught keynote and powerpoint to students in the elementary and middle school. Helped 3rd and 2nd graders learn how to handle the brand new laptops in their cart for the very first time.  I spent a week at the middle school and taught 7th and 8th grade classes about digital citizenship. That was great!! The 8th graders had me last year - so we turned them loose on some digital tools and watched the way they used them to share content.  I really enjoyed problem-solving with them and seeing the ways they use the same old tools in a different way.

I have had great tech conversations with teachers.  I think this has been my very favorite part.  It's one thing to learn how to do an application or use a tool.  But, that isn't really teaching. Instead, real teaching  happens after the initial tech training when the teachers begin to see other possibilities.  That is the time when you can see true teaching skills rising to the top.  It's taking whatever tool a great teacher has at hand and using it to enhance student learning.  I LOVE THAT!  So, when I get to brainstorm ways that can happen - I am a very happy camper!

One other good part - I have really worked hard on the Tech Integration website. It has been so good for me to use Google Sites to create that. I am much more able to troubleshoot and make suggestions to the staff.  I can also see some of the limitations.  But all in all I am quite pleased with where the site is today.  There is still much more to add - but for now...yippee!

There are parts of this past 9 weeks that I have not really liked...those are the things I am learning about myself.  I have discovered how much I struggle to be a detail focused person.  That really doesn't come naturally.  So, when I have to be in charge of setting up a meeting time, place and agenda for a group of people I am destined to forget something - or many somethings.  I HATE THAT!  But, I am learning.  I have been trying out several different notetaking  and calendar tools - not all high tech! :)  I am working on creating my own style.  slooooooowly!!!

I also have been reminded of how much I do not like POs and writing them and all of that. Even though I pay all the bills in my family - this system keeps making me pull at my hair. I have made mistakes on POs that I didn't even know were possible (and I'm sure the secretaries didn't know they were possible either!).

I also keep realizing how much I need to learn and grow. Each time I think I have taken a step forward I find out I completely missed something.  But, I am learning that is ok.  After being a teacher for so many years I am enjoying being a learner and a learner with a steep learning curve.  This field is as big as you want to make it...what an exciting prospect.

Finally - one of my goals for the next quarter is to do a better job of summarizing what I am doing.  I created a document to send to the administrators about the first quarter.  I felt good about parts and really sad about parts.  But, it was so helpful to stop and stand still long enough to do that.  I want to use this blog for that also. But, I thought that would happen first quarter...

Anyway - it's almost time for me to move on to the next part of my job - chair of the district tech committee.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A new name, an evolving attitude

I know it's getting closer to school because I've stopped sleeping much at night! I hate this rite of passage each August!!

I stay up until I am good and tired...12 or so...
I go to bed...
I close my eyes...
every part of my body welcomes the quiet, the darkness the peace EXCEPT MY MIND!

It begins to race and roam and I have no choice but to follow it and not look at the clock!! And sometimes I actually make progress on some of the issues that tug at my daily life...

Last night was one of those night! Yippee!!!

I started thinking about my attempts to move forward, which brought me to this blog.
I have hated the name of this blog...really hated it, Techie Ponderings...YUCK

And then I remembered an odd scene from a couple of years ago. I was driving home along a two lane highway late on a winter afternoon in rural Iowa. The road has only one hill on a curve and at the apex of the curve is a newish Amish house. As I came up the hill and rounded the curve I noticed a group of Amish children moving along the shoulder of the road. You could tell even at a distance that they were truly enjoying themselves! It wasn't until I passed them that I realized they all had ice skates on...they were actually skating on the shoulder.

The image of those children moving along at their own speed, seemingly oblivious to the cars flying past, has stayed with me. They were content and happy in their own world - clearly enjoying themselves.

So - as I lay awake last night thinking of the year ahead - I want to be one of those kids...fully present in my own world moving ahead at my own speed and enjoying every minute of it!

Here's to Skating on the Shoulder!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

another great reminder!!!

Moving Forward

I had breakfast this morning with my old 4th grade teaching partner. It is always good to reconnect with her. I feel privileged to still work in the district that hired me 20+ years ago...first as an elementary teacher, then the secondary Teacher Librarian and now in a tech role.

The transition 2 years ago from classroom to library was a little harder than I thought...I had defined myself as a teacher for so long - immersing myself in the politics, the people and the students completely. Suddenly I had four buildings in two different districts. I went from being a person who was involved and integral to places where I really didn't know the people very well...

At first I welcomed that anonymity with open arms. It was so refreshing to be rid of some of the weight ... then I started to really miss it. When something exciting or difficult happened...I didn't have 'my people' anymore, or so I thought.
Instead I was slowly making new connections.

It's been two years. And things have changed. I have learned a thing or two...

1. I can see the district as a whole now - not through the lenses of a single building.
That is REALLY important for me as I begin to work for the entire district. Our superintendent kept reminding us of the need to see the district as a whole - but I couldn't when I was entrenched in one elementary. I couldn't care about all 5 buildings - my energies were totally focused first on my classroom then on my elementary. I now 'get it.' But - I think it's an impossible and unnecessary task for classroom teachers. Their best energies need to be spent right there in their classrooms...administration is charged with seeing the big picture.

2. Every building is exactly the same and completely different at the very same moment.
I was amazed when I began to realize this. It was the moment when I stopped reminding myself of how we did things at Kalona Elementary and began embracing how things were done in different places. This is one of those DUH...understandings. But, it was rather profound for me. As a teacher who had only ever worked in one place I fooled myself into thinking that we had created the wheel, so to speak. The reality is each and every building creates their own wheel and they are incredibly proud of that brand new invention. Those of us who move from place to place need to honor that creation instead of comparing them!

3. Every person is doing the best job they can at that moment.
This is the most important thing I have come to believe. When I start to question another person's motives or commitments or energies I undermine the system. It's not up to me to hire our staff...instead I am called on to meet each person where they are more and no less

4. I am beginning to learn my limits or I am not superwoman.
I used to believe I was. And in the context of one 4th grade classroom in one elementary in one small town I might have been. (I know - delusional!!!) Now I realize how far off I was.. I am one small cog and in the midst of a vast PLN I am hardly even a cog. What I teach kids or teachers today can be replaced in a heartbeat. I walked back into my classroom of 20 years a few weeks after school began and was slammed in the face with that understanding. There was not a gapping hole where Mrs. Swantz had been. There was another teacher smiling and ready to meet the students exactly where they were. No one was mourning my loss - well, I was... but that didn't count. Instead, I saw the building through new eyes - and that was the first step in understanding my limits. I try to respect those now...try!

5. I really like change and kids and books and technology and teaching. I am so lucky! I have a fantastic job that encourages me to learn and change and evolve.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lurking, Pondering, and Writing

I've spent the last two years subscribing to scads of RSS feeds and following more and more people on Twitter growing my PLN. As the Google Reader icon on my Chrome browser climbed showing the number of blog posts I needed to read I felt like I was part of a community. Each time I turned on tweetdeck with my computer's sound up the pinging of tweets was almost constant. That too made me feel like I was part of something big and important.

But, here is the truth.

I am not.

I am an observer. I am so busy making sure I get through the right blogs and follow the right people that I don't have time to figure out what it means for me.

I have inundated myself with information with no moments to connect it - no processing - no real learning. Instead the pursuit of the new idea is/was my goal. My Diigo bookmarks are full. My webinar schedule set. I can tell you all the people who are moving and shaking. I can tell you the most popular apps and regurgitate the jargon. But, is it changing me? Is it changing the way I approach technology??

I have used the same method of increasing my learning that I HATE in classrooms - it's almost techno drill and kill!!

I think that has been the problem in too many districts. As I have watched the conversation from outside - I see a few people in the midst of things - creating and innovating and growing. Then I see TONS of others watching and hoping that by some miracle they can replicate the same environment and the miracles will happen for them as well.

So - it's time to turn off twitter and shut down my RSS feed for a while.
It's time to stop and think about my district
It's time to focus on my students.
It's time for me to stop searching and start doing.
It's time for something new...

This all fits together because I am changing my role in the district. I am leaving behind the library and becoming the district's Technology Integration Specialist. This is a brand new position. I am it.

As I figure out exactly how this is going to work I want to chronicle my process here...I plan to use this blog to keep track of what I learn, both the successes and the failures.

And maybe along the way I will grow a real honest to goodness PLN - my own. Not one that I have been spying on, but one that I actually belong to, that I can be a member of!

Join me on this journey...from lurking to doing!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Feel Sick to my Stomach

Just read the most disheartening blog post in my educational history...

I honestly feel sick to my stomach.

This is the ongoing saga of Teacher Librarians in the Los Angeles School District. The District has a rule that you must have taught in the past 5 years to be moved back into a teaching position. Many TLs in the district have been pink slipped and are now being grilled by a district attorney in front of a judge to decide if they are actually teachers and have the right to retain their job. This degrading grilling is reducing the Teacher Librarians groveling moment crunchers - not able to truly defend their profession - but only allowed to answer the questions posed by an attorney who is not an educator.

Seriously!! We live in a society where information rules each and every one of our lives and the teachers with who are the most closely connected to information skills, research and technology are defending their role.

How did we get here???

How have we rearranged our priorities so much that those who are teaching are the ones on trial?

What does this say for our society?

Who is standing up for these Teacher Librarians??

There may be those fellow teachers who smile quietly with relief that their position is not on the chopping block...
but good grief...
aren't we all teachers together?

Don't we stand together to defend our profession and the needs and skills required??

I could go on and on...

It all makes me profoundly sad.
As a new Teacher Librarian, I have talked to other teacher librarians
about their jobs
and their connections
and their futures
and it makes me profoundly sad.
We are the current scapegoats. The current seeming solution to a problem we did not create.

But, it is our children who are the real scapegoats.

As we continue to shave the edges of education we are creating a future with huge holes for our children.

I've been an educator for 25 years and this is the worst...
Speak out!
It's time to add your voice to the discussion before it's too late!!!

what exactly does that mean? What does that mean for me?

1. I need to demonstrate to myself, my administrators, and my co-workers that what I do matters. That means being willing to do all the PD that I can, handing out an annual report and constantly seeking ways to tie in with classroom content.
2. I need to have my 2 minute elevator speech ready to deliver at any moment - to any stake holder (parent, community member, teacher) This speech should explain what I do and why it is so important.
3. I need to transparently share what I know students need to know about information skills and research with other TLs as well as my colleagues. That means blogging, tweeting and keeping involved in the larger TL community.
4. I need to try very hard to be positive and believe in what I know to be true and to keep my focus on the students!

What do you think???
Add your voice!!
Let's make a difference - not just talk to one another about it!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Teacher Librarian Job Description

I was wondering what our Teacher Librarian job description 'looked' like.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rachel's Challenge

We had an excellent assembly at the HS and MS today! It was presented by a friend of the Rachel Joy Scott family to honor Rachel. She was the first victim of the Columbine School shootings on April 20, 1999.

Rachel was a girl with a big and bubbly personality who believed that she would make a difference and the she wouldn't live to grow up. Her story told through a mixture of presentor story, video and challenges effectively drew the students in the MS in.


1. Eliminate Prejudice by looking for the best in others (treat others the way you want to be treated)
2. Dare to Dream set goals, keep a journal (like yourself)
3. Choose your Influences input determines output (accept others)
4. Kind Words small acts of kindness= huge impact (positive gossip)
5. Start a Chain Reaction with family and friend (forgive)

A link to the website Rachel's Challenge

Good luck starting your own chain reaction!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

You might be a traveling librarian...

Great Prezi by Texas Traveling Librarians -
Amy Clark, Northside Elementary & Clift Middle School (6th grade)
Amy Jensen, Shackelford Elementary & Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy
Susan Jones, Felty Elementary & Dunaway Elementary
Megan Mills, Library Coordinator & Waxahachie High School
Misha Navarro, Finley Seventh Grade Center & Howard Eighth Grade Center
Glenna Reisner, Marvin Elementary (PK & K) & Wedgeworth Elementary

Friday, April 8, 2011

Skype in the Classroom

Just joined Skype in the Classroom.
Don't know much about it -but I'm looking forward to exploring. I love the idea that with this simple tool the world becomes smaller and portable. Wow! To actually be able to contact classrooms around the globe and across the US!
I am so impressed!!!

Join me!


Monday, March 21, 2011

One True Media

A great tool to create a short little montage...30 seconds is free.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We Need Less/We Need More

Doug Johnson at Blue Skunk Bloghas a great post of the things we as educators and Librarians need less and more of...
We Need Less / We Need More

Testing / Context
Right answers / Good questions
Attention on teachers / Attention on students
New technology / Well-used technology
Hardware / Staff development
Whining / Problem-solving
Entertainment / Engagement
Whole group / Individualization
Reading-listening / Making - doing
Focus on failures / Focus on successes
Basal readers / Children's-YA lit
Required classes / Electives
Pundits / Research
Helicopter parents / Involved parents
Disengaged parents / Involved parents
Data / Diagnostics
Leaders / Managers
Filtering on the network / Filtering between the ears
21st Century Skills / Skills
Memorization of facts / Development of dispositions
Textbooks / Bandwidth
Worksheets / Games
Restrictions / Responsibility
Lists / Essays
Labs / Personal student devices
Standards / Relevance
Competition / Social learning
Evaluations / Encouragement
FRP Lunches / Living wage jobs
Polarization / Balance
Your turn.

I think it's a great what can we add...


my you have any??

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digital Life: Content

Digital Life: Conduct

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 2: Contact with the Internet

Another good day, but I ran out of time!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Digital Life at Mid-Prairie Middle School

Today was the first day of my Digital Life lessons at the Middle School. It was a great morning - we me teaching four classes - two 8th grade and two 7th grade. I will have them every day this week. Then next week I will have the other two 8th grade and 7th grade classes.

I embedding the prezi from today. It was a general overview of what digital life is. I am also including a compilation of the webspiration webs we created. Students werew to list the tools and actions they use in their digital lives. They also listed words describing their feelings about technology and their parents. It was a great way to start talking about digital 'natives' and 'immigrants.'

I am using much from the Common Sense Media lessons - Digital Literacy and Citizenship. They are filled with lots of great ideas and professionally created videos to illustrate. Because I have only 5 days and there are TONS of lessons - I am combining and cutting and creating sort of hybrids. I would recommend these as a great place to start though!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Online Safety

The presentation to Mothers of Preschoolers went very well this morning.
The theme was "Safety" and the Moms were divided into four groups. Each group visited me for 20 minutes. It was sort of a rush to get through everything. But, I looked at this as a way to begin the conversation.

It was fun and rather energizing to present to them.

This is my prezi for the presentation.

This is the handout I gave to the moms.

Now it's time to focus on the 7 and 8 grade classes I'll be teaching next week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm a little excited!

I am excited about some upcoming events in my library life.

Starting Monday I will be teaching Digital Citizenship for 5 days of 45 minute lessons to 7th and 8th graders at my MS. This is part of their health curriculum. I am creating lessons to take them through different aspects of Digital Citizenship.

I am putting a lot of pressure on myself - this is the first time I've been asked to teach stand alone lessons. Just me and me alone. And I want it to be significant and make an impression and connect to them and and and. You get the picture. So - I've spent a lot of time searching for just the right thing. It's time to get down to the details.

I posted a hit on LMNet (a librarian list serv) about this and got some really good suggestions...the one that made the big impact was sent by Mark Moran the creater of Finding Dulcinea

My strong opinion is that if you want students to learn and retain the right message here, you MUST let them create the lessons themselves. If you create the lesson and give it lecture style, all they'll be thinking in their heads is "yada yada yada."

(see this article, which launched me down the path to realization that kids today learn best when they teach themselves, particularly when it comes to life's lessons: )

Ask them to create a 3 minute video on why you are never anonymous online, write a series of posters on cyberbullying (such as how the bullied students and his/her parents should respond), conduct a debate on whether children should be allowed to have a Facebook account before high school or ever use Formspring, etc.

If you do this, you should publish your materials. I'd be happy to assist you further with it.

Excellent advice...

And as weird as this seems I've also been asked by the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) to present about internet safety for families. They have asked me to do 4 - 20 minute station stop lessons. (Moms will move between several different stations.) I have no idea if they knew about the lessons at the MS - or if I was just a name someone mentioned. Anyway - many of these moms will home school their kiddos, so I want to be significant, make an impression and connect to them and and and.

I will post my final ideas/plans/brochure as I get them finished.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Google Earth and World Cultures

I am so excited about the Google Earth project we are finishing at the HS. This is a collaboration between the World Cultures teacher and myself. She came to me with an idea of an alternative to classroom reports using Google Earth.

We brainstormed what the project might look like and who was responsible for which parts. I used onenote to keep track of that.

The classroom teacher led them through the research process and the requirements for the content of the Google Trip.

I worked out the technical parts of Google Earth and created a handout with the details. I taught the how-to in the lab and then was a resource as students had questions or problems.

The final step of this project will happen in a week...we will email the trip to the teacher's email account. Because this is Google Earth - gmail is the email of choice. Students do not yet have email accounts - so the teacher and I will log in and carry out this step. Then the teacher will have the trip to view on her own computer.

What we Learned
Through this process we discovered some glitches with Google Earth and limitations to our own knowledge.

For example, we wanted the pictures to be larger or smaller than the ones they were importing. One of the students knew a little about code and helped us add a bit more code to the image properties and the pictures were sized accordingly. We also discovered again and again how very touchy code extra space or period in the wrong place and pictures don't appear.

Another major discovery wasn't as easily remedied. There are two World Cultures classes - two different blocks. Google Earth saw these different log ins as the same person. So the pins and information for both students was intermingled in the Google Earth Application. It was easily organized via folders, but that was tricky for some students. Especially the one in the world did we happen to have two people, both studying Germany on the very same computer??

There were also the common issues of Google Earth or computers freezing, problems with content and appropriate pictures. But, these were minor. We did discover that as long as your pins are in correct folder - they are automatically saved. If they are not in a "Places" folder - there is no retrieving them after the program is shut down.

Did it work?
It certainly worked from my perspective. This was a great way to bridge the technology/content gap. Each teacher was responsible for a part of the final project, each was involved in the planning stage and the tech work went so much better with two adults in the lab. This even worked with my scheduling issues - the teacher 'taught' the final step to one section because I was not able to be in the lab that day.

Will we do it again? I hope. Although this classroom teacher could easily do this on her own, I hope she will invite me to participate again next year... and we will work to improve the parts that were a little clunky.

This is why I wanted to be a secondary librarian!!! Yippee!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Librarians Should be in Charge of Educational Technology

Doug Johnson revisited this subject in his recent blog post.

His points ring so true to me and give me something to think about and apply to my own situation. The points in bold represent his ideas and I've added a few connections and thoughts of my own in italics.

1. A healthy attitude toward technology
This is a biggie. My excitement or my frustration, is contagious to our students and our staff. That means I need to be realistic. I need to understand the limitations and the potential of each technology application I promote. I also need to keep learning - to keep imagining and to keep dreaming.
2. Good teaching skills
This is paramount! We are called on to teach a wide range of skills to students and staff..and much of that training occurs unexpectedly. A teacher stops by to ask a quick question which develops into a teaching opportunity for a new classroom project. A student catches you in the hall and asks about a problem with a project. And then there are professional development opportunities. The stronger our teaching skills, the more effective our process.
3. An understanding of the use of technology in the information literacy process and its use in fostering higher order thinking skills.
Research, research, research. Research is becoming the buzz word of this information society. Students need a strong and broad research base to succeed in college and beyond. As the role of librarians has evolved, this has remained one of our hallmarks. But, it's not our old research - instead research has been paired with web 2.0 tools to a new level. Most students how to get the information, but we get stuck with what to do next - what do you do with thousands of google hits??? That is my job!
4. Experience as skill integrators and collaborators
Librarians are collaborators. That's it in a nutshell. Our teaching needs to walk alongside what is happening in the classroom, embedding the technology and research skills into the existing content. This partnership works and will continue to work.
5. Been models for the successful use of technology
Librarians have been at the forefront of many technology moves in our district. Serving on the district tech committee, on building tech committees, maintaining promoting the online library card catalog as well as mobile and desktop labs have demonstrated ways that we are already involved. This involvement will continue to evolve.
6. Provided in-building support
This is built into much of what I have already mentioned - we are on call, we are available, we are involved
7. A whole school (district) view
Moving between buildings and even districts has completely changed my view. When your time is spent in one place - so are your loyalties. Librarians are in a unique position - we speak for multiple grade levels, multiple buildings and multiple platforms. We are lucky!!
8. Concerns of the safe and ethical use of technology
Librarians have been called the copyright police, with good reason. Our focus is information - the way it is delivered and used. That includes the safety and ethics. This is part of our curriculum and our task.

So where does this leave us? Teacher Librarians are integral and necessary for the continued education of our students! We can provide the connection between educational content and technology. We are integrators and innovators and inspirers. We are the lucky ones!!

Thanks Mr. Johnson for starting my thinking!

Is it really Impossible?

Karl Fisch poses this question to us as educators and as learners...
and he adds an intriguing video to spur our thinking.

Check it out!

The Fischbowl

Jason Glass Prezi

Jason Glass, new Iowa Director of Education asked Iowan educators these three questions....
1. What should we stop doing?

2. What should we keep doing?

3. What should we start doing?

He has created this prezi to share his responses...interesting

Link to his blog - Education Elements

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cell phone usage

----------Update:  The link in this post is no longer active------------

Very interesting data on cell phones and their use...
Cell Phone Usage

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So, what is my job?

I received an email asking me to have a practicum student. It made me stop and think...what do I have to offer a new librarian?

I am a new librarian. I am still struggling to get my feet under me. I am trying to figure out what my priorities are and how to best use my time. What in the world do I have to offer?

Reality! That is what I can offer. My job is the changing librarian in our midst.
A little tech, a little books, a little teaching, a little secretarial, a little collaborating. None of these are done to my best abilities, none of these are monumental. But they add up to a very important role in our school system.

I am in the very unique position of being able to see the entire district picture. I also have the luxury of flexibility. I am able to rearrange and manipulate my schedule to fit with a classroom project.I can spend time finding websites or print material for a specific teacher and activity. I can serve on time-consuming district committees.

And every day I wonder if I am doing enough...if I can use my time in a better way...if I can impact students differently. And most days the answers are no, yes and yes...

So, how in the world could I be of help to a practicum students???

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


A link to a blog reporting NEA contributions last year. This ticks me off...
In a time of declining union enrollment in our district and others these decisions speed up that process.

Association of American Educators

My List of Three

Jason Glass, the nominated head of Iowa Education has asked three questions on his website Education Elements

1. What should we stop doing?

2. What should we keep doing?

3. What should we start doing?

Here are my ideas...

Stop: Gutting school libraries!
Research shows how important an integrated librarian and library collection are to the learning process- research skills, digital citizenship, literacy, collaboration. These are all integral parts of a librarian’s knowledge base and SO needed in today’s schools – yet our voice is completely lost in the clamor for new and better. We are the voice of literacy and reading yet too often we are not even invited to the conversation.

Keep: Iowa Core
Many have more clearly articulated this important aspect of our curriculum

Start: Narrowing our focus to the essentials – students.
We have removed the face of the child from most of our conversations – they are subjects and items and numbers. We need to begin with who they are today. As others have said, we are preparing them for a world that doesn’t exist. So, we need to start with the skills of flexibility and problem solving. You can’t do that when our testing focused curriculum requires a regurgitation of list of dates.

It's Official

Yesterday was the dear friend, mentor and fellow librarian has announced her retirement. (I have to say my fingers are shaking a bit as I type this.)

She has been my rock and my inspiration for many years.

She has also been the face of technology in our district as her role of librarian has evolved. She pulled and prodded and drug our district from the dark ages of technology to a truly wonderful place - honoring those teachers who didn't, wouldn't or just couldn't with gentle prodding and amazing examples. She has been the diplomat and the behind the scenes worker - making sure the yearly District Tech Plan was finished, heading the District Tech Committee (chairing endless meetings both in the fun days when the money was plentiful and in today's absent budget), all the while pushing herself to present, teach, promote and purchase. She has made herself face her fears and presented tech info at conferences both local and national.

She changed the elementary schedule to flexible scheduling years ago to allow more project based learning. She developed a library curriculum for K-5 which included a technology infused research based activity long before districts realized this was an important thing. She collaborated with teachers before it was a buzzword and became Laura Ingalls Wilder before the blogosphere told us that was the way to teach.

She is the perfect example of a 21st century librarian - picking up skills and books and seamlessly weaving them into a presentation style that welcomes children to her.

And I will miss her infinetly.

Thank you for mentoring me, for encouraging me and for inspiring me!!!

Skills for the 21st century teacher

This is list of skills purported by Digital Learning Environments

20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have

By Laura Turner

Technology has changed a great deal in the last 5-6 years and the skills we need have changed along with it. Although no one would use all of these technologies, we should be knowledgeable in what each of them is and how it could be/might be used in a classroom.

1. Google Tools Knowledge
2. Google Earth Knowledge
3. Wiki Knowledge
4. Blogging Knowledge
5. Spreadsheets Skills
6. Database Skills
7. Social Bookmarking Knowledge
8. Social Networking Knowledge
9. Web Resources in content area
10. Web Searching skills
11. Web2.0 Tools
12. Interactive White Board skills (SmartBoard and Promethium)
13. Website design and management skills
14. Presentation Tools
15. IM knowledge
16. Video and Podcasting
17. RSS feeds
18. Mobile and Handheld Computing
19. Virtual Worlds
20. Collaboration & Communication Tools

Skills 1-5
Skills 6-10

I think it's a pretty good list - but it's just a list. I feel like I keep looking or the perfect list, the perfect starting place, the perfect ticket. And then staff and students will be ready - if we just have the magic list.

Reality is - it's time to stop looking and start honing this list. It's time to move from what someone else thinks to what really works for us. As long as we continue to research what others think we need we will be blown from place to place - not really planting our roots and knowing what and where we are.

So - it's time to begin taking root!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011