Kindle Connection: Book Tasting!

The coolest ASA in school for term 3 is the Kindle Connection, LIS’s very own eBook Club!  For our first meeting, you will have a “book tasting” where you explore several different samples to decide which book you will read first this semester.

Hungry For Books!

Hungry For Books!

Your choices are:

Artmeis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Before you make your decision, read the descriptions above, watch the book trailers below and explore the samples on your Kindles.


Book Tasting Selection

Course One Final Project: Bringing Tech to the Administration

Due to the nature of my role as a secondary school librarian, it is rare that I teach completely independently.  The majority of my instruction is co-teaching and nearly all of my planning is collaborative.  Certainly, some of the work I’ve done with Chloe’s year 7 English class, Sheila and the humanities teachers, and other teachers at LIS would qualify for this assignment, but I wanted to be able to share a lesson which was my sole responsibility.  For that, I turned to my responsibilities for professional learning. This lesson isn’t earth-shattering, but I believe it is an example of supporting the administration in trying to do old things in new ways with an eye towards doing new things in new ways!

Di Atkinson, our Deputy Director of Operations, asked me to teach her how to use a wiki. She heard about wikis from a visiting colleague and thought that it might be a format to make our handbook more accessible to the faculty and easier to update frequently.  I agreed, and then she invited several other members of our administration to the session, including our head of school!  That was the moment when it transitioned from a casual sit down training to a formal lesson.

I have written this lesson plan to spread two one hour sessions. Until now, we have only met once, as these participants have busy schedules. I don’t know when I’ll get the second session, but I am planning for the best.

In the first session, I shared several examples of successful wikis, including the wikis our Year 7 humanities students built about Roman Daily Life (currently private), the IB Librarians Continuum Wiki, and several district wide wikis.  Then I sent them to the wiki I created for them to experiment on. Assuming they liked what they saw in wikis, this wiki will become the Living and Working at LIS wiki.  In the first session, everyone signed in to Wikispaces, edited their personal settings and created a page to complete their tasks. By the end of the lesson, the participants created their first wiki page and all learned how to:

  • Sign into Wikispaces account
  • Change their Wikispaces Password & edit their Personal Settings
  • Edit a Wiki Page and Add Text
  • Embed an Image
  • Create a Hyperlink
  • Tag Pages

You can see the slides I put together to support the participants in their tasks below:

To help everyone be successful, there was also a handout with screenshots to support them as they worked through their tasks, and the less tech savvy learners were partnered with a more tech savvy learner.  We also discussed (throughout the lesson and in an informal sharing session at the end) the possible applications for this wiki to become a dynamic portal for information about living and working at LIS rather than a static packet.  There was no formal rubric, as success was measured by whether or not the participants were able to accomplish their list of tasks.  Everyone was successful by the end of our session.  At the end of the first session, the participants’ homework was to reflect on the process of making the wiki and continue to work on the page relevant to their area of responsibility.

During the second lesson, participants will collaboratively develop guidelines for tagging pages (we decided using the tags to organize the pages would be the best approach for the purposes of this wiki); develop a structure for the wiki; and set responsibilities for the maintenance, development, and permissions of each section of the wiki. We will prepare for this by using Padlet to brainstorm the needs of all the different stakeholders for this wiki, asking them to put themselves in the roles of their audience for this product.  Then we will use the Wiki itself to write tagging guidelines as a group and define roles and responsibilities for the upkeep and maintenance of each section of the wiki.  We will conclude our session by each participant developing a set of action steps to continue with the development of their portion of the wiki.

You can see my lesson plan in the UBD template below.  Thank you for taking the time to review and comment on this lesson.

Gone Techie: Shaping the Role of the Library in EdTech

I don’t need a fancy report to tell me that mobile technologies, gaming and social networking have already infiltrated our students’ lives.  I see it everyday when I work with students in the library and as I wander the campus.  You can see it too by visiting our LIS Secondary Library Tumblr.

Exhibit A:


What I also know from going to work everyday is that, “too often, it’s education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies” (Horizon Report, p.10).  I touched on this with my earlier post about filtering (which I swear I will return to… I’m just adding it to my possibilities list) and I discuss it regularly with members of our LIS Tech group.  Many of us want to change our approach to education NOW!  We want our students to be linked in, communicating with students across the world, and going paperless.

The problem is that the other quote from the Horizon report is also true: “As the potential for mobile computing is being demonstarted across an ever-growing list of K-12 education institutions, a successful shift from a traditional to a mobile environment still requires planning and research” (p. 12).  There are so many things to “fix” and “change” in order to support the learning environment are students are already living and working in, and if we do it all at once, we are going to crash and burn.  Six years ago, it was uncommon for our school to have electricity everyday.  Now I complain because the wireless is slow, inconsistent and doesn’t cover our entire campus.  So, while I still reserve my right to complain identify potential for growth and work collaboratively with my colleagues to progress, I also have to recognize the significant amount of progress that has been made over the last several years.

In the secondary school, we are moving in the direction of a BYOD policy.  We are moving agonizingly slowly, but I can see it on our horizon.  To be frank, BYOD has already reached our school, it’s just that it has happened without the support, scaffolding or guidance of the teachers, administration and IT department.  Students are bringing and using their own laptops, tablets, cell phones and ereaders everyday.  A timely example: Several weeks ago I taught a lesson to Year 12 IB DP students on using Diigo in the pre-search stage of their research. The school’s wireless network failed mid-lesson, but the ones who brought their cell phones just used them as their own wireless hub.  We are getting a Technology Advisory Committee off the ground, slowly but surely, and I am hoping we will play a major role in shaping the policies and procedures which will influence how technology will be impacting learning at LIS.

Making It Happen

I need to focus in order to play my role in supporting our school in meeting our students not just where they are but where they will be.

Big Picture Goals

  • Professional Learning for Teachers on Digital Media Literacy – If I still have teachers that argue that Wikipedia is a perfectly reasonable resource for students to cite in an Internal Assessment for IB, we have work left to do.  In an earlier blog post, I talked a little bit about my role in supporting professional learning and got some interesting feedback.  Since then I’ve been exploring creative examples of professional learning, and I am interested in the iTunesU course from Forsyth Public Schools on Flipping Professional Development.
  • Developing Resources for Teachers to Integrate Digital Literacy into Instruction – I can’t train every single teacher at our school, but every single teacher at our school does need to be concerned about digital and information literacy. My goal by the end of the year is to have a bank of search and research lessons available for teachers to adapt to their content area.
  • Collaborate! Harness the Talents of Students and Faculty Members – I can not do everything (and no one expects me to).  I don’t have the knowledge or time.  I am incredibly lucky to have supportive colleagues (Like the 13 other LIS faculty members participating in COETAIL) and a supportive administration.  We also have many very tech savvy students at our school.  One step I’ve already taken is the development our library assistant program.  I’m creating it with Kim Cofino’s Student Tech Team in mind, although I have departments for Reading Promotion, Administrative Duties and Events & Activities in addition to a Student Tech Support Desk.  I am also working to collaborate with and be a champion for innovative teachers at our school who are trying new things in new ways with new tools.

Day to Day Goals

  • More Real World Experts: Why not Skype in writing experts and authors during NaNoWriMo to talk about the writing process and get kids inspired? Or during Langauge lessons on writing? Or both?!?
  • Global Collaboration: Chloe (my super co-teacher) and I are talking to a school in Massachusetts about starting some collaborative activities across book clubs.  Hopefully this will grow over time into something like the Sister Classroom Project, but with our schools connecting across many subjects instead of just a book club.
  • Kindles for Checkout: Next September (or October or August, depending on when our shipping container gets released from the snarl that is the Luanda port) we will be piloting Kindles in the secondary library.  I would like to move onto to other mobile technologies in the following year.
  • Apps! Apps! Apps!: Our students use their phones for everything, so I need to more actively promote the available research apps within our student body and our faculty. I dipped my toe in by blogging about World Book Online and Destiny Quest Apps, but I need to have a more comprehensive approach to this.  I think this sort of guerilla, change from the inside work, will go a long way towards changing the culture as we work to have our policies and procedures catch up with our reality.
  • Student PLEs/PLNs:  Personal Learning Environments is something I’ve talked about before, both here and in other online professional communities.  Supporting students in developing their own PLEs or PLNs is a core part of our job as librarians, and I think our Personal Project in Year 11 at LIS would be a great place to launch this idea with students and teachers.

So, while I don’t need a fancy report to tell me we need to make some changes, it is always nice to have reliable resources to share with naysaying colleagues.


Tech Tuesdays: Bringing Tech to the Teachers

Recently, a fellow COETAIL-er asked me about the Tech Tuesdays professional learning series I run at LIS.  In the spirit of giving back to the EdTech community, here’s a primer on Tech Tuesday.

  • What: Weekly professional learning session introducing faculty to a new tech tool
  • Where: The Secondary Library
  • When: Tuesdays before school from 7:15-7:45 am
  • Who: All LIS Faculty
  • Why: because Chris Hines made me do it! To support teacher professional learning and move the use of educational technology forward at our school

Do I do this all by myself? 

It really is a team effort; like most of my job as a librarian, I’m more of a facilitator.  I get a lot of support from Rhena, Donovan, and Mags, who attend regularly and lend a helping hand whenever I need one.  I had a guest star when Jac presented about using ClassCharts and ClassDojo for classroom management, and it looks like I’ll get a pair of guest stars in the form of Chloe and Donovan presenting about Padlet.  Many of the tools I present are introduced to me by other educators at LIS, like Ju, who talked me into presenting Thinglink at tomorrow’s Tech Tuesday.

How do I plan it?

At first I just plugged tools I liked, like Diigo and our eReference resources.  Then I got more strategic and went for themes, like Digital Storytelling. For a little over a month, I introduced a different digital storytelling tool each week: Voicethread, Storybird, and podcasting made the list. That stretch concluded with a three part series on iMovie. For the next several weeks, my theme is “Visual Literacy 2.0”. I am sharing tools which allow students to share or explore information through “media rich visuals” (phrase blatantly stolen from ThingLink).

How do I promote it?

We have morning notices at our school, and I put a message in for the teachers each morning about upcoming Tech Tuesdays.  I also send out a separate email on Mondays, reminding teachers about the next day’s session and sharing relevant information.  This has been surprisingly effective, as teachers who don’t attend will still explore the tool of the week and end up using it in their classroom.  Whatever it takes, I say!

How do I structure it?

There was a short, frustrating phase where people would wander in at anytime between 7:15 and 7:45, which is when I realized I needed a structure. Here’s what I’m working with:

  • 7:15-7:20: Overview of the Tool & Intro to the Educational Benefits
  • 7:20-7:30: Brief Tour of Features or “Need to Know” bits, Sharing Examples of the Tool in Use
  • 7:30-7:45: Teachers signing up, using the tool, asking questions (Dare I Say Geeking Out and Messing Around?)

Future of Tech Tuesday

Well, bringing it back to our readings, I want to figure out how to do new things in new ways and I have no idea what that looks like!  At least not for the part of my job where I support professional learning.  I know I am doing old things old ways (purchasing print books for our professional collection), and old things new ways (sharing resources with the faculty through our LIS Tech Group and LIS Faculty Group; blogging about EdTech; helping to coordinate our COETAIL cohort of 13 people at LIS). But what is “new things new ways” going to look like in professional learning?

If you are in charge of professional learning at your school, how are you changing your professional learning?  Teachers, how would you like to see professional learning change? Has anyone seen anything which makes you think, “Wow! That is a new thing in a new way!”?

LIS Diig(o)s Social Bookmarking

In line with my post about developing PLNs with curated collections, I have been working to support my students in more effectively developing their PLNs.  Recently, I led our Extended Essay students in a research workshop on using Diigo for their pre-search.

The post I wrote for the LIS Secondary Library blog, Extended Essay: Planning and Organizing Your Research, details the process we went through during the lesson.  Although there were some internet connectivity issues part way through, most students:

  • created a Diigo account.
  • joined a relevant LIS Extended Essay Diigo group (There’s one for each IB DP subject areas).
  • added a Diigolet or Chrome Highlighter to their browser.
  • bookmarked a relevant resource.
  • highlight, tagged and annotated their resource.
  • shared a relevant resource with their Diigo subject area group.

I hope students will support one another in their research by sharing and exchanging subject specific resources.  At the very least, I hope they will stop using Word documents (or simply leaving 100 tabs open at once!) to save their links.

It is a given that as a school librarian I work to support my students in using technology tools to be more effective researchers.  However, a significant part of my role as a school librarian is also supporting the professional learning of our faculty.  In order to make this Diigo push with my students work, my teachers need to engage in this tool as well.

I may be getting a bit ahead of myself with this title, but here are my goals:

  • IB DP Extended Essay and IB MYP Personal Project students using Diigo to organize their pre-search and share their resources with each other and their supervisors.
  • LIS Faculty using our Faculty Diigo group to share and exchange about resources, research, and strategies related to effective teaching and learning
  • LIS Faculty and IT department collaborating on the LIS Tech Diigo group to share and exchange about resources related to educational technology, best practices and emerging technologies.
  • LIS Business Administration and Leadership streamlining the ordering process by sharing vendors and other purchasing related resources in a LIS Order Diigo group.

I am moving in this direction, slowly but surely. I host a regular Tech Tuesday (with the help of some great teacher friends) before school for primary and secondary faculty, and two of these mornings have focused on Diigo.  My principal also carved an hour into our most recent professional learning day for me to offer a Diigo session to interested teachers.

Compliments of Flickr User Newtown Grafitti – Under CC BY 2.0 License

I’ve gotten our Deputy Director of Operations on board with Diigo, and she wants to start using it for the 2013-2014 ordering process.  In the next few days, I’ll be emailing secondary faculty about the role of Diigo in the students’ extended essay research process and requesting their support.

As a librarian, I am already convinced of the benefits of being a connected learner; geeking out is what I do for a living. Now my job is to become a connected learning evangelist and suck in everyone around me, guiding even the tech haters to the light.


Down with the Filter!

As someone who is already fairly connected, these readings on “Connectivism” struck me as truth.  Not because I am concerned about not being connected enough, but because I am concerned about policies and filters that limit the ability of students to be effectively connected.  I am concerned that technology policies in schools tend to be built on a foundation of fear, developed for exclusion not inclusion.

Remember how “The Giver” worked out?
Photo by Flickr User William Wend

I’m just going to say it: Internet filtering sucks.  I feel that our students would be better off if we allowed them unfettered access to the Internet while developing their resource evaluation skills, exposing students to diverse viewpoints (especially ones we don’t agree with or like), empowering them with the academic potential of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, and helping them to grow into strong digital citizens by participating in the real world of the Internet, not some poorly edited, watered down version of that world. (Besides the solid pedagogical reasons for getting rid of the filter, what’s the point of it when all you have to do is replace http with https to be able to go wherever you want?)

As a librarian, I feel that a filter is merely censorship dressed in technology. I also suspect some educators support a filter because they think it makes their lives easier.  They don’t have to deal with the non-academic aspects of tools like Facebook since it’s blocked.  They don’t have to put as much effort into teaching our kids how to be good researchers, how to evaluate resources, how to decide for themselves what is good and bad on the Internet.  They don’t have to be made to feel uncomfortable when a student comes across something that needs to be discussed.

The reasons I’ve heard for using a filter are as follows:

  • Protecting students from pornography
  • Keeping extremist viewpoints and extremist recruitment organizations out of view
  • Keeping kids safe from online predators
  • Limiting access to distracting games and digital tools
  • Keeping students from participating in environments with potential for cyber-bullying

Photo by Flickr User: Gates Foundation

Arguing that we shouldn’t give kids access to everything available online because bad things might happen reminds of the argument that we shouldn’t teach about contraception because kids might have more sex if they figure out how to do it “safely”. Our students are having filthy, unfiltered Internet access at home with varying levels of supervision.  Wouldn’t it be better if we gave them supervised, scaffolded, directed time using unfiltered Internet at school?  When they do come across a disturbing photo, viewpoint or issue, experts (that’s us folks!) who care about them are nearby, ready to help them navigate the good, the bad and the ugly of the “real world” on the Internet.

So, knowing that this one blog post is not going to tear down the shackles of our school filter today, I want to study this issue in more depth.  To do this, I need help. I am interested in learning more about filtering (or not) practices in international schools and the decision making and makers behind filtering (or not).

  • Studies on filtering (These could be in any school or library related setting. It doesn’t have to be international schools. I am willing to reuse someone else’s successful methodology.)
  • Questions to ask- What should I ask in a survey about filtering?
  • Stakeholders to survey- Who should I be interviewing? (Teachers, Librarians, Administrators, Students, Parents)
  • Why do schools choose (not) to filter their students’ Internet access?
  • Examples of international schools that don’t filter their students’ Internet access

Thank you for your feedback.