Tech Tuesday: Top 10 Tech Tools For Your Break

  1. Twitter: Seriously, getting on Twitter and using it for professional purposes is the single best move you can make to improve teaching and learning.  Here are educators to follow on Twitter, a guide to educational hashtags and an introduction to twitter for newbies.
  2. Professional Communities Online – EdWeb.net, Connected Educator Ning, Future of Education, Classroom 2.0, The Educator’s PLN
  3. Webinars: Check out ASCD’s free webinars archive, Google Apps for Education webinars, Education Week Webinars, Open Education Week Archived Webinars
  4. Google+ Communities – Google Apps for Education, Gamification in Education, Physics Education, Minecraft in Education, 20% Time
  5. Blogs & RSS Readers – Try Feedly, Flipboard, The Old Reader 
  6. Social Bookmarking and Curated Collections- Diigo (K-12 Education groups), Pintrest and ScoopIt
  7. Online Book Club – Simple as GoodReads, complex as Book Club 106, or get picky with something subject specific like Level Up Book Club
  8. Follow “Summer” Conferences online – ISTE for example. They even have their own Ning.  Of course, who needs that when you can read their Tweets? Seriously, just get on Twitter.
  9. TED-Ed & Ted Talks
  10. Learn to Code.org
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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:

Limitations

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.

 

Databases: Student Resources in Context & Junior Reference Collection

Why do databases matter? Why can’t we just find everything we want through Search Engines like Google, SweetSearch, Wolfram Alpha and Bing?

Well, estimates are that anywhere from 75%-90% of the information on the Internet is part of the INVISIBLE WEB, or parts of the Internet that Search Engines can’t reach.  This includes (but is definitely not limited to) Intranets, Library Catalogs, Forums, Password protected SItes and Databases! To learn more, watch the Xtranormal Visible vs. Invisible Web animation.

To maximize the effectiveness of our research, we need to utilize the parts of the invisible web available to us.  LIS students and staff can start with the LIS Research Portal, a password-protected page with all of the secondary library resources.

Check out these Introductory Slides on two of our databases.

Get Started with Junior Reference Collection.

Dive into Student Resources in Context.

If you need help using these resources, see your librarian.