Wednesday, March 12, 2014

At the NCCE "Teacher Librarian" Summit

Today I'm in Seattle enjoying the amazing Teacher-Librarian Summit at NCCE, which is our regional technology in education conference.  Richard Snyder is presenting on Digital Citizenship, which he defines as how we "access, use, and share information" and I'm spending some time reflecting on how I use social media in my library and also attempt to model good digital citizenship with my students.

Here is the conference WIKI

Anyone else at the Teacher-Librarian Summit blogging about the day?''

Great ideas from the presenters: 

I completely agree that you should definitely plan for your formal Web presence. And it is an excellent point to label your social media channel as an "unofficial channel" unless you are using an official channel and that you should be mindful about whether or not you actually plan on updating your social media channel.

How interesting to create a knowledge rating chart with words like "full text" and Boolean and have them rate their knowledge level (1 to 3) as well as the definition from their own words.  This is from Barbara Soltzenburg from Jackson High School.  Great idea for student self assessment!  Pre and post tests.

And now we are on to INFOGRAPHICS!  I want to find an easy way to have my students create easy infographics.  Will be looking at tools about this next. Here's one link that I'm experiencing:  and Kathy Schrock's Infographics page. ''

This is an infographic that I tried to make on the fly using the tool called  I was trying to see how easy it would be for a student to create an infographic on their Common Core writing prompt persuasive essays.

On to "Library of Congress" resources about Kathy Dorr -- "How do we help students be ethical users of resources when everything has been blocked?"  Always a great point to make.

Beth Clothier is doing a great job talking about Digital Navigators.  Great ideas and an excellent use of PowToons.

So what have I done in terms of connecting with students on social media in my TWEENER (5th-6th grade) school and teaching them about digital citizenship?

  • Edmodo:  Last year I began an experiment hosting a book chat for interested readers on this sheltered social networking site.  We had teachers help identify students and did about 20 minutes of face-to-face instruction on Edmodo and then most other interactions online.  I had about a core of 20 students who stuck with me throughout the year and they didn't just talk about books but also about what they were doing on their weekends and after school.  They really loved it when they were able to "meet up" while talking, which I should have anticipated.  For my part, I created different "theme" weeks and created "assignments" that highlighted new books (heavy use of book trailers and author Web sites). There were survey questions that I put together to allow them to share their interests (Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson?) and other discussion questions.  Through it all, when kids said the wrong thing, I tried to help them out both online ("I'm deleting your post when you called that other kid "weird," -- Do you agree?) and then I followed up with them face-to-face.   IT WAS WONDERFUL.  IT WAS EXHAUSTING.  I pulled back from it this year because I wasn't sure if I could sustain it for this whole year and also I had hoped that more teachers would have started using Edmodo by now so that this would just seem to be an additional channel that students had access to. 
  • Common Sense Media's "Digital Passport." I have a "once every three weeks" class with a group of students and we have used this digital citizenship collection of lessons to shape the first half of our school year together.  The videos and game modules usually take about 15 minutes to run through and usually sparks some questions for students.  Since our class is only 30 minutes long, it seemed like the perfect amount of content. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Unshelfish Librarians : A new blog

Tara Phethean, librarian in Upstate New York, has hit upon a great concept with her new blog, which is called "Unshelfish Librarians."  She's featuring librarians doing good stuff and put me up on her blog this month.

Great idea, Tara!  Looking forward to reading more from you.

Winning the "I Love My Librarian -- 2013" award!!!


On November 19th, I was enjoying my fifth year leading my annual all school reading program called "Sakai Reads" when I received an interesting message on my voice mail.  Would I please return the call of Maureen Sullivan, Past President of the American Library Association???

Uhhhh... sure!!!

I found a free moment and, since our building has cellular dead spots, I ran out into the parking lot in front of our building.  From her I found out that I was one of ten winners of the New York Times / Carnegie Corporation's "I Love My Librarian" award.

I burst into tears.

While I knew that one of my fabulous para-educator colleagues had been nominating me for the last three years, I never ever thought that I would win.  It was humbling enough to know that she thought well of me and found enough other kids and teachers that thought the same.

After finishing my call with Maureen Sullivan, I ran back inside because the next thing on the schedule for that busy day was to host a pizza party for a group of 6th graders who had all read Edward Bloor's Tangerine.  We had a great time talking about that book and others and the news started to sink in:

It is unheard of to love what you're doing, feel good about your contribution... and then get recognized for the work that you do.  It is like being struck by lightning. 

The weeks that followed were a blur of quietly planning to go to New York with so many people helping me financially to buy plane tickets for myself and my son.  My husband used his frequent flier miles to get there and someone else gifted me with two nights at a hotel.  I was asked to keep the news quiet, which was hard to do!  I eventually told all the teachers at my school.

The trip to NYC was amazing.  Having once been a New Yorker, I had a great time sharing my love of the city with my son and husband and visiting old friends.

Meeting the other honorees was very humbling as well.   There are so many ways to define what it means to be a librarian and I think that there was an amazing mix of innovative ideas paired with the very traditional notion of library service: who is it that is benefiting from your work?  Is it the college undergrad who gets to touch a 500 year-old book for the first time and finds himself turned on to history?  Harold M. Forbes is responsible for this.

Is it the high school kids who lost their rural bus service to their homes and spend their time every afternoon in the public library in their small community where they are loved and valued to the point where one in their midst wrote a very eloquent letter for their public librarian -- Holly Camino?

Those are only two of the amazing librarians that I was able to talk to.

But what has happened since returning to the Island has been even more exciting.  There was a big banner in the front of my library and my students had taken turns signing it.  There was an even bigger banner in a central location of our island, which is called the "Roundabout."   There was an article in the Bainbridge Review in the Kitsap Sun and on the front of my school district's Web site.

For the two days before we went on winter break, I would walk into a classroom and the kids would break into spontaneous applause.   I went on our morning broadcast system on the first day back and I hope that they heard what I said to them.   I don't always get it right ALL the time, especially in terms of finding just the right book for them.  BUT I always want to get it right.  And I won't give up on my efforts to help them.

For the last month and a half I've had a little bit of celebrity on my small island, with parents who's kids have passed through my school coming up to me in the store to congratulate me and to tell me that it is well deserved.  I was at our Foundation Auction last night and someone came up to say how proud they were of me.  While I'm still having trouble knowing what to say (I'm a very private person, actually!), I am exceptionally grateful that I've made people on my island proud.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sakai Reads 2012 -- My book talk on Prezi

So much has been going on since the start of school.  My annual all-school read is starting.  We are featuring books on courage.  I made a pretty good Prezi on it in an effort to get the word out about the choices. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

#DigiFoot12 -- Cyberbullying and Bill Belsey

Here I am back from a vacation where I got to sit on the side of a beautiful lake and also play a ton of Minecraft. Tomorrow, some of the technology people from my district will be meeting to talk about Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety to revisit our efforts on these two fronts in the last two years. 

So I am finally listening to an awesome Blackboard Collaborate session with Cyberbullying guru Bill Belsey.  A link to it can currently be found on the DigiFoot Wiki as a part of the 6 week MOOC course that ends tomorrow.  Bill Belsey is an educator who became concerned with the problem of bullying and.founded as a way of allowing students to share their experiences.  An off-shoot of this Web site is

Some of the things that I picked up from this very pragmatic 8th grade teacher are that most cyberbullying happens away from school but that schools and teachers wind up picking up many of the pieces after a cyberbullying incident has happened.  Kids often normalize this bullying by calling it just regular teen drama. 

He admits that the solution is not easy and that he feels that the key is to focus on prevention.  Helping kids realize that protecting themselves is their job.  He suggests reminding them not to share their passwords and private information and to use netiquette.

Another point that he made is that teachers can't plan for the technology because that will always be changing.

All good points.

This year I'm hoping to continue to refine our efforts to help students to be mindful of their own digital behavior.  I'm planning on talking about them about what they want their "online brand" to look like.  I'm hoping to use both popular company brands (like Nike and Coca-Cola) as well as famous people (like Justin Bieber) to draw some interesting connections about online reputations. 

I'm hoping to help students reflect on their digital footprint by creating some sort of infographic that shows where they've left a trail online.  I'm thinking of using a word cloud generator like Wordle or Tagxedo to help us do that. 

I'd love to help teachers give our intermediate students a chance to use social media in a more sheltered way.   This could be through using Moodle more effectively in the classroom or exploring the use of Edmoto. 

It's going to be a good year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

#DigiFoot12 and 3D GameLab

I'm making the most of TWO professional development opportunities now!

Here I am at the virtual opening session of 3D Game Lab Teacher Camp listening to Shallow, one of the founders, talk about how quest-based learning will re-invent education.

A few of us learned how to fly on that day.  I completed a lot of quests and tried to learn how to play Minecraft.

And I'm continuing on with week 5 of #DigiFoot12!  This MOOC is on Week 5 and celebrates student voices on the Web.  Our homework was to find a student blog, comment on it and tweet about it.  I found UK student Veg's "Never Seconds" blog on 

She started her blog in order to give photos and reviews of her school's "dinners." Intriguingly, her school attempted to shut down her blog, which has lead to greater notoriety.  Since then, other students have been e-mailing her pictures and information about their own lunches.  Her latest post was in August and featured a very attractive Bento Box.

Imitaz Mujeed's talk earlier this week about his own path towards entrepreneurship has stuck with me and I've been musing on it ever since.  He found what he was passionate about and had the abilities to make his goals a reality.  I wish to help support all of my students towards their goal but I sometimes wonder if self starters like Imitaz just need school to move out of their way.   I think that its great when a teacher can figure out how to best support very capable students so that they get the help that they need and the time to pursue their own path.

I was thrilled to be mentioned in Verena's daily #Digifoot12 newsletter!  Thanks Verena!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#Digifoot12 -- Students take Control and 3D Game Lab Quest Learning

Today is the start of "Teacher Camp" for 3D Game Lab, which is a new portal for quest based learning.  It is in beta right now and I've joined the beta along with two colleagues at my school.  Part of learning how to set up quests is to be reflective on helping students to think about their online reputation.  Here's one video that the creators of this initial quest suggested that we watch. 

Common Craft "Protecting Reputations Online" video