Archive for Blogging
July 29, 2008
In lurking around the SLJ’s “All Together Now” Netvibes page, I’ve discovered many new blogs by school librarians to follow. Quite obviously some are rather experienced, but many others are very experienced. The new bloggers are using a variety of platforms to test the waters, and I’ve seen many Edublogs, WordPress, and Blogger blogs. I have always had a strong dislike to the Google Platform known as Blogger or Blogspot.
One reason for this dislike is of this particular platform is it seems to be blocked a lot by k12 schools, more than likely due to the bar that rides across the top and includes a link to the “next blog” which is randomly loaded. The issue here, I imagine, is the chance that the next blog will be significantly less than educational. I initially tried blogger, but when I decided it was risky due to that little feature, moved over to Edublogs, which I’ve grown quite comfortable with, and must say the behind the scenes helpers have been immensely nice and generously helpful with any issues I have had. (thanks Sue!!)
Another issue I had with Google’s Blogger platform was the feed. While it behaved like a blog, allowing comments and feed I could subscribe to in my reader, it lacked a feature I liked in WordPress and Edublogs–>a comment feed. The comments feed allows one to read blogs in their reader as if they are a conversation. When people asked me what platform they should try, I would suggest first Edublogs, then WordPress, and then strongly steer them away from Blogger, no matter how easy it was reported as being. Why? No comments feed available. Well, I guess Google got wind of this complaint (surely not from little ol’ unimportant me). They have made the fix and made it possible for Blogger users to add in their subscription feeds to their side bars–both for all posts and all comments. (How? Simply go into the dashboard, find layout, add a page element, and select subscription feeds.)
What does this mean? It means now I can subscribe to their posts and comments, and really feel a part of a conversation happening in a blog. As it was, if I followed a blogger user, I had to leave my aggregator to read comments. Now they will come to me in my reader. W00T.
No, I’m not going back to Blogger. But I will stop steering newbies away from it. I will recommend it AFTER Edublogs, and then only as a last resort. Sorry Google–lose the risky and totally unecessary “next blog” feature. Make that an optional feature instead.
June 9, 2008
Thanks James for the personalized attention with a comment on my last post. I hope it’s okay that I am making a post out of this, b/c I feel Edublogs really needs to get special attention for trying to make me understand the dilemma with Bloglines. I cleared out my Bloglines account today and fixed up my feeds in Google Reader, so we’ll see if this post get’s updated in the “mine” folder of Google Reader.
As an Edublogs user for a while, I know there have been growing pains, on both sides of the desk, yours and mine. But I’ve been loyal, and have really pushed Edublogs on the new bloggers who ask my opinion.
So I post this to show my readers that Edublogs does try to take care of their bloggers. Thanks.
Kudos to James Farmer’s team and Edublogs all around.
Image: ‘Happy Lamp‘
June 9, 2008
While I don’t understand it, I’ve just been told that Bloglines does not seem to be updating any Edublog posts unless I am an Edublog Supporter (which means I have to pay $$ to use Edublogs.). While I like the Edublogs platform, I do not understand this. It feels like I have holes in my reader now. I did notice recently that some of my favorite bloggers that use Edublogs were not all showing up in my reader. Apparently it is a issue with the feed from Edublogs and not Bloglines. That hardly seems fair since I like Bloglines. Apparently if you subscribe to my blog using the feedburner feed, it will come through to Bloglines. (It is the first feed listed on my sidebar.) So if you like to read me in a reader, there are 2 choices:
1) Use Google Reader to manage blog subscriptions, or
2) Use the Feedburner link in the upper right of my side bar to continue reading me through Bloglines.
I myself am going to bail and go to Google Reader, which I have not liked near as much, even though many of my friends use it. It also makes me just a tad put out with Edublogs again. I have webspace. I guess I need to look at moving on over to it, and host my own site. If I have to pay for it, it may as well be mine and mine alone. Bummer.
Image: ‘Bug9s art 1‘
June 7, 2008
I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been really busy, and I’m on the final checkout sheet that teachers must have initialed before they can leave, so I sit here ready to go, and just waiting for the ones who still need a signature by the library/technology statements. Earlier this week a school library student ( a current practicing teacher working on a grad degree in library science) contacted me asking if i would be her interview for a paper she was writing in one of her grad classes. The topic? Blogging and 2.0. We tried a couple of times to arrange a skype interview, but my crazy schedule kept getting in the way, so finally she asked if i would just respond in an email. After doing my best to complete it, I decided to post some of it here (removing specific school references that I did not feel at liberty to publicly post.)
I say it is an “End of School Year Reflection, Sortof” because it is more like a summary of my knowledge at finger-depth’s level in the world of blogging and 2.0. While I seek to be a role model and exhibit best-practice, this makes me realize I have such a long way to go and grow. But that’s the nature of 2.0–ever evolving and changing daily, isn’t it?
So this may be long and tedious to read, but I will post anyway. So much for my promise to post shorter entries from back in January.
The Interview: Questions and My Answers
Question 1: How do use your school media center blog? What are its purposes?
I have used my school media center blog as a forum for discussions. I thought (or intended) to use it for book discussions) but never did really push it in that direction. I may even scrap the whole school blog next year, and go with a wiki for different projects or discussions so I can invite students to add. Right now the school media center blog has too much “ownership” by me and not the students.
Question 2: Describe the responses to your blog by Administration? Teachers? Students? Parents? Other community members?
Ho Hum. When I push it, kids will use it to respond to discussions. But if I don’t remind or point blank ask students to use it, it basically goes unnoticed. One of my teachers reads and comments on my blog. I have made him a 2.0 convert and junkie. It seems to have made him more interested in lesson plans and collaborating or brainstorming for ideas, and his students seem to get very excited about his class.
Question 3: What inspired you to first create your both your school blog and professional blog?
My inspiration began several years ago (maybe 2004) when Alan November was a keynote speaker at 2 different conferences that I attended (and both were basically state level conference.) But he awakened a part of me that no other educator on a speaker circuit had ever done before. He introduced me to Skype then too, which I used for a while, but gave up. It was too new then. I got back into skype in 2006 and actually intro’d it to my Mom. Now my Mom says, “Do not call me, Skype me.” Lately though I’ve had very little time to use it. But the point here is that Alan November introduced me to global learning and global tools. I began to seek out other educators who blogged, as it was becoming a buzz word in the educational technology world. In 2005, I decided to attend NECC in Philly. I literally had my eyes opened. Now my district then was way into the Schlecty material (engaged learning, Working on the Work.) The educational technology mantra then seemed to morph into relevant and meaningful learning with 21st century tools embedded–NOT teaching and then trying to find a way to integrate technology. So suddenly I was gaining a richer understanding of meaningful work for students. Here (NECC) is where I learned names of some of the top movers and shakers in educ’l tech and library, like Alan November, David Warlick, Will Richardson, David Jakes, Gary Stager, Kathy Schrock, Joyce Valenza, & Doug Johnson.) At least those were my “first” bloggers that I followed. I wasn’t brave enough then to write one, but i devoured these bloggers’ written word. Since then I’ve attended many conferences, specifically NECC annually, and these conferences help me network with other forward minded educators that inspire me to explore and do more.
Question 4: What advice would you give to others, whether classroom teachers or media specialists, who want to start blogging?
I would say find a group of bloggers who resonate within, and read them. Once you have begun reading more than a handful, learn to use a reader (like google reader or Bloglines) for management (as these free programs will tell you when there is new content, and you won’t waste time visiting blogs that do not have anything new.) Learn about the bloggers you read. Learn who they read. Once you have done that, decide if you want to be a blogger. One doesn’t have to jump in to be a part of it. Being a reader/commenter can be just as rewarding. If one decides to develop a blog, seriously reflect on who the intended audience is as well as the purpose for the blog. Research the blogging platforms well. Ask what other bloggers use and why. (I currently use Edublogs, primarily b/c it is not blocked as much as other blogging platforms. I also find the interface easy to use. Many beginners use Google’s Blogger, but I seriously detest it. I find it somewhat unprofessional in the look and feel, though they have made some improvements and changes.) If one creates it, don’t get discouraged if there are no comments for a while. That will come. To cultivate a readership is a difficult thing to do, but it can be done. Simple things like adding your blog to a signature file can help. The best way to draw readers is to comment on other blogs, and leave the URL for your blog in the place calling for a URL. Often times bloggers will visit the links that commenters leave, including your own blog. If your comment resonates with them, they may add you to their reader. Also other visitors to that blog may read your comment and decide they want to “follow” you as well. Eventually you will have cultivated a readership. So don’t get discouraged or feel like you are writing to yourself. Reflective writing is very rewarding in itself.
Question 5: Have you encountered any issues concerning privacy, access, etc. that you would consider noteworthy? If so, please describe them. What are your thoughts on blogging and copyright issues?
I have not faced any issues of privacy or access. But being in a public school that uses filtering, it is constantly on my radar. I try to cite all photos used in my blog, and I also strive to use pictures that have a creative commons license. As an LMS, I feel I should model citing when I use material (especially pictures) that are not mine.
Question 6: I also saw that you have a professional blog called TechnoTuesday that offers lots of useful information and technology tips for both classroom teachers and media specialists. Can you tell us a little about that blog and how it differs from your school media blog?
This is my primary blog, the one I spend more time on. It allows me connections to other educators, both teachers and LMS’s. Networking through the tools gives me a wider perspective on issues. I like to consider this a vital part of my professional learning network (PLN).
Question 7: Have you involved any students/teachers in blogging? If so, how, and what were some of the results?
Being in the library has not really afforded me an opportunity to do that. It may be that I just have not pushed it either. But I have tried to get other educators on board, and I can say I have successfully gotten other LMS’s to do some, and I have 2 teachers here who have created blogs. Only one uses it regularly, and he loves it. He uses it for parent information as well as student info. He is at http://mrgranito.edublogs.org. I am very proud of his accomplishment as a new blogger, and yes, we collaborated a good bit on his creation, and even got a few kids to do it. They are in his class, and they have their blog in his blogroll.
I was asked back in March to do the “teacher” career for career day here at school. I wanted the kids to hear a fresh voice instead of me, so I arranged for several educators from all around to speak using Skype to my 3 groups. I had a 5th grade teacher, Lisa Parisi, from Long Island, New York. I had a 6th grade teacher, Chrissy Hellyer, from New Zealand. I had commitments from Dean Shareski and Alec Couros, both educators from Canada, one a k12 level educational technologist, and the other a college level professor. I had Doug Johnson, media coordinator from Mankato, MN. All were to skype in at certain times. Too bad after my first two, we lost our school’s internet connection. It was very memorable though.
Question 8: I noted from your professional blog that you have been involved in several professional development activities with blogging and using other
Web 2.0 applications. Can you tell us a little about those? Were you facilitating the workshops? What are some highlights you would mention to
For the last few years I have been presenting at local and state conferences, and recently I have begun to present on the 2.0 topics. I have done several presentations on the value of reading blogs and using a reader at the library conference, a couple of teacher conferences, our state technology conference, and our annual administrator’s conference (3 yrs in a row for them.) I have also begun visiting schools and districts to do workshops (half-day) on podcasting or just global 2.0 in the schools. I wrote in my blog a good while back about a parent workshop i did at school. This garnered me an invitation to come to Charleston, SC to do this same preso at school for their parents. I said I would come if they would modify it some, and include a panel of experts that included an admin, teacher, guidance, social worker, SRO, lawyer, college entrance officer, and students. Yes Students. I suggested they allow me to do my spill, and then turn it over to a panel discussion that included me and the others they could get, and it was beyond belief how well it went, AND how wonderful the discussion was. OH, and they paid me. How awesome is that? This one is the one that stands out the most, but I do love spreading the message to parents, students, and teachers. It seems the toughest sell is teachers. Go figure. The administrators who have heard me have been highly complimentary, and they are the reason I get invited to do workshops around the state. I say I am cultivating my next job in 6 years when I can retire–>Consultant. But who knows, in six years I may not be as up on the tools. I can’t back up a lot of what I’ve learned with real world classroom experience–yet. And my interest and focus could change too. So who knows?
9. Are you aware of other media specialists in your district who blog? If so, what is the level of collaboration among them in developing this tool?
No other school level LMS’s in this district blog, but I do have a folder in my reader of SC LMS’s that blog. I am sad to report its very small in number but the ones who are blogging, either through their library or personally are very progressive. Our district media coordinator has set up two blogs for summer reading, but it is in its earliest stages–very knew to many in the district. (The rest of my answer here has been cut for personal reasons.)
10. What do you consider the biggest advantages to blogging in the school media center?
I’m not sure I see any advantages yet for students. They see blogging as “schooly” if I can use that word. But I think educators who use it in the classroom have caused that, which is another reason I have not totally pushed the media center blog. I don’t want it it be like school-work. But it does allow students to read and see that they have different perspectives, and it does give them a forum to express their opinions.
11. Can you provide any insight as to the future of blogging in school libraries and classrooms and what the implications are for students and
Blogging per se I fear will be molded into something schooly, and lose steam. Like most new things, schools adopt them and then “beat them to fit, paint them to match.” It will lose its authenticity then. I don’t want to say blogging will not work, but I do want to say that the use of them will have to be authentic and engaging for student learning, and not just something else students and/or teachers have to do. I can only think of a few examples where educators use it as a vehicle for learning, and they have a “walled-garden” type set up, either with private blogs, moodles, nings, or class blogmeister. I don’t necessarily agree with the walled-garden concept. If educators can create social network atmosphere similar to face book or myspace, they will probably have more success. Students want to see the tools they use out of school in school. Having a blog will not necessarily meet that need, especially if it is not provided with exciting, interesting school lessons. I hope that makes sense.
12. What are you thoughts on/experiences with using some of the other Web 2.0 applications (podcasting, social networking, etc…) either separately or in conjunction with blogging?
I love the tools and use them myself quite frequently for my own learning. I have used Twitter for quick help or a place to vent. I am on some of the nings (Classroom 2.0, TeacherLibrarian, etc.) as well. These allow me to network with other educators who use 21st century tools. I can get many ideas for real classroom application as well. Ustream is really beginning to play a big roll in my use of 2.0 tools as well, and I’ve heard that much of NECC and November’s BLC Conference will be Ustreamed so virtual attendees can participate. I follow many podcasts, and have gotten teachers to explore podcasting as a vehicle for demonstrating concept mastery. We are also playing a lot with video editing, though we are not publicizing it through the 2.0 tools yet.
I still feel very much like a beginner at a lot of this stuff, and don’t really use it as much as others. This summer at NECC in San Antonio I will be sitting on a panel discussion with Joyce Valenza and others to discuss using 2.0 in school library. I can only hope I have the expertise they have.
Steffon. “Skype Phone” re-ality’s Photostream. 8 September 2005. 7 June 2008. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/re-ality/41676755/>.
May 10, 2008
This is really a meme–yes another one. No rules really, but author Joyce Valenza began by asking for blogging advice, and then ended it with the question listed above. So I will answer the question with a few thoughts:
- And this is the BIG 1: My off switch turns on when I must choose between family and the virtual friends and locations. I would MUCH RATHER spend an evening with them–eating out, going to the movies, watching fireworks, hang, even driving with my husband back to the office late in an evening if he forgot something is so much more fun than blogging, my reader, twitter, Second Life, or any other online presence I might have. It doesn’t have to be fun or special either–it can be simple, like the drive back to the office, watching a silly tv show together, or dealing with sickness or pain. When it revolves around them, they come first. Period.
- I will turn the off switch on when I think people are rude, unnecessarily mean, or insensitive. You know the old saying (biblical based) turn the other cheek? Well I turn the cheek to remove myself. I will avoid things, people, and places that cause me pain or discomfort. It’s only natural. And that can be something mean online or off-line (i.e. that nasty driver who flipped me off b/c I unknowingly cut him off–just steer clear of him.) I really try not to dwell on these things, just remove myself from them. It can be difficult though when friends or family dwell on them. Advice–try to take the high road and don’t dwell on the negative. I find myself every now and then trying to heed my own advice.
Okay since this is a meme, let’s tag a few people. She did not say to, so you can disregard if you like.
Okay now back to the task at hand–dinner with my family at home, sweet home.
Image: ‘Prius Power Button‘
April 24, 2008
The other day I blogged about some local new blogging voices from South Carolina, my home state. Today I am adding to that some voices that promote information literacy through school library programs using the vehicle of blogs, and the net is a wider global area, way beyond just South Carolina.
Don’t forget that I spotlighted 2 SC LMS blogs of those in the post the other day. Here is a list of my favorite related to my field, school libraries. I will follow up with more SC Librarians who are blogging and adding depth and dimension to my thinking. Note: I know roughly 30 more but want to give them time to develop some meat before spotlighting them.
Testing my “table creating skills” too in the body of a blog. Hey, if you have some recommendations for me to read, please comment and add them in!
|Favored School Library Media Specialists / Teacher Librarian Blogs|
|Hey Jude from Sydney, Australia’s Judy O’Connell||Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog|
|California Dreamin’ by Rob Darrow||Carolyn Foote’s Not So Distant Future|
|Diane M. Cordell’s Journeys||Joyce Valenza’s Never Ending Search|
|Chris Harris’ Infomancy||The Top Shelf written by Mary Woodard of TX|
|Jeri Hurd’s Bib 2.0||Diane R. Chen’s Deep Thinking|
|Alice Yucht’s Alice in Infoland||Sarah Kelly John’s From the Inside Out|
|Lori Franklin’s Library||Powerlibrarian by twitter friend Congerjan|
|Gargoyle’s Loose in the Library||Colorado’s “Calling All School Librarians|
|A Library by Any Other Name||Kathryn Greenhill’s Librarians Matter|
|AASL Weblog||Lucy and Ethel’s Library Schemes|
|SCASL Blogs||Valerie Byrd-Fort’s Library Goddess|
|Fran Bullington’s Informania||Mary Haddon’s Library Blog|
|Martha Alewine’s Library Corner||Mary Haddon’s “Untitled” Professional Blog|
|Andi Fansher’s Library News You Can Use|
Image: ‘dewy? indeed he do.‘
April 22, 2008
I want to share some favorites from my reader that may not be widely known. I do have my favorites (many that reside in my “Experts” folder or my “Women Bloggers” folder.) You can see many of these by glancing over at my blogroll if you visit my actual blog site.
But today I want to highlight a few of the reads I am excited to click on when I see my reader boasts of new content on their blogs. Maybe you are already aware of these people, maybe not. Either way, I want to know who the unknowns are in your reader too—people that perhaps are unknown to me. In my spring-cleaning I am cleaning out the reader too, dropping a few blogs to make room for new voices. So I am up for recommendations.
Here is a short list of new (or new to me) bloggers who I think you might enjoy adding to your reader. Best, they are of the local flavor, meaning they are from my home state, the “Palmetto” state, South Carolina, right here in the good ol’ USA:
- Heather Loy’s Tech Tips and Timely Tidbits In her own words my SC LMS friend strives to share a lot through her blog, with her primary target being the extended family she knows as faculty and staff right their in her high school. But she can also add a refreshing voice to your mix too, and seems to give great reviews and real life application of tools you may be considering. I am so glad she jumped into the blogging world, as I think I have a lot to learn form her. She is a teacher-librarian, aka school library media specialist. She has much to offer to expand your mind and thinking. It just so happens she is also another cutting edge educator from South Carolina.
- MaryAnn Sansonetti blogs over at Snapshots of Technology Integration. She’s a rising star (literally—A Discovery Education Network Star Educator) and has her hand in many areas of the educational technology arena. She writes about her thoughts on how to merge technology and education, looking for seamless integration and opportunities to showcase engaged students in learning atmospheres.
- John Woodring over at TeacherBytes has spent his blogging trying to bring technology news and information for educators together. What John offers is a mix of his opinion, reviews of tools, and a perspective form his own experiences using digital tools in a teaching environment. Yes, he actually works directly with students, and seeks to hook other educators (the professional learners) up with innovative ideas, new tools, and best practice in the classroom. He provides staff development often, and I’ve never read a rant on his blog (something I sometimes am given to do.) A true southern gentleman.
- Bill Gaskins, author of Blogging on the Bay is one I discovered not to long ago, but it has been fun reading his posts. I am amazed at how we think a lot alike, and I find that we face similar frustrations concerning filters, and we both have a strong desire to see our environments become more relevant to our students by using 21st century tools. Like me, I sense that Bill is very passionate about being a catalyst for positive change at his school.
- Stacey Samborski is the author of Reading Rocks at D.R. Hill Middle School. Her byline on this blog says it all: Where we read to succeed… Stacey’s primary goal is to blog about books that her middle schoolers are reading, engaging them in finding their digital voice in the review process. While I am about so much more than reading (horrors I confess, I push digital learning as much as the printed word in my library!!) I find Stacey’s blog refreshing, thorough on reviews of books, and downright pretty. You will also find a few podcasts of different material as well. A great mix of material for a focus on reading, and yet another South Carolina educator. I also like that I can see what the kids think about the reviews there. I recently used her reviews to add some books to my own library shelves. If you work with middle schoolers, teachers of reading, or librarians, Stacey has a great blog to follow.
Okay, there are several other South Carolinian voices to share, like the widely known Chris Craft of Crucial Thought and lovable Pat “Loonyhiker” from Successful Teaching. There are more, but I think I’ll wait and highlight them later. Check these voices I’ve highlighted out. Try them on in your reader for size. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
So, now that I’ve shared some voices you may not have known that are somewhat local to me, who are your local rising stars?
March 24, 2008
Yes I’m on spring break this week, and I’m just sitting here today enjoying the “nothing to do syndrome”–a rarity in my life! I was checking my email, pitying all those school districts who’ve already had there spring break, or worse (like my husband/son’s school district) have yet to have theirs. Yes I’ll be very mad week after next when they come to the beach to stay with me for their spring break–where I will be working! It will be very tough each day I get up and go to work knowing full well they are getting up to go play. Worse yet, I’m pretty sure it will be nice, warm “beach” weather. Bah humbug! I may get “sick” one of those days. ; ) You know, the “mental days” we all take every now and then?
Anyway, I’m reading through my email and across comes a SCASL listserv message from Stacey, a fellow LMS in Spartanburg School District 5 (of South Carolina). She is looking for help with students using PowerPoint, but that is not why I write! I notice in her signature file a link to her blog!! Blog alert! Of course I naturally cruise right on over there. Awesome blog, too. So why is it special enough to give KUDOS to her district? Glad you asked.
In the blog URL, I noticed it read as follows:
I knew right away this little blog of hers is hosted on Spartanburg 5′s own server, and NOT on a commercial blog site! So I emailed Stacey inquiring about the old one, and whether or not the blog–a WordPress theme no less, was indeed on the school’s site! Of course she replied:
Yes. Our district tech coordinator designated server space for teacher blogs. It is the same blog but has several updated entries.
This just absolutely makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside! Kudos to Spartanburg District 5. I plan to share this with my district too. But it is awesome still to know that South Carolina districts are forging the trail of 2.0 tools in the school environment, especially since our SC curriculum standards specifically call for students to engage in the use of blogging as a way to demonstrate concept mastery in writing. W00T!!
Now in my reader I had an Edublogs site for Stacey that I subscribed too. I new it hadn’t been updated in a while, but i was hoping…I’m proud to report that Stacey has knocked my socks off with her new site!
FYI–Here is how the word “Blog” appears in our standards–as one of the guiding principle–located in Guiding Principles – Principle 8. Also note I did not even search the other curriculum areas, but I bet this term appears there as well.
Guiding Principle 8
An effective English language arts curriculum utilizes all forms of media to prepare students to live in an information-rich society.
In today’s dynamic society, all forms of mass media are used to inform and persuade. Proficient students apply critical techniques to evaluate the validity of the information they encounter. In a culture where persuasive and invasive media messages abound, students need to think critically about what they read, hear, and view. The challenge for students is to respond to these media messages personally, critically, and creatively. The inclusion of media literacy in South Carolina’s academic standards recognizes the powerful force of mass media in the twenty-first century.
Today’s emerging technologies include many multimedia devices and programs that depend on the appropriate application of technology and thus require media literacy skills: digital photography, DVDs, CD-ROMs, high-definition digital television, Internet streaming, MP3 players, nonlinear (computer/video) editing, PDAs (personal digital assistants), PowerPoint presentations, blogs (Weblogs), and more.
The skills of critical inquiry—the ability to question and analyze a message, whether it be textual, visual, auditory, or a combination of these—are a crucial element in literacy instruction. The production of visual media is also a crucial element, enabling students to acquire and demonstrate an understanding of advertising, aesthetic techniques, audience, bias, propaganda, and intellectual purpose. Integrating into the ELA curriculum the vocabulary and skills associated with media presentations helps students develop lifelong habits of critical thinking.
Anyone else with me? Who else is going to show this to your principal and/or technology department and ask like me, “Why aren’t we offering this to our students and teachers?”
March 18, 2008
That was the title of my session Friday, March 14, 2008 at our annual SCASL conference. This was the 3rd time I had given this preso, and quite honestly, I am still getting feedback from my attendees. The preso in one of its earliest formats appears on my “preso” page, which is supposed too serve as my place for anyone looking for handouts. I’ve gone strictly to electronic handouts, though in all honesty, it is really just some links. But since I first presented this at Summer Leadership (SCASA Annual Conference) and SC Edtech, it has been transformed. I have gone from a heavily scattered text approach (bullets–oh no) to a visual representation of my material for many slides, and I mixed in videos too. Oh and don’t forget I invited my Twitter network to say hello and speak to the power of RSS, as well as a Skype call from a network friend (Dennis Richards, Superintendent of his school district in Falmouth, Massachusetts .)
This mixture of material including Twitter shout-outs, a Skype Chat and call, videos, and my slide show helped me make this session much more than the “sit and get” presentations I have grown oh so weary of. And today, I have posted the entire slide show, all 37 slides, for anyone who wants to review it. I welcome your comments, either here or on Slide Share. Looking for constructive criticism, b/c I have one more conference where I may do this same presentation.
March 14, 2008
Today ended the SCASL conference that I attended in Columbia, SC. It is always a rewarding experience, as being a librarian makes you a singleton in your building most of the time, so what fun and excitement all of us like minded people can have when we are all together. There was never a dull moment. Here I am setting up my Exploratorium booth and getting ready to show and tell Flickr and SCASL Blogs!
Columbia was warm and sunny the whole conference (March 12-14, 2008) and I rekindled old friendships and made some new ones.
Sitting with Susan Henley and Camillia Harris (from Charleston School District) in Larry Johnson’s pre-conference session was so much fun–We talked almost through the whole presentation! But I had my laptop so we were pulling up the links to things he was talking about, so it was somewhat related. He never seemed to get annoyed with us, but I do think we were a tad distracting. Apologies Larry!
Eating dinner @ California Dreaming with Heather Loy and Mary (from Busbee Elementary). Although the three of us come from different school levels–Heather is from a high school, Mary from an elementary school, and I am from middle–each of us seem to face a lot of similar issues in our libraries.
Sitting through Joyce Valenza’s sessions were probably the highlight of the conference. She is leading with such an awesome example of what a true 21st century teacher librarian should look like, and I have set her as my own personal role model of what I want to be. I just want to thank Joyce for raising that bar SO high. One of my friends made fun of me for sitting on the front rows of the sessions Joyce gave. I just asked isn’t that what all kiss-ups do? But I truly wanted some of her knowledge & wisdom to touch me, if not physically, than spiritually from her aura. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to be right there. I think Joyce may have been surprised at the lack of knowledge on 2.0 tools, and she even fretted to some of us after her first session that perhaps she needs to slow down or chunk some of the content for easier digestion. I said no, please keep the bar raised high so our state librarians will know what they need to work towards. Note to Joyce: While there may have been fear in some eyes as you presented, there was a spark that we need to fan into a fire on utilizing today’s tools to engage learners. Many came to my session just thelp them understand better, and I thank you for that.
The SCASL Bag Fashion Show was a hoot-and yes, I participated. I hope to get more of the pictures posted and Ida Thompson’s rather funny diatribe that was read as we walked the fashion runway!
Supper at Damon’s with Julia Davis, MaryAnn Sansonetti, and Chris Craft was a delightful way to end the day, and we have some plans underway–watch for them to be revealed soon. Collective wisdom is awesome.
After two full days of “sit and get” style presentations, I was worried about my own presentation on RSS Feeds. I returned to my room Thursday evening set on revamping my preso, removing the little text that I already had in it, and retooling it to be less like the “sit and get” sessions I had been in the two previous days. I tried hard to come up with interactivity, but never could formulate a plan that I thought would work. So I decided to turn to my network. I asked for shout outs at the beginning of my session, asking Twitter to greet my group and tell how they use RSS. I had 24 tweets to share, and I used them to start and finish my session. I was dumbfounded to realize that Joyce Valenza herself and Kathy Shrock, both of whom have been at SCASL before, and both in my reader’s “expert” folder, tweeted to my group. (Joyce had already returned to PA, but sent warm wishes and thanks for the fun she’d had in SC the day before.) I also got a skype chat from Tim Van Heule while presenting, which was rather funny b/c he did not know I was in the middle of my preso. Really cute and funny, and it went something like this:
Tim Van Heule
Sessions already? 8:13 AM
ready 8:13 AM
hi Tim Van Heule 8:13 AM
Tim Van Heule
What’s going on, Cathy Nelson? 8:13 AM
in the middle of a presentation 8:14 AM
Tim Van Heule
Ah… Fun… leaving you to it. 8:14 AM
bye 8:14 AM
My audience got a real kick out of the fact that I briefly chatted (using Skype chat as a text) with Tim. Since I had Skype open there was no disregarding it, so I just pulled it in as part of my preso! I had arranged to get Dennis Richards of Massachusetts to skype in, so instead of waiting for him to call (which is why i had Skype open) I just went ahead and called him. He was at the ASCD Conference in New Orleans. Using wireless on a conference connection is risky business indeed, too, but I forged ahead. It was a stop and go call, but Dennis did a fabulous job telling all how we knew each other from networking with the tools. He introduced himself as a school superintendent in his area, catching many LMS’s there off guard to know that a supt was using the tools as well. He shared that he had only been using RSS since last summer, but now thinks a whole new way about learning, particularly personal learning, now that he uses RSS. I didn’t drag out the conversation long since it was choppy, but do feel I left a strong impression about how RSS can help you develop a PLN (professional learning network) to grow and learn. In the mix I had the RSS in Plain English video as well as a video interview of Will Richardson where he spoke to the fact that educators must first learn the tools themselves before tryng to use them in school with kids. I also showed a short segment of an archived Ustream that Dennis Richards had on his blog where Sheryl Nussbaum Beach is talking about how a network can supplement your learning, and it was form the day before at her keynote at the NCAET Conference no less, going on simultaneously with SCASL–just about 175 miles up the road. Read about her keynote, and even view it here. I hope today I did teach how RSS can play a lead role in professional development, and I think I embodied the example of taking advantage of generous people in my network who helped me out. I thought this was one of the best presentations I have ever done. Of course, I’m biased too.
My audience seemed receptive to my message and now I have a TON of homework to do. I promised all the links I used would appear in the presentation link of this blog, and so I must set out to create that. I also have a 3-hour workshop to prepare for Monday. Am feeling very swamped!!