Archive for Professional Development
July 29, 2008
The SLJ All Together Now version of 23 Things is now in its 2nd week, and “thing 3″ calls for us to subscribe to a podcast or two and tell why we like it. Yesterday I wrote about Bob Sprankle’s Bit by Bit. Today I thought I’d plug the upcoming K12 Online Conference, which starts its 3rd annual event October 13, 2008 (with an introductory keynote) followed by two weeks of forty presentations (October 20-31, 2008.) I have participated in the last two years, and plan to be there for the 3rd annual conference too. Best, it is ALL online, so I don’t have to go “anywhere” in particular, and even better, it’s totally FREE. It has been promoted as free, flexible and forward thinking. This is last year’s logo, but it really speaks to what the K12Online Conference is all about. Free is self explanatory–it doesn’t cost you a dime in travel, hotels, lodging or any of the other amenities we commonly associate with attending a typical conference. Flexible describes it well, because participants choose when and where they partake of “most” of the offerings–there are a few events that are live, but most of those are even archived. Forward Thinking (Progressive & Practical) is also used in describing the K12Online Conference too, as participants can capture a true vision for forward thinking from great presenters who share fabulous and usefull tried and true tips for engaging learners using 21st century skills. (Gee I sound like a commercial.) But its true! There is something for everyone here, from the true novice beginner to the professional keynoter who alredy knows it all. This year’s theme is “amplifying possibilities.”
I know I will blog about this again nearer to the actual dates of the conference, but for those out there who have decided to participate in “All Together Now” 23 Things, here is a wonderful podcast series that you can go ahead and take advantage of now. Subscribe to the K12 Online Conference and GRAB learning on the go that will NOT disappoint you. Yes, it will be last year’s content, but the content is still wonderful. I think this picture from a set in lynetter’s photostream says it all. This is true especially for podcasts, no matter when, where, or even how we consume them.
Where are the K12 Online feeds? Here
July 14, 2008
I had a chance to attend BLC08 compliments of my school this year. I was very excited and even blogged about it some time back. So why did I not go? There is a story there, and I will attempt to share it. I feel I owe it to my network that celebrated with me when I thought I was going.
BLC07 Remembered and Shared At the beginning of school, I shared with my principal about BLC—I had virtually benefited from BLC07 through the breadcrumbs of backchannels from the likes of David Jakes, Ewan McIntosh, Barbara Barreda, and others willing to open up their skype chats for any who wanted to respond to backchannel discussions. These people were physically in the audience and invited anyone from their network to join in. Those out in the network did not have the luxury of U-Stream then, nor were we privy to listening in using Skype (I still wonder why no one thought to do that?) But still it was a phenomenon I will not soon forget. I think this alone is what made me realize my professional learning centered around conversations more so than speakers, classes, or presentations.
Interest grows at the district level So my principal shared with a district administrator who works with the school library folks. He asked me about it, and I excitedly told him all I knew. I also shared that I had wanted to go every year since its inception, about which SC districts I knew had been, and that due to the cost, and what I saw as a suggested requirement→that schools and organizations should come as a group→I had never seriously pursued it. (I have always floated my own boat at national conferences-paid for them right out of my own pocket.)
District Decides to GO! The next thing I know, this district leader has gone back and shared about BLC to others at the district level, and a group was formulated to go. I found out later, and was VERY excited. There were six going from my district (already registered and scheduled for flights/lodging.) I told my principal, who told me to go ahead and plan to go with them—she would pay for me and another teacher to attend with that group. I tried to get a teacher to go, but many were reluctant to use summer-time to do this (which is shocking all by itself-that few would consider using their summer for PD–is that just a Cathy phenomenon?).
Too High a Cost As time lapsed, I also began to think how dare me use school money for such an expensive extravagant trip. I kept rationalizing that registration for two teachers alone would be right around $1300, and that is not including airfare, food, and lodging. I kept saying jeepers how much more we could do with more teachers if I would just NOT do this. I have a pet peeve about anyone who fleeces the school of much needed money (like color copies of family photos, or baby-shower thank-you cards made AT SCHOOL in color on school cardstock and FILLED with baby-shower photos, oh gee I could go on an on here.)
My BLC Dream Ended So I let it go. The district is doing what I thought needed to be done→they are sending a group from the district. It is representative of district leaders, building principals, and I do believe a teacher, so I am satisfied in that. My hope of the group going is that they will catch the vision of 21st century learning and then bring this vision back to the district. I already have the vision (I think) so why should I go? I should allow others who haven’t gotten that vision yet to go. I should have my principal spend our professional development money, limited as it is, to get more teachers in pd that will help them grow.
Missing Friends, Virtual & F2F So there you have it—that is why I am not going to BLC this year. I will, however, very much MISS a reunion of virtual friends, including Joyce Valenza, Liz Davis, Lisa Thumann, Alice Barr, Colleen King, and many others I have met virtually in professional social networking tools and f2f from Educon 2.0 in Philly. I DO plan to go again to Educon 2.0, and once again, ask that my school help by splitting the costs with me. Last year I asked to go with this agreement in mind, and said if I could do it for under $500, I would. That is my plan once again—hope the gas prices and airfare will allow it.
Breadcrumbs will have to suffice… Please know that as I sit and reach out for breadcrumbs of information coming out of BLC, I am solidly kicking myself for NOT going ahead and attending, all expenses paid by my school. There are breadcrumbs available though, in the format of blog posts, wiki edits, twitters, and U-Streams. It’s the next best thing to being there.
June 22, 2008
I am working on my slides for the panel discussion. I’m sure i will tweak them again and again before the big day. But here is round one of the editing process. They may take on a whole different look before then, but who knows?
My contribution focuses on professional development–us getting it and giving it–using 2.0 tools. Anyone have any suggestions? I’ll gladly take them!
BUMMER! I’m having difficulty with the embed feature, and so while I work t resolve it, you can see my work in progress here. UPDATE: Fixed! thanks to Sue Waters.
June 20, 2008
I’ll be in San Antonio for ISTE’s NECC very soon. It seems surreal to think I’m on the list for presenting in a panel discussion. So what if it is not like a real preso? Instead of my own presentation it is rather a group who talk about how the newer tools have changed the way we do things, particularly in the school library. My contribution (voice of expertise) is supposed to be using the tools for professional development. I hope I can hold a candle to the other experts on the panel. I am so in awe of Joyce Valenza, Carolyn Foote, and Judy O’Connell! Oh and some how one of the expert voices is not showing in the list–>Diane M Cordell-a wonderful friend I would have never met had it not been for the tools we use to network (blogs, Twitter, Skype, etc.) So looking forward to this one! Here’s the description from the NECC planner.
June 20, 2008
Coming to Rock Hill (my official hometown) Marc Prensky is giving a keynote at a local conference for this school district. My husband is part of the planning committee, and yesterday he informed me that the coordinator of the conference (which I am not officially attending or participating in) said I was welcome to come hear Prensky. I guess this coordinator knows how excited I would be–meaning, I suppose, he recognizes that I’m a forward thinker too, and clamor after forward thinkers, either virtually through blogs, ustreams, and other networking or in person, like conferences. Whatever the reason, I am so excited to know I can attend for at least Prensky’s part of this conference. I won’t be able to ustream so don’t ask. The school district does not allow outside computers connectivity (wonder how they will deal with Prensky’s?) I’m still very excited. Will it look bad if I steal a front row seat for a conference that I am neither a paying or contributing member of? The uber-geek in me will be in full swing for sure. The ultra nerd in me also wants to talk to him AND get maybe I’ll even ask for an autograph. Confession–I’m an edtech groupie!
Ewan McIntosh will be keynoting the first day of the Greenville County School District’s Upstate Technology Conference. This one is absolutely FREE! I have a preso there at 8:00 am, and then at 9:15, Ewan does his keynote! I am so excited! Ewan was very instrumental last summer in making sure many virtual participants could participate in back-channels at NECC and the Building Learning Communities conferences. It made me realize there is a whole different way to enjoy conferences and get professional development, right from the conference I am at AND from my own living room if I am not present. I just emailed the UTC coordinators to inquire about Ustream possibilitis, and I will let you know what they say.
On a sad note, I will not get to enjoy David Jakes as keynote speaker for day 2 of the UTC. Isn’t it cool though that he will also be in SC? And he does indeed have a history in SC as part of the CSRA and the Department of Wildlife, though I’ve heard him talk about that time in his life, and though he is complimentary of his job, well, I’ll just say he doesn’t seem to like SC as a home (but of course that is my take after some “virtual” conversations.) Maybe next week when he is here, someone can get an official and 100% accurate opinion from him directly. Thursday I’ll be in Columbia, SC working with a group from across our entire state to hash out concerns relevant to school library media specialists. Perhaps more details to come later. Then Friday, we fly out to San Antonio for NECC.
Yes this is going to be a VERY exciting week coming up!
June 19, 2008
Today I did a session at our annual principal’s conference on social networking. Since the vast majority of tools like MySpace, Facebook, and even professional networks like Classroom 2.0 are blocked, I took the stance that we as educators must educate ourselves and our parents, especially in light of how issues stemming directly from student online interaction seems to find its way into our classrooms, guidance offices, right up to the administrators desks. I’ve presented at the conference several years, but usually in the morning. I was taken aback by the “ghost-town” feeling I had for my 2PM afternoon session. I had roughly fifteen participants. One lady assured me that my topic was popular and relevant, but after lunch folks attending this conference seem to find to “other” things to do. Factor in that it is the next to last day, and well, the lure of the beach was calling too. But honestly, when I attend conferences, I go to 90% of the offerings, and many times you can find me near the front row if I can get to a session early enough. Does this make me an uber-geek? Even in my session today, only one participant sat near the front. This was a new experience for me.
Don’t Preach to the Choir
My attendees seemed generally complimentary, and even one of the conference directors greeted me warmly by name when I arrived. But today I was a wee bit disappointed. Our SC State Department of Education library liaison (Martha Alewine) encourages us to get out and speak at different conferences besides our own. She suggests if we are to gain respect in the field, we must stop “preaching to the choir” (presenting to ourselves at our own conference) and branch out and spread our message about information literacy, ICT, and standards-based collaboratively taught engaged learning by presenting at other conferences. What better way to market what you as the teacher librarian have to offer the school and its curriculum? We must help the teacher population see that we can address standards and impact student achievement.
Spread our Message, Support our Colleagues
I generally try to present at our state edtech conference (SCEdTech), the middle school conference (if I remember to do the proposal), and this one. There are not very many “techy” sessions at this conference, as my friend Dennis Richards has noted before, and from his post here, this goes all the way up to the national level. I really like SCASA’s SLI, as I strongly feel administrators are the ones who MOST misunderstand what should be happening in a library, particularly a 21st Century Library. They are also in a position to “from the top down” help us become more of a collaborating and contributing partner for student learning. In years past, I’ve had wonderful reception and positive feedback from my sessions. My session today was later than I’d ever had before, 2PM. I never expected such a low turnout. It was quite frankly a little disheartening.
I Solemnly Promise…
I promise to all future presenters who draw an afternoon or late presentation I will strive to attend if I’m at the conference. Been there, done that. I know what if feels like now to present to an empty room. I’d have liked to have been out on the beach today too. I especially thank the ones who came.
June 18, 2008
I hate when presenters ask the Twitter Networks to simply say hello to their audiences. I do like it when I’m asked to say hello and tell where I’m from, though, as this shows how far and wide reaching your network is. And I like it even better when folks ask for an opinion or idea along with this warm greeting, which is what did today for a workshop I did today in Columbia, SC. (I asked for folks to tell why networks are powerful.) I had recently been far removed from Twitter for assorted reasons, and so was a wee bit scared no one would comply. Network, you absolutely amaze me. And my participants were super impressed too. It was funny to be able to read through the greetings and be able to tell the group an anecdotal comment about how each and every one has expanded my knowledge and expertise in some way. Thanks for coming thorugh for me today.
June 7, 2008
June 18, 2008 I am scheduled to give a half day a.m. workshop on Web 2.0 tools and I’ve been given some freedom and flexibility on what I do and how I do it. I am planning to show a few short videos, get a Twitter hello w/ advice, and Skype in a few folks. I have personally contacted a few already, but have decided to use my blog (and Twitter) to solicit more volunteers. I just want some people to allow a skype (w/video or not–the choice is yours) to talk to my audience about how you personally use any 2.0 tools for professional development or projects with students.
I am not talking an hour commitment or anything like that, just a short, sweet “hello” and “here’s an idea or example I’d like to share.” Actually I’ll limit volunteers to no more than 10 or 20 minutes at the most.
Please contact me if you are willing. I am on the east coast, so eastern time rules. I’ll help with the time conversion if you need it. This would be so AWESOME, and what better way to talk about and/or showcase 2.0 tools than to utilize them in my session?
Did I mention my target audience is teacher-librarians–AKA school library media specialists? These are your potential head collaborators at your schools, and I want to equip them with some knock-your-socks-off project based learning ideas they can take back to their schools.
Okay, if you can’t be available to help out, perhaps you can make a video or podcast hello with a tip, example, or advice? I would be MOST appreciative! Use the comments here or the contact form on the blog to join me for this endeavor.
May 20, 2008
Does anyone remember that annoying tune from Pink Floyd? Just in case you are not familiar with it, linking so you can refresh your memory. Enjoy, as it takes me alllll the way back to high school.
That video though is not why I write tonight. My head is spinning with ideas for grants. I have a long track record of getting grants funded, but most of them are small time. I have assisted in some larger grants that were $20K, and can proudly attest that one grant was funded three times in a row! W00T!
Grant writing has not always come easy to me. I have however, figured out some tricks to getting them funded.
- Make sure the funding source knows just exactly how needy your kids are. Using your words to paint a bleak picture of pathetic poor students who are suffering without. Most grants require a needs statement, and this is your opportunity to whip out the metaphorical violin and draw the bow across the heartstrings with that sad and moving tale of just how much your students suffer because there is no funding to do creative and interesting projects.
- Somewhere in the mix you will be asked to spell out goals, objectives, and maybe (more than likely) an evaluation of your project proposal. While the goal can be written with a relatively global flare–”My students will be better students after participating in this project.”–make sure you specifically state objectives in measurable terms–>Students will increase their scores on MAP testing math assessments by 20 points after the completion of the project. Give specifics here on how you will measure them . If called for, tell how you will evaluate–>When MAP scores are available after the April Assessments, scores in math will be compared to the January assessment.
- Finally, the third most important part of the grant is the project description. Here is where you get to say what your kids will be able to do if you can implement this project. Describe it in terms of what students will do, and keep it grounded on students. Make sure it is creative, innovative, and engaging. Notice I did not say wow them with technology. Too often people writing grants think if it is liberally sprinkled with technology, it’s bound to get funded. After all, technology grants are typically creative, innovative, and engaging, right? Wrong. Yes they have the potential. But don’t forget to focus on the student learning because of those factors, and not just those factors.
Other tips? I would certainly focus on student engagement. And actually, the last seven or eight grants that I’ve had funded, I purposefully used the language of engagement in my project descriptions as I find those words tend to help the reader focus on the student learning, and not the budget that will follow. This link is a page I created for my old school’s website to inform parents about a school and district focus, and I personally referred to it frequently in trying to locate words I knew would flavor my grant with compelling evidence that it was a proposal focused on student learning. Of particular care I took to write my project description using as many relevant design qualities, and I must say it seemed to pay off. No these weren’t necessarily jargon words, but rather a way to stress that what I was proposing was good for the bottom line, student learning. I used them where relevant. No I did not use everything there 100%, but where it fit, yes, I used it. (I guess I’d better copy/paste and recreate that page since I’ve just confessed I use it frequently. I’m no longer there to maintain it, and in reality it could disappear any day…okay, it is done.)
Why am I writing this?
Well, just recently my principal has been sending out from the district grant opportunity after grant opportunity. I have let so many slip by. But suddenly today, I felt the grant bug bite. I actually whipped up 2 before I left school today. And my mind is churning away on another one, though it will need to be a group effort. Will they get funded? I don’t know. They are due in 12 days, so I have time to sit on them, let them get cold, and then reread, looking for typos I’m notorious for, and also to see if I can add to, rephrase, or improve in any other way. I’ll also get some others to read as well.
Where do the ideas come from?
I read journals, blogs, and partake of many professional development opportunities online (virtual PD) and in real life–attending conferences. One today came from a session I heard about (but did not attend) at SC EdTech and SCASL presented by MaryAnn Sansonetti! Even though I did not attend her session, I did pick her brain about it, and get her handouts as well as review her material made available online. W00T!! A virtual goldmine–thanks MaryAnn. Ipodabilities sounds like a fabulous grant. The second idea came straight from Twitter of all places, thanks to Karl Fisch. He tweeted about attending a neighboring school’s Techstravaganza. I dm-ed him, and asked for a few details. What he emailed me sent me into a tailspin, and I had to write it up! I even suggested it to my principal BEFORE writing the grant proposal, saying we should do this. A grant with a little funding will just make it a little easier! Advice to take away–when you attend conferences, don’t leave disheartened saying we’ll never be able to do that because we don’t have___. GO back and begin that grant. You never know when the right one will drop in your lap that it will fit into.
I hope they get funded, but even if they don’t, I can feel good about the effort. And confession–> I’ve had many more rejected than funded. I just don’t like to share that. But the ones that have been funded have motivated me far more than the rejections have deflated me. Sigh.
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.