My BLC08 Day 2

July 17, 2008

Well here it is BLC08 Day 2, and I do believe the only ones in my network scrambling for BLC08 Day 2 are me, Lisa Durff, and Jennifer Wagner. At least that is who I am seeing repeatedly on twitter and in the Ustreams with me–that I know for sure are not present at the conference. There may be others–oh yeah and Bud the Teacher too.

Who is a digital immingrant?

Not I–at least based on this screenshot. Notice that my Skype also has a red 1 telling me I have a message. I was skypechatting with Joyce Valenza a little during the keynote this morning. Then I tried to get her session’s UStream, but the stream was to unreliable, and we kept losing audio/video, so i went over to Darren Kuropatwa‘s session, and he even shared the location for his slides, but as any good presenter would do, kept bailing on the slides to go out on the www to supplement what he was talking about. Fantastic session. Still wish i was there in person.

Pictures are from my photostream

As I shared with a friend today about the importance of networking, the example I gave was my ability to drop in on a fabulous conference going on right now–>Buliding Learning Communities 2008 in Boston, Mass.  My colleague is there at my recommendation from last August, and so I emailed to briefly explain UStream and Cover It Live, and how using a laptop and these apps would make the experience there immeasurabley better–that you just couldn’t beat interacting with others in and out of the room (like me 900 miles away–but glued to my chats, UStreams, Coverit Live Blogs, and Twitter…)  I received an email stating that not only had he joined Ustream, but he also joined Flickr and Twitter!!  It doesn’t take long to “catch the 21st century vision” at BLC, does it?

So my question is this.  If THIS

is the way we like to learn too, then why, oh why can’t we bring THIS into the classroom?  (Notice the laptops, PDAs, cellphones, & use of cameras sprinkled into this picture. That is pretty good for a basic sit and get session, wouldn’t you say?  I would wager they are all emphatically and enthusiastically engaged.) Hoping and praying the ones from my district who are at BLC08 will come back excited about the possibilities of digital tools in the classroom for 21st Century Learning.  (Of course I realize there are implications for school policies too.)   It makes me SO HAPPY though to know my colleague that quickly adopted some of my favorite apps, like Twitter, Ustream, and Flickr, all b/c he is absolutely immersed in it at BLC08!

Picture Attricbution:

UGC 20 for What Can I Do Now @ BLC08
Uploaded on July 16, 2008
by dkuropatwa

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Enjoying BLC08 from afar

July 16, 2008

How? Twitter, CoveritLive, and Ustream!  My favorite apps during BLC08.  My family thinks I’m nuts.  I think I’m very smart.  I also think most students would be able to handle this!

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.

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My survey on K12 Filtering is done for now. I probably should re do it in September, when school is back in, and things have settled down (since many SC Schools go back mid-August). I don’t know if I will though, as I feel I got good a fair representation with the 55 responses. That in itself is amazing since 55 people took my survey since Thursday of last week, and it’s summer break and vacation time for many.

The respondents represented seem relatively balanced over the grade bands (k-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) with the exception of post k12, where I had 4 respondents (7.5%) Overwhelmingly 87% of the respondents agree that filters are needed in k12 schools, and almost equally, that many folks have encountered a blocked website. The vast majority said that their district technology department decides what content is to be blocked. Surprisingly though 35% of the respondents indicated they either were not aware of or had ever read CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act.) (Read ALA take on CIPA.)

When faced with a blocked site, most respondents seek alternative relevant content (which is not surprising), but what was surprising was that almost 70% take measures to request blocked material be reconsidered. When asked who should have a say in what is filtered out, many indicated school personnel, such as a district superintendent and high level district administrators, district technology departments, building level administrators (principals), and teachers. Few thought the school board, parents, students, or the community should have a say. Most respondents feel safe even though filters do not always work, but I was surprised to learn that almost 30 do not trust existing filters. However, the respondents said overwhelmingly they would continue using online resources even without a filter, though 36% said they would use it w/ reservations. None, though, would stop using it.

So my curiosity is appeased. I do not hope to “change” the way filtering is done where I work. Quite frankly I’m pleased as punch that I have a “back door” to most blocked content, and can also request relaxing the filter on sites I or my collaborating teachers desire to use as a resource. But I do have reservations that it seems most areas have the filter set up and executed without having it explained to users (students, teacher, or higher) in detail. Perhaps some would find that irrelevant or boring, but I very well may have a discussion about this as a part of my orientation in the library this year—for all of our learners, professional and not. I think dissecting that acceptable use policy and discussing the Child Internet Protection Act may reduce anxiety and help the learners understand the need and use of filtering. Maybe, and that is a big MAYBE, it will keep the learners from trying to “get around” the filter. Maybe…(in my dreams??)

Here are the responses to the open-ended question that simply read “Your final thoughts.” I have BOLD PRINTED my personal “take-aways” or things that will effect the way I talk about or teach about filters in the future. I’ve added or responded to their comments with my own comments in parenthesis, italics, and a different color text.

I am in a charter school. Our tech person works with filtering. She is very concerned with liability issues and I feel she blocks too much, however it is easy for me to get a site unblocked. I don’t have an override password yet but I think she will provide me with access next year. She is still learning the system. I feel that our charter school board should be looking at filtering processes and assisting in making those decisions after being sufficiently informed of the issues pro and con. Putting the decision on one person is not fair to that person nor to the users.

It is about teaching ethical behavior on the internet

Despite their limited effectiveness many teachers and administrators would probably choose not to access the Internet with students if filtering was not in place. (The survey did not support this statement.) Fortunately, I have override access at all times and can request any site to be unblocked without a lot of red tape. In almost 100% of the requests permanent access is granted unless IT finds providing access would open up too many portals. School access is no different than workplace access–limits are imposed. We have the responsibility to help students understand that access in this arena is not the same as access at home–just as they will find in their places of employment. (True! I will include this in my instruction.)

We have two levels of filtering in our system. Level 1 is the provincial government and it is set in stone. There is no way to contact them to plead your case. Level 2 is with our local district. They have been very reasonable in unblocking sites for specific uses when requested. We have access to a fairly wide variety of sites including blogs, wikis, Facebook, YouTube, and Hotmail so I feel fortunate compared to many other places I read about. One site that was recently blocked at the provincial level was Awesome Highlighter. I don’t know why and have no recourse for finding out or launching an appeal. Interestingly enough I had planned to introduce it to staff next term. My big concern with filtering is, how do we teach kids to use the net safely if we can’t show them the pitfalls of certain types of site? I plan to show students my Facebook account in the fall so they can see how to set privacy levels as many have no idea this feature even exists.

I’m very lucky. Very little is blocked. I used to be in charge until the church hired someone to take care of their services and we were included. It is really just x-rated blocking.

I think there should have been more questions and a choice for other – if a response did not meet your needs (Excellent point!)

It’s a waste of time, money, and human resources.

Filters can’t block every inappropriate site. Our students need instruction in cyber safety & digital citizenship for real “protection”

When done right, filters can block the extreme cases of indecency. I don’t think filters should block every single case of profanity or indecency. Kids will find that stuff anyway.

I am the director of libraries for a school district in Texas and arrived at your survey via your blog. My district is one of the few in the area where filtering issues are decided by instructional personnel, rather than network administrators. We are also one of the few that allow teachers an override password to access sites that they feel are relevant to their curriculum. Currently we have a committee that looks at requests to unblock a web site, but I feel that anything requested by a professional staff member should be unblocked without question. We are considering revising our policies to address web 2.0 tools in the near future. Hopefully, we can make the filtering less restrictive while remaining in compliance with CIPA.

LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALISTS SHOULD BE INCLUDED ON #7. TIGHT FILTERS PROVE FRUSTRATING WHEN TIME IS AN ISSUE. MY DISTRICT IS SUPPORTIVE IN GRANTING ACCESS WHEN NEEDED, BUT IT TAKES TIME.

I’ve read about schools with no filters where students have extensive instruction about “proper” surfing, and they seem to have few problems. The students eventually police themselves. Maybe this wouldn’t work in all communities, but it probably would in the majority of them. (I’ve witnessed the same at SLA in Philadelphia. I agree, but in SC I just don’t see it happening.)

To elaborate on questions: #4: The content that is filtered is done by category. Categories chosen to block are typically non-educational such as games, gambling, violence, sex, etc. Unfortunately, good websites get caught in the filter because they are categorized under multiple content headings to increase traffic to the site and become a casualty in the war against exposing students to inapporpriate websites. It’s not like someone is picking and choosing sites on an individual basis. Also, the filter we use does have reliable people behind it making sure that in addition to the site being educationally appropriate, it does not contain any “hidden” malware, spyware, or backdoor viruses which some otherwise terrific websites may contain. As to #9, even if no filters were in place, a good teachers will review online resources appropriate to his/her curriculum and not allow students unsupervised use. I know this would not eliminate the possibilities of students wandering (intentionally or not) but I have seen so many teachers give up control of what resources they use and tell their students to “get on the Internet and find”…… BAD approach. (Excellent points! I have seen teachers do the same (last statement) and treat the existing filter as their personal babysitter. We revised our computer lab policies this year to state that unless face to face instruction is occurring, the teacher may not be on a workstation, but should instead be moving around supervising and monitoring online activity. This is just like a teacher’s responsibility outside during student free time–we must be ever vigilant, and being honed in on a single workstation just does not allow that.)

Librarians need to be able to access unfiltered internet on at least 1 computer on campus (not student-observable) and be able to unblock site for temporary/time-limited use, then have it reviewed by IT for permanent unblocking (WOW–what a great idea!!)

I think that with consistent communication between all parties a balance can be struck.

Even with Destiny’s web path express, some of the links will be blocked. I can’t watch every student every minute on a computer. I’m glad we have filters in school. Most of the students with computers at home will go to the site later to finish research if they really need it.

They are imperfect at best. They block the obvious stuff, but my experience tells me that the students who want to get around them will get around them.

There’s a lot of truth in the statement, “Follow the money”… I am fortunate enough to work in a small district and have a great relationship with the county IT folks; I am able to email or call regarding a site and will generally have something unblocked within 10 minutes at the longest. (Lucky you!!) I have also witnessed firsthand, individuals that have teaching credentials, that walk into a lab of 30 computers, fill every one with a student and then announce “just go look for information”; I then watched as the teacher proceeded to complain that her shopping sites that were blocked. Filters seem ridiculous to folks who view the internet as educational/information resource. Many of my colleagues view the internet as a great big playground as opposed to a source of meaningful learning… We are dealing with many issues that are multi-sided and they cause GREAT angst for those trying to find the best for students, teachers and learning. ….. (The remainder seemed more like a private message to me and was not related to the survey.)

Filters are a reality that is not going to go away. As an LMS, I feel that I should be allowed the ability to override the filter when I deem appropriate. But apparently, I’m trusted to purchase books and databases, but not trusted enough to use good judgment when it comes to the Internet.

My district has been very prompt in removing blocks–however the sites are blocked by broad categories–”entertainment; games; sports” so many things get blocked that never should be in the first place.

K-12 is a broad range. High schools would be fine with no filter, but with guidelines. But the little kids might need some filtering. Porn is really ugly. I think the filtering is too stringent in our district because teachers do not have the override capabilities. However, the filter is outsourced to Secure computing.com and if we plan ahead with sites, we can request that they be recategorized and it happens quickly. But, the filter is IT driven, not instruction driven. The “illegal” V tunnel override is what many teachers and students do. We are actually thinking that maybe that is what we are supposed to do and it is a big secret! Working inside a bureaucracy is never ending frustration in many way, not just filters. (BINGO–prior planning is really a godsend to get material unblocked for me as well. I would never expect a site I requested unblocked on the same day-that would be wishful thinking for me.)

I agree that there is definitely a need to protect students from undesirable sites and if a teacher/LIS prepare his/her lesson in advance – they should be able to use sites that are not blocked due to content, etc.

I have no problem getting sites unblocked. I just tell the technician what I need, give them the URL and they unblock it.

In my school, the filter tends to limit the teachers, but the students are given the power because they use proxies.

If you have any other insight you’d like to add or share, please don’t hesitate.

Image Attributions – All Images were obtained through FlickrCC

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Image: ‘yes
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I am seeking answers in my own professional circle (teacher librarians) but decided to open this survey up to my network as well.  If you are taking the survey from the link provided here, please indicate that in the last open-ended question.  Feel free to remain anonymous though. I only strive to keep the data from SC Teacher Librarians separate form blog readers.

Here is the message I sent to my fellow teacher librarians in my state:

Much discussion of late in my network circles center on filters at school.  Concerns range from students’ abilities to circumvent them to them being too tight, blocking more than just inappropriate material. While in my recent years I’ve felt when filtered content was blocked, I’ve had an appropriate method to request an opening or unblocking of content, based on these recent conversations, I feel that is not the case for many.  I am in a lucky few and minority.

Please take some time to answer these ten questions. My survey is probably neither valid or reliable in terms of measurement standards, but will appease my curiosity.

Click here to take the Survey.

or here
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=zEGGCctTqE3HD7j_2bm9twkA_3d_3d

Thanks in advance for any who decide to participate in my very informal survey.  Come to think of it, I probably should have made this a cell-phone texting survey and twittered or plurked it for you all!

Attribution form Flickrcc:

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Processing the last 2 weeks of the Upstate Technology Conference and NECC, and I still can’t seem to put to words all that transpired or even how I felt about it all. I feel a sort of elation, though many have expressed disappointment or even more critical feelings about NECC. I’m still satisfied with my conference experience, as I got to meet SO MANY virtual friends f2f. This picture of nodes was shared frequently at NECC, but it really represents well how virtual relationships can expand your learning. My learning in the last 2 years can mostly be attested to virtual relationships I have cultivated in the last 2 years.

In the last 2 weeks, I met up with my friend Chris Craft at UTC, and together we went right in and met up with Ewan McIntosh and David Jakes there in Greenville. I also met for the first time f2f Pat “Loonyhiker” Hensley. I hung out with Heather Loy, Pat Hensley, Maryann Sansonetti, Julia Davis, and Chris Craft, and best, Daid Jakes and Ewan McIntosh came and ate lunch with us the one day I attended UTC.

At NECC, it was nice to meet up again with all the people I hung around with in Philadelphia at Educon 2.0, like Laura Deisley, Will Richardson, David Jakes, Joyce Valenza, Carolyn Foote, Kristin Hokanson, Robin Ellis, Sylvia Martinez, Chris Lehman, Maria Knee, Marcie Hull, and way too many others to mention.

I met f2f for the very first time Diane Cordell, Kitty Forbus, Doug Johnson, Derrall G, Vinnie Vrotney, Lisa Parisi, Stefanie Sanderfer, Darren Draper, Wes Fryer, Mighuel Ghulin, Scott Mcleod, Kevin Honeycutt (actually I did meet and get to know Kevin at EBC/NECC 07), and Dean Shareski, just to name a few.

The trip to San Antonio was worth it alone for just the opportunity to meet and talk shop with all these people. I had a great mixture of sessions and meeting up with my peeps while IN San Antonio. I am defintiely looking forward to NECC2009 in DC already. Can you believe I read where someone had already booked their rooms for next year’s NECC?

Today’s photos are compliments of Crafty184‘s photostream, and mine.

Chris Craft
Chris Craft, happiest person I know! An SC resident, no less. My mentor and friend.


David Jakes (from the Chicago area) and I–we made a pact to be buddies in real life, even though we are not buds in Twitter. Who needs Twitter when one can have a f2f friendship?

Upon meeting Ewan McIntosh (Edinburg, Scotland), he pulled me close, kissed me lightly on each cheek, and exclaimed, “Cathyjo, you look just like your avatar!” It was the sweetest greeting I think I’ve ever gotten!


Meeting Diane Cordell (upstate New York) was quite possibly icing on the cake! We met through social networking circles and have cultivated quite a friendship in the last year. What spunk!


I finally get to meet Kitty Forbus. Oddly enough I think we virtually met through my blog in its earliest phase, and then cultivated a friendship by playing with the tools (remember our foray into Skype, Kitty?) and most recently mentoring Kitty through some of her National Board Certification Process. Kitty is form Alabama, and recently my school district lured her superintendent away to South Carolina. Talk about a small world!

Lisa Parisi is from Long Island, NY, and we have met before in many social networking circles. She is so genuinely nice and SMART! I want to be like her someday.

Perhaps there will be more post-NECC reflections. But I just had to share about the people I met recently. So who did you enjoy meeting, and better, where are the pictures?

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Image: ‘Davezilla.com
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Okay so I’m still reeling from our session at NECC (so titled in the above blog title.) You can visit our wiki handout here. It is very surreal to even now reflect and realize that I have done 2 presentations (both panel style) with Joyce Valenza. My other panelists, Carolyn Foote, Diane Cordell, Judy O’Connell, and Anita Beaman, all could have held down the session alone too. I am astonished at the content I alone learned in our session, and all was pulled together with only a little interaction before hand. We each sort of divvied up the topics, and went our own way with them, not sharing a whole lot until right before the conference. I think this is why I was able to enjoy listening after my contribution.

Time was ticking

Speaking of that, we began with Joyce going first. I was stunned at the number of slides she used, considering we had all decided before hand to just use pictures, and leave the text for our voices. Not a single bullet or visible powerpoint template to be seen, which seemed to go over really well. I had nine slides, Joyce had twenty-seven last time I counted. OUCH. I was following her, and we had decided before beginning that we each had seven minutes to talk. Seven minutes times seven people (Kim Cofino had a part that was pre-taped using Voice Thread) would mean forty-nine minutes, leaving ten minutes for discussion and questions/answers in a perfect world. I worked hard to make sure my part was seven minutes, and so having nine slides should have made that easy. I saw as we all loaded our slides on the wiki in the days leading up to our session that some had a large set of slides. I wasn’t worried though b/c Joyce had said seven minutes, and she had a large number, so I just figured if she could cover hers in seven minutes, we all could create that many and be successful.

Sometimes it’s a perfect world…

Well it wasn’t a perfect world, b/c even with a timer, some of the group went over their allotted seven minutes. I was just after Joyce (what huge shoes to fill) and so felt at ease thinking I would probably be done with mine well before my time was up. Low and behold the timer gave a warning of one minute and I still had 2 slides to go! I wrapped it up in just exactly seven minutes, whew! Our time did not allow though for Kim’s video, but it is available for any who still haven’t seen it. Awesome work too.

I became a sponge

After my part, I just sat back and absorbed like crazy b/c shockingly enough each panelist was FANTASTIC. I am proud to report that I learned so much from the other panelists. It is worth your time and effort to go back and watch/listen to the session, which is on the wiki in an archived u-stream (THANKS Derrall G.)

One of my OMG Moments

One surprise I had in our session was when just after we began I saw David Loertscher–yes, THE David Loertscher–come in the back of room. Since we had a full back channell (from the Ustream chat–53 was the highest number I saw–and then the “cover-it-live” live blog that Carolyne Foote was trying to maintain, I decided to let it be known that he had joined us. I tweeted, added it in the Ustream Chat, and added it in Carolyn’s live blog. Shocking to me, about a third of the room turned around to get a glimpse of David Loertscher. WOW. That is truly a powerful feeling–1) he chose our session (and that he was AT NECC), and 2) other people in our room were apparently live in the various chats and visibly turned to look for him. (He even has a blog–though its not as up to date as I like. Still, I’m impressed.)

Now What?

This has made me realize that we in SC should also do a session like this for SCEdTech, SCASL, SCASA, SC Middle School Conference, and any number of other conferences held around our state. So, I’m looking for recruits. Who’s in? Chris? MaryAnn? Julia? Bob? Fran? Come on!! I also think its time for me (and all the other panelists as well) to step up to the bigger conferences on our own. It’s Independence Day, right?

Want to see some other streamed sessions from NECC? Visit here.

Image Attribution:

Image: ‘David Loertscher

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Image: ‘Flat time
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Image: ‘Panel

http://necclibrarians08.wikispaces.com/

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I am still trying to process the entire NECC 2008 experience, though it is difficult. This year was the year of the C’s if someone had to ask me–there were many buzzwords that began with C, and not just those from the theme:

Connect

Convene

CoLearn

Collaborate

Create

Some highlights:

The keyring that Kevin Honeycutt brought was a big hit. Teachers come to short trainings (Fifteen minutes?) and at end of sessions, receive a plastic laminated tag for their keyring. The front has the 2.0 tool name on it (i.e. Twitter, Plurk, Flickr, etc.) and the back has the URL and sometimes the name/contact of a helpful person.

Here we are –rocks stars for the moment right after our session at necc, but in all likelihood more like glowing in the shadow of Joyce Valenza, certified teacher librarian rock star–the rest of us, back up singers/players who may eventually grow into our own. (Picture bottom row l-r:Carolyn Foote, Joyce Valenza, Diane Cordell, Judy O’Connell, top row, l-r: Anita Beaman, me.) Where is Joyce’s badge? She such a known entity here at NECC, none is really needed.

My dinner mates (minus Scott McLeod, who is taking the picture) form Tuesday PM. We went to Rosario’s on South Alamo, and it is true I’m afraid. Doug Johnson, while in all his greatness in libraryland, is a self professed curmudgeon! (Pictured l-r: Miguel Ghulin, Ann Johnson, aka LWW, Wes Fryer, Dough Johnson, me)

EBC was fun–not the same as 2007, but I didn’t expect it to be. I expected more participants, and i was not disappointed. Conspicuously absent for me–> John Pederson.

Still trying to figure it all out. Can anyone else think of the C words that were buzzing?

I arrived for the UTC around 7:20 AM and was very surprised at how quickly that happened.  It was just under a 2-hour drive and easy.  I was dismayed though to discover my sessions were scheduled for Thursday and not today as I had planned, and had to apologetically withdraw/cancel my sessions for tomorrow.  I have a meeting in Columbia at the State Department of Education, and it is one I cannot miss. I (along with others) will be working with other educators across the state on a curriculum project and even though I am not sure of the exact details, this is an opportunity to demonstrate that teacher librarians are partners in instruction and collaborative planning, and can be an asset in the development of standards-based instruction. Since way too many schools use the teacher librarian as holding area so teachers get a planning period, I want to do my very best in this project.  I love brainstorming project design.  Hopefully I will “represent” teacher librarians well.  It is important that teacher librarians help change the view that so many have, that which is incorrect.  So I feel this is more important than the UTC tomorrow. I am disappointed though because I am leaving the conference with 2 empty spots, and this is the first time ever I’ve done this.  I am also missing what I’m sure will be fabulous sessions and a keynote by David Jakes.

Mind Boggling

Today’s material was mind boggling and terrific.  I commend the planners for the UTC.  I really thought it would be difficult to top attending a conference the day before that featured a keynote and 2 sessions by Marc Prensky, but Ewan McIntosh blew my mind.  He is probably the strongest “think outside the box” speaker I’ve ever heard.  I left with many ideas on rethinking my approach to teaching, using video games in a classroom, and how to have fun with pictures that tie into the curriculum.   I remember reading McIntosh last July while BLC was happening (in both his blog and a skype backchannel), and he wrote some outstanding material about Resnick’s contribution, which focused on keeping the term “play” relevant throughout all grade levels, not just preschool/kindergarten.  I wondered if Ewan would be able to top it from back then, but he has shown me even more, taking it to a higher level for me.  If you do not read Ewan McIntosh, you should.  Ewan, you are a ROCK STAR in the field of education for me, forging a new way to think about learning.

Like brothers and sisters

I am still processing all that I learned today, and trying to collect my pictures.   I’ll share them as soon as I get them.  Pat (aka Loonyhiker) sent me one we had taken together today (but it’s not available under creative commons.).  It was nice to group up with so many in my PLN, like Ewan, Jakes, Chris Craft, MaryAnn Sansonetti, Julia Davis, Pat, Heather Loy, and others.  We had a great time today, and oddly enough each session I attended had me sitting with or by several from this group. I guess we all think a little bit alike, though that would make sense if we are truly a PLN.  When I first arrived after meeting up with Pat, I followed Chris Craft into the auditorium, where we saw David Jakes and Ewan McIntosh.  Ewan hopped down from the stage, greeted me warmly by calling me by my Twitter name, and then firmly planted a kiss on each of my cheeks.  He exclaimed, “You look just like your avatar picture!”  That’s the beauty of a PLN—we all feel some kind of brotherly/sisterly connection.  These people are not strangers at all. They frequently mirror my thoughts and extend my thinking/learning.

P.S.  I did sit right in the front row as I vowed yesterday! Best, I had David Jakes on my left, and Chris Craft on my right! What more could a girl ask for? Brilliance all around.  Oh no, I guess I really am some sort of edtech groupie.  Pictures to come, I promise.

Mitch Resnick
Photo by Ewan McIntosh licensed under Creative Commons Attributon 2.0 Generic