23 Things for SCASL

Since we are talking about doing a SCASL 23 things and SLJ is launching theirs, I thought a post by Dean Shareski might be helpful for any considering a dive into blogging. It is a good read, and Dean offers some VERY GOOD tips.  Better, he links out to some other resources you will find helpful.  You do not have to dive right into blogging to benefit from reading.  You could start by getting a reader and reading some. I personally think my blogroll located on the right of my blog is a fantastic start, and best, I’ve highlighted a few South Carolina bloggers to read.  Of course, that is just my opinion, and “everybody has one.”

How to Dive In

Blogging is not for everyone, and I’ve had my own fair share of failures. Most new swimmers don’t dive until they can swim, and they must build up a comfort level to even consider the act of jumping in, and then only near the shallow end.  So “diving in” may be a little extreme. However, blogging is a way to keep up with what’s hot and new, and it is an avenue you just can’t beat for networking with a whole different community, by and large virtual.  I whole heartedly recommend reading through Dean Shareski’s helpful information, and then get a reader (Bloglines or Google Reader are easy, free and reliable)  and subscribe to him. He is one of the most exciting “think out of the box” educators I know.  He’s on my blogroll too. (…oh and pay no attention to his list of top commenters! It can’t possibly be me…)  P.S. Congratulations to those who already have a reader! You can check off one of the 23 things!

Image Attributions (from Flickrcc):

Image: ‘Britain Going Blog Crazy – Metro Article
Image: ‘Re-entry from Out of Bounds

End of the School Year Reflection, sort of

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
their achievement?

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.

Image Attribution:
Steffon. “Skype Phone” re-ality’s Photostream. 8 September 2005. 7 June 2008. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/re-ality/41676755/>.

Should we filter?

locked.jpgWho holds the keys to the locked gate for Internet Access?

Recently a colleague posted a survey to a list I’m a member of, and in essence shared that all mp3s, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and virtually all Web 2.0 tools are filtered where she works. It has added some interesting comments to the mix — geez I wish it were on a blog!

So I’m going to put it here – at least my contribution. I want to know what others think.

My thanks

First I must say I am thankful for the ability to login and bypass blocked content for instructional purposes. I also feel my district listens to requests from teachers for unblocking content, even if only for a little while.

Why do we need filters?

But honestly, in my opinion unengaging classes and unstructured time at a computer is the root for the most part of students’ quest to get to blocked content, and there are hundreds of proxies that grant access, despite the best filtering software. Sometimes I think the filters are for lazy teachers who are not engaging their students or worse, causing teachers to be lazy — i.e. I don’t feel good so let’s go to the lab for “research” or “free-writing.”

I may be wrong too, but I think if the social networking sites that teens are into, like MySpace, Facebook, and more were not blocked, kids would be all about it for one week or so, and then be so over it. They clamor for it now b/c its the “forbidden fruit.”

You will always have that 10-20% who make bad judgments, and then rules are made for the 80% + who never even thought to break them. Completely blocking is not the answer either.

But the heavy handed way some districts are blocking (like NO incoming mail from gmail–what on earth is with that??)

It just seems there should be significantly more conversations and real communication b/w students, parents, teachers, taxpayers, and the gate keepers for the filter. We are all stakeholders in this. Allowing our input or voices to be heard gives us ownership for why the filter is used, and why we filter out some content.

Where do kids learn the tools now?

If we are to prepare our students for the 21st century, we have to let them use a few of the 21st century tools. Let’s not forget that a structured classroom environment is a better place to expose students to the tools, rather than in the student gathering places at schools, like courtyards, parking lots, and hallways, or away from school and supervision, like friends’ houses, where for the most part the time and location is unstructured and wide open for misinformation AND misuse.

The cellphones of today are all that is needed to post a video to YouTube. Is it any wonder we are seeing more and more educators rants plastered there? (visit this link from Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant to see six samples.)

If we must filter, then give us some flexibility with the filter.

I am not against filters. I am against the total way some districts block everything, and turn a deaf ear to teacher requests.

Thank you HCS for offering me a portal to use material that is filtered, and allowing me as an educator the ability to request material to be totally unblocked, or unblocked for a short time. It does make a difference in my happiness on the job. It makes me feel respected as a professional adult who can make judgment calls about what tools I choose to teach with.

Your Turn

lock.jpgTell me what your district or environment does, how it makes you feel, and most important, how to help the districts that unlike mine, offer no way for educators to bring in 21st century tools for 21st century learners.

  • What advice can I offer my colleague who wants their filter loosened a bit?
  • Is it better to offer us a way to get by that locked portal, or continue to challenge students to find proxies?


Image: ‘Prison Planet

Image: ‘rusty-lock

Why blog? Why comment?

Someone asked me today why blog? Will Richardson has summarized it well here and here. He also shows exactly why blogging is a great tool. It’s not about the expertise of the writer. It’s about the expertise of all the writers who come, read, and respond with a comment. It’s FABULOUS conversations that stretch my mind, challenge my thinking, and get me to rethink the way I approach topics. That is why I blog. Wil Richardson’s blog seems to embody what it is all about. That is what motivates me to read and comment–to extend the conversation and my own learning.

So, if you are a blogger, please make sure your comments feed is available too. I read 90% from the reader, and so I can follow these invaluable conversation in my reader if there is a comments feed available. If your blog is in my reader with a comments feed, you are more than likely in my favorites or experts folder. Congratulations. The rest of you, get with the conversation! Add a comments feed.


Image: ‘conversations_silhouettes_id228513_size450

SCASL Conference Reflections

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.

Fondest memories:

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

Cathy Nelson
ready 8:13 AM
hi Tim Van Heule 8:13 AM

Tim Van Heule
What’s going on, Cathy Nelson? 8:13 AM

Cathy Nelson
in the middle of a presentation 8:14 AM

Tim Van Heule
Ah… Fun… leaving you to it. 8:14 AM

Cathy Nelson
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!!

I need you network-my collective brainpower

I’m still reeling with the knowledge that my wonderful advisor from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Donna Shannon, is reading my blog. This just blows me away! Look at the bottom of this email she sent me:

W00T! Best of all she wants me to “virtually” join her SLIS 761 class to talk about Web 2.0 Tools with current students and educators working towards school library media specialist certification. Ain’t technology grand! She assures me since I use Skype, it will be fairly simple! I remember my days in library school and having visitors (back then it was not really done virtually other than one tv studio to another–i can’t believe I think that is so old school now!!) The visitors for the most part were highly successful practicing educators in the field. One of my favorites was a class where we had the “standards” folks in charge of testing from our very own state department of education. That was a powerful class. Lots of great discussion about “the test.”

So now I’m slated to be that practicing educator who will visit the class to offer words of wisdom. Oh geesh am qualified? I still feel like I’m such a beginner, learning new things in on-the-job training everyday.

So I ask you, my collective brainpower here in the blogosphere! What 2.0 tools do you think I should share and focus on? Blogs? Readers? RSS? Twitter? Social Networks? Aye-aye-aye where do I begin? Maybe I should regenerate and tweak an old preso? Let’s hear it! What do U think oh-collective-brainpower that I know as MY NETWORK!!

PS–You better believe I did a spell-check and proofed this one folks! I have a reader who can hold me accountable!

Image Attribution:

Image: Doctor Donna Shannon, Ph.D.

Image: “Donna_NoteJan08.”

2008 Goals–Cathyjo style

As I see others reflecting on the year 2007 as it draws to a close, I must as well. There have been several changes for me including a new job, a new living arrangement for my family, and new opportunities that are as a direct result of joining the blogosphere and interacting with a network (like Twitter.) I won’t bore you with my favorites, but instead make some goals:

  • Brevity – In my own blog reading I find it difficult to read long posts. I know I’m guilty of writing long posts too. So I have a goal–be brief and get to the point! I am planning to reduce verbiage, and try to say it with far fewer words, and instead use more pictures, and maybe a video or two (stored sensibly on video and picture storing sites–hello, YouTube, TeacherTube, Photobucket, & Flickr.)
  • Relocate – I am becoming ever increasingly unhappy with Edublogs. I dumped blogger a year and half ago, and jumped ship to Edublogs, primarily b/c I feared Blogger would be blocked at school (and I was not disappointed.) Edublogs was good for me, but as I have grown, my material requires more space. Since it is time to pay for more space to be allowed the service, I see it also as a good time to explore hosting it on my own space/domain. I don’t even know if I understand it, but I have been assured help from my friends Chris Craft, Jennifer Wagner, and perhaps even David Jakes. (Counting on you all, actually!) Timeline? I don’t know. I need to get bills from Christmas squared away before I decide. But in the meantime, my posts will probably be limited.
  • Video – I’m going to seriously look at adding video to my mix here. I’ve created myself a YouTube and TeacherTube account, and want to begin playing in the green screen department. Dean Shareski is responsible for that! (Note to Dean–You inspire me!)
  • Redesign – I have some presentations coming up, and I plan to redesign them. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the 10-20-30 rule for presenting. I’ve also come to understand that folks don’t want to read it, they want you to tell it-and what better way than in a story. So I’m going to be hitting Flickrcc hard, and trying add in the mix some videos (for commercial breaks, as I heard one blogger call them–wish i could credit that person!) And I’m going to rehearse my spill in the best storytelling format I can come up with. Along with that, I hope to add some kind of interactivity to my sessions–though I haven’t quite figured out how yet. Anyone have any suggestion? Look out SCASL, SCASA’s SLI, and SC Edtech.[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/liQLdRk0Ziw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Okay, I know, I know, still way too wordy. Give me a break, it’s not 2008 yet! Rag me about it after the first. Happy New Year everyone!

Image: ‘massive change

What a WEEK!

neccannounce.jpgWhat a difference a week makes! Saturday the Edublogger awards were announced, and I was so sure I did not win, I did not even go into Second Life to hear who did, nor did I tap into the many portals made available live (like Edtech Talk, Skype, and others…) You see, as I told all my friends, it was enough to be nominated. I even went out of town on a shopping spree Saturday, and around the time the awards ceremony began, my family was sitting down for a wonderful afternoon (early supper) at Carrabba’s. It was divine, and far more enjoyable. I had a few friends and family asking on Saturday, and they were shocked and dismayed that I wouldn’t stay home long enough to at least log in and see. I assured them my Twitter Network and RSS reader would keep me well informed, so well in fact that I need not worry about it all, but instead enjoy my family. I was not let down.

Congratulations to all the winners, and especially the library blog category, I’m especially pleased it is once again a school library blog. I need not have sour grapes, you see, I know what my authority and rank were in Technorati BEFORE the nominations, and I know what it is now after the nominations, and I know how many commenters I’ve had on my blog, and these statistics (which you can find out yourself with a little work) tell me a story that stands on its own, so there is no need for a pity party about the “loss.” My assistant, another colleague at school, and my sisters were all furious that I would not campaign to win, soliciting for votes from all my networks where I am plugged in and connected. But sorry folks–that is not how I operate. I’ll say it again. It was enough to be nominated. It filled me with immense pleasure and is rewarding all on its own. Wonder how I should put that on my resume?

So I returned to work Monday, doing my thing. I worked two basketball games this week, and made two keepsake memory videos for teachers to document and reflect on school performances. I included students in the second one, having them edit for me, select some pictures to go at the beginning and end, and pick out music to add. I think they learned a lot, and I teased them unmercifully, saying I didn’t like giving out all my secrets—pretty soon they would stop thinking I was amazing!

Anyway, to make this week so very jam up for me, yesterday I received an email invitation from Karl Fisch to participate in an exciting event he will be having at his school in January and February. I have not seen it twittered or posted on his blog, so I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say much else. But know that it is truly a reward for be connected to highly successful educators in the blogosphere. I suppose details about his project that I am joining in will be forthcoming soon, but I don’t mind saying it revolves around Dan Pink’s book A Whole New Mind. I am considering asking our 8th grade teachers to use it as a novel study to go along with Karl’s project. My brain is on OVERTIME! (Side Note: There was a cool DEN Webinar tonight w/ Daniel Pink that was AWESOME!!)

As an added bonus this week, today I get the pleasant (although somewhat embarrassing) surprise of getting mentioned in Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog where he is answering questions about a former blog post (where he had just opened his OLPC XO.) It is such a novelty, a lot of people are expressing their curiosity by asking questions via his comments. So Doug chose to answer them in another blog post, and what do you know but my DUMB comment is at the top—as I tease about his cat in the picture, and tell a gushy tale of how cute my cat is. <BLUSH> Okay, so not my best side, or even story. But Doug mentioned me none the less. W00t!

This evening I get the email from Joyce Valenza, exclaiming that our panel discussion session for NECC has been accepted! Joyce’s email began like this: “Good news, friends! We’re on for NECC.” Our session will have a panel of “experts” (I can’t believe I’m saying that!); our session title: Feed, Tag, Research: Remixing for School Library 2.5; session description: School librarians are leading learning and instructional change. Discover how we are re-visioning reading, research, and “library” for 21st century students on the Read/Write Web. And I can honestly say we collaborated for days on the topic and description alone. The group panel includes Joyce Valenza, Carolyn Foote, Diane Cordell, Kim Cofino, Anita Beaman, and me. After hearing from Twitter some of the big names who have been turned down, I feel amazed and honored to be with a session that was accepted.

Oooy, my head is getting so big. Don’t put a pin near me, or I might pop. Tomorrow is Friday, and I can’t imagine what kinds of good things it might bring. No time to be sad or depressed though, as I have so much to be thankful for in this week alone! I suddenly feel SO CONNECTED, not only on a local, state, and national level, but also a global level. Daunting, but exciting.

I don’t want to whoop too soon, so just let me end with a tee-tiny “w00t.”

My K12 21st Century Christmas List

Christmas shoppers are out in droves—that’s a good thing right? Here’s my Christmas list for school. These are things I’m not likely to purchase on my own, but would like to see added to the school resources. I’m not hyperlinking, as I’d like for readers to make recommendations!

tree5.gif 1 Terabyte external hard drive
I have a 4year-old Maxtor 200GB and a 2 year-old Seagate 350GB Hard drive, so why would I want this? I don’t know, but isn’t bigger better? I also saw some portable 200gb hard drives today that look no bigger than my ipod. Cool. But we need to store videos made at school no less.

tree5.gif Increased memory
My school desktop, school laptop, and my school studio computer are used frequently for editing. As we play with video, I know it will make higher demands memory-wise.

tree5.gif Pinnacle or Adobe Premiere Editing Software
I don’t know which is better, but I want to play with the green-screen capability. It needs to be user friendly, easy, and fun. (I don’t think I ask for too much, do you?) Oh did I mention I want it to be portable (you know, anywhere, anytime?)

tree5.gif USB Microphones
Kim Cofino recently asked on Twitter for recommendations, and at the time I did not really pay attention as I didn’t see the need. But as we finish the first school Voice Thread project and begin to play with podcasting, it has become abundantly clear. We need sturdier and better quality mics for recording.

tree5.gif Wireless remote for use w/ LCD Projectors
I want to be able to use my remote from anywhere in the room. Been presenting for years and can’t believe I have not invested in one yet.

tree5.gif MP3 Players for student check-out
I’d like to invest in some audiobooks and allow students to check them out.

tree5.gif 3 more handy camcorders
I want to be able to check these out to teachers for those home-made class videos, PSAs, or whatever idea strikes them. Right now we have two ideas floating around but only 1 camcorder! One short video planned is the lost and found puppet show where all the coats turn into puppets and are looking for their owners. The other is a Christmas commercial for the yearbook, and the kids have made a short skit and song (new words to the tune of “Santa, Baby.”) Our curriculum coordinator wants to document engaged students for showing how to have an effective classroom, and so the one we have is in high demand! Yippee.

tree5.gif Classroom digital cameras
I would like to see at least a camera shared b/w a team of teachers so that innovative ideas and classroom activities can be shown throughout the building. Parents LOVE to see photos of what is happening at school, and these can be displayed in the class, in the halls, on our tvs, websites, and more. These need to EASY to use, and inexpensive enough that we don’t mind putting them in our students’ hands.

tree5.gif A student response system
Okay, so I left a school that has “smart classrooms” and the library was a “smart library.” I had a mounted Promethean board, my television fed into my projector so I could switch b/w interactive white board and television or video, I had FrontRow Surround Sound system installed, and I could literally whisper and still be heard, I had the ActivSlate so I could manipulate the board from anywhere in the room, and I had the cute little egg shaped hand-helds so I could get immediate feedback or poll my students on any given task. (It was a very technology-rich school and district, but gadgets do not make for the perfect job—and that’s another blog post for another day!) I’d really like to have another set of gadgets that allow me to make interactive lessons.

Do you have ideas for additions?? Can you make brand specific suggestions? Help me add to my Merry Christmas K12 list!!


Image: ‘Merry Christmas…

Can a school library be totally virtual?

Recently Carolyn Foote, a friend who is honestly a friend in the virtual sense, as I only know her from Twitter, blogging, webcasts, and Ustream forums, has challenged my thinking about the library. She works in a large public suburban high school in Austin, Texas (Westlake High School). She is in the process of packing up her entire library book by book for a renovation project. Earlier this week she was informed that the renovation could take as long as a year. My comment to Carolyn was “Wow, you will be a virtual librarian in every sense of the word.”
As I reflect on my joking quip, I realize it is true. Will her job end until the renovation is done? Will she have anything to do while the renovation happens? How can a staff member with no physical “home” in the building continue to work and serve the school without any books or tables, a checkout counter, or a reference section, especially in a high school?

I know the answer to my questions. Carolyn will be in need and in high demand right through the whole project. She will probably work harder than any other staff member in the entire building, as she strives to provide the same level of service and instruction as before when there were the typical tables, chairs, books, and more. How?

Just as I jokingly called her a “virtual” librarian, she will become just that. Research projects will be just as effectively completed as they were before. She will continue to teach information literacy and using online resources effectively. Students will have access to necessary resources. Book talks and author visits will continue to happen, even if she has to use Skype. You see, Carolyn is a 21st century teacher librarian, who has adopted and uses instructional technology to “complete” the job. She uses the tools to compliment instruction, and I would wager she is so good at this already, this vehicle called web 2.0 will drive her services until she can park her self back in a physical space called a library. Carolyn already uses wikis, blogs, and more to supplement instruction. She is using Skype to pull in authors for literature appreciation and book analysis. And students as well as teachers know she can assist in just about any kind of project she is challenged with. Carolyn Foote is a 21st Century Librarian, and I am so glad to know her, at least in the virtual sense.

Be sure to wish her luck as she tackles the project of library renovation. I know the end result will be a 21st Century Library to compliment her, the student body, faculty & staff, and community. I am looking forward to a face to face meeting with you in San Antonio this summer at Iste’s NECC.

Carolyn’s Blog Not So Distant Future

Carolyn’s Wiki Web 2.0 in Education

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Image: ‘packing_boxes

Image: ‘Carolyn_Foote_007

PS–my 17yo is looking at Austin, TX for college.