books, tech, lessons from a librarian

Category: Educate

PD for Librarians: Let’s Fix It

if its brokeI’ve been a librarian for 13+ years and I’m still learning every day. Through trial and error on the job I’ve learned about Follett’s Destiny circulation system. I’ve learned that Shel Silverstein books will never go out of style. I’ve learned that the right book at the right time in the right kid’s hands will fuel their love of reading. I’ve learned that keeping a tidy library is like stringing beads on a string with no end knot. I’ve learned that technology often experiences glitches when it’s truly most inconvenient. I’ve learned how to save time for teachers by focusing on what they’ll need, and, in best cases, before they even know they need it.

While all of that knowledge is important, very little of it was gained in traditional professional development experiences. The main problem for building specialists such as teacher-librarians is the professional development model in place in many districts is focused on classroom teachers and their needs, and building specialists are often left to try and find applicability where there is little. Or better yet, librarians are clumped together with music or art teachers or PE specialists in a corner table and we’re tasked with goals such as working collaboratively on a specialist schedule or planning assemblies instead of focusing on teaching and learning. If we are able to meet with job-alike colleagues, it’s often after-hours or at an annual professional conference, if we’re willing to fund our own way.

CassetteTapeGuiding Question: What are some professional development options for my job-alike colleagues and me as we try to develop a more cohesive teacher-librarian cadre in our district?

For the past several years, the librarian professional learning community (PLC) in my district has met for one full day, either in the fall or spring. Substitute teachers were provided for all of us, and we all met in a meeting room at our district headquarters. Last year, our annual meeting day was cancelled due to a district snow day. It was never rescheduled. When we finally met as a whole group this fall, it became apparent that our current instructional model was broken. It is impossible to form an open and collaborative culture when you’re literally meeting someone for the first time after they’ve been in their job for almost two years! Think of the implications of placing teachers in the same boat… Imagine seeing a teacher coming down the hall, saying “Hi” to that person and introducing yourself only to find out they’ve been teaching the exact same topics as you a mere two doors down. Wow! You’re not alone in this academic endeavor! You eat lunch with them, share a few stories, trade a few tips, then you each go back to your respective classrooms, closing the door behind you, emerging again to work together… twelve months later!

It was after this fall’s somewhat annual meeting that I realized, the system’s broken. It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Well, we’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, and the results aren’t only different than intended, they’re trending in the wrong direction. While it is certainly energizing and engaging to gather as a large group, waiting for those whole-group gatherings does not seem to be a sustainable instructional model. At the same time, I’m also hoping to extend our cohort model — moving from an in-district-only cohort, to beyond our district boundaries.

That is not to say that there is no value in attending staff-wide trainings and professional development offerings. Stephens writes about this in her blog post, Rethinking What We Do. “‘Do we need to go to whole-school PD? Yes!’ We are a part of a learning community…you can’t operate a successful school library program in a vacuum” (Stephens, 2013). But vacuums and being stuck in a time-wasting staff development meeting share a common trait… major suckage.

One emerging professional development model that is trending in popularity is the “unconference”. Rebecca Bagley provides a great description of the unconference: “The concept is fairly simple. At an unconference, no topics have been predetermined, no keynote speakers have been invited, no panels have been arranged. Instead, the event lives and dies by the participation of its attendees. They decide what topics will be discussed and they convene the individual breakout sessions. In other words, an unconference has no agenda until the participants create it.” (Bagley, 2014). In the world of education, unconferences have taken the form of “EdCamps”. A recent Scholastic Teacher article highlighted EdCamps. “EdCamps are all about the room being smarter than the individual.” (Borris, 2016). This is the disconnect that’s so pervasive with our current professional development model. Collectively our district library cohort has a wide array of skills and knowledge, but like so many organizations, our skills and knowledge are siloed. The unconference model seeks to disrupt the tradition of “stand and deliver” instruction, while empowering and encouraging all parties to take an active role in our professional development.silos2

The Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) has held a multi-day professional conference, with sessions, keynote speakers, vendor booths, and all the normal conference accoutrements. But as Washington state schools and teachers alike have been forced to tighten spending over the past years, attendance, participation and membership rates have consistently diminished, so much so that WLMA has merged with the Washington Library Association (WLA) to save costs. Gone too is the annual conference. In its place, in October 2016 WLMA will be shifting to a one-day unconference: WLMA 2016 unconference. There are pros (free/lower-cost conference for participants, sessions are adaptable to the interests of attendees, all participants are encouraged to share ideas rather than only listening to presenters) and cons (can be an uncomfortable model of professional development for introverts, success is dependent on attendees’ participation, and conferences are on a much smaller scale). It will be interesting to see if an annual unconference model will be a sustainable one for WLMA in the years to come.

Another model of instruction that is worth exploring is on-demand and web-based professional development, often in the form of webinars or videos. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) provides archived webinars with topics such as “Brains Change @ Your Library” and “Coaching the Leader Within”.  Pros: webinars can be completed independently, there are numerous free resources available, and they’re often available anytime/on-demand. Cons: access to full offerings often requires membership or other payment, there is often little interactivity in the delivery, and sound/video quality (as well as the quality of the presentation itself) can be inconsistent. One wondering I have is the feasibility of using webinars in a blended model, with independent viewing of the material followed by small and/or large group discussions.

Finally, I’m deeply interested in web-based (Hangouts & Google+ communities). As our district has shifted to a Google Education platform, it’s becoming easier and easier to integrate Google applications into our learning. A web-based community has many advantages over traditional in-person professional development, but it’s also not with its own issues. Pros: free access to community of job-alike colleagues from around the world, ease of 2-way conversation, no transportation requirements. Cons: our district has not opened access to Google+ for teachers, much like EdCamps these communities are dependent on members’ participation to bring value, and privacy issues — including some teachers who prefer to not be on camera.
Some examples of applicable Google+ communities: https://plus.google.com/communities/114899053206458405634 TLChat (538 members — invite)
https://plus.google.com/communities/117972083606648197914 School Library Media Specialists (2,258 members — open)
https://plus.google.com/communities/109025267965562834348 LSSD Teacher-Librarians (9 members)

Ideas and wonderings moving forward with online communities:
If I can’t convince the district to open up access to the Google+ features, what are my other options to get things started? Who will lead the sessions? Is it worth the time and effort if only a few colleagues participate?  I think these applications have the greatest potential for meaningful job-alike professional development in my current role as teacher-librarian, and I think a few proof-of-concept sessions would go far to convince district leaders of the value to teachers. And an added benefit with these new approaches… I won’t have to wait two years any longer to meet the new-hires!


American Library Association (ALA). (n.d.). School libraries: Online learning. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from http://www.ala.org/onlinelearning/schoollibraries

Bagley, R. (2014, August 18). How ‘unconferences’ unleash innovative ideas | Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccabagley/2014/08/18/how-unconferences-unleash-innovative-ideas/#26b5f2045e12

Borris, C. (2016, January/February). Happy campers. Scholastic Teacher, 125(4), 24-29. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/how-edcamps-are-changing-face-pd

Evans, S. (2016, June 4). Our first Google Hangout for professional development [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://librarymediatechtalk.blogspot.com/2016/06/our-first-google-hangout-for.html

School Library Journal. (n.d.). School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/

Stephens, W. (2013, October 14). Rethinking what we do: Professional development for school librarians. Retrieved from http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2013/10/14/re-thinking-what-we-do-professional-development-for-school-librarians/

There’s a Pony in Here Somewhere!


excerpt from “How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life” by Peter Robinson

Chapter One
Journal Entry, June 2002:

Over lunch today I asked Ed Meese about one of Reagan’s favorite jokes. “The pony joke?” Meese replied. “Sure I remember it. If I heard him tell it once, I heard him tell it a thousand times.”

The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities — one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist — their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked, baffled. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?” “Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. “What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. “With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

“Reagan told the joke so often,” Meese said, chuckling, “that it got to be kind of a joke with the rest of us. Whenever something would go wrong, somebody on the staff would be sure to say, ‘There must be a pony in here somewhere.'”

As our district moves to a 1:1 model for students and staff alike, [A] what practices can we put in place to encourage responsible technology use? And [B] are there exemplars of device user agreements, specifically for younger elementary students (2nd/3rd grade), to set the groundwork for later years? With those guiding questions in mind, these past few weeks I’ve been exploring ISTE Teacher Standard 4.

Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

With Standard 4 in mind, how do we work achieve goals A & B? The optimist might look at things and say, “We can do this! We’ll find a magical device that will meet all of our needs. Maybe an iPad or a Surface Pro.  Kids today know all about technology — they’ll know how to use them.  And if they try to misbehave, our I.T. folks will have all our bases covered. People are going to write research papers about our amazing results. It’s gonna be great!” But blind optimism with only surface-deep planning is often a recipe for disaster [see Los Angeles Unified School District’s infamous iPad plan].

The pessimist’s response is more common in the educational world.  District leaders think about the headaches that come with technology purchases and decide to prioritize limited resources elsewhere. They talk about value-added growth measures and question (wisely, at times) whether or not technology provides an adequate return on investment, often focusing on highly publicized disasters such as LAUSD’s iPads.  They focus more on locking down access to bandwidth, email, rights, and privileges, not to deny student achievement, but acting in fear of what might happen. “Give ‘em an inch, and they’ll be hacking computers.”

“Are you an optimist or a pessimist?” my own kids asked me as I was writing this piece. Would I dive headfirst into the pile to find that missing pony or cry over the toys and over what might happen.? Optimist or pessimist?  Which approach will work?  I would argue for Option C, pragmatist.  I’m looking at that room full of manure and I’m thinking, “We could sell that manure and get someone else to shovel it out. And if there’s a pony in there? Endless supply of manure! And if we posted on social media about our new school-based business: Let’s Doo It! [trademark pending] Think about the learning opportunities for our staff and students…”

Goal A: Responsible Tech Use

I could talk for hours on the value of focusing on digital citizenship, but I’ll be mercifully brief here.  Instead I’ll direct you to two outstanding resources that provide more information than I could fit into this article:

Digital Citizenship: Resource Roundup (Edutopia) http://www.edutopia.org/article/digital-citizenship-resources
K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum (Common Sense Media)https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

Goal B: Device User Agreement

As our students and staff are shifting closer to a 1:1 device model, I think a pragmatic approach would be to focus on getting out in front of problems before they arise.  What do we expect from our students with regards to technology use?  While they are certainly digitally native, they’re most certainly not digitally savvy. Students’ relative lack of fear with regards to technology is not an inherently good or bad thing. It can definitely get them into trouble in a hurry (e.g. unwise use of social media).  On the other hand, their lack of fear is a quality that many educational staff would be wise to emulate in moderation.  Making mistakes is okay, and modeling how to respond to mistakes is an area where we grown-ups often miss out on teaching opportunities.

With that in mind, I feel that one low-cost, high-impact approach would be a device-specific user agreement.  In this case, I focused on a Chromebook user agreement for 3rd-5th graders at my school.  There are a lot of misguided examples of student forms to be found online, often filled with legalese and educational jargon. They often focus on costs and restrictions, and are one-size-fits-all (one form for K-12 students).  Going back to Goal A, digital citizenship must be embedded into learning to be successful and to find meaning.  Very few of the examples I found online included elements of digital citizenship, and of those, fewer still went beyond merely a vague reference to the digital citizenship skills and learning involved.

The K-12, one-size-fits-all approach is one of the biggest blunders that many in education leadership make.  In the world of educational technology, oftentimes the K-12 approach is the easy way when it comes to those in I.T. leadership.  Uniformity allows for ease of response, opportunities for streamlined training, and for optimized repair and maintenance plans.  But uniformity is not an effective practice at a classroom level.  Each child is different, each classroom different, each teacher different, each grade level team different… the list could go on and on.  While many in leadership roles spend a great deal of time crafting the perfect mission statement, arguing over semantics of whether saying “each child” is more impactful than “every child” or “leaving no child behind”, they lose sight of the fact that there needs to be flexibility and freedom in how we empower our teachers.

Teachers need tools.  Not tool.  Tools, plural.  What works for one teacher or child may not be needed in the classroom two doors down.  A user agreement for K-12 is destined to fail in its goals.  There needs to be a user agreement for kindergarten students and parents.  A different form for 1st or 2nd graders and their parents.  A different user agreement for 5th graders than for 12th graders.  And we need to revisit the idea often: why are we having them sign the form to begin with?  Is it merely to warn them off of undesired behaviors? And if so, what message does that send?  If not, does the document truly reflect our goals?

SBA testing requirements have resulted in an incredible influx of Chromebooks in my school.  A wonderful opportunity for students, but with little guidance or time to prepare, we as a staff soon found ourselves in a room with a pony (including aforementioned pony byproduct).  Nuts and bolts issues, such as how to plug/unplug devices or how to properly carry Chromebooks, soon took center stage as staff found they were having to constantly deal with the effects of poor/misinformed choices on the part of students.  Working with a fellow teacher at my school, we developed a Chromebook user agreement for our 4th and 5th grade students:

Chromebook agreement jfeOur work was guided by two examples of documents that we found online:

Redondo Beach Unified School District http://tes-rbusd-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1244185264194/1406346522769/1457584482771379047.pdf
South Orangetown Central School District https://blogs.socsd.org/soms/files/2015/06/somschromebookprogram-t1aguu.pdf

In developing this Chromebook user agreement, our hope is that this document can be used to guide conversations before/during/after using the devices, not only between student and teacher, but also with parents.  And in the inevitable moments of missteps by students, this document can guide conversations about learning from mistakes rather than repeating them ad infinitum.

There’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere and I think I’ve found it…


In writing this post, my mind kept drifting to one of my favorite new books from this past school year, Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony. Princess Pinecone is small but mighty and longs to be a princess warrior.  Her birthday wish and dream of a battle-ready horse is shattered when she finds that her newly-gifted trusty steed is in fact, a corpulent and flatulent pony with a lazy eye.  But rather than focusing on her plump equine’s shortcomings, she trains the horse for battle as best she’s able and rides the odiferous beast to greater achievement than she ever thought possible.

What’s any of that have to do with our Chromebooks and user agreements?  It’s a stretch, but here goes…  We’ve been gifted a pony (carts full of Chromebooks) and a pile of manure to boot (little training or additional supports provided).  We could focus on the shortcomings of our pony (Chromebooks are definitely not perfect) and its lazy eye (our students don’t always see things clearly either) and its emissions (…) or we can take the pony we have into battle (teaching our students and not just focusing on SBA) after adequate training and preparation (ongoing professional development must be a part of any successful technology plan). Princess Pinecone’s moment of victory was not a fluke; it was the direct result of finding the right tool for the right teacher, who fully utilized the tools she was given.

Now go find your pony.  It’s gotta be around here somewhere…


Geuss, M. (2016, May 13). After LAUSD iPad program failure, Apple’s help spurs success in other schools | Ars Technica. Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/05/after-lausd-ipad-program-failure-apples-help-spurs-success-in-other-schools/

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-teachers

Jefferson Elementary Chromebook user agreement (4th/5th grade)  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1L0rgRwkT1B4C7nYD9BSox_4VQLZ44vF2V4PB1KppepQ/edit?usp=sharing

Morales, T. (2003, July 30). Writing for Ronald Reagan | CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/writing-for-ronald-reagan/

Robinson, P. (2004). Chapter 1: The pony in the dung heap. In How Ronald Reagan changed my life (pp. 15-16). New York, NY: Regan Books.


Manure pile http://modernfarmer.com/2014/08/manure-usa/

Pony from “The Princess and the Pony” by Kate Beaton (ISBN 978-0545637084) http://amzn.to/1TGAN6V

Parent Communication – What’s Working? How Can We Improve?

Email-Failed-DeliveryIn an effort that represents ISTE Teacher Standard 3 (Model digital age work and learning; 3c: Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats) my district utilizes Blackboard Connect: K-12 ConnectED’s automated phone system to communicate with parents and guardians via phone and text.  In our district, this allows administrators and trained office staff to send out messages to specific student groups in an immediate and what is often a time-saving way.  


Important messages that can’t wait are delivered to the contacts that need them in a quicker manner than ever possible before. Vital information no longer languishes away deep in backpacks in the form of a 1/2 printed note.  Safety messages can be delivered far more quickly than simply sending notes home with students at the end of the school day. 


In our district, teachers are not allowed to use the messaging system.  Instead, they must filter requests through the office staff and/or building administrators.  As a result, many teachers simply print notes and messages, or send them via email to those parents who have email addresses on file.  Another issue that is becoming more prevalent is the fact that people are using phones differently now.  Many younger parents no longer check voicemail, but rather they see a missed call and simply return a call to the same number.  Unfortunately the ConnectED system registers that all calls originated from the school office.  As a result, when a school-wide message calls out we immediately see a two hour spike of phone calls to the office from people who are simply returning phone calls — they’ve completely bypassed the “time-saving” information in their voice mailbox and the office staff are pulled from any productive work while they repeatedly answer identical parent questions.  The system seems impossibly difficult to signup for — I wonder if we are reaching all of the parents that we think we’re reaching?  (Signing up in 5 easy page-long steps)

Ways to Improve

Are there ways to improve communication?  Currently phone messages that are texted out cannot be responded to.  Is there a way to allow for that level of communication?  Would a school Twitter feed assist or enhance the ConnectED system?  Are we reaching ELL families? Low-income families with less electronic access?  The instructions are ridiculously difficult — could we provide a parent training night, where staff can assist families with signing up for these resources?

Learning to Fly (and Tweet): Managing Twitter

Robot-and-Bird-03_small-779473Guiding Question:   What resource is available to assist with managing multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.; and multiple accounts within each)?  On a related note, what are the best practices for utilizing social media tools in the classroom? 

It’s become apparent that I need a better system for managing multiple social media accounts, a social media dashboard. I have multiple Twitter accounts (personal, professional, school, district library team) not to mention Facebook, Google+ and more). I would love the ability to post messages from more than one account at once and also to quickly switch between the various accounts. I’ve already stopped myself from posting the right thing from the wrong account more than once, and my hope was to find a one-size-fits-all approach (and a free one, at that!). My hope was for a Windows and/or Chrome-based application, as I will primarily be posting from school computers under the direction of our district’s communication office (in a recent social media training session they highlighted the legal implications of using personally-owned devices for district business).


HootSuite: https://hootsuite.com/
hootsuite1Tweeten for Twitter: http://mspoweruser.com/tweeten-updated-with-slimmer-columns-more/
tweeten1TweetDeck: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com

All of these resources similar in functionality and are classified as social media dashboards. There are numerous tools available in this genre of apps, many of them start-ups trying to fill this growing market niche. Google searches are frustratingly unrewarding as information becomes outdated almost as soon as it’s posted. The resources that I listed all allow for managing multiple Twitter feeds (other offerings such as Buffer https://buffer.com/pricing seemed great but were limited to one account per social media platform). They all allow for scheduling posts, for posting from multiple accounts at once, and for tracking multiple account feeds simultaneously.


* all of the tools require providing account log-in information to an outside entity
* the free account plans are limited in their scope: HootSuite allows for three social media accounts (including multiple Twitter accounts) and their feeds; SocialPilot allows for three accounts but no feeds; TweetDeck allows for unlimited accounts, but Twitter-only; Tweeten is the same as it’s basically a more polished interface for TweetDeck.
* none of the social media tools I could find provide support for Google+ accounts as Google has not opened up API (application program interface) access for outside apps
* Twitter is very much still in development, and accesses are frequently changed. TweetDeck once provided access to Facebook accounts (as well as Google Buzz, LinkedIn, FourSquare), but is now Twitter only. Twitter purchased TweetDeck in 2011. On 4/16/16 Twitter discontinued support for the Windows-based standalone version of TweetDeck. Subsequent reviews on TweetDeck’s Chrome App (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tweetdeck-by-twitter/hbdpomandigafcibbmofojjchbcdagbl?hl=en-US) have been scathing in their feedback
* many of the tools are overwhelming in their feature sets– they’re created for folks who rely on social media for the success of their business. I’m not ready for analytics — I’m just trying not to tweet out posts from my work accounts!

I really struggled in my search for a complete tool with the features I was hoping for. Change is constant. Just when folks settle in with an app, permissions are revoked, features are added or removed. I’m moving forward with Tweeten (http://www.wpxbox.com/review-tweeten-windows-10/ and https://chromebuzz.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/tweeten-beta-review/) with HootSuite as an alternative, as I’m going to focus on finding a rhythm and routine for posting on Twitter only before adding Facebook and other social media accounts for my library classroom or school. Tweeten is in Beta form, is available cross-platform, and seems to be the approach that many users are taking following the end of support for TweetDeck’s Windows-based version.

Best practices/additional information on Twitter:

Guide to Twitter for educators:  http://www.nysecta.org/Twitter%20for%20Educators%20-%20A%20Beginner’s%20Guide.pdf
The Ultimate Guide for Twitter for Schools from Campus Suite: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fdf75v3rr36wsnd/Ultimate%20Guide%20for%20Twitter%20for%20Schools.pdf?dl=0
Twitter overload by Kathy Schrock: http://www.schrockguide.net/twitter-for-teachers.html

Learning to Fly (and Tweet): Why Twitter?

Robot-and-Bird-03_small-779473ISTE Teacher Standard 3: Model digital age work and learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

According to Wikipedia, Twitter debuted online in July 2006.  More than ten years later, in September 2016, I finally joined the Twitter universe.  The connection to ISTE TS-3 was immediately evident.  As an educator, I’m tasked with preparing students for functioning productively in a global society.  I can’t imagine accomplishing that goal effectively without using the Internet in my teaching.

Recently I worked with a third grade class to help them create a book award of their own.  We had just been studying ALA Caldecott books, Newbery winners, Coretta Scott King honorees, and many others award-winning titles.  My hope was that students would take a more personal view towards evaluating books… it’s okay to have favorites and some books are better than others.   Many students named awards after themselves, a favorite teacher, their pets, a family member.  A few kids thought beyond their sphere of influence, naming their awards after famous authors or their favorite athletes.  As we wrapped up the brief lesson and activity, I noticed the finished award of one boy:twitter2

The “Inspiring and Anti-Cyberbullying Award” was his creation, awarded to a Minecraft-themed book, Invasion of the Overworld by Mark Cheverton.  The student wrote: “I was a cyberbully until I read this book.”  Now, I don’t know Mark Cheverton.  I haven’t read any of his books (though my boys have many times!).  Quite honestly, Invasion of the Overworld is not in my summer reading plans.  I doubt that the author has Newbery Medal aspirations.  With all of that said, it was clear that the student made a connection to the text like few of his peers had been able to do.  

In the past, that would have been the end of things…  I would have sent the finished posters onto the teacher so they could see their students’ work.  I may have posted a few of the most interesting examples in the hallway for other students to see.  Some of the projects may have even found their life briefly extended by being posted on a proud parent’s refrigerator.  Thinking back to ISTE Teacher Standard 3b (“Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation”), though, I quickly came to the realization that Twitter was a perfect vehicle to extend our classroom to the greater community — in this case, the author’s ear.twitter1

Within the same school day, the author had responded to the student’s award.  I immediately printed screenshots of the Twitter conversation for the student to see.  (I’ve had to reprint them twice for him, as the prized printouts seem to develop feet!)  I emailed screenshots to the boy’s parents and his teacher, creating great opportunities to talk about the positive value of social media.  In the days ahead, I used the conversation in related lessons with other library classes, and in response their output and efforts were far more focused than the first class.  Modeling positive interactions such as this one are a powerful responsibility that I’ve overlooked in the past.  In the future, I’m going to make every effort to not miss those kind of opportunities.

In the past school year, the value of Twitter for an educator and librarian has become increasingly clear.  In fact, I’ve gone from avoiding Twitter to having a new issue…  managing multiple Twitter accounts and social media feeds.  My next blog post will explore some the tools that I’ve found to assist with that task.  One of those tools, HootSuite, highlighted some of the reasons for harnessing social media in a classroom setting: (1) Use technology to create a culture of collaboration, (2) Use technology to empower students to contribute, and (3) Remember: students don’t always understand the difference between personal and professional social media use.  My limited time spent exploring Twitter’s strengths has made me feel foolish for avoiding it in the past.  Lesson learned.


Byrne, R. (2015, July 29). Using HootSuite to spread your school’s message. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/07/using-hootsuite-to-spread-your-schools.html

Kushin, M. (2014, August 18). How the social media mindset can be an asset to your classroom. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-the-social-media-mindset-can-be-an-asset-to-your-classroom/

Crompton, H. (2014, July 24). Know the ISTE Standards T3: Model digital age learning. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=109


Mission and Vision: Technology & Balance

level1I realize that this vision and mission statement which I am formally presenting as part of a classroom assignment in my Masters of Education in Digital Educational Leadership program, in fact, seldom mentions technology.  At first glance that worried me, but as I considered the ramifications of the omission, I was actually quite satisfied with the balanced message inherent in that decision. Continue reading

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