Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Collaboration: Digital Photo Style

A few weeks ago, my digital photo teacher came in very excited and concerned. 

In the past his students had used Voicethread as a way of posting student work and then doing some peer reviews in an a semi-private space. Since 
Voicethread has recently been upgraded there is no way you post to it privately without paying the fee.

Since it wouldn't meet his needs for their Monochromatic Color Review NEXT HOUR
what the heck was he going to use instead?

So, I did the thing I learned during all those literacy coaching training sessions- I listened. He explained the assignment as my mind researched for a tool or technique we might try to get him out of this jam. *Note to self: coaching strategies might be another good topic for blog post*

We tried Wallwisher (now called Padlet) and discovered student’s could put their digital photo assignments there, link to their pages using google, and then post comments right on the page. The teacher said it turned out wonderful and that the photos had better graphic quality than before. The students were focused and had constructive peer comments and good classroom discussions. 

A week later I was listening to The Tech Chicks podcast and they mentioned I told my photo teacher about this and he used it for his next assignment STREET PHOTOS and was overjoyed.

It works like a giant bulletin board and created spaces for individuals to post their photos, they could post their photos and other students could comment. The whole board could be private (with personalized access) and the quality of the photos was strong. In fact, they were actually thumbnails and students could double click to see larger versions.
Turns out folks are very responsive too- my teacher had some good suggestions that they responded to right away and initiated some changes based on his feedback. That was cool. 

I had always used applications like Wallwisher, Lino and for brainstorming or debriefing. I'd learned about them in workshops or online presentations....I'd never  thought to use them in this format before.

I'm so glad I have a "bag 'o tricks" that I can pull ideas out of. But I'm even happier to work with such genius teachers that can use tools in creative and innovative ways that really help students.

My peers make sure me look so smart!

Felix the Cat - c/o Joe Oriolo

ACT Grab 'N Gab plans to promote Libraryland!

*note- I had this stored in DRAFT mode since last year...but updated this reminder so that I could be ready for the ACT date! Read on fearless readers!

Last year, upon completion of TCAP testing I invited all the staff up to the library for a kind an open house we called Grab 'n Gab!

I sure missed it this year, but we have one more change. April 24th after ACT testing we'll have another long lunch where I can showcase of materials that we offer teachers that they don't normally see. We'll have district book sets like HS poetry, Forensics, audio books and DVD's playing. We'll have Cyberbully lessons, Plagiarism and research presentation outlines available. There will be SLJ and Booklist set out for teachers to review & select books for purchase.

I'll need to order snacks: mini-cheesecakes, cream filled strawberries, chocolate truffles and drinks. I'll have brochures for the Colorado Standards: 21st Century Learning Skills. I've got an old book scavenger hunt that a student teacher made for every subject area that I'll upgrade (yes even including PE and math). Lastly- I'll find some cheesy prizes.

Mostly, we'll have opportunities to share some good with a wide variety of folks and departments. I'm hoping that many of our dispays and resources will be imeadiately booked or better yet go straight into teachers classrooms. Maybe I'll pick up some new work...let the planning ensue!

Many thanks to my friend Kim for letting me copy her idea from years ago.
Looking forward to a fun day! ~guybrarian

Friday, September 16, 2011

The winds of fall challenge my library role

For the 3rd time this week I heard that our budgets will probably be cut again by up to 25% next year. I also have heard principals are questioning the value of keeping librarians in the face of all these cuts. They ask the why keep a librarian if they can get a full FTE classroom teacher that make more of an impact on kids?

My neighboring district to the south who has district employed/building specific librarians have already cut 1/2 their HS & Middle School librarians and just this year cut 1/2 their elementary librarians. Other districts are headed the same way. What does a half time librarian look like? Well, due to equity discussions- one librarian often serves two schools (sometimes a few days in one school then another, sometimes full weeks).

I'm really curious how effective I would be if I was only 1/2 time in a school? If a teacher is collaborating with me and gets behind in curriculum, maybe I can't float back and forth. How can I build relationships and trust so that I can collaborate if I'm only part time?

Perhaps a bigger issue is what is the role that librarians or teaching/collaborates will be playing in their buildings in the future?

Will we be Learning Specialists who focus more on professional development and 21st century learning standards as Allison Zmuda, Violet H. Harada suggest. Will we be developing a Learning Commons or instructional Facilitators as Koechlin Luhtala and Loertscher suggest? (February 2011 page 20)

I think if we are really going to be an active part of the future learning for our schools, we need to play an active role in the change that is coming. There may be some parts of our jobs that it is time for us to let go- perhaps some carry over from the "old librarian model". I'm not sure what those are, but I wonder what things we aren't willing to let go that might hold us back from serving our staff and students? Are you willing to give up reading picture books? Book talks? Being the sole coordinator of your collection development? What things keep us from being able to collaborate with teachers, training staff, work to support student achievement and 21st century learning skills?

Hmmm. Lots of thinking for a Friday am. I would be very curious to hear your thoughts! What will the new role look like? What can we do to best help kids? Thanks for your help!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Budget cut? Huge Classes? Make Lemonade!

We use the team teaching model in our school. There is a bright young social studies teacher teaming with an English teacher for the 10th grade Integrated Social Studies and English class. We are on an alternating block schedule but students attend this class every day and will end the year with 2 credits!

It is a great interactive class because students learn about the history, read and write about it- often debating or do hands on research or projects. The kids learn tons, and gain meaning through the video and audio presented in class.

But the class is big - almost 70+ kids in it. We take down the partition between to classrooms for that hour and use one huge room. Mr Carpenter effectively uses short video clips to emphasis points and up until today we have had a projector/screen on one end of the room.  We have been writing grants so that each teacher now has a projector and laptop (and raging sound system!). Just yesterday we were able to connect the two projectors together (with a 100' coax video cable through the ceiling), converter box/splitter for the VGA input from Mr Carpenter's Macintosh laptop. Learning is achieved!

I tell you this because I really think the librarians role is truly varied. I look forward to collaborating with both teachers very soon, but right now my work has been behind the scenes- troubleshooting to get this system working. Now, instruction can proceed seamlessly using technology in a way that highlights learning not impeding or  being and end to itself. I know student's learning is stengthened!

Lucky day to be a librarian!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What is the value of a good teacher?

What a time we live in! Colorado just announced their educational cuts for next year. (see Denver Post)

But if you want to hear an interesting discussion on how teachers can measure their success - listen to a recent podcast from NPR's Planet Money's What is a teacher worth.  In it, he talks about how good teachers help kids be successful and then these students positively influence the gross national product.

The study highlighted in the podcast come from Eric Hanushek where he found that some teachers consistently produce higher performing students than their counterparts. These students then go on to be more productive and they earn systematically more money over their lifetime. These higher achieving student earnings result in an increased gross national product. The podcast takes the formula a bit further saying that a teacher with a class of 25 students that moves their students forward (in achievement)  is worth over 1/2 million dollars every year (in terms of added value to the economy).

If we know this why are we even considering increasing course loads or increasing class sizes as Bud the Teacher notes in his blog? In the long term aren't we just making the problem worse? There has to be a better way!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ancient Civilizations!

This week I have been working with my social studies teacher to set up a intro lesson for ancient civilizations. He wanted to have students do some brief research about some of the major civilizations like Aztecs, Egyptians, Shang Dynasty etc. As a small group students were to find some basic information in the areas of geography, politics, inventions etc.

He wanted to make it more authentic for them so that they might get a scope of these empires. We decided to look at using google maps as a presentation tool. I found resources for each group and posted them on the website. We created one google account per classroom which allowed them all to be on at the same time, edit and change (even without sharing) and all the projects listed at once.

View Egyptian Empire in a larger map

We only gave the students about 40 minutes of class time to create this introductory lesson and they were to present the 2nd day. It turned out really nicely...and the teacher and I learned a lot. The students started presenting today and things got a good start. (They still tend to read right of the computer- but hey...we're still in the first week!)

Some ideas we thought of: different push pin shape for each topic, use several push pins to make simple points (2-3 lines or one picture), classmates take notes on the presentations. More and more.

Overall - it was pretty successful for the first try!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Seems like overnight...

Working in my building this week with educators supporting the new teachers in our district. We have some very talented, bright folks here who really know their stuff!

I'm working tech support and liaison for our building and was asking the presenter for the plenary what equipment she needed for the next day. She said all she needed was an overhead in the auditorium for the 150 folks. I asked if she was joking. She was very good natured about it, saying that she knew she needed to step up...and use technology. I encouraged her and said to remember folks needed her content rather than be overwhelmed about adding bells and whistles.

We chatted for a while and she felt pretty confident that she and her husband could work that evening and get her preso changed to Keynote. Next morning came- and she was incredibly confident and proud saying that she got it! (finished about 2am!:)

You might have guessed that not only was her presentation relevant and meaningful, but it was so well done that folks really got what they needed out of it. Not only that- she ran the whole presentation from a new app she downloaded on her iPhone! VERY COOL! :)

So- I guess I learned that sometimes we can be the people that gently nudge others to do great and important work. Sometimes change takes place overnight!