Librarians as PD Leaders

As librarians, I believe it is essential that we view ourselves as leaders in our schools. We all know the best leaders lead by example (not with a do as I say, not as I do attitude). Not only must we be digital role models for our students, showing them what strong digital footprints and a positive online presence looks like, but we must also do the same for our fellow teachers as well. One of my favorite things to do in the library is to promote technology through professional development for my teachers. This isn’t necessarily a role that was expected of me as the librarian, but it is one that I’ve created and developed for myself because I felt it was so important.

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When I took my current position as middle school librarian, one of my first PD offerings was a Library Tech Petting Zoo. I share this PD idea often, because for me it really helped to set the tone for myself as a leader and collaborator in my school. Numerous collaborative technology projects were born from this fun and informal professional development, and it helped me to lay the ground work for some great relationships with my new coworkers.

I’m also a strong believer in embedded professional development. Library visits are a great time to introduce teachers to new tech tools and ideas, because they get to see them in action as I facilitate students in using those tools to enhance their learning. I like to think of this as scaffolding for teachers — they may not feel brave enough to try something new on their own, but with the support of the librarian they are often willing to try a new tool or idea that they’ll later use with students in their classroom. I’ve done this with numerous tools, such as KidBlog, Google Forms, PicMonkey, and Kahoot (which has been a big hit this year!). Using video to create tutorials for teachers and students is another great way to encourage the use of new web tools and resources. I love using the Flipped Classroom model with students and teachers for PD. Creating video tutorials, such as this one about PicMonkey, is an easy way to demonstrate new tools:

TwitterBootCamp

The 2014-2015 school year has been a great one for PD at CMS. This fall, I offered several sessions of a Twitter Boot Camp for my teachers. I did short, 30-minute sessions that gave teachers time to get their feet wet with Twitter. We talked about the basics — hashtags, general Tweets vs. Tweeting to specific people, following people to build a PLN, and Twitter chats. My goal was to introduce teachers to the wealth of information that’s constantly being shared by educators on Twitter without completely overwhelming them. Even though it’s been several months since these Boot Camp sessions, I had a teacher come into the library just this week to thank me and tell me that she’s been getting some great resources and making connections on Twitter. As the only Spanish teacher in the building, the idea of creating her own Professional Learning Community online really resonated with her. #WINNING!

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Another huge PD win this year at CMS has been EdCamp. Back in 2011, I worked with some awesome New Orleans educators to help host the first EdCamp in Louisiana. One of my goals for 2014 was to host an EdCamp in Baton Rouge. With the help of my principal and some great CMS teachers, we hosted EdCamp Baton Rouge at the end of September. This was the first EdCamp for all of my CMS folks, including my administrators, so they were unsure of what to expect. Thankfully, some of my NOLA friends came up Baton Rouge to support us and our event. It was a great day of learning; many of my coworkers said it was the best professional development they’d ever experienced.

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My principal liked the EdCamp model so much that we recently used it to host a mini-EdCamp on our February teacher-only PD day. Our teachers loved the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and participate in facilitated discussions on topics that were relevant and timely for them. After the rave reviews of this PD model, I know that we will host more of these events on school and district PD days. I’m also looking forward to an even bigger turn out for our 2015 EdCamp Baton Rouge that we will host again in the fall.

In the last several years, I’ve taken my love for PD and sharing beyond the walls of my school. I love to learn and share with other educators, evangelizing about the use of technology in education and the constantly evolving roles of libraries. I’ve been honored to speak at a number of state library and technology conferences, sharing the importance of librarians being technology leaders and role models in their schools.

One presentation that I think is worth revisiting that’s relevant to this topic is the TL Virtual Cafe webinar that the fabulous Tamara Cox and I presented on PD with a Twist. I’ve also presented on this topic several times at conferences, because I think it’s so important for librarians to be professional development leaders in their schools.

Another presentation that I’ve done several times and plan to share with my teachers this spring is on Tech Tools:

An important part of my job is to stay on top of current tools and resources available to teachers and share those resources with the teachers who need them. With the stresses that my teachers are facing with curriculum changes and new assessments, I feel like making their life a little easier by sifting through tech resources and sharing just the best tools with them is so important.

(All of my past presentations, links, and resources can be found on my presentation wiki.)

Is the position of school librarian viewed as a leadership role in your school? What are some creative ways that you’re stepping up your game as a leader and offering great PD and resources to your teachers?

Posted in Resources & Links, Tech | 1 Comment

TL Virtual Cafe Webinar: Ditching Dewey

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I hope you’ll join me tomorrow night (February 2nd) at 8PM Eastern for the February TL Virtual Cafe Webinar. I’ll be discussing one of my FAVORITE topics…Ditching Dewey!

I’ll be sharing in details the steps I took throughout the entire process of genrefying our library — both fiction and nonfiction. I get questions about this regularly, so I’m really excited to share about this in the awesome TL Cafe setting!

Find more details, including the link to join the webinar, on the session page. Also visit the session page afterwards for the webinar archive.

Posted in Resources & Links | 4 Comments

Follett Challenge 2015

Okay dear readers, I need your help and support! The Central Middle School library has once again entered the Follett Challenge, and we need you to VOTE! Please follow this link to view our video entry and cast a vote for our submission.

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As I know is true with all of the 114 entries into this year’s Follett Challenge, we put a lot of work into this entry and really want to see it win! This was an especially reflective process for me, because we entered the Follett Challenge in 2011. Thinking back to that entry 4 years ago and comparing it to this year’s entry, I realize how much our library program has grown! Our reading promotion, genrefication, self check-out, and makerspace have really transformed our library, and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come. So help us celebrate our progress by voting for our entry in the Follett Challenge!

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2015 Bookmark Exchange & Literacy Challenge

I don’t know about yours, but my students LOVE bookmarks. And right now, I’m almost out. I was thinking about how much fun my students would have with a bookmark exchange, so I sent out a tweet:

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And this is why I love Twitter! Thanks, Mary Clark, for sharing this awesome information about the Literacy Challenge by the Students Rebuild program!

Here’s the plan for this Bookmark Exchange:

1. Register a team to participate in the Literacy Challenge here. For every bookmark that’s sent in for the challenge, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $1 (up to $300,000) to Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali) and Asia (Nepal). AND if your bookmarks are postmarked between now and February 14th, they’ll double their donation (check out the info here on the Bookmark-athon). Check out this FAQ page for more info about the Literacy Challenge.

2. Sign up to participate in our Bookmark Exchange as well using this Google Form. For this, we’ll be sending bookmarks to each other for our own students to enjoy. Sign up now through February 6th to participate. Register to “swap” bookmarks in sets of 25. Then, after February 6th, I’ll email you the addresses of the school (or schools, depending on how many you make) where your bookmarks will be enjoyed.

3. Have your students make bookmarks! Each student should make two — one for the Literacy Challenge and one for the Bookmark Exchange. Plan to mail all of your bookmarks the week of February 9-13.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? I hope you will participate!

Posted in My Ramblings, Resources & Links | 7 Comments

Makerspace: Crafting Supplies

One of my goals with our library makerspace is to draw in as many students as possible through a wide range of creative activities. Making a selection of crafting supplies available is a great way to do this. I’ve always had some materials available for students to create, such as a variety of types of paper, poster, stickers, glue, scissors, etc. Now, with our active makerspace, I want to take our crafting opportunities to the next level.

With the holidays approaching, I’m planning to offer an opportunity for students to come in to make ornaments in the library during their lunch break. I’m using pages from discarded books, ball ornaments, and Mod Podge to have students make these ornaments:

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I found this idea on Pinterest and followed the instructions that are posted here. I practiced on a smaller pink ornament ball that I already had on our tree. I’ve ordered shatterproof white ornament balls for students to use for the project. I’m thinking about hitting them with some glitter spray…because who doesn’t love a sparkly ornament?!

 

I’m also using DonorsChoose again to acquire some new crafting supplies. My current DonorsChoose project includes Rexlace for making keychains, Rainbow Loom kits, Duck Tape, a starter kit for felting, knitting needles, and scissors. I would like to have lunchtime craft projects offered regularly, in addition to having these materials available for students upon request. These are the types of crafts that I can introduce students to in the makerspace, and it can potentially become a hobby they love.

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Makey Makey

When the boxes started coming in for my first Makerspace DonorsChoose grant, I was so excited to unpack the three Makey Makey kits that we received! In anticipation of these supplies coming in, I showed some of my students this introductory video to the Makey Makey. They were so excited to get their hands on it and give it a try!

I have one particular student in my Advisory class that is very tech savvy, and he dove right in to getting the Makey Makey going with his laptop. The idea that he could create a controller using Play-Doh to play Minecraft just about blew his mind. On his way to his next class, he told one of the other teachers, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my LIFE!”

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We still have a lot of potential to unlock with the Makey Makey. I was really inspired by this video on hand felting a banana with conductive fibers. It’s so exciting to think of all of the possibilities of things that my students can create!

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LEGO Wall

Creating a LEGO Wall in our library was one of the things that I was most excited about when planning our library makerspace. I knew this would be the centerpiece of our space and that it would be a big draw for my students. All of my inspiration for this LEGO Wall came from Diana Rendina and her photos, video, and blog posts about her own Epic LEGO Wall.

Diana has written an awesome how-to post that I followed in the construction of our LEGO Wall. You can find all of the information you need on her blog — I followed her instructions exactly and everything came out perfectly. I also love that she made a timelapse video of the wall’s installation. When I was trying to “sell” the idea of the wall to my administrator, this video really helped me explain what this was all about.

With the help of my awesome parents, it took us less than two hours to put up the LEGO Wall. I would recommend assembling the wall on a Friday afternoon so that things can dry over the weekend. We put the wall together on a Sunday afternoon and it was tough keeping the students away from it on Monday so the glue could set!

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We’re still working out how time can be made for students to use the makerspace and create on the LEGO wall. Each day we have a 20 minute Advisory/Intervention time, and my group is able to access the things in our makerspace to create, tinker, and play.

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They also helped me organize and sort out our LEGOs:

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I love seeing what our students create! Our school is in a somewhat rural/country area, so I was not at all surprised to see the word “deer” and a pin with a cow in it within the first 24 hours of the LEGO Wall being open for students:

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And I was really excited to see that during a slow time on our parent-teacher conference day, our band and choir teachers stopped in to do a little making of their own:

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So many students, teachers, and parents have shared their excitement about our new LEGO Wall. It’s such a great place for students (and teachers!) to express their creativity and just have a little fun!

Posted in Makerspace, Resources & Links | 1 Comment

CMS Makerspace: The Beginning

I was so excited and honored to be invited to give the opening keynote at the Florida Association for Media in Education‘s annual conference in Orlando last week. It was a great conference — I was able to connect with and learn from some AWESOME Florida librarians! All of my presentation slides, links, and resources can be found on my presentation wiki.

The ideas that had me ready to get back to school and working on a new project came from my friend Diana Rendina‘s session on Makerspaces & Libraries. She’s doing some AWESOME things in her library, and she made the idea of a makerspace something I could wrap my head around. I had been intrigued but intimidated by the idea; she made it seem attainable and fun. So now we’re going for it!!!

I had organized and gathered some crafting supplies in the library over the summer as my first attempt at making something makerspace-ish, but I really didn’t advertise it with the students too much. I’ve had a collection of board games and puzzles for years, so I think the makerspace will fit in nicely with those things that are already in place. What drew me in the most about Diana’s space, and what I know my students will go CRAZY over, is her LEGO wall. So the first thing I talked to my principal about when I returned on Monday morning was the idea of adding a LEGO wall in our library at CMS. He was on board (because he’s the best), and we will be installing our wall VERY soon (I can’t wait to post about it!).

I also wanted to be able to try some of the other cool tools that Diana talked about in her presentation, so I decided to create my first ever Donors Choose project. I was absolutely amazed that my project was fully funded in just a few hours…and it’s because I’m surrounded by wonderful people who support our library. I’m tearing up just writing about it! Donations from my family, friends, coworkers, community members, members of my PLN, and even a school board member came in quickly to make this project happen. Most of the materials should arrive on Monday and I cannot WAIT! MaKey MaKeys, a Sphero, a set of Snap Circuits, LEGOs, LEGO books, and two sets of drawers on wheels for organizing materials are on their way. I’ll definitely be posting more soon as our makerspace becomes a reality. Until then, check out these videos for some of the cool tools that will be part of our new space:

Makey Makey:

Sphero:

Snap Circuits:

Posted in Makerspace, My Ramblings, Resources & Links, Tech | 5 Comments

EdCamp Baton Rouge

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Last Saturday at CMS, we hosted the first EdCamp Baton Rouge…and it was such a great day of learning, sharing, and networking! Educators from around the city (and several from other places around the state) came out for a day of “unconference” style learning. We had about 30 people show up, which I think was a good showing for the first event of its kind in Baton Rouge. Less than a handful of us had ever attended an EdCamp before, so it was definitely a new concept for most. However, everyone jumped right in and contributed to the learning, which is exactly what EdCamp is all about.

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As attendees arrived, they used different colored Post-Its to suggest session ideas and topics. Designating different colors really helped us when we were sorting and making the session board.

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We started the morning off with a few rounds of “Rocks/Sucks” or “Things that Suck” which got our attendees discussing some hot topics in education. My friend and our CMS Data Specialist, Jason Dupuy, did a great job of moderating this activity.

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Also during this time, we were busy putting together our session board. The digital session board along with links to notes from the sessions can be found here.

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Since we had a smaller group, we scheduled fewer sessions at each time slot. I had several teachers who had never attended an EdCamp before tell me they LOVED the rule of two feet — it meant they could hit up multiple sessions at a time slot and not feel bad about leaving. A number of attendees said this was the BEST professional development that they had ever attended and they couldn’t wait to recruit more people to attend next year…YES!!

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At one of our session slots, we held a playground. I combined this idea from EdCamp Atlanta‘s 25 minute tech tools session slots and the Librarians Network Playground we host at ISTE each year. At sign up, we had people put up Post-Its for a tech tool/resource they would be willing to demo at the playground. We had eight different stations where folks were sharing their favorite resource (Kahoot, Kid Blog, PicMonkey, Schoology - to name a few) and the other attendees floated around the room to learn about the different tools. This was a big success and lots of fun! We will definitely do this again next year, as it was a great way to really get to share tried and true tools that we love and use all the time in our schools.

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We had the BEST EdCamp lunch EVER, thanks to my awesome parents. They cooked for our crew: pulled pork sandwiches, smoked sausage, beans, coleslaw, and mom’s bread pudding. There were definitely lots of raves about the food and I have to give a shout out to my parents for being so amazing and supporting me in everything I do…including EdCamp!

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Thanks to my BFF and EdCamp co-organizer Alaina Laperouse…you are the best! And thanks to my friends Paula Naugle, Marcie Hebert, and Chris Young…they all traveled in from New Orleans for the day and that meant SO MUCH to me!

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Thanks the EdCamp Baton Rouge Sponsors: SimpleK12, Flocabulary, BrainPop, Edutopia, Follett, Oak Point, StoryboardThat, and 30Hands. And thanks to my awesome principal Jason Fountain for always letting me run with my crazy ideas and allowing us to host EdCamp at our school (he won the Flocabulary subscription…WOOHOO!).

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I’m counting our first EdCamp Baton Rouge as a success, and I can’t wait to host another next year!

Posted in Resources & Links, Tech | 1 Comment

Go to Recommendations: Action/Adventure

One of the best things about being a librarian is connecting students with the right books. I feel like middle school is the time where kids really become life-long readers. They discover their reading preferences and start to read books with more meat to them. I love having our library arranged by genre, I find that students are able to browse the library and find books that are of interest to them very easily. Within each section, I have my go to recommendations that I find myself constantly suggesting to students. I thought I would share mine, and hope that you’ll leave me comments with any others that you love to recommend!

ISurvived

I love to recommend any books from the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshisto reluctant readers who are looking for a fast-paced read that isn’t intimidating. I’m so excited to see that this series is continuing to grow!

Shipwrecked

Gordon Korman has several great action/adventure series, including The Island Trilogy, The Dive Trilogy, and The Everest Trilogy. Similar to the I Survived, these short books are a great way to get reluctant readers to pick up a novel.

Hatchet

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is one of those tried and true recommendations. Living in south Louisiana, so many of my students love to hunt and fish, so they really get into an outdoors adventure story.

WildLife GreatWideSea AlabamaMoonOther outdoor adventure recommendations include Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice, The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong, and Alabama Moon by Watt Key. I have multiple copies of all of these titles, and they stay checked out all year long.

AlexRider

The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz are great action-packed kid spy books that my students devour. Middle school students LOVE a series!

TheLimit MaximumRide

For my action/adventure readers that I think would also be interested in reading science fiction/fantasy, I recommend The Limit by Kristen Landon and The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.

AuRevoir  SonoftheMob

For my more mature readers who are into action and adventure, I love to recommend Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick and Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman. I thought both of these books were super fun, fast-paced reads!

What books do you find yourself constantly recommending to students who are hunting for an action/adventure read?

Posted in Books & Reviews, Middle Level Books, Resources & Links | 3 Comments