Grad School – Do best practices apply?

It’s been a week since my grad school classes started up for the summer semester. I’m halfway into my program, with a year left. The start of this semester has me feeling quite frustrated. It’s an education program. We are all educators. We understand how people learn best. People have different learning styles and learning needs to be relevant. You know, the core of best practices in teaching and learning and all that jazz. It’s all over the textbooks that I’m paying out the nose for.

So WHY do those concepts not apply to the actual program that I’m in? I’m a student, right? Shouldn’t I get some meaningful learning experiences, too?

Then why on earth am I doing chapter summaries? I have to read, summarize, then comment on four other people’s summaries (that are pretty much the same as mine – because it’s a summary). I don’t like feeling like I’m doing busy work. I’m even summarizing chapters on Understanding by Design and Differentiated Instruction. If only these assignments reflected those methods….

5 x 3 x 3 – 2011 Edition

It’s been over a year since this post, and that totally blows my mind!

So much has happened in the past year, and I can’t believe it’s only been a year since these things started happening. It was really fun for me to look back on this post and ponder all of the things that have happened since then. At this time last year, these were the things I was most looking forward to:

3. Developing our School Ning into a great tool for PD

2. Starting Grad School this Summer

1. ISTE 2010 in Denver, baby!!!

Well, #3 didn’t really work out. Ning made changes and we decided not to push it for use at Tanglewood. A mention of Grad School will make this year’s list, so obviously that one seems to be working out. And, honestly, ISTE in 2010 changed my life. So here we go…let’s get on with the 5 x 3 x 3 for 2011!

Top 5 Library Accomplishments for 2010-2011 School Year:

5. Library Petting Zoo

I think the petting zoo was the point where a lot of teachers really “got” me and what I’m all about. It started a domino effect with creative projects that were born from the tools I shared with the teachers that day. For me, the petting zoo really was a turning point – before it I was feeling nervous about creating the library atmosphere I strived for; after it chaos ensued (which I love!).

4. CMS Green Screen

My kids are obsessed. You would think the green screen was a magic carpet, and in a way it really is. The excitement that they have about having a chance to use the green screen is so much fun. But watching them learn how to film themselves and edit their own videos gives me oodles of warm-fuzzies. I smile every day when I walk into the office with the green screen because it’s already helped students produce so many products that make them (and their teachers) proud.

3. Library Makeover

I spent many hours over Christmas break (with the help of my AWESOME mom and friend BJ) transforming the library. Even though there is a new school in our near future, I thought it was important that I go in and infuse myself into the physical library. Now it is zebra print, hot pink, lime green, and bright blue. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t get a positive  comment about how great the library looks. The new look made the library something to talk about, which allowed everything that followed to really have impact.

2. LaCUE Presentation

I think that my LaCUE presentation is going to be one of those things that I look back on later in my career and can’t deny its impact. I presented “Free Tech Tools You Can Use” and had an amazing turn out. For months afterward, I got so much positive feedback from educators who attended. This really confirmed that doing PD sessions is something I’m passionate about and want to do more of in the future. It may even top ISTE as my top memory of 2010 as a calendar year.

1. The way I FEEL about my transition

I am happy and I love what I do. I said the same thing last year at the elementary school and truly meant it. I had it great over there on so many levels and I left an amazing, well run school. There are things I miss and my few years there will always hold a special place in my heart. With all that said, I know I am in the right place now. It just feels right. Middle school is where I belong and where I thrive. I know that there are great things to come as I continue to work with the amazing teachers and wonderful students at CMS. I know that the next few years (with big changes coming our way – NEW SCHOOL!) are going to be exciting, overwhelming, and incredible. Have I mentioned that I love my job??

Top 3 Personal Accomplishments:

3. My Brand

When my new cell phone case came in (before I actually had an iPhone 4 to put in it), I know my husband was thinking I was obsessed with myself. Then I realized, “What I’m obsessed with is my brand!” And I am. I’m obsessed. But I think I’ve really started to develop my brand with purchasing this domain – Maybe I shouldn’t have done both Mighty Little Librarian AND librarian_tiff, but I am what I am. And I am both. But so is my brand, which I love 🙂

2. Grad School 4.0

Yep, I’ve survived my first year of grad school. And I have a 4.o — HOLLA!!! One year left of this program and I’ll have my Masters in Educational Technology Leadership, along with an add-on or two. Afterwards, I’m planning to continue on towards earning my doctorate. Why not?? And I honestly am glad that I made the choice to pursue Ed Tech instead of getting my MLIS because it has really broadened my horizons.

1. Yoga

This is definitely a personal accomplishment, but since November I’ve been very committed to attending my yoga/fitness classes. I love it, I really do. Sure, I complain about it, but I do it in an endearing way (right, Stirling??). Sticking with this makes me feel good about myself. I’ve never been athletic in ANY sense of the word. And I’ve never been flexible. But now, I sure can do a mean full bridge 🙂

Top 3 Things I’m Looking Forward To:

3. Reading MORE Middle Grades Books

This is one of my passions, and I cannot WAIT to dive into my summer reading shelf full of crisp, new, beautiful, delicious middle grade reads!!!

2. Preparing for the NEW School

The 2011-2012 school year will be our last at the current CMS facility. Over the summer of 2012, we will move into a brand new (LONG awaited) facility. Seriously, we’ve been waiting for this new school since I attended CMS years ago. I am excited about the daunting task of moving into a new library and making it home.

1. Conference Opportunities

I am counting the days until I arrive in Philly for ISTE 2011. I am excited that a group from my district is attending and that I’m part of it, but I’m WAY more excited about the fact that I’ll get to connect with my PLN! A little more than a week after I return from Philly, EdCamp Louisiana will take place in New Orleans. I am so excited to be one of the organizers for this incredible event, and I know it is going to be AMAZING. I’ll also be going to AASL in October, which I am INCREDIBLY excited about. A little over a week ago, I received the news that I would be a recipient of one of the Bound to Stay Bound/AASL travel grants. Squeee! Plus I’m on the planning committee for the 2012 AASL Fall Forum with some of my library idols – PINCH ME! And I have every intention of submitting proposals to present again at LaCUE. Busy and exciting things are ahead with many opportunities to connect with likeminded educators, and I couldn’t ask for more.

What a year! What have you accomplished and what are you looking forward to? I’d love to hear your 5 x 3 x 3!

Awful Library Books CMS Style

So I’ve now been at CMS for 4 months. And what an awesome 4 months it’s been! I have already successfully weeded the fiction section and I am pretty happy with the results. With 1000 less fiction books (that were not circulating) cluttering the shelves, it’s much easier for students to find what they want. I was very happy about weeding fiction. However, I have not been very happy about the prospect of weeding nonfiction.

I knew it was going to be bad. I knew I was going to need to weed A LOT of books. Just thinking about it made my stomach drop. I’ve pretty much avoided nonfiction for the past 4 months, which as been pretty easy to do. It’s a very rare occasion that a student comes in looking for nonfiction — especially since I pulled all of the graphic novels and gave them their own home. Now, though, we are in the home stretch. And we all know that the end of the year means inventory time. So on Thursday, I decided it was time to suck it up.

Here’s the approach that I’ve decided to take. It’s kind of weird, but it’s working for me. I opened a partial inventory of just 000-999.999. This way if I scan something that doesn’t belong, I catch it right off the bat. I’ll go straight through and scan a section of shelves. Then I go back and I sort the books — keepers in one area and probable weeds in another. I’m not actually weeding them from the system at this point, I’m going to go back and do this to give them one more look. I was nervous to start this because I thought I would lament over these books. But after actually digging into them, I am SO over that. Oh, the horrors I have seen. The books that have been lurking on these shelves, laughing at me every time I pass by. They were laughing because they knew they didn’t belong. Many of them laughing because the information they hold is so outdated that it can’t even qualify as nonfiction anymore. Seriously.

But now, it is your turn to laugh. Laugh away at these awful library books that have been living in the CMS library for only heaven knows how many years.

This is one of my favorites — Vans: The Personality Vehicles by Paul R. Dexler. Copyright 1977.

My principal loves a good van, so he got a kick out of this one. In this gem, you not only get to see loads of custom paint jobs and their snazzy bubble windows, but also the wide range of interior decorating options. See pages below:

There were loads of old vehicle books, including quite a few about mopeds. But the next one I want you to see is New Automobiles of the Future by Irwin Stambler. Copyright 1978.

This books made some jaw dropping predictions about how cars were going to transform over the next few decades. Personally, I’m more than a little upset that the sliding car door trend never came to fruition. Hmm…I guess vans get all the fun past AND present.

Imagine one of my precious darlings doing a research project on computers. Let’s say their teacher required them to use a print resource (the horror!!) and they came across this book, Micro-Computers. Imagine their confusion when they KNOW that micro means small, yet they see images such as the ones below. They’ve got a computer in their pocket, for crying out loud! Then they go to reference this book in their bibliography and see it’s Copyrighted 1981. Hm.

I just like this one for the subtitle, “Telecommunications in Your High-Tech World.” The only thing high-tech about this book is the hot pants the chick is wearing on the page below:

I saved my favorites for last. In her day, Harriette S. Abels knew a lot about “Our Future World.” So much so, that she decided to write a few books about it. Check out the cover of Future Food. Our diets should (according to Ms. Abels) now be seafood based, with very little red meat. This is because we are supposed to be harvesting the oceans (I think that the cover image is an ocean harvester machine, in fact). AND some of us should be lucky enough to have a pool in our backyard where we breed and feed our dinner. Sadly, none of my friends have a crop of fish in their backyard.

Harriette also speculated about Future Space. The first image below is our space colony, where living in space is just a normal part of everyday life. I’m pretty devastated that I don’t have a space scooter. It looks like a safe way to get from my home on the living colony to my job at the factory colony.

Obviously, these books will no longer be part of my circulating collection. I think I will probably keep my favorites just for giggles. But it really makes you think about what will be said about us several decades down the road, doesn’t it?


A special thanks to Kathy Kaldenberg who shared the Awful Library Books site with me, which inspired this post!

Twitter: Have I told you lately that I love you?

I just love Twitter. It has helped me so much to create my PLN and in turn has changed my professional life. I wasn’t much of a Twitter user until I attended ISTE last summer. Then I really “Got It” and threw myself completely onto the Twitter bandwagon. If you would have asked me what the single most important source for my professional development was last year, I would have said my Google Reader — hands down. I still use my reader, but not like I use Twitter — CONSTANTLY!

While taking a little break from processing a cart of beautiful, brand new books (I have a rough life, I know), I ran over to Tagxedo to create a little tag cloud  from my Twitter account. It sums up my Twitterverse well!

I LOVE: books, reading, students, teachers, gwynethjones (naturally, she’s my hero), ISTE, sharing, and feeling happy 🙂

Plus I overuse the words “seriously” and “yay.” But seriously…YAY! for Twitter and Tagxedo!!!

And if you don’t follow me on Twitter, then start now: @librarian_tiff