This fall, Britannica is tackling media literacy with a series of blog posts, webinars, and other resources that are perfect for school librarians. I am very excited to partner with them on several of the blog posts and the October 15th webinar!
I recently received a comment (hi Rohondolita!) on a blog post from just over four years ago about hosting a Twitter Boot Camp. She asked about how I feel about Twitter now, and if there are other social media sites that I prefer for professional learning now. Since I read that comment, my love letter to Twitter, the long-term relationship of my professional learning, has been formulating in my head.
You’re still the one. After nearly nine years together, our relationship is strong and you are still my most trusted source for professional learning. That’s not to say that there haven’t been times where I have been frustrated with you, needed a little vacation from you, or rolled my eyes and clicked the little “x” to walk away for a minute. Much more often than not, you are the trusted and comfortable place I can go to discover new ideas, connect with old and new friends, and seek advice from trusted colleagues.
There have been others that have tried to replace you or compete: Facebook groups with their easier to view streams of discussion, Pinterest boards filled with inspiring photos, conference apps full of their promises of engaging games and fancy messaging abilities. No matter what, I end up coming back to you, Twitter, because you are tried and true. You are best equipped to connect me with my Personal Learning Network, whether in real time or asynchronously.
So I’ll continue to share your greatness in any way I can manage. There’s no telling how many times I’ve spoken the words, “Twitter changed my life.” I’ll continue to get on my Twitter soap box via Twitter Boot Camp, Twitter Bingo, or conference presentations that urge librarians and educators to become connected. Although I may not be quite as eager to spend SO much of my time with you like I did in those early years, you’ll remain one of those essential pinned tabs on my Chrome browser.
Thanks, Twitter, for all of the years of learning and connections! Here’s to many more!
We are back at school and I’m having a blast kicking off visits to the library with my middle school classes using the GooseChase App for library orientation.
GooseChase allows you to organize and run scavenger hunts in which teams must document the completion of a series of tasks, or missions. You can require submissions that are text, photo, or video. They have a Game Library where you can find some initial inspiration and think about how to best structure your game.
I’m starting my time with the students running through a brief overview of our library with this presentation:
Since nearly all of my 7th and 8th graders are returning students, I can get through this pretty quickly. Of course I will take a little more time with my new 6th graders.
With the free educator version of GooseChase, you can have one live game with up to five teams participating at once. Once you build out the game with a variety of missions, it’s very simple to duplicate it to use with multiple classes. Here are some of the missions I used for my game:
You can check out my entire game and even make a copy of it here.
I absolutely love that during the game, I can check out the leaderboard and activity feed to see how the different teams are doing. And maybe best of all, you can see all of the submissions, either grouped by mission or by team, giving you a great collection of photos and videos submitted by your students:
I created way more “missions” than I knew my students would be able to complete during the given time. I also instructed them to NOT complete them in order, so we wouldn’t have too many traffic pile-ups. I’m looking forward to using this with the rest of my classes this week as my middle school students are welcomed back into our library.
News literacy is a hot topic these days, as it should be with the “fake news” buzzword flying around at every turn. I’ve been digging in on news literacy resources this year, as know that this is another avenue for librarians to step up and become experts in our schools in a topic that isn’t necessarily embedded in the curriculum just yet. It’s very much in the vein of digital citizenship — we have to help prepare our students for the world they live in now and the unknown future where they will be adults.
Research shows that this is a growing issue facing society, and it’s something we as school librarians can step up and address. We know that our students struggle to evaluate sources they find online for credibility, and this research by the Stanford History Education Group confirms what we already know. This article by The Atlantic shares the findings of an MIT study on the spread of fake news on Twitter, and the battle that we are fighting is up a very steep hill.
I’ve presented on the topic of news literacy several times this year, and I have collected several videos that are great points of introduction and discussion on the topic. I think that news literacy is one of those concepts that should be grounded in discussion with students — it’s not as cut and dry as other topics may be and complex issues like this require awareness, thought, reflection, and some solid strategies.
I have a few videos that make great discussion starters when introducing the topic of news literacy with students.
This video describes how a town in Macedonia has become a hub for publishing fake news articles. Hearing the anonymous poster talk about how and why he is publishing these articles is sure to stir up discussion with your students.
This short minute and a half video describes how filter bubbles work and how social media algorithms tailor what you see based on your history. I think it’s important to note that as adults, we remember a time before social media. When our Facebook accounts show ads for things we’ve searched for on Google, it freaks us out. For our students, though, this is all they’ve ever known.
This video by Teaching Tolerance outlines how a “fake” news story can go viral. It specifically tells the story of a Tweet during the 2016 presidential election that took on a life of its own — and that even once the guy who posted it realized what he shared wasn’t true, he couldn’t pull it back.
This TED Ed video describes how news is spread, the history of how news was shared to how we access news today, and the phenomenon of circular reporting. TED Ed has a number of videos that can be used to facilitate discussions with students on news literacy.
The road ahead for tackling the issue of news literacy isn’t going to get easier, but as educators we must give serious consideration to what we can do to equip our students with the tools they need to be news and social media savvy.
I’ve been evangelizing about Twitter for years. Every chance I get, I tell people how Twitter changed my life and how building my PLN is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself professionally. Several years ago at CMS, I hosted a Twitter Boot Camp for my teachers. Over the past three semesters, I’ve worked with my technology department at Episcopal to use Twitter Bingo as a tool to introduce Twitter to our faculty and get them using it to build a professional network.
What I like about using this format for Twitter Bingo is that the teachers were able to work at their own pace. This also introduced them to a wide range of Twitter activities — from simple things like following and re-tweeting to participating in a full on Twitter chat. Instructions were linked to each square, but teachers really had to get in there and figure it out for themselves. Don’t we tell our students all the time that this is the best way to really learn something?
On the technical/creation side of things, I made the grid using Canva and imported the image into ThingLink to add the tutorials for each square. Since I ran this separately for each division (lower, middle, and upper school), I changed some of the who-to-follow squares in order to help tailor their network to their area.
Of course we used prizes to entice participation. Teachers filled out a Google Form to let me know they completed all the squares, giving a very short blurb on what they learned from their experience on Twitter. Here’s what a few of them said:
“I thought I would immediately want to unfollow the people I was told to follow because I didn’t really want to be following so many people. I have had actual interaction with these folks, so now they are real people to me, and I will continue to follow them because they have great ideas.”
“I had no idea what these chat hashtags were all about and then realized it was a way to interact more efficiently on a topic with the Q and A style. I like it!”
“I am still working on building my community so that my feed is always showing something helpful but I have enjoyed seeing what other teachers are doing. I found Responsive Classroom to have the most helpful ideas quickly.”
“This is great! I should have started a long time ago!”
As I said before, we learn best by doing. This was a great way to get some of my teachers really digging in to Twitter. Did everyone participate? Not even close! But many of those who did continue to use Twitter and are finding it to be such a valuable resource in their professional lives. That’s more than good enough for me!
Last week I was lucky enough to attend FETC for the first time. As a long-time ISTE attendee/presenter, I’m definitely comfortable with the large ed tech conference scene. I especially enjoyed FETC because it’s just the right size for me. I loved this conference because for the first time in quite some time, I was able to go as an attendee, without the pressure of presenting. I accompanied two other folks from my school’s technology team, which made the experience even more fun.
Anytime I’m attending a conference, I think about my learning goals and plan my sessions accordingly. For this conference, I focused on gathering resources to support teachers in Project-Based Learning, ideas for design for collaborative learning spaces, and new tech tools to take back to share with my teachers. They keynote by Sir Ken Robinson and TechShare LIVE with Adam Bellow, Hall Davidson, Kathy Schrock, and Leslie Fisher were definitely highlights of the conference.
I’m still working on digesting the things I learned and new resources I’ve brought back, but I wanted to share some of the most intriguing tools and apps I was introduced to at FETC:
Goose Chase – App to organize and run a scavenger hunt.
This school year has been full of new beginnings for me as I’ve experienced the high school setting for the first time as a librarian and settled into my new position at my amazing new school. I’ve been a blogging slacker, which I’m not going to apologize for (although I will admit that I’ve been battling with the guilt) because I’ve needed time to acclimate.
The area where I was most nervous about the transition to high school was teaching research skills. I came from a middle school setting with very little funding for digital resources to a school that highly values research and has fantastic database offerings for student use. It took me quite some time just to figure out what resources we had available here and to familiarize myself with them. Building out our new library website allowed me the time to do just that. In the first month of school (immediately following the flood when several world language teachers were stationed in the library for several weeks), I had some time to work on the structure of our new library website. We all know how important it is for our library resources to be easily accessible and user friendly. It’s hard enough to convince students to use databases over Google. We don’t need to let our clunky websites add tot he challenge! I used Weebly to build our library website, and I’m so happy with the results.
Since all of our databases are authenticated on campus with our IP address, it was important that I find a way to securely share off campus login credentials with students. I found the simplest way to do this was to create a Google Doc shared within our school’s Google Apps domain. As long as students are logged in to their school Google account, they can access this doc and access the necessary passwords.
Just like my summer weeding and fiction genrefying allowed me to get to know my print collection well, the process of developing this website helped me to become familiar with our digital resources. As I started to share this website with students and teachers through orientation type lessons on library resources, I knew that this was going to work out as the best way to get students using them more frequently.
Then this week at the AISL Conference, Courtney Lewis shared a fabulous session called “Solid Research or Stuck in a Rut?” where she shared research she has collected in trying to assess the college readiness of her students and their research skills. I highly recommend you check out her slides and post on this subject on her blog, The Sassy Librarian. She also shared a great activity that she does with students called The Source Deck, created by the University of Virginia Library. I can’t wait to do this activity with a group of students, and I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I do.
So with the great ideas and resources that have been shared, I will continue to go deeper into the rabbit hole of research so that I can keep finding more ways to support my students and teachers in the research process.
Do you have any ideas or resources that have changed the way you approach research with your students?
Join us on Monday, October 3rd at 8PM Eastern Time for Are You Ready? with guests Andrew Marcinek, CIO at Worcester Academy and Former Chief Open Education Advisor for the Office of Educational Technology, and Stony Evans, library media specialist at Lakeview (AK) High School. They will address Open Education Resources and what it means to be a future-ready librarian. The webinar is free, open to all and you will walk away with loads of useful resources and ideas to take back to your school.
We launched our TLCafé monthly get-togethers nearly seven years ago as a grass-root volunteer effort. And we have had some of the very best leaders in the field plan, organize and shepherd our conversations.
As with any volunteer effort, leadership needs to shift if a project is to be sustainable. And so we’re looking for a new generation of leaders!
Are you ready to step up and help refresh our project? Do you feel you have what it takes to plan cool sessions, moderate conversations, and accept the love and recognition of our TL community?
Presenters with fresh ideas
People who can to plan cool sessions
Folks to help update/maintain the website
Planners and archivists
Social media mavens to get the word out
If you are interested, we will train you. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about how you can help with our webinar series.
I love love love my new school! This Smore is something that I shared during a short PD session during yesterday’s faculty meeting to introduce teachers to some great tools for creating digital products. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with a number of teachers about upcoming projects and I realized this would be a great time to share these resources. I talked about using Smore, PowToon, ThingLink, Piktochart, Buncee, and Canva. I used Smore to create a take-away with embedded tutorial videos for each resource:
What other digital creation tools do your students use and love?
In my school (and also in the four other schools in my district), the Internet has been going down regularly for four weeks. Every day (except for one lucky and glorious day) for these past weeks, the Internet has been down more than it’s been up. Things that are housed on our own servers (such as internal email and thankfully Destiny, our library management system) have stayed functional most of the time. The wifi, though, is down most of the time. Did I mention that we’re a 1:1 school? For weeks, our students have been carrying around their laptops, hoping they might work for a very short time during the course of the day.
Those of you in schools can imagine the chaos this creates in learning, teaching, planning, collaborating, grading, communicating, and every other aspect of school life. Those of you not in the field of education are probably scratching your heads, thinking, “How is this even possible?” In the corporate world, this would not happen. Plain and simple. I’m married to an IT guy, and I know that if this happened in his office, he would have been out of a job weeks ago. The company would have immediately done whatever it took, brought in outside resources to fix things, and return to business as usual.
Why is it okay in education? Why is it okay for our students and our teachers? We are constantly hearing stories about terrible conditions in schools, about lack of funding and lack of resources. We’re also seeing great teachers leave the profession because of the conditions, the frustrations, the general lack of respect — and you honestly can’t blame them. Obviously, I don’t have the solution, but something’s got to give. Unfortunately, I can’t even get an answer as to why our Internet keeps going down after four weeks. And it’s really not okay.