ISTE…THAT just happened!

So yeah…about those daily postings/videos. That didn’t happen…but ISTE did!

I’m writing this post from our little hotel in Whites City, NM at what I believe is 7:00 AM. I have a feeling that I am going to be constantly confused as to what time zone I’m in, and I’m trusting my phone to adjust accordingly (which probably isn’t the best choice, but whatever!). For future reference, if anyone is planning a trip to visit Carlsbad Caverns, book your room in Carlsbad far in advance. Otherwise, be prepared to find yourself at the Whites City Rodeway Inn, with a questionable grocery and far more questionable buffett as your only dining options for 20+ miles.

But what happened in those missing days between my last post and now? ISTE happened! And it was awesome! You can see the post below for all of the photos on the SIGMS Flickr set.

Alaina and I did this video on Saturday as we made our initial journey to San Antonio, but it never went public:

On Sunday, Alaina and I went to the Alamo. And it looked like I expected the Alamo to look.

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We also made the most of our time visiting with my dear friend Matthew Winner and his wonderful wife Aimee!


I was SO excited to meet Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic):

And I got to see my awesome friends accept their SIGMS Technology Innovation Awards at the Opening Ceremony! Matthew, Sherry, and Gretchen were the primary award winners, and my fellow Louisiana librarian Elizabeth Kahn and her collaborating teacher won the secondary award!

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The SIG Open House was loads of fun:

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The SIGMS Playground on Monday morning was HUGELY successful! You can find the links shared here on the wiki.

We had other great SIGMS events, including the Forum and Annual Breakfast & Keynote. It was such a great conference with amazing SIGMS events. I am so thrilled to be the new SIGMS President and work with an organization that supports the work that school librarians do in their schools with technology!

Our last night at the conference was Tuesday (although we had the SIGMS Breakfast the next morning), and Alaina and I had a BLAST at Ed Tech Karaoke with our new AMAZING friends Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice. It’s so great when you meet kindred spirits, and that’s exactly what Alaina and I felt with Rose and Margaux! They’re friends, collaborators, and travel buddies just like us!


We are off to see Carlsbad Caverns, then Roswell, then Albuquerque. Yes, that’s the agenda for TODAY! And we’re off…

Let the ISTE Adventures Begin!

Tomorrow morning, I’m headed to San Antonio for ISTE13! I’m so excited that I can hardly stand it!! Not only will I be attending my fourth awesome ISTE conference, but it’s the first stop in an epic roadtrip for me and my BFF Alaina!

There’s so much to look forward to at ISTE, including some incredible SIGMS events! There’s a SIGMS event every day of the conference, which I love because the chance to be with my library friends and meet new ones is the best!

I’m particularly excited about the SIGMS Playground, which I’m coordinating this year. We have some amazing volunteers that will be presenting their favorite resources at the Digital Age Media Center Playground…so if you’re at the conference, please stop by on Monday morning from 8-11:30.

BookMark4Check out the wiki for details on the presenters and links to their resources!

Here’s a complete list of SIGMS events:

SIGMS Open House (Sunday, June 23rd, 3PM-5PM)

SIGMS Playground (Monday, June 24th, 8AM-11:30AM) SACC Park View Lobby

SIGMS Reception (Monday, June 24th, 5PM-7PM) at Hard Rock Cafe

SIGMS Forum (Tuesday, June 25th, 3:45PM-5:15PM) with Shannon Miller, Michelle Luhtala, and their administrators. Moderated by Gwyneth Jones & Tiffany Whitehead.

SIGMS Annual Breakfast & Keynote (Wednesday, June 26th, 8AM-9:30AM) with John T. Spencer.

If you’re attending ISTE, please say HI if you see me! The best part of a conference for me is the chance to meet and expand my PLN!


I have a really awesome principal, and I wanted him to come to ISTE this year to present on the SIGMS Librarians & Admins Forum panel. Alas, he couldn’t make plans to attend because he’s becoming a daddy (congrats and YAY to Mr. Fountain and his beautiful wife)!! So Alaina and I had the brilliant idea to create a Flat Fountain (you know…like Flat Stanley) to come along on our ISTE and epic roadtrip adventures. I’ve started a Flickr Photo Set that you can check out…it’s where I’ll upload the Flat Fountain photos (I’m sure there will be lots)!

***Readers beware: Over the next two weeks, I plan to post daily (hopefully!!) videos to share what happens with ISTE and beyond as Alaina and I travel WEST! Some of these videos will not be library or tech related, so you have been warned! 🙂

Road tripping it? Try Roadtrippers!

It’s summer and nothing screams summertime like a good old fashioned road trip!

My BFF Alaina and I had such a great trip last summer when we attended ISTE12 and explored San Diego and San Francisco around the conference time.


So of course we immediately started planning our adventures for ISTE13. San Antonio is within driving distance from Baton Rouge, so the idea of a road trip was easy! Alaina loves a good road trip novel more than anything, and I grew up spending 2-3 weeks every summer on the road with my grandparents in their RV (and they gave me the travel bug at a young age!).

We had a period of feeling extremely overwhelmed as we started to plan our travels. This is a serious (and seriously long) trip that we’re planning! I was so excited when I discovered this AMAZING site called Roadtrippers!


Using Roadtrippers, you can easily map out your route (easier than what I was trying to do with Google Maps). You can insert all of your stops, hotels, addresses of friends/family, and must see attractions. That alone would have made me happy! But then I discovered all of the awesome places they already have tagged.


It’s so easy to search for places to see along the way, including attractions, accommodations, entertainment, food & drink, history, nature, shopping, and sports. Within each of those categories, you can check the options that you’re interested in. Diners & drive-ins and local dining options? Don’t mind if I do! You can add these suggestions to your trips or pin them to a “Bucket List” so you can easily access them later. By spending time with Roadtrippers, I’m becoming more familiar with our route and travel options, while seeing what kind of fun and exciting pit stops we can add to our list!

I’m doing the bulk of my planning on the site, but of course Roadtrippers has an AWESOME app! I’ve downloaded it on the iPhone and iPad so I’ll have options to easily access the things I’ve saved and tagged as we travel.

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I’ve been playing around with the app and it’s going to be such an asset on our major road trip. I’ve tried it out around town as well as on a mini-road trip to the beach…and it lead us to an awesome little restaurant that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives! Score!!

I can’t wait to share the adventures that Alaina and I have on our big road trip! Of course, I’ll be sharing things here, so don’t be alarmed if this blog goes in that direction for a little bit. 🙂

Along the way we plan to hit up: San Antonio & ISTE13, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon (including a rafting adventure!), Las Vegas, Lake Mead/Hoover Dam, Denver, Topeka, Memphis…wow that’s quite a list, isn’t it?

Having a stay-cation kind of summer? Read an awesome road trip book! Here are a few of my favorites!

12049227  9780142410707_p0_v3_s260x420  crash-into-me  tumblr_miupb9GSBt1s5997go1_1280  perfectescape  WalkTwoMoons[1]

What are your favorite road trip books? And more importantly, what songs should we add to our road trip playlist??

Are you ready for ISTE 2013?

The annual ISTE Conference is always one of the major professional highlights of my year. I am so looking forward to this year’s conference in San Antonio. This will be my fourth consecutive year attending ISTE, and I would really feel like something major was missing if I didn’t have the opportunity to attend!

I will admit that my first ISTE experience in 2010 was a bit overwhelming…it’s such a HUGE conference. However, it’s massive size is reflected in its awesomeness as well, so if you are attending, prepare for information overload (but totally in a good way)!


This was the first time I met THE library rockstars, Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones, at ISTE 2010. It was a major celebrity sighting moment for me and my coworker thought I had lost my mind!

My biggest suggestion for anyone attending would be to volunteer. Over the last few years, I have become very involved with SIGMS (the Special Interest Group for Media Specialists) and it all started with volunteering at the conference. There are tons of opportunities to volunteer with ISTE and they do a great job of recruiting and organizing volunteers. Volunteers even get an awesome ISTE t-shirt for their efforts! The best volunteer opportunity, in my opinion, is the SIGMS Playground. Volunteers can give an informal 5-10 minute presentation at one of the six computer stations for a one hour or two hour time slot. This gives you a chance to share your favorite tool or resource with others! It’s such a great way to get involved…and you can tell everyone that you presented at an International technology conference!! Interested in getting involved with the SIGMS Playground? Contact me! This year, one of my duties as SIGMS President-Elect is to coordinate our SIGMS Playground. And how did I get so involved with SIGMS leadership, you ask? Well…I started volunteering for the playground back in 2011!

Click here to volunteer for the SIGMS Playground! (**All playground volunteer spots are now full, but please visit the SIGMS Playground on Monday from 8-11:30am!)

The best thing for me about the ISTE Conference is the opportunity to spend time face to face with the members of my PLN. I gain so much from them throughout the year with the things they share on Twitter, in their blogs, and through webinars. This is a chance to  have conversations and plan awesome collaborative activities that will have a lasting impact when I return to school in the fall.  So I asked some of my dear friends and amazing members of my PLN to either share three things they are most looking forward to for ISTE 2013 or three tips that they would share with other attendees. Here’s what they had to say…

Gwyneth Jones says…

1. Packing a Punch! It’s important to pack the right stuff – I blogged about this last year & would add an extra battery pack that’s either heavy duty or cute & sleek for all your iDevices & telephony needs! I also try not to take too much home – no paper hording, and not much vendor swag (frankly, it’s gotta be something super sweet to lure me to take it home) and bring a lightweight luggage scale if you can – that way you’ll know when to ship & when to check! — It could be a super stress & money saver!

2. Small conversations in big places. I absolutely adore re-connecting with my Peeps, Tweeps, & PLN friends! I love sharing on Twitter but there’s nothing better than conversations in person, bright smiles, & warm hugs! I like to hang out at the Blogger’s Cafe or the Social Butterfly lounge when not doing board duties or helping out presentations – this is where I find I have the best conversations and am able to meet new kindred spirits! I also like happy hours & small dinners over big parties – but then again, this girl goes to bed by 9:30 so well….there you go!

3. Pace Yourself – The first ISTE or NECC I went to was in Atlanta 07 and I was totally overwhelmed, overstimulated, & over achieving! I learned SO much and I’ve got to say that it inspired me to do even more for my kids & community but it was EXHAUSTING! I actually would go fierce early but fizzle out by 2 or 3pm – the crowds overwhelmed me! I would go back to the hotel, take a wee nap, and then go back out and socialize a bit. So, don’t be ashamed if you crash early, take a nap, or don’t feel like going to a late night bash. Of course, I know you’ll have good company if you do…man, that Joyce Valenza can dance until dawn!


Gwyneth Jones and I after our Hollywood Squares session at ISTE 2012!

Joyce Valenza  says…

I LOVE ISTE and this year there is no overlap conflict/sacrifice. I can attend both ISTE and ALA!

I am looking forward to learning formally and informally and FACE TO FACE from my generous colleagues. The mix itself is inspiring–the folks who are a part of our fabulous SIGMS, our classroom teacher edtech buddies, the admins, the vendors, the academics, the software developers, the publishers–all of whom have been part of, or will be part of, my PLN for years.

I love discovering newbie librarians and introducing them to ISTE!

From previous San Antonio conferences I know that it is important to go outside! The food, the music, the dancing, the shopping, and the River Walk rock!


Joyce Valenza, Nick Provenzano, me, and Joquetta Johnson at ISTE 2012!

Nicholas Provenzano says…

1. Take the opportunity to meet people from your digital life in person. It’s is a great chance to exchange smiles and hugs face to face.

2. Create your own learning experiences in the hallways. Not all sessions are going to work for you. Find a group of people and talk about what interests you at the moment.

3. Make new connections. It is always great to hang with old friends, but I love meeting new ones. Social events like #EduBros are perfect for meeting new people and growing your PLN.

Matthew Winner says…

1. Say Hi – Attending conferences is as much about learning lots in concurrent sessions as it is about networking, making new instructional partnerships, and forging collaborative relationships. Don’t be afraid to sit next to someone new, ask about their background, and share about yourself. YOU have something great to offer, even if you don’t realize it yet.

2. Have a Back-up for your Back-up – Sometimes sessions are full… or aren’t what you expected. Having a back-up plan ahead of time will help you stay on top of the conference schedule rather than fumbling through the program. You can also usually get handouts, etc. from the presenter’s session via the session page on the conference website. Oh, and if you have a friend with you, divide and conquer so you can cover even more ground.

3. Party Up – Find your way to the evening parties held recreationally (ie. Edubros) or from one of the vendors. These are great ways to make new friends, score some free products from vendors, and break the “conference focus mode”. It’s also a fun opportunity to meet many of those people you only know from Twitter.

Sherry Gick says…

As a “first timer”, the 3 things I’m most looking forward to are:

1. Meeting y’all, my Twitter rockstar PLN members face-to-face! Twitter has expanded my world, my connections, and the way I run my library. Each of you has been influential in my professional life the past two years because of your contributions to the education field and your willingness to share on Twitter and on other social media platforms.

2. The keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal! I’m so excited to hear her speak about gamification and her work. I’m such a Fangirl!

3. All the awesome sessions! I mean really…it’s ISTE! My conference planner is slam packed full of so many cool sessions (several being taught by you guys!) I’m looking forward to learning awesome new ideas to enhance my teaching next school year.

4. Visiting Texas! (Yeah, I know this was only supposed to be a list of 3 things, but I’ve never been to the great state of Texas. Can’t wait!)

Shannon Miller says…

The three things that I look most forward to ISTE this year….

1. Even though we connect with one another almost every day through social media, ISTE is the place that we get to reconnect with our wonderful friends in person. And the place that we can make new friends or meet the ones we have only met on Twitter or Facebook before. I love walking outside or hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe and seeing people I have known from Twitter….It is like you have met “a long lost friend” every time.

2. I love all of the connections that I make at ISTE with publishes, Web 2.0 creators, app developers, professionals, companies, experts and others. By making these connections I can bring so much back to the students, teachers and school community I work with.

3. This year I am most excited about my amazing friend Adam Bellow’s closing keynote at ISTE! He recently told me a little bit about it and I just cannot wait. We are all going to be inspired by his message.  

Elizabeth Kahn says…

1. Attending the conference for the state affiliate of ISTE has been a disappointment the last few years. I feel like I am light years ahead of everyone there, and I know that there is so much more for me to learn. So I am looking forward to networking and attending sessions with people who think like I do. Which means they are willing to stretch themselves and are willing to take chances with new ideas and new technologies.

2. I am definitely excited about meeting people F2F who I have “met” through social media.

3. I hope to leave with several new ideas that I can put into practice in my library next year. We are moving to a brand new building in August, and besides a new physical environment, I would like some fresh ideas for the program too.

Pondering Self-Checkout


I’ve been interested in the idea of implementing a self-checkout system for the students for quite some time. I know there are lots of elementary librarians who do this very successfully. It’s definitely something that is born out of the necessity of getting away from the circulation desk. As the only staff member in the library, I often feel like I am tied to the library and to the desk. I have awesome volunteers and student helpers that make it less painful, but I’m still tied to the desk to some degree. Everything about the idea of self-checkout appeals to me, except having to set it up, get the procedure in place, and train the students.

As I’ve started to start to seriously consider this idea, the first place I go for some honest feedback is my fabulous PLN. Anyone who questions the power of Twitter just needs to see an example like this to see how mind-blowing it is to be able to tap into the resources available from so many awesome library friends! Thanks to everyone who responded with suggestions, ideas, and photos of how they’re making self-checkout work for them!

Self-CO1 Self-CO


My thoughts/pondering at this point:

  • What set-up of PC/monitor/laptop/netbook/scanner/mouse/keyboard/etc. will work best for us? This one is leaving me scratching my head since I don’t want a cluttered looking space. Not wanting to spend a ton of money on this for now.
  • What about using an iPod touch or iPad and the Destiny app? BUT it doesn’t have sound, and I associate sound with check-in/check-out…as irrational as that may be.
  • Do I need to set up two stations? One for checking in and one for checking out?
  • Where am I going to put all of this stuff? The layout of my circulation desk is…not conducive to, well, any of this.
  • What am I missing here? What do I need to think about/ponder more?

SIGMS Technology Innovation Award

Do you have a collaborative technology project that you are proud of? I bet you do! Don’t be bashful about it! It’s time for you to share your idea with the rest of us! The SIGMS Technology Innovation Award is given each year to a librarian and classroom teacher pair who exhibit excellence in collaboration and the use of technology in a project or unit they teach. An award is given at both the primary and secondary level. In addition to getting the awesome recognition that comes with this award, winners also get complimentary conference registration, a $1000 travel stipend for the ISTE Conference (in San Antonio this year!), a $1000 cash award for their school media center, and a $300 professional library from ISTE.

Check out the ISTE website for more information on applying. And check out the information below to see what needs to be included in your award nomination. I’m telling you, this award is worth your time! As your friendly SIGMS President-Elect (that’s me!!), I would love to see the number of nominations for this award sky-rocket this year. I know that you people are doing amazing things in your schools, so share it through a nomination!

SIGMS Tech Innovation Award by


I’ve been desperately craving the feeling of success this school year, but I’ve found it a bit more difficult to come by than usual. Everyone who has been through changes at their school know how difficult and trying the can be — even if they’re very positive changes like moving into a new facility and gaining new administrators that you love. Thankfully, I am currently enjoying a luxurious two week holiday break so I can recharge and reflect, then gear myself up for the second half of the school year.

During the chaotic four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, I was able to experience some of that success I’d been seeking. I’m an ideas kind of girl — I love an ambitious, sometimes out there idea/project/plan — but we all know those types of ideas don’t always work like we hope they will. It has to be implemented at the right time, with the right people involved. Definitely not as easy as it may sound.

I’ve been wanting to get our students blogging for YEARS. There aren’t many writing experiences that are more authentic and deep that we can offer our students than blogging. But blogging with students is a lot of work for all involved and you have to be committed to follow through with it. One of my awesome ELA teachers (who I was lucky enough to attend ISTE 2011 with in Philly) decided she was ready to get her students blogging. We got permission and made plans to have students blog through a book club/novel study unit. I wanted to be able to provide her with as much support as possible — this was the first time any students in our school would blog and we wanted it to be a success.

This was also my first genuine attempt at co-teaching a unit. I made a real effort to spend as much time as possible in her classroom each day. I also shared in the grading and conferencing on writing. It was definitely frustrating for me at times when I was deep in a great part of a lesson in her classroom and someone was trying to hunt me down because they needed something in the library. And I saw that if I had a clerk in the library I would be able to do a lot more of this type of thing, which is obviously so beneficial to the students and the teachers. I definitely want to do more of this type of thing, but finding a balance to make it work is not easy.

So, yeah. I feel like I’ve found success (YAY!) and I’m going to be REALLY reflecting on this unit over the next week as I write it up for one of my National Board entries. The big question is, how do you replicate projects like this? How do you pull off huge, long-term projects and/or co-teach on a unit (especially if you are the lone ranger in your library)?

TL Cafe Smackdown!

If you regularly attend the TL Virtual Cafe webinars, you know how much fun we had last year at the Open Mic Smackdown! If you don’t regularly attend the webinars…well, you should! And what better webinar to start with than tomorrow night’s SMACKDOWN! You don’t need to be part of the library world to participate or attend. ALL educators are welcome! If you have an awesome tool that you love, please add it to the Google Presentation and show up ready to share! If the idea of sharing in a webinar is too overwhelming for you, you should still join us tomorrow night! Here’s the details…

Hope to see you there!!

2012 Edublog Nominations

I’m skidding in here last minute to post my Edublog Nominations. And I’m posting from my parents weird computer, so please disregard any typos. Without taking the time to  blather on, here  are my nominations:

Best Individual Blog: Joyce Valenza’s Never Ending Search –

Best Group Blog: Nerdy Book Club –

Best Ed Tech/Resource Sharing Blog: Richard Byrne –

Best Library/Librarian Blog: Gwyneth Jones –

Most Influential Blog Post: Tamara Cox/Common Core: Love it or Hate it? –

Best Twitter Hashtag: #tlchat

Best Individual Tweeter: Nikki Robertson –

Best Free Web Tool: Schoology –

Best PD/Unconference/Webinar Series: TL Virtual Cafe –

Best Mobile App: Dropbox –

Best Use of a Social Network: Choose Kind –

I love my PLN and look forward to learning about new folks from these Edublog Awards like I always do!

Search Terms Lesson

I’m really excited to share a lesson over the next few days with my 7th grade students about how to make the best use of your search terms. After WEEKS of presenting introductory lessons to the new physical space (new library and it’s layout) and digital space (learning about how to use Schoology) to EVERY student in the school (that’s each lesson 42 times!!), I’m ready to start teaching something different! I asked one of the 7th grade teachers what a relevant topic would be for their students at this time, and she expressed that her students have been struggling when trying to conduct a web search. Guess what they want to do… They just want to type in their question verbatim and they are SHOCKED and CONFUSED when the response they want doesn’t appear in the first page.

So I started looking for lesson plans with ideas on how to teach this. Google has a whole series of lessons about searching, including a beginner lesson on picking the right search terms. Yes please!

I’m excited to have found these lesson resources. There’s so much great stuff out there, and I LOVE when I find something that fits my needs pretty well, which is exactly what happened with this. Apparently there are also “A Google A Day Challenges” that are little lessons created by Google to help students hone their search skills:

I’m definitely going to be sharing these with my teachers, as well as using some during library visits! This is something that our students (and if we’re being honest, many of our teachers) struggle with — and they need our help! Talk about a skill they’re going to need for the rest of their lives, this is definitely one of them!

I’m also going to share this cool infographic I found on Mashable about getting more out of your Google search:

I’m excited to see how these lessons play out. I hope that there will be lots of “Ooooohh, now I get it!” moments from my students this week as we have this discussion.

What tricks and tools do you use to teach your students how to conduct a Google search?