ISTE Reflection

I’m going to try to reflect on my experience at ISTE in San Diego, but I know I’m not going to do it justice. It was incredible. This was my third ISTE Conference and it is an experience I feel like I need each year to recharge my batteries and get excited for the next school year. Although the idea of being “recharged” is difficult to grasp because I ran myself ragged at the conference this year. I just couldn’t make myself stop or slow down for silly things like sleeping and eating, there was just too much to do! Next year, I have to do a better job of giving myself time to chill and reflect.

So this year, my BFF and 6th grade ELA teacher at my school (@alaperouse) was the victim of being sucked into my ISTE and ed tech obsession. We decided to turn the conference trip into a marathon and spent a few days before and after the conference seeing San Diego and San Francisco. She was excited about the trip and curious about the conference. She’s my BFF so she knows how much my life revolves around Twitter, blogging, and the ed tech world. Since the conference, she’s a convert! Now Alaina is building her own PLN and we are making plans for some cool projects this school year. I’ve been lucky enough to have a different teacher come along with me to ISTE each year and I think that it’s really added a lot of value for me, this year especially.

So I’m going to try and give a recap of the conference. Before the conference, I was able to attend the Leadership Symposium and attend a break-out session on Moving Beyond from Textbooks — lots of great resources in this LiveBinder.

Sunday afternoon I helped set up for the SIGMS table at the SIG Fair. I love our SIG, one of the best and busiest I think, and it’s been a great year for me serving as Vice Chair.



I was able to meet so many great members of my PLN at the Fair and see many of my beloved library friends! Before the opening keynote, the cast of ISTE Hollywood Squares met up and cut up…err…planned for our session. I still can’t believe I was part of that group, what a blast! I watched the Opening Keynote from the Bloggers Cafe, but you can see it here:

Then, Alaina and I rushed back to our hotel to get ready for the AWESOME Edubros Party 🙂


Monday morning started with the SIGMS Playground, which is always SO much fun as always! After, I glanced at the planner and saw Lisa Parisi’s session on Making Connections with Blogging was about to begin. That was the PERFECT opportunity to have Alaina see how much her students NEED to be blogging. SUCCESS! It was a great session with amazing ideas and I can’t wait to see what will come of it for our students. I also attended sessions by Adam Bellow and Chris Lehmann, both amazing speakers who shared the great things they are doing. Monday night was the SIGMS Reception sponsored by ProQuest, which was a great chance to hang out with awesome library friends!

Tuesday morning I went to breakfast with other educators from my district attending the conference at the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado. I attended Kathy Shrock’s session on Literacy in the Digital Age, then got ready for the SIGMS Forum. Steve Hargadon was the main speaker, discussing social media in schools and libraries. Joquetta Johnson and I spoke of the ways that we are using social media in our schools (SO MUCH FUN!), and Jason Epstein, Marie Slim, Jane Lofton, and Peggy George shared cool tools like Pinterest, Celly, Tricider, and Symbaloo. Sharing at the Forum was a great experience! And the session is also available through ISTE’s Video On Demand!

My favorite session was Wednesday morning’s SIGMS Breakfast. Not only was I presented as SIGMS President-Elect (I’m so excited to be part of the new re-structuring of SIGMS leadership!) but we had an amazing presentation by Alan November. I mean, PREACH IT! CIPA, information access, filtering policies, the roles of librarians, search personalization by Google, and so much more! I can’t wait to listen to the Video On Demand of this session again so I can yell “AMEN!” and “THAT’S RIGHT!” over and over.

I wrapped up the conference with the craziest, most out-the-box session at the conference, which I happened to be part of…Hollywood Squares! I think most of the audience appreciated our humor and enjoyed the session as a fun way to end their time at ISTE. I know I had fun playing Lady GaGa!



Love me some Nick Provenzano and Gwyneth Jones!!

After the session, there was time for one last dinner in San Diego. Alaina and I were able to share it with some of our #isteBFFs, Matthew Winner, Cheryl Steighner, Ryan Patterson, and Ilona Brennick!

So now I’m home and recovering from that incredible trip. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to connect with so many amazing educators from around the world. You all inspire me daily and drive me to constantly want to better myself as an educator.

I <3 #ISTE12!

ISTE 2012 Conference Tips

If you’re looking for the conference tips, scroll down a bit. Up first is a little update of the last few weeks!

Am I REALLY three weeks into summer?

The first week after the end of school was busy leading up to my brother and new wife’s wedding. It was a beautiful plantation wedding:


My mom and I spent the following week at the beach, recovering from the exhausting wedding festivities!

I got in some good reading time, but I spent most of the week coughing. I finally went to the doctor when I got home this week, and it turns out it’s developed into bronchitis. No fun, but I’m on the mend (I hope, anyway).

This Monday morning, I got the call that the movers were bringing the library books from the old school to the new school. So I got my coughing self off the couch and got over to the new school to supervise the moving of the books!



There’s still an enormous amount of work to be done, but I won’t be able to get back into the school and really get to work until I get home from my big California trip in the beginning of July.

Which means… our beloved ISTE Conference is coming up soon!

I’ll be getting on a plane to head to San Diego a week from today! This will be my third year in attendance and I’m looking forward to it even more than ever before.

I was so excited to have the opportunity to write a piece about the conference for School Library Journal called ISTE or Bust (part of the article ‘Best in the West‘) — I consider myself to be somebody now that I’m in print! They even did a caricature of me for the article!! You can read the article here.


To say this excites me is the understatement of the century! 

I’ve been asked several times about tips that I would share with a first time ISTE attendee. I think that ISTE is unlike any other conference (at least unlike any other I’ve attended). It’s MASSIVE. It’s incredibly overwhelming. There’s no way that you can see and do it all. But there’s so much to see and do, that you want to make sure you take advantage of your time as much as possible and savor every minute!

Now if you’re looking for packing tips, check out the amazing Gwyneth Jones at her Daring Librarian blog. She’s got that covered! I’m just going to ramble a bit about the things that I do to prepare myself for one of my FAVORITE professional experiences of the year.

Tip 1: Use the Conference Planner! I love the ISTE Conference Planner because it’s so thorough, organized, and easy to search. Fill it up and give yourself some options. Download the app (available now!) and keep using it throughout the conference instead of lugging around a conference book. While you’re at it, join the Conference Ning and make even more connections. Not sure what sessions to attend but want to see the best of the best? Use the SIG Picks to get some suggestions for sessions that are sure to blow you away. Make sure you add these sessions that are not to be missed (according to yours truly, anyway):

Tip 2: Get on Twitter and use the #ISTE12 hashtag! I cannot imagine going to ISTE and not being active on Twitter. There’s so much rich conversation and valuable connections that take place in that Twitter stream. There’s so much going on throughout the entire conference and it’s a great way to keep up with as many of those things as possible. Not able to make the conference? THIS is your chance to get involved and reap the benefits of such a conference from the comfort of your own home.

Tip 3: Bring business cards! There are so many opportunities to connect with new educators from all over the world. With so much creativity flowing around, there are great ideas all over the place and so many chances for collaborations to be born. Being able to pass along a business card with your contact info is quite handy. And of course, it has to be cute! My new box of Moo Mini Cards should be arriving in the mail any day now 🙂

  I <3 Moo Minis!

Tip 4: Party Time! Obviously there’s lots of sessions to attend and things to do that you are going to line up using your conference planner. That alone is enough to keep you busy and run you ragged for the duration of the conference. Don’t fill your schedule to the point where you miss out on chances for conversations and for FUN! Don’t be afraid to skip a session to go to lunch with new peeps. Spend some time hanging out at the Newbie Lounge, Blogger’s Cafe, and Social Butterfly Lounge. After hours, plan to hit up some of the fun social events, such as the EdTech Karaoke Rooftop Party. There will be more options than you can possibly attend, but use Twitter and the #ISTE12 hashtag to see where the fun is happening!

Tip 5: Document your adventure! Obviously, you are going to want to keep notes on the sessions you attend and the people you meet. Evernote is a great note taking tool out there for you to use. Perhaps you want to bring along your LiveScribe pen. However you decide to keep your notes, do your best to keep them organized so you can really use them after you get home. Note taking isn’t enough, though! Take lots of pictures and post them on Flickr. Join the masses that will be blogging about ISTE12. As usual, I plan to keep a video journal of my experience and will be posting away here on my blog!

I’m looking so very forward to ISTE this year! If you are going, what are you looking forward to the most? Make sure to look for me there and please say HI! or send me a Tweet and let’s meet up. I can’t wait to meet more members of my PLN face to face 🙂


Overdrive – This is the comic that I created to introduce Overdrive to my students and teachers!

SO many of my students got eReaders for Christmas and came back to school so excited. Then a week or so in, they started to realize that ebooks cost money. And middle schoolers generally are unemployed, which will really cut into an individual’s book buying budget. My budget isn’t exactly full of oodles of money for ebooks, either. However, our school is lucky to be located in the parish (now you all know, in case you didn’t before, that I’m from Louisiana) with one of the best public library systems in the country! And our public library is always adding ebooks and audiobooks to Overdrive. So even though I’m not at a point where I can offer many ebooks through our school library, I can show my kids how to access Overdrive with their public library card.


I did a short 10 minute session during each of the lunch periods this week to show students Overdrive, what our public library can offer them, and how they can use it with their various devices. There were lots of excited students (and teachers, too) that came in to learn about Overdrive. I’m sure there will be lots of excited parents, too, when their kids show them that they have access to so many ebooks and audiobooks for FREE!

Ahhh…the perks of having a library card 🙂

My Edublog Nominations

It’s time to make our nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards!

It’s basically impossible to pick just one person for most of these categories, but after much thought and consideration I’ve compiled my list! I’m so honored to have these individuals as part of my PLN and I’m so thankful for the contributions they continuously make to the education profession.

Best individual blog:  Joyce Valenza – Neverending Search

Joyce’s blog is the perfect balance of sharing valuable information and inspiring calls to action. She’s the fearless leader of our Geek Tribe and I’m so grateful that she continues to push those of us who follow her blog to grow as professionals.

Best group blog:  Tiffany, Shannon, Eden, Jennifer – Story Snoops

Story Snoops is a great resources for parents, teachers, and librarians. Not only do they have an incredible database of book reviews, but these four moms also co-author a fabulous blog! I use this blog to make so many book recommendations to my students (and book purchases!).

Best individual tweeter:  Steven Anderson

Steven is THE MAN on Twitter. Such an amazing sharer of the wealth of knowledge that he has on all things ed tech. Plus, he’s just a really nice guy!

Best new blog:  Tamara Cox – Eliterate Librarian

The day that I discovered Tamara’s blog was a very important day in my career! The more I read her blog, the more I knew I had found my library soulmate. She graciously shares amazing ideas on her blog, and her passion for her profession definitely shines through. I look forward to reading her blog and calling her my friend for many years to come!

Best ed tech / resource sharing blog:  Richard Byrne – Free Tech for Teachers

Honestly, Richard’s Free Tech for Teachers blog needs no explanation. He’s like the ed tech blogging Superman. This is always the first blog I recommend for teachers to follow.

Most influential blog post:  Gwyneth Jones – Lady GaGa Librarians Unite!

This blog post by Gwyneth Jones was by far my favorite and most influential of the year. It caused a bit of a stir (*evil grin*), which made it even better! In the words of Gwyneth — it’s time for us, as school librarians, to start acting more like Lady GaGa and less like Lady Bird Johnson!

Best twitter hashtag:  #ISTE11

ISTE conference time is the most wonderful time of the year! And the hashtag that belongs to the event is the best!

Best librarian / library blog:  Gwyneth Jones – The Daring Librarian

I’ve got so much love for the amazing, FANTABULOUS Gwyneth Jones! I’m talking oodles and oodles of love. Not only does her blog share the best of the best when it comes to ed tech and library goodness, but the tone and personality of her writing is what keeps us all coming back for more! Gwyneth’s blog truly gives you a sense of who she is and what she’s about — completely genuine and in my book THE BEST!

Best School Administrator blog:  Eric Sheninger – A Principal’s Reflections

I have so much admiration for Eric Sheninger and the advocating he does for social media in schools. He’s a stand-out to me when I think of proactive, forward-thinking administrators.

Best educational wiki:  SIGML Wiki

ISTE’s SIGML (Special Interest Group for Mobile Learning) wiki is fabulous! It’s beautiful! It’s clean! I love it! It inspired me to build better, fancier wikis…yay!

Best open PD / unconference / webinar series:  TL Virtual Cafe

The TL Virtual Cafe is such an incredible FREE PD opportunity offered every month! Participating in this terrific webinar series has helped me to grow so much as a teacher-librarian and it always leaves me refreshed and full of new ideas. Our Geek Tribe is so giving… having so many willing to share makes for something really great!

Lifetime achievement:  Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the queen of our tribe. She’s brilliant and inspirational. She’s an incredible leader and fabulous speaker. Joyce is also kind, generous, and a great collaborator. With everything that she has done and continues to do to push our profession and education forward, she completely deserves to be recognized!

Wiki Redesign

This weekend I finally dove into a task that I’ve been wanting to get after…wiki redesign!!

First, let me say that I absolutely love Wikispaces. The wikis are very user friendly and they even give perks to educators!

What my wikis were lacking…genuine cuteness. I mean, I’m all about the cuteness and I REALLY needed to fix up my wiki. I was inspired by SIGML’s Wiki which is so nicely done! And their great designer, Victor Fitzjarrald, has created a great Wiki Design tutorial. Score!

So I spent Saturday getting cozy with Photoshop and CSS and put lots of work into our SIGMS wiki.

Check out the SIGMS Wiki here!

Then I was hooked. My presentation wiki was much overdue for some TLC. Our state technology conference, LACUE, is coming up and I’ve got a presentation that I’ll be working on for that…so it needed a extra cute home.

Check out my Presentation Wiki here 🙂

I think the buttons are what really make the new look pop — those were created in Photoshop. According to my husband (who does graphic/web design), I know just enough Photoshop to mess things up. HA! I fixed things up 🙂 So proud of myself!!

I was inspired a second time this week by the absolutely FANTABULOUS Gwyneth Jones! Yep, that Daring Librarian is uber inspiring! She posted about Dropbox, which I finally took advantage of last week. I grew to love it so much, so quickly that I created a Tech Tuesday video about it:


Duh! Common Sense Curriculum Rocks!

If you haven’t really looked at the Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum by Common Sense Media, you need to get on that. I’m passionate about advocating the need for students receive instruction that helps them to develop their digital literacy skills. But with my teachers having so much pressure put on them to raise test scores and cover their curriculum (I’m not touching that one today), asking them to add something else just seems cruel.

A few weeks ago, I really started digging into the curriculum that has been created by Common Sense Media. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I wanted to find a reasonable way to start integrating these ideas into the lives of my students. The 6-8 curriculum has a total of 28 lesson plans that are extremely well written and have lots of great discussions and activities laid out. SCORE! I talked to a few of my fabulous ELA teachers and they definitely see the worth in this, so we decided that the best way to go about this would probably be to incorporate activities in during their library visits. My long-term goal is to develop this into sets of lessons that integrate well into the content/concepts they are learning in ELA and split the lessons among the three grade levels. I’m not one to hammer myself down to some seriously structure schedule, but I think I will be able to work and tweak things so that over the course of their time with me, students will get to experience most of the lessons in this curriculum.

So I started going through the lessons, adapting them to make them my own, and creating slideshows to guide the discussions for each topic. The more I get into this curriculum, the more I love it. It’s so well done!

So I’ve been DYING to try out one of the lessons, and today was the day! I had two of my 6th grade ELA classes scheduled (the other two will come in tomorrow) and we covered the lesson called ‘Safe Talk Online.’ What an awesome day of conversation! It was so interesting to see how the kids reacted to the different scenarios. I was really surprised at how cautious they were about the idea of talking to people they don’t know online. It’s definitely been drilled into them to be safe, but I think more of these discussions will lead them to a way of reasoning that will make them smart about their interactions. I can’t wait to do more of these lessons — I think it’s really going to give me a feel for what our students need to learn about, be aware of, and get more exposure to in the world of digital citizenship and literacy.

Common Sense has free curriculums available for elementary, middle, and high school settings. You can also order the entire curriculum on a flash drive for $25. They have supplemental videos, activity materials and everything! Their stuff is all Creative Commons licensed, so I’m planning to post the presentations that I’m adapting onto SlideShare at some point soon. AWESOMENESS!!

Here’s one of their videos to give you an idea of what their curriculum is about:

What a week!

It was quite the week for me and it’s taken me all weekend to recover. It started off with a bang and the AMAZING TL Virutal Cafe webinar where I was incredibly honored and lucky to present with the AWEsome Gwyneth Jones! What an experience!! It was my first webinar and I’m going to mark it down as a success. I talked 500 miles a minute and my spastic/ADD way of thinking and talking was surely apparent, but I had fun and I even think some people found something they’ll be able to use this year!

Here are our slides from the presentation:

You can also see more from our preso, including the archive of the webinar! That’s right, you can watch and listen here!

All of these fabulous opportunities that are coming my way lately would have NEVER happened if it weren’t for SIGMS. My first ISTE conference in 2010 changed my career (and my life!) and I would be lost without SIGMS which has helped me to connect to those in the Geek Tribe.

This summer at ISTE11 when Maureen Sanders-Brunner, the SIGMS Chair-Elect, asked me to serve as her Vice-Chair I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I’m very excited that I will be participating in the webinar this Wednesday, September 21st to kick off the 2011-2012 school year for SIGMS! We have a great group that will be sharing their experiences with SIGMS and how getting involved can help you with your own professional growth. Hope to see you there!

Haven’t had enough of me yet? I hope not, because I’m also co-presenting the October TL Virtual Cafe webinar with my library BFF/soulmate Tamara Cox!!! I’m telling you, when I first started reading Tamara’s awesome Eliterate Librarian blog I knew I had found someone that approached her position as a new TL with the same passion, gusto, and enthusiasm as I do. On Monday, October 3rd, we will be sharing the ways that we have worked to make Professional Development opportunities for our teachers that are different than what they are used to receiving.

Okay, so I know this is a mammoth post, but I also want to pop in last week’s Tech Tuesday video with Tiff in case you’re interested. This week’s tool: Tagxedo

Back to School Special!

I am beyond excited to be part of the 2011 Back to School Special webinar for the TL Virtual Cafe with my wonderful friend and library idol Gwyneth Jones! You can read Gwyneth’s post on her Daring Librarian blog about the upcoming cafe. We are going to share ideas for supporting your teachers and becoming indispensable at your school!  It’s going to be an awesome time…hope to see you there!

By the way, here’s today’s Tech Tuesday video with Tiff. I’m sharing some great websites to enhance YouTube in your teaching: ViewPure, Splicd, and KeepVid: