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.
It’s hard to believe that summer has slipped away and it’s time to get back to school. It’s always exciting, hectic, and a little overwhelming this time of year, but it’s also a great time to reflect on summer learning and make plans to try something new.
I’ve been Bitmoji obsessed for a while now. My awesome library assistant and I communicate almost exclusively via Bitmoji communication on SnapChat. Seriously, we’ve kept our Snap Streak alive all summer!
I created these bookmarks in Canva, using this great background photo I found on Pixabay. I wanted to include important info about our library, like our hours and website. Since our middle school students are 1:1 iPad, I made sure to include a QR code that will bring them to our website with our library catalog and databases. They’re being printed by OvernightPrints, so I made sure to follow the dimensions and instructions they provide for design. I can’t wait to get these in person so I can share them with students and families at orientation next week.
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.
I’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ about some things lately, and perhaps putting some library confessions out there might at least make me feel more honest about where I feel I am professionally and what I’m doing to improve myself. With blogging, it’s easy to post only the good things and make it look like you’re a library rock star, but the honest truth is that we all have things that we struggle with professionally. It’s what we do about them that really defines us.
I’ve always felt that one of my shortcomings as a librarian is book talking. I know some teachers and other librarians who are book talking geniuses. I am not one of those people. Back in my elementary days, I could throw down a mean story time. And I feel like I’m great at connecting students with books on a one on one basis. That may be one of the roots of my book talking failures — I prefer to get to know students and their preferences, then recommend books I know they will enjoy. I usually establish those relationships so well that I don’t really have to ‘sell’ the books, I just hand them over and ask students to report back. So over the years, “Here — you’ll like this one,” is kind of the direction where my book talking skills have gone. There’s definitely not much of an art to that — so I’m working on it.
As with most things that I do, I require thought time and preparation to be anywhere decent in my execution of book talks. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those amazing-on-the-spot-book-talk-givers. With all of my middle school and freshmen library orientation/book check-out visits this year, I did a hand full of book talks as well. I went through and pulled a selection of books that I know and love, then I wrote little blurbs on sticky notes to put on the back to use as a guide when I book talked. Of course, I kept all of the stickies, because that was a lot of work!
After two weeks of this, I realized handwritten sticky notes probably weren’t the best long term solution for keeping track of my book talk notes. I’ve since made a Google Form where I’m inputting my notes so I can reprint them on sticky notes and reuse them in the future.
And just for fun, here are some of the books I find myself recommending most often to students:
Do you have any advice to improve book talking skills? Or favorite books that are checked out every time you share them with students?
One of the things I love about working with 6-12 grades is that I have such a large range of books to highlight during Banned Books Week!
Look here for resources from ALA on Banned Books Week.
Last year, I made these really cute banners for Banned Books Week, which I reused this year, along with excessive amounts of caution tape.
I followed this tutorial to print on sticky notes. I printed the blurbs from ALA’s annual bibliographies on Frequently Challenged or Banned Books on the stickies to give students more information. For a few of them, I wrote some of the key phrases describing their challenge/ban on a paper bag to make the display more interactive.
Students are always interested to learn more about books that have been banned or challenged. This is one of my favorite displays of the year!
It’s hard to believe that many of my friends are just starting their school year this week, as we have been back in the swing of things for a month now. It’s also hard to believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted here, but after what was a year full of challenges and changes for me professionally and personally (move to a new school and a total home remodel, anyone?), I’m ready to kick it back into high gear for an awesome 2017-2018 school year.
Our schedule throughout the day gives our students a lot of flexibility (and “free” time), which means the library is often PACKED. Even though expectations for common spaces were discussed with the student body when we returned from summer, we were already noticing tons of trash and food left behind in the library after breaks. My fabulous library assistant and I are on the same page — we want students to feel welcome, we don’t want to fuss at them all the time, but we also need them to respect the library space.
After yesterday’s morning tutorial (a 45 minute block where we average about 150 students in the library), the library was pretty trashed from Goldfish and cereal. We had talked about making a humorous video to get our point across about this last year, but we never got around to it.
With my schedule open yesterday, it was the perfect opportunity to throw together a quick video to show to the entire upper school student body during afternoon announcements. I prefaced the video with the fact that we love that they feel so welcome and comfortable in the library…we just need them to keep this expectation in mind:
The students were definitely amused, and the faculty even more so. It’s often hard to balance enforcing library expectations while still maintaining positive relationships and open rapport with students. That balance is definitely something I struggle with, but as educators we know how important consistency is for our students. Hopefully, this fun reminder will do the trick (at least for a little while).