Saturday, January 14, 2017

Elvis In The Library!

I have always loved the music of Elvis Presley. When I was a child, my parents frequently played Elvis records at our home. This music was a major influence on me when I became a musician as a teenager. From a library and programming perspective, Elvis is an important artist to share with the entire learning community since his influence made rock and roll music popular on an international scale.

A Spontaneous Idea Hits Big

Several years ago in January, we decided to put on an "Elvis Week" program in the library when I was the Jr. High librarian at Lakeside. I remember it being a success since most learners didn't really know much about Elvis (other than recognizing his image and some of his music). I have been wanting to bring this program back but wasn't sure how our high school learners would respond. We brainstormed the idea for this January (as a way to celebrate his birthday). We decided to have an Elvis "lip curl" photo activity. We thought we could get the younger students to attempt the iconic Elvis look as a fun activity. We also thought we could show a portion of one of his concert videos and have students answer essential questions about the performance (how the concert relates to modern performances, how the music relates to music of the present, etc). We decided to try the program!

The School Was All Shook Up

Peggy Schaeffer, one of our amazing assistants, decorated the library with Elvis cardboard models and a rock and roll theme. She also pulled our many Elvis books and displayed them around the library. Students immediately began asking about all the decorations. These made a great conversation piece for everyone. Students would get excited and share that their parents or grandparents had Elvis recordings or videos. Some shared that they had visited Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

One lunch period, we decided to start asking students to show us their best Elvis "lip curl". We couldn't believe how students got into this activity! We all took photos of students attempting to look like the King of Rock and Roll. Ray Borel, our other creative library assistant, began taking photos and video of teachers and students in the hall. The activity quickly became a popular draw to the library. Ray even got administrators to pose! He created a video that was shown on all of the televisions in the school. Students and teachers quickly came to us and talked about the activity!

Check out the video that Ray made above! (It's fun watching students & teachers try the Elvis "lip curl".)

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Impersonation, Please

A student performs an Elvis song during lunch!
Through all the excitement over Elvis, one 9th grade student told me that he did an Elvis impersonation! He showed our staff a video of his amazing performances. He also showed us a video of a Blues Brothers act he and his brother performed. We immediately asked him if they could perform for us in the library during lunch. They agreed and put on a fantastic performance on our stage a few days later! One of the assistant superintendents and the high school principal even attended the performance.

The Library Is Always On Their Mind

Lakeside Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Bruce Orr, poses with Elvis
This all started as a spontaneous thought for a simple library program and activity. As a result, it has opened up countless opportunities for conversations with students and teachers. I wonder how activities like this help change both student and teacher perspectives of the library program? I wonder how parents and administrators are impacted by seeing videos and photos of such events on library and school social media? Our hope is that the library stays on their mind as not only a fun place for a variety of programming but also as a place of information and literacy. We have decided to keep the Elvis theme for a few more weeks. We plan to show a portion of an Elvis concert and let students answer some essential questions (as mentioned in an earlier section). We want them to talk about how the music compares to the music of today. They can also identify differences in video techniques and clothing. There are endless possibilities!

I hope this reflection inspires you to try something new in your library programming this year! You never know what will hit big with students and teachers. With a library program, anything is possible since we have materials and information on all subjects. Start thinking out of the box and reaching out to the learning community in new ways.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Adventures with OER and Google Groups.

Our Disability Awareness lunch program.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Have A Future Ready New Year

A New Year With New Goals

It is always exciting to return to school after the start of the new year. The rollover of the calendar represents an opportunity to change and evolve as we work to improve our craft in education.

Pick Future Ready Components To Target

We all have different strengths as teacher librarians. Perhaps we should resolve to focus on Future Ready components that promote our strengths as the new year begins. The components I want to explore as we return to school follow below:

Empower Students As Creators

In recent years, I have witnessed the power of encouraging students to create. Many times, teacher librarians might be the only adults providing opportunities for learners to innovate in designated school spaces. This doesn't only mean in a makerspace. I frequently have students that bring me stories they have written. They also tell me about manga fiction they are wanting to write and draw. These are perfect chances for us to show interest in student work in the same ways we observe and encourage their makerspace innovations. The library is the perfect space and environment for students to create anything new! When we show interest, we empower them. The halls are full of creations waiting to happen. How can we better encourage learners? We never know what future author or engineer is waiting for a positive word. Encouragement and empowerment can change a student's life!

Build Instructional Partnerships

Building Instructional Partnerships is an area I want to continue developing in our learning community. Supporting instruction is one of the school library's most valuable functions. We have a wealth of

resources and skills for assisting teachers and students in learning. I love helping teachers bring their class novels to life through our many collaborative programs. Some of my favorites are based on The Great Gatsby and Out Of The Dust.  I want to continue using  Open Educational Resources (OER) to help teachers enhance their digital lessons this year. I also want to partner with ELA, math, science, and other subject teachers. (Even if I have to go to their classrooms!)

Facilitate Professional Learning

As we add more devices into our school, the need for more professional learning rises. We have 
already teamed up with tech savvy teachers in our building to provide support for new digital classroom tools. We became a Google school in August so we decided to create a Google Classroom with tips and tricks for our learning community as they learn to use these new tools. Perhaps we can also invite some of our student innovators to help us provide professional learning opportunities for our faculty during lunch. A few years ago, we invited two students to present Prezi, and it was a success! Earlier this
year, we had students present Breakout EDU. There are countless possibilities!

Share Your Journey With Your Learning Community

Whatever we do in the library, we should consider promoting our journey. Remember, if we don't share what we are doing, many people will never know (including administrators and other stakeholders). Send emails, post photos and video clips on social media, and write short blog posts to inform others of library activities.

Sharing the journey of your Future Ready activities will change how others perceive the library. You may have teacher colleagues and administrators that have a dated idea about what a school library should be. These actions will help transform those opinions!

Engage In The Community

Recently, Shannon Miller has been promoting the Future Ready Librarians Facebook Group. This has been a great place to read the conversations happening about all things Future Ready. In addition, remember there is a #FutureReady Twitter hashtag. This year, post your Future Ready activities and take part in the conversations!

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Are We Future Ready Librarians?

Future Ready Libraries Change Lives.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Top 5 Blog Posts Of 2016

This was a great year for the Library Media Tech Talk Blog! I created this blog in March 2014. I sincerely hope that my posts have been both interesting and helpful to all educators! As 2016 comes to a close, I want to share our most-read articles of the year.

Top 5 most read blog posts of 2016

3265 pageviews: The Flexible School Library: Creating a 21st Century Space For Our Learners

2698 pageviews : How 6 Picture Frames Made A Difference In The School Library

2165 pageviews : Create A Library Sign-In With Google Forms

1805 pageviews : Four Ways To Lead From The School Library

1757 pageviews : Library Orientation Breakout EDU

Thank you for reading this blog! Happy New Year, friends!

How we held the 2016 Skype-a-Thon in the library!

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Breaking the Language Barrier in the School Library

Carmen's class posing with Àngels' class and their ofrenda
We had an opportunity to connect with Àngels Soriano and her class in Valencia, Spain back in November to share about the Day of the Dead event our Spanish classes had just celebrated. Mrs. Carmen Christner's AP Spanish class and Mr. Fryar's Spanish class had created ofrendas in the library to show and explain to Àngels' students. Our students had the chance to practice speaking Spanish to Àngels' learners. In addition, Àngels' students had the chance to speak in English to our students. Both groups had the benefit of practicing their second languages! The event went so well, Mrs. Christner and Àngels planned an additional connection.

How We Set Up The Event

Carmen and Àngels plan their next connection via Skype
I had known Àngels for months via our connection on Twitter. We are also both Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts. I shared a direct message via Twitter with both Àngels and Carmen so we could all communicate about the possible date. We also connected via Skype to work out the details prior to the event. Carmen and Àngels decided they wanted to try to connect 5 computers simultaneously using Skype. Each of our students would use library laptops with web cameras. The day prior to the event, we had our students connect to each other via Skype to test the technology. Everything worked great!

What Happened

On the day of the event, we couldn't get any of the student computers to connect to Skype. We connected to Àngels using my computer to keep her updated on our technology problems. After about 15 minutes of troubleshooting, we decided to proceed with the conversation using my computer. After this, everything worked very well! The students read and discussed an informative text together in Spanish. Then they discussed cultural interests in both Spanish and English. I was so excited to have this exchange in the school library.

The YouTube link above is to my Facebook Live broadcast of the event

Teacher Reflection (Carmen Christner)

Wow! What a great experience for my students to be able to connect with another school in a Spanish speaking country to practice their Spanish! It is one thing to be able to practice with classmates who are native English speakers in class, but to be given an opportunity right here in our own school to travel across the globe and meet face to face with students who speak Spanish is such an awesome opportunity for these students. Not only were we able to share academically with projects and texts relevant to our own cultures, but we were able to share about life in general, like sports teams and Christmas carols! 

In the future, we are looking forward to many more face to face exchanges in addition to starting a pen pal program & connecting on social media so that our students can start "doing life" with each other! I am SO looking forward to great things!

Àngels' Reflection (Àngels Soriano)

Skype: connecting the future

We all know the Skype options within our lives every day, family in another
country, or continent. And this power closer to other people is maximized if we
use this technology in our classrooms.

Students who are learning new languages, connected students who are
separated by an ocean, thanks to Skype can initiate a conversation about
Las Fallas, one of the two cities, traditional party to make them known to their
fellow Americans. And all this, in a just click.

This is the experience that today we have shared with students at Lakeside high
School in the hands of Stony Evans, and the teacher Carmen Christner with 
whom we have shared a session of her Spanish class. 
My students are always somewhat fearful of speaking in English have explained the
half of the session in English, while his fellow answered them in Spanish. Of this
form, the session has been fluid, to get to the last moments, that all the Group has
finished to the called singing Jingle Bells, a traditional Carol of Christmas.

Our students are the future, and all the learning options they may have will be
bridges which be operationalized to grow as persons, and especially as
apprentices for life.

Àngels reflection in Spanish: 

Skype: conectando el Futuro

Todos conocemos las opciones que Skype tiene dentro de nuestras vidas
cotidianas, familiares en otro país, o continente. Y este poder de acercarnos a
otras personas se maximiza si usamos esta tecnología en nuestras clases.
Alumnos que están aprendiendo nuevos idiomas, conectado estudiantes que
están separados por un océano, gracias a Skype pueden iniciar una
conversación sobre las Fallas, fiesta tradicional de una de las dos ciudades,
para darlas a conocer a sus compañeros Americanos. Y todo ello, en un solo

Esta es la experiencia que hoy hemos compartido con los estudiantes de
Lakeside high School de la mano de Stone Evans, y la docente Carmen McCart
con quien hemos compartido una sesión de su clase de Español.

Mis estudiantes siempre algo temerosos de hablar en inglés han explicado la
mitad de la sesión en inglés, mientras sus compañeros les contestaban en
castellano. De esta forma la sesión ha sido fluida, hasta llegar a los últimos
momentos, que todo el grupo ha terminado la llamada cantando gingles Bells,
un tradicional villancico de navidad. 

Nuestros alumnos son el futuro, y todas las opciones de aprendizaje que
puedan tener serán los puentes en los que se sustenten para poder crecer
como personas, y sobre todo como aprendices de la vida.

Student Reflections From The Connections

I really enjoyed getting to Skype with the class in Spain. They were very nice and it was great getting to hear all their names. One of the best parts for me was when the class picked who they thought was their best English speaker, and she spoke to us. It really illustrated how even though we were a little nervous about speaking in Spanish to them, they felt the same about English. It really showed that we could break the language barrier, and have fun while doing it, and that even though some people are halfway around the world, there's no reason why we shouldn't get to connect with them. It was a great experience, and I hope we can all do it again sometime. - Sidra H.

It was a fun experience to chat with a class from Spain because it challenged me on speaking Spanish fluently. It's interesting that a class from a different country got the chance to talk to my class via video chat. Technology made communication easier and I'm glad that the library is coming up with creative ways to use it. - Jean-Paul Z.

Today's experience with getting to talk to the class in Spain was so much fun and a great way to reach out to other cultures. I loved being able to interact with the students... it was a little nerve-racking at first because they are native Spanish speakers we were talking to. Over time, we warmed up to them... I hope we will have more opportunities to reach out to other cultures. - Mady R.

It was interesting to try and understand what they were saying in Spanish and hearing their accents. It was also really cool to relate to them since they were just as nervous to speak English as we were to speak Spanish. I can't wait to be able to do this again! - Kayla B.

Next Steps

 Àngels' class in Valencia, Spain on our screen
As a teacher librarian, I was very happy to put my Twitter Personal Learning Network to use by helping connect our learning community to Àngels and her students. It might be intimidating for many to connect with new friends that speak an unfamiliar language or are of an unfamiliar culture. I choose to embrace these differences. There are tools like Skype Translator to assist with such barriers. It is important for our learners to become global citizens as they strive to be future ready. Working through communication challenges and cultural differences now are valuable experiences for them draw upon later in life.

I am already connecting with teachers in other countries like Australia, Japan, and Egypt. I hope to connect our world geography classes to some of these countries during the spring semester. This will provide a new dynamic for learning about countries and cultures. Mrs. Christner, Àngels, and I also intend to keep the conversation happening between their classes. As I've stated before, libraries connect people, information, and technology. The school library is a perfect place for students and teachers to connect with new international friends!

My table of contents for the blog is here!

My first experiment with Skype Translator with an educator in Spain.

Our Google Hangout with 4 Spanish classes in the library.

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Adventures With OER And Google Groups

I recently learned about Open Educational Resources (OER) during a webinar session I attended in October. Since then, I have been exploring these resources and trying to find ways to introduce them to our teaching staff. I'm grateful to be joined by Lakeside High School teacher, Mr. Brooks Lee, in this blog article.

What are Open Educational Resources?

When I began hearing about OER, I started researching about these materials. I discovered that the purpose of OER is to provide educational materials that are open for educators to use freely. They are also meant for teachers to remix as needed. These are mostly openly licensed materials. From a teacher librarian standpoint, this is very exciting. It gives teachers the opportunity to custom curate and share materials for their learners. It also provides teacher librarians a chance to assist teachers by sharing training on OER materials. Teacher librarians can also serve as curators of content. This is an area I am just beginning to learn about. I plan to reflect more about this journey on the blog.

Teacher Librarian Reflection

I had a long conversation about OER with Follett Learning Sales Consultant, Molly O'Sullivan (@FollettMolly). She shared about how these resources are searchable in Follett Destiny. Since we use Atriuum for our library management system, I began searching for other OER database portals. OER Commons was the first one I discovered. At first glance, I was very impressed with the interface on OER Commons. The site allows the user to create a free account (for building lesson plans and resources). It also empowers the user to search for OER materials from grades K-12 and up through higher education. After a few basic searches, I knew I had to get this into the hands of our faculty!

Our library is the hub of our school with multitudes of students and teachers traveling to and fro. It is difficult to get the ear of teachers in the library when things are constantly busy. I have decided I can no longer wait for them to come see me since they simply don't have time. This is one reason it is crucial to understand that we must leave the confines of the library to find them whenever possible. Opportunities to share are waiting for us each day.

One of our social studies teachers, Mr. Brooks Lee, happened to be walking down the hall in front of the library one morning. I was able to catch him and visit for a few moments. We talked about his new class set of Chromebooks and his progress in graduate school. It wasn't long before I had a chance to talk about OER. I told him this could be a solution to creating personalized digital lessons and activities utilizing his Chromebook cart. He was very interested, so I took a few minutes to show him OER Commons.

The YouTube link above features Mr. Lee discussing OER Commons & Google Groups

A few days later, I followed up with him. He had already discovered web resources via OER Commons to go along with an upcoming discussion in his class. He was very excited about this content, and he invited me to come to his class. I offered to broadcast the lesson on Facebook Live. I knew this was an opportunity to share with our teachers what a digital lesson could look like. (Many teachers I serve are my friends on Facebook.) He also wanted to demonstrate how he is using Google Groups in the classroom for digital discussion through writing responses. Many teachers have questions about how lessons will look in the future since our district is gradually moving into a 1:1 device configuration. They need answers now, and this is one way I have chosen to help them. Mr. Lee was excited to allow me to interview him on Facebook Live! Please, consider watching these video clips from that Facebook posts that are located on this blog page.

Mr. Lee's Reflection

With our school making plans to transition to 1:1, a big question for many teachers is how to best use technology in the classroom. I have been looking at several resources, and when Mr. Evans recently introduced me to OER Commons I began to see how it could be extremely useful. At first glance, I noticed that there are search features for every subject and every grade level.

Students utilize Google Groups to respond to classmates
In my 8th grade Social Studies classes we are currently reading the historical fiction novel “Jefferson’s Sons,” about the children that Jefferson likely fathered with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings. I did a quick search for “Thomas Jefferson Slavery” on OER Commons and immediately found several useful resources that I could use right away to support our reading and foster further discussions and connections. Using Google Groups, I had my students read one of the OER resources about Jefferson’s Ideology, then post their thoughts about how the article compared to what they were reading in the novel, or if they found anything that surprised them in the article. A few days later, I had students go back to Google Groups and read their fellow classmate’s responses, then verbally brag on classmates and tell what they thought was interesting about their post. This led to some really great discussions during that session.

Next, I had students go back to the OER article and use some of the related links on the side of the page to go and try to find people, places, or events that are featured in the novel. It felt like a treasure hunt as students excitedly began calling out things like “It talks about Eston Hemmings!” or “Here’s some stuff on Mulberry Row!” Several students found a digital tour of the Great House and the plantation grounds, which was a big hit. All of this was made easy by the articles and links at

Mr. Lee and his class demonstrate the use of OER tools and Google Groups in the link above

One last thing. OER has a digital lesson plan builder that I have begun playing with. Using this you can easily create multiple tasks for students, upload supporting images, and include links to the resources needed for the lesson. It’s easy to use and looks great from the student’s end. You can also publish any lessons that you create so that other teachers can search and use them. I’m currently using the tool to make a lesson that will end with a Socratic Seminar on The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Next Steps

OER will help change the role of the teacher librarian. In order to speed up that shift, perhaps we should inform our teachers and administrators about these resources and begin modeling them. I encourage everyone to write about what you discover. Consider sharing your journey on social media. Through this sharing, we will all benefit from our combined experiences. Invite administrators to class lessons that use OER materials and demonstrate your role as a teacher librarian in assisting teachers. My Facebook Live videos (you can view on this page) were watched by several of our administrators. Imagine how this impacted their understanding of my role as a teacher librarian.

This is only the beginning of the journey. I hope you will join me in this Future Ready endeavor to help empower teachers with OER materials!

 How Future Ready Libraries change lives!

My table of contents for the blog is here!

I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270