Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cool Connections in October 2016

We have made several exciting connections via Skype during the fall of 2016. I want to share about three connections we have made in the last few weeks. These are all special to me for different reasons, and I will share about the significance of each. What is amazing about each of these events is that they wouldn't have happened if not for the magic of social media. If you are not a connected educator, I hope these stories will convince you to start connecting (for your growth and for your learning community).

Connecting With Shannon Miller

I have previously shared that Shannon McClintock Miller inspired me to create this blog and to become a connected teacher librarian. I heard her speak at the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media Conference in 2014. Since taking up these practices that year (and learning more about Twitter through our assistant principal, Mathew Thornton), my professional life has forever changed. I've been blessed with thousands of new educator friends that have helped me improve for the students and teachers I serve.

I'm a firm believer in telling people when they inspire me. I have wanted to tell Shannon how she impacted me since 2014, but didn't have the opportunity until this year. A few weeks ago, Lynn Kleinmeyer, my teacher librarian friend from Nebraska told me she was going to arrange for me to meet Shannon via Facetime. It just so happened that Shannon was speaking at a library conference in Nebraska, and Lynn knows her! When Lynn told me this news, I was so excited that this might happen! I knew I wouldn't have long to visit with Shannon, and I started thinking through what I would share.

It was fun to visit with Shannon!
Lynn connected us on the evening of October 20th. It was so great to meet her and share the impact her "Be the Change" session had on me. It was important to me to share this because without that inspiration, I might have never connected with Lynn Kleinmeyer, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Tracey Wong,  Joyce Valenza, Jennifer LaGarde, Nikki D Robertson, Tiffany Whitehead, Richard Snyder, Karey Killian and so many other important people on my journey to learn more. I challenge you to tell the people that inspire you that they make a difference. It is a fulfilling experience. If we don't tell them, they may never know.

Connecting With Kimee Clift 

Kaitlyn shares with Kimee via Skype.
I was so excited to get a Facebook message from Kimee Clift a few weeks ago. Kimee is a K-12 teacher librarian at Sparkman Public Schools in Sparkman, Arkansas. She asked me about high school library programming to generate interest for her older learners. I asked her if she would like to Skype with Kaitlyn Price (the teacher librarian with me at Lakeside High School) and me to visit face to face for a brainstorming session. It was fun for both of us to tell Kimee about our makerspaces and other programming. Kaitlyn suggested we have a Mystery Skype with one of our social studies classes. It was a brilliant idea since our own Coach April Lawson has been looking for a class to connect with.

We connected for our first Mystery Skype with Kimee's students on Friday, October 28th. It was so exciting to see both groups of students engaged as they tried to determine their opponent's location. Afterwards, the students just visited and compared life at each school. Kimee and I would have probably never pulled this off if not for social media. The best takeaway of all is that we got to see Kimee "be the change" for her learners. The Tweet she sent after the session says it all:

Kimee's reflection after her first Mystery Skype:

"The kids absolutely loved it. They loved being able to connect with other students their age and trying to figure out where they were from. They were begging to do it again. I am excited about the connections I have made through Skype and all the possibilities it holds for myself and the students. I want them to be empowered and realize there is a whole world of learning available to them outside the normal classroom."

Coach Lawson's learners were so engaged during our Mystery Skype!

Mrs. Clift's students on our screen for Mystery Skype action.
I can't wait to see what happens next for Kimee and her learning community!

A Conference Presentation Via Skype

Laura and I visited via Skype prior to their session.
Earlier this year I connected with new North Carolina TL friends, Laura Long and Edie Crook. They asked me to make a short video sharing about how being a connected educator has changed me. Recently, Laura asked me to co-present a Saturday session with both of them via Skype at the North Carolina School Library Media Association Conference. I love telling about being a connected educator, so I jumped at the chance. Laura and I connected the day before to compare notes and visit. I was able to introduce her to several of our high school students during lunch.

On the day of the event, I connected my Microsoft Surface sound through our home stereo system and the video through our television. It was like I was at the session with Laura and Edie. It was very inspiring to learn about the things they are both doing in North Carolina. It is a day I will never forget! The connection with Laura and Edie would have never happened if I had never heard Shannon Miller speak and put those practices into action.

Laura and Edie, my new friends in North Carolina!

We can connect anywhere via Skype. These are the session attendees!
Concluding Thoughts

So in some ways, things have come full circle. I realize, now, that none of this is about us individually. It is about us connecting together and helping one another be better for our learning communities. It is about inspiring each other with our library learning stories. It is about "becoming the change" in our schools and personal learning networks. It is an exciting time to be an educator!

How the Arkansas Department of Education featured our library program in a video!

Are We Future Ready Librarians?

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Teen Read Week 2016

Teen Read Week crept up on us this year, but we were still able to pull off some special events for our learners. I want to take a moment to share some of the events we did in the library. Teen Read Week is sponsored each year by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). This year it was held from October 9-15, 2016.

Get Caught Reading

This is one of my favorite activities to do with our students. If we catch them reading, we snap a quick photo and collect their name for a prize drawing. I have done this sporadically for many years. In the future, we should send the photos to a custom hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. "Get Caught Reading" is always a blast!

Skype With 1st Graders

In the spring, I wrote about our connection with my teacher librarian friend (and MIEExpert), Karey Killian. We have been wanting to connect again this year, and we decided to make it happen during Teen Read Week. We picked a day that Karey had a first-grade class. She had shared with them all about what a teacher librarian does for their job responsibilities. After this, we connected via Skype and had two of our students read picture books to her students. It was wonderful to see our 2 eighth graders connect and read with new friends in Pennsylvania. They were changed and so were all of our students watching. They wanted to know when we would do this again! We are currently planning to connect with elementary students in New York City for a similar event (with my TL friend, Tracey Wong).

Garland County Library Program

We are so fortunate to have the Garland County Library just a few miles up the road from our school. Each year, Brittany Chavez, the YA librarian, reaches our to us for visits. We were so excited when she inquired about visiting during Teen Read Week! She came on the last day of the celebration to book talk new YA titles at the library. My co-worker, Kaitlyn Price, was working on ordering all the books we didn't know about while the presentations were happening. It was a wonderful program, as always! Many thanks to John Wells, library director, for his support of these outreach programs. All Garland County schools and their students in our area benefit from these events!

It was a great Teen Read Week celebration for us at Lakeside! I'll keep you posted on what happens next.

How the Arkansas Department of Education featured our library program in a video!

How 6 picture frames made a difference in our school library.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Arkansas Department of Education School Library Feature

While attending the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media Conference back in the spring, I was approached by our State Program Advisor for School Libraries. Cassandra Barnett. She told me she wanted to send a film team from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to feature our library program. She was specifically interested in our newly renovated library spaces and our collaboration programs. I was surprised and excited by this wonderful opportunity for our learning community. Later in the fall, I was contacted by director, Cindy Hogue, about a visit.

Gayle and Kevin prepare for Sidra's interview

The Visits

Cassandra and Cindy were accompanied by the film crew, Gayle Morris and Kevin Briggs. We decided to invite them to our annual 8th grade English class Dust Bowl collaboration. It was great fun to show the team how we use the library for common core collaborations that we design to bring books to life for our high school learners. The team returned a week later to interview each of us. It was a great experience!

The Video

Special Thanks from Stony & Kaitlyn

We would like to thank Cassandra Barnett for empowering us to share our voice with others through this video. Special thanks to the ADE film team (Cindy, Gayle, and Kevin) for doing a wonderful job. In addition, without the support and trust of our administration, none of this would be possible. Thanks to our learning community, our library team, and our PLN around the country and world. We hope that this video will inspire change for learners in Arkansas and abroad. We can't wait to see what happens next!

Are We Future Ready Librarians?

Reflecting on a year of connections in our school library.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Are We Future Ready Librarians?

This week I had a wonderful opportunity to present to my teacher librarian friends on a TL Virtual Cafe webinar. I have to admit that I was both nervous and excited to speak to colleagues across the nation using this presentation format. The topic I was requested to present was Future Ready Librarians. To prepare, I researched the topic online. I discovered a blog article by Joyce Valenza that revealed the background information on Future Ready Schools. Superintendents that take the Future Ready Pledge are agreeing to make meaningful changes in their district's curriculum toward a digital learning transition.

I also discovered a lot of excellent information on the Librarians Page.  

There are numerous Future Ready components that we can strive to provide for our learning communities through our library services. In fact, if we could aspire to show evidence in each of these areas, we would have an exemplary school library program. In our school library program at Lakeside High School, we still have several components that need growth. It is a continuous cycle of improvement. We never arrive, but we must always strive to improve.

I want to show you the components and evidence I shared on the TL Virtual Cafe webinar:

Future Ready Librarians... Design Collaborative Spaces

We must work to provide flexible spaces for our learning communities. Earlier this year, we opened our newly renovated school library with its many reimagined collaborative spaces. A complete renovation isn't necessary to accomplish success in this category. We can merely rethink and reorganize our existing furniture to create more flexible spaces for our learners to use in new ways.

Future Ready Librarians... Build Instructional Partnerships

Since 2012, we have worked with teachers to develop immersive library collaborations with the intent to bring content to life using library resources and technology. Two of the most successful have been our Dust Bowl collaboration and our Crucible program. There are so many ways to partner with our colleagues to integrate library resources and deeper learning. It takes a village to make changes through instructional partnerships. Why not help lead change from the school library?

Future Ready Librarians... Empower Students as Creators

I love finding ways to empower students in our Makerspace. I've decided I don't need to be the expert in every area; the students get to be the experts! We love using Jenga, Legos, Minecraft, 3D Printing, coloring, deconstruction, and more in our Makerspace. The school library is the perfect place for learners to explore, create, and present their products.

Future Ready Librarians... Curate Digital Resources and Tools

We all curate resources in various ways for our students and teachers. I enjoy putting links to our numerous databases and research tools in one place for our students to have easy access.  Another example is to create a Google Classroom or Microsoft Classroom to curate content to help teachers transition to using digital tools in their classroom. We recently did this (with partner teachers) to help our school transition to Google Classroom. By using a teacher only Google Classroom for support, we can effectively model how they should be using the tool. There is always room for improvement in this curation category.

Future Ready Librarians... Facilitate Professional Learning

This is one of my favorite categories since I love to share new tools with teachers and students! We must all work to learn new technology and approaches to support learning. It is not enough to learn it ourselves, we must also share what we learn. Each year I have been asked to present new technology tools to our history department. This year I had learned about Breakout EDU and I couldn't wait to share it during my annual session with history colleagues. Then I thought about how powerful it would be if a student presented it. I was so excited to empower one of our Lakeside students to create and present his own Breakout puzzle to the teachers. There are so many ways to facilitate professional learning from the school library.

Future Ready Librarians... Cultivate Community Partnerships

We all have access to endless community resources in our cities and towns. Some of my favorite community partnerships have been with local organizations. One of them is how we worked with First Step to have a disability awareness program in the library. Another great collaboration was when we invited local jazz musicians to bring the music of the 1930s to the library for an all day performance. When we have such collaborations, it is a great opportunity to share photos and videos via social media to advertise the value to our learning community!

Future Ready Librarians...  Lead Beyond the Library

I get so excited seeing our learners connect to distant places via Skype and Google Hangouts. Recently, Caroline (a 10th grade student) connected with a new student friend in South Africa. Anytime we have opportunities to connect to other places using a webcam, we should tell our teachers and administrators. This is an opportunity to show how we can "knock down" the physical walls for our learners. There is so much to be learned in this big world, and the library can connect learners to information physically and virtually! There are many ways to lead beyond the library.

Future Ready Librarians... Ensure Equitable Digital Access, Invest Strategically in Digital Resources, and Advocate for Student Privacy

These are the three categories that I must work harder to capture evidence. I know I work to provide each to our learners; but in the future, I must log evidence of these. Maintaining a school library program is a journey and a balance.

After learning more about the Future Ready movement, I can see the areas where we have strengths and the areas we need to continue building. As a teacher-librarian, I will now be more mindful of these categories and will work to create better services for our learners. Perhaps, the Future Ready components could serve as a rubric for our library program. I'm considering sharing these components and evidence in our annual report at the end of this school year.

Be sure to listen to the recorded presentation via the link on TL Virtual Cafe. My portion of the session was only the first half. The second half was a powerful session about OER (Open Education Resources) presented by Andrew Marcinek (@andycinek). I encourage you to check out Andrew's thoughts about OER and our role in this movement!

To my TL Chat colleagues, thank you for inviting me to share about Future Ready Librarians. The preparation to present this content has changed me. It has caused me to think about what I can do better to support our learning community through library services. I hope that all teacher librarians will work to be Future Ready. This is what is best for our learners. Are you Future Ready?

My first webcam connection with a Spanish speaking teacher using Skype Translator!

Reflecting on a year of connections in our school 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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