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My official GTA Badge, pin, and certificate.

I haven’t mentioned too much about my Google Teacher Academy experience in Atlanta this summer. I am just having difficulty putting it into words. The pictures alone still do not effectively relay my experience. Maybe it’s because I had the GCTATL event, followed by ISTE’s precon event Hack Edu. and finally the ISTE conference, so the term overwhelmed is an absolute understatement. So much is swimming in my head STILL weeks later!! I did try to share a few of my favorite sessions at ISTE a few times previously on this blog.

Some of my friends are beginning to share their experiences for GTA, and I want to share AND feature some of their content, especially since they really capture the essence of the experience. Maybe some of my pictures will take care of this for me. We were cautioned about taking too many photos, and to be sure not to capture actual working “Googlers” while in their office. Factor in my AWE, and I didn’t take as many as I thought. I tried to capture the workspaces we were in and the GCT attendees hard at work.

Take a moment to read through these two GCT’s reflections that REALLY resonate with me!!


Of course I have to give a shout out to Chelsi Eminger, who’s five minute pres has inspired me to work with a class or two using this exact project.  Prior to GTA, I’d never even heard of Eric Curts. Chelsi, thanks for sharing this, enlightening me, and giving me a real project to work into my teaching context immediately!!

There is much more to process. Hopefully I will eventually pull it into a few posts. I complimented Andy and Chelsi via twitter about their reflections, admitting I had difficulty trying to put any of the experience in writing.  So this is my attempt to begin doing just that, as encouraged by Andy. I’m really encouraged to realize I’m not the only one struggling with a sufficient reflection.

This was a repeated theme through sessions I attended and conversations I had while in Atlanta last week.  Glad I snapped this photo from the 2nd ISTE Ignite session.  I’m going to find a way to replicate this and display it in our Dorman Library. Stay tuned.


I attended this session at ISTE, and I cannot lie, I was floored. The session wasn’t near long enough to cover everything in it, so presenter Steve Dembo encouraged us to return and process what we could on our own time. Summertime TV is the perfect opportunity for me to do that. I say so because summer TV is so bad, I don’t mind sitting in my living room and viewing, interacting, reading and reflecting over my ISTE notes while the guys watch any programming with a ball and scores! I spent a full evening just processing through the wealth of content in Steve’s Prezi. Steve Dembo created a path to highlight content with in the Prezi, but I quickly realized i wasn’t getting to view all the embedded content. I started over to ensure I viewed each and every part of, which took me probably 2 hours if not more. It was time well spent and left my head spinning with ideas and more. Now I’ve challenged myself to take sometime to really learn WeVideo, since I loved the examples shared in this session.

There were three key concepts that were emphasized during this session.

  1. The elements that make viral videos great are replicable by educators and students.
  2. Complex digital storytelling techniques can be accessed by educators using free technologies
  3. Simple storytelling can be used to demonstrate knowledge in every subject, and nearly every grade level.

Youtube is blocked where you are? Dembo made sure we understood that this should not dissuade you as a teacher from embracing digital storytelling. There are plenty of tools out there on the Internet where you can apply the takeaways from the session. Instead of thinking of YT as something out of reach due to your school’s filter, implement the YT style of video making. What does that mean? Let kids make videos to demonstrate learning through a variety of sources for a variety of reasons. Students are not intimidated by this because generally video making for this generation is already very much YT-like; short, creative, looking for an audience, wishing to be the next YT viral sensation. Educators need to harness this energy for learning!


At the ISTE2014 Discovery edcucation Birthday Bash, I met up with friends Sue Levine and Steve Dembo.


Just in case his Prezi is not showing through your digital portal, here is the direct link: http://prezi.com/sefzj_jpnupp/storytelling-for-the-youtube-generation/#


My last morning of ISTE may very well have been my favorite. I attended the ISTE Librarian Network Breakfast Keynote featuring Jennifer Lagarde, aka Library Girl. I’ve followed her Zombie Librarian posts from her blog for a while now, but to hear the actual story and how it grew into now a keynote was well worth getting over to the convention center early. The ISTE Librarian’s Network leadership team captured the keynote via Google Hangout, and I for one plan to use it—not only here on my own blog, but also hopefully as a “librarian specific” district staff development near the beginning of school.

Watch the session via an archived Google Hangout

The keynote begins around the 7:15 mark and is so worth watching!  While this breakfast keynote was targeted to an audience of librarians or those who work with them, I believe those who work with or as teachers might see some “teacher” zombie symptoms as well. This keynote will turn most everyone who watches it instantly into a “zombie fighter.” Special thanks goes out to the Librarian Network and Jennifer Lagarde for allowing us to share this video.

At the end of the session, Jennifer Lagarde invited audience members to be in her group selfie, charging us to beat Ellen Degeneres’ recent group selfie. I think we did it thanks to the long arms of Matthew Winner.



ISTE Expo Google Booth in action

A tweeted picture from Robert Pronovost, an ISTE 2014 Attendee. https://pbs.twimg.com/medi

I very much enjoyed a fellow Google Certified Teacher Tinashe Blanchet’s Exhibit Hall session at the Google Booth during ISTE 2014.  Titled “7 Ways Rock Star Teachers Use Youtube!“, it allowed me to walk away rethinking my own use of Youtube. Even from the library, I should step up my presence there, and add more student centered or better, student generated content. She was amazing in her less than 25 minute session. She did not play through all her videos embedded in the Google Pres, but she left me wanting more, so of course my first attempt at processing my ISTE 2014 experience had me revisiting the material from her mini session.

Here is an outline including the videos she shared to emphasize each point. They are definitely worth watching!

  1. Document Your Work! Use videos to showcase your digital footprint. Create a channel in Youtube and store your resources there.  Make video digital portfolio! See hers here:

  2. Teach – create videos; or better, have students create videos to teach your content. What better way to have students demonstrate a concept than to assign a video project.

  3. Connect with other educators by searching for educational videos in Youtube. You’ll find some that are really good (though you’ll have to take the time to sift through what’s there.) Not everything will be right for your class due to content or quality. But once you find ones that you know work for you or better, work for your students, add those creators to your PLN and interact with them.

  4. Engage your students!  Letting students create videos to demonstrate a concept can be quite engaging, especially when you free them up to use their own style and creative juices. Notice how the students in this video are accurately using the vocabulary associated with the topic. How can they not develop a better understanding when they use it for making videos like this?

  5. Set yourself apart! Creating videos allows you as the teacher and your students too be different from everyone else. Students will remember especially how you made them feel, and letting them create in a manner that matches their personality, style, attitude, and more will really speak to them.  THis video features Tinasha’s Google Teacher Academy application video.

  6. Make videos to put in your channel that invovle real life problem solving. Tanisha missed a week of school to attend the Google teacher Academy in London, and so she used details about here trip to engae her studnets while they had a substitute.

  7. Above all, inspire. Actively recruit other members in your teaching community to be a part of your adventures! Check out the principal, other teachers, and the students as they capture the essence of graphing in a higher level high school math class.



Tanisha closed with this quote from the recently passed Maya Angelou, and it certainly resonates:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  Maya Angelou

While I am unable to share her presentation slides embedded, I can share her youtube channel and a link to this presentation. Prepare to be floored. AND inspired.

UPDATE: Permission granted to embed!!


Spot on, Frank!!

And yet another reason I’m a huge Gamecock fan (other than my alumni status!) Sure wish our decision makers in congress got it.

Being in a school library with a trend to infuse technology in the k12 environment has forced me to think differently. More students bring their own device, and more classes in my teaching context are equipped one-to-one, making the library potentially an irrelevant space. Since students want to turn to computers or digital avenues for their research, I have stepped up the investments in digital portals for the library. I market them to teachers and students at orientations and during instructional units that call for research. I share continuously with my teachers, and advertise our services as resources that can supplement their instruction. I make sure to “take the library” to them, offering to visit classrooms as opposed to forcing classes to schedule the library. The library has grown from a physical space to include a conceptual/digital place as well.

How have you addressed ambiguity and irrelevancy as real threats to your library program?

A panoramic view from the circulation desk at Dorman High. Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson 28 August 2013.

Fruits of Labor

Our “Friends of the Library” book sale began Thursday, May 1, and has been available everyday all day, and will remain so until the last day of school. We have not seen huge numbers or sales, but we are having some. Since we are required to purchase books with the proceeds, and we can’t turn in anymore P.O.’s for this year, we opted to cash out over at the local book store. SQUEEE–can’t wait to get my hands on some of these! Can’t wait to show them off to our library regulars either! (And even though the last day to check out was Friday, we are still circulating to our very regular library readers.  Shhhhh, don’t tell. I trust them.)

Old School

As I sit and reflect on the coming end of school, I have to wonder am I old school? Let’s face it. I have two sons, one a college graduate, and one a college senior with just one course to go. I’ve been around. I do consider myself  “up” on most tools, and I feel I work pretty well at using methods and tools to bring relevancy to what I teach. I share continuously within my  networks, and really make an effort to bring it home to my own school and students. I have plenty of connections and I do interact with my PLN  using Twitter and even Facebook. But I have heard some say this is old school now. WHAT!?  Well guess what? If these are old school, I guess I am too. And not only that, but I still very much devour my RSS feeds, if not daily, then by every weekend. My learning and staying relevant with my students is deeply embedded in using the tools of professional learning networks, be it Twitter, Facebook, forums, listservs, digital communities, webinars, reading and reacting to blogs, and more. I find immense value in these.

I don’t want to downplay the very important value of face-to-face and what it provides. I am attending several opportunities this summer, including the Upstate Technology Conference, TASL’s Summer 2014 PD, ISTE 2014 Atlanta, and a few other select events that haven’t been confirmed yet. These opportunities help me to build on my learning and yes, even flesh out my PLN a little more. Old school or no, I’m still learning daily. Nothing wrong with that.

I am sharing  my GTA 2014 Application Video. I so want to attend one of these summer opportunities.



I’ll close with this picture, a tweet by my college senior youngest son. He had a revelation over the weekend when he checked me out on Twitter. I think I just scored some street cred from him! Thanks for those who find value in my contributions in my Twitter PLN. I did tell him how this came to be.


We’ve never done this before, but we heavily weeded our fiction section midwinter, and had plenty of books to do something with, books that are really in good shape. See, we have a lot of duplicate copies, so our first wave of weeding was to reduce duplicate copies for books that no longer have good circulation stats. We had some ideas of what to do with them, but we asked if we could perhaps sponsor a book sale.  All other options don’t generate any funds.  Happily our principal said yes. We just started it and have already sold around 25 books.

What will we do with the funds?

Well, our requirement is to buy more books. So we are planning a shopping spree with the cash made here, and we are going to let our students help pick out the titles. We won’t generate a lot of funding here, but every little bit helps, especially at the end of the school year which is upon us, when we have no remaining funds in our account.

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